Music and emotion

At university, I sang first tenor in a college choir. The college choral scene is a fairly mercenary affair and many colleges seek to bolster their ranks with choral rejects from colleges with a much better singing tradition. And so it was that I, an outsider, shared the pews with two other outsiders. One was a third year English student, distant heir to a brewing fortune and quite possibly the most intelligent and insane person I have ever met. The other was a PhD candidate whose thesis covered the relationship between music and emotion.

Now, you must understand, I have not always been the calm, measured person I am now. At some point, we got to discussing his thesis and I didn’t agree with him. I was polite enough not to come to blows; after all, I had to sit next to this chap three times a week. But I had to agree to defer to his greater knowledge. He, after all, already had his degree, whereas I was only a pretendy philosophy undergraduate.

His proposition was that music cannot instil emotion in people. While he accepted that you can hear music and feel emotions, these emotions are merely an epiphenomenon caused by some attachment you have between that piece of music and some life experience. The music, in and of itself, does not cause the emotion. He believed that it cannot do that.

This afternoon I was listening to random bits of music on my mp3 player. I came across a song I hadn’t heard before by the Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee and my spirits were lifted. I simply don’t accept that there is some hidden connection with Tim Kerr’s guitar or Mike Carroll’s rough-as-shit vocals that caused my emotional change.

I’m going back in time to retract my deference. The theory’s bollocks.

God bless America

There’s so much to love in this story (emphasis added):

A federal appeals court has upheld Georgia’s ban on bringing guns into places of worship, the Religion News Service reports. The Rev. Jonathan Wilkins, a Baptist pastor, and the gun-rights group had argued that church members should have the right to carry guns into worship services to protect the congregation, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 20 that a Georgia law adopted in 2010 does not violate the Thomaston congregation’s First and Second Amendment rights. “A place of worship’s right, rooted in the common law, to forbid possession of firearms on its property is entirely consistent with the Second Amendment,” the court ruled, adding that wanting a weapon for self-defense is a “personal preference, motivated by a secular purpose.” Jerry Henry, executive director of, said his organization and Rev. Wilkins were considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. “We think they’ve got it wrong again,” he said. “The church’s First Amendment right prevails over the state right to tell them what they can and cannot do.”


Zombie autocorrect

It was a slow day at work on Friday, and an idiot colleague had used he word “entails” in a presentation. So I hacked into his computer and added the following to his autocorrect:

  • Bid → Bit
  • Brian → Brain
  • Cuts → Guts
  • Entails → Entrails
  • Gone → Gore
  • Undid → Undead

It won’t take over every document, for sure. But I take a quiet pleasure in knowing that, like every great zombie apocalypse, ultimately it will consume one of his important reports from the inside-out. Hopefully when he least expects it.

A terrible joke

Noah is loading up the animals onto the ark. There are elephants, giraffes, smaller mammals, worms and every kind of insect imaginable. The line stretches for miles! As they’re loading on, Noah turns to his wife and asks her if she has counted the animals yet. “Not yet, dear,” she tells him.

Noah goes back to helping load up the animals. But a few minutes later, he asks again, “Have you counted all the animals yet?” “No, not yet. We still have animals to load on. Be patient.”

But after loading on some of the spiders, Noah goes back to his wife. “My dear, did you count all the animals yet?”

Noah’s wife flips. “You still haven’t loaded all the animals on,” she says. “And, I told you. Don’t you remember?”

She pauses, before continuing…

“I sum what you did last, Noah!”