The Dark Shadow Shrine

Saturday, June 29, 2013

More on the HAZE

Sample Qn:
Do disasters really bring out the best in people?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Two Nuggets of Info here....

Heard from Radio UFM100.3 this morning:

1) the traditional method of slash and burn is actually environmentally-friendly!
So far, what we have been hearing from the media is that this traditional method harms Mother Nature as not only does it contribute to the haze (air pollution), it also releases carbon emission (global warming), esp if peatlands are involved. Peatlands happen to be great carbon sinks; burning them releases the carbon into the air.
But apparently, burning is 'green' as the resultant ashes make for good natural fertilizers, hence no need to use chemical fertilisers which can poison the soil, not to mention the cost involved and alleged health risks on food grown using chemical fertilisers. As much as 70% of the soil in China is polluted due to the excessive and improper use of artificial/chemical fertilizers and pesticides (see link HERE). Clearing forests the traditional way by small scale farmers has not led to the haze of the magnitude we see today. It is the MNCs today burning huge tracts of land that has amplified the haze problem to the scale and magnitude it is today.
Cost-wise, you want to know that burning the forests to clear land for planting is not only faster, but 'some 300 times cheaper than using machines'. (source: Mind Your Body, The Straits Times 27 Jun 2013)

2) social media does not lead to one having diverse views from multiple perspectives!
Makes for a useful rebuttal! The thing about social media, you want to remember, is that you can shut out those voices that you find irritating and unconvincing. There may be a multitude of views out there in cyberspace, but it depends on your willingness to go and read those views.  Otherwise, you are not likely to acquire the multiple perspectives afforded by those views. And in reality, what happens is that we tend to gravitate towards those views that we like, thus denying ourselves of the multiple perspectives. In a nutshell, the benefits of social media are often dependent on the viewer's willingness to access those views. An analogy: the postings here in my blog can help you acquire much-needed content for your writing, but they are just sitting here in my blog, and unable to reach you unless you are willing enough to make the extra effort and time to come here and read them -- and that's provided you know this blog exists in the first place!

Bidadari -- the Second Bukit Brown?

Note the point towards the end where such places which are the repository of our cultural heritage must not be allowed to go away 'gently into the good night'. Their obliteration will lead to a loss of our history, leading to cultural amnesia, as their concrete existence is no longer there to remind us of our past. Having them documented before they are demolished and incorporated into the design and planning of the new estate sitting on its grounds may be a viable alternative, but nonetheless, an inferior one. Our future generation may grow up having little or no inkling of the past which they do not have a chance to inhabit as there are no concrete reminders of it.

Sample Qn:
1) There is no value in nostalgia. Comment.
2) How important is it for people in Singapore to care about the conservation of its buildings?

Julia Dethroned!

Keep yourself updated: just as Hilary Clinton is no longer the US Secretary of State, Julia Gillard is also no longer the PM of Australia, though of course you can still quote them as examples if your use the prefix 'ex'.
What is also interesting here though is Gillard's mention of how difficult it is for her to be at the top -- 'not an easy environment to work in'.  Not to mention the sexism and misogyny(hatred of women) she claimed to suffer from whilst she was in the top position of the country.
For those who have done the Cambridge 2005 paper on Aggression and the Dunman High 2010 Prelim gender compre, note the point that even whilst women may be breaching the glass ceiling and attaining positions of power and influence, they actually have a hard time up there also and as shown in the case of Gillard, her reign at the top is actually short termed. Women at the top are often judged more harshly than the men even if they may be qualified to be in that seat. The fact that they are an anomaly up there means they are under intense scrutiny, where everyone is watching their every step, as if waiting for them to make a mistake and fall so that they can pounce on them and validate their initial prejudiced feelings that women have no business being in that seat. And even if the women did not make any mistakes, they may still be subjected to the vilifications of the misogynistic and sexist males who cannot wait to discredit them.
Refer to earlier post on CEO Yahoo Marissa Mayer, whose policy to abolish telecommuting (home office) drew a lot of flake, even though there are other male CEOs who had done the same thing earlier without the media so much as giving a whimper.

Sample Qn:
The world of the future will be a woman's world. Do you agree?
Women have it easier than men in today's society. What is your view?


Green Walls....

Interesting example of 'green wall' instead of just green roof/ roof top garden. Note these elements of green architecture and their benefits. Link also to the BCA Green Mark. Make the connection to the 2011 compre paper on the importance of Green Spaces and Parks.

Social Media causes panic.....

A good example of the downside of social media, how it can be abused to spread fear and panic during times of crisis instead of sharing useful info to help with the crisis....
Be sure to mention the defining characteristics of social media such as extensive reach (enabling it to go viral), anonymity (embolden one to post false info out of mischief), and the echo chamber effect (enabling false info to bounce off people repeatedly as they pass it on to others, causing its amplification/magnification to acquire the illusion of truth)


Effectiveness of Education

Sample Qn:
To what extent is the education system in your society effective in preparing the youths for the challenges of tomorrow?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Religious Intolerance in Myanmar

An uncanny echo of terrorists' manipulation of religion to attain their own goals. This monk, Ashin Wirathu, is allegedly responsible for the sectarian strife, leading to outbreak of violence in Myanmar some months back, where the majority Buddhists, supposedly under his instigation, torched the villages of the minority Muslims, even killing some of them, in a bid to chase them out. Ashin Wirathu could have been an incarnation of Osama, using religion to rally the people to conduct atrocities and spread hatred in the name of religion. Their attempt to curtail the rights to women by attempting to pass a law to ban interfaith marriage is also an uncanny echo of the practices in the Arab nations. And if, as the article suggests, religious authoritarianism eventually takes the place of militarianism in Myanmar, then Myanmar would have become something like a theocratic state such as Iran, where religion is at the core of politics. But as Aung San Suu Kyi said in the article, what the Buddhist monks are doing 'is not part of Buddhism'. At the end of the day, like terrorism, we should NOT make religion the scapegoat here, as it is man (man's interpretation/manipulation of religion) that is the root cause of the problem.

This article provides a good example of how religion (when abused) can be used to preach intolerance and oppress the rights of women. 

Save My World

Here's the latest video on 'Save My World' (Click HERE). Compared to the one last year (which sounds like a funeral song!), this one is much better.
Note relevance to:
-role/function of music
-social media
-saving environment
-use of celeb influence (Ah Boys to Men leh!)


An article on the haze....note the relevance to the following qns:

1)      To what extent is legislation effective in influencing behaviour?

2)      ‘Social media needs more control, not more freedom.’ Do you agree?

3)      Does the presence of a foreign power ever help a country with problems?

4)      To what extent are the rights of animals protected in your society?

5)      ‘The key criterion for good government is how well the economy is managed’. Is this a fair assessment?

6)      How far is it acceptable for technology to be used only for financial benefit?

7)      Environmental concerns and economic growth cannot co-exist. Do you agree?

8)      Consider the view that efficient government is more important than democracy.

9)      To what extent should businesses be socially responsible?

10)   Should environmental conservation be the top priority of governments?

11)   To what extent should a country interfere with the domestic affairs of another country?

12)   To what extent is the individual responsible for his own health?

13)   Do disasters really bring out the best in people?

14)   Can green efforts be anything more than token gestures?

15)   To what extent are the health problems faced by man today of his own doing?

16)   In a world where we are constantly watched, there is nothing to fear. Do you agree?

17)   To what extent do crises hinder progress in the modern world?

18)   ‘Patience is no longer a virtue in our face-paced society.’ Do you agree?

19)   ‘Global cooperation is unrealistic and a waste of time. What is your view?

20)   What we need to do is to get the common man on board, otherwise the environment is doomed. Do you agree?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Social Media Getting in the way of Bonding

An interesting description of that important point about how social media gets in the way of real-life bonding.....note the humourous closing BANG at the end!
The video clip mentioned in the article about people melting away into invisibility when you whip out your electronic gadgets can be seen HERE (see second video).

article 1a

article 1b

Friday, June 14, 2013

Celebrity Influence

Pertaining to earlier links on the same topic (see HERE & HERE), here's another recent event, where celebrities are mobilized for a worthy cause. Note the point that celebrities are crucial to catch the attention of the viewers, a challenging task today given that so many things are competing for our attention, given the multitude of media platforms that are constantly bombarding us.

Interesting to note also that the event was sponsored by Gucci, which could not be a better symbol for consumerism. But here, we see consumerism ( as epitomised by luxury brand Gucci) working for the betterment of society. It's almost like businesses going green and giving back to society. See the link HERE that sings the reverse tune about how consumerism is all about exploitation in its quest for profit maximization.

Sample Qn:
Nowadays, we get our values and ideals from celebrities. Does this cause more harm than good?

Privacy Scandal in the US

The recent scandal regarding breach of privacy in the US, with the justification that it is needed for combating terrorism. (food for thought: not unlike the retention of the ISA Internal Security Act in Singapore which sidelines the rights of others).

Article 1a: Note how the role of sci-fi can come in to warn us against ceding to much power to the govt lest we end up in the dystopian state predicted by George Orwell.....See earlier link HERE. It's like a case of life imitates art?

Article 1b: the data-mining process to combat terrorism, the process of which infringes on privacy....note the quote at the end: 'If you're looking for a needle in a haystack, you need a haystack'.

Article 1c: Obama's defence of the spying programme, calling it a 'modest encroachment' on privacy that is a necessary evil in order to combat terrorism risks.

For earlier links on privacy issues, see link HERE.
Article 1a

Article 1b
Article 1c

Juicy Closing BANG!

A useful read....but what attracted me was the Closing Bang where there is the interesting use of metaphors from safety net to spider web, to spring board....makes for an effective closing BANG!
Article 1a

Article 1b

Useful Quotations....

Some interesting quotations here which may be useful for BANG-ing!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Fri Evening Class ALERT! -- Tradition and Gender Stuff....

Pertaining to our discussion just now, check out these links:
1) Link 1
2) Link 2

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Let GP Come Alive for you this Coming Saturday!!!!

Now that it's the hols, and if u have nothing to do this coming Sat, consider making a trip down to Hong Lim Park, Speaker's Corner. There's gonna be a protest there against the govt's recent abrupt censorship policy for online media. Go there to see and hear what's the whole thing is all about! You may even want to sign the petition!
For more info, click HERE.

So make a date there this Sat, 8 Jun, at Hong Lim Park (next to Chinatown Point Shopping Mall), 4 - 7pm.

For once, experience GP, not just study it for the exams!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Why Singapore doesnt hate Japan so much....

I find this article quite enlightening as it explains why we are not so hung up over Japan's war crime compared to Korea and China.
Article 1a

Article 1b

Olivia Lum -- The Hyflux Story

Not only is she a good example from Singapore of women who had scaled the corporate ladder successfully to become a CEO (Ho Ching is the other one), this article can also be used for several qns. In the recent NYJC J1 mid year exam paper 1, 7 out of the 12 essay questions in the list can be linked to this article (see qns below).

Sample Qns [NYJC Mid Year Exams J1 2013]:
1. 'It is a woman's world today.' How far do you agree?
2. Should schools be concerned solely with academic achievements?
3. Can science and technology solve all of the world's problems today?
4. 'It never pays to be ignorant.' Discuss.
5. 'Competition brings out the best in us.' Do you agree?
6. 'Saving the environment is all talk and no action.' How far do you agree with this statement?
7. 'The media merely entertains.' What is your view? [for this qn, think of the fact that this article below is from the newspaper]

Article 1a

Article 1b