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 aegeansea09@gmail.com or wadsapp me at 91384570 for more details....in Singapore only hor.... :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Climate of fear: Time for change? It boils down to you acting on global warming

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Whether it involves eating less meat, reducing food waste or using less power, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in Incheon, South Korea, last Monday emphasises that "behaviour change and demand-side management can significantly reduce emissions" and keep global warming to just 1.5 deg C instead of 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels.

"Because the issue we are tackling is so enormous, we sometimes forget that as an individual, we can make an impact. If each one of us reduces our meat consumption, uses fewer single-use items, and opts to use greener technology, it will help in our fight against climate change."

While the Republic (Singapore) contributes just 0.11 per cent to global emissions, Singapore ranks 26th out of 142 countries in terms of emissions per capita - higher than China, India and the European Union

Under the Paris Agreement, Singapore pledged to reduce its emissions intensity (emissions per dollar of gross domestic product) by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030


For the Republic (Singapore), a key strategy to meeting these targets is improving industrial energy efficiency - understandable, since the sector is responsible for 60 per cent of emissions here. Singapore has a raft of measures to help it achieve this, including investing and deploying solar energy, and implementing a carbon tax.

Singapore has also moved to reduce transport-sector emissions. This is the country's second-largest source of emissions after the industrial sector, contributing about 15 per cent to total emissions.... investments in public transport infrastructure, or rebate schemes to encourage hybrid or electric vehicle ownership, as ways to help reduce emissions in the transport sector
In terms of carbon abatement, there are low-hanging fruit: taking public transport, buying energy-efficient appliances or not wasting food. But there are loftier goals too, involving lifestyle changes like eating less meat - a major point highlighted in the IPCC report. ....eliminating meat from the diet reduces food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent. 
People can also vote with their dollar.... for individuals to collectively urge government to take leadership, buy from companies that are sustainable, bank with financial institutions that invest responsibly...
"I was often told that as just one person, I can't make a difference. But I always replied with this quote: I'm only one but still I'm one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."


Qn: Assess the view that attempts to control climate change can never be truly effective. (Cam. 2017)

A city's future is built - literally - on its past; many ways to approach conservation

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Note some of the good current local examples mentioned in article...

the price society pays for unyielding urban construction, the merits of good architecture, and the consequences of the loss of heritage and social memory.

We must not confuse conservation with leaving old buildings as they are and doing nothing at all. Neither is it turning a building into a monument that prohibits commercial use or does not generate economic value.

There are many approaches and levels of sensitive intervention, including the integration of a new building with the old. When done purposefully, such interventions not only increase land-use efficiency, but express the realistic changing socio-economic constitution of a city.

Architecture serves an important role in the branding of a city, its social development and economic growth. A city's cultural heritage can enhance its charm as a vibrant and attractive tourism destination.

Note for Q1 below, 'traditional buildings' does not necessarily have to be old buildings....it can be new buildings built in the traditional style or design...

Qns:

1.  Assess the view that traditional buildings have no future in your society. (Cam. 2016)
2. Only modern architecture and modern art have a place in today’s world. How far is this true of your society? (Cam. 2011)

Pamela Anderson protests against caged farm animals

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serving foie gras in his restaurants...The item is made by force-feeding geese or ducks until their livers swell to up to 10 times their usual size.
"I don't think any animal belongs in a cage for entertainment or for what we wear or what we eat," she told reporters.

For qns on celebrity influence, animal rights...

Qn: To what extent are the rights of animals protected in your society? (Cam. 2012)

Keeping the flame alive after the Games

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The location of Stratford in a forgotten and neglected backwater area of east Lonodn was deliberately chosen as the venue for the 2012 London Olympics with the hope of giving the area a much-needed boost....
It was 2005 and the British capital needed to redevelop a Victorian industrial area in the Stratford district of east London that had faded into a down-at-heel combination of small businesses and warehouses

Note also the argument on infrastructure when it comes to hosting games....one of the pros is the boost to infrastructure...but now due to the fear of creating 'white elephants', there appears to be a rethink on building new infrastucture when hosting major games events:
Similarly, Los Angeles will not build any new venues...."LA 2028 is about what we have, not what we're going to build," the organising committee said on its website.


Qn: "Hosting major sporting events creates more problems than benefits." Do you agree? (Anderson Sec Prelim 2018 / Cambridge 'A' level 2005)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Duo found guilty under new contempt of court laws

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the pair's Facebook posts had impugned the integrity and impartiality of the Singapore courts, and posed a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined.

"Contempt of court in its various forms harms the proper administration of justice in Singapore. Left unchecked, such conduct can obstruct the determination of the truth and erode respect for our judicial institutions. This would in turn harm the public interest in the proper administration of justice

For qns on free speech....

Melaka trishaw riders losing their way in heritage journey

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A useful example of how tourism leads to the comemrcialization of cultural heritage

"The trishaws we have now are decorated with characters from cartoons and movies and blare out Western songs. Can we say that these are truly reflective of Melaka?..."They may attract children and tourists, but over time, Melaka's heritage value will be lost."

They will have seen, even sat in, trishaws that sport characters such as Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen and Japanese characters like Doraemon.

Popular Western songs like Let It Go from Frozen and the Doraemon theme song have replaced Malaysian traditional tunes to catch the ear of tourists.

But Mr Arshad is doing his bit to pull the brakes on such practices. His own trishaw flaunts fauna and flora designs to promote the state's heritage and he prefers to play traditional songs.
it's hard to find a traditional trishaw as many operators have commercialised their services and prefer to decorate their trishaws with designs (from) movies like Snow White

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

Jokowi defends cost of hosting meetings of IMF-World Bank

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Much of the spending was not only for the high-profile event, he said on Monday, but also went to strengthening infrastructure on the island, including expanding the tarmac at Ngurah Rai International Airport and the building of an underpass to ease road congestion...."After the meetings, we will continue to use these. These are not things that will just disappear," said Mr Joko.
the government was hoping the event would help promote Indonesia as a tourist destination.

Many countries fight for the chance to host such an event, said Mr Joko..."Because a meeting like this will have an impact, will give the host country a good image," he said.
Qn: 'Hosting international events brings more harm than benefits.' Do you agree?

Ordinary people can play a big part, says expert

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Note the various ways in which ordinary people can play a role....

Qn: 'The government, rather than the people, should play the main role in saving the environment.' Discuss.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

KL government mulls over halting controversial raids on Muslims

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Pakatan Harapan government may not, in the future, conduct controversial house raids to arrest unwed Muslim couples, or Muslims drinking beer, if they were within their "personal, individual sphere".

"Let's say you commit something within your personal, individual sphere - I will not interfere," Mr Mujahid was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper last Saturday in an interview. "For example, consumption of alcohol is wrong for a Muslim, but if you consume it within your sphere, then as part of the government, I will not interfere."

My concern is what goes on in public that encroaches on sensitivity, legality or criminality. Only then does the government come in, not because we want to be moral police but because we want to secure the public sphere."

syariah (Islamic) criminal laws must strike a balance between retribution and rehabilitation...."It is a new way forward for the enforcement of syariah criminal laws so that it is not abused, misinterpreted where they spy on people (suspected of offences such as khalwat) without having any solid proof


Compare this to Singapore govt's position on the Penal Code 377A where the govt states that it does not pro-actively invoke the law and prosecute people under it....


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


2. ‘Rehabilitation, not punishment, should be the purpose of the justice system.’ Discuss. (Cam. 2017)

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Seoul's war on fake news puts free speech in peril, say critics

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fake news has spread so widely in South Korea that it was stymying not only citizens' privacy but also the country's national security and foreign policies - including its relations with North Korea.

Mr Lee called the misinformation "vicious". He said: "Fake news is a public enemy hiding behind the cover of free speech." 

Relate to the recent CJC Prelim compre on how free speech undermines democracy.....

When stars attract more than fans on social media

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It is the second break-in in recent months for Rihanna, who is closely tracked on Facebook by 75 million fans and 88 million followers on Twitter. Back in May, a stalker was arrested after he spent about 12 hours inside the house before he was discovered by the pop star's assistant.

"The victims' homes had been selected based on social media postings and touring or travel schedules of the owners."

The perils of celebrities giving away too much online also came under the spotlight after American reality television star Kim Kardashian West was robbed of millions in jewellery at gunpoint in her Paris apartment in 2016. It happened while she was in France for the Paris Fashion Week...There was speculation that the robbery could have been triggered by her social media posts flaunting her expensive jewellery, including a US$4 million ring from her rapper husband Kanye West. It also wasn't too difficult to track her movements, given her regular updates on Snapchat and Instagram.
For some background on the Kardashian robbery incident, click HERE

Relate also to the AQs on freedom, rights, privacy we've been discussing recently.....

Qn: To what extent has technology had an impact on both privacy and security in your country? (Cam. 2009)

Friday, October 05, 2018

How women got crowded out of the computing revolution

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Came across this article recently which was used in a recent Sec 4 prelim compre....thought of the qns below...
Note that the Silicon Valley (the cradle of IT) is today a 'boys club', notorious for discriminating against women...there were some high profile legal suits on this....but note that there are exceptions....Sheryl Sandberg is the female COO of Facebook; had a high profile career in Google before she was poached to join FB.....and of course Marissa Mayer, ex CEO Yahoo....

Who wrote the first bit of computer code? That honour arguably belongs to Ada Lovelace, the controversial daughter of the poet Lord Byron....Her notes on this are widely considered to be the first computer program.


this original team of women made many signal contributions, effectively inventing the field of computer programming. 

personnel managers in 1963 believed that "women have greater patience than men and are better at details, two prerequisites for the allegedly successful programmer". 

Women dominated programming at one time, but got pushed aside once men discovered the field's importance. That messy history, not simple biology, accounts for the gender imbalance bedevilling Silicon Valley.

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

India's top court rules adultery no longer a crime

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- the need for laws to be updated and stay relevant (and fair) as society changes across time.....
- the law as signpost for morality (given this, how do you think the change in law here will affect societal values?)

Bali to curb tourist access in temples

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

Total population 5.64m, with number of citizens up 1% to 3.47m

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Update yourself accordingly:

Singapore's population: 5.64m

Residents: 4m
a) Citizens: 3.47m (61% of population)
b) PRs: 0.52m (9% of population)

Non-Residents: 1.64m (29% of population)

About 40% are non-citizens (i.e. PRs + non-residents)

(im)migrants = non-residents + PRs

Fertility Rate: 1.16 in 2017 (replacement rate is 2.1)

For heritage sites to have a future, they must be present in people's lives

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On the argument that conervation of old buildings can retain their relevance, there is the rebuttal that it is not only about the preservation of their facade, but their integration into our daily lives that is going to make them relevant. Hence, real conservation is confined not only to the facade but also the the use of the building, how it fits into not just the landscape but also the lives of the people living there.....Otherwise, we will end up with massive 'white elephants'  that are only 'for show' or worse, having the facade retained while the interior is used for something totally at odds with original use of the building (think how the old ACS building at Amoy Street is today a night club!)

the general public often takes a very utilitarian approach in appreciating heritage sites - if it is useful and relevant to their lives, they are more likely to evaluate it as important, and vice versa.

unlike architects, historians or heritage interest groups, the general public often lacks expert and specialised knowledge about specific heritage sites....their basis of evaluation was simply based on the superficial attributes (such as the looks or the usefulness) of the sites, given their limited knowledge about them.

repurposing of the Boat Quay shophouses and Chijmes to their current use as dining and leisure spots can be considered as an effective strategy to preserve the relevance of these heritage areas to the lives of people today.


Qns:
1. Only modern architecture and modern art have a place in today’s world. How far is this true of your society? (Cam. 2011)


2.  Assess the view that traditional buildings have no future in your society. (Cam. 2016)

Most people say they can spot fake news but falter when tested: Survey

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90% of Singaporeans identify at least one out of five fake headlines as real in online survey

"By definition, news is something we haven't heard before. So, if we don't have a reason or opportunity to search for verification, it is really very hard to decide on one's own whether news is true, especially if it is something we want to believe."


taking time to verify news that resonates with what people believe "goes against our nature, but if we want to avoid spreading misinformation, it is something we should do".

For qns on social media and fighting fake news.....

Scammers resort to fake news to bait victims, names of high-profile figures being used to trick people

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Under a picture of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the article quotes him on how extremely profitable investments in bitcoin, a form of electronic cash, can be. "Some literally hate me for investing in this!" Mr Lee is quoted as saying, with the headline blaring out how a $100 investment in 2010 would be worth $75 million.

When people see it again and again on the Internet and social media, the fake ads will gain their 'credibility'."


Some use fake profiles, including names and pictures of others. "It is very hard to identify such criminals as they conceal their identities to avoid prosecution,


high-profile figures who command a high degree of credibility are targets of fake news stories.
"If the prime minister tells you to invest in cryptocurrency, you are more likely to believe him than you are to believe in a random person off the street telling you the same thing,"

For qns on social media and fighting fake news.....

Hardening defences against fake news

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Note how fake news spreads faster than truths...


Human nature appears to be key in understanding the effectiveness of disinformation. A paper published in the journal Science by three Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers in March suggests that falsehoods tend to spread much faster and more widely on Twitter.


"We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust."


This finding helps explain why people tend to be susceptible to foreign disinformation attempts, for it hits at the emotions and is often sensational, whereas the truth may be staid and factual.



But such disinformation would arguably not be as effective in the absence of underlying grievances or tensions that, while minor, could be tapped and exploited....."The Russian government may have used online platforms to remotely meddle in US elections, but Russia did not create the conditions of social distrust, weak institutions and detached elites that made the US vulnerable to that kind of meddling,"
"Even the free-for-all environment in which these digital platforms have operated for so long can be seen as a symptom of the broader problem, a world in which the powerful have few restraints on their actions while everyone else gets squeezed. Real wages in the US and Europe are stuck and have been for decades while corporate profits have stayed high and taxes on the rich have fallen. Young people juggle multiple, often mediocre, jobs, yet find it increasingly hard to take the traditional wealth-building step of buying their own home - unless they already come from privilege and inherit large sums.
"If digital connectivity provided the spark, it ignited because the kindling was already everywhere."
Where outside forces are likely to use racial issues or cite the class divide to sow discord, then the challenge must lie in strengthening social mobility and a sense of equity across society.
And where individuals may be predisposed to believe only comments or even research that square with their views on issues, or reinforce what they already believe - the recent debate over whether to repeal or retain Section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalises gay sex being a case in point - then perhaps greater exposure to a range of views is needed.
For qns on social media and fighting fake news....

When following social media fads could get you into trouble

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For qns on tourism and social media...

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

Tackling dementia with art

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

Anwar not affected by new sodomy allegation

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-a good example on fake news
-also useful as a critique of democracy, where the elections are often mired in attacks on candidates' character in order to dissuade voters from voting that nominee......think defamation, gutter politics, etc...

Qn: Consider the view that efficient government is more important than democracy. (Cam. 2011)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Cars and carnival: Singapore gets the F1 formula right

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attendance for the 2018 race: 263,000 (second highest since inaugural race with 300,000)

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) had previously revealed that in the race's first 10 years, over 450,000 international visitors had flown to Singapore for the event, generating an estimated $1.4 billion in total incremental tourism receipts.

Former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone had called the Singapore race the sport's "crown jewel". Current supremo Chase Carey said it is "the signature race for Formula One"...And two weeks ago, the twisty and challenging 23-turn track had defending world champion Lewis Hamilton calling the Marina Bay Street Circuit "Monaco on steroids".

The annual cost of hosting the race was estimated to be $150 million, although then Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said last year that costs had come down by about $15 million to $135 million.
The night race, with Singapore's skyline as the backdrop, has marketed the whole of Singapore - not as a city full of crazy rich Asians, but as a city that can be full of crazy fun.


Qns:

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

2.     Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (Cam. 2010)

NZ Premier makes history by taking baby to UN meet

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Useful example for gender qns....female head of state of NZ: Ms Jacinda Ardern...Note how she is showing by example how a woman can have her cake and eat it too.....anecdote that makes for a colourful BANG!


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)

Drone spotted lingering outside HDB windows and toilet areas in Punggol; CAAS launch investigations

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Qn: To what extent has technology had an impact on both privacy and security in your country? (Cam. 2009)