The Dark Shadow Shrine

If u think u need extra coaching in General Paper/English/Literature at the 'O'/'A'/International Baccalaureate level, the gates of my shrine are always open.....Drop me a note at or wadsapp me at 91384570 for more Singapore only hor.... :-)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fri Evening Class ALERT!

Here r the links to clarify these two issues thrown up just now:

1) lemon law: click HERE
I supposed what's special about this law is that 'The law now states that the burden of proof lies on the retailer to prove that the defect did not exist at the point of sale.'

2) MDA online news licencing scheme : click HERE and HERE 
Online sites with 50,000 unique hits per month fall under this new ruling introduced last year (i.e. 2013)...This rule apparently applies to traditional media already.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Protection from Harassment Bill (Singapore)

Tue evening class, you may want to relate this to the compre AQ we did recently...

1) how legislation is a useful solution to many problems
2) the limitations/problems of legislation
3) education in values as a more sustainable solution in the long run
4) example of the Protection from Harassment Bill in Singapore, which covers online behaviour
5) how online vigilantism is a double edged sword...while it can deter/'punish' people for engaging in wrongful behaviour, it can go overboard and transform the vigilante into a cyberbully, making him no different from the wrongdoer he is castigating. As the saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right.
6) note online vigilantism is often linked to media literacy (i.e. netizens are able to distinguish right and wrong, and not support the acts of wrongdoers online), and used as a reason to argue that govt should not interfere in exchanges occurring online, (i.e. no censorship), so as to encourage freedom of expression online.

Sample Qns:
1. Consider the view that spoken language is more important than the written form. (Cam .2013)
2. How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion? (2013)
3. Governments should not interfere with the right of the people to express themselves freely on the internet. Do you agree? (HCI Prelim 2009)
4. To what extent does legislation influence the behavior of people?
5. Does science and technology always improve the quality of people's lives?

Unethical consumer industry

Mon/Wed evening classes, relate this to the Science and Technology discussion...

Sample Qns:
1. Advertising encourages a desire for products which people do not actually need. Discuss. (Cam. 2004)
2. How far is it acceptable for technology to be used only for financial benefit? (2012)
3. Can the media ever be relied upon to convey the truth? (2003)
4. Should advertising be restricted in any way? (2001)
5. Profit should be the only motive when it comes to doing business. How far is this true?
6. Does science and technology always improve the quality of people's lives?
7. Should the rights of people always be upheld?

Syariah Law in Brunei

For those whom we just discussed tradition/religion....

The syariah law is always a useful example for qns on religion, tradition as well as the fairness of laws... More on syariah law HERE

1. social media is a useful outlet(watchdog role?) to criticise the govt/establishment (if govt is corrupt or unfair, all the more so if it's an authoritative govt which is 'all-powerful'), but turn this the other way (i.e. rebut) , u can argue that social media can create instability in the country by weakening the (good) govt's ability to rule the country.
2. take note of the pros and cons of religion/tradition(i.e. syariah law); obviously, the Sultan has very good reasons for why he wants to introduce the syariah law

Sample Qns:
1. How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (Cam. 2010)
2. To what extent is it possible ‘to make the punishment fit the crime’? (Cam. 2013)
3. Religion has caused more harm than good. Do you agree?

4. Does science and technology always improve the quality of people's lives?

IVF gone wrong.....

Sun afternoon class, here is an article on the botched IVF case that happened in Singapore which I told u about...

Sample Qns:
1. Should people be allowed to have children by artificial means? (Cam. 2012)
2. Does science and technology always improve the quality of people's lives?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

No white elephants for Sochi...

A common argument against hosting major sporting events is the fear that the huge investments in massive infrastructures (like Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium) will end up a white elephant after the Games is over. See related discussion here:
Link 1

Link 2

Sample Qns:
1. Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (Cam. 2010)
2. Hosting major sporting events creates more problems than benefits. Do you agree? (Cam. 2005)

Bukit Brown revisited....

Some classes did the tradition topic and the issue of Bukit Brown cropped up....u may want to read this for background...

Sample Qn:
How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (Cam. 2010)

National Identity in Sport

Note how national identity, while crucial in participating in world sporting events (as u need to represent a country), has become a commodity that can be traded, causing it to be debased....

can also debunk the point on sport helps generate patriotism and bond the country's people, as your own nationals go win medals for other countries, and those winning medals for your own country are foreigners.

Sample Qns:
1. Is national identity still relevant in today's world?
2. Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (Cam. 2010)
3. Is competition always unhealthy?

Religion pros and cons

Sample Qns:
1. Do you agree that the world would be a better place without religion? (MJC Promo 2013)
2. How far should religion influence political decisions? (Cam. 2009)
3. How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (2010)

The Damned Dam

- the pros and cons of building dam for hydroelectric power....
- how the closing BANG echoes the opening BANG!
- compare with an earlier link HERE

Sample Qns:
1. How important is it to save plant and animal species which are in danger of extinction? (Cam. 2013)
2. How far is it acceptable for technology to be used only for financial benefit? (Cam. 2012)
3. Does science and technology always improve the quality of people's lives?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tradition revisited....

For those whom we just did the lesson on tradition, you may want to check out THIS old link with stuff on dowry practice and honour-killing...

The dark side of competition.....

Note the dark side behind every competition....

for those who had done last year's compre paper on heroes and fame, link it to the point in the passage about how heroes have failings too, but that these failings actually humanise them and make it easier for us to relate to them and be inspired by them......if  a hero with failings and imperfections can accomplish what he did, so too can we mere mortals!

Sample Qns:
1. Is competition always unhealthy?
2. 'Win at all costs?' To what extent has this attitude adversely affected modern society?

Pollution in China

A recent take on the recent pollution landscape in Beijing. But what caught my eye is that the media in China actually dared to play the 'watchdog role' and criticised the govt. But as we read on, we realise also that this bravado attempt was short-lived as the comments were later deleted, testifying once again to the formidable machinery of the CCP  in controlling information.

Note some useful pollution index readings....

Sample Qn:
Do you agree that city life is becoming increasingly unattractive?

Patriotism abused?

This article caught my eye as it mentioned how patriotism can be manipulated by political parties for their own selfish agenda.
but note that the point can swing both ways -- as always. In the case of the Arab Spring, where the ruling govt is oppressive and corrupt, using the name of patriotism to rally people to topple the govt can be a valid and desirable act. In the case of Thailand, it depends on whether u see the ruling govt as corrupt or the opposition party (yellow shirt faction) as the bad guys. If the latter, then you can say that they are using patriotism as a licence to commit violence, pretty much what the terrorists (who are 'patriotic' or loyal to their religion) are doing. 

Sample Qns:
Is patriotism still relevant in today's world?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

REAL Success....

See if u can use the article to answer the qns below...if not, ask me in class or drop me an email. It's an important skill in GP to draw connections between what u have read and the questions you have seen or done....

Related Qns:
1. Are the youths of today complacent about the future?
2. Does science and technology always improves the quality of people's life?
3. Is competition always unhealthy?
4. Is patriotism still relevant in today's society?
5. Should the love of one's country still be encouraged? (Cambridge 2009)
6. The key criterion for good government is how well the economy is managed. Is this a fair assessment? (Cam. 2012)
7. How far is increased prosperity for all a realistic goal in your society? (Cam. 2013)
8. How far is it acceptable for technology to be used only for financial benefit? (Cam. 2012)
9. In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)
10. How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion? (Cam.2013)



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Internet -- crowdfunding

- example of Earth Hour (its head office is based in Singapore! local context!)
- the power of the internet (the feature of its extensive reach) can be harnessed not just to promote and create awareness of worthy causes, but also to source for funding via 'crowdfunding'

Sample Qns:
1. How far is it acceptable for technology to be used only for financial benefit? (Cambridge 2012)
2. 'Modern technology does more harm than good to the environment.' Consider this claim. (YJC Prelim 2013)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Getting too personal online....

(I) A useful angle to look at these articles is censorship and media literacy. A common argument against censorship by the govt is that the netizens are media literate. By this, it means that:

1)      Content-creator: People online know what to post and what not to, i.e. practise self-censorship

2)      Content-reader: People online know how to judge the info they read online, whether it’s true or false

3)      Even if (1) above is not true, i.e. people continue to post insensitive or inaccurate stuff, we can count on (2) above to be true, i.e. people online who come across such controversial posts will know they are not appropriate, and they may even go one step further to denounce this and castigate/scold the person who upload this info. This can be termed online vigilante, where netizens try to seek justice and fairness by coming down on those who engage in wrongful acts online.
Given the above three aspects, it is argued that the govt does not have to step in to regulate what’s happening online, as the people are mature enough (i.e. media literate) and online space is self-regulating.
But this can become extreme and backfire, as shown in the articles below.  Online vigilantism can become so extreme that the govt may have to come in to regulate online etiquette or behaviour. When netizens go to the extent of unearthing the address, workplace and pictures of the loved ones of the wrongdoer, it is no longer justice but justice gone overboard -- tantamount to cyberbullying. Two wrongs do not make a right!

(II) Another idea worth reiterating is that we behave so badly online due to anonymity and absence of face to face interaction.  Note that the two are not exactly the same.  U can have face to face interaction with another via webcam and this is anonymous because both of u are strangers to each other. Likewise, online interaction need not be anonymous if u r chatting with ur friend (e.g. via Facebook) but there is no face-to-face interaction here. And of course both anonymity and absence of face to face is possible if u r chatting to a stranger using a platform with no webcam.
This lack of Face to face interaction is important as if u cannot see the other person's expression, u r less likely to be able to hold yourself back and will end up saying hurtful, harmful stuff to that person. Being able to see a person's facial expression can act as a useful self-censorship mechanism as u can see at first hand how ur remarks are affecting that person. This is why in some movies when the evil guy wants to kill someone he knows, he needs to avert his gaze or turn his head away. In the case where the person is a stranger (i.e. anonymous), even if he is hurt and you can see, you may not care. This is where anonymity has a role to play. Ok...I know all this is very rambling and unclear, but hey, I'm tired, and can't be bothered to rewrite all these if u don't follow, ASK ME!!!

ARTICLE 1: Online vigilantes going too far?

article 1a

article 1b

ARTICLE 2: The cost of getting too personal online

article 2a
article 2b

Sochi Olympics

Most of the usual points can be used on sport questions can be linked to the Sochi Olympics. Typical points on hosting sporting events can be found HERE. After reading this link, plough through the following articles for the examples to support these points.

1) Sochi Olympic is most expensive Olympics ever staged at US$50billion, surpassing previous record of US$40 billion held by China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Note rebuttal to this in article 3b below...

2) note the terrorists threats associated with this sporting event (much of the cost of the event is attributed to security)

3) Russia's attempt to use the event to enhance its image in the world appears to have backfired; see article 2 below. Makes for a useful rebuttal to the point that staging world class sporting event can help to rebrand the nation in the eyes of the world. In the case of article 2, it appears to have cemented Russia's bad reputation instead. Note also the fiasco during the Opening ceremony, where one of the 'snowflakes' lighting display failed to transform into one of the six rings of the Olympic Games logo.

4) Singapore will be hosting the next Commonwealth Games in 2015, with the completion of the new multimillion dollar sports hub...See if u can transfer the points over to Singapore.....The same goes for the Brazil World Cup this year in June.

Sample Qns:

1)     Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? ( Cambridge 2010)

2)     Hosting major sporting events creates more problems than benefits. Do you agree? (Cambridge 2005)

3)     Is sport too closely linked to money these days? (Cambridge 2001)

article 1

article 2

article 3a

article 3b

City Harvest's 'Crossover Project'

The example of City Harvest Church's 'Crossover Project' which aims to use pop music to evangelise, i.e. attract more church goers and spread the gospel.
Relate to the fame and celebrity compre we did recently where the writer claims that people worship celebrities as they have lost faith in religion. The 'Crossover Project' can be used to argue that celebrity worship can be used to rekindle people's faith in religion.

Buried Under by Rice Subsidy Scheme

This provides more background for the controversial rice pledging scheme which the Thai govt has implemented to attract more voters (the opposition sees this as 'vote-buying'); but this is now becoming a burden for the govt as they are not able to pay the farmers, causing the farmers to protest and threaten to join the opposition against the govt. Under the scheme, the govt pledge to buy the rice from the farmers at about 50% above world prices.

This is a useful example to show the pros and cons of democracy. Democracy is seen to be good as it incentivise the govt to come up with schemes to help the poor in order to win their support. But the downside is that democracy can also lead to populist measures where the govt comes up with schemes to appeal to the popular masses but these populist schemes are unsustainable in the long run, and in this case, threatens to bankrupt the govt coffers.

Funding for independent schools to be trimmed....

Yet another attempt by the govt to mitigate the social divide caused by education. Currently, the practice of meritocracy is such that the brighter students will apply to go to branded schools which have better facilities. The end result is that these branded schools with good facilities become enclaves where the bright ones rubbed shoulders with one another, while those without good grades are shut out. It does not help that those with better grades also tend to be those from more affluent backgrounds.
Cutting funding for branded schools will thus go towards 'making every school a good school', so that better-abled students do not gravitate to those handful of branded schools, but will hopefully spread around, enabling them to mix with other students. Of course things are not so simple, but this can be regarded as a 'baby step'.

Sample Qn:
'Meritocracy breeds inequality.' Do you agree?

Gender Example: US Fed Chief

Another international example of women in the political arena for gender questions.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Tradition becoming commericalised and inauthentic.....

for the Traditions compre, there was a discussion about traditions becoming inauthentic, commercialised....I actually had a first-hand experience of this during my Japan trip last year, which I did a short write-up on....Go HERE to read the post (scroll to the end portion for the relevant part)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Ethical implications of gene-testing

A good example (via rebuttal) of how science creates more problems than solutions...

Sample Qn:
Science never provides solutions - it only poses more questions. Is this a fair comment? (Cambridge 2000)

Monday, February 03, 2014

Useful Statistics on rich-poor divide

Some interesting statistics that are useful for Banging in the intro or conclusion....esp relating to rich-poor divide or income gap among countries or within a country.

One other useful stats that comes to my mind: 80% of the world's resources are consumed by 20% of the world's population.