The Dark Shadow Shrine

Friday, September 30, 2016

Some Statistics Concerning Singapore

Click HERE
Chanced upon this local stats site....useful stats on mobile phone penetration rate in Singapore in 2015 is 148.4% (scroll to the very end of site in link above)

Swiss voters back enhanced surveillance law

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"The Federal Intelligence Service and the other Swiss authorities would now be allowed to tap phones, cut through mail, infiltrate e-mail boxes, keep tabs on Internet activity and deploy hidden cameras and microphones to monitor suspects who are deemed a clear threat."

Qns:
1. 'The internet makes it more difficult for governments to govern today.' How far do you agree with this statement? (TJC Prelim 2016)

2. How far should the government be involved in the private lives of its people? (VJC Prelim 2016)

3. How far is your societ prepared for its most pressing issues? (TJC Prelim 2016)

Separate ads from programmes, MDA's committees tell Mediacorp

Click HERE

useful local examples for qns on arts, the media and TV programmes:

The daily drama Tanglin, which features a multiracial cast, was lauded for tackling cross-cultural issues and carrying the vital social values about inclusiveness and integration.
Heartland drama 118 was praised for its "down-to-earth depictions of social issues" and "celebration of the Singaporean identity".
The report pointed out that the expansiveness of long-form dramas had the potential to retain viewers and served as a good platform to discuss current issues in a light-hearted manner.

Qns:
1.‘For the majority of people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.’ 
How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)

2. To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather 
than foreign talent? (Cam. 2015)

Over 90% of world choking on bad air

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Another useful stats.....

Singapore's population grows 1.3% to 5.61 million

Click HERE

Latest stats on local population....

Birth of '3-parent baby' sparks debate, hopes

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Qns:
1. 'Children should be the product of nature, not of science.' Discuss.
2. "Modern technology always improves the quality of people's lives." Discuss. (RI Prleim 2016)

Those left behind after a suicide share their stories

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Useful stats to reflect stress...incidentally, two of the teen suicides were allegedly from RI.....

Teen suicide has come under the spotlight after the number hit a 15-year high last year with 27 cases. This was double that in 2014, despite a drop in the overall number of suicides.

About 300 to 400 Singaporeans kill themselves annually

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Online offer of air tickets fake, warns Etihad

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Qn: Consider the claim that the media today misinforms more than it informs. (TJC Prelim 2016)

Is this the era of post-truth politics?

Click HERE

Those doing the TJC Prelim 2016 Compre in Lying may want to ead this article and make the necessary connections -- if any.

Nite the useful example regarding the lie touted by the pro-Brexit camp: UK paid 350million pounds to the EU every week.....and the one concerning migrants from Turkey.

Another 'colourful example for BANGing involving Hillary Clinton (see underlined portion in ecerpt below)

Sift out the points/reasons from the excerpts below as to why the media tells untruths:

"And then, there is the proliferation of media platforms, allowing people to form their own virtual universes, their own echo chambers where they are persuaded to believe the absolute worst about political opponents. If you are an American voter watching Fox News, you are likely to believe anything bad about the centre-left of American politics, including a potential claim that Mrs Clinton eats children for breakfast; conversely, if you watch the MSNBC TV network in the US, you are liable to believe claims that all right-wingers are just closet Nazis. Feeding lies to such audiences is the equivalent of lighting matches in dry forests: It's guaranteed to create a firestorm. And once this firestorm rages, assertions from post-truth politicians suddenly acquire an aura of credibility."

"mainstream media platforms jealously guard their professional reputation, and do not want to appear strident by branding some statements as untruths. Still, the old adage that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts" is as valid today as it was when uttered by the US Senator Daniel Moynihan in the 1960s; lies should be exposed and branded as such in the mainstream media."

One strong idea emerges through the article......much as we like to point an accusing finger at the media for misinforming us, we fail to recognise that the we are to be blamed in the first place. The media is just reporting what we want to hear....people are sceptical of facts and the experts' views...so coloured by our own bias and prejudices that the politicians and govt sometimes gave up explaining. .Opportunitistic politicians however, will seize on this and tell us what we want to hear (think Hitler and Trump) and the media just reports verbatim....so can we say it is not media's fault but man who is doing the misinforming?


Qn: Consider the claim that the media today misinforms more than it informs. (TJC Prelim 2016)

Recommended by Trump trips over name of African-American museum

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Hopefully, this museum can help us to talk to each other. And more importantly, listen to each other. And most importantly, see each other. Black and white and Latino and Native American and Asian American - see how our stories are bound together.
US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Think of how this could have solved the current racial crisis in the US in the long run.....Could the info in the museum bridge the gap between the races? not just btw the native Americans and the African-Amercians, but also with the Asian Amercians.....

Qns:
1. Discuss the importance of museums. (AJC Prelim 2016)
2. Children should be banned from visiting museums. Discuss. (ACJC Prelim 2014)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The joy of shopping

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Some of us did the online shopping compre AQ (nyjc prelim 2015) recently....this article by Sumiko Tan shed quite a few insights on the topic.....note esp the reasons she gave for why she had not attempted online shopping, and the reasons that drove her to it....

For qns on the media, the internet, consumerism, technology, .....

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Yahoo hack raises cyber attack fears

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Useful stats: 500 million Yahoo accounts hacked into....this incident also makes for an interesting opening or closing BANG! since it involves a well-known tech MNC....

Note how sensitive personal info, including those concerning national security has been compromised....
This is precisely the reason why in Singapore, the govt has made the radical decision to ban the internet at the workplace for civil servants, in order to prevent hacking into govt websites....

Note how the convenienc eof shared data online also means that there is no longer any privacy...

Qn: 'The internet makes it more difficult for governments to govern today.' How far do you agree with this statement? (TJC Prelim 2016)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bradxit: London's Madame Tussauds separates Jolie and Pitt wax figures

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A witty take on Brexit!!!
A useful exampe for Opening or Closing BANG or as an example in ur PEEL ....

Anyway, the coupling of Brangelina has always been useful for GP, right from the example of Brad Pitt allegedly cheating on Jennifer Aniston (extra-marital affair), to the glamourizing of an alternative family structure of cohabitation with children (including adopted ones from various nationalities) (they 'live in sin' for 12 years before succumbing to marriage which lasted only 2 years), and now the inevitable divorce that is characteristic of showbusiness celebrities in Hollywood, resulting in single parenthood.
Being a popular celebrity couple confers much glamour and social nods to the various family structures that they go on to adopt, serving to redefine what social norms constitute...

Qn: ‘Traditional marriage is an outdated concept.’ To what extent is this true of 
your society? (Cam. 2014)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Post-Sept 11, war on terror gets harder

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For those who want to do qns on terrorism....
Note some reasons mentioned as to why terrorism still persists today:
-availability of communications technology
-HVEs (Home-grown Violent Extemists) and lone-wolf terrorists operating on their own
-seductive ideology that manages to recruit sympathisers...
-ISIS is different from previous terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and the Taleban as it has greater visibility, actually occupying land in Syria....
etc.....

India trying to flush out habit of not using toilets

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An interesting example of how the media or ads can be used to change mindset and behaviour and correct undesirable social attitudes....

Food industry welcomes plan to reduce reliance on manpower

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Is this really the way to go? Even high-class restaurant like Tung-Lok using robots to cook!
Interesting read on how cooking -- supposedly one of those activities that will be hard for man to be replaced by machines, unless you're talking about microwave ovens -- is being replaced by robotic cooking machines...
Note the reasons for this in Singapore and the limitations it has towards the second half of the article.....

Incidentally, just heard this over the radio: we porbably won't mind having a robot to sweep the floor....but is it ok for u to have a robot perm your hair? and a robot playing Mozart on the grand piano? So what is the point here?

Thai officials play down rising Zika infections

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See a parallel here to the Chinese govt blocking out news on the SARS epidemic nearly a decade ago to prevent panic outbreak? Here, it is to prevent any dent to the tourism industry...
Should we then censor news on the haze so as not to affect tourist arrivals? After all, the F1 race usually coincides with the haze period....But then, it is so much easier to block out news on Zika and SARS than the haze, since the latter is visible, unlike the latter, which cannot even be detected 100% using thermal scanners....

Is S'pore being stupid then by being so transparent about Zika? the latest figure is more than 300 plus! and many countries have already issued travel advisory against travelling to S'pore for their citizens....But don't people deserve to know? Esp if it is going to affect them directly? So that they can have a choice to do the necessary?

For qns on censorship, whether we should always tell the truth or keep secrets...

Travelling to see the familiar

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An interesting take on tourism and travelling.....recall the tourism compre that some of us have done recently, where it was mentioned that we travel to open our eyes to new things....but here, the writer mentions that as she gets older, she travels to see the  'familiar' rather than the new....
Note the interesting anecdote on travails and travels at the Closing BANG of the article, and how the writer gives it a twist to support her stand....

Of sunbirds, hornbills and Singapore ecotourism

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For those who want to discuss eco-tourism in S'pore....

Personally, I wont exactly call it 'eco-tourism' the way it is done by the govt in the article....strictly -speaking, ecotourism should showcase mother nature in its original, untouched form....but we appear to be doing it in a modified form and re-defining what is eco-tourism, e,g putting animals in the zoo which is not their original habitat....but ok lah, since we are not the first one to say it....

Legal online betting may be available soon

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Note the law called Remote Gambling Act that outlaws online gambling in Singapore, as in 'remote' from far away from the brick-and-mortar casinos here....

one reasons for allowing gambling in Singapore is that like anything that's banned, it will not disappear totally but be driven underground, where it will be difficult to monitor....now there is another reason for partially allowing gambling -- this time online: charity! Talk about using something immoral to support something moral!

But note the following:
Allowing punters to place their bets online would make betting more convenient - and lead to a whole host of other problems, social workers warned.
"The danger is not just addiction. Especially among the younger generation who lack self discipline, there's also the danger of debt issues,"

Sugar industry's sweet deal to shift blame to fat

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What happens here is the same with how the tobacco industry funded research in the past that seems to play down the link between smoking and lung cancer. Vested interests (that affects profit margins) makes it such that research reports funded by the MNC that has a direct vested interest, tend to lack credibility.....and can misguide the public....

The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show.
The internal industry papers, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease - including many of today's dietary recommendations - may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry. "They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,"

Qns:
1. To what extent is it acceptable for private companies to be involved in 
financing scientific research? (Cam. 2011)
2.Scientific research into health and diet is unreliable as it so often 
contradicts itself. Is this a fair comment? (Cam. 2013)

Robot cooks still in a raw state

Click HERE
A good read on the limitations of robots/technology....

A good thesis on qns of tech is to make this insightful comment as your closing BANG! -- 'work in a complementary capacity, rather than as an outright replacement for human hands.'

Qn: "Modern technology always improves the quality of people's lives." Discuss. (RI Prleim 2016)

South Korea unlikely to help North recover from floods

k HERE

A good example for ctys not to spend on scietific research when its people are suffering:
Mr Jeong said yesterday that North Korea was not helping itself by conducting a costly nuclear test this month as its people were suffering from the floods.
"It should have spent the massive expenses not on a nuclear test but in helping its people recover from the flood damage," Mr Jeong said.


A good example for the point that help often comes with strings attached, something which the host country may be reluctant to accept as it sees it as an infringment on its sovereignty.
US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated Washington's position that the US was willing to negotiate with the North if the country committed to denuclearisation, which Pyongyang has refused to do.


Qns:
1. Should every country be allowed to carry out unlimited scientific research? (Cam. 2009)
2. Does the presence of a foreign power ever help a country with problems? (Cam. 2008)
3. How effective are international efforts to ease the problem of global hunger? (Cam. 2010)
4. How far should countries aim to be self-sufficient? (Cam. 2011)



US man of Afghan descent detained over NY blast

Click HERE
What caught my eye was this:
"A robot sent in to disarm the bombs detonated one of them accidentally. No one was injured."

Recall that during the Fukushima crisis, the Japanese also used robots to repair the nuclear reactors as the radidation was too dangerous for humans....
And in war zones, drones are often used for surveillance and reconnassiance purposes in case human soldiers are captured as hostages by the enemies....

Qn: "Modern technology always improves the quality of people's lives." Discuss. (RI Prleim 2016)


Humans and gibbons on top of the world

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"The project employs 142 canopy guides, cooks and treehouse builders. By offering villagers a more lucrative alternative to poaching, logging and slash-and-burn farming, the organisation has turned some of the gibbons' former predators into their full-time protectors."

For qns on benefits of tourism, esp eco-tourism.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Miss Japan a half-Indian beauty - and kick-boxer

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Can be an interesting BANG for ur essay....on qns regarding prejudice or gender roles....

"When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ. Like if they touched me they would be touching something bad. But I'm thankful because that made me really strong."

I thought this was quite interesting cos....
-gender perception.....she is a kick-boxer, defying conventional perception of a beautiful woman...

-prejudice ....her representing her nation and won accolades abroad yet not getting support from her nation....consider the table-tennis team Olympic Silver Medalist feat in 2008 and the recent Joseph Schooling's triumph where some on social media commented that he is minority race, and does not look and talk like a  typical Singaporean...

Incidentally, this mixed blood or impure breed issue can be found in Harry Potter (Muggles and the mixed-blood Hermione) and the mutants in X-men.


  Qn:   Can prejudice ever be eliminated? (Cam. 2011)

Changes to elected presidency: Provision for minority president welcome but be wary of tokenism, say community leaders

Click HERE
other than the Minority Representation Act (which ensures that there is a minority contesting in a GRC), there is now this new proposed change to the Elected Presidency which will ensure minority representation....
Note potential worry about this regarding tokenism....what if it ends up as just 'for show'? will meritocracy be compromised? will it be deemed a sympathy act?

Qn: In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)

Try explaining Pokemon Go to kids in war-torn areas

Click HERE

-interesting closing BANG contrasting a human face with a cartoon to bring our the writer's reservations about technology...

-I'll be doing evaluation with you soon, and this is an instance of evaluation premised upon pointing out that the view works only if a pre-condition is satisfied, which may not be the case....

"Constantly, we are being sold new apps and tools that are meant to make our lives more pleasant and liveable. But such a promise holds true only if there was already a pre-existing reality of a life deemed normal as defined by the Internet."

-does filter bubble ring a bell here? recall that it is a downside of the new media:
"We should never forget, however, that this virtual world to which we are being dragged into is also a cocoon and a bubble that isolates us from the goings-on in other parts of the world, where a teenager's "crisis" may not be that his or her learning material has not been uploaded on the website fast enough, but that his school has been bombed and his teachers killed."

-note of coz the central theme here which is the digital divide created by technology....

Saturday, September 03, 2016

New Hokkien drama to explain policies to seniors

Click HERE
Note the social function of the drama:
'the drama builds on the success of earlier efforts to explain the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package.'
 
"Many seniors enjoy watching drama serials on TV. The story-telling format of dramas makes them more interesting and can also help to enhance understanding and recall."


Qn: Consider the argument that the main purpose of television should be to educate rather than simply to entertain. (Cam 2015)

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The art of gracious leadership

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Note how famous names like Lincoln, Gandhi are thrown up with no need for introduction, but obscure ones like Juan Gabriel Vasquez (Colombian writer) and Dorothy Day (US social activist) are mentioned with their brief designation in brackets so that we know roughly who they are....For those who love using examples from their home country that may not be very famous elsewhere, do remember to do likewise. Better still, avoid such examples altogether and go for internationally famous ones that everyone knows -- no introduction or designation needed then....


Another thing that caught my eye is this:
 "People who are gracious also understand the accuracy of John Keats' observation that "Nothing ever becomes real 'til it is experienced". You can learn some truth out of a book or from the mouth of a friend, but somehow wisdom is not lodged inside until its truth has been engraved by some moment of humiliation, delight, disappointment, joy or some other first-hand emotion."

This brings to mind what I mentioned in class before about how education should not be confined to the classroom or textbook knowledge. You can't really proclaim to have known something until you have truly experienced it or seen the real thing with your own eyes. Can you say u know how to swim just by reading a swimming guide? Likewise, you can't say u know poverty until u have experienced it and visited a slump. Real knowledge comes with experience and the ensuing empathy....Which is why school excursions, learning journey, travelling, tourism are important on our oath of education.....Think Confucius: Reading tens of thousands of books cannot be compared to travelling tens of thousands of miles.....

With an informed electorate, voting system can cater to young and old

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Some good local egs for the qn below....more importantly is the point that by helping the old, we are indirectly helping the young:

"However, while initiatives like the Silver Support Scheme and the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) recognise the contributions of the early generation of Singaporeans to our country's success, these also alleviate the pressure on the middle-aged "sandwich generation" that has to raise kids and care for elderly parents."

For comparison qn of the type below, when disagreeing with the comparison claim, consider whether we can say that A and B are related, so we cant say one is more important than the other. In this case, helping the old is actually indirectly helping the young, as the young would not have to fork out so much or be taxed so much to support the old if the govt spends on the old....

Qn: When a government’s finances for social welfare are limited, should they be directed towards the young or the old? (Cam. 2015)

Far less litter left by NDP partygoers this year

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Note the interesting word play in the opening BANG of the article:

Singapore is a 'cleaned city' rather than a 'clean city'.

Paris loses $1.1b in tourist takings

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We did the tourism compre and AQ recently...here is a useful stats to show how depending on tourism for economic growth comes with great risks, as the tourism industry is highly volatile and vulnerable to terrorist attacks, economic crisis, natural disasters, haze and even pandemics such as the Zika virus in Singapore.....The figures should be out by end of the year as to how the Zika virus has affected our local tourism industry.....


Qn: Should poorer countries develop their tourist industry when the basic needs of their own people are not being met? (Cam. 2007)

Drug users not human, killing them justified: Duterte

Click HERE

Qn: To what extent is it possible ‘to make the punishment fit the crime’? (Cam. 2013)

Plastic Surgery and Beauty....

Some of us recently looked at the plastic surgery AQ from RI....here are two links that shed further light on why some of us are not so hung up on looks, hence not tempted to go under the knife, unlike the South Koreans mentioned in the passage...

1) No need to be tall, dark, handsome

"If I am not their definition of beauty, then I will create my own definition of beauty. They are going to learn to enjoy that definition of beauty."


2) I'm an ugly woman, but a worthy person
Note the reasons given by the writer on the various problems or disadvantages one faces if one does not have the requisite looks expected of society....relate also to the harm caused by the media and ads in implanting the wrong values in us....
"Attractive waiters earn more tips. Beautiful people get more job interviews, get promoted more quickly and make more money than their unattractive counterparts. They're even seen as more "morally upright". Studies have even shown a bias in juries when the defendant is attractive.
This is why the ad campaigns that tell everyone they're beautiful are so dangerous. They link beauty with worthiness and kindness, doing nothing for the people thrust into the world knowing that simply isn't true."


Closing BANG using an interesting imagery (unwrapping present):
"I have good things about myself that people have to work to see. Getting through my appearance is just an extra wrapping that people need to get through to the present that is me."


Qn  Consider the argument that the main purpose of television should be to educate rather than simply to entertain. (Cam. 2015)