Hurricane Ondoy. What the hell happened?

(Image Source: Times Online)

Typhoon Ondoy is one of the worst disasters to hit the Philippines in years.  I believe I also read that this was the worst typhoon in 42 years.  It also raises a lot of questions about why there was so little warning, why there was such a poor response, and what’s going to happen to all of the victims.  It also illustrates the usefulness of social media in spreading information and requesting help during national emergencies.

Click through to Read More.

Why Was There No Warning?

Typhoon Ondoy didn’t just sneak up on the Philippines.  There was plenty of warning.  PAGASA had even issued warnings that there could be flash flooding and landslides and people in low lying areas may be affected.  So, where did communication break down?  Why weren’t people alerted?  How much of this could’ve been avoided had people been properly evacuated in advance?

Some of the news I’ve read on the internet has compared Typhoon Ondoy to Hurricane Katrina in the US.  There was massive destruction and the local population was caught totally unprepared.  I even saw a few Tweets claiming that Ondoy dropped more rain than Katrina, and that the hurricane category was higher.  I don’t know about that for sure, but Ondoy was definitely a monster of a storm!

Why Was There Such A Poor Response?

Filipinos didn’t receive proper warning before the storm, but on top of that they received an inadequate emergency response as well.  The Philippines is in an area that sees multiple typhoons every year, and flooding isn’t a pink elephant, it’s something that should be expected.  So, where were the amphibious vehicles?  Surely the military has some.  The Philippines is an island chain after all.  Where were the boats?  I remember seeing lots of complaints about the lack of boats.

Some blogs and news sites I’ve read concerning the poor government response to Ondoy are calling for a Senate review, similar to what happened in the US after Katrina, to analyze and improve obviously defective emergency response systems and institutions.  That would be a good move in my opinion.  In this day and age, with the technology we have available to us, there should be no reason for people to have to spend days sitting on their roofs waiting for help to arrive.

Social Media, The Unexpected Hero of the Ondoy Catastrophe

My wife and I actually didn’t know anything about Ondoy until the flooding was well underway.  I believe it was late Saturday afternoon when my wife saw an update on her Facebook claiming there was flooding in the Philippines.  So, that’s when we started searching and, like many people, we used social media like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and YouTube to keep updated on the situation.  In fact, if it weren’t for social media, I don’t think we’d have ever known what was going on.

Many people complained that there wasn’t enough international coverage of such a massive event.  I’d have to agree.  If Ondoy was worse than Katrina, then it should have received more coverage than Katrina, which was in the news everywhere for quite a while.  Is it because of where the storm happened?  The value of a human life is the same, regardless of where that person is from, so I’m a bit disappointed with the traditional media response.

Through social media we saw everything from video of the flooding to calls for help.  That’s right!  People were using Facebook and Twitter to request help, passing along addresses and locations of stranded people.  I don’t know if traditional methods were unavailable, but even if they were they would’ve been overwhelmed.  So, people were using social media to call out to their fellow Filipinos for aid.  It really was inspiring to see, and made me wish I were there to lend a hand as well.

Additionally, people used social media, especially Twitter, to request information about current conditions, and to ask people to check on friends and family.  It was an incredible boon and aid to Filipinos and others with relatives and/or friends in the Philippines.

Social Media is also being used to pass information about where and how to donate to victims of the flood.

I personally spent a lot of time requesting information about where my relatives in the Philippines live, but it’s a rather out of the way spot, so we never did get much in the way of positive information.  In the end, we got through to my wife’s brother when he made it into the town area to get supplies from the grocery store Sunday afternoon around 4 PM.  Luckily, the part of the Antipolo they live in wasn’t too badly affected, which is a relief, considering the news about the majority of Antipolo.

Scandal And Heroism

Like any major event, this tragedy has brought out both the best and the worst in people.  There were scandals like Jaque Bermejo telling the world through Facebook that the victims must have deserved it, as a punishment from God and nature.  Then there was the President’s son leisurely purchasing liquor in Rustans.  Good job, hero.

But, there were stories of bravery and heroism too, where people gave their lives to save their fellow Filipinos.  I really hope that some of the nation’s tax money is used appropriately and a memorial is erected to honor the dead, and especially to honor those that gave their lives saving others.

What Now?

I suppose the biggest question people are asking themselves is, “What do we do now?”  Some people simply have flood damage and need to wait until the waters recede before returning home.  Even that’s no small thing, considering how much of a person’s personal belongings may be totally ruined.  Having to replace furniture is a heavy expense.  Having to replace electronics is even more costly.  Having to replace everything is worse still.  But, at least there’s a structure to call home to return to.

Some people don’t even have that anymore.  Imagine sitting in your only pair of shorts in a refugee camp somewhere, realizing that you no longer have anything to your name at all.  Some people don’t exactly have much in the bank and what was in their home may have been all they had of value.  What will these people do?  Where will they go?  How are they going to rebuild when they have nothing left to build with?

I don’t have a solution for that, but I hope there’s a government committee that does, or it will certainly cause problems later.  When a person has nothing, and has nothing to lose, they’ll almost certainly turn to less than legal means to make sure ends meet.  It’s quite likely that there will be a spike in the crime rate following this storm.

Hopefully, everything is handled well and a solution is found.  It would be an even bigger disaster for the destruction Ondoy left in its wake to be followed by even more tragedy.

Philippine President Arroyo’s Son Boozing It Up While Filipinos Are Dying? #Ondoy

While several of our countrymen were waiting to be rescued, Mikey Arroyo, the son of that Malacanang bitch was photographed buying liquor in Rustans in Katipunan. MAGSAMA KAYO NG NANAY MO, KUPAL KA!!!

via Grachelle Bravo

From everything I’ve heard I don’t have much faith in politicians in the Philippines. They’re nothing but a bunch of crooks that steal money from the people to line their own pockets.

First their president spends 1 million Philippine Pesos on a dinner in New York City, and now her son is boozing it up during the middle of a national crisis. Good job, Arroyo and little Arroyo.

Good luck illegally forcing your bill through the congress to have your term extended past its max length.

China Kills Its Own Citizens

Back in April I wrote a post about China and how it sold poisoned gyoza to the Japanese.  I then went off on a rant about how China is ruining its world image, because here lately everything that comes out of China is poisonous or defective.  If you’re wondering why I’m so pissed off about China doing this stuff, it’s because most of those products wind up on the shelves of United States grocery stores and department stores, just waiting to poison some unsuspecting person or child. Not to mention that it’s just stupid, and I don’t like stupid. China’s economy relies on exports to other countries, and they’re causing people all over the world to not trust and to not want to buy their products. They’re killing off their livelihood, one screw-up at a time.

I’m also kinda pissed off at the US government for not doing better pre-screening on items imported from China.  They have a proven track record of producing bad quality items.  If a man has a record of sexual offenses against children, appropriate measures would be taken to make sure he didn’t do it again right?  So why is it that a country is producing and exporting bad products to the US, some of them potentially lethal, and we just keep on letting them do it?  Can we fine the country as a whole?  Can we do anything to let them know that this behavior isn’t welcome? How about a 1 month embargo on all China-made products? If they won’t listen to common sense, maybe they’ll listen to dollar sense.

On the other hand, what can we really expect from a country that not only poisons the world, but poisons its own citizens as well?  The following video is about Yunnan province, where factories are producing massive amounts of pollution that are causing near lethal levels of lead blood poisoning in the region’s children.

There’s pollution in every country, but within acceptable limits. This is just blatant and damn near disgusting, as it shows a lack of respect for human life. Not to mention that it’s killing children.

Good job China.  Not only do you try to screw over the rest of the world, but you’re stupid enough to shoot yourself in the foot as well.  I guess when you’re citizens have no freedoms and no way to protest or affect change it doesn’t matter, right?

(Image Source: Vegetarian Organic Blog)

Sexism on the Internet?

Every time I turn around someone is crying discrimination or sexism on the internet, even in situations where it’s blatantly obvious that the original writer’s intent was something else entirely.

People nowadays can’t seem to distinguish between what true sexism is and what’s meant to be taken lightly or meant to be used as an example. At the merest hint of something that seems not completely “Politically Correct” people are up in arms and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, as though the world will end.

Get over yourselves. Not everything is sexism and not everything is about you! Sometimes it’s just illustrating a point.

What’s got me going is that a recent article on Mashable was talking about Internet Explorer 6 and the need for people to stop using a legacy browser, as it’s slowing down advances in internet technology.

Here’s a quote from the article with the supposedly offensive text colored in red:

“While it’s great to see companies taking a stand against the broken browser, we can’t help but wonder whether this type of campaign will make any impact, given that many users of IE6 are only using because of work/IT restrictions or are in underdeveloped countries. David, co-founder of Weebly, gave us his thoughts on the matter:

“We think we can have a huge impact: For those users that are just unaware they are using an old browser (mothers, grandmothers), we’d like to encourage them to upgrade and have a better experience using our sites. For those users in corporate environments, we’d like to start putting pressure on the IT department to upgrade — the more users who complain about seeing the prompts (especially if coming from the top), the more pressure the IT department will have to either upgrade IE 6 or install FirefoxFirefox side-by-side with IE 6 for compatibility reasons.””

The real kicker in this case is that actual statistics shows that this particular demographic, as well as corporate users, are in fact the highest demographic of people still using IE6.

Right away though, someone jumped in with this comment:

“It’s pretty dumb and sexist to label “mothers [and] grandmothers” as the people who are ignorant of technology, and to separate mothers and grandmothers from the corporate world. Mothers and grandmothers don’t work? Males don’t use IE6?”

Are you serious? In the same way that IE6 is holding back the internet, this mode of thinking in which everything has to be politically correct is holding back the entire world in terms of self-expression.

Should we go ahead and ban all of our classic literature, because it contains mentions of things that aren’t politically correct?

Get real, and if you’re so damn sensitive that something as innocent as what was mentioned in that article offends you, then maybe the internet isn’t for you!

Here are some amusing images to put this all in perspective:

I’d just like to emphasize one more time that this mode of thinking is ass backwards. I’ve even seen people complain that a person is being sexist just because of their personal preference in women. What? Is a person not allowed to have a preference for what he considers attractive anymore?

This insanity has got to stop.

The “Next Blog” Button is Worthless

This is just a short break from the series I’m writing to say that the “Next Blog” button located on the Google Blogger toolbar is worthless.

When clicking this thing, you should be taken to a random blog each and every time.  There are hundreds of thousands of blogs, if not more, on the Blogger system.  There’s no reason why I shouldn’t get an unique blog every time I click that “Next Blog” button.  Instead, I’m sent to the same 7 or 8 blogs over and over again.  Half aren’t in English, and the other half aren’t interesting or I wouldn’t keep “Next Blog”ing past them.

I mean, seriously.  If I click “Next Blog” and the blog I see is something I don’t like, and is also a blog that doesn’t have the toolbar, I click the “back” button and then click the “Next Blog” button again.  Why is it that if I do this, I’m taken back to the same blog that I just navigated away from?  Then why does it happen 3 times in a row or more?

Also, why is it that I’m taken to blogs whose written language is in something I couldn’t even guess at?  Blogger incorporates language settings, so why aren’t they being made use of?

The “Next Blog” button has a lot of potential as a content discovery method, but only if the way it’s implemented is greatly improved.  Every few months I give it a whirl, hoping for some improvement, and every few months I’m disappointed.

Google is a giant and the world leader when it comes to search and content discovery, so why are they failing at such a simple implementation of technology?  Is it really that hard to set this thing up so that you get a different blog every time you click it?