Some slide easier than others

A Person of Size is suing a Vendor of Burgers:

A devoted, 290-pound White Castle fan is steaming mad at the fast-food chain, which he says repeatedly broke promises to make the booths in his local eatery bigger.

All stockbroker Martin Kessman wants is a place at the table. But when the 64-year-old walked into the White Castle in Nanuet back in April 2009 for his usual No. 2 combo meal, he got an unpleasant surprise.

“They’re stationary booths,” he told The Post. “I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.”

And on what basis is he suing? You guessed it:

The Rockland County man says the chain’s uncomfortable booths violate the civil rights of fat people.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is “applicable, not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people,” he said.

“I just want to sit down like a normal person,” said Kessman, who is suing for bigger chairs and unspecified damages.

As a practicing Chubby McChubberson in my own right, I must point out that this is why God — or Jack in the Box, or whoever — invented the drive-through window.

Neither Harold nor Kumar was available for comment, though we did get a statement from the Ladmo Trio.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Secrets are dangerous things

A reputedly-random observation from Will Truman:

I happened to start watching a couple of episodes of Twin Peaks. The population sign reads 50,000 or so. I read somewhere that it was supposed to be 5,000. Having lived in towns of each size, I have to say that the latter is far more correct. It looks and acts much more like a town of 5,000 than 50,000. I didn’t really believe this until recently. I wondered if a town of 5,000 would have the sorts of things that Twin Peaks does. It depends on the town, but yeah, even towns of 5,000 have lodges, active Chambers of Commerce, and so on.

Yep. I brought it up here, pointing to this FAQ:

The population sign that’s shown on TV indicates 51,201. According to “Twin Peaks Behind the Scenes: An Unofficial Guide to Twin Peaks,” by Mark Altman, Lynch/Frost originally conceived of it as 5,201, but ABC insisted on increasing it.

This has resulted in mixed cues within the show. For instance, Twin Peaks doesn’t have a resident circuit court judge, which any town of 51,000 in the US would; it has a Sheriff’s department but no police department (Sheriff is usually a county rather than a city office). On the other hand, it does have its own hospital, a fancy department store, and a large hotel.

How to reconcile these cues? The FAQ goes on:

The book, “Welcome to Twin Peaks: Access Guide to the Town” tries to resolve the issue by saying the population sign is a misprint, and it should be 5,120.1.

Point one? Well, that explains everything.

See also Eerie, Indiana, population 16,661.

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Paltrow excuse

Gwyneth Paltrow not wearing a whole lotScott Chaffin put up a larger version of this shot of Gwyneth Paltrow and slapped my name on it, on the basis that I am supposedly some sort of connoisseur of feminine stemware and/or wacky footwear and would therefore have something to say about it.

I did, as it happens, but it wasn’t particularly positive, citing those unnecessarily-clumpy shoes, a Givenchy creation from spring/summer ’10 dubbed prosaically “Woven Zip Flats,” which have a sort of stumpefying effect on Gwynnie: cutting her off at the ankles, if you will. (Full comment here.) They’d be okay with proper pants, I suppose, but perhaps not so much with short shorts. (Your mileage, I need hardly point out, may vary.)

Of course, this is presumably a candid shot from somewhere, which implies that she’s not trying to impress any of us, and that’s fine with me: nobody should be “on” twenty-four/seven. But Paltrow dresses up better than most, and the shot below — from the April 2010 Harper’s Bazaar — is much easier on my eyes:

Gwyneth Paltrow in Harper's Bazaar

These sandals, from Valentino’s Garavani line, are decidedly more flattering, while still preserving something of the traditional gladiator “How many straps can you stand?” style. (The gown is also Valentino. The man does know his accessories.)

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Meanwhile at the Water Works

Last year, on the subject of water bills, Mayor Cornett observed that “people seemed to prefer to have a smaller increase each year rather than a large increase every three or four years.” The new rates starting in October are not out yet, but I anticipate an increase of about a buck. Meanwhile, the September bill, which is fairly typical of my usage, runs as follows: customer charge = $9.75, 3000 gallons at $2.35/thousand = $7.05, total $16.80. (This does not include sewer or trash service, opt-in on the local ambulance service, or the infamous “Drainage Fee.”) I’m figuring, therefore, about $18 a month just for water.

The new rates in drought-ridden Austin [pdf] are a little bit more onerous, but for now, only a little, at least at my consumption level. For the same 3000 gallons:

  • Customer account charge: $4.83
  • Equivalent meter charge: $1.79
  • Fire protection component: $0.60
  • Water sustainability fee: $6.00
  • First 2000 gallons at $1.11: $2.22
  • 1000 gallons at $2.93: $2.93

Total $18.37. Beyond the two usage tiers you see here, there are three higher ones; beyond 25,000 gallons the price per thousand is a stiff $11.59, so watch that sprinkler.

That “sustainability fee” calls for a second look [pdf]:

More than 80 percent of the water utility costs are fixed but the revenue is volatile due to the recent successes of water conservation, extreme weather patterns, and the downturn in the economy. Austin Water faced a revenue loss of over $50 million last year alone. We remain committed to conservation, but we need to change our business model for the water utility to remain sustainable.

Austin Water is proposing a water sustainability fee which is a fixed fee charged to all customers that will fund conservation programs while helping to stabilize Austin Water revenues.

Note that “successes of water conservation” cost them money.

On the new pricing generally, the Austin Contrarian notes:

More price increases will be necessary if this drought continues. But we know that price is an effective way to ration water, more effective than mandatory conservation (and oodles more effective than voluntary conservation). While demand for water is inelastic, it is not perfectly so.

Oklahoma City can tell you that voluntary conservation didn’t do much of anything this summer, and reservoir levels are down: Hefner about nine feet, Overholser about eight, and Stanley Draper nearly thirty. Then again, Austin’s Lake Travis is down 48 feet, though Lake Austin is pretty close to normal.

Austin anticipates that between 2011 and 2016, the average water bill will rise 61.2 percent [pdf], though their average user uses quite a bit more than I do. If nothing else, this demonstrates that water isn’t going to get any cheaper, even on those rare occasions of late when it actually falls out of the sky.

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Unangry bird

Hello Kitty dresses up as a turkey:

Hello Kitty 8-inch Plush Turkey

Sanrio is selling this little plush Kitty with the bird suit for a mere $19.50, presumably just in time for Thanksgiving. (And heck, the grocery stores are full of Halloween stuff, so it’s just a matter of lead time.) She’s eight inches tall, so mark her down as a single serving.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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The things one finds on eBay

And by “things,” I mean this:

Genuine StarTribune Moist Towelette signed by James LileksThis is a one-of-a-kind item, obtained directly from the Minneapolis StarTribune writer, James Lileks, at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair. Lileks, a locally acclaimed satirist and cultural commentator, signed the moist towelette at 12:15, September 2, at the StarTribune state fair booth and presented it to me, an avid fan, in exchange for a pandering testimonial to his writing prowess. Alas, I must part with it, due to financial difficulties, but be assured, it is not easy to do so. This is the real thing, and your only chance to obtain such an article.

You were expecting maybe Juanita’s Fajitas?

Incidentally, Lileks himself vouched for its authenticity, which surely added something to the winning bid.

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Utility belt as tefillin

Given the fact that Bob Kane was born “Robert Kahn,” I’m perfectly willing to believe this:

Back in the 1930s, it made some sense for Bruce Wayne, scion of one of Gotham’s finest families, to be a WASP. But look around NYC and see whose names are on the hospital, university and theater buildings. Don’t get us wrong … Batman has to be named Bruce Wayne. But who’s to say he wasn’t named after his great-grandfather, Baruch Wien?

And just to support the premise:

Bruce Wayne was taught as a child that he had a particular obligation to help the helpless. Moses looked to the left and to the right, and when he saw no one else there, he stepped up to protect the innocent. Batman is so admired because he also teaches us that when no one else is there, the thing to do is to step up to the challenge of — well — becoming a hero.

Besides, why should the Marvel universe be the only one in comicdom with a major Jewish character?

(Via Dick Stanley.)

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Strange search-engine queries (293)

Another Monday morning, another sampling of search strings from visitors to this site, based almost entirely on perceived snark potential. (Your mileage may vary; see boojum for details.)

“Jason Rainbows”:  Not, in fact, a candidate for the California Assembly. Yet.

panhandling san francisco worse:  I wouldn’t say it’s worse, necessarily, but God help us if Jason Rainbows gets into office.

is there a prescription for sunscreen:  Generally no, though if you need that much SPF you should consider staying inside away from the windows, and maybe wear a burqa.

is biden a nudist:  Not so far as I know, but then the government picks up the tab for his sunscreen.

Pics of Naked girls wearing k swiss sneakers:  Purists will insist that if they’re wearing shoes, they’re not really naked.

what was defect in 2001 transmissions?  Mostly, that they were made ten years ago. Shut up and write the check.

In the sci-fi novels and films you know, what type of roles do women play? Are they in-depth complex characters, or are they mainly simpering, helpless victims or sexual stereotypes inserted into the fiction in order to tempt the men?  In the “social” “sciences,” this is called “research.” (“Blecch.”)

“non-dairy” “bill tush”:  Ah, yes, Bill Tush. The Cremora of cable-TV hosts.

bling bathtub:  I have a ring around mine. Does that count?

morticia and gomez moan:  She, probably, in French.

“charles hill” vaudeville:  Um, you’re soaking in it.

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The Mitts-on approach

According to Megan McArdle, this is Mitt Romney’s campaign “schtick”:

I’m sure he created jobs at Bain Capital. But then he ruins the whole thing by saying that that’s why we need to elect him president so he can go ahead and create jobs for America. (I paraphrase.)

Really? That was Mitt Romney’s idea of how jobs get created? You have to wait until the president comes and sprinkles his magic pixie dust on the economy?

Then again, more people than you could possibly imagine we can possibly afford believe that (1) there exists magic pixie dust and (2) it’s possible for a politician to get his hands on it. It’s situations like that which make us yearn for the uncompromising, hard-hitting drama of My Little Pony.

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Get off her perimeter

Debbie Dompierre is one of the greenest — or greyest — reservists in the Canadian Forces:

A 56-year-old Metchosin grandmother has become the oldest reservist to graduate from basic training with the Canadian Forces, beating 20-somethings in the gruelling training process.

She was sworn in Feb. 3 and joined HMCS Malahat, a Victoria-based reserve division. In June, she started her nine-week training course at CFB Borden, training during a heatwave in southern Ontario in temperatures of nearly 50 C.

Geez. And to think that I griped about Fort Leonard Wood.

She was one of only three people over 25 in the training camp. Five in their early 20s threw in the towel, but Dompierre was determined to keep going.

But this is the point where I cringed:

Dompierre scored high enough on her physical test — 137 when she needed a 75 — that she’s exempt from the test next year.

My evidently-feeble 18-year-old self passed such a test by a margin of, um, eleven points. I am told that female troops are cut a smidgen of slack in the test, but I’m still impressed.

And this is the point where I salute:

“I’ve been a military mom and wife for 15 years, so I’ve always been very proud of the military. So now it’s my turn.”

(Via Fark.)

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Strictly ballroom

Which does not mean that these particular jeans are cut with the tango in mind:

Ballroom Jeans by Duluth Trading Company

On the other hand, you have to assume that Duluth Trading Company (of Belleville, Wisconsin, of course) was not going to label these garments something like “Sack Space.”

(Via the ever-fashionable Nancy Friedman.)

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Platinum plugs

Car and Driver (10/11) interviews Vice President Joe Biden, who turns out to be quite the hotshoe:

“I still have my 1967 Goodwood-green Corvette, 327, 350-horse, with a rear-axle ratio that really gets up and goes. The Secret Service won’t let me drive it. I’m not allowed to drive anything. It’s the one thing I hate about this job.”

Two factoids I found oddly gratifying: Biden used to own a bullet-nose Studebaker, and he has never washed a Trans Am while shirtless.

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Ten years after

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Card swiped

Thursday the bank called my answering machine and informed it, to the extent that information can be conveyed in thirty seconds, that there was some suspected fraudulent activity on my account. On a good day, I’ll get home about an hour after bankers’ hours run down, and this had been not too bad of a day, so I rang in to the bank operator, and finding the caller to have departed, I left a message. I then tried jumping through the voice-mail system in the hopes of finding a customer-service person somewhere in the maze. Which, eventually, I did. We reviewed the last ten transactions, none of which were fuzzy-looking, although the guy did speculate that simultaneous renewals of two magazines from the same publisher at the same price might have looked a little weird to their Central Scrutinizer. Satisfied, I rang off.

Friday afternoon, about the same time as yesterday, I open up the machine and find a message from the same person, who of course had already gone for the day. This should have set off some sort of alarm in my head, but didn’t.

Which brings us to Saturday, when the ATM stubbornly refused to cough up anything beyond “You are not an authorized user on this account.” Perplexed, I sought out a teller, who after punching several dozen buttons told me that somebody in Nebraska was apparently trying to pass my Visa card number, and as a precautionary measure, they had killed the card in its tracks. Well, okay, fine, they didn’t get away with anything. On the other hand, it will take them at least a week to scrape up enough plastic to send me a replacement card with a new number.

None of this presents any particular difficulty, except for one minor detail: one of my automated payments, charged to that card, goes through today. Or, more precisely, doesn’t go through.

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Technically a 911 story

Steve Sailer tells of an experience with a “high-testosterone” boss:

One morning in 1983, after about six months on the job, I was standing on a street corner in Lincoln Park waiting for the bus to work, when the CEO pulls up in his Turbo Porsche and offers me a ride. “Sure!” But, the stoplights on La Salle Street heading toward the Loop are not optimized for a CEO who floors it at every green light and thus gets caught by every single red light. So, every block consisted of us going 0-60 in five seconds, with my head being shoved back into the headrest, followed by 60-0 in five seconds (with my forehead just about bouncing off the dashboard). When we got to work, the CEO offered to pick me up every morning on that corner, but, feeling pummeled by G-forces and whiplash from the ride, I went back to taking the bus.

Contemporary turbo Porsches, of course, will now do this in less than four seconds. Jackasses and jackrabbit starts, however, remain mostly unevolved.

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My baby does Bernanke Panke

While Smitty is happy to be coming home, he’d still like an explanation of this:

[T]he new Chickenfoot release [is] curiously titled ‘III’, as though their command of math in naming their second studio release was a desperate plea for a U.S. Treasury job.

It could have been worse. Says the Wikipedia page for the album: “Other rumored titles that have been mentioned include Chickenfoot IV.”

The 1-3 skip is not unprecedented, though: see, for instance, the Traveling Wilburys. And the first Smothers Brothers best-of compilation was dubbed Golden Hits, Volume 2. (Even better, it contained no previously-issued material.) I forget how many books Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker trilogy contained — five, was it?

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