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For Want of a Nail

An answer for everything

An answer for everything

It’s so easy to be deterred sometimes –

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Of course, it’s hard to blame a nail for the fall of a kingdom, unless you want it to be the cause.

I’ve been waiting for several days now to go on a trip to Manhattan, Kansas (yes, it took me a long time to get used to the idea of there being a Manhattan in Kansas too). It wasn’t a terribly important trip, just a networking event out at Kansas State for the local biotech businesses to get in touch with one another, but it was an opportunity to get to know some more people who might be able to help me get back to work.

But for want of a nail …

In this case, the nail that was wanting was my ability to coordinate with the carpooling van to identify where they would be meeting up. I arrived at what actually was the correct location about 20 minutes ahead of time, but found no one and started second guessing myself. When I checked my schedule, I found another address and quickly scampered to make it there. triple guessing myself, I checked the website at a stoplight only to find that I had just left the correct location and was out of time to rush back.

I tried nevertheless, only to find that I just missed the bus by a matter of minutes because they had been meeting on the top floor of the parking garage (I parked on the lower level previously and had not seen them).

the rider was lost …

My wife, probably correctly, counseled me to go anyway, despite missing the ride. It was only about an hour and a half away, but by this time my will had collapsed in on me and I could think of nothing but,

the battle was lost.

And, with the battle lost, I forfeited the kingdom.

US Chief Justice John Roberts enjoys this rhyme enough to cite it in not just one, but two independent legal cases, in both cases, he warns that ‘want of a nail’ does not anchor one into a set series of causal events, but that it merely illustrates a single possible cause. In this way, he asserts the free will of all people to end  (or at least deflect) certain causal chains such that one detached cause can not exonerate those who fail to act after events have been set into motion.

It’s probably a pretty good doctrine, because even if we do not have free will, we still need to act as if we have. – or do we?

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.57.26 PM

At least he gets a choice

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Hair of the Dog

ImageMusic’s ability to manipulate human emotions in film and TV for decades. It’s been used to raise spirits, promote introspection, and signal mood for centuries in theater, weddings, church services and funerals. Stores play music to promote spending, films communicate the mood of a scene, foreshadowing events through music. Elevators … Actually, I don’t know what elevator music is supposed to do – maybe help keep us from killing one another when confined in a small space.

In 1993 Kim and Areni of Texas Tech demonstrated the power of music:

As part of a field experiment … the background music (classical versus Top-Forty) in a centrally located wine store was varied over a two month period. The results … indicated that the classical music influenced shoppers to spend more money. Additional findings suggest that, rather than increasing the amount of wine purchased, customers selected more expensive merchandise when classical music was played in the background.

ImageI know the effect music has on my mood. Yet, I’m drawn inexplicably to a certain type of music when I’m depressed. Specifically, it’s music that lulls me deeper into depression (at least somewhat) – but that’s a very subjective statement. Let’s say that when I’m depressed I gravitate to a certain genre of music may possibly re-enforce those same depressive feelings. Or perhaps it’s just music that I relate to better when my mood is so.

This behavior is not unique to me. Many people suggest that they self-select depressing music when they are sad in order to raise their mood – yet, evidence suggests that this is a counter-productive behavior. Last year (2013) a University of New South Wales, Australia group assessed the mood of a number of people before and after listening to just this type of music.

It was found that both [subjects] had significant increases in depression after listening to self-selected sad music … [These R]esults support the hypothesis that listening to sad music is related to maladaptive mood regulation strategies in some listeners.

That is, it’s not helping us, but we seek it out anyway. It’s exactly why I have my stations ‘Down notes’,  ‘Pity me not’, and ‘Fire walk with me’ (among others) on Pandora. Each approaches depression from a slightly different angle, like my own musical version of 50 Eskimo words for snow.

the Inuit dialect spoken in Canada’s Nunavik region has at least 53 [words for snow], including “matsaaruti,” for wet snow that can be used to ice a sleigh’s runners, and “pukak,” for the crystalline powder snow that looks like salt.

Perhaps it’s just the hair of the dog.

the man who was mercilessly tortured by thoughts kept on thinking 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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