You Know Nothing About the Moon

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI got a strange phone call the other day. A friend of mine phoned to point out that he could see both the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time.

Certainly, there was nothing unusual about this other than his desire to call and tell me about it. But—he then pointed out—the moon had a shadow on it.

He didn’t need to say anything more; I saw the problem immediately.

All my young life, I’d grown up with the simple understanding that the dark spot or ‘shadow’ on the moon was caused by the Earth blocking out some of the light from the sun—essentially throwing its own shadow across the moon and hiding part of it from our sight.

I remembered—I was certain—elementary school teachers explaining this concept to us in great detail—likely using plasticine models, and perhaps a flashlight. It was, at any rate, a scientific ‘fact’ I had taken as sacrosanct my entire life.

In that one phone call, the idea was demolished entirely.

If I could see both the sun and the moon, that meant the sun had a direct line to the moon—unobstructed by the selfish machinations of the Earth. Therefore, the shadow across the surface of the moon could not possibly be caused by the Earth, as I had always understood.

Suddenly, everything I thought I had known about the lunar cycle was in shambles. This may seem like a small loss to anyone who gives even an average amount of consideration to the nature of celestial bodies, but I have a particular affinity for the sanctity of knowledge, and I found it quite troubling indeed.

Immediately, I set off to correct my false understandings and learn the truth about this now mysterious phenomenon. It took no time at all, and my understandings were soon corrected to incorporate this newfound information,. But I was nevertheless left with an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

Asking around over the following weeks, I soon discovered—to my small comfort—that I was far from alone in my naïve misunderstandings—in fact, I could scarcely find any other person who knew the truth about how the lunar cycles worked.

Do you?

No, probably not.

But you thought you did.

Most everyone I talked to thought the shadows on the moon were created by the Earth—just as I had so very recently. Simple fools!

The truth is, you see, that the dark spot on the moon is caused not by the Earth, but by the moon itself. Depending on the moon’s position relative to the sun, one half of it will always be fully lit (the side facing the sun), and one half will be dark (the side opposite the sun). The lunar cycle we witness is a product of the angle at which we view it. If the Earth is between the sun and moon, we will look back at it and see it fully illuminated. If the Earth is behind the sun and moon, we will see little of it, as we look towards its unlit side.

Finally, it the moon is somewhere between those extremes, we will see part of its illuminated side, and part of its dark side—as was the case on the day in question. (Source).

Once again, the function of the lunar cycle made sense. The world was right again.

…or was it?

No. Not quite. In the end, I was left questioning far more than just the moon. I’d been so confidant in this understanding. In fact, I would have likely gone so far as to say I ‘knew’ how it all worked. How then could I now remain confident in anything else I thought I knew, upon learning firsthand the fleeting transience of my knowledge?

It made me think of the nature of knowledge itself, and how much of what we claim to know is truly only suspected, or worse still, believed. It spoke to me of information bias and the ubiquity with which we cling to false truths.

Socrates once asked, “Can we ever truly ‘know’ anything?”

No, I suppose we cannot.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Brad OH Inc. Happy Times Children’s Blog Post

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI’m afraid I must apologize in advance. I don’t have any cute cat pictures to share with you, nor will I be indulging in any hilarious memes. I have little talent for the sort of viral content which is so popular these days—I find myself grounded in my age, and can offer little in the way of contemporary distraction.

But that’s not the only apology due to you, and that is in fact precisely the purpose of this article. Certainly, you have a great deal to entertain you—the myriad distractions and novelties provided for you surpass by far the offerings of any generation prior. Sadly, you may grow to find that dependence on such toys often stands in the way of imagination—that lauded gift given to you by birthright and discouraged by reality. Do not let it wither within you—for the future depends upon the imagination, hope, and problem solving skills of your generation.

We welcome you to this world with open arms and sagging spirits—excited for your arrival at the same time we are shamed by the condition of the world we present.

Fear, distrust, and desperation are the leitmotifs of our present day. The distractions you will be subjected to have already taken their toll on us, and the failures of my generation will be the chief inheritance of your own.

The deceptions you face will inevitably be even stronger than those which sundered us from decency and good sense. You will be tempted by greed, misguided by vice, placated by contentment, and pacified by placebos—a constant stream of assurances that if you bury your head in the sand and allow time to slip by, everything will be ok in the end.

Of course, that is not the case.

It’s not an enviable situation we leave to you, and that is the reason for our apology here today. But with it, I offer something else, and that is encouragement. Perhaps a challenge even, for I expect you will find that far more enticing.

Be better than us. Expect more—not for yourself, but from yourself and all others as well. Demand that your generation rises to the incredible potential it holds in secret, and refuse to accept anything less than the beauty of which you are inherently capable. Pursue science, and knowledge, and faith, and justice. Do not blindly accept the systems around you, or fail to seek answers where there is doubt. Question all, and where you find the accepted answers do not satisfy you, question further still.

Find new answers—or create them. Evaluate what you have, challenge what you’re told, and never settle for less than you are capable. Change systems, laugh loudly, and tear down political structures which are meant not for your benefit but your containment.

Scream, bang walls, and rage like only youth can. Get in the faces of your elders and show them that you can do better—remind them of the truths you take as sacrosanct—which they have long forgotten. Be better than us—it will be a shame which we can happily bear in our twilight years, watching with unbridled pride as our failures are buried in history and your victories shine all the brighter for the difficulty through which they were achieved.

And through it all of course, remember to have fun.

-Brad OH Inc.

It is Good

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampIt is good to think of ourselves as guests in this world. For that is surely what we are. We come, and we go. What we leave behind is for the next guests to live with…for a while.

I write a lot about fundamental virtues, and the dignity which is shared by all people and all creeds. For those few who would actively deny that basic human decency, this article is not for you.

To skirt all tangential esoteric questioning, we are here for a while, and then we die. The world goes on.

The situation we are born into is a geographic lottery, and we spend our short time dealing with the choices of thousands of generations of guests before us.

Our actions will affect all those to come.

As such, the assumptions we make and the expectations we hold should hardly be different from our attitude towards being a guest in the house of a friend or colleague.

A guest should not take more than they need, and never without asking. A guest should help out in any way they can. A guest should not cause any undo harm or damage, and a guest should leave things exactly as they find them.

It’s all just good sense, social intelligence, and common respect in the small scale scenario of visiting the home of a friend or colleague, and the grander stage of global interdependency should not obscure this view.

Just as we would not pillage the pantries of our hosts and leave them in want, neither can we allow our society to deny the potential of our skills and resources to nations or people with less. Likewise, just as it would be obscene to deface or destroy a home we are welcomed into, so too is it beneath us to take any action that might ruin this planet we enjoy so briefly, leaving it barren for the generations to come.

To do either would be violence most bestial, with or without gunfire.

It is an easy enough philosophy to nod your head to, but we must now explore the implications. To take no more than what we need, and leave things as they are, many would find themselves no longer the fortunate inheritors of land, wealth, and privilege which the circumstances of their birth have so far afforded. All would need an equal share—and none could be so bold as to demand more. Food, shelter, healthcare, and freedom would be the inherent birthright of all humanity, and the bettering of this shared condition—and its sustainability for future generations—would be the ambition and passion of all.

It’s good to show respect for our host. Our time, our place, and our ability to contribute are irreplaceable commodities which we cannot afford to squander on vanity and entitlement. For a thankless guest soon finds herself with nowhere else to go.

It is good to know these things.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘A Story Untold’

Today, we here at Brad OH Inc. have another special treat for all our loyal followers. We’ve written a lot of articles in the past about meaning, legacy, and communication, and today we’re thrilled to present a new, free ‘Single Serving Story’ about precisely those themes.

‘A Story Untold’ is the tale of four young children who share in an incredible adventure. Taken against their will on a ride through the stars, the children all process the experience rather differently, and as the full weight of their situation dawns on them, it is up to each to find the meaning and sense behind it in their own individual way.

This short story was written as a quick foray into the sci-fi genre, and may mark the first of several to come. We certainly hope you enjoy this new style as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Click the link below the image to download ‘A Story Untold’ now for free!

A Story Untold- Cover‘A Story Untold’- Smashwords

-Brad OH Inc.

#TrumpetBlowers

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

‘Hell is on the way!’ promised Tom Cotton from the floor of the Republican National Convention on July 18th, and the crowd went wild.

At least that’s what I’d thought he said…both times he said it. Searching through the transcript of his speech later proved he may have said ‘help’ rather than ‘hell’, but this difference in letters actually changes the overall sentiment very little.

The entire event was marked by a stark and severe sense of doom and gloom—fear mongering and the proselytizing of ‘American Values’—this hollow insistence that America is some elite champion of decency, which entirely misses the point that it has been the quintessentially American values of greed, intolerance, and contempt which have brought the world to this crossroads to begin with.

This was most clearly evidenced in the fast-shifting campaign slogan of ‘the Drumph’—which is now moving from the primary-race call of ‘Make America Great Again’, to the somewhat more sinister ‘Make America Safe Again’.

By playing upon the deep-rooted fears of a nation balancing on the razor’s edge, the Republican party hopes to garner sufficient support not to push the nation to either side of this precarious divide, but rather straight down upon it—eviscerating any lingering sense of hope and decency it has left.

And all of this done to the music of Queen? The irony is nearly blasphemous!

But that would not be the only Biblical-bastardization of the evening—not by a long shot.

The entire night was punctuated by a constant stream of victim-blaming and heinous vitriol—‘don’t pause, don’t think—get mad’, was the general mood, and with each speaker to take the podium, the atmosphere grew more and more apocalyptic.

The lunacy would not stop, and seemed at all times to be building towards some terrible crescendo—like harbingers of doom proclaiming the final need for desperate and hateful acts—the speakers served as the eager Trumpet Blowers for an Armageddon of their own devise.

The ‘Trumpet’ himself made only the briefest of appearances.

-Brad OH Inc.

On One World Government

purelyspeculationIn our article last week, ‘On Cultural Appropriation’ (Link), we ended off with the question of how to build a more equitable and accepting world despite our deep-rooted political and nationalistic divisions. While the benefits are undeniable—equal opportunity for all, a shared role in global stewardship, greater sense of human-pride, and reduction of international strife among myriad others—the obstacles as well are steep. The entirety of human history is marked by endless wars—alliances formed and broken around access to resources, slightly differing Holy texts, and eventually, the residual hatred stemming from either cause.

A quick look at any globe will paint the picture clearly enough; a world divided by jagged lines of opposing colours. Deep-seated cultural tensions reinforce national boundaries, while crooked trade deals, tariffs, media bias and, above all, a heaping helping of fear and paranoia keep people around the globe focussed on their benefit alone as they cast a dubious eye upon their neighbour.

This was also discussed to some degree in our recent article ‘The Final Facet of Globalization’ (Link), in which we established the notion that of all the renewable resources we have successfully imported, we are yet to add empathy to the list. This neglect of such a valuable resource leaves us in a state of constant uncertainty. We need reassurance of our place, and our exceptionality. Further, we feel the constant compulsion to glut ourselves on all we can possibly consume to sooth our fears with placebos and distractions. After all, if one nation can be so selfish and vile, should we not expect the same from others?

But this sense of division is exactly the problem, and as such it is exactly the error we seek to redress today. So, if we are divided by national boundaries, and distrustful of everyone beyond ourselves, if we attribute human worth based on fictional lines on a map and take pride in one culture at the expense of all the rest, then what are we to do?

Well, despite the paranoia passed down to us from generations of science-fiction (much of it excellent), a one world government is ultimately the only conceivable end-goal for our planet (Link). People must move away from national boundaries and towards a more functional global perspective—with regards to space travel, resource management, and switching our perspective from the differences of races to the unity of the human race.

Fanciful fluff admittedly; still, this doesn’t change the facts. It’s not only a moral imperative, but a logistical one as well. In order to keep this increasingly broken planet running, long-term and unilateral vision is absolutely necessary. We need to plan and implement serious change if we wish to repair our ecosystems and establish a sustainable world, and this cannot possibly be done in a geo-political landscape sewn with distrust and outright hatred.

When minds are set against each other, the human tendency is to treat all interactions as a zero-sum game. We make our decisions under the subconscious (sometimes) assumption that if we don’t hedge our bets and assume the ‘other’ is eager to betray us, then they inevitably will.

Sadly, this assumption is correct more often than not.

But the world is changing, and if this is by our hands, then so too are we equipped to interact with this change in an informed and conscientious manner—but only if we first learn to view the trajectory of the world as a shared responsibility. This can only be done by unifying as a species.

A single world government then is our only hope—to erase national boundaries and move beyond political, economic, racial, and religious divisions and into a broader consciousness. By ceasing to war internally and instead focussing our efforts outward, our potential is beyond the scope of imagination.

As discussed in our article ‘Saving the World 101’ (Link), the technology at our disposal could easily allow us to improve the efficiency and equity of any economic and social systems needed to address population sustainability, while the great minds of the world may be set upon space travel, colonization and mining, improving GMO technology, advancing organ and meat cloning capabilities, and expand the nascent field of 3D printing into an internet-based, world-altering revolution.

Ultimately, the inherent potential of humanity has ever been beyond the pale of our comprehension. It is always defined by our times: our technologies, our arts, and our interactions. When fear and violence are what we ardently expect, we are unlikely to be disappointed. But with the rate of our technological capacity increasing exponentially, and the accordant ability to communicate instantaneously and en-masse, we are at the threshold of an era in which we can attain a better view of the scope of this human potential than ever before.

At last, we can imagine a unified world where all thrive and find their place, but first we must confront within ourselves the age-old and well reinforced perspective of ‘us vs. them’. For it will only be when we look at ourselves as one that we will finally manage to look outward and envisage our shared future. Otherwise, we are doomed to repeat the same cycles of distrust and violence we have been mired in for time uncounted. And yet, the time we have to do so may not last much longer.

-Brad OH Inc.

On Cultural Appropriation

purelyspeculationI’ve heard a great deal of talk lately about the idea of Cultural Appropriation. To be honest, it’s a concept that I’ve struggled with somewhat, and I remain entirely unsure just where I stand, or if I even understand at all.

Defined in its simplest terms, Cultural Appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture (Link).

Based on this definition, Cultural Appropriation would seem to be an inevitable and positive occurrence, in which the finest contributions of each culture are co-opted for the betterment of all. This isn’t always the case however. In particular, when elements of a minority culture are being used by members of a majority culture, it’s often interpreted as stripping the minority culture of its identity in an oppressive or colonial manner.

This is especially true when said cultural elements are being used in ways which are not faithful to the original meanings of that culture. In short, it is seen as a sort of violation of intellectual property rights at best, or at worst an intentional disrespect of the minority culture.

This remains a concept I struggle with, and I’d be happy to see any of my better informed or more experienced readers share their opinions in the comments below. In general however, I tend to feel that cultures—and society as a whole—is beholden to this process, similar in many ways to the evolutionary process by which our very species has come into being.

The best must always be preserved, no matter its source. If one culture—even an extreme minority—has something unique and beneficial, then I feel whole-heartedly that not only is it ok for other cultures to adopt and gain from this knowledge—it is in fact imperative that they do so.

To exist in a vacuum is to deny the inherent potential offered by our natural variety, and variety—not only the metaphorical ‘spice of life’—is in fact the impetus behind all progress and adaptation.

Now certainly, this can be done in an inappropriate or disrespectful manner, and there can be no doubt that hollow imitation—or worse, heartless parody—is an unbefitting and shameful practice. Few thinking people would encourage actions as heinously disrespectful as ‘black face’ makeup, or so many shameful sports team mascots. Such caricaturized and identity-effacing displays are inarguably rooted in a place of abject disrespect if not open mockery, and there can be no place for such misguided ignorance in any civil society.

And yet, where would we be if not for the number ‘0’, which is understood to have been taken from the work of ancient Babylonian cultures. Or what about democracy itself—often dated back to ancient Athens and the culture of the Greeks? So many of societies great forward leaps—from understandings of astronomy, to physics, to science, to basic survival techniques and knowledge of edible foods vs. poisonous threats—have come from such a wide swath of cultures that it would be next to impossible to sort out ownership or acknowledge intellectual property rights.

Nor does this seem the best course even if it were feasible. ‘Claiming rights’ should never be placed above the growth and betterment of society, and the world as a whole—and humanity within it—would likely be much better off if all knowledge and skill was shared without question or condition.

I see little benefit to (for example) lambasting university students who practice Yoga—and if their understandings of its source or intentions are limited, this will likely be better solved through positive education and further sharing, rather than the bitter withholding of a potentially positive cultural contribution.

In the end, all sharing and social interaction must come from a place of respect and mutual benefit—to live together in this world, it is essential that we assure the equal opportunity for all to contribute and benefit from the cumulative knowledge of human history. In order to continue to grow and move forward, we must ultimately focus on approaching a new, blended culture which provides for and respects all of its members. I see little benefit from self-exclusion in the name of fighting for the relics of the past. Culture should be evolving, taking the best aspects of the old and merging it into the new.

All cultures must be able to take pride in their past, but to hold specific elements as sacrosanct and approachable only to members of that culture may run the risk of it dying out—and thus humanity as a whole losing out on a valuable concept or source of knowledge. As the world continues to globalize, culture must keep up. We must share our greatest accomplishments and learn to cherish not the exclusivity of the contribution, but the mutual benefit it brings to all.

Of course, this is a lofty and high-minded ideal, and one which is particularly difficult to achieve in a world which is so thoroughly divided by cultural tensions and national boundaries. Our civilization exists at all times in a precarious balancing act—claiming to appreciate all of humanity while standing ever at the ready to destroy anything different. So how can we accomplish the growth necessary to shift towards a more inclusive global society? We’ll cover that and more issue in next week’s article.

-Brad OH Inc.