Bullet trains

As Japan has just tested the one of the  world’s fastest bullet trains, the ALFA-X, which clocks in at 400 kilometers per hour/249 miles per hour, I thought it would be a good time to revisit bullet trains. How were they invented? How fast are they? Why are they some places but not others?

Bullet trains were originally designed in Japan. The first bullet train that opened for commuter service was the Hikari bullet train which opened October 1, 1964, and ran until 1999. Hideo Shima was the first designer of the bullet train and finished his plans for Japan’s high speed railway in 1959. Japan then built the the train and tracks in just five years, in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

After Japan’s success, countries such as Austria, France, Belgium, Germany, China, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom built similar high speed bullet trains.

The fastest train in the world is the Shanghai Maglev, in China, which can reach speeds of 267 miles per hour. The second fastest train in operation is the Fuxing Hao, also in China, which has gone as fast as 236 miles per hour. The originator of the bullet train, Japan, has the world’s third fastest train, the Shinkansen, which can go 224 miles per hour.

The fastest trains outside of Asia are housed in Italy and both can reach speeds of 220 miles per hour. They’re called the Italo and the Frecciarossa and are made by competing companies.

In America, there are no high speed trains, at least according to world standards. There are trains in America that can reach speeds of 125 miles per hour, which is considered by the U.S. to be a high speed railway, but according to world standards the minimum for a high speed train is 160 miles per hour. California has planned the first high speed railway in the U.S., but it is not planned to be completed until the year 2040.

The Masters

This year’s Masters was held on April 11th-14th. It was located at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia. This year marked the 86th anniversary of the Masters, with the first tournament being held in 1934. Winning the Masters is a big deal. If you win you get invitations to the US Open, the Open Championship, the PGA Championship, the Masters, the Players Championship, and membership to the PGA Tour all for the next five years. There is also prize money which this year totaled to $11.5 million. Winners also receive the legendary green jacket.

This year’s champion was Tiger Woods. For those of you not familiar with golf, Tiger Woods might be the only golfer you know, and an obvious choice to win, but to anybody close with the sport, Tiger seemed anything but that.

In 2008 Tiger blew his knee out and has had multiple surgeries since.

In 2009 Tiger was chased out of the house by his wife for cheating and got into a car crash. After the accident Tiger dropped from his top 10 position in the World Golf Rankings to number 674. Tiger hadn’t won a major since, but had won two smaller tournaments in the months leading up to the Masters.

Entering the weekend there were still 9 players that had a possibility of winning, which is the most in Masters history. Τiger didn’t just luck into this win, he played incredibly well. On the 12th hole, when others found the water, Tiger found the green. On par 3s, Tiger played -4. On hole 16 Tiger sent a long drive extremely close to the hole and proceeded to two-putt it in to extend his lead. By the end of the 18th hole, Tiger’s score was -13 and there was a four-way tie for 2nd with a score of -12.

The Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is a plan proposed by Democrats, that is aiming to curve climate change and address economic inequality. It is named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression, but with Green added on for the environmental part of the plan.

The Green New Deal has been gaining interest over the past few months, and on March 26, it was brought to a vote. The plan was shot down, but proponents of the plan are trying to pass parts of the plan as smaller bills. It has been estimated that we have 10 years left to fix carbon emissions or else there will be a catastrophic event.

Everybody knows what the Green New Deal is, but how does it actually work? The plan is to boost clean energy and infrastructure by offering incentives to those who will build the structures necessary for clean energy. This will hopefully make clean energy the first choice over non-renewable energy sources such as: coal, oil, and natural gas.

The plan also aims to tackle economic inequality by creating jobs for lower income people. These jobs would mostly be in construction, as all the new infrastructure needed for renewable energy will have to be built by someone. All the new building is supposed to stimulate the economy and help the environment.

The idea of a Green New Deal is not a new idea. It was first mentioned in columnist Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded in 2007. The idea was picked up by Obama in 2008, and by liberal groups in Britain, but in 2010, the Republicans won congress and the Tories (the conservative party in Britain) won Parliament, and the idea was lost.

The idea resurfaced in the 2016 election race when Jill Stein ran with her own idea of the Green New Deal and Bernie Sanders also had his own idea of the plan. Both of these candidates would eventually lose, but then in 2018, the Democrats regained the house and young, progressive, representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, reintroduced the plan and gained support from many progressive representatives. The bill was eventually killed, but the fight is not over and many representatives are pushing for other plans like it.

Vietnam Summit

Less than a month ago, the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, met for a second time to discuss economic sanctions and nuclear weapons. The first time the two met, they met in Singapore. This time, the pair traveled to the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, to talk. Trump is the first American president to meet a North Korean head of state.

The first time the two talked was on June 12, in the summer of 2018. They met in Singapore and discussed North Korea’s nuclear program. Trump said the talks went well and there has been less tension, but there has yet to be any real progress.

The summit started at 6:30PM Vietnam time, which is exactly 12 hours ahead of East Coast time. The next morning, at 9:00AM, Trump and Kim met privately to talk.

After their private meeting was done, the two went to a large meeting with several top aides from each country. This meeting carried into a working lunch that featured the same people as the meeting.

At around 2PM, Trump and Kim signed an agreement. After the signing, a press conference was held that both leaders attended. The two then separated until 7PM, when they met again for a formal dinner.

The results of the summit weren’t what Trump claimed they were, but they weren’t nothing. Trump claimed North Korea would be fully denuclearized, which they are not, but the tensions have eased and North Korea and the US are no longer threatening war.

North Korea also released American hostages ahead of the summit, which is good, and the US has promised to stop “provocative” military drills with South Korea.

North Korea also promised to start to denuclearize, but they could go back on that at any time. The results weren’t massive but they were a start.

The history of Supreme

Supreme. The now famous store started out as a small skate shop in 1994. It was opened by an American born, English raised, 30-year-old fashion enthusiast James Jebbia. The first Supreme store opened on Lafayette St. in SoHo and there are now 11 stores worldwide: two in New York, one in Los Angeles, one in London, one in Paris, three in Tokyo, one in Osaka, one in Nagoya, and one in Fukuoka.

If you don’t already know what Supreme is, it’s a clothing brand that sells their clothes in limited quantities, at relatively cheap prices, that then resell for massive amounts. This large resale prices increase the hype around the brand, and it just keeps growing.

In the beginning, the Supreme store sold skate gear such as decks, trucks, wheels and other skate brand clothing, along with a few of their own signature tees. In 1995, Supreme released its now famous box logo t-shirt consisting of the word “Supreme” printed inside a red box, on a white t-shirt, in Futura font. Over time, Supreme stopped selling other brands in their stores, and on their website, to make room for their own products which were rapidly increasing in popularity.

There have been several big events in Supreme history, such as when they were sued by artist Barbara Kruger because of the extreme similarities between the logo and her artwork. Supreme also received a cease and desist from French fashion house Louis Vuitton for selling fake Louis Vuitton print Supreme shirts. Another memorable moment was when Supreme and Louis Vuitton worked together to make a collection that included pieces that are now selling for thousands of dollars.

A huge part of Supreme is their high profile collaborations with other brands. Over the past twenty years, they have worked with a number of other high profile brands such as: Nike, Louis Vuitton, BAPE, The North Face, Vans, DC Shoes, Timberland, Oakley, Playboy, Budweiser, Brooks Brothers, and Rolex. Supreme has also collaborated with more niche brands such as Anti-Hero.

Supreme is also known for working with artists such as KAWS, and Nuptse, who designed the extremely popular “By Any Means Necessary” collection.

Another Supreme classic is their photo tees in which they take a photo of a celebrity in their famous box logo shirt and put that photograph on a shirt. Nas, Gucci Mane and Kate Moss have all done this.

Finally, Supreme wouldn’t be Supreme without their accessories. The accessories range from the practical to the ridiculous. Some of the more practical accessories are the: Supreme Zippo, the blanket, the towel and the tools such as the ax and crowbar. There are some expensive and ridiculous Supreme accessories though, such as: the motorcycle, the tent, the guitar, and the pinball machine.

Last year Supreme famously sold a brick that resold for hundreds of dollars and made many wonder why. The only answer to that was because it was a brick made by Supreme.

The Grammy’s

The 61st annual Grammy’s kicked off on CBS, on February 10th, at 7pm Central Time, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Singer songwriter Alicia Keys hosted the event. In total, 81 awards were given out across 30 genres.

Some of the biggest awards are in the general field which includes: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. “This is America” by Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, won both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Album of the Year went to Kacey Musgraves for Golden Hour and Dua Lipa won Best New Artist.

There were also several performances during this year’s Grammy’s. There were eighteen performances featuring some of the biggest names in music including: Travis Scott, Alicia Keys, Cardi B, Post Malone, Shawn Mendes, Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Jennifer Lopez.

There were other more memorable wins from the night, such as Drake winning Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan” and Ariana Grande winning Best Pop Album for Sweetener.

There were other important non award moments such as Michelle Obama taking the stage to talk about the importance of music and Drake’s acceptance speech in which he told young artists that award shows like the Grammy’s, that were put on by people who didn’t understand their music, were unimportant.

Another huge moments was Janelle Monae’s performance which highlighted black women.

There was also an In Memoriam segment featuring and remembering artists that passed away this past year. Jahseh Onfroy aka XXXTentacion was controversially not featured because of his history with domestic violence.

The big winners of the night were: Childish Gambino who won four awards for his song “This Is America” and the accompanying music video, and Kacey Musgraves who won four awards this year for Best Album, Best Country Album, Best Country Song and Best Solo Country Performance.

Several people also won Lifetime Achievement Awards such as: Sam and Dave, Black Sabbath, Donny Hathaway, Parliament Funkadelic, Dionne Warwick, Billy Eckstine and Julio Iglesias.

To find more information about this year’s Grammy’s, go to the Grammy’s official website at https://www.grammy.com.