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  • #2909

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Letter to Lance Armstrong: post response here.

    Timothy Liu KaihuiJan 21, 2013Reply
    Looking at the evidence presented thus far, I personally do not find it easy to believe that a person involved, perhaps even right smack in the center or at the top, in such a well organised fraud for such a long time can just step up to the world and apologise, just as you have done. The situation was such that the concrete evidence against you have already been gathered by the USADA and there was absolutely no way for you to vehemently deny, as you have done time and again, that you have not used performance enhancing drugs to aid you in becoming a seven-time winner of the Tour de France. Your confession, done in such a controlled manner and with such “remorse”, could well serve as a last-ditch attempt to paint yourself in a better light and salvage what that is left of your reputation. Perhaps you really are remorseful. Perhaps we should give you that benefit of doubt. However, I’m inclined to believe that your confession is ultimately self-serving, and doubles as a career boost for Oprah.

    Colin Foong Hao ShengJan 21, 2013
    Lance Armstrong is only a tip of an iceberg to a huge conspiracy in the sporting world. Powerful people facilitated in his doping case, in other words, he could be one of the many pawns in the doping issue. It is true that he has betrayed the trust of millions of people who loved and believed in him. He was a symbol of hope and inspiration to many cancer patients and yet he not only took part in doping, he vehemently denied which was most unaccepted. However, after all, he had a conscience as he apologized to his staff members in his charity and he came clean eventually.
    In the world of cycling doping was more or less a norm to get to the top and Armstrong followed suit but in fact, he did not need the drugs because when he had comeback after his prime, without drugs at all, he came in third. This means that he had the ability to get first without drugs at all. 

    Aaron OngJan 23, 2013Edit
    +Timothy Liu Kaihui : Excellent comment. That is one way of analyzing this issue. It could be the fact that there has been so much incriminating evidence gathered against Lance Armstrong that just so that Lance Armstrong can escape the coup de grace of public ire, his last ditch attempt to wriggle out of this mess is to come clean and confess, probably in an attempt to garner some public sympathy.

    Aaron OngJan 23, 2013Edit
    +Colin Foong Hao Sheng : Your view was a good reflection of what we discussed in class. You made a good point about how this whole problem was a concerted effort and that it was just unfortunate that Lance Armstrong had to shoulder most, if not all of the responsibility.

    Clover YapJan 24, 2013Reply
    Lance Armstrong, who vehemently denied doping for more than a decade, had confessed that he used performance-enhancing drugs in the course of his competitions in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Although he appears to be apologetic and is willing to repay the sponsoring team with millions of dollars, it would never be enough to compensate the disappointments and dishonesty that he previous casted upon his supporters. Although he is willing to make amendments to his mistakes, i feel that it is too much of him to ask for the authorities to mitigate his ban. Even in the event that they do allow him to participate in competitions, will he not be tempted to dope once more? He had already lost his credibility and it takes time for him to build it up again. This issue is bound to scar him for a lifetime. Rather than spending efforts in trying to get back on competitions, should he rather spend time on a new goal? He has the potential to nurture future champions in cycling and if he does, this will definitely overweigh the thousand apologies and millions of compensation he paid and will really make a difference, doing good meanwhile. This can possibly be his new direction to head to in life; it could possibly be a brand new start for Armstrong.

    Aaron OngJan 26, 2013Edit
    +Clover Yap Good, candid response. I liked how you portray the situation that Armstrong should try to pick up the broken pieces and move on with his life.

    Donavan MuiJan 28, 2013Reply
    What he did had a great impact to people of all walks of life. Being an iconic figure for cancer patients around the world, he has triumphed over testicular cancer and shown the world the true meaning of ‘Nothing is impossible’. Despite facing cancer, he was able to take it in his stride, not only overcoming it, but even becoming one of the most prominent athletes, winning 7 Tour de France titles. Ever since young, I heard of him as being a person with determination and perseverance, leading him to the success he had. However, he has broken the faith and belief that people had in him for we have learnt that he made use of performance enhancing drugs during this career as a cyclist. For close to a decade, he has been deceiving the world, making us believe in the determined individual whom strived despite facing adversities. Throughout the years, we have even named him after certain cancer foundations such as Livestrong. In the eyes of many, no matter what excuse he provides, he would be labeled as a cheater and a disgrace with no sportsmanship. From now on, no one would trust or believe in him anymore and to many, he would no longer be considered an inspirational character. Currently, he might attempt to salvage the situation by pointing out some of the background characters but this would not alter the fact that he was a scam dashed people’s dreams and aspirations as they looked up to him as an inspirational individual.

    Wilson OngJan 29, 2013
    The very day that Lance Armstrong first decided to dope for the top position in the Tour de France was arguably the saddest day in the entire history of doping in sports. It resulted in the unveiling of the largest doping scandal to hit the sporting realm and resulted in the one of the biggest upset in the 21th century. However, it can be said that what is done is already done and the ‘blame game’ would bring one nowhere. Personally, I think that it is more practical for the relevant authorities to learn from this episode and perfect their system to identify dopers. In addition, I feel that we should also focus on the impact this scandal probably had on the cancer patients or survivors who had (and still are) looked up to him for inspiration and courage to battle and overcome their situation. We should also help the Livestrong Foundation (which is still dedicated to improving the lives of the cancer patients) rid off the after-effects of this scandal so that it can continue to improve the life of the cancer-stricken population. 

    Aaron OngJan 29, 2013Edit
    +Wilson Ong : I’m not sure if I would go so far to say that the day Armstrong started to dope was ‘the saddest day’ in ‘the entire history’ of doping in sports. That seems to be a bit of a stretch. I liked the fact that you explored the idea of the relevant authorities taking certain preventive measures or to look at how they can prevent/discourage future incidences from happening. They may consider measures like more stringent checks. Also, it is interesting how you mentioned about the fact that the Livestrong Foundation still deserves the support it once gathered. See this article which puts it rather eloquently: Livestrong is about cancer, NOT about Armstrong.
    http://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/campbell-livestrong-is-about-cancer-not-about-lance-armstrong-1.4510088

    Aaron OngJan 29, 2013Edit
    +Donavan Mui : True. It is difficult for Armstrong to be held in high regard anymore.

    Maverick LimJan 31, 2013Reply
    What Lance Armstrong had done has disgraced cycling and the world of sports. His confessions to doping comes after years and years of any allegations held against him. By confessing to using performance -enhancing drugs during his cycling career, he has brought a totally different definition of competition and winning. To him, winning is the only option and to fulfill this goal, he turns to doping and drugs that were banned in the sport. This is a huge setback for his millions of fans around the world who believed and look up to him. He came from a strong cancer survivor to being part of the most sophisticated, organized and professional doping scheme in the history of sports. Furthermore, his constant lies to reporters during many interviews for the past decade portrays him as a cheater and a liar, a disgrace to the sports industry.

    #2910

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    20 January Summary:
    At the end of every lesson, I’ll post a lesson outline summary. This is mainly for students who have missed the lesson so you would be able to find out what we have covered for the lesson. I’m also making it your responsibility for students who have missed the class to obtain the materials from me for the previous class that you’ve missed. You may also wish to comment on this post if you have any question with regards to the class held.
    1. Administrative Details (Google+ and File Submission on 24 Feb)
    2. Discussion on Lance Armstrong Doping Controversy
    3. Reviewed Essay Comments

    #2911

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngJan 22, 2013 – Discussion
    In what is dubbed as Singapore’s first online rally, the SDA has released and is intending to release a couple of new videos to gain support from the Punggol East Constituency. Judging from the video, I personally have serious reservations on the competency of this candidate.

    Colin Foong Hao ShengJan 23, 2013
    I really respect his boldness and willingness to serve and give Singaporeans a voice but I guess first impressions count and I certainly would not consider voting him in. 

    Aaron OngJan 23, 2013Edit
    +Colin Foong Hao Sheng : Interesting perspective. People would definitely take jibes at his command of English but there could be some saving grace for the sincerity that he expresses.

    #2912

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngJan 23, 2013 (edited) – Discussion
    It was reported that the fertility rate in Singapore was 1.2, which is well below the replacement rate of 2.1. This year, the Singapore government is increasing spending on pro-family measures from $1.6 billion a year to $2 billion. The new measures address the areas of (a) housing (b) conception and delivery fees (c) cost of raising children (d) work-life concerns (e) paternity leave. Hence the question is whether these government policies would be effective in increasing the fertility rate. What are your views? More information on this pro-family measures that the government is undertaking can be found at heybaby.sg

    #2913

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngJan 24, 2013 – Discussion
    You would have probably know by now that the gun issue is one of the top issues that Congress is seeking to tackle. I’ve attached this article to let you have a sense of the Democrats sentiments on this issue. Think about the ways that have been proposed to solve this problem. (1) Outlawing guns completely (2) Extensive background screening on people purchasing guns. No solution is perfect, but what is the best solution that the US can adopt? For (1), outlawing of guns would require a complete repeal of the 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms. Just to give you a brief idea, constitutional amendments which take away certain rights from the individual can invoke harsh reactions from the public given that the US has this culture of individualism and rights-based citizenship; also industries dependent on arms and ammunition would go out of business and cause unemployment. For (2), background screening may not be effective as some people may think it might be. In Singapore, we have the the Arms Control Act which punishes anyone who uses or attempts to use firearms with the death penalty. This solution may not be applicable in the US because we never had a gun problem to begin with.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/us/politics/democratic-senators-face-gun-owners-roused-by-talk-of-new-laws.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp

    Timothy Liu KaihuiJan 26, 2013 (edited)Reply
    The US can choose to adopt gun laws similar to those that have been in effect in Israel. Citizens are still granted the right to bear arms, but only if they require it.
    “Gun licensing to private citizens is limited largely to people who are deemed to need a firearm because they work or live in dangerous areas. West Bank settlers, for instance, can apply for weapons licenses, as can residents of communities on the borders with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Licensing requires multiple levels of screening, and permits must be renewed every three years. Renewal is not automatic.”
    “In Israel, applicants must undergo police screening and medical exams, in part to determine their mental state”
    Information source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-dismisses-us-gun-lobbys-inaccurate-claim-about-gun-laws/

    Aaron OngJan 29, 2013 (edited)Edit
    +Timothy Liu Kaihui Thanks for the comparative research you’ve done on Israel. I can see how it is necessary for Israeli citizens to bear arms as they are in a conflict-sensitive area and hence it is more persuasive for Israeli citizens to have right to bear arms under the restricted circumstances. This does not seem to be the case for US citizens. If you are interested in this area, would you also like to look at this article on Swiss gun culture and tell me your thoughts about it?
    http://world.time.com/2012/12/20/the-swiss-difference-a-gun-culture-that-works/

    #2914

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngJan 27, 2013 – Discussion
    Research Materials for whether consumers are driven by ethical values. E.g.
    (YES/NO. Followed by YOUR OWN comments based on RESEARCH MATERIAL)

    Timothy Liu KaihuiFeb 2, 2013
    No. While consumers may take ethical values into account when making a purchase, it is often not the first priority, especially if they are pressed to get the most value for money(for example, if they are facing pay cuts or retrenchment). However many consumers tend be influenced by marketing practices relating to a company’s responsibility to the environment(eg. http://www.apple.com/imac/design/#environment) and therefore be inclined to purchase a certain product over another. However, few seem to act solely based on these claims: the price is still the main concern for most, although consumers will still take corporate responsibility on part of the company into account. However, consumer awareness on unethical practices by companies is also increasing, and this might lead to a different trend in the near future.
    Reference: http://www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/briefings/data/000199 (which appears to be the full version of the text in the comprehension)

    Colin Foong Hao ShengFeb 3, 2013
    NO. Consumers tend not to be genuinely concerned about ethical issues, except when there is a deep-seated commitment or loyalty to the ethical social movement and where consumers are able to sustain such consumption habits despite the premium prices and purchase behavioral tendencies.

    http://i-am.sg/main/?p=1447

    #2915

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    27 Jan Summary
    1. Singapore Growth Model Article
    2. YJC Prelim 2012

    A lot of jardons were thrown out in class today. Word like ‘constitution’, ‘social mobility’, ‘gini coefficient’. Although I would have liked to explain each of this term in more detail, class time is rather limited and for your exam purposes, it is only necessary to know briefly in a sentence or two what these jargons mean. I personally feel that there is quite a big transition from secondary to junior college in terms of the demands of exams and the standards are expected of you. A lot of the academic rigour for General Paper goes into getting acquainted with a lot of these concepts that you were previously unfamiliar with. I’ll be with you on this learning journey and don’t be afraid to consult me online or offline regarding any problems you may be facing. There is no ‘stupid’ question.

    #2916

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    The Singapore Government has released a White Paper on its projected policies for Singapore’s population. It envisions a population of about 6.9 million people by 2030. I’ve attached the link to the White Paper for your reference. For your purposes, it is only necessary to read the Executive Summary which is from pages 1 to 4. Do you find the arguments in the White Paper convincing? For your information, White Papers are policy papers issued by the Government. (You can download the White Paper from the linked website.)

    #2917

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngJan 31, 2013 (edited) – Discussion
    We can be proud of our local university (NTU) researchers who found out possible methods to cooling with lasers. This would replace bulky and noisy refrigerators. It would certainly be a technological breakthrough if this gets mass-marketed and is more environmentally friendly than refrigerators.

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1251154/1/.html

    #2918

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngJan 31, 2013 – Discussion
    This article clearly highlights the problem of a growing middle class in China and negative impacts caused by poor environment practices. Some of the factors which have led to this situation are: (a) Weak environmental laws (b) Lack of control of population of cars (c) Poor public transportation system. Are you able to think of any more factors? If you have read about the plans to increase the population in Singapore, how adversely would our environment be affected?

    http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/china-s-love-affair-with-cars-chokes-air-in-cities-324789

    #2919

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngFeb 3, 2013 (edited) – Discussion
    3 Feb Summary:
    1. YJC Prelim 2012 Comprehension Answers
    2. Discussion of Application Question (we referred to 2 articles): http://www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/briefings/data/000199
    http://www.sec.org.sg/images/Publications/Elements/march2009.pdf

    Notice: We would attempt the AQ in class on 17 Feb. Please also read the Executive Summary of the White Paper which I have linked below because we would write a short reflection on this proposed policy on 17 Feb as well.

    #2920

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngFeb 3, 2013 (edited) – Discussion
    3 Feb Summary:
    1. YJC Prelim 2012 Comprehension Answers
    2. Discussion of Application Question (we referred to 2 articles): http://www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/briefings/data/000199
    http://www.sec.org.sg/images/Publications/Elements/march2009.pdf

    Notice: We would attempt the AQ in class on 17 Feb. Please also read the Executive Summary of the White Paper which I have linked below because we would write a short reflection on this proposed policy on 17 Feb as well.

    #2921

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngFeb 16, 2013 – Discussion
    For those interested in crime and society, we have in our legislation a provision under the Registration of Criminals Act which states that for some minor offences (like fines not exceeding $2000 and jail sentence not exceeding 3 months), and the ex-convict remains crime free for a certain number of years then his offence becomes ‘spent’. The effect of this would mean that it would be lawful for him or her, after his or her offence becomes ‘spent’ to answer that he has not committed any illegality in the past. This raises the idea of a second chance and rehabilitation for ex-convicts.

    #2922

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngFeb 16, 2013 – Discussion
    For those interested in crime and society, we have in our legislation a provision under the Registration of Criminals Act which states that for some minor offences (like fines not exceeding $2000 and jail sentence not exceeding 3 months), and the ex-convict remains crime free for a certain number of years then his offence becomes ‘spent’. The effect of this would mean that it would be lawful for him or her, after his or her offence becomes ‘spent’ to answer that he has not committed any illegality in the past. This raises the idea of a second chance and rehabilitation for ex-convicts.

    #2923

    Ong Aaron
    Moderator

    Aaron OngFeb 17, 2013 – Discussion
    17 Feb Summary:
    1. Reviewed YJC Prelim 2012 Comprehension Passages
    2. “Green Labelling and Responsible Consumerism” Article discussion
    3. Attempted YJC Prelim 2012 AQ in class
    4. Instructions for Population White Paper

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