Google
 
Web www.scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com

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 +

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Is President Obama an ethical man?

Is President Obama an ethical man? Now, some of you are already reacting in surprise at the very asking of the question, but it is one that has to be asked.

I find it very strange to consider, but it seems to me that George Bush has more ethical backbone than President Obama, even though Bush was considered wrong about his wars by most people. I say this being surprised even to have to say it.

I shall explain. President George W. Bush was against the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research. His stance was a simple one: embryonic stem cells can only be obtained through the murder of unborn children. President George W. Bush thought it wrong and unacceptable that medical research should seek to "save lives" of those with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, through murdering embryos. He thought that America should not support such research. Instead, the Republicans advocated NON-embryonic sources of stem cells as lines of research - adult stem cells and others.

President Obama is reversing this Bush era policy of a ban on embryonic stem cell research. President Obama has decided that the murder of unborn embryos, to further research into disease for older humans, is the right way for America to go. He says that it is holding back research to have such a ban. Well, to my mind, that statement makes President Obama an ethical pygmy. He cannot see that it is inherently evil to kill unborn children to save adults. Under no circumstances can it ever be viewed as right or justifiable. The unborn child has a right to live, to dismember the embryo to harvest its stem cells is to murder it. President Obama is advocating the murder of embryonic children to save adults. What makes this worse, is that research in recent years has shown that there are other ways to produce stem cells that do not require embryos to be destroyed. An ethical President would endorse those ways. President Obama has, rather insultingly, to all Christians, been compared to Jesus Christ, in his campaign marketing photographs. There has been the building of him into a saintly figure. Well, the last time I checked, saints don't endorse the murder of little children to save adults.

Now, I was impressed by President Obama's general presentation of himself in the campaign. I thought he was the best at personally "selling" himself. But there is a difference between being good at managing one's image and being a good man, in heart and mind. A good man is, in my view, an ethical man - and President Obama is showing, quite clearly, in these early decisions, that he lacks moral insight. The biggest irony of this situation is that George W. Bush, who is always portrayed as a stupid man, seems to have greater moral understanding than President Obama, who is always portrayed as a "brilliant" man.

President Obama is also reversing a "conscience rule" that gives healthcare workers the legal right not to treat patients, with abortion or contraception, if it is against their ethical principles. So, not only is Obama not an ethical man, he wants to BAN being ethical. Under President Obama, medical staff will lose the right to be guided by their own ethics.

This is a very interesting development. It seems that President Obama is not only an unethical man, in some ways, but one who is waging a legislative war against ethical behaviour. I find it curious that more mileage is not being made of this in the mainstream media in the US. President Obama is eroding the ethical standing of the United States, and doing it in the most charming of ways.

I never thought I would write a post like this, because it never occurred to me (though it should have) that the image making seen in the electoral process was just an image, without real substance.

I think it will become clear, in the coming year, that Obama, while an effective leader and a charismatic man, might be lacking in the moral dimension that is so important in guiding a nation. If the leader of a nation is not a moral man, that nation becomes capable of great crimes, in the world.

The irony, of course, is that Bush, while clearly a moral man, was involved in what some see as a great crime in the Middle East.

It remains to be seen if the less ethical Obama, will turn out to be less criminal on the world stage, than his more ethical forebear. At this time, it is not really possible to predict the outcome, except to say this: a lot of unborn children will now be murdered in a race to save old people, from old people's diseases, under Obama's new embryonic stem cell directive. That is the kind of crime that stains the conscience of a race, forever. (That is, when they wake up to what they have done...which can take generations.)

Perhaps President Obama would like to show the way, and ask Michelle to provide all the unborn embryos to be mashed up and dismembered for science? Perhaps then he might actually come to a moral understanding of what he has just ordered should take place.

(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.)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:41 PM  10 comments

Friday, March 06, 2009

David Hartanto Widjaja: celebrity.

David Hartanto Widjaja has become a posthumous celebrity of some kind. I say this upon observation of the traffic to my blog. You see, since the day news of his death by attempted murder-suicide broke and I wrote of it, about one fifth of the traffic to my blog has arrived with searches for either "David Hartanto Widjaja" or simply "David Widjaja". A few arrive by searching "NTU boy commits suicide over scholarship". I find this really very surprising, for I have been tracking news stories for two years, now - and this is the first that I have written of, that has attracted so much traffic.

I wrote of the death of Heath Ledger - and got a couple of hits a day for a few days after his death. Since mentioning David Hartanto Widjaja's shocking demise, my blog has been inundated with arrivals looking for more information about him.

His story of a despair that a young man could not take and thought fit to throw his life away, over, has become a persistent story - one with a momentum that few stories have. The consequence of this is that David Hartanto Widjaja is actually becoming famous in death. How sad, then, that what he is famous for is the manner of his death. Most who are famous after death, are famous for their lives, not their death. I think, given the significant traffic I am receiving in search of him, that, in some way, David Hartanto Widjaja will never be forgotten. The tale of the NTU boy who tried to kill his lecturer, then killed himself will long be remembered. With it, of course, there is a lesson beneath the tale: a lesson of the extremes to which the Singaporean education system pushes students, extremes which some students just cannot cope with.

I hope that David Hartanto Widjaja's memory is never forgotten. For, as long as we remember his short, tragic life, we may guard against putting our young under too much pressure in the name of academia. There are more important things in life than scholarships, academic achievements and educational status. There is love, there is happiness, there is peace of mind. I don't think that David Hartanto Widjaja felt that he had enough of these - particularly the latter. It seems more than certain that the demands of his course ensured that he had no peace of mind in his final months.

Let our children, then, know peace of mind, happiness and love. Let those be the core of their lives - and not scholarships, awards and grades. The latter accolades are hollow when measured against the things of life that have true worth. Singapore, of all societies, needs to learn this. Otherwise, it is at too much risk of being a hollow society. Oh dear, perhaps it already is...

Rest in Peace, David Hartanto Widjaja.

(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.)

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:51 PM  28 comments

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Little Doctor Tiarnan.

A few days ago, Syahidah protested when Tiarnan, three, wanted to be picked up.

"I can't Tiarnan, I have hurt my back."

She turned around then, lifted up her shirt somewhat to show her lower back to him and said: "See!"

Tiarnan, adopted a serious, intent demeanour and peered at the revealed curves of her lower back.

"Yes." He said, at last, "You have broken your bone." He paused briefly in thought. "You should wear a belt.", he recommended, like a little Doctor.

We both laughed for his conclusion was apt. A support belt was just what she needed - and Tiarnan understood that. How funny.

(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.)

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:53 PM  0 comments

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A scholarship should be unconditional.

A scholarship should be unconditional. By this, I mean, that no requirements should be attached to it, after the award is made. There are very good reasons for this.

Today, we learnt that NTU withdrew the ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship of David Hartanto Widjaja, the attempted murder-successful suicide of a student at NTU, Singapore. It seems clear that this would have been a primary contributory factor into his fatal decision. He was under so much pressure - and once the scholarship that enabled him to be here at all was withdrawn, he snapped. One life was lost, another harmed. It need not have been. The awarding of a scholarship should not be dependent on performance thereafter. The student was considered good enough at the moment of award, let them be free thereafter to breathe a little and do their work in peace. Then, such tragedies would not happen.

Has no-one given thought to want a scholarship with conditions of performance attached means? It means constant, unrelenting pressure for the students. Such a scholarship is a kind of prison from which there is no escape. The student must always perform, never slacken, never fail, never make a mistake. Such pressure is harmful to any student, too much for some.

I understand that such scholarships have an informal condition that no grade can ever be less than a B (Straits Times source). That seems unnecessary. Students will have good subjects and bad subjects, subjects they like and subjects they don't. In particular, foreign students, as David Widjaja was, may have trouble with English, which would lower their grades unnaturally. They would then be penalized not for lack of subject competence, but for their standard of English. It seems rather harsh.

A scholar is a scholar. Once good enough to secure a scholarship, they should be free to work in their own way. Genuine scholars will pursue their subjects with passion...there is no need to further harrass them over grades. Let them be. Let them live. Otherwise, they might just do what David Hartanto Widjaja did...and throw his life away because NTU thought that he didn't deserve the scholarship they had awarded him.

Think of the situation he was in. He was late in his degree. If withdrawal of his scholarship meant that he could not complete it, all his effort would have been in vain. (I speak of all and anyone in his situation, not knowing his particular circumstances.) He would have had to leave the University without a degree. All would have been lost. Clearly, he thought that all had been and that life was not worth living. In a very, very real way, those who withdrew his scholarship put him in that situation and in that frame of mind. It could be said that they killed him and nearly killed Professor Chan Kap Luk.

Let all future scholarships be unconditional. Let scholars be scholars and have the academic freedom to pursue their interests in their own way without the ever-present demand for grades.

(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.)

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:32 PM  16 comments

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The spontaneous generation of football.

Some games are so simple that I think they were certain to be invented, no matter what. Football is one of them.

Today, I watched my five year old son Fintan playing with a ball with his younger brother Tiarnan and another boy of his own age. The ball they had was a rather unusual one: not much less than a yard across, it was a giant toy for them. It was bright red, which made it rather easy to see against the green foliage and grass on which they played.

Now, what was interesting about the way they played is how, something akin to football emerged spontaneously from them. I know, for sure, that my kids haven't watched football, so it is not something they are familiar with. Yet, football like behaviour soon emerged.

At first, they kicked the ball from one to the other, then somehow along the way, the rules changed. Suddenly, when the ball ended up in a flower bed, Fintan cried out: "Two points!"

For reasons, unknown to me, this act was apparently suddenly worth two points - unless I had missed the first point.

It wasn't an arbitrary decision to mark that area as point bearing - for it formed a natural boundary to the garden area in that direction, cutting a wandering line across the grass and playground for perhaps fifty metres.

The game continued. It wasn't long before the other boy cheered himself when the ball crossed a line between some trees in the opposite direction. Again, it was easy to construct an imaginary line across the space between them, of some fifty metres or so. These were big "goals" they were dealing with - hardly easy to defend.

All the other behaviours of football were soon to be seen: tackling, chasing after the one with the ball, intercepting it and so on. It all emerged purely as a function of competing for the ball and trying to prevent it from crossing the respective imaginary line.

Football, on this evidence, is as inevitable as any game could be. Simply inventing a ball and putting people in competition for it leads almost inexorably to all the football behaviours fans will know. The "rules" seem quite inevitable.

It was fun to watch the game evolve and complexify in the space of forty-five minutes. By the end of it, it was, in every way, quite a strong echo of football - yet it had all begun with two boys passing a giant red ball back and forth between themselves. Apparently, a competitive game was more fun than the cooperative one they began with.

So, yes, football may be noted as a British game...but I have a feeling that it would have arisen anywhere else, given the tools of but a ball and two teams to compete for it. It even seems to arise spontaneously, from children at play - children who have not been exposed to the game, at all.

Then again, to say that football is inevitable, is not to say that it is without its skill. Football is inevitable, but David Beckham (and the like) are not: that takes a lot more than the typical kids at play scenario.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching the spontaneous generation of football, today.
(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.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:05 PM  0 comments

Monday, March 02, 2009

It isn't worth it.

Today, I read a bizarre piece of news...tragic news...that felt more like an American story, than a Singaporean one.

An Indonesian Chinese boy at NTU (Nanyang Technological University) stabbed a lecturer in the back and arm, before slitting his own wrists, and jumping off the five storey building. The lecturer survived, the boy died.

The boy is unnamed in the report I have seen, but the Professor is Chan Kap Luk.

Now, at this time, one cannot know the motivation of the attack and subsequent suicide, but I feel one can observe that, whatever it is, it isn't worth it. Life should not be thrown away over a matter of education. Education is important, in some ways, but never that important. Whatever the issue was, there must, assuredly, have been other ways of dealing with it, than an attempted murder-suicide (the latter part successful).

This sorry tale does show one thing, however: students in Singapore are under tremendous pressure. That pressure sometimes makes them do rash things. The number of suicides here is not inconsequential, though not widely broadcast. Indeed, suicide in higher education is alarmingly common the world over. When I was at Cambridge, the talk was of how high the suicide rate was, there. I am not surprised, having experienced it myself. I wouldn't accuse it of being a warm, human and humane place. Sometimes, that is too much for people and they decide to end it.

We may never know the full details of what went on with this Indonesian Chinese boy - but we do this: stress in schools and universities is a terrible problem. Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether the highly competitive, dog-eat-dog, systems in place are really wise or conducive to the health and well-being of the students. This particular case is no doubt unusual, simply because he tried to kill someone else first...but there are many low profile suicides, here, in Singapore every year. I have even heard of young children killing themselves - primary school kids. The pressures they face are horrendous.

Personally, I think a focus on education and not on competition would be healthy. Let them learn, but stop grading them, incessantly, stop making them compete against each other and the world...just let them grow, instead. They will be far happier and there will be far fewer tales like this one to be told.

I hope Professor Luk is lucky enough to recover fully from his wounds. My condolences to the boy's family. No doubt this will come as a great shock to 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.)

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:14 PM  10 comments

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The privilege of longevity.

My longest lived relative passed away yesterday. She was 104 years old. Her passing, oddly, came as a surprise, since I had gotten used to her seemingly eternal durability. As others passed on, around her, she endured, as if immovable.

I didn't see her often since she lived far away, but I have an indelible memory of her, when she was in her eighties. She was attending a mutual relative's wedding and was most active on the dancefloor. She was incredibly joyous - that is the image that stuck with me, a vibrant, happy woman living a full life at a time when others are winding down, or dead.

This is not the place to go into much detail about her life - but it was both long and full, as far as I know. My condolences to her immediate family, if they stumble on my words.

As I took in the news of her passing, and her long life, my thoughts turned to two contrasting lives. When I was at school, there were two very pleasant boys there. I remark on their pleasantness because, frankly, it was unusual that the boys should be pleasant, since so many there were not. It was a school that specialized in unfriendly behaviour.

Well, these two pleasant boys each shared an unpleasant fate. Before finishing school, they both died in separate traffic accidents. One of them loved cross country running, at which he was very good and rode a motorbike. I don't think I should name him, lest I awaken old memories, in someone, that they would prefer were left to rest. One day, as he rode near the school, some careless person opened their car door without looking. He struck the door on his motorbike, went over it, and under an oncoming bus. The boy who was always laughing, would never be heard to laugh again.

The other boy was equally unfortunate. From what I heard, he was engaged in some kind of race, in his car, and came out of a side road onto a main road, at just the wrong time. He got hit side on (his side of the car) and that was that.

So, these two very pleasant boys never really got a chance to live. They never graduated from school. They never went to University. They never began a career. They never married. They never had children. They never really had a life - they just had time to begin one and to leave a memory of pleasantness in the people around them.

When I contrast their lives, with that of my recently deceased centenarian relative, I realize what a privileged and special life she lead, that she had the chance to live so long and do so much. She was a lucky woman.

(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.)

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:16 PM  2 comments

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape