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.... :-)

Friday, May 22, 2015

HCIBS Students....

Here is the answer key for the compre u did recently....for your own detailed reference, esp for those who were absent that day. I'll be directing ur reps to return the scripts to you during class next Mon. Pls file it up as usual....any query about the answers can be directed to my email at

If u can't open the links, try to right click and save target file....otherwise drop me an email an I'll send it to you....


HCI Class:

Short Question Answers

Summary Answers

Summary Answers

Short Qn Answers:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Use star power to raise awareness

The Lifestyle option here can be problematic, as pointed out in the article below... celebrities and dubious sources online have always been dishing out advice on how to alter our lifestyle for maximum health effects....and indeed, most of these advice are actually just bleh.... there's even people who claimed online that exposure to the sun for a few minutes everyday will help to cure cancer and make the tumours shrink (try and see if u can track down this article in an earlier post in this blog)...all plain hogwash....and such advice can sometimes harm our health instead, not necessarily directly , but indirectly by causing delays in treatment.....Obviously, there are people and celebrities online telling us what medicine to take also, but unless you have a brain the size of a bird, most people would usually consult a doctor before administering medication on themselves.....powerful drugs also need a doctor's prescription, so chances of abuse is low.....

Qn: The key to good health is lifestyle rather than medicine. Do you agree? (Cam. 2010)

Hiting the gym can hit your wallet

Click HERE for article....

Lifestyle options need not always be cheaper than medicine, as the above link shows...Singapore's gym membership costs are among one of the highest in the world's major cities....Note however, the possible rebuttal/evaluation that in Singapore, highly affordable public sports facilities have been built by the govt to encourage healthy lifestyle....these are usually free or cost very little.....juz look at the fitness corners and public pools.....ClubFit Gyms run by Singapore Pools only charge $2.50 per entry! There's also the ActiveSG $100 credit given by the govt to all Singaporeans to be used in public sports facilities.

If you have done the 2011 'A' level compre on green spaces, one argument put forth by students in the AQ is that our hot tropical climate causes us to retreat to the gyms for keeping fit instead of exercising in the humid, scorching heat outside among the green spaces....use the high gym fees to refute this

Qn: The key to good health is lifestyle rather than medicine. Do you agree? (Cam. 2010)

Sun Afternoon J2 Class: What are 'insightful' views?

Wasn't able to answer this qn from one of u juz now....

Generally speaking, 'insightful' views are those which goes against the general views of the majority which tend to be myopic, simplistic or even erroneous, either cos they missed out on the bigger picture or they only see the short term or whatever blah blah blah....In a nutshell, u r essentially saying that 1+1 doesn't necessarily equal to is not so simple and straightforward as there are factors involved....Such 'insightful' views are usually introduced through a rebuttal or evaluation of a commonly held view of the majority, but it need not always be through such an avenue. The use of unusual examples or using ordinary eg in a new light...shedding new light on something ordinary or generally accepted as the norm ...these can all constitute 'insightfulness'.....

Some examples here will suffice to bring home the point.. Note how an argument A is being dismissed as a more complex layer B is being dug out from below and exposed:

1) Women may be more educated now (has skills and competence), but this does not automatically mean they will be employed in top positions due to the persistent prejudiced mindset of the males...

2) it is not so much the products of scientific inventions, but the USE of these inventions that involves ethics. (Qn: Science cannot be separated from ethics)

3) technology cannot (should not?) be blamed for the evil unleashed in this world, as it is just a neutral, amoral tool....the real culprit is man, the user of the tool for his selfish ends....use analogy of the knife in a murder to explain. Do we blame the knife or the murderer who wields the knife?

4)capital punishment has little deterrent effect, as not everyone is afraid of death. Infact, death can be an impetus to the crime, making the committing of the crime more desirable, e.g. terrorists, who achieved martyrdom through death.

5) Granted, the competence of a good govt should also be seen in its protection of the environment (Criterion Y) and the quality of life it gives to the people (criterion Z), but we should also not forget that economic growth (criterion X) provides the necessary resources for the govt to protectthe envmt and improve the people's quality of life...

6) Economic growth is indeed very important, but what is more important is how evenly distributed are the benefits from such growth......if the benefits from the growth is concentrated only in the hands of a few, then the overall benefit on society is negligible. 

7) This XXX may be true in the WEST, but is not so in the EAST or my society.....[this kind of evaluation/rebuttal inevitable will yield something insightful, provided of course what you go on to say make sense]

Do note that the 'insightfulness' of some of these points will wear off as more and more people start to use them..... Once more people start to subscribe to them, they will no longer be insightful, and insightfulness requires them to be underneath and not exposed on the surface for all to grasp so easily....
Insightful views adds depth to your essay and reflects a mature mind that does not blindly follow the herd instinct....IT creates layers of complexities to your arguments, lending subtleties and nuances...remember this last word? we came across it juz now....

Consider also what is NOT insightful people in Africa are poor....; atomic bombs dropped in Japan showed that technology is evil.....

Not insightful need not mean they're wrong, juz dat the examiner's eyes wont light you end up with a perfunctory grade for content.

How to be insightful?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Paris: Life after the Charlie Hebdo attacks

Click HERE for podcast....
A very good discussion from a BBC programme on freedom of speech in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris......u can relate this to the recent  Amos Yee episode, where a balance needs to be struck btw freedom of speech and the potential to cause offence. Quite a few stuff here useful for your essay an quite thought-provoking....Note the penetrating (and aggressive?)  interjections that provide huge insights by the BBC moderator.
Most of the speakers here are reasonably competent in spoken English but I think they are French nationals, the one you need to focus on for good spoken English is the BBC personnel chairing the sharing session....she has got impeccable diction!

If you can't access the podcast, drop me an email and I'll send it to you, or go to the BBC podcast site to locate it.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Gender bias can be fixed today -- on screen, at least

Click HERE for article....
A good read....note how the media operates like a doubled-edged sword that cuts both ways -- it can perpetuate bias (think Fifty Shades of Grey), but can also fix or resolve it. Note esp last part of article where in the media, gender equality can be achieved instantly, and then be used to shape people's perception, gradually causing or catalysing change in the real world......

1) Can social media really effect change?
2) Can prejudice ever be eliminated? (Cam. 2011)
3) To what extent does the media influence our perception of the world?

Nepal quake survivors need tents, not toys.....

Click HERE for article....
Note problems of charity.... perhaps make a distinction btw donating money and non-monetary stuff, as well as donation vs volunteering.....does it make any difference? 

Qn: Is there still a place for charity in today's world? (Cam. 2006)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

College students take ADHD drugs for better grades

Click HERE for article....
For those who did the competition AQ (HCI Prelim 2014), it was mentioned in the passage that competition has led to 'the use of proscribed drugs to enhance performance' (line 45).

Qn: 'Competition, not cooperation, is the key to success'. Do you agree? (CJC Prelim 2013)

Fake Qualifications

Sat Afternoon Class, we talked about how paper qualifications do not necessarily guarantee u a job due to fake degrees....u may want to browse thru this article......

Qn: 'The main function of education is to gain employment.' Do you agree?

NTU to set up campuses abroad

Click HERE for article.
For those whom we discussed the essay qn below, check out these points in the article:
- NTU's effort in trying to address the problem of formal education by setting up a satellite campus abroad
-This excerpt from the article: "In a global marketplace, it's not good enough to prepare our students for jobs in Singapore. "Increasingly, companies are looking for graduates who they can send out of Singapore into the region or further away in uncharted territories to grow their businesses." NTU provost Freddy Boey said that to thrive in such an environment, graduates would need a "global mindset", which includes flexibility and openness to other cultures, the ability to navigate cross-cultural issues, and understanding of the nuances of operating in a different environment. "These are things that you cannot teach in a classroom," he said, noting that he often sees students transformed by their experiences abroad.
-NTU collaborating with another university to tap on each other's strengths

1) Do you agree that formal education is unable to fulfil the needs of an increasingly complex world?
2) Competition, not cooperation, is the key to success. (CJC Prelim 2013)

Socio-political site shut down on MDA's order

Click HERE for article.
This makes for a good example as I cannot think of any recent precedent where MDA actually ask a website to shutdown.

1) To what extent should there be a limit to freedom of speech in your society?
2) Is silence always golden?

In Baltimore, we're all Freddie Gray

Click HERE for article.

Other than the obvious link to discrimination, this recent Baltimore incident, coming after the Ferguson incident last year, can be seen as a need to break the silence on such an endemic issue in order to force the govt to acknowledge that there IS a problem...only then can solutions be forthcoming, whether in the changing of legislation or reforming of the police department.
Continued denial can sometimes cause the problem to fester and persist....

1) Can equality for all be a reality?
2) Is silence always golden?

Friday, May 01, 2015

The Morality of Public Shaming

Click HERE for article.
An interesting argument on how public shaming via social media may not work in today's society, thus sounding the death knell to online vigilantism.
The recent case of Amos Yee also shows that public shaming has little impact on those who are attention-seekers who covet the attention on them.....

1) Is silence always golden?
2) Can social media really effect change?

Honesty not always the best policy or scholarship appplicants

A Letter to the Straits Times Forums Page: HERE
From a pragmatic perspective of the interviewee or applicant, telling the full truth may not always be in the interest.
But then again, the rebuttal is that if the truth comes to light later on, the repercussions may be greater.

Qn: Is silence always golden?

2000 girls aborted or killed just after birth daily : Indian Minister.

Click HERE for article.

Useful stats for gender discrimination....and note the ineffectiveness of the law....

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

Singapore ranked happiest nation in Asia, so please smile...

Click HERE for article.
Can you believe this? After being ranked near the bottom of a happiness survey, we are now right at the top in Asia -- thanks to our GDP growth and safety....

Many poor malays do not seek social aid

Click HERE for article.

useful rebuttals on effectiveness of Govt's attempts to help the poor: unawareness + fear of stigma

Qn: How far can the needs of the society be met in your society? (AJC Prelim 2014)

Nostalgia fatigue

Click HERE for article.

Qn: Does nostalgia have a place in your society? (RV Prelim 2014)

Territorial Disputes

click HERE for article

After the Diaoyu Island (Senkaku) and Crimea episode involving Russia, the latest example of territorial disputes involve China and SE Asia.

Qn: 'The only way to resolve territorial disputes is by the use of force.' Do you agree?

Shift in attitudes towards death penalty

Click HERE for article.
Other than the recent furore over diplomatic relations in Indonesia's carrying out of the death penalty, note the rebuttal to the deterrent argument, and the Singapore context.

Qn: Is violence ever justified? (Cam. 2012)

Abe govt 'strong-arming press' to curb critical coverage

Click HERE
After recent clampdown on press freedom in Thailand and Malaysia, even Japan is not spared. you want to know that the aggressive Jap media has a reputation of attacking and bringing down successive Prime  Ministers in previous years.

Tripartism Alliance in Singapore

I mentioned this for the HCI prelim compre on competition....the point about exploitation of workers.
Depending on how u see it, the tripartism relationship can be seen as both suppressing the workers' welfare or protecting their rights, resulting in whether they are exploited or not.
See these links: govt's view ; opposition's view

Qn: How far should firms be allowed to limit their workers' rights when profits are at stake? (Cam. 2014)

Raped and refusing to be silenced

Click for article here: Raped and refusing to be silenced

Qn: Is silence always golden?

Netizens raise funds to help downloaders

For article, click on this link: Netizens raise funds to help downloaders

Nothing new here in the sense of using the extensive reach of the media for crowdfunding....but it mentioned something I raised before. The anonymity of the initiator here makes it such that people might be suspicious about it and think it's a scam.

Qn: Can social media really effect change?