The Brad OH Inc. Super-Challenge!

Today, I’m being lazy. Don’t judge me. Lazy, and, I suppose, there’s a lingering sense of deja-vu. I find myself wondering what to say, in a time when it’s all been said, and nothing has changed.

So instead, I leave it to my intrepid readers to do the math, connect the dots…all that jazz.

Below, I’ve re-shared two former articles. It is up to you, the reader, to find what dreadfully ubiquitous themes might tie them together.

The Polarizing Debate Around Gun Control

Nobody wants to get shot. That, at the least, is something I believe we can all agree on. Wanting other people to get shot might be a different story, but let’s take what we can get.

There is virtually no one out there eager to catch a bullet when walking down the street—or to see their loved ones do so.

If we can agree on something as simple as that, one might assume we could find some basic consensus on how to handle guns in contemporary society.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fortunately, we here at Brad OH Inc. are an ambitious and defiantly tenacious lot, and today, that’s just what we intend to do. So sit down, strap in, and fasten up your bullet proof vests, because today, we are getting to the heart of the debate over gun control!

The most basic breakdown of opinions here are the classic and time-tested notions of right, and left. The conservatives argue in favour of free access to guns—usually on account of the good ole’ second amendment. The liberals, meanwhile, tend to go the other way—as they so often do—pushing for tighter gun control. This, presumably, goes back to the notion of not wanting to get shot.

But beyond this, things begin to get a little bit murky. I believe however, that if we truly break this whole debacle down to its very essence, we might best steal a line from ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (Source) in saying that ‘what we’ve got here is, failure to communicate’.

I want to introduce a new theme here, because I think it affords us a very important tool with which to explore this debate. I want to talk about the concept of ‘Polarity Management’.

‘Polarity Management’ (Source) describes a process by which we can more effectively analyze all sides of a debate—ideally finding a bit of common ground. In essence, ‘Polarity Management’ is a means of viewing typically entrenched positions which usually go nowhere—such as this one. ‘Polarities’ refer to the opposite ends of a single, connected issue. The key here is that one affects the other directly—it is not simply one problem to solve, but an imperative interaction that must be understood. Polarities are related, and persist over time—thus they must be managed, not solved.

The problem is that we tend to treat these as ‘either/ or’ scenarios—closing off debate, and freezing out both understanding and context. But dynamic issues such as these seldom reflect one single value or quality—no simple right or wrong. They are the result of multiple, interrelated factors.

An easy example of this is rain and sunshine. You may prefer either one, but without the other, your preference becomes a dreadful imposition. Too much sun leads to droughts, and too much rain leads to flooding. You need a balance, and that is why in any issue regarding polarities, we need communication, and then compromise.

Once we’ve identified an issue as a polarity, we can proceed to explore the balance between each side—the positives brought by each end, and the negatives they bring as well. This allows us to better understand how the opposing views of the issue interact with one another, and ideally find the crucial balance necessary to manage them.

I admit already—taking this approach to gun control with any shred of optimism is a tall order, but what the hell…let’s give it a go. To strip it all down to parts, the debate around the issue of gun control essentially amounts to two wildly opposing views:

1) The right to bear arms is protected by the second amendment, and must not be infringed in any way.

2) Gun ownership presents a significant risk to the public good, and should be curtailed, if not eliminated.

Now certainly, there are few who would fully align themselves with either extreme viewpoint, yet those are the sides as purported, so let’s consider them in turn.

Much of the argument from the (typically) Conservative crowd favoring access to firearms makes an appeal to safety—believing that arming ourselves for self-defence is an inalienable right, and that we must have the ability to purchase and carry guns in order to protects ourselves from others which might do so surreptitiously. This certainly makes some sense. After all, there is plenty of merit to the old adage against bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Of course, the better solution is to avoid entering a gun fight, or being anywhere in its vicinity. This isn’t always easy, and may even be a tad unrealistic depending on where you happen to be located. Further, the argument is often made that ‘if we make guns illegal, then only criminals will have guns’. This is a self-serving tautology to be sure, but it does a fair job of illustrating the impotent terror which might come from being left defenseless in a world full of armed lunatics.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find the (typically) Liberal crowd, who heavily favor significant controls on gun ownership, including but not limited to restrictions, background checks, and waiting periods.

This side argues that due to the potential of guns to inflict serious injury and death, access to them must be well regulated in order to avoid such weapons falling into the hands of those who would use them either unjustly, or in ignorance.

Much of the force from the ‘Right to Bear Arms’ side tends to focus on an appeal to the second amendment (Link), which guarantees to citizens that: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The ‘right to bear arms’ was initially created as an assurance that the people of America were free and able to raise a standing militia to oppose the government should it become oppressive. This is understandably justified in light of the fact that it’s exactly how America became a nation in the American Revolution against the British. But taking up arms against the government now is—sadly perhaps—a foolish and ignoble idea. The Second Amendment notion of armed war against the government is not only invalid, it’s infantile. It’s also the legal equivalent of demanding the ‘Terrorism’ trump card.

Finally, it must be noted here that even within that sacred amendment, the qualifier ‘Well-regulated’ managed to make the cut. Never was there any suggestion of handing out missile-launchers to every civilian. Handguns for self-defence may be deemed reasonable, but if you are equipped to fight an army, you are more likely to start a war.

At this point, we can see some weakness in the notion of free access to guns for all. There are few who would support selling firearms to people on a terrorist watch list, or violent offenders—and those few should certainly be ashamed of their stupidity.

But accepting some control hardly means encouraging complete control, and it may certainly be argued that the more difficult it is for citizens to legally access firearms for self-defence, the more prone they are to victimization by those who will harbor no such qualms. Further, it is a defensible case to argue that unless a restriction is demonstrably proven to be in the best interests of the citizens, then a government has no right whatsoever to enforce it. While I expect the vast majority of people who would favor that position would have a hard time defending it if pressed, it’s something to consider.

So where does this leave us? We can see strengths and weaknesses on both sides: With no control, we are inundated with guns and seduced by their increasing fetishization. With complete gun control however, we are cast into perceived subservience, and potentially left helpless against criminals who continue to arm themselves.

So here we are. Gun deaths are increasing, distrust of police/ government is growing, and America continues to have a depressing hang-up about guns being inherent to their self-worth (Source). Further, we’ve now seen that the extreme polarity of either side could potentially prove disastrous. Because we can now better understand the best intentions (public safety) of both sides, as well as the inherent risks of each extreme (uncontrolled carnage), we may find that we are better equipped to find a position of compromise.

We need balance and informed decision making. Both opinions have valuable insights—but we must actively work towards a greater and more comprehensive understanding of the issue if we ever hope to manage it. People, left with no hope, will always find ways to be violent and get what they need. We must give them hope for an achievable way if we intend to avoid strife. In the end, it is education and empathy, not arms, which shall assure the future safety of our citizenry.

-Brad OH Inc.

On the Fear of Big Government

Government infringement into personal life is a serious concern to a great many people—and the stripping away of civil liberties such as privacy is a trend which continues to show the detached relationship government has with its citizenry. With such gross violations becoming a regular trend, it’s no wonder we still toil under the outdated notion that ‘big government’ needs to be held in check.

But make no mistake about it people, this is no reason to hate big government; just bad government. In the 1980 presidential race against Jimmy Carter, it was the infernal idiot Ronald Reagan who promised to “get government off our backs” (Source). After taking office, Reagan followed through dutifully on his promise—shattering the government’s role in protecting families, citizens, and the environment. Business, of course, flourished.

This push by Reagan to reduce the size of government was founded on claims of a fictional ‘welfare queen’ getting rich off the tax dollars of the electorate, and the general claim—as off-putting now as it was then for a man seeking public office—that “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem” (Source).

This toxic line of thinking heralded in an era of anti-government dialogue which effectively allowed rights to shrink away as powers were handed off to the corporations. Social programs were cut, and people suffered. The fictional ‘welfare queens’ theorized by Reagan have been fully realized in the decades since, as corporations are given increasingly large portions of the communal pie: receiving corporate tax breaks, bailouts in place of bankruptcy, and taking eagerly the keys of governance from the discredited and disenfranchised democratic system.

Ever since then, people have been treating government like it’s a dirty word—perhaps because it so often acts like several of them. But fear of government is irrationally motivated, and exercised for all the wrong reasons. It serves only to allow government abuse of citizens. People must remember that proper governance is there to protect them, from exactly the sort of threats which corporate governance has become. We should not fear government; we should utilize and control it to our own empowerment.

Of course, the government has to remember this as well.

The very notion of democratic government is anchored firmly in the concept of representation for the people—and this includes all people, not merely the drivers of the economy. In this era of ever growing population and incredible scientific potential, the ‘free’ market has proven itself a failed notion. But let’s hope that from this mistake we’ve learned at least not to store the meat with the dogs for safe keeping.

It’s the government’s job to put these lessons into action: protecting and promoting the healthy growth of society. This is the primary and most fundamental function of any government which has a legitimate claim to authority, but the vilification of big government started with Reagan has led to a very different objective for government institutions.

By reducing government programs, the general citizenry has been left out of the conversation, while political control has been corralled into the realm of economic growth. The corporations which now run the economic and social systems are malignant automatons. For all the time humans have piddled away fearing robots or advanced and indignant AI’s, they miss that they have not only created such in the corporate human, but also given it the keys to the driver’s seat of our society.

If such a threat came from metal clad robots or from outer space, the entire world would be clamoring for government intervention. Instead, it is claimed to be ‘capitalist’ and a product of the ‘free’ market, and the electorate has bowed their heads in well-rehearsed reverence for their reckless and self-serving overlords.

The point cannot be stressed enough: it is the function of government–elected by and representative of the people—to reign in these brutes, to protect natural resources that rightly belong to all, and to ensure that whether or not commercial entities deign to send our jobs overseas (leaving all save the CEO’s destitute), the people of this and all other countries are provided for from the resulting bounty.

These are the needs of a society, and the job of the government. To fear such is the sole result of misinformed and malicious propaganda. What we have now is not a democratic government, and this needs to change. If we are to find our way out of these difficult times, it must be faith in government—true government—which is the light on our path. This is our salvation—for to fear all government is to leave ourselves alone in the dark, looking to the wolves for solace.

-Brad OH Inc.

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My Abode

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The Tavern on Whyte,

Is the spot where I write,

Its confines so quiet and dark.

The suds run cold,

Make my spirit bold,

The denziens are good for a lark.

With my pen as my might

I must strike quite a sight,

As I spin my stories and more.

I sip on my beer,

As I stew in my cheer,

Until they throw me out of the door.

The Tavern on Whyte’– Click the Pic to Visit their Site!

-Brad OH Inc.

Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Lida Somchynsky

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group.

They are unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Lida Somchynsky.

  1. What was your initial inspiration for the story you included in this anthology, and how the story changed from its original conception?

Lida Somchynsky: My initial inspiration for the story was that I knew immediately that I wanted to have The Green and Gold Gardens feature as the designated locale for this anthology.  When I heard how this ‘garden’ came about, there was the realization that it was a remarkable narrative that needed to be told as it is a place that the City of Edmonton, along with the University of Alberta can truly be proud of.  The story initially was going to be a type of mystery, with a photographer visiting the gardens at dusk, skulking about amongst the rows of sunflowers, dressed in military fatigue…. Looking for what I did not know.    However, upon further reflection, I thought this type of plot would take away from the deeply moving humanitarian intent that ‘the garden’ symbolizes.

  1. What events in your background led you to want to write?

Lida Somchynsky: I have always been an avid reader and enjoy entering other people’s realities to the extent that I still cannot read mysteries in the dark of night.   Upon graduating from university, some of the places where I was employed, required that I write articles such as newsletter items and promo pieces.  Family and friends have always commented on my imagination and so gradually the idea took hold—after several decades of mulling it over to try my hand at writing short stories.  A dear friend and I co-wrote a play for the Fringe in the early nineties which was a great success and that also proved to be an incentive to explore another medium.

  1. What difficulties did you encounter while writing this story, other than finding the time to do it?

Lida Somchynsky: Once I established what the new plot was going to be, the story flowed beautifully and I enjoyed the unexpected turns of creativity while conjuring up various plot point twists.   The ‘Rwanda crisis” part still needs more work as in my mind it feels too didactic at times.

  1. How are your life experiences / career / hobbies reflected in the story?

Lida Somchynsky: I enjoy strolling about in all types of gardens but am not a gardener in any sense.  My one and only attempt failed miserably in terms of a vegetable garden – nothing germinated as there was too much clay in the soil.  However, in that same tiny plot of land I had unexpected success thirty years ago—growing the second tallest sunflower in Alberta for which I was awarded a weekend for two at Fairmont Hot Springs.  A neighbour notified me of the contest that a horticultural magazine was hosting. I was ‘six inches short’ with my sunflower measuring over sixteen feet tall – to win the first prize which was a trip to Brazil.  Cycling is a favourite pastime and in the summer, I make biweekly pilgrimages with friends to the “Green and Gold Gardens” as part our exercise routine.

  1. Are you writer that plots out all the different angles, or are you more free-form. Why do you think you write this way?

Lida Somchynsky: I like to plot out different angles but enjoy when the unexpected thought bursts onto the page and takes the story to different places and there the writer in you goes along for that surprising ride.

Lida Somchynsky’s story, “The Garden”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

Apostrophe

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Time and distance on your side,

More than you’ll ever know,

As memories release their grasp,

 New hopes begin to grow,

Yet truth presides, over your mind,

No matter where you go,

And is that shame, upon your brow,

To ever say it’s so?

-Brad OH Inc.

Project FearNaught- ‘Just Imagine…’

Imagine if we could all work as one towards the same goals—driven by the same core beliefs. Sadly, ideas of truth are ripe with divisive discourse, and any man who claims to have all the answers is either a fool, or looking for a fool who’ll buy them.

If the purpose of ‘Project: FearNaught’ is to unite humanity—and it is—we must first cast aside many of the bonds we are subject to.

The truth and merit of any given belief system is evidenced in the actions of its adherents. Decency, loyalty, and righteousness are easy words to throw around. So too are they often described as the key tenets of most religions. Likewise, harmonious discourse is called for by nearly all movements, yet seldom achieved.

The purpose of religion, if it is to have any positive effect, is to cope with the times, rather than define them. When it is allowed to dictate the policies of society, dogmatic religion has proven to be a force of injustice, rather than the liberation it is intended to provide. Why is this?

Well, the truth of our reality is far greater than any one person’s ability to articulate, and while all of the Holy Texts and creeds are an attempt to do just that, I believe this makes them all equally valid, rather than the opposite.

Different—and yet alike. That’s the key. But to understand our unity better, we must first consider some essential distinctions. Specifically, what is humanity? What does it mean to be human? And where does spirituality fit into all of this?

To this end, I offer up the first core tenet of ‘Project: FearNaught’: ‘The Metaphorical Imperative.’ For the ease of considering the questions outlined above, let us first look to another, more familiar question: ‘Which came first: the chicken, or the egg?’

Historically, this has never really been meant to have an answer, but to act merely as a mind-expanding paradox. This is a foolish reduction however, and I believe the answer is far clearer than we commonly let on. But, as always, in order to elucidate the reality of the query, we must first define our terms.

So we must ask, just what do we mean by a ‘chicken egg’. If a chicken egg is an egg from which a chicken emerges, then the chicken egg came before the chicken. But if a chicken egg is an egg laid by a chicken, then surely the chicken must have come first.

The key take-away here is that at some point in the evolutionary lines, a non-chicken laid an egg from which a chicken emerged. Now we understand the progression, and are ready to apply it to our own dear forms.

Let us consider the evolution of man. Similar to the chicken above, there must surely be some point at which a being considered ‘non-human’ gave birth to a true ‘human’. We are now tasked with considering the defining change which denotes one such animal ‘human’ and another ‘non-human’.

To my mind, this would be closely tied to the expansion of our cerebral capacity—including things such as language and abstract thought. More importantly—and here is the crux of this entire notion—I would hold that the key point at which we became human is the moment we developed brains capable of looking around us and, rather than acting on blind instinct or natural drives, began to ask ourselves ‘why?’

Not coincidentally, the same expanded cerebral capacity that affords us this philosophic luxury is also the defining feature which allows us to answer the question, rising up to say, ‘Well, because…’

It’s found in our ability to articulate metaphor—to create abstract representations and provide meaning where our basic senses fail. This ability is the defining feature of humanity. Every temple, every text, and every brilliant idea which has graced our species has come from this singular gift. It gives us the ability to imagine the sort of wonderful stories, images, and sounds which reinforce a deep passion in your soul that you have long harboured, but been unable to articulate until this moment.

Imagination—Metaphor—is our hallmark. Our drive and ability to create meaning from madness is what separates us from the animals. All belief, all reason is the result of our divine ability to create and articulate complex ideas.

This is why, as stated above, all religious ideas are equally valid—both true and untrue. In ‘Project: FearNaught’, it is my hope that when using words like God, heaven, or spirit, the reader may take those to apply to whichever specific set of beliefs they hold most dear—or none whatsoever.

It is us who are the creators of meaning in our world, and the power an idea has is found in its ability to be understood, believed, and to make an impact.

This is the Metaphorical Imperative of humanity, and the starting point of ‘Project: FearNaught’. It is inclusive of all, allowing for anyone with the will to imagine a better world. It is free of dogma and decree—‘Project: FearNaught’ does not tell us what to think, it only demands that we do so freely.

It is human imagination which sets us free of our existential anxieties and allows us to dream up better worlds. All human thought—from religion to philosophy to politics—is the product of this imagination, and ‘Project: FearNaught’ seeks to bring together the most universal of these to act as guideposts for the future of humanity.

In this purpose we are all equal—no matter our backgrounds, our creed or experiences. If you have the power to imagine a better world—then you are among the driving forces behind ‘Project: FearNaught’.

Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Marlene Skaley

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group.

They are unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Marlene Skaley.

  1. Explain why you chose the specific Edmonton landmarks that you did (Kingsway Mall, the Second Cup in Oliver Square).

Marlene Skaley: I lived in the Kingsway area of Edmonton for many years. The Oliver Square episode was a real event, as were a few other episodes in the story.

  1. Where do you write?

Marlene Skaley: Favorite places to write are places that inspire. Forests, sunshine, lakes…My little boat or cabin in the woods in the Kootenays cannot help but draw out one’s creativity. Whenever inspiration hits me I write. I have often had to pull over to the side of the road while driving and grab a pen and paper to record some ideas before they are forever lost.

  1. You call yourself a student of the universe. What is a student of the universe?

Marlene Skaley: All of life is my University. The entire universe holds so much wonder and beauty that no matter where I go or how much I explore and discover and learn, infinity is always in front of me.

  1. How can meditation help creative people such as writers?

Marlene Skaley: Hmmmm.  That is a very deep and complex question and cannot be answered in a few words. To be able to understand fully one needs to experience it. But I will give it a try. In meditation one begins to explore different levels of consciousness that they have previously never known. All answers to all of life’s mysteries reside in these places. True creativity can only come when one begins to still the mind and enter these places. All great art, music, writing, or other forms of creation come from a mind that has entered into stillness in one way or another.

  1. What red wheelbarrows have you had in your life?

Marlene Skaley: I love that question! My life is a continuous miracle. In my meditation classes I have my students look for miracles in their lives and the more you look the more you find! It really is a law of life.

Marlene Skaley’s story, “It’s Raining Red Wheelbarrows”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

 

-Brad OH Inc.

Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Christine W.

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group.

They are unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB. Ranging from simple domestic interactions, to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown, and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Christine W.

1. Emily and Forest were up against a tight deadline when disaster struck. Has this ever happened to you and what did you do?

Christine W.: There was a comically tragic moment when I was making a couple of lemon meringue pies for a charity bake sale later the same day. The pies take two to three hours to set after the meringue is cooked and are pretty much liquid when they go into the fridge. The first one made it safely onto a shelf in the fridge; the second pie leapt out of my hands and landed head first on the floor. Fortunately I had enough ingredients to make a third pie and barely made it to the bake sale in time to drop off two, mostly set, pies.

2. What is your favorite public art work?

Christine W.: In general I’m a fan of older architecture and more modern bridges. Edmonton’s new bridge is rather impressive as is the Pantheon in Rome. There is no need to pick a favourite.

3. If you had to explain the meaning behind the Talus Dome to tourists, what would it be?

Christine W.: Well, the city has a poetic description of the Dome relating to the landscape and whatnot. I think it is a pile of shiny metal balls expertly positioned to reflect light in an amusing way. Whether good or bad, people talk about it and it is a memorable feature of Edmonton. Our city used to be known mainly for a mall. Being remembered for having a pile of space poop as art is more fun.

4. If Emily and Forest made you a cake, what would you want on it and why?

Christine W.: This is awkward. I don’t like cake. Icing is good though.

5. Your job of attempting to improve conditions of society sounds really worthwhile. What are the proudest moments you would like to share with the readers?

Christine W.: I’m a scientist by training and basically figure things out for a living. Working to better understand supports required for individuals diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorder has been and continues to be a particular passion for me.

Christine W.’s story, “Space Poop”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.