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.... :-)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Strong defence budget key to S'pore's survival

Click HERE

the guy who asked for a 40% cut in our defence budget must be crazy!

look here also:

Singapore set aside S$13billion for defence last year, out of a total national budget of S$80billion; that's 16% of our national expenditure last year!  (see HERE)

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

$200 fine for all mozzie-breeding homes

Click HERE

so how effective is this fine in combating mozzies?

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

Agreeing to disagree in matters of religion

Click HERE
The recent Madonna boycott by the church recalls a similar case against Adam Lambert in the Count Down early this year -- remember the online petition to drop him from the Count Down?

the similarity aside, what caught my eye is this use of comparison by analogy to make  point convincing:

The right to address one's community on what is important to them, in a public manner, should be respected, not reviled.
As MP Alex Yam said of the message in a Facebook post: "Just like any parent or older sibling, even if it makes him unpopular or seem naggy, he must state what he feels is needed in the context of faith that Catholics need to follow. And, like any elder, hopes that the flock listens.
"And a leader needs to make known his views and stance to others in authority."

In your PEEL, when doing the first 'E' on Explaining, you can make your Point convincing either by using an example/scenario/simile to show the similarity to your point, hence underscoring the validity of your Point; or your can use a contrasting on to show that your point should not follow it.

Qn:    How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion? (Cam. 2011)

Australia to spend $30b more on defence

Click HERE
-useful stats to open with a BANG if u can remember....

-a catchy quotation (can forget about the source as it's too difficult to remember):
"For Australia, the era of cheap security is over," Dr Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute, said in an interview on the institute's website.

-Note the reasons why Australia is increasing its defence budget...
"In the light of a global order that may well be unravelling and a region that is increasingly troubled in security terms, I think Australia needs a more capable, muscular Australian Defence Force."
Other than rising regional tensions from China and North Korea, there is also the terrorist threat to be reckoned with. But in both cases, note that are limitations in the use of military might to resolve problems. Recourse to diplomacy, sanctions and other methods still need to be employed.
But then again, can diplomacy work if the nation calling for it at the table does not have a formidable military might behind it?

1. Examine the extent to which expenditure on arms and the armed forces is justified in the modern world. (Cam. 2014)
2. 'The use of force is the only way to resolve territorial disputes.' Discuss.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Singapore cuts Obama’s LGBT comments on Ellen

Click HERE
{In that episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Mr Obama had said to the talk-show host: “As much as we’ve done with laws and ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, et cetera, changing hearts and minds – I don’t think anybody has been more influential than you on that.
“You being willing to claim who you were, that suddenly empowers other people. And then suddenly, it’s your brother, it’s your uncle, it’s your best friend, it’s your coworkers. And then attitudes shift. And the law is followed, but it started with folks like you. I’m so proud of you.”}

Media is a double-edged when it comes to creating/perpetuating as well as alleviating prejudice. Celebrity influence plays a huge role. Other than Ellen, there are also Adam Lambert (who was in Singapore for the Count Down a few months back) and Elton John, just to name a few. And here, we also have US President Obama lending support, as is typical of the liberal democrats.

Other than celebrity influence in the media who help to shift attitude with their immense popularity, there is also mention of the law as a solution to prejudice. But note that while law may remove prejudice in the long run as people gradually let their moral compass be guided by the law over the years, the law is actually not very effective in the short run. At best, it is good at curbing discrimination by using the threat of punishment. But realise that even if we do not discriminate against others, the prejudice may still be in our hearts; it's just that we dare not act on our prejudice.

Distinguish between prejudice and discrimination: prejudice is the feeling, discrimination is the action.

As the last line of the excerpt above shows, it usually requires a shift in attitudes of the people first, before the law changes to reflect this attitude change, not the other way round. the law follows the change in attitude. The local example of the Penal Code 377A exemplifies this. Its repeal is unsuccessful because of the majority of the population is still against endorsing LGBT.
In a nutshell, you can use the law to force people to change, but it will cause their resentment; and even if they have no choice but to obey the law for fear of the punishment, the unwillingness and anger in their heart is something which the law cannot reach and assuage in the short run.....

But do we always have to wait for attitudes to change before the law changes? In cases like racism, genocides, and other examples where the majority are doing the wrong things and causing much suffering to others, we probably cannot afford to wait for the majority to change their attitudes before we amend the law....

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Who wants a backdoor into their iPhone?

Click HERE
where writing conclusion is concerned, here is a case where the writer closes with a BANG using an analogy (imagery) and a thought-provoking rhetorical question.....
Note both affirm the writer's Stand as 'NO!' to the govt's request. Your closing BANG should never contradict the stand in your conclusion.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Thailand's Cruel Menagerie

Click HERE

This OPENING BANG in the article caught my eye....using what I call an interesting nugget of information or report...
Also has some useful stuff regarding animal rights..
Towards the end of the article, there's also an interesting observation about how despite being a very religious country (Buddhism), compassion does not seem to extend to animals in Thailand.

When 22-year-old Yonlada Jampasi threw her roommate's chihuahua from their fifth-floor apartment in Bangkok last month, pictures of the little dog lying dead on a rooftop below ignited a firestorm across Thailand's social media.....[now won't you want to continue reading after this BANG?]

Archbishop speaks out against Madonna's concert

Click HERE

2 possible things to take away with reference to the two qns below:
1) the archbishop is probably unintentionally giving free advertising to Madonna's concert and, causing more people to go to the concert...
2) Madonna's performance is considered 'arts'; even the archbishop described it so....The problem with this kind of 'arts' from 'foreign talent'  is that they may preach a kind of value that clashes or is at odds with the values desired by the society.....

"(In) multiracial, multi-religious Singapore, we cannot afford to be overly permissive in favour of artistic expression, at the expense of respect for one's religion, especially in these times of heightened religious sensitivities,"

"we should subscribe to authentic arts that lead us to God... and not support the 'pseudo arts' that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography... abusive freedom, individualism at the expense of the common good, vulgarity, lies and half-truths".

Qns (Cam. 2015)
1.     ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity.’ To what extent is this true?
2.     To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than foreign talent?

Monday, February 22, 2016

$2b extra cost if Cross Island Line skirts Central Catchment Nature Reserve

Click HERE
follow up on the earlier post on CRL (CRoss island Line), we have another point now why it is hard to balance economy and evnmtal needs....
For countries like Indonesia (exporter of palm oil) and Brunei (exporter of crude oil), sparing a thought for the envmt means slowing down their economy.
As for Singapore, w are told in this article that sparing a thought for envmt means we have to fork out an extra S$2billion for an extra 5km of train tunnelling if we choose to spare Mother Nature and have the MRT line skirt around the nature reserve instead of through it....(this recalls the Bukit Brown incident where after protests from the public, the final decision was to build an elevated road instead of a surface road in order to minimise the cutting down of excessive vegetation, though it will cost three times more! see HERE)

While it is also mentioned that we can put a price tag or dollar value on Mother Nature, surely $2billion for an extra 5km (albeit underground) is a bit too much too stomach! And this is not even factoring in the inconvenience resulting from uprooting people living in the affected fringe area, the noise pollution, and the potential political costs involved when the people affected turn against the govt.....
Now do you see why it can be so difficult to give in to environmental considerations? But of course, wanton indifference to it will mean we will pay big time in future when Mother Nature has her revenge on us!

Qn:  In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the environment balanced? (Cam. 2015)

Is it just an echo chamber?

Click HERE
the title 'echo chamber' caught my eye....I've discussed it in previous times in the context of the internet where the 'echo chamber effect' gives the illusion of numbers, i.e. actually, it's only a few people saying it, but because what they said went viral (echoed repeatedly online), viewers get the impression that everyone feels this way. The minority's view is thus amplified and given the illusion of being the majority's views.
Rumours which are repeatedly echoed are also given the illusion of truth when people keep encountering it (hear the reverberating echoes)....

But over in this article, it is used to describe an offline phenomenon, where the same kind of views kept being bounced around, such that we don't hear any new stuff. This can happen when it is always the same people speaking in the room, or when the others do not speak (i.e. the silent majority).
This can be a rebuttal of an OV on any organizations (including the govt) gathering feedback....'cos if only the same people are willing to provide feedback, then only the same kind of views will be heard instead of alternative views. Examples of feedback sessions like OSC (Our Singapore Conversation) will then have limited success.

To have a better picture of what people are feeling, feedback must be garnered from beyond a closed chamber where you only hear the same voice being echoed or bounced off the walls of the closed chamber. It may seem like many voices, but they are repetitions/echoes of the same kind of voice. One needs to break out of the chamber to hear different kind of voices outside.

For those who can remember the concept of the filter bubble syndrome (see HERE), it's quite the same manner. If you are constantly visiting the same kind of websites online, or hanging out with the same kind of people offline, you will keep encountering the same kind of views. Staying within the bubble will subject you to the echo-chamber effect where all you hear is the same view echoed repeatedly, hence the need to prick the bubble to be exposed to the myriad of views outside.....

Can also think this way....the internet is a platform (rather like a room) for like-minded people to gather...usually only those who like the same things or have the same views will come into this room. Those who have other views and likings will prefer to go to ANOTHER room. End result, those in the same room will talk about the same views and hear the same views, and think the whole world is like them. The room is the filter bubble. Being in the filter bubble means:
-you will have the mistaken belief that everyone (including those outside the room/bubble)shares your view, that the whole world thinks like you
-you wont have the FULL picture as you cant have access to alternative views outside the room/bubble
-everyone in the room is already a convert, otherwise they wont come into your room in the first whatever you'll be saying, you'll actually be 'preaching to the choir'.

 "The Government has said it doesn't want to just preach to the choir"  (meaning: preaching to the choir means you are trying to make believers out of people who already believe, or convince people who are already convinced)
According to the filter bubble syndrome, the internet operates in such a way that it usually preaches only to the choir. For example, when you put up a Hello-Kitty website online, only Hello Kitty fans will go there (as they are already Hello-Kitty worshippers); fans of arch-rival Garfield will NOT visit your website, so you would have little influence over them. This can be used as a rebuttal of the oft-cited point that the internet has a great influence over the mindset of netizens.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

$1.3m raised for sperm whale exhibit

Click HERE
This article caught my eye be'coz of the qn below....many students think museums can only refer to arts museum (sculptures and paintings)....but this is not can be natural history museums (dinosaurs skeletons, and the sperm whale one here in this article), wax museum (Madame Tussauds), Science museum (our Science Centre), and those relating to culture (e.g. Peranakan Museum), toys yes, museums can be for kids, depending on WHAT kind (5W-1H WHAT to brainstorm)....

In this article, note the objective of educating the public on need to keep oceans clean (envmtal message)....

Qn:  ‘Children should be banned from visiting museums.’ Discuss. (ACJC Prelim 2014)

Green pleas for MacRitchie

Click HERE

After Bukit Brown, the latest example is the Cross Island Line cutting through the Central Catchment Area....
For Qn below, could argue demands btw the two are balanced as now have lobby groups that fight for envmtal causes  -- so-called 'green warriors'!!!

Qn:  In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the environment balanced? (Cam. 2015)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Let's have Internet calibration, instead of regulation

Click HERE
Gives a good background on the internet scene in Singapore....
-some good examples on online petitions...
-but the main takeaway for this article is in the title -- an argument against censorship. According to the writer, there is now more self-regulation/self-calibration/self-censorship/greater media literacy blah blah blah.....end result is that the views online are more balanced and not skewed heavily towards a certain bias.....given this equilibrium being reached, the govt should lay their hands off the internet and cede greater freedom to the netizens now that there is less danger of abuse.....

Useful for any questions concerning censorship and government control online.

Robot nurses to the rescue

Click HERE
And now there's robot nurses in Singapore!!!
If u have been following my recent postings: First, Nadine the companion robot, then Huan Huan the exercise robot, then Lucy the robot waitress, then hotel bellboy and housekeeping robots, and now it has invaded the hospital!!!! Robots are running amok in Singapore! Now let's see if one will appear in Geylang!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Working from home can cost the earth

Click HERE
a good rebuttal to the oft-cited point that working from home is environmentally-friendly.

Qn:    Consider the view that most work these days could, and should, be done from home. (Cam. 2010)

Children learn better from people than screens

Click HERE
For the Q1 below, use 5W-1H WHO? for children, tech may not be a good idea for education.
For the comparison Q1 below, recognise that u can(and must) argue why [A] is better by telling me why [B] is no good. The article is not really talking about books, but it gives some points on why tech can be both good or bad depending on the child's age. The magic number is '3'.

1. Books serve little purpose in education as technological developments become more sophisticated.’ How far do you agree? (Cam. 2015)

2.   Consider the argument that the main purpose of television should be to educate rather than simply to entertain.

Hotel to debut pair of robot service staff

Click HERE
Another example of robot invasion in the hospitality industry, this time in hotels....

Robot Lucy at your service at newly opened Rong Heng Seafood

Click HERE
it's already here! a robot waitress!
same usual points: address manpower shortage? steal our jobs? expensive in the short run? efficient coz no MC no rest needed?

Social media brings people together, tears people apart

Click HERE
a very good article in the context of Arab Spring, providing a good rebuttal.
One main argument is that social media brings people with the same idea together. This is good if majority of the people share the same idea, as this would that lead to a consensus action -- in the case of Arab Spring, the overthrow of the corrupt regime.
But if different people subscribe to different ideas, and there is no on dominant idea that people like, then factures and disintegration will occur as different groups shout out their ideas online but there is no consensus.....this is the failure of the Arab Spring.

Qn: Does social media really empower us?

Get ready for an Uber future

Click HERE
write-up about how man may be replaced by machines in future....

-'Will humans go the way of horses?' -- an interesting quotation useful for BANGing
-intro BANG using an interesting hypothetical scenario in the future....

Printed book still has place on shelf

Click HERE

this caught my eye:
find it too strenuous to read from a screen. I am also convinced by medical reports that the blue light emitted by electronic devices can wreck her sleep.

Qn: ‘Books serve little purpose in education as technological developments become more sophisticated.’ How far do you agree?

Cheated - men seeking sex, women seeking love

Click HERE 
Note: crime may be low in Singapore, but online crime is fast rising in numbers. Low crime doesn't mean no crime.
Other than the usual points associated with internet and the crime scene, I piqued by the idea that women are cheated of their money by online scammers, in the case, online Romeos who tried to sam the women of their money by making them lose their hearts to them first....
This could be an interesting rebuttal to the point that we tend not to trust people online because there is no face-to-face interaction, and people's identity online can be faked.
Yet here we have intelligent women falling for the scams laid by these online Romeos, trusting them so much that they are willing to wire money to them without even having met them offline even once.

Facing down violent extremism

Click HERE
one thing to take away from this article is that terrorism cannot be solved using military might. all the nuclear weapons in the world are powerless against terrorism as you don't know where they are, and even if you do know, they are not afraid of dying (think suicide bombers).

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

A red curse in Pahang

Click HERE
one possible argument to be extracted is that balance is possible because environmental damage affects human health, so there is pressure to ensure Mother Nature is intact as it affects our health.

compare with coal mining in China, fracking in the US, and burning of the forests in Indonesia...

Qn: In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the environment balanced?

Harms of cutting defence spending overstated

Click HERE

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

Embracing failure part of Silicon Valley's success

Click HERE

Qn: The word failure should never be used in education. Discuss.

Saudi Arabia, Russia to Freeze Oil Output Near Record Levels

Click HERE
For major oil-producing countries (e.g. those in oil cartels like OPEC), controls (over the supply) are necessary to stabilize the oil prices....

Qn: Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great? (Cam. 2015)

Domestic and external challenges intertwined: George Yeo

Click HERE
George Yeo is very good at using imagery in his speech, like the 'pruning the banyan tree' metaphor he once used to clamour for less govt control....Here's a good one in the article:
"If we turn inwards we'll crash into icebergs. So we have to look outwards. But in looking outwards we ignore problems on the ship, then disunity on the ship can prevent us from acting on what we see,"

Qn:  Discuss the claim that in the modern world people should care more about international than national issues.(Cam. 2013)

Boxing: Nike axes Pacquiao contract over gay slurs

Click HERE
Consider this incident of a gaffe by a celebrity -- wrong words coming out of their mouth that have a backlash on their image and popularity. Compare with Rebecca's Lim recent 'I wanna quit showbiz' saga. If you can remember the Bill Cosby sex scandal (not so much his words, but his 'act'), the idea is the same -- things said or done by celebs that go wrong!

Useful quotation for BANGing:
he described gay couples as "worse than animals"

1. Can prejudice ever be eliminated?
2. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Tech giants back Apple's refusal to hack iPhone

Click HERE

a common argument is how the govt is justified in infringing on our privacy for the collective security of others, esp after the spate of terrorists attacks in recent years, the latest being the bombing in Paris and Jakarta, and just a few days ago, Ankara in Turkey.
Here in this article, we have Tim Cook (no, he's not a chef, but Apple's CEO) refusing to abide by the state's order to hack into the iphone, citing the slippery slope argument (a useful rebuttal to the earlier point) as to how this will set a dangerous precedent:

He called it a "chilling" attack on civil liberties and warned that ultimately the government could "demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone's microphone or camera without your knowledge".

For those who told me u recently did the 2006 compre on freedom and liberty, you may want to think about this.

Is there such a thing as privacy any more?
To what extent should the government be allowed to interfere in the rights of others?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Stephen Chow's "The Mermaid"

Click HERE for video clip...
A good example of a famous movie which carries an environmental message. Can use this movie as an interesting example for Banging in intro and conclusion for environment qns.
Can also use the quotation method by quoting what the protagonist said in the movie:

if the world does not even have a single drop of clean water left, or a breath of clean air, all the money in the world will be useless, as you will die anyway.

Note other famous movies with social/political/environmental messages: Harry Potter; X-Men; Spiderman; Avatar....

1.     In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the environment balanced? (Cam. 2105)
2.     Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2013)

No jobs will be safe from robots: Scientists

Click HERE
This is a continuation on the previous posts on the same issue of tech destroying jobs (CJC Holiday assignment Dec 2015)'s the same few arguments with some statistics thrown in....note how highly-skilled jobs like hedge fund managers and doctors are less likely to be replaced by robots....

BUT what caught my eye is that even prostitutes (the 'world's oldest profession') will be replaced by robots! -- and safer too!!!! Now, imagine using this interesting nugget of info as a closing BANG for your essay!

Note the use of a series of examples to open with a BANG in intro of article...

Insurer expresses regret over 'retirement' stunt

Click HERE
here's another link on the background: sorry-seems-to-be-the-hardest-word-for-rebecca-lim

You can use this to argue bad publicity for both NTUC and Rebecca Lim as their reputation is tarnished and popularity dips....pple lose trust in them.....but on the flip side, it need not be bad publicity as:
-at least Rebecca is still on the radar on the media....for any celebrity, bad news is better than no news...
-the controversy creates curiosity and awareness of the need to plan for retirement early...

Qn: ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity.’ To what extent is this true? (Cam. 2015)

Cambridge Qns on Advertising:

1)     Advertisements are often entertaining but they are rarely affect consumer choice. Is this your experience? (2007)

2)     Advertising encourages a desire for products which people do not actually need. Discuss. (2004)

3)     Should advertising be restricted in any way? (2001)

4)     Discuss the various methods of advertising and their effectiveness. (1983)

MUJI products are ethical....

was strolling in Muji this afternoon when I came across this....

Now that some consumers are more environmentally aware, even businesses must 'go green' if they want to pursue profits.
Note: excessive use of pesticides and insecticides pollutes the environment as they seep into the soil and pollute the underground water.
If you pop into the food section of any Marks&Spencers outlets, you will also notice that their products do not harm the envmt....all this is part of the global trend of businesses becoming ethical -- whether by choice or under pressure from consumers....

Another way to look at this is that countries can advance their economy without harming the environment...

Qn: In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the environment balanced? (Cam. 2015)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bad air killing more than 5.5m people each year

Click HERE

useful stats here: 5.5. million people killed by air pollution every year!!! good for BANG-ing in the intro, conclusion, and as Evidence in your PEEL to make you Point convincing....


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

2.     In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the environment balanced? (Cam. 2015)

3.     Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great? (Cam. 2015)

Friday, February 12, 2016

What is fracking and why is it controversial?

Click HERE
Other than fracking, consider also other controversial forms of producing energy that perhaps justify some form of govt controls: nuclear, biofuels, hydroelectric power.....

Q: Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great? (Cam. 2015)