Daily Archives: June 13, 2011

How are art and human evolution related?

My interest is in developing a plausible evidence-based story of how modern humans emerged from ancestral species. This means guessing at what features of humans make us “human” and attempting to see the emergence of each of these features in the fossilized record of our bodies (bones) and behaviors (artifacts and archaeological sites). This question has traditionally been treated, inappropriately, as simple. Walking upright, or freeing of the hands, or using tools, or hunting animals, or scavenging from carnivores, violence, provisioning mates, bonobo-ism (a form of erotica, it would seem) or some other thing (or combination of two, possibly three, of these things) is seen as the “kick” causing the evolution of our peculiar brand of ape. The situation is certainly more complex than that.
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Miss USA Contestants: Is Evolution OK for US Schools?

Miss USA contestants have been asked for the upcoming beauty contest if evolution should be taught in US schools. In a seemingly unrelated question, they are also to be asked if they would ever pose nude for photographers. It is not clear what the correct answer to either question is supposed to be.

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Gay Judges should NOT be allowed to rule on Gay Laws

I agree that a gay judge should not rule on a gay marriage issue. He’s biased. He’s gay, and in a gay relationship and will therefore be biased in favor of gay rights.

Of course, non-gay judges should never be allowed to rule on issues of straight marriage or other private matters, legislatures should not be allowed to introduce legislation limiting or proscribing behavior related to gayosity or straightosity related to anyone like themselves, and voters should never, ever be allowed to vote on things that have anything to do with individual relationships, sexual behavior, sexuality, or anything else private where the voter her/himself could be somehow analogous to the individuals affected by the laws or amendments. And, the inverse must be true as well. A gay judge might be anti-straight, and therefore should never rule on straight-marriage issues, for instance.

The rules I just laid out in the previous paragraph would not apply, of course, to the rare and extreme cases where individuals’ private behaviors cost large amounts of government money or have very negative tangible side effects on others. Squeamishness, moral indignation, annoyance, or modest visual disruption of the landscape do not count as negative tangible side effects except in the possible case of visual disruption of the landscape in national parks.

Opponents of gay marriage are challenging notions of judicial neutrality in a San Francisco courtroom on Monday. They’re arguing that a federal judge who struck down California’s ban on same sex marriage last year was biased because he’s in a same-sex relationship*.

I fully support this initiative, and I hope it progresses and is recognized as case law. The consequences would be astounding. Women would no longer be able to legislate, enforce laws, or rule as judges on, say, abortion rights. Following the inverse principle, neither would men. Issues related to state laws regarding any kind of marriage or probate, if brought to a federal judge, could not be ruled on by judges who are in, or not in, those circumstances. Only judges who are (not were, but are) foster children could rule on laws about foster children. Or not. Only Judges who have Down’s Syndrome could rule on, say, execution of offenders with Downs. But they would not be allowed to do so. And so on.

Furthermore, the sexual orientation, karyotype, and other personal information of each and every judge will have to be determined and perhaps placed on the judge’s bench using some sort of symbol so everyone knows what the potential biases are if any issue related to that state of being comes up in any courtroom, ever, anywhere, from now on.

That is all, you are now free to return to reality.