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.... :-)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's a Chimera?

For those who've read my article on chimeric research, you may be wondering what 'chimeric' is. It comes from the name 'chimera', which is a mythical creature made up of a lion, goat and serpent -- i.e. a monstrous creature. (see article on left; only the left column is relevant, and u can see the two pics of the chimera there)

Chimeric research is about fusing man and animals together by mixing the genes of both together -- with the accompanying fear of creating a Frankenstein monster.

Incidentally, this being the year of the dragon, realize that there is a saying that the Chinese dragon is like a chimera too, as it is made up of a combination of a few animals i.e. snake, eagle, etc.

Language-wise, the idiomatic expression 'chasing after a chimera' means pursuing something that is elusive or unattainable, because the chimera doesn't exist at all. A typical sentence is : Kittybond likes to daydream; her latest idea to XXX is akin to chasing after a chimera.

Wed/Thur Class: Sample AQ for Pre-Test on Habits

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TUE Class --Technology Qns

1) Should every country have the right to carry out unlimited scientific research? (2009) Examiner report:

2) To what extent has technology had a negative impact on the skill level of people? (2010) Examiner report:

Articles and links for Q2 above:

Check out also this handout on sport, The last section talks about how technology has impacted sport in such a way that the skill level of the sportsman may no longer be relevant. While seemingly positive, this may actually spell the death knell for sport as the human element in sport is rendered obsolete.

Refer also to an earlier post with clips on the movie "Walle" -- showing the crippling effects of technology on us. Can use the scene in the clip as an opening or closing bang for this essay.

Overcoming Prejudice

An anecdote here about how a student overcomes his prejudice against HIV victims. Relate to qn: Can prejudice ever be eliminated? (2011)

Posssible points: education&campaigns to generate awareness? CIP? Another point worthy of mention is our highly mobile world nowadays. As people travel more often, we become exposed to different culture and interact with different kinds of people. This can in some measure lead to greater understanding and hence, lessen prejudice.

Fair Trade

For my Sat class, there's mention of Fair Trade (not to be confused with Free Trade) in the sample essay on "Is the elimination of global poverty a realistic aim?" (2009) In the essay, it argues how greater awareness of the plight of the poor in other countries may make us support fair trade by purchasing items bearing its label. This article gives you some background on it. It's in Chinese, but you can easily google the info.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

BCA Green Mark


Environmental concerns and economic growth cannot co-exist. Do you agree? (2011)

Do awards and prizes serve any useful purpose? (2011)

Only modern architecture and modern art have a place in today's world. How true is this of your society? (2011)

More SPORT Stuff

For those classes that I did 'sport' with, here's the 2001 Cambridge examiner's report on the sport qn: Is sport too closely linked to money these days?

Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (2010) Examiner's report:

In one of the sample essays we looked at, China spent US$20billion to stage the Beijing Olympics. It may be useful for u to know that S'pore's budget for the 2010 YOG ballooned from S$100million to nearly S$400million. See link:

The other sampke essay opens with Fernando Torres' transfer fee. The transfer fee of Cristiano Ronaldo was £80 million when he crossed over from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 -- the highest ever in soccer history!

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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Powerful epitome of Poverty

For my Sat class, this is the pic mentioned in the introduction of the global hunger essay that I'll be showing you....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sports Diplomacy

The current 'Linsanity' can be seen in the light of the first article. Note background on ping pong diplomacy in article 2 and 3.


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

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Wisdom of Taking Risks

This article is useful for the etymological origins of the word 'error', which can be used to open ur intro or close ur conclusion with a BANG using the anecdote method -- see highlighted portion at end of article.

Relate to: "Taking risks is an essential part of life and should be encouraged." Discuss. (Cambridge 'A' level 2011)

For possible opposing arguments, consider these random ramblings of mine:

-which is wiser? To take the sure-footed but longer path or a shortcut filled with risks? Time-saving? Lazy? Cutting corners?

-being faithful to one's spouse or expose one to AIDS/STDs by having multiple sex partners and practising unsafe, unprotected sex? We can CHOOSE the lifestyle we want, or is this kind of risks an essential part of life, i.e. inevitable?

-taking the shortcut by gambling, or earn your money via a steady route?

-risks associated with alturistic outcomes (such as saving others' lives) vs self-absorbed, superficial agendas (side-effects of cosmetic surgery)

-nuclear? Fukushima -- subject people to health risk despite the environmental benefits of the 'clean/green' fuel?

-take risks 'cos lazy vs checking up on the info (the food you eat, ur prospective business partners, etc)

Dowry Article

The Dowry example is an excellent one to show how habits/tradition/the past need not always be something we should hold on to -- it's discriminating against women. But a useful rebuttal to note is to point out that its original rationale is meant to secure the welfare of the women instead of discriminating against them -- see highlighted portion in article. Oftentimes, it is man who abuses/perverts/distorts religion/tradition for his own selfish ends and we end up blaming the wrong party unfairly. The example concerning religion and terrorism is a parallel example.

Wed/Thur Class Pre-Test Compre Answer Key

The answer key is as follow for ur reference:

Answer for Qn.4 is incomplete, so refer here:
Pavlov's dogs involuntarily[1/2] salivate[1/2] at the sound of a bell[1/2]. Similarly, when it comes to accomplishing tasks[1/2], we are used to[1/2] responding [1/2]in a specific way upon perceiving a specific stimulus[1/2]. [any 4 of the 5 points here]

For the AQ, think also of 'guanxi' (an old way or habit of doing things that has often been associated with corruption and cronyism) vs meritocracy in the modern day.

Medical Ethics II

Another excellent article on ethics in medical science....Read this together with an earlier post on the same topic and apply it to last year's question: How far should medical resources be used to extend life expectancy?

Impact of Movies....

Assess the impact of foreign films or foreign TV programmes on the culture of your society. (Cambridge 'A' level 2009)

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Stuff on SPORT!

For those who have done the TJC sports compre recently, below are some articles on the same topic that may shed light on some of the issues raised in the compre u did.... ACJC Paper:

Passage 1:how sport is often hijacked for political ends....quite a bit on China

Passage 2:how sport was used by the oppressed as a tool of resistance against their colonial masters....

The following passages are from the 1999 GCE 'AO' level GP -- on the economic prespective of sport: think the commercialization of sport....

Friday, February 17, 2012

PE soon to be one hour longer...

The renewed emphasis on PE in local schools (PE lessons to be increased by one hour) can be seen as a continuation of our new education minister's focus on a character-based education. Using sport as a platform to transmit desirable values (resilience, sportsmanship, etc) is imperative given the spate of highly competent public figures who fall short when it comes to their character and private life. Think scandals involving civil servants, ex-principal, scholarship holders, etc.....


One of you mentioned this in class the other day...I thought it goes well with the qn :Can prejudice ever be eliminated? (Cambridge 'A' level 2011)

The stellar achievements of victims of prejudice can go a long way towards changing people's perception of the group they belong to. For instance, the various accomplishments of the Blacks in the US, esp in showbusiness (think Oraph Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Stevie Wonder, and Whitney Houston) and now in politics (Obama!) have arguably help to alleviate some prejudice towards them by correcting the bias that they are an inferior race. Linsanity is a continuing streak from Li Na, Yao Ming..... In a nutshell, their achievements help to redeem and elevate the social status of the group they belong to, hence alleviating prejudice. Could the Japanese be seen in this light?


Forgot to inform you people to bring the compre question paper with you for next week's lesson as I'll be going through the answers. It's the compre (on HABITS) that you did during our first session. Most of the scripts are with me, but some of you are still holding on to it for some reasons.....
Also, make it a habit to come in here at least once a week as I may use this blog as a channel to notify you of stuff. You can also contact me by clicking on the 'Drop a Howler!' link at the bottom left panel.....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Committing a Crime vs Committing a Sin

If you had watched a recent movie on Laughing Kor (Laughing Brother), there's a distinction made btw Committing a 'crime' (fan4 fa3) vs committing a 'sin' (fan4 zui4). Just because you have committed a crime need not mean automatically that you have committed a sin. Eg. if you steal bread from a shop to feed your starving child, you are deemed to have committed a crime in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of God or your conscience, this 'crime' is not a sin.

Contrary to our general perception, the law is not exactly perfect. Think controversial, unfair, outdated, discriminatory laws....Other than the Section 377A of the penal code shown in an earlier post, here are 2 more examples of problematic laws:

Article 1(a) Article 1(b) cont'd

Article 2:


-Should the law always be obeyed?

-Is it ever acceptable to break the law? (HCI)
-Justice is always served whenever the law is upheld. Do you agree?

Private lives of Public Figures

If you've been following the news recently, you will notice:
Whitney Houston died (from drug abuse?). Yaw Chin Leong was expelled from the Worker's Party (extra-marital affair). an ex-principal resigned (sought sexual service online). the Makiyo incident in Taiwan....Add to the list people like Jack Neo, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson and Bill Clinton....See a pattern? What about the scandal about priests sexually abusing children? Sexual orientation of celebrities like Elton John and Ellen Degeneres?
Using the example-backtrack-to-point method for brainstorming, see if you can generate points for the qns that follow....

Sample essay: To what extent should the private lives of public figures be the subject of media coverage?

Other Qns:

As long as people in the public eye do their job well, does it matter what they do in private? (Cambridge 'A' level 2009)

Should we treat our celebrities any differently from any other person? (NJC Prelim 2010)

Perils of Online Shopping

Blogshop/E-Shopping is touted as an advantage of the internet, but it comes with attendant ills. The article also deals with society's obsession with beauty, which is a result of the impact of foreign culture on our society (globalization, Korean Wave)
-Should current restrictions on drugs be relaxed? (AJC Prelim 2010)
-Assess the impact of foregn films or foreign TV programmes on the culture of your society. (Cambridge 'A' level 2008)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Answers for Language Error Worksheet

Those from my Wed/Thur class can check the answers here for those errors compiled from your essay test. Click:

The Signposting Argument for 377A and the role of the LAW

For the class where we were discussing Section 377A of the Penal Code under Singapore law which criminalizes gay sex, here’s the signposting argument which I wasn’t able to clarify in class:

Detractors(those who wanted 377A to be retained) have argued that the law should reflect what is and is not permissible by society. In other words, legislation serves an important signposting function of reflecting social morality. Hence, repealing this law would send the wrong signal to the public that sexual acts between members of the same gender is actually condoned by society. This will result in murky or confusing morality signals as most people take their cue from the law when it comes to morality. Therefore, Section 377A should not be repealed.

However, the lawyer in the article (see article above) rebutted that such a signposting argument does not hold water. This is because there are unambiguously immoral behaviour or acts in our society today that are not signposted as illegal by the law. Cases in point include prostitution, extra-marital affairs, marital rape, etc. Society obviously frowns upon these acts, but they are not signposted as illegal. Thus, even if one regards same-gender sex as immoral, it is not fair to retain the 377A to criminalize it. To insist on doing so is to be guilty of applying double standards as one would in effect be unfairly singling out same-gender sex as a crime while turning a blind eye to other equally reprehensible acts. The law should be carried out in a fair manner, not operate in a selective manner according to one’s prejudice. Hence, using the signposting argument to argue for the retention of Section 377A lacks conviction.

THE FUNCTION OF LAW – The relationship between legislation and social norm
I raised this point as it is related to the function of law which I mentioned before. The law is supposed to reflect social norm (i.e. social morality in this case) insofar as these social norms are desirable. Hence, it is perfectly ok to have the law says that eating your children is a crime, and taking care of your parents is not a crime, ‘cos these are what our society feels. It is also important that these acts are desirable.
In cases where the social norms in concern are not desirable and are motivated by prejudice, then the other function of the law needs to come in – the law will have to re-define the social norms (since these are flawed) in order to correct the undesirable behaviour of the public. Say if the social norm of a particular society is to discriminate against women or eat one’s parents when they are old, then the law -- instead of serving its earlier function of reflecting (and thereby endorsing) this flawed social norm – has to redefine this social norm by making it illegal to continue discriminating against women or eat one’s old parents. You can see it as the law being used to correct a flawed social norm and educating people on what a desirable social norm should be like.

In a nutshell, legislation (i.e. the law) has two main functions – to reflect and reinforce/perpetuate desirable social norms, as well as to redefine, correct and educate people against flawed/undesirable social norms. Where society is enlightened, the law has to reflect its desirable behaviour and give it its endorsement. But where society is misguided, then the law has to take the lead to enlighten society on the right path.

Try to relate to last year’s qn on

1) “Can prejudice ever be eliminated?” -- by using this point on the role of the law to give you that two sides of the argument. Hint: the law can both perpetuate and alleviate prejudice.

2) "Consider the view that efficient government is more important than democracy." -- One common criticism of democracy is what is termed 'tyranny of the majority'. So even if the govt is efficient at getting things done, but if this comes at the expense of people's rights and freedom (majority discriminating against the minority gays and lesbians) then is it still desirable?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!


'love is not love, when it alters when it alteration finds' -- Shakespeare.

Robotics Technology

Qn: To what extent has technology had a negative impact on the skill level of people? (Cambridge 'A' level 2010)

-- an excellent example using robotics surgery. Recall the opposing view in an earlier post about how technology has a cripping effect (as opposed to the enabling effect here) on us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Video Clip on WALL-E & Lazy Economy

Clip 1:
Clip 2:
The movie "WALL-E" is a cautionary movie in many ways. It warns us of how earth can become an uninhabitable place and full of rubbish if we do not take care and protect it. In this clip, it also shows how technology is so efficient and convenient that it can have a crippling (instead of enabling) effect on us.
Relate to issues on our destructive consumerist ways and the effect of technology on us. Think also about the function of movies. Are they merely for entertainment? What about movies like Avatar, We Not Naughty?

Consider also this article on 'lazy economy', a result of how the convenience of technology has 'crippled' us and made us lazy:

Qn: 'Science and technology have shaped us to be what we are today.' Do you agree? (IJC Prelim 2010)

To what extent has techonology had a negative impact on the skill level of people? (Cambridge 'A' level 2010))

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Interesting Videos -- MUST WATCH!!!

If I have not already shown you these clips, and you haven't seen them before, I suggest you take a peek! The first one is about how social media or technology can help to strengthen bonds between people, esp for those who are shy introverts..or disinclined towards saying mushing things out loud.....whereas the second one acts as a rebuttal to show that social media interferes with bonding......

Qn: Has social media made us more sociable?

McDonald's! GASP!!!

Check out this link on McDonald's: OR
If link taking too long to open up, try right click on link, save target file, then open up and read..... Then relate to this qn:
'Environmental concerns and economic growth cannot co-exist.' Do you agree? (Cambridge 'A' level 2011)
Note also the function of the media here as the watchdog, to blow the whistle on errant behaviour of MNCs to ensure they toe the line.....

Social Media & Privacy

For those who did the qn "Has social media made us less sociable?", you may want to take a look at this. It's similar to an article one of you recently emailed me. Can be used for qn: "The youths of today are victims of the multi-channelled and internet-linked world. Do you agree?"


Can prejudice ever be eliminated? (Cambridge 'A' level 2011) -- tradition/religion can be a controversial force in perpetuating the prejudice against divorce, single parenthood and homosexuality,

Consider also the qn I discussed in one of my classes: To what extent does the traditional family promote discrimination?



Qn: In the digital age, do newspapers still have a role in your society?

Consider also Article 2 in the light of this qn I discussed recently: 'The media sells us false hope.' Discuss.

Article 2 is also useful for some background on the tabloid scandal on "The News of the World".


This concept on 'trophy kids' was mentioned in the Facebook compre we did. Read for the background and relate to last year's 'A' level qn:

Do awards and prizes serve any useful purpose?

Consider also the point that awards/prizes can result in a backlash, causing the stakeholders to only invest in those activities that have a higher chance of winning awards/prizes. Think of how certain coutnries and schools only allocate budget for those sports that can win glory for them and neglect those that can't. Likewise, we get to see a limited variety/diversity of films if film-makers focussed only on those films that are Oscar-worthy material in order to answer to the investors. In short, in using awards/prizes as carrots to motivate/encourage behaviour or attention in certain areas, we run the risk of neglecting other equally desirable, if not better areas.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Here are some articles related to the 2011 'A' level P1:
Qn: To what extent is it acceptable for private companies to be involved in financing scientific research?
Qn: How far should medical resources be used to extend life expectancy?
NB: Note the mention of chimeric research and how embryos are destroyed when stem cells are harvested from them.

ARTICLE 1: (2 PAGES -- FOR and AGAINST Chimeric research)


Friday, February 10, 2012


Relate this article to the same space essay qn from the previous post.....To view the article, just click on it and view using a larger font size....


ARTICLE about space research in Singapore. Relate to last year's 'A' level essay qn:
Can space research be justified nowadays?



11 Feb 2012 0001hrs