Last night, I mostly-unexpected joined a group to see 「Up」, a Pixar film that Ebert strongly recommended (the main character strongly resembles him!). It was a cute film, although there was a sidekick kid on which I would dearly have been tempted to have a round of pugilism. It was also a very good film for all ages - I was pleased that they were willing to have the main character make a pretty serious (although understandable) mistake near the beginning of the film (creating a situation that necessitated the adventure), and it was interesting to see the film lay down the general shape of human life - while it was a much simpler version of it (finding a long-term life-partner at a very young age), it's a big thing to remind adults of the long-term view of how we live in society because at that view it feels quite short (live, then die, significance?), scary (failed relationships are wasted years and maybe one won't find another, only have so many years we can or should have children, etc), and it takes us far away from our functional "on-the-ground" perspective of day-to-day living. There's the added perspective of being forced to understand/remember/project the worldview of different ages we have in life.
I wonder more about showing that to children - I was very close to my grandparents and a few other older folk when I was young, and I have the impression that I came to see the general shape of human life much younger than my peers. The tiredness of old age and not fearing death, the way that adults have to mix work in with self-betterment, family, and other concerns, etc. My perspective wasn't really complete on this until I was about 20 (I think I missed out entirely on that youthful optimism that says the-world-is-my-oyster), but I am not certain if having any of this understanding at a young age is a kindness. Would a good parent, responding to their exasperated child, sit them down and explain what it is like to live as an adult - how they percieve themself, their concerns, struggles, how their dreams have changed and situated themselves in adult life? I think that this would at least be a weight on a child, boiling away the real kind of youthful innocence (generally when people talk about youthful innocence they have completely the wrong idea). This probably comes down to what youth *should* be like (maybe most adults as well) - is childhood better reserved for the freedom and joy in not 「seeing the big picture」 and all the opportunity costs, risks, and pains in life, or is it better to start collecting data and ideas to build as deep and powerful a perspective in understanding everything in the world? I think the first 20 minutes of 「Up」 were more in line with the latter perspective, although they do the watcher a kindness by giving us the tools to step back out of that deep perspective (quite effective at bringing tears to my eyes, ranking slightly higher than 「Memory」 from the musical 「Cats」 on the sobometer) - the rest of the film was much lighter (although still intelligent).
In other news, Scott Adams recently lept into a combination of topics that usually ends up removing the roots of the other when discussed seriously enough: 「statistics and morality」. Unfortunately, his example isn't complex enough to bring about a serious discussion and it's hampered by his legalistic style of reasoning. Building a livable immediate-value framework that incorporates statistical uncertainty/reasoning, even assuming people can estimate probabilities perfectly given some information, is very difficult.