Eventful to hope-filled monthBy V.P. Vamenta
Cebu Daily News
As we anticipate a new month, starting tomorrow, allow me to share with you some more of the interesting events and people that have figured in the exciting past few weeks of this Leo month of August.
In the wake of the 2012 London Olympics, I mentioned last week my curiosity about the new (for me) social media I have been reading about in print media and watching and listening to on television, two of the three kinds of mass media that I now access daily and am involved in, with a radio broadcast in which I had spent most of my professional life and still maintain a monthly hourly program.
Social media, besides having provided a significant boost to TV ratings of the Olympics, is now being used by police as part of its crime-fighting arm. This despite “some hesitancy due to safety and security reasons, and because some new fads in technology don’t always take hold,” according to Nancy Kolb, a senior program manager for the police chiefs group which established its Center for Social Media in 2009 after many police chiefs sought guidance in incorporating the technology in their departments.
So, “Minutes after a shooting near the Oakland Airport this year, police Sgt. Chris Bolton sent a flurry of text alerts to thousands of nearby residents through a social media tool for law enforcement agencies,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
Actually now, across the United States, law enforcement is adding a new form of social media in its crime-fighting arsenal, with almost 6,000 law enforcement agencies deploying the public notification service Nixie to alert residents, since it has safety features that make it less susceptible to hacking.
However, with the approaching national elections, a University of Southern California Annenberg Times nationwide poll has revealed that the bulk of voters who catch up on current events daily, turn more to traditional sources, particularly local TV stations mostly, followed by those who routinely turn to their local papers. And although younger voters turn increasingly to nontraditional sources, they make a distinction about trustworthiness.
These results help explain an enduring phenomenon, even in this Digital Age on the U.S. presidential race: the candidates’ routine willingness to grant interviews to regional television outlets, their favorite and most trusted news source, and to target crucial communities in battleground states.
In another headliner of the month, this time from outer space, after a 354-million-mile journey, the one-ton robot rover Curiosity landed early Monday, Aug. 6th in the huge Gale Crater near the equator of Mars to begin its scientific studies, primarily to search for the building blocks of extraterrestrial life, and to investigate how Mars turned from a wet and warm planet into a dry and cold one. Then Wednesday last week, Curiosity took a 20-feet drive in about 16 minutes, recording the first pictures of its tracks on the Martian surface.
This marks the seventh landing on the Red Planet and the 19th Mars mission, including those by orbiters and other spacecraft. This latest successful trip expectedly garnered a large social media response!
And now, for people who made the headlines. Tony Scott, 68, one of the most prolific directors in Hollywood, died in an apparent suicide Sunday, Aug. 19th, by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Suspension Bridge in San Pedro. To some of his friends, his dramatic last act was in keeping with his on-my-own-terms approach to work and life. According to film critic Kenneth Turan, he was known as a shooter, a term of respect that cut two ways. In one sense the term referred to the eye for images. The term also referred to Scott’s director’s gift for “making things move on screen… shooting action like there was no tomorrow”. And in another report in the Los Angeles Times, “As one of the most prolific directors in Hollywood, his death leaves a quartet of high-priority projects in limbo.”
The Los Angeles Times last week carried an outpouring of tributes to Scott from critics, fellow directors, writers, actors and actresses, and media, among many others.
Then last Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported the death at 82 years of age of Neil Armstrong who took a “giant leap” as the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969. On setting foot on the moon, his first words were, “That’s one small step for man; one giant step for mankind.”
Still another tribute from the Los Angeles Tines: “For the usually taciturn Armstrong, the poetic statement was a rare burst of eloquence, a sound bite for the ages that only increased his fame. He was never comfortable with celebrity he saw as an accident of fate, for stepping on the moon ahead of fellow astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin. The reticent, self-effacing Armstrong would shun the spotlight for much of the rest of his life.”
The weekend edition of the Asian Journal, one of the Filipino-American newspapers published in Los Angeles, carried news about President Benigno Aquino III’s declaring a 6-day national mourning Aug. 21st until the state funeral for our late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo. Secretary Robredo was flying from Cebu to Naga City, his hometown, when the twin-engine Piper Seneca he was in crashed in waters 180 feet some 800 meters from the coast of Masbate, and his body was later recovered four days later on Aug. 21st.
Secretary Robredo has been lauded as “a man who walked the talk,” who did his job quietly but surely. But, as T.J. Burgonio of Inquirer.net wrote, “In death he will be given full state honors, the highest to be accorded to a worthy son of the Republic.”
There’s so much more to share with you, but with time and space running out on me, that will have to hold for next week. Till then, as always, may God continue to bless us, one and all!