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.... :-)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Useful Stats on Social Media users

Come useful stats concerning the social media landscape of Singapore and China:

1) More than 3 out of 4 are on social media here

2) China's online population hits 731 million, 95% access through cellphones

Note also in first article:
=While there are obvious benefits of being connected, the proliferation of connectivity online could also be a double-edged sword..... "They allow us a greater reach and access to information and social networks, regardless of time and space.

="However, they can also lead to over-distraction, waste of time or echo chambers of misinformation or propagation of prejudices, stereotypes, and hatred,"
[for the echo chamber concept, think of it as a room filled with people of the same background and mindset...they will invariably think and say the same kind of views; you will invariably hear the same kind of views being repeated or echoed ...the more u hear it, the more u will think it is the truth or the best solution, as u dont get to hear other kinds of views OUTSIDE the chamber. This becomes dangerous if the views outside the chamber is more accurate or useful....if you continue mixing with the same kind of people (like-minded or same wavelength) either in a physical setting or in the virtual world, the filter bubble syndrome will kick in, resulting in the echo-chamber effect. Both operate to cause you to have a singular view which may not be compatible with what is actually happening]

=there could be ramifications of becoming a "truly networked society". First, overuse of mobile devices or laptops means users are in a state of continuous partial attention, he said. This, coupled with the constant switching between tasks, could leave users with a reduced mental bandwidth - similar to an eight-year-old's - allocated to any task or situation

=the widespread use of social media could also lead to cybersecurity issues. "People are connecting to social media via their Smart TVs or fitness trackers, which store plenty of personal information or metadata that is highly attractive to cybercriminals. "Yet many new Internet of Things devices coming to market have weak or no security,"

Project shames selfie-takers at Holocaust memorial

Click HERE
Think back on the concept of dark tourism, where tourists visit places like Fukushima nuclear site, concentration camps in Auschitwz, the killing fields in Cambodia.....One of the purposes of dark tourism is the education potential, where the confrontation with site of horror will jolt one into reflection and hopefully walk away with some insights, esp pertaining to the mistakes made by our forefathers....
But in the situation depicted in this article, this educational objective is not fulfilled, as the sacred memorial was treated with disrespect by the tourists; and obviously, they were too intent on taking selfies that the educational purpose became secondary or even oblivious to them....
"a stinging example of how record numbers of global tourists - particularly the young - have stripped revered sites of their gravitas."

Note also this:
'an instant example of the power of the Internet to generate shame.'
Compare with our local STOMP, that regularly shames people by uploading clips of their offending behaviour...Think social media's ability to influence and correct/educate public behaviour...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Walk through 200 years of history on Little India trail

Click HERE
- Function and role of the arts? Painting murals as a way to capture and remind us of our heritage?

- that the saving and preservation of our cultural heritage are given a boost due to the economic benefits that can be derived from tourism? Relate to last year's 'A' level compre AQ on tourism's advantages and disadvantages...Do you think the govt would have invested money to spruce up these cultural areas if there are no tourist receipts to be benefited from? Maybe yes, but surely the tourism factor makes it more frequent and easier for the govt to do so.....

Foreign talent wary of China's air pollution

Click HERE

Qn: To what extent are the demands of the environment and the economy well-balanced in your society?

Singapore climbs to 7th on global least-corrupt index

Click HERE

'Singapore has consistently made it to the index's top 10, and remains the only Asian country to make the cut'.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Microwave technology

Click HERE
This is a BBC audio clip that I caught by chance over the radio....did you know that microwave ovens have their roots in military technology?
Microwave is a good example for the Qn below, where military technology and the research into it actually can be translated into useful civilian use, hence justifying the former....Other examples include GPS technology, the internet and the jet engine.

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

It's official: Batteries at fault for Samsung Note7 fires

Click HERE
A good example for the Qn reason bad publicity is possible is due to the widespread use of social media today, such that the moment it happens, practically the whole world knows about it, 'cos the victim (of the exploding phone) will release the news online....

Note the cost of the bad publicity:
The total cost of the recall was estimated to be more than US$6 billion (S$8.5 billion).

But on the upside, bad publicity puts extra incentive on the firm to do even better to ensure mistakes do not repeat themselves, as is the case here for the soon-to-appear Galaxy S8.....

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

Monday, January 23, 2017

Chinese visitors to S'pore up by 36%

Click HERE

useful stats to know...

Overall, Singapore received 14.89 million visitors in the first eleven months of 2016 [i.e. about 15million -- thrice the population of Singapore of 5million], up 8 per cent year on year.
The STB has projected tourism receipts would rise 0 to 2 per cent year on year to $22 billion to $22.4 billion for 2016 as a whole.

For tourism qns and the 2016 AQ last year....

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Preserve culture by letting it evolve

Click HERE

To the often-cited argument that there is no point in the conservation of old buildings coz we only preserve the facade and neglect the interior, this article provides a good counter -- conservation does not mean we have to preserve the interior as it was in the past, coz this is not realistic nor practical; instead, it should be allowed to evolve with the times, permitting slight changes to it, but not so great/radical that it will become an affront or insult to its original like the ACS school example in a previous post....
"Hanging on to the old ways will not recreate how life was.
Rather, it creates a caricature of the past."

1.To what extent is it important to conserve the heritage in your society?
2. Assess the view that traditional buildings have no future in your society. (Cam. 2016)

Why Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech feels like a hijacking

Click HERE
Note an excellent example of celebrity commenting on politics. Recall examples in the past of George Clooney about Sudan; Richard Gere about Tibet; and of course Angelina Jolie using her star power as ambassador for the UN....

Note how the writer uses an analogy to rebut and make his point that one does not have to be a politician to comment on politics:
Anyone can see that this is a weak rebuttal, for the reason that you do not have to be a ship's captain to know when a vessel is taking on water, to use an analogy.

Check out Streep's controversial speech against Trump at the recent Golden Globes Awards Ceremony: Click HERE for the clip.

Qn: 'Celebrity and politics should not mix.' Discuss.

Uphold history of heritage shophouses

Click HERE
A useful local example to show that even if we are conserving our old buildings, but if we do not do it properly (i.e. just conserve facade but give scant regard to the interior), then it is ultimately still it does not remind us of the past, since that past has already been distorted or desecrated....

1.To what extent is it important to conserve the heritage in your society?
2. Assess the view that traditional buildings have no future in your society. (Cam. 2016)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tiredness from overtime seen as badge of honour in South Korea

Click HERE

See the Singapore context here: Long hours common for some professions in Singapore!
"Data from the Manpower Ministry shows that last year, Singaporeans clocked an average of 45.6 hours a week from January to September. The weekly average for the whole of 2015 was the same. This means Singaporeans clock an average of 2,371.2 paid hours a year - a figure higher than that in places notorious for their overtime culture, such as Japan and South Korea."

China province expands festive firecracker ban

Click HERE
Link to examples like Thailand's Songkran (waste water) and Singapore's Hungry Ghost Festival (burning incense paper contributing to air pollution and fire hazards), and the dangerous bull-fights (both to man and the bull) in Spain, etc... where certain traditional cultural practices can be harmful to the environment.....

Eight men own as much wealth as poorest half of the world, says Oxfam

Click HERE
USeful stats to know -- and use!
Note the connection to Brexit and the fluke US election outcome....

Monday, January 16, 2017

Publication of dossier sparks media debate

Click HERE

Note the ethical implication here....should the media be allowed to publish this piece of unverified news on Trump? Note the two sides mentioned....

The Trump-Russia Dossier: Between truth & lies

Click HERE

Dangerous rise in e-waste as affluence grows in Asia: Study

Click HERE

An uncompromising tool: The power of Russia's 'kompromat'

Click HERE

-think about limitations of democracy
Interfering in foreign elections is something in which both Russians and Americans are experts.  The US did it in Latin America from the 19th century, and it is by now largely forgotten that the Cold War started in the 1940s precisely because then Soviet leader Josef Stalin falsified elections in Eastern Europe to produce communist regimes through the simple expedient of controlling the procedures. As he famously said: "It doesn't matter how people vote; it matters who counts."

-how cyberwarfare is panning out....battles no longer at battlefield but in cyberspace...

Qn:  ‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to sort out their own problems.’
How far do you agree? (Cam. 2016)

More cabbies leaving the job amid stiff competition

Click HERE

USe the 5W-1H to get 2 points....desirable for WHO?
Consumers benefit from lower prices from Uber, Grab etc
Business suffer from cutthroat competition...unsustainable? Recall the term 'disruptive ecnonpmy'
Business benefit as forces them to innovate using apps to provide better services?
Workers either lose jobs as companies folded, or quit jobs as job no longer paying a decent wage...

Qn: Is compeition always desirable? (Cam. 2016)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rise of robots spurs call for 'kill switches'

Click HERE
Focus esp on the blue box on the left side, which can give you a potential rebuttal for the often-cited point that the use of robotics (tech) will destroy jobs....

'How can 97 marks be not good enough?'

Click HERE

Now the title is definitely quite attention-grabbing, which is why it makes for a good BANG for qns on education....a typical intro BANG can go like this:
In a recent report in The Straits Times, the article was headlined 'How can 97 marks be not good enough?' [Go on to provide a brief context for the quote and then judge it by signalling the validity or non-validity or both of the quote, giving reasons (which are ur OVs/SVs) which will precipitate ur STAND at end of intro....]

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Education Minister Ng Chee Meng urges students to dare to 'chiong'

Click HERE

'Dare to Chiong' and 'Divine Discontent' are juicy picks for ur opening closing BANGs in ur essays!!!
Read this article on the Education Minister's views for greater insights into the local education system --- esp its criticisms...

A good takeaway from the article is the term: 'Singapore was an exam meritocracy, not a talent meritocracy'

Return to humanity

Click HERE

Note esp the second half where writer talks about the dehumanising effect of technology on us, how it has made us anti-social through its tremendous inefficiency and disinclined to partake in the real world....

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Sunny skies for Thai tourism despite political turmoil

Click HERE

-a very good example for rebuttal on the point that tourism is susceptible to political volatility....Despite the spate of coups and bomb blasts and terrorist attacks, Thailand continues to be a tourist magnet registering very impressive double digit growths!

-constituting more than 10% of GDP, it is important to the country's economy and the livelihood of many Thais...

- but tourism can also pose problems....tourists may not be sensitive and can be disrespectful to the feelings and culture of the locals e.g. wearing bright-coloured clothes during the period of mourning of their beloved king...most Thais wear sombre black instead....

-there's also the sin industry (prostitution) supported by tourism (sex tourists)

-Note also the point on the straining (and even degradation) of infrastructure and Mother Nature e.g. the airport and place of interests:
"Meanwhile, tourist crowds are straining Thailand's famed natural attractions. National park authorities had to close Koh Tachai, a popular island in the Andaman Sea, last year to allow the island and surrounding coral reef to recover from environmental damage."

Relate to Qns on tourism and last year's 'A' level compre AQ on tourism.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Start-ups love Beijing, can't stand the bad air

Click HERE

Good example to show how the economic report card of a country is also tied to its environmental report card....The severe smog problem in Beijing has made it increasingly less attractive in attracting and retaining talent in the city, and is also causing some companies to relocate elsewhere...obviously tourism can also be affected....
Ccompare with the haze problem plaguing Singapore.

Given this, environmental concerns have now become a political priority for Beijing....see related article here: china-to-invest-520b-in-clean-fuel
China will plough 2.5 trillion yuan (S$520.5 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country's energy agency said yesterday, as the world's largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels

For the long-term sustainability of the economy, it may be that environmental concerns cannot be sidelined...think 'symbiotic relationship' and the goose-that-lays-the-golden-eggs analogy....

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

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Go ahead and complain, but don't let it become toxic

Click HERE

Complaining is seen as a national culture here -- Singaporeans just love to complain, as opposed to trying to solve the problem themselves. And yes, they love to complain to and about the 'gahmen'!!! 'cos they expect the 'efficient and effective gahmen' to do something about wonder no entrepreneurship is not a trademark of Singaporeans, cos they all expect Big Daddy to wipe their backside for them when things go wrong!
Anyway, it's good to know that there are redeeming -- even desirable, constructive -- qualities about complaining. For all you know, Singapore got to where she is today because of our ceaseless complaints.....
note the balance given by the writer....

'100% yes' to cross the line

Click HERE

Other than the often-cited anecdote of women being banned from driving in Saudi Arabia, now u have another refreshing example of women oppression -- this time, in Iran, of women being barred from football matches.....makes for interesting BANG material!

Smoking out the culprits behind smog in Beijing

Click HERE

Note the two main contributors to China's smog -- emissions from cars and use of coal to generate power...

Note also the various efforts put in by the Beijing government to salvage the envmt....

What to do when truth is found to be false

Click HERE

-Thanks to the spectacular knowledge-enhancing affordances of the Internet, it is actually easier than it has ever been for alert citizens to establish the facts on most issues. The real challenge for the craft and business of journalism is to take those facts to people who have fallen prey to emotionally appealing populist narratives - and may not even be interested in learning the boring truth.

- Note the role played by technology here:
It is as important to recognise the public responsibilities of what I call the "private superpowers". Google, Facebook and Twitter have been dubbed "Pops" (privately owned public spaces) but they do more than merely provide the paving stones of our global public square. The algorithm of Facebook's news feed determines the selection of news viewed by hundreds of millions of people every day. That is extraordinary power. Research by Professor Filippo Menczer of Indiana University suggests that misinformation is as likely to go viral as accurate information, so if the main criterion for the algorithm is "what your friends have liked", this is not helpful in combating fake news.

Qn: Can the media ever be relied upon to convey the truth?

The rise of nostalgic nationalism

Click HERE

Note the very useful and current quotation by Trump, which is also his election rallying call, 'Make  Amercia Great Again!'
Also, the interesting anecdote/eg regarding Mussolini's Fascist Italy and Hitler's Nazi Germany -- both of which gained power by tapping into their nation's glorious past, and the promise to revive that past....

Note also the reasons behind the revival of nostalgia in politics...

For qns on nostalgia....those from RI pls think back on ur promo compre passage last yr....

Monday, January 02, 2017

Most in China don't want second child

Click HERE

note that for Singapore, our recent fertility rate is 1.24, still well below the replacement rate of 2.1...

note the usual reasons given for why people are reluctant to give birth....

Why my kid won't be playing Super Mario Bros

Click HERE

Note how the media can be used to perpetuate as well as correct gender stereotypes...also, it is not totally the media's fault, but the people who designed the media content and uploaded it to be accessible to everyone else that are to blame for its pernicious effects....

Shopping's secret feminist history

Click HERE

I got a feeling this passage will turn up as a compre passage in ur school this year as one of the practices set by ur READ IT!!!

An interesting idea about how the invemtion of shopping malls led to the emancipation of women....
Think about recent phenomenon of the rise of online shopping, which casts into doubt the future of the brick-and mortar shops we used to frequent in the past....

When hard truths lose out to seductive lies

Click HERE

-Note the use of examples and questions in the opening BANG

-Interesting anecdote for BANG!
Oxford Dictionaries chose post-truth - an adjective defined as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief" - as its international word of the year.

-what we are witnessing instead is the rise of a new phenomenon of completely invented news stories, concerning events which never happened.

-the long-term consequences of the electronic age. When the Internet first became a platform of mass communication, the assumption was that this would be a positive development: With facts available at one's fingertips on every handheld device, policy choices will be better informed, more politicians will be held to account, and more people will engage in public debate.
In fact, precisely the opposite has happened. While the Internet expanded public debate, it also created alternative communities which blocked out the evolution of ideas and filtered out views they did not like. Twitter and Facebook as well as a whole host of chat rooms effectively operate as echo chambers, in which the more you engage with one view, the more the software algorithms of these platforms connect you to others who share similar views and prejudices.

-Yet the most negative aspect of this post-truth age has been the rise of an anti-expert sentiment, the rejection of the idea that some people know more about a subject than us, and that we should therefore be guided by their views and experience.

-Google, Twitter and Facebook cannot continue to claim they are merely platforms for other people's ideas.

-"a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its trousers on", as Winston Churchill, Britain's wartime leader, is reputed to have said.

This year, I resolve to waste time well

Click HERE

Note the various function of arts/fiction/music, etc. -- feeds the soul, creativity, therapy,

"So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found out that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys and girls.
"Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you have never been. Once you have visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: Discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leaving them better, leaving them different."

John Ruskin, who said, 'Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless.'

For qns on the role and function of the arts, need for efficiency in the modern life....

BreadTalk founder blends old values with fresh ideas

Click HERE
A good local examples about how competition fuels innovation and improve quality of products....of course there's also the stress that comes with not being able to rest on our laurels....Despite coming up with their famous pork floss bun, they continue to re-invent themselves -- whether it is new recipes or new services that ender themselves with customers.....

Indeed, BreadTalk's recipe for success, he said, boils down to its ability to change with the times. He said: "Even though I like our original products, every year we launch three or four new ones, reflecting our increased focus on health and saving the environment."
BreadTalk Group also has a new business unit that encourages young management associates to work on new projects and experiment with new ideas.
Last year, the brands under the group began offering customers a wider range of payment methods, including Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay .
In 2015, it rolled out a system at three outlets that notifies customers via mobile alerts whenever freshly baked breads were ready.
"Some brands become dated after just 10 years. We can't sit back and relax, but must continue learning and experimenting," he said.

Qn: Is comeptition always destirable? (Cam. 2016)