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, March 24, 2017

Study yields 'good news' on shark diving tourism

Yet another good example to show how tourism can save mother nature, i.e. eco-tourism. Here, the infamously endangered sharks are given a retrieve/sanctuary as revenue can be obtained through shark diving tourism....Note that Mother Nature is not just about carbon emissions and the cutting down of trees, but also the animals.....
Relate to qns on tourism or the Cambridge compre on tourism that came out last year....
Here is the full article:

Study yields 'good news' on shark diving tourism
Whether it is cage diving with white sharks in South Africa or shark feeding in the Bahamas, new research by scientists at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Florida International University has found human interactions not to have any long-term behavioural impact on sharks.
The researchers went to Palmyra, an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, where shark populations are healthy, fishing is not allowed and the majority of its near-pristine underwater world is rarely dived.
Researchers surveyed sharks by lowering cameras to the ocean floor .
"After reviewing 80 hours of underwater footage taken from video surveys conducted in 2015 - 14 years after Palmyra was established as a wildlife refuge and scientific diving activities began - we found that shark abundance and shark behaviour were the same at sites with and without a long history of scuba diving," said co-author of the study Jennifer Caselle.
Lead author Darcy Bradley added that the results of the study are "good news".
"It means that well-regulated shark diving tourism doesn't necessarily undermine shark-conservation goals."
Compiled by Carolyn Khew
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2017, with the headline 'Science Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Problem with Facts

Click HERE
A fascinating read! how the phenomenon of Trump and Brexit can be traced to the methods of the tobacco industry.....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Norway unseats Denmark as world's happiest country: UN report

Click HERE"Singapore is ranked 26th - the highest among Asian countries but four rungs lower than last year."

Robots to the rescue for China?

Click HERE
'However, not all of this is magic - there is still much human input needed, but the upshot is that while it may take a long time to train one robot, we can replicate and deploy it rapidly, whereas human education will not be hurried.'

'Robots therefore have great potential - to reduce the workers' needed to do dirty, dangerous tasks, reduce the staff needed on repetitive, boring assembly and to augment human skills when either strength or delicacy is needed.'

Effective learning is not based on grades

Click HERE

Qn: Schools have failed to educate their students. To what extent is this true? 

Heritage sites under threat: Sites in Asia suffering worst damage, says study

Click HERE
Note that tourism is usually a contribution to this, as tourists often make a beeline for World Hertiage Sites....Do also be aware that tourism can also be an incentive for countries to preserve these sites....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Plastic surgery for Korean group SixBomb

Click HERE

Note how celebrities, through their songs, have the pwer to influence social norms and the behaviour of their fans:
"Everyone follows me, they know I'm pretty," they sing in Becoming Pretty - an electronic dance number with a hook reminiscent of South Korean singer Psy's 2012 global phenomenon Gangnam Style.
The track could be the direct antithesis to Lady Gaga's Born This Way, whose lyrics include "I'm beautiful in my way/Cause God makes no mistakes/I'm on the right track, baby/I was born this way".

Note also how bad publicity -- by doing something shocking -- is still publicity, and should not be seen as 'bad' as it is better than no publicity, as it manages to get people to sit up and take notice of you, and be aware of your existence...why is why some people deliberate do bad/shocking things in order to stand out from teh crowd and be in the limelight, even if it is for the wrong reasons...

The stunt has raised eyebrows.
"I understand that you guys are desperate for publicity, but did you really need to go this far?" asked one online commentator, while another described it as "flat-out bizarre"........she would welcome "any kind of public attention, good or bad" for the project.

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Rebuttal to Nuclear for Singapore

Refer to article in previous post or click HERE: Time for Singapore to say 'Yes' to nuclear

Read how the above article is rebutted:
-Click HERE: S'pore should still say 'no'
-Click HERE Low risk doesn't mean no risk

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Time for Singapore to say 'Yes' to nuclear

Click HERE
A must-read!!!

Note how our acquisition of natural gas from Indonesia is reminiscent of how we used to depend on Malaysia for water....There's no telling when our neighbouring countries may hold us to ransom regarding this reliance on them for such critical resources...

Note the pros and cons of turning to nuclear, esp the useful rebuttal (via solution) of how technological improvement has resulted in greater safety provisions,  esp the ability to site a reactor offshore on a floating platform, all ready to be towed away in the even of a major diasaster...

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

Kampung spirit revival as more volunteer informally

Click HERE

Note the local trend of increased media is a likely cause of this in making it easier to recruit people as well as spreading awareness of the plight of the unfortunate, resulting in more people coming forward....

For qns on whether we are a caring society, or youth are self-centered today blah blah blah...

Disney's Beauty And The Beast given PG rating for 'mild violence'

Click HERE
Note that the latest is that this movie has been banned in Malaysia due to the LGBT content.

"Some Christian leaders here... see this as an attempt to influence young children and socialise them at an early age into thinking that the homosexual lifestyle is normal."

For qns on impact of the media and censorship.

Qn: Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2014)

Let Fearless Girl statue stay, say New Yorkers

Click HERE

a good example of art going beyond its aesthetic function:
'installed on March 7 by investment company State Street Global Advisors, on the eve of International Women's Day, to create awareness of the need for greater gender diversity on company boards.'

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

Carbon dioxide levels hit record rise

Click HERE

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hotels join the green bandwagon

Click HERE

In the tourism compre that came out last year for the 'A' levels, there is the often-cited point that tourism can destroy the envmt....This article shows you that it need not be the includes the hotels that tourists stay at....more discerning, educated tourists nowadays lean more towards envmtally-friendly travelling, and businesses, in trying to capture this potentially lucrative market share, are quick to jump on the bandwagon --- eco-business.

"if the environmental footprint made by the world tourism industry was compared with the footprint of a country, tourism would be the fifth-biggest polluter worldwide"

About 100 gather for water price hike protest

Click HERE
just in case you thought it has died a natural death, the Speaker's Corner at Hong Lim Park is still very much alive....

Qn. ‘Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is of equal value.’ 
What is your view? (Cam. 2016)

More room for women in leadership roles here: Halimah

Click HERE

For gender qns...
In Singapore, 20% of MP (Members of Parliament) are of whom is even a Cabinet Minister, Grace Fu.

Golden staircase: Is it art - or not?

Click HERE

Interesting example for those keen in arts topics...makes for an interesting BANG!....also, it shows how Singapore can be too rigid, too controlled by laws that it inhibits creativity...
If u can still recall a similar example a few years ago on the 'My Grandfather's Road' and 'Press until shiok', compare the two cases....

role of the arts:
-aesthetics, to beautify and decorate
-raise qns to engage public debate
-preserve heritage (something which local artists are in a better position to undertake)

See also HERE: With permission, 'it wouldn't have gone viral'

1. ‘For the majority of people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.’ 
How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)
2. To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than 
foreign talent? (Cam. 2015)

More children and teens are stressed out

Click HERE
Competition causing stress can be both a good and bad thing...bad coz affect health and concentration, but good coz facilitate learning.....analogy of how we need to apply stress to cause the muscle to grow. It is only excessive stress that is bad.....back to the muscle growing analogy, do note that muscle only grow when u are resting or u are always under stress and unable to sleep properly, the muscle will not be able to grow....

Stress is not necessarily a problem but a challenge, said Prof Wong. "Minimal stress may not motivate a child aged seven to 18, but some stress can facilitate his learning. It's when it exceeds his capacity that it becomes a problem."

Qn: Is competition always desirable? (Cam 2016)

Culling may cause more harm than good: Study

Click HERE
A good example of justified killing, and a potential rebuttal given as well....

Qn: Is violence ever justified? (Cam. 2012)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Useful Examples of Online Fake News in Singapore

HERE are a few useful local examples of fake news u can use in ur essay:
1) LKY's death
Click HERE: Student who posted fake PMO announcement on Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death given stern warning
Note how even reputable media like CNN reported this fake news without verifying their facts.

2) Punggol Roof Collapse
Click HERE for pic
Click HERE: Facing up to fake news: Why we should be worried
"Just last month, a photograph circulating online, purporting to be of a collapsed roof in a Housing Board block, resulted in a Singapore Civil Defence Force fire engine and one of its Red Rhino vehicles racing down to Punggol Waterway. The photo story turned out to be fake, and the HDB said it would lodge a police report."

3) TRS (The Real Singapore) Website
Click HERE: Facing up to fake news: Why we should be worried
In Singapore, the issue of fake news was thrown into the spotlight with the antics of the now-defunct sociopolitical site The Real Singapore (TRS). The site, which had as many as 2.6 million visitors a month, thrived on fabricated articles, some of which attempted to sow discord between Singaporeans and foreigners. A court of law earlier this year found six such stories amounted to sedition - Singapore's worst case to date. One of the offending articles falsely claimed that a Filipino family's complaints caused a scuffle between the police and participants at last year's Thaipusam procession.

4) $240K reunion meal

Click HERE :Were you fooled? Video showing '$240,000 reunion meal' turns out to be fake


For the qn below, recognise that you can also consider the qn not just from the point of view of the reader/viewer of news trying to obtain accuracy in the info they are reading, but also from the point of view of the person trying to CONVEY/COMMUNICATE his views to these readers. The example of Trump comes to mind. He longer trusts traditional media to deliver his words to the public as he accuses them of conveying fake news and distorting what he is saying. Hence, he resorts to social media (his twitter account) to relay his message -- word for word verbatim -- to the masses. This ensures that his info is delivered unfiltered to the public. The same is true of celebrities who try to take control over the info about themselves disseminated to their fans....instead of being at the mercy of tabloids who tend to exaggerate and distort their words, celebrities now reach out to their fans themselves through social media. Hence, the reliability of info through the media can be seen not just from readers trying to get accurate info, but also from those people on the other end trying to ensure that accurate info about themselves reaches the people unaltered.

Qn: In the digital age do newspapers still have a role in your society? (Cam 2011)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Manpower Ministry looking into 31 labourers' unpaid wages

Click HERE

Those whom we did the competition compre AQ recently, recall the point that competition results in exploitation of workers that pauperise them, as this is how businesses are able to offer lower pricing to customers (something gotta give! and the workers happen to be the easiest to compromise)

-Ministry of Manpower (MOM) as the govt body to safeguard interests of workers

-easy to exploit foreign workers because of the hold companies have on them:
"When asked why the workers had waited as long as eight months before they complained to MOM, Mr Motin said: "Boss say if we complain, he cancel work permit and send us home."
Transient Workers Count Too vice-president Russell Heng said workers have a real fear of being sent home because they would have already paid thousands of dollars to work here"

1. How far should firms be allowed to limit their workers’ rights when 
profits are at stake? (Cam. 2014)
2. Is competition always desirable? (Cam. 2016)

Thursday, March 09, 2017

A more holistic emissions scheme

Click HERE

This new scheme (VES: Vehicular Emissions Scheme)  is more comprehensive, as it targets not just carbon emissions, but also harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxide etc, which is carcinogenic (i.e. cancer-causing). Note that diesel engines emit less carbon doxide than petrol-engines, but give out more pollutants.

Link this with the carbon tax, hike in water-pricing --- Singapore's way of saving the envmt....

Click also diesel-vehicles-may-be-on-the-way-out

20% of places in sec schools to be kept for students with no affiliation

Click HERE

Consider this in the light of the backlash on meritocracy, which is now widening the gap btw the rich and the poor in Singapore. This 20% quota is to ensure social mixing so that those with no connections (eg the poor) will have a chance to learn together with those from the elite group -- esp if their grades are good. True meritocracy will then operate, ensuring that those who get into a coveted sch got in because of their grades instead of riding on the affiliation of the pri sch they hail from....

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

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Competition in desserts

This caught my eye....
Note the following points raised in the article about the competitive nature of the dessert business...
-time-consuming, stress, cost, creative products, plagiarism/imitation by rivals,

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

Modelling what is seen in cartoons

This caught my eye...can be an interesting opening BANG for the intro of qns on impact of the media...

Think effect of the media on children and the need for supervision....and we are not just talking about inappropriate material like sex and violence and exposure to terorrist ideology...
I recall an article once where a little kid killed his friend while palying with him....when asked why he did such a horrible thing, he replied that he saw it on TV, and in that TV show, the dead guy 'resurrected' after being killed, so the child thought his dead friend will resurrect's a case of 'monkey see, monkey do'....That's how children learn anyway -- by imitating what they see....The boundary between reality and the fictional world of the media has been blurred for them, to the point that they cannot differentiate between them....The same is true of people who spend a lot of time gaming on social media, causing to carry over their habits and attitudes on screen into the real world -- to disastrous consequences at times....Back to this article below, we see the tragic cosequence of a little kid who imitiate what she saw on TV in the real world.....

Incidentally, overheard on BBC just now that there are calls for the depiction of girls in cartoons to be less stereotyped (girls always depicted as the damsel in distress) so that kids growing up watching them will not be caged and limited by the gender roles imposed on them by society....

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tougher tactics needed against Pyongyang but arms race could result, say experts

Click HERE

Failure/futility of dilpomacy and sanctions
North Korea's missile test yesterday (firing of 4 ballisitc missiles) is proof that sanctions do not always work, esp with rogue nations where the leader does not behave 'rationally'. The futility of sanctions and talks means that there may have to be a greater reliance on weapons as the risk of a real confrontation (i.e. war) may occur.

Increasing political volatility
The China Seas territorial disputes, North Korea's missile test, terrorist activites, Russia's cyberhacking are often-cited reasons nowadays why nations are spending more on defence and embarking on an arms race....

Recognize that sometimes, all it takes is for a 'mad' man -- who does not play by the normal rules -- for war to ignite.

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

Monday, March 06, 2017

More can be done for gender diversity at work: Grace Fu

Click HERE

- Grace Fu is a useful local example of a female in politics. She is the only full minister currently in the cabinet (not the cupboard! Cabinet refers to the inner circle of the govt), i,e, a Cabinet Minister. That makes her the only female in the Cabinet. Her portfolio is Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

-"In Singapore, only 9.7 per cent of board seats across our listed companies are held by women,"

-A recent study by the National University of Singapore Business School found that women on the board of Singapore-listed firms were paid an average 43 per cent less than their male counterparts

-"I'm a strong believer in equal opportunities. It is important to sometimes have quotas, just to open the door; but not for the long term, because it can backfire."
note the imposition of gender quotas is a way to ensure that females are well-represented at the top (i.e. 'realistic' as in can be done in reality),
as article puts it, this can backfire, coz the men may see the women as being placed there to make up for the requiste numbers to satisfy the quota, instead of the women being competent themselves. This is the so-called 'cosmetic effect'. And if the women are really placed up there for cosmetic effect (i.e. they have no real competence), then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, further cementing/reinforcing the men or the public's perception that women have no competence and have no business being up there.....

-women may sometimes place an "artificial glass ceiling" on themselves due to expectations at home and in the workplace.
Useful point to note....the often-cited argument is that women cannot rise due to the 'glass ceiling' imposed on them by the men, but sometimes, it is the women who impose the glass ceiling on themselves. The position is open to them by the men, but they are reluctant to take it up either due to lack of confidence or family commitments or perceptions of society...

Qn: Evaluate the claim that equality of opportunity for females is a desirable, 
but unrealistic goal. (Cam. 2016)

Mall bad news... but some bright spots

Click HERE
useful local example to show how competition can hurt business:
"In just over a year, clothing retailer Hang Ten has closed more than a third of its stores"
Note the reasons: competition from e-commerce (i.e. online shops) and overseas destinations...

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

Defence Budget (Singapore, China, US)

Singapore: Beefing up defence a must, but make every dollar count
Click HERE: S$14billion
Note the focus on cyber-defence in the wake of alleged Russian meddling in the US electionvia hacking.

China: China's defence budget to rise by 7%
Click HERE: rise by around 7 per cent over last year's US$147 billion 

US: Donald Trump promises 'historic' increase of US$54 billion in military budget
Click HERE: nearly US$54billion increase or 10% increase

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

Senior Chinese official criticises Internet censorship

Click HERE

note the common arguments for and against censorship -- social stability and national security vs impact on business and scientific/academic research

Hybrid cars are hot in Singapore

Click HERE

This cropped up in one of our discussions (Sun morning class?) some time back when we were not able to come up with the name of the here it is -- the Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS), which is aimed at encouraging motorists to switch to low carbon emission vehicles by giving a maximum rebate of up to $30,000.

Note also the impact on vehicles running on diesel engines; see HERE. Diesel would probably be phased out eventually due to the pollutants it emits, even though it gives off less CO2 compared to petrol.

a new Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES), which replaces the current Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme, and is expected to affect diesel vehicles. Besides carbon dioxide, the VES targets four other pollutants. Though diesel cars produce less carbon dioxide compared with petrol ones, they produce more of other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter.

Together with the recent 30% price hike in water and the imposition of the carbon tax, these are some examples u want to know concerning what Singapore is doing to save Mother Nature. These are policies aim at influencing the everyday habits of the common man, as it recognizes that saving mother nature needs to incorporate changing the lifestyle habits of people -- using both the carrot and stick method.

1. Can we rely on science and technology to solve our environmental problems?
2.In your society, how well are the demands of the economy and the 
environment balanced? (Cam. 2015)

Is Garfield male or female?

Click HERE
I thought this could be a humourous and effective BANG in intro or conclusion for how unreliable the info on the internet is, esp Wikipedia...

He changed Garfield's gender from "male" to "none". Almost instantly, the universe of Garfield fans clawed in. A Wikipedia editor reverted Garfield's gender back to male less than an hour after.
One minute later, someone in the Philippines made Garfield genderless again.
And so on. Behind the scenes, Wikipedia users debated how to resolve the raging "edit war"......
Garfield's gender swopped 20 times over 21/2 days (during which his religion was briefly listed as Shiite Muslim for some reason) before an administrator was forced to step in.

US preacher calls for boycott of Beauty And The Beast on gay agenda

Click HERE
While not exactly a 'novel' (see Qn below), the article makes the point that adaptation of an original version is be highly controversial. On the one hand, it can be seen as a superior version as it has modified certain elements to keep up to date with the changing times, but on the other hand, to the purists, this would constitute a betrayal, a gross distortion, or even a bastardization of the original and its spirit....

Note also the power of the media in influencing attitudes and behaviour by re-defining/challenging prevailing norms:
"Disney was making an attempt to "normalise this (gay) lifestyle".

1) ‘Any adaptation of a novel for film, television or the theatre is never as effective
as the original’. Discuss. (Cam. 2016)

2) To what extent can be the media influence our mindset?