Last saturday at J/R's, we watched In the Mouth of Madness. It was fairly creepy horror, and seemed to be largely a pastiche of HP Lovecraft's ideas (although it had a certain amount of revisionism-as-horror that I don't think Lovecraft ever used). One of R's observations was that the children were particularly creepy, because children are easy to make creepy. I believe this is because of a certain tension in our psyche between being programmed to like children along with what naturally should be a fear of children (that ties into a fear of the mentally ill). According to Freud, children are far from the innocent beautiful beings our society paints them as. Instead, they are incredibly selfish beings who have not yet acquired the internal complexity/reflectivity that allows them to treat each other or others well. Children are scary because they don't share our inhibitions as adults (again, mentally ill/deficient peopele can be scary in the same way, and moreso because they can be full sized humans). I still remember some of the cruel things I did as a child before I was fully socialised, and have occasionally been reminded of this by seeing children at work, saying and doing things that are far outside the pale. If I were to be beat up, for example, I would far rather have it be done by a sane, rational adult (even a mob member) than a bunch of young kids or mentally broken adults. I think on some level this contributes to children being capable of being very creepy.
On my way back from work/KGB today, I walked by Eat'n'Park and saw a friend who moved away about 8 months ago, through the window. I stopped in, and played a game of chess with him. Apart from one stupid move near the beginning which he let me take back, I won the game, and we played some interesting variants of chess afterwards for awhile as brain experiments while talking about strategy and game theory. He later reminded me of where he's taking classes -- St John's in Annapolis, and talked about it for awhile. Their liberal arts programme sounds incredibly good -- they learn Latin and Greek and progress sequentually through different stages of human knowledge, covering many major areas (philosophy, mathematics, etc) at the same time. It wasn't until I read Nietzsche in German that I really understood the importance of this. It sounded very rigorous and at the same time incredibly mind-broadening. I confess to feeling great envy of him for his experience there -- apparently it is very expensive (he's taking loans, I think), and I don't think it'd be feasable for me to go back and get another undergraduate degree there for that reason (more expensive than CMU by a fair amount), but... I keep thinking about it. The time isn't right for me to leave Pittsburgh yet, I don't think, but in another 2-4 years, I think I'm going to need to pull up my roots and find new intellectual soil. It would be very cool if by then I find a life partner of some sort.
In case you don't have enough to be outraged about, here's an amazingly outrageous action by a judge, a bit quoted plus link:In an 88-page judgment, Trager wrote "One need not have much imagination to contemplate the negative effect on our relations with Canada if discovery were to proceed in this case and were it to turn out that certain high Canadian officials had, despite public denials, acquiesced in Arar's removal to Syria."
It's odd to think that this is the same government that held a trial over Watergate -- dismissing a case for the sake of not exposing the lies of Canadian public officials is incredibly sick. It would be great if this were frontpage news and public pressure forced Trager to resign, but I suspect this this won't even be covered by most news agencies, much less result in anything.
In other news, Taiwan is recognising political realities and scrapping their reunification council. At some point, de facto becomes de jure -- it'll be interesting to see how China responds.
Tomorrow morning my machine room will finally be ready! Tomorrow my second CompBio assignment is due as well. I hope to wrap up all the stuff and extra credit tonight so my mind will be clear for the massive infrastructure changes I'll suddenly have on my plate soon.