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Ode to the Inventor of Pac-Man

For those of you who love Pac-Man, today is a sad day. And that’s because Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Namco, has died. Namco is the Japanese company started in 1955 that that was responsible for Pac-Man.

Pac-Man was designed by the video game engineer Toru Iwatani and first came to the market in 1980. It was named, by Guinness World Records, as the world’s most successful coin-operated video game.  The company has actually estimated that Pac-Man has been played more than 10 billion times.

The spin-offs of Pac-Man have been never-ending. Pac-Man has been adapted for cell phones and Nintendo, for Xbox and PlayStation, for animated films, for TV series and for loads of merchandise.

And where did Pac-Mac’s classic design start? According to Bandai Namco, it was inspired by none other than pizza. The name comes from the Japanese phrase that describes the Pac-Man eating the dots. It’s called “paku paku” and from that we got Pac-Man.


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Lego Building and Coding Set

Now here is a brilliant idea. With the technology world taking us into the future, why not give your kids a leg up and get them building their Legos – while learning to code. Lego is launching a new building and coding set that lets kids build five different smart toy models. These will include a cat, robot and guitar among others.

Last year, Lego launched the WeDo 2.0 robotics kit that teachers science and technology ideas to elementary students. This effort is focused on coding. The kit, which will be called the Boost Kit, comes with a Move Hub (which is a Lego brick with a tilt sensor). Users will then download the app that features 60 coding activities.

The kit will be available later this year for $160.

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Daniel Taub is Staying Focused on the Facts for Textbooks and Children

Daniel Taub

Daniel Taub

The vast majority of educated people assume that they are getting a relatively unbiased education through their textbook studies. There is no reason to assume that there are biases in elementary school through the textbooks – but most people would be shocked to see just how prevalent such biases really are. Certainly, many textbooks written in the 1950s in America showed gender and racial bias. The math problems included women who were baking and cooking and men who were going off to work. The story lines would include white people who were successful and black people who were in the fields or in other industries of this sort.

But in today’s world, we don’t expect such biases to continue. And they do. Daniel Taub, a former ambassador to the United Kingdom who headed the Israeli side of the Culture of Peace negotiations at the Annapolis Conference in 2007, has written a great deal about these issues. As UNESCO passes resolutions wiping out Jewish history and Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem, Mr. Taub points out some fascinating, and perhaps not well known truths. In an article in The Jerusalem Post he explained that,

“I served as the head of the Israeli side of the Culture of Peace track of negotiations with the Palestinians during this Orwellian rewriting of history. Our negotiation team was charged, among other things, with examining the role played by schoolbooks and education systems in perpetuating the conflict. In examining textbooks, we chose to place particular emphasis on deliberate distortions of history for political ends.”

He continued by explaining that he actually traveled to Northern Ireland with his Palestinian counterpart, Sufian Abu Zaida, where they learned that both sides of the Irish conflict insisted that history be taught honestly to school children.

Returning from their trip, they developed a program for school textbooks to be reviewed by an independent committee of experts, but the program was rejected by the Palestinian leadership when it became public knowledge.

Daniel Taub gives a concrete example when discussing the bias in Palestinian teachings. As he said, “Palestinian text books were actually rewritten to rename the Tomb of Rachel the Mosque of a Moslem prophet.  And the Guide to the Temple Mount published by the Supreme Moslem Council in the 1920’s said that its identity as the site of Solomon’s Temple was ‘beyond dispute’.”

Certainly, around the world textbooks needs to reflect the reality of the history and the current events as they unfold. When quoting late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Daniel Taub recalled that Senator Moynihan used to say, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”



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Playground Built in One Day in the Bronx

It’s heartwarming when you see ideas that actually get turned into actions. A new playground in the Bronx has done just this. Two nonprofits, DreamYard and KaBOOM! have come together with Delta Air Lines to build a play area on Washington Avenue near E. 166th Street in Morrisania. The project was completely dreamed up by kids.

As Tad Hutcheson, the VP of Community Affairs for Delta explained,

“Three months ago, we had a design day here and kids drew their ideal playground — what they like, swings, slides and all that. Some of those drawings included pools and roller coasters.”

KaBOOM! then used the drawings to develop a playground design with common elements that the kids had suggested. And in one day the playground was built and put into place.

Check out the finished project…and use this idea to dream bigger than you might imagine possible.

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Three Tips for a Great School Year

schoolboy-990795_960_720Getting ready for the new school year can be quite exciting, but it can be nerve-raking as well. Little kids want to be seen as being cool and as fitting in. And that can be stressful both for the child and the parent as they search for the right school supplies and get all of the items together that the child will need for the coming year. Here are some suggestions that will help parents and children to navigate this process.

1. Clothing: Everything young girl wants to look just right for the new school year. If you haven’t already seen this company, check out the fun and feisty clothing at a place like LittleMissMatched. This company was acquired by Delta Galil with Isaac Dabah in 2012 and has continued created adorable and fashionable clothing. Delta Galil, with Isaac Dabah at the helm, leads the industry in technology innovation in textile manufacturing and design. At a company like LittleMissMatched, girls will find just the right clothing for the school year ahead.

2. Supplies: If you’ve been given a school list during the summer, it’s certainly worthwhile going to Target or a similar location and buying the school supplies. Bring your child with you so that she can pick the notebook colors and designs that she likes. This might seem like a little thing to you – but it will make a big difference to her.

3. Lunch Bags and Backpacks: Again, these may seem like little, inconsequential details and you may think of just picking up a lunch bag and backpack for your child without her present, but don’t. These are make-or-break items for looking and feeling cool as the school year starts. Let her shop for these items with you. Remember that you can also help the environment by buying a reusable lunch bag and avoiding the use of paper or plastic bags.
These tips should get you started on the right path. As soon as your daughter realized that you’re shopping with her and including her in the process, she’ll take ownership over it and will feel much better about her choices.

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Tatyana McFadden: A Formidable Force in Wheelchair Racing

Tatyana McFadden just won the Boston Marathon for wheelchair racing. This was her fourth victory with a time of 1:42:16. As she told People Magazine,

“It was tough and there was a headwind. I’m exhausted, but crossing the finish line definitely felt amazing. The crowd was really electric and helped carry all of us when we were tired and beaten down.”

Her win, however, is less impressive than her life story. Born with sina bifida, she spent the first six years of her life scooting around on her hands since the Russian orphanage where she lived had no wheelchairs. She wasn’t expected to survive, but she was adopted by two American women who nursed her to health and watched her become an incredible athlete.
She is the first person to ever win all four of the world’s major wheelchair racing marathons, having scooped wins in London, Boston, Chicago and New York. At the Paralympics in Rio, she will be competing in seven track and field events.

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