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.

Summary of “Why Airline Credit Cards Have an Enduring Appeal”

A few years ago, Barclays made an aggressive bid for the JetBlue credit card business and won it.
So what accounts for the continued appeal of the airline credit card, and who ought to have one?
Some things that have always been true about these cards remain so: If you travel a lot on the same airline and spend a lot of money in your everyday life, earning the same reward currency when you travel and when you’re using your card can help you quickly earn more and better free trips.
In addition to the miles, many of the mileage cards now come with privileges.
The airlines created the problem that the cards are now solving by charging for checked baggage.
For me, the sign-up bonuses for the Delta and American cards plus the baggage fee waivers on Delta were enough to persuade me.
The top-tier American card also comes with airline lounge access, which I finally treated myself to after too many years of hacking together standing desks at abandoned airport gates so I could work comfortably on my laptop.
According to American Express, 21 percent of its outstanding credit card loans belonged to people with a Delta credit card as of the end of 2017.Many people don’t spend or earn enough to justify switching cards.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Credit Card Signatures Are About to Become Extinct”

The charge card dates back to the 1920s, when stores started issuing embossed metal plates with paper signature strips that allowed customers to add purchases to their ledger and settle the bill later.
Signatures were required on all purchases; merchants that failed to collect them generally had to absorb the losses if transactions were disputed.
Card networks began inching toward getting rid of signatures years ago.
Most stopped requiring signatures on transactions below a certain threshold, typically $25 or $50, as far back as 2010.
Old habits die hard, and the jumble of rules about which transactions required signatures and which did not – every issuer has its own policies – discouraged many merchants, especially smaller ones, from scrapping signatures altogether.
This time the card networks are sending a consistent message: Signatures are obsolete.
Visa is making signatures optional in all of North America, but only for retailers with payment systems that read chip cards.
Mark Malkoff, a New York comedian, and his friend Greg Benson posted a YouTube video that vividly illustrated just how widely ignored card signatures are.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Thousands of Indian Women Find Their American Dreams in Jeopardy”

The petitions represent tens of thousands of foreigners vying for the opportunity to work in the United States for three years or longer.
The delays have meant that thousands of women, many highly educated, had until recently been forced to stay at home while their husbands worked.
Under the program, known as H-4EAD, an estimated 100,000 spouses, overwhelmingly women, have obtained work permits.
Last fall’s announcement that the temporary work program would soon be scrapped has energized Indian women.
L. Francis Cissna, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security agency that issues the permits, said the Trump administration’s priority was to protect American workers.
In January, the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents titans like Apple, IBM and Microsoft, argued in a letter to the administration that revoking spousal work permits could prompt foreign talent to leave the United States and put American companies at a competitive disadvantage.
Doug Rand, former assistant director for entrepreneurship in the Obama administration, said Indian immigrants have long been “Essential for American technological innovation” and offering work permits to spouses makes sense.
“I realized there are strong-willed women like me who really want to work,” she said, sipping chai in the living room with her parents while her baby slept close by.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Are you paying for these things that other people get free?”

Amazon AMZN, -3.20% Prime members also have access to Prime Video-unlimited streaming of movies and TV episodes-and Prime Music, offering unlimited access to hundreds of playlists and more than a million songs.
A lot of people don’t realize that Amazon Prime members also get unlimited photo storage, plus 5 gigs of cloud storage on Amazon Drive.
Got a major credit card in your wallet? Then you might be able to ditch pricey extended warranties on appliances, electronics and other major purchases.
According to a WalletHub analysis, 28% of credit cards will extend even a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty by one to two years.
Credit cards may also offer backup in the event your vacation plans are interrupted.
The Capital One COF, -2.87% Platinum card offers 24-hour roadside assistance, potentially saving you the AAA membership fee.
Other cards, like the Ritz-Carlton Reward Credit Card, offer similar coverage to car rental insurance and cover you in the case of a collision, auto theft or towing, shaving off anywhere from $10 to $30 a day.
Check your card’s benefits to see what’s covered.

The orginal article.