November 18, 2022


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You can’t just “shake it off” this time. If you didn’t get your megabucks tickets to Taylor Swift’s new tour, you may be out of luck. The presale broke the system. Swifties thought that today they would be able to buy tickets for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, but Ticketmaster says the tour is sold out. The presale for “Verified Fans,” sucked up all of the tickets. The Verified program required ticket buyer to register, then pick the location and date of the concert they wanted to attend. then provide personal contact information. The presale ticket holders are now offering the tickets to everyone who was shut out for upward of $500 each for even distant seats.

Then Thursday, Ticketmaster mucked things up with a poorly worded alert that set social media on fire because it sounded like the tour was canceled. But it was just the ticket sales that ended

(Twitter)

Two million tickets were sold on the Ticketmaster website this week, then bots began pinging the system, which pretty much fried the site.

(Ticketmaster)

The New York Times explained what happened:

The chaos began on Tuesday, when Swift’s tour — her first in five years — began the first of several tiers of “presales” for fans through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which is designed to weed out bots and speculators in favor of customers that are determined to most likely be actual fans.

Millions of fans were locked out. In a blog post published by Ticketmaster on Thursday, the company said that 3.5 million people registered for the Verified Fan program, and “around 1.5 million” of them were given the opportunity to buy a ticket to the tour, which is scheduled for 52 dates in North America starting in March.

Members of Congress, having cleared their election challenges, found time to weigh in on this matter.

(Twitter)

Senator Amy Klobuchar who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights demanded some answers from Ticketmaster to be delivered next week. 

Male fertility is in a steep decline

El País reports:

Sperm count has been decreasing for almost a century; at this rate, men will have trouble being fertile in less than a decade. Sperm concentration has also dropped to less than half, close to the threshold of infertility. In addition, the pace of the decline has doubled so far this century. These are the alarming facts revealed by the analysis of studies from 53 countries.

The research, just published in the Human Reproduction Update journal says:

This analysis is the first to report a decline in sperm count among unselected men from South/Central America–Asia–Africa, in contrast to our previous meta-analysis that was underpowered to examine those continents. Furthermore, data suggest that this world-wide decline is continuing in the 21st century at an accelerated pace. Research on the causes of this continuing decline and actions to prevent further disruption of male reproductive health are urgently needed.

The researchers posted this graphic that shows the significantly lower sperm count and the map shows that while earlier research just studied male fertility in Western countries, this research now shows data from the rest of the globe and the trend holds.

(Human Reproduction Update)

The graphic also shows that the rate of dropping fertility is accelerating. As you see in the graphic, since 1972, sperm concentration has dropped at an annual rate of 1.16%. But since 2000, it has dropped at a rate of 2.64%. 

Other data points confirm the trend. Since 1985, the rate was 1.31% and in 1995 it dropped by 1.9% per year. 

What does this mean to us today? El País added:

If this trend continues, in just five years the sperm count could drop below a threshold after which it becomes harder to have children. 

But why is happening? The answer, researchers say, is “we don’t know.” It may be, in fact it probably is, a combination of factors including exposure to chemicals and environmental pollutants which, El País reported, “could be causing a hormonal disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis that could interfere with sperm production.” And it could be poor lifestyle habits (smoking, obesity) or even prenatal exposure to something that is causing this. It turns out, researchers say, that during the fetal stage, testicular development begins, and something could be interrupting that development even before a male is born.  Whatever the cause, researchers in the U.S. and Spain say that for 20 years they have been noticing an increasing number of men with no sperm at all. 

National Geographic also just published a major piece on this issue. That reporting also surfaced the fact that until now, society generally has looked at the issue of infertility as a female issue, maybe because women are more likely to get medical care for infertility questions. Until now, researchers have believed that male and female infertility are roughly equally common. But this new research may change that. Perhaps, the data suggests, men are more likely to be infertile:

But the new data suggests a “substantial increase in the proportion of men with low sperm counts which leads to a reduced capability for fertilizing their partners,” says David M. Kristensen, a molecular toxicologist at Roskilde University and Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark who was not involved in the study. “This is of concern for not only the families that are affected but also for societies in general, as many countries such as Italy and Japan are already suffering from shrinking populations.”

Driving while pregnant in Texas 

Texas’ House Bill 521 is one for the ages. It would give people who are pregnant the right to drive in the HOV lane. The Dallas Morning News explains:

Remember Brandy Bottone of Plano, the pregnant mom who told police that she should not get a ticket for driving solo in a high-occupancy lane? She explained that her fetus, under Texas’ abortion law, should be considered a second passenger.

Her ticket was dismissed.

Now we have what I’ll call “the Brandy bill.”

(Texas House of Representatives)

The bill does not explain how an officer will know if a driver is pregnant. Will a driver need a doctor’s note? How about roadside pregnancy tests like DUI tests?  

(Twitter)

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
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