Our ethical bankruptcy is going to kill us, not a virus.

“We live in a culture that encourages the appearance of process, diligence, expertise, and concern for the community, but beneath the layers of filled out forms, checklists and the apparent following of procedure, is increasingly less effective, less diligent, less expert and less caring. ”

The Order of Turbulence

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The United States has the most capable health infrastructure and the most capable doctors in the world, bar none,” Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s senior counter-terrorism adviser, said at a White House briefing. (“US Ebola outbreak ‘extraordinarily unlikely’, White House officials insist.” The Guardian)

You might wonder what a ‘counter-terrorism’ adviser is doing vouching for the quality of the US health system. It is an indication of just how badly this issue has been framed since the first report of the latest Ebola outbreak, which began in March of this year. Nor is it helpful that the current head of the CDC keeps insisting that an Ebola outbreak couldn’t happen in the US. And even more laughably, there’s a DA in Texas who looking into pressing charges against Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who fell sick in Dallas.  Let’s hope he lives long enough for that to…

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Is a study of history relevant in today’s uncertain world?

The Invisible Perspectives

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The study of history has always been a focal point in education systems around the world. Students learn about their country’s history from young, and subsequently going on to cover global history later in their academic life. While such depicts its popularity and importance, History has always been involved in a debate about its relevance. There are some who argue that history is irrelevant, given that the 21st century is ever-changing and fast-pace; there are also some who contends that there is significance in studying history regardless of the prevailing uncertainty in our modern day context. This essay shall show how the study of history is not only beneficial, but essential to our lives in the 21st century.

Famous historian, William Lund once said, “We study the past to understand the present. We understand the present to guide the future.” It is an unassailable notion that learning…

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Philosophy.

I will keep this short.

 

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.”

This quote, simple and elegant, changed my perspective about life. Go figure.

 

“I think therefore I am.”

 

I like this one too. A simple proof of our very existence.

 

For the latter, I am proud of my existence.

Do you agree that the best way to combat diseases is through science?  

The Invisible Perspectives

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This world has seen many epidemic outbreaks, from the Black Plague in England, to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, to H1N1 in 2009, and Ebola today. While times like these are often dark and dismal, it is unsurprising that at the end of the day, the outcome is ubiquitous: mankind becomes more resilient. There are those who pride the overcoming of such adversities to scientific or medical breakthroughs, however I believe that our successes stems from a combination of routines, a variety of methodologies, each aimed at handling the task on hand, and not necessarily solely from scientific breakthroughs.

Prima facie, the existence of other factors, aside science, helps mankind to combat diseases. These includes whether a nation is able to provide fundamental healthcare to her people, or whether actions undertaken by the government are swift, even individuals themselves play a crucial role in combating against diseases…

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Umbrella Revolution

This year I renounced my Singaporean nationality for a Hong Kong passport – despite my dad strongly advising me against it. “The city is going down the drain,” he says. “Best get out while you can.” It made me think back to what I had read in a New York Times interview with Anson Chan earlier this year: “We have to think about people here who have no alternatives. They are not rich like some people in Hong Kong who, if things go wrong, can just up and go elsewhere. For many people they don’t have this choice.”

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Dear One.

“Where did you come from bright star?
What heaven did you leap from dear love?
How can I spell your name without the sound of autumn underneath my tongue?
Without acknowledging the levers who bent me in half
Bless them for bringing me to you
How can I say your name without also breathing the words, “My God I found you”?
How can I ever speak again with this mouth when it has found where it belongs?
When you touch me, I’m a bed of callillys
I will make a house for you and fill it with evergreens
I will paint sunsets on every wall so you can only see beautiful things
How can I say love without wanting to fold myself into you like a thousand paper cranes?
Dear one,
I was halved the moment I was born
The other piece of me is inside your mouth
And I was found whole the moment you spoke.”
– Mary Lambert, “Dear One”

***

It all began at the start of the year. I promised myself that I would want to spend time to those close to me. Many are turning 18 this year, and to me it is a sacred ceremony often accompanied by a ritual which involves more than just cakes and gifts. To me, this ritual is a luscious broth stewed with the finest ingredients; a combination of efforts, contemplation, sincerity, laughter and love. At the start of the year, I promised myself to celebrate the birthdays of those around me.

My plan first began on 26th January and it has since been carried out in quick succession one after another throughout the year. And from all these celebrations, I realised two intriguing factors:

  1. Surprises are hard to create. I have spent hours and days thinking of what the person may like or dislike from the past experiences I have had with him or her, before proposing to those who might be interested in participating in the celebrations. It did dawn on me midway that the same tricks and tactics cannot be reused, not because of originality but because of a mere coincidence that I have a small social circle.
  2. Money is an issue. I fervently deny the seemingly unassailable notion, “Money cannot buy happiness”. Face it, we are living in the 21st century, which depicts a materialistic, fast-paced and self-centred world, and at several points in life we lust for materialistic comfort. Having said that, I do now see a need to address my stance. Money can buy happiness, and happiness comes in the form of experiences. From a virgin trip to the zoo, to a new set of boxers, to a special festive edition of Yankees Candles, to a new set of sports attire, and even a simple movie outing, all these need money. And I am just a college boy.

Then it came to me that it would perhaps be my turn. While I enjoy spending time rationalising why this particular choice of mine will make the other party’s day or simply put, surprise the other party, I thought I would have been immune to surprises. I call this the “having-spent-so-much-time-devising-tricks-and-somehow-over-think-and-getting-immune-to-surprises” theory. It also hit me that perhaps others might think that all the previous efforts placed to celebrate birthdays might be an overarching self-centered attempt to get them to celebrate mine. At this point, I was undoubtedly paranoid. I then began hiding all traces of my birth date on social media platforms, and hastily but cheerfully dismissing inquiries on my birthday.

So, I was more than surprised today when I got punk’d. In short, I initially devised a plan to celebrate a friend’s birthday early, which falls a day after mine, only to realise that it backfired (much thanks to a group of nefarious and devious tricksters) and ended up celebrating both. On the other hand, he had thought that he was there to celebrate my birthday, and ended up getting mind-fucked as well. I recall a hilarious sight, where everyone were singing the birthday song and the two of us were singing (literally) to each other. Nonetheless, cheers to free food!

It had fun! It was memorable. Thank you all who have remembered my birthday even though I was trying to hide it, and being there to celebrate it with me.

I love you.

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A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

Wow. Just wow. I’d think it would be a good experience for teachers to shadow a student’s curriculum that they may perhaps have long forgotten.

Granted, and...

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys. 

I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…

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