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.... :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

November rain reflections

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A good example of writing reflections in ur daily journals.....focussing not so much on what happened, but ur FEELINGS and THOUGHTS on what happened....

Today's armies are still fighting World War I

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If can't access above link, click HERE

Note some of the positive impacts on life that emerged through the WW:
And while air, sea and land saw the fundamental advances, there were also remarkable improvements in medicine (blood banks, antiseptics, plastic surgery); communications (radio signals for combat movements); sensors (ultrasound and primitive sonar); and materials (synthetic rubber).

Qn: Examine the extent to which expenditure on arms and the armed forces is justified in the modern world. (Cam. 2014)

Straw wars: Campaign to ban straws at NUS hits road bump

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Note the backlash in THE WAY the campagin was carried out and the inconvenience resulted, esp to the elderly and the handicapped.

Note also the example of the youtube video clip of the turtle with a straw stuck in its nostrils, that gave impetus to the plastic straw ban.....

In search of AI - Artificial Intimacy

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Interesting BANG!:
The recent wedding of a Japanese man to a hologram created a buzz worldwide. In the age of Siri and growing numbers of lonely singles and elderly people, will robots be adequate life companions?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Here comes the robot, there goes the job? Not quite

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1. In an age of rapid technological advancement, is a single career for life realistic? (Cam. 2018)
2. Do handicrafts still have value when machine-produced goods are so readily available? (Cam. 2018)
3. People today do not work as hard as they did in the past.’ How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2018)
4. To what extent has technology had a negative impact on the skill levels of people? (Cam. 2010)
5. Does modern technology always improve the quality of people’s lives? (Cam. 2006)

Workfare and the Singapore approach to tackling wage inequality

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

Constant worry will help us improve

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Useful for 2018 HCI prelim compre AQ on perfectionism...

founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had rated his own happiness at five out of 10 when he was prime minister, and six after becoming minister mentor, adding: "Nothing would take me to nine... Then I would be complacent, flabby and walk into the sunset."

With the world mired in much uncertainty today, our state of mind should be that of perpetual worriers, ever dissatisfied with the status quo.

Qn: Is pressure a motivating force or a cause for unhappiness? (Cam. 2018)

K-pop boy band BTS booted off Japan TV show over atomic bomb shirt

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Useful BANG!

Qn:     The way we dress reveals who we are. What are your views? (Cam. 'O' lvl 2013)

Recovering India's stolen art pieces

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Syrian antiquities were found to be smuggled through these networks and the proceeds were used to fund the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group.

artefacts are better looked after in the West than in ill-equipped museums in the country of origin.

Britain's opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will order the British Museum to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece if he is elected prime minister. These sculptures were taken from the Parthenon and Acropolis.
The view is simple: history belongs to its geography

Qn: ‘Works of art which have been removed from their country of origin should be returned.’ Discuss. (Cam. 2018)

Govt agencies initiate action over article linking PM Lee to 1MDB

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"Facebook cannot be relied upon to filter falsehoods or protect Singapore from a false information campaign."

"The modus: It appears in obscure sites and then gets picked up by mainstream media to make it look real.

"So the natural question is, why did they publish these falsehoods, probably knowing that there is no basis? It is obvious also to anyone who publishes them that the allegations will seek to damage the Prime Minister and seek to damage Singapore.

Qn:  Is regulation of the press desirable? (Cam. 2017)

Monday, November 05, 2018

Not possible to end all inequality

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Note the use of figurative language:
A Chinese proverb states that a sharp awl in a bag of tools will easily pierce through the wrapping. Much as we may wish, not all the tools in any bag are sharp. In fact, some are forever quite blunt.
Society must make sure that everyone has the opportunity to develop his inborn talent, if he so wishes. But not everyone has the same type of talent to the same degree.
To delete all inequalities is as ridiculous as an attempt to reduce all mountains to a vast plain.
Note how the closing BANG via a figurative language echoes an earlier reference of the same figurative language used:
Our greatest concern should be that none of the sharp awls in our bag is buried so deeply that it has no chance to pierce through.
Qn: In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Paralympian is Lancome's new face

Click HERE

See also commentary article on the above HERE:
Yip Pin Xiu, the cosmetics star: What a beautiful notion
(If can't access above link on commentary article, click HERE)

Paralympian swimmer Yip Pin Xiu is the latest face of French cosmetics house Lancome, becoming the first person with a disability to be featured in its advertising campaign here....this is the first time they have seen a major beauty company engage a brand ambassador with a disability to front its advertisements here.

At the age of 16, Ms Yip won Singapore's first gold medal at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. She now has four Paralympic medals - three gold and one silver.

"It's rare to see a person with a disability in a beauty ad. However, I think more people are starting to look beyond the disability and truly see someone for who they are," 

It's very uncommon for brands in Singapore and Asia to feature someone with a disability."

"The universal definition (of beauty) is that you must have a perfect face and body and not have any blemish,"

Beauty is the subject at hand because Yip is helping redefine it with Lancome. Beauty, after all, is Lancome's business and by signing a disabled swimmer, this maker of cosmetics is suggesting that even brands can help us expand traditional boundaries.

perhaps this advertisement will provoke discussion on role models, on those we wish to admire in a society and hold up as worth emulating. In sport the classical hero who uses his sculpted body to overcome rivals will always endure, but there is a growing space for the classy hero who overcomes her body to sculpt success.

if we wish to exist in a grown-up world, then prejudice needs to be dismantled and inclusion has to be demonstrated. Piece by piece, act by act. When Nike recently signed Justin Gallegos, the runner who has cerebral palsy and who finished a half-marathon in 2hr 3min, it sent us a message: Sport belongs to everybody and talent lives in every body.

1. What is your idea of beauty? Describe some people, places or objects that you consider to be beautiful. (Cam. 'O' lvl Specimen Paper)
2. Assess the view that attempts to combat discrimination can never be truly effective. (DHS Prelim 2018)

'Dark tourism' can bring light to realities

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Note concept of 'dark tourism':
"dark tourism": tourism involving travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy.
Some examples include visitng slums in India, concentration camps in Europe, the killing fields in Cambodia, Fukushima in Japan.....

As the website makes clear, dark tourism does not include anything voyeuristic, nor does it involve "war tourism" (travel to current war zones) or disrespectful tourist behaviour, such as taking selfies at sites of tragedy.

The killing caves had invited tourists to gawk at a morbid slice of history, and whoever was in charge of curating the site had made little effort to educate the visitors, or to respect the victims.

If a tour, museum or a memorial site is curated carefully and with the right intentions - to educate and inform, rather than to shock and entertain - there can still be value in "dark tourism".

For qns on the educational values of tourism, and whether we can learn from the past...

Qn: ‘We travel a lot but learn very little.’ Is this true of tourism today? (RI Prelim 2018)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Gunman who killed 11 in US synagogue likely acted alone

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potential current example that can be used in ur intro or conclusion BANG! for qns on discrimination...:

The suspected gunman who killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the most deadly attack ever on the Jewish community in the United States likely acted alone, officials said yesterday.

Qn: Assess the view that attempts to combat discrimination can never be truly effective. (DHS Prelim 2018)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Disney film sends wrong messages?

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-Interesting -- even hilarious! -- examples of the dangers of also to impact of foreign films on local culture....if u think about it, it makes sense...the Snow White example goes against the conservative practices in Islamic societies where men and women of the opposite sex are not allowed to have any intimate contact if they are not married, and by intimiate contact, I mean not just sex or kissing, but even something innocuous like holding hands! A guy was given 90 lashes of the cane under the Syriah Law for kissing a girl in a shopping mall! No kidding! (See HERE)

-Potential excellent Bangs for ur essay using those bolded and underlined below....

"Don't you think it's weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission? Because you cannot kiss someone if they're sleeping!"

"Every time we close Snow White I look at my girls and ask, 'Don't you think it's weird that Snow White didn't ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got the apple?'" Bell told Parents......."I say, 'I would never take food from a stranger, would you?' And my kids are like, 'No!' And I'm like, 'OK, I'm doing something right.'"
children's stories such as Snow White promote sexual violence....."When you think rationally about Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, that tell of a 'princess being woken up by the kiss of a prince', they are describing sexual assault on an unconscious person

Excellent example of how Disney cartoons perpetuates the "damsel in distress" syndrome in girls instead of empowering them....but of coz, the recent Disney cartoons are evolving with the time; think Pocahontas, Mulan, and others  that portrays strong women...:
"Cinderella - banned," said Knightley, who played Robin Hood's daughter in Disney's Princess Of Thieves (2001)...."Because, you know, she waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don't. Rescue yourself, obviously."
"And," she added about 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid, "this is the one that I'm quite annoyed about because I really like the film. I mean, the songs are great, but do not give your voice up for a man. Hello."
Qn:  To what extent do foreign television programmes have a negative impact on the culture of your country? (DHS Prelim 2018)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Now we can create blue roses, but our real talent is destruction

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-Note how the closing BANG makes reference to the opening BANG anecdote...

-an interesting anecdote/eg of how we have used science to overcome mother nature to create something that is previously impossible or non-existent....

We're farming disease-resistant livestock. We're growing unnaturally nutrient-rich crops. Someday, we might even eradicate inherited diseases from the human race. But this newfound, godly power is also profoundly disappointing: All the technological advancements in the world have been dwarfed by the pace of our expanding power to destroy.

We watch this collapse of Earth's biodiversity in slow motion, captured most presciently by the last remaining northern white rhinos - of which there are two females left ....

This is hubris. We go about our lives stretching our intellectual capacity to bend the possibilities of nature to meet our desires. And we ignore the human-made crises we inflict upon our planet because they are inconvenient to our lifestyles. Sooner or later, society will recognise all the damage we are inflicting upon our planetary paradise.

Meritocracy and the paradox of success

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Take meritocracy. It recognises talent and ability over wealth and circumstance of birth, and motivates society and people to work hard. But as families do well, they spare no effort in investing in the abilities of their children, especially when they believe in meritocracy. As a result, children from different family backgrounds are pushing off blocks from different starting lines. So meritocracy, arising from a belief in fairness, seems to have paradoxically resulted in systemic unfairness.

So we need to double down on meritocracy, move away from a narrow focus on past academic merit, to recognise and celebrate a broader range of skills, talents and strengths. It should translate into tangible changes in the way we hire people, admit students to tertiary institutions, grant awards and scholarships, and accord respect to fellow Singaporeans

As for reducing achievement inequality, a tempting solution is to chop down the tall poppies to equalise outcomes. This goes against the nature and instinct of Singaporeans, who always strive to do our best. So let's not cap the top, but do even better in lifting the disadvantaged.
(Note that this goes against the grain of meritocracy, as you are effectively punishing one for being talented!)

One way is to foster a better mix of students in every school. For example, from next year's Secondary 1 posting exercise, MOE will reserve 20 per cent of school places for students without affiliation to the secondary school.
(Note this policy on secondary school admission; currently, there is also a similar one for primary school admission, where 40 places are reserved for children from families not affiliated to the primary school.....these measures help to prevent elite schools from becoming close circles where there is little or no social mixing among students from different social economic status)

In addition, we are investing heavily in pre-school education, with one-third of MOE Kindergarten places reserved for students from lower income families.

China's Belt and Road Initiative: Debt trap or hope?

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Qn: Does the presence of a foreign power ever help a country with problems? (Cam. 2008)

Microplastics finding their way to your gut: Study

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Useful stats for BANGING:
In the next 60 seconds, people around the world will get one million plastic bottles and two million plastic bags.
By the end of the year, we will produce enough Bubble Wrap to encircle the equator 10 times.
The main idea for this article is that like other than envmtal concerns, it is not just about saving mother nature but also ourselves, coz the microplastics are now entering our guts and may pose potential threats to our body.....

Useful Examples of Singapore Politicians

I notice some of you have very vague idea of who's who in our government.....there are a few you need to know as they are useful for ur essays...note their useful attribute in brackets below their name:

Halimah Yacob -- first female President of Singapore; highest office holder in the government
(female/ minority race)

Ms Grace Fu -- Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

Mrs Josephine Teo -- Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs

Ms Indranee -- Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for Education
(female / minority race)

Mr Tharman -- Deputy Prime Minister 
(minority race)

Dr NG Eng Hen -- Minister for Defence 
(accomplished surgeon roped in from private sector)

Mr Chan Chun Sing -- Minister for Trade and Industry
(grew up and rose up the ranks from a poor, single-parent household)

Mr K Shanmugam -- Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law 
(accomplished lawyer roped in from private sector)

Mr Masagos  -- Minister for the Environment and Water Resources 
(minority race)

There will be essays requiring examples of:
1) local female politicians
2) ministers from minority race as evidence that meritocracy operates in the highest echelons of the government; the example of Halimah Yacob may be a bit tricky though as she won in an election that is not just a walkover, but also reserved for minority race candidates.
3) proof of meritocracy in the govt cabinet is not just about having minority races, but also having minsters who hailed from non-elite background like Chan Chun Sing
3) PAP government actively recruiting from the private sector to create diversity of views in the Cabinet to overcome blind spots created by the echo chamber effect

Cases of gender, disability bias deal big blow to Japan

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the practice of unfairly docking marks in entrance exam scripts of female applicants appeared to be "quite widespread".....Tokyo Medical University's disclosure this August that it has been deliberately making it tougher for female applicants to enrol.

Separately, the government was found to have padded the number of employees with disabilities in its hire so that it can meet its own legal quota. The inflated count of 3,700also included dead and retired people, a probe on Monday found

Qn:   Assess the view that attempts to combat discrimination can never be truly effective. (DHS Prelim 2018)