Posted in Life & Happiness


The following is a story from a school in Detroit, USA, many years ago. One day during class, the class lost a mouse that was needed for an experiment. The students looked desperately for the mouse, but no one could find it. The teacher then said: “Everyone be quiet, Stevie Morris will be able to find the mouse”.

The students replied: “That’s impossible, Morris will never find the mouse”. The reason being, Morris was blind.

The teacher said: “You’re right. But Morris, while not being able to see, has excellent hearing. He will be able to hear and find the mouse that you cannot see”.

Morris was extremely touched by this comment. He realised that his blindness was not just a disability, but also gave him a superior sense of hearing compared to others. Morris used his hearing to nurture his musical talent and became a successful singer-songwriter. This boy is Stevie Wonder.

Talent is not something grand. At first, it merely appears tiny, useless and infantile. Stevie Wonder only started off as a boy with good hearing; he was not born a genius singer-songwriter. To develop a talent into a real talent, two extra factors are needed. The first is a master, such as Stevie Wonder’s teacher, who can identify and nurture a child’s natural talent. The second is another talent that when combined with the master’s guidance, develops the talent into something great. This something is effort. Effort is a talent that everyone can have. Those who complain that they are talentless are simply people who have not yet put in the effort.

Posted in History & Literature

Han Suk-Bong

Han Suk-Bong is a famous writer from the Joseon Dynasty (Korea during 14th to 19th century), who was praised as “the master writer of the East” even in the Ming Dynasty (China during 14th to 17th century). His writing and calligraphy were partly thanks to his inborn talent, but also because of his intense training and practise throughout his life. There is a famous story regarding his training.

Han Suk-Bong practised calligraphy since a young age by himself, practising every day. The villagers all praised his talent and his mother sent him to a famous temple to study. After four years of studying, Han missed his mother so much that he sneaked out during the night and returned home. When he told his mother that he there was nothing more for him to learn, she told him to turn the lights off and said: “I will slice rice cakes while you write, then we will compare our skills”. After the two silently did their best work in the darkness, they turned the light on and it was evident that Han’s letters were all crooked and unsightly while his mother’s rice cakes were perfectly sliced in even thickness. Han deeply repented his arrogance and realised there was so much more to learn. His mother told him off and told him not to set foot in the house again until he could write perfectly even with his eyes closed, just as she could slice rice cakes perfectly. Thanks to his mother’s passion for his education, Han became one of the most well-known masters of calligraphy and literature in the Far East.

The best type of parent is one who identifies a child’s natural talents early on and helps them develop those skills. If the child becomes lost, loses their way or fall into the pit of arrogance believing they are the best, it is the parent’s duty to correct them. The moment you believe that there is nothing more to learn, you become a failure.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


Parents only have one duty: to bring up their children with love. The problem is that so many parents do not know this fact, or have a twisted understanding of the concept of “love”. Some never even hug their child, some abandon their child for their own lives and some even abuse their child. However, that does not mean one should obsess with their child either. Always teaching the child that “they are the best” is not love. Also, trapping a child and preventing them from leaving you is obsession, not love. Some parents tell their children that studying will lead to a happy, successful future, and compare them to other children who get better grades. This is a crucial mistake, as the children will probably live out an unhappy life with a deep wound in their heart for the rest of their lives. This is because the parents’ role is not to secure a successful future and instructing them how to get there, but to allow the child to independently plan their future, taste failure and develop their own values and philosophy, only supporting them from the side. A parent is not a leader who leads a child along a predestined path of life, but an assistant who supports a child while they pave their own path of life and walk down it. To support and respect a child’s decisions, dreams, talents and potential; to teach the wisdom and skills the child will need to follow their dreams; that is true love.

Of course, that is not to say that one should neglect and leave a child without any interventions. If a child clearly makes an objective error or misbehaves, it is a parent’s role to correct it. This kind of home education is not interference like obsessing about the child’s studies, but supportive intervention that helps the child follow their dreams and not be lost on the way. Home education is a very important form of love that imbues a child with skills such as social skills, ethics, morality, philosophy and love that will allow them to lead a happy and wholesome life.

Why is parental love so important to a child? Childhood is a critical period when the child’s brain is rapidly developing and when the child begins to form his or her personality and view of the world. Almost every mental illness (especially personality disorders) can be traced back to a childhood trauma, or at least be affected by it. For example, a child whose parents did not care for them will grow up lacking love and attachment, leading to constantly seeking love and attention from others, which may develop into dependent personality disorder. If a child has to live up to the parents’ great expectations, they will not receive sympathy and fail to develop a self identity. To fill this void, the child will continuously float from one person to another to seek this sympathy. A child with obsessive parents being led to believe that they are the best could develop narcissistic personality disorder, who becomes violent and enraged when someone points out a mistake they made. As one can see, parental love is a crucial nutrient that fosters a healthy personality in a child, helping them become a wholesome, independent “person”.

No matter how poor the parents are, a child who was raised on love is able to construct a plentiful, happy life. Then, when the child becomes a parent, they will know how to raise their own children with love as well. The best parents are those who respect the child’s decisions and allow them to be free when they set out on their pursuit of happiness. All you need is love.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


The word that children say the most as they grow up is probably “why?”. Children always ask this and that, seeking knowledge as if they want to understand every object and everything happening around them. This is an extremely important developmental step that trains the most powerful weapon a human being possesses: the brain. Children can use their brain’s amazing information processing abilities to start building a massive knowledge tank, absorbing information like a sponge. Furthermore, they never ask a question just once but love to repeat the same question over and over, driving an adult crazy. This is not because the child wants to frustrate the adult. Just like how you cannot fully understand all of the meanings in a good book on the first read, a child learns through repetition and ruminating knowledge. If you do not repeat something, the knowledge only lasts in short term memory and is soon deleted, making it a very inefficient study process. Ergo, famous children’s educational programs such as Sesame Street and Blues Clues teach children things by constantly repeating the same thing. After that, the children watch the same episode over and over again to acquire knowledge.

As children do not know much about the world, they need to inherit knowledge from adults. Because adults possess a vast amount of knowledge, children need to ask a series of specific questions to build their knowledge base slowly and steadily. As their basic knowledge base builds, they can start to learn through other means such as books and encyclopaedias. However, whether you are a child or an adult, if you have something that you want to know, there is no faster and effective way of finding out than asking someone that knows. If you do not ask, you cannot learn and your brain will atrophy. Curiosity is a sign that there is still something you can learn. Thus, no matter how old you are, you should have the courage to ask a question. Curiosity is progress.

On the other hand, if someone (especially a child) asks you a question, do not brush them away; calmly answer their question and try to pass on as much of your knowledge to them as possible. That is your responsibility as a member of society; a sacred duty of feeding and nurturing the future generation.

Posted in Life & Happiness


In modern ant cities, there can be found many genetic mutations as a result of millennia of division of labour. Thus, ants born with large mandibles that can cut down enemies become soldier ants, while ants born with mandibles that can grind grains become milling ants. Some ants have highly advanced salivary glands and these ants wash and disinfect young larvae.

Here are some examples of the amazing adaptability of ants through the use of mutations:

  • Doorkeeper ants have large, flat heads that can block strategically important entry points to guard the hive. If a worker ant wishes to enter the hive, it must knock on the broad head. If it gives the wrong password, the living door attacks and devours the worker ant.
  • Honeypot ants are found in some tropical ant species. These worker ants are hung upside down on the ceiling and are filled with honey until their abdomens swell up to 20 times the normal size. When another ant comes and strokes the honeypot ant, it releases a few drops of honey it is storing.

However, out of all of these mutations that produce “specialists”, the most noticeable is the mutation that produced specialists of love.
Worker ants are born without the ability to reproduce. This is to prevent these busy worker ants from being distracted from sexual impulses. Reproduction is left to certain ants that do nothing other than reproduce. These ants are the male and female ants – essentially the princes and princesses of the ant kingdom. These ants are born only to make love and have special anatomical features that make the mating process easier. Wings that allow them to fly, antennae that allow the communication of abstract emotions and eyes that can sense infrared light are all examples of this.

How about human beings? We too have “specialists”, but they are not based on features we are born with. Instead, they are a result of the education and upbringing we receive as we grow up – an acquired specialisation rather than a natural one. Then again, it is not as if we are all born equal. Some people are born with a more muscular body that is helpful for labour-intensive work, while others are born with more intelligent brains that are better for jobs that require much thinking. However, our societies have a strange style of oppressing these natural talents and only push study on them. No matter how good a child is at the arts, music or sports, their abilities are ignored and the children are forced to conform into a pre-set path. If a child is introverted and prefer working quietly indoors, they are told off and told to become more extroverted. Ultimately, human societies prefer producing all-round individuals rather than specialists in a certain trade.

But what if we did what ants did and recognise a child’s natural talents and nurture it? The Jewish people have followed a system of education that focusses on helping a child develop their own skill instead of forcing something on them. Considering that 18 of the 40 richest people in USA are Jewish, it could be suggested that this is a very effective form of educating children.

Then why do so many parents want their children to become doctors, lawyers and CEOs? The reason is capitalism. Given the characteristics of the jobs, they are comparatively better paid and more stable than workers and artists. Ergo, parents push children towards such professions “for the sake of their future”. Even though many other professions are required for the smooth functioning of society. If so, could we not equalise the pay of all jobs? Unfortunately, this was tried in communist states but tragically failed as the incentive to study and go into such professions disappeared as the pay was “not worth it”. In fact, the major reason for the downfall of communism was human greed. As ants work for the good of the society rather than the individual, they have the luxury of doing the job they were literally born for and still be well-nourished.

Then what if we paid salaries not equally, but fairly? For example, instead of giving everyone the same pay, we pay people according to the amount of work they do, regardless of the profession. If we distributed the unnecessarily high amounts of wealth of politicians and upper class have to fund the wages of technicians and artists, the income gap between jobs would disappear and children would receive the same reward for whatever profession they chose (given it helps society). If this was implemented, then everyone would be able to bring out their strongest trade and significantly boost productivity. Furthermore, the tragedy of having to give up something you want to do for the sake of money would disappear. If we can find a way to overcome human greed and make equitable distribution of wealth possible, human societies would be able to kill two birds with one stone – progress and happiness.

(first half from the Encyclopaedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge by Bernard Werber, second half from author’s original thoughts)
(Image Source, see source for description of each letter (professions in French))

Posted in History & Literature


Most Westerners are familiar with Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press in 1450 which allowed the mass-production of books, namely the bible. In fact, the printing press is thought of as one of the crucial factors that triggered the Renaissance in Europe.
However, what most people do not know is that the movable type – a printing machine where individual letters can be rearranged and reused – was invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty two centuries before Gutenberg.

Before the movable type, Buddhist monks would carve out wooden blocks so that they could copy out religious texts with ease. But as this involved the monks having to carve out the entire text (often very long), it was extremely labour-intensive and everyone sought an easier method of mass-producing texts. The concept of the movable type was experimented with throughout the centuries, but it was found that woodblocks would wear out too fast. Although metal was the obvious choice, the technology was not developed enough to produce the fine letters.

In 1234, a Korean man called Choe Yun-ui finally devised the technology to invent the first metal movable type in the world. The process was very complicated, involving the making of durable clay moulds to hold the molten metal without breaking.
This was revolutionary as it meant that texts could easily be printed as all the printers had to do was rearrange pre-made letters in order rather than laboriously carving each one out. Metal movable types are also extremely durable and give a very clean print, unlike the wooden counterpart that tends to wear out or smudge. The metal movable type allowed for the mass-production of books which greatly boosted Goryeo’s culture and education within the poorer classes.

Korea was the leading innovator in the printing industry throughout history, with the earliest woodblock prints dating back to 751. The motivation to develop this technology was partly thanks to Buddhism. To ensure that Buddha’s teachings could be spread far and wide, Buddhist monks worked day and night to produce these texts. This was a critical job during the 13th century when the Mongol Empire was rampaging through the whole of Eurasia. As military force was insufficient to repel the invaders, the people turned to spirituality for power. Furthermore, due to the destructive nature of the Mongols, it was crucial to replace damaged texts to ensure that precious cultural heritages would not be destroyed. This was the main motivation for the creation of the metal movable type and to this day we can see the evidence of the state-of-the-art printing device in books from the 13th and 14th century.

One limitation still remained with the movable type – Chinese characters. At the time, Korea still used Chinese characters to record the Korean language (similar to how Chinese characters can be transcribed in pinyin form). As there are literally tens of thousands of characters, a massive amount of individual types had to be produced.
This problem was solved by King Sejong the Great of the Joseon Dynasty, who invented Hangul – the Korean alphabet. Hangul only contains 24 letters and is extremely logical in its construction, ergo it was a perfect system for recording language. It also meant that much less individual types were needed, making the printing process even more efficient.

Although the 20th and 21st century saw the Western Hemisphere leading science and technology innovations, it is important to remember that the East dominated the field for millennia before.

Posted in Science & Nature


The most potent and frequently used household cleaning product is bleach. Bleach is a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), which has powerful antimicrobial properties thanks to the element chlorine. This is also the reason chlorine is used to treat tap water and disinfect pools.

Although it is an extremely useful chemical, chlorine also has a very dark side. Chlorine gas is a highly toxic gas, which forms hydrochloric acid when breathed in and seriously burns the respiratory tract. Due to its toxicity, chlorine gas was used as a weapon of mass destruction in World War I. However, this terrifying gas can be made very simply at home. Unfortunately, this is often done accidentally (but sometimes on purpose) and causes significant damage.

The key warning for using bleach is that it must never be mixed with other cleaning products. If mixed with an acid cleaner, it causes a chemical reaction that produces chlorine gas, while mixing it with ammonia creates chloramine, another deadly gas (although dangerous in itself, chloramine can sublimate into chlorine gas too). Therefore, many people suffer a loss of smell, consciousness or their lives by accidentally mixing two cleaning products or cleaning up urine with bleach. A major problem is that these victims tend to be children who unknowingly mix the chemicals, creating a horrible accident. What is more unfortunate is that some people choose to end their lives using this method.
If you do find a person rendered unconscious by chlorine, it is imperative to quickly move them to a well-ventilated area, while not endangering yourself. An ambulance should be called right away.

As seen from above, simple chemicals found easily at home can produce toxic gases, which can cause irreversible damage. Thus, one must never mix bleach and cleaning products and should educate their children on the dangers of chlorine gas.