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, May 22, 2017

Reading broadens your child's mind

Click HERE

one point that is raised in the article is how reading books improves literacy and writing skills

useful stats:
15 per cent dip in the borrowing of books at our national libraries between 2012 and last year. While more people are reading e-books from the libraries now, this trend did not offset the overall decline in borrowings.

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

3 myths about Singapore-China ties

Click HERE

an informative read....I like the figurative language used in the Closing BANG to affirm the writer's position in the write-up:
"As Singaporeans, we play ball when it is in Singapore's interests to do so. When it is not, we are free to play with others. The key is to make sure we have plenty of friends who still want to play ball with us, and that we all play by the accepted rules of the game."

For qns on how small nations can survive in the world today -- ans: by making themselves relevant to others and making lots of friends

Qn: "Size matters in today's world". Do you agree?

Arts, culture and a distinct Singaporean identity

Click HERE
Note opening BANG, and the useful quotation by PM Lee for arts qns:
"man does not live by bread alone"

"Our aim is integration, not assimilation. No race or culture in Singapore is coerced into conforming with other cultures or identities, let alone that of the majority. Ours is not a melting-pot society, with every race shorn of its distinctiveness. Instead, we encourage each race to preserve its unique culture and traditions, while fostering mutual appreciation and respect among all of them. Being Singaporean has never been a matter of subtraction, but of addition; not of becoming less, but more; not of limitation and contraction, but of openness and expansion."

What does sustainable development mean for S'pore?

Click HERE
Note Opening BANG in intro, and how the Closing BANG echoes it with the re-mention of dinosaur....btw, 'go the way of the dinosaurs (or dodo bird)" is a vocab expression you want to learn and use in ur writing...

Note examples of what Singapore is doing to save Mother Nature....

Interesting facts and facts to note in excerpts from article:
-Up to 60 per cent of Singapore's water is from Malaysia, and more than 90 per cent of its food from around the world
-the Republic may generate only about 0.11 per cent of global emissions
-Government announced a 30 per cent water price hike
-The hope is that Singapore could by 2050 meet 30 per cent of its energy needs with solar power. Right now, 95 per cent of Singapore's energy comes from natural gas . This may be the cleanest form of fossil fuel around - but it is still a fossil fuel
-In 2011, for example, the authorities raised the minimum reclamation level to at least 4m above mean sea level, which is an increase of 1m. Selected roads, such as Changi Coast Road and Nicoll Drive, have also been raised to reduce the impact of flooding.
But re-adaptation has to go beyond the physical environment. Mindsets, too, have to be changed.

Carbon Tax: Pros and Cons

The two contrasting articles below showing the pros and cons of carbon tax in Singapore:
1) Carbon tax could hobble oil sector's competitive edge
2) Singapore to become more eco-friendly with carbon tax

Selfies to mark old places

Click HERE

how arts (photography) can be used to retain memories of old buildings in the event if we really have to demolish them to make way for progress....a potential rebuttal to the point that we need to preserve old buildings to retain past memories....

"These places are vessels for history and when they are gone, so will the memories made in them.."

1.  Assess the view that traditional buildings have no future in your society. (Cam. 2016)
2. ‘For the majority of people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.’ How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)

5-Star Jail Cell

The article is about how a prison in Honduras (a country in Central America) is revealed to have a prison cell with 5-star facilities for inmates related to the mafia. Amenities include: 52-inch giant TV, xbox for gaming, air-conditioning, heart-warming furniture, blender, coffee-making machine, and a well-stocked fridge! But what takes the cake is a special sex room, where inmates can bring their partners to for sex!!!
The whole idea of sending a criminal to jail is to rob them of their freedom and their access to luxury comforts. But as we can see, for the well-connected and rich, a jail sentence is not that different from checking into a hotel....
So for those who say that the death sentence should be substituted with life imprisonment, think again!!!!

1) To what extent should compassion be shown to criminals?
2) To whar extent is the death penalty still justified in today's society?

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Stoning of Soraya M -- a movie

Click HERE
For brief background, see HERE
Here's a movie depicting the disturbing scene of public stoning to death under the syariah law....
if u have no patience, go straight to 1:25:00 for the climactic scene.
Note that this movie is based on a book, which is in turn apparently based on a real story in Iran. Given this, do you think the stoning scene is more effective in words within a book, or in a visual scene of the movie? Which is more likely to impact one's mind and rouse one to action? More importantly for the Qn 5 below, WHY?

Do note that the movie-maker here is not condemning Islam; rather, he is trying to put forth the point that it is man who has demonized the religion for his own ends, using the Muslim God as an excuse for his own selfish agenda.

1) To what extent should we show compassion for the criminal?
2) Is the death penalty still justifiable in today's society?
3) ‘Any adaptation of a novel for film, television or the theatre is never as effective as the original’. Discuss. (Cam. 2016)
4) To what extent should the arts in your society focus on local rather than foreign talent? (Cam. 2015)
5) Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2014)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pineapple - fruit or art?

Click HERE

For those handful of u who are keen on arts qns, here is an interesting example to look at....

Robots take over jobs in China's auto plants

Click HERE

For those writing about China, note the important reason that labour cost is no longer cheap, hence firms are turning to automation to cut costs in the long run....but note also that certain tasks still need to be done by humans....

For Qns on pros and cons of technology....

Japan shames firms violating labour laws

Click HERE

For those who did the compre on shaming recently...or going to do it soon...
Think of shaming as a tool to influence behaviour...but are there any drawbacks to shaming? Can it backfire? What uf u shame too much? Or if the victim of the shaming cannot take it?

relate to CWO (Corrective Work Oder) in Singapore for those who are caught littering....shaming on STOMP....

Taiwanese man who beheaded girl, 4, sentenced to life in jail

Click HERE

Consider the two points on the justification of the death penalty:
-mental capacity of the criminal
-need for emotional closure for the loved ones of the victim, and the victim him/herself(if still alive)

Qn: To what extent should compassion be shown to criminals?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Parliament: Govt will take steps to ensure affordable infant milk powder options

Click HERE

This incident shows a few things about competition:
- can lead to unethical/questionable methods in order to out-rival competitors...through exaggerated claims in advertising, causing consumers to suffer

-as a reubttal to the above, u can also argue that competiton benefits the consumers by lowering prices. What the govt is trying to do now is to tweak import policies to encourage more (and other) brands of milkpowder to enter the market. With more options, it will depress the price and bring reprieve to consumers.

-competition can lead to aggressive marketing to make one's pdt stand out, but this causes consumers to suffer as the cost is passed on to the consumers....note eg of how milk powder price jumped by 120 percent in the last decade:

The Straits Times reported in March that the average price of a 900g tin of formula here has increased 120 per cent over the last decade to $56.06, outstripping the increases of other dairy products and household staples.

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ahok goes straight to jail: Questions raised over Jakarta court's harsh stance

Click HERE

This example shows how political or religious agenda might have resulted in an overly harsh sentence being delivered.
The law is supposed to deliver justice and protect the welfare of the people, but this is only as good as the people using the law. If the people/govt choose to use the law to serve their own ends, then justice becomes compromised, the proportionality argument of punishment is not observed, as the punishment meted out either becomes too lenient (to let the influential corrupt get away) or too  harsh (as a weapon to suppress those deemed a threat).
Consider the often-cited accusation of how the Singapore govt allegedly used the law to suppress or crush the opposition in the past, esp in the infamous example of Operation Coldstore, where the PAP was accused of labelling the oppostion party members "communists" (seen as a threat to national security in those volatile times), and then using the ISA (Internal Security Act) to detain them.

Excerpt from article in link:
the verdict was more a result of "politicking by the elites from various political parties who hate Ahok and who have been deprived of government projects because of Ahok's strict style of governing".
"The verdict has proved the blasphemy (law) is prone to misuse by certain parties... It was a trial by the mob, which is actually against the rule of law."

1. To what extent is it possible ‘to make the punishment fit the crime’? (Cam. 2013)
2. To what extent should compassion be shown to criminals?

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Doubts over US' stance dog key UN climate talks

Click HERE

Climatic talks to save Mother Nature have always been dogged by problems, starting from the infamous Kyoto Protocol to the Copenhagen Summit, etc. The recent Paris Agreement is seen as a turning point as the agreement is legally-binding, unlike the earlier ones where nations pay lip service to terms arrived at. Some background on the Paris Agreement from the article:

"The Paris deal was sealed at the 21st Conference of Parties in the French capital in December 2015, after years of haggling.
A diplomatic push led by Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping saw 195 countries and the European Union - 196 parties in total - agree to the deal. Palestine has since also joined the agreement.
It sets the goal of limiting average global warming to 2 deg C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels - and 1.5 deg C if possible. This will be done by curbing greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, coal and gas - an objective to which countries have pledged voluntary, nationally determined "contributions".

Note how the lack of political will or how political agendas threaten to hijack the deal....Donald Trump rose to power by promising to scrap the deal, which has been hugely unpopular in the US as it affects economic growth, esp the coal and oil industry....

Climate talks like this represent how human actions/activity can help protect Mother Nature....cutting of carbon emissions can mitigate global warming, which has been blamed for intensifying the frequency and scale of natural disasters like typhoons and flooding....

Qn: Assess the view that most natural disasters are the result of human activity. (Cam. 2016)

Say you're sorry: How to suss out an insincere apology

Click HERE.
Interesting read. If you can, relate it to the Japanese's refusal to apologise for their WWII misdeeds...

Qn: 'Some things are easier said than done.' What are your views on this?

Stricter rules on advertising, labelling of infant formula milk

Click HERE
Useful local example...

"At least one brand has come under scrutiny here for its labelling - Abbott's Similac Gain range, the most popular brand of milk formula here. The "IQ" in its Gain IQ range stands for intestinal quality, though it is accompanied by an image of a bear wearing a graduation cap and the words "Intelli-Pro", which could be misleading, said Consumers Association of Singapore (Case)."

1. Can the media ever be relied on to tell the truth?
2. To what extent should there be restrictions on advertising?

Bill passed to impose death penalty for nuclear terror

Click HERE

note Singapore context and example...

1. Can the death penalty still be justified in today's society?
2. To what extent should compassion be shown to criminals?

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Singaporean holidaymakers give US a miss

Click HERE

Useful rebuttal to the often-cited point that the tourism indutry is highly volatile, esp vulnerable to uncertainties like natural disasters, recession and political upheavals, including terrorism. But where terrorism is concerned, it appears that people are not cowed by it into staying away:

Travellers do not seem put off by the recent acts of terrorism in major European cities such as Berlin and London, perhaps due to them becoming desensitised to the risk, or perceiving it as small or insignificant, said travel operators.....''There seems to be an emergence of a 'Carry on as normal' culture in response to terrorism.''........the fear of terrorism should not impede one's travel plans. ''The way I see terrorism is that it could hit anywhere,'' said the 26-year-old marketing executive. ''If you're afraid, then you're not safe anywhere.''

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Online 'CSI' vigilantes: The good, the bad and the ugly

Click HERE

One of the good things about the new media is that we can use it to redress injustice and discourage undesirable behaviour by shaming those people guilty of it...Think recent incidents involving an old man sexually harassing a young Caucasian on the MRT, and the latest one on a middle-aged couple bullying an old man at Toa Payoh Hawker Centre by 'choping' a seat using an umbrella....In both cases, the police stepped in to arrest the people concerned.....This is testimony to the power of the social media, where once something goes viral online, sufficient public pressure is accumulated that forces the authorities to intervene. This is particularly important in places where the law is not effective in curbing the public behaviour or the police/court is corrupt. Once people lose faith in the law, they may be compelled to take the law into their own hands, giving rise to online vigilantism...

But this can backfire mentioned in the article, sometimes, the wrongdoer identified is actually the wrong one. This can lead to an innocent person being persecuted....

Who checks on claims of foods being organic?

Click HERE
Some of us discuss the qn below not too long ago...
GM Food can be a boon given its built-in pesticides and insecticides and high-yield trait. This can save farmers tonnes of money, not to mention minimizing pollution of the land from the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides and fertilizers...

note: GM food is NOT organic...

"farmers in the world spend an estimated US$80 billion (S$111.6 billion) a year to ward off pests and diseases. They also use about 200 million tonnes of chemical fertilisers a year to get harvest that is pleasing to the eye of most consumers..."

Qn: To what extent should genetic research be allowed?

Michelle Obama rules out running for office

Click HERE

I like this anecdote:
"Offering a peek inside the Obamas' eight years of life at the White House, she said her daughters Sasha, 15, and Malia, 18, can now open their windows - something they were not allowed to do at the official presidential residence."

Useful as an opening/closing BANG!...note how to have safety, they need to give up their freedom to do what they like....the White House is a sanctuary, but it is also a prison.
Reminds me of the cartoon where Tweety the bird stays inside the cage so that it can be safe from Sylvester the Cat. The cage which protects Tweety, is also exactly that -- a cage, a prison.

Think of how we have to cede some of our privacy and freedom to the state these days in order that we may be safe from terrorists....

 Qn: To what extent has technology had an impact on both privacy and security in your country? (Cam. 2009)

Keepig track, not tabs

Click HERE
Note how safety/security would usually entail a sacrifice of privacy/freedom...

Andrea, if you see this, you asked me about the phrase 'keeping tabs' the other day; it's here in the title...

Qn: To what extent has technology had an impact on both privacy and security in your country? (Cam. 2009)