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, July 29, 2016

Youtube 'video essays'

I stumbled upon this youtube clip (Click HERE)....the guy has clips on other 'A' level qns as if u're tired of reading essays, u may want to try 'watching and listening' to essays for a change....Do remember to critically appraise what u get from the internet....

If you're practicing using 'A' level qns, you may want to google the entire qn to see what's thrown'll be amazed! See what I got when I googled a Math and Arts Qn: Click HERE

Sand dredging damaging the Mekong

Click HERE
Other than the building of dams for hydroelectric power, sand dredging for the construction industry is also causing environmental problems, and consequently, threatening the livelihood of people who depends on the might Mekong River.....

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

We are all cyborgs now

Click HERE

Note the opening BANG in intro using a famous anecdote/eg from a famous novel to introduce the topic of discussion....
and the closing BANG using Orwell's 'Big Brother' with the twist on 'Little cousins' and the echoing of 'cyborgs' in intro....

Another useful thing to take away with is the recent chilling example of:
Furthermore, Big Data can at times become Bad Data: erroneous or deceiving information, like the false Facebook post that the Munich terrorist allegedly made, offering free food to lure as many people as possible to the local McDonald's.

double-edged sword of social media:
information collected on the Internet can be a great resource for the forces of order (videos allowed for the swift identification of the killer). But the same data can be used for evil, as was recalled by these same Bavarian policemen, who recommended that no one post any information that could be useful to runaway terrorists.

The problem with statistics or info procured online, and the rebuttal using online cross-referencing verification:
Aggregated data can equally conceal pitfalls. As the 19th-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli once put it: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Something similar could be said today, in the era of Big Data. It is crucial to examine the quality of the information we collect - preferably involving citizens in the verification process. A key aspect of the Web is that it's democratic and "autocritic" - that is, capable of monitoring itself.

Qn: Discuss the view that too much faith is placed in statistics.

Democrats sharpen their claws against Trump

Click HERE

This caught my eye:
Mr Bloomberg also made a convincing plea to fellow independents, telling them to choose the next president not out of party loyalty but out of "love of country".
"This election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It's a choice about who is better to lead our country right now," said Mr Bloomberg.

Indeed, love of one's country will compel one to look at the larger picture of what's good for the country instead of being swayed by party or tribal affiliations.  Its almost like meritocracy where u give the seat to the most abled person instead of someone in your family member even though you recognize that he/she may not be the best candidate, i.e. almost like nepotism/cronyism/corruption.
In Singapore's context, it would mean voting as a Singaporean, for what's best for Singapore, instead of voting as a pro-PAP, pro-Worker's Party, as a Chinese, a Muslim, etc....esp if you acknowledge the fact that the candidate is good for the country. Do not NOT vote him/her just because he/she does not belong to the group u belong, or belong to the group you hate or is a threat to your group....'cos that will be tribalism at work.... Why do you think our govt is trying so hard to strengthen our national identity? so that national interests come before party politics, before racial/ religious identity, before any agenda....blah blah blah....

Also evident in the article is the name-calling and ugly character assassination of Trump -- which at best if it's true, reflects badly on the person doing it; at worst, engaging in fabrication of untruths which will be an act injustice against the targeted person.... all of which makes democractic election like like an ugly farce that brings out the worst in human nature..... that we have to bring someone down in order that we may win....

1. Should a love of one’s country still be encouraged (2009)
2. Consider the view that efficient government is more important than democracy (2011)
3. ‘Getting what one wants in life is what matters.’ Discuss. (2014)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Teen suicides highest in 15 years but overall rate falls: SOS

Click HERE

note the reasons given in the article....

Interesting fact/stats to know...useful for intro Banging for qns on stress, youth, education....
interesting also to note that there are more male suicides compared to this a notion of male weakness or could it be rationalized as males are the ones eking a living out there, with the greater social expectations, hence more stress on them?

Qn: It is better to be born a male than a female in today's world. Do you agree?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Relocate top primary schools for more equal access: Study

Click HERE

Top primary schools tend to have students who are children from their alumni since they have priority in registration.....and if we go by the MOE proximity criterion of one-km radius from the school, again it is the rich who benefit as the top primary schools are located in districts where the rich live, eg Bt Timah, Siglap, Holland Village.....Even if the schs are located in not so exclusive district, the rich have the buying power to purchase houses near there, and developers are quick to build condos and houses near these schools, given these sch's attraction which will translate into demand for the real estate in those areas....
Secondary schools and JC  admission is supposed to be fairer since it's based on grades, but once again, the better-off students in the top pri sch will benefit from the better resources of their pri schs and hence have better PSLE grades.....some branded pri schs have affiliation with top sec schs and JCs too (e.g. ACS Pri), hence enjoy additional cut-off points that give them an easier entry to top sec schs and JCs.....they will go on to get better grades and go to better unis and then have better jobs and then the cycle repeats itself as their children will now get into the same top pri schs cos their parents are the alumni or that their parents will be able to relocate to near top pri schs (better jobs means more money means rich means can relocate to wherever they want) and the cycle repeats itself....
[Note that I'm babbling here, so the LONG are not to write like this in ur exams....)

This is the reason why meritocracy has not led to greater equality in Singapore in recent years (recall: RI is now a middle class school, i.e. few or no low income students) and why education has not led to the alleviation of poverty for those in the low income groups.....

For qns on equality, meritocracy, diversity, education....

1. In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)
2. To what extent is education a great leveller in your society?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Twitter bans writer over abuse

Click HERE

A good example of a blockbuster movie getting involved with racist remarks and trolling on social media...
-debate between free speech and hate speech
-useful rebuttal where moderator or regulator of the social media site can intervene
-can we argue that all this bad publicity actually brings more attention to the movie, i.e. free publicity?
-the example of an all-female ghostbusters as an interesting BANG to qn 4 below, regardless of your stand....

"Twitter I understand you got free speech, I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let (it) spread like that."


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

2.     Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (2014)

3.     To what extent can the regulation of scientific or technological developments be justified? (2014)
.         4.   Consider the view that some careers are better suited to one gender than the other.(2014)

Should Russia be allowed to host 2018 World Cup?

Click HERE

A good example about how doping can involve the entire state machinery and not just the doper himself.....This takes doping into a different league altogether compared to those of individuals like Lance Armstrong, Maria Sharapova...where the state was not complicit in the wrongdoing....

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hidden bias against women in politics (MUST-READ OK!)

Click HERE

Excellent article on gender politics....

-note how the closing BANG echoes the opening BANG by referring back to the two female politicians...and the interesting anecdote about their shoes, which by the way, further affirms the writer's stand that women still have a long way to go in use a colourful saying, they may have poke through the glass ceiling, but are still far from shattering it. Recall qn type in paper 2 on the way writer ends the passage.

-the writer's interesting analysis about how women politicians in Asia reflect a similar trend -- almost all rose to power on the influence of their family, as opposed to own merit.

-there's also the age factor -- most successful female politicians in the west are not young, compared to the men i.e. takes a longer time for women to breach the glass ceiling.

-women at the top often vilified...e.g. iron lady (Thatcher and the current Theresa May)...Terminator (Angela Merkel)...

-note also the useful rebuttal pair here that can be applied for Qn 1 below:

"Yet probably the most perverse sexist stereotype about women in politics is one currently pushed, paradoxically, by some feminist campaigners, who suggest that if the world was ruled by women there would be fewer wars, and that the current wave of women leaders is due to the need to "clean up the mess created by men".
German writer Mara Delius invented a new term of "femokratie" to describe the coming rule of feminine democrats. And she describes them as post-modern saviours "in trouser suits and rubber gloves", equipped for the political sweeping which lies ahead.
But much of this is nonsense. For while there is plenty of evidence that macho cultures contribute to conflicts, there is no evidence that women heads of government are more peaceful than men in similar positions. Indira Gandhi in India and Golda Meir in Israel didn't shirk from wars, and neither did Margaret Thatcher. Nor is there any compelling scientific evidence that women are inherently better at administration."

1.     The world would be a better place if more political leaders were women. What is your view? (Cam. 2013)
2.     In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)

Thai govt moves to drive out sex tourism

Click HERE

This is what I meant in my earlier post about how tourism can breed what is called 'sin industry', i.e. prostitution, gambling, etc....

It could even be a rebuttal for how tourism creates jobs, but look what 'kind' of jobs we're seeing here.....!!!!
and what kind of moral implication does this have on the society? Let's not forget that what is created for the tourists to make them spend is also accessible to the locals....e.g. building the casino in Singapore does not mean only tourists get to go there, but locals too!
But this will be ok for other kinds of attractions like Sentosa, the Zoo, Universal Studios, shopping malls, 'cos locals would probably not have been able to enjoy these (they would not have been built) if investors' confidence is not boosted by the tourists.

For qns on tourism.....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Survey on intangible cultural heritage to start soon

Click HERE

Check out this article for some excellent local examples of culture, tradition, heritage and the arts....

1. ‘For the majority of people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.’ How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)
2. How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (Cam. 2010
3. To what extent is it important for your society to preserve its cultural heritage?

Monday, July 18, 2016

More than 260m children not in school

Click HERE

useful stats for Banging...note also the reasons why access to education is denied to these children....

Qn:     Is the elimination of global poverty a realistic aim? (Cam. 2009)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

BREXIT -- A rejection of the globalised world order

Click HERE

BREXIT - Britain voted to leave the European Union 52% vs 48% (highest voter turnout of 33million since 1992)
Figurative language: opening of the Pandora’s box; the genie is out of the bottle

related issues:

1)failure of democracy
-Hijacked by populist parties which tapped on the frustrations and anxieties of the people, which the govt has not been able to effectively assuaged
-compare with Trump in America. If Trump win the US election, it will be like Brexit re-visited
-Most of those who swung the votes towards Brexit are those older, poorer, less educated ones….It was revealed that a lot of these were voting to vent their frustrations against the govt; they did not even know what is EU!!!!!!!

2)regional and social divisions
-voting patterns/profile shows divisions along:
Fixated on economy
Prosperous London

Northern Ireland/ Scotland

Less educated
Fretting about immigration
Provincial England (i.e. England minus London)

 3)failure of globalization
-nations start to turn inward, break away from groups, refusing to cede autonomy and sovereignty to groupings
-benefits of globalization have not reached everyone, resulting in a disenfranchised group
-globalization is about removal of barriers, but the British want barriers to movement of people (immigrants) due to fear of job competition, rise in cost of living and terrorism

4)sovereignty compromised; national identity/patriotism
-no autonomy; resentment at having to accommodate and abide by EU partners’ terms, including on the 4 freedoms of goods, capital, services and people. The thorny issue here is people, as this means opening doors to immigrants (i.e. cheap labour and terrorists)
-related to desire for own sovereignty. Why should the mighty British listen to orders from Brussels?
-Brexit may also precipitate the unravelling of the United Kingdom as Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay/remain in the EU and they have long wanted to assert their identity as an independent state apart from England.
-the contagion/toxicity is not confined to just Britain but also Europe. Already, member countries like Spain and France are not too happy with the constraints imposed by being a member of the EU, esp the austerity measures they have to stomach during the Euro Crisis and the recent immigration problems. Brexit might just be the prelude to other exits by member countries keen to regain their sovereignty. Should this come to pass, it will spell the dismantling of the EU.
-could also spark separatist movement for restive regions like Catalonia, Tibet, Xinjiang.

-The main problem that swung the votes towards Brexit.
-Germany’s generosity towards welcoming more immigrants from Syria and Turkey means that the influx of immigrants are making their way up to the more prosperous countries of Scandinavia, including Britain.
-terrorism issue, job competition, cheap labour and rising cost of living

6)failure of govt to address the concerns of the disenfranchised
-think Arab Spring

7)repercussions for World economy
-Britain is a major global financial centre; its unravelling will send shockwaves across the globe

8)what a FOOL!
-In what is perhaps one of the greatest political fiascos in recent times, British ex-PM David Cameron made the decision to go for a referendum on the Brexit issue when he could have chosen not to. It’s a political gamble that costs him his political career and casts a long shadow on his previous achievements.
-compare with Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush who all made stupid mistakes…

Essay Qns:

1.     When a government’s finances for social welfare are limited, should they be directed towards the young or the old? (Cam. 2015)

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

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

4.     The key criterion for good government is how well the economy is managed. Is this a fair assessment? (Cam. 2012)

5.     Taking risks is an essential part of life and should be encouraged. Discuss. (Cam. 2011)

6.     Consider the view that efficient government is more important than democracy. (Cam. 2011)

7.     How far should countries aim to be self-sufficient? (Cam. 2011)

8.     Only educated people should have the right to vote in elections. What is your view? (Cam. 2009)

9.     Should a love of one’s country still be encouraged? (Cam. 2009)

10.  To what extent does the immigration of people have a positive effect? (Cam. 2008)

11.  The view of the majority is always right. Do you agree? (Cam. 2007)

12.  ‘Despite being more educated, people have not become wiser.’ Discuss.

13.  Do choices actually make our lives better? (VJC Prelim 2015)

Freedom to dress....

Article 1: look-closer-at-freedom-that-binds-women-to-fashion-norms
Article 2: better-to-exercise-good-judgment-in-dressing

"All forms of expression, including how one dresses, carry a message. Otherwise, the expression would be meaningless. Freedom of expression also comes with responsibility for the impact made by the expression."
Given the above quote, women who exercise their freedom and choose to wear short skirts can no longer just blame the attackers if they get molested/raped. Every act of freedom comes with responsibility, just like when you choose to practice unsafe sex and contract aids/STDs, you cannot totally blame the other party for not disclosing his/her condition to you.

There's also the interesting idea put forth in article 1 that we may think we are exercising our freedom to wear what we want, but our so-called 'choice' is nothing but the pre-determined option planted in us by advertisements and commercials, instead of our authentic choice. In essence, our choice is actually the choice of others rather than our own, esp if we blindly follow fashion.

1) 'The way we dress reveals who we are.' What are your views? (Cam. 'O' Lvl 2013)
2) Do choices actually make our lives better? (VJC Prelim 2015)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bullfighter gored to death in Spain

Click HERE

for Qns on tourism, tradition and animal rights....

Consider also the Japanese tradition of hunting whales....

Saturday, July 09, 2016

USeful quote by Obama

The Quote says it all.......

Friday, July 08, 2016

Recommended by Angkor Wat tourists, cover up or keep out

Click HERE

Note how tourism can cause problems for locals as tourists bring their norms into the country, esp their liberal dressing....Only last year, some Caucasians were arrested for taking nude pics of themselves at the peak of Mt Kinabalu.
It is not unlike how immigrants bring their habits into the country, causing friction and clashes with the lifestyle of the locals....

Chinese article on the left also make mention of the rubbish left behind by tourists....similar complaints of rubbish contributed by tourists apply to hiking trails in Nepal and Mt Fuji in Japan.

As an after-thought, think also of the kind of unhealthy industry spurred by tourism...think the sex trade and gambling. Sex tourists have been known to frequent third world countries like Brazil and Thailand, leading to exploitation of women and even children (if u think of paedophiles and child prostitution)....and think also of casinos in Macau, Las Vegas...Singapore!

Men and bulls on the run

Click HERE

Qns on tradition and tourism....
but note that this traditional practice is quite violent, esp since humans can be injured...
Think also cock-fighting as a tradition in Thailand....

For tourism qn, use 5W-1H, WHO? consider impacts from point of view of tourists and locals

Yes, robots may steal your job...

Click HERE
I put up a few posts some time back on this topic of tech taking over our's another one....

note how tech doesn't just destroy jobs, but also create high-skilled jobs, except that we may not have people with those skills to man the jobs (mismatch of skills btw education and industrial needs)....consider also the impact on our lack of manpower Achilles' heel....

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Removed images: Photographer 'deeply disappointed'

Click HERE

For qns on the arts, censorship...
Works of foreign artists may carry values that clash with our local values...
In the example above, note that while her photos were censored/banned, you can still view it also provides a less costly exposure to the artists, esp for poor suffering artists who cannot come up with the money to stage an exhibition....

Note the following excerpts:
1) "Omitting images from my exhibition cannot wipe the realities of today's world from people's minds," she wrote.
---is censorship a kind of denial of reality? much like what the Jap govt is doing to whitewash their atrocities in WWII? This takes on greater gravity if we realise that solutions often require a full confrontation with the truth, no matter how ugly it may be....

2)Art, documentary photography and journalism are meant to create understanding and insight - "even when we disagree with or fear those portrayed"
--censorship impedes understanding and perpetuates bias

3)"In Iran, Europe or Singapore, wherever in the world, I trust that those viewing my work are wise enough to interpret it for themselves, without the need of schoolmasters taking them by the hand, telling them what is wrong and what is right."
-- media literacy and maturity of population as grounds for NO censorship

4)She noted that it is now easier than ever to access information.
The removed photographs were first published in an April issue of Time magazine last year, for a photo essay titled Meet The Women Taking The Battle To ISIS, and can still be viewed on Time's website.
--the futility of censorship, esp in this era of new media

5) MDA said in its statement last week: "Singapore takes a firm stand against extremism and will not allow photographs that undermine public order, national security and/or stability to be displayed."
--creation of public social disorder as grounds for Charlie Hebdo in Paris last year.

1. To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than foreign talent? (Cam. 2015)
2. 'In societies that are technologically advanced, there is no room for the artist.' Do you agree? (TJC Midyr 2016)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Famed Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel dies, aged 87

Click HERE

Note the two useful and powerful quotes from Elie Wiesel:

1) We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

2) To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.

1. How far is it possible for one country to forgive another for its past actions? (Cam. 2015)2. 'Silence is golden.' Do you agree?

Wildlife attractions in Thailand under scrutiny

Click HERE

1. Should poorer countries develop their tourist industry when the basic needs of their own people are not being met? (Cam. 2007)

2. Should animals be held in captivity?

More Japanese youth get to vote but they feel 'powerless'

Click HERE

Gives an interesting reason why young Japs are politically apathetic....

Qn: To what extent are the youth in your society interested in politics?