Updates from April, 2008 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 3:49 pm on 25 April 2008 Permalink  

    Good point about 35 Chinese; it hadn’t occurred to me to compare the two transformations. In each case, the proprietors may have had reason to believe that there were underserved markets (for fast-casual seafood in one case, and upscale Chinese in the other).

    But I went to 35 for the buffet, and I went to Kemp’s for the service. Maybe each restaurant will find a new clientele, but they’re starting from scratch. Hence the empty tables.

  • Hober Short 3:18 pm on 25 April 2008 Permalink  

    A lesson in economics indeed. I would daresay it’s The One Lesson in Economics:

    The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

    Hazlitt puts it another way, in that all effects must be considered: those seen and unseen. It is too easy to say that “single-payer” healthcare is “free” because you see the effect of not paying when you go to the doctor, but don’t see the money being taken from you every 15 April. (Doubly so when every 15 April is actually when most people “get money” from the government, as their place of work has been taking the taxes all year, in small doses.)

    It is likewise too easy to say that by reducing service and costs, your revenues will increase. The unseen effects were, in this case, clearly not taken into effect. After all, it’s really hard for the owner to put all the times you’re not taking your family on his balance sheet.

    The inverse of this, I think, is 35 Chinese. They effected a similar change in the opposite direction: removing the self-serve bar and raising prices. But at least they were able to see us walk out when they didn’t provide the service we wanted.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 2:53 pm on 25 April 2008 Permalink  

    Last year Pat introduced me to Kemp’s Seafood House near RTP, and I subsequently took my family there to eat, despite the long drive from Pittsboro. I was impressed by their excellent service; my experiences there were literally perfect, with nothing to complain about. Indeed, Pat and I half-seriously joked that Kemp’s should set up a consulting service to teach other restaurants how to do it right.

    So I was rather appalled when we ate there last week and found that Kemp’s has completely changed. The interior has been gutted and reconstructed, the menu has been downsized, and worst of all, they’ve discontinued table service. Now you order from a counter and receive your food in a plastic take-out container, fast-food style, and seat yourself.

    The only explanation I’ve found for this transformation was in a brief item from the News & Observer:

    Table service has been replaced by an order counter, a change that owner Kemp Pendergrass implemented in order to lower prices.

    This strikes me as an idiotic move. If Kemp’s wasn’t making enough money, wouldn’t it have made more sense to raise prices? Before the transformation, Kemp’s was a ridiculously good deal — actually underpriced, in my opinion. I wouldn’t have hesitated to pay more for such a pleasant dining experience.

    Now it’s even cheaper, but they’ve also done away with everything that made the place worth going to. Kemp’s used to be one of our “special-occasion” restaurants; now it has become an oversized Captain D’s, and I very much doubt we’ll ever eat there again. And judging by how many empty tables I saw last week (on a Friday evening), I suspect we’re not alone.

    I acknowledge that I know nothing about running a restaurant, but I suspect there’s a lesson in economics in here somewhere.

  • Pat 4:25 pm on 23 April 2008 Permalink
    Tags: D&D   

    Uh oh. In today’s Full Frontal Nerdity strip, Aaron Williams makes a disturbing observation about the imminent arrival of 4th edition D&D:

    He’s got a point. Converting an existing campaign and characters to a new edition is a lot of work. Nuking it all and starting over from scratch is much easier, especially for the DM. Be afraid . . . be very afraid.

  • Pat 4:09 pm on 23 April 2008 Permalink
    Tags: brain, hats, stupid   

    Imagine wearing a hat that continually scans your brain and sounds an alarm if you are about to do something stupid. Would you find that useful? I sure would.

    Scientists are working on it.

  • Hober Short 3:15 pm on 23 April 2008 Permalink  

    My initial reaction is that there would be no data to use to show the Paulians that they have no chance at all.

    But they don’t really care about facts anyways.

    You’re quite right that nobody really cares about the exit polls aside from the media who want to be able to offer up-to-the-minute statistics on the projected outcome. When I can go online and get a constantly updating tally that details actual results, exit polls are extraneous junk.

    And phone polling has always been problematic, and you’re right about the not having a landline. I would assume that the same rules that preclude telemarketers from getting my cell phone number would stop these pollsters from hearing my voice, as it were. And I’m a part of that clutch youth vote I keep hearing so much about.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 3:07 pm on 23 April 2008 Permalink  

    I’ve heard several pundits recently talking about how exit polls have been quite inaccurate during this election cycle. And I’ve speculated myself about how traditional opinion polling, typically conducted by phone, might become unreliable because so many people screen calls or don’t even have landlines; you end up with a self-selected population of phone-answering people that is not representative.

    So here’s a question: suppose it becomes impossible to accurately poll the electorate. Suppose there is no way to find out what people want until the ballots are counted. Would there be any actual down side to that? For anyone other than the news media and the pollsters, I mean?

  • Pat 2:57 pm on 23 April 2008 Permalink  

    Foreign wars? Um, yeah. That would explain why the U.S. economy plunged into a depression after World War II . . . and why the Civil War (which was not foreign) was so good for the economy.

  • Hober Short 2:52 pm on 23 April 2008 Permalink  

    So Goddamn close.

    The final session of this Elementary Linear Algebra class opened with a discussion of Euclid, which then jumped to how the thing that trashes national economies since the beginning of city states is foreign wars. The teacher also detailed how he would have hoped that we Americans would have learned not to enjoin these intractable conflicts.

    And then he moved on to the topic at hand of Boolean Algebras.

    And I really started to like this guy, too.

  • Pat 2:41 pm on 23 April 2008 Permalink
    Tags: climate change, solar activity   

    Global warming ended ten years ago, and Solar Cycle 24 looks like a rerun of the Dalton Minimum. Over the next several decades, we may be looking at the onset of another Little Ice Age . . . or even, possibly, a big one.

    If that’s the case, humanity needs to start planning now to adapt to a cooling world. Unfortunately, the people who could actually sound the alarm are the scientists who have spent the last decade warning that the world was in imminent danger from global warming. If they switch to predicting global cooling now, their credibility will fall to zero. But if they don’t, who will? Would the public even listen to warnings of a impending ice age?

    I’m not sure that anything can be done.

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