History sheds some light on bathroom battles

Take the long view — the opponents of transgender/unisex bathrooms are all wrong. The history of ancient bathrooms shows that they’ve been unsegregated for ages and that separate bathrooms are a recent invention.

The evidence is ambiguous but one of the interesting features of most ancient and medieval bathrooms is that they generally do not appear to have been segregated by gender. Even though women were prohibited from participating in or entering many kinds of all-male spaces in the ancient world, the latrine wasn’t one of them.

In fact gender-segregated bathrooms were an innovation of the Victorian era, when they struck a blow for women’s rights. Up until the introduction of segregation in the nineteenth century, men had exclusive access to public restrooms. The result was that women were effectively tethered to their homes. While urinating over gutters or into “urinettes” (a small portable device that was used under long skirts and discretely emptied) were options, they were hardly preferred. Gender-segregated bathrooms, therefore, were actually a positive step. The 1887 Massachusetts law that mandated that workplaces provided bathrooms for female employees made it possible for women to hold down jobs without “holding it.”

Now I wonder, though, how the history of clothing was affected by this practice. In ancient Rome a woman would hitch up her stola and tunica intima to use the latrine, so there was still some privacy hidden behind folds of cloth. I’m more disgusted by the fact that they all would have shared the same sponge-on-a-stick for wiping themselves afterwards, which is why I’m bring my own roll of toilet paper when the physicists get around to inventing that time machine.

I’m also thinking that only providing bathrooms for men was the kind of sneaky exclusionary trick that was also done by not having pockets on women’s clothing.

I demand to be put on the Professor Watch List

They’ve been coming for women, minorities, and immigrants, so you just knew they get around to college professors as enemies of the state. A group called “Turning Point USA” has created the Professor Watch List, which includes a list to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom (doesn’t that sound lovely and vaguely familiar?), and also includes a form to turn in suspected leftists. It’s like a McCarthyite wet dream.

One problem: I’m not on the list. In fact, nobody at Morris is on the list. I fear our problem is that we’re such a little sanctuary of progressive thought that we’ve got a shortage of far right wing rats. I must make my case for being included on the list.

Look at that. I didn’t even have to get into the Cracker Incident.

I hope this omission can be corrected rapidly. If I am listed, I can also rat out virtually all of my colleagues, too, who are all raging liberals (OK, with a few exceptions). I’d like to see my university more prominently acknowledged on a right-wing enemies list.

Nazis. Nazis, nazis, nazis.


Watch the video of alt-right — excuse me, fucking goddamn nazis praising Führer Trump and making Nazi salutes and questioning the humanity of Jews and liberals, and then try to tell me that racism isn’t what got that orange asshole elected. My wife’s father, my uncles, my grandfather fought in a brutal war to end that fascism, and now the Republican party has brought them to power here.

Hail Trump? Christ.

The #NODAPL protests are still going on

It’s definitely winter up here in the upper Midwest. The temperature is right around freezing, there’s at least 15cm of snow on the ground, and the roads and sidewalks are slick with hard-packed ice. And they’re using water cannons on protesters at Standing Rock.

This is not just cruel — it’s dangerous. I’m sure residents of the Dakotas are just as conscious of the risks of getting wet outside in frigid weather as we are here in the slightly more urban state of Minnesota. You just don’t do that. You can kill people in this weather.

And of course they’re using rubber bullets and tear gas, and roughing up protesters and throwing them in dog kennels.

She told me that they were arrested at a prayer ceremony lead by camp elders, and that she had been slammed to the ground by uniformed officers with shields and helmets that kept her from distinguishing whether they were law enforcement or national guard.

“It was three against one, that’s their strategy,” she said, “there’s tear gas in the air everywhere. They didn’t fire it directly at me, but it’s everywhere.”

I was told that when they were arrested, they weren’t read their rights until after they spent a day in jail.

Her description of the arrest matched my student’s description. She told me they were bussed to a facility where they were kept in dog cages with urine stains on the floor, pictures of dogs hung on the walls. Women were separated from men with chain link fencing and a tarp.

They said their phones and money were confiscated, the money seized and turned into procurement cards and calling cards, allegedly without consent. The balance was not returned upon release, she said.

The state of the jail uniforms made the women feel vulnerable, she said, and the tarp separating the women from the view of the camp’s men exacerbated that feeling. She went on to tell me they were strip-searched.

“It was just turn your head and cough, just spread your cheeks and cough, but they didn’t tell us what they were going to, so when the woman approached me with rubber gloves on, I braced for a body cavity search. It’s worse not knowing, you know?”

America! This is what we’re like before the orange fascist takes power. What’s it going to be like next year?

You can still donate to the Standing Rock Sioux, and they’re going to need it. It takes courage and dedication to confront this kind of oppression.

We’re doomed

The president-elect of the United States got up bright and early this morning, and turned to the twitter machine to declare this.

The man is still obsessed over this rebuke, and the sheer pettiness of which I hear is highly overrated, is appalling. Artists and comedians and office workers hanging around the water cooler are going to be saying mean things about you for years to come, Donald; they’ve already been saying them for decades. If the musical is so awful, then you’re supposed to be less concerned about it, not worrying over it for days.

What the Donald ought to be worrying over, and what we all should we be concerned about, is that the president-elect of the United States had to pay up $25 fucking million dollars to settle a major fraud case against him. Look at the opening graf on that story. This is what ought to concern him, that some press outlets are finally beginning to grow a spine.

President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly bragged that he never settles lawsuits despite a long history of doing so, has agreed to a $25 million settlement to end the fraud cases pending against his defunct real estate seminar program, Trump University.

That clause is a thing of beauty: it’s completely unnecessary if the point is to simply state the dry bald legal facts, but the Washington Post thought it worthwhile to simultaneously sting him for being a braggart and a liar. That’s what ought to have him bolting awake and racing to vent on Twitter.

I take little consolation in that, though, because I can guess why he’s less concerned about losing $25 million. He’s planning to loot the presidency for everything it’s worth. Look what he’s also done lately:

President-elect Donald Trump met on Tuesday with three Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment project near Mumbai, the Economic Times reported.

The meeting occurred despite Trump’s promises that his business ventures will be handled by his children, so as to avoid potential conflicts of interest as he assumes the presidency.

It’s kind of obvious that he has no intention of avoiding conflicts of interest. He’s going to milk this thing for everything it’s worth, and use the Oval Office to promote cheesy, tacky, overpriced real estate…if we’re lucky. If we’re not, he’s going to realize how much money he can make by selling out the country.

And hey, if he was devolving all of his business interests to his children so he could focus on, heh, “statesmanship”, how come he’s bringing his kids into meetings with heads of state?

We have elected a not-very-bright spoiled two-year-old to the presidency. This will not go well.

Academic corruption

I have literally been in this position: consoling a young black man who didn’t get into medical school despite getting straight As and demonstrating a deep commitment to working in community health, and an hour later meeting a young white woman who sailed into medical school despite having marginal MCAT scores and nothing but straight Cs, and who also never showed much concern about her career, just assuming she’d get in. The difference? He was a first generation college graduate. Both of her parents were doctors who had attended the medical school she got into. She was a “legacy”. Jebus, but I despise that casual acceptance of what is actually a corrupt practice.

Here’s another kind of corruption: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is going to have a high position in his administration despite being a bit of a boob, just like Trump. But he is rich, just like Trump.

…a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their underachieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5m to Harvard University not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school, which at the time accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of 20.)

I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less-than-stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.

“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,’’ a former official at the Frisch school in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA [grade point average] did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.’’

Basically, this is a story of bribery and nepotism. But no one is going to do anything about it.

Furthermore, it can’t change because of a self-serving cycle. The Republicans have spent decades starving our universities so they’re desperate for funding, and then it’s the Republicans who benefit by providing back-door graft to the schools.

Don’t worry, it’ll change when we get university administrators with honor and integrity who will refuse special favors in return for the donations of billionaires and millionaires. (That’s a joke, son. Laugh. Laugh through the pain. It’s a talent that will serve you well for the next several years.)

Mano is commenting on the same thing. All academics know about this sleazy practice.

He won’t have learned a thing

Good grief, has Mike Pence ever listened to Hamilton before? He ought to have known that everything in that musical is antithetical to what the Trump/Pence administration stands for, from its central hero’s support for a strong central government to it’s praise for diversity and immigration. But he bought tickets (I wonder how much those cost? I know I couldn’t afford to get tickets to that Broadway play, as much as I’d like to), but he showed up anyway, was deservedly booed by the audience, and even got a special message from the cast.

I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us. Nothing to boo here, we’re all sharing a story of love. We welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical — we really do. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us. We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.

Keep in mind that that was said by a gay black man, demonstrating more tolerance in a minute than Mike Pence has in a lifetime.

Some of the lines in the musical acquired a special resonance, too. The audience roared when King George sang these lines:

What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead?

You’re on your own
Awesome. Wow
Do you have a clue what happens now?

Oceans rise
Empires fall
It’s much harder when it’s all your call

All alone, across the sea
When your people say they hate you
Don’t come crawling back to me

You’re on your own…

The people are already saying they hate you, Mike Pence, and you haven’t even taken office yet.

Sweet Jesus. Trump is already complaining.

Now you want a “safe space”? You asshole.

Also he’s lying again. The cast was not rude, quite the opposite. They were much nicer than I could have been. What do they have to apologize for?

“Nothing to boo here”. SORRY. Lots to boo.

“we’re all sharing a story of love.” SORRY. We shouldn’t share a story of love with you haters.

“We welcome you.” SORRY. You’re not welcome here.

“we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical — we really do.” Sorry. We don’t. Fuck off now.

“We are the diverse America.” SORRY. We’re not white straight people.

“who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.” SORRY that you’re so goddamned scary and hate us so much.

“But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values.” SORRY. We shouldn’t expect a gang of thugs to support our values.

“and work on behalf of all of us.” SORRY. We don’t really believe for half a second that you’ll do that.

“We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.” SORRY, so terribly SORRY, that we exist.