What does it take to become a child prodigy?

I have two favorite living child prodigies: one from the United States (age 13) and one from Norway (age 11).

Grace VanderWaal won America’s Got Talent in 2016, at age 12. She competed by singing her own songs that she wrote (the first video). She then signed a contract with Columbia Records and put out her first short album (with 5 songs) that reached #9 in the United States. She went on to win awards from the Teen Choice Awards and Disney.

Angelina Jordan won Norway’s Got Talent when she was age 8, singing classic jazz. At age ten in 2016, she recorded “I Put a Spell on You.”  If you enjoy that performance, there’s more. You will discover Angelina performs barefoot. Her first album is scheduled for release this year.

Grace VanderWaal and Angelina Jordan are both child prodigies. Scientific American explains what it takes to be a child prodigy.

“Recent research indicates that basic cognitive abilities known to be influenced by genetic factors also play a role in prodigious achievement. In the most extensive study of prodigies to date, the psychologist Joanne Ruthsatz and her colleagues administered a standardized test of intelligence to 18 prodigies—five in art, eight in music, and five in math. There was a wide range of IQs in the sample, from 100—the average for the general population—to 147—well above the usual cutoff for “intellectually gifted.” However, with an average score of 140 (above the 99th percentile), nearly all of the prodigies did extraordinarily well on the tests of working memory. …

“With an average score of 148, the music prodigies in the Ruthsatz study were especially high in working memory (the average for the math prodigies was 135 and for art prodigies was 132). In fact, all eight of the music prodigies were at or above the 99th percentile, and four were at or above the 99.9th percentile. The odds of eight randomly selected people scoring this high on a test are essentially zero. …

Prodigies also exhibit an unusual commitment to their domain … “Often one cannot tear these children away from activities in their area of giftedness, whether they involve an instrument, a computer, a sketch pad, or a math book. These children have a powerful interest in the domain in which they have high ability, and they can focus so intently on work in this domain that they lose sense of the outside world.”

What happens to child prodigies when they grow up?

To discover how far Grace VanderWaal has gone since winning America’s Got Talent at age 12, in 2016, to the first weekend in October 2017 at the Austin City Limits Music Festival as she starts her first national concert tour at age 13, watch the next video.

It’s wild! Her fans love her songs and they love who she is at this age. We all change as we age and mature. I hope Grace gets only better as a person, and that she never forgets who she was when she started out.

UPDATE

Since I’m a writer and a published author, I wanted to add the names of a few child prodigies in that field, but to be clear, I was never a child prodigy.

  • Flavia Bujor wrote her first book when she was 12 and published it with Harper Collins when she was 14.
  • Nancy Yi Fan started writing her first novel when she was 7. She completed that novel when she was 11. Harper Collins published that book in 2007, and it became a New York Times bestseller.
  • Jake Marcionette wrote his first book when he was 12, and that book also became a New York Times bestseller.
  • Alec Greven was nine when he wrote: “How To Talk to Girls”.  His book made the New York Times bestseller list for a book he says he wrote in a week.
  • Dorothy Straight is on record as being the youngest published author ever. At the age of four, when many children can’t read let alone write, she wrote a story for her grandmother. Her parents took a shine to it and sent it to Pantheon Books, who published it in 1964 when Straight was 6.
  • TopTenz

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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The Story of Lucy – Beautiful Thing

Every time I watch this Windex commercial, yes, it is a commercial, the best I’ve seen, because of the happy memory tears that flow every time. I’m not alone with my tearful reaction. After you watch The Story of Lucy, scroll down and read some of the comments.

The song and lyrics are from Grace VanderWall who wrote the song and first performed it on America’s Got Talent in 2016.  She was 12-years old.

For more about Grace, read my fan post at This is an Invitation to attend my favorite YouTube Concert.

The next video is an interview with Grace on 98.7 AMP Radio. This way you get to know a bit about who this 13-year old is who wrote the song used in that incredible Windex commercial.

The Grammy nominations will arrive near the end of 2017. I’ll be shocked if Grace doesn’t get nominated.

Thank you, Grace. May you always see the world through the same prism that you were using when you were twelve. Keep that glass clean so there are no distortions. Use Windex.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

It’s that time of year when the United States celebrates, and contributes to disease

Would you buy your child a costume so they could snort cocaine or worse?

While I enjoy seeing kids and adults in cute Halloween costumes, I abhor the TREAT factor of Halloween. As an ignorant child and teen, I went trick or treating, wore costumes, and went to Halloween parties.

And as a teacher in the early 1970s, I dressed in a dark suit, and wore a Richard Nixon mask to school.  All day I flashed the two-finger victory salute with my hands and said, “I’m not a crook.”  My students loved it.

Then in the early 1980s I changed my lifestyle drastically and became health conscious. That was the last time I gave out unhealthy sweet treats. First, I gave out small boxes of organic raisins until a child’s mouthy mother accused me of being cheap, because I didn’t hand out treats loaded with processed sugar: those bulky bags full of miniature Snickers, Twix, M&M’s, Juicy Fruits, Tootsie Rolls, Oh Henry!, Butterfinger, Starbursts, Hershey’s, Reese’s, Skittles, Kit Kat, Milky Way, etc.

Thirty years of teaching kids that consumed too much sugar is another reason why I stopped handing out sugar drenched treats on Halloween, because I witnessed what too much sugar did to my students: too much hyper energy; then lethargy leading to inattention and mood swings. It’s a real challenge to teach a student who drank a sixty-ounce Pepsi for lunch and comes to class with eyes glazed over and no energy.

In fact, many children and teens of today even hate drinking water because it isn’t sweet, and that is because they are addicted to the sugar. Forbes.com reported, “Research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” (Neuroscientist Joseph) Schroeder said. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”

Most people think that heroin and methamphetamine are the most addictive illegal drugs, followed by cocaine, pentobarbital, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, and they don’t know that sugar should be on that list too.

Sugar is addictive and destructive. When the researchers “used immunohistochemistry to measure the expression of a protein called c-Fos in the brain’s ‘pleasure center,’” they found that “the Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.”

In addition to being more addictive than cocaine or morphine, sugar is a killer?

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), kids are getting way too much added sugar in their diets and that could raise their risk for obesity and chronic diseases. “Consuming added sugars has been tied to an increased risk for heart disease among adolescents and cholesterol problems.”

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of California-San Francisco said, “After accounting for obesity and a large array of other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.”

Diabetes affects all parts of the body, particularly adult onset diabetes. If left uncontrolled, it becomes a killer, which destroys every organ in the body including the heart and brain.

According to the American Diabetes Association, “Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family, especially when a child is diagnosed.”

Diabetes is a lifestyle disease, and eating too much sugar through soda and candy is a lifestyle choice.

Don’t expect the sugar industry to stop advertising and selling sugar products. The leading companies that produce and sell candy and soda employ more than 47,000 workers and have annual revenues of $49 billion. This industry spends millions of dollars on lobbying in Washington DC to stop any proposed consumer protection regulations. Source: IBIS World.com and Sunlight Foundation.com

It’s obvious that what’s called Confectionary Wholesaling, the sugar industry, doesn’t want anyone to know how dangerous their products are.

Maybe it’s time to take the sugar out of Halloween and just keep the costumes and healthy activities. Until parents wake up and fight back, my house will stay dark with locked doors that don’t open to anyone on Halloween, because I don’t want to contribute to someone else’s poor lifestyle choices.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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The Dangers of Halloween Addiction – Who Does This to Children?

While I enjoy seeing kids and adults in cute Halloween costumes, I abhor the TREAT factor of Halloween. As an ignorant child and teen, I went trick or treating, wore costumes and went to Halloween parties. And as a teacher, I dressed in a suit and wore a Richard Nixon mask more than once on Halloween.

However, in the early 1980s I changed my lifestyle drastically and became health conscious and that was the last time I gave out sugar-laced treats. Gasp, I even stopped drinking Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up, and even Dr. Pepper, my childhood favorite.

Instead of that free candy, I gave out small boxes of organic raisins at Halloween until a neighbor accused me of being cheap because I didn’t hand out treats drenched with processed sugar. I’m talking about those bulky bags full of miniature Snickers, Twix, M&M’s, Juicy Fruits, Tootsie Rolls, Oh Henry!, Butterfinger, Starbursts, Hershey’s, Reese’s, Skittles, Kit Kat, Milky Way, etc.

Thirty years of teaching kids that consumed too much sugar is another reason why I stopped handing out popular treats on Halloween, because I witnessed what too much sugar did to my students—too much hyper energy, then lethargy leading to inattention and mood swings. It’s a real challenge to teach a child or teen who drank a sixty-ounce Pepsi for lunch and comes to class with glazed eyes, and in today’s Bill Gates supported high stakes test world of Common Core education that ranks and punishes teachers and closes public schools, sugar should be enemy number two behind Bill Gates and his evil cronies.

In fact, many children and teens of today even hate drinking water because it isn’t sweet, and that is because they are addicted to the sugar. Forbes.com reported, “Research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” [neuroscientist Joseph] Schroeder said. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”

Most if not all of us know that heroin and methamphetamine are the most addictive illegal drugs, followed by cocaine, pentobarbital, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, but most do not know that sugar should be on that list too. It’s addictive and destructive. When the researchers “used immunohistochemistry to measure the expression of a protein called c-Fos, a marker of neuronal activation, in the nucleus accumbens, or the brain’s ‘pleasure center,’” they found that “the Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.”

In addition to being more addictive than cocaine or morphine, how destructive is sugar?

“The Pompeiians have healthy teeth, only in the rarest cases marred by decay: this is thanks to a mainly vegetarian diet and to an almost total lack of sugar in the diet, explained dental surgeon Elisa Vanacore.”

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, kids are getting way too much added sugar in their diets and that could raise their risk for obesity and chronic diseases. “Consuming added sugars has been tied to an increased risk for heart disease among adolescents and cholesterol problems,” according to the CDC.

“A large epidemiological study suggest sugar may also have a direct, independent link to diabetes. Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of California-San Francisco examined data on sugar availability and diabetes rates from 175 countries over the past decade. After accounting for obesity and a large array of other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.” – Stanford.edu

If you still doubt, to discover how horrible processed sugar is, I suggest reading this piece on Healthline.com where you will learn how dangerous diabetes can be.

Diabetes affects all parts of the body, particularly adult onset diabetes. If left uncontrolled, it becomes a killer, which destroyed every organ in the body—including the heart and brain. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes and another 79 million are pre diabetic.

And did you know that the leading five companies that make and sell candy and soda employ more than 40,000 workers and have annual revenues of $40 billion. This industry spends millions of dollars on lobbying in Washington DC to stop any proposed consumer protection regulations. Source: IBIS World.com and Sunlight Foundation.com

Now you know why I stopped celebrating trick or treat, because all of those free treats are not really free—they comes with a horrible price. Maybe it is time to take the sugar out of Halloween and just keep the costumes.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

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Brainwashing Americans for Extremism, Power and Profit: part 3 of 3

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My old, extremist, brainwashed friend also doesn’t believe global warming is caused by human activity, and this explains why he is against any or most environmental regulations that would limit carbon emissions—yet, there is irrefutable evidence that carbon emissions are polluting the air causing respiratory illnesses and lung disease, for instance, cancer, and that carbon emissions are altering the pH balance of the oceans threaten the food chain. Rising Acidity in the Oceans: The other CO2 Problem and How Air Pollution Contributes to Lung Disease

But that doesn’t stop extremists like my old friend—who gives me a lot to write about—from wanting a smaller government that doesn’t monitor private sector corporations that pollute the environment.

My old extremist friend seems to think that the private sector should have no restrictions and be allowed to do whatever it wants with no government intervention—he thinks that the private sector will correct itself voluntarily.

If you read this piece in a recent National Geographic Magazine about the EPA superfund going broke—thanks to people like my old, stubborn, extremist friend, for instance, and the Tea Party element of the GOP—you might appreciate the danger of stripping the government of its ability to limit pollution, corruption and/or monopoly in the private sector.

As for abortion, I think a woman should own her body and have the legal right to an abortion before, at least, the 21st week, if not longer to the 30th week. What I think my old extremist friend, who has been brainwashed, is really arguing for is less freedom for individuals and more freedom for profit hungry corporations to pollute the earth and cause more disease and illness.

Oh, one last fact: Gallup also reports that only 25% of the people are skeptical of global warming being caused by carbon emissions and human activity versus 75% who are concerned believers or somewhere in between.

Did you know that AEI routinely tries to undermine the credibility of climate science, despite at times affirming that the “weight of the evidence” justifies “prudent action” on climate change and AEI received $3,615,000 from ExxonMobil from 1998-2012, and more than $1 million in funding from Koch foundations from 2004-2011?

AFP also frequently provides a platform for climate contrarian statements, such as “How much information refutes carbon dioxide-caused global warming? Let me count the ways.” And the Koch foundations donated $3,609,281 to AFP Foundation from 2007-2011.

To discover more about who is brainwashing people like my old extremist friend, I suggest clicking on Global Warming Skeptic Organizations and read the report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Brainwashing Americans for Extremism, Power and Profit: part 2 of 3

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One issue that has been raging since Roe V. Wade in 1973, is a woman’s right to have an abortion versus the mostly extremist religious Right-to-Life mob.

Gallup publishes historical trends in respect to the abortion issue—that refuses to go away thanks to the mostly religious extremists—and my old friend is one of them.

In 1975, Gallup reported that 77% of the U.S. population felt that abortion was either legal under certain circumstances or legal under any circumstances, but only 19% felt it was illegal in all circumstances.

Thirty-eight years later, that thinking hasn’t changed much. In 2013, Gallup reported that 78% of the U.S. population felt that abortion was either legal under certain circumstances or legal under any circumstances, while 21% felt it was illegal under all circumstances.

I think it is arguable that 78% is an overwhelming majority exposing the extremist minority of the Right-to-Life mob.

The use of brainwashing techniques is used by the Right-to-Life mob when they claim that “Abortion is murder, because it kills babies.”  Using “murder” and “babies” together in the same phrase is designed to arouse emotions and fool people—in effect, brainwashing them—but the truth is that babies are never aborted—zygotes, embryos  or fetuses are aborted, and they’re not babies, toddlers or children. In fact, after the sperm fertilizes the egg, life starts as a single cell zygote and divides several times to form a ball of cells called  a morula. By the 8th week, the embryo—that develops from the zygote by the 3rd week—measures ½ inch in length, and the organism called the fetus starts to develop at about the 10th week.

Let’s be clear, a fetus is not a baby! At one month—4 weeks—there is an embryo consisting of two layers of cells from which the organs and body parts will develop. At 2 months—8 weeks—the fetus is the size of a kidney bean. At 3 months—12 weeks—the fetus is about 3 inches long and weighs almost an ounce.

Did you now that a fetus doesn’t feel pain until the 20th week? Actually, it doesn’t feel much or any pain at all until delivery—as you will discover.

The reason why I’m writing about the issue of abortion is because of my old friend, who suffers from a mental illness called extremism caused by brainwashing and/or irrational dementia. When we argue the issue of abortion, the terms he uses most often are “babies” and “murder”.

How can you murder a fetus without a developed brain that can’t feel pain, has no memoires and couldn’t survive outside the womb? The definition for a human being says: a man, woman or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech and upright stance.

And, according to the CDC, 89-92% of all abortions happen during the first trimester, prior to the 13th week of gestation; 6.9% of all abortions take place between 14-20 weeks of gestation, and 1.2% take place at or after 21 weeks of gestation.

The fetus starts out looking like the alien from the Alien film franchise, but eventually the fetus will develop a human form. That does not mean it is a viable, thinking, feeling creature with an active memory. In fact, it is arguable that it is not until after the 30th week that the brain has developed enough to be considered a complete human.

At week 5, the fetus’s brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop. At week 6-7, the fetus’s brain forms into five different areas. Some cranial nerves are visible. After week 8, the fetus’s brain will continue to grow until week 27 when it will start to grow faster.

The average unborn baby, while it is a fetus, will spend 38 – 40 weeks in the uterus.

When does consciousness arise in the human fetus? Consciousness requires a sophisticated network of highly interconnected components, nerve cells. Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. … What is fascinating is the discovery that the fetus is actively sedated—drugged—by the low oxygen pressure (equivalent to that at the top of Mount Everest), the warm and cushioned uterine environment and a range of neuroinhibitory and sleep-inducing substances produced by the mother’s body.

What does the Bible say about Abortion? OpenBible.Info lists 37 Bible Versus related to Abortion. Some—I’m convinced—will horrify you. For instance: Deuteronomy 28:53: “And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, who the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.” Of course, the brainwashers will cherry pick versus they want their extremists to hear, and then tell them what to think.

Continued in Part 3 on December 6, 2014 or return to Part 1

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_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Brainwashing Americans for Extremism, Power and Profit: part 1 of 3

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An extremist is a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable and that are highly disagreeable to the majority of the population.

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life, and it is caused by physical changes in the brain.

For instance, what Oliver Sacks wrote in Speak Memory, February 21, 2013, in The New York Review of Books about our ability to edit and revise our own memories to fit whatever we want to think. Oliver Sacks says, “From the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials to the Soviet trials of the 1930s and Abu Ghraib, varieties of ‘extreme interrogation,’ or outright physical and mental torture, have been used to extract political or religious “confessions.” While such interrogation may be intended to extract information in the first place, its deeper intentions may be to brainwash, to effect a genuine change of mind, to fill it with implanted, self-inculpatory memories, and in this it may be frighteningly successful.”

Then there is Eight Ways to Identify Religious Brainwashing. In part seven of this eight part series, “Leaders who emphasize ‘Doctrine Over Person’ usually have dominant personalities and rigidly interpret biblical commands. Thus, while their language sounds spiritual, in fact they merely enforce their own preferences about how to live life.”

In addition, in 6 Brainwashing Techniques  They’re Using on You Right Now, we learn that “Every cult leader, drill sergeant, self-help guru and politician knows that if you want to quiet all of those pesky doubting thoughts in a crowd, get them to chant a repetitive phrase or slogan. Those are referred to as thought-stopping techniques, because for better or worse, they do exactly that.”

I have an old friend who is an extremist and I’ll talk more about him in part 2 and 3 and why he is against abortion, and doesn’t think global warming is caused by human activity.

Continued in Part 2 on December 5, 2014

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_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”