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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
(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….
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.”
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!
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:
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…
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.
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)
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Normal Science – the area where research takes place, where major progress toward the field of knowledge is made
Model Drift – An anomaly emerges, people start doubting the existing paradigm
Model Crisis – The anomalies build to the point where the original paradigm collapses
Model Revolution – A new model for explaining the phenomenon emerges
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!
Note to anyone arriving at my blog from google or other sources, I do not speak on behalf of anyone at HKU except for myself, I am just a student who goes to HKU and wants to talk a little bit about it for the sake of completing an arbitrary writing task I set myself for November.
With that out of the way, hope you enjoy the post 🙂
So yeah, today I helped out today as an Equal Opportunity Student in a booth explaining the EOU, handing out fliers, chatting with people etc. It was a lot of fun but man there were a ton of people!
Here are some random thoughts I had throughout the day:
I am bloody terrible at giving directions to places on campus.
Sorry for anyone who became even more lost because of me today. There is a reason that even as a Year 2 student I keep a campus map in my folder along with my weekly and daily schedule.
Though in my defense, HKU’s campus is not a flat, level campus like most places, it is built on a slant at 3 distinct elevations or zones, so while two buildings look like they are right next to each other, you usually must go up or down some escalators/elevators/stairs reach a walkway or street before you can get to another part, then you take another set of stairs/escalators/elevators to get to your building.
(like the library extension is down 2 escalators to the right of the library’s main entrance which juts out and attaches to the 3rd floor of the main building and is a staircase away from the ground floor of Kadoorie science building)
How the heck do you explain “dem beat” to a non-local student?
So being the resident sorta-local, sorta-not student means that I’m often the person people go to when they have questions about HKU life.
And for the life of me, I still can’t find quite the right words to describe this (from what I can tell) uniquely Hong Kong phenomenon. It’s a bit like “chur” or “hei”, sure I can try my best to explain it, but until you really experience, no adjective feels quite right.
(for the lost: chur = that slightly overwhelming, annoying, nagging and stressful feeling you when you are stuck with a group mate that won’t do anything, or you have a bunch of busy work for a class that is worth just enough to care about but you are running out of time to do it. It’s not full-on panic, but it requires a change of plan and more effort on your part. Basically the word for that “Ughhhh…. Really? This now?” emotion. Hei is the opposite of that, relaxed, chill, not-a-care-in-the-world, mellow emotion)
The official translation for “dem beat” they usually use is “cheering competition” but it’s not like a cheerleading routine or dancing competition (that’s Mass Dance which shows up later in the year), it’s more like a New Zealand Haka combined with a Stepping dance but far less professional (think pep rally level of quality), where the goal is to motivate your hall before a competition or event, with members of a hall wearing the same t-shirt and chanting in unison.
For those of you who have never experienced this mildly impressive display of HK culture, may I present HKU’s 2017 info day “dem beat” competition, cutesy of the university’s Facebook page (since it was taken from a live broadcast the video is a bit shaky and of poor quality)
They have definitely upped their intro speech, branding and presentation game from when I visited info day several years ago!
I mean just look at some of this stuff, they even had a vending machine making custom sticky notes for people! (I’ll post more stuff here tomorrow since I have already written a ton and am running out of time)
Huh, I wonder if the Science Faculty has any traditions I don’t know about
So the EOU booth was in KK Leung building, and the other ambassador I was handing out fliers kept remarking on how I would walk through the center doorway, rather than the left or right-hand side one.
Turns out in his faculty (business) there is a superstition that if you walk through the center one you fail your exams (a bit like how you aren’t supposed to walk through the center doorway in a temple because it will bring bad luck). Got me thinking, I know there are quite a few hall traditions and HKU has Superpass (something else I might post about in the future) but I can’t think of any at the moment that is exclusive to Science.
I have become the one who knocks hands out fliers to people….
Normally, people (including me) just walk by when someone tries to hand them a flyer. Today, I became the flyer-giver (we eventually figured out that if you give a souvenir with the flyer or hold up a sign directing them to the booth with free hot chocolate people will be more willing to take it)
This post is getting a bit long (that’s an understatement, its at nearly 1000 words o.O I’ve turned in papers with less content than this post), so I’ll end here for now (but will return tomorrow to edit a bit and add photos)