The Dark Shadow Shrine

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Overall crime dip but rise in online scams, molestations

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Useful Stats:
1) Internet love scams from Jan-Jun 2017 costing Singapore victims S$22million!!!
2) Love scam: 'the largest amount cheated in a single case in the first half of this year was close to $6 million'.

Useful evaluation material and Singapore features:
1) online crimes are "particularly challenging" due to the borderless nature of the Internet. They noted a "significant proportion" of online commercial crimes are committed remotely by foreign syndicates...

2) The rise in Internet love scams and e-mail impersonation cases is due to the widespread use of the Internet, social media and smartphones...

3) "Due to our low crime rate, we are less likely to suspect that a... criminal activity is taking place," he said of the reasons Singaporeans may be predisposed to such scams. "We also tend to trust... the authorities, and are more easily taken in when a scammer pretends to be one."
Given that internet crime is often committed by criminals located outside the country and thus beyond the reach of the law, deterrence though punishment may be futile in curbing such crime. No matter how severe the punishment is, there will be no deterrent effect on the part of the criminals if they are confident that they will not be apprehended. Rather than focussing the attention on the criminal, perhaps a better way to rein in the crime is to focus the solution on the potential victims via public education to create awareness among the public, equipping them with the skills to avoid succumbing to such online scams..... 

Qns:
1. ‘Despite our rapid technological advancements, we have not improved our lives.’ Do you agree? (CJC Prelim 2016)
2. 'Punishment is the best way to reduce crime.' Discuss.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Woods hit by nude photos leak

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Latest in a series of nude photo leaks...not too long ago there was one involving Jennifer Lawrence's (Hunger Games) nude photos being leaked from iCloud....

For Qns on privacy and the media...

UAE jails 2 Singaporean men for wearing women's clothes

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obvious link to inequality and discrimination, but also the idea of whether harsh law should be used for deterrent effect if the awareness of the 'criminal' act is not there, esp among foreigners and tourists.
Outsiders to a country may not be familiar with the laws of the country they are going to and may inadvertently flout certain local laws on acts which are actually the norm in their own society...E.g. possession of firearms in the US, drugs (?), sunbathing in the nude when going to Islamic countries, LGBT issues, freedom of speech/expression.....and get this: cracking jokes about carrying a bomb before boarding the plane, and leaving bags unattended in public (remember the guy who left his bag at the Hougang MRT station?)

Also, for the deterrence effect to operate, it is not just about the awareness of the criminal act, but also the awareness of the punishment of the criminal act. Some people may know that drug-trafficking is a crime in most countries, but they may not know it carries the death penalty; likewise for seemingly innocuous act like publishing fake news which might see one being given a jail sentence....  

Qn: "Punishment is the best way to reduce crime." Discuss.

Bakery empowers special needs staff

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example of social enterprises/entrepreneurship....use for qns on when business should only be for profits, and qns on fostering inclusivity and tolerance...

Gandhi: The greatness of a nation is seen in the way it treats its weakest members.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Netflix remakes Death Note movie - will it suffer fate of other Hollywood remakes?

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Not really interested in Death Note, but the small section on Godzilla that is mentioned in the left panel of the article....

"This was the first film to feature the giant lizard Godzilla and it has been dubbed the granddaddy of all monster movies. Not just escapist entertainment, it reflected the anxieties of Japan after the atomic bombings at the end of World War II and at a time of nuclear testing in the Pacific."

Qn: Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2014)

Oil companies will admit truth about greenhouse gases, says director of Inconvenient Truth sequel

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A useful example of a movie that goes beyond entertaining...
Can be used for Qns on celebrity influence (Al Gore arguably is a celebrity) and the influence of the media on our thinking....

Note also how MNCs role in funding research should be viewed with scepticism as these are often calculated to protect their financial interests, i,e, profits.
"Just as Big Tobacco lost the fight against medical science despite years of anti-science lobbying, oil companies will eventually have to own up to the truth about greenhouse gases"

Qns.
1. Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2014)
2. Human need, rather than profit, should always be the main concern of scientific research. Discuss. (Cam. 2016)
3. To what extent is it acceptable for private companies to be involved in financing scientific research? (Cam. 2011)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Jokes about politics: The good, the bad and the ugly

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Note the place of humour in our context of Singapore being a multi-racial society, our reliance on the service industry (esp. tourism) and foreign talent.....and that our small size means we cannot afford to offend other countries...

Qn: Can humour ever be serious? (Cam. 2012)

S'pore gender pay gap hasn't improved in 10 years: Study

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Some interesting takeaways:

-The gender pay gap in Singapore has not improved in the last 10 years, with men still earning nearly 20 per cent more than women

-South Korea where men make 37 per cent more than women

-Sectors where women make as much as, if not more than, men tend to be low-paying - jobs

-National University of Singapore Business School in March released a study that found women company directors here are paid on average a whopping 40 per cent less than their male peers.

Qns:
1. In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)
2. Evaluate the claim that equality of opportunity for females is a desirable, but unrealistic goal. (Cam. 2016)

'Don't lose sight of most serious fake news items'

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Note these excellent examples of fake news that have far-reaching consequences:
four "greatest fake news hits of recent times" that he felt were less focused on, but far more serious: health myths spread by tobacco companies, climate change denial, hate propaganda, and lies that sparked the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Note also the writer's comparison on the severity between the fakes news of ISIS and tobacco industry....

Surge in social entrepreneurship

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Excerpts:
-growing number of entrepreneurs here who are working to make the world a better place through business.
-In addition, social entrepreneurs "often feel bad about making profit", he noted.
"But profit is necessary for business. It will allow the entrepreneurs to scale and attract top talent by paying competitive wages.
"Without the right talent, social enterprises might face difficulties in executing their ideas and reacting quickly to market demand, which might impede their growth."


Qn: 'Obsession with profits should no longer be the driving force of businesses.' Discuss.

Fake news: Truth is dead

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Note the opening and closing BANG which echoes each other....

An example of fake news is the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.
It employed spurious statistics with breathtaking audacity, lying that Brexit would yield £350 million (S$614 million) a week to Britain's National Health Service.
Once Britain had voted to leave the union, that claim vanished into thin air, and impressionable voters were left millions poorer in delusional savings.
What is terrifying is not that outcome. It is how British voters who were swayed by the Leave campaign did not unleash their fury on it for having misled them. Instead, the missing pounds were dismissed with indulgent forgiveness. Like alternative facts, the £350 million became alternative news.

Singapore students suffer from high levels of anxiety: Study

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'Invisibility' makes managing money hard for youth

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I thought this is a pertinent point on a potential problems with Singapore's push towards a Smart Nation....cashless payments using phone is not unlike using credit card...not having to deal with real money means you do not realise you are actually spending a lot till the bill arrives and you calk up hefty debts...

Qn: ‘Despite our rapid technological advancements, we have not improved our lives.’ Do you agree? (CJC Prelim 2016)

Weighty themes underpin the issues highlighted

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The Smart Nation push may bring about convenience and even create good jobs, as mentioned in the article, but it can also result in displacement of workers if we do not retrain and retain them....
Qn: ‘Despite our rapid technological advancements, we have not improved our lives.’ Do you agree? (CJC Prleim 2016)

National Day Rally 2017: Soft drinks to pack less sugar to cut diabetes risk

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Certain primary schools have already phased out the sale of sugary drinks in the school caneens...
Note other planned mesaures to reduce sugar intake:
-labelling
-sugar tax to make sugary drinks more expensive
-downsize portions (no more Big Gulp!)

and dont forget the push to replace or mix white rice with brown rice -- one bowl of white rice is euqivalent to two cans of soft drinks in terms of the sugar content....and eating white rice (while not exactly sweet like sugar) has the same effect as eating sugar....
Note how NTUC has pledged to offer discounts on brown rice to encourage healthier options...

Qns:
1. How effectively is public health promoted and managed in your society? (Cam. 2015)
2. To what extent should the state be allowed to intervene in the private affairs of its people?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob to step down from post to contest presidential election

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Coming Sep is the Presidential Elections....we may a new example for GP: Halimah Yacob as the first female President of Singapore! And it's not just gender equality here, but also racial equality coz the Constitution has been tweaked to allow for the Elected President post to be reserved for the race that has not won for five consecutive years.
This has called into question the compromise on our meritocratic system where the position should go to the person of greatest competence and not on other factors like skin colour....and also the sacred rule that race and politics should not mix in Singapore....
The govt's rebuttal is that meritocracy is not compromised because even though the position is reserved for a particular race, he or she must have the competence to qualify for the job; in other words, not any noob Malay can be President. But does this address the qn of what is there is a more competent person from another race?
The answer to this probably lies in the argument that our President(s) must reflect our multicutltura society....Left unintervened, it will be very difficult for minority races to be voted President as being a minority, they do not have the numbers to win the election, as most people tend to vote for their own kind (i.e. race) as they probably understand their own kind better....This is the problem with democracy and elections as they go by numbers or the majority, so tweaks are needed sometimes to address the imperfections of the system....At least, I think that's the thinking of the govt....

Relate to Qns on meritocracy and the involvement of race in politics, as the govt appears to be doing a U-turn on these, albeit with arguably valid reasons....

Qns:
1. Evaluate the claim that equality of opportunity for females is a desirable, but unrealistic goal. (Cam. 2016)
2. Consider the view that some careers are better suited to one gender than the other. (Cam. 2014)
3. In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)

When hotel guests need something, Aura delivers

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Use of robots is in line with our push towards being a smart nation (one of the 3 PM's calls during the National Day Speech this year), esp given our shortage of manpower.....but what is the impact of this on our society's graciousness? Esp since we're heavily in the service industry and tourism accounts for 4% of our GDP.
It could be that with more robots and technology invading our envmt, esp as the smart nation policy takes shape, we may become less and less gracious...I mean, the last time you withdraw money from the ATM, did you say thank you to the machine? See what I mean? with more machines interacting with us in our daily life, politeness becomes redundant and obsolete....
But then again, the machines and robots have to be polite when serving customers....Back to ur last ATM experience, do you recall the ATM thanking you for using its service and wishing u a nice day? So is politeness really obsolete and be totally toss out of the equation?

Qn: Graciousness is of little value today. How far is this true for your society?
(AJC Prleim 2016)

Why women aren't CEOs, according to women who almost were

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Note the opening BANG using the example of Hillary Clinton....

There's one argument I read before... where instead of the glass ceiling effect (discrimination against women) that prevents women from ascending the corporate ladder, it is the 'sticky floor' phenonmenon that is holding them back....instead of someone preventing them from rising, women themselves are not rising of their own free will....meaning women are reluctant to take on the challenges of top positions as they lack confidence, want to devote more time to family, intimidated by the Old Boy's Club up there....

Qns:
1.  Evaluate the claim that equality of opportunity for females is a desirable, but
unrealistic goal. (Cam. 2016)
2. Consider the view that some careers are better suited to one gender than the other. (Cam. 2014)

Gene editing stirs debate on 'designer' babies

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Food for thought:
"Equally, the debate on how morally acceptable it is not to act when we have the technology to prevent these life-threatening diseases must also come into play."

A good argument for the Qn below focuses on the keyword 'research', as opposed to 'application'. Most people will argue that 'research' should still be allowed to proceed as the knowledge yielded can open up new frontiers and have enormous impact on future discoveries beneficial to mankind....What we need to control and limit is the application part, coz once applied to daily use in the market(meaning accessible to the masses), it will affect eh people directly, whereas research confined to the lab is in a controlled environment, meaning the drawbacks -- if any-- will be contained to the minimum....

Qn: Should research on genetic modification be allowed to continue even though there are many ethical concerns? (SRJC JC2 Mid Yr 2017)

US scientists 'correct' genes of human embryos

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The research involved eggs from 12 healthy female donors and sperm from a male volunteer carrying the MYBPC3 gene, which causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The disease causes an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, and can lead to sudden cardiac death. There is no way to prevent or cure it, and it affects one in 500 people worldwide.
Around the time the sperm was injected into the eggs, researchers snipped out the gene causing the disease. The result: As the embryo's cells began to divide and multiply, a huge number appeared to repair themselves by using the normal, non-mutated copy of the gene from the women's genetic material.

Qn: Human need, rather than profit, should always be the main concern of scientific research. Discuss. (Cam. 2016)

China in talks to sell electricity to Myanmar

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Sometimes, cooperation may be required as a country may need to acquire certain resources from another country that it does not have, or wich it cannot produce with a comparative advantage....

Qn: In defending their own economic interests, is it more imprtant for countries to compete or cooperate with other countries? (MI Mid-Yr Test 2017)

When agents of influence seek to shape public opinion

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Note also how our govt banned foreign companies from sponsoring the PinkDot Campaign this year...and how foreigners must apply for a licence if they want to air their views at the Speaker's Corner, unlike Singaporeans...and how political parties here cannot accept foreign donations or funding, esp during election campaigning....Call it unhidden political agenda if we want; the govt's rationale is that these are calculated to prevent foreign influences from interfering with domestic politics...Govt's stance is that only Singaporean's can have a say in how Singapore is run....
Qn: Is foreign intervention in a country’s affairs ever justified? (ACJC Prelim 2016)

NUS suspends LKY School professor Huang Jing whose PR was cancelled

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Qn: Is foreign intervention in a country’s affairs ever justified? (ACJC Prelim 2016)

Football: PSG move not about the money- Neymar

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USeful stats: Money was never the motivating factor for Neymar's record €222 million (S$355 million) transfer from Barcelona, the world's most expensive footballer said on his arrival at Paris Saint-Germain yesterday.

Qn: Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (CM. 2010)

Is Singapore a small country?

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Sexism in tech a pervasive issue: YouTube CEO

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The Silicon Valley in the US has long had an infamous reputation of being discriminatory towards women...The latest scandal highlighted the stereotypical mindset of people working there:
In the controversial memo, the Google software engineer had suggested that the gender pay gap stemmed from "biological causes" between men and women....... The author of the memo, which was first circulated internally and then went viral online, wrote that "differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don't have 50 per cent representation of women in tech and leadership". He wrote that women on average have "higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance", and "look for more work-life balance".

Possible point for Qn below could be discrimination in certain job sectors like IT....note though that Ms Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube, is one of a few exceptions.....

Qn: Consider the view that some careers are better suited to one gender than the other. (Cam. 2012)

Heartland tours drawing tourists - and locals

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1. How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (Cam. 2010)
2. The tourist does not see the country the inhabitants know. How far is this true of Singapore? (Cam. 2005)

Public backlash 'making us live like fugitives'

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Note drawbacks of online vigilantism and the fact that it is social media that brought thisincident to light...strong public reaction then caused the police to intervene and arrest the couple....


'The incident put the spotlight on "choping" culture and civil behaviour. The role of social media also figured prominently in the case, especially when another woman was wrongly identified as Ms Tay, leading to online witch-hunts against a different woman.'

Qn: Graciousness is of little value today. How far is this true for your society? (AJC Prelim 2016)