Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sun Turns NYC into 'Manhattanhenge' Tonight

New Yorkers will be treated to a special sight tonight: Today is one of two days a year when the setting sun aligns perfectly with Manhattan's street grid. As the sun sets on the Big Apple, it will light up both the north and south sides of every cross street.

The event has been dubbed "Manhattanhenge" for the way it turns New York City into a Stonehenge-like sun dial.

The sun sets perfectly in line with the Manhattan street grid twice a year, explains astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Hayden Planetarium website.

Here are the best viewing times for Manhattanhenge 2012:

May 29 at 8:17 p.m. EDT

July 12 at 8:25 p.m. EDT

There are two other days when the sun isn't perfectly aligned with the grid, but still puts on a show. On these two days, May 30 and July 11 this year, you see a full sun sitting on the horizon when looking down the cross streets, rather than the half orb. Here are the best times to catch the full sun setting on New York City:

May 30 at 8:16 p.m. EDT

July 11 at 8:24 p.m. EDT
Source:Yahoo News

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gay marriage is not a religious issue

Thank you, Merlene Davis for being bold and courageous enough to take this stand. Especially in an area where this stance is not extremely popular. Kudos to the Lexington Herald-Leader for sticking with Mrs. Davis, who's opinionated columns do not always appeal to many of the Herald-Leader's readers.

I've heard a few black folks say they will not vote for President Barack Obama in this fall's election because of his recently announced stance in support of gay marriage.

They've said their religious beliefs will not allow them to vote for anyone who condones homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sin, they say with force.

What I gather from that statement is that they cannot, because of their Christian conscience, vote for anyone who endorses anything that they consider sinful. That's fine. If they truly believe voting for Obama because of his support of same sex marriage will send them to hell, then they should not vote for him.

However, Christianity also condemns those who don't feed the poor, provide shelter for the homeless or visit the imprisoned. It also frowns upon those who have fornicated or committed adultery. And it is not very accepting of those who don't care for the elderly or children, or who have gossiped or have treated their neighbors in less than loving ways.

And I haven't even mentioned how much liars are held in disdain.

God doesn't consider any of us without sin. That means we voters, those of us who are overweight (gluttony) or who gossip, are just as bad as Obama has been painted.

If you don't vote for Obama because of his equal marriage stance then you can't vote for Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, either. Romney believes this country is spending too much money helping the poor and the elderly. He says he will cut those items in the budget. Is it OK to vote for a man who doesn't believe in helping the least of us?

Why is gay marriage a far worse sin?

It is true, the Bible calls homosexuality an abomination (See Leviticus 18:22 and some say 2nd Timothy 3:1-5). But it also calls pride, baring false witness, killing and an eagerness to do evil abominations as well.

However, all those sins are forgivable according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The only one not forgivable is blasphemy.

I'm not understanding how gays and lesbians became the boogeymen of Christianity. Their sexual preference and behavior has gained a special status: the worst sin of all.

Yes, gay and lesbian sexual behavior was listed as a capital offense in the Old Testament, right along with blasphemy and many other sins. In the New Testament gays and lesbians ranked right up there with adulterers, drunks, thieves, swindlers and liars. All of them are allowed to marry.

Plus, I know I voted for a few adulterers, liars and drunks. Haven't you?

Why are we making gays and lesbians special?

Now that the NAACP, a civil rights organization, has come out in favor of "marriage equality," meaning same sex marriage, a big national spotlight has been turned on black folk. Will black people, despite condemnations preached from pulpits or disparagements whispered across backyard fences, come to accept that civil rights should be shared by all?

A few years ago, an old friend of mine went out of his way to denounce my saying the treatment of gays was a civil rights issue. A minister I respect will probably bash me for this column.

But I don't see same sex marriage as a religious issue. If ministers don't want to marry gays, then they shouldn't. Gays should, however, be allowed to go elsewhere and say I do.

My husband and I were married by a Justice of the Peace in our apartment. That doesn't make our marriage any less binding even though no minister or priest was around. It didn't have a thing to do with religion. Our marriage, nonetheless, is legal in the eyes of the law.

And that's what gays want. Legality. Equal treatment under the law.

If you want to tell all the gays and lesbians singing in our choirs and preaching on the down-low in our pulpits that they can't marry in your sanctuary, that's your business. But until you point fingers at the practicing fornicators and adulterers putting money in the offering plate, God will not be pleased.

So cast your ballot for any politician you choose. They have all sinned and fallen short. But don't use God as your excuse to choose one above another.

Short of blasphemy, God doesn't calibrate sins, even if we do.

Los Angeles to become largest US city banning plastic bags

I applaud the L.A. City Council's actions and implore others to follow their example.

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to move forward with a controversial ban on single-use plastic grocery bags – a move designed to reduce landfill waste and debris in local waterways.

The vote was greeted by supporters as a major step for the environment, while critics say it's an example of regulatory overreach that will limit consumer choices and cost jobs.

Los Angeles will become the largest city in the United States to impose a plastic-bag ban, with some 7,500 affected stores and nearly 4 million residents. The city council vote, which took place Wednesday, sets in motion a months-long process including an environmental review, enactment of an ordinance, and a phase-in period that affects larger stores first, according to news reports.

As a further nudge for consumers to deploy reusable shopping bags, the council also voted to require a 10-cent fee for each paper bag.

Even though further steps are needed before the ban goes into effect, the 13-to-1 vote by the city council gives new momentum to efforts to ban bags in other US communities, as well as toward possible enactment of a statewide ban in California. (Counties throughout Hawaii have enacted bans, making it the first state with zero tolerance for single-use bags.)

Critics of the move say it amounts to micromanaging the behavior of consumers and businesses, for questionable gains.

"Is there any wonder California is ranked the worst state for businesses?" Daniel Halper wrote in an online commentary for the conservative Weekly Standard before the city council's vote.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance, a group representing makers and recyclers of plastic bags, said in a statement Wednesday that the policy will threaten jobs in an industry that employs some 2,000 people statewide. Mark Daniels, who chairs the group, said the ban will push residents toward "less environmentally friendly reusable bags which are produced overseas and cannot be recycled."

"Singling out and banning one product does not reduce litter," Mr. Daniels asserted. "The city chose to take a simplistic approach that takes away consumer choice."

Environmentalists, however, say cracking down on plastic bags will be a clear win for ecosystems in southern California.

Los Angeles currently uses some 2.3 billion single-use plastic bags each year, plus 400 million paper bags, says the group Heal the Bay in Santa Monica, Calif. Only about 5 percent of the plastic bags are currently recycled, the group says, arguing that "we can't recycle our way out of this problem."

Supporters of the ban argue that the current policy imposes a hidden burden, as bags come to consumers cheap but then clog waterways, get stuck in trees, and blow around city streets. Disposal and recycling cost an estimated 17 cents per bag, says Heal the Bay.

Source: Christian Science Monitor