New York City to become healthier

I’m happy for every person in this photo.

And here’s why:

New York City on Wednesday moved a step closer to ban smoking in parks, beaches and other outdoor public spaces, amid grumbling that the city government may have gone too far in its war on salt, fat and smoke.

The city council voted 36 to 12 in favor of the smoking restrictions, extending an existing ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would sign the bill, and it would come into effect 90 days later.

This is excellent news. But for all the paranoid people out there, don’t worry. It’s a cigarette ban. Your rights haven’t suddenly vanished in some apocalyptic march of anti-freedom; the skyscrapers will still stand:

You can still drive the streets:

And you can still visit your museums:

You just can’t poison other people as often is all.

Symphony of Science: Still milking it

If you look at the views for each installment of the “Symphony of Science” videos, they drop off dramatically and steadily. There’s a reason why.

Where have you been?

I may have touched Idaho while in Yellowstone, but I’m not sure.

Create your own visited map of The United States

That makes 31 for me, which is a bit more than I thought. I suspect California will be my next new visit.

Gay marriage updates

Here are just a few of the recent news stories concerning gay marriage:

  • Dubya’s daughter, Barbara, has come out in support of gay marriage. She is helping the fight for basic equality in New York. Currently, thousands of families with gay heads of the house are being forced into unnecessary financial difficulties while they face bigoted social stigma. It ought to stop.
  • Illinois has taken a step in the right direction by legalizing civil unions. Gay couples will still face unnecessary hardships, but they now have some relief. Oh, and the negatives? Nothing. Absolutely nothing negative will come from this law.
  • New Hampshire lawmakers are trying to turn the state back. They’ve attached the banning of incest to a law that would ban gay marriage. I find this repulsive for two reasons. First, the most obvious reason is that it associates two separate ideas, as if it’s okay to say homosexuality and incest go hand in hand. Second, this is simply logically offensive. It’s a classic “When are you going to stop beating your wife?” fallacy. That is, it’s asking two questions but seeking one answer. (Remember that famous Watergate inquiry, “What did Nixon know and when did he know it?”) On the plus side, it is destined to fail.

Thought of the day

Any serious reader ought to be pleased with Christopher Hitchens. His logic, his intelligence, his persuasion – it’s all superior to the average person, and certainly to the vast majority of believers – but those things are not my point. My point is that his literary style is almost overwhelming excellent. He knows how to write well and he isn’t afraid to show us.