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.... :-)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tropical forests the size of india 'set to be lost by 2050'

Click HERE [for those who can't access the Straits Times link, try HERE]

Useful quotation on INDIA for BANG-ing in equally well in closing BANG for conclusion as a cautionary warning....can also serve as evidence to make your point on man's 'raping' of Mother Nature convincing!

Note also that:
“The biggest driver of tropical deforestation by far is industrial agriculture to produce globally traded commodities including soy and palm oil.”

There were some success stories where countries reduced tropical deforestation without compromising economic growth or food production, the study said. Brazil decreased deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 80% over a decade through the use of satellite monitoring and increased law enforcement, even as cattle and soy production rose.

Gay Syrians, Iraqis recount ISIS persecution at UN meet

Click HERE

First, they used the name of God to commit rape (see HERE); now, the name of God is invoked for the persecution and public execution of gays and lesbians....

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

15 Singapore plays we can be proud of

Click HERE

Excerpt from link:
Theatre is often like a rehearsal for real life. It helps us look at hard situations from a comfortable seat, so that when life throws us a few curveballs, we know where we've seen them before.''

Lo and behold! We have a point for the below qn...think eg of plays that deal with racial religious issues and other hard, controversial topics....

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

Data hack sparks 'spin-off' crimes

Click HERE
See how the Ashley Madison leakage problem has sparked off various social problem....Read HERE for background on the Ashley Madison thingy if u are clueless.....

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

Learn vital skills that cannot be taught in school

Click HERE

Note how the ending of the article includes a reiteration of the writer's STAND as well as a closing BANG using a colourful imagery....

Qn: Do you agree that formal education is unable to fulfil the needs of an increasingly complex world?

Green ruling hits tourism players in India's Kullu Valley

Click HERE

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

Initiatives in place to ensure poor students get hep to succeed

Click HERE
Note the problems with our education system (in perpetuating or widening the income gap, ironically through meritocracy), and the education reforms or solutions (use these to rebut the problems)undertaken by the govt to mitigate the problem of our increasingly unfair meritocracy.....

Qn: To what extent is education a social leveller in your society?

The Tyranny of Thinness

Click HERE
Note this as an instance of the harm the media inflicts on us....

1) Do you think life is better now than it was before? [consider the stress that girls undergo nowadays]
2) To what extent does the media influence our perception of reality?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

7 Letters

Click HERE for the movie trailer.

Try go catch this local movie if u can spare the time during this prelim/promo period.  For those who have been hearing me yak about Bukit Brown cemetery, you will have an idea why demolishing the cemetery to build roads can be a terrible thing. The movie is not really about Bt Brown, but the link I think is there....that symbolic severance with our past is not just a national tragedy, but at closer level, it's also about breaking the connection with those whom we came from.....As usual, it takes a young innocent untainted child in the movie to remind the adults of that.....

Qn: 'For the majority of the people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.' How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)
[the movie above is an excellent eg of the arts which serve the function of capturing our past on celluloid, immortalizing it in the process....serving to reinstate our connection with those in the past...collectively, artworks such as this contributes towards shaping, defining and cementing our national identity...]

Run fast or far? -- Interesting quote from PM Lee's NDR Speech 2015

He quoted an old African saying:
if you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run as a group.

Qn: Many developed countries are paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged. How far is this true in Singapore? (Cam. 2008)

Singapore must 'be alive' to outside environment

Click HERE.
A longer version and more complete text of this part of PM Lee's speech can be found HERE.

This is an excerpt from PM Lee's National Day Rally Speech a few days ago...I hope you have been following the speech to get content for those 'your society' essay qns and AQs  (otherwise click HERE to watch)...It's also an excellent match to the qn below...The point could perhaps be that Singapore the little Red Dot is located in the midst of potentially hostile neighbours whose friendship with us is never a varies according to who their leaders are. This contributes to the 'siege mentality' we suffer from, where we are besieged by neighbours many times our size, and whose friendship changes with the wind. Apart from the pugnacious Mahathir ex-PM of Malaysia, it may be interesting to know that the moniker of 'the little red dot' was given to us by ex-President of Indonesia Habibie. One thing's for sure; he definitely wasn't praising us when he gave us that nickname!

Qn: How far is it important for people to be aware of current affairs in countries other than their own? (Cam. 2014)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Donald Trump doubles down on Mexico 'rapists' comments despite outrage

Click HERE
useful quote by Trump for Banging. Donald Trump is a famous Billionaire in the US, in the same league as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, but as we can see here, with a brain that needs to be wringed! He's one of the candidates running for US presidency...can u believe it?!!!!

Excerpt of Donald Trumps'
 attack on Mexico for “sending people [to the US] that have lots of problems. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists.”

1) Can prejudice ever be eliminated? (Cam. 2011)
[perhaps not if influential and powerful people keep spouting them on national TV to perpetuate this prejudice into a truth? OR could the spouting of such prejudicial statements in the media provides opportunities for others to come forward to correct such misguided views, and hence mitigate the prejudice? Of coz it's BOTH lah!!]

2)Should immigration be embraced? (SAJC Prelim 2014)

Man's hands and feet to be amputated after food poisoning bout

Click HERE

Qn: 'Food safety is increasingly compromised.' Is this true of the world today?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hackers post data of Ashley Madison clients

Click HERE

I had a sense of deja vu when I came across this....reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence sex photos leakage last year, confirming once again that info online is never private...anything u share with others online (even under promise of secrecy) may be leaked to others....

Note eg of Ashley Madison with their infamous tagline: "Life is short. Have an affair." Brings into question the ethical implications of their business. Compare other sin industry like tobacco and alcohol and gambling....
Note also how the website was banned by MDA when they wanted to launch it in Singapore some time back....

Social media abuzz as netizens poke and prod

Click HERE
A very good article illustrating once again how social media comes to the forefront when the authorities are evasive or slow to report the the Malaysia's 1MBD scandal....
Note also the watchdog function.....once social media raises certain hard questions, the authorities will be under pressure to address them instead of side-skip them...

China's toxic mindset

Click HERE

one key idea that emerges from this article is that "There is no shortage of legislation on workplace safety in China, the problem is it's simply not enforced on the ground."

Qn: Should profit be the sole aim of doing business?

NUS team finds way to keep cut fruit fresh longer

Click HERE
Use it to rebut point on perishable food for the qn below....

Qn:  Can the transport of food over vast distances be justified? (Cam. 2009)

IVF mix-up case now before Court of Appeal

Click HERE
A useful Singapore example of a botched IVF case some years back...

Qn: Should people be allowed to have children by artificial means? (Cam. 2012)

China's air pollution kills about 4,000 every day : Study

Click HERE
useful link to register the intensity of pollution in China...The main culprit is coal, of which China has plentiful supply....Note though that China is making ambitious plans to wean off coal by moving into renewable sources of energy...

“When I was last in Beijing, pollution was at the hazardous level: Every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes,” said scientific director of Berkeley Earth and a co-author of the paper Richard Muller in an email. “It’s as if every man, woman and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour.”

Qn: Discuss the view that, with an increasing global need for energy, every possible source should be exploited to the full. (Cam. 2014)

Monday, August 17, 2015

ISIS' sexual offensive

Click HERE

an interesting --albeit a tad disturbing -- read on how rape is carried out in the name of God by the terrorists!!! Yup, u heard me right....they will prostrate themselves and pray both before, and after, the act, and assert the preposterous claim that raping is 'halal' (and you think 'halal' applies only to food!)
Excerpt from link above:
"He told me that according to Islam, he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,"

Its leadership has repeatedly emphasised a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to celebrate each sexual assault as virtuous.
"Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray," said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on Mount Sinjar one year ago and sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s.
She wanted to be identified only by her first initial because of the shame associated with rape.
"He kept telling me this is ibadah," she said, using a term from Islamic scripture meaning worship.
"He said that raping me is his prayer to God. I said to him, 'What you're doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to God.'
"And he said, 'No, it's allowed. It's halal

Singapore's Gini coefficient

Click HERE

Useful stats that Singapore's Gini coefficient which measures income inequality is 0.43...this is considered shamefully high for a developed nation....the govt's mitigation is that after social spending, this comes down to 0.37....we also pay relatively less taxes compared to other nations....

Breakups soon after marriage at 20-year high

Click HERE

Qn: 'Marriage is forever'. To what extent do you agree?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hungry Ghost Festival is HERE!

It's finally here....spotted this guy burning incense paper and joss sticks and making offerings at the carpark just now.... this could only mean that the Hungry Ghost Festival has arrived! Look out for the Seventh Month open air stage performances (ge-tai) dotting the various housing estates as they go about keeping the ghosts entertained while traumatising us in the process..... useful cultural examples for your essays....

see that mountain of ash accumulated after the incense papers are  burnt?

Qn: How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (Cam. 2010)


Afghan war against graft : the walls have eyes

Click HERE
An example of the role of expose corruption, and bring about awareness to the functions in the same way as the media -- bringing important issues to the attention of the people and to trigger solutions. The issue need not be just corruption, but can be environmental degradation or war.....

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

More Malays say they are muslims first: Malaysian poll

Click HERE

relate to qns on usefulness, influence of religion....
Note that religion can be used to unify a nation...arguably, Thailand appears to be using Buddhism to achieve this....But realise tha tin multi-racial Singapore, religion can pose a threat to our national identity and patriotism. When citizens identify more with their religion than their country, it can actually weaken the country-- if the country is multi-cultural, of country can also be compromised....think terrorism! Terrorists are ready to forsake ot even harm their country as they view their God as more important....
In Myanmar, religious hubris has led the majority Buddhists to kill and destroy the villages of the Muslim Rohingyas, who are a  minority in the country....

MUST READ!!! Class divide in he classroom

1) main article: class divide in the classroom
2) related article: successful-must-give-back-society

colourful metaphor from second link above:
To pull up the drawbridge and simply enjoy the ample fruits of their success is unacceptable. That's a form of elitism that would indeed diminish the soul of Singapore society.

Relate to qns on meritocracy, education (esp its role as a social leveller), poverty and even as an example for the qn below...

Excerpt from link 1 above:
Mr Chan's comments were notable as they were a welcome instance of an educator who was not afraid to address uncomfortable realities.
Relate to qn below....

Qn: How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion? (Cam. 2013)

Drink Coke, work out and stay fit?

Click HERE
An excellent example for Qn 2 below....we need o be wary of research funded by MNCs as vested corporate interests are involved....
other than the Coke eg, there are also research b conducted tobacco companies about the effects of smoking and second-hand smoke in causing cancer......we need to be a bit sceptical if the research findings funded by these MNCs play down the danger of their products....

Coke's involvement in the new organisation is not the only example of corporate-funded research and advocacy to come under fire lately. The American Society for Nutrition and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have been criticised by public health advocates for forming partnerships with various food companies, including Kraft Foods, McDonald's, PepsiCo and Hershey's.

1)The key to good health is lifestyle rather than medicine. How far do you agree? (Cam. 2010)
2)To what extent is it acceptable for private companies to be involved in financing scientific research? (Cam.2011)

Force fighting Boko Haram 'will need help'

Click HERE
Useful example where international efforts in the form of providing expertise and funding can be invaluable.

1)Does the presence of a foreign power ever help a country with problems? (Cam. 2008)
2)How effective are international efforts in addressing conflicts?

TV anchor to face music for Mao insult

Click HERE
relate to earlier post HERE

For those doing the AQ on humour, explore why humour not tolerated in China. Why? What about here in Singapore? and in the US? Can Charlie Hebdo come in?

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Warner stopping CD distribution here

Click HERE
Yet another example of a business dying off as a result of advancement in there you go, tech does not only kill jobs, it kills businesses too....
Other examples of Businesses affected by technology:
Encyclopaedia Britannica (it has stopped printing hard copy versions, but online still available)
Kodak photo film developing
Street Directory (who needs this now that we have Google Map and Google Streetview? 3D some more! btw, Google hor, not Goggle! the latter is your swimming goggles!)
Dictionary (with smartphones, do we still need this?)

Notice that most of the dying industries actually don't just die off; they simply move on to the online platforms....

Inclusive orchestra makes its debut

Click HERE
Another example of the arts in Singapore....
One of the functions of the arts (which they share with sports) is to bring people together for bonding, i.e. national/social cohesion.....equivalent of sport is soccer, that cuts cross all demographics and soccer, the orchestra here brings audience ad the players together.....but more than that, the players include those who are disabled, thus adding an extra layer of meaning to bonding....
Arts thus provide the space for people to come together to bond through producing the artwork, or to enjoy the artwork...

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

Blasting away at ISIS with wicked satire in batte of wit

Click HERE
For those doing the compre on humour, note some of the stuff here....
Sometimes, the best way to retaliate against very powerful forces is not by weapons, but by using humour i.e. pictures of words.....hence the phrase the pen is mightier than the sword....
So one way to erodes the ISIS's  influence is to rob them of their halo, by using satire or humour...

"Weapons are not the best solution for Iraq," Mr Basheer said at his studio in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
"We fight IS with satire. Its members are only human. We can fight them by making fun of them," he said, using another name for ISIS.
He said his programme shows ISIS leaders for what they are, rather than religious paragons.
"Their halos drop, and they become simple human beings. That is why it is very dangerous for them.

Another function of humour raised in the article is that laughter can unify the people of the for thought.....

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

PM: No easy choices on foreign worker, immigration policies

Click HERE
PM Lee's shed some insights on our foreign workers and immigration dilemma...

Note interesting expression : squaring a circle

Seven lessons from 7 Letters

Click HERE
Makes for a good local example of the arts...possible points could be: forge national identity, a record of the nation's past....

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

Soya mlk sold at BreadTalk is from Yeo's

Click HERE
You can look at this latest scandal in the light of how the media (The Sarawak Report and The Edge) is used to expose Najib's alleged 'wrongdoing'. Media's role as the watchdog to bring to the surface clandestine affair engaged in by organizations that can pose harm to society....The ubiquitous nature of mobile phones with built-in cameras helps to facilitate this role of the media, thus posing a deterrence to those who plan to engage or indulge in nefarious acts.... 

Meritocracy? RI and overseas uni examples.....

Click HERE for some background first on how meritocracy is creating problems for Singapore....then look at the following examples for proof of how indeed, meritocracy is widening instead of narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor today..

The essence of the argument here is that given two students born of the same intelligence level, the one from the richer family is more likely to succeed in life compared from the one from the poorer family, reason being that the richer one is able to benefit from the resources and network of his family to do better academically, enabling him to enter a top school which can continue to provide the better resources and environment for him to excel even further academically.....while the richer student is studying for he exams, the poorer one could probably be working part time to help out the family, in which case his studies will inevitably suffer even though he is of the same intelligence level].....then when it comes to two students with the same good 'A' level results, it is the richer one who is able to go overseas to Ox-bridge as his parents can afford to pay for it, whereas the poorer one has to suffice with a local university i.e. NTU/NUS which is still pretty respectable (NUS is ranked right up there ok! Don't play play....) but we gotta admit it's not quite in the same league in terms of prestige when compared to your Ox-bridge and the Ivy League unis......The kind of people you meet there, the opportunities for internships with prestigious MNCs, and the overseas work opportunities upon graduation is also something that local unis cannot match.....
So there you go, it has become a hard fact that all things being equal, the financial background of the family can affect the kind of grades you get in schools, and the kind of schools you go to, which can then affect the kind of grades you go on to get in schools, the unis you g to, and eventually the kind of jobs you get, and which income group you get slotted into in future.....Reckon, it s no always such a neat, linear equation, but our emphasis on meritocracy (i.e. grades) is reinforcing this phenomenon.... 

1) degree-seekers-fly-overseas-for-an-edge
2) raffles-institution-now-a-middle-class-school-says-principal
3) a-hard-look-at-averting-elitism

Friday, August 07, 2015

Awards and Prizes

The articles in the links below provide useful examples for the qn below....use the examples to generate the points for the qn....
e.g. the awards to taxis can be seen as a way to thank drivers, show the employer's appreciation, make them feel valued. This is thus a way to retain staff and cultivate company loyalty, esp in a competitive labour market exacerbated by the labour crunch.....

1) smrt-taxis-to-award-5800-drivers-with-incentives-worth-25m
2) honoured-keeping-spore-safe
3) winners-absence-is-a-good-sign

Qn: Do awards and prizes serve any useful purpose? (Cam. 2011)

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

'Free-range parenting' in the land of the free

Click HERE or HERE

BPGHS/St Nich Class please READ!!!

Qn: Parents often believe that it is easier to be safe than sorry. Do you consider young people to be too protected (Cam. 'O' level 2013)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Singapore watching Malaysia situation very cosely : PM Lee

Click HERE

Note close relationship btw Singapore and Malaysia:
-metaphor: umbilical cord (or the Chinese proverb: the teeth will be exposed to the cold if the lips are not there???) I rather like the one about how if the US sneezes, the rest of the world will catch a cold....but please do not create your own metaphor e.g. If Malaysia lets out a fart, Singapore will be knocked out by the smell.....(the examiner will laugh, even ROFL, but I can assure u that u won't score any brownie points!)

-useful stats to show this closeness: total trade btw the two sides amount to more than $100billion!!!

1) Discuss the claim that in the modern world people should care more about international than national issues. (Cam. 2013)
2) How far is it important for people to be aware of current events in countries other than their own? (Cam. 2014)