January 4, 2012

Professorial authority

My last post dealt with poor taste, and I ran into even poorer taste yesterday in the New York Times (William Yardley, "Bulk's Not Just In Bulkhead, So Coast Guard Steps In," Jan. 1, 2012). The article deals with the impressive increase in weight of the average American--the Coast Guard's Assumed Average Weight Per Person used to calculate passenger vessel capacity is now 185 pounds, up from 160 pounds in the 1960s (page 1, col. 3 of this link).

For color, the reporter included this paragraph, in parentheses:
“Some fine examples of what we’re talking about just went down the stairs,” said William H. Matchett, a retired English professor at the University of Washington, lifting an eye from Henry James’s “The Golden Bowl” to nod toward some formidable passengers on the Wenatchee recently. “But this is a big boat.”
A gratuitous quote from an English professor making fun of fat people!  Here's Matchett's biography and his oeuvre.  Matchett is not mentioned again, and I can't find any evidence that he's an expert on anything about ferries or fatties.  William Yardley, you are snooty!

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