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As much as this thread might have gone a little off topic for JohnW it’s still an entertaining read none the less.
Is it disappointing that authorship was removed? Somewhat disappointing in my opinion. I think the concept certainly had potential but as mentioned it has little to do with improving ranking or traffic.
Most of that issue was likely caused by Google+, it’s lack of adoption followed by an inability for most business owners to implement it easily and successfully.
Like most things with SEs I always saw it as a long term investment of my time where one day content developed with my name to it, and on SEO and online marketing, might perform better than topics I write about the weather for example. This doesn’t need authorship for that to be true and is already the case even when I don’t write about the weather
I don’t think “x” number of years developing content means you should rank higher than “x -1” years however it does show consistency and whether the quality of your content, over time, was well received.
As for the SEs vs “other traffic sources” debate. Diversity is key. Nobody doubts the power of Google but businesses should start focusing on the power of “other traffic sources” in conjunction with Google. The two sources go hand in hand.