‘A Story Untold’

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

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

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

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

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

-Brad OH Inc.

‘The Election’

Here at Brad OH Inc., we spend a lot of time discussing current political events, and what sort of future they might suggest. We’ve also explored many different writers and styles over the years. Today, we have a treat for you that combines the two!

Inspired by the unique ‘Gonzo’ writings of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, ‘The Election’ is the story of a cynical journalist covering the heinous events of the fourth annual ‘United Corporate Election’. In this dystopian future inspired by contemporary politics, Corporations control all aspects of government, and elections have been reduced to satirical pantomimes in which citizens use their ‘Citizen Spending Credits’ to vote on their favourite features for the elected effigy.

Journalist Duke O’Brady ventures into this ridiculous spectacle to experience the madness firsthand, but may be in for more than even he anticipated…

This short story is one of our favourites–after all, what sort of self-loathing Corporation wouldn’t dream of such an idyllic future?

We certainly hope you enjoy it as much as all of us here at Brad OH Inc. enjoyed writing it.

theelectioncoverCover Art by- Troy Barker

‘The Election’- Smashwords

-Brad OH Inc.

‘Lighthouse Lament’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Today on Brad OH Inc., we have another song to share from the former Edmonton based band ‘Basic Human Indecency’. As discussed with the previous song, ‘Overwhelmed’, these songs are the sole legal property of Brad OH Inc. But they’ve never been recorded, and have no other real use, so we’re more than happy to share them with you here.

The feature song/ poem today is the mournful tale of the sea: ‘Lighthouse Lament’.

Lighthouse Lament

A man and a boy

A boat and a storm

And a fear of where they were

A light and a horn

Far away through the fog

And a dream of where they weren’t

A rage in the boy

And a calm in the man

With the salt in his eye

And the wood in his hand

And the wind in his ear

Told him what she would be thinking

A sharp gasp out

Then a cracking sound

And a note in a bottle

Is all that was found

Of the man and his son

On the Homeward Bound

The winds keep tossing me alone

Stealing me from what I own

What I’ve known and sewn

And what I’ve grown

They take me far away from home…

-Brad OH Inc.

Embrace the Security State

cropped-blogbanner1.jpgHere at Brad OH Inc., we are acutely aware of the ongoing concerns over government infringements on personal security (Link). At an ever increasing rate, governments are worming their ways into our homes, businesses, and private lives—all in the almighty name of security.

While these government intrusions into public life are most often done under the broad banner of national security, this isn’t the case for all instances of data theft. Next time you’re browsing through your favourite social media sources, take some time to observe the side-bar of advertisements tailor-made for you based on websites you’ve recently visited or items you’ve considered buying. This is all possible through the ability of the current website to read your browsing history and sell it to advertisers.

And why not? No one reading this right now has the ability to protect themselves from international killers any more than they have the clairvoyance to choose what to buy for themselves. No matter whether we’re discussing terrorism, cyber-security, or consumer habits, it’s foolhardy to deny that without corporations, we are as helpless and exposed as fish in a barrel—or the ocean at the very least.

It’s inevitable that we rely on corporations for these fundamental needs, just as we rely on them for everything else: the building of infrastructure, the shaping of our society, and the social stratification of our population. So let’s take a moment to calm down, cause I’ve seen a lot of griping going on about the notion of the government and corporations perusing through our personal data in order to serve us better.

At Brad OH Inc., we suggest you give up this tired charade. Safety, privacy, and advertisements are better left to those who know how to run things. Worrying is for the birds, and in our humble opinions, the only action left to your sorry lot is to relax and accept the inevitable. After all, be it civil liberty or private data, the only real way to protect what you own is to own nothing at all!

Maybe this notion seems hostile to you? Maybe you’re the sort that easily set off by trifling abdications of liberty? I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re entirely wrong her. Consider this: if you don’t like what you’re reading right now, maybe it’s your own fault. After all, if we here at Brad OH Inc. had the level of access to your personal lives and information that the government and other corporations do, we could happily go out of our way to ignore reality and write up just about anything you wanted to hear.

…Just like they do.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Metaphorical Imperative Revisited

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampIn our last article, ‘Without Words’ we reflected on the idea of what the world would be like without the vocabulary to define it. The concept was an interesting one to write about and consider; ultimately, it got us thinking back on another article we wrote, ‘The Metaphorical Imperative’.

The Metaphorical Imperative, for those who don’t recall, was a notion we explored about the source of and meaning behind creativity. In a nutshell, the idea is that as human beings evolved and our cerebral capacity expanded, the ability to question our world or ask ‘why’ would have appeared around the same time as the ability to use abstract conjecture to answer the question. These activities are certainly tied to language, although they need not be defined by it. Still, for the purposes of this article, we will take articulated thought as the base point for our considerations.

The fundamental assertion behind the concept of ‘The Metaphorical Imperative’ is that if humans owe any reverence or thanks for their current state, we owe it to the incredible work of evolutionary architecture that is our own minds—not to any god, devil, or undefined miscreant in between.

The need for existential reassurance, the fear of death, and the question of what we are and why we are here; these are all the direct products of a brain grown sufficiently complex to wrestle with such abstractions, and this alone is more miraculous and better cause for celebration than any story I’ve read in a holy book.

But that leads us to the next point. If our ability to ask questions is a miracle, what can be aid of our ability to create the answers for them?

Metaphor is the abstract use of one object to find or create meaning in another. If abstract thought is the impetus for asking ‘why’, then the tool for answering it is metaphor. My contention is that these abilities would have evolved in relatively close proximity to one another, representing a true ‘awakening’ of humanity.

If we are to discuss metaphor and meaning, we might as well start with one of the most famous—and central to our current topic. In the Garden of Eden, it’s said that Eve (that reckless upstart) ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and thus doomed mankind forever.

Thanks a lot, Eve.

I find an interesting parallel in this. This fruit, the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ which caused mankind’s fall from innocence, is symbolically comparable to the notion of the Metaphorical Imperative, in which we gain both the ability to question our nature, and the skill to fashion suitable answers.

But it’s really the answers that interest me here; the nourishing apples to the terrible hunger of ennui. Via our ability to create meaning, the human race has tapped into our most fundamental and defining abilities: creation, art, and belief.

The power of this ability might be observed most directly in expressions such as organized religion, whose depth of belief has inspired acts of miraculous empathy and terrible cruelty. But the power of metaphor isn’t limited to religion alone. Any story—TV shows, books movies, video games—has the power through metaphor to provide just as much as religion to anyone with the ability to relate to it on a personal or psychological level.

Stories are the foundation of all culture; ideas, philosophy, art and religion, the fundamental basis of humanity can be defined as the ability to dream things up in a way they are not.

There are no exceptions. Whether it’s sports, gods, science-fiction, or science alone, everyone places their trust in some grand idea, anchoring their hopes and aspirations to some intangible notion that rings true to them.

Luke Skywalker, Aragorn, The New Orleans Saints, Zen Buddhism, Zeus and Allah and Jesus, all the angels in heaven and demons in hell have sprung from this one key human drive. All art is the product of the metaphorical imperative, and stands as testament to everything which makes us human.

But here an important consideration arises in our series of metaphors. If, as suggested earlier, this key drive which makes us human (for both good and ill) was represented as the great deception of the devil in the garden, then perhaps all artists are in fact worshipping the devil.

Perhaps the development of consciousness and desire in humans was an accident—a random fluke forever changing the course of our species. No doubt we would have existed in perfect harmony with our environment if we’d never developed the capacity to believe we are separate or better.

Maybe it’s a good thing, and maybe not. But although this cerebral capacity has led to great pain and suffering throughout history, I refuse to believe it is not also the thing which will see us to what we need to become. Creation and metaphor, for all our missteps, define us as the beautiful, shining bastards we are, and will someday show us just how incredible we can truly be.

All we need to find is the right story.

-Brad OH Inc.

Without Words

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Among the many blessings inherent to being a writer, paramount among them is the gift of always having the right word for a given occasion. Any writer—and even well-read non-writers—knows the thrill of pulling out some million-dollar word that so perfectly encapsulates your predicament it seems made just for the occasion. But recently, I found myself wondering just what sort of blessing this is, and whether with every proud smile and impressed friend that comes with knowing how to effectively articulate some miniscule event, some greater thrill may be lost.

What would the world be like without words?

Not many know—and those that do would certainly have a difficult time expressing it. It’s a primal sort of idea, hearkening back to cold days huddled around small fires on the plains of the savannah; gazing with inexpressible unease into the encroaching dark.

Sitting at that fire, you might feel the cold creeping into your bones, and with no words for why, toss another handful of sticks onto the glowing coals of your salvation. The flames would lick up; tiny firefly sparks sailing up into the boundless night sky to get lost among the countless, brilliant stars that watch you each night from above as the wolves watch from below.

The heat would swell, pushing back the creeping chill of night in its eternal yet ultimately futile battle. You might smile, and your head would swim with the wonder of it all. You would understand the connections and worship the results, but you’d have no words for the meaning behind it. A smile would have to suffice.

The next day would find you rested and warm, the sun back again, reliable as ever, chasing away the nameless demons of night and promising again that the familiar cycle would continue. And you would be glad.

There would be no words for the joy that day brings, nor the trepidation you might feel when the thunder clouds roll in, covering up the sun and threatening with their deep voices to tear the sky asunder.

With all the terrible fury of an unimagined god they would come, beating down with rain and hail from above, and shattering the mountaintops with flashes of authority beyond description.

Imagine then the relief when they passed, and again the world returned to normal—like it always did. Imagine the thrill of security and the reassuring surge of faith in your pounding heart: imagine it all without words.

So too would every waking moment be defined by such wonder. In the world we live in now—there are words for everything, even if at times many seem to fall so pitifully short.

Without words, how confounding would be ideas like hate, and love, and grief. Without a means of expressing them, how could we ever let go of that which hurt or hallowed us. All would be reduced to the guttural screams of terror or triumph; communication shackled to the hair-tearing passions of inarticulate isolation.

With no weather systems or science or writing, the world would be an unpredictable place of magic and mania—and every turn would bring some uplifting new idea which would lie stillborn on lips incapable of giving them birth.

It’s a marvellous but inaccessible idea. I think about it a lot, and slide every time down an unspeakable precipice of wonder and nostalgia, as if touching by proxy upon the culturally inherited passions we all share in our ancient past. It fills me with an incredible sense of awe, but each time I’m moved to encapsulate the extent of such feelings, I find sadly that I am without words.

-Brad OH Inc.

Bourbons by the Fire

Under the Green Desklamp…

Green Desklamp

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.

The Constitution is America’s Bible

purelyspeculationI’ve heard it said that the Constitution is America’s Bible. I have to admit it has a nice ring to it. Certainly, it can’t be argued that the founding document of the USA is held in high regard—revered even, in the same way that devout Christians look to the Bible.

Further, the constitution is often cited as an absolute, just like the Bible. “That’s my constitutional right…” you might hear someone declare, with the same self-righteous cadence one might declare that “it’s the word of God”. The speakers in both examples inevitably mean the same thing: There’s no use debating it.

I’ve come to suspect however that the colloquial turn of phrase doesn’t mean quite what I might’ve assumed. When people say that the Constitution is America’s Bible, they’re often referring to perceptions similar to those mentioned above. It may be that they see the Constitution as irrefutable, absolute, or beyond reproach. Further, there are some who use the phrase to expound on the Biblical inspirations for the Constitution (Source)—which serves of course only to solidify the former perception.

But those aren’t the sort of notions that brought the phrase to my mind the other day, and they’re certainly not the ideas that have followed from that initial reflection—terribly far from it in fact.

It’s not that I disagree with the comparison. To the contrary—the quote occurred to me quite independently, a natural extension of a concern I’ve been harbouring for a while, and which comes to light again and again whenever I read a news article in which the Constitution is invoked to cease all further debate.

The Constitution, it’s true, is America’s Bible—but not in the way they mean.

The Constitution, written in 1787 and ratified in 1788, lays out the fundamental principles of the USA as envisaged by the founding fathers—and is the de facto final source of relevance when it comes to all things Americana.

The Bible is similar. Of course, that depends on what we’re talking about exactly, but for the purposes of this article, any Holy Book will do really. If we’re talking about the Christian Bible, the New Testament was written around 2000 years ago, and the Old Testament approximately 3500 years ago. The Quran is estimated to be around 1358 years old. Still, much like the constitution, each serve their own role as the final word—the irrefutable truth in all related matters.

Absolutism is dangerous in even the most light-hearted issues, and especially so when the stakes involve the governing of a country or ruling of a faith. Countless wars have started on grounds justifiable, and even necessary, according to the laws of holy books, and no less so for those in the constitution.

But that’s not all they have in common. Whether 3500 years old like the Old Testament (also called the Pentateuch or the Torah), or a mere 226 years old like the constitution of America (successfully amended only 27 times—of which the first 10 compose the Bill of Rights, and were written only a year after the original document), these are, at best, historical documents.

When considering the merits of any historical document, and especially in evaluating its relevance for modern understanding, we must consider a number of key factors. Firstly, being historical documents, context is an important consideration when making any attempt to apply their instructions in a contemporary setting.

Meanings change, as do the circumstances which might at one time necessitate a law, and at others render it counterproductive. In the case of the Bible or other Holy Books, one key problem is translation. Over the long stretch of time it’s existed, countless translations have occurred to bring it to its current state. What depth of meaning might have been lost in these translations is hard to say—especially when weighed alongside the vastly different political and social environment of its original writing.

It’s a difficult knot to untie, but whether it’s a matter of translation or social context, there exists a slew of Biblical rules which we can surely agree fail to fit our expectations of divine leadership in the present age. The Bible forbids the crossbreeding of cattle, requires death to both partners in an adulterous relationship, suggests the burning of prostitutes and stoning of unchaste daughters, forbids the eating of pork, of mixing fabrics, and even calls for death to children who disrespect their parents. A harsh set of rules—but arguably conceived of and considered sensible in such entirely different times.

But times change, and so too should our reverence for works which are so inseparably tied to their own era.

The constitution is little different. In terms of language and context, one of the most obvious examples is the infamous second amendment. This key piece of the bill of rights (Ratified in 1791) protects the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms. Specifically, it’s intended as a protection of citizens against their government, in order to allow for the raising of a people’s militia. However that legislation is now 223 years old, and at the very least, the meaning of a word like ‘arms’ has changed along with the technology which it describes.

Currently, debate is waged constantly over the intentions and effective modern interpretations of this amendment, as school shootings and death by gunfire run rampant in the USA.

But these documents present another dangerous precedent unrelated to historical context or accidental mistranslation. When any creed is treated as absolute, it becomes an indefatigable trump card against any set of actions acting contrary to the interpreter’s agenda. The very nature of interpretation is malleable, and thus any issue may easily be shoe-horned into its speculated intentions. This is intentional misinterpretation, and is an especially prominent issue right now with the American Constitution.

The passing of Citizens United (Link), a case of constitutional law which used an intentionally flawed interpretation of the Constitution, ultimately made two incredibly damning determinations. Firstly, in the eyes of the law, a Corporation is considered to be interchangeable with a human being. Secondly, the spending of money in a political campaign is protected as a form of free speech (the protection of which is guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution).

This legislation has directly led to the seizure of the American Government by Corporate interest groups and labour unions, as they buy up politicians and usher through laws intended to benefit only their profit margins.

Once again we run into the confounding quagmire of interpretation. The Bible, for instance, fully encourages the owning of slaves—so long as they are from foreign nations (Leviticus 25:44). This is a point which is happily ignored by most religious practitioners. Yet if Wall St. and the Stock Exchange in general are meant to allow people to buy and sell shares in Corporations, and Corporations are legally defined as human beings, then Wall St. and the American Stock Exchange must be little more than a glorified slave market.

It’s a difficult circle to square, but considering that the Constitution begins with the famous preamble of “We the people…”, the fact that meaning and sense have all but left the building should come as no surprise to any observer of the current political scene. The document has been bastardized for agendas entirely removed from the interests of the people—one need look no further than the establishment of ‘Free Speech Zones’ (Link) for evidence of that.

Presently, we continue to look to holy books for advice: on family planning, attitudes towards love, and more. The constitution as well is the be-all-end-all source for issues which had no contextually-relevant counterpart in the time of its conception. Issues such as gun control in modern times, managing political dissent, the definition of marriage and more will not be solved by looking to the uninformed past, but rather by looking ahead, with the clairvoyance and empathy which can be garnered from hundreds of years of crucial experience.

Ultimately, whether you’re looking to one of the Holy Books for inspiration, or to the Constitution for guidance, it’s worth considering that you might be doing a fire-dance to fix your empty lighter. While there is undoubtedly great wisdom and sense to be had in both documents, at the end of the day, to live by laws set out for different times rather than relying on the common sense and decency inherent to us all is a misguided effort. Here at Brad OH Inc., we look forward to the day when such archaic attitudes are as outdated as the source material upon which they rely.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘In That Number’

At Brad OH Inc., we dedicate many of our waking hours to the enjoyment and study of music. Soon, this may play a more pivotal role in the updates at Brad OH Inc., but for now we have for you a simple story, inspired largely by a single song.

‘In That Number’ is a story about change, and one man’s uncertainty as he heads irrevocably towards a reckoning that will leave his world unrecognizable. It’s not up to him who goes with him and who stays behind, and as he heads towards the unknown, he reflects on what’s come to pass, what may yet be, and the weight of the choices which have led him to this junction.

This enigmatic short story was partially inspired by the song ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, with particular credit to the Bruce Springsteen version. We here at Brad OH Inc. hope you enjoy it, and your undying loyalty to us when the trumpets finally sound their call.

Click the link below the image to Download that new story free!

In That Number Cover

‘In That Number’- Smashwords

-Brad OH Inc.