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July 2019

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A stressed-out mom made a viral social media post in which she supported banning childless millennials from Disney World. The rant was motivated by the challenging experience of caring for a cranky three-year-old. She was frustrated by a young adult who bought a Mickey Mouse pretzel before she could get it for her kid. In her post she said mothers with children should be allowed to skip in line at Disney World. She believes that Disney World should be family oriented rather than young adult oriented. That’s challenging for Disney, which has been courting millennials for years. Apparently they are the group more likely than other generations to plan visits to theme parks. Knowing that has guided a shifting Disney business model.  They have been broadening their appeal to include adult activities like adults-only cruises. On mixed-family cruises, the company now offers adults-only areas including pools, lounges and nightclubs. The company has even given up on its alcohol-free policy. Our outraged mom might be happier leaving the kid at home and having a drink by some Disney, adults-only pool. 

Baidu, a Chinese Tech Giant released a conversational AI machine that works in both Chinese and English. The new machine ERNIE 2.0 claims to outperform Google’s BERT and XLNet in several language understanding benchmarks and in nine different Chinese natural language tasks. ERNIE 2.0 relies on a transformer encoder and the BookCorpus data set for training. The new technology has been relatively successful at analyzing sentiment in movie reviews and inferring meaning from sentences. ERNIE 2.0 is based on an open-sourced language understanding model. This new machine relies on something which Baidu refers to as continual pre-training. It’s a two step process. The first is unsupervised pre-training tasks using a lot of data and the second is multi-task learning.

A new technological age is upon us. Artificial intelligence is being applied across many different industries very quickly. One of the uses in the healthcare field applies AI to diagnose illnesses. It is now being used to distinguish between benign and malignant cells in potential breast cancer tumors. These classifications can help patients avoid unnecessary treatments. AI uses machine learning, the science of getting machines to act without being explicitly programmed, in this case, to help make a diagnosis. It is becoming respected tool for breast cancer tumor classification by putting together and processing huge data sets to help doctors make more accurate, faster diagnoses and to suggest the most appropriate therapies for their patients.   

It wasn’t Cribs on MTV, but Justin Bieber aka Biebz gave his 100+ million followers on Instagram a look into his Beverly Hills home in his IG story. The home is valued at over $8 million dollars with five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a wine cellar, a home theater, swimming pool, cabana, and a dog named Oscar.

Ok, Oscar wasn’t involved in the valuation of the home, but he’s in there.  You can see him running around through Bieber’s story, pouncing on the bed in the massive master bedroom that Bieber shares with his wife Hailey Baldwin.  She also makes the story too, but didn’t seem thrilled to be on camera in her PJ’s.

While his bedroom was messy, the house looks to be equipped with all the trimmings. Expect there to be some pretty rad celeb parties at the estate in the not so distant future.  Check out Bieber’s insta story for a full tour.

Yasiel Puig has never been one to disappoint when it comes to entertainment value. Often spotted doing something silly from kissing his bat to epic bat flips and strange gestures on the field, the Cuban outfielder is one of baseball¹s most charismatic players. Let’s not forget the scary sight of Puig wearing a sleeveless baseball jersey just a few weeks ago. The long time LA Dodger was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason, and yesterday, was traded to the Cleveland Indians in a three team deal with the San Diego Padres that brought Trevor Bauer to the Reds. 

Just minutes after the trade was announced on Twitter, Puig got involved in a major on field brawl between the Pirates and Reds. There is no love lost between those two teams.  They were involved in a scrum back in April, one in which Puig was ejected and suspended. Another suspension is likely even as he drives the short distance across Ohio to Cleveland to join the Indians. 

While Puig and Bauer were the headliners of this complex deal, there were many prospects and major league role players that are also on the move. Namely the Reds number one prospect, outfielder Taylor Trammell, will go to the Padres, while the Indians receive a lefty pitcher from the Reds as well as three prospects from the Padres. Can you follow that? Puig is leaving Cincy in the way only Yasiel Puig could, brawling for his teammates. If he is a scrappy for the Indians as he has been for the Reds, we may be witnessing an emerging Ohio legend

It’s release time for one of, if not THE most popular sports title for gaming consoles, Madden NFL 2020. EA Sports has loaded the new version with a ton of new features, upgrades, and graphic improvements – all needed after rolling out the same title with only roster updates from 2014 -2018. The 2020 version appears to be much richer, new generation of the perennial.

The biggest addition is the Superstar X Factor/Zone Abilities, which can most easily be compared to player attributes in FIFA soccer console such as long range passer, or flair, or poacher.

In Madden NFL 2020 a player can be defined as a Superstar or Superstar X Factor. If a player is a Superstar X Factor, abilities can be unlocked throughout the game giving him a significant advantage. Superstar X Factor traits vary based on the player and his rating. For example, if a quarterback has a Pro Reads X Factor and it’s unlocked, the first open receiver will be highlighted. This feature adds depth and can change throughout the course of the game.

Speaking of player ratings, this year’s rating system feature is much more significant than in past versions. For example, if your starting offensive lineman goes down with an injury and he had a 78 overall rating, which for this Madden is pretty good, and his replacement has a rating in the 50’s, it will have an effect. The talent gap will change giving a bigger advantage to the star players, making it more difficult when you have injury replacements. We think this more realistically represents how the NFL actually functions. 

In addition to those notable changes, the graphics seem to be far improved; little player movements and unique characteristics are more closely defined, and there is a new hot count feature that enables a quarterback to switch a run play to a quick pass on the fly.

Franchise mode is expected to be mostly the same, but there is a new mode called “Face of the Franchise”. In it, you are your own player going through all the trials and tribulations of becoming an NFL player, from the combine, to draft interviews, to the league. This is very similar to the My Player in MLB 2K or in FIFA.

Ultimately, the Madden title brings back great memories year after year. The ability to compete against friends for bragging rights or take a franchise and turn it upside down into a perennial dynasty, Madden always arrives in time for people to waste away their August indoors, getting mentally prepared for the NFL season.

Big question: Will Pat Mahomes suffer from the Madden jinx?

LeBron James tormented Drake’s Raptors during his tenure in the eastern conference, but now he and Drake are joining forces. The two icons announced that LeBron’s digital media company Uninterrupted will be coming to Canada in its first international expansion. The brand will be called Uninterrupted Canada (UIC). Fitting. 

Uninterrupted was launched back in 2015 by LeBron and his business partner Maverick Carter. It was designed to create a platform for U.S. athletes to better connect with fans, free of mainstream interference. It features videos from the athlete’s perspective, original series, podcasts, and documentaries. 

Now, with Drake onboard, the company’s expansion into Canada will be the first step into becoming a more global entity. It’s been reported that the first official content out of UIC will be from Raptors’ forward Serge Ibaka. We can expect much more out of Canada from the Raptors, Blue Jays, and all the hockey teams that dominate the sports market north of the border. 

Drake commented, “Uninterrupted has been an incredible platform for athletes to tell their stories and connect with fans. I’m honored to partner with LeBron to bring Uninterrupted to Canada, a country that continuously supports innovation and creativity.”

More global expansion is in the works.  It is said there are plans for a European venture channeling in on the soccer world and Asian venture that will focus on cricket in India.

The Fortnite gaming series recently had its first ever world-cup. The tournament winner, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, a 16 year old from Pennsylvania, beat millions of players on his path to the companionship. He had to win six battle royal matches to emerge as the champion and take home the $3 million winner’s prize.  When asked what he’d do with the money, he was quoted as saying he wanted to buy a new desk.

All one hundred competitors were guaranteed at least $50,000 for their participation. Four of them received seven figure rewards including Argentina’s Thiago “King” Lapp, a 13 year old who got $900,000 for his fifth place finish.

The event demonstrates the big money flowing into e-sports. The first ever Fortnite World Cup reward budget of $30 million matched that of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer budget and the winner’s prize is comparable to the Men’s and Women’s US Open Tennis Championship prize money. Meanwhile, the premier e-sporting competition, The International,has an even bigger reward budget than the Fortnite World Cup. If you are over 20, you are over the e-sports hill.  Go home.

Recently over Instagram, Ariana Grande made an inappropriate joke about JonBenét Ramsey, a six year old who was murdered in her home 23 years ago.  The incident started when her friend Douglas Middlebrook made an Instagram post showing a photo of the victim with a caption saying, “No One Has Done More Covers.” Grande bantered back saying to Middlebrook “I can’t wait for this to be your Halloween costume.” Middlebrook jokingly replied, “Working on it already.” The comments and the post were quickly deleted after they realized how socially offensive they were, but not before many of Grande’s fans were angered by the comment. Grande apologized and thanked her fans for keeping her in line.

Her fans were correct in their criticism, but given that Ariana was three years old when the event happened, the significance of it may not have been foremost in her mind.  Good that she withdrew the comments and apologized.  Good example. Move on.

President Trump recently released a series of negative tweets about Baltimore, which is Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district. While attacking Cummings’, Trump referred to the city as a “rat and rodent-infested mess.” Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank defended the home city of his company through his Instagram account in a post which expressed pride in the city of Baltimore. This isn’t the first time Plank has expressed disagreement with Mr. Trump. In fact, he removed himself from Trump’s manufacturing council in 2017 shortly after Mr. Trump failed to offer a clear and strong condemnation of the white supremacists at the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

NBA star Stephen Curry also defended Baltimore against Trump’s remarks. Curry said that he knew many people from Baltimore and that they represent the best of what it means to be an American. Curry also praised CNN correspondent Victor Blackwell for criticizing the type of language that Trump typically uses when attacking politicians who belong to minority groups. Trump also attacked Al Sharpton for allegedly being anti-white and a con man; Al Sharpton responded by accusing Mr. Trump of bigotry. Only time will tell how these fights between Mr. Trump and major celebrities might affect the 2020 election.