Warning: This post was written by a Mets fan.When Daniel Murphy let a ball bounce beneath his glove in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the World Series, I threw my Mets hat to the ground. It was ostensibly the pivotal moment in a 5-3 Royals win, the kind of play that reminded me why other sports have fouls but baseball has errors.We could sit here together and dwell on all the Mets errors: We could wonder how Jeurys Familia, an all-star closer, blew five saves in 48 opportunities during the regular season, but has blown two in two opportunities during the World Series. We could plumb the depths of Yoenis Cespedes’s above-average defensive metrics, and make the case that to measure Cespedes’s true defensive capacity we need a new metric that somehow quantifies a fielder’s nonchalance.1And ideally a fielder’s tendency to kick the ball off his leg when he can’t catch it. And we could spend hours trying to understand Terry Collins’s faith in an eighth-inning set-up man who is allowing a .835 OPS to opposing batters in the postseason. (It seems as though I may spend the next several years doing that.)But instead I want to tell you about my hat. If you read FiveThirtyEight a lot, you know that we’re puritanical about baseball’s playoffs being a crapshoot. They’re a series of games that may or may not be a reflection of a team’s actual quality. Intellectually, I know the same rules of randomness that apply to a baseball also apply to what I wear to watch a game. But the World Series is not a time for intellect.On July 31, the day Cespedes was traded to the Mets, I bought a Minnesota Twins hat at Target Field in Minneapolis. It was a tourist’s purchase – I was in Minnesota for a couple of ballgames with some friends.But the hat started to mean something more. That weekend, the Mets swept the Washington Nationals to tie for first place in the NL East. So I kept wearing the hat. And the Mets kept winning. The Mets went 37-22 to close out the season, and won the NL East despite a 23 percent chance of doing so when I bought the hat. (The rational readers among you will note that they also went 37-22 to close out the season after Cespedes joined the team, but, again, this is not a rational story.)Soon, the Twins hat had replaced my Mets hat. My Mets friends texted me and asked me to wear it when they were feeling nervous about a game. I nearly forgot it on a plane, and felt the Mets season slipping away until I stormed back to retrieve it. At the start of the playoffs, I went on a poorly timed vacation to India, and brought the Twins hat to ensure the Mets advanced.I returned to the U.S. in time for the World Series, and there was no question I’d wear the Twins hat into the heart of a Mets bar for Game 1. Fourteen innings later, the hat wasn’t enough. The Mets lost 5-4.So I put on something different. I went to Game 3 in Citi Field and wore a hat that spelled out M-E-T-S. I had worn it to every Mets home game I attended this year.That Mets hat has its own history, with a winning percentage of about .550 this season, if I recall correctly. Good, but not Twins hat good. Yet the Mets won Game 3 9-3. And so, before Game 4, I faced the same choice any manager does: Do I ride what’s hot, or stick with the steady performer? I looked into the archives of Baseball Prospectus, but couldn’t find any research on whether there’s such a thing as a hot-hand effect in fans’ attire. I was adrift with nothing but my own small sample sizes.Saturday, I put on the Mets hat. By the end of the night, it had regressed to its mean. It couldn’t stop a Royals team that had a .301 BABIP in the regular season from having a BABIP of .346 in Game 4 (and that doesn’t even count the ball that skittered beneath Murphy’s glove). It couldn’t make the Mets win. It couldn’t get Terry Collins to bring in his best bullpen pitcher for a six-out save with nobody on, rather than a five-out save with two runners on base. It couldn’t get Cespedes to stay closer to first base in the final moments.A hat with a .550 winning percentage could never do that. But a Twins hat with a .627 winning percentage? We’ll find out during Game 5.
Roughly 25 jobs will be affected as a result, although some of those could be transferred to AMI. “AMI will be interviewing all of our employees in the areas being outsourced, and it’s not clear how many of them will be asked to join their company,” a Playboy spokesperson told FOLIO:. “We will also keep a few employees.”Playboy will incur a $2 million restructuring charge in the fourth quarter related to the deal.Financial terms were not disclosed. As part of the agreement, Playboy said AMI will be paid “negotiated fees” and will be incented to increase both advertising and circulation revenues. The publishers expect to complete the transition by March 2010. UPDATE: Under terms of the contract, AMI said it will be paid “potential fees” in the range of $5 million for advertising, circulation, production and related services. This, the company said, would result in profitability of approximately $2 million.When asked about AMI’s strategy behind boosting Playboy’s ad and newsstand sales, and its plans for managing the magazine’s recently reduced rate base and frequency, AMI CEO David Pecker had no comment.According to Flanders, AMI will be able to manage the magazine operations “more effectively than we can as a standalone publisher. By joining forces with American Media, we will be able to significantly reduce our cost structure and leverage the economies of scale related to manufacturing, distribution and marketing that are available to this large, multi-title publisher.”Flanders said Playboy magazine is expected to lose $8 million this year. This deal, he projected, will allow the magazine reduce the loss to approximately $5 million in 2010 and to reach profitability again by late 2011.During the earnings call, Playboy Enterprises reported a $23.5 million net loss through the third quarter, down from a $13.6 million net loss in 2008. The company’s print/digital group reported a $900,000 loss through the first nine months compared to a $3 million loss during the same period last year. Flanders said he expects the magazine to report a 38 percent decline in ad pages during the fourth quarter this year.AMI publishes several titles already targeting man aged 18 to 34 years, including Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness and Flex. AMI also publishes Shape, Star, Natural Health and the National Enquirer.It was not immediately clear how the agreement with AMI might affect a potential sale of Playboy Enterprises. The company has been said to be entertaining a number of offers, including one from London-based brand management firm Iconix Group. The Playboy spokesperson declined to comment on a potential sale. During a recent earnings call, Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders said he was working on a joint venture to develop a new business model that would help Playboy magazine profitable again. Some details of that venture have come to light.Playboy said it has agreed to farm out the magazine’s advertising sales, circulation, marketing, production and all other business operations to American Media Inc. Playboy will continue to oversee the magazine’s editorial operations.AMI’s Distribution Services, Inc. will handle Playboy’s newsstand marketing and distribution services.
A new computing tool developed by Google will let developers build AI-powered apps that respect your privacy. Google on Wednesday released TensorFlow Federated, open-source software that incorporates federated learning, an AI training system. It works by using data that’s spread out across a lot of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to teach itself new tricks. But rather than send the data back to a central server for study, it learns on your phone or tablet itself and sends only the lesson back to the app maker.Federated learning runs “part of the machine learning algorithm right next to where the data is on the device,” Alex Ingerman, a product manager at Google Research, said in an interview. The algorithm applies what it already knows to the data on your phone, such as suggesting replies to emails, and creates a summary of what it learned in the process to send back.TensorFlow Federated adds an important, new privacy-sensitive ability to the artificial intelligence revolution taking hold of the computing industry. AI promises to change the way we work and live, letting machines learn enough that they can complete tasks that currently require people. For example, if you and a bunch of other people add “side-eye” to your texting app’s dictionary, the app could figure out the usage and incorporate that into its standard dictionary by itself.To get good at these tasks, machines need to see a huge amounts of data, which worries people concerned about privacy. Federated learning helps soothe those worries. Google has led the AI charge, using the technology for tasks like translating written languages spotted in photographs or suggesting responses to emails. TensorFlow Federated is already built into some Google apps, such as the Gboard keyboard for Android phones and iPhones, where it analyzes typing patterns in order to offer suggested shortcuts. Now that it’s freely shared open-source software, TensorFlow Federated can help other developers with AI projects without requiring them to start from scratch.Predicting what you want with AI is a major part of Google’s business plans. Scott Huffman, Google’s vice president of engineering, said in January that AI will help Google Home Assistant engage in basic conversation within five years. Eventually it will interpret your mood and remember the details of previous conversations. Google announced federated learning for its own apps in 2017. Federated learning builds on Google’s TensorFlow system, a machine learning system that tech companies and academics use in their products and projects for free. For example, TensorFlow is part of Google’s efforts with Stanford University researchers to explore potential new drugs. What’s more, companies such as Twitter, Coca-Cola and Intel use the platform.Apple addresses privacy in iOS apps that use machine learning through a process called differential privacy, which it started touting in 2016. Developers can create iOS apps that run machine learning locally on users’ phones and tablets without extracting any raw data.Ingerman said Google hopes academics will produce research using TensorFlow Federated that furthers everyone’s understanding of the technology and its uses.”Our aim is to give back to the research community and enable development in the field,” Ingerman said. • reading • Google tool lets any AI app learn without taking all your data Aug 31 • Best places to sell your used electronics in 2019 Tags Comment Artificial intelligence (AI) Privacy Google Intel Apple Apple Aug 31 • iPhone XR vs. iPhone 8 Plus: Which iPhone should you buy? Share your voice 1 See All Mobile Mobile Apps Sep 1 • iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5 and more: The final rumors Aug 31 • Your phone screen is gross. Here’s how to clean it
The Indian civil aviation industry has finally found some tailwind.While SpiceJet on Wednesday received necessary approvals from the civil aviation ministry to continue operating under the new management led by Ajay Singh, Air India has decided to sell some of its real-estate to reduce debt. Air IndiaThe state-run carrier has decided to sell real-estate assets to bring down its outstanding debt, estimated at ₹40,000 crore. Representational ImageReutersInterest payments on loans taken for buying aircraft stood at ₹3,800 crore. Losses suffered for the previous year amount to ₹36,000 crore.Ever since the 2007 merger with Indian Airlines, Air India has never turned a profit. AI flies a combined fleet of both Boeing and Airbus planes, considered neither efficient nor an industry practice.Filing for major orders in 2005 and 2006 has seen its debt grow disproportionate to its scale of operations, and today it has one of the most-skewed staff-to-aircraft ratio.Currently, AI’s fleet stands at 108 planes, comprising Boeing and Airbus planes, with about 23,500 employees on the rolls.In 2012, the airline received a ₹30,000 crore bailout from the government, which mandated the airline to meet stiff targets on cost, revenue and traffic, if it wants to continuing receiving funds every year, till 2020.To cut costs, AI has resorted to large-scale fuel hedging, taking advantage of the fall in crude prices. Besides, it plans to rationalise manpower ratio to 100 per aircraft, currently at 218, read LiveMint.Sources say that AI could lease turbo-prop airlines manufactured by Avions de Transport Regional GIE for regional routes, given the cost of flying a turbo-prop is significantly less than one powered by a jet engine.SpiceJetSpiceJet shares jumped 6.6% on Thursday, a day after the civil aviation ministry granted initial approval to the revival plan submitted by Ajay Singh, on condition that no foreign airline money is involved.The new owners may acquire 58% stake in the airline, though no word has been forthcoming on the open offer exemption.The ministry asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to lift the curbs imposed on the SpiceJet. This frees up the airline to take advance bookings for as late as 24 October 2015. The clause allows the airline to generate significant working capital, which could support the ₹1,500 crore to be infused in three instalments by the new management, spread over three months.Previously, SpiceJet had been limited to take bookings only up to 31 March. SpiceJet plans to re-induct staff it had laid-off; currently the airline describes them as being on ‘furlough.’Aircraft lessors have clamoured for planes to be returned for non-payment of dues. However, the new management wants to boost its fleet of 19 Boeing aircraft to 26, on taking full control and has started discussion with the concerned lessors, read Moneycontrol.On Thursday, SpiceJet share closed at ₹22.10, up ₹1.00, or 4.74% from its previous close.
Guidance notes on Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be released in public domain soon,” are Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s latest words on one of India’s most ambitious economic reforms in 70 years.Jaitley added, “the GST Council has received reports from sixteen out of the eighteen sectoral groups as approved by the Council in its 14th meeting held in May this year; based on the inputs received, the GST Law Committee comprising of officers of the Central and State Governments have drafted guidance notes which will be released in public domain.”GST, harped to be the most complex tax reforms of its kind, had given everyone jitters even before it was rolled out. Even after its launch, many are not aware of the tax prerequisites.To lessen the discomfort of taxpayers and industry players, Jaitley has asked each sectoral group to obtain feedback from the trade and industry, and also hold meetings with the various stakeholders and various Joint Secretary level nodal officers from different ministries.Based on the evaluation received, the sectoral groups have prepared their reports, basis which, the Law Committee has finalised Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on eight sectors. These FAQs have already been released in public domain. An Indian consumer goods trader shows letters GST representing ‘Goods and Services Tax’ (GST)at his shop in Hyderabad on August 3, 2016.NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty ImagesThese eighteen sectoral groups are banking, financial and insurance sector, telecommunication, exports including EOUs and SEZs, IT/ITES, transport and logistics, textiles and footwear, MSMEs, including job work, oil and gas, gems and jewellery, services received and provided by the Government, food processing sector, E-commerce, big infrastructure, travel and tourism, handicrafts (exports), media and entertainment, drugs, pharmaceuticals and Mining.GST is expected to eventually boost tax receipts and provide simplicity for businesses. However, many experts are of the view that its true impact may not be felt for at least a decade due to implementation challenges. Industry players say the reform will formalise more of India’s untaxed economy that would increase the efficiency of the economy but not the size of the gross domestic product (GDP).It’s been over a month to the GST launch but the brouhaha over it hasn’t faded. The government has faced many criticisms over the complexity of the GST from the opposition and industry players. Critics also argue that the GST might blunt India’s economic competitiveness and weaken Modi’s efforts to elevate the poor.(With inputs from PTI)