30 June 2020

SCOTUS Clarifies Federal Trademark Law Of Generic Marks 8-1

The latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling strengthens federal trademark protection for marginal trademarks of the type "genericmark.com" that arguably should have been considered generic marks not entitled to federal trademark protection. 

By rejecting the U.S. PTO's proposed bright line rule, the ruling also greatly increases the uncertainty involved with marginal trademarks, increasing the cost of determining if a trademark is valid and of litigating that mark if it violates the bright line rule but could conceivably meet the looser U.S. Supreme Court legal standard. Under this decision, more cases will go to trial and fewer cases will be possible to decide in a pre-trial motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment at a much lower costs. The failure of the court to engage with the civil litigation cost impacts of the case, however, is somewhat disappointing.

This is an important issue, in the sense that it arises frequently, but a quite narrow one that hinges a great deal upon the fact that website addresses are unique, unlike other kinds of company names with type of entity designators, and product names. Indeed, the logic of the case comes close to establishing a per se rule that genericmark.com marks are never themselves generic, which from a civil litigation perspective really would have been a better rule.

There were legitimate arguments both ways on the merits in the case, but this case joins a long streak of intellectual property cases (mostly going against intellectual property right holders) that do not show strong partisan divides in the nation's highest court. 

From the official syllabus of the opinion in U.S. PTO v. Booking.com:
A generic name—the name of a class of products or services—is ineligible for federal trademark registration. Respondent Booking.com, an enterprise that maintains a travel-reservation website by the same name, sought federal registration of marks including the term “Booking.com.” Concluding that “Booking.com” is a generic name for online hotel-reservation services, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) refused registration. Booking.com sought judicial review, and the District Court determined that “Booking.com”—unlike the term “booking” standing alone—is not generic. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding no error in the District Court’s assessment of how consumers perceive the term “Booking.com.” The appellate court also rejected the PTO’s contention that, as a rule, combining a generic term like “booking” with “.com” yields a generic composite. 
Held: A term styled “generic.com” is a generic name for a class of goods or services only if the term has that meaning to consumers. Pp. 6–14. 
(a) Whether a compound term is generic turns on whether that term, taken as a whole, signifies to consumers a class of goods or services. The courts below determined, and the PTO no longer disputes, that consumers do not in fact perceive the term “Booking.com” that way. Because “Booking.com” is not a generic name to consumers, it is not generic. Pp. 6–7. 
(b) Opposing that determination, the PTO urges a nearly per se rule: When a generic term is combined with a generic Internet-domain name suffix like “.com,” the resulting combination is generic. The rule the PTO proffers is not borne out by the PTO’s own past practice and lacks support in trademark law or policy. Pp. 7–14. 
(1) The PTO’s proposed rule does not follow from Goodyear’s India Rubber Glove Mfg. Co. v. Goodyear Rubber Co., 128 U. S. 598. Goodyear, the PTO maintains, established that adding a generic corporate designation like “Company” to a generic term does not confer trademark eligibility. According to the PTO, adding “.com” to a generic term—like adding “Company”—can convey no source-identifying meaning. That premise is faulty, for only one entity can occupy a particular Internet domain name at a time, so a “generic.com” term could convey to consumers an association with a particular website. Moreover, an unyielding legal rule that entirely disregards consumer perception is incompatible with a bedrock principle of the Lanham Act: The generic (or nongeneric) character of a particular term depends on its meaning to consumers, i.e., do consumers in fact perceive the term as the name of a class or, instead, as a term capable of distinguishing among members of the class. Pp. 8–11. 
(2) The PTO’s policy concerns do not support a categorical rule against registration of “generic.com” terms. The PTO asserts that trademark protection for “Booking.com” would give the mark owner undue control over similar language that others should remain free to use. That concern attends any descriptive mark. Guarding against the anticompetitive effects the PTO identifies, several doctrines ensure that registration of “Booking.com” would not yield its holder a monopoly on the term “booking.” The PTO also doubts that owners of “generic.com” brands need trademark protection in addition to existing competitive advantages. Such advantages, however, do not inevitably disqualify a mark from federal registration. Finally, the PTO urges that Booking.com could seek remedies outside trademark law, but there is no basis to deny Booking.com the same benefits Congress accorded other marks qualifying as nongeneric. Pp. 11–14.

23 June 2020

Presidential Race Polling Summary Four And A Half Months Out

The polls need to swing towards Trump by roughly 6.6 percentage points (implying national polling in favor of Biden by 2.6 percentage points), allowing Trump to take Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa and Texas (but not Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada or Michigan) for Trump to win the electoral college, according to the FiveThirtyEight blog.
Overall — assuming that states that haven’t been polled go the same way as they did in 2016 — Biden leads in states worth 368 electoral votes, while Trump leads in states totalling 170 electoral votes. 
But a potential problem for Biden is that Trump could have an Electoral College advantage if the election tightens. Biden currently leads Trump by “only” 6.6 points in the current tipping-point state, Minnesota, but this is narrower than Biden’s 9.2-point lead in the national polls.

From here.

* * *
Polling aggregation at Real Clear Politics largely confirms this assessment.

New Mexico Biden + 11.0
Virginia Biden + 11.0
Minnesota Biden + 10.5
Colorado Biden + 10.0 (August 2019)
Maine Biden +10 (no CD breakdown, ignores old polls).
Michigan Biden + 8.0
New Hampshire Biden + 4.3
Nevada Biden + 4.0
Ohio Trump +0.5
Iowa Trump + 1.5
Texas Trump + 1.5
Georgia Trump + 7.5
South Carolina Trump + 12.0 (ignores old poll)

National Biden + 10.1

Betting Odds  Biden 56.8% Trump 36.8%.

* * *

Cook's Political Report leans far to the right of FiveThirtyEight in its predictions, but the trends still aren't good for Trump in its June 2020 assessment
This means there are 248 Electoral votes in the Lean to Solid Democratic category and 204 Electoral votes in Lean to Solid Republican. There are 86 Electoral votes in Toss Up.
To win the Electoral College, Biden needs 22 of the 86 votes in its "toss up" category. This would be Florida, or any two of the other four "toss up" states in their assessment.

Trump needs 66 of the 86 votes in its "toss up" category. Thus, he needs four out of five "toss up" states, one of which must be Florida (and also Ohio, Iowa, Georgia and Texas), to win.

Let's recall how many Electoral College votes some of these swing states have:

Maine (4)
Michigan (16)
New Hampshire (4)

Minnesota (10)

Florida (29)
Wisconsin (10)
Pennsylvania (20)
Arizona (11)
North Carolina (15)

Ohio (18)
Texas (38)
Iowa (6)
Georgia (16)

The states that Cook's rates as "Lean R" are polling 0.7 percentage points for Trump to 2.7 points for Biden and are really the "toss up" states that are in statistical ties.

The states that Cook's rates as "toss up" are polling 3.0 to 6.9 percentage points for Biden and are really "Leans D" states.

The states that Cook's rates "Leans D" are polling 6.6 to 10.2 percentage points for Biden and are really "Likely D" states.

There are some modest differences in how FiveThirtyEight and Cook's rank the states relative to each other. Cook's thinks Maine, Michigan and Florida are a bit more Trump leaning than FiveThirtyEight does relative to other states. But, there aren't huge differences in their rankings of the relative competitiveness of the swing states in 2020.

Widespread Higher Education Is New And Other Education Trends

From here.

In 1950, because WWII interrupted higher education for many people in born from 1915-1925 (ages 16-26 when the U.S. joined World War II, and 20-30 when World War II ended), the percentage of adults age 25-30 who had completed 4 year college degrees in the U.S. was at a record low. About 4% of white men, about 2.5% of white women, and about 1% of black men and women.

The Great Depression that led up to World War II also wasn't good for college attendance. Many people simply couldn't afford to stay in school to get a high school education, let alone a four year college education.

Now, that's changed. About 45% of white women, 35% of white men, 25% of black women, and 17% of black men who were aged 25-35 in 2015 had earned four year college degrees, and there was no sign that the trend was abating. 

Graduate degrees were rare indeed. They basically didn't exist prior to 1870. They have become much more common, with the rates of graduate degree completion between 2000 and 2010 doubled between then.
Since 2000, the number of people age 25 and over whose highest degree was a master’s has doubled to 21 million. The number of doctoral degree holders has more than doubled to 4.5 million. Now, about 13.1 percent of U.S. adults have an advanced degree, up from 8.6 percent in 2000.
From here

From here.

Public v. Private College Enrollment

Higher education enrollment in 2016 (which was 19.841 million in all) was about 74% public, 20% private non-profit (about 13.4% of the total at secular nonprofit institutions, and about 7.6% of the total at religiously affiliated institutions), and 6% for profit.

According to this source:
Religiously affiliated educational institutions often developed in response to social changes. For example, the world's first college charted to grant degrees to women was Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia (1836). At the conclusion of the Civil War, the Freedman's Aid Society responded to absence of educational opportunity for newly freed slaves by creating institutes and colleges throughout the South. Many of these institutions continue their critical role in education in the early twenty-first century. Often church-related colleges began as academies or seminaries and then grew to college or university status. Many had short lives, closing as the result of social, demographic, political, and–quite often–financial reasons. Some colleges severed their relationship with the religious communities and continue in the twenty-first century as quality independent institutions. Among these are Vanderbilt University, Auburn University, University of Southern California, Oberlin College, and Princeton University. In 1881, 80 percent of the colleges in the United States were church related and private. In 2001, 20 percent of the colleges–approximately 980 institutions–had connection to a religious tradition. The "Digest of Educational Statistics, 2000," indicates that sixty-six religious groups in the United States currently sponsor colleges or universities. These institutions enroll more than 1.5 million students.
Notably, the share of higher education enrollment at private religiously affiliated institutions (about 7.6%) is quite close to that at the K-12 level discussed below (7.8%).

In both cases, the extent to which a religious affiliation meaningfully impacts the operations of the institution and is economically important, varies widely. Many, but not all, have undergone a shift from what:
George M. Marsden characterizes colleges and universities as moving from a perspective of "Protestant establishment" to one of "established nonbelief," a move toward embracing secularization and diminishing religious tradition.
The economic subsidy from affiliated religious institutions is now usually small, even though this wasn't necessarily true historically:
Religiously affiliated colleges and universities also receive expressions of partnerships and support from their sponsoring tradition. Financial support for the institutions usually represents less than 1 percent of their budgets; this is a radical decrease from the 1980s.

Figure 1 is from here.

But, since then, changed in federal financial aid policies have caused for profit higher education enrollments to plummet without offsetting gains in public high educational institutions and only modest gains in non-profit higher educational institution enrollments (mostly due to the successful conversion of a few large for profit institutions, like Ashford University and Grand Canyon University, from for profit to non-profit status).

Community college enrollments have also slipped in recent years, something that isn't very visible in measures of four year degree completion.

K-12 Education Enrollment Trends

As of 2015-2016 (the most recent statistics easily available to me), the national four year high school graduation rate in regular high school programs (as opposed, e.g., to GED programs) was 84.1%. In Iowa, it was 91.3%. In the District of Columbia, it was 69.3%.

Calculated in a more inclusive manner that counts people continuing to work towards a high school diploma after five years, or earning a high school diploma in an alternative program or with a GED, the overall national high school dropout rate was 6.1% for the same year, down more or less steadily from 27.2% in 1960, 15.0% in 1970, 14.1% in 1980, 12.1% in 1990, 10.9% in 2000, and 7.4% in 2010.

The current dropout rate (with the more inclusive measure) is 5.8% for white males, 6.2% for black males, 10.1% for Hispanic males, 4.6% for white females, 4.3% for black females, and 7.0% for Hispanic females.

Private v. Public Education

Table from CAPE.

Private K-12 education peaked around 1960 at 13.9% from which it declined to a 2014 low of 9.7%, and was lowest around 1920 at 7.3%.

About 10.2% of K-12 students attend private schools, 76% of which are religious (about 7.8% of the total) and 24% of which are secular (about 2.4% of the total). The nonsectarian, secular Montessori, Friends, Jewish, Islamic, and conservative Christian share have increased over the last 14 years, while the Roman Catholic, Adventist and other Protestant shares have declined.

The peak in private K-12 education around 1960 reflects resistance to school desegregation (Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954), which gradually waned, in part, due to growing comfort with desegregated schools and, in part, because de facto segregation based upon school attendance boundaries combined with white flight to the suburbs, tracking within schools, and school choice programs, provided alternatives that parents could find to circumvent school desegregation.

An older colleague at work, is his 60s, went to a private school in the District of Columbia at a time when most private schools in the District were not yet desegregated. 

The increase in non-sectarian and secular Montessori enrollment is largely a function of increased availability of voucher and charter school options in urban areas. Episcopal and Friends affiliated schools have draws similar to high prestige non-sectarian private schools, with Episcopal enrollment actually declining about 16% in absolute terms, and and the apparent 40% growth in Friends education in absolute terms probably partially being a function of rounding errors, although voucher programs may have helped in these cases as well.

The near doubling of the market share of Jewish affiliated K-12 enrollment, which is still a 50% increase in absolute terms, is probably largely attributable to the availability of voucher programs in areas with large Jewish populations (mostly in the Northeast Corridor), although increased concerns about anti-semitism and a desire to maintain a stronger Jewish identity could also play a part.

The increase in the Conservative Christian share largely reflects a steady enrollment in the face of a declining share of students attending private schools. There may also have been a fair amount of rebranding from Baptist and Calvinist to Conservative Christian.

In raw numbers, as opposed to percentage share figures, Roman Catholic education declined about 40% from 1992 (well after the peak) to 2016 and has probably declined further since then.

Declining Catholic and Protestant other than Conservative Christian enrollment largely reflects a shift to public schools and nonsectarian schools by parents who were primarily seeking to avoid what they perceived as "bad" desegregated public schools options, rather than because they were actively seeking religious instructions.

The growth in Islamic K-12 education reflects both a growing Muslim population in the U.S., mostly due to immigration, but in part, also due to conversion, and the availability of voucher programs.

Race and Medical School Admissions

Affirmative action in medical schools increased black and Latino medical school graduation rates by about 20%. This impact was significant, but much smaller than in top law schools. 
VEDANTAM: Well, several states have now banned schools from taking race into account. And this new analysis that I've looked at examines graduation rates at medical schools in California, Washington, Florida, Texas, Michigan and Nebraska. Now, schools in all these states have tried these techniques that we're talking about, and there are variations in how successful they are, but overall, there are strong patterns in the outcomes. I spoke with Liliana Garces at Penn State University, and along with David Mickey-Pabello, she's found that there's been a sharp drop in the number of black and Latino students graduating from medical schools in these states. Here she is. 
LILIANA GARCES: If you think about before the bans, for every 100 students that matriculated in medical schools in states with bans, there were 18 students of color. But after the bans, for every 100 students matriculated, there are now about 15.
From National Public Radio.

22 June 2020

Why Are They This Way? What Can We Do To Change Them?

On Facebook someone said
Try to think about how people became this way. Why do they think it is right? What can we do to respect people and talk across the divide? 
in response to this post:

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing, shoes, beard and outdoor
PucktographyJune 2 at 1:22 AM ·

This evening the town of Coeur d'Alene Idaho heard rumors that the same people who rumored to come in white vans into Spokane Washington last night were headed there. It was said these were the instigators that ruined a otherwise peaceful protest, broke into local business and vandalized. The local militia men and women responded with arriving all over downtown guarding all the major intersections. Store owners were boarding up their windows in preparation, while sentinels stood guard and others watched or enjoyed the local food and drink. There were some peaceful protesters there as well that were not bothered or hurt by the armed guards. North Idaho will not put up with Antifa or any group that threatens their towns. As always feel free to share and regardless of your political affiliation or viewpoints I hope you stay safe and enjoy the photos.
My response was as follows:
"What can we do to respect people and talk across the divide?" 
"We" in the general public can't talk across the divide. The gap is too wide and there is a metaphorical soundproof wall between us. All messages from the mainstream media, scientists, academia, school teachers, government officials, and "liberals" has been put on "blocked/ignore" status. Any talking to change their minds has to come from within - their extended families, or their own clergy, or people they do business with, or former members who have second thoughts.  
In the big picture, people in these communities are driven to this kind of movement and evolve culturally into this (1) through decades of economic stagnation and economic insecurity for non-college educated white men since the early 1970s that has left them with daily struggles and impaired their ability to have stable marriages, which they are seeking to blame on any scapegoats that they can (mostly the wrong ones like gays, blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants, rather than big business and government indifference), (2) the development of a white supremacist prison gang movement initially as a way to unite in response to minority street gangs that extended into prisons, that has continued to be a part of their lives after getting out, and (3) encouragement from sources like Fox News, less mainstream far right media and social network sources, clergy, and GOP leaders. This has also been plugged into a pre-existing anti-intellectual, law disregarding mountain man ethos in places like Idaho.  
Policies that would increase economic security for working class men, and that would reduce mass incarceration, would prevent prison gang formation when people are in gangs, and would encourage reintegration after getting out, and focusing on taking down demagogues in the GOP and corporate support for forces like Fox News, would help end these movements. 
GOP leaders know this in their bones even if they don't consciously understand things in those terms, which is why they are so adamantly opposed to universal health care, social services programs, minimum wage support, paid leave, and labor unions would would take away the economic stagnation and insecurity and fear that drive conservative political movements.

15 June 2020

More Positive Thinking

One of the biggest worries for the future of the United States has been the tendency of President Trump to make dictatorial pronouncements that threaten our institutions in violation of clear constitutional rights and democratic institutions, for example, threatening not to leave office even if not re-elected.

There has been some recent reason for hope on that point.

Firsttoday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling by a 6-3 vote affirming that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender rights is not just important because it has great impact on the merits. It is also important because it has shown a willingness of two-thirds of the conservative majority court, including two conservative justices, to show judicial independence in the fact of a Trump administration priority. 

Second, in a very pointed rebuke of President Trump who was seeking military intervention (unlawfully) in response to Black Lives Matter protests, both Defense Secretary Esper (the top civilian appointee in the Department of Defense) and Joint Chiefs Chair Milley (the highest ranking military officer in the United States) made public statements to troops reminding them to defend the Constitution and not the President.

Third, this win for gay rights comes on the heels of a widespread movement in response to the Black Lives Matters protests driven by the George Floyd case in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which has resulted in two main kinds of change.

The protests have led to reforms aimed at police misconduct (with a big legislative win in Colorado, and a smaller one in New York State, local legislation like an ordinance passed in Louisville, Kentucky in the wake of the tragic death of an innocent EMT in a botched no knock drug raid and the removal of police officers from the Denver Public Schools, and even baby steps with bipartisan federal legislation also here) and the backbone to punish bad cops under existing laws. Select court rulings have also backed up the protesters.

And, the protests have led to the widespread removal of confederate symbols (including a decision to rename the Stapleton neighborhood, named after a Colorado politician elected with KKK support and announcements from the leaders of the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy - the Army has considered but not taken action) and removal of many slaveholders, racist villains, and confederate monuments (sometimes by force and sometimes by official action also here) not just across the U.S., but also in the U.K. and Belgium.

Big businesses like Starbucks, Disney and T-Mobile, when pressed, have usually taken sides against the racist right. Even NASCAR, a Southern and rural cultural icon, has banned confederate symbols without blowback from anyone that matters:

This is reflected in dramatic shifts to the left in public opinion polling across the political spectrum.

Basically moderate Republicans and independents have finally had enough of Trump and the politicians who have enabled him and of abuses by police and of Confederate symbols. It feels like we have reached a tipping point after nothing seemed like it had any impact on support for all of these things for years.

The pendulum and momentum in American politics is swinging back to the left again less than five months from the November 3, 2020 general election, which is exactly when it counts.

Fourth, polling currently strongly favors Democratic nominee Joe Biden over incumbent Republican President Trump in the 2020 general election, both by large margins in national polls, and by poll leads in excess of the margin of error in enough swing states for Biden to win the electoral college. Even the "betting odds" have flipped into Biden's favor. The protests have strengthened rather than hurt BidenToday's summary from Real Clear Politics is as follows:

Polling also shows Democratic candidates leading in enough U.S. Senate races to regain control of the U.S. Senate. Even formerly Republican leaning states like Montana, Georgia, Kansas, Iowa and Kentucky are now polling in the too close to call range. For example, Democrats lead in U.S. Senate races in Arizona (+9.8), Colorado, Maine and North Carolina (+0.2)

This looming electoral disaster for Republicans is also undermining GOP support for President Trump in Congress, and some prominent Republicans have come out in support of Biden over Trump.

14 June 2020

Take Guns Away From Family Members Who Can't Use Them Properly

If you know enough to excuse your father's criminal conduct after the fact based upon his mental health issues, you had a moral responsibility to take away his guns before an incident like this one happened. 

President Trump, of course, in addition to agitating this man until he criminally harassed a couple of innocent men, also blocked a measure that would have kept guns away from people who were dangerously mentally ill. But, just because the law doesn't require you to take action doesn't mean you don't have a moral responsibility to do so.
LOVELAND, Colo. — A Loveland man faces felony charges after allegedly concluding that two men going door-to-door in his neighborhood were members of the protest movement known as Antifa – and then ordering them to the ground and holding them at gunpoint. . . .  The incident unfolded after the man called police, said there were two men wearing masks near his home, and announced he was armed and going to go confront them. 
. . . When officers arrived in the 2400 block of Dawn Court around 6 p.m. Thursday, they encountered Scott Gudmundsen dressed in fatigues and holding two men on the ground at gunpoint. . . . But the men weren’t troublemakers – they work for a local roofing company and were wearing blue polo shirts with the firm’s name on them, shorts, tennis shoes and white surgical-style masks. 
. . . One of them is a Colorado State University football player who is 20 years old and works part-time at the roofing company. The student is a "man of color," according to a statement from the university.  The other man is 27 and an employee of the roofing company. . . . 
“They were canvassing the neighborhood because of the recent hail storms[[.]" . . .  There was no evidence that either of the men did anything wrong. “Nothing at all[.]" 
. . . At the scene, police arrested Gudmundsen, 65, who lives around the corner from where police encountered him. Gudmundsen was armed with two weapons, Shaffer told 9Wants to Know: A Glock pistol, and a second Glock pistol that had been converted into a longer weapon that looked like a carbine rifle. Police seized both guns as evidence, Shaffer said.
The incident unfolded in a southwest Loveland neighborhood a few blocks west of Thompson Valley High School. . . .  Gudmundsen called police, said there were two “Antifa guys” in the neighborhood and that, “I am going out there to confront them.” Gudmundsen told police in the call he was armed and wearing tactical gear, Shaffer said.

A second person also called police around the same time and said a man in fatigues was holding two people on the ground at gunpoint in the street.

President Trump has suggested that Antifa agitators have been responsible for recent demonstrations across the country calling for greater police accountability in use-of-force incidents.

According to Larimer County Jail records, Gudmundsen was booked at 6:14 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of two counts of felony menacing and two counts of false imprisonment. He is scheduled to be in court June 18. A man who said he was his son, Stanley Gudmundsen, emailed 9NEWS and said his father is ill and currently undergoing treatment at a mental health facility. 

"Our sincerest thoughts go out to the two salesmen and we apologize to them and their families for the actions of our father and wish them well," he wrote.
From here

Demographic Trends In China and India

Demographic transitions to fewer children per family have been experienced everywhere that has undergone economic development. But, only a few have seen this accompanied by a severe gender imbalance among young people.

One historic policy tool in ancient times when there was an excess of young men was been to start foreign wars - which kills some of the excess young men, and allows some of those who survive to take women from abroad as plunder. 

I sincerely hope that this won't happen now, and that fact that so many of these excess men are only children may tame this political instinct. But, policymakers need to be aware of the pressures pushing leaders in China and India in that direction.

China is seven years away from peak population. 

For 36 years, China’s ruling Communist Party stipulated that couples could have only one child except in special circumstances, such as if they lived in a rural area and their first child was a girl or a boy with disabilities. It was part of a strategy to boost China’s growth rate and its living standards at the same time.

The policy worked too well. In China today, home to 1.4 billion people, there are 100 million people under the age of 40 who are an only child. But the traditional preference for sons — and the associated practice of aborting daughters — means that there are about 34 million more men than women.

That in itself is a big problem. But add into the mix a tendency among millennial women to delay marriage and having even one baby — or none at all — and it’s a demographic time bomb.

China’s population is forecast to peak at 1.45 billion as soon as 2027, then start a long decline. About one-third of the population will be over the age of 65 by 2050.

In 2015, the Communist Party started unwinding the one-child policy, but it has had almost no impact. Women increasingly want careers of their own, and many would rather channel their energy into giving one child a good start in life than split their resources between two.

From the Washington Post.

Solutions which one professor has been suggested include legalizing polyandry (i.e. allowing women to have more than one husband), and legalizing brothels. From the link above:
Chinese authorities have been trying for three years to reverse the devastating imbalances of their one-child policy and coax couples to have more children. They’ve told couples that it’s their patriotic duty to have two babies. They’ve dangled tax breaks and housing subsidies. They’ve offered to make education cheaper and parental leave longer. They’ve tried to make it more difficult to get an abortion or a divorce. None of this has worked. China’s birthrate remains stubbornly low and men greatly outnumber women, creating a demographic crisis that could hinder economic growth for decades to come. . . . 
“If two men are willing to marry the same wife and the woman is willing, too, what reason does society have to stop them sharing a wife?” [Professor] Ng asked, citing polygamy as a common custom in ancient times and a continuing practice in some strains of Islam.
“I’m not denying the advantages of monogamy here, such as how exclusive long-term relationships can benefit kids’ growth and education,” Ng wrote in his column, according to the website SupChina, which first reported in English about the controversial remarks. “But given China’s skewed sex ratio, it’s necessary to consider allowing polyandry legally.”
Plus, it would just be more efficient, he continued, suggesting that women would have no trouble meeting the physical needs of multiple husbands.
“It’s common for prostitutes to serve more than 10 clients in a day,” Ng wrote, before taking off on another offensive tangent. “Making meals for three husbands won’t take much more time than for two husbands,” he added. Ng’s column went viral on the Chinese Internet. And many women on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, were unimpressed. 
“It made me throw up,” wrote a woman calling herself Keely, asking why Ng didn’t put himself in the woman’s shoes. 
“I’m shocked by what he says. Is it 2020 now?” asked Fuduoduo.
“Let me translate what he means: he wants to legalize sex slaves,” said another.
Ng is steeling for a fight. He wrote that his next column aimed at redressing gender imbalances would be about legalizing brothels. Because China’s gender mismatch has caused a fierce competition among men looking for wives, he said, “a man’s right to achieving sexual satisfaction is being severely violated if legal sex work is not allowed.”  Legalizing sex work and building more brothels would allow men to attend to their “urgent needs,” he wrote.
India, for different reasons, also has a significant excess of men

India, a country that has a deeply held preference for sons and male heirs, has an excess of 37 million males, according to its most recent census. The number of newborn female babies compared with males has continued to plummet, even as the country grows more developed and prosperous. The imbalance creates a surplus of bachelors and exacerbates human trafficking, both for brides and, possibly, prostitution. Officials attribute this to the advent of sex-selective technology in the last 30 years, which is now banned but still in widespread practice. 
In the two countries [China and India], 50 million [of the 71 million] excess males are under age 20.

12 June 2020

Disruptive Stress Tests

Senate Bill 20-217, a comprehensive police misconduct prevention bill that passed the Colorado General Assembly today with bipartisan majorities, and will almost certainly be passed by Democratic Governor Jared Polis in a few days, leaves me more hopeful than I have been at any time in the last three months.

Our society has faced some major stress tests in the last few years. It has faced the far right, openly racist agenda of Donald Trump's Presidency. It has faced COVID-19 which has killed 116,825 people in the United States so far as I write this post, and has shut down the economy in an uncoordinated response of mixed effectiveness, and will almost surely have killed twice as many people before the year ends. It has raced national and global mass protests and riots over police brutality on a scale not seen in my lifetime.

Seeing protests produce lasting policy changes, a sea change in public opinion and another big wave of eliminating Confederate symbols from the U.S. landscape is gratifying. 

It is looking increasingly likely that Biden will defeat Trump in November and that Republicans will lose control of the U.S. Senate, while Democrats hold onto control of the U.S. House. Republicans may suffer down ticket losses in state and local races as well.

The impact of COVID-19 will be multifaceted and complex. But, I have little doubt that the end result will be a society that is more resilient, more environmentally sound, better able to cope with future epidemics, and will have a better safety net.

The armed far right rallies for the right to get haircuts and not use face masks, which resulted in many protesters getting sick and changing their tune, paled in comparison to the protests on the left that followed a few weeks later against police brutality, which accomplished far more.

The right is well aware that it is crumbling. Trump was yet another Republican President to win the electoral college while losing the popular vote, and he won the electoral college by the thinnest of margins in a handful of swing states. Most Americans, I believe, and an even larger share of American elites, understand that the American people made the wrong choice when they elected Trump, who has done unfathomable damage to our nation. 

The right has recognized that it can stay in power only with gerrymandering, voter suppression, threats of violence, and other illegitimate means of maintaining power, and that it will not be able to do so forever. Little by little, the left has chipped away at these unsustainable dirty tricks.

Trump's victory has irrevocably forfeited for the Republican Party the support of Generation X, Millennials, women, and everyone else who isn't a white conservative Christian, for all time by large margins.

He has used the bully pulpit to legitimatize a far right made up of white nationalists, neo-Confederates, and neo-Nazis, swelling their ranks dramatically and encouraging open acts of hate. He has won over straight white Christians who are older, uneducated, rural, and Southern, but that is a shrinking demographic. With every election, a disproportionate share of voters who have died since the last election are Republicans, and young people are not becoming more conservative with the passage of time as they age. 

Trump has done so at the cost of alienating business elites, mainline Christians and other more moderate conservatives. Businesses historically aligned with the GOP have moved quickly to shut down overt racism and violent rhetoric by employees within their ranks. The international standing of the United States has plummeted by almost every measure.

Their culture, like their side in the Civil War, is a lost cause. Trump's movement is a rag tag collection of losers who are out of touch with reality, whose leader is the most flawed man ever to occupy the White House, a deeply corrupt, mean spirited, idiot and pathological liar.

When Disney is touting a new series appropriate for gay pride month, and a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, it is too late to turn back the clock on gay rights.

Throwing shade at President Obama, the most popular American political leader in a generation whose personal character was unblemished, is not an effective political tactic with anyone but hard core converts to Trumpism.

Trump's victory was a major battle won by the cultural right in the culture wars that have been raging since before the American Revolution, but they are losing the war and Trump has discredited their movement and party with too many of the people whose support they need to win elections going forward.

The 2020 election is also the last hurrah of a generation of politicians who will soon have no choice but to pass the torch to the next generations.

11 June 2020

An Advanced Vocabulary Lesson

(The woman on the left is a human who has fallen in love with the woman on the right who is her business partner and is also an artificially intelligent robot.)

09 June 2020

Quote of the Day

You ever heard of a "symposium," where scholars get together to talk about their scholarly ideas? Well, that's Attic Greek for "drinking party."
- Today, from Steve Harvey (I won't vouch for the accuracy of the translation, but he's not entirely wrong).

08 June 2020

Today is World Oceans Day!

This little video suitable commemorates what is good and what is horrible about the state of today's oceans in one perfect little production. 

The video captures the gist and spirit of the slice of life comedy (with a serious undercurrent) mermaid comic called "The Little Trashmaid" run by its author, with new installments released roughly every two weeks.
Fact 1: Plastics are the most common element found in the ocean today. Plastic, in particular, is harmful to the environment as it does not break down easily and is often mistaken as food by marine animals. 
Fact 2: According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year. 
Fact 3: The 5 most common items found in coastal cleanups around the world are all single-use plastics. They are: plastic cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and plastic straws and drink stirrers. 
Fact 4: There are 25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. 
Fact 5: 80% of trash in the ocean is from land-based sources, including individuals, industry and improper waste management/infrastructure. Only 20% is the result of ocean-based sources, such as the fishing, shipping, and cruise ship industries. 
Fact 6: Plastics cause more than 80% of the negative effects on animals associated with ocean trash. 
Fact 7: There is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas inside the Pacific Ocean: the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California is the largest oceanic garbage site in the entire world. It’s here that the number of floating plastic pieces in the water outnumbers total marine life six to one in the immediate vicinity. 
Fact 8: Ocean pollutions kills more than one million sea birds each year. 
Fact 9: recent survey found ocean pollution is more common in deep waters (more than 2,000 feet deep), with the most common offenders being plastic bags, metal cans, fishing equipment, glass bottles, shoes, and tires. 
Fact 10: Research estimates anywhere from 15 to 51 trillion particles of floating micro plastic are in our oceans, weighing between 205-520 million pounds. This includes plastic microbeads (used as exfoliates in some personal care products) and synthetic fibers, both of which are too small to be filtered out by many waste water treatment plants. 
Fact 11: Approximately 4 billion pounds of trash per year enters the ocean. 
Fact 12: Approximately every square mile of ocean has more than 45,000 pieces of plastic floating in it. 
Fact 13: There are dead zones in the oceans that have been created by pollution making life in those zones impossible for marine or plant life. 
Fact 14: There are about 500 dead zones in the ocean, which covers a similar size to the United Kingdom. 
Fact 15: Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion. 
Fact 16: Carbon emissions harm the oceans as well as the air. If our behavior continues as is, the surface water of the ocean could be 150% more acidic than it is now. 
Fact 17: Not all sewage that enters the ocean is treated. 80% of sewage that flows into the Mediterranean Sea is untreated, which can lead to disease. 
Fact 18: Oil spills only contribute to 12% of the oil in the ocean. 36% of the oil comes from runoff sources from cities and companies. 
Fact 19: Ocean noise pollution is an issue, too. Ships, tankers, and shipping containers emit sounds like high-intensity sonar and air guns. This noise pollution injures fish, disrupts their habitats, and more. 
Fact 20: Over one-third of the Atlantic ocean that shellfish live in is negatively impacted by pollution. This adversely affects the shellfish businesses on the East Coast. 
Fact 21: It’s estimated that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight). 
Fact 22: Fish and other marine life often can’t tell the difference between plastic and food. If the animal eats plastic, they can’t digest it. The plastic fills their stomachs, so they starve to death. 
Fact 23: Every year, about 1.5 million tons of nitrogen pollution flows into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River. 
Fact 24: China and Indonesia are the world’s biggest contributors of plastic pollution in the ocean. Combined, they account for one-third of total ocean pollution. 
Fact 25: Plastic makes its way to the depths of the ocean. Studies have found that crustaceans in the Marianas Trench, the ocean’s deepest point, have ingested plastic. 
Fact 26: Approximately one truckload of plastic enters the ocean every single minute. 
Fact 27: The waste in the ocean takes a long, long time to decomposeStyrofoam takes 80 years, aluminum takes 200 years, and plastic takes 400 years. 
Fact 28: In some of the most heavily polluted sections of the ocean, plastic outweighs plankton by six times. 
Fact 29: There’s enough plastic in the ocean to circle the Earth 400 times. 
Fact 30: Chemicals in heavily polluted waters can make their way back to us and cause serious health issues like reproductive problems, hormonal problems, kidney damage, and nervous system damage.
You can read more about the problem of pollution in the ocean here. It is a case of the "tragedy of the commons" on an epic scale.