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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 +

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tiarnan studies his brain.

"Mummy", Tiarnan, three, began, with something of import to say, "when I do this," he rocked his head back and forward a little too rapidly, "My brain feels like water inside."

"Well stop doing it then!", she urged, sensibly.

I find this brief tale interesting for one primary reason: it shows that Tiarnan is observing himself closely. This reminds me of another observer in the family: Ainan, who ever since he was very young (like the first days), seemed to be always watching, studying and observing the world and himself in it.

In seeing the ways of the brothers, I can't help but feel that they are united in more ways than just the fact that they are brothers: they echo each other in their essence. Some of what each is, is found in the others. I wonder if they will draw sustenance from these commonalities, in later years, when they have grown up? I hope so, for they will find in each other, people who can understand them, very well. What they could offer each other, therefore, is a deep rapport, that, so often, is, I find, missing from siblings, when it should so easily be there.

Now, stop sloshing your brains around Tiarnan.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:57 PM  0 comments

National Arts Council Busking Scheme.

I saw something, today, that one cannot see in London. It was something simple: a photo identity card.

Now, this photo identity card was posted next to a busker on Orchard Road. I noticed this busker, not because of the card, but I noted the card because of the busker. I noticed the busker, because she was very bad at what she was supposed to be doing. She was "singing" out of tune, rather loudly. I don't know about you, but I find it annoying to be assaulted by out of tune voices. There is something so inherently awful about such discordant notes, that I find them quite uncomfortable to listen to. My view on it is that no-one should be forced to hear out of tune music, in a public place. It is, in some ways, offensive to hear. So, on hearing her awful voice, I was very interested to note the identity card affixed to her musical apparatus. It told me that someone, somewhere, had actually approved of this awful noise.

Sure enough, when I went home and typed the words: "busker license singapore" into Google, I found that Singapore's National Arts Council has a Busking Scheme. I read with interest, and not a little amazement that they actually hold auditions before handing out busking licenses. The criteria mentioned on the National Arts Council (NAC) website state that the following is required: "i. Competency and skill in performance ii. Expression and confidence in performance iii. Engagement with the audience iv. Innovation and originality". That sounds great on paper, but in reality, what did I experience: an out of tune singer.

Clearly, there is a mismatch between the National Arts Council's worthy intention to maintain busking standards and their actual execution of the task. Out of tune buskers with little musical skill are ending up on the streets of Singapore.

Might I suggest that the people who hold the auditions actually have an ear for music? Might I suggest that they actually have a sense for what makes an acceptable performer? I am not saying the standard should be so high that few could pass - for then there would be no buskers on the streets - but that the standard should genuinely exclude those who cannot hold a tune. It grates to hear such poor performers on the streets. Their output mars the day. They should not be allowed to "perform". Maintaining genuine standards would ensure that this did not occur.

I find it ironic, however, that countries which have no restrictions over buskers - such as the UK - have a much higher standard of busker, than Singapore which licenses them. At least, that is what I garner from a lifetime of observations. Perhaps musical talent is not so plentiful here. Whatever the cause, there is a remedy: ensure that standards are maintained, at the NAC auditions, and keep our streets free from the awful, tuneless noise of buskers who don't know what "in tune" means.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:48 AM  2 comments

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The curious case of CASE.

No. I was not about to write "The curious case of Benjamin Button" - which I have seen and enjoyed, by the way. This case is an altogether different CASE. CASE stands for the Consumers Association of Singapore. However, does CASE really stand for the consumer?

Now, I ask this question for one reason. CASE is not free. This really, really surprised me, since CASE represents consumers' rights in Singapore. It is the only body that I know of to which a consumer can turn, to pursue their rights. It is the conduit through which rights are protected. Yet, in Singapore, a consumer's rights are not naturally protected, for free: they have to be paid for. This must be another "Uniquely Singapore" characteristic. In all other countries that I know of, the governments have provided public bodies, for free, through which consumers can pursue their rights. No money changes hands. There is no fee to secure your rights. However, in Singapore, things are different: no fee, no rights.

If you wish to pursue a case through the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), you first have to join as a member of the association. They won't represent non-members. Thus, in Singapore, only members seem to have rights. The fees for joining depend on your situation. The first fee they advertise is the 400 dollar fee for "Life membership". I suppose you would join that if you intend to uphold your consumer rights in many different cases, lifelong. Otherwise there are 30 dollar per annum charges for families and 25 dollar per annum charges for individuals.

So, before CASE will even hear your case, you must first join the association. (I give it a small letter because, in my opinion, any Association, which charges for consumer rights doesn't deserve a capital letter). Now, this is where it gets interesting. After you have joined CASE they will listen to your case. Only then will they decide whether or not to take your case up for you. In other words, it is quite possible to waste money joining, perhaps on a 400 dollar life membership - and have CASE refuse to take up your case. They are under no obligation to pursue your case when they hear it and they won't hear it until you have paid them.

The membership fee is not the only fee you have to pay. There is an "admin fee" for every complaint you make, depending on the amount of money involved, up to 50 dollars per complaint.

Thus, it could cost you 450 dollars just to join and initiate one complaint.

I think that CASE ought to reconsider how it funds itself. A public service such as upholding consumers' rights, should NOT come at a fee, only. CASE should be free to all. It is time that those who control Singapore's institutions thought of more than the dollars they can make out of the situation. Some things should be provided as a free public service - and the protection of consumer rights is one of them.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:46 PM  23 comments

Monday, February 23, 2009

Uniquely Singapore.

"Uniquely Singapore" is an advertising slogan in current usage in Singapore to encapsulate all that distinguishes Singapore from all other small bits of land, worldwide (distinguished in ways apart from being small, I suppose).

In some ways, Singapore is unique. It is unique in the extent of its conformity, in some respects, for instance. So, in that manner, Singapore is unique to the extent that it is not unique. However, Singapore has its merits: it is easy and convenient to live here. Most consumer goods and services are readily available, though perhaps, now, not at ideal prices. Public infrastructure is well done: the libraries are particularly good, for instance. Then there is the crime rate which, in our experience is not as low as proclaimed (we have been stolen from three times in six years), but is safer than most other places, in terms of violent crime, at least, which is something worth having.

Yet there are other matters which are "uniquely Singapore" (yes, I know it should read "uniquely Singaporean" - but I was not the ungrammatical advertising writer who wrote it), which are not so happy.

Today, I encountered one "Uniquely Singapore" incident. I was approaching the lift below my place of work as a Singaporean woman approached the same lift from the opposite direction. She was a thickset woman of indeterminate race, perhaps a mix of Chinese and something else, maybe Malay. It was difficult to say, but she didn't clearly fit any racial category, without doubt. She was mature in years and body, but, as we shall see, not in attitude.

We both vectored in on the opening lift door, she closer than me. She couldn't fail to have seen me, since we faced each other. She got in the door first, turned around - and pushed the button to close the door in my face. The door duly obeyed and I was left staring at a steel door. The oddest thing about the moment is that she appeared to be smiling, as the door closed on me and she looked out on me standing there.

"Uniquely Singapore", I thought, as I waited for the next lift. Only in Singapore do people regularly snub their fellow human beings in such ways. It would have cost her perhaps one or two seconds of her life, to let me into the lift, too...but that was too high a price to pay for courtesy.

Now, I must say that not all Singaporeans are like this. Others are of the opposite kind: they OPEN doors that have closed, on seeing that they have closed the door on someone. I met one such in the same lift only a few days before. I thanked her for opening the door for me - and she smiled a different kind of smile to the one that had smiled today.

Yet, the sad truth is, that door closers are more common, in Singapore, than door openers. Those who are not considerate of others, outnumber those who are. It makes, sometimes, for unpleasant moments, when one's fellow human beings are rude, simply because they either enjoy being rude or think that it is their God given right to be so.

This lack of courtesy is, of course, something that foreigners note. It grates upon the sensibilities of those who have come from more courteous cultures (of which there are many...for instance the entire developed world, for a start). I don't think that the powers-that-be realize the price that Singapore pays, in terms of its reputation and the impression it makes on others, for this common lack of courtesy that infects its citizens. I say "infect" deliberately, for poor, inconsiderate behaviour of this kind is rather like a disease of the spirit. It is also infectious because if people treat each other ill, they tend to begin to treat others as they have been treated - and, before long, lack of courtesy and consideration are the common habit of all.

If I have closed the door upon someone I did not see, I press the button to open it. Sometimes, this irritates my fellow lift passengers, but I do it, because while I might lose a couple of seconds, I am probably saving the other person a minute. It is, therefore, on average a time saver. If all did this, WE WOULD ALL SAVE TIME.

Let's make courtesy and consideration for others a "Uniquely Singapore" characteristic. We can all contribute to it. For a start, we can hold the lift door open for others. If all did that, we would all be better off. Consider my thought, the next time you get in a lift.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:44 PM  17 comments

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tiarnan's touche.

When does wit begin? Is one quick to counter another's words, always so...or does it develop later on in childhood? Tiarnan gave us a clue, yesterday.

We were going home after an evening out. There was Tiarnan, just turned three a few weeks ago, his mother, Syahidah and myself. It was late and no doubt Tiarnan was thinking of getting some sleep.

"I am going to sleep in YOUR bed.", he said, to his mother, unusually, because he doesn't do that, normally.

Syahidah decided to tease him.

"I am going to sleep in your bed, Tiarnan."

He looked up at her, beginning to wonder at this turn of events, a little smile on his lips.

"I am going to use your blanket.", she continued, to him. His little smile grew broader.

"I am going to drink YOUR susu (malay for milk)", she said, at last.

"Are you a small boy?", he countered, at last, to his mother, the smile still there, but now joined with an appraising look to his eyes.

We both laughed. Touche from Tiarnan...it was the perfect reply to her approach.

In Tiarnan's answer, there is evidence that wit begins, very young, indeed: it is there at the beginning of language, perhaps before language - it is in the character of the child themselves.

Incidentally, despite the conversation, Tiarnan slept where he usually does: in his own bed.

Goodnight Tiarnan, our small boy!

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:17 PM  1 comments

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