Retard retardent

I overuse the word retard. I understand it’s offensive to many people. I just like the way it sounds. Phonetically, rather than contextually. It’s such a dismissive and insulting word. Apparently it’s so insulting that it’s no longer politically correct to use it to describe people who are actually retarded (technically, literally retarded)… I didn’t know that. Now I do.

Here’s the problem with reinventing the wheel – as spelled out in one of those Slate articles…

But any psychologist will point out that changing the name is, in the end, folly. Whatever new term comes into favor today will seem insensitive, or worse, tomorrow. A nation of 10-year-olds has pretty much exhausted the pejorative power of "retarded" and is eagerly awaiting a new state-of-the-art insult. (The AAMR actually went through this before: In 1973, it switched its name from the American Association on Mental Deficiency to its current appellation because "deficiency" implied, well, deficiency. And retarded, at the time, did not.) The current frontrunner, "intellectual disability," even contracts nicely to ID, which can become a cousin of LD (for learning disability), which served as a choice epithet among the circles I ran in in fifth grade. Steven Warren, the president of the soon-to-be-differently-named AAMR, admits that whatever term his organization comes up with, all the little boys who have crushes on little girls and so call them "retarded" will be quick on its heels. In other words, the AAMR will almost certainly be going through an identity crisis again in 20 years, just to stay ahead of the game.

This also ties in nicely with my little treatise on swearing from a few weeks back.

Cafe economics

Hands up if you’ve ever thought “opening a cafe would be fun”. This little article was just about enough for me to put my hand down to that question. Here’s a failed cafe owner elaborating on the costs of pursuing your cafe dream. 

“A place that seats 25 will have to employ at least two people for every shift: someone to work the front and someone for the kitchen (assuming you find a guy who will both uncomplainingly wash dishes and reliably whip up pretty crepes; if you’ve found that guy, you’re already in better shape than most NYC restaurateurs. You’re also, most likely, already in trouble with immigration services). Budgeting $15 for the payroll for every hour your charming cafe is open (let’s say 10 hours a day) relieves you of $4,500 a month. That gives you another $4,500 a month for rent and $6,300 to stock up on product. It also means that to come up with the total needed $18K of revenue per month, you will need to sell that product at an average of a 300 percent markup.”

“Coffee was a different story—thanks to the trail blazed by Starbucks, the world of coffee retail is now a rogue’s playground of jaw-dropping markups. An espresso that required about 18 cents worth of beans (and we used very good beans) was sold for $2.50 with nary an eyebrow raised on either side of the counter. A dab of milk froth or a splash of hot water transformed the drink into a macchiato or an Americano, respectively, and raised the price to $3. The house brew too cold to be sold for $1 a cup was chilled further and reborn at $2.50 a cup as iced coffee, a drink whose appeal I do not even pretend to grasp.”

“But how much of it could we sell? Discarding food as a self-canceling expense at best, the coffee needed to account for all of our profit. We needed to sell roughly $500 of it a day. This kind of money is only achievable through solid foot traffic, but, of course, our cafe was too cozy and charming to pop in for a cup to go. The average coffee-to-stay customer nursed his mocha (i.e., his $5 ticket) for upward of 30 minutes. Don’t get me started on people with laptops.”

It seems the real cost was almost to the couple’s marriage – which the writer said was saved by a “well timed bankruptcy.