Veganism – Trends; Pros/Cons

Chelsea Whyte. (27 Jan 2018). Living on the Veg. New Scientist. London. [Ms Whyte is the New Scientist Magazine Physics Editor; at the time of publishing she has reverted to veganism]In the UK and US at least, there is a reported uptrend in veganism (diet with zero meat or seafood and their derivatives). Between 2014 and 2017, there was a 4% increase in US vegan numbers. Actress Natalie Portman and sportswoman Serena Williams called themselves vegan. Across the Atlantic ocean, the UK Vegan Society opined an increase of more than 300% from 2006 to 2015. Most adherents range from 15 to 34 years old. (age distinction?)Arguments for veganism are consequentialist based; it implies great benefits.

  • [Global/Government]
    • Soy protein results in 4.5 time less deforestation compared to meat protein (thus soy protein substitution would alleviate global warming)
    • Better health via a vegan diet would cut global healthcare costs in excess of $1 billion/year (Marco Springmann, University of Oxford academic)
  • [Individual] Springmann also forecasted that becoming vegan would decrease 8.1 million ‘early deaths’ each year worldwide

On the negative side:

  • [Healthcare/Individual/Government] Vaccine creation/preservation require eggs or gelatin(e) [glutinous material made from animal tissue], no alternative has been found yet. (The author did not suggest stopping vaccinations because they are non vegan).

See also


Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Translation

Timothy Revell. (27 Jan 2018). Code-cracking AI could unlock robot translation. New Scientist. London. 

University of Toronto academics used an AI algorithm (list of rules to follow in order to solve a problem – See BBC Bitesize link) to solve two classic encrypted codes. The AI did so without prior knowledge of the languages. The method used is related to frequency analysis (FA). It taps on the fact that the most common letter ‘e’ appears in about 13% of all texts. Currently, programmers are researching ‘unsupervised translation’ which would do away with English as the intermediate language required for translation. This could possibly lead to quicker translation.

Note: Threat of world war behind us? Think again.

Michael Vatikiotis. The Straits Times. 27 Jun 2014.

  • In spite of the numbers and figures pointing to peace, there seems to be more troubles or at least increased potential for conflict within countries (Iraqi Sunni insurgents linked to the Syrian civil war), and between countries (China and Japan) than before.
  • Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the US were listed as external actors affecting the Syrian civil war.
  • Russian intervention into Ukraine conflict may catalyse further efforts of Russia to extend its influence.
  • Refugee numbers (2014) had exceeded 50 million people – more than post World War Two 1945.

CK – Nazi Germany S’pore Elective History

The following gives additional Contextual Knowledge (CK) for students of Social Studies/History (2273). It concerns the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in pre-1935 Germany (one of the 4 possible Source Based Case Study topics).

F. L. Carsten wrote in his book 《The German Workers and the Nazis》:

– Prior to 1933, more blue-collar (manual) workers supported non-Nazi working class parties

– However, the German Left (communists/socialists) were disunited, which made them weak opponents to the Nazis

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2012)

The author is John Boyne. It was reprinted by Penguin in 2012. It has been used by several Singaporean schools for their Lower Secondary English Literature classes.

There are links below to – one interview, one summary, and one (rather philosophical) review.

Law & Health – Mobile/Hand/Cell phones

5 years on in two different cases, the first in the Supreme Court and the latter in a regional one (north Italian town Ivrea), mobile phone usage was deemed to have ‘causal link(s)‘ with brain tumours. [In effect, the Supreme Court judgment became the legal precedent.]


Cancer cells: Italian court rules ‘mobile phones can cause brain tumors’. (20 Oct 2012). RT News. (TV-Novosti)

Italian court rules mobile phone caused tumour. (21 Apr 2017). Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). Australia.

CBC Radio (Canada) through its show ‘The Current’ ran an episode entitled: Cellphone in your pocket? CBC’s Marketplace investigates why you might reconsider. (24 Mar 2017).

[Reproduced from]

O/A Level Resource – Indians/Globalisation

This post is based on the same book from the prior post but with a focus on Globalisation. Therefore is would be helpful to the same target audience but I believe would be enjoyable for those who love learning and would like to improve their writing in general (since reading is a method to enhance one’s style and vocabulary). Related syllabus concepts include: entrepreneurship, resource management (with sub issues like brain drain), and sustainable development.

Pg 42 – 45

Vineeta Sinha cited the 2010 Census. Indians numbered roughly 348,000 (348k); 237k citizens (7.35% of citizen total), 110k permanent residents (20.45% of permanent resident total) – in sum, 9.2% of the total staying population.

To reverse the Indian populace ‘brain drain’ originating from the late 1980s (which arguably affected the ethnic ratio balance), it became government policy after 1990 to ‘attract the very bright, highly skilled and talented Indians from abroad…’ and over time encourage their permanent residency. (Law and Home Affairs Minister, S Jayakumar, 20 April 1990). Selected categories included: IT, Finance, Banking, and Investment.

From the 1990s, Indian manual labour also rose, though this was perceived as less displeasing. (Consider the complaints against workers drinking in public; and the competition in transportation, housing, and schools stemming likewise from affluent migrants etc.) Of the 1.321 million foreign employees (all ethnic groups), around 160k were S-Pass holders (semi-skilled labour). [2013 figures from the Ministry of Manpower, MOM]

Pg 91 – 94

Indian migrants are perpetually seen as with ‘foreign worker’ or ‘foreign talent’. Further,  the latter section has aggravated the disparities within the local Indian community. Somewhat overlapping with the latter would be the ‘entrepreneurs with high earning capacity’ (p. 52). The author closes optimistically with suggesting ‘politics of inclusion’ where similar ‘identities, practices, experiences’ become our focus instead of distinctions.

Related references:

  • List of foreign worker dormitories (MOM, accessed 7 Apr 2017) shows a total of 47 such living areas
  • In June 2016, as reported by Ronald Loh (The New Paper), dormitory operator KT Mesdorm was fined $300,000 (maximum quantum) for putting up foreign workers in overcrowded quarters at its Blue Stars Dormitory in Boon Lay. It was first provider to receive this penalty. Mr Jolovan Wham, a social worker at Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) refers to the issue as “out of sight, out of mind” – effectively concealed and less emphasised
  • In the 1990s, the pillars of the Singaporean economy were manufacturing and services (p. 49)