Thursday, March 21, 2019

Visiting Column #11 -- Where a Third Party Could Actually Happen

If you go back to the very, very first column on this site, you will be aware that I have believed that there is no such thing as a "moderate"; that people's opinions on a variety of issues assort so readily into two poles that it is impossible for someone claiming to be "moderate" or "centrist" to have sufficiently popularly-supported opinions to have a third party congeal around him.  Or her.  Or whatever (it is 2019, after all).

Never, however, did I account in that well-reasoned position for the possibility that a third party could indeed materialize, as long as it was not in fact an attempt at some form of centrism, but actually one which planted its flag to the distal ends of the scale.

Specifically, I am observing the curious dissipation of the Democrats.  The party that was once a mishmash of union types, people between 20 and 30 whose brains hadn't yet developed, urban black voters, etc., has mishmashed itself into an odd group today.

The Democrats have always tried to represent themselves as for the "downtrodden" in society, trying to pit themselves against the Republicans, whom they portrayed as the party of big business.

Now, in order to do that, they have been continually adding new versions of "downtrodden" -- where it was once women and black people, they have been gradually adding new presumably aggrieved groups.  Those groups now include Muslims, gays and lesbians, transgender people, illegal immigrants, people with every psychiatric disorder under the sun, and the psychiatrists who keep adding newly-described disorders to that list.

Of course, that's a problem.  For example (and there are more), it's not anti-Semitic to say that Jews in the USA have voted heavily Democrat over the decades, even when it was not in their best interest to do so.  And when there were hardly any Muslims in this country to speak of, that was not an issue.  But now there are, and these two historically antagonistic groups are not cohabiting well under the idyllic tent that the 2019 Democrats claim to be, particularly when it comes to Israel.

The Democrats' response has been to try to widen the door to that tent even further, and that has furthered the bottom line argument of the left -- that Government is the source of all solutions, and if you vote Democrat and for big government, you will get taken care of.

In other words, whoever you are, we of the left will give you whatever you want -- free this, free that -- and create a socialist paradise to get there.  Rainbows.  Unicorns.  Sort of like that "Imagine" song that I always hated.

Now, that old party, the one with union types and the like, well, they know better than to believe that kind of crap, but they're also historically antagonistic to voting Republican unless it is an exceptional situation -- Ronald Reagan on the 1980s, or Donald Trump in 2016.  They might vote for Joe Biden in a primary, but they can't support Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris, or Spartacus, or Pocahontas, or "Beto", or pretty much the rest of the current Democrat candidates.

And it won't be Biden, an old white guy, getting the nomination of a party that is trying to find a half-black transgender Muslim female abortionist to run, as if they're trying to win a government contract by checking every preferenced group.

Every single one of those candidates is pushing further and further to the left, promising everything for free even while ignoring Constitutional guidance.  And in that drive toward socialism, what passed for mainstream in the Democrat Party is wondering what hit it, including Nancy Pelosi, who is trying in futility to run to the head of the stampede to look like she is leading it.

That is the point.  There is a fertile ground for a new party, and it is not in the fields of the old Democrats but in those of the new ones.

Here is the prediction, or at least something I thing could easily happen.  The Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders or one of that type, and get defeated in 2020 again.  This time, realizing that they can't keep trying to blame the election on Trump and going all Mueller on him, will look inside, and the split will be permanent.

One or more of the losers in the primaries, and possibly including the losing nominee, will realize that they can't stay old-time Democrat.  A New Socialist Party, further out than traditional Democrats, will be the answer.  This third party will leave the Democrats and will quickly pick up all those aggrieved groups and split them off.

They'll even win some House seats and possibly a Senate seat or two in places like California and Massachusetts, depending on what happens to the Democrats remaining.  And we will have three parties.

Except that the third party will be an extremist one as opposed to a centrist one.  I think it is not inevitable, especially given that the mainline Democrats in power today will realize that they'll lose power completely, and God knows they're only about power.  They'll fight hard.

But much as people both calling themselves "Democrats" are at a state of verbal war regarding issues like Israel, the Democrats of 2019-20 are inevitably splitting, and I believe it is the socialist wing that will be what leaves and creates its own "tent."

Let's look back in a couple years, shall we?

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Monday, March 4, 2019

Visiting Column #10 -- What the Tax Cut Pays For

I have now done my taxes for 2018.

OK, I didn't do them myself; we have an accountant prepare them since I am a sole-proprietorship business, as a private consultant to a small number of defense contractors.  When the tax law is overhauled, you're better off ensuring that the law is being followed, especially when the IRS has already audited you once.

But inasmuch as I used to do taxes when my best girl and I owned a tax-processing business a few decades back, I always go over my return after it is prepared.  So I like to think I am astute enough to take a hard look at the changes in tax laws over the years.  In particular, I looked at the difference between what my household's income and expenses were this year under the new tax law, vs. what they would have been under the law for tax year 2017.

Well, surprise, surprise.  Had I had the same figures the previous year -- and for the record, I pretty much did -- I would have paid well over $4,000 more if President Trump had not pushed through the reform in the tax law.  In other words, had Hillary Clinton been elected, my family would have been demonstrably $4,000 poorer, and that money would have been in the hands of a rapacious Congress that would have spent it on a host of things I disagree with.

I suppose that, as a proportion of income, I am in line with most filing Americans, certainly those who are independent business types, in the improvement in my tax posture vs. the old law.  But interestingly, I wanted to put my benefit in perspective.

You see, as I wrote a number of times a few years back (including here, the most fun piece), I am still recovering from what Obamacare did to my family.  As you will read if you follow the link, we were quite comfortable with the health insurance policy we had up through 2014, when the worst aspects of Obamacare kicked in.

We were quite healthy, and therefore had a fairly low-priced, high-deductible policy that had worked well for us.  Since I did not have employer coverage (being independent), I had to go find my own policy, and did indeed obtain a family policy that worked.  In 2014, the premium was $550 a month, and it covered a 63-year-old couple.  Just as we wanted it.

In 2015, however, we were not so lucky.  Obamacare, passed a few years earlier, had finally kicked in, the Jonathan Grubers of the world having helped Obama ram through a lapdog Congress the notion that people were too stupid to decide what coverage was appropriate.

Where we had the plan we wanted in 2014, that policy was now illegal for our insurance company to offer in 2015.  We could only buy one of three offered in Fairfax County, Virginia, where we lived.  That was it.  The least expensive of the three was $1,090 per month for the two of us, that high partially because we now had to pay for coverage we neither wanted nor needed -- even Gruber would have to admit that a pair of 64-year-olds didn't need maternity coverage, and certainly not pediatric dentistry, given that at that time our younger child was 34.

But we had to pay for both, and between that extra, useless coverage and the lack of competition in our county, we had to pay through the nose until mercifully we turned 65 in 2016 and could switch to the coverage of Medicare -- which we had been already paying on since 1974, but had not yet received any benefit previously.

In just that year and a half, my wife and I paid about $9,200 more, because of the Obamacare law, than we would have had the law never been passed.  And here is the real crime in all this -- that $9,200 didn't go to the Government.  Nope -- every penny of that additional cost to my family went to the insurance company, Aetna, Inc., which happily sold me a policy for thousands more than I needed or wanted.

In case you were wondering who privately was thrilled when Obamacare was passed, you can start in Hartford, where the suits in the insurance industry was doing cartwheels.

So tax cuts.  OK, the way I look at it is this: The government cost me $9,200 in medical insurance premiums I should never have had to have paid, by passing a law that now, with the individual mandate gone, is probably unconstitutional.  I want that money back.

And now, with a different president in office and some shiny new tax laws in place that actually encourage businesses to grow and expand, and carry the economy even beyond the heights that President Trump has already brought it, well, it's my turn.  As long as Congress doesn't mess around with the tax law, somewhere around May of 2020 I will have broken even, and the tax law will have paid me back for what Obamacare took from me.

Needless to say, my individual case is being replicated nationwide.  Thank God.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Friday, March 1, 2019

Visiting Column #9 -- The Performing Arts and the People

OK, I haven't written for a while.  This piece has the kind of title that might get a few more people to read it, than if I titled it more in line with its topic.  But it is going to be a more interesting, or at least curious, read than a more precise titling would have suggested.

The "arts" fall into two broad categories, in one way of slicing it.  There are the -- I don't know, "productive arts", where there is a tangible product as their outcome, like a painting, a book or sculpture. People come to see the product and marvel or jeer, accordingly, but save any decay, the product lasts and is the same thing tomorrow as today.  The "artist" is the creator.

The other would be the performing arts.  That's very distinct for a key reason.  There are then two artists in play; one is the creator (and arranger) of the musical composition or play or whatever; the second is the individual or group that performs the piece.  They can be separated by centuries.  Both need to be good in order for the "art" to come forth; a great cast couldn't save an atrocious play; a top orchestra can't make "Louie, Louie" sound like music, and Beethoven's Fifth as played by a third-grade band will not sound great -- except to the parents, maybe.

For the last 35 years, my performing art of choice has been the barbershop quartet (and, to some extent, the barbershop chorus).  I performed for 25 of those years, and four times was fortunate to be part of an international championship group.  But the organization devoted to its continuation is in serious jeopardy, and losing members -- even as the best of its performers today are as good or better than anyone performing the style has ever been.

That's what I wanted to write about today.  And it's a philosophical discussion I can't solve.

Briefly -- the organization is the Barbershop Harmony Society, long known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America.  It is based in Nashville, and has about 700-800 chapters in the USA and Canada, but is now under 20,000 members.

The art form itself is a style of music with four parts, a lead (melody), one part (tenor) above the melody, a bass singing foundation chord parts, and the baritone singing whatever note is left.  There are distinct rules of harmony at play, which are logical when you hear the music, but complex when written down -- so I won't.

Here's the thing.  Barbershop music is about as schizophrenic as it can get.  When it is done by a champion quartet or chorus or a high-level competitive group, it is mind-boggling how good it is.  Those rules of harmony are made to blend four sounds rapturously when done right.  They produce so many overtones, that you regularly hear five or six harmonically-pure notes per chord amidst a beautiful blended and large sound.  The story of the song is also conveyed sincerely -- that's also important -- and the musical theme is conveyed ideally.

On the other hand, when it is done poorly, as we too often hear, it is painful to listen to.  Men who are not good singers to start with, can make their offerings so unpleasant that your ears bleed, at least figuratively.  You just don't want to hear that, and it does no one any good.

So what is the problem?  Just this.  Virtually all men's barbershop is done under the auspices of the Barbershop Harmony Society, either by a BHS-chapter chorus or BHS-member quartet.  But while the very best of these performances, jaw-dropping as they can be, are spectacular, they are generally the exception.  Those who win contests are fabulous, but not in the majority.

Of those 700-800 chapters out there, the preponderance are of an average age over 55 or 60, beyond the age at which an amateur, untrained voice is at its peak.  These are the performers who, by default, are most often charged with "preserving the style", which is the formal mission of the Society.  And they generally feel that the way to preserve the style is to perform it.

They're right, of course.  At least someone has to perform it in order for those unfamiliar with it to like it enough to want to preserve it.  The problem is that these chapters get together once a week, often just 20 or so men, and spend the night singing -- mostly not very well, and mostly nothing you would regard as entertaining.  And they do shows, too, where they do this in public.

Ultimately, this is a conflict that is diminishing the membership of the Society.  As older members pass away, despite substantial efforts to bring youth into the contest venues, the numbers are not being replaced and the membership declines.

This is not a new phenomenon; we have been dealing with it for several decades.  The reason I am writing about it, and the reason I feel you might be interested in reading about it, is that it is a conflict that has analogous situations in other aspects of the arts -- the people with the responsibility for preserving the art form are singularly incapable of performing it well enough to attract others into sharing the interest, and thus preserving it.

When I was younger and far more active -- I stepped off the stage in 2009 and no longer sing, although I retain my membership -- I strongly advocated for the BHS to stop thinking of itself as a member-service organization, and to start thinking of itself as a performing-arts preservation one.  I suggested that, while we could keep the chapter structure, it no longer be the sine qua non of the organization -- that our primary goal be to have the largest possible population in North America exposed to the best we had to offer.

I still believe that, although there is always the second half of the equation to worry about.  That is, after someone has heard a champion quartet and says "I want more of that", what do we offer them?  What do we want them to do to help preserve the art form?  If the guy whose attention we get, can't really sing too well, what can he really do, and how do we leverage his interest?

That was where we kept running into the performance vs. preservation conflict; the member service organization vs. arts preservation organization conflict.  For decades, small choruses around the USA and Canada would have a show, and maybe bring in a high-quality guest quartet.  A good young singer would happen to be in the audience, and get so excited by the guest quartet that he would show up at the chapter's next Tuesday rehearsal, only to find 22 guys, 21 of them over 60, croaking out sounds not at all reminiscent of what attracted the young man in the first place.  He is never seen again.

I hate to raise all this without having an actual solution.  The best I could suggest would be for the Society to professionalize a half-dozen of its best quartets and send them on tour to every possible high school and college.  To try to overhaul the prevailing stereotyped notion of four guys in striped vests and straw hats not singing that well.  To create a ten-year plan to change the accepted notion of what barbershop is.  After all, people's impression of the "a cappella" style in general (barbershop is one subset of that style) has already been able to change through shows like Sing-Off and the work of a few dedicated individuals such as Deke Sharon.

BHS has opened its doors to female members recently, after being male-only for 80 years.  For the sake of the harmony itself, that's not a great idea (the overtones are somewhat diminished in the female range), and to be sure, I expect this had a lot more to do with legal-adjacent concerns about male-onliness, and more to do with offsetting the declining membership.  Contests at the top level will still be male only for now.

Of course, why I dislike that notion has nothing to do with the music, or genders.  Not much, anyway.

I dislike it because it is taking up a huge chunk of effort, but it has nothing to do with preserving the style and advancing the promotion of the style -- and everything to do with the notion of BHS as a membership organization.  As long as BHS thinks of itself that way, it will continue its long slide into irrelevance, no matter what gender its membership has.

I have the greatest respect for what is often called the "Joe Barbershopper", the guy in the little chapter in a small town who wants to enjoy his hobby on Tuesday nights.  He should be allowed to do so without anyone telling him not to.  I am not.

But while he may be called the "heart of the Society", to celebrate him is antagonistic to the Society's mission -- preserving an art form.  That preservation is going to be done when the nation, hungry for actual talent after years of having celebrity foisted upon them as "singing talent" (coughRodStewartcough), sees what the best of our artists can do with a great arrangement of a song suitable to the style.

Were it up to me, I would start focusing on developing and funding the performances at the highest level, and getting them in front of national audiences, even if a few bucks needs to be moved from some programs that are designed for the local chapter.  Say, this kind of performance, if you're wondering.

What happens after you listen to something like that?  Well, you want more, so you start picking through YouTube, and getting a bit more familiar with the range of music such groups can do.  And you start downloading albums.  That's "preservation by listener."  Only if you're an actual singer do you think about how to perform it, and maybe inquire into it, and maybe then check with the Society.

But if we turn into producers and promoters, as opposed to being overwhelmingly a membership organization, we add the possibility of actually perpetuating the art form as opposed to suppressing it.  If people get to where they hear "barbershop" and think -- well, more like what that video clip looks and sounds like, and less like the stereotype, less like their local 23-man group -- at that point we will have done more for preserving the greatness of the style than we'll have done in the 80 years previously.

That won't go over well internally, and this piece would greatly bother the leadership of the Society if and when they read it.  It would have to bother them; their premise is that we exist as an organization for the membership.  My premise is that we exist to preserve the style of the music.  At the moment, those two goals are in conflict.  And at the moment, the hemorrhaging rolls are indicating that we're failing.

I want to preserve the music by promulgating the best of it.  I want our focus to be getting the best performers and the best performances on stages, on line, into the public consciousness.  In no other form of music is the equivalent of Charlie's garage band put out there and try to portray that as representative of the best, as an entertaining act, as actual talent.

We can do better.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Monday, February 11, 2019

Visiting Column #8 -- Revisiting Global Warming

Over four years back, when I was new to writing this column and dumping out on a daily basis some things I'd wanted to say for a long time, I did a column on global warming and the alarmists on the left

My point, then, was that we knew that the leftists who were trying to make global warming an excuse to socialize the nation were being disingenuous.  My premise was that if we were talking about climate change, there was no reason that every single outcome of it was a bad thing, yet you never once heard a lefty mention anything good that would befall the earth.

That, I wrote, was prima facie evidence that the left was just using fear of global warming for their insidious, socialist ends, rather than actually to do something positive for the planet.  And clearly, there are some good outcomes if the planet's temperature kicked up a degree or two.  I believe that I mentioned the fact that a bazillion square miles of land in Canada and Russia would become suitable for agriculture and ranching, a huge boon to those trying to feed the hungry.

There's no question about that, of course; it's just a matter of how much warmth would lead to how much increase in agricultural productivity, at least until the next Ice Age comes and hauls us back into a deep freeze, as it eventually will.  We would actually know the answer, of course, if universities weren't so rigidly leftist that no one is allowed to do a paper on the topic.  God forbid, you know, that climate change might be actually a good thing.

And that was my point.  Climate change is by definition "change."  Change is not, a priori, good or bad.  We should expect a reasonable balance of positive and negative outcomes, not the Hades on earth that the left would have you think.

What I didn't say was this.  The global climate is a complex thing, of course.  It is great in Hawaii, cold at the Poles.  The vast "temperate" areas on earth vary all over the place -- it's what we call "seasons."  Although I live in a sort of sub-tropical area, I spent nearly 40 years in northern Virginia, where the temperature could vary from near zero degrees (F) in February to 100 or so in July and August.

Without leaving home, I dealt with literally a 100-degree variance on an annual basis.  Now that, friends, was climate change!  But I stress the part where I said I "dealt with it."  I did, and a few million other northern Virginians did too.  We turned on the air in the summer, and hauled out the snowblowers and the ski jackets in winter.  Duh.  We dealt with it.

That's what I don't understand about the global warmist alarmists.  Do they not think that if the temperature slid up a couple degrees, we couldn't just deal with it?  Or that "dealing with it" would be a heck of a lot easier than socializing the entire economy?

Here's the thing.  To say that we need to fight climate change is to say that the current temperature norms are perfect; that they are exactly what our global temperature should be.  That the current flora and fauna habitats in February 2019 are ideal and must not be changed, even though the flora and fauna regularly have adapted to broad climate fluctuations for millions of years.

Does anyone believe that?  How does a huge population on earth regularly sustain 100-degree variances in the course of a normal year, but according to the left, if that 100-degree variance phase-shifted even a couple degrees up, the planet would suddenly be uninhabitable?  Moreover, that we need to kill our entire energy model to prevent that from happening?

You know how you never get a straight answer from a leftist if you ask what the highest rate that anyone should ever have to pay out of his income in taxes?  They won't tell you that, because then they can't try to get even more from you.

Well, the same applies here.  Has anyone asked a climate-change fanatic to describe what the perfect climate model is?  What, I would want to ask them, would constitute the actual goal of their movement, as expressed in a high and low temperature for every nation on earth?

You won't get it, of course, because the left never gives you an endpoint, lest once it is reached they no longer have an excuse for running your life.  But even if they did, there is Part Two of the question:

Why?

What, I would ask, is the reason that that particular temperature pattern is so in need of preservation exactly as it is, that it is worth overhauling the entire world economy and energy model in a doomed effort to keep it that way?

I would tell you that all the points in this column are precisely, collectively, why I will never subscribe to the notion that we should lift a finger to change, or prevent the change of, our planet's climate.

I encourage those of opposing views to answer me.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Visiting Column #7 -- Declining Value of WAR

If you are a baseball fan -- and if you are, you already know this is to be a piece on baseball -- you have hear the term "WAR."  You may know what it means, or not, but you know it is something important.

A very quick explanation: WAR stands for "Wins Above Replacement", and is a fairly recent metric used to evaluate major-league players.  Essentially, it boils a whole bunch of evaluative factors -- hitting, base-running, defense -- into a single number that represents how many more wins a player's team achieved with that player on the field, vs. what the team would have had with a "replacement player", i.e., a player brought up from the minors.  There is also a version for pitchers, but let's ignore that for the moment.

WAR is cumulative; you can speak of the number of WAR earned during a season, or over a career.  So a player with skills exactly those of a rookie brought up from AAA would be rated at a 0.0 WAR, while a player with a 10-WAR season (or even more) has had a historically phenomenal year.  For example, two position players -- Mookie Betts (10.9) of the Red Sox and Mike Trout (10.2) of the Angels -- had WAR over 10 in 2018.

Finally, there are several versions of WAR out there, depending on which source's formula is used; primarily we use either bWAR or fWAR, named after the site that computes it.  They differ in minutiae regarding the value of things like base-running, but regardless, both use the currency of wins, boiling their analysis into number of wins a team earns vs. a replacement player in the position.

I bring all this up not for statistical purposes, but for a monetary one.

We of an analytic bent couldn't help but try to take WAR a step further.  Major league salaries are always an interesting topic, at least to me, since I write about them a great deal.  And as I write this, there is a fascinating dual case of two outstanding free agent players who are both excellent, young and, as the equipment trucks are already en route to Florida and Arizona for Spring Training, without a job.

We are talking, of course, about the shortstop Manny Machado, late of the Dodgers but mainly an Oriole throughout his career, and the outfielder Bryce Harper, a National through the expiration of his contract this past October.

Fans have been anticipating this offseason for several years, when it seemed that both would be free agents in the same season.  Machado toiled for the low-budget Orioles, who couldn't afford him, and Harper played for Washington, which could afford him and offered a huge contract while he was still a player there, but he is represented by Scott Boras, an agent who insists his players go to free agency.  So this was coming.

Needless to say, countless words have been written in the press about the gargantuan salaries each would get, and where they would fit into the small number of teams which could actually afford such numbers -- and had an actual opening.  And those numbers were huge -- multiple articles had forecast Harper getting $400 million over ten years, even though no player has ever gotten close to an average annual value of $40 million.  Machado was not far behind.

They had projected these numbers based on WAR, of course.  They used very common schemes that in recent years have put a dollar value on one point of an arbitration-eligible or free agent player's WAR -- four or five million or so, although I really can't tell you what the current analysts use.  I can't tell you because I really don't care; salaries to me are based on such varied criteria that I think such ratios are of no real value.

But they're out there, and they were used liberally by players, agents and teams.  More importantly, they are used constantly by the media to project ludicrously-high salaries -- and, as they say, "sell papers."

That, friends, is a mistake.

The mistake is that, even if you concede that a ratio could hold for players in the lower echelons (i.e., for whom all 30 teams could financially compete), it is not a linear relationship.  That is, once you are talking about a top-rank player in the $20 million/year or higher bracket, the parameters change.

There is a finite supply of those players, but the demand dips accordingly.  In the case, say, of Harper, more than half the teams simply can't afford him; they can't afford to tie up that high a percentage of their payroll in one player.  At least two of the big-money teams, the Yankees and Red Sox, have full outfields and simply don't need him. 

As I have written, it isn't whether (in this case) Harper is "worth" $40 million to such teams, but whether the upgrade over whichever outfielder would be replaced is worth the difference in salary, and in those cases, he simply is not.

From what can be believed in the latest press accounts, the actual salaries are going to be much less.  Machado has only 3-4 teams even negotiating with his agent, including the White Sox, Phillies and maybe the Padres, while Harper is talking with Washington, the Phillies and maybe the Dodgers.  But for now, it is just talk.

And the numbers we're hearing are nothing at all like the talk -- we hear that Machado was offered "only" $175 million over six years from the White Sox and may not even have another offer, while Washington appears to have confirmed that the ten-year, $300 million offer to Harper they made last year is still on the table -- or maybe not. 

The potentially 10.0-WAR players simply are not seeing the dollars-per-WAR curve apply to them -- and Machado has never had over 7.0 WAR in a season, while Harper hit 10.0 in 2015 but has not been not over 7.5 since.

I believe that is because the ratio, so touted by the people who create it and swear by it, is not a linear but an asymptotic one, that is, it flattens as salaries approach the ridiculous levels.  It has to, since the demand factors that are maximized when we're talking about an "average" or "good" player, are minimized when only a few teams can participate.

WAR, from whichever source, is an excellent way to ascribe value to players, both seasonally and over a career, expressed as wins added.  But salaries are simply not proportional, and while arguably they should be, or at least should approximately be, absent a salary cap and present enormous greed (and a hyperactive media), they simply won't be what people think they are.

Owners learn, too.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Monday, February 4, 2019

Visiting Column #6 -- No Room for Daddy?

As I write this, Virginia's governor, Ralph Northam, is calling an emergency meeting of his staff to try to decide whether to step down in the wake of the discovery of a racially-charged picture on his page of the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook.

To be kind, Northam did not have a good week.  But whether or not he actually was one of the two individuals in the yearbook -- one in blackface and the other a Klansman in a hood and robe -- is of no concern to me.  Of course, I'm 100% certain that if the lieutenant governor had been a Republican, the chorus of screams for his resignation would be far quieter, hypocrites that the left can be.

But I digress.

Northam's bad week started when he went on a radio show in Washington and, to the horror (I assume) of the interviewer and most of the listeners, described a bill that had been proposed in the Legislature up there to deregulate abortions.  Specifically, it would literally allow an abortion up to (and I quote him) dilation, meaning within hours or minutes of an actual delivery -- as "late term" as humanly, or I guess, inhumanly, possible.

But that wasn't enough.  Northam went on to clarify even more, and here is where I got pretty steamed.  He described the timing of when an unborn child could be killed, and added that it included after birth.  That decision, he stated, would be "up to the woman and her physician."  Yes, he was very clear that a baby could be killed right after birth if the woman and her doctor okayed it.

I'm on record, as you who are regular readers know, as being far from passionate about the abortion issue.  It has mercifully never affected me personally.  I suppose that as a Christian, with sympathy for all, that I am offended by what we could call "abortion for convenience", while not being offended in cases of rape, incest, severe genetic abnormality.  The law will never sort that out, and I don't expect it to.

Moreover, because it is a moral issue, it needs to be up to the States and not to the Federal government to decide what is legal, according to the moral leanings of the people of that State.

But let's set that aside and return to Northam's comment on air.  I'm going to paraphrase here, but he did say this, whatever words were used: According to the proposed law, supported by Gov. Northam, a living baby can be legally killed, after it is born, if the mother and her doctor say it is OK.

The mother.  The doctor.  Isn't someone missing?

Even if you are to concede the weird leftist argument that a fetus is "part of the mother" and therefore all decisions about its life belong solely to her, once a baby is born alive, the rules change.

Once a baby is born, it is not the exclusive province of the mother to decide its fate.  Now (and, in my judgment, during pregnancy as well, but so be it), there are two parents and any decision about what happens to that child belongs to the father equally with the mother, whether or not he is a present figure in the life of the mother.

I have not heard a single word about this point of view, although perhaps there would have been more people to think about it had the networks actually paid any attention to Northam's radio interview -- outside of Fox, barely a minute of network and cable news even mentioned it -- NBC, ABC, CNN and NBC totally ignored the story.

But I didn't.  And I will scream from the rooftops that once a baby is born, there are two parents who both need to be involved in any decision to terminate the life of a living, born child.  I will scream from the same rooftops that if the father is not in the picture, it is still vital that he be found and brought into the decision before such a drastic step is taken.

Because at that point we're talking about a baby, not a body part.  And as it takes two to create it, it needs to take two to decide its fate.

How uncivilized would any decision to the contrary be.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Visiting Column #5 -- Did I Have to Sit There?

So this is not about a challenging trip on a commercial flight, or anything remotely like that.  It is, however, a brief vignette from my life way back when, and yet another opportunity to go back and laugh at myself and invite others to do the same.  I can actually do that.

Many, many years ago, in the far-off land of Massachusetts, I was living in Boston and performing in comic operas for a living, or at least to supplement my living.  I had an actual day job back then, but this was adding to the fun in my life -- usually.

Naturally, as a performer of Gilbert and Sullivan productions, I had grown to admire the most famous performers of the genre, which at that time meant those associated with London's D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which was actually founded 100 years or so earlier by the impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte, to produce those very operas as they were written.  Until 1982, when the Company closed, they were the place where the original direction of the author and composer were protected and faithfully performed.

Although the operas themselves have different settings, are set in several different countries and the stories are different, for the most part there are characters common across all of them -- the lead tenor and soprano, for example, who may or may not end up together at the end as they do in "HMS Pinafore" and "Pirates of Penzance" -- but don't in "Ruddigore" or "Patience."  There is a part in most all the operas for a large bass-baritone, and for a lower-voiced soprano with a flair for comedy.

And, of course, there is the "little man who dances around the stage and sings the patter song", as the British comedienne Anna Russell declared long ago in one of her routines.  Those not very familiar with the genre still know him as the "model of a modern major-general" or the First Lord of the Admiralty, who sings "When I Was a Lad ..." -- that guy.  And there's one of them in all the operas.

Naturally, over the years the performer in the D'Oyly Carte who played those roles, in any era, became the "star" of the Company.  John Reed, who performed the roles brilliantly for over 20 years until shortly before the Company closed, is the one that most people alive today would have seen, and certainly heard on the recordings done the last few decades of the Company.  I was privileged to have seen him in a number of performances during their USA tours.  We think of the eras of the Company in terms of who played those roles.

Martyn Green took that position on in 1934 and performed with the D'Oyly Carte for the better part of the next 20 years, with a break during the Second World War, until 1951.  He was certainly famous as a performer before and after that tenure, but it was as the comedian with the Company that he was best known.

I had read a book many years back which may have been about him directly, or perhaps in which he commented.  It might have been an article, actually -- I can't recall.  But I do remember that he was discussing W.S. Gilbert himself, and on being unable to answer a particular question, Green was quoted as saying "[I can't answer that], I only sat on Gilbert's knee once [as a small boy]".  Green was born in 1899, and Gilbert died in 1911, so the story makes sense.  For some reason, I recalled that.

In 1974, I was just beginning the first years of my performing career, such as it ever became.  Martyn Green, who had moved to the USA years before, was coincidentally performing on Cape Cod in a production of "HMS Pinafore" as a guest in a summer stock show.  He was just 75 at the time, and I was 23.  You figure, you have only one chance to see the Martyn Green, and it wasn't too far, so I went to see him and perhaps shake hands afterwards.

Now, understand that Green had lost one leg 20 years earlier in a horrific elevator accident, and made his way about on an artificial left leg.  So his performing did not include a lot of that "dancing around the stage" that Anna Russell had described, but you would simply have watched, had you not known that, and inferred simply that an older gentleman was no longer as spry and needed a cane to get around.  The performance was pretty good, but it didn't matter; we were there to see whatever version of Martyn Green was still there.

So afterwards, as is frequently done, the cast of the shows lined up outside for the audience to meet and greet, and at the end of the line Martyn Green sat and shook hands with people.  Naturally, I got in that line and, at my turn, approached him with a smile.  "You did sit on Gilbert's knee, correct?", I asked him.  He acknowledged that he had.

I couldn't help it.  "Would you mind if I sat on your knee for a second?", I asked.  He was a bit nonplussed, but readily said it was OK.  I'm a pretty small person to start with, and I only "sort of" sat on his knee, respecting his age, his mono-legged status and the relative propriety of the request.  I have to think that the friends I had gone with just shook their heads at me, because it was certainly something I would do.

Martyn Green died the following February at 75 years of age.  He once sat on W.S. Gilbert's knee, around 1904, and I sat on Martyn Green's knee in 1974.  The chain goes on.

You may stop laughing now.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Monday, January 14, 2019

Visiting Column #4 -- Put "Our" Money Where "Your" Mouth Is, Nancy

So Nancy Pelosi, the farmer's wife to Chuck Schumer's farmer from Grant Wood's American Gothic in their recent wooden response to President Trump's address to the nation last week, thinks that walls are immoral.

"Immoral", she says, in the same tone that she usually uses when she is saying something for political purposes that she knows not to be true.  Of course, whether a border wall is immoral or not can't be true or false, since morality, in the eyes of the left, is a relative notion that shifts depending on whether it can create votes for Democrats or not.

You know, and I know, that she means none of what she is saying.  We know that morality does not apply to nations protecting their own borders from illegal crossings, human trafficking, drug smuggling and gangs, unless we decide they are indeed acutely moral because they prevent all those bad things.

And they do of course.  Just ask the Israelis.  Or our own Border Patrol.

But Democrats need to stick to their narratives for at least six months, after which the sympathetic leftist press has long since moved on, and refuses to dig up clips of them saying the opposite of what they are proposing then, later.

Never mind.  Nancy Pelosi thinks walls are immoral this week, and she is the Speaker of the House for some reason, meaning that she controls the legislative agenda of the House of Representatives.  And apparently, based on her opposition to authorizing $5 billion to extend the current border wall, she has some newfound concern for our Federal budget.

But morality should overcome any of that fiscal sanity, right?

That gets me to my central point.  If Nancy Pelosi thinks that new wall construction would be immoral and so wrong, then it is logical that the wall already built is equally immoral.  And if it is equally immoral, it needs to be removed.

So Nancy -- here is my point:  Why, if you think that border protection via barrier is immoral, have you not already introduced legislation to fund the removal of all border walls at our southern border?

Walls either are or are not immoral; they either do or do not work.  Now, we all know that they are very moral, and we certainly know that they work.  But Pelosi has now gone on record as saying the opposite, and it is past time for her to introduce a bill that would authorize taxpayer money -- yours and mine -- to do what, in her eyes, is the "moral" thing and tear down the existing wall.

You have to ask why she hasn't already done that.  Could it be that the Border Patrol, from rank and file all the way up to the last five Directors, would scream bloody murder and cause her to lose the narrative?

But she already said it is immoral.  There are no two ways about it; if it is wrong it needs to be removed.  And if she does not introduce a bill to do so, she is a coward of the highest degree, not standing up for what she claims to believe in.

So how 'bout it, Nannykins?  Put our money where your mouth is.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Visiting Column #3 -- Accelerating the Off-Season

Earlier today, I happened to come across a few articles bemoaning the rather dull Winter Meetings by Major League Baseball.  There has been a signing or two, and a couple minor trades, but when the Meetings are advertised as the place "where things happen", and the press piles into whatever hotel is the headquarters to follow what is happening -- but nothing happens, it's a downer.

The reasons are several, but I can point to one, and his initials are Scott Boras.  And I have a solution at the end of this piece.

Scott Boras, of course, is a sports agent, meaning that he negotiates contracts on behalf of his clients, which for this piece's purposes are major-league baseball players.  Keep that in mind.

With the World Series ending by about November 1st, and Spring Training beginning in mid-February, that's about three and a half months for free agents to figure out where they are going to play when the following Spring Training begins.  Typically, there are a few dozen free agents in a given season, and only a handful, 4-5 at most, are primo players.

The annual dance, of course, is between the teams with needs at certain positions, and the players who play those positions.  The teams want the players they covet, and the players are trying to get the most money.

Of course, there are risks on both sides.  If you are a very good, but not "primo", player, the teams needing you may be waiting to see if they can first sign the primo player at your position.  Then if the primo player signs elsewhere, you want to make sure you get a job, and the teams which missed out on the primo guy want to make sure they get a very good player.  So there are risks on each side, and neither has a sense of control.

If that was almost clear, you will understand when I say that the fates of most free agents, and the rosters of most teams, are all waiting on one thing -- the signing of the primo players.  If that were to happen early in the off-season, then all the other dominoes could fall neatly, players would know where they're going, and teams would know their rosters.

But for the most part, it does not happen in the off-season, despite the extended tumult the delay causes.  And that goes back to the agent who is never in a hurry to get his player clients signed.  That would be Scott Boras.

Now in fairness, Boras is doing his job, which is to get the most money for his clients and the highest commissions for himself.  To do that, he drags the negotiations out with multiple teams -- and we're talking about his primo clients here -- to where Boras clients often don't sign until January or February.

While that shouldn't matter, it does.  The delay in signing primo Boras clients drives the market for all the other players at those positions, whose salary offers are frequently linked to the relative value of the contracts of the primo players at their positions.  Now, a few smart, non-Boras free agents sign early in the season, to make sure they have a job.  They may not quite get the contract they wanted, but they have more choice of teams, and know where they're going to play long before Spring Training.

So the Boras delay tactic has only one salutary effect, and that is for a very few players -- his top ones -- and, of course, for Boras.  The hope on his part is that the passage of time may add more teams into the mix and drive up prices.

The negatives?  Lots.  The other players, particularly the very good, next-tier free agents, have to wait until Boras's primo clients sign, because their best market will be with the teams that fail to sign the top Boras client at their position.  They hate that, because either they wait, or they take less to sign earlier in order to ensure they have a job where they'd prefer to be.

The teams hate the Boras delay as well.  All of them do.  They want to plan; they want roster certainty and they want cost predictability.

And so, as we get to the Winter Meetings in mid-December each year, little ends up happening.  For example, this year, the now-former Washington outfielder, Bryce Harper, is a Boras client.  He is not signing anytime soon, and that is delaying the signing of Manny Machado, a shortstop whose agent wants him to get a bigger contract than Harper, and so is waiting on that move.

Teams needing an outfielder or a shortstop, with the revenues to pay a big salary, will make a far different decision if they sign one of the two, versus what they do if they lose out to another team.  And if Harper doesn't sign until, say, February 1, there are a bunch of teams not knowing who their outfielders will be, and others not knowing who their shortstop will be.  The "losing teams" end up having to scramble, while the other free agents at those positions can't make life plans until right before Spring Training.

So ... this is, of course, a problem, in everyone's eyes except those of Scott Boras.

Well, Major League Baseball owes Boras nothing, and therefore should feel free to take action that will make this situation a whole lot better for all teams and for most players.  And there is, of course, an answer.

I propose that no contract for any player, with an average annual value above $2 million may be signed between January 1st and the date of the first regular season game.

Think about it.

All free agents of decent quality will obviously be paid more than $2 million a year.  So in order to be available to start the season, they need to sign a contract before January 1st.  The teams gain roster certainty comfortably in advance of Spring Training, and the players all know, pretty much, where they will be playing.  And, of course, the Winter Meetings would be a deserved center of offseason attention.

More importantly, November and December provide plenty of time for the negotiations that need to take place -- instead of everyone stalling and goofing around, as soon as the World Series is over, the negotiations can start.  Any linkage between what one player makes and another player's offer is clear earlier in the offseason.

And -- there will be immense pressure on the very few primo free agents to sign early enough to leave time before January 1st for teams that don't sign them to deal with the remaining free agents at the positions of need.  I'd be certain that if that rule were in place now, and Machado or Harper waited until December 31st to sign, he'd be taking beanballs every other game.  The players take care of their own, you know.

We have problems, we have solutions.  Comments are welcomed below.


Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Visiting Column #2 -- Omission in the News

The other day I happened to have come across an interesting article regarding the former tennis great and notorious bad boy, John McEnroe.

John McEnroe is now 60 years old, and apparently over the years it has been suggested that he take on, in an exhibition match, one of the current female tennis stars, generally one of the Williams sisters, as they have been among the top few female players in that time.  McEnroe appears to be the go-to guy for that kind of match, mainly because he is, to say the least, outspoken and quite loud, in a New Yorker sort of way.  Good TV, we assume.

The idea for this, of course, dates back to 1973.  Bobby Riggs, who was 55 at the time and the 1939 Wimbledon men's singles champion, had declared that, even at that age, he could defeat the best women players currently on tour.  He challenged the best to a match.

Margaret Smith Court, who was then the #1 player in the world, accepted.  She would ultimately win no fewer than 64 Grand Slam titles, including 24 singles wins.  She would win the Australian, French and US Open titles that very year and was clearly the best woman player in the world that year, with or without the rankings to confirm it.

Mrs. Court accepted the challenge and, on Mother's Day  1973, the two played a match.  She was the best woman tennis player on the planet; Riggs was, well, 55.  He had won Wimbledon, all right, but it had been 24 years since and, well, he was 55.

It was not close.  Riggs won the match, 6-2, 6-1, and it took less than an hour.

Why do I feel the need to mention all that history?  Because, as we all know, about four months later, Riggs tried it again, this time against Billie Jean King, also then a highly-ranked player.  This time, Mrs. King won, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

The key is my phrase "as we all know."  You see, the match against Mrs. Court seems never to have been mentioned in any story that mentions the Riggs-King match.  That's odd, since Riggs's thesis was that an old, old long-retired top male player could beat an active women's Grand Slam champion, and he had already proved it before playing Mrs. King.

If anything, the King match, given the score, and certainly when considered along with the Court match, provided a couple data points that demonstrated, at the least, that the long-retired man was a comparable skill measure to an active woman champion.  Were John McEnroe to take on a Williams or two, given enough time to get back into whatever a 60-year-old would think of as "playing shape", we should expect him to hold his own in a close match.

Now this will not happen.  McEnroe, though he says now he thinks he could win, has no interest in such a match, and so we would not expect it to happen, ever.

But that is not the point.  Today's media narrative and, to be fair, the narrative for about 45 years, has totally ignored the fact that Riggs defeated the #1 woman player in the game despite a 24-year age difference.  Totally ignored it -- if you ask people in their 30s and 40s (i.e., mature but too young to have seen it) who will have heard about the Riggs-King match, I would opine that fewer than 1/4 of them would know that it was the second match and that Riggs proved his point in the first.

Yes, this is a commentary on the media and their narratives.

The article from the Australian author, the gentleman that I cited in the beginning of this piece, was a perfect example; it mentions the King match but there is no allusion to the Court match at all.  Now to the gentleman's credit, he did tweet back to me, when I pointed it out, to apologize for it as an oversight, and I thank him for that.  I don't actually lump him in with that "media", since I truly believe it was an oversight on the part of a younger writer.

But as I always say and more frequently hear, the media influence as much or more by what they do not say as by what they do say.  The true outcome of the 1973 Riggs matches was that, even at 55, a male tennis player could compete on a level basis with an active champion female.  That is not the media's interpretation, which is that "women can compete with men in anything", but which the two matches together would have refuted.

Except that the Court match, the crushing by a 55-year-old man of the then-top female player, would render that narrative as hogwash.  Therefore, it was to be ignored, forgotten and left out of the story totally.  And the media continue to do so to this day.

Unfortunately, history is a pesky thing, and facts can be inconvenient.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Friday, November 23, 2018

Visiting Column #1 -- Voter ID and Yahoo's Bias

So please don't think I'm going to do this too often, but once in a while there surely will be a stimulus for a column, and this one is it.
Yahoo, as we know, has allowed its leftist leanings to show itself more and more in recent months.  I've written to that, of course, as their "news" feed, that is supposed to be somewhat neutral (if it wants to call itself "news"), will offer ten stories, nine of which lean hard left/anti-Trump and the other is some fluff piece about this or that pop tart.
Today their tippy-top piece was about the Republicans in North Carolina.  It shouldn't have been, but it was.  Here is the headline:
"After referendum, North Carolina GOP tries voter ID again"
 Now, what does that suggest to you?  To me, it would sound like the Republicans in the state are trying to re-institute a voter-ID law requiring that you prove who you are in order to vote, right?  The word "tries", though, suggest that there would be a challenge and that the GOP was trying to do something nefarious.
Well, here's the thing.  The referendum the headline refers to was one that was on the ballot here in North Carolina a few weeks ago.  the voters of the great State of North Carolina voted overwhelmingly -- more than 55% -- to authorize a requirement for voter ID in the state, in the form of authorizing a constitutional amendment.
So the job of the legislature is to implement that.  Now, what the mechanics of that are, I don't know, but obviously in the aftermath of the election, the legislature is mandated to create a model to implement that requires voter ID.
The article suggested that in the waning weeks of the legislative year, before a new and less-Republican legislature takes office, the current legislature would try to implement the new amendment as law before the no longer veto-proof majority takes over.  The governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat, you see, and might veto such a move despite the -- did I mention this -- 55% majority vote demanding voter ID be written into the State constitution.
I don't know.  I don't know what Yahoo has against requiring that people be required to demonstrate who they are in order to cast a vote.  I don't know why they don't want North Carolina voters to be protected against the weakening of our votes by illegals and non-citizens voting.  I don't know why it should be an issue to require the same demonstration of identity to vote that is required to drive a car or buy beer.
Well, I do know, actually.  The ballot box has not always been kind to the left.  In 2016, all of Hillary's lead in fund-raising was not enough to overcome the country's revulsion at what a crummy candidate she was, and how she had no evident reason for running, and that she was demonstrably corrupt.
The left would prefer that it not have to risk actually asking Americans to vote for them, and just to take and hold power.  Governing is really not the big deal for them; power is.  Whatever means are necessary to grab power, even allowing hordes to storm our sacred borders, or to have people vote illegally or vote often, well, my diluted vote is just collateral damage to them.
And even when the people stand up against that and vote to amend our constitution to mandate voter identification, we have Yahoo protesting away that showing who you are in order to vote is somehow "racist", their go-to word for everything (hint: they've cried wolf on that one a few too many times).
Well, I wish the NC Republicans well and hope they can get the procedures legislated into law quickly and reasonably.
I hope to show up at the ballot in a year or two with a photo identification and actually be asked for it.
Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton