On School Life & the Supreme Court – a quick update

Remember how at the end of summer I was super gung-ho about posting a “Learn->study->explain” post each week?

Well, I think the fact that I haven’t posted a single one yet 3 weeks into term shows you how much of a flop that whole plan was.

Why haven’t I posted one yet?

  1. I’m not really sure how to word the thing without basically retyping out all my notes, which won’t exactly help me memorize the content (there is a reason I always handwrite my notes in class). Also, there might be the issue of inadvertently violating the copyright of the class material.
  2. I’m wasting my down time right now because my brain is still in vacation mode – what with the typhoon 2 weeks ago, Mid Autumn festival off last week and National day today
  3. It’s hard to organize the thing, since a lot of the content that stretches over several lectures

So instead of just typing out all my notes, I’m going to write a weekly reflection thing similar to what I did when doing CAS. What I mean by that is I will record hours spent on the material and rate how productive I was in each aspect.

In other news…

I’ve been spending some of my free time listening to the Christine Blasey Ford & Brett Kavanaugh testimony. It’s 10 hours long, but I feel as though I need to watch the whole thing, instead of just watching short clips of it.

There have been moments in my life where I feel as though I am part of history in the making.

Up until now, the short list of events consists of mainly the 2008 & 2016 elections, Snowden protests, and the Occupy Central/ Umbrella Revolution. This hearing is now on that list.

Because it marks a watershed moment in how we as not just Americans, but people as a whole, view issues related to sexual assault.

Because it shows how politicians are increasingly choosing their party over the people they represent.

Because it demonstrates a sea-change of people pointing to an issue and bringing it out into the light.

I am also a bit disturbed.

At how quickly seemingly bipartisan issues become politicized in today’s political climate.

At how fast outrage is generated in the masses through social media or traditional news organizations.

At what this means for the future of my country and its people.

I don’t know what the future brings, I can only state my thoughts and hope for the best.

Despite living in Hong Kong for so long, I still consider myself an American, specifically a Texan.

It’s where I was born.

It’s where I grew up and spent most my life.

It’s where I think of when you ask about my “hometown”.

I guess I feel so invested in this because while the decisions made don’t directly impact my day to day life here in HK, the implications have started to shift the way I view the USA I grew up to love.

Perhaps this is a bit too on the nose and patriotic for most of my audience, but I believe that the USA can be – and is at its heart – better than it is at the moment.

So I urge you, if you haven’t already – Register to Vote!

I’ve made a blog post in the past on how to do so in less than 20 minutes, so you have no excuse not to (well unless you aren’t eligable to). Whether you are voting in state, absentee or are an overseas citizen, I’ve got you covered.

Check it out here!

And…

Thank you Christine Blasey Ford & all of the other women who have come out with their stories.

Your bravery inspires us all.

-Rebecca

 

 

 

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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…

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

A Long Overdue Update😅 + Happy CNY 🐶

I’ve been debating how to start this post off for a while now, since it feels like my first post after 3-4 month hiatus should be more exciting and interesting (or at least more thought out and edited). But since I can’t thing of anything really, here goes nothing!

Hi readers!

I’ve gained a fair few followers since I last posted on here (which was like 3-4 months ago) so welcome to my blog new people! (wow, real professional sounding there)

Anywho…

I’ve been a bit busy recently, so haven’t gotten the chance to post as often as I should.

Several new updates in my life:

  • Last semester… could have been better. I was basically playing perpetual catch up with my courses and lost motivation with some of the courses after I found out that they wouldn’t count toward my major.
    • Still I powered through it and while my gpa was down from previous sem, my CGPA went up (since y1-sem 1 was far worse). Plus I learned a ton and feel I got a fair score for how I did. Still need to work on not procrastinating on revision though…
  • Laptop blue-screened in December while I was visiting relatives abroad, so wasn’t able to get back on a proper laptop until I got back in January.
  • I’m taking 6 courses this year, so I’m a bit busier than last year. Luckily these course are pretty awesome compared to last sem’s ones so we will see!
  • Ran 10km again in the HK Standard Charter Marathon again. Was a bit slower this year (by like 3 minutes), but considering I trained less and I got wicked cramps 3/4 the way through I’ll take that time with pride
  • I’ve been nominated to the University of Leeds for my semester abroad next year! Super stoked! (I’ll probably blog about it here/another new blog)

I’ll continue with the goals thing starting March 1, as I’ve found it to be very useful. Even if I don’t manage to finish my goals, at least I have a typed out outline of the things I need to focus on, which is great.

🎆 Have a happy Chinese New Year and great Year of the Dog! 🏮 (恭喜發財!狗年旺旺! 🐶) and I’ll see you in March.

-Rebecca

 

P.s. Before I forget, the USA Mid Term elections are happening this year and the deadline for the primaries in several states are coming up soon.

If you are like me, a USA citizen living abroad, or a member of the military, you can use the Federal Voting Assistance Program at FVAP.gov to request your mail in ballot.

For people stateside, you can find the information you need here at the usvotefoundation.org  or EAC.gov. 12 states even have same day voter registration, so honestly you have very little reason not to vote if you are eligible.


p.s.s I didn’t want this to end on a downer or have this post be super political but it has got to be said. The USA needs to sort out its gun problem. NOW.

It is absolutely abhorrent that these shootings continue to happen and I’m always at a loss for words when nothing gets done except for offers of “thoughts and prayers”.

As someone who grew up in Texas, I understand the pervasiveness of gun culture and get extremely annoyed when people stereotype gun owners as red necked hillbillies or end of the world prepers. A few of my close friends and classmates were gun owners who used them for hunting and sport.  And this was just in Austin, I can only imagine what is like to have a gun in a more rural area. Gun culture is just a facet of life and there is little point in trying to ignore it or demonize others for it.

But something has gone wrong when you remember as an elementary kid having “unidentified stranger on campus” drills where you learn how to duck under your desk or hid in the restroom/closet while staying as quiet as possible. When you remember visiting to a Cabela’s just being stunned at just how easy for someone to get a gun. When you see in the news that another school shooting has happened and you are no longer shocked, only numb.

Gun culture and gun control are not mutually exclusive to each other. You can be a second amendment supporter and believe in common sense gun regulations. This should not be such a difficult concept to understand. Period.

 

 

Day #11 – Why I commemorate Remebrance Day, not celebrate Veterans Day

So today marks the 99th anniversary of  World War I Armistice on November 11th, 1918 at 11 am (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour).

Since I don’t have a way with words, I’ll be including bits of War Poems here and there which I have always found to be incredibly powerful in humanizing the war and honoring those who lost their lives.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.”

~ Robert Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

And here is something that has always bugged me about how the USA treats the day ever since I moved to Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid in the USA, it was seen as a very celebratory holiday.

Flags fly high (well more than they usually do, which is saying a lot considering USA schools have a flag in every classroom for the pledge of allegiance – something else that is weird about the USA if you think about it too much), discounts for veteran are given for everything and there is a general patriotic sense in the air as you celebrate the heroes fighting for our rights abroad.

There are parades, there are picnics, basically, it is a bit like a toned down 4th of July was more “soldier-ified”

I never realized the significance of that date. November 11th.

You could make the excuse that I was too young to know then, after all, I was 12 when I left.

But that excuse rings hollow.

It’s because I never had a reason to wonder. It’s a holiday to celebrate our troops, what else would it be for?

And now that I do know the importance of the date, the way the USA celebrates what should be a sacred, hallowed day feels….

Sinister to say the least.

Actually no, it’s downright disturbing.

In Hong Kong (and more former/current commonwealth countries), it is a day where you remember those who lost their lives and say “Lest we forget”

Lest we forget the devastating path of destruction conflict leaves behind in its wake.

Lest we forget the human cost of war, not just of our fellow countrymen, but of all of mankind.

Lest we forget the dangers of excessive patriotism and blind faith in those in command.

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
~Wilfred Owens

Poppies are worn to symbolize the ones in Flanders Fields.

In class, you read war poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Thomas, John McCrae…

Two minutes of silence were observed at 11am in the morning for reflection.

In essence, Veterans Day disturbs me so much because it reminds me a bit of District 2 in the Hunger Games. If you have built up a culture where the military is glorified to the point that the cost of conflict is forgotten, then you get people so eager to leap at the chance to fight, instead of sit down and sort through a slower, yet longer lasting diplomatic option.

So today, I will commemorate those who lost their lives, rather than celebrate the troops fighting wars.

I’ll probably catch some flack from people who think I’m disrespecting our troops by saying that, but I believe war should always be the last option, the worst case scenario, rather than something overtly celebrated and glorified.

I just hope more people in the future (especially to my fellow Americans out there, whether you are still stateside or live abroad like me) understand the significance of Novmber 11th and choose to see it as a sombering reminder of our past.

Because those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

poppy_field_1_28470946719029

-Rebecca


P.S.

Prepare for complete tonal whiplash:

I will make up a post for yesterday at a later date, was busy yesterday… busy procrastinating that is, did all the Common core essay stuff today. Will likely skip tomorrows post as well, since I have a lab due tomorrow.

Also not sure if this post is over 500 words but I’m over the time limit anyways. Will make the post look nicer at a later date. etc etc. See you on Monday if I can’t find time to post tomorrow.

Day #9 – An Angry Letter of Complaint to a Bee (of all things)…

Dear Ingeborg “Apidae” Trunchbull the Bee,

Yes, I know that isn’t your real name.

In fact, since you are just a bee that lives around Centennial Garden I don’t even need to make one up for you.

But I’m doing so anyway to make me sound less crazy when I am personifying and writing a letter to a freaking insect.

Ingeborg by the way because it was the most random girl name I could think of starting with an “I” (since I assume you are a worker bee which are all female, and the letter to stand in for Insect, just because). Apidae for the taxonomical family you are in (along with all other bee species).

As for Trunchbull… well I needed a last name and your threatening buzzing around in my hair reminded me of Agatha Trunchbull’s words (clip from the 1996 movie) from Matilda by Ronald Dahl.

matilda_and_the_trunchbull_by_piano_kun-d309n7n
Thanks, GreenGlassesGirl from DeviantArt! 🙂

Anyways…

Hi! I’m Rebecca.

You know, that girl who shows up in Centennial Gardens a lot to help give recorded feedback about friend’s spoken English for a school project?

The one you keep following for no good reason?

Yeah.

Hi. I’m not happy right and want to talk, Ingeborg.

Please… sit. (or hover menacingly, I don’t care as long as you listen)

I’m not sure WHY you keep chasing me in particular, maybe it is my hair scrunchies that you keep mistaking for flowers or the new shampoo I’m using or whatever,

But please:

For the love of all things holy…

STOP IT!

This is nearly the 4th day in a row now.

And its always me specifically.

Not the person I’m tutoring, not the other students near me, heck not even the dozen or so other people milling around the park at any given time!

No, it’s always ME.

And you have some weird obsession with my hair.

I get it.

You are a vital part of our world’s ecosystem and have a job to do so you don’t starve over the coming winter months.

Maybe you are behind on nectar collection and need to work overtime.

Or maybe I’m giving you too much credit.

Maybe you just want to imitate Barry B. Benson from the Bee Movie (2007) by falling in love with a female human, accidentally altering the world’s ecological balance, before stealing a party float, hijacking a plain and saving the world’s flowers.

Or I’m galactic royalty and you are acknowledging it like I’m Jupiter Jones in Jupiter Ascending (2015).

But today…. TODAY….

Today was the last bloody straw.

Today, you held my freaking laptop hostage to get my attention.

Bee
Caught in the act!

You forced me and my Tutee to relocate to the stairwell of Hoi Oh Chow to continue our recording (which is much louder than the gardens).

Heck, you showed up at Happy Park today to annoy me while I walked around different booths learning about service opportunities.

Don’t you dare deny it! I’ve got a good half dozen witnesses!

Like that’s not even part of Centennial Campus!

What the HECK, Ingie??

(unless it was one of your friends/sisters in which case, tell her to stop as well)

So yeah.

If I haven’t made this abundantly clear by now….

Piss off, Ingeborg Trunchbull the Bee!

Stop chasing me around and messing with my hair, or… or… [Insert statement here that a bee would find threatening]!

Ha!

Signed with (heavily sarcastic) love,

Rebecca