Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Restaurant Business is Brutal

There is a shuttered restaurant in the train station by my house.  Great location, had a bar, pretty good food, apparently popular for watching Phillies games.  Should be a slam dunk, but it wasn't.  It closed withing 3 months of my moving in and has been shut for something like 3 years now.  It is [still] for sale and the price just came down, but looking at the price and the setup, I'm not sure the restaurant could possibly do well enough. 

They are asking $700k, and that does not include the building (which leases for a "favorable" $3500/mo for at least the first couple years...the building had a published lease price of $6k/mo).  This means that the business needs to turn nearly $150k/year in profit (not including any salary the owner would need if working there as well).  Restaurant margins, particularly at startup are notoriously small, and a 5% profit margin would require $3 million per year in sales/revenue (or a bit over $8k/day).

Being kind about the lease and not taking that out of profit means only ~$100k profit per year, but adds the lease to the operating expenses cutting the margin by 1-2% and leaving the business in about the same position.  Really well managed/operated could bring margins up to maybe 12%, and then things are getting close.

But even those numbers assume that the $700k is good to go. In reality, there will be lots more upfront costs from cleaning and setup, to training new staff to advertising.  

Restaurants require lots of work, and good management.  I'd love to see this place succeed,and it could, but it will require someone capable and willing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Horrible People

I'm not sure that the [type of] "men" referenced by Fiona Loyd-Davies were ever in touch with reality when it comes to rape.  This isn't new.  What is really shocking is that any woman, anywhere, no matter how conservative, can vote for any Republican.  I think the GOP has more respect for the gays than the ladies and their lady parts.

Also, the whole Assange thing is just beyond weird.  I'm not even sure how to have an opinion on that without a series of if-then statements or sounding like a conspiracy nut or ass hole or something.  I will say it is possible that he is both guilty and has legitimate fears regarding extradition to the US.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Continued Bad Statistics of the Gender Wage Gap and Why it Shouldn't Matter

Yes, there is a gender wage gap.  Yes, some fraction (maybe a lot maybe very little) is due to discrimination.  No, I don't think people should harp on the numbers because the statistics in this case are just not very good, and Bryce is a bit misleading in the numbers she casually tosses out in the above linked piece.

The best numbers available are probably from Gov Accountability Office (GAO), where they make a major effort to factor out life choices, and that effort cuts the pay gap by more than 50% (the report covers 1983 - 2000 so you can't compare those results directly to the current gap as she did) so the 21% gap that results is compared to a 44% uncorrected gap, which is much larger than the current 23% gap and could imply that the corrected gap today is anywhere from ~20% to less than 5% to anything between. The infuriating thing is the numbers/statistics squabbling.  The issue of fair pay should be an easy one for everyone to get behind.  If discrimination is a huge issue then enacting laws that counter that is necessary and will do good things for women and families.  If discrimination is a complete non-issue, then enacting laws preventing discrimination will lead to no improvement because there is nothing to fix.

Just pass and enact the damned laws!  If the pay gap shrinks, we'll know it works, if it doesn't we will know that there is more going on and we will have information on where to look next.


I've a feeling this study is flawed. For a long time eggs were very bad because cholesterol.  But for the past decade and a half we have learned that for most people eating cholesterol is not, itself, bad.  Eating lots of saturated fat and perhaps lots of simple carbohydrates are more likely candidates for bad health.  For eggs in particular, the long run studies say that ~1 egg per day is not bad, except maybe if you are diabetic.

Now I realize that the studies are different, and I don't have full article access so I don't know how they controlled for things like butter, but eggs in general are protein/vitamin rich and the protein and fat helps to feel sated at lower levels of calories than carbs and far more doctors and nutritionists are high on eggs than down on them.  I think I'll eat eggs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Things I'd Rather Post...

It's so fucking cool the things we can do.

In general I really don't like politics.  I love science.  But science is very largely funded by the government.  There is no return on investment for the latest Mars lander that would entice a private launch.  It can't happen.  Same with particle physics, fundamental chemistry/biology and more.  Yet that research is necessary to get to the technological breakthroughs that are important.

If you want to open a store be glad that the government built the roads and/or transit that gives [more] people [easier] access.  If you operate an online marketing business be glad that multiple governments did all the hard work creating the internet.  If you want to develop new technology be glad that the government funded all sorts of insane-sounding-at-the-time research projects that led to lasers, PTFE's, quantum entanglement,...

20 years ago science and facts were pretty universally accepted.  Yes, there have always been anti-science people in the US (mostly religious but some cranks, pseudo-scientists, frauds, nuts), but politically they didn't have much of a voice (which is fitting, as they are not much of the public).  Today the anti-science segment of society has a nearly equal share of the seats as the much much larger pro science segment: i.e. pretty much any Republican politician.  This doesn't mean that all Republicans are anti-science, but that all Republican politicians at the federal level must enact anti-scientific policies and legislation in order to maintain their seats.

So we have Romney who maybe/probably is aware that global warming is real, a threat, and largely attributable to human behavior picking a running mate who is full on conspiracy theorist on the topic.  The GOP debates included contests to see who could be the most anti-science (remember the evolution question?).

This is not sustainable.  We deserve political contests where facts are not debatable.  We deserve to vote for Obama or Romney based on policy differences where both sides' policies have reasonable, factual basis.  What we have is a lying and insane right wing controlling the GOP and a set of weak, complacent Democrats who refuse to actually fight them (also too, in many cases, they just appropriate the right's formerly not so crazy positions). 

So I post on politics.  Because we need to have a sane and competent government to get the best out of society.

Obama: Still Not a Liberal

We have laws protecting whistle-blowers because sometimes that's the only way things change. As for where the president stands here:
The Obama administration has responded by ordering that thousands of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement employees be questioned about media leaks when they’re polygraphed during security clearance screenings. In an unprecedented move, the administration also has criminally prosecuted numerous government employees for leaking. Whistleblower and media advocates fear that the aggressive efforts will have a chilling effect on the reporting of government wrongdoing but won’t stop classified information from being leaked when it’s politically advantageous to administrations.
Wes Clark reveals he heard, on roughly September 21, 2001, that Bush had a plan to take out 7 countries in 5 years. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

He told this story about 6 years later. He called it a policy coup.

That was 5 years ago. Since that time, largely in response to the Arab Spring, we “liberated” Libya. We’re preparing to (if have not already done so) arm al-Qaeda related rebels in Syria. We’re inventing reasons to sanction a Lebanese terror-related political party. We’ve been violating sanctions to wage war in Somalia, including with drones, and have fiddled with several incarnations of government. And our Iran sanctions–which are fairly clearly about regime change–are really beginning to hurt the Iranian people.
This is not a liberal/progressive/democratic president.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The GOP is Trying Hard

To make me vote for Obama. 

I have zero desire to vote for Obama.  I think he has been a disaster from a progressive standpoint on just about any issue (women's rights and maybe gay rights withstanding, but even for those he's really just not horrible at his best).  I had no plans to vote the top of the ticket at all.  But it seems like every week the GOP in general and the Romney campaign specifically do something that makes me consider acceptable voting for a president who assassinated an American citizen.

The latest, of course, is the horrid choice of vice president.