America’s greatest risk: Terrorism or itself?

USA
Itself...

In Newsweek’s Special Edition – Issues 2010, Stephen Flynn writes about how America’s greatest risk is itself: the danger that the American government will overreact to the terror threat, and hence disrupt how America has been operating all this while.

Flynn argues that “the greatest peril today is not of an attack but the danger the country will overreact”. A terrorist attack might make huge headline news and cause much panic and trouble, but it seems like the government is in the meantime neglecting other disasters that could potentially claim as many, if not more, lives. For instance, hurricanes and earthquakes or even H1N1 and avian flu. The threat of terror certainly remains, but overreaction could cause huge trauma on top of the damage already done by the terrorists. The blockade of the US economy thanks to the grounding of all flights and closing of all borders post-911 would have accomplished exactly the economic damage that the terrorists aim to inflict upon America.

Flynn then proposes that the government should abandon the “muscular but unrealistic ‘protection at all costs’ approach”. Bush may have claimed that “terrorists need to get things right just once, the nation’s defenders have to be right 100% of the time”, but this is an “impossible standard” since no government in history has ever accomplished this. Singapore may be close to this, but only in recent history: one only needs to think back to the Konfrontasi period in the 1960s when the Indonesians struck the McDonald House to recall that Singapore has not been exactly immune to acts of terror (in particular, one inflicted by the government of an opposing force).

In essence, the government needs to get the citizens involved and not just be the big nanny and take charge if and when terror strikes. Flynn states that “terror works only if it convinces people they are vulnerable and powerless”, so if the government can give people ways to “address their vulnerabilities”, terrorism might not be as “terrifying” as perceived to be. The citizens should “share the responsibility for preparing the nation to cope with man-made and natural disasters”, so that people will become better able to “withstand, recover and adapt to catastrophic risks”.

End of Packages

The Reading Packages have been discontinued after 12 weeks. Thanks for all the reading of those links and watching the interesting videos featured. We might continue to do this now and then but no longer regularly and on Saturdays. Those interested in checking out the packs we have previously can click on the links here:

Past Reading Packages

Week 1 – 24 October 2009
Week 2 – 31 October 2009
Week 3 – 6 November 2009
Week 4 – 13 November 2009
Week 5 – 21 November 2009
Week 6 – 28 November 2009
Week 7 – 5 December 2009
Week 8 – 12 December 2009
Week 9 – 19 December 2009
Week 10 – 26 December 2009
Week 11 – 2 January 2010
Week 12 – 9 January 2010

All reading packs and future ones will still be filed under ‘Reading Packs‘, so check it out to view the archives. Get on reading and viewing!

Layout Re-org

ERPZ now have a permanent homepage! We are still working on it and hopefully, we’ll be able to feature a couple of articles on the homepage each day. The new system of navigation is designed to give the articles and resources put on ERPZ roughly the same exposure and also to allow first-time users to learn more about ERPZ before going on their search for academic resources.

We hope this would be an improvement over the former blog sort of navigation system layout.

Copenhagen – not so bad after all?

Copenhagen
Not a Bad place at all

An article from The Economist in its first issue of this year proposes that the Copenhagen climate change summit that just took place at the end of last year could turn out to bring more benefits than perceived despite its being “underwhelming”.

Sure, the whole accord was just a political, non-legally-binding statement and lukewarm at best in its promises for all to do their part for the environment. But at least both developed and developing countries signed up to the Copenhagen accord, considering how these two warring factions were split because the developed countries felt the developing countries needed more cuts while the developing countries felt the developed countries were responsible for all the emissions and hence to bear the brunt of the costs of cleaning up. Not that the rift has narrowed significantly but at least the process and product were not totally derailed.

Another reason for optimism is in “the development of political structures better suited to the challenge”. The complexities of climate change, from all the industries it affects to all the political issues it brings, need to be dealt with under a new body and in more creative manners. And the regulation of so many greenhouse gases from so many sources makes it even more difficult. This brings to mind the possibilities of another Montreal protocol that sought to regulate only CFCs, which turned out to be a much bigger success than even Kyoto was. The Economist proposes that there will be “new pluralism in climate politics”
as different groups come together to deal with different specific issues such as “slowing deforestation” or “stemming emissions from shipping”, that might yield better results than a gargantuan, labyrinthine treaty that regulates every single issue without specifics or generalises the whole complexities of climate change.

A huge barrier to any improvements on Copenhagen could be the US. The Senate will decide upon legislation that will set up “a cap-and-trade system to put a price on carbon”, and whether they succeed will impact post-Copenhagen discussions to finalize cuts in emissions. The upcoming Senate elections may put in place more Republicans and upset the Democrats’ super-majority that will prevent fillibustering of bills like that of health-care reform and cap-and-trade. The Republicans have been rather against the cap-and-trade, and they may derail the whole post-Copenhagen process should cap-and-trade crash and burn in Senate.

Books Page!

Those readers who pay attention to stuff that appears on our navigation bar when they move their mouse on it would realise there is now a ‘Books To Read‘ page under Resources. ERPZ have accumulated quite a fair bit of entries that are basically book reviews and it’ll be good to catalogue them on a single page help readers access them quickly although you could always use the tags.

There might soon be a page indexing the articles on studying and motivation as well, so stay-tuned.

ERPZ in 2010

Year 2010
Happy New Year!

ERPZ emerged as an educational initiative about a year ago, originally focusing on delivery of study tips and exam-smart techniques; our first article, ‘Slack Later‘ introduces a means of disciplining your mind by ‘procrastinating procrastination’. Within a month the author (basically just Kevin) lost steam and articles stop flowing on the site, stunting further developments. An initiative to start a community around studying through a forum failed because of lack of forum-management expertise.

Roughly 6 months after ERPZ founding, the site underwent a transformation, moving beyond just tips and mind tricks, to discussion on worldly affairs (news in other words), tracking world developments in different fields (mainly areas of Economics, Technologies, sometimes on Climate issues) as well as making reads recommendation. This model is basically learnt from The General Paper, an initiative by a JC GP Tutor to help aggregate resources from the web for students of GP.

Today, after hundreds over entries, ERPZ is updated almost everyday; features writings of a few authors, a collection of notes from students of Top Junior Colleges of Singapore, weekly packs of video & readings links and more. In 2010, ERPZ will continue to deliver aggregation of content for the different social sciences and possibly the sciences as well, make reading recommendations and reviews of different academic resources for students at Junior Colege Level. Once again, any interested contributors might want to contact us through the comments system here and help ERPZ do more for students.

Happy Holidays!

Xmas Snoopy
Happy Christmas!

Christmas is just a couple of minutes away and I’m here wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year on behalf of all of ERPZ. Give yourself a good treat and take a break by hunting for a good book to read. Borders is going to hold a great sale this weekend after Christmas – so head down there after partying to hunt for a gift for yourself.

Sites & Wares

Macheist
Macheist rocks!

It’s been a while since ERPZ featured any Lifehack Tools and lately, I’ve found quite a lot of useful stuff so it would be great to share with readers and GTD enthusiasts.

Dropbox – File sharing/synchronization, online storage tool. Extremely useful for people with multiple computers and files to be shared between them.

Macheist – Mac Community that raise funds for charity and give you lots of great Mac Ware at amazing prices (sometimes free too).

Ninite.com – Multi-Apps installer; allows you to choose from a list of important “must-install” applications to be installed all at once on your computer. Especially useful when you just get a new computer or formatted your PC and want to have your favourite softwares installed fast.

Growl – Mac Notification tool, it’s basically an alert programme that seamlessly integrate with your mac and several other popular programmes.

Picnik – In case you haven’t realised, there’s are web-based image-editing tools and Picnik just happens to stand out particularly because it is speedy and extremely user friendly.

Quicksilver – It’s not easy to describe what Quicksilver does exactly but it’s basically a graphical shell that allows you to perform stuff on your Mac more quickly.

Tuition Services!

I’ve got loads of friends looking for tuition jobs and I thought I might as well advertise for them here. I’ve included their contacts and subjects to be taught under our services page (in case you didn’t know we have one). But here’s a reproduction for readers:

Other Tutor’s Services (former students of top JCs)

Wei Si is interested to give tuition for Economics, Chemistry and General Paper at JC Level. English, Chinese and Chemistry available for Secondary School student too! Interested students, please contact her via email: stardustt.14 [at] gmail [dot] com

Ruiyuan is hoping to give tuition for Economics and Geography at JC Level. Geography and Chemistry available for Secondary School student too! Interested students, please contact him via email: stainless.rui [at] gmail [dot] com

Jia Hao hopes to give tuition for Chemistry at JC Level. Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry available for Secondary School student too! Interested students, please contact him via email kel_ojh [at] hotmail [dot] com

Yan Min is providing tuition services for Chemistry at Secondary School level. Chinese (and Higher Chinese) and Mathematics for Primary school student too! Interested students, please contact him via email: dwellerz [at] hotmail [dot] com or call him at 97293953.

Chemistry Notes!

I’m not sure if this is long awaited, but ERPZ finally started a Chemistry Notes Section! I guess everyone would be more grateful if this was up a couple of months back when people are preparing for A Levels. Well, I haven’t found Zhuoyi’s website then and I was unsure about my handwritten notes then. So now, there’s only 2 sets of notes available, one kindly shared by Zhuoyi, which I’ve consolidated and reformatted into a single document. I might soon put up individual links to each set of Zhuoyi’s notes if readers are interested.

The other set is by me; it’s mostly handwritten with typed pages here and there. For those who might be interested, I’ve added a set of handwritten instructions on how you can make use of your Graphic Calculator’s statistics functions to perform calculations for reaction kinetics at the last few page of the document.

Enjoy Learning!