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California To Drop State Rock Over Asbestos Concerns 256

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
Diamonddavej writes "The LA Times reports that Californian legislators are close to dropping the translucent green rock Serpentine as the state rock of California because of its tenuous association with chrysotile asbestos. Sen. Gloria Romero declares in her bill (SB 624) that Serpentine should be dropped as California's state rock because it 'contains the deadly mineral chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, exposure to which increases the risk of the cancer mesothelioma.' The bill has backing from mesothelioma support groups. Critics point out that Serpentine is a group of 20 different minerals, and Californian Serpentine rarely contains much chrysotile, never mind its dangerous fibrous asbestos form. Its is suspected that lawyers involved in asbestos compensation claims and cleanup companies will profit from the bill. Vast tracts of California where bedrock is made of Serpentine could be declared hazardous to health... even if it contains no crysotile at all! It looks like SB 624 will be passed; it won unanimous bi-partisan support from an Assembly committee last week."
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California To Drop State Rock Over Asbestos Concerns

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  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:56PM (#32800710) Homepage
    Rock on.
  • ... like the new state plant - hemp. They can TAX IT to fix their budget crisis (or at least people won't give a %^!@* any more).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:58PM (#32800744)

    California has a State rock.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Even their state rock is known by the state of California to cause cancer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:04PM (#32800812)

    If California ever decided to do some research like the New England Journal of Medicine they would find articles all the back to the late 1980's showing that this type of asbestos is not cancerious. The other funny thing is the "doctor" in the 1960's who said that cancer was bad wasn't even a doctor but researching someone's background is a lot harder than just gining into some idiot. If they are banning this rock maybe we should ban dihydrogen monoxide I hear that kills thousnads of people every year.

    • Whatever you do, don't let them know that Cyanide is made of carbon and nitrogen. It could spell the end of California!

      Actually, on second thought...what the hell, let's tell 'em and see what happens!

    • Don't believe him. He obviously works for them. [steampowered.com]

    • by Opyros (1153335)

      The other funny thing is the "doctor" in the 1960's who said that cancer was bad wasn't even a doctor

      So do real doctors say that cancer isn't bad?

  • Pet rock (Score:5, Funny)

    by nOw2 (1531357) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:05PM (#32800824)

    I had a pet rock. It wasn't as maintenance-free as you'd expect.

    Also, is this part of the Daily Mail's efforts to categorise all known substances/things/ideas into those that cause and those that cure cancer?

    • Re:Pet rock (Score:4, Funny)

      by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:15PM (#32800946) Homepage

      is this part of the Daily Mail's efforts to categorise all known substances/things/ideas into those that cause and those that cure cancer?

      How would they categorize radiation! The opposite of a shovel... is a shovel!

      All joking aside the California state rock should be foam spray painted to look like rock until it bounces off of Captain Kirk's head. MOVIE MAGIC!

      Either that or whatever rock is most commonly found in Bronson Canyon.

    • Re:Pet rock (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:29PM (#32801136) Journal
      For those who are unfamiliar with the style of California, ever since proposition 65, signs have been popping up everywhere warning about cancer (as this entity so eloquently points out [yahoo.com]). I'm not sure if the warning labels have achieved anything, but there have been allegations of abuse [wikipedia.org].
      • by IICV (652597)

        Indeed! The parking structure where I work has Prop 65 signs everywhere. This made no sense to me at first - it's just a giant pile of concrete, rebar, fluorescent lights and asphalt, surely none of that causes cancer right? Then I realized what's likely to be the case: people put cars in parking structures, and car exhaust is known by the state of California to cause cancer. And there's no way around that unless you're willing to not park cars in a parking structure.

    • What did you fed yours? I fed mine sunshine and water, but it died after only a few months.
  • Seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Becausegodhasmademe (861067) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:05PM (#32800828)

    I find it amusing that a state rock even exists, let alone the fact that it's causing such a ruckus! You Americans!
    *ruffles hair*

  • by DarrenBaker (322210) <darren@@@flim...net> on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:06PM (#32800850) Homepage

    Why is it that every time I read the words "Unanimous bi-partisan support", the result is always and without exception... Trouble?

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:14PM (#32800934) Journal
      It means that no one voting understands the issue, and they all think that voting against it will look bad when revealed to the voters (who also don't understand the issue).
    • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:22PM (#32801040)

      This is akin to the "all puppies are lovely act" - anyone who doesn't vote yes on it is a communist.

      Seriously - doesn't California have bigger problems to tackle? It really is a testament to how broken government is when the only thing they can pass is a change to the state rock.

      • Seriously - doesn't California have bigger problems to tackle?

        Of course they do. Cow tails.

      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:52PM (#32801398) Homepage Journal

        This is akin to the "all puppies are lovely act" - anyone who doesn't vote yes on it is a communist.

        Seriously - doesn't California have bigger problems to tackle? It really is a testament to how broken government is when the only thing they can pass is a change to the state rock.

        More than a testament to broken government, it's a reflection of the state and its people too. This is yet another sign of how California, once the greatest most glamorous state in the union, has become the nation's laughingstock. California looks more and more like Rome at the end of its life. Unfortunately, what happens to California is often a precursor of where the rest of the country is going.

        • > This is yet another sign of how California, once the greatest most glamorous > state in the union, has become the nation's laughingstock.

          Midwesterners have been laughing at California since before WWII.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DigiShaman (671371)

          California also rank the the highest GDP (13% or 1.8 Trillion) of the US. Texas ranks #2 with 1.2 Trillion. New York ranks #3.

          If California falls, the entire US will take a major hit. At least business in silicon valley are starting to move to Austin, TX. They see the hand writing on the wall. That, and UT is full of talented minds to feed the industry.

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:08PM (#32800864) Homepage

    Isn't ALL rock hazardous to your health if you breathe it?

    • Isn't ALL rock hazardous to your health if you breathe it?

      Remember the safety drill: Stop, drop and roll :)

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:42PM (#32801284)

      It's been modded funny, but it's correct. The most common mineral on the land surface is quartz -- the crystalline form of SiO2. Powder it, breath it in, and eventually you get silicosis [wikipedia.org]. So, obviously we must ban rocks.

      In reality, rock *dust* is harmful, but that should be fricking obvious. Take the risk seriously and wear breathing protection, and avoid powdering rocks and breathing it in if you can.

      The only rock dust that might not be particularly harmful if inhaled in small quantities could be from minerals that are reactive enough to be completely dissolved in the body. Silica and asbestos are such a problem precisely because they are silicate minerals that *aren't* easily broken down chemically, so the microscopic but sharp grains mechanically damage cells over and over again -- it's like the microscopic equivalent of crushed glass shards. Among the common rocks, limestone (CaCO3) and gypsum (CaSO4) are the only ones I can think of that are easily metabolized. We often eat these ones as food additives. Calcium supplements are often limestone. But too much of that is probably also harmful if breathed in (the lungs have a limited capacity to remove particles), and most natural limestones are not pure CaCO3 (there would be an insoluble residue left over, and that could build up).

      I can't believe they're wasting time on this. As the article mentions, much serpentine doesn't even have asbestos.

    • by selven (1556643)

      If rock is in the kind of state where you can breathe it, you'd better run fast, preferably away from the mountain.

  • by siwelwerd (869956) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:08PM (#32800876)
    Maybe they should just put warning labels on all the rocks. "Serpentine, the state rock of California, contains substances known to the state of California to cause cancer".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      Maybe they should just put warning labels on all the rocks. "Serpentine, the state rock of California, contains substances known to the state of California to cause cancer".

      "Serpentine, the state rock of California, may contain substances known to the state of California to cause cancer".

  • It's strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by insertwackynamehere (891357) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:09PM (#32800884) Journal

    I thought California was bankrupt or something. But I guess this is the biggest problem.

    • Well it's not going to help tourism if we don't know what rocks we can and cannot breathe via "State rock" designation!

      • >>>Well it's not going to help tourism if we don't know what rocks we can and cannot breathe via "State rock" designation!

        I've visited California twice.

        It's hot and dry. The northern part wasn't bad though. Maybe if the state was split in half, North and South California, I'd even be willing to move to the northern part..... kinda similar to how I liked living in North Carolina but thought the southern half sucked.

        signed,
        tourist

    • Moral and intellectual bankruptcy happened years ago. Financial bankruptcy cannot happen soon enough to this steaming cesspit of gibbering whores we have for a state government.
  • Seriously, what the hell is the point of having a state anything? They got birds, fish, various rodents or whatever the fuck.

    Can them all and save us the time of ever having to debate this shit.

    • by AGMW (594303)
      LOL: It sure made me laugh last time I was over in the US ... State bird, state pie (quiz: Which state is Chicken and Mushroom?), state room, state of mind (Manic!) ... kinda funny really?

      Anyone know why? Are the different names for the states not a sufficient differentiator that other items are required? Do US Sat Navs perhaps use them to help find their position? - Was that an Albatross? OK, left at the lights?

  • by cvtan (752695) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:14PM (#32800940)
    Maybe I'm missing something here, but how does designating something as the state rock cause it to give people cancer? PS: The state rock of Utah is coal which has led to more than 100000 deaths and injuries due to mining (never mind the air pollution issue...).
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:23PM (#32801046) Journal
    There's been a lot of fraud around asbestos. Recently it's also transferred to silica dust somewhat. It is based in truth, because asbestosis and silicosis are real dangers, but lawyers have committed real fraud with it. In some lawsuits, the same people who were made sick and diagnosed with asbestosis were later diagnosed by the same doctors with silicosis for a different lawsuit. Here is [wsj.com] that story [wsj.com]. Here are some other lawyers who were recently convicted for fraud with asbestos cases [natchezdemocrat.com].

    Lawyers are one of the biggest areas of fraud and corruption the US right now. In a lot of states, the attorney general sets up a pay-to-play system where they get kickbacks to let certain law firms handle certain legal issues (or even pursue cases that normally would be ignored). In other cases, lawyer lobby organizations try to get laws written in vague ways that will require extra legal work, or as in this case, create potential lawsuits where there doesn't seem to even be danger.
    • by gotem (678274)
      Why dont they just stone all the lawyers with Serpentine
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Yeah but as costly as lawyers are, they are still only 1/100th as costly as the US Congress or State Legislators that are writing the laws. It's the reason why Thomas Jefferson quit his law career and moved into politics - he realized real change can only come from the top, by writing the laws himself, and ignoring those who would try to corrupt the system

  • Distraction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:23PM (#32801056)
    Well, I guess the CA legislature needs some distraction from their complete and utter incompetence and stupidity with regards to the budget, spending, and tax revenue for their state.
    • Referendums (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nten (709128)

      Seems like a large part of the problem has been the prevalence of referendums, rather than laws passed by the legislature. No one votes to raise taxes and everyone votes to create a new program to save the rattlesnakes or whatever. There is a reason we have a representative democracy, we can't all be expected to be informed on every issue or bill. We aren't even supposed to worry so much about whether we agree with the positions a politician takes, but rather whether we think they are keeping themselves

  • Wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shakezula (842399) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:26PM (#32801094) Homepage
    ...is this really a matter of pressing urgency in California? Wouldn't working towards plugging the state budget gap be a better use of the CA Legislation's time?
    • Nope.

      Here's the problem: There are two groups of people interested in what legislators do. Taxpayers, and Union bosses.

      Union bosses pay the legislators (through a campaign slush fund system that basically amounts to the legislators being on Union payrolls--the funds pay for vacations, and trips to the tune of millions).

      Taxpayers elect them.

      There are two ways to fix a deficit: raise taxes (they already tried that once with the largest state level tax hike in US history in 2009, didn't work), or cut spendin

  • ...Paper still covers Rock.

  • ... they could always make it crack.
  • by willwinter (200040) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:36PM (#32801236)

    Fools Gold seems appropriate for California these days.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    To anyone wondering why the state is in so much financial trouble perhaps this story will explain why. Most state legislatures have their heads up their own asses. In California they can see daylight and teeth.

  • They totally aren't going bankrupt over there. You'd think that they would have a lot more important things to do than some absurd PC feely good weirdo ass bill that makes no sense and does nothing for the progress of the state. BUT they can now say they have made things sound so much happier and better now that there is no chance of Kaliforniastan being associated with a rock that is associated with asbestos. Idiots. This is the danger of PC thought run amok.

    This last session here in Washington State

  • California is crazy. People are fond of making fun of places like Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, but at least they don't spend their time passing stupid crap like this into law.

  • by lennier1 (264730) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:43PM (#32801298)

    Who exactly was drunk enough to come up with the idea of a state rock in the first place?

  • ... the example of what happens when you don't have any meaningful requirements to be a voter.
  • The same legislature can't even pass a budget. Some how they can find time to debate the various pros and cons of the state rock, but they can't pass a budget. I swear that politicians are a layer of middle management that need to be downsized out of the system. We can call it an efficiency improvement.

  • I thought everything caused cancer in California.
  • Actually, chrysotile is not a proven carcinogen. It is a suspected carcinogen, and its toxicity is at worst rather low. There are many forms of asbestos, only a handful have been linked to mesothelioma by solid evidence, but the plaintiff's attorneys try to exaggerate it to "a single fiber of any asbestos could theoretically cause cancer." I'm not kidding; I've heard that from an attorney.

  • The Environmental Working Group [ewg.org] cites 2,509 deaths from mesothelioma per year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [dot.gov] cites, in 2008 alone, 34,107 fatal crashes, which sent 26,689 people to their own funeral.

    According to the California Office of Traffic Safety [ca.gov] there were 3,995 fatalities from car crashes in 2008 alone. More people die in car accidents in one year in California than nationally from mesothelioma.

    Do these pesky politicians actually think they're doing good with laws like these? How

  • Grizzly bears kill people, too.
  • by CrazyDuke (529195) on Monday July 05, 2010 @02:59PM (#32802104)

    I have a suggestion for an alternative all natural, eco-friendly solution: Coprolite [wikipedia.org]

    It even fits well given the politics of California.

  • If ever there was an example of shallow, inane, uncritical and utterly monochrome thinking, this is it. The thinking of this elected representative has gone somthing like this:

    Asbestos is bad. Rock is associated in some way with Asbestos. Therefore rock is bad. Ban rock.

    Students of basic logic/philosophy may weep, but this is not only the thinking of the representative, but also of a substantial portion of the California electorate and indeed the electorate throughout the western world. This pantomime logic

  • So the state of California itself may cause cancer? Seems fitting...

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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