Nintendo Flips the Gender Script with “Captain Toad”

“Captain Toad” breaks the sexist mold with the game’s two leads, Toadette and Toad, taking turns saving one another.

Nintendo is making amends for the millions of Mario players who grew up with the helpless-princess-in-a-tower-who-needs-saving trope. Their just-released “Captain Toad” Wii U game is breaking the sexist mold with the game’s two leads, Toadette and Toad, taking turns saving one another.

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Can Brazil Teach Us How to Get Over Our Vocational Education Snobbery?

With the economy being what it is, it's time for us to get over our antiquated ideas of career prestige.

During my college years, I spent a lot of time with two plumbers named Mario and Luigi. But, like many of my peers who enjoyed hanging out with the two Nintendo video game superstars, I didn't see their careers as something prestigious, nor something to aspire to. Even nowadays with so many people hunting for work, government economists predict that over the next decade we'll have faster than average job growth for plumbers—and a good many other "trade" professions—but we often still look down upon vocational careers. Can't you just hear modern parents saying, "You want to be a plumber (or insert any vocational job)? You can do better than that." But it's time for us to get over our snobbery, especially with the economy being what it is. It turns out that Brazil is making a serious investment in vocational education, and their approach is one we can learn from.

Brazil had to tackle vocational education head-on since their growing oil and gas industries have increased demand for "skilled professionals, including welders, electricians, builders, and information-technology specialists." There's also been a boom in infrastructure projects so that "roads, airports, stadiums and accommodations will be ready for the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup." So over the past decade, the Brazilian government has boosted vocational education funding from $385 million to $3.8 billion. Except—and this is important when worrying about career prestige—they don't call it vocational education anymore. Brazil calls it "professional" education, and the schools are called technical institutes.

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Among the world's biggest electronics companies, who will be the first to go green? It certainly won't be Nintendo, as the Japanese corporation famous for its game consoles came in dead last in Greenpeace's latest Guide to Greener Electronics.
Nintendo scored only 1.8 points out of 10 in the 2010 guide, which rates 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TVs and game consoles according to their progress on environmental issues like toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change.
This year's score is actually an improvement from last year's, which was just 1.4, but while Nintendo made some positive changes in banning phthalates, selling consoles with PVC-free wiring and monitoring use of other toxic materials, the company's abysmal record in e-waste and CO2 emissions dragged down its score.
“It scores points on energy criteria, for the energy efficiency of its low power AC adaptor for the Nintendo DSi, which meets the requirements for external power supplies in the Energy Star programme,” writes Greenpeace in the guide.
It also retains a point on energy for disclosing carbon dioxide emissions from its own operations. However, it fails to score for its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, due to a second year of increases, despite a commitment to cut CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases by 2 percent over each previous year.
Greenpeace based the scores upon public information published on each company's websites, seeking proof of improvements on eliminating hazardous substances, responsibly managing product waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Lenovo just barely beat Nintendo's score, and while Nokia came out on top, its score was only 7.5 out of 10, leaving plenty of room for improvement. Sony Ericsson got the second-highest score, while companies like Apple, Panasonic, Sony and Motorola trailed behind with scores in the mid-range.
Stephanie Rogers writes about earth matters and green tech for the Mother Nature Network\n
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Photo (cc) by Flickr user compujeramey via Mother Nature Network\n

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