The things you can do and learn online for General Paper (and Project Work).

Statistic of the day

94% of all commerce depends on two types of engine — the turbine engine and the diesel engine.

John Hofmeister
Founder and CEO Citizens for Affordable Energy and
Former President of Shell Oil
in an interview on BBC GlobalNews


The hedonic treadmill

treadmill-150x150is ‘the tendency of a person to remain at a relatively stable level of happiness despite a change in fortune or the achievement of major goals. According to the hedonic treadmill, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness.’

‘Hedonic’ means ‘of, relating to, or characterized by pleasure’; whereas ‘hedonism’ is ‘the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life’

Read about the hedonic treadmill:

Quote of the day

“Nothing that you do in science is guaranteed to result in benefits for mankind. Any discovery, I believe, is morally neutral, and it can be turned either to constructive or destructive ends. That’s not the fault of science”

– Dr. Arthur W. Galston, whose research led to the creation of Agent Orange; via the Stuff You Should Know podcast

Experience some of the most important Masterpieces from the Prado Museum. In the next two weeks, you will be able to access a new painting every day on Google Maps.
To see them all together in full screen, use Google Earth.

Summary skills?

Because of the sweet comments from ssdd and others, I’ve been inspired to blog a little. 🙂

So, summary skills, you ask.

A good place to start with any fundamental question like that is the most current GP syllabus published by the SEAB. You can find it here. Having checked that though, I find nothing there of use to your question. Moving on…

Mr Stephen Kennaugh, Director of Studies of St. Dominic’s College in Sydney has the following pointers (taken from this file):

1. Knowing what you want:
• This can be achieved through asking a teacher or deciding for yourself what you want to achieve or attain. [In the case of GP Paper 2, you’ll have to thoroughly understand what the summary question demands of you.]
• Once you have this clear then you are able to skim over the text to summarise the main content from your perspective.

2. Deciding what is important:
• It is important to realise what is of use to you and what isn’t in a text or a piece of writing.
• Once you have your focus then it is imperative that you are selective in what you summarise.
• Eliminate all of the joining words and non-essential background information. It is only important for background information or context formation. [But do leave in some basic connectors for fluency; it’s a trade-off between content and language here, I suppose.]
• Record the vital information and subject specific terminology. [There shouldn’t be much jargon in comprehension passages.]

So, it’s all very good advice. More specifically, for the purpose of Paper 2 of GP (and also for research writing in general), you must paraphrase if you want to get any credit at all. You’ll also be penalised under Use of Language for wholesale lifting if you simply do not paraphrase. (More severe penalties are found in PW and further along your academic career.)

There’s probably nothing here that your GP tutors haven’t told you in some way or other. But I hope this post helps these guidelines stick in your head.

Quote of the Day

The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let it spring from love Born out of concern for all beings.
The Buddha

Resources for the AQ, already listed in this blog, in response to this question

Links to the previous posts:

Evaluation and evaluating arguments

A concise guide for paraphrase and critique

Evaluation for both AQ and Project Work (PW)

I might (critique and) synthesise these resources at some point. Or are there any volunteers?

Quote of the day

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens; 1835-1910),
American humanist, humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer

Quote of the day

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

– Arthur C. Clarke, British science fiction writer, inventor and futurist

For more quotes from Arther C. Clarke, go to this page on

The following are ‘Global Political, Economic, and Social Facts’ extracted from the UN’s Human Development Report 2007/2008 by the Infoplease website.

  • In the last two decades, political and civil rights have improved substantially throughout the world: since 1980, 81 countries have taken significant steps in democratization, with 33 military regimes replaced by civilian governments. But of these fledgling democracies, only 47 are considered full democracies today.
  • Only 82 countries, representing 57% of the world’s population, are fully democratic.
  • Multiparty elections are now held in 140 of the world’s 193 countries.
  • Coups overthrew 46 elected governments in the second half of the twentieth century.
  • The proportion of the world’s extremely poor fell from 29% in 1990 to 23% in 1999.
  • In 1999, 2.8 billion people lived on less than $2 a day, with 1.2 billion of them surviving on the margins of subsistence with less than $1 a day.
  • In 2000, 1.1 billion people lacked access to safe water, and 2.4 billion did not have access to any form of improved sanitation services.
  • Between 1970 and 2000 the under-5 mortality rate worldwide fell from 96 to 56 per 1,000 live births.
  • Just 125 countries, with 62% of the world’s population, have a free or partly free press.
  • In 2001, 37 journalists died in the line of duty. Another 118 were imprisoned. Worldwide, more than 600 journalists or their news organizations were intimidated or physically attacked.
  • In 103 countries the proportion of women in parliament increased between 1995 and 2000, but around the world it still averages just 14%.
  • Of the world’s estimated 854 million illiterate adults, 544 million are women.
  • Armed conflict continues to blight the lives of millions: since 1990, 3.6 million people have died as a result of civil wars and ethnic violence, more than 16 times the number killed in wars between states.
  • Civilians have accounted for more than 90% of the casualties—either injured or killed—in post-cold war conflicts.
  • Ninety countries are affected by landmines and unexploded ordinance, with rough estimates of 15,000 to 20,000 mine victims each year.
  • Greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are accruing at a record rate. In 2007, there were 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years.
  • The United States has a carbon footprint five times that of China, and over 15 times that of India.
  • The 23 million residents of the US state of Texas emit more carbon dioxide than the entire population of sub-Saharan Africa, which is 720 million people.

What is the significance of each of these facts?

Read the selection of significant events from 1997 to the present here.

Migrant Labour

Attended a public lecture on Migrant Labour that was part of the ‘NUS Southeast Asia Week & CSR Awareness Speaker Series’ last Friday (22 February). Got handouts from two societies that work with migrant workers in Singapore, so I’m sharing here the links to their websites:

Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (H.O.M.E.)

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2)

HBO: Thin

Read the New York Time review for this documentary here

Book-buying spree tonight

Bought 5 books from Borders tonight, 3 of which are more immediately relevant to GP:

How to Write Essays: A step-by-step guide for all levels, with sample essays

by Don Shiach;

How to Write Better Essays

by Bryan Greetham; and

How to write Essays & Assignments

by Kathleen McMillan and Jonathan Weyers

A friend shared this YouTube clip: