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Nintendo Game Systems and the Perils of a Family Business

It is a card game played with hanafuda cards or "Flower Cards". The cards were forbidden by the Japanese government centuries earlier when they feared the influence of Christianity, clocks and gambling that the Portuguese sailors had introduced to Japan. The Japanese were mostly successful in containing the threats of clocks and Christianity, but gambling remained and went underground. Those looking for a secret game would rub their nose. Now with the westernization of Japan underway, the restrictions on flower cards has been lifted. A young entrepreneur opens a shop in Kyoto (key-oh-toe) and produces hand-made cards out of paper from the bark of mulberry trees. He names his business "Nin-ten-do" which is often translated as "Leave luck to heaven" but could also mean (in context): "The Temple of Legal Hanafuda Cards". Business is slow at first but eventually almost every household in the city owns a pack of his playing cards. Then business dries up, so he starts selling to the gambling houses. They have the custom at the high-stakes tables of opening a new pack of playing cards for each game. With firm contracts in hand, the company is on course to becoming a major gambling supplier. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The problem with a family business is that the following generations often lack the confidence and business sense of the "old man". Nintendo got lucky when the owner died without an obvious heir to the family business. His grandchild was in college, so the young man was selected. He fired all the old fogies and put men of his own age into the senior slots. He made a couple of bad moves, but mostly the company did well until he hit on the idea of using his distribution channels to market video games, and the company prospered. As an example of a family business failure, consider the A&P markets. By 1965 it was the largest retail chain in the USA. It was HUGE! But after "Daddy" died, his heirs were afraid to make the change to supermarkets. The A&P depended on customers making frequent, smaller purchases rather than what we would call "a full shopping". They were too big to be a convenience store and too small to be a supermarket. In business, the formula for failure is to own a larger-and-larger portion of a shrinking market. The A&P finally closed its doors in 2015 after 156 years in business. [3]

The Starry Night and the Difficulty in Diagnosing Mental Illness

The artist Vincent Van Gogh has voluntarily admitted himself to an insane asylum. Last December he was in a rage with one of his fellow artists, and for some reason used a razor to slice off his own ear. He has no memory of the incident. There is some evidence that he presented the ear as a gift to a maid in a brothel to bring healing to the deep scarring she suffered from a wound. This is a strong indicator of mental illness or the later stages of alcoholism. That is why Van Gogh checked himself into an asylum. Around the 1850s, asylums became more like hospitals, and funding increased. Thus Van Gogh has walked into a treatment center and not a holding cell. The grounds are beautiful and he is entranced by the view out his window. One starry night he paints a picture of that view. It will become one of his most memorable paintings, but he will call it a failure. He attempts to use abstraction to exaggerate the stars in the sky, but he is unhappy with the result. His friends are delighted. He will soon check himself out of the asylum and move to a town in the suburbs of Paris. Next year he will paint a Wheatfield with Crows, and then shoot himself at the age of 37. [4] [5] [6] [7]

The sadness will last forever.
--The last words of Vincent Van Gogh as he dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I have seen schizophrenia be mistaken for alcoholism and vice versa. Any accurate diagnosis requires a certain time free from alcohol. I am not a doctor, but I know that alcoholism in its later stages is a serious physical problem. A friend of mine in Amarillo was transporting a drunk to Lubbock to place her in a treatment center. She gave her a beer to make the trip. Someone asked why she would do such a thing. I replied for her. "Well... have you ever been to Lubbock?" That was a joke, but having a drunk go into cardiac arrest in the middle of Nowhere, Texas is not a good thing. Give the gal a drink. Regarding identifying mental illness, a study was done in the 1970's to determine how accurately a mental institution could spot a faker. Several students and Professor David Rosenhan complained of hearing voices and were admitted to an asylum. Then they acted normally and said that the voices had gone away. They spent an average of 19 days in an institution, given a prescription for strong anti-psychotic drugs and sent home with a diagnosis of "schizophrenia in remission". The director at another institution promised that he could catch the Professor's fakers. His staff spotted 41 possible fakers out of 193 new patients and 19 were considered actual fakers by at least one staff member. Professor Rosenhan had sent no fakers to them at all. ZERO! He published his results in the academic journal, Science under the title, "On being sane in insane places". [8]

Diabetes Has Gone to the Dogs

In animal experiments, a German and Lithuanian scientist remove the pancreas from dogs and notice that the dogs show signs of diabetes. The dogs die shortly thereafter. (Thanks a lot, Doc!) But years later, Canadian scientists will carry it further. They will gather insulin from the pancreas of healthy dogs and then inject it into the dogs without a pancreas. The dogs will live. Then the scientists will work out a method of generating insulin. In January of 1921, Doctor Banting, Doctor Best, and several others will produce insulin from a cow pancreas and inject it into a dying 14 year-old boy and save his life. The next month they will save 25 more lives. They will patent their method and give the patent away free of charge. Eli Lilly and Company will set up production the next year and they will save 25,000 living souls. These scientists are going to get the Nobel Prize and then spread the prize money around to their colleagues who will not be named, but deserve the recognition all the same. [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Animal experiments were the critical factor in this discovery and the cure. At that point, I don't see how they could have done it any other way without the loss of millions of human lives. I don't like hurting dogs or any animals for that matter unless it is necessary. I also understand that some regulation on the treatment and dispatching of animals for food or for experiment is needed. Certainly the Bible calls for never eating an animal "with it's life blood in it." That means: don't eat it while it is still alive. You kill an animal as quickly and painlessly as reasonable. No fooling around. Jews and Muslims have stricter rules that apply to them. That's fine. Most of us are too far removed from the reality of farm life. Meat doesn't come from the grocery store, teachers don't live at the school and human lives could not be saved without some animal experimentation. I recommend a novel that delves into animal experimentation that has gone too far. "The Plague Dogs" by Richard Adams is about two dogs that escape from an experimental lab and are mistakenly believed to be carrying the Plague. They scare the snot out of everyone across the countryside. It is at times tragic, comedic and the ending is fabulous. Adams is best known for "Watership Down", but "The Plague Dogs" is worth reading. [12] [13] [14]

In Other News

  • Cordite (Mark 1) is invented. This low-explosive is a smokeless substitute for gunpowder. It is extruded into cord-like filaments and used in shells and gun cartridges. Mark 1 will prove too corrosive and be modified several times. [15] [16]
  • Mark Twain publishes "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". A machinist is knocked out and wakes up in 6th century Camelot. This is one of the first time-traveling novels. The next one will be H.G. Well's The Time Machine. [15] [17]
  • Adolf Hitler is born. He will become the leader of the Nazi Party and use the popular eugenics movement to murder millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the handicapped. The rumor that his grandfather was a Jew is erroneous. [15] [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1889, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Hanafuda - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “In 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai for the purposes of producing and selling hand-crafted Hanafuda cards painted on mulberry tree bark. Though it took a while to catch on, soon the Yakuza began using Hanafuda cards in their gambling parlors, and card games became popular in Japan again. Today, despite its focus on video games, Nintendo still produces the cards in Japan, including a special edition Mario themed set previously available through Club Nintendo. This is mostly in recognition of its own company history, rather than specifically for profit. In 2006, Nintendo published Clubhouse Games (42 All-Time Classics in the United Kingdom) for the Nintendo DS, which included the Hawaiian version of the game, Koi-Koi.”
  2. Blake J. Harris. "Chapter 5", Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation. HarperCollins. “The fate of Nintendo looked very promising, until future success was threatened by that of the past. Because those early years had gone so well, all the region’s households seemed to already have a deck of hanafuda cards, and demand came to a halt. To overcome this issue, he set his sights on the one place where the demand never diminished: casinos.” 
  3. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “A&P's decline began in the early 1950s when it failed to keep pace with competitors that opened larger supermarkets with more modern features demanded by customers. By the 1970s, A&P stores were outdated; its efforts to combat high operating costs resulted in poor customer service. In 1975, it hired outside management, closing older stores, and building modern ones. When these efforts failed to turn A&P around, the heirs of the Hartford family, and the Hartford foundation that owned a majority of the stock, sold to the Tengelmann Group of Germany.”
  4. Why did Vincent cut off his ear?. Van Gogh Museum (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “Van Gogh's illness revealed itself: he began to hallucinate and suffered attacks in which he lost consciousness. During one of these attacks, he used the knife. He could later recall nothing about the event.”
  5. Van Gogh chops off ear - Dec 23, 1888. history.com (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “Today, Van Gogh is regarded as an artistic genius and his masterpieces sell for record-breaking prices; however, during his lifetime, he was a poster boy for tortured starving artists and sold only one painting.”
  6. The real reason Van Gogh cut off his ear. Daily Mail Online (4 August 2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “The girl was called Gabrielle. She was not a prostitute, but rather a maid working in the brothel. Gabrielle had serious scarring to her arm after being bitten by a rabid dog as a child, her wounds cauterised by a red-hot iron.”
  7. Boime, Albert (December 1984). "Van Gogh's Starry Night: A History of Matter and a Matter of History". Arts Magazine. http://www.albertboime.com/Articles/Dec1984.pdf. 
  8. Rosenhan experiment - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “The study concluded 'it is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals' and also illustrated the dangers of dehumanization and labeling in psychiatric institutions. It suggested that the use of community mental health facilities which concentrated on specific problems and behaviors rather than psychiatric labels might be a solution and recommended education to make psychiatric workers more aware of the social psychology of their facilities.”
  9. History of diabetes - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “Banting, Best, and colleagues (especially the chemist Collip) went on to purify the hormone insulin from bovine pancreases at the University of Toronto. This led to the availability of an effective treatment—insulin injections—and the first patient was treated in 1922. The first successful patient treated was a 14-year-old boy who weighed only 65 pounds. When he was given the extract on January 23, his ketonuria and glycosuria were almost eliminated. His blood sugar levels dropped as low as 77%. Six more patients were treated in February 1922 and quickly experienced an improved standard of life. A pharmaceutical firm named Eli Lilly and Company, with the University of Toronto, began the mass production of insulin by the fall of 1923, 25,000 patients were being treated in Canada and the United States.[10] For this, Banting and laboratory director John MacLeod received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923; both shared their Prize money with others in the team who were not recognized, in particular Best and Collip. Banting and Best made the patent available without charge and did not attempt to control commercial production. Insulin production and therapy rapidly spread around the world, largely as a result of this decision. Banting is honored by World Diabetes Day which is held on his birthday, November 14.”
  10. Joseph von Mering - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “Mering was curious about the pancreas, a comma shaped organ, that was situated between the stomach and the small intestine. In an effort to discover its function, he removed the organ from a dog. The dog was then noticed frequently urinating on the floor, although it was house trained. Mering realised that this was a symptom of diabetes and tested the urine, which was found to be high in sugar, confirming his suspicion.”
  11. Oskar Minkowski - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “Minkowski worked with Josef von Mering on the study of diabetes at the University of Strasbourg. Their landmark study in 1889 in dogs induced diabetes by removing their pancreas. It was Minkowski who performed the operation and made the crucial link to recognize that the symptoms of the treated dogs were due to diabetes. Thus they were able to indicate that the pancreas contained regulators to control blood sugar; they also provided a model for the study of diabetes. Their work led other doctors and scientists to pursue further research on the relation of the pancreas to diabetes, and ultimately resulted in the discovery of insulin as a treatment for the disease.”
  12. Genesis 9:4 NIV. Bible Gateway (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”
  13. Adams, Richard. Plague Dogs, The. Penguin. ISBN 9780140050004. 
  14. Adams, Richard. Watership Down. Avon. ISBN 9780380002931. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 444-445. 
  16. Cordite - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom since 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. Like gunpowder, cordite is classified as a low explosive because of its slow burning rates and consequently low brisance.”
  17. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “While Connecticut Yankee is sometimes credited as the foundational work in the time travel subgenre of science fiction, Twain's novel had several important immediate predecessors. Among them are H.G. Wells's story 'The Chronic Argonauts' (1888), which was a precursor to The Time Machine (1895). Also published the year before Connecticut Yankee was Edward Bellamy's wildly popular Looking Backward (1888), in which the protagonist is put into a hypnosis-induced sleep and wakes up in the year 2000. Yet another American novel that could have served as a more direct inspiration to Twain was The Fortunate Island (1882) by Charles Heber Clark. In this novel, a technically proficient American is shipwrecked on an island that broke off from Britain during Arthurian times, and never developed any further.”
  18. Adolf Hitler - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 October 2016. “Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungary (in present-day Austria), close to the border with the German Empire.”

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