How gender-designated bathrooms came to be

Thanks to the huge fuss generated by the issue of which public bathrooms transgender people can use, I have learned a lot more about the issue of bathrooms than I would have ever imagined. While the idea of public bathrooms separated by gender has, like any practice whose origins are lost in the mists of time, come to be seen as the natural order of things not requiring any explanation, this article by Terry S. Kogan, Professor of Law at the University of Utah, says that it was the result of a deliberate sexist ‘separate spheres’ ideology that saw women’s role as to be in the home to take care of children and do household chores.
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What is the middle class?

Politicians love to talk about the middle class, especially during election season which in the US is pretty much all the time. This group is seen as being the most important in terms of voting strength. But the definition of middle class is a little vague, since it can be defined in terms of income, aspiration, wealth, or levels of consumption. This graphic looks at how the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank also classifies them in terms of demographic factors like age, education, and race, with those doing better than the middle class defined as ‘thrivers’ and those doing worse as ‘stragglers’.
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The Spelling Bee gets even worse

I simply do not understand the attraction of the Scripps Spelling Bee competition. It now results in young people spending an extraordinary amount of time memorizing the spelling of words so esoteric that one is never likely to use or hear them except in highly technical contexts. In its early years the winning words were blackguard, conflagration, concede, litigation, breach, saxophone, license, and primarily. In recent years they were appoggiatura, Ursprache, serrefine, guerdon, Laodicean, stromuhr, cymotrichous, guetapens, knaidel, stichomythia, and feuilleton. (See here and here for my earlier posts and in particular read the comments to those posts by readers who added interesting information and insights.)
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What did Trump think and when did he think it?

There is a question on my mind that is something that can perhaps only be answered by Donald Trump when he writes his memoirs many years from now or by his closest confidantes and that is the following: When he decided to enter the race last June, did he really think he would do so well and get this far and throw the Republican party into chaos? Or did he just do it for the laughs, thinking that he would make a big splash initially by making outrageous statements and insulting others, grab some newspaper headlines, and then go back to his regular life when the effort fizzled?
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Meet the Iowa Republican voters

On Monday, February 1, 2016 Iowa holds its caucuses. This is a complicated process and there is a long and tortured path from what takes place that evening to how the final delegates to the party convention are apportioned. So in one sense, what happens that night is not really definitive but the media, anxious to quickly identify winners and losers, have used the non-binding secret ballot that begins the proceedings as their marker and this can lead to problems as in 2012, when Mitt Romney was declared the winner on caucus night but later it turned out that Rick Santorum had edged him out.
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