Balanced, Compassionate and Optimistic Post

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Came across this post by socio-political blogger Carlton Tan, who blogs at Asian Correspondent.

I felt it was a balanced, compassionate and optimistic blog post (hence the title of this post). I’ve plucked out a few excerpts which reflect the tone and spirit of the post.

You can check out the original article here.

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Excerpts from With Lee Kuan Yew on life support, what’s next for him and for Singapore? by Carlton Tan:

Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew. Pic: AP.

1) It is no surprise that so controversial a figure should evoke such strong emotions in us. I, too, find myself conflicted. Do I love or hate the man who has brought us such great prosperity but so little liberty?

2) And indeed many of us are drawn, not to his ideology—for he swears by none, save pragmatism—but to his determined, or some might say, cantankerous personality. At the same time, we would do well to remember that Singapore’s success was never the consequence of one man’s actions, not even someone as exceptional as Lee Kuan Yew.

3) Pragmatism does not have to be our guiding principle. Wealth need not be pursued at the cost of liberty or equality. And we need not give opposition parties a free pass simply because they enjoy the good fortune of not being the PAP.

4) We will mourn his passing, and we will celebrate his life; but most importantly, I hope we will be willing to honour him by asking tough questions, making hard choices, and imagining a different Singapore.

Reference: With Lee Kuan Yew on life support, what’s next for him and for Singapore?

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carlton

CARLTON TAN views socio-political blogging as his contribution to the conversations of Singaporeans.

Carlton Tan Online: Asian CorrespondentFacebook | Twitter

Thoughts On Being A Socio-Political Blogger

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* Featured on The Real SG and TR Emeritus.

INTRODUCTION:
Thoughts On Being A Socio-Political Blogger

1. Background

My name is Jess and I’m 27. I was born in Singapore and spent the first two decades of my life there. I am a U.S. citizen as of 2012.

As a teenager in Singapore, I was politically indifferent and apathetic. I had a keen interest in history, but not even a passing interest in politics.

This was due to a pervasive climate of fear, caused by the PAP government’s history of undermining the independence of the press and judiciary, and silencing dissent.

I grew up with the impression that it was literally dangerous to have — let alone express in public — any critical political views.

This limitation on the freedom of expression led to a feeling of disempowerment, where I had little hope for any changes in a positive direction for the society I was part of.

2. Freedom of Expression

Expression

Milana Knezevic, a journalist working at Index on Censorship, explains the value of freedom of expression:

Why is access to freedom of expression important? Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. It also underpins most other rights and allows them to flourish. The right to speak your mind freely on important issues in society, access information and hold the powers that be to account, plays a vital role in the healthy development process of any society.

Index on Censorship adds:

Free speech creates the space for the exchange of ideas in the arts, literature, religion, academia, politics and science, and is essential for other rights such as freedom of conscience and freedom of assembly. Without this, individuals can’t make informed decisions and fully participate in society.

Freedom of expression can be abused when people take it to the extreme, to voice their opinion recklessly and irresponsibly. But this alone does not justify the opposite extreme where freedom of expression is suppressed.

It is “freedom of expression” that made me more informed about socio-political issues in a broader context.

3. Government Accountability

All government propaganda works the same way — by spreading information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, that promotes a particular political cause or point of view.

The biggest danger with biased reporting is the distortion of facts.

A Nation article published in 2014 provides an example of distortion via media misrepresentation — through a critical analysis of how mainstream press coverage has become less objective and less balanced over time.

Dr. Michael S. Rozeff adds that “a government shouldn’t cover up crimes and shouldn’t conceal [wrongful] exercises of power.”

Accountability ensures actions taken by a country’s public officials are subject to review, so that government initiatives meet their objectives and respond to the needs of the community.

4. Alternative vs. Mainstream Media

People are increasingly placing more trust in alternative media than in the scripted mainstream media.

Singaporeans are also beginning to turn more and more to the Internet for news and information, after decades of the PAP government having a dominant voice in Singapore’s mainstream media.

As former ISD director, Mr. Yoong Siew Wah, aptly summarizes:

“What the mainstream media, especially The Straits Times, dishes out to the public is what the government wants the public to read.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 2 May 2010)

5. Role of the Internet

The following paragraphs by Michael T. Snyder illustrate the role of the Internet:

“The Internet gives us an opportunity to impact the world that is unlike anything previous generations have ever had. Those in power have begun to recognize how powerful the Internet is, and so they have begun to crack down on it.

It is also important to keep in mind that the Internet allows us to watch them as well. The Internet is an incredible tool for exposing evil and corruption, and over the past decade we have seen many instances when average people on the Internet have broken major news stories that the mainstream media would not dare touch initially.

In the final analysis, the ability to wake people up and to literally change the world outweighs the risks of being watched. Don’t be afraid to stand up for the truth. It is better to do what is right and to be persecuted for it than to stand aside and do nothing.”
(10 Reasons Why)

6. Responsible Activism

Activism is defined as the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

Tony Cartalucci writes that “the true power of the people comes [from] getting organized and getting active. . .not just [making demands of] the communities and nations we want to live in, but to cultivate the skills and institutions required to build them ourselves.”

@StopImperialism, an independent media outlet, is “anti-war, anti-imperialism, anti-oligarchy [and] pro-peace, pro-progress, pro-economic development.”

Informed Activism is not the same thing as Terrorism (the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims), or Anarchism (a belief that government and laws are completely unnecessary).

7. Conclusion

I started developing a keen interest in Singapore’s political history in 2014.

I continue having a big interest because it is my birth country, and because it is an ideal case study to observe socio-political forces. That these forces are contained in a concentrated manner in a geographically small country makes it easier to study, and to recognize “patterns” on a global scale.

That was how my own political interest and awareness began — with small steps.

With political apathy, the situation is vastly different, because it encourages a person to just “switch off,” not bother, and leave it to a few people to enact the changes, both locally and globally.

It’s in everyone’s interest to be educated politically and socially. After all, we’re already global citizens.

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More Information:

About Freedom of Expression (by Index on Censorship)
Becoming a Global Citizen (by Global Citizens Initiative)
Distorting Russia (by The Nation, on distortion via media misrepresentation)
“Global Citizen” Graphic (by Shushant)

Grammar Tips

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* I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I wanted to see if a subscription to the service would make a good gift for my Grammar Nazi friends.

NOTE: I’ve added deliberate spelling and grammatical errors throughout this post to show readers the effect of Grammarly ;) Screenshots included after the post.

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The editing for Bedmates (Wilde Trilogy, Book #2) is going OK. Its my first psychological thriller series and a new genre I’ve been wanting to try since a while.

I thot I’d share an excerpt from the book. This is from Chapter 4 which features the evil girl twin ripping out some Barbie doll heads.

But wait! I made a mistake up there. The chapter with the Barbie doll heads being ripped off is from the first book in the trilogy, titled Playmates.

Here’s a short synopsis of Playmates, along with the excerpt:

SYNOPSIS:

playmates

PLAYMATES (Wilde Trilogy, Book #1)

As kids, Tania and Trevor’s unsupervised play time offers a lifeline to sanity amidst the chaos of family dysfunction. When danger threatens Tania, Trevor isn’t willing to stand by and watch his sister get hurt. The instinct for survival is only rivaled by the killer instincts the Wilde siblings encourage in each other. Instincts that turn into a deadly game igniting their first taste for blood.

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER 4: Tania

The thing I noticed with my collection was that all the Kens and Barbies looked exactly the same.

The “Miss World” one reminded me of Kimi, because they both had long, very shiny hair that I couldn’t get my hair to look like even after two hundred slow, gentle strokes with the hairbrush.

There was a black Sharpie pen lying around on the floor. I remembered that show from the other day where the surgeon was drawing arrows on a porn star’s nose, face, and body.

I took off the “Miss World” Barbie’s clothes and drew arrows in similar spots. Little, little arrows. What I didn’t have was a surgeon’s knife like the one on the TV.

Was it painful, cutting a person’s skin with that cold, sharp blade?

I looked at the doll for a moment. Her face looked really ugly now with the black arrows. I tried to wipe the marks away, but couldn’t, because the ink was permanent.

So I colored two ‘X’ marks over the Barbie’s “boobies,” as Momma called them. I had seen a 19 year-old rapper from Jamaica at the VMA Awards on TV wearing that with a pair of gold pants which were very tight. So tight until her huge ass was almost splitting the seams.

Then I colored the Barbie in between the legs, because I had seen another popstar in one of Momma’s magazines with a blue sticker on that area. I don’t know why the sticker was blue. Maybe because it matched the popstar’s new hair color. Yes, that must be it.

“Now you look even uglier,” I remarked to Miss “World-Now-Undressed-And-Like-All-The-Other-Barbies” Barbie.

I placed the black pen on the floor, before flicking it with my fingernail hard across the floor, so that it spun away across the wooden floor from me. It hit the wall with a sharp thud.

I was suddenly filled with hate at the ugly doll—that was where I was going to end up, lying on a hospital bed unconscious with tubes down my mouth, if I wanted to be “pretty” like Kimi and the Jamaican rapper with the big butt, and everybody else who was on TV getting arrows drawn on their faces and bodies at a doctor’s office.

I grabbed the doll’s head. I ripped it right off. It took a bit of effort with getting the twisting angle right.

But I felt good when the head actually came off. Because it made me feel like I had “won.”

I might not have been the prettiest girl on or off TV. But I knew then that I wasn’t as ugly as the hideous doll.

I reached for a pair of scissors from the tabletop. The edge of the tip of the blade was perfect for slowly cutting along the jagged, arrowed lines on the beheaded plastic body.

Playmates (Wilde Trilogy, Book #1), by Jess C Scott / jessINK

Now I will let some screenshots do the talking re: my experience with using Grammarly.

SCREENSHOTS:

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#1: Screenshot of Grammarly platform processing the first two paragraphs. The program caught one spelling error (“thot” instead of “thought”); missed out “its” in the second line (“it is” is different from “its” as in “belonging to something”). Refer to Screenshot #5 below.

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#2: Screenshot of Grammarly platform detecting a “plagiarized” paragraph. The program correctly identified where the paragraph was originally from, and suggested some references, including — [APA: Wilde Trilogy: Psychological Thriller Series. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.jessink.com/wilde.htm]

Grammarly

#3: Screenshot of the available “paper type” options on Grammarly (nice!). I selected “Creative” to proofread the excerpt from my psych thiller, since the book was written in a more creative than academic vein.

Grammarly

Screenshot #4: According to Grammarly, my excerpt contained 7 writing issues and 4 enhancement suggestions (I clicked through the suggestions, all of which were sensible and/or helpful recommendations). The score was 83 of 100 (adequate, can benefit from revision).

Grammarly Grammarly

Screenshots #5 and #6: I had faith in the Grammarly platform, so I pasted my blog post again to see if Grammarly would catch the “its” error this time. And it did! As you can see in the right screenshot, the score is 67 of 100 (weak; needs revision). I might have clicked something wrong the first time, since I was still familiarizing myself with Grammarly’s editor interface.

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VERDICT: YES — a subscription would make a great gift for my Grammar Nazi friends!!

I write *a lot*, so programs like Grammarly do make the proofreading process a little less painful and tedious (and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t loathe editing).

If you’d like to try out Grammarly, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial on their website at www.grammarly.com. Let me know how you find it :)

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Matt Mullenweg Interview (WordPress founder!)

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matt_mullenweg

Interview #21, with WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg!

Note from Jess: I’ve used WordPress.Org in the past — I’ve never forgotten the tagline at the bottom of the page: “Code is Poetry.” So I decided to send a quick Q&A to 26-year-old Mr. Mullenweg, on the subjects of coding, reading, and life/WordPress!

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Hi Matt! Describe yourself in 5 words:

Co-founder of WordPress and Automattic.

Give an example of code which you consider as poetry (and explain how/why, for the less technowizically-inclined):

The best type of code poetry comes from reduction, where you’re able to take something that used to be long or complex and reduce it to a few lines of intuitive code. (Or sometimes, none at all.)

How have your experiences influenced your vision for WordPress?:

There is no five-year plan for WordPress, but what we work on next is usually very apparent in the feedback I get from users all over the world at WordCamps and other places where I meet WordPress users, like airplanes.

How does coding inspire you?:

For me coding is incredibly satisfying because it’s very concrete. You can start in the morning, finish at night and look back at the day and point to something you made with your two hands. That’s not possible to the same extent with strategic or managerial work.

Were you already thinking about/working on WordPress (beta versions, etc) during high school?

Nope, it was after I had started college.

Would you/do you write poetry and/or fiction, under a pseudonym?:

In my life, I’ve found that truth is stranger than fiction.

What aspect of traveling around the world do you enjoy the most?:

My favorite thing about travel is seeing how cultures and cities adapt to their surroundings, and take on the characteristics of what surrounds them.

Please share your #1 tip for fellow netizens:

Encrypt your wifi traffic. :)

Your websites/blogs/etc:

http://ma.tt/
http://wordpress.org/
http://automattic.com/

Much thanks to the gracious and very cool Matt Mullenweg (aka Mr. WORDPRESS himself) for sharing his thoughts! Check out the other great interviews @ Matt’s Blog (Press Coverage).