Tuesday Travels

I actually wanted to call this post Tuesday Travails, but negativity is usually not good for readership numbers. On a totally unrelated topic, I might have to re-connect the keyboard from my previous computer to my new one. The keyboard that came with the Acer Windows 10 machine is too small with not enough spacing between keys.


A tweet from Bill James:


“I generally like resistance to the government, because governments like to take over people’s lives and tell people what to do when it isn’t necessary. I just encourage you to get vaccinated first. Fight the government some other way.”


Very well said and I agree 100 percent.



That is a picture of the first item I ever purchased online, which would have been in 1998 or 1999. I don’t think I bought the book from Amazon, but I have been buying things from/through them since 1999.

In 2020, online spending accounted for 19.6% of total retail sales for the year in the US. That number has grown steadily for years. What has not grown is Amazon’s share of online commerce. In 2020, the company accounted for about a third of e-commerce. In the middle of the last decade that proportion had reached almost half.

I’m not asking you to shed a tear for Amazon, but the move by some to break up the company is misguided. On the other hand, Guck Foogle and Fack Fucebook account for more than half of all digital ad spending in the US, which itself accounts for more than half of all advertising expenditures. In my opinion, those companies should be broken up, but almost certainly never will.


Of course, people can now buy (and sell) cars completely online through companies like Carvana. By the way, their ad that states “we’ll come to your home, pick up your car and bring you a check” is misleading. You have to live within 50 miles of a Carvana “center.”

Anyway…while this is not typical of Carvana inventory, here is a picture of a currently available vehicle (I hope the picture link doesn’t break too soon):


Vehicle Exterior image


It is a 2013 Bentley with 53,000 miles and a price of $86,988. With Carvana, the price you see is the price you pay unless you have to pay extra for delivery. If the vehicle is more than x miles from your location Carvana charges for delivery.

I think many potential customers like the no-haggle price almost as much as the fact that the car is delivered to your residence. Here is a picture of a car currently available through Carvana that has more relevance to us than a Bentley:


Vehicle Exterior image


This is a 2015 Maserati Ghibli with about 47,000 miles that would cost $32,480 including delivery. Oh, our 2015 Cadillac ATS has been painted and is waiting the arrival of non-painted parts like the muffler before its re-assembly is complete. We may have the car back before the end of the month/year. Still, in case the ride seems to have been compromised…

I would have no problem buying a car online, as witness the purchase of my current car. I bought my 2016 Corvette Z06 without ever laying eyes on it or taking it for a test drive. So far, so good and, in all honesty, if anything goes wrong now I can’t blame the dealership that sold me the car since that was almost 33 months ago.

I know Dirty Dingus McGee has purchased cars via online auction. What about the rest of you? Would you buy a car from Carvana or from Bring A Trailer?

The only constant in the world is change.








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All Hail Bluetooth

For most of my life music has been an important part of it. For me, music is almost never background noise, but something that deserves my full attention.

Even though my wonderful wife and I have lived in this house for almost six months (!), my ponderous, and frankly antiquated, surround sound stereo system remains unassembled. Almost all of my music has been heard through the “speaker” of my iPhone. Even worse, the iPhone would sit to my left on a small end table next to my chair in the bonus room, meaning I was not in the center of the sound.

I don’t know why it took so long to come to this realization, nor do I know what sparked it, but I finally realized I could order a Bluetooth speaker. Here it is:



Of course, nothing in my life proceeds without difficulty. When the speaker arrived yesterday, I eagerly began to pair it to my iPhone. Unfortunately, I could not place the speaker on the TV stand at the center of the wall opposite from my chair as it was too tall to sit on the shelf and too tall to sit in front of the TV without obscuring it. This end table was an improvisation; we ordered a wall shelf on which we can place the Bluetooth speaker.

I suspect audiophiles like David Banner (not his real name) would scoff at this, but the speaker sounds amazing. Of course, part of that is no doubt due to the contrast to my little iPhone speaker. I was overwhelmed at how good the music sounded.

I am toying with the idea of just leaving my old surround sound system unassembled and, perhaps, buying a second speaker (this is an Asimom Jewel Pro, obviously in red) to create real stereo.  Of course, I could just leave it as is. Oh, the speaker was all of $70.

Bluetooth was invented by the Swedish company Ericsson. From the time the effort was started to create short-link radio technology until the first consumer Bluetooth device was sold was ten years. All hail Bluetooth!


From Bill James:


“The problem with ideology–left or right–is that in order to exist, it has to pretend that questionable propositions are solid rocks upon which extensive belief systems may be constructed.”


Very well expressed, Bill.


When it comes to automobiles, my personal ownership preference is for cars I can drive and not vehicles that are de facto museum exhibits. This Hagerty article, titled “Have imperfect cars become the perfect investment?,” is about the market trend moving towards driver quality cars and away from trailer queens. From the piece:


“But there are multiple indications that enthusiasts and collectors alike are increasingly seeking out less-than-perfect examples of certain cars…Our Hagerty Price Guide data shows prices for certain vehicles in conditions #3 and #4 (“good” and “fair”) rising faster—in some cases much faster—than values for number #1 and #2 (“concours” and “excellent”) cars.”


Yes, Different Stokes For Different Folks (DSFDF), but I completely understand buying cars that can be driven without fear of turning a 99-point concours champion into a 90-point also ran in a half hour of driving. Unless I were orders of magnitude wealthier than I am now, I would never buy a car that I would be afraid to drive for fear of lowering its value, and I might not buy such a car no matter how wealthy I was. Ironically though, the Hagerty article seems to imply one might be able to have their cake and eat it, too.

I promise no more pictures of Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawks, at least not today. 🙂 Here is a car that appeals to me quite a bit and is certainly not a trailer queen:



This is a 1963 Buick Electra convertible offered at $45,000 at our local Gateway Classic Cars dealer. Although my wonderful wife would probably let me drive her Corvette convertible anytime I wanted, I wouldn’t mind having a convertible of my own to take advantage of the Arizona weather. Of course and once again, we have absolutely no place for another car. In addition, while I really like this Buick if I were somehow able to buy a convertible of my own, another one is probably at the top of the list:


See the source image


From classiccars.com a picture of a 1993 Cadillac Allante. That model year, the last for the Allante, is probably the best of the bunch as the engine–the newly introduced Northstar V-8–gave the car the power to go with its looks. Of course, the drawback to the ’93, in my opinion, is that the auxiliary hardtop was not available. I really like the color/wheel combination of this particular example.

I could buy one of these for far less than the $45,000 Gateway Classic Cars is asking for the ’63 Buick Electra. Hemmings currently has eight 1993 Allantes listed for sale for an average price of about $16,500 and three listed for under $12,000. Of course, this car is hardly one that cannot be driven for fear of ruining its value. Brand new, the MSRP of a 1993 Allante was $61,675, which is about $115,000 in today’s dollars. One can be purchased for 10%-15% of that figure today.

I would very much like to read your thoughts on trailer queens vs. driver cars, Cadillac Allantes or anything else. Thanks.










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Tuesday Twirl

Thanks to Bill James I received this notification:



Yesterday, Bill graciously tweeted the link to A Tough Day For Cars. That post is now easily the most read so far this year. Of course, we are not too deep into 2021 although today is already day number 51. Thanks, Bill!


The issues with composing posts in the WordPress Classic Editor and Firefox continue. I may really have to use another browser, at least for writing posts. Part of me, the very cynical part, thinks these issues are a deliberate attempt by WordPress to “force” me to use their newer editor.

While I believe in “Never Say Never” it is extremely unlikely I would continue to post if I had to use the newer editor, which to me is user-hostile and counter-intuitive. Also, I am not the dullest knife in the drawer so if I have issues with it, I’m sure many others do, as well.


This CNBC article chronicles the decline in the rating for the Super Bowl broadcast among the demographic advertisers prize most highly, those aged 18-49. Here is a chart from the article:



I am not in that demographic, but I did not watch the most recent Super Bowl. Lest one think this has been the trend for all network football telecasts, look at this chart from the same article:



I think in this weird year of the damn virus, many people decided that watching football was simply not something that warranted their time. I also think that casual fans have less and less interest in the Super Bowl as other forms of “entertainment” multiply.


An earthworm can be taught to avoid a path that will give it an electric shock. Human beings, allegedly the most intelligent of animal species, often cannot avoid behavior that they know, a priori, is detrimental.


I still hope, one day, to own a car manufactured by a defunct American make. How the logistics of that would work, I have no idea. (“He’s a good teacher; he really seems to care…About what, I got no idea!)

From Hemmings a picture of an intriguing car, even with the broken Torsion-Level ride system:



This is a 1956 Packard 400. I believe the model name is an homage to the prestigious list that used to be published of the top 400 most influential people in America.

The car has about 57,000 miles (supposedly) and is listed for $18,000. I suspect getting the suspension fixed would be expensive assuming one could find a shop/mechanic that could do the work.

I would estimate the probability of my ever owning a car like this at no more than 10%. Still and once again, what is life without dreams?










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Thanks, Bill


No, this is not the same image I posted here. This screenshot is from yesterday. Just like the first time I received a notification such as this from WordPress in April, 2019 when Bill James tweeted the main link to Disaffected Musings, yesterday’s “booming” activity resulted from Bill’s graciously tweeting the link to Good Old Days. Many thanks, Bill.

Just like the first Bill James tweet resulted in a “record” for blog views in a day, so did yesterday’s. The new “record” is about a third higher than the old one.

Did you know that Time (magazine) selected Bill to its Time 100 list as one of the most influential people in the world in 2006? His work in applying data to baseball was one of the major drivers in the explosion of analytics in the world.

Bill’s work was my biggest inspiration in my 20+ year career in major league baseball. He helped me whenever he could, which is the mark of a true friend. Below is a picture of my favorite book of his, one that despite my not following the sport for almost a decade is probably still the book I have read most often.



The improvised book cover was made by the father of an ex-girlfriend. As you can see, that book has been used a lot.


On this day in 2008, the (second) Bush administration announced an emergency bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. The plan was supposed to distribute $13.4 billion by January, 2009 to the companies from the fund that Congress authorized to rescue the financial industry. By the time all was said and done, the federal government nationalized the two companies de facto.

Of course, both companies wound up declaring bankruptcy, anyway. Chrysler filed in April of 2009 and GM did so in June, 2009.

By the end of July, they emerged from bankruptcy reorganization. General Motors became two separate companies and spun off General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC, GM’s financing “arm”) into Allied Financial. Chrysler became a brand owned mostly by Fiat. The Treasury Department began selling off its ownership of GM in 2010. Chrysler paid off the last of its loans by 2011.

The pros and cons of such a move by the federal government were widely and forcefully debated in government and elsewhere. When making their plea for help in 2008, the Big Three warned the government that the collapse of Chrysler and GM would result in the loss of one million American jobs. (Ford didn’t ask for help, per se, as it had already instituted large cuts in expenses. However, it asked to be included so it wouldn’t suffer by competing with companies who already had government subsidies.)

It is often said that if a person borrows $40,000 from a bank that the bank owns them, but if they borrow $40 million they own the bank. The topic of “Too Big To Fail” and the issues surrounding concentration of market power, particularly in an industry with large initial costs, are way beyond the scope of a blog post.


In yesterday’s Son Of Not So Frugal Friday, I probably should have shown the following car instead of, or in addition to, the 812 Superfast:


See the source image


No, this is not a Ferrari California. It is the California’s “replacement,” the Portofino. (Picture from Car Scoops.)

Why the Portofino and not the California? Well…I guess I can rationalize the choice by citing the increase in engine output, the increase in stiffness in the chassis and the decrease in weight of the Portofino compared to its predecessor. Once again, despite being part of my “Pulling The Pin” collection, the Portofino is not a seven- or eight-figure car. The base MSRP is about $220,000. Yes, the Portofino was part of Ultimate Garage 2.0. Speaking of which, do you think next May/June would be too soon for Ultimate Garage 3.0? That would be two years (!) since 2.0.


#Thanks, Bill






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Wednesday Incoherence

Some of you might offer that this Wednesday is no different than any other day on Disaffected Musings

Thanks again to 56packardman for posting the URL to yesterday’s post on the Studebaker Drivers Club forum. Once again, I would like to thank SDC forum readers for clicking on that link, but I doubt any of them are reading this.

Blog readers are not “sticky” in the economic sense of the word. When 56packardman posts a link to my blog on a forum the number of views/visitors gets a two-day bump. When Bill James (father of modern sports analytics, should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame) tweeted the link to my blog, traffic for the next two days was the best ever, but only for two days.

Either my blog is not as good as I think it is or the competition for eyeballs is overwhelming given the hundreds of millions of active blogs. For my own sanity, or what’s left of it, I have to believe the latter explanation.


CNBC’s Jim Cramer is a polarizing figure. Some think he’s a shill for the stock market. Others think he’s not as expert as he wants you to believe. Others, like me, think he’s an extraordinarily intelligent and hard-working person whose insights are quite valuable.

This CNBC article has quite a long title, “Cramer on stock record: We need apologies from trade war naysayers who said US would be damaged.” In the piece Cramer says, “I think there’s some mea culpas that we need to hear from the people that said cyclical America would be damaged…It turns out, the industrials are not as perturbed about China as you would have thought.”

As I have written before I think the word “war” to describe the current state of US-China trade is an overstatement. However, the current administration is trying to shift the state of trade to a different place.

I think people, in general, overstate the effect of most potential changes in the status quo. I think that’s happening in the UK with Brexit. Neither the UK nor the EU will collapse if Britain leaves. The “remainers” are overstating the negative consequences. Of course, the “Brexit-ers” may have overstated the advantages of leaving, but that’s really the same phenomenon.


No doubt should exist that the NFL is the Emperor of American Sports. The recent Sunday night NFL game between the Packers and the Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs had 61 percent more TV viewers than the fifth game of the World Series. (The fourth game of the 2019 World Series was the second least-watched World Series game ever.) Baseball may call itself “The National Pastime,” but that’s a delusion.

I can easily envision a US sports landscape where baseball is no higher than #4 in the hierarchy behind football, basketball and soccer.


I had to note that on this day in 1963 Lamborghini unveiled its first car, the 350 GTV prototype, at the Turin Auto Show. The GTV would quickly evolve into the 350 GT, Lamborghini’s first production car.


See the source image


From rmsothebys.com a picture of the beautiful Lamborghini 350 GT, in this case a 1965 model. Of course, many of you have heard or read the story—which may or may not be true—that Ferruccio Lamborghini, a very successful builder of tractors, was disappointed in the clutch of his new Ferrari. When he expressed his disappointment to Enzo Ferrari supposedly Ferrari remarked, “Get knotted [or some other less family-friendly uttering], tractor-maker. Go build your own car if you don’t like mine.” Even if the story is not true it sure is a good story.

Of course, Enzo Ferrari pissed off Ford Motor Company and Henry Ford II so much when Ferrari pulled an 11th-hour withdrawal from an agreement to sell controlling interest that Ford vowed to beat Ferrari at LeMans. I think Ferrari cars had won LeMans from 1960 to 1965. Ford exacted its revenge by winning LeMans with the legendary GT40 from 1966 through 1969, inclusive. Some race drivers who didn’t drive for Ferrari called Enzo Ferrari “Enzo The Butcher” because of the number of drivers that died while driving for Ferrari.









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Monday Mulling

This Automotive News article is about the increase in pedestrian deaths even given a decline in traffic deaths. The article states, “Auto safety experts say the growing number of drivers distracted by mobile devices is at least partly to blame.” However, near its end the article also reads, “38 percent of pedestrians killed had some alcohol in their systems.” Gee, do you think that at any given moment 38 percent of the adult US population in general has alcohol in their systems? <end sarcasm>

What is not discussed at all, either, is the increase in distracted pedestrians. On the History show “The Epic History Of Everyday Things” it is stated that 6,000 people die in this country every year because they are distracted by their devices. I don’t know whether or not that includes traffic accidents.

Like every other paradigm, “Don’t Blame The Victim” isn’t always appropriate even if it’s usually appropriate. A society that harps on that concept incentivizes some people to “want” to be a victim. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,”

– Shakespeare


My friend and mentor Bill James is ending his long association (17 years) with the Boston Red Sox. I wish him nothing but good health and good fortune.

In the early 1990s Bill wanted me to write an article for one of his baseball books. We agreed on the fee he would pay. About a month after I submitted the article he sent me a check for more than the amount to which we had agreed and a letter that read in part, “I only had to edit one word in your article and I defy you to find the change.”


I have discussed my affinity for these cars before. Here is a picture of a 1990 Cadillac Allante taken this past weekend by yours truly:



I have to admit I think cars don’t look as good with the hoods up, but anyway…the failure of the Allante is sad to me. I think they look amazing. I mean the bodies were designed and built by Pininfarina, Ferrari’s coachbuilder.

Despite the fact that I receive a regular email newsletter from the national Allante/XLR club, I have never seriously considered purchasing an Allante. A ’90 Allante was offered for sale without reserve at Mecum’s Denver auction in 2018. The car hammered for $1,500; no, I did not leave out a zero. According to Hagerty the average value of a 1990 Allante is $5,900. When new, the MSRP of such a car was $51,500. Talk about falling to the bottom of the depreciation curve and staying there…

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Robert Burns








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Frugal Friday, Entropy Edition


No amount of planning could get me to that exact number of steps. Does it matter, anyway?


Entropy (noun): in Physics, a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system. Alternatively, a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

All systems are supposed to have an increase in entropy over time, which is why nothing lasts forever. The innate human trait to find a cause for every effect often leads to excessive extrapolation and ignores entropy.


Explain again why I cannot find an interesting and fulfilling work situation:

Thirty years of experience in research, evaluation, and management within high-visibility business environments, including professional sports organizations. Analytics-based contributions have impacted decisions affecting millions of dollars in contract negotiations, laid the foundation for highly successful business operations, and provided the type and quality of analysis that gave a third dimension to traditional management thinking. Applied proven statistical concepts to improve management decisions. I am looking for a part-time or consulting role where a company can use my combination of analytical and communication skills for our mutual benefit.


“[     ]’s analytical skills are surely in the top one percent of the population.”

  • Bill James, noted author and “Father” of modern baseball analysis

“[      ] was one of the leaders of the movement that I described in Moneyball. He was an original thinker before original thinking became fashionable.”

  • Michael Lewis, author of “Moneyball,” “The Blind Side,” “Liar’s Poker”


That’s the summary section of my resume with my name omitted. How many people do you know who have recommendations from Bill James and Michael Lewis on their resume?

Poor Bill James…I sort of unloaded on him yesterday in an email (sorry once again, Bill). I did apologize in the email, but what’s done is done. Anyway, here is some of that email, which was to thank Bill for giving me a shout-out in a tweet long before I established a Twitter account:


Yes, no one seems to remember anything I’ve done. I’m reasonably sure that after I die everything I’ve done will be attributed to baseball’s golden boy. I wrote a book that the Wall Street Journal called, “Without a doubt the best book on pro football analysis ever written.” Yes, that was a long time ago, but that review is what it is. In the third edition of Total Baseball I was described as the analyst who “has risen the highest and had the most influence.” That was before I was named Director of Baseball Operations for the Padres. Speaking of baseball’s golden boy, when he was first named as GM of a major league team (which was only because Billy Beane changed his mind) he gave an interview in which he named Kevin Towers (RIP, KT) and me as the two people who had most influenced the way he thought about baseball.

I think I come by my bitterness honestly. In the blink of an eye I went from being an integral part in the decision-making process of multiple teams to being cast aside as obsolete.

Of course, you have zero culpability in any of this and without your work and guidance I would have had no career in baseball. As you know, though, people don’t judge events by objective reality, but by expectations and against the status quo.

Sorry for the rant; I don’t think time heals all wounds.


I’m only human. From Shakespeare, “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”


From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1964 AMC Rambler American:



I don’t think it was actually an AMC because I don’t think they put that make on cars until 1966, but it was manufactured by American Motors Corporation. It’s not a performance car as it’s powered by a 6-cylinder engine (the ad doesn’t say which engine). I think it’s a fetching design and would be proud to drive it. The dealer is asking $6,500. Yes, my insane obsession with defunct American makes plays a role in my interest in this car. I believe this is the 440 and not the 440H, which means AMC made 19,495 of them in 1964.



From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1963 Chrysler Newport convertible offered at $9,850. Yes, the wheels are not stock and I’m sure the paint isn’t, either, although you know I really like orange cars. The standard engine on this car was a 361 cubic-inch V8 rated at 265 HP/380 LB-FT of torque. Only 2,176 were made in 1963.

Both of these cars are listed at less than $10,000. C’mon, do you want to spend $30,000 for a Toyota RAV4 or do you want to have some fun for a lot less money?

I’ve rambled (see what I did there) on long enough. Have a great weekend.












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Wayfaring Wednesday

See the source image


From profootballhof.com a picture of the late, legendary Gino Marchetti, presumably on the day of his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Marchetti died on Monday at the age of 93.

He played for the Baltimore Colts from 1953 to 1964, “retired” and then came back to play in 1966. His pro career actually started for the Dallas Texans in 1952; the Texans folded in the middle of that season and the franchise, what was left of it, was moved to Baltimore for 1953.

Here is a Gino Marchetti story by way of his coach Weeb Ewbank that I recounted in my football book, the one for which Mel Kiper wrote the forward:

“We were having trouble once with a young player from Kent State. He was lining up against Gino in practice and Gino was just going boom, boom—right by him. He told the kid, ‘You’re up too high. Get lower.’ The guy got lower and Gino, with that powerful torso of his, gave him a fake and a shove and knocked the kid down and went by him. The coach told the kid to get even lower. This time Gino went straight at him, put his hands on the kid’s shoulders and leap-frogged over him. The kid said, ‘Now what do I do?’ John Unitas was standing there watching. He said, ‘You just applaud, that’s all.'”

Marchetti was a member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary all-time team, which was announced in 1969. Next season will be the NFL’s 100th, an event the league is hyping to no end. Forrest Gregg, Packers Hall of Fame offensive tackle who passed away very recently, said this about Marchetti, “You ask who was the best … just my opinion, Marchetti was the best all-around player I ever played against. Great pass rusher. Great against the run. And he never let you rest.”

I haven’t mentioned that Marchetti enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school and fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge during World War II as a machine gunner. The petulant, coddled, moronic pro athletes of today—who seem to be too numerous—should take a lesson from Marchetti’s life.


In large part due to Bill James’ tweeting the main link to this blog (thanks again, Bill; you can tweet/re-tweet links to the blog anytime), April set a “record” for views in a month. March and April set a “record” for most views in a two-month period. Thanks for reading.

22% of all views in April were on the day of Bill’s tweet and the day after. (OK, not supposed to start a sentence/paragraph with a number; in all honesty I think many people’s eyes would glaze over at “twenty-two.”) In fact, about two percent of all views since I began writing Disaffected Musings occurred on the day of the tweet. This is post number 429 and day number 476 for this blog.

As I note at the end of virtually every post, if you like this blog please keep reading, please let your friends know and please share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.



A picture I took of a beautiful 1942 Cadillac Series 62 convertible. Trying to tie this back to Gino Marchetti, 1942 was the last model year for US automobile production until after the end of World War II as manufacturing of cars ceased in February, 1942. Only 308 of these cars were built; about 3,100 were made in 1941.


A postscript to the portion of yesterday’s post about awful customer service in America: my wonderful wife was not having a good work day, either, so she asked me if I wanted to get The Red Rocket titled in our state and get plates. Actually, *plate* is more accurate as, thankfully, only one plate needs to be displayed on cars where we live.

We have all heard horror stories of trips to the DMV that take hours and hours. We were in and out in 20 minutes and I have never spent more than a half hour at any DMV center in this state. Be thankful for small favors, I guess.





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Saturday Salary Arbitration

I don’t know if salary arbitration still works this way in baseball, but in my 20+ years in the game a player with three or more years of service (and certain players with more than two years but fewer than three) had the right to have his salary determined by an arbitrator. As you can imagine this right boosted the average salary of players in this service class relative to those who were not eligible for arbitration.

Contrary to what fans think, the agent doesn’t compare his client to Babe Ruth and the team doesn’t compare the player to a Triple-A reject. However, comparable players are at the heart of the process. The player’s agent will say that his client is comparable to players A, B and C. The team may acknowledge comparability to player C, but say the player is actually closer to players C, D and E where D and E have a lower salary than players A and B.

The team and player each submit a number and the arbitrator has to pick one or the other. The midpoint between the two has some importance, but I believe that historically teams have won 54%-56% of cases, which means the player seems to have a de facto burden of proof.

One of the most enjoyable moments I ever had in baseball was after an arbitration hearing in which the team I worked for ultimately lost the decision. Bill James was working for the player’s agent and spent much of the hearing trying to get me to laugh. He failed and later he expressed amazement at my stoicism. I told him I was simply following orders not to show any emotion.

After the hearing I went back to my hotel room where I received a call from Bill at about 8 PM. He asked if I was busy and if not if I wanted to head down to the hotel restaurant for a snack and a chat. Steve Mann, whom I also knew, was also working for the agent and he joined us as well.

The conversation was quite stimulating; well, to me anyway. Among other things we talked about the maturation of complex systems and its implications. The next thing we knew it was 3 AM. Bill and Steve had to prepare for another hearing later that day. As we got up from the table I said that we should write a book about the topics of our discussion. Bill then said, “Yeah, it would sell 12 copies.” To which Steve replied, “And three of those copies are right here.” We all howled with laughter.


No, I have not completely recovered from my bug. In fact, yesterday I coughed so hard at times that I thought I was going to cough up a lung. The fact that I am in the third week of being ill is another sad example of my aging. As one ages the immune system simply doesn’t work as well.


The number of 2016 Z06 Corvettes that meet my search criteria on CarGurus is dwindling rapidly, down to six when I checked this morning. (CarMax doesn’t have any this morning.) Here is one new listing:

It actually has 3LZ trim and is certified pre-owned. The wheels are dark, but do have a light metallic ring. The dealer is asking about $63,000 and the car has a little less than 13,000 miles. I hear you out there, “Sh*t or get off the pot already.” As I have written before I have grown indecisive as I get older in no small way due to the less than satisfactory state of my career for the last 8-9 years.

At this point I estimate the probability that I buy a 2016 Z06 Corvette at 90%. The probability that I buy something else out of left field is about 5% and the probability I buy nothing is about 5%. Ask me again tomorrow and I might give you a different answer.




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Frugal Friday: It’s March (!) Edition

First, before Frugal Friday (by the way, it’s snowing here on the first day of meteorological Spring)…

Something I like to say when I want to sound clever is to paraphrase/twist Shakespeare: There is nothing good or bad, but context makes it so. This relates to the fact that human beings seldom judge the world on the basis of objective reality, but based on expectations and the status quo.

Disaffected Musings views for February fell just a handful short of a nice round number, but exceeded those of January by 15% despite being, obviously, three days shorter. However, about ten percent of February views came in just one day (the 1st) AND January was a short month in terms of the number of posts.

Extending this pointless exercise even further, February views per day were about 4 percent below those for December and a whopping 45 percent below November. (Both of those months were “normal” in terms of the number of posts.) So, was February a good month for views? Like I keep saying, that depends on the context. I don’t know anything about seasonality in blog viewing on the WordPress platform, what the normal “uptake” or “stickiness” rates are for blogs, or any of a host of factors.

The current administration stated that if its fiscal policies were enacted that the annual growth rate for real GDP would be pushed to 3%+. Yesterday the Federal Government released its first estimate of 4th quarter GDP growth and, therefore, first estimate for overall growth for 2018. Did GDP growth reach 3%? Well, that depends on how you count.

For calendar year 2018, real GDP grew at 2.9% compared to calendar year 2017. So, it seems close, but not quite. However, some economists talk about year-over-year growth for the fourth quarter as a good measure. That figure was +3.1%. In any event, these numbers are usually revised.

As Bill James has written, statistics are not truth; they are an approximation of the truth. Even when we have computers implanted in our brains that can spit out the history of the universe at a billion words a second, there will be things about the world that matter but that cannot be measured precisely, if at all. Remember what Einstein said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.”


Today’s listings for Frugal Friday come from Autotrader. As such, those listings are their property.

The criteria for today were convertibles and coupes for sale at US dealers for between $9,000 and $10,000, that are between five and ten years old and have fewer than 60,000 miles. The search unearthed 170 vehicles matching those criteria. Despite that number, not a single car had an 8-cylinder engine.

A lot of these cars were either a Fiat 500, a Smart Car or a Kia Forte. One that was not was this car:

Used 2009 Pontiac Solstice Convertible Columbus, IN 47201 - 505578202 - 16

This is a 2009 Pontiac Solstice. I have written about this car and its cousin, the Saturn Sky, before as I am a fan of them. This car is not the GXP turbo version, but is powered by the normally aspirated 2.4 liter, inline 4-cylinder engine that was rated at 173 HP/167 LB-FT of torque. This car has a 5-speed manual transmission and has about 47,000 miles. The list price is $9,998. (Don’t you love those cute retail prices? Not…)

My wonderful wife and I test drove the Solstice and the Sky years ago. Of course both have been out of production a long time (since 2010). Even the naturally aspirated cars are quick and they handle well, but not exceptionally well. However, the interiors feel REALLY small and cheap, to be honest. As I have written before, I believe GM made a big mistake in not upgrading the Solstice/Sky and letting Buick sell it as a halo car.


Used 2009 Volvo C70 T5 Convertible Raleigh, NC 27604 - 508046007 - 9

This is a 2009 Volvo C70 T5 convertible (duh!). It has an automatic transmission (5-speed), is front-wheel drive and has the turbo 5-cylinder, 2.5-liter/154 cubic-inch (you’re welcome, Bill Stephens) engine. The engine is rated at 227 HP/236 LB-FT. This car has 53,000 miles and the seller is asking, wait for it, $9,995.

While I’ve always thought the name Volvo (Latin for “I roll” or “I rotate”) was a little weird for a car, Volvo began its life as a manufacturer of ball bearings so the name is probably only weird to me. The make has a reputation for quality and reliability.

Have a good weekend…





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Here is part of the GDP report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA):

2018 GDP Real GDP increased 2.9 percent in 2018 (from the 2017 annual level to the 2018 annual level), compared with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2017 [emphasis mine]. The increase in real GDP in 2018 primarily reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending that were slightly offset by a small negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased. The acceleration in real GDP from 2017 to 2018 primarily reflected accelerations in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, federal government spending, exports, and PCE, and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a downturn in residential investment.

During 2018 (measured from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018), real GDP increased 3.1 percent, [emphasis mine] compared with an increase of 2.5 percent during 2017. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.1 percent during 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent during 2017.”

Both GDP growth measures I cited were on the same page in the same report.