Summary of “Will people ditch cash for cryptocurrency? Japan is about to find out”

While everything from credit card payments to transactions using QR codes would qualify, some of the country’s biggest financial players think the way to wean Japan off cash lies in the technology that runs Bitcoin.
With the government’s pressure to go cashless, and little competition from credit cards and other forms of e-payment, Japan could leapfrog the technology underlying today’s electronic payment networks and go straight to blockchains.
In the process, Japan will become the world’s biggest test bed for the decade-old idea that a cryptographic ledger and a network of computers can be used to create an electronic form of cash.
Policymakers were particularly concerned about how Japan had fallen behind China in fintech, says Thomas Glucksmann, a former Mt. Gox employee who now runs Asian corporate partnerships for Diginex, a Hong Kong-based consulting firm focused on blockchain technology.
Eventually, Japan rolled out the world’s first licensing regime for cryptocurrency exchanges, which went into effect in April 2017.
Of late, they’ve expanded to cryptocurrency trading, taking advantage of Japan’s bustling exchange scene.
Y Champagne, CTO of Akamai, is convinced that the pieces are in place for Japan to end its love affair with cash.
Will people in Japan really ditch their cash for blockchains, though? Yoriko Beal, cofounder of HashHub, a co-working space for blockchain startups in Tokyo, is skeptical.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Follow Up with People After a Conference”

Back at work, most of us immediately go into catch-up mode; the last thing on your mind is following up with the people you just met.
Here’s a framework for structuring your post-conference follow up to maximize the chances that your new connections turn into meaningful professional relationships.
What matters is capturing the data, and also making a list of people you spoke with whose cards you didn’t obtain.
You can’t invest in all connections equally, of course – so where should you prioritize your time? You may want to discard some connections upfront – for instance, someone who came up to you, handed you their card, and immediately started pitching you to buy their product or service.
Specifically, those are “Miscellaneous interesting people,” with whom there’s not an obvious point of connection; people with whom you have a specific reason to follow up; and people you’d like to build a deeper relationship with.
My work doesn’t generally overlap with hers, but I’d be glad to keep in touch because it’s always nice to know a diverse set of people.
Finally, you’ll meet some people with whom you’d like to build a long-term connection.
Perhaps there are future conferences coming up they might be likely to attend; you could get in touch to inquire if they’ll be there, and if so, plan to meet up in person during the event.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Final Days of ‘Netrunner'”

Netrunner is an asymmetrical card game where one player is a huge Corporation, the other an individual Runner.
“Through the years and all the final games that I’ve been in I’ve found that you tend to focus on the game that’s being played, and you tend to blot out all the spectators, the cameras and even the consequences of the game to a certain extent; it’s just you and your opponent playing Netrunner,” he says.
As Lukas Litzsinger, the man responsible for bringing Netrunner back to life in the 21st Century, tells it: “Richard Garfield designed it as a follow up to Magic: The Gathering, and the two games could not be more different. While everyone else was copying Magic, he went out and made a game where cards do not tap and removal is scarce. It’s absolutely brilliant and in my mind enshrines Garfield as the greatest game designer of all time.”
Fantasy Flight had already published a few Android games, but it was Android: Netrunner which truly cemented the world.
“I was very passionate about Netrunner and the weekly meetups at the local game store were not enough. I wanted to play more than only a few games once per week,” says Minh Tran, a Belgian developer and finalist in the 2014 Netrunner World Championship.
Chris Dyer, perhaps unsurprisingly for someone willing to fly out to Minnesota for three solid days of the game, agrees: “Netrunner is actually fairly unique in that it’s finishing while the game is still great, there’s still a large and enthusiastic player base and we’ve just had easily the biggest event in the whole history of the game. That’s a great way to go out.”
For him, NISEI represents a fresh start for the game, and despite his pessimism about recent official support for Netrunner, he’s hopeful about the project: “Things like this have been done for other games in the past, successfully. So I’m optimistic that, with the people we selected, Netrunner can keep going on, and maybe even improve from some of the decisions that Fantasy Flight made.”
Nels Anderson isn’t sure yet what influence the game will have on titles produced by his new studio, Caledonia, but confirms that it definitely informed his ex-colleagues at Klei Entertainment when they were developing Invisible Inc-a tactics game that, on its surface, has no connection with Netrunner.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Motherhood has made me an accidental shoplifter”

I arrived home from my daily walk to Target and as I unloaded my daughter from the stroller, I noticed my sister’s birthday card hiding in the bottom of the basket.
One minute, I’m searching the aisles for the perfect granola bar, and the next, I’ve shoved so many items under the stroller that it is all but certainly over the recommended weight limit.
I’d stroll the aisles for hours and hours, except, well, I have a baby who annoyingly needs to eat on a regular basis.
Picture the full stroller basket, the screaming baby, and the panic, except that this time, I foolishly went through the self-checkout line and left behind the grapes I so carefully weighed on the scale.
Yes, having a baby was the beginning of my moral decline.
By the time I find that gosh darn birthday card in the bottom of the stroller, I’m already at home.
Only five minutes late for a scheduled feeding for a baby who has been screaming in hunger the entire walk home.
I would never remember to bring the card on my next visit, nor would I have the patience to wait in line at Customer Service to pay for a card I had inadvertently stolen.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Twenty-Five-Year Journey of Magic: The Gathering”

“You spend a lot of time on your own.” Magic gave her nerdy friends something to talk about in the schoolyard, a “Common language.” The next year, Mirage, a set of Magic cards with African fantasy elements, came out.
For especially dedicated players, Channel Fireball, a Magic event organizer that takes its name from a devastating two-card attack, puts on some sixty “Grand Prix” tournaments every year in countries across the planet, from Japan and Poland to Australia and Brazil.
A number of Magic fans I spoke to told me that top-level players like Williams, Jon Finkel, Melissa DeTora, and Reid Duke, known as the Gentleman of Magic, brought them into the game in the way that middle schoolers join Little League to be like the Astros’ José Altuve or Mookie Betts of the Red Sox.
A couple of hours later, at the birthday dinner Magic threw for its twenty-fifth anniversary, Josh Lee Kwai, a Magic YouTube personality, introduced me to the N.F.L. defensive end Cassius Marsh, a frequent guest of Lee Kwai’s popular video series “Game Knights.” Lee Kwai wanted to show me that Magic players come in all shapes and sizes.
In a Tumblr post recently resurfaced by two Magic players, Rosewater told fans dismayed by these gender disparities that, although Wizards wanted its player base to change, Magic was male-dominated, and the art simply followed “The current natural gender skew of the game.”
Eventually, he came to realize that he wanted the Magic world to reflect not just the Magic community but the world at large, and he and his colleagues began to insure that the cards had a more equitable gender split.
Despite the existence of digital platforms like Magic Online and the soon-to-be-released Magic Arena, many of them said, it was, at heart, a game done with paper cards at a table in physical space.
In Las Vegas, on the final day of the tournament, I watched Rosewater, the new de-facto face of the game, holding a microphone and standing in shorts and a vintage Magic T-shirt beneath a statue of Serra Angel, a sword-wielding winged woman who has been illustrated and re-illustrated on different cards since the dawn of Magic.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Cashless stores and restaurants are on the rise, to the delight of credit card companies.”

For years, small businesses have asked customers to pay cash, set credit card minimums, or added a surcharge onto card transactions, in an effort to defray the premiums imposed by companies like Mastercard and Visa.
Stores are eliminating cash registers and coin rolls in pursuit of what they say is a safer, more streamlined payment process-and one that most of their customers want to use anyway.
“After talking to the team and absorbing the flow at the register, we felt like almost everyone who used cash had a card. It just hasn’t been an issue.”
“Cash is profoundly democratic,” said Bill Maurer, the dean of the School of Social Sciences at UC-Irvine and the author of How Would You Like to Pay? “It can be given by anyone, accepted by anyone, settled and cleared instantaneously.” One of the central bank’s great achievements, he observed, was making sure that transactions involving cash and checks would be settled at par-meaning that there’s no transaction cost to paying that way.
It would be hard to find anyone more gung-ho about the abolition of cash than credit card companies.
He still uses cash with his dry cleaner-a kind of credit card guilt.
Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard professor and author of The Curse of Cash, has argued that cash is important for privacy and useful in disasters.
“Banks understand how expensive [banking] is and they do understand who they’re excluding. Your ice cream shop choosing to go cashless doesn’t recognize they may be excluding a portion of their market.” Only Massachusetts has a law requiring merchants to accept cash, the 1978 Discrimination Against Cash Buyers Amendment, and it is essentially unenforced.

The orginal article.

Summary of “We’re All Subsidizing People Who Use American Express”

When American Express forms contracts with retailers, the credit card company prohibits retailers from encouraging shoppers to use other cards that charge lower fees.
Merchants who accept Amex card payments can’t offer shoppers different prices depending on how they pay, even if the transaction fee is higher when they swipe an Amex.
According to the Brookings Institution, “Use a typical Visa or Mastercard branded credit card and the merchant will probably pay fees ranging in the 2 to 3.5% range. Leave home with an American Express and the merchant will pay even more, approaching 3 to 5%, depending on how much you charge.” In the end, the merchant may pay out about 10% of what you pay them just for fees involved in the transaction, according to Brookings.
As for premium credit cards, a spokesperson said, “A merchant accepting Visa’s and Mastercard’s premium cards may actually pay more than they do for American Express when factoring in interchange, network and acquirer fees.”
Data from the Nilson Report, which covers the card and mobile payment industry, puts Amex’s average credit card fee at 2.33% versus 2.17% for Visa and MasterCard; Discover, at 2.09%, was the lowest.
“Customers who use cheaper forms of payment are in effect subsidizing AmEx card holders,” he wrote.
Amex’s provisions “Do not prevent Visa, MasterCard, or Discover from competing against Amex by offering lower merchant fees or promoting their broader merchant acceptance,” Thomas wrote.
In his dissent, Justice Breyer said that the overall credit card industry could still grow even if credit card companies allowed merchants to steer customers to lower-fee cards.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Everything You Need to Know About What Amazon Is Doing in Financial Services”

From payments to lending to insurance to checking accounts, Amazon is attacking financial services from every angle without applying to be a conventional bank.
While the buzz that Amazon will take the plunge into banking seems to get louder each year, it’s important to first understand Amazon’s existing strategy in financial services – what Amazon has launched and built, where the company is investing, and what recent products tell us about Amazon’s future ambitions.
AMAZON PAYMENTS. Amazon has aggressively invested in payments infrastructure and services over the last few years.
The goal is to enable 5,000 kiosks with the new service by year end, and, if successful, Amazon could look to roll out services to more kiosks down the road. Amazon Allowance: A kid-friendly solution.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card – Launched in 2017 with Visa, this card gives Prime members 5% cash back at Amazon & Whole Foods, 2% cash back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores, and 1% cash back on everything else.
Amazon Visa Credit Card – Partner card with Visa for non-Prime customers that offers 3% cash back on Amazon purchases, 2% cash back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores, and 1% cash back on everything else.
The existing services above show that Amazon is pushing into checking, primarily through Amazon Cash.
Zooming out a bit further, one can see the beginnings of what the Bank of Amazon could look like – a variety of key financial services products that support Amazon participants first and enable them to buy, sell, and transact much easier than any other platform.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to train yourself to become a speed reader”

Though the technique is traditionally thought of as a way to get through book-length tomes, Abby Marks Beale, a speed-reading expert and author, says that the active reading strategies used in speed reading works on all kinds of texts.
While speed reading to those that have never done it might seem like some kind of magic trick, Beale says in actuality, all it is “a set of active, mindful, and conscious strategies that allow a person to intentionally speed up or slow down based on certain conditions.”
These active reading strategies can be learned by anyone, and once mastered, the reader typically learns “How to double to triple their current reading speed while maintaining or improving their comprehension. This means they could read twice or three times as much in the same amount of time when they choose to read using faster strategies.”
Using a white index card is one of the first steps people can take towards becoming a speed reader, says Beale.
Now that you’ve set up an environment conducive to concentrating and have learned how to force your concentration on the line you’re reading using either variation of the index card trick, the last big beginners’ speed reading trick you need to master is the ability to use your peripheral vision to take in more than one word at a time.
“Both of these methods are active reading methods requiring the reader to really focus on what they are reading and how their eyes move on a page,” Beale explains.
At first, learning to speed read may make you feel like you’re actually reading slower, but over time you’ll pick up the techniques as second nature.
Just maybe if you learn to speed read through your work texts, you may gain just enough new free time in the day to settle down with a nice leisurely book in the evening.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Force Is Strong With This ‘Star Wars’ Subculture”

The MPC entrants-a small subset of the 2,000 to 3,000 people whom community organizers estimate are still seriously playing the game in person or online-included a cohort of experienced competitors who’ve stuck with the game since its heyday, as well as a contingent of less seasoned participants whom the lifers label “NARPs,” or “New and returning players.” Some NARPs have only recently discovered the game, while others played it decades ago and later let their participation subside before being lured back by resurgent Star Wars fandom or interest in the game’s ongoing evolution.
“Our entire team of over 100 employees knew many players and collectors from the community. In fact, many of our team had been hired from [the] community. As best we could, we needed to protect not only the thousands of dollars many of our players had invested, but more importantly, the place Star Wars CCG had in their hearts.”
In addition to lending the Players Committee the legitimacy of being officially sanctioned by Decipher, the company met with the advocates to discuss the details of the handover, shared the names and email addresses of everyone who’d inquired about positions on the Players Committee, helped the committee set up a website, and, most meaningfully, donated $1 million of Star Wars CCG inventory-with royalties to Lucasfilm prepaid-that the committee could distribute as prizes.
Some Star Wars CCG players speculate that Decipher’s donation was a means of purchasing players’ loyalty to the brand to juice sales of the company’s now-defunct Star Trek and Lord of the Rings card games, which were then still in print, but Holland denies any ulterior motives.
Decipher’s largesse makes more sense once one witnesses the affection for the game that persists 17 years after the company pulled out and left Star Wars CCG players to govern themselves.
“Location” cards, which also lean either light or dark, determine where in the Star Wars universe the action takes place, which may favor one player over the other; players compete for control of those locations by taking turns using cards that represent Star Wars characters, vehicles, and weapons.
Upsets aren’t unheard of in Star Wars CCG, but given the edge that skilled players possess, Zinn, among others, expresses skepticism that anyone other than a highly seeded entrant would win the weekend event.
In 2014-the same year that Disney decanonized the expanded universe that predated its purchase of the Star Wars franchise-the Players Committee decided to “Reset” its library of virtual cards, which had ballooned to roughly 1,100 and included some early creations that weren’t as well-implemented as later additions.

The orginal article.