A second chance to see the Aurora Borealis

It’s still possible to see the northern lights tonight, so I hear. I just took a look with somewhat clear skies, but I couldn’t see anything. Of course, something so spectacular is worth a second shot in a couple of hours.

Info and image via Starts With A Bang.

The best quote from Judge Walker

Judge Vaughn Walker has made the decision today that California’s Prop 8 is unconstitutional. He lists a number of reasons it is an illegal amendment, but I think the best quote of his so far is this one:

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker wrote. “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

Targeted persecution isn’t exactly allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

There’s going to be plenty said about this, especially when it gets to the Supreme Court, but I think the biggest complaint from bigots is going to be that this undermines the will of the people. That’s an intellectually dishonest, political, rhetorical, empty, lie of an argument. Rights aren’t dependent upon the say of the majority. As James Madison once said,

There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.

Or Ayn Rand,

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).

Or Thomas Jefferson,

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

And when the 65+ crowd starts to fade away, support for equal rights for gays will become the will of the majority. It’s just sad that, like in the greatest days of the civil rights movement, it takes a court to protect the obvious rights of a group. This does, however, shine some light on the current day bigots’ support for the past court decisions that brought some degree of equality to racial minorities – despite what the majority thought. Depending on one’s source, roughly 2/3 of Americans were against interracial marriage a full year after the Supreme Court knocked down the laws against it. If the current day bigots were honest – and they aren’t – they would be howling that past Supreme Court decisions were wrong because they were counter to the beliefs of the majority.

California marriage ban struck down by judge

I have limited time at the moment, but this is too important to not report upon immediately.

Proposition 8, California’s controversial voter-approved gay marriage ban, was struck down by a federal judge on Wednesday in a ruling that deemed the ban unconstitutional.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s 136-page decision ruled that the same-sex marriage ban violates equal protection and due process rights that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.


“Today, the sun shines a little brighter on the Golden State. A federal judge has affirmed what a majority of Californians know to be true: that love does not discriminate and that marriage is a civil right, not a privilege reserved for a select class of citizens. The decision handed down today in Perry v. Schwarzenegger reaffirms the notion that separate is never equal,” Villaraigosa said in the statement.

“Although this is a landmark case and one of tremendous importance, we all know that this will not be the final word on marriage equality. We will continue to fight as tirelessly as ever before to ensure members of the LGBT community and all Californians are afforded the same rights and privileges under the laws of our nation,” he continued.

Americans aren’t using sunscreen

…thereby raising their risk of cancer.

Despite the attention of the healthcare industry on the role of sunscreen in preventing skin cancer, about 40 percent of Americans never apply sunscreen at all before going out and only 9 percent wear it everyday, the poll of 1,004 people, showed.

One of the regions with the lowest use of sunscreen was the South, where 46 percent of people said they never using sunscreen at all during the summer. The age group with the lowest rate of sunscreen use was 18- to 29-year-olds at four percent.

Men were also much more likely not to use sunscreen before going outside with 48 percent saying they do not wear it at all.

The biggest factor in the lack of sunscreen use, I suspect, is laziness. It’s a pain to put on every time one goes outside. Then there’s the fact that people don’t want to smell like the stuff all day. And, as the article cites, income gaps contribute as well. Unfortunately, that isn’t where it ends. There are also quacks who say irresponsible things like this.

First of all: realize that sunscreen blocks all UV activity to the skin. Your skin provides countless functions not least of which is the absorption and manufacture of the steroid vitamin D. Any sunblock chemicals used in moisturizers, lip balm, and make-up should be eliminated if vitamin D levels are to be properly maintained.

The ineffectiveness of sunblock chemicals has been known for over a decade. Even though it is clear that the use of sunblock does effectively prevent sunburns, the prevention of skin cancers has not been found in the research. Furthermore, it is now clear that at least some of the chemicals in sunblock cause cancer changes in the skin.

This is Richard Maurer, naturopath. I don’t think I need to go much further in explaining his quackeriness. Unfortunately, this sort of vitamin D obsession is common with the alt med crowd. They take something good and go all after it. I suspect part of the reason has to do with the ease in which they can recommend it since they are limited in just what they can prescribe, but it’s also probably partially that many big drug companies don’t have vitamin D as a major focus. If those guys aren’t pushing it, well, it must work, right? Evidenced be damned. (For the record, I’ve never read where Christopher Maloney has excessively pushed vitamin D or recommended against basic skin protection; the problem is still common with the alt med crowd, but that doesn’t mean it is universal.)

Wear sun block.