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, December 31, 2015

Changi rolls out new trolley system

Click HERE

After all that talk about tech replacing human workers, here's a local context to consider....
Note the jobs being replaced by technology here are mostly of the low-skilled variant e.g. manually checking whether there are sufficient trolleys parked at the trolley bays, and physically walking to a spot to retrieve food.....In view of our manpower crunch, it is a waste of precious manpower to have such jobs done by human labour in Singapore, esp when they can be better trained and mobilized elsewhere. Having such jobs done by machines is thus not a big concern for us.
In the case of the new trolley system, cost savings is enjoyed not only through less labour needs, but probably also thru' fewer trolleys required (since no longer need to park a fixed number of trolleys at every bay) 
Even mid-skilled jobs like staff manning check-in counters at the airport are being replaced by self-service check-in kiosks. This improves efficiency by cutting queues and alleviating the burden on our manpower crunch.

Seoul-Tokyo pact on comfort women angers many

Click HERE

Food for thought: monetary compensation or a formal sincere apology -- which is better at restoring the dignity and assuaging the humiliation suffered by the comfort women?

Qn: How far is it possible for one country to forgive another for its past actions? (Cam. 2015)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reclaiming roads from cars

Follow-up on an earlier post HERE on same topic....


Say 'hi' to Nadine, the companion robot

Click HERE
First, there's Pepper, then Xuan Xuan (see HERE to recall), and now, Nadine and Edgar! and let's not forget the grand-daddy of them all -- C-3PO! So who says movies are just for escaping from reality, when they actually inspire us with ideas for reality?

Qn: Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality?

AccorHotels making big moves to fight climate change

Click HERE
An example of a business doing CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)...

Monday, December 28, 2015

Jobs threatened by machines

We have been discussing are some related links:
1)These jobs are most likely to be taken by a computer
2)Intelligent Machines: The jobs robots will steal first
3)The new white-collar fear: will robots take your job?

A few key ideas to note:
-Increasingly, technology is not just taking over low-skilled blue-collar jobs, but also modestly-skilled (and even high-skilled?) white-collar jobs.
-But remember, it doesn't just destroy jobs, but creates new jobs as well, esp those that command better wages.
-Machines are adept at tasks which are routine, repetitive, standardised e.g. those involving recording and transmitting.
-Humans can do their part to protect their rice-bowls by focusing on those skills that are hard for machines to replicate, those involving creativity, empathy and problem-solving.
-At the end of the day, the winning formula is inevitably a combination of both machines and humans working side by side, complementing each other
-there will always be some jobs that will always have a place for those hand-made Famous Amos cookies still have a strong presence despite being more expensive, even though machine-made ones can be bought off the shelves of supermarkets at a much cheaper price. Likewise, your hawker centre food sellers will still be there cooking your food even as machine-made ones and micro-wave prepared foods are available. High-end restaurants will always have a human chef cooking your food......What about clothes? artists? Would you pay for an SSO concert performed by robots?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Would you eat foie gras this Christmas?

Click HERE for clip.
HERE's another clip narrated by Hollywood actress, Kate Winslet.

Foie gras (goose liver) is a French luxury food, apparently popular during the Christmas season.
Think of it as the Western equivalent of shark's fin -- consumed for its status symbol, but terribly cruel for the animal involved. The main difference between the two is that sharks are known to be endangered, while there are still plenty of ducks and geese around. Even then, this is no excuse for the inhumane treatment we subject the ducks/geese to, just so that we can avail ourselves to this luxurious delicacy.
The torture they undergo is filmed by an employee and captured in the first clip. Interestingly, only male ducks (their livers are bigger?) are used while the female are thrown into the grinder and disposed off like waste matter! Is this unnecessary murder or what? And these are newly hatched ducklings!

Walk away with:
-the role of the whistle blower and social media
-NGOs like Peta and L214
-celebrities using their fame for worthy causes
-2010 compre AQ on food :  food from animals that are 'cruelly raised'
-animal rights
-man's selfishness and indifference to Mother Nature (or is this due to our lack of awareness 'behind the scene'? Sometimes, man does terrible things because he does NOT know. It is then up to the media and education to bring about this awareness. But of course, it is possible for man to be aware, and still do the terrible things, in which case he is just plain heartless!)

Qn: Consider the argument that the main purpose of television should be to educate rather than simply to entertain. (Cam. 2015)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Singapore's robot exercise coach for the elderly

Click HERE
A good clip I overheard on the BBC regarding the use of robots in nursing homes in Singapore. For those currently doing the CJC holiday assignment on the impact of tech on employment, you may want to think about the stuff said in this clip.
- can jobs requiring human care  -- once thought to be hard to replace by machines -- now come under threat as well?

- as mentioned in the clip, old pple need someone to talk to, to empathise with them, to listen to their past....would u want to do that to a robot? can they provide a listening ear? but before u laughed it off as ridiculous, note that perhaps we are already using tech as a cathartic outlet. Think of those times you confide online and pour out those stuff that you will never tell a living human being...

- our labour crunch...even volunteers cannot be there 24 hours each day, but robots can!

-consider also the recent healthscare in Singapore hospital where a nurse with TB spread it to children in the hospital ward (see HERE)...would robots not be safer when it comes to handling contagious diseases? What about the scandal on the hepatitis C in Tan Tock Seng hospital which is due to human lapses?

Our local version is called 'Xuan Xuan' (how uninspiring! like one of those pandas in our zoo!); there's a Japanese one called 'Pepper' (not 'Pebbles' , which I mistakenly told some of you previously. Pebbles is one of the powerpuff girls, right?). And isn't Pepper the Iron Man's sweetheart? Anyway, the Japanese version is already on sale in the market, and interestingly, came with a warning tag not to have sex with it. (see HERE). So for the perverts out there, forget about getting a Pepper to 'spice up' your life! (pun intended)

Note Pepper doesn't just do stuff, she is capable of 'small talk' with you. So those suffering from Snow White's stepmother syndrome can now have 'someone' to praise you for your beauty instead of something hanging from the wall....

Incidentally, why is Pepper a female? Doesn't this smack of gender discrimination? when it comes to a care-giver/slave/servant, it must be a female. Would it make a difference if Pepper is renamed the more masculine Casper? Jasper? or other spices like Samba, Belacan, Saffron, Ginger? hmm...Why do the Spice Girls come to mind?

Qn: How effectively is public health promoted and managed in your society? (Cam.  2015)

Thai PM releases lyrics to new patriotic ballad

Click HERE
Think here about the role and function of music, one of which is to instil patriotism and bind the pple of the country's not unlike the national day songs released by our country every year to celebrate national day. This year's one was 'Our Singapore' (watch and listen HERE).
But think again for the Thai eg. For a pple who view the junta govt with suspicion and cynicism, no matter how soul-stirring the lyrics are, it is questionable if the ppl will be sold on it...the red shirts will probably see it as propaganda, while the yellow shirts embrace it and sing lustily with their eyes closed...
Incidentally, do you actually pay attention to the lyrics and its meaning when you listen to a song? When Kit Chan sings in 'Home' about 'let the river flow', do you actually grasp the meaning of this (I assume you know it's a metaphor; you know, right?), or are you just carried away by the 'flow' of the tune, oblivious to the meaning of the lyrics? and when you try to decipher the meaning of our national anthem, can u really understand our 'Majulah Singapura'? Even if u eventually use google translate and grasp the eventual meaning of the song, do you really 'FEEL' it when you are singing or listening to it? Would there be a difference if it was written in English or Chinese instead (i.e. a language you understand)?
Relate to qns on the function of music  and the Cambridge 2012 AQ on music.

I haven't listened to this yet, but u can go HERE to download the BBC podcast entitled: How music can unite, influence and persuade.

Joy in Philippines, fury in Colombia after pageant gaffe

Click HERE for the article, or watch HERE for the clip.
If u still don't know of this big blunder at the Miss Universe pageant, you must have been hibernating in a cave! You don't know what you've been MISSing!
They didn't call it the MISS Universe pageant for nothing! The real Miss Universe was really MISSED out! ok, enuff of the corny stuff....
I tot this eg is good for qns on mistakes and forgiveness,,,,,For qns like this, students tend to go for BIG mistakes like US drop atomic bombs on Japan (if u can call dat a mistake) and Japan and German's atrocities during WWII....but realise dat eg of less gravity like this Miss Universe gaffe can come in too....Argue according to the mitigating factors (honesty, apologize) vs the harm done.....

Some pple on social media have also been saying that the whole thing is deliberate -- to chalk up ratings and buzz for a pageant that has seen falling ratings in recent years, and a change of hands this year. It used to be owned by Donald Trump's company (yes, that US presidential candidate who's been shooting off his mouth about Mexicans being rapists and building a 'wall' in the US against Mexicans and Muslims) but changed hands this year. So all that 'bad' publicity may not be so bad after all -- or is it?

1) Should mistakes ever be forgiven?
2) 'There is no such thing as bad publicity.' To what extent is this true? (Cam. 2105)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Movies with GP issues....

For those who've watched movies recently, connect to GP.
Examples from pop culture are good for BANGing....

Eg, when watching 'Hunger Games', did these come to you:
- sport (game) as social control
- the role of the media in controlling public perceptions
- Arab Spring
-dying for worthy cause?

There's also been a movie which the biopic of Lance Armstrong, called 'The Program'. But I realised it has just been taken off the screen. Click HERE

Life-changing Butterfly Effect

Click HERE
Keep a lookout for articles by this writer in the Sunday Times. He writes some pretty good stuff....

'The Butterfly Effect' can be a metaphor for the connected world we live in today due to globalization. Remember the famous quote: 'When a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it can cause a tornado in Texas!'
Now when discussing inter-connectedness of our globalized word, you don't always have to use the quote on 'When the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold'.

And God forbids, don't invent your own quote ala 'When Malaysia farted, Singapore fainted'!!!

Coming up: More weekend car-free zones

Click HERE
If u have done the HCI prelim 2015, this article provides the local context....if u haven't done the paper yet, no frets cos it's coming ur way....

The machines rose, but now start-ups add a human touch

Click HERE
another article arguing how machines may replace man -- but all is not lost for man.....
Those from CJC doing your holiday assignment may want to read this....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Driver-less or Self-Driving Cars

Here are some links to recent articles in the Straits times on driver-less or self-driving cars:

1) the-road-to-a-car-less-Singapore
note opening BANG!

2) concept-of-self-driving-vehicles-gains-pace
excerpt:  Self-driving vehicles can radically transform land transportation in Singapore to address our two key constraints - land and manpower. The trials will help us shape the mobility concepts which can meet Singapore's needs, and also gain valuable insights into how we can design our towns of the future to take advantage of this technology.

3) security-must-drive-design-of-driverless-cars

4) self-driving-cars-too-law-abiding-to-be-safe

Too high a cost to send troops to Mid-East: Obama

Click HERE

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

Intense French policing raises concern over rights

Click HERE
Another example on the perennial debate on security vs freedom/rights, brought to the forth once more as a result of the recent Paris attack. We can't expect 100% security, yet demand 100% freedom of rights......

Sumatran orang utan faces extinction

Click HERE
A good example of an animal facing extinction due to man's activities destroying its habitat -- in this case, burning the forests. Now you know it's not just about producing that dreaded haze!
Another animal facing a similar fate is the polar bear, 'cos man burning of fossil fuels results in global warming, which causes the polar ice caps in the Arctic region to melt, which in turn destroy the natural habitat of the polar bears.....

The fear of funding cuts

Click HERE
Read this in the context of censorship. Understand that the govt's funding in arts is a disguised form of censorship. The concern here is that if the growth of the arts is confined only to the direction sanctioned by the govt, then where is the creativity and truth value? 'cos only the kind of artworks allowed by the govt will be produced.

A morality tale about religion and fraud

Click HERE
I GASPED in disbelief when I read this.....(background on the City Harvest saga needed)

Gender bias in promotions

Click HERE

Boy, 11, shoots and kills girl, 8, in spat over puppy

Click HERE
- an interesting anecdote for Banging!

Arts circle disappointed by arts council chairman's remarks

Click HERE

Safe spaces shouldn't be echo chambers

Click HERE

Scientists call for caution in gene editing

Click HERE

Two Singaporeans fail in bid to clone much-loved pet

Click HERE

Disgraced clone expert set for big comeback

Click HERE

All US combat jobs now open to women

Click HERE

Saudi women vote for the first time in landmark polls

Click HERE

Sport gives firms a way to support causes: Fu

Click HERE

Facebook founder's $64b pledge

Click HERE

FDA nod for GM salmon created by Singapore don

Click HERE

Why good looks may not always land men a job

Click HERE

Asean Para Games a chance to see something you won't forget

Click HERE

Mekong dams 'a grave threat to river'

Click HERE

Petition war over US singer's appearance in countdown show

Click HERE

In a time of terror, sport plays a unifying role

Click HERE

The world is your oyster (if you are a man)

Click HERE

1) 'Traditional marriage is an outdated concept.’ To what extent is this true of your society? (Cam. 2014)
2) 'Family and tradition are more important than the rights of the individual.' Discuss.

Monday, December 07, 2015

BBC Podcast on climate change

Click HERE for an interesting BBC podcast on climate change: avoid, adapt or suffer....quite an engaging one, esp the little anecdote towards the end about getting the Bangladeshi to switch from rearing chickens to ducks. Note that Bangladesh is one of those countries like Singapore which is very vulnerable to rising sea levels.....

If u r getting tired of reading articles to beef up ur content, try going to this link on the BBC World Service for some GP-friendly podcasts....: