Typhoon Mangkhut & Hurricane Florence – My problem with hanging “leopard signs”

Currently stuck indoors due to typhoon Mangkhut (also known as Ompong in the Philippines since they go by different names).

It’s a BIG one, Catagory 5 on the Saffir–Simpson scale (the highest the scale currently goes to) and a T10 warning has been called for the Super Typhoon in Hong Kong. Luckily, it won’t pass directly over us (it will come about 100km away from HK island) but it certainly feels like it lives up to the monicker of Worst Typhoon in Living Memory.

Lights were flickering earlier today but things seem to have settled down momentarily, so we should be good (we are also prepped just in case things get worse! ). The main road in and out of where I live in Hong Kong has been blocked off by a downed tree, and the tv/social media/online news keeps talking about skyscrapers with smashed windows or flooding, but overall HK is as ready as it will ever be for it.

Tree
From the community FB page

Anyways, since I’m stuck indoors all day today, why not write a blog post?!

I need to talk about the reporting of the typhoon by certain news organizations, in particular, Fox News.

Now… (this is your cue to leave if you don’t want to listen to me talk about media bias in USA news)

I’m not the biggest fan of Fox, but it popped up in my news feed and I’d thought I should read through it before making a snap judgment, as so often happens these days on the internet…

And it may be because I’m a double-majoring Ecology & History university student, thus I care deeply about climate change while spending a good chunk of my time possibly over analyzing the underlying reason/meaning behind the use of certain words.

But this article annoys the heck out of me.

It is titled “2 storms, Florence and Mangkhut, different as water and wind” 

(Linked using donotlink.it so you won’t boost the site’s search engine standings, nor will it the website be able to track where you are coming from) – Check it out if you want to, and keep me accountable!

The general gist of the article is the two tropical storms occurring at the moment – Hurricane Florence in the USA Carolinas area & Typhoon Mangkhut/Omopong in South East Asia (mainly the Philippines, HK, Macao & China – although my relatives in Taiwan also felt some of the storm’s effects) are extremely different – like “wind and water”.

(By the way, meteorologically speaking Typhoons and Hurricanes are the same thing – tropical cyclones – they just refer to which side of the International Date Line the cyclone happens)

Specifically, it points out how:

  • Mangkhut has been a Cat. 5 storm while Florence was lowered to a Cat. 1 before making landfall
  • Mangkhut is “faster-moving” while Florence has been moving “at a pace slower than a normal person walks”
  • Mangkhut will likely be deadlier as it hit “disaster-prone” areas, while Florence’s “insured loses” will be higher
  • There are generally more cyclones in the Pacific than there are in Atlantic (23 vs 10 this year)
  • M was formed “further south and stayed south”, while F was out of the tropics by the time it made landfall
  • M grew in warmer waters, while F was “weakened by the dry air and upper-level winds”
  • M is much larger than F (325 miles/523km vs 195 miles/314km)

Harmless little article containing facts about two tropical cyclones….

Right?

Except as I’m reading it, the alarm bells in my head get louder and louder.

Because all I’m thinking is “Huh… so these cyclones are completely unrelated and it is just an odd, natural coincidence that they are happening at the same time”

And if that is from someone who has decided to make a career out of understanding the anthropogenic (=human-caused) effects on our natural world.

Imagine what the average, layman is thinking after reading this article.

Imagine the fuel this gives human-caused climate change skeptics (who dismiss our impact and insist that the soley change is due to natural fluxuations).

Imagine the ammunition it gives to ACTUAL climate change DENIERS (which is for some reason still a thing).

Since while the facts are mostly sound, they are organized to presents a specific, disingenuous narrative.

The article, by spending paragraph after paragraph pointing out the superficial differences between the two storms, fails to highlight the underlying point.

In the future, we will see wetter, windier and more intense storms like Mangkhut and Florence due to anthropogenic climate change.

Sure, the article does address the problem…

in an off-handed, cursory way…

using an indirect statement instead of a quote…

after 95% of the article…

which was spent pointing out every conceivable way the cyclones differ…

as well as how natural the large typhoons, especially in tropical Asia…

…and only mentions burning fossil fuels as a factor causing warming seas (a point so easily brushed aside by deniers that it might as well not be put in there).

It reminds me of the following exchange between Mr. Prosser & Arthur Dent in The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

2267252_1
Image Source: Teepublic’s design by metacortexpod4 

Let me emphasize this again.

Typhoons & Hurricanes like Mangkhut and Florence will not be the last of such intense storms to affect us.

This will slowly become our new normal.

We aren’t at the point where we can consider reversing climate change or even stopping in its tracks.

We are still trying to convince people that maybe  just maybe – it might be a good idea to ease the pressure we have on the gas pedal as we dive headfirst toward the Cliff of Runaway Global Warming.

Change needs to happen:

  • Not a couple of decades…
  • Or a few years…

It needs to happen now!

Stop hanging leopard signs over the issues.

Don’t put in a throw-away line about global warming at the end of your article and pretend like it was the focus of your piece when you have spent the preceding paragraphs undermining the issue.

Just as democracy is only as good as the information people get, information can only be as good as people’s ability to access it. I’m worried that this is the road media will continue to take in the future, not as a means of conveying impartial information, but as a mechanism to propagate a certain ideological stance.

True, it has been happening for a while now, but it scares me how subtle it has gotten.

I genuinely hope this was just a case of Halon’s razor:

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity/ingorance”

But honestly, I’ve been burned too many times before.

This post has honestly gone on for a while, so even though I have much more to say, I am going to give it a rest for now.

If you like these long-form posts, let me know! I’ll be trying out a couple of new things on this site and seeing what sticks.

Stay safe HKers – hopefully, there won’t be work/school tomorrow!

-Rebecca


Update 17 Sept: So even though the T10 weather warning was taken down before today, there is no school/work due to clean up. Which just goes to show how crazy intense the typhoon was this time around, since usually the moment the warning goes down, it is back to business as usual.

Also while editing this post, I noticed that Fox changed the name of the article to:

US hurricane, Asian typhoon: 1 brings water, the other, wind

Like it is word-for-word the same article, by the same person, just the name has been changed and it has been given a new link so this version is the only one you see on the front page.

Not exactly sure why, but the new title is less infuriating than the old one, so I guess it’s slightly better?

Still doesn’t address the underlying point I made – in fact it might make it stronger since it shows that they are trying to highlight the superficial differences between the tropical cyclones to undermind how connected they are to climate change…

Or maybe they just thought the new title sounded better, who knows. Going to Halon’s Razor this one since I’ve got bigger issues to deal with right now…

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New School Year, New Start!

First day of the new academic year!

It’s a day off for me though, since Monday field work stuff hasn’t started yet, so I have time to write this.

I’ve mentioned my terrible semester in a previous post. But yeah it sucked.

Like B-/Cs in classes for my major bad.

And it isn’t like I don’t know how to do well academically, I got a 3.88 gpa in my first year second semester. More like I haven’t been putting in the necessary effort to get stellar grades as of late.

Since, suprisingly, craming the night before studying..

This website will act as an accountability partner for me, to ensure that I actually study. It won’t be nice or pretty, just somewhere I can jot down the things I’m working on.

My ultimate goal for this semester:

Get a cgpa of 3.55 by the end of the coming semester (Year 3 semester 1)

This is because I want to be within striking distance to get First Class Honors by the time I go into my final year.

Note that the posts under this “Learn -> Study -> Explain” format:

  • won’t look pretty (in fact it will look down right ugly  be extremely utilitarian)
  • might contain some errors (if you spot any mistakes, or feel as though I could have explained something clearer, by all means feel free to contact me! I will fix it and give you credit!)
  • Will contain content that might not seem in any way related to each other except for the fact that they are the subjects I’m taking in university

We will see. Hopefully this works!

In other news, I’ve decided to merge my “Away In Leeds” blog with this one after consulting with some more experienced bloggers.

Basically since the content between the two blogs were pretty similar anyways, it wouldn’t make sense to split my audience for no reason.

Once I transfer the posts over, there will be some weird inconsistencies with the posts (since I wrote them as though they were on separate blogs), so I’ll probably be fixing in due time

In the mean time, the timeline for posts written in summer of 2018 will be off and really weird. Sorry about that!

Anyways, here’s to a more productive university year!

blackboard business chalkboard concept
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

-Rebecca

An Update – What I’ve been up to…

Hi Readers,

I’ve been taking some time off to rest and relax, since… welll…

I crashed and burned last semester trying to take 6 courses, many of which also had full lab components with weekly expermiments + lab reports etc.

So I was sorta ignoring this blog for a while to just get away from writing stuff that had to do with academics and school. I hope you all understand, I might go into more depth about it but that is for a future post.

But I’m back now!

With more posts on the horizon so that I can get back into a productive mindset for the new sememster coming up. Fresh new start and all that!

In other exciting news, I’m going on exchange to the University of Leeds during my spring semester! (yes during Brexit)

So if you want to know more about that, I have a new blog “Away in Leeds” that basically talks about me preparing for that trip. It will also have a bunch of stuff related to HKU university life, in case people are thinking about going on exchange TO my university.

Link to that blog is HERE! (there are only half a dozen posts there at the moment, but with much more to come – especially in 2019)

So what will happen to this blog?

This one will be more academic related and goal oriented, while the other will talk more about hku culture and exchange planning.

I’ll test this two blog format out and see if it works, but I wanted to have a separate blog for exchange stuff, so that people could just look at the stuff they are interested in, rather than everything to do with my university life.

Lastly, there will be a new post coming out tomorrow about registering to vote in the USA Midterm Elections!

(Both because it is an important topic and because I feel as though you all deserve to have more posts after such a long absence)

So see you all tomorrow!

-Rebecca

Day #8 – Filler: Writing a post about writing an essay about Kuhnian Revolutions

So the word count for the following few posts will be reduced since I will be super busy the next few days.

You know because I’ve got 1 assignment, 1 lab report, preparation for 1 presentation and research for 2 final history essays.

Oh and research for exchange.

And general exam revision.

Yay stress town!

Whoop Whoop! Yup.


Anyways, I’m going to be talking about Kuhnian revolutions for my 500(ish) words today. Why? Because it has to deal with one of my assignments and I have writer’s block right now about how to structure my essay, so this is just me rambling for a bit to get the creative juices flowing.

Think of this as the equivalent of scribbling in the corner of a piece of paper to get the ink flowing again.


So, back to Thomas Kuhn and his ideas about how scientific revolutions occur (which is a weird mix of history, science with philosophy thrown in just because)

Basically, there are 5 steps to a Kuhnian cycle.

  1. Normal Science – the area where research takes place, where major progress toward the field of knowledge is made
  2. Model Drift – An anomaly emerges, people start doubting the existing paradigm
  3. Model Crisis – The anomalies build to the point where the original paradigm collapses
  4. Model Revolution – A new model for explaining the phenomenon emerges
  5. Paradigm Change – The changed model begins to gain supporters and eventually becomes the new Normal Science

Oh and sometimes people include an extra step before normal science (called Pre-science) where scientist just begin to observe and understand the field before any laws or theories are made that are able to make advances in the area of knowledge.

To be honest, I think the model overly simplifies the complex process of scientific discovery. For example, sometimes an anomaly doesn’t lead to a new model that replaces the old, but creates a new branch of science entirely, like the creation of quantum mechanics being a new branch rather than taking over and replacing Newtonian physics. Or how revolutions in one field trigger model crisis in others, like how the theory of uniformitarianism in Geology lead to the challenging of creationism and the rise of evolution.

But yeah, interesting stuff. The more you think about it the more it falls apart except in very specific cases in physics in my opinion.

Or maybe that just because I study science and the thought that all notable discoveries can be shoehorned into a single framework just intuitively doesn’t feel right to me.

I’m not sure. 😛

That’s the problem with essays like this in my opinion. When you get to essays what get as philosophical as this, it becomes hard to articulate your stance, especially in a way where you sneak under the word count.


Other than this assignment, I’ve got a lab this Friday which is on the Hill reaction (related to photosynthesis). But yeah, week 1 of November is over, and now we are slowly ramping up to the crazy exam weeks…

Oh boy, here we go!

So that should be enough words by now (just checked. Yup!), see you later!

-Rebecca

A Very Belated Update…

So its already the end of October and I still haven’t gotten around to making that October goal post yet…

The punny goal name I was thinking of was “Braving and Overcoming Obstacles in October” or Booo!👻 for short ( in honor of Halloween of course) but:

a) that is super cheesy.., like wow…

&

b) it turns out that I spent so much of my time overcoming said obstacles (ie mountains of midterms, EOSA things, tutoring intensity, first ecology field course etc) that I never really got around to making that goal post in the first place

So this monthly goal update post is more of a “Task Completed, (though with mixed success)! Moving on”


Now normally around this time I would be planning for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) – aka where you attempt to write 50,000 words in November (1,667 words a day) in a quantity over quality, zeroth draft just get it on paper kind of novel writing.

But honestly? I’ve got bigger fish to fry, mainly with exchange preparations and final exam preparations.

I know November is a bit early to start, especially for me, but I really need to tackle these tough classes now before they overwhelm me in December.

Specifically Biochem…

So instead this will be a bit like Fall Post a Day blog challenge, with a post a day about what I am doing/learned/studying etc, though upping the anty to 500 words a day for a total of over 15,000 by the end of the month.

👩‍⚖️🎓Rules to make this more official:📝📚

  1.  500 words a day for each day of November
    1. There is no regulation about where I write to meet the word count, provided it is not required for class work – i.e. if I write 500 words for my official website/cv page, that counts, but notes or lab reports for classes don’t
  2. Posts don’t need to be well edited, just typed out and published
  3. Topics can be chosen ahead of time and partially typed out as long as at least 100 words were written on the day the post is published.
  4. Quotes and the like don’t count in the word count – aka I can’t just post a poem as my 500 words since that I kinda plagiarism and cheating

So yeah, the theme (subject? target?)  for November is “Study Notes! Part revision, Part writing, All in preparation for December”

… Yeah not really good with coming up with names for these things, but hey practicality over style is more important on this front.

so that is all for now! See you in November

-Rebecca

Day 24 – Elemental Reflections (on a whole bunch of stuff)

Like the types of benders in Avatar the Last Airbender – aka the-greatest-TV-show-ever-no-joke-binge-watch-it-now-if-you-haven’t-seen-it-yet(minus energy bending) or the Classical Greek Elements (without aether), this reflection comes to you in 4 distinct parts related to Air, Water, Earth and Fire!


Air – Element of Freedom. Foreseeing implications, valuing diversity. peace and clarity. 

This section is more about my blog and the “creative freedoms” I’m giving it. 

So I really should have spilt up the snacks post into more than one like the cubing one… oh well, part of this type a day thing is learning more about making posts and blogging.

I’ll be leaving that one incomplete for now and finishing it up later when I get the time too.

Basically, anytime there aren’t finished tags on a post, I’ll get back to it later.

Since the arbitrary rules I wrote at the start technically didn’t say I had to finish a post, or couldn’t edit it later, just that I had to write something every day 😉 Again, my blogs, my rules. 

Also, the more I write these things, the more I realise there are different types of posts. Some that require more time than the few hours (sometimes minutes) at the end of the day that I have.

I feel as though the act of starting to write stuff (possibly not finishing) and editing it later is more closely inline with what I was envisioning when starting this project, rather than just 200 words of copy and paste, so I will give myself a bit of leeway when it comes to “post a day”


Water – Element of change. Going with the flow, being flexible and adaptable.

This is going to be about my changing views on Carousell. If you have no interest in it, skip to the next one. I should also point out that they aren’t paying me or anything like that, just my thoughts.

So earlier in this writing everyday thing, I made a post about how difficult it was to get rid of my textbooks in HK (see the post here ). and I mentioned how I was flogging it on a random app I downloaded but getting no bites.

Well, in the two weeks between me posting that and now, out of my listing of a dozen items just to test it out, I have managed to sell off 1 textbook and have deals in the works to exchange 3 more… Yeah. 

Not sure if it is the fact that school is out, so people are thinking more about buying books, I’m getting lucky with my post times (seems like more people like for things I post in the afternoon) or there are just more people being on the app now (I’ve been seeing the app’s advertisements on mini buses now, though it could just be the 

Or it might just be me, since some of my friends are having trouble selling the same books, even though they are priced lower in some cases.

Perhaps that experience selling books on amazon as a kid paid off? Since some of the really basic stuff (like ISBN numbers so people can double check it is the book they need) or how to describe the condition of a book are missing in some of the other listings I’ve seen. 

For now, I’ll continue trying to keep an open mind toward it and see how it goes! 

(By the way, if you are in HK and want to buy second hand English books, I’m Beckysbooks on Carousell)


Earth – Element of substance. Strong, persistent and enduring, facing challenges head on.

A random pondering of where I stand right now

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far with writing. 

Seriously.

I have never done a writing project this consistently before and it continues to amaze me that this silly idea I had about a month ago to kill summer boredom has turned into an epic saga with over 24+ chapters of a uni student’s thoughts on everything from growing up and trying to find her place in the world to more random post like geeking out over cubing and being overly metaphoric about random words thrown at be by a daily post blog. 

Then again, it occurs to me that most writing projects start off with a person having comparably silly random idea (a boy becoming a wizard and going to boring school, a fantasy story involving different houses competing to sit on an uncomfortable chair, a girl in a dystopian world who gets thrown into a fight to the death etc) and going:

“Ehhh… why not? This thing isn’t going to write itself.”

Then persisting through everything to the end where the thing if finally published, often several YEARS later.

Kudos authors out there! I’ve tried doing it several days in a row, and even I started to lose hope around day 12. Which reminds me…

There was a guest post linked to a post of mine that was written by Michelle Jayne on Kasmin’s blog titled ” The Writer and the Tortise” (link here) which really resonated with me, that deals with a similar thought of perseverance and writing habits. You should check it out! 😛 


Fire – Element of power. Having the desire and drive for growth to achieve all that is possible within their ability.

This bit goes out to all of the May 2017 IBers out there, who are in a few hours about to recieve their scores and see if they got into university (including my younger brother).

Some of you will be elated about your scores, some will shrug it off, and some of you will be crushed.

This open letter of sorts is for the latter guys in particular, but applicable to all IBers and people entering university

“Where there is a will, there is a way” is a saying my former math teacher used to say.

Of course at the time it was to counter any of the (admittedly kinda pathetic) excuses we would all come up with for why our assignments were late. 

But, like most wise advise given to me, its true meaning doesn’t present itself until later.

Your score may feel like the end of the line, as measure of all the hard work you have done over the last two years. To that I say… its not.

Unlike pretty much all other exams in the world, IB is not a sprint, a few hour multiple choice quiz that is over in a flash. It is a pentathlon of suck that you are thrown into without any prior training… while sleep deprived… with CAS and TOK and a 4000 word research paper etc.

You have, over the past two years done everything from analyse translated literature, read passages in a second language, design your experiment, write a mathematical investigations, explore humanities subjects etc. And that is just the IAs. 

I speak from experience when I say that you have a leg up compared to your peers, and the first year of uni is nothing compared to IB. Everything from learning how to write a paper with proper citations, to volunteering in actives as a global citizen, to overcoming (or at least coping) with sleep deprivation etc are all skills that IB has left you with that a simple score isn’t going to show, but universities know about and consider. 

(well, except for USA unis who care more about AP and SAT. Then again you have already gotten in, so your IB grade doesn’t really matter at this point. so you don’t understand the terror of waiting til d-day)

In the end, your score doesn’t define you. 

Whether you sit down and give up, or brush yourself off and get up, does. 

I have a friend who thought their life was over when they got a 23 (later a 24 after remarking), but who still got into university to study film due to his hard work ethic, leadership skill and portfolio of work that the IB left them with.

It can be done! 

So no mater what score you get, Celebrate!

You now join our global community as an IB Alumni, and more importantly, an IB survivor 😛 ! Prepare yourself for all the lingering IB-isms, the “You know nothings” to the Pre-IB/ the Year 1’s,  silent “You poor unfortunate soul” nods you will give to the Year 2’s and the instant connections you get with other people who went through IB like you.

Good luck to all, with all your future endeavours!

 


On that note, I’ll catch you later!

Rebecca

Day 19- Writing Self Critique and Camp Nanowrimo

So I’m reading through yesterday’s 30 minute story and….

Wow. It is stunningly bad…

Part of me wants to throw it in a black hole where it will never see the light of day or drastically change it so it doesn’t look that bad, but hey I didn’t use the delete key in the original writing of it, so the roughness of the story is understandable.

Still, I am definitely getting rid of that rule the next time I do another story challenge, since there are a lot of repeated words and sloppy mistakes that just look unprofessional.

In this critique -esque post, rather than going through and editing it word by word, I’m just going to list off some of the weird things that just don’t work in the story:

  • Too much description, not enough characterisation – Blue hair was a nice touch of weirdness but why should anyone care? It feels like I am just listing descriptive words for the sake of it, rather than any character or narrative driven reason. Show don’t tell and all that.
  • Where is the character located right now? – its funny that I didn’t notice this while writing it, but I never really say where or when she is. Theoretically, I could have written an excuse it (like she doesn’t want to record it for safety reasons or whatever) but by not mentioning how long ago it was since the kidnapping, there is like zero tension whatsoever
  • Lots of my own “isms” have snuck in – This tends to pop up in my acting (well, what little acting I’ve done at school), where I have little traits (messing with glasses, moving my hands around a lot) that pop up when I am trying to keep it together but failing. In my case, it’s the excessive use of ellipsis and commas, combined with run on sentences that just seem to never end. Oh and the use of “Yup.” since that certainly is something that has stuck around in this semi dystopian world the story takes place in… /s
  • The grammar…. – ‘Nuff said about that train wreck.
  • Where is the plot? – There is a lot of ideas present, but nothing even resembling a coherent narrative. I mean the diary thing at the end was slightly interesting, but there isn’t any reason to care about it. I seem to think throwing things out there without explaining is “mysterious” or something, when in actuality it feels like a game of madlibs with giant “Insert plot here” sections that were semi-filled without care

So basically, what I’ve learned from this trial in improv story telling is that it is pretty freaking hard to do it. Kudos to those who can by the way, though I suspect the reason the works of so many authors seems leaps and bounds ahead of mine, other than their inherent talent and loads of practice, is the editing behind it.

But since it was pretty fun while it lasted, I’ve decided to join Camp Nanowrimo for July.

Normal Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place in November (which I did try it in 2016, but stopped after a few thousand words due to exams), but they are both based off of the same principle. Quantity not quality, just write and put things down on paper.

Which is a bit like what I am doing now, if you think about it.

In the regular one, the goal is to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month, but since it is the Camp and I get to set my own goals, I’m going with a half Nano with 25,000 words in 30 days, toward a story idea I’ve had rattling around in my brain for a while.

So from this point forward, the post quality may go down slightly as I shift focus over, but hey, this blog was never a shining example of good writing, just a way for me to fill up the summer months doing something more productive than binge watching youtube 😛

That’s all from me now! Catch you later.

Rebecca