Re-Share: Are Humans Really Great Apes?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI originally published this article in May of 2016. Little did I know how my argument would be made stronger by time.

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Scientific taxonomy classifies human beings within the family of hominidae, more commonly known as the ‘Great Apes’. We share this taxonomic family with three other genera, members of which include the orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees—all fine and majestic animals to be sure (Link).

Each of these creatures have found their niche within their local eco-systems, and have lived in a relatively balanced natural state for generations uncounted. They consume the resources available, and are consumed by the predators which are capable of doing so. They live within their means, and display a general civility to one another aside from occasional competitions over mates and territory. Meanwhile, the homo sapiens, or ‘humans’, have for the entirety of recorded history been putting on a childish display of wanton consumption and heedless destruction. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that this begs a pretty important question: are Humans really ‘Great’ apes?

All things considered, we’ve had our fair share of positive moments. We’ve built some incredible structures, and solved puzzles that would leave the rest of the apes scratching their furry little skulls in abject bewilderment. We’ve spread our population far and wide, and survived countless changes to the world we live in. At the very least then, we may certainly be considered alright apes.

Of course, most of the cataclysmic challenges through which we have persevered have been our own doing. We have an incredible and unparalleled ability to intellectualize our world and use ration to consider the effects of our actions. Still, we have managed to destroy much of our ecosystem, and of the many wonders we have achieved, few have been able to endure. So in truth, perhaps we are really just ok apes.

It’s true that if we really want to compare ourselves to the other members of the hominidae family, we should take a serious look at their lives as well. Doing this, we find them knuckling along the filthy earth, hurling feces and screaming unintelligibly at one another. This might often be followed up by a good chest-pounding, or perhaps even an old fashioned beat-down. Needless to say, humans are little different. Despite our marvelous intellect and incredible capacity for empathy, we resort to terrible violence no less often—nor is feces-throwing ever completely out of the question. All things considered, we might really be quite ordinary apes.

The thing about this, however, is that we are so perfectly equipped to do better. It’s a matter of achieving one’s potential—the old, ubiquitous notion that one must be compelled not to do better than all the rest, but rather to simply do one’s personal best. Our cerebral-capacity alone affords us the potential to accomplish so much more than the others, and to shift beyond this base-violence into a far more gracious and well-mannered state of being. The promise we have is unbounded by anything save our imaginations, and this has been shown time and again—as numerous societies have risen to show the glory of mankind’s innate potential. But for every rise, there has been a fall, and we have proven consistently unable to maintain any serious ascension into the epoch of equality and dignity for which we are so well qualified. We may build great cathedrals, but we inevitably use them for the spread of greed and power rather than grace and mercy. We may write of utopian ideals or great societies, but we fall ever short of realizing them as we capitulate to the temptations of wealth and fame. Perhaps then, we may best be described as under-achieving apes.

Much of this question comes down to potential. There can be little doubt that we as humans have the theoretical potential to be the most inspiring and beautiful creatures to ever grace this earth. Our capacity for reason and problem-solving could allow us to truly be the promised stewards of the earth—watching over our hominidae brethren and all the other creatures with whom we share this wonderful planet. But where we may have spread equity and joy, we have sown only despair and intolerance. Where we may have acted as guides and care-takers to the planet we have left it barren and unstable. Finally, where we may have been exemplars of decency and righteousness, we have fallen ever to our own doubts and greed—wallowing in misery as we toil ceaselessly for more of what we want at the expense of what we really need. In truth, the homindae family and the world in general may have been far better off if humans had never climbed out of the trees from whence they came. In the end, I suppose, we really are pretty disappointing apes.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Ground Between the Poles

It’s been a long while since we here at Brad OH Inc. have written anything under our political category—Purely Speculation. As we discussed in our article ‘What Can Be Said?’, satirical political writing is difficult in an age where even the wildest ideas for dystopian futures play out daily on our news channels.

With Trump our of office and a deadly insurrection put down for now, the world watches cautiously as steps to prevent the repeat of these heinous acts flirt with curbing rights essential to a functioning democracy.

In the coming years, it will be imperative to weed out the radical right-wing conspirators who have shaken the nation to its core, and de-platform the purveyors of lies and fear.

Even as this happens, we must remain vigilant that the right to self-expression is not trampled in the mire of national defense.

It’s a dangerous position, and recent victories do nothing to assure us that future disasters can be prevented. In fact, despite the overwhelming number of voters who turned out to end the national nightmare, many also voted to continue it, and on the whole, America seems to have learned little.

So, even as the political divide grows into a gaping chasm, there appears one key issue that seems to bring unity between even the staunchest supporters of both political extremes.

In late January 2021, the good people of Reddit set out on a crusade to wreak havoc on the stock market—and make a little scratch while they were at it. By rallying supporters to invest heavily in the shorted GameStop stock, users caused a tremendous increase in the stock price. Many saw their shares grow immensely in value, while the hedge fund billionaires saw terrible losses due to these unexpected events.

While this casino-like approach of market manipulation is an everyday practice for Wall Street moguls, it became an immediate concern when ordinary people began to take part. In short order, the low-cost investment apps (such as Robin Hood) froze purchases on GameStop stock, ostensibly allowing their wealthy overlords (and owners) to repair their portfolios free of the little man’s interference.

In a move that surprised nobody, media rallied n support of Wall Street—some comparing the Redditors behaviour to Trumpism, others to the machinations of the so-called radical Left. What was a surprise was the support of politicians—on both sides of the aisle—for the Redditors rights to take part in the stock market.

Both Conservative and Liberal politicians criticized the move to freeze out the retail traders—calling it everything from illegal market manipulation, to a conspiracy by the rich to keep the poor out of their dirty games.

What everyone seems to agree on is that regardless of political creed, the impoverished majority of the nation are reaching the end of their patience with the stacked deck of the elite.

The political poles could not be further apart these days, but it turns out that the ground between then is bountiful with common ground—that of suffocating poverty, resentment of the elite, and an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness and loss.

This in-between ground is no small thing—the entire planet seems to agree that enough is enough, and the time is overdue that people take back their power.

No longer will Wall Street simply be occupied. The takeover has begun, and the rich elites have been put on notice.

If the left and right can unite on this issue, they may soon realize that they have more in common—both in their desires and their fears—than they had ever imagined possible. What’s more important, they may soon see that the true polarity is not between left and right, but rich and poor.

The scales are tipping…

What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

The Bushido of Bogney, Part IV

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampBushido: (武士道) literally meaning “the way of the warrior”, is a Japanese word for the way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry in Europe. (Source)

Bogney: A tiny dog, wise for his years.

BogsToday, we once again combine the old and the new for a fresh perspective on life through the eyes of our classy canine friend. This is the daily living of a small dog. This is the extrapolated wisdom of the ages…This is the Bushido of Bogney.

-Click Here for Part I-

-Click Here for Part II-

-Click Here for Part III-

Lesson #1:

Recently, Bogney took a brave leap—from the top of a couch to the hard ground below. The decision was fearless, but foolish. With a torn ACL, Bogney stood in quiet repose, looking up mournfully at his horrified master.

I had never seen a sight so dreadful. My heart stopped and skin blanched. At this, Bogney became more upset, and limped over to comfort his loved one.

The greatest pain we must endure is watching a loved one suffer. This is true for all beings.

Lesson #2:

Ever since his accident, Bogney walks the same trails at the same speed—when he can get away with it. He does not fear to slip, and would happily leap again if he was allowed.

He walks on three legs for now, but acts as if nothing is different. In each moment, he finds joy just as he ever has. In this, there is wisdom.

Lesson #3:

Now, as he rests his tired muscles on the bed, I watch him at all times. I watch that he doesn’t jump, that he eats enough—I even read his face for signs of pain.

Sometimes he catches me, and smiles up, pleased with his master’s attention.

Sometimes, when I think he is comfortable, I get caught up in something else. Then, I often look back to find him watching me instead.

I smile as well.

At this point in our lessons, I’m afraid Bogney has become enchanted by the sound of the washing machine, and has gone to rest near its rhythmic hum. No doubt this too is well chosen, but for now I will let a sleeping dog lie.

He rests more these days, such is the way with healing. That too passes with time though, and Bogney will no doubt be back soon with more classic canine wisdom.

-Brad OH Inc.

On Cakes, Masks, and Coming Full Circle

As usual, it all comes down to ‘freedom’.

Freedom—that elusive catch-all that Americans (and others) so adore bandying about when they can’t have everything they want.

Not unlike a toddler wailing about the world’s injustices because he was sent to his room for hitting his sister, the concept of freedom is all too often used as a self-serving cudgel against the opposing needs of all other people.

Not too long ago, it was about wedding cakes. A significant group of mouth-breathing idiots felt that they were wronged for being ‘forced’ to make wedding cakes—their job mind you—for homosexual couples, because it violated their sense of religious freedom.

Well, they got what they wanted.

While there was no shortage of protests and boycotts, the general consensus was that a business has a right to serve who they see fit.

A glorious day for ‘freedom’, no doubt.

Perhaps predictably, the muddled minds of the masses have since shifted, and they now want exactly the opposite.

In the age of COVID-19, more and more businesses are opting to require customers to don a mask before entering their store.

Tyranny!

In a turn of fortune that surprised no one, the troglodytic morons are now crying that this choice by businesses is a violation of their precious freedom.

So, I suppose it goes something like this:

When it comes to baking a loving couple a cake, it is essential that businesses have the right to refuse service…because freedom.

However, when it comes to keeping the community safe and enforcing the recommended guidelines of medical professionals, businesses have no right to decide who to serve—the customer’s freedom to spread the plague through their slack-jawed maws trumps all other rights.

To be fair, maybe this isn’t really about freedom. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all about another hot-button word that gets thrown around all too often—entitlement.

There are certain groups—in America and abroad—who are not used to hearing the word ‘no’. Tragically, these are not the toddlers from our earlier example, but fully-grown adults in all but mind and temperament.

We’ve written before about what it takes to live in a society—the give and take, the respect for others, and the understanding of differences. Freedom is not the right to do whatever you please whenever you want, and if it is, then there is nothing to stop your neighbour from exercising her freedom by smashing your skull in. That’s not a free society—it’s the utter lack of a society. Society is about compromise.

Simply, you are not free to hurt others, or put them at undo risk, and if a business has a right to deny service to lifestyles they disagree with, then they damn sure have a right to deny service to selfish assholes who think only of themselves at the expense of those around them.

The mask debate was never about liberty, it’s about a lack of perspective—a failure to consider the experiences or needs of anyone but themselves. It comes from a place of privilege, an expectation that everything should revolve around them. It isn’t about God-given and inalienable freedoms, it’s a reaction to the feeling of frustration that comes with not getting their own way for once.

In short, it’s myopic, misanthropic, and fundamentally miserable.

It’s a pathetic state of affairs, but perhaps the previous analogy can still shed some light on the situation. Like the boy sent to his room for putting his freedom to hit over his sister’s freedom to be safe, perhaps a time-out from society is in order. If a person is unable or unwilling to consider the needs of others—if they are so pig-headed and paranoid that they will openly flaunt their disregard for the well-being of the society in which they live, then perhaps they don’t deserve to participate in that society at all. After all, if they are free to infect and jeopardize others, there must undoubtedly be a corresponding freedom to respond in like-kind.

The wheel never stops turning, and our actions for good or ill inevitably come back again. Just like the fight to refuse service has now come around to bite these hateful ne’er-do-wells, so too may their spite and self-focus smite them in the end.

What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: ‘Politics’ is Not a Dirty Word

As mentioned in a recent update article, this week’s post is an re-share of a previous article that is still tragically relevant.

This piece examines the concept of ‘not talking about politics’. What does it mean for an issue to be political, and when is it OK to talk about these issues?

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Another day, another tragedy. Presently, it’s the Las Vegas massacre on my mind, or the recent terrorist attack in Edmonton. But depending when you’re reading this, I have sorry little doubt there will be some fresh new event to use for context. Nothing will be different if we use another example, so it doesn’t really matter anyways. Inevitably, you will be told that “this isn’t the time to get political.”

“Let’s not politicize this.”

“Can’t we just have a day to grieve?”

There are a million ways to say it, but it always boils down to the same idea—“Let’s not go using the government to solve problems…that’s not what they’re for.”

It happens after all the most political events. We are told not to get political, not to examine issues and causes. Just be sad.

Pray…if that’s your thing.

Just…don’t try to do anything about it.

They can’t afford real change. They won’t.

But ‘politics’ is not a dirty word, and must not be treated as such if there is ever to be any real progress in this sad world of ours. To turn any political discussion into a taboo subject is to actively waste the opportunity for learning and growth. Further, to claim that political discourse over a tragedy is disrespectful to the victims is not only unhelpful, it’s pigheadedly ignorant.

If we want to prevent tragedy, we must learn from those that occur, and improve our society to prevent future occurrences. That’s what politics is. Anything else—any claim of respect, or timing, or taboo is obstruction of politics. It isn’t kind-hearted, or even well-intentioned. It’s intellectual dishonesty, and in any such instance, you can be damn sure someone is being well paid to convince you that scoffing at the chance to fix things is somehow the moral high ground.

Yes, this is about informed gun control policies.

At least today.

It could also be about systemic racism.

Or police brutality.

Or climate change.

Or money in politics.

Or dozens of other important debates which have been put off for far too long.

These aren’t inappropriate subjects, and they are absolutely the business of politicians and citizens alike. What they are not, is the business of corporations and lobbyists, and yet those are the only ones who seem effective at turning it into their business—specifically, profit.

Shame on them, and shame on anyone who resorts to such hair-brained, nihilistic diversions as ‘let’s not make this political’.

Avoiding civil discourse creates a gap in our understandings, and feeds the ever-widening divide in our nation, and our world. It is uncouth to discuss who you vote for. It’s provocative to talk about the ecosystem during a hurricane. It begins to feel anti-social to make any attempt to discuss our world, when it should be incumbent upon every citizen to do so.

Sadly, when this happens, it usually quickly devolves into attacks like ‘snowflake’, ‘libtard’, ‘hack’, or ‘radical’. This inevitably kills any drive towards honest engagement, and prevents us from truly exploring our values and examining the facts to dream up a better world.

The truth of the matter is that at the end of the day, just about everything is political—especially if it has the potential to affect another living thing without their direct consent. That may seem like a heavy qualification, but there’s an easy litmus test to use for those of you too jaded to do your own research.

Is a great deal of money being spent to convince you something is none of your business?

If so, it’s probably directly affecting to you, your family, and the world you live in.

So, talk about it.

Scream if need be.

If that fails, act.

Make them hear you.

Leave them no choice.

You still have power—never forget that.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: A Ghost Poem

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampConsidering the season, I thought it only right to re-share this old poem from 3 years ago. I think it’s the only real Halloween poem I’ve done so far, and I remain quite fond of it.

I hope all my readers had a great Halloween–whether they celebrated last weekend, on Thursday, or this weekend. If anyone has good costume pictures, send them my way and maybe we’ll do a feature here on BradOHInc.

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A Ghost Poem:

I’m haunted still by visions past,

By ghostly wails and die long cast.

Porcelain smiles and ochre eyes,

Find me much to my surprise.

Sleeping, thinking, lost in mind,

I’m stalked by those I’ve left behind.

A ghostly whisper comes to me,

As I search for serenity.

There is no rest, no sure reprieve,

From the specters I believe.

A curling grin, a twisted brow,

An implacable stretch from then to now.

I toss and turn upon my bed,

These memories searing through my head.

I rise aloft and cross the floor,

A grinning vision at the door.

A flickering vestige of all I had,

To have and lose and then grow mad.

But ever smiling, turns away,

A promise that nothing untrue may stay.

Alone I stand on the edge of dream,

The perfect start to Halloween.

-Brad OH Inc.

Change, Fear, Truth, and Renewal

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampThe only immutable

Force in the world,

The grinding of time

Is the sense of absurd.

Futility tracing its

Claws down your back,

And leaving its markings

On minds sorely wracked.

Then doubts do set in

And preponderance lost,

So shifting with worry

To escape at all cost.

When realization

Makes fools of us all,

Stand tongue-tied and mute

Never hearing that call.

Not too late does it happen

That sudden release,

Understanding, acceptance,

And finally, peace.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: I Found God in the Drums of ‘Boléro’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampTolkien, philosophy, music. This is one of my favourite posts, and it deserves to surface again.

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This article is inspired by the classical piece ‘Boléro’ (Link), by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) (Link). If you aren’t familiar with that piece, it should be considered required listening for the article to follow. You can find it here (Link).

I listened to this piece recently, and found an unexpected intensity within its plodding rhythm. I hadn’t put the song on for any specific reason, yet early in, I understood the depth of the moment I was having.

It should also be noted, perhaps, that I was at the time firmly entrenched in my (11th?) reading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Silmarillion’ (Link), a book to which I ascribe particular inspiration. So you should probably read that, too.

Nonetheless, my revelation started with the first beat of that oh-so-familiar snare-drum. Described as an ‘ostinato’, the pulsing rhythm of this opening drum continues throughout the entire song, remaining constant as everything else is thrown into chaos.

It struck me immediately as terribly spiritual, although it took me a while to articulate exactly why that was.

You see, in ‘The Silmarillion’, the one God, Eru Illúvatar, conceives of creation as music—performed by his angels, the Ainur. The Ainur sing his tune, but among them is the spirit Melkor, who sews discord into the song, and causes turmoil. Some of the Ainur join in Melkor’s discord, while Eru adds new themes to the music to counterbalance Melkor’s efforts.

In the end, when all music stops, Illúvatar offers the Ainur an opportunity to see what they have done, and creates the world and all existence to reflect the reality of his divine tune. Unto the Ainur he says, “Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.” (Pg. 17)

Since childhood, this story always struck me as one of the most apt and inspiring metaphorical representations of the divine will. And so, as I listened to the ever-increasing notes of ‘Boléro’ rising above and competing with the persistent drum-beat in the background, this was the idea that settled in my mind.

The Silmarillion goes on to tell of the events of Middle-Earth being a representation of the Music of the Ainur, and assures us that although great evil does occur, its power is limited, and in the end all things turn to the greater good. This requires a lot of faith, but it’s something I’ve held onto since first reading it as a young elementary school boy—hoping that it would prove true in our world as it does in this fantastical place.

Throughout the duration of ‘Boléro’, the snare drums maintain their eternal beat in perfect rhythm. Meanwhile, horns and woodwinds, strings and symbols are taken up against the drums. They increase endlessly throughout the song, rising to an incredible cacophony and very nearly drowning out the snare drums which are their source.

At times, the listener can barely hear the drums, but when the music changes, or when there is a brief silence in the din, they are ever to be found beneath the turmoil, just as they were before. Patient, persistent, eternal.

Taking this in, I couldn’t help but feel I heard God in those snare drums. The music rising against it was like the duelling theme of Melkor—want and greed and malice and destruction. These are present still in our world, and will often threaten to overwhelm the senses of those unguarded ears who know not how to find the consistency of Grace beneath.

Much like the confusion of the composition at hand, it’s easy to get lost in this world. These days, perhaps more than ever, the myriad distractions and temptations we meet each day are easily sufficient to overwhelm the senses and deafen us to reason and decency. It takes a concerted effort and a determined will for us to focus on what is right and just, when so much around us seems so dark and hopeless.

But of late, I have seen greater evidence of Grace and beauty in this world than I have long held possible. It’s buried no doubt, often times nearly beyond reach. And all the while the daily racket of industry, and want, and loneliness and grief compete for our ear, turning us away from the true rhythm of the world and focussing us only on ourselves.

But to miss the rhythm is to miss the point entirely.

For no matter how dismal the world can be, there is light to be found, and beneath the din there is the rhythm of Grace for any with the will to listen for it. Immutable and constant, it plods along as it always has, unaffected and undeterred by all the competing noise, and when the racket of distraction dies down, its beauty sounds out all the clearer.

I know it isn’t easy. The clamour of discontent can be deafening, and it is often all too easy to fall into this discord and march along with the madness rather than keep to course. But this is folly, for no matter how distant it may seem, for every evil there is goodness still. Where there is hate, there is also love. Where there is terror, there may also be found mercy. For the loneliness of a consumerist society there remains the comfort of the family home. There is friendship, and loyalty, and faith, and hope, and honour…for every conceivable darkness, there is a light which can still set things right.

The drums of decency pound on, and when the din of darkness rises too high for the ears to readily perceive them, all the more must we focus our hearts and minds to that eternal rhythm, and trust that all will unfold according to that divine beat.

-Brad OH Inc.

Checklists

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I was talking to a friend of mine recently, and he brought up the idea of checklists. The idea that so many people—probably all of us to some extent—live their lives by a specific set of items to tick off. Each one representing an essential expectation for their life.

Before they’ve even lived it, they’ve got it all mapped out.

  • Find the Job.
  • Meet the partner.
  • Buy the house.
  • Walk the aisle.
  • Have the kids.
  • Take pictures in front of famous landmarks.

It’s slightly different for everyone of course, but we all have some form of checklist. Most likely, this is a good thing, keeping us on track and focussed on the wonderful things we want to do with our lives.

It can take over though. Too tight a fixation on these checklist items can cause you to lose sight of life as it happens. To look ever to the future in our hopes can lead us to miss out on the meaning of the moment.

It’s important to ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice in the moment for a chance at something else in the future? It’s a tough balance, but I have often found the greatest joys in life have laid not on the path I expected to take, but in the side alleys and dark bars of spontaneity and surprise.

Now, far be it for me to discourage anyone from chasing their dreams. Go for the things you want—hunt them as relentlessly as you see fit, but as you hasten in your pursuit, don’t forget to look around at the things passing by. It may be that they are the things you’ll find you miss.

-Brad OH Inc.

Muse

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The minutes crawl, meandering mindlessly by,

as the mind mulls on myopic miseries.

Minutiae distracting—malicious in its mediocrity,

as merciless minions of misgivings muddy the waters.

But where the muse, whose music brings meaning?

When weaning from mundanity we writhe,

then written on the walls is the wonder of her witchcraft.

Who mollifies the weary and meddles with our worry.

Myriad memories are woven in her menagerie.

Where many malevolent mental blocks

are withdrawn and mended into that

magical mess of which they were wrought.

The who’s and the where’s and the why’s and the when’s,

writing we wrestle them while we still can.

It’s merely a moment, a miraculous wash

but wading unworried we’ll master the world.

-Brad OH Inc.