Cyber Bullying 2.0: The Real Story

Written by azhar.

Names used are fictitious.


Two years ago, two of my classmates were the masterminds behind an insidious plot to bully an innocent schoolmate. Her name was Honey. She was obese and had a weird behaviour. Everyone ridiculed her online eccentricities - she would always boast about guys chasing after her. My classmates, Jasmine and her accomplice, Jenny, decided to create an entirely fake Friendster account and use it to 'befriend' their target. They were curious and wanted to know who the guys were as there were no pictures posted in her Friendster profile. It was an attempt to prove if she was fabricating the stories or otherwise.

And so, Dave was born. Dave's job was simple. He would 'befriend' Honey and exchange messages with her. Jasmine and Jenny brainstormed Dave's personal information that would be included in his Friendster profile. Everything was made up, of course. After Dave's particulars were finally recorded, they registered his profile and within minutes it was ready, complete with a new profile layout and pictures that they grabbed in the Internet.

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For the next two months, Jasmine and Jenny had a lot of fun sharing the personal messages from Honey to their friends including me. The whole class would crowd around the school computer and laugh at the messages. It was very obvious that Honey trusted Dave completely even though they never met! She would share almost everything about her life to Dave. However, this was not the end. Jasmine and Jenny were elated by the success and they had plans to share it with the entire school population.

Since Honey's Friendster account was private, only friends that she accepted could receive and read the messages online. Jasmine and Jenny wanted to expose the messages between Dave and her by posting it in a blog, so that everyone could view it any time. To prevent readers from suspecting that the blog was not genuine, they decided to update about Dave's personal life. Everything they blogged about was fiction.

Dave's blog and Friendster profile soon became very popular in school. For the first time, all my schoolmates could witness and decide for themselves if Honey was just fabricating her love stories or otherwise. We grew more convinced that she was indeed living in a fantasy world of her own: She claimed that she had met with Dave in her instant messenger display name. It was not true. Dave was merely an online fictitious character. He never existed.

As months passed by, news broke out that Honey had discovered the blog and was depressed after reading it. There were rumours that she would cry every time she visited the blog. Honey stopped contacting Dave as soon as she detected the (evil) plot. No one really knew what happened to her hereafter. She did not have many friends. Her classmates alienated as much as we did. Dave's Friendster account and blog soon died in weeks.

If the blog was still 'alive' up to date, my classmates and I would be celebrating its 3rd anniversary. As I reminisced about the past, I felt grateful it never lasted that long. The consequences would be dreadful if it did. I stumbled upon news that many teenagers had committed suicide after being mortified online. Little did I know that my classmates and I had actually committed a serious offence two years back - cyber bullying. We never thought of the harmful consequences that would affect our target. All we wanted was evidence that our victim was living in a fantasy world of her own.

Cyber bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to taunt and harm an individual or a group intentionally and repeatedly. Cyber bullies utilize the Internet to inflict emotional pain to their victims and sometimes injure the dignity of their targets. These online predators usually remain anonymous as they erode their prey's self-esteem.

Ryan Halligan was a 13-year-old boy from Vermont in the USA. In school, he was constantly taunted for months as being homosexual. Classmates started to spread the rumour via instant messaging. A popular female classmate then pretended to be interested in him and chatted with him online regularly, before exchanging and forwarding the conversation to her friends. Unable to cope with the humiliation, Ryan committed suicide.

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Ryan is only one of the hundreds of teenagers out there being bullied online. A 2007 study by the US-based Pew Internet & American Life Project found that one-third of American teenage internet users have been targets of online ruffians. The emergence of social-networking websites has also taken cyber bullying into a whole new level - more public and collaboration. Cyber bullying has become more 'deadly' than the usual schoolyard bullying. Below are the reasons why:

It is more public

In the past, bullying usually occurred in schools. The offenders would choose their targets and torment their victims with physical or verbal bullying. The most common were name-calling, teasing and sometimes kicking or hitting the victims. Such instances would happen during breaks in school, usually within the bully's circle of friends or classmates. The target would be dragged into a secluded place, away from the rest of the school population, so that no one could witness and inform the teachers regarding the bullying.

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Everything has changed now. The emergence of social-networking websites and instant messaging networks has enabled bullying to be shared and spread to hundreds of people. It would be bad enough to be taunted by one person while only a few students knew about it, but a video or blog post seen by hundreds of people could be devastating. Some netizens might even join in the bullying by supporting the online delinquent. Can you imagine someone recording an embarrassing moment whereby you fell on the ground and the next thing you knew was 2,000 people have viewed the video in YouTube in less than 24 hours? In Singapore, over 70 per cent of students have access to the Internet. The humiliation would be overwhelming.

Click HERE to view YouTube's efforts to combat cyber bullying.

It is 24/7 everyday

In the past, bullying stopped when the bell rang and students would disperse back to their classes. Bullies usually picked on their targets during breaks and sometimes after school. They had limited time to intimidate their prey. There was no way they could continue tormenting their classmates in class unless their teachers were not present. Bullying usually occurred only during the weekdays in school. The weekends were the only time the victims could escape torture.

Cyber bullying has taken schoolyard bullying into a whole new level. Bullies can now make insulting remarks and humiliate their victims online any time they want. Weekends do not mean a break for the victims now; in fact, weekends are the best time for the online ruffians along with their friends to antagonize their victims as they have more leisure time. No one is there to stop them. The bullying will continue everyday without cessation. Technology has also allowed bullying to occur even when in class. The bullies tend to use this time to record or snap pictures of their targets in action. Imagine having to be scrutinized almost every hour of the day. It can be maddening.

    Cyber Bullying Statistics
  • 42% of kids have been bullied while online. 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once.
  • 35% of kids have been threatened online. Nearly 1 in 5 have had it happen more than once.
  • 21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mail or other messages.
  • 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out of 10 say it has happened more than once.
  • 53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than 1 in 3 have done it more than once.
  • 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.
Statistics by i-SAFE America

It is anonymous

John Carr, chairman of the Children's Charities' Coalition for Internet Safety in London once explained, "On the playground, seeing the stress and pain of the victim face to face can act as an inhibitor to some degree. In cyberspace, where there is no visual contact, you get more extreme behaviour."

This is probably the most serious reason why bullying in the digital age is more 'deadly' than physical or verbal bullying. In the past when bullying is usually done in schools, bullies would stop afflicting their victims when they started to moan in pain or threaten to shout. In cyber bullying, students sometimes do not realize that their actions may hurt the feelings of their peers. This was proven in the case of my classmates who never suspected that they were doing was inflicting a deep emotional pain in their target, Honey. They realized their mistakes and stopped only when news broke out about Honey's emotional distress.

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Furthermore, the psychological ramifications of not knowing who was bullying you could be infuriating. The identity of the bully is often concealed as he can appear as anonymous or even create a fake character to disguise himself. The bully could be anyone - your close friend, a schoolmate or even your sibling. It can make the victim paranoid and sometimes too sensitive to the surroundings. Hence, anonymity can definitely amplify the negative effect of bullying on the victim. Cyber bullying is insidious.

No tell-tale signs

In the past, parents could easily detect any tell-tale signs if their children were being bullied - a black eye or a bloody lip. Now, parents can no longer count on those tell-tale signs to alert them if their children were being taunted in school. Cyber bullying has a more psychological and emotional impact to its victims. The targets would usually hide it to prevent embarrassment. Cyber bullying may not inflict any physical injury, but it sure does have a deep and much more painful emotional repercussion. He may not be able to cope and kill himself in the end.

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Cyber Bullying and Singapore

The law

Teo Wee Meng, a trainer in cyber crimes in the Criminal Investigation Department, said if there's "malicious intent", miscreants will be "charged in court, and will either be jailed or fined".

However, experts believe that having laws are just one side of the coin.

Said Esther: "To eliminate cyber-bullying, it will help if students know that the law in Singapore does not tolerate cyber-bullying. Knowing that cyber bullies can be prosecuted may deter people from doing so."


Wed, Mar 12, 2008
The Straits Times


Statistics

Singapore has the second highest number of cyber-bullying cases after the US, says new survey.

Esther Ng, founder of the Coalition Against Bullying for Children & Youth, an agency that provides resources for people to seek help on bullying issues, agreed. She cited a 2006 survey of 3,488 Singaporean students in which 25 per cent - or 872 students - admitted to having been victimised online.

Another 31 per cent said that the online victimisation was in addition to physical bullying they also faced.

Citing studies published by WiredSafety.org, Poh Yeang Cherng, manager of Touch Cyber Wellness & Sports, said: "There are far more reports of cyber- bullying from Singapore on a per capita basis compared to all other countries except for the United States."

Wed, Mar 12, 2008
The Straits Times

Cases

A TEACHER has come under fire after his blog entry mocking his Primary 3 pupils was discovered and its
URL passed to other netizens.

The relief teacher had posted online four excerpts from different compositions written by his pupils and accompanying them, he had commented: "I have three terribly ridiculous compositions... a source of entertainment, I should say... I will type it out... no corrections or whatsoever... enjoy!"

He later added a fourth composition.

A primary school teacher who only wanted to be known as Ms Wong, 28, felt the blogger was not professional.

"If he puts it on his blog such that the children can improve, it's okay. If it's to amuse himself, then it's not," she said.

Mon, Feb 18, 2008
my paper


It may be the school holidays, but 12-year-old Michelle, who studies in a reputable girl's school, has had no respite from bullying by her classmates in cyberspace.

Michelle's pictures have been defaced and she has also been insulted in a blog with over 7,000 hits.

The cyber-bullying follows months of being ostracised in school.

Michelle claims vulgarities were uttered in her face and her classmates even threatened to stab her with a pencil.

Michelle has submitted a report to the school, but when her mother spoke to the school authorities, they asked if her daughter was being overly sensitive.

CNA
18th June '08

Ban On Pornographic Websites Will Not Work?

Written by azhar.

Our loyal readers had voted and here are the results:
















Thank you for participating. I agree with the results of the online poll. Banning two pornographic websites is not efficient enough to protect the young ones from such negative influence. Education and supervision are the best two methods to ensure teenagers don't get exposed to pornographic material which may ruin their morals. Sexuality education is necessary. Parents to teach their children what is right or wrong when they are young. Don't wait or procrastinate; teenagers value and listen to our peers more as we spend most of our time in school.

3 Olympic Myths You Must Know

Written by azhar.

The 2008 Olympic Games, which opens in Beijing on August 8 this year, will be a multi-billion dollar sports spectacle watched by more than 3.7 billion television viewers all over the world. The 16-day event will showcase some 10,500 athletes from at least 205 nations. The year's biggest sporting tournament will witness athletes vying to try to emulate the past Olympic Games records.




















Drug scandals have marred recent Games, the most publicized of which is the case of American sprinter Marion Jones who was stripped of all her five Olympic medals - three of them gold. In the preparation to win a coveted medal in the Games, many athletes have decided to drop their sporting ethics and take performance-enhancing drugs to increase their chances of winning over other competitors.

The Olympic Games is popular for the images which portrayed athletes practising sportsmanship in every game. This year's Olympic Games has been tarnished by the political instability between China and Tibet. Besides that, terrorism is also a main concern for the Games. China has created a special 100,000 anti-terrorist force for the Olympics, reinforcing the impression that the Games will be dominated by tough security measures.















August 8 will once again display the Olympic traditions all in one tournament. The 'Olympic Spirit', Olympic Marathon and Olympic Torch are three of the practices believed to be the most ancient and rich in history. Nevertheless, some historians believe that the original Olympic Games was simply not true or quite modern in origin. In fact, the three most ancient traditions mentioned above were touted as Olympic myths.

The 'Olympic Spirit'
The Olympic ideal of friendly competition in an atmosphere of brotherhood and peaces among nations is pure hogwash. It is a misinterpretation of the Olympic Truce, which began around the eighth century BC and forbade all participating countries from engaging warfare before, during and after the original five-day event. The objective behind the Olympic Truce is to prevent any war casualties.

The first Olympics themselves were 'war games' held in an atmosphere of enforced peace. The Greeks used the Games to prepare themselves for battle. Wendy J.Raschke, a professor at the University of California (Riverside) says, "The Games were an important aspect of a warriors life, an exemplification of his arete (prowess)"
























Games such as the long jump and the javelin throw were all aimed towards war; there was no intention of peace. The most popular contest was the pankration, a violent and bloody street brawl in which the only thing forbidden was biting or gouging out an opponent's eyes. The 'Olympic Spirit' was not present in the early Games. In the fourth century BC, a dispute between two towns near the Olympic site -Elis and Pisa- broke into a warfare.

Furthermore, cheating was also widespread during the Games. Bribery was especially prominent. Eupolos, a boxer from Thessaly, won by bribing his opponents. Some of the competitors used methods which gave them an advantage over their opponents. Wrestlers, for example, secretly oiled parts of their bodies to prevent an opponent's grip. Sportsmanship was sidelined during the games; all the competitors wanted was winning.

The Marathon Myth
Legend says that the Athenians defeated the Persians on the plain of Marathon on 490 BC, and the Greek leaders sent the runner Pheidippides to Athens to announce the victory. He ran the distance, declared, "Rejoice! We conquer!" and dropped dead. This legend will be broadcasted to 3.7 billion television viewers again this year.

The longest race in the early Games was only a five kilometres. The marathon was created and included in the Games only some 2,500 years later. It was part of the programme of the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896 to commemorate the ancient run, which may or may not have happened.




























David E.Martin in his book, The Olympic Marathon, explains, "When the ancient games of the Olympia were about to be reborn in Athens in 1896 in the form of a global sports competition, it became appropriate for this legendary run...to assume a modern reality."

The first Olympic marathons were initially conducted in varying distances, ranging from 39,996 to 42,750 metres. Now, a fixed 42,195 metres will be used for every Olympic Games since the 1924 Games in Paris. The Olympic Marathon was not really ancient like what many people believe; in fact, it was quite modern.

The Olympic Torch
The Olympic Torch, also known as the Olympic Flame, was believed to be a tradition to commemorate the theft of fire from the Greek God Zeus by Prometheus, its origins lie in ancient Greece, when a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. The Olympic Torch will be carried by athletes all around the world, stopping in all cities that have hosted the past Olympics, before arriving in Beijing to open the 2008 Olympic Games in August.








However, this ancient practice goes back merely 68 years to Nazi Germany. For the 1936 Games in Berlin, Adolf Hitler's minions decided that a torch relay would be a nice touch that would link the thousand-year Reich (empire) that Hitler fantasized about to antiquity and give it a classical patina. What we believe today as a symbol of global harmony was actually a Nazi propaganda ploy, manufactured by the giant German munitions company headed by Alfred Krupp.

'Be a change agent. Change hearts. Save lives.'

Written by berlin.

That was the slogan of this year’s 30 hour Famine Camp conducted by World Vision Singapore in Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road). I don’t know where I should start from, so I guess I’ll start from my pre-camp dilemma.

‘Eh, want to join famine camp not?’
An MSN window popped up on my screen as I was using my laptop at home.

Famine camp? What for? Go there and starve? Worse still, pay them money for starving you. That’s a really dumb idea.

I thought about it and didn’t reply my friend. From the next day onwards, she kept asking me, day after day. Since she was so persistent, I finally gave in.

I finally decided to participate in the event and sacrificed 2 days of studying during the holidays for this 'insane' camp which starved the campers. Madness, what was I thinking of? All in the name of friendship, I have to sacrifice my favourite food for more than a day! – satay, prata, pastamania, pizza hut, xiao long pao and even PLAIN bread! Furthermore, I missed sleeping on my comfortable bed and my precious study time was affected.

Walking into ACS sports hall, I was constantly questioning myself.

Why am I here? What am I doing here when I could have been at home enjoying my Korean dramas and catching up with my studies? Okay Berlin, persevere.


















The opening ceremony

We registered, received our tags and shirts and had lunch just before camp officially started. During the opening ceremony, we were introduced to a few important people from World Vision Singapore, ACS Barker and many more. However, out of these important people, there was one lady who stood out from the crowd. She had no title to her name and was just like any other – only with a dark history that represented testimony to the the unjust in this world. Yet, her speech resulted in a standing ovation in the auditorium.

After an opening ceremony, the camp started of with a game which I wont bother explaining because it’s simply too complicated and I shall save the agony of you readers trying to comprehend it. Basically we had to do many simple tasks that would drive people up the wall. For example, to stimulate water supply in third world countries, we had to ensure that a cup with a hole below it had constant supply of water by refilling it with the help of a teaspoon. This showed us how difficult it was for them to even get basic necessities like water.

Anyway, the highlight of the day was a poignant speech, up close and personal with a 20-year-old Cambodian lady, Srey Mom, who was child-trafficked when she was merely13-years old and sold into prostitution in a good-for-nothing brothel. Yes, she was the person I mentioned in the previous paragraph. It was a totally new experience for my friends and me as we often hear such stories before but merely brushed them aside. However for this time round, the story seemed to come to life as it was happening right before our eyes - how could we ignore such atrocities occurring so close to us?


















Be a change agent. Change hearts. Save lives.

The next morning we were freshened up with an hour of aerobics and a couple of drinks. After learning so much, how can we sit back and watch them suffer? Thus we took upon the challenge to raise funds for them by collecting newspapers and old clothing. Our collection would translate into monetary terms which will go towards helping needy families of HIV/AIDS patients in Singapore. For example, 20kg of old newspapers which cost around $2.80 would be able to buy one bottle of 1kg cooking oil. The collection drive was held in Tampines. (Yes, the exact same area where we did our newspaper collection drive for Dover Park Hospice!) Our group of 10 people had to collect newspapers from six HDB blocks! It was horrible collecting newspapers during lunch hour when we walked by houses that were cooking their lunch. It smelt really great!

Later, we returned to ACS and attended the closing ceremony. There were performances by bands like By Definition, EIC and a dance performance by NTU MJ Dance. We watched a few clips by World Vision Singapore and it was finally time to break our fast.

It was an unforgettable camp.

What I gained from this camp:
1 - FRIENDSHIP.
2 – Do not discriminate people with HIV/aids. You will NOT contract HIV/aids from them by being in close contact.
3 – Be the change agent. Do your part in saving the Earth.

Firefox 3 Downloads Reached The 8 Million Figure in 24 hours

Written by azhar.

It was a sweet success for Mozilla's newest product, Firefox 3, as it surpassed its original target of 5 million software downloads and reached the auspicious 8 million figure. The Firefox Download Day was orchestrated and aimed to create a new Guinness World Record as the most number of software downloaded in 24 hours. Mozilla is currently waiting for the Guinness World Record officials to review the World Record attempt.

Firefox 3 promises better security, blinding speed and cool new features. Firefox 3 includes phishing and malware protection, plus a new instant site ID info to further enhance its security. Previous versions of Firefox have been notorious for their sluggish performance after a few hours of surfing. The improved Firefox 3 has solved this problem and its new features such as the session restore make it possible for a more efficient web browsing experience. Moreover, Firefox 3 has also set the innovation bar high with its exciting new features such as the one-click bookmarking.











As for the official entry into the Guinness World Records, the server logs and download information will be given to an independent review board which will then conduct a thorough audit, removing any duplicate and incomplete downloads before determining an exact number. The Firefox Download Day which began on 18th June (Singapore time) has been one of Mozilla's most creative and successful marketing strategies to date. Affiliate buttons are also available in the Download page to allow Firefox evangelists to spread the word about the historic event.

I personally love the new Firefox 3 software and hope that more cool updates or add-ons will be made available soon. Have you downloaded Firefox 3? If you have, do share with me what you think about it. If not, you can download it HERE for free!

Parents, Time To Bring Your Sexy Back

Written by azhar.

Gone were days when oops-i-did-it-again and billie-jean-is-not-my-lover used to hit the airwaves. Now, there is a new set of catchy lyrics which are flowing through our eardrums. We have the i'm-bringing-sexy-back and don't-cha-wish-your girlfriend-was-RAW-like-me phrases and of course my personal 'favourite', under-my-umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh. These catchy phrases, besides the beats, form the ingredients which make a song attractive and sometimes addictive.

















When my 4-year-old female cousin approached me and did the dance routine by the Pussycat Dolls for their hit song 'Don't Cha', I was taken aback by how well she was able to imitate the movements. However, what made me more appalled was when she asked at the end, 'Sexy tak?' (Is is sexy? in Malay). I laughed in the end of course, but deep in thought I was actually worried what kind of influence that is getting into her mind. She might be just imitating the moves now at this very young age, but what will happen when she starts to become curious of what it feels like to dance with such exposing clothes when puberty begins to crawl into her life. If being sexy means that you have to reveal at least 60 per cent of your body to the world, then it looks like we may lose our Asian values in the near future.

Suggestive dance moves and revealing clothes are not just the two factors which are poisoning the minds of the impressionable youngsters today. The song lyrics are getting more and more crude and sometimes absurd. The English language used is of course far from what we learn in our educational institutions - it is in hip hop slang. Let's just look at the lyrics of the hit song 'Low' by Flo Rida. Many adults do not understand what most of the lyrics mean, so I am here to help you in a way or two.



[Chorus:]
Apple Bottom Jeans [Jeans]
Boots with the fur [With the fur]
The whole club was lookin at her
She hit the flo [She hit the flo]
Next thing you know
Shawty got low low low low low low low low

The word 'flo' means floor while the word 'shawty' basically means girl. The chorus describes a scene where a girl was enjoying herself on the dance floor of a club. Now here comes another set of the lyrics which has streamed through the ears of 13 million listeners in Youtube:

[Verse 1:]
I ain't never seen nuthin that'll make me go,
This crazy all night spendin my dough
Had a million dollar vibe and a bottle to go
Dem birthday cakes, they stole the show
So sexual, she was flexible
Professional, drinkin X and ooo
Hold up wait a minute, do I see what I think I
Whoa
Did I think I seen shorty get low
Ain't the same when it's up that close
Make it rain, I'm makin it snow
Work the pole, I got the bank roll
Imma say that I prefer them no clothes
I'm into that, I love women exposed
She threw it back at me, I gave her more
Cash ain't a problem, I know where it goes

Pretty complicated huh? The verse is also describing about a scene in a club where girls are enjoying themselves on the dance floor with the men around them. The 'dough' here means money. The 'birthday cakes' referred to here do not literally mean birthday cakes! A birthday cake in hip hop slang is a butt. You can listen or view a lot of negative influences such as drinking and nudity. And if you think you have just seen the worst, check out the next verse:

[Verse 2:]
Hey
Shawty what I gotta do to get you home
My jeans full of gwap
And they ready for Shones
Cadillacs Maybachs for the sexy grown
Patrone on the rocks that'll make you moan

The word 'gwap' means money. My jeans is full of money. Shones are girls who love to have sex with a lot of people. Therefore, the guy is trying to use money to have sex with sluttish women. A grown is simply an adult. Cardillacs Maybachs (a car) for the sexy adult. Patrone is an alcoholic drink. So yeah, there you go. It's all about sex, money and drinking. Many of the terms used are actually in slang. I think this is enough to make you realize what kind of 'garbage' teenagers are exposed to in this modern age.


























Now comes the million-dollar question. It hip hop responsible for the fall in our social ethics? Many adults are blaming rappers for the crude language that they use in their songs. Since the music industry is being fuelled by the mass media, it is almost impossible to prevent the youngsters from listening and viewing them. Censorship by the government limits a individual's freedom and they will most likely search for alternative sources such as the Internet to enjoy the 'filthy' songs. Nonetheless, are the rappers responsible for the decay of our society's morals?

In my opinion, the rappers are not accountable for the poor social behaviours present today. Parenting is key to act as a shield to protect the children from the negative influences of the songs. Parents should educate their children regarding the bad practices shown by the lyrics of the songs. Moreover, they can also play a role in making sure that their children do not listen to songs which carry a negative message by monitoring the songs uploaded in their mp3s or iPods. Teenagers are usually confused when given too much freedom; they do not know which is right or otherwise. Whatever that enters a child's head should be controlled and filtered. If the videos and songs broadcasted by the mass media are getting more appealing and attractive in the eyes and ears of teenagers today, then the parents should start thinking of bringing their sexy back (get the children's attention) and show them what a good role model really is.

The ERP Spike

Written by azhar.

[Updated on 18/7/08]

Singaporean motorists thought they have heard the worst news this year when oil prices surged to a record high. However, the situation has just turned more complicated as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had just announced its plans to raise the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges this year. The changes will take effect starting from July 7.

According to the LTA, the changes include a rise in ERP charges for up to $2 more and the introduction of five new gantries along the Singapore River which will go live from 6pm to 8pm on weekdays. The introduction of the five new gantries will bring the total number of gantries islandwide to 65. Another change announced affects the actual ERP charges. All new gantries will begin with $2 deductions and as speed continues to decline, each jump will be $1.


















The new measures have been introduced to help control traffic congestion on the roads in the Singapore business district. The LTA calculates the congestion level by referring to the 'average' speeds of taxis passing through the ERP gantries. If the figure plummets, this will indicate that there is a congestion as motorists are unable to enjoy a smooth ride. 6,000 taxis are equipped with the LTA devices that measure the distance driven and the trip time. From July 7, motorists will be able to travel at speeds above 20kmh on arterial roads and at least 45kmh on expressways, at least 85 per cent of the time, up from just half the time now. Furthermore, the LTA also hopes that the new changes announced will help encourage more citizens to switch to public transportation.


















The changes in the ERP system turned out to be a real can of worms for some motorists, especially the taxi drivers. The escalating petrol prices has already burnt a huge hole in their pockets. The high ERP charges will further leave them in a lurch. The operating costs for the taxi drivers has significantly increased this year. Taxi companies are responding to the problem by introduing schemes which will help alleviate the financial burden. Taxi opearators such as TransCab and Smart Taxis are providing monthly cash rebates worth $90 to each driver to help them deal with the higher ERP charges. A rise in ERP charges will eventually lead to higher taxi fares as taxi drivers transfer the extra costs to consumers. This can result in a decline in the number taxi bookings as taxi rides become more expensive and the business will be less profitable as the quantity demanded falls. The taxi drivers are the worst group of people affected by the new changes which will take effect from July 7.


















Besides the taxi drivers, another group of people who will be adversely affected by the changes in the ERP system are the motorists who work in companies located in the charging zone. Crossing all the gantries can cost road tolls for up to $3 or more each day. This illustrates a higher cost of living for the workers who will have to pass through the gantries to get home. Some workers interviewed commented that they will just have to stay in their workplace until after 8pm, when the gantries stop operating. Delivery workers may also be affected by the changes. They will have to incur higher road tolls every time they need to deliver any goods or services to a customer located in the charging zone. However, in the long run, the delivery companies can benefit from the changes when traffic congestion is reduced. They will be able to provide better service to their potential customers.
























Nonetheless, some people suggest that the new measures implemented are beneficial to the companies along the roads of the business districts which welcomes motorists with the ERP gantries. The higher ERP rates will discourage motorists from using the roads, and hence reducing traffic congestion. Economists define traffic congestions as a negative externality. While an automobile company has to pay for electricity and other costs of production, the individuals living in the country will have to pay for the traffic congestion since it will cause them to have higher road tolls. When there is minimal congestion along the roads of the companies, customers will find it easier to patronize the businesses there. This is especially true for food and beverage entreprises as the fall in traffic congestion allows greater convenience for their loyal customers. In fact, the Straits Times reported that hotels, restaurants and retail enterprises in the charging zone have since profits go up for the case of London which started levying road tolls downtown in 2005.

It looks like public transportation is the best method to travel for Singaporeans in the future. The Singapore government had introduced initiatives to further improve the quality of our public transportation system such as increasing the train and bus frequencies. While the rich is still able to afford a car despite the high road tolls and surging petrol prices, it seems like taking a bus or a train will be an everyday lifestyle for the middle-class workers in the future. Time to top up your EZ-link!

Copyright Protected

Written by azhar.

Hundreds of BitTorrent users have received letters demanding compensation for the alleged uploading and sharing of copyright materials. BitTorrent is one of the big players in the file sharing industry. It is a network which offers free and open source file-sharing application effective for distributing very large software and media files. Other big players include peer-to-peer file sharing systems such as Limewire and Kazaa.










A team consisting of lawyers ‘Davenport Lyons’, anti-piracy tracking company ‘Logistep’ and several games publishers such as Zuxxez/Topware and CodeMasters have been busy distributing letters to those who have uploaded and shared their products. Nonetheless, not many who received the letters are choosing to pay the fines. Some of them are still doubtful about the credibility of the anti-piracy tracking company 'Logistep', while others believe they are completely innocent.



























There are several cases which cast doubts over the accuracy of Logistep and its anti-piracy device. One of them is the case of a 67-year-old grandmother who was demanded to pay fines for downloading Colin McRae: Dirt, a popular racing game developed by CodeMasters. Why would an old women be interested in a sports video game? Another example is the case of a man named 'Stuart'. He was also accused of infringing copyright on Colin McRae: Dirt. Stuart vigorously denied all the accusations and insisted his innocence. He has not paid the fines and Davenport Lyons has not taken any action against him. I believe there was no concrete evidence to charge Stuart with copyright infringement.














The gaming industry is not the first to take such stern action against file-sharing users. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been under the limelight in the recent years for outrageously claiming copyright infringement fines ranging from $750 to a whooping $30,000 per song uploaded. A very popular instance which involves a fine by RIAA was the case of Jammie Thomas, a women charged with a $222,000 fine for infringing the copyrights of 24 songs using the Kazaa file-sharing network. Thomas appealed and argued that the $222,000 penalty was excessive as the music labels only made 70 cents per song, but the 12-person jury still approved the exorbitant penalty.















In my opinion, I believe it is impossible to completely stop the widespread use of peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. Millions of people are uploading and sharing songs and games as I am typing right now. I question if an artiste under a record label is really earning a large part of their income through album sales. In fact, I think singers are earning more money with their concert tours and endorsement deals. Perhaps, file-sharing can help spread their work and attract more fans. What do you think?

The Green City

Written by azhar.

Let’s go green. Green is the future. Saving Gaia. These are some of the popular campaigns governments all over the world are organizing to make the Earth a better and cleaner place for the future generation. However, there is one problem – how do you really categorize a green city? A city covered with huge acres of greenery?

Several cities around the globe have just revealed their green plans. Chicago, for example, is currently working on a new green initiative known as the Eco-Bridge. It is the last of the major recommendations drafted by the master plan to provide recreational opportunities, views of the city, and calm water for rowing and sailing. There are also suggestions to include wind turbines in the project so as to provide an opportunity for the city to enjoy economic benefits from the project.

















However, this project has been panned by the citizens living in Chicago themselves. One of them commented that it is a way of ‘coating the city with sugar’. He cited an incident whereby he was unable to view the surroundings of the city when standing behind a double-decker bus as it was blowing out black smoke. Some critics even highlighted the difference between a green space and a green city. They questioned the economic benefits that only a few turbines will bring and some went further to describe Chicago’s transportation service as a ‘disaster’. So is constructing a green space in a city enough to label it a green city?

















Chicago is not the only country attempting to be the ideal city of the future. Abu Dhabi, a country synonymous to oil and wealth, is building a waste-free and zero-carbon city known as the Masdar City. The city will derive most of its energy from solar panels, as sunlight is a very abundant resource in the region. Any activity that involves the burning of fossil fuels is not allowed in the city. Cars, or at least those that run on gasoline, will be banned. The project even claims that the city will be zero waste through composting, recycling and sustainable practices. Public transportation systems will exist to substitute the need for cars. It is a city which embraces renewable and sustainable technologies for the future. We may be looking at the Silicon Valley of green technology.

There are several websites in the Internet which showcases initiatives or projects currently being developed by scientists all over the world. One of them is popsci.com, a website which displays the latest inventions that will shape the future of the environment. One of the innovations which is shown there is the Pod Car, an electric car which works like a grocery cart at the supermarket. Take a look at the picture below:















The pod cars can be folded and stacked when parking, thus saving a lot space. The most ingenious feature of the electric car is that it can charge itself with solar panels on the roof. In my opinion, I believe the pod cars look adorable and are helpful in conserving both energy and space. However, I do have doubts regarding the invention. Firstly, since you can stack it, I will assume that we will not have our own personalized cars. It is impossible to get you car out of its parking lot; you have to wait until the first few drivers stacked in front to leave first. Another possible drawback is that the cars may not be suitable for huge families or disabled drivers and passengers. And what if it is raining the whole week?















Another creative innovation that caught my attention is the energy highway. It is basically a highway with wind turbines which will line the highway medians. Cars passing the turbines will generate power. I think this is a very innovative solution to conserve energy. There are many car users in the world today. The only potential limitation with this green idea is that it will be very expensive to install the wind turbines along our highway medians.



If Singapore dreams to be a green city one day, it will need to start bringing in energy-efficient cars into the market. The worse is still yet to come with the surging oil prices. More people are using the public transport, making congestion inevitable. The government may also need to increase the number of bus and train services to keep up with the increasing number of commuters. I appreciate the government’s initiatives to raise awareness regarding methods to help conserve electricity. Perhaps a green city is best defined as a city filled with 'green people'.

Portugal To Win Euro 2008?

Written by azhar.

It seems like most tpjcians are rooting for Portugal to win Euro 2008. Well, this is based on a poll conducted in this online magazine, which attracted a total of 31 participants. The Netherlands and Italy are trailing behind with 16.1% of the total number of votes each.

Take a look at the results below:

The Nude Trend

Written by azhar.

We teenagers know that this is the period of our lives where hormones and curiosity controls the mind and body, diminishing our judgment. Moreover, in this modern age, technology seems to act like a catalyst for us to satisfy our lust for the new and naughty. Nonetheless, the ramifications of the whole new experience are causing teenagers to face the peril of crime and punishment.

Teenagers are developing a new habit - taking nude pictures of themselves using their camera phones. They do so for a few main reasons. One of them is just for the fun of it. They will take naked shots of themselves and trade between their friends back and forth. Another popular reason is to impress their boyfriends. In La Crosse, Wisconsin, a 17-year-old boy was charged with child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child and defamation for allegedly uploading nude photos of his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend on his MySpace profile page. This is just one of the many nude exhibitions circulating the Internet.


















Adults are appalled by this trend. They are shocked at the naivety shown by the teenagers – has it ever occurred to them that their naked pictures will be spread and possibly sold everywhere? One Sheriff, Sgt. Mark Yehle, thinks he knows why the nude photos are now available almost everywhere in the Internet. He said, "I think they just do it to impress their boyfriends. When he breaks up, he `vents,' in his words, by posting them. He apparently didn't think there was anything wrong with it. He didn't know it was illegal."

Another teenage netizen, Brianna Moran, revealed that it is a common trend among MySpace users to upload naked pictures of themselves. At this age, teenagers are always curious of the fun element in showcasing their bare bodies and sharing them in the online community. A good place to start is of course the popular social networking websites as it allows the public to view, share comments and event get into a private conversation with the ‘naked stars’. After all, who does not enjoy popularity at such an early age?



















However, what the teenagers don’t seem to realize is that while it is easy to upload and share the pictures, it is also easy to steal or spread it to the rest of the world. In New York, several teenage girls sent their naked photos to their boyfriends, only to realize that another boy was collecting them from the websites and compiling them in a DVD before attempting to sell copies of it. Anyone can grab photos from a personal page when he or she is accepted as a friend. The problem is that it is difficult to distinguish whether that person is really your friend or otherwise in the Internet.

This disturbing trend can really damage a person’s future. High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens described her nude photo scandal as "traumatic". The incident happened when a picture of her posing nude in a hotel room was leaked on to the Internet. Connecticut police Sgt. Jim Smith, who investigates cybercrime and online child pornography, said, "They might think it's just fun and games at the time they do it, but these images can really spread like wildfire." The Internet has almost limitless boundaries. You can share a photo from one region of the world to another. Although, the authorities has managed to stop some of the illegal online activities from continuing, we will never how far one naked photo can go.

Will you send a nude photo of yourself to your boyfriend?

Facebook Triumphs Over MySpace

Written by azhar.

Social network giant, Facebook, had just beaten its biggest rival, MySpace, as the most popular social networking website in the the world. MySpace entered the social networking first in late 2003, followed by Facebook in early 2004. Both websites have been competing with each other ever since they were introduced to the online community. Although MySpace is more appealing to thousands of bands or musicians who wanted to make it big, Facebook seems to be more attractive to any normal netizen out there who enjoy playing around with its variety of applications.





















Facebook has managed to catch up with MySpace in April 2008 and looks promising to keep up with the performance, if not overtake its rival in terms of uniques worldwide monthly visitors. Both websites are attracting an enormous amount of 115 million visitors respectively every month. Although MySpace is much more popular than Facebook in the USA market, the latter seems to be the honey for online ants in other parts of the world.

Take a look at the data below (provided by Comscore):












I noticed my friends tend to connect with me online via Facebook or Friendster, besides MSN. Do you know why MySpace somehow seems to be less appealing to the Asian online community?

TPJC Wind Orchestra and Guitar Ensemble Concert: The Review

Written by audience.
(Writer refused name to be published)
Pictures courtesy of TPJC Film and Photography Society.

[TPJCian magazine is unable to contact the writer regarding the short
descriptions for the pictures. If you know what songs they are performing as seen on the pictures, do write a comment above.]

The TPJC Wind Orchestra and Guitar Ensemble had successfully presented their combined concert, Le Musique 2008, at the Victoria Concert Hall(VCH) on 31st May 2008. The VCH was indeed an elegant place to hold the event. Ms Irene Ng, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, graced the event as the Guest-of-Honour for the night.

For the first half of the concert, the Guitar Ensemble presented us with 10 beautiful pieces. However, all the pieces were very short, and it was quite disturbing to view the emcees walking in and out of the stage after every few minutes. The Guitar Ensemble had invited several guest performers such as from St. Anthony’ Canossian Secondary, Methodist Girls’ Secondary and Anglo-Chinese Junior College to add value to the musical experience.

There were a lot of movements during the performance especially after the first five pieces that the guitar seniors had played. Both the seniors and juniors of the ensemble performed the 6th piece, A Royal March. The next song, El Bimbo, was played only by the senior section leaders of the TPJC Guitar Ensemble. Finally, the last three songs were a combined performance by the Guitar Ensemble from TPJC and all the guest performers.

















The third piece, “Recuerdos De La Alhambra” composed by Francisco Tarrega and Masataka Sano, stood out most as it wass one of the most famous classical guitar pieces and the TPJC Guitar Ensemble had brought a lot of emotions and depth to Tarrega and Sano’s masterpiece.

The second half of the concert was more captivating as it was filled with many surprises. The TPJC Wind Orchestra (Winds) started off with a loud ‘POP’ from the party poppers. There was a repertoire of 6 songs performed by the TPJC Winds and they were very well selected. One example of a very meaningful piece was the “An American Elegy” composed by Frank Ticheli, which was composed in memory of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School in 1999 and in honour of the survivors. However, contrary to that of the Guitar Ensemble, the pieces that the Winds chose were quite long-winded.

The “Do Enka Express” composed by Satoshi Yagisawa was a very interesting choice. Modern enka came into being in the post-war years of the Showa period. This piece had brought the audiences into the traditional Japanese culture and it was the only piece in the concert that had light effects accompanying the music.

















There were also some good solos in the Winds performance to showcase the amazing talents present in the orchestra to the. One of them who really shined was alto saxophonist, Marcus Yap, who played the piece “Do Enka Express”. His solos were spectacular and he played with much passion.

The concert finale ended with more fun and surprises. The encore was performed by the Winds with two pieces, one of which was Quien Sera. The couple dance put up by the four Winds members during Quien Sera spiced up the atmosphere of the whole concert and captivated the audiences. Overall, the Winds performance was remarkable and they certainly had touched many audiences’ hearts.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The New iPhone In 60 Seconds

Written by azhar.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc., had just recently unveiled the new iPhone 3G, the App Store, MobileMe, and more in his Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote address from San Francisco's Moscone West. The new iPhone boasts much-desired improvements such as a a faster 3G network capabilities and of course, a $200 price cut.

Check out the Steve Job's WWDC keynote (in 60 seconds) below :

Discuss Whether You Consider A Fall In Exchange Rate To Be The Most Effective Way To Achieve Full Employment.

Written by azhar.

Spot an error? Inform us!
(I am practising my essay skills. You can read and help correct some points if you wish.)

[Updated on 18/7/08]

A fall in exchange rate can help raise the level of employment in a particular country. When the country devalues its currency, the price of exports of the country will be cheaper in terms of the foreign currency. This will mean that the country’s exports will be more competitive and attractive in the global market. At the same time, when the currency is devalued, the price of the country’s imports will be more expensive in terms of its currency. This is assuming that the Marshall-Lerner condition holds, which states that for a currency devaluation to have a positive impact in trade balance, the sum of price elasticity of exports and imports (in absolute value) must be greater than 1. Assuming that both exports and imports are price elastic, a devaluation of the exchange rate means a reduction on price of exports, demand for these will increase more than proportionately. At the same time, price of imports will rise and their demand diminished more than proportionately. Thus, the net exports will increase.



















An increase in exports means that the aggregate demand (AD) will also increase. This can be seen in the rightward shift from AD(1) to AD(2). This also causes an increase in the real national income from Y(1) to Y(2) and the rise in the general price level from P(1) to P(2). When this happens, the firms will step up its production of goods to meet the rising demand and enjoy more profits. And in order to do so, the producer will need to hire more workers to produce more goods.
























However, there may be adverse effects due to the currency devaluation. Firstly, it would be loss in investors’ confidence. Investors will view the currency devaluation as the beginning of a series of devaluation. They will lose confidence and will pull out their funds from the country, also known as capital flight. Referring to the formula AD=C+I+G+(X-M), a fall in investments (I) will lead to a fall in AD. Therefore, firms will have to cut down on the number of workers to cut costs. Hence, unemployment rises.

Next, the currency devaluation can only bring a positive result if the Marshall-Lerner condition is met. In the short run, the demand tends to be price inelastic. This is because tastes and preferences do not change quickly and time is needed to source for substitutes. Therefore, the price increase will only result in a less than proportionate decrease in the quantity demanded for imports as they still prefer the imported goods and there are no close substitutes available. At the same time, the demand for exports will also increase less than proportionately with respect to fall in price. This can result in a worsening of the Balance Of Trade (BOT) as expenditure from imports exceeds revenue from exports. Investments will decrease in the short run as it is less profitable as both the quantity demand (brought about by a change in price) and price is low. This in turn causes a lot of workers to be jobless, resulting in a rise in the unemployment rate. However, the BOT and unemployment will improve in the long run when demand becomes elastic.
[J-curve effect-- states that the BOT deficit would worsen in the short-run and improve in the long-run due to elasticity. Learn more HERE.]

Besides that, currency devaluation may also cause inflation and make the cost of living rise. When the country devalues its currency, the price of imports will be more expensive. This means that the price of imported inputs and the cost of production will increase. Producers will transfer the rise in cost of production to the consumers in terms of higher prices. Hence, inflation will set in. This will cancel out the advantage that a falling exchange rate might have on export prices. Furthermore, it will also push up the cost of living as prices of imported goods and services are more expensive.
























The fall in exchange rate is only one way to achieve full employment. There are other ways such as Demand management policies. Currency evaluation is more effective in countries with open economies and less effective in countries where the domestic demand dominates. For such instances, expansionary fiscal and monetary policies are often employed. For example, expansionary fiscal policy means an increase in government expenditure and a reduction in taxes. An increase in development expenditure such as spending on ports and schools will immediately raise aggregate demand and so reduce unemployment. This is because when the government spends on such projects, more people will be able to obtain the jobs and income. From there, since more people now earn their own income, they will be able to demand for the domestically produced goods, hence increasing AD. Firms will hire more workers to step up their production. Thus, employment rate will improve.

As for the reduction in taxes, when the government cut corporate taxes, more foreign companies will find it more attractive and profitable to invest and set up factories in the country. Since investments are a component of AD (AD=C+I+G+(X-M)), AD will also increase. Hence there will be more factories set up, which will employ more workers, increasing the employment rate of the country. Furthermore, when the government reduced the personal income tax rate, the workers will have more disposable income. They will be able to demand more domestically produced goods. With a rising AD, firms will also start to increase their number of workers to meet the rising demand. Hence, employment will increase.

If unemployment is structural in nature, falling exchange rate will be useless to address the mismatch of skills. Supply-side policies will more useful for structural unemployment. The government can provide subsidies for firms to train their workers and upgrade their skills. This can also increase productivity, which will attract investments, as it is a lower cost per unit output. Employment will rise. Moreover, the government can also nurture the service sector such as the health care and tourism industry as it is both labour-intensive and caters to workers with little formal education. Hence, there will be more job opportunities for the less-skilled workers. Employment will increase.

In conclusion, fall in exchange rate is usually seen as a short run solution to the problem of unemployment because of the various problems it creates. The government needs to investigate the root cause of unemployment before deciding on the most appropriate solution. If the unemployment is the result of the loss of competitiveness, long-term solutions should be focused on restoring the competitiveness through productivity improvements and economic restructuring.

If the unemployment is the result of slow down in worldwide economic growth, the country might have to seek an alternative engine of growth in the meanwhile to cushion the effect of a fall in external demand. Even in a country like Singapore with a small multiplier size, off-budget measures are still introduced in periods of falling AD to minimize the impact and hardships as we wait for the world economy to pick up again.

Who Will Win Euro 2008?

Written by azhar.

The European Cup 2008 had just kick-started yesterday, with a beautiful opening ceremony. For those who subscribed to Channel 30 of Starhub cable television, you will be able to witness Europe's best teams and players all in one major tournament.

This major sporting event will boast top players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, and of course, Andrea Pirlo. There are 4 groups in total, with Group C taking the spotlight as the 'group of death' as quality teams like Netherlands, France and the 2006 World Cup champions, Italy, are all packed in the same group.















My personal favourite team is Italy. I have been a fan of Italy ever since I learnt how to watch the television, and have always been a supporter until now. Now, I am curious...

TPJC Live!: Session 002 [POSTPONED]

We are very sorry to inform you that we have to postpone the TPJC Live!: Session 002 due to some unforeseen reasons. We will inform you about the next session soon.


-The site is currently undergoing maintenance.-

Explain The Factors That Influence The Competitiveness Of A Developed Country's Economy.

Written by azhar.
Points courtesy
of Ms Charmaine Liu Meifeng.

Spot an error? Inform us!


Competitiveness refers to both export competitiveness and the country’s ability to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and talents. Export competitiveness measures the ability of a country to sell its exports in the global market. This will depend on both the price and non-price factors. The country’s ability to attract FDIs and talents will depend on factors such as a pro-business environment, a stable exchange rate and the direct tax rates.

Exchange rate is an example of how a price factor can influence a developed country’s competitiveness. A weak exchange rate keeps the foreign price of the country’s exports low. Hence, it is cheaper to buy the exports in terms of the foreign currency. This will eventually make the exports more attractive and competitive in the global market. However, this is not applicable for countries which rely heavily on imported raw materials such as Singapore. With a weak exchange, the price of the imported goods will be more expensive in terms of the Singapore currency. A higher price of imported raw materials or inputs will mean higher costs of production. Producers will then transfer the higher costs to the consumers in terms of a higher price for the finished goods. Since Singapore has a small domestic demand and largely exports its finished goods, its exports will appear unattractive, as it is more expensive. Thus, this will reduce Singapore’s export competitiveness.

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Another price factor which influences a developed country’s competitiveness is its productivity. Developed countries do not compete in terms of labour costs. This is because the emerging economies like those of China and India have very cheap labour costs as compared to the developed countries, as they have still abundant labour force and land. Therefore, developed countries will tend to raise their productivity so that the cost per unit of output produced can be lowered. The government will spend on education and training to improve the workers’ productivity level. A well-educated workforce also helps to attract FDIs in the economy. The government can also provide grants for firms to engage in R&D to further increase its productivity. Since higher productivity will lead to lower cost per unit output produced, the price of the finished goods will thus be lower. The developed country’s exports will be relatively cheaper and more attractive. Hence, its exports competitiveness will rise.

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The final influencing price factor is the hidden costs. Since developing countries have yet established a reliable government, corruption and red tape may be present. All these add on to costs in terms of the transactions. This will in turn cause the developing countries to lose its competitiveness to the developed countries. Since developed countries have a relatively more pro-business environment, it will thus be more attractive to investments. This is because it is cheaper, with no costs incurred from corruption, to do business in a developed country and hence, raising its competitiveness.

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Non-price factors can also play a part to influence a developed country’s competitiveness. Quality is a very good example of a non-price factor. The firms in the country can make sure the product design and reliability is of high standard. All these can help increase the competitiveness of the country, as customers will be more pleased and attracted with the workmanship and quality of the good. This can also grab customer loyalty and brand reputation. Besides this, the producers in the country can also decide to take on product differentiation. Successful product differentiation can create a competitive advantage for the producer, as customers view the products as unique. The producers can also engage in creative advertising campaigns gain more competitiveness. Thus, product quality helps raise the competitiveness of a developed country’s economy.

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Buy A Corpse For Only S$95,000

Written by azhar.

Gunther Von Hagens, the controversial German doctor who invented the technique of preserving corpses, has set up an online shop selling corpses. The plastinated bodies will be sold at a price range around £45,000 (about S$95,000).

Before the enterprise was set up, Dr Von Hagens was already selling the plastinated organs to universities for teaching purposes. Now, private consumers are able to purchase the slices preserved organs too. Each cross-section down the length of the body will cost £9,000, while a cross-section across the body will be priced at £200, or £1,200 for a 16-slice set.

















Nonetheless, only 20% of the the preserved bodies will be made available for commercial use as the donors who allowed Dr Von Hagens to conduct his experiments had made an agreement that their dead bodies could only be used for scientific progress. Dr Von Hagens used his plastination technique to view organs after removing the skin.

Millions of people have witnessed his work through the "Body Worlds" exhibitions, which show preserved human specimens in a variety of poses, in cities across Asia, Europe and North America over the last 10 years.

Do you think its ethical to sell preserved body parts for commercial purposes?

Internet Bullying Needs To Stop

Written by azhar.

On 16th October 2007, Megan Meier hanged herself in her closet. The 13-year-old girl was always under depression and suffered from an attention deficit disorder. Her suicide came soon after she received wicked messages from her 'friends' in MySpace, a very popular social networking website among teenagers today.

Authorities had arrested Megan's neighbour, 49-year-old Lori Drew, who was the main suspect of the suicide case. It was reported that Lori Dew disguised herself by creating a fake account by the name of Josh Evans, who would befriend Megan online. Drew claimed that she created the fraud identity to monitor what Megan was saying about her daughter online. She then sent a message to Megan through MySpace by telling her that the world would be better without her.



















The remark subsequently caused Megan's death. When interviewed at her home in St. Louis suburb of Dardenne Prairie, the victim's mother, Tina Meier, said that although Lori Drew might not have intended to harm her daughter, she deserved a full 20-year prison sentence to warn potential internet bullies out there of the consequences of online taunting.

Tina had just launched her own foundation, known as Megan Meier Foundation, to help raise awareness about the real threats of online bullying. The foundation aims to encourage and educate parents and teenagers to prevent such irresponsible acts from widespreading.

"I'm going to try and do the best I can do to, hopefully, know that no other family goes through this," she said.

Watch the video below:

A Bit Too Heartless?

Written by azhar.

A Chinese woman has created headlines in the online community and blogosphere recently when her impudent behaviour towards the Sichuan earthquake was caught on tape and duplicated all over video sharing websites such as Youtube.com. The 21-year-old woman, Gao Qianhui, fired rude and heartless remarks at the victims of the disaster.

The culprit was reportedly angry following a temporary cessation of all online entertainment and games to mark respect for those who were killed in the earthquake. The video had stirred criticisms in the online community as they were appalled by the woman's total lack of sympathy to the casualties.

I am not sure what law she has broken, but I would love to express my disgust towards such behaviour.

I have included a video, including the translation, below.

Warning: The video and/or the translation may contain offensive language.



"I turn on the TV and what do I see? Dead bodies, injured people, corpses, rotten bodies, all the crazy acts you guys are putting up. It's not that I want to watch these things. I have no choice. Look, now the entire internet is black-and-white and without colour. Do you think we're all colourblind like you? Have your eyes been hit by so much rubble you can't see any colour now?

"Sigh... all you guys... if you're hit by the rubble just go suffer by yourself quietly... What are you screaming for? What rescue are you asking for? Not that I'm blaming you... you guys in Sichuan are in a terrible position in China. They say the Indian plate is moving in crashing into you guys. Don't you think you guys deserve it?

"I think this earthquake was not strong enough. If only it had just been a bit stronger to flip you guys over. Today we're mourning for you. Tomorrow we're donating money to you, huh? May 21 is such a great day. Lots of people trying to get married this year. And now we have to mourn for you. Do you think those couples should get married or not? What a spoilsport. May 20, May 21, such auspicious days, now all spent mourning for you. Come on, how many of you guys are dead? Just a few, is it not? We've got so many people in China anyway.

"F*ck... You're annoying everyone to death... What tricks are you guys playing! Do you think you're all very goodlooking? Which part of your body is that precious? People are giving you cash and giving you food. And you guys are now doing nothing? Sigh... these few days, it's just impossible to go anywhere without getting reminded of you silly c*nts... Everywhere I go people are saying 'Argh, there are aftershocks in Sichuan again, this and that'...

"As for that old lady who's been lying over there for over 100 hours? Why haven't you died yet? You trying to play the mummy?

"F*ck... the earthquake might as well rock all you guys to death... All you have given us are catastrophes... all your children are jinxes... (more)


Source: http://youtube.com/watch?v=OkemgmBPZR0

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