A system of measurement for something that doesn't seem like it could be measured in discrete units in the first place. Almost always used for humor. Broke The Rating Scale
may invoke this when it gets silly. This is presumably how you tell if something is Twenty Per Cent More Awesome
Compare Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure
, which is when someone measures a quantifiable thing in a strange way.
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Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball Z: "Vegeta, what does the scouter say about his power level?" "It's over nine thousaaaaaand!!!"
- It would be one thing if the scouter was simply quantifying stored energy, but it seems to be able to quantify fighting effectiveness as evidenced by Goku's and Picolo's power levels registering higher after they take off their weighted clothing.
- At one point, one villain tells another to take off their scouter, since the Z-Fighters can change their power levels pretty much at will.
- At the end of the first Men In Black movie, J quantifies the battle with the Bug as ranking 9.5 on the "Weird-Shit-O-Meter".
- Parodied in Team America: World Police, where it is noted that an upcoming terrorist event, if it completes, would be "Nine Eleven times a hundred" - as is pointed out, that's 91,100 ("basically all the worst parts of the Bible"). Another is "Nine Eleven times a thousand" - 911,000. Kim Jong-Il described his ultimate plan, which involves simultaneous terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction across the world as "Nine Eleven times 2356," which nobody knows note .
- Beauty has been measured in milliHelens (the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship) in The Rebel Angels, a novel by Robertson Davies. This system was invented by Cambridge mathematician W.A.H. Rushton; the term was possibly first suggested by Isaac Asimov. Irregular Webcomic!, however, pointed out that you shouldn't mix metric prefixes with Troy units.
- Note that Helen herself scores 1.186 Helens.
- Borderline example, since it measures magic, which doesn't actually exist in the real world anyway, from Discworld:
A thaum is the basic unit of magical strength. It has been universally established as the amount of magic needed to create one small white pigeon or three normal-sized billiard balls.
- Naturally, it is measured by thaumometers. Some early books measure magic in "Primes", the amount of magic needed to move one pound of lead one foot. The Companion eventually explained that the Prime was the metric measurement, and the thaum is the "imperial" one. Wizards tending to be hidebound traditionalists, the Prime never caught on.
- A few straighter examples are found in Moving Pictures. "Numbers" Riktor was a mad wizard who believed everything could be measured, and created such devices as the "swamp meter".
- Good Omens gives us the alp as a way of measuring belief (in reference to the notion that "faith moves mountains"). Most people are only able to generate millialps, while more passionate believers like Anathema Device able to raise about half an alp. Adam's belief is measured in Everests.
- An amateur sci-fi writer group on LiveJournal attempted to come up with "Brian's Scale" to measure the fame of sci-fi authors, based on number of non-self-publications, with units ranging from the Trout to the Scalzi to finally the Gaiman.
- In The Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, the sequel to The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Dr. Dashwood is a sex researcher, whose scales are named after pornographic stars:
"Sincerity we measure in Spelvins on a scale of zero to ten," Dashwood went on, totally absorbed in his subject. "Hedonism in Lovelaces-we've been lucky there; subjects are able to distinguish sixteen graduations. Finally, there's the dimension of Tenderness-we find zero to seven covers that, so that the perfect Steinem Job, if I may use the vernacular, would consist of ten Spelvins of Sincerity, sixteen Lovelaces of Hedonism, and seven Havens of Tenderness."
- In Stanislaw Lem's short story Experimenta Felicitologica, the protagonist uses a unit he calls "hedones" to measure the happiness of a being at a given time. His professor uses a unit called "bromeons" for the same purpose.
- America (The Book) book gauged the value of a news story in Buttafuocos.
- MST3K had the "shame-o-meter" for measuring the amount of shame emanating from washed-out actors in a 70s Charlie's Angels rip-off movie. It measured in (Peter) Lawfords. Jim Backus registered well into the giga-Lawford range.
- One episode of The Colbert Report had Stephen rating Nazis on a scale of 1 to 10 Hitlers. Adolf Hitler himself got only 9 Hitlers because "nobody gets 10 Hitlers."
- Rather common in roleplaying games featuring magic or anything like it. In Dungeons & Dragons your basic magical ability can come from Intelligence, which is at least something people seriously attempt to measure in real life, but also Wisdom, which has something to do with good moral sense, or maybe attunement to nature if you're a druid, or the ability to see the broad picture but anyway divination spells are based on it. The third potential stat tied to casting spells is Charisma, which is both the measure of one's force of will and how pretty they are.
- Genius The Transgression has several different unit systems (most likely a reference to all the different temperature scales) to measure "mania".
- In Super Paper Mario, when Dimentio first brings the heroes to Dimension D, He believes that his power has increased by 256 times, though it actually increases everyone's power by that amount and he claims that he could obliterate the heroes with the amount of power it would take to lift an eyebrow.
- An archon in The Order of the Stick measured evil in terms of kilo-nazis, with a baseline of a hypothetical offspring of Cruella de Vil and Sauron.
- Early on in Schlock Mercenary, there is frequent mention of an absolute system of measurement for pain in Kill-o-Hurtz. Various medical instruments are rated according to how much pain they inflict. The concept hasn't been mentioned in a long time, however, as the Schlock Mercenary universe (if not the actual story) has become somewhat more "serious".
- In Casey and Andy, Andy names the "fundamental unit of time travel" after himself (and the fundamental unit of stupid after Casey).
- This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal measures anger in miliHulks, fear in deciPantscraps and awkwardness in microWeiners (all in the "votey", the red button).
- MegaTokyo features a Magical Girl Detector that's calibrated in sparklogems◊, of course.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace refers to "Seymours", a unit of measure for sadness using the "Jurassic Bark" episode of Futurama as a baseline.
- Questionable Content:
- Gets this now and again with its odd Twenty Minutes In The Future setting; usually coming from Hannelore, who grew up on a space station. For example, the current arc's "Fournier-Goldman Happiness Transforms", which measure happiness (Marten makes an attempt at calculating Hannelore's happiness for her father's benefit, but he couldn't follow the material after it brought up Irrational Birthday Integers).
- Faye in this installment claims to be a unit of measurement, but the formula is rather complex.
- Paranatural has the international scale of creepy to measure PJ's smile.
- One Achewood comic cites the made-up unit "the fermule" as "the basic unit of physics." One reader lampshades the silliness of this in the comments section: "That's right. Losing control of a 200 kg van on an icy road while traveling at 45 mph, skidding off a 45 degree turn and wrapping that van three times around a tree takes a total of 67 fermules of physics."
- In Ansem Retort, a plan devised to get Zexion elected governor of Pennsylvania by getting his opposition murdered is measured by Zexion in Michael Corleones.
- The Spoony Experiment: Doctor Insano built a device to measure gayness in giga-queers.
- Vision of Escaflowne Abridged reveals that angst can be measured in megaShinjis.
- The milliLampson is a unit of talking speed - Butler Lampson was said to run at 1000 milliLampsons, when a normal person averaged 200mL. Can also be a unit of thinking speed.
- "The epic insanity of Lady Darkness really needs to be memorialized, so I propose the creation of an official unit of batshit, named after her. One Ladark (a portmandeau -- don't want to use an existing word) is defined as the amount of batshittery necessary to believe a fictional character originating within the last 20 years is real and speaks to you. Most wanks can be measured in milliLadarks. This one hits about three."
- One article on The Onion, mocking pseudoscience, features a "biotrician" named Doctor Frankel boasting that his specially-developed insoles "convert the wearer's own energy to match the Earth's natural vibrational rate of 32.805 kilofrankels."
- Cracked's go-to comparison for crazy behavior is none other than Gary Busey.
- Certain fans on the internet have made the Henderson, a unit of plot derailment, particularly of tabletop RPGs. It's creation was inspired the story of Old Man Henderson, the man who "won" Call of Cthulhu (which is practically impossible). Henderson was a highly eccentric (and slightly psychotic) Player Character devised to get back at a particularly agitating GM in the most imaginable ways possible. His exploits include: burning a Shoggoth, stealing a yacht from a Hastur cult, dropping said yacht on a Cthulhu cult's penthouse (and starting a cultist gang war), The tanker truck incident, and "Hell on Ice". Henderson's exploits included a surprising number of counts of arson, most accidental, and accidentally killing a lot of people, including the every other player's characters at least once, and incidentally, everybody who could link Henderson to a crime.
- The Hovind Scale measures the craziness of creationists. It was, of course, meant largely as a joke.
- Fame is sometimes measured in Warhols. Someone who is famous for 15,000 minutes would have one kiloWarhol.
- The Helen is a metric measurement of beauty, with 1 Helen of beauty being the amount of beauty required to launch a thousand ships. By extension, we can have a Kilohelen, which would be the amount of beauty required to launch a million ships, and a Millihelen - the amount of beauty required to launch a single ship.
- NASA measures resistance to Space Adaptation Sickness in Garns, where a person who rates one Garn being totally useless in microgravity.
- UNIX system load average is measured in Vastons, even though there's no meaningful or objective way to measure or compare load averages between systems.
- When a Linux computer boots, it measures the performance of the processor it is running on in "BogoMIPS", defined as "the number of million times per second a processor can do absolutely nothing". This unit is explicitly meaningless for any kind of comparison between computers (although that doesn't stop people from boasting with their values); its only purpose is to calibrate the kernel's internal busy-loop.
- The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) measures the total happiness over a span of time. It's nigh impossible to measure, but very important if you want to make sure your charity does a lot of good.
- In an inversion; there are lots of legitimate units you could use to say how fast somebody can run but in UK sport most commentators go with the 'yard of pace'.