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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 +

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Will Smith on true friends.

I came across a great quote from Will Smith, the Hollywood actor/film star today. It went:

“If you were absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.”

Brilliant.

If this is a real quote from Will Smith and not just a misattribution, my estimation of him has been increased by this pithy and oh-so-true remark. Everyone who has ever sought to achieve anything of real creative worth, must note this phenomenon, at some time or other. Especially when they actually create something worthy. All those people who were invisible, when you needed them, suddenly pop out, when you don’t. It is quite perturbing. There is a whole sub-species of Humanity who think that their fellow Man are so stupid, that they can be scarce, when their compatriots are struggling towards success, but suddenly be ever present when success comes at last. It is a particularly ugly behaviour.

Even a casual glance at the early lives of many geniuses, before they reached renown, reveals much private struggle, in which they strove to create their works, not infrequently against the indifference or unhelpfulness of those around them. I wonder at how those who stood by and did nothing to help, responded when the genius finally succeeded? Did they expect to be able to “cash in”, on the situation?

Will Smith’s wise words are worth bearing in mind, for anyone who is working towards a personal success of any significance. Observe the people around you. Note who is helpful and who is not. Note who is there for you, and who is never so. Never forget those who help you along the way – nor those who hinder you. When, finally, your success is yours. Note the responses of the very same people, good and bad: do they suddenly change? Do the once unhelpful or hindering types suddenly become profusely interested in you? If so, simply exercise your memory, and see them as they truly are.

Indeed, this is a particularly important matter for anyone who becomes rich, famous or both to bear in mind. Only those people who were supportive in your darker times, are worth your consideration when you begin to flourish. Those who were more noted by their absence, than their presence, should never be trusted, or given a moment’s attention – after all, they didn’t do so for you when you actually needed their help.

Fame and wealth make this situation particularly acute for their bearer. Many people are attracted to the famous or the wealthy, seeking favours of some kind from them, or even just the reflected glory of close association. Those people are easily sorted by the Will Smith Rule – above. The ones who were there, when you were “no-one”, are worth your attention, when you become “someone”. The converse is true for the others. When people you haven’t seen for twenty years suddenly start treating you as their best friend, it is time to start closing doors in faces...preferably ON faces.

From Will Smith’s remark, I read that he most likely experienced this too. It seems, however, that he saw through the sudden hangers-on. Good for him.

I would be interested in any anecdotes, from people’s lives, on any similar experience. Did personal success bring you a sudden avalanche of friends you never knew you had, sourced from among those who had become very practised at ignoring you, during your time of struggle? Stories below, please.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:19 PM  0 comments

Friday, February 10, 2012

Who is significant in the modern world?

Today, by chance, I noticed something which gave me pause to reflect on what it means to be significant, as a person, in the modern world. I began to type a word on Google, that began with "LEO...". Immediately, Google guessed what I was going to type. I was appalled at its suggestions. Can you guess what I saw, without actually checking for yourself, first?

So, what do you think I saw?

Well, the first suggestion was Leonardo Dicaprio. The second was Leo Burnett. The third was Leonardo da Vinci. I found this ordering of choices unsettling, for many reasons.

What sort of world puts Leonardo da Vinci - perhaps the single most creative person ever to have lived - behind an actor and an advertising agency? Why are they ordered in such a way? Well, I assumed this must have something to do with their relative fame in the modern world. Perhaps, I thought, Leonardo Dicaprio gets more Internet searches than Leonardo da Vinci. Perhaps the world is not so aware of Leonardo da Vinci, as his modern namesake. So, I checked on Google Insights. Guess what I found?

Leonardo da Vinci is four times more famous than Leonardo Dicaprio when measured by Internet search density around the world - and infinitely more famous than Leo Burnett. The search bar for Leonardo da Vinci was four units long. The search bar for Leonardo Dicaprio was one unit long. The search bar for Leo Burnett was ZERO units long.

So, this presents a big puzzle. The world's Internet searchers are four times more interested in Leonardo da Vinci than in Leonardo Dicaprio - and vastly more interested in him, than in Leo Burnett, yet, still Google puts Leonardo da Vinci after the other two. There is something sad in this. One of the world's greatest geniuses overshadowed by a film star. It isn't right. I am left to wonder whether this ordering of search results is a function of a computer algorithm or hand ordering by a human. If it is a computer algorithm, is it biased towards more recent events? If it is a human is it overly impressed by fame and commerce? (Dicaprio and Burnett.)

Whether it is a human decision or a computer decision to place Leonardo da Vinci third in the list, the effect is the same: to judge genius as less significant than celebrity and commerce. So, our world seems to value (or those behind this ordering, anyway), familiarity and money, over intellectual and creative substance. Yet, this ignores the data found in Google insights - that the world's Internet searchers are four times more interested in Leonardo da Vinci, than in Leonardo Dicaprio.

My response to this is to propose a test, which I hope some distant readers, in future times, might be able to conduct. It is quite simple really. Leonardo da Vinci's time was about five hundred years ago. My question is this: will Leonardo Dicaprio and Leo Burnett be as famous in five hundred years time, as Leonardo da Vinci is, now? So, I invite my future readers in the twenty sixth century (if the Internet still exists and Blogger is still hosted), to Google (or the equivalent) "Leo..." and see what is suggested. Does it suggest Leonardo Dicaprio above Leo Burnett, above Leonardo da Vinci? Does it even suggest Leonardo Dicaprio at all? My guess is that Leonardo da Vinci will still be one of those suggested, but that the other two will have been replaced by new "Leos" of some kind. So, the present prominence of Leonardo Dicaprio over Leonardo da Vinci is likely to be a temporary phenomenon. Google is not measuring true worth by its search results. Were it doing so then Leonardo da Vinci would be the top result for Leos...and would be likely to stay that way, even in another five hundred years time.

Anyway, please conduct the test at the appropriate time. I may not be around to hear the results...but I can at least make the suggestion that you do so. Thank you.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

The proper penalty for piracy.

As most people know, online piracy is hurting the world’s creative industries. Illegal downloading of music, films and even books, is cutting into the earnings of creative people and companies around the world. Indeed, it is fair to say that online piracy is imperilling the very business models that allow these creative industries to exist. Musicians are earning ever less from their recordings; film box office takings are in decline and authors are finding that their books may end up being downloaded for free, more often than they are bought. The day is not far off, it seems, when creative people will not be able to make a living directly from their creative works, because of huge piracy. What will happen then? Well, it is simple. They will be forced to turn to other jobs. They will have to make a living NOT creating their works. When that happens, the world’s supply of books, films and music will dry up. So, what is at stake here, is the very future of human culture. If being creative doesn’t pay anymore and if people steal works for free, wholesale, quite simply the day will come when there will be no more works of any real quality, being published or distributed. Human culture will be dead.

Recently, the founders and operators of Megaupload, (Kim Dotcom and his co-conspirators), a website enabling online piracy, were arrested and are being charged in connection with their wholesale theft of copyrighted works. What, I wonder, is an appropriate punishment for such people? As I write, I am unaware of the penalty, but it seems to me that only one degree of penalty is appropriate. Online pirates should be sentenced to mandatory life in prison, as a minimum sentence. By mandatory life, I mean that they will never be released from prison until they have died. In my view, this is an appropriate punishment because their actions are killing world culture – they are acting so as to deprive all of humanity, of the benefits of creative work, by making such work thankless and completely unrewarding. So, I would urge prosecutors and the judges of the Megaupload conspirators to seek the maximal sentences. Indeed, perhaps they should be sentenced to time in jail, consecutively, for EACH ILLEGAL DOWNLOAD. That would guarantee complete life sentences. Furthermore, their ENTIRE assets should be confiscated and redistributed to those they have pirated. These sentences of life in prison, and complete confiscation of all assets should be applied to everyone who worked with the pirates in connection with the theft of copyright works. This is to discourage anyone from working for such employers or becoming involved in any way. Every single person involved should spend the rest of their lives, in jail.

The degree to which the arrest of the Megaupload conspirators will deter other pirates, will be determined by the severity of their sentences. Those sentences must be as severe as possible, in every way it is possible for them to be severe. Leniency, in the face of online pirates, will only hasten the end of human culture and its distribution. The most effective answer to online piracy will be the global hunting down and prosecution of everyone who has ever been involved in a piratical endeavour, followed by their complete impoverishment and a life sentence to boot. Were this done, online piracy would quickly come to an end, as such “entrepreneurs” factored the probability of a life in prison, into their assessments of the viability of such a business model.

I hope, for the sake of us all, that the Megaupload conspirators receive hefty sentences, preferably life. Then again, the pursuit of pirates should not stop with one company. All companies which enable such endeavours should face the same fate as the Megaupload conspiracy.

I realize that many people disagree with my view. I have seen much online comment in support of Kim Dotcom – indeed some even seem to think he is some kind of hero. I guess that these are the people who regularly download pirated goods off the Internet. They see Kim Dotcom as their enabler and thus worthy of support. They fail to see that their own actions are suffocating the very producers of the works they admire enough to steal. There is great irony here. Those who are motivated enough by their liking for cultural goods, to actually steal them, are creating a world in which, one day, there will be no new cultural goods left to steal. They are destroying the very thing they hope to steal.

We are left with a very simple choice. We can, as a global people, allow pirates to continue their “work” unhindered. Doing so will mean the eventual end of all cultural publication and distribution. Or we can punish the pirates so severely that, overnight, this particular “business model” vanishes, out of sheer fear of the consequences.

Jail the online pirates for life – and save world culture. It is that simple.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175

To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:58 PM  3 comments

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Girls Talk

No conversations are more amusing, or perhaps, more informative about the nature of Man, than the wisdom of young children. They are accustomed to see more truly, and speak more openly, for they have not yet learnt reasons to hide their thoughts, nor soften their observations.

Yesterday, Tiarnan, who has just turned six, complained to his mother:

“Fintan likes girls singing!” He seemed somewhat appalled at the idea.

“So?”, countered his mother, “They sound nice.”

He wasn’t convinced.

“I don’t like girls talking.”, he said, unwilling to give up his viewpoint.

“I am a girl.”, said his mother, reasonably, “I talk.”

“I like you talking, Mummy.”, he confessed. “I don’t like girls talking.”

At that moment, Fintan, eight, leaned forward intently and spoke pointedly.

“Tiarnan, in this world, 90% of all talking is by girls.”

Tiarnan considered that figure and couldn’t quite muster anything to counter it. Anyway, he would have been distracted by the laughter of his mother.

I found this exchange hilarious when Syahidah later reported it to me. Fintan’s comment might not be politically correct, but even though he is only eight years old, he has observed enough about people to have noticed that many a girl is more verbal than boys usually are. So, there is an element of truth in his view, even if “90%” might be an exaggeration.

I find this kind of conversation very appealing, for it reveals to me evidence of my children’s world models, that they have formed in their minds. I see, through their words, the world that they see, with its categorizations, understandings, purposes and values. It is most enlightening. What is most amazing is how quickly young children seem to form models of the world. Even very young children have interesting views about how the world works and what it all means. You just have to pause to listen to them to peer into another world, one both alike and unlike our own – but informed, nevertheless, by a surprising degree of logic and observation.

I wonder whether Fintan will still think, in ten years time, when he will be eighteen, that girls are responsible for 90% of the world’s speech. I shall remember his words of yesterday and remind him of them, when that time comes. It will be interesting to see how he responds. I expect that he will laugh at his boyhood remark. We shall see.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175

To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:47 PM  0 comments

Monday, February 06, 2012

The value of the Human Race.

How much is the human race worth? By this, I mean, how much is it worth expending, to ensure the long term security and longevity of the human race? I ask this question, because the powers that be, in the world's leading nations, don't seem to be asking it. Look, for instance, at the question of space colonization, as it has recently been debated. Many commentators have balked at the price of spreading human kind into the solar system. They speak of the billions required, as if they are a total waste of money that would be better put to use building mansions for the elite. Never, for a moment, do they pause to reflect what colonizing space means. It means, quite simply this: the immortality of Mankind. Should we never colonize space, Mankind is doomed to extinction. Only if we colonize space, will Mankind have a long term future. Thus, it is, that any analyst should look at any proposal for space colonization with this question in mind: "How much is it worth to save the Human Race from extincition?". They should not consider the expenditure required as throwing money away - for in doing so, they are buying something very valuable: the future of Mankind.

At present, American politicians don't seem to think the long term survival of Mankind is worth the investment of billions of dollars. Personally, I don't think the long term survival of such politicians is worthwhile. If your local politician does not support space colonization, do your bit for the long term survival of Mankind - by voting him out of office. Only a short sighted moron thinks that space colonization is expensive. On the contrary, space colonization is cheap at ANY price - for it ensures the survival of Mankind - and that, to my mind is worth an untold number of billions of dollars - certainly it is worth a lot more than the 3 trillion dollars spent killing people of a different religious persuasion in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Let us save Mankind from extinction. Let us colonize space, in our lifetimes. Judge your local politician accordingly.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175

To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:07 PM  0 comments

The deification of Arfa Karim Randhawa.

Arfa Karim Randhawa became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in 2004 at the age of just 9. This was a very early achievement. However, equally early was her death at the age of 16, following complications from an epileptic attack. Her life was filled with hope and tragedy. Yet, it is in death that the most remarkable things are beginning to happen. Arfa Karim Randhawa is rapidly being deified by her home nation of Pakistan.

Pakistan has just released a commemorative postage stamp on her birthday, February 2nd, in her honour. I know of no other child prodigy who ever had their own stamp, at least when still a child. So, this strikes me as a particularly unusual honour for a child. So, too, the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting have announced that a book will be produced in homage to the life of Arfa Karim Randhawa.

Arfa is becoming in death, an icon, even larger than the one she was in life. Her brief days upon on this Earth, are becoming a national tale to inspire her whole nation. Now, I see in this something good and something unusual. It is good that a precocious child should be respected as much as she was, in Pakistan. It is good that Arfa Karim Randhawa’s achievements are held up as an example to inspire a nation. Indeed, there is something admirable in Pakistan caring so much, at a government level, about the achievements of an individual child. It seems that they see in her, a symbol of the striving of a nation to become great. Arfa Karim Randhawa is seen to inspire young people in Pakistan to achieve their best. She is also the source of much pride for Pakistan. There is a sense that her early achievements show the world just what a Pakistani can do. Partly, of course, Pakistan’s motivation is out of a sense of loss, that their promising child should have died so young. There is a wish to remember her life and to somehow ensure that her memory lives on, such that it would feel that she hadn’t truly died after all.

All of this wish to hold Arfa Karim Randhawa up as an example, to her people, is in sharp contrast to the way Singapore greeted Ainan. Whilst they were surprised at first, at his achievements, and covered them in the national press, in the spirit of surprise, eventually, as his achievements continued to grow, they turned to ignoring them, or, indeed, eventually, lying about him and us, to make themselves (as a state) look better than they had actually behaved in the situation. They stooped to mendacious propaganda, to defend themselves against the truthful perception that they had been rather negligent where he was concerned. At no time, was there a wish to hold him up as an inspiration. At no time did they seem proud of him. At no time, was there ever any wish to elevate him and make him a symbol of anything at all, to his people – the Malay Singaporeans. Indeed, the first newspaper to fall silent on the subject of Ainan and to begin to ignore him, was the sole Malay newspaper, Berita Harian. It was as if they had been instructed to say no more. It was all rather strange. A rational nation would have been so proud of Ainan. Yet, they didn’t seem to be. They seemed, in fact, to find him an awkward phenomenon they didn’t quite know what to do with. What, on Earth, was a half-Malay boy doing excelling so much younger than his Singaporean Chinese peers? At least, that is what I intuit was one of their concerns, since Singapore is very much a Chinese dominated state, in which the mythology is that the Chinese are somehow superior (or at least they believe themselves to be). They certainly appoint themselves to all the best positions and roles in Singaporean life. That, in itself, allows its own conclusions to be drawn.

So, Pakistan has begun to deify Arfa Karim Randhawa, whilst Singapore began to attack Ainan a couple of years ago. I find this very interesting. In a hundred years time, I am sure that Pakistan will still make mention of their wonder child, Arfa Karima Randhawa. She will, by then, have become a legend. Should Singapore still be run by the PAP however, I very much doubt whether there will be any mention of Ainan, in the Singaporean media, unless it is to attempt to put some perjorative spin on his life story, in some way. Yet, Ainan’s achievements are far greater in number and level, than Arfa Karim Randhawa’s were. So it is doubly strange that Singapore should have adopted this way of discussing him. It is also oddly self-defeating, since Ainan could contribute much to Singapore were he moved to do so, by a warm relationship with them. As ever the famed state of Singapore shows itself to be not as long term in its thinking as it might believe itself to be.

Given the contrasting responses of their home nations to Ainan and Arfa, it does seem unexpected, to me, how Pakistan has responded to Arfa Karim Randhawa. Our own experience led me to expect that negligence was the most likely response of a state to a child prodigy – or even a degree of malevolence – as we experienced – if the child should be from a put upon minority, as Ainan is. So, although I see Pakistan’s response to Arfa Karim Randhawa as unusual, perhaps, in fact, it is Singapore’s response to Ainan that is strange. It certainly feels more wholesome to watch how Pakistan are responding to Arfa, compared to how Singapore responded to Ainan. Singapore actually lied about him, in the national press. By contrast, Pakistan’s national press are being very kind to Arfa.

Personally, I hope the deification of Arfa Karim Randhawa continues. I hope she becomes an emblematic figure, to inspire her nation for many decades, perhaps centuries to come. Every nation needs such people. Perhaps she can, in death, fulfil some of her potential, through her posthumous influence on the psyche of her people. I hope so. At least, then, something wonderful would have been made out of her brief life.

Perhaps Singapore could learn a thing or two about how to value the talents of its people, by looking at the ways in which Pakistan clearly values Arfa Karim Randhawa. There is something touching in their response to her – and something unsettling in Singapore’s response to Ainan.

I wish Arfa Karim Randhawa’s family well. I hope the efforts of Pakistan to honour her memory bring them some solace.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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