Month: January 2017

MoMA opens free, safe space for LGBTQ-identifying teens

Open Art Space

For the most part, the world is very angry right now. We are protesting, striking, marching, writing, <a…

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‘Father of Pac-Man’ dead at 91. He later worried it was ‘not good for young people.’

When Masaya Nakamura founded his gaming company Namco in 1955 Tokyo, all he offered to entertain the public were two mechanical horse rides stationed atop a department store’s roof.

Years later, he would earn the nickname “Father of Pac-Man,” after his company released the game, which has been played more than 10 billion times in the 36 years since its release. The game’s success would become so great, Nakamura himself would argue that the world’s obsession with the hungry, yellow circle might be detrimental.

Nakamura died on Jan. 22 at 91 years old, though it wasn’t announced until Monday in a release from his company Bandai Namco. A cause of death was not listed.

Though he studied shipbuilding at the Yokohama Institute of Technology, Nakamura anticipated the need for entertainment in post-World War II Japan. His company was originally titled Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (later shortened to the more manageable Namco).

It did well, but when the video game craze arrived in Japan in the late ’70s, he shifted his business plan. Thinking differently than his contemporaries, he focused his hiring on creativity over educational pedigree.

“For game designers, the knowledge acquired in school is not so helpful. I want people who think in unusual ways, whose curiosity runs way with them, fun-loving renegades,” he told the New York Times in 1983.

The plan worked: Toru Iwatani, one of Namco’s engineers, developed Pac-Man in 1980, which now holds the Guinness World Record for most successful coin-operated arcade game.

Originally, the game was called Pakkuman in Japan, a reference to the Japanese phrase paku-paku which describes the sound of a mouth rapidly flapping open and shut (think “munch-munch”), according to the A.V. Club.

The American version was set to be called Puck-Man, given the main characters’ resemblance to a jaundiced hockey puck. But Nakamura, according to Steven Kent’s book “The Ultimate History of Video Games,” realized the ease with which Americans might replace the “P” with an “F,” hinting at a very different game.

Iwanti told Wired that after that decision, they changed it “Pac” for the entire world.

Nakamura told Kent he didn’t expect Pac-Man to be particularly popular. “I did not imagine that Pac-Man would be an international hit of the magnitude that it was and is to date. People know Pac-Man. People who don’t even know about video games know about Pac-Man. So, no, I didn’t realize that it was going to be the hit that it is.”

He doubled-down on this thought in a 1983 interview, “You know baseball? Well, I knew it would not be a single. But I thought maybe a double, not a home run.”

One reason could be that the game was developed for women, not the men who were traditionally drawn to video games. Iwanti thought women enjoyed eating — the main action in the game — more than men. Not to mention that the main character was designed after Iwanti grabbed a slice from a full pizza.

As he told Wired:

Around the time that we launched Pac-Man, video arcades were filled with games where you shoot aliens. It seemed very dark. It was for men, it wasn’t fashionable at all. When women would go out, they’d go out in a group of friends or with a boyfriend as a couple. And I realized that if women and couples were going to come to game centers, they had to be cheerful places.

When you think about things women like, you think about fashion, or fortune-telling, or food or dating boyfriends. So I decided to theme the game around “eating” — after eating dinner, women like to have dessert.

Furthermore, he thought women would love the characters.

“The character design and the graphic design were very appropriate for women, who thought it was very cute,” he said. “Even if the character was an enemy, they wouldn’t be able to hate it.”

Of course, the game appealed to both genders. As CNN reported, it sold more than 100,000 arcade units in the United States during its first year.

It grew so popular a surprised Nakamura actually began speaking out against how much time people spent playing it.

“I am a little concerned about the way some young people play it so much,” he said in 1983. “It’s not a very happy thing to see people spending so much time on it. Once it goes beyond a certain level, it is not good for young people.”

But it only continued to grow in popularity, bleeding deeply into pop culture. In 1982, for example, The Buckner and Garcia song “Pac-Man Fever” charted at No. 9 on the Billboards Singles Chart. In 1988, the New York Times called a financial planning strategy in which a company “boldly bid[s] for the very company trying to take it over” the “Pac-Man defense.” Just last year, “Pixels,” a major film about a Pac-Man coming to life, flooded theaters.

Even Google turned to the video game when it created its first interactive Google doodle in 2010 — a Google-ized version of the game.

Namco, which merged with rival gaming company Bandi in 2005, would go to release popular games such as Galaga, Pole Position and Ms. Pac-Man, the sequel to its seminal game.

But, much like in the game itself, Pac-Man stands alone.


Boys on a diving platform at Lac Léman, Lausanne, 2007 (source:…

Boys on a diving platform at Lac Léman, Lausanne, 2007 (source: Flickr user rougerouge) there is an alternative color version


After Voting To ‘Escape’ EU Sovereignty, Post-Brexit UK Will Become Subject To Corporate Sovereignty On A Massive Scale

One of the slogans used by those in favor of the UK leaving the European Union — aka Brexit — was that it would allow Brits to "take back control." In particular, it was claimed, Brexit would stop the European Union and its top court from "imposing" their decisions that took precedence over national laws. It was an appealing slogan for many — a bit like "Make America great again" — but as with other appealing slogans, with time it proved rather hollow. In the wake of the UK referendum in favor of Brexit, the British government is faced with the task of coming up with large numbers of trade deals that will somehow compensate for the almost-certain loss of preferential access to the EU. Naturally, the most important of these "new" trade deals is with the US. Unfortunately, the British negotiating position is fatally undermined by the fact that the UK is desperate for a deal, whereas the US doesn’t need it at all. Inevitably, then, the US will get to dictate its terms, and UK government will be forced to accept them, however bad they are, because it has no alternative. So much for "taking back control."

Rather belatedly, people are beginning to wake up to what that is likely to mean in practice. Here, for example, is an analysis on BuzzFeed of a key problem with the UK government’s plan to sign lots of new trade deals to plug the gap left by exiting the EU:

Trade experts have warned that signing such deals without the EU judicial system will almost inevitably mean signing up to systems known as "ISDS" (Investor State Dispute Settlement) — secretive, binding arbitration systems that can force countries to overturn their laws when it hurts corporate interests. These formed the core of international opposition to trade deals such as TTIP (between the EU and US) and CETA (between the EU and Canada).

It might be argued that ISDS — corporate sovereignty — isn’t a new issue for the UK. The country already has many trade deals that include corporate sovereignty chapters:

UK corporations have been some of the most active users of ISDS to enforce their rights overseas, analysis of the 700 or so known disputes shows. Sixty-four of the 700 were made by UK companies against overseas governments, while only one ISDS dispute has ever been filed against the UK — and didn’t go anywhere.

The UK has been able to use ISDS as an offensive weapon without being hit by many claims itself because most of its existing trade deals are with countries that have relatively small economies. They have few companies or individuals who are in a position to make major investments in the UK, which means few are able to use corporate sovereignty clauses against the UK. The UK, by contrast, has plenty of rich investors who can and do take advantage of secret ISDS tribunals.

That situation will change dramatically if and when the UK signs a trade deal with the US — the British government has made clear that doing so will be a priority post-Brexit. The US has huge investments in the UK, and these are likely to be covered retrospectively by ISDS in any trade deal. That was the intention in TAFTA/TTIP, which now seems likely to suffer the same fate as TPP. After all, why wouldn’t Trump demand this strong protection for investments made by US companies — and by himself?

As the BuzzFeed article points out, requiring a corporate sovereignty chapter in a US-UK trade deal would lead to a rather ironic situation. The Brexit vote, which many insisted would allow the UK to throw off the yoke of supposedly "anti-democratic" supranational EU judgments, is almost certain to see a post-Brexit UK subject to large numbers of supranational ISDS judgments that are even less democratic.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Boys on a diving platform at Lac Léman, Lausanne, 2007 (source:…

Boys on a diving platform at Lac Léman, Lausanne, 2007 (source: Flickr user rougerouge) there is an alternative color version


Some parts of the free world are true beacons for #Naturism An expression of individual #Freedom #Tolerance as illustrated by @BareOaksPark …

Some parts of the free world are true beacons for An expression of individual as illustrated by …


Some parts of the free world are true beacons for #Naturism An expression of individual #Freedom #Tolerance as illustrated by @BareOaksPark …

Some parts of the free world are true beacons for An expression of individual as illustrated by …



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We had the first snowfall of the winter recently and although it varied in velocity from town to town it didn’t seem to cause many problems as drivers heeded the warnings and slowed down. It probably helped that it was widely forecast and that it fell during the evening rush hour and not in the early morning when it tends to cause chaos here in England. Whether that’s down to budgetary cut or policy I’ll leave for another time but needless to say,nothing seems straightforward these days.

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Christmas and the new year came and went quickly but I’d say we enjoyed a little more being in our new home. Fortunately I was given a wildlife camera for Christmas which I love and after having a trial “go”  in the garden think it will come in useful. As we headed towards Christmas we decided to get the chimney swept and hopefully be able to light a real fire to keep the chill away.

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The chimney sweep came and swept the chimney and he told me how sometimes he gets work at weddings as it’s supposed to bring good luck. In return he can get £150-£200 for just an hour of his time. We didn’t really celebrate too much over the festive period more to the fact that I had a stinking cold and didn’t really feel like drinking anything and also added to that was the fact I had to work most days getting only Christmas and Boxing Day off however shorter hours made sure it wasn’t to stressful.

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I’m hoping that 2017 will be less stressful than 2016 was and that hopefully we can plan some visits to naturist campsites old and new and that maybe we may also be able to plan a holiday somewhere nice and warm but we’ll have to see if the finances will first allow.

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