It was with great horror that I learned of the bridge collapse in Minnesota. A rush of thoughts steamrolled through my mind. What a devastating loss! For as long as I can remember, anytime I’d cross a bridge a fleeting fear of just this sort of incident would register in the back of my mind. Why did the structure fail? Were appropriate preventive maintenance measures performed? How many people were hurt…or worse?

That last thought made me pause and come back to the first thought. It then occurred to me. The time to reflect can come later.

Real people, for doing nothing more than getting from one place to another, lost their lives. Countless others who did survive will undoubtedly have this event imprinted in their minds for the rest of their lives.

Before the finger pointing starts, before the lessons are learned, before the political grandstanding gets nauseating, let us take a moment to remember the victims.

My heart goes out to those who were on the bridge at that fateful moment. My thoughts are with their families. The City of Minnesota is in my prayers.

Realizing that daily updates from those I follow on Twitter outnumber my total number of updates, I logged in and glanced over at the public timeline. Someone mentioned how saddened she was to hear about Ingmar Bergman. Saddened? Did Bergman die? Sure enough, a couple of clicks later I found that Ingmar Bergman did indeed die earlier today.

Bergman is considered to be one of the most influential film directors of the 20th century. Before being drawn to computer science, I used to want to make my mark in the world as a film maker. I can still remember first mentioning my film making aspirations to a mentor and being referred to Ingmar Bergman’s movies. The Seventh Seal and Through A Glass Darkly quickly made it to my own list of movie recommendations. Using creative outlets to explore dark themes has always been something I’ve been drawn to, and the works of art I admire most seem to reflect the most tormented of souls as creators.

Now Berman is dead. With all the different methods of news delivery methods, I heard about this event through Twitter. Not newspaper. Not CNN. Not the streaming news ticker at the bottom of my local news channel. Definitely not radio. Not from my RSS reader. Not even one of the Twitter members whose updates I follow. I first heard about this through the Twitter public timeline, which refreshes regularly and shows the updates of all Twitter members who elect to keep their updates public.

This got me to thinking about how often I now first hear of something through a social networking site. Obviously, some of the more personal (i.e., not newsmedia-worthy) events are better suited for sharing via Facebook or MySpace. But other happenings which do get covered by more traditional forms of journalism are slowly gaining my attention more effectively through new channels of communication. A bulletin may ask me to sign a petition in support of a Congressional bill and this is what alerts me to a particular debate. A link to results of a study in a scientific study could be shared. Someone running from a steam pipe explosion in New York can provide me with instant firsthand accounts.

Of course, I don’t consider MySpace or Twitter to be credible news sources. When I saw mention of Bergman’s death on Twitter the first thing I did was check another source. I also still rarely see news for the first time on a social networking site. Major news outlets certainly shouldn’t worry about being supplanted by these sites. News obtained through these new avenues of communication don’t happen often enough to change the news industry, but just a handful of occurrences would be enough to get noticed.

Will the news industry one day have to adapt?

The Jersey Journal reports that ambitious plans for a potential park got a big boost as Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said his administration is recommending spending $3.2 million from the Open Space Trust to acquire the last 5.6 acres needed for the 13.6-acre Bergen-Lafayette tract.

If this project moves forward it would be the largest park to be developed in Jersey City in a century. There are still quite a few issues which need to be worked out before that can happen, though. I am hopeful that the remaining obstacles can be overcome. More open space is always welcome in an urban area.

Big park for Bergen-Lafayette [via The Jersey Journal]

The American Lung Association has released its State of the Air 2007 report. In short, the report finds that more than 136 million Americans are living in communities where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution. Polluted air hurts us all, but most especially children, the elderly, and those living with chronic lung diseases like asthma, emphysema, or who have diabetes and cardiovascular disease. From the link, you can check on the quality of the air in your area either by typing in your zip code or selecting your state from the map.

State of the Air 2007 report

The Congressman Frank J. Guarini Library located on the New Jersey City University campus has begun its first blog. They’ve already added a few posts and plan on using the blog to keep you updated on library events and resources and to share stories about libraries and librarians.

I’ve been to the blog and already like the frequent updates and the clean design of a layout which validates. It’s been added to my RSS reader and perhaps you’ll find it useful enough to add to yours as well.

Libraries sometimes get negatively associated with being outdated. “Who needs books when we have the Internet?” some may say. I disagree completely. Libraries are perfect examples of utilizing the best of yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s technologies. Do you like to carefully turn the old, worn but original pages of a great novel? Do you marvel at the speed of database catalog queries? Is there so much information that you simply need a human being to guide you in the right direction? Would you rather quickly access multitudes of REPUTABLE content libraries on your own? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will find that the best place to find any of these things is at a library.

NJCU’s Guarini Library has entered the blogging world. Once again, a new vehicle of communication is being utilized and a wider audience can benefit. I welcome this library into the blogosphere.

Bluffton University’s baseball team was involved in a bus accident yesterday morning. The bus drove off of an overpass and came crashing down onto the highway below. Four players, the bus driver, and the bus driver’s wife were killed. My prayers go out to the victims and their families.

As a former high school softball team captain, I remember how tight-knit the team was. Some of my closest friends today include members of that high school team. Hearing news of any young person’s untimely death saddens me. This news hit home because of the closeness I felt and still feel with my teammates. It really is like being part of an extended family. I can only imagine the devastation felt by Bluffton’s baseball team. The university is small with even fewer students than at my high school. So the entire university community is probably more deeply affected than if it happened at a larger university. I’m not saying that this makes the news more tragic, but I am saying that everyone at Bluffton probably knew these victims, and probably knew them well.

Hopefully the shared pain and struggle to come to terms with this grief will strengthen the Bluffton University community and they will emerge even closer than ever.

Thank heavens for newsreaders! With such a wealth of information online it can be easy to miss something you find relevant. While skimming through my news feeds I came across an article highlighting today’s total lunar eclipse. If not for RSS feeds, I may have not heard about it until it was too late. Hey, with so much tech-related news to keep up with, some current events just don’t make it onto my radar.

According to Robert Massey of the UK Royal Astronomical Society,

It is like Mars suddenly coming a thousand times closer and just hanging there in the sky above you.

NASA time predictions for eclipse

Astronomers are also looking forward to the event as potentially being the best in years. Mid-eclipse occurs at 6:21 p.m. EST according to NASA and the total eclipse should begin at 5:44 p.m.

Resources:

Thomas Broderick, a Jersey City cop, was arrested while on duty after his wife filed a domestic violence complaint against him. I certainly don’t know the details of this particular case and I won’t judge this police officer as guilty since an investigation has not yet even begun.

Regardless of the guilt or innocence in this specific case, domestic violence unfortunately has become too commonplace. Teris Casco of Jersey City was beaten to death by her husband, Edward Casco. During one of my internships, I worked (somewhat indirectly) with battered women. Their stories were both horrifying and inspirational. Hearing so many stories, though, continues to sadden me to this day.

The single most memorable incident concerning domestic violence occurred when I was at the municipal court with a friend of mine whose husband was facing his own domestic violence charge. A police officer spoke with him casually and asked what he was charged with. After hearing the answer, his response was, “Oh, is that it? That’s not a real charge,” and the two of them shared a hearty laugh.

If Broderick is indeed guilty, hopefully his service in the police department does not shield him from the full scope of justice. If law enforcement officers don’t take domestic violence seriously, private citizens like Edward Casco won’t take it seriously. And victims like Teris will continue to suffer.

UPDATE: Just after posting, I ran into another article in which Gregory Bullock brought up to seven women home to repeatedly kick and attack his 7-month-pregnant girlfriend. One doesn’t have to go far to discover yet another incident of domestic violence. Not a “real” crime? Please.

A Lodi driver convicted of running over and killing a North Bergen infant was fined a whopping $300. The child’s mother was obviously outraged with this outcome. The driver, though, also wasn’t happy with the sentence and plans to appeal.

I can only imagine the heartache this mother must be feeling. I don’t know the details about this case, but I can’t help but shake my head. If it is true that this driver wants to appeal the slap on a wrist and being convicted with driving without insurance for killing an infant, he should avoid looking at himself in the mirror the rest of his life. By driving without insurance, he already showed disregard for both the law and for the safety of himself and others. Running over a 14 month old, and instead of remorse, taking a stance of not deserving any sort of justice is simply reprehensible.

Maybe one day he will learn to be ashamed of himself.

$300 fine for driver who ran down baby [The Jersey Journal]