The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, January 17, 2008

All quiet on the Blogosphere front

Some of the commenters on my Xiaxue post, have remarked that the Singaporean Blogosphere has quietened since the NLB announced its remarkable choices for archiving. Some notable bloggers have, it seems, set their keyboards aside, in a mute protest at being thought unworthy of selection - at least, it seems that way. Either that, or their sudden silence is an inexplicable coincidence.

I am somewhat surprised at this reaction. My own thinking on the matter is that if an external body, handing out approval and recognition - which is what the NLB is doing in this case - does not approve or recognize one's work, the proper response is to plow on and continue to write. The writing itself is its own justification - and it needs no official approval to make it worthy.

I can understand that it is disheartening to see others of lesser worth - some might even say, utterly worthless, in fact - to be chosen, when one's own carefully chosen words are ignored and considered not worth noting. However, one should not be disheartened. Those who do not choose to recognize one's words say nothing about those words - their action speaks only of themselves, and their values. Through the NLB's choices, is the nature of the NLB's criteria revealed. So, by their choice, we learn of them. We do not learn of the merit or otherwise of a particular blogger. The blogger remains as good as the blogger actually is. So, I would not fall silent, simply because an authority failed to notice one's efforts. I would urge all those bloggers who have fallen silent, to resume writing and express once more, the thoughts that, before the Blogosphere, would not have been known.

The Blogosphere is here to allow you to speak your mind - so do so.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and six months, and Tiarnan, twenty-three months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:35 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole problem with blogosphere is there is no unity, as a consequence it's in no position to hammer out a common consensus or even such a thing as a voice that has a universal appeal to all bloggers. This I find very strange, because even in countries like the US and EU blogosphere has more of less elected their de facto leaders. However, in Singapore everything is still in the pro-mordial soup stage.

As long as blogosphere lacks a common voice, it will always langusih and stand naked against more organized and well funded institutions and establishments that push it around like the NLB.

There are a few people such as Alex Au, Mr Brown, Mr Wang, Bernard Leong and even Darkness.

Alex by virtue of his sexual orientation cannot possibly command mass appeal. I know he writes well, but he also comes across as sectional and niche to suggest his appeal lies with only a few.

Mr Brown has a sobriquet appeal, but I believe he has lost much of the populist appeal because he doesn't seem to do anything new these days - neither does he have the requisite depth to garner the support of the thinking crowd.

Mr Wang looks like a good choice, but again he lacks the creative punch to really appeal to the thinking crowd. More of a side read.

Bernard Leong is very accomodating - comes across as a pavement politician, but again the intellectuals don't think much of him.

Finally, you have darkness who is perhaps one of the most charismatic figures in blogosphere, brilliant if he is in the right mood, but so tempremental and explosive that he can kick out everyone on a whimp and fancy. Very adorable, but completely useless and unreliable.

My point is this: if blogosphere had a clear leader. Or that people can come together such as yourself to speak with one voice - this whole discussion would be largely academic and unnecessary. As it is, it's so fragmented and siloed and now that one of these blocks have been set adrift, there is definitely a big hole out there!

I think, it's time for me to raise anchor as well. Thanks for the fish.


4:54 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, KM, for your perspective on and analysis of the Singaporean Blogosphere. I wonder why there is no unity, no togetherness? It is strange because Singapore itself is so conformist. Coming from such a background, one would have thought that finding common ground would have been easier. Perhaps bloggers are iconoclasts.

Another matter, I wonder about: what is the readership like for Singaporean bloggers? How does it compare to US or EU bloggers? What, therefore, is their range of influence?

Personally, I hope the local Blogosphere overcomes the NLB slight and continues to express itself. Otherwise, an alternative record of the way Singapore is and was, will be incomplete. That would be a loss.

Best wishes to you and all bloggers out there.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Mr Wang Says So said...

Mr Cawley:

I think you are excessively concerned. The blogosphere has been a little quiet lately because there hasn't been much significant local news to blog about, that is all.

As for the NLB thing, recently they have sent emails to the bloggers whose blogs have been selected for archival, and let me put it this way - I find those emails somewhat annoying as well as presumptious. I have recently exchanged a couple of emails with both Mr Brown and Alex, and I think it's fair to say that they share my sentiment.

IMO, no blogger is losing out in any way by not getting selected for archival. As a matter of fact, I am going to write to the NLB and tell them that I do NOT agree to them archiving my blog.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your view Mr Wang,

My view of a drop in Blogosphere activity comes directly from Bloggers who have written to me saying that they are no longer blogging, owing to the situation. So, some at least, have reacted by falling silent. Others may be silent, of course, because there is nothing for them to remark about. (However, in my opinion there is always something that can be observed/said/inferred/deduced/speculated upon.)

You have piqued my curiosity, Mr. Wang. What in those letters from NLB was so annoying? Do they seek to own the copyright of your site? Are there conditions which are not acceptable? Have they been high-handed? I wonder if someone would publish such a letter...though it might be difficult to do so (I don't know the situation).

I hope that you are right Mr. Wang and that the Blogosphere is just silent by coincidence.

Could you share why you do not wish to be archived? I am sure a lot of people would be interested.

Kind regards

10:09 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Mr. Wang,

Another thought: the archive provides a backup service to the servers on your provider. Should anything happen to your original copy of your blog, there would be another on the archive. It makes it less likely that your blog will be lost to posterity. That is why it is an important thing to do.

That is what makes it an issue who they choose to archive. They are choosing whom to protect from the loss of their work, to the historical record.

Most of what is now written may one day be lost. It is only that which is fortunate, or protected (ie. archived) that won't be lost. It is an important matter for any society.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Ned Stark said...

Well Ainan i dunno about the rest but for my part ive been really busy with some stuff and by the time i get to the keyboard there is really nothing i have to add to whatever is going on.

why do u think the blogosphere needs to speak in one voice? wont that essentially negate the diversity of the blogosphere as compared to MSM?

1:48 AM  
Blogger Mr Wang Says So said...

The "silent" bloggers will reappear as soon as some big news happens. There is only so much that can be written about taxi fare increases and hospital mean-testing, and those are the only two big things that have been happening ...

Anyway, on the NLB.

Among other things, the NLB says that you cannot blog about any of their email correspondence to you concerning this project. (LOL, no wonder the silence).

If you DO want to make reference to the NLB archival project, they recommend that you use certain sample NLB-approved language (which they provide in one neat paragraph in their email).

Presumptous, as I said. Now they want to teach you how to write on your own blog.

Implicit in their letter (at least from the way I read it) is the threat that if you don't cooperate with what they say, they will drop you from being archived.

Which, frankly, I couldn't care less about. Except that I don't take very kindly to threats from anyone about anything.

One day after one of the local newspapers (I think it was the "New Paper" or "My Paper") ran an article along the lines of "why is Xiaxue included in this project?",

the NLB email comes flying out to the bloggers to say, in effect, that:

"oh, by the way, the fact that we selected your blog doesn't mean that we necessarily like or endorse or think highly of your blog content; and you shouldn't say anything on your blog that suggests this. If you have, please remove your post immediately"

As you may gather, I don't like stat boards telling me what I should or should not post, or should or should not remove from my blog.

And that email comes after an earlier email which says that they archive blogs only with "lasting national, historical, research and cultural values".

Since the NLB cannot even make up their minds as to whether they are archiving "good", "endorsement-worthy" blogs or not, this feels like a rather deluded and confused project to me.

There are a couple of other things which annoy me, including (1)something about a logo which Alex had designed, and which NLB had objections to, and (2) a "if-you-don't-reply-to-me-by-this-date, I take-it-you-agree-with-me" approach adopted by the NLB. But this comment of mine is long enough, so I'll stop here.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous small boy lah said...

I agree, there is no unity in the blogosphere, it's every man for himself. That is why most of us are so easy picking.

I know, I shouldn't be happy, but at least I know this as a "historical fact!" When NLB announced to the whole wide world that they will embark on a "comprehensive" initiative to archive the blogs of famous people, experts and politicians for history's sake.

Within the week one of only two blogs out there in blogosphere who regularly write articles longer than 1,500-2,000 words and usually publishes 4 -5 articles per week fell strangely silent in blogosphere.

That speaks louder than even words, the silence is deafening. And you know what, I have a thumb drive and I am going to archive it!

As for the so called prominent and popular bloggers what can I say? They threw you a few plastic pearls and paste diamonds and you sold yourself and us along with it!

Someday their sleeper ships will return again. Some day.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Sarah on behalf of Darkness 2008 said...

“IMO, no blogger is losing out in any way by not getting selected for archival.” Do you believe me when I tell you that, I want to be polite, but these are testing times and it’s made more difficult by stupid statements such as this.

Do I believe not getting selected for archival is a travesty of rational logic? And amounts to a loss in more ways than I can possibly elaborate? Yes (Wang will never give you an account of why he believes it is not important! This you can be absolutely certain of. Experience tells me when a man can write such rubbish, he is either so open minded, his brains have spilled out or that he is simply incapable to rationalizing coherently – he is in every sense a light weight!)

Consider this; if the imperative is to capture history accurately; then how can NLB possibly pick and choose? By what reference of Archimedean point can it even attempt to impose any form of criteria without at running the real risk of doing violence to the historical account? It has to be a case of all or nothing (and this includes Xiaxue blog), only because; the history of blogosphere belongs to everyone, not just a select few, not even the smart or intelligent, but if it is to remain true, it must also provision for the feral, vapid and infantile.

Why should this be so? Allow me paraphrase; why is history important? The short answer is it remains the only means for mankind to make sense of himself and his broader community – the adage “if you don’t even know where you came from, then how do you know where you are going?” Has never been truer before, as the digital age scissors through our life’s, people grow ever more distracted and mesmerized by mass culture, the stakes rise for educators, policy makers and parents go up – recently, I went to Russia for business and I saw a group of youths spotting swastika armbands and one of them even told me that Adolf Hitler was a nice guy, he was just widely misunderstood – now you go figure out how’s that going to pan out for the broader Russian society as a whole in let’s say 50 or 100 years down the road – the prospects are bleak!

That’s what happens when there’s a vacuum in the historical narrative, someone just comes along a fills up the blanks with anything that suits them to further their nefarious end, that sadly is no joking matter, when you consider, that’s how radicalism and terrorism takes root! Under those conditions, is it such a wonder understanding gives way to ignorance?

What’s emerging for me, is the belief the value of history lies not so much in its capacity to change but that it can preserve something – that being preserved is nothing less than our capacity to understand things for what they really are. That’s why I believe the NLB’s effort to archive blog history based on it’s current criteria is so flawed that it cannot even be taken seriously by anyone of consequence – this comes to light, when we actually ask; what is history actually preserving in the context of blogosphere? It’s nothing less than a precise, expressive language, a habit of looking past surfaces into the interiors; and it’s not about the big story, as it is really about the small stuff like ordinary folk trying to make ends meet financially, struggling with constraints be it a raising a disable kid or simply having to live with a difficult spouse. My point is it’s not about the public context as much remains the diorama of ordinariness in this age.

In 50 or a 100 years time, no one with half a brain is going to sieve through blogosphere to trace out the outlines of the big story – they don’t need too – they can easily do that with existing newsreels, printed media and the entire apparatus the state currently uses to produce ‘news.’ Historians will however turn to net history to tease and coax out the small time narratives – this is where you need to ask whether NLB will do a good job of facilitating this task of discovery and soliciting deep spirited understanding? The stakes are high.

Let us not forget, the story of blogosphere isn’t nearly about the story of big as it is about the god of small – it’s about you and me – it’s the story of the cumulative vs the one and only version – the statistical insignificant vs the moral majority, it isn’t so much the story of the $2.2 million man as it remains the narrative of the $3,000 per month Joe’s who all cumulatively add up to make up the quilt of what it means to life in this age. If you really sit down and think about the it, that’s how it has to be; if it’s to remain true to it’s historical account of being a narrative about the small people, small ideas, small dreams, small aspiration and small ten million things ; never before in the history of mankind has ordinary citizens being empowered to such an extent with such a voice – to say that it should be subject to any filtering by either criteria, rationale or limit is a travesty of rational logic. I wish you Valentine Cawley every luck in this noble endeavor - Darkness 2008”

This has been sent by Sarah on the behalf of Darkness

6:11 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Darkness, for your eloquent defense of the Blogosphere - and of the right for our words to today, to be heard by the unborn readers of tomorrow. They deserve to know our world as it was - and not as others would like it to be believed to have been.

It is in a complete record that the truth will be found. Let there be one.

Thank you for your well wishes, in turn, have mine.

All the best

P.S: Thank you to Sarah for being the conduit for this conversation. It is much appreciated. I have enjoyed it and found it nourishing. (There is too little such nourishment in this world I feel).

8:17 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks Ned, for letting us know why you, in particular, are silent.

As for diversity of voices...I couldn't agree more: the greater the range the better.

What I think KM means is that where there is no "one voice", there is no power to change events, because there is no coordination. That is why countries have give them "one voice".

Best wishes

12:24 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes "Small Boy Lah"...a thumbdrive may be the answer. The more significant blogs that are backed up the better. That way when the servers go down, they won't be lost.

I rather hope that those who have something to offer the Blogosphere, who are presently silent, return to speak again, in time.

Best wishes

12:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you Mr. Wang, for enlightening us as to the silence re. the NLB archiving. Now we know: they required it.

It seems that they are taking a high-handed approach to the bloggers that they have selected to be archived. That is likely to backfire (as seems to be the case with yourself).

I am rather surprised that they have decided to try to dictate blog content on the issue, since the freedom to say as you please is what blogging should be all about. They seek to archive blogs, as they are - but then they seek to influence how they are, once they select them for archiving. How very curious.

It is funny that they don't want to be seen to be endorsing the blogs they choose - when, of course, they are doing so explicitly, by choosing them over all others.

Thank you for having the courage and open-ness to share the situation with us. It is much appreciated.

I hope to be able to continue to read your blog, in the future.

Best wishes.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous shoestring said...

"why do u think the blogosphere needs to speak in one voice? wont that essentially negate the diversity of the blogosphere as compared to MSM?"

There is a difference between diversity and individualism. The former strengthens unity with contributions from various perspectives whereas the latter seeks to promote individual prominence and interests.

My mother once told us a story about 16 brothers, each with their own unique abilities. When they were united, they were virtually invincible. Divided, however, they had the potential to destroy each other in the egoistic quest for power. The moral of the story? United we stand, divided we fall.

That's my take on the one voice which I agree is very much needed but lacking.

Why do you think has NLB begun archiving blogs?

3:31 PM  
Blogger Mr Wang Says So said...

By the way, I don't know if you've come across this book before - it may be of interest to you. I found it very helpful myself.

"The Gifted Adult" - Mary Elaine Jacobsen.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Shoestring, your mother had wisdom in her tale. Indeed, when individuals work together they can achieve great things - without compromising their individuality. It is called working together for a common goal.

You have asked a very good question about why NLB are archiving blogs. They could have come to realize the historical value of such a record of the thinking of the people of this time. Then again one can imagine other reasons. For instance, if people know they are going to be archived will that make them more careful in what they say? Will it cause them to self-censor? Will they write not for now, but for posterity?

I can imagine another reason for an archive. An independent record of what you write means that you cannot take back what you say. You cannot erase it. That might lead to an increase in caution in how people write. Perhaps such an increase in caution is the desired end. Who knows what the true motivation is. If it is to preserve the meritorious of Singapore's Blogosphere, then they will have to be a lot more inclusive and comprehensive.

Perhaps you could ask the NLB. Unfortunately, they probably wouldn't answer you.

Thanks for your comment.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Mr. Wang for the book suggestion. I have not heard of it before...but I shall to try find a copy.

Best wishes

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lack of Unity? Yes, I agree that appears to be the real problem here.

The problem is finding the right leader who is able to successfully represent all quarters in the internet, no just a few but ALL.

Perhaps this is a topic to write further about.

I am very sure many people will find it interesting.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hmm...I will give it some thought.

Best wishes

1:17 PM  
Blogger Miao said...

I often feel sad that bloggers whose entries I think are far less interesting and well-written than mine enjoy higher readership. Or perhaps I have just over-estimated myself.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Kelvin Ng Kai Ping said...

I've never read darkness. Please give me a link

7:03 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Kelvin,

Darkness is difficult to find. As far as I know he just posts all over the net on other people's sites. He doesn't seem to have a permanent home of his own. That makes it difficult.

He has written replies to a couple of my posts...I just don't know which ones right now. Sorry.

He is worth reading though if you manage to find him. Perhaps a search for "brotherhood press Singapore and darkness" might get you somewhere.


12:34 AM  

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