Re-Share: 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are withdrawn and mended into that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.

Re-Share: The ‘Jenga’ Analogy

The other day, I started sketching an outline for an article, but quickly realized I’d already written something terribly similar back in 2015. So in lieu of wasted effort, here is the original–I’m back to editing my book.


Earlier this week, I found myself playing a friendly game of Jenga. Well, not entirely friendly perhaps—it was naturally filled with all the taunting and tension so common to the game.

With each log I drew from the base with tremulous fingers, I breathed a sigh of relief as I watched the tower teeter and totter back and forth. But when it finally found its balance once more, the work was only halfway done.

After a brief period of respite marred only by a victorious sneer at my young opponent, it was time for me to finish my task. With the newly liberated block held delicately between my fingers, I raised it up and let it hover a moment above the top of the now lopsided and treacherous monstrosity we’d created.

Finally, I took a deep breath in and held it. The careful extraction was not my victory, for now I had to place the block on top—hoping against hope that the imbalance I had done to the tower’s base would not prove fatal.

Sadly, my hopes were dashed, and the tower came crumbling down. Wooden blocks scattered across the tabletop, and a squeal of unrestrained joy was loosed from the grandstanding lips of my tactless opponent.

‘If only I hadn’t had to put it on top’, I lamented. But that’s just the point here. It’s easy to cause imbalance. It’s far more difficult to deal with the consequences. When I’d slid the block out, I had created tension—specifically between the increasingly poor engineering of the tower, and the immutable force of gravity.

If it hadn’t been expressly forbidden by the sacrosanct rules of Jenga, I could have tossed the block lackadaisically over my shoulder and passed the buck onto the unaware child before me—forcing them to deal with the repercussions of my block choice.

“Again!” he cried, encouraged by his victory and likely reeling with a distinct sense of invulnerability.

But my mind was elsewhere, and time was not on my side. As I gathered up the blocks and began to replace them in the box, I turned to the clock on the wall to gauge my schedule. 11:00am—just enough time to get one last visit in before lunch.

Oh lunch: the vaunted reprieve from workday responsibilities. With a half-hour of stress-free liberty, my only significant choice would be where to eat. And if that’s the only conflict to resolve, things are pretty good in my books.

But as the last of the Jenga blocks was returned to its rightful place, my hunger-laden mind recalled suddenly the ongoing string of strikes and demonstrations against fast food operations around the world (Link).

Workers had taken to the streets, demanding delivery from the poverty level wages they had been faced with for far too long. The demonstrations were primarily peaceful shows of unity and hope—asking only a fair wage for a fair days work. But as is the leitmotif of any political discourse these days, the demand was mired in controversy and misgivings.

Among the myriad complaints aimed at the workers was the age-old notion of fiscal strain. The argument goes that if restaurants (and it should be noted here that the vast majority of those affected are multinational Corporations) were ‘forced’ to increase their minimum wage, the resultant loss of capital would have to come from somewhere else.

It’s a logical notion to be sure—money is finite after all, and if moved to one place, it must have come from another. The natural remedies, in the Corporate mind at least, are to lay off workers, increase prices, or decrease quality.

Of course, these options lead to long line-ups, inflated meal prices, and dangerously cheap ingredients. As images of soggy lettuce, smeared condiments, and dry, grey ‘all-beef patties’ danced before my eyes, my lunch options seemed somehow less appealing.

There is a problem with this key assumption however, and as so many problems are these days, it is tied to the fundamental structure of the Corporation. Guided by the anti-social leaning philosophies laid out in the ‘Friedman Doctrine’ (Link), a Corporation is structured with only one true responsibility—the shareholder. This means that with every decision a Corporation makes, it is obligated to ensure that the bottom line of share value is being increased.

In essence: no matter what the problem or potential solutions, the goal should be greater profit for the Corporation. Of course, this has historically led to a litany of grave injustices (Link), but just at this moment, it was my impending meal I was most concerned about.

And herein lies the problem. While it’s difficult to argue that workers aren’t entitled to a living wage—particularly in a world where an ever growing number of jobs are being pushed into the minimum wage bracket by increased automation and other factors—I still want a good meal.

But these desires are incompatible in the Corporate mind. You can’t have fair pay, good food, AND reasonable prices…at least not if stock prices are to continue rising.

And so it goes: as each year passes, Corporations continue to take money away from the bottom, while ensuring it also stays at the top. Increase the wages—lay off employees. Respect environmental regulations—decrease the quality of the product. Comply with fair tax regulations—jack up the prices.

You take a block from the bottom, and you put it on top.

The easy answer of course, is that Corporations should, and must, accept that as society changes and technology grows, sometimes they may see a decrease in overall profits. But this should be felt at the top—the shareholders and the CEO’s who are in dire need of learning that just as they claim that ‘a person doing a minimum-skill job deserves only a minimum salary’, so too must the directors of a decreasingly relevant franchise ultimately see a stall in their (still exorbitant) profit margins.

Of course, this isn’t what happens. While many of these fast-food franchises likely started out as very solid businesses offering a decent meal at a competitive price, they have long since grown unwieldy. As the towers of their Corporate offices rose higher into the skyline, their bases grew increasingly unsteady. And we’ve all seen the end result many times before. Eventually, the whole operation comes crumbling down. After all, no one wants to pay $14 for a shitty burger just so the CEO can afford to take a private jet to his island resort.

And this, better than anything else, illustrates the fundamental failing which has occurred in our conception of capitalism. Namely, the transfer of implicit company responsibility away from its customers—who rely on a strong and reliable base—to its shareholders—who care only for how high it can reach before they sell their shares and watch it all crumble from the vantage point of the next opportunity they make ready to despoil.

It’s a depressing thought to say the least. And so, as I slid the Jenga box into my bag and made off to my next visit, I made a decision. Today, maybe I could pass on lunch. I was hungry no doubt, but as I thought about the implications behind which barely-edible meal I’d buy, I found that my appetite was gone.

Fuck it, I’d just go hungry. After all, if the Corporations had it their way, that would be the fate of the lot of us.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: A Fool Not Just in April

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

This may seem like it’s coming a month late, but the truth is, this was never about April Fools…


There’s a funny thing that happens right around this time of year. On the first of April each year, we observe a weird little day called ‘April Fools’’. This glorious day is a long-time favourite for pranksters and mischief-makers the world over—as jokes are played, tricks enacted, and terrible deceptions perpetrated by one friend upon another all in the righteous pursuit of naming another as a fool.

The possibilities are endless! Saran-wrap over the toilet seat? Check! Sardine Paste in the toothpaste tube? Check! Brutal lies about the health or general well-being of distant loved-ones? Yeah, even that might pass. But recently, one phenomenon has illustrated an especially troublesome habit of humanity—and shown us perhaps that the day of fools is a boon for the few wise people among us.

See, one irresistible opportunity for news pundits and bloggers alike is to post semi-believable yet entirely unreal stories for public consumption on April Fools’ Day. The writer will let the speculation and doubts run roughshod until noon, then coolly—and doubtless with an air of overplayed coyness—reveal the truth: namely, that it was all a ruse.

This all seems harmless enough. The thing is, it’s been going on for a significant enough stretch of time that anyone with half a clue and access to the internet for more than a year knows just what to expect, and rises each April 1st donning the armour of suspicion, and brandishing their sword of rational-inquiry. Each article they see is taken in with a discerning eye. Facts are weighed against probabilities, and anything doubtful is cross-referenced against other articles.

Dates are checked, names researched, local obituaries are pored over for accuracy, and for one day, all sources of information are taken in with a critical eye, hell-bent on sussing out the truth from the trash.

All things considered, it’s a pretty wonderful day!

But then something unfortunate happens. The sun rises on the second of April, the bathroom floors are disinfected, toothpaste tubes replaced, and loved ones are given a brief check-in call with a pre-arranged excuse to hang up after a few minutes small-talk. Then, everything returns to normal. People eat their breakfast, kiss their spouses and children, go to their jobs, and then sit slack-jawed and dumb-founded at the torrents of bullshit flashing across their screens in the name of ‘news’.

‘You won’t believe what…’

‘What happened next will leave you speechless…’

‘Local mom makes $900,000,000 in one hour, when you learn how you’ll…’

‘THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!’

They sit with eyes glazed over as they work their fingers along their mouse, taking it all in, following the currents of their newsfeed like Job waiting on fairer winds. It’s all accepted, all welcome, and none of it is ever second-guessed.

It’s a sorry fact that when not actively warned by our calendars that the news just might not be as accurate as it’s purported to be, people forget the concept entirely. But rational thought is not a novelty to be toyed with once a year, only to be dusted off and returned in mint-condition to its little glass case marked ‘Open April 1st’. Rather, it is a tool to utilize daily, to ward off the perils of misinformation—deliberate or not—and exercise the full potential of our humanity. As rational creatures living in an often irrational world, the onus of critical consideration of news media is on us as consumers. It is a matter of education, of self-protection, and more importantly, of intellectual integrity.

So let us not forget, good people, that there may be but one day a year where we are free to name each other as fools, but that leaves 364 days each year where the names do not fly so readily, and we are left simply with an opportunity to prove the fact for ourselves.

-Brad OH Inc.

A Flag in Peril

I’m driving along an asphalt road, lousy with potholes. It doesn’t matter where I’m going. In Alberta, most destinations are similar enough. It’s not the sites on the side of the road, or the gloomy clouds ahead that get my attention—it’s the flag on the truck blowing by me.

For most of my life, the red bars and maple leaf of the Canadian flag has held a uniform meaning to most anyone likely to encounter it. It stood for pride, equality, and promise. Not the ill-defined promise of freedom so often associated with the stars and bars, but a more grounded, introspective promise that assured us we were working together, and supporting one another. Certainly, the country has never been perfect, but for a long while, it felt like we were on the same path—one helping the other down it as required.

That’s all in the past now. As the flag—torn and weather worn—flutters by above a brand new, lifted pickup truck, a new set of feelings arise in my heart. Where before there may have been pride, now there is resentment, judgement, and anger.

…The flag has been co-opted, and it’s meaning is no longer consistent.

In late January, 2022, the country witnessed an unparalleled level of unrest and division. Dubbing itself the ‘Freedom Convoy’, a sizeable group of Canadians jumped into their over-sized, high-end vehicles in an effort to show the world how hard-done-by they were.

While it may be understandable for people to tire of mandates, and few could argue against the notion that civil protest is a fundamental right to any free society, the convoy quickly took a turn for the worse when it reached Ottawa, and other Canadian cities.

Fed by misinformation and fuelled by paranoia, their demands became more and more outrageous, and their behaviour followed suit. While the more reasonable members of the protest focussed on lifting mandates and returning to ‘normal’, extremist elements sought to impose their will on the country through any means necessary.

The stated intentions of the convoy ranged from an end to vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the border—a policy reflected by the country sharing said border—to an end to all mandates, to the surrender of the government and the instatement of their own appointed officials. These latter intentions were outlined in a shocking manifesto delivered—and later retracted by—convoy leaders. For more information on that, see Here, and Here.

Soon enough, it was a protest no longer. The capital city of Canada was experiencing a full-on occupation. With trucks blocking major through-ways, protesters used horns to torture the residents of Ottawa day and night, for three weeks straight. They hurled insults at anyone wearing a mask, defaced public property, and damaged businesses who didn’t immediately cave to their wildly varied demands.

While provincial police and politicians sat on their hands—likely trying to decide which response was most likely to curry them the greatest favor from voters—innocent people living in cities across Canada grew increasingly incensed at the notion that this small minority could run roughshod over the fabric of society, and seemingly get away with it.

When Prime Minister Trudeau activated emergency powers to end the occupation, the country held its collective breath. Supporters of the convoy railed against perceived tyranny, while victims of the convoy cried for delivery from the occupiers. Everyone feared the precedent set, and the potential damage to our international reputation if the powers were misused.

To the shock of very few, the occupiers caved quickly when faced with actual consequences for what may have been the first time in their lives. Despite the hysteria, the application of the emergency powers was well-restrained. It specifically targeted the funding of occupation leaders, aiming to end their supply chain. In ongoing investigations that have surprised absolutely no one, it has been revealed that the majority of this funding came from foreign sources.

Police seized vehicles only after several written warnings, and convoy leaders who refused to move on were arrested. Once the crisis was over and the people of Ottawa were again secure to live their lives, the powers were promptly rescinded. While by all accounts this use of emergency powers was limited and practical, the country remains on edge.

To some, the occupation was a legitimate expression of discontent—the culmination of frustrations with COVID-19 mandates that were shared by most everyone. To the majority however, its execution was like the colicky wailings of a dying sense of masculinity—an entitlement so deeply rooted that harassing others and forcing your minority view on a nation seemed like justice.

Now the nation watches as the Right Wing of provincial politics seeks to gut our Universal Healthcare—claiming it had failed to get the nation through the pandemic. They miss the irony of course, as they were the very ones dodging public health efforts, and under-funding it at every turn. If the passengers of the Titanic had cheered on the iceberg, haranguing that ‘at least it’s not the one sinking’, the level of cognitive-dissonance could scarcely be greater.

Things have quieted down now. At least, that’s the case if you can ignore the desperate posts of those still married to their own victim-complexes.

The streets are quiet, and traffic can move again. The COVID mandates are lifting—as they were set to all along.

In the end, this occupation’s only real impact was likely the damage it did to the comfort and contentment of many Canadians. No minds were changed, and no policies were impacted to any significant degree.

Still, as the flag trails off into the distance in my rear-view mirror, I can’t ignore the adverse feeling in my gut. It’s been degraded, and I wonder what the rest of the world sees these days when the Canadian flag waves.

There’s another flag in windows these days. The Blue and Yellow of the Ukrainian standard flies high and proud around my city—supporting those fighting against real oppression, and facing legitimate danger.

It stirs something inside of me. A memory of a time not too long ago, yet far too distant. It was a time when people remembered that a society means that we are in this together—and that only by embracing that can we ever affect lasting change.

I hope that soon, our nation can remember that, and our flag can once more fly so high.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: Libertarians are Starry-Eyed Idealists

Over the past week, Canada has watched as a minority group has terrorized cities and blocked critical infrastructure. They have demanded special freedoms, while denying freedom to those that live there.

It’s a sad situation all around, and has reminded me of a confusion I still come across all too often. When people talk about freedom, they often focus only on their own insular view of freedom, and seldom the freedoms of society at large.

Call it the ‘Inverted Wallace Equation’: The louder someone screams about freedom, the less likely they are to be standing on its side.

The article below–a re-share from 2016–covers this issue in greater depth.

What do you think?

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Freedom is often lauded as the most integral value of any developed nation. In fact, the notion of the ‘free world’ does much to inform us of the fundamental value that we place on personal liberty, and well it should. Freedom is among the key human rights, but it must be pointed out that at times, people get a little bit carried away with their interpretation of what exactly ‘freedom’ entails.

One need not wade too far into the depths of social-media to find the rants and raves of disenfranchised citizens so bitter about a parking ticket, or a sales-tax, or perhaps a pesky ‘no-loitering’ sign, that they’re ready to hoist the black flags and hop aboard the good ship ‘Anarchy’.

‘Freedom’, they will argue, is the birthright of man—the inalienable and righteous destiny of all people brave enough to seek it! But there are sorry few building their own boats to follow this urge, and fewer still running off to the lonely mountains to live a ‘free’ life. I suppose it’s an easy thing to moan about the comfortable confines of society as you daydream about weening yourself off its teat, but it does beg the question of what exactly true ‘freedom’ is, and if it can exist at all.

I would argue that perfect freedom is an illusion—a starry-eyed dream more befitting whatever afterlife you prefer than the life you live. In fact, I believe that power and control are unavoidable, and there is no conceivable ‘system of naught’ sufficient to maintain the vacuous void left if all authority is stripped away.

Perfect freedom would mean no laws, no control, no taxes—but it would accordingly mean no safety, no opportunity, and no infrastructure. In our article ‘On the Concept of Society’ (Link) we discussed how a society is the product of all its members, past and present. That remains entirely true. Society has never been about freedom—if anything that is the antithesis of society. In truth, ‘society’ is meant to be a foundation of cooperation among its citizens.

In the societal sense then, total freedom—much like anarchy—is a myth. It may perhaps exist for a single person, but once a second person enters the picture, the illusion will die. Power hierarchies will be formed, and one’s wishes will ultimately infringe upon the freedom of the other. We are not free to kill for the very reason that we do not wish to be freely killed. The same applies to property rights, safety issues, and so on. While loitering laws may perhaps be a hard concept to defend (Black Flags ahoy!), the need for a significant proportion of civil laws can be most easily discerned by asking oneself not ‘do I wish to follow this’ but ‘do I wish for others to follow this’.

Those who support total anarchy then, are either misunderstanding the basic tenets of life, suffering from a sadomasochistic urge to regress back to the days of pre-tribal man, or simply mad.

Libertarians, on the other hand, may accept some laws, while rejecting the notion of many others. This rejection most often applies to rules around the free-market. However, as we have already established that a power-void cannot remain unfilled, we should have little trouble applying this observation to the marketplace as well.

If you wander into the woods, claim them as your own, and insist on living a lawless life, it may prove less glamourous than you imagine—especially when the next lawless rogue shows up to strangle you in your sleep and make off with your supplies. So much for freedom!

The marketplace is little different. Without control, corporations are wont to seize public goods and resources, create monopolies, underpay workers, and wreak general havoc however they please. People will starve, or toil like slaves—yet this will be defended and redefined as the justly exercised freedom of those very corporations. In truth, this notion of marketplace-freedom is no better than economic anarchy—and its supposed virtue quickly diminishes as the strongest take control and run our system like a tyrannical oligarchy. Meanwhile, the citizens cheer blindly about the merits of freedom.

To claim to be an anarchist or full-on libertarian is naïve, and the ultimate result is little different from the sort of systemic madness we have now. Freedom has been given out too freely—sadly, only to the corporations at the head of the markets, and rarely to the citizens. The powerful will always feed upon the less powerful, and this is a demonstrable loss of freedom for the latter.

In order to have liberty for ourselves, there must at the very least be laws restricting others from infringing on that liberty. Anything less would be Mad Max-style anarchy. Control is needed, and must be imposed justly. As discussed in our article ‘On the Fear of Big Government’ (Link), the ultimate purpose of government is to ensure that the power which inevitably arises is a fair and just one.

This must not be taken to mean that I believe the current governments of the world are doing much to uphold these standards—indeed there is a great need for improvement on nearly all fronts. Simply put however, the raging masses squalling for ‘total liberty’—or its ugly cousin ‘anarchy’—are naïve at best. The line between liberty and domination is a difficult one to draw. If drawn too close to total freedom, a void arises, and we end up dominated. It’s circular in a sense, and requires an insightful and informed balance. This is the purpose of society and the governments which it employs, and we must pay heed to avoid being so brash as to throw the baby of equal opportunity out with the bathwater of social order.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: 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.

Brandy by a 40W Bulb

Under the Green Desklamp…

Green DesklampNote: This is the third article in a series. For the first, click here, and for the second, click here.

I thought about going with ‘by Candlelight’, but that would be a lie. It’s far too much effort at a time like this, especially for such a trite gesture. The standard 40W Bulb above me will do just fine for now. The illumination isn’t the point. That was the old goal—those ambitions are beyond us.

Brandy—that’s where the real hopes lie. The table has already been set, and the time for debating the menu is long past. This is about mood, and in that regard Brandy does far more than a candle, no matter how many Dickens novels you’ve read.

Ideas are cheap these days, and often more trouble than they’re worth. The best of them sell at a dime a piece, and are discarded just as cheaply. Some things, after all, truly are as simple as they seem.

In a world of ever-growing gradients, we should not lose sight of the poles. That’s what really moves people these days—the extremes. The most popular ideas are always the ones that cause a double-take and violent eye-roll from the general masses. The more far out they are, the more attractive to the fringe idiots looking for meaning in the void.

Meaning—there’s another dangerous idea.

So far, the Brandy is doing a pitiful job of improving the mood, but it’s not entirely to blame. Besides, Brandy is bountiful. Give her time.

Against such inky dark, even the brightest candle may struggle. My old bulb blinks and buzzes above me like a fly. It works fine in a pinch, but there’s no telling when it will flicker out for good, leaving me to face the lonely night.

There’s a terrible weight to understanding that lies and lunacy sell. There are niche groups that will cling to anything, but have few sources for their madness. By appealing to them, a person is guaranteed an instant and significant audience. Any asshole willing to scream obscenities and hate will find an audience somewhere. There is no shortage of desperate, sad bastards sitting in dark rooms, waiting for a lightning rod to justify their whispered insecurities with bullhorn vitriol.

To hold such knowledge and refuse to misuse it is the task of the decent person and the fool. The lowest common denominator is always the easiest mark, and honesty has a lot of competition. It’s an active decision we must all make—to decide to be a small voice of truth among many, rather than the most famous liar.

Everyone dreams of being heard in some way. It’s the reason for all the statues, art, graffiti, and songs that fill the spaces between the skyscrapers and the box stores. But these pleas for relevance can be easy to miss on the best of days, and that’s the problem entirely.

These days, wild change seems imminent, but its direction is impossible to know. This way, or the other… so it goes. It’s a lonely time—pensive. Tumultuous might be the word, really. Whatever you call it, one cannot deny the feeling of living in the calm before the storm.

That’s a cliché to be sure, but there are hopeless lunatics out there who would glean great meaning from a little thing like that.

And so, with whatever mask of optimism we may cobble from the refuse scattered nearby, we scream into the coming storm. We talk about what needs to change, or what needs to stop. What needs to be created, or what needs to be destroyed. We’ll debate who we should help, and who must be hindered. We’ll argue over where our priorities lie, what freedom really means, and who we are as a people.

All that is fine. But it goes off the rails somewhere around that point. We’ll start to argue about who is a person, and what that means for those who aren’t.

We’ll fight over who should have a voice, and who needs to be silenced.

We’ll forget what truth is.

Everyone holds their own individual truth these days, and that shouldn’t be such a terrible thing in and of itself. But there’s a funny thing about truth—it doesn’t do well in company. It’s the same problem religion has had throughout the ages—it’s great for the believers, but when it runs into the non-believers, it tends to have a funny reaction.

When we cling too tightly to our own truths, we run the risk of devaluing the truths of others. After all, there can only be one truth, and anyone who disagrees with you makes it slightly more likely that you’re living an illusion.

That’s no easy thing to tolerate.

One Brandy, two Brandy’s, three… Is it Brandy’s, or Brandies? She’s a cagey one, and it’s impossible to suss out her greater mysteries.

The bulb is too bright, and does nothing to ease the tension in the air. After all, upon close inspection, some things look better in the dark. Still, the mood is improving. Sometimes, we just need to sit, and drink, and think these things through. If you don’t drink, pick a vice or virtue of your own—you sorry sap.

Maybe, as always, it comes down to definitions.

Truth is one thing, and opinion is another entirely. There is far more of the latter, but it masquerades proudly as truth just so long as it can get away with it. Someone once said that opinions are like assholes, but that person was most likely an asshole themselves. Just because everyone has an opinion doesn’t make them any less valuable. The same can be said of assholes, except for the afore-mentioned one.

The thing about opinions is that they need to grow and change. They need to be challenged and examined. When they’re valuable, they need to be shared, and when they are discredited they must be abandoned.

That should be common sense, but just like common sense, it’s a terribly rare thing these days. We confuse opinions with facts, and if we find anyone else who can echo and amplify them, we’re all the more convinced. Many of us become warriors in the service of our tenuous opinions-made-sacrosanct, and with the holy armour of ignorance we go forth to purge the world of naysayers.

The cycle’s as old as humanity itself. It all begins to make sense if you repeat it enough. That probably means the Brandy has done her job. I knew she would. Old friends always come through.

It bears repeating. Opinions—regardless of who shares them or how much encouragement they are given—are not facts.

Equally important, facts are not opinion. They are not up for debate—facts are immutable.

Mind you, we seldom know the facts.

Even science—that often-misunderstood attempt to learn—seldom claims it has the facts. Science works in theories and understandings, which might be adjusted at any time if new—and especially contradictory—evidence emerges.

The pursuit of facts is an endless road. Still, it keeps its eyes on the horizon, and a trusted map as its side. It’s a long journey, and there are many sights to see along the way. There are good ideas out there—valuable ideas that would help the world immeasurably. There are also facts—simple truths that should and must not be lost among the static of discordant opinions.

The Brandy is flowing now, and my fingers are flying. The buzz and glare of the light is all just background noise to my composition. Soliloquies and symphonies. Damn… it’s been a while. But the Brandy is reaching is limits. Or perhaps I am.

At any rate, I’ve said enough.

There is no shame in temperance. A place you’ve probably never heard of once said it best: ‘Know thyself’, and ‘Nothing in Excess’.

It’s good to remember the old truths.

One more drink then… To truth, and the hope that we may not lose our way in its pursuit.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: Beers by the Bonfire

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampToday, I’m re-sharing the second in a series of articles I’ve created here at Brad OH Inc. This article, called ‘Beers by the Bonfire’ was conceived at a friends house out in rural Alberta.

I’m currently working on the next article in the series, so in anticipation of that release, I’ll be re-sharing the originals–today marks the second of two so far, so if you missed the first, click here.

The new article–title to come–will follow soon. Stay tuned!

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Perhaps it’s not quite as classy as ‘Bourbons by the Fire‘, but no one will catch the callback anyway. Besides, this isn’t the time for pomp and flair.

For the last year I’ve been in a sort of fugue state—drifting listlessly, waiting for my sense of purpose to descend upon me from on high. It hasn’t happened yet. But here I am. I’ve awoken to find the world a bit darker. The moment for high-minded philosophies is now past us.

To a man, we seem to focus on the lies of the next—we have no time for our own misunderstandings. It’s a bitter march, but we press onward—focussed only on the failings of the other.

Our options have dwindled, our reason hangs by a thread, and the only choice we have left to us is which of two futures we want the least.

These days, we have the greatest and easiest means of communication the world has ever known. We can pass information across the globe in the blink of an eye, and connect with like-minded strangers at the click of a button. Yet we squander this—debating the inane and pressing the irrelevant. The pawns squabble amongst themselves as the King stands exposed.

Piece by piece, we give away what we should hold the tightest. We do so willingly—with the unrestrained vigour of those possessed by a sense of righteousness, yet blinded by a cloud of distrust.

The fire crackles in front of me, as it always has. We’ve been sitting around such fires since before we were us, and likely debating these same sorry shortcomings. They’ve always been with us…the doubt and fear and self-loathing that drives a society to turn in upon itself for fear of what is beyond.

The beer is still cold, but it offers little comfort.

I think about what it might take, to turn this course around—what it might look like to see the world as hopeful and promising once again. The innocence of youth is unattainable now, and knowledge is easier gained than forgotten. I settle for another swig of beer.

I keep telling myself there is plenty of room on at the fire. If not, you can always build it bigger and back the chairs up. There is always plenty of beer. But the mood grows uneasy, and we’re all suspicious of each new guest.

I’d been told that the world was rich, and could provide for all through the bounty of human cooperation. It turned out no one really believed that. Worse, perhaps they do, but simply choose something else.

Greed—it is a sorry bonfire indeed when one man claims all the beer for himself. So what does it say about a world where we hoard our own and let the extra rot—we cling miser-like to our entitled notions, then act appalled with the bitterness of the hated ‘other’.

Surely the way is clear enough, and the rest is all just fanciful distraction. The answer has always been the same—we say it in songs and debates and prayers and art, we define ourselves by our commitment to it, yet live daily as if it were but a child’s dream—silly and irreverent.

The fire is warm enough for all, yet it leaves only ashes behind. If you stare into it long enough, you can lose sight of all the rest. The darkness beyond vanishes into black, and the world is nothing if not the fire before you; your current comfort—your own personal salvation.

Damn the rest.

Fuel, fire, and beer. Security, comfort, and distraction. They’re all you need.

I take another long swallow. Then another. The beer is getting warmer, and has grown flat. Still, it does its job—soothing my nerves and steadying my shaken will.

The fire spreads slowly out around its base—cleansing the old, consuming everything in its path.

It’s a twisted scene to be sure, and it is no difficult thing to become lost in the mire and confusion as lies spill from every side. It is a hard thing to act decisively when inundated with doubt, and we all sit around this fire, blinded by its light and shackled to its fleeting warmth.

Those we look to for safety have turned on us, and those from whom we would seek direction have failed. On every side, we are constrained by justifiable fear, and this alone is often sufficient to breed the inaction necessary for such a terrible course to hold true.

My beer is running low, and the fire dwindling to embers. The cold of night encroaches upon my refuge, and I let the can fall from my hand. There is no more comfort here.

Tonight, the retreat is over. Tomorrow the fire burns anew. Will it serve only to ward off the chill of the outside world, or will it rather set ablaze all which can no longer stand? Will it burn away the fear and doubts which hold us in thrall? Will it set to light upon the tinders of decency and virtue which still smoulder in the hearts and minds of all decent people?

Tomorrow alone will tell. I will be there, beer in hand. I will be ready.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: Bourbons by the Fire

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Today, I’m re-sharing the first in a series of articles I’ve created here at Brad OH Inc. This article, called ‘Bourbons by the Fire’, was first released in 2014, and was largely written–I believe–in a small bar in Vancouver, shortly after a Bruce Springsteen concert.

The article became a favourite of mine, and in 2016, I released a follow-up, called ‘Beers by the Bonfire’. That one was conceived at a friends house out in rural Alberta.

I’m currently working on the next article in the series, so in anticipation of that release, I’ll be re-sharing the originals–the first today, and the second shortly thereafter.

The new article–title to come–will follow once those have been re-shared. Stay tuned!

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There’s a bottle of bourbon in arm’s reach of my chair, and through the window in front of me I can see the last vestiges of the day’s light hanging on the horizon. It illuminates the glass like hot iron. It seems the sunsets last longer these days. Or it could perhaps be that, with each one that passes, that singular moment when the last ray of sun clings to the western sky lingers longer in the mind, with its promise that light will come again.

On nights like this, the dangers of thought far outweigh those of the bottle, and the intoxicating effect of knowledge brings a sickness far worse than any hangover imaginable. And so I have a drink.

It’s a strange time, a time when any decent person with an eye for details might come to suspect they are one of the few remaining sane souls left in a terribly dystopian world—the sort of world where little girls grow up dreaming of being heiresses.

These days, the heedless ambition of the powerful is to society as is cancer to the individual. It first gnaws at the extraneous, chipping away the small pleasures and devouring the variety of life, making all things secondary to its demands.

But like cancer it grows unchecked, consuming everything allowed to it until all that remains are memories of times that were better, when hope for a brighter future still blossomed in the hearts of those now disenfranchised by the voracious appetites of its expansion.

It’s a desperate time—the kind of time when great ideas tend to come along… or else when people will cling to the best idea they come across.

I take another drink, a long one. It’s warm going down my throat, and fire in the stomach—a slow, soothing sort of burn.

The sun is growing dimmer, and light and dark weigh heavy in my thoughts. They’re timeless concepts—forged into the spirit of our society by countless books, songs and films. For me it was Tolkien, but the sources are innumerable.

Sometimes when my mind wanders, it goes unbidden to dangerous places. There are times that I wonder where the decency of man has gone. We’ve all heard about it—that innate spark of light within all people, destined with only the slightest encouragement to guide us from the ever encroaching darkness.

It’s getting darker.

We are but monkeys grown beyond our means. We make up stories, and bow before them to reckon ourselves to the fact that we are raised with a terrifying capacity for evil, yet maintain a gentle compulsion for good.

It’s not an easy understanding to bear, and the more you know, the madder you go.

I can see how it happens, how you can get lost within your mind. You chase some dream, and at first it dances about the edges, enticing you to believe you might catch it and make it true. But it leads, and you chase. Like a boy following a rabbit into the forest, you pursue it until you lose the trail. Then you look around to realize you’ve lost your own as well. You are left with no clue where on earth you are… or worse still, you’re not sure you remember who you are.

A man needs to fight against it, that infernal apathy. It’ll set in and boil, and pretty soon even the most casual of social encounters will feel like ships passing in the night fog.

Again, the bourbon soothes my thoughts.

What is a man to do? That’s the question that keeps bouncing around my head as my fingers rest limply on my keyboard. People often think I’m multi-layered, but the truth is I’m just multi-talented. This is my weapon—the written word is like a Lego set for smart people, and the destructive potential it can harness is a terrible thing to behold.

People glue themselves to reality programs, fixating on fictional calamities as their government is looted by faceless Corporations and their inalienable rights are stripped away like the clothes of a drunken debutante in a dingy frat house.

This is the reality allotted to us, and it’s difficult to blame the cowards for looking away and leaving it for the next generation. It’s a defense mechanism rooted deeply in our DNA.

With a web as intricate as this, no answers are clear, and even the most optimistic zealot can find himself lost in the chaos around him. But one must not avoid doing right for fear that the devil has deceived them into doing wrong, or else surely he has.

I grit my teeth and crack my knuckles. They’re stiff, and the flesh is dry and cracked. Have I grown this old in so short a time?

Everyone else is smiling, and a cheery voice on a television to my right tells me that quick and harsh punishment will come to the foreigners who object to our imperialistic agenda.

A cheer rises up—on the television to my left, a touchdown has been scored.

Godforsaken idiots.

My mind drifts again to the tales of my youth, and the things they promised: ages of miracles, and the certain defeat of darkness. It always took until the last moment—when hope held on by the thinnest thread. That’s when delivery always came, when people woke up to their innate power to change the world, and made real the paradise they cradled secretly in their hearts.

The sun is down now, the window dull and translucent once more. Outside, neon ads flash, telling me it’s time to buy a new phone. Then everything will be ok.

Darkness has always been our nature. It doesn’t need to be forceful, for it can grow at any time, and is capable of overtaking us and condemning us to savagery whenever we let down our guard.

The light within is different. It flickers perilously, and I’ve heard it said that once it’s out, it’s out. It may dwindle, imperceptible at times, yet it’s driven ever towards great good and kindness.

Sometimes we must squint to even detect it, yet in dark times like these, it is the thing we must search for the most earnestly, and count on for deliverance.

This is an active process.

Few things truly raise my ire, but the depthless greed and thoughtless destruction wrought by the heedless empowered lights a righteous fury deep in my bones.

There’s music playing somewhere, but I can’t catch the tune. My head swims under the drink, but I’m not confused. It’s certainty that drags my mood down, and the refusal to close my eyes to that which surrounds me. An unfailing belief moves my fingers now, and their clatter upon the keys pounds out a drumbeat all my own.

It’s short and simple. Its rhythm churns like a locomotive, driving itself on by necessity. It says that we must return to decency. It proclaims that glib cynicism and ironic detachment are the tools of cowards, and that making a joke of the night is the surest way to get lost in the dark. Above all, it wails that even under the guise of freedom—callousness and selfish greed must not be the fundamental underpinnings of our society.

If you don’t hold to that, know that you have an enemy in Brad OH Inc.

I take another drink, and the comforting warmth brings a smile to my tired face.

-Brad OH Inc.

Featured Article on the Edmonton Writer’s Group Blog

The Edmonton Writer’s Group was recently kind enough to ask me to respond to a prompt for a series of blog articles they are publishing.

They asked, ‘What is the best advice you’ve received about writing?’.

My article is now up on the site, and can be read by clicking here.

Also, remember that ‘All Mapped Out’, the fourth anthology by the Edmonton Writer’s Group is available for purchase now! You can pick up the paperback here, the e-book here, or contact this writer by clicking here to purchase a signed physical copy!

Kind Regards,

-Brad OH Inc.