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, April 23, 2018

Volatile countries where Facebook is used to fan dissent

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Here lies the main problem of the internet, the algorithms that operates behind search engines and social media platforms that throw up links either according to your surfing habits, or according to what the majority are reading now (i.e. what's trending)....It does this to earn advertising revenue, as this requires bringing netizens eyeballs to a site where there is a higher chance they will be glued to for the longest, so that there's a greater likelihood they will notice and read the ads...:
The New York Times reporters have traced riots and lynchings linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest - a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions and histories of social instability.

Note the colourful closing BANG at the end of the article using an imagery...Also it touches on a common argument about technology being just a tool and hence not to be blamed as the real culprit is the user, the one who upload the 'germs' onto Facebook....but as the imagery also makes clear, Facebook may not be the originator of the problem, but it is an accomplice by spreading the germs, helping to fan the flames to a large segment of the population...:
"We don't completely blame Facebook," said Harindra Dissanayake, a presidential adviser in Sri Lanka. "The germs are ours, but Facebook is the wind, you know?"

1. Man, not science, is to blame for all problems. Do you agree?
2. Does science and technology always improve the quality of people’s lives?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

India approves death penalty for rapists of girls under 12

Click HERE
Punishment is typically about:
1) deterrence of perpetrator and would-be offenders in public
2) rehabilitation/reform of offenders
3) revenge towards offender to appease victims/loved ones of victims/public outcry
4) education of public

Death penalty and life sentence does not serve the rehabilitation/reformation function as the culprit will be killed or will not have a chance to be released back into society....actually life sentence cna come with parole, i.e. with good behaviour, the offender's situation may be re-assessed after a period of time like ten or twently years, and maybe be allowed to be released....but if life sentence is without parole, then no such hope....

There is a cultural reason for crime in that the highly patriarchal society in India regards women with low status and worse still, those from the lower caste are deemed to have little or no rights... hence, crimes against women, esp those from lower caste, are tolerated. That's why punishment as a kind of deterrence and education(what is ok and right and what is not) is important, esp among the uneducated and illiterate as they take the definition of what's right and wrong from the punishmnet meted out against certain acts....

For extreme crimes like murder and rape, it is sometimes difficult to argue that the perpetrator deserves to have a second chance thru rehabilitation after committing a heinous act and bringing so much pain to others...and when there is a high frequency of such acts, a strong deterrence message needs to be sent out that there is zero tolerance for it.....this is when sometimes extremem punishment like the death penalty or life imprisonment may be called for...

In the comparison qn below of the type A OR B, or A, NOT B, reliase that u can sometimes argue that the comparison is meaningless as both A and B are related...indeed, in this case, punishment can be a kind of rehabilitation as by punishing the guy (deprive him of freedom in jail), we are creating an environment for him to be rehabilitated (i.e. make suitable for eventual assimilation back into society when his jail term is up)......

Qn: ‘Rehabilitation, not punishment, should be the purpose of the justice system.’ Discuss. (Cam. 2017)

Dark side to Thais' wild tastes for exotic meats

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Relate to qns on animal rights....

animals being used for daily food is fine, but do we need to eat exotic animals like deer, monkeys, tigers, etc?
also, some people like hunting as a sport e.g. killing wild ducks, tiger, lions, and then displaying the animal parts as animal trophies in their such vanity justifed?

The article mentions that some of this is due to tradition or culture -- the eating of certain animal parts or using it as certain medicine etc...and hunting as a culture?

"Hunting for game used to be considered a sign of manhood in Thailand's paternalistic society," said Mr Pipad Krajaejan, assistant professor of archaeology at Thammasat University. He explained that having hunted animals stuffed and mounted as decorations was also a sign of elitism among the rich.

The lure of the shame game: Are online vigilantes going too far?

Click HERE
If can't access above link, click HERE

note the abuse of social media here, where online vigilantism becomes a form of cyberbullying...
and the thing about the internet is that once people leave a mark there (i.e. digital footprint), it will be able very difficult to erase it....many years down the road, pple can still dig up the skeletons in ur closet and use it to victimise u...causing the culprits to be either overly or unfairly punished...

Relate also to the 2017 AQ on impact of sharing data.....

1. ‘The past is not dead; it is not even past.’ Discuss. (Cam. 2017)
2. To what extent has technology had an impact on both privacy and security in your country? (Cam. 2009)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Man and machine to fight fires together

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The police recently started wearing body cameras on their uniforms to faciliate the carrying out of their duties (see HERE). Now the fire fighting force are similarly employing technology in their job....

For qn on use of tech....

Diversity makes for a strong team

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See also :
1) Being mindful of different viewpoints
2) Learning by being open to other perspectives

-value of working with people of diverse backgrounds, who have different experiences and ideas.

-"To make changes, it is good to have a diverse team rather than a traditional team, otherwise it'd be very difficult...Japan... has a very homogeneous society, so it was harder to align the company's global vision with local practices. In contrast, they aligned well in Singapore, a very international city."

-"Having a diverse workforce reminds me not to make assumptions... It makes me more conscious of considering different perspectives when formulating polices or when deploying employee initiatives

-"When calling, say, Vietnam, the person on the other side will likely hang up on me. With such a diverse team, I can count on my Vietnamese colleagues to help translate, and understand the economic and cultural landscape there...They can help quickly, and as a business we can help our clients resolve matters quickly."

"People don't realise how much you can learn just by being open to perspectives from people living overseas, and from other cultures. They bring a lot to the table, and that can help you work better."

Qn: "It is beneficial to live in an ethnically diverse society." Do you agree?

Plastics: Enough trash talk

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If can't access link above, click HERE.

Note the use of interesting info/stats as a BANG in the opening:
"A supermarket plastic bag serves its real purpose for 30 minutes, the duration of a journey in Singapore. In a drink, a straw is utilised for just 5 minutes. The use of a plastic stirrer is even more short-lived: all of 10 seconds."

Singapore generatedmore than 800 million kg of plastic waste last year, only 6 per cent of which was recycled.

Qn: 'The task of saving the environment should fall on the government rather than the people." Discuss.

Point-based system launched for Beijing permanent residency

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Qn: In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)

Starbucks closing 8,000 cafes in US for racial tolerance training

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Good for Opeing BANG!

Qn: 'Societies today are not civilized'. Do you agree?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tutor used tech devices to help O-level students cheat

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This is probably the first time I can recall where such an incident is reported in the papers -- use of tech to cheat in exams in Singapore....

Useful for qns on pros and cons of tech, the drawbacks on competitive culture, exams, and the desire for money.....

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tourism surge a blight on popular sites in South-east Asia

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Note how films can fuel tourism in the example here.....think also of filming locations in South Korean made famous by Korean dramas....:
"In Thailand, park and wildlife authorities have ordered a closure of Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island - made famous by the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach - to all visitors for four months starting in June."

Note also the rebuttal point that it is due to poor planning, esp in infrastructure and lack of publicity of lesser-known sites....

1. Environmental concerns and economic growth cannot co-exist. Do you agree? (Cam. 2011)
2. Should poorer countries develop their tourist industry when the basic needs of their own people are not being met? (Cam. 2007)

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Leveraging culture for tourism

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An oft-cited argument is that while there are many different cultures in Singapore, tourists do not get a sense of the REAL, AUTHENTIC version, as the version on offer here has been mixed -- or even 'contaiminated' -- by other cultures, resulting in a diluted or even distorted version of the if u want to see Chinese culture, go China, not the Chinatown here; if u want to see Indian culture, go India, not the Little India here.
BUT this article shows how we can have something here in Singapore that the country of origin of the culture may not have. Not only does Singapore has the safety aspect that allows you to savour and enjoy the culture in peace without having the fear of being robbed or killed, but more importantly, we are able to show how the various cultures INTERACT and CO-EXIST with each other, giving rise to different 'fire works'.....It is THIS that contains appeal and interest to tourists, esp in our world today of inter-mixing due to globalization.....very few countries in the world would allow you the spectacle of a Buddhist temple, a mosque, a church and Hindu shrine all on the same street...This would have sparked off a riot and bloodshed in other countries.....
The Peranakan culture is an example of this, resulting from a fusion of Malay and Chinese culture -- something you don't get to see in China.

"After all, the Chinese aspect of Singapore's cultural mix cannot be more intense than China's, and so too for Indian culture. Why travel to Singapore to see an abridged version of oneself?....The answer is that China stops at China and India likewise. But Singapore places both cultures in a South-east Asian locale and shows how they can co-exist happily with others. This is what must appeal to the Sinic and Indic imagination: the sight of an island whose demography is inextricably Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian at the same time, because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The tourism agency must continue with efforts to showcase Singapore as a multicultural microcosm of Asia."

Qn: "It is beneficial to live in an ethnically diverse society." Do you agree?

What trekking 100km in the rain taught me about life

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very insightful read....

Friday, April 13, 2018

Para sports fraternity stunned as it awaits dope verdict

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some examples of local sports doping scandals....but I'm more interested in the potential rebuttal to the point that doping scandals is an indication of outright cheating. Sometimes, athletes imbibe banned substance without realising, esp when it is mixed with the medication they are taking for their injuries....Malaysia badminton star Lee Chong Wei had a similar predicament some time back....
Of course, you can always counter-rebut that being professional athletes, they would have been sufficiently educated on precautions to take, and the onus is on them to check the labels of medications or consult their own sports medical officials whenever they are unsure.....

Compare this article with an earlier recent post on sportsmanship where St Andrew's hockey Captain's integrity shone on the pitch (see HERE)

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

South-east Asia beaches hurt by waves of tourists

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"But what is good for business can be bad for beaches."

1. Environmental concerns and economic growth cannot co-exist. Do you agree? (Cam. 2011)
2. Should poorer countries develop their tourist industry when the basic needs of their own people are not being met? (Cam. 2007)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sporting Life: Sportsmanship in the heat of battle elevates a captain

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Qn: "Winning isn't everything; it is the only thing." What are your views?

Friday, April 06, 2018

US winners and losers from trade tussle with China

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From the eg of US firing the first salvo by impoing tariffs on Chinese goods, it is possible to argue that it is politicians (i.e. Trump) who shape the future since they are invested with the powers to do other words, whiule events influence the future, it is the decisions of politicians that spark off these events; hence politicians are the root cause.

Of course, there will be some events which politicians have little or no control over, esp natural disasters of the kind not influenced by human activities, e.g. volcanic eruptions and earthquakes...

Now if u look at China's retaliation to US hostile tariffs, one can rebut by arguing that while politicians can make decisions that precipitate events that influence the future (think also Harry Truman's giving the green light for dropping atomic bombs on Japan during WWII), realise that the decisions made by politicians are also influenced by the events around them. Given this, are events the root cause then, and not politicians?

You can reconcile the two by saying that BOTH politicians and events feed on each other, resulting in a cyclical relationship. In a comparison qn like the one below, the qn will make a narrow claim that it is either A or B. You can disagree with this narrow claim by saying:
1) A and B are actually the same or one is the subset of the other
2) BOTH A and B are involved (despite being different factors)
3) it's not A nor B, but actually C which the qn overlooked
4) A and B are related in a cause-effect relationship

Qn: Do events, rather than politicians, shape the future? (Cam. 2017)

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Operation Coldstore and the perils of academic misinformation

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Novelist William Faulkner long ago warned that "the past is never dead, it is not even past". Hence, it behooves us to be better equipped academically to interrogate that past as accurately as possible - or face the consequences.

1. ‘The past is not dead; it is not even past.’ Discuss. (Cam. 2017)
2. Is regulation of the press desirable?

Joint Korean concert moves audience

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Qn: Examine the role of music in establishing a national identity in your society. (Cam. 2017)

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Chiling Lin: 'I'm not pregnant'

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A good, current example of fake news and how celebrity gossips are usually based on rumours...
Note the idea though that whether it's real r fake news, it is still in a sense good for the celebrity, coz the celebrity's lifespan depends on they being in the limelight, so bad news is still better than no news....which is why some celebrities might even conjure up the fake news themselves in order to be the talking point among viewers, i.e. stay on the radar.

'had a bun in the oven' -- an expression meaning being pregnant; but note that is an informal expression which is not to be used in formal context. Celebrity gossip columns are usually informal context due to the nature of the news....

For Qns on fake news and unreliability of info in the media.

Monday, April 02, 2018

From MBA in India to general work in Singapore

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Note the following points on:
-enhance employment opportunities
-futile in getting jobs due to qualifications not recognized, competition from too many degree holders back home, skills mismatch, not enough jobs created by the economy back home
-practical skills like creative/critical thinking in problem-solving acquired through education as opposed to content knowledge

"You could have a degree, but there would be no suitable jobs back home. A degree is not enough,"

A university education in some parts of India and Bangladesh where these workers are from can cost several thousands in Singapore dollars.

An MBA carries "more weight" in job interviews, said the polite and soft-spoken Mr Ramesh. "In India, there are many who graduate with MBAs. It is easier to get good jobs."

Another reason is that their degrees may not be recognised by employers in Singapore.

However, some migrant workers with degrees believe the critical thinking they gained in university has helped them to find solutions around issues faced at work.

1. Is education necessarily the path to success?
2. Education should only be concerned with what is useful in life. Discuss. (Cam. 2013)