Jason Treit
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/u/Sethal4395 on Competitive Tag

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Let me explain to all you non-Minnesotan fuckers why "Duck, Duck, Gray Duck" is the superior game. "Duck, Duck, Gray Duck" is not only a direct translation and thus more accurate representation to the original Swedish game of "Anka Anka Grå Anka", but offers more strategic depth than the plebeian form known as "Duck, Duck, Goose". For example, by having an adjective to describe the "duck", it becomes a game of psychological warfare where faking out any other players by changing the adjective (i.e. green duck, great duck, etc.) becomes a key tactic. This superior form of the game was appropriated by filthy casuals who thought the game wasn't beginner-friendly enough, and completely eliminated any strategic depth to this traditional Scandinavian pastime.

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gazuga
3 days ago
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Edmonton
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Jon Bois: ‘What Football Will Look Like in the Future’

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I implore you to drop everything and read this now, regardless if you care about or even understand the rules of the game.

Trust me.

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gazuga
3 days ago
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It took multiple other sites linking this for me to cave in and click through. So glad I caved.
Edmonton
MotherHydra
16 days ago
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I had no idea what I was in for, this is what the internet is for.
Space City, USA
glenn
16 days ago
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Ok this is seriously definitely worth "reading"
Waterloo, Canada
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3 public comments
quandary
13 days ago
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Awesome
Pgh, PA, USA
joelowrance
15 days ago
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So. F'ing. Good.
wmorrell
16 days ago
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WTF 45* stays president until 2025 then Tom Cotton becomes 46? And another fucking George Bush in 2045?
peelman
15 days ago
I about lost it when it was Bernie Sanders in 2057 or whatever it was.

Going offline for a while

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Zillow is threatening to sue me if I don’t delete most of the posts on this blog. Anyone who can see this who can help, please contact

kate@mcmansionhell.com

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gazuga
25 days ago
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Optimistic prediction: McMansion Hell comes back up within a month thanks to a combination of pro bono legal help and Zillow tasting a hot serving of Streisand Effect; and Kate Wagner's Patreon income surges in the meantime.
Edmonton
mareino
25 days ago
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Washington, District of Columbia
popular
25 days ago
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aranth
26 days ago
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3 public comments
chrisrosa
26 days ago
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Hey @zillow, pick on someone your own size! @mcmansionhell is doing good work...any lawyers out there that can help?
San Francisco, CA
zwol
25 days ago
According to https://twitter.com/mcmansionhell/status/879795641643409408 Kate now has a lawyer.
angelchrys
26 days ago
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Sadness.
Overland Park, KS
brennen
26 days ago
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ffs.
Boulder, CO

An homage to the cheque (or check)

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The check used to buy Alaska (source)

I recently read an FP article about the odd persistence of the cheque as a way to make payments. According to the author, even though cheques are slow and cumbersome, people are willing to live with these drawbacks because they like the ability to write messages in the memo field. Competing electronic payments options (in Canada at least) don't have the ability to write memos.  

As someone pointed out to me on Twitter, in the U.S. the cheque's memo field is more than just a place for writing personal reminders. According to the law in certain states, when you disagree with your creditor about how much is owed—say the contractor who is building your deck has spent too much on materials—by writing out a cheque for less than the agreed amount and including "paid in full" in the memo line, the debt is extinguished the moment the contractor cashes it.  

What follows are some other neat things about cheques that don't get much attention.

People tend to think of cheques as a mere set of instructions issued to a banker on how to move bank deposits. To transfer deposits, we could always just walk into a bank and do this in person, but we prefer to save time and energy by issuing the instructions on paper.

But a cheque is more than just a substitute for a set of in-person verbal instruction. By inscribing these instructions onto a long-lived medium, we've created an entirely distinct financial instrument, something akin to a debt or a derivative. As long as a cheque exists, it derives its value from the underlying deposits that are expected to be delivered by the issuer.

Normally we take for granted that a $1000 cheque is worth $1000. But this isn't always the case. For instance, if the cheque writer decides to spend a $1000 cheque that has been post-dated for three months—i.e. the underlying cash can not be collected till then—the receiver will typically only accept said cheque at a discount to face value, say $960. After all, the receiver needs to be compensated for the interest they will have to forego in holding that cheque for the three months to encashment, not to mention incurring the risk that the cheque writer fails in the interim.

We don't normally think of cheques as a form of debt or financing, but after India's demonetization an interesting example of this practice was brought to light. This fascinating story describes how small-scale enterprises in Varinasi accept post-dated cheques as payment and then bring them to a battawala—or "one who deducts"—for discounting. The battawala sets his commission, or discount, based on the creditworthiness of the cheque issuer. The ability to sell post-dated cheques allows these businesses to finance expense such as salaries and inventories. A second article describes a battawala market that "opens from 3-7 p.m. every day at Chowk, the heart of the business district," where several thousand battawallas sit and trade post-dated bearer cheques for cash.

North America also has a post-dated cheque market of sorts. Payday lenders, which offer short-term lending to those who can't get it from banks, only issue loans on the provision of a post-dated cheque. They accept these cheques at large discount to face, so that a $350 cheque can only buy, say, a $300 loan.



In addition to being a form of debt, cheques are also a type of money. I don't mean in the sense that cheques allow for the transfer of underlying bank deposits; rather, an uncashed cheque can itself be transferred between many different parties as a medium of exchange. This is something that younger people who only use credit cards and P2P options may not know, but if the issuer of the cheque writes "to bearer" in the pay to field, then literally anyone who is 'bearing' or holding that cheque can bring it into the bank to be cashed. Given that it grants universal access to underlying cash, a $100 bearer cheque might be transferred three or four time over the course of a few days, resulting in $300 worth of transactions being consummated rather than just $100. In the first of the two articles I linked to above, for instance, the owner of a small sari business says that it isn't uncommon for a bearer cheque to change hands as many as five times. 

Just a head's up. Even if you indicate the name of the recipient in the pay to field of a cheque you've written, say to John Doe, he can still use it as a medium for paying someone else rather than cashing it... without you even knowing. By endorsing the back of the cheque with his signature, John Doe converts it into a bearer cheque. This is called blank endorsement. Anyone he gives it to can now either bring it in to be cashed or continue passing it off in a long chain of transactions. In the U.S., these sort of cheques are called third-party checks, although banks tend to be a little leery about accepting them these days.

The use of cheques-as-money is promoted by laws that, like banknotes, grant them currency status. I touched on this distinction last week, but here it is again. Say that person A is carrying some sort of financial instrument in their pocket and it is stolen. The thief uses it to buy something from person B, who accepts it without knowing it to be stolen property. If the financial instrument has not been granted currency status by the law, then person B will be liable to give it back to person A. If, however, the instrument is currency, then even if the police are able to locate the stolen instrument in person B's possession, person B does not have to give up the stolen cheque to person A. We call these special instruments negotiable instruments.

Instruments like cash and cheques that have been granted currency status, or are negotiable, have a big advantage over those that haven't. Because they won't be on the hook for returning stolen negotiable instruments, shopkeepers and others can accept these instruments without having to set up costly verification procedures. This means these instruments will tend to be more liquid than those that are non-negotiable.   

A neat result of the transferability of cheques is that cheque payment systems are incredibly robust in the face of disasters and banking system shutdowns. Any direct transfer a bank deposit, say using a debit card or some other form of electronic fund transfer, requires that the parties to a payment to establish a  communications channel with their respective banks. If there is a problem with either of the banks, the merchant, or the connection itself, then the transfer can't go through. With a cheque however, there is no need to communicate with one's banker. A cheque is created entirely without the bank's say-so. Anyone is allowed to receive that cheque, it being their choice to either cash it or pass it along. Which means that if the banking system is on the fritz, cheque payments can proceed.

The most famous example of this robustness is the Irish banking strike of 1970. With the entire banking system shut, for six months post-dated cheques circulated as the main form of money. In a well-known paper, Antoin Murphy recounts how pub owners acted as evaluators of the credit quality of each cheque, an episode I once wrote about here.



Another nice property of cheques is that, like cash, they can be used by the unbanked. If someone receives a cheque, they can go to the issuer's bank and cash it, even if they don't have a bank account. Alternatively, they can simply endorse the back of the cheque and spend it on as a medium of exchange.

This combination of negotiability, robustness, openness, and decentralization means that long before bitcoin and the cryptocoin revolution, we already had a decentralized payments system that allowed pretty much everyone to participate and, indeed, fabricate their own personal money instruments!

Was there ever a more versatile payments instrument than the cheque? Because you can write on them, a whole language of cheques has emerged, allowing for significant customization. By putting crossings on cheques, like this...



...the cheque writer is indicating that the only way to redeem it is by depositing it, not cashing it. This means that the final user of the cheque will be easy to trace, since they will be associated with a bank account. Affix the words non-negotiable within the cross on the front of the cheque and it loses its special status as currency. Should it be stolen and passed off to an innocent third-party, the victim can now directly pursue the third-party for restitution. To even further limit the power of subsequent users to use the cheque as money, the writer can indicate the account to which the cheque must be deposited. This language of checks can be used not only by those that have originated the cheque, but also by those that receive it in payment. On the back of any check, any number of endorsements can be written, effectively converting someone else's instrument into your own unique payments medium.    

In summary, while the popularity of the cheque has certainly been declining over the last few decade, it is still hanging in there—and that's because it seem to be providing some unique services that haven't yet been replicated by cheaper, digital alternatives. While those in the fintech space often smirk at cheques at as an outdated payments option inevitably doomed to extinction, they might be better served trying to replicate some of these features instead.
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gazuga
26 days ago
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Edmonton
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Why Reach Navigation Should Replace the Navbar in iOS Design

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Brad Ellis:

As devices change, our visual language changes with them. It’s time to move away from the navbar in favor of navigation within thumb-reach. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call that Reach Navigation.

This design trend is clearly already underway, and Ellis does a terrific job explaining why it’s a good idea.

I can think of a few factors that led to the original iPhone having a top-of-the-screen UI for navigation. First, at just 3.5 inches diagonally, the whole screen was reachable. But another factor might be as simple as the fact that “navigation” was always at the top on desktops — window titles and controls have always been at the top on Mac and Windows. The iPhone didn’t use windows, per se, but there was a certain familiarity with having the titles and controls like Back/Close/Done buttons at the top. Something like the iOS 10 bottom-heavy design of Apple Maps is wholly different from a desktop UI design — as it should be.

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gazuga
26 days ago
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Besides being an excellent argument, the linked post led me to the equal parts embarrassing and delightful discovery of the swipe-from-left-edge gesture to go back one screen in any iPhone app. Derp. This will save me dozens, maybe hundreds of grip adjustments and Reachability taps a day.
Edmonton
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How to Interpret Dreams, 1698

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The World Turn'd Upside Down, 1647
"To dream that you: 
Have your Arm dried up, is very unfortunate.
Have a little Beard, shews Suits at Law.
Go over a Ditch upon a small Plank, signifies deceit by Lawyers.
See Dragons, signifies Gain.
Are Drunk, signifies sickness.
See a Gyant, or a large siz'd Person, is a good sign.
Have a new Girdle, signifies Honour.
Have two Heads, signifies Company.
Lose your Keys, signifies Anger.
Are Kiss'd by Men of great Quality, signifies Consolation.
See the Meat you have Eaten, signifies Loss.
Are stark Naked, signifies Loss and Damage in your Estate.
Take hold of ones Nose, signifies Fornication.
See Old Folks, is a bad Sign.
Write on, or read in Paper, signifies News.
Have Rods in your Hands is Jollity.
Eat a Sallad, signifies Evil or Sickness that will happen.
Study the Sciences, signifies Chearfulness.
Drink stinking Water, signifies a Violent Distemper.
Drink Sophisticated Wine, is an extraordinary good Sign.
Piss against a Wall, signifies Assistance in Business." 
The Compleat Book of Knowledge
If you're dreaming about being kissed by men of poor quality, you're on your own.
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fxer
38 days ago
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Eat a Sallad, signifies Evil or Sickness that will happen.

Also love that even in 1698 people had anxiety about losing their keys
Bend, Oregon
gazuga
38 days ago
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Edmonton
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