Live from the Sanctum Sanctorum: Ten Hours

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Great news for Martha's Bruce Steakhouse, too, I'll bet.

Ruth's Chris Steak House Gets $20 Million From Coronavirus Aid Program:

Ruth's, a company with more than 5,000 workers, received $20 million in forgivable loans on April 7. That is four days after the Small Business Administration opened the application window on its $350 billion Payroll Protection Program. [...]

The loans were intended for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but language in the $2 trillion stimulus bill allows restaurants and hotel chains to participate regardless of how many people they employ.

Hmmm, who do we know who owns a hotel chain?

The maximum PPP loan is $10 million. Ruth's said two of its subsidiaries each received $10 million SBA loans from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and would use the proceeds primarily for payroll costs. The company, which operates or franchises 159 restaurants, had a profit of $42 million on revenue of $468 million last year. [...]

As of April 10, the company had about $86.6 million of cash on hand.

Big Restaurant, Hotel Chains Won Exemption to Get Small Business Loans:

Shake Shack Inc. hardly seems like a small enterprise, with 7,600 employees, about $500 million in annual revenue and net income last year of $24 million. Even so, it plans to apply for a new government-guaranteed small-business loan. [...]

In addition to the exemption for hotel and restaurant chains, a second exemption was granted for franchise owners in any line of business who employ more than 500 people, as long as no single outlet employs that many.

And with that, The Klept has finished its payout of dividends to members:

The U.S. Small Business Administration said Thursday morning the Paycheck Protection Program wouldn't be accepting any more applications for the $349 billion program. The agency reported approving more than 1.6 million Paycheck Protection Program loan applications totaling more than $339 billion from over 4,900 lending institutions.

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AT&T uses machine learning to detect foul language in telephone calls.

Oh, sorry, I got that headline wrong:

"Zoom says it uses machine-learning to detect nudity as virtual sex parties spread."

Like many social platforms, Zoom doesn't exactly want to be publicly known as the platform people are using to watch others masturbate -- even if that is exactly what some people are using it for. "Zoom's user policies explicitly prohibit any obscene, indecent, illegal, or violent activity or content on the platform," a spokesperson for the platform said. "We encourage users to report suspected violations of our policies, and we use a mix of tools, including machine learning, to proactively identify accounts that may be in violation." Execs at the platform did not respond to follow-up questions about what, exactly, these machine-learning tools are, or how exactly they would know if people were using the platform to watch each other masturbate en masse.

The Zoom spokesperson did note, however, that it is intended as a business tool, and that it would take a "number of actions" against people found to use it for "any activity that is harmful, obscene, or indecent, particularly as would be understood in the context of business usage," including "displays of nudity, violence, pornography, [and] sexually explicit material."

Heh heh, "business tool".

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We Are Taking COVID-19 Seriously

chrissyteigen: "does anyone know if we will get through this together or not? or if these times are certain or uncertain? no one letting me know"

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jwz mixtape 213

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 213.

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Current Music: as noted

DNA Lounge: Wherein we got some press, and I have a few things to say about the delivery services.

Charles Lewis III wrote a very kind article about us in The Examiner today:

Keeping DNA Lounge on life support The legendary San Francisco nightclub was already struggling financially. Then COVID-19 happened.

"DNA Lounge is really a vortex for a lot of disparate Bay Area communities," said artist and journalist Larissa Archer. "It's one of the few places left in San Francisco where tech bros are outnumbered and are clearly not the target audience, yet DNA and its denizens welcome them and lets them be -- like we wish they'd do for us." [...]

Like the rest of the world, Zawinski isn't sure how things will play out once the pandemic ends. Nevertheless, local musicians remain optimistic that they'll grace a DNA stage again. Sophia Prise, who played the inaugural StarCRASH in January, is one such musician who isn't ready to see the Lounge disappear.

"The scene there is downright iconic: from the line wrapping around the club earlier on some nights to music fans of all stripes uniting at the adjoining pizza shop to get some late-night grub," she says. "We have had some of our brightest, most unpretentious music memories made there, and the culture isn't just novel; in my opinion, it's necessary."

We are fortunate that we are also a restaurant, so at least we have a tiny bit of income during the lockdown. Please help us out by ordering delivery from us! Pizza, sandwiches, liquor and delicious pre-mixed cocktails...

PostmatesGrubhubDoordashSlicelifeAllset

Speaking of which:

San Francisco Caps Commissions for Food Delivery Apps at 15 Percent:

Amid the pandemic lockdown, food delivery apps have been raking it in. But seeing San Francisco restaurants laying off workers and struggling to stay even barely afloat, Mayor London Breed -- at the urging of the Board of Supervisors -- has passed an emergency order that temporarily limits how much these apps can take from restaurants in commissions.

Commissions from delivery apps range from 10 to 30 percent, potentially wiping out any profit that a restaurant might make from a delivery order. And with less than half of San Francisco's restaurants remaining open for takeout and delivery, this means that many of the orders local residents are making in the hope of supporting local businesses are actually lining the coffers of companies like GrubHub and DoorDash. [...]

Some of the delivery companies, in order to encourage more food ordering, having been waiving delivery fees on the customer side. But they've been able to afford to do this by continuing to charge commissions to struggling restaurants -- which they charge even when customers place orders through the apps for pickup. [...]

GrubHub made an announcement as the lockdowns began that it was waiving commission fees paid by restaurants up to $100 million -- though the company later clarified, in arguably shady fashion, that the fees weren't so much being waived as they were being deferred, to be still owed at a later date.
I really have my doubts about whether this 15% cap is actually going to work, though, because these companies are excellent at obfuscating their fees and finding loopholes.

For example, looking at our latest invoice from GrubHub, they charged us: 17.5% "commission", 7.7% "delivery commission", and 3.24% "processing fee". And on top of that, we discovered that nobody was able to even find us on their site unless we also spent a few hundred bucks on "targetted promotions". Without that, you don't even show up in the search results.

So what do you want to bet they interpret that 15% cap as applying only to the 17.5% part? And then the 7.7% part goes up by 2.5%.

One of the bullshit things they did recently was push some "savings for supper" program where they encouraged you to agree to give people $10 off an order of $30 or more. But if you read the fine print, they didn't split the cost: it was just an amazing deal where the restaurant got to unilaterally give up another $10 off their already super-slim margins. What a bargain!

And also:

Lawsuit Claims Delivery Apps Cause Artificially Inflated Prices For Meals:

A proposed class action lawsuit filed Monday in New York claims that diners have been paying too much for meals delivered by Bay Area-based apps like DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats. The suit contends that the companies are engaging in "anticompetitive conduct" and are acting as "monopolies" that could eventually kill the restaurant industry as we know it.

According to the suit [the food delivery apps] charge customers and restaurants fees that "are shocking when one considers how little value [they] provide to restaurants and consumers" as they "merely offer a list of local restaurants that can easily be found on Google or Yelp for free."

The best way for all of us, customers and restaurants alike, to avoid being gouged by those companies is for you to call us on the phone (415-626-0166) and place an order for pick-up. Not that I really expect people to do that... Nobody hates talking on the phone more than I do!

In other pandemic klept news: TicketBastard gonna TicketBastard: "Ticketmaster has quietly changed its refund policy to cover only canceled events -- not the many functions that promoters have indefinitely 'postponed' or rescheduled to a date/time that some ticketholders cannot make."

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For the Rich, A Dilemma: Quarantine With Staff, or Do Their Own Chores

(There is literally no reason for me to link to the original source of this paywalled gem of an article, but it is real.)

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Moderate Democrats Suggest Working with Coronavirus to Find Common Ground

"It's our priority to find a solution everyone is happy with," revealed Sen. Chuck Schumer.

"Nancy [Pelosi] and I have been meeting with the Coronavirus to try to work out a plan that both saves lives and kills people. We can't afford to be partisan or idealistic, and we have to be willing to make concessions. If that means giving up everything we want, so be it."

Schumer and Pelosi have been relentless in their willingness to bend over to COVID-19's demands, and have left the GOP with little leverage in terms of bargaining.

"Them Democrats got about as much sense as a pocket with a hole in it," cackled Sen. Lindsay Graham while fanning himself. "I do declare, they're gonna just let that mean ol' virus tell them what to do. They're currently proposing a $200 billion stimulus for the virus, and they're gonna pull the funds right outta the Post Office pension! Where does it even end? Now I hear Biden might pick Corona as his running mate as a show of bipartisanship. Good golly Miss Molly, sometimes it feels like we don't hafta lift a finger to ruin everything."

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Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B Keyboard Sanitizer

Always sanitize your user input.

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"I'm the PRESIDENT. I've got the BOX. Damn STRAIGHT."

Ever since I heard about this stimulus check signature nonsense, I haven't been able to stop thinking about this page from Give Me Liberty where The President gives everyone a Christmas Turkey. It's a Miller/Gibbons comic from 1990 that I probably haven't thought about since it came out.

It's... just ok. But that scene came rushing back.

Trump's name added to coronavirus stimulus checks:

"Thousands of families are running out of money as they lose their jobs. Days and hours matter. But Trump comes first," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted in response to the Post story. "So Trump is delaying the stimulus checks so his signature can be printed on each one. Him first. You second. Always."

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., echoed Murphy's sentiment. "17 million people have lost their jobs. Millions can't pay rent, afford food, and are sinking into debt. And the president is delaying relief for them so he can see his name on a check. Trump first, America second," she tweeted. [...]

Walter Shaub, a former director of the independent Office of Government Ethics, tweeted, "Where you see the dying and suffering of your fellow Americans, Donald Trump sees another opportunity to promote himself -- and, by extension, his reelection campaign. Corruption, you see, has its visionaries."

Miller had a way with presidents. Here's the one from Miller and Sienkiewicz's far superior Elektra: Assassin.


I guess that's what happens when you have a poorly-written comic book villain as your actual president. And not even a smart one like Lex Luthor or Doctor Doom. The fascist cheeto defies parody, even 30-year-old parody pre-crime.

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