Fair and Balanced

Fox News sued Al Franken for the title of his new book: “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.” Specifically, they think using the phrase “Fair and Balanced” is an infringement of trademark. People with more expertise than I have explained why this is total crap.

In response a lot of blogs have added the phrase to their titles. Add me to the list!

I neeeeeed to know!

moron pays 50000$ to find out who Carly Simon is talking about.

This story is number two on Yahoo most sent. Snippet:

Carly Simon Gives Away Who Is ‘So Vain’

Carly Simon will finally reveal who’s so vain to a man with major connections in the media world should he ever decide to break his vow of secrecy.

But Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC sports and NBC Olympics, said he’ll never tell once Simon divulges to him the subject of her 1972 song “You’re So Vain” after a private performance in about two weeks. Ebersol won the information with a $50,000 bid in a charity auction; he also gets a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

My first reaction was “who the fuck cares?” I’ve never heard of the singer, the song, or the supposed mystery of who she thinks is vain. As a musical moron, perhaps I’m missing out on some long-running soap opera. Even so, look at how the AP can’t take a joke:

Ebersol said Simon gave him one clue about the man’s identity that she said he could reveal: He has the letter “e” in his name.

That could be any of the chief suspects: actor Warren Beatty, whom Simon dated; Mick Jagger, who sang backup on the song; and her ex-husband, James Taylor.

They actually try to think of people with e’s in their names! Truly the human need to reveal the unknown is revealed as the base instinct it is. There’s no other explanation for why this is being taken seriously. I applaud Simon for exploiting it to the tune of 50000$ minus a sandwich.

Japanese Street fashion

Japanese Street fashion

Japanese Street.com

Laurel pointed me to this site that posts pictures of Trendy Japanese Youth. It’s not the adult-baby crap that most people think of when they here “Japanese Fashion,” it’s more of the everyday trendy stuff.

This is what I told Laurel:
when I was in Japan, Tokyo especially, you would see photographers set
up on a side street photographing anyone who they thought was trendy.
There were tv shows that would go through and find the latest fashions.
Most of them are of course not as wacky as people are aware of here
(“omg skirts with prints of panties on them! lol!”). When I was there,
they did a segment on, like, sweater tanktops with turtlenecks. And
they would have little interviews with like 6 women in a row with the
exact same look.

I guess what’s weird is they have a lot of styles you only see in Japan,
but in Japan a ton of people have that same style.


Some thoughts on trains

I just lost this entire update thanks to galeon crashing. My system has been much more unstable lately, it sucks.

on with the post:

A man leapt onto bullet-train tracks at JR Shin-Osaka Station, directly into the path of an oncoming train, but he miraculously escaped with minor injuries after the train passed over a gap he was in, police said.


The train, which was bound for Okayama Station, resumed travel about 40 minutes later after an inspection, causing delays to five bullet trains for a maximum of 34 minutes and affecting about 2,700 passengers.

A man leaps under a train, and causes delays of only 34 minutes?

I live in a country where the fastest trains are late by hours on sunny days, so the Japanese train system is almost magical to me. I’ve often wondered if it would be possible to bring any train system up to Japanese standards if you poured enough money into the project. I think that it’s impossible.

The Japanese, to put on my generalization hat, value the collective good over individual whining. They’ve got guys on the train system that, as far as I can tell, wave lights back and forth at every train. They have computerized station announcements, and a guy that comes on the PA and says the exact same thing again. The Japanese system is regimented, strict, exact. Everybody has their little job, and they don’t stray in the slightest way. When the workers cross train tracks, they gesture in each direction to ensure they don’t get run down.

No American company could justify these jobs, and even given vast amounts of money they still would never do it. Here, I know who’s driving my subway by the voice and the way they announce the tracks. Some drivers are slow, others are fast. The workers could give a shit about someone telling them to point down the tracks. Americans know that everyone is doing just enough of their job to get by. If they don’t think it’s necessary, they won’t do it. Distrust of authority goes hand in hand with swiping office supplies.

Truthfully, pointing down the tracks is probably not necessary, and there’s a lot of other superfluous little things. But someone, somewhere has decided this is the way, and by gum they do it. Even the passengers do their part and behave nicely. Every part works together, and the result is perfect trains.

Here, the small deviations eventually add up. Even if the T had all the money in the world, some kid would hold the door open for a friend. A driver would go a bit too slow (I had a guy who missed the station and had to back up). As a result, trains bunch up, they need to hold them, things slow down.

There’s something to be said for an individuality-based culture like ours, even if it means we can’t get perfect subways. At least we’re not all mindless “sarariman” stepping out of our beautiful trains and hanging ourselves.

It would be interesting to compare how much the Japanese spend on rail versus Americans on highways, and see which is more expensive by population, or per mile, or gross. I think they spend a lot more on all accounts. Given the societal impossibilities it’s all academic anyway, but I can still dream of getting on clean subway car.