Patt Morrison

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The Prop. 8 Recipe: Hold the Rice ... and the Prof and the Barista

Let's begin with a rule and a caveat: never, ever insult the Starbucks barista.

An English professor was, according to the New York  Post, escorted off the coffee house premises by New York's finest, reportedly for yelling at and then potty-mouthing a Starbucks employee; the prof told the Post that "linguistically, it's stupid" that Starbucks expected her to specify no cheese or butter when she ordered a multigrain bagel. "I refused to say 'without butter or cheese,' " is the way she put it to the Post. ``When you go to Burger King, you don't have to list the six things you don't want."  

She lost it, the story goes, and wound up yelling an anatomical epithet at the barista.

Well. For one thing, you'd expect a professor of English to have many more vocabulary options. And for another, there are so very many reasons not to holler at these hard-working service folks, not the least of which is that we may all just be one more economic downturn away from working on their side of the counter.

That being said, I am in the prof's corner when it comes to her expressed dislike for the "venti, grande" size labels Starbucks uses. McDonald's or Starbucks can deploy whatever focus-grouped, marketing-driven labels they wish, but when you sell three sizes of anything, they are, by definition, small, medium and large, which is how I order my coffee.

Americans' resistance to anything in a "small" except in dress sizes, lest we feel we're not getting our money's worth, has resulted in a small Starbucks coffee being called a "tall." I haven't been to a fast-food places in a while, but I don't remember seeing "small" on the menus.

Still, I'll only be seriously worried when someone rewrites the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to describe the ursines as "Large, Super-Sized and Big Gulp."

Now, on to real news: on today's program, UCI law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky walks us through how it is that judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to say "don't" to a renewal of same-sex "I dos," and ordered more legal groundwork in the Prop. 8 case -- and why same-sex marriage supporters aren't altogether displeased with that.

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