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 +

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Singaporean Lullaby

Last night, as I lay in bed, considering sleep, I heard the thump of a car on a car, followed by a second thump and the long screech of brakes applied in panic. A third thump did not follow. Just silence.

Such are the sounds that lull a man to sleep in Singapore, of a night.

Thinking of it now, I have a picture of the crash I didn't see. One car struck another, without braking - so someone was being inattentive, at least, then either the same car struck a second car, or a second car struck another. Then and only then, did someone start to brake.

What is clear to me from what I heard is that the reaction times of all involved were very slow. Was this due to the late hour (I don't know the exact time but I would estimate that it was past 1 am.)? Or was it due to intoxication (which slows reactions)? Whichever was the case, it was clear that these were crashes at the highest speed. There was no slowing before impact. There was just sudden impact.

Nothing broke the silence that followed the crashes - not even sirens. There appeared to be no reaction from Singapore, that late at night. Perhaps sirens are not allowed to be sounded, so late.

I looked out of the window, to try to see what had happened. From no vantage, however, could I find the crash. It was near enough to hear, but not within sight. It might have been just through the trees that ring our apartments.

This evening, as I returned with my wife, from the local supermarket, she remarked: "There was a crash today."

I was not surprised. "I heard it last night."

"No, not that one - another one."


Sure enough, there, before us, on an island in the middle of the road, was the detritus of yet another pile up. There was a complete radiator grill from a car, lying there. The emergency services had, as usual, been very lax in clearing away all of the pieces of car, the latest smash had left behind. There were always bits of car or motorcycle on the road next to our house. It was a virtual graveyard for cars and drivers alike.

"There were three cars.", she explained.

Just like the one last night, had seemed.

"It had happened by the time I came back at six."

"So, that's two pile-ups, here, in fifteen hours."

Living where we do, next to a main road, provides us with a kind of absurdist comedy. So frequently are we presented with pieces of vehicle to step over, as we cross the road on the way to the shops, that it seems like a dark comedy, of a particularly brutal kind. When, oh when, will something be done to improve road safety?

In the time since we moved here, I have personally witnessed two fatalities - and several other crashes. I find that odd, since I only encounter the road perhaps two to four times a day. The rest of the time, I am not around to observe it. So, the implication is that there were a lot more fatalities in that period, that I just did not notice.

I would rather a different sound to usher me towards sleep than the "music" of cars, crunching upon cars. Singapore is, as most people know, an overcrowded city (figures for 2004 indicate that it was then the fourth most densely populated city on is probably the third, now. Its population density then was just a tad under famously and grossly overpopulated Hong Kong.) One consequence of overcrowding is that cars don't have vast open spaces to drive in. There is always another car just up ahead. That, however, doesn't stop youngsters from speeding. Today, as we walked to the supermarket, for instance, a car raced by well in excess of 100 mph, zipping ironically past a sign that said: "Slow down now."

No police siren sounded. No speed camera snapped an image. He got away with it. At least, that time. No doubt, the young driver will one day make "music", as he dies, crashing at high speed, while I, or another, tries to sleep.

There are road laws, here, as there are everywhere. I am not, however, entirely sure that they are adequately enforced.

No-one should have to fear being rammed by an out of control, high speed car, while shopping. Yet, such an event could easily have happened, today, outside the supermarket, where a sign reads "Slow down now".

Why does the sign ask drivers to slow? Well, because there is a bend, up ahead. That crazy driver did slow, just in time...but still took the bend at very high speed.

It is difficult to know his precise speed, but when I say over 100 mph, I mean WELL over. Perhaps 120 to 140 mph...something like that, when he passed us. Then he began to slow sharply for the bend.

There should be stiff penalties for driving like that. I say this because I am tired, very, very tired, of watching people die or be injured on the road outside my own house. The mad drivers who create this carnage shouldn't be on the roads, at all. Once identified, they should be denied the right to drive, at all, at the very least.

I doubt that anyone in a position to influence events on Singapore's roads will read this post - but if they do, I ask this of you: stop the carnage, now...and take the speed crazy drivers off the roads, permanently.

Two multiple car crashes, in fifteen hours, in one tiny area of Singapore, is more than enough of an indication of the size of the road safety problem facing Singapore. It is time for something serious to be done about it.

How about some automated speed cameras, on every road, and some stiff penalties for aggressive driving - such as confiscation of the car? That should bring down the death figures. A compulsive speeder can't kill anyone if he (or she) hasn't got a car to drive.

In the meantime, my family will treat the road outside our house with infinite caution. Pretty though the area is, an absurd number of people seem to die, suddenly, just where we have to cross the road, to get to the shops.

It shouldn't be this way.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and no months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and five months, and Tiarnan, twenty-two months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, 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 @ 10:38 PM 


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