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.

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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.”

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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.

 

#FrugalFriday

#Entropy

#HonestBitterness

#BillJames

#MichaelLewis

#HemmingsMotorNews

#1964AMCRamblerAmerican

#1963ChryslerNewportConvertible

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

#GinoMarchetti

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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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.”

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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…

 

#FrugalFriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

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.

 

 

100

OK, this number is almost exclusively under my control, but this is the 100th post on this blog. I don’t have any profound thoughts (do I ever?) so what do I write? Well, 100 years ago today the US Postal Service began the first regular airmail service; the route was between New York City and Washington, DC.

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Bill James and I have been friends for more than 30 years. Bill is the pioneer of the modern age of baseball analysis and, as such, has indirectly played a key role in the use of big data and analytics in all business. I asked him for his response to the Supreme Court decision that, basically, legalized sports gambling in the US. Part of his response was: “What 99% of people have not figured out yet is that it’s a far-reaching, sweeping decision, and ultimately people will forget that it had anything to do with gambling because of the other implications of the ruling.  The Supreme Court used THIS issue to say directly and forcefully that the Federal Government cannot force states to pass legislation or not pass legislation–a huge win for the Conservative faction of the court.” I replied: “All I was going to write was this: ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'” That, of course, is the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Many people seem to forget that we live in a federal republic, not a unitary one. No state, or group of states, should be able to use the federal government to impose its will on other states.

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OK, what would a Disaffected Musings post be without some car photos? I still think it’s too early in the evolution of this blog to post my Ultimate Garage (please start thinking about yours and feel free to post comments with your list), but here are the two cars that would probably head my list:

See the source image

See the source image

From expertautoappraisals.com a picture of a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette (top) and from racem.org a picture of a De Tomaso Longchamp (bottom). If my wonderful wife and I ever won a huge lottery jackpot (we do buy tickets from time to time), I think I could limit my car purchases to these two if need be. Of course, I would restomod the hell out of both cars. 🙂

By the way, I do not expect to win the lottery, which has been described as a tax on people who are bad at math. I am not bad at math, but if I don’t play the lottery my chances of winning are zero. If I do play my chances asymptotically approach zero.