New York Restaurants I Love: Breakfast

Previously (and more generally useful): Restaurant Guide 1: Restaurants should not look like (most) restaurantsRestaurant Guide 2: Pizza

Also: Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery

I don’t want to lose sight of the bigger issues pointed at last time. But for the moment, we have pressing matters to attend to that have been put off far too long.

In the last two months, I have lost two of my favorite three places to eat. BLT Prime, my happy place, closed its doors first. Then, a day after I lost my best Indian restaurant Old Monk, and wrote about the need to support local places so they stay in business, I find out my favorite breakfast source, Patisserie Florentine, closed its doors.

Twice in a row, I left my house to eat delicious food, only to find the destination permanently closed. Quite the kick in the nuts.

Thus, I feel the need to write this. This is a tabulation of all the New York City restaurants that would make me actively upset to find out they were closed.

That doesn’t mean these are the best places in the city. Some of them are among the best. Some are simply the best that I’ve found, near where my apartment is, for a particular purpose I appreciate.

I hope that by telling the world about these places, I will encourage others to discover them, enjoy delicious food and help keep them in business. I also hope others will share the places they love, wherever you may live, and that others will alert me to places I have missed. New York is full of wonderful things, and I’m always finding new ones.

Let’s start with breakfast. Hopefully posting this will create the momentum to finish the job.

I’ve got five places I’d especially hate to see go.

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Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery

Epistemic Status: Public service announcement. Confident and not sponsored.

[EDIT Added 2/11: The comments (at DWATV) provide a lot of reasonable challenges and a lot of additional reasoning behind my statements, and start to get at the larger things in play.]

Today, I went to one of my favorite local restaurants to find it was closed.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. About a month prior, I lost perhaps my favorite place in the world to go for a nice meal, BLT Prime. Today, I learned I’d lost my favorite Indian place, Old Monk. The list goes on. This has become frequent enough that I’m going to work on a list of places I’m afraid will close, so I can encourage others to help them keep the lights on.

[EDIT: And I wasn’t fast enough, because the very next morning of 2/11, I went to get croissiants at my favorite local bakery, and found it was permanently closed with no warning. Of all the places I’d hate to lose it was at least top three.]

The best way to help keep everyone’s lights on is simple. If you like the restaurant and want those working there to earn a living, and the place to continue to exist, do not order via online services like SeamlessWeb, GrubHub, Delivery.com or Caviar, if there is another way to contact the restaurant. Period.

This is because they take mindbogglingly huge fees out of every order. We’re talking on the order of 20%. I am not one to begrudge a middle man or market creator their reasonable fee. This is not a reasonable fee.

But because customers don’t know, and the store is forced to eat the entire cost or lose the order since customers have been trained by small conveniences and bribes to use the apps and websites, the fees continue to be collected, and the cycle continues. The few places that pass the cost along look super greedy and lose business.

If you would cost your local place $5 to save the cost of a fifteen second phone call, make no mistake. You are defecting. You are playing zero-sum games with those who should be your allies. You are bad, and you should feel bad.

This is way, way, way worse than not tipping where tipping is expected. Not tipping is shirking on the price and pocketing the money. Here you don’t even get the money.

If you are super rich and your time is that valuable, you can tip them 50% (or 500%) and make up for it. In that case, go for it. For the rest of us, seek out the restaurant’s website or if necessary, at least once you know they’re legit, pick up the damn phone. Talking to a human is a small price to pay to support what you get value from.

That’s why the promotions they bombard me with are so rich. How can they give me such deep discounts on almost every order I make? Now I know. They aren’t even always losing money on those orders. The bastards.

In New York City, the pizza places are fighting back using an app called Slice. Slice is essentially the same as the other apps, except it is run by and for pizza places. Thus it only offers local pizza and not other cuisines, but it allows pizza places to avoid the giant fees. As a bonus, they exclude horrible chains from your delivery options. They once sent me a hilarious promotion accusing (very, very guilty) chain pizza stores of ‘crimes against pizza.’

If you can, use Slice. I hope there’s more of these for other types of places in the future. Or better yet, I hope they already exist, in which case tell me in the comments and I’ll update the post.

There are larger principles in play. They are important. But first, be concrete. Start here.

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Book Trilogy Review: Remembrance of Earth’s Past (The Three Body Problem)

Epistemic Status: Stuff that keeps not going away so I should write it up I suppose. Brief spoiler-free review, then main talk will be spoilerific.

Spoiler-Free Review

I read the trilogy a few months ago, on general strong reviews and lack of a better known science fiction option I hadn’t already read.

I was hoping to get a Chinese perspective, some realistic physics (as per Tyler Cowen’s notes) and a unique take on various things. To that extent I got what I came for. Book felt very Chinese, or at least very not American. Physics felt like it was trying far more than most other science fiction, and the consequences are seriously explored. Take on that and many things felt unique versus other books I’ve read, in ways I will discuss in the main section.

What I didn’t feel I got was a series that was high enough quality to justify its awards and accolades, or allow me to fully recommend reading it to others. It’s not bad, it has some great moments and ideas and I don’t mind having read it, but I was hoping for better. That’s fine. That is probably a lot about my expectations getting too high, as I can’t point to (in the limited selection of things I’ve read) recent science fiction I think is even as good. Like other genres, read mostly old books is wise advice that I follow less than I should.

It is a reasonable decision to do any of: Not read the book and not continue further, not read the book and allow it to be spoiled here, to read some and see if you like it, or to read the whole thing.

This long post is long. Very long. Also inessential. Apologies. I definitely didn’t have the time to make it shorter. Best to get it out there for those who want it, and to move on to other things.

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Game Analysis Index

This post links to this blog’s posts discussing game design, balance, economics and related topics, as well as any strategy posts. It does not contain new content.

Much of the blog is relevant to gaming, but these are the explicitly on-topic posts.

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Less Competition, More Meritocracy?

Analysis of the paper: Less Competition, More Meritocracy (hat tip: Marginal Revolution: Can Less Competition Mean More Meritocracy?)

Epistemic Status: Consider the horse as if it was not a three meter sphere

Economic papers that use math to prove things can point to interesting potential results and reasons to question one’s intuitions. What is frustrating  is the failure to think outside of those models and proofs, analyzing the practical implications.

In this particular paper, the central idea is that when risk is unlimited and free, ratcheting up competition dramatically increases risk taken. This introduces sufficient noise that adding more competitors can make the average winner less skilled. At the margin, adding additional similar competitors to a very large pool has zero impact. Adding competitors with less expected promise makes things worse.

This can apply in the real world. The paper provides a good example of a very good insight that is then proven ‘too much,’ and which does not then question or vary its assumptions in the ways I would find most interesting.

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Disadvantages of Card Rebalancing

Previously: Artifact Embraces Card Balance ChangesCard Collection and OwnershipCard Balance and ArtifactCard Rebalancing, Card Oversupply and Economic Considerations in Digital Card GamesAdvantages of Card Rebalancing

This is the last post in this sequence, although we will doubtless return to related topics in the future.

IX. Non-Economic Disadvantages of Card Rebalancing

Last time, I explored eight reasons why card rebalancing was great. Now it is time to turn those reasons on their head, and see how disaster might strike.

There are three central reasons why I worry about card rebalancing. They are card and game economics, destruction of history, work and memory, a desire to ‘overbalance,’ and Goodhart’s Law.

Economics I’ve already considered. For considerations of card ownership, in-game economics and related matters, see Card Collection and Ownership and Card Rebalancing, Card Oversupply and Economic Considerations in Digital Card Games. I won’t consider such issues here.

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Advantages of Card Rebalancing

Previously: Artifact Embraces Card Balance ChangesCard Collection and OwnershipCard Balance and Artifact, Card Rebalancing, Card Oversupply and Economic Considerations in Digital Card Games

VIII. Card Rebalancing and Gameplay Benefits

Let us presume we’ve gotten economics out of the way. We’ve chosen a model compatible with limited ownership of cards and/or paid the price for not doing so. Most players will have access to whatever level of cards they usually have access to, and at least don’t mind the changes to their cards.

What are the effects on game play? What are the good and bad scenarios?

I’ll lay out the good scenarios and features, and offer eight good reasons to rebalance your cards.

Next time, I’ll lay out the bad scenarios and features, and why it all might be a terrible mistake.

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