Yule

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

There are lights hanging in trees, and the gentle sound of bells is everywhere. The ground is caked in thick, crunching snow, and the cold in the air can freeze the flesh.

In each house and every bar, parties are going on—people celebrating festivals, religious happenings, and the changing of the calendar.

Folk bustle about utterly convinced of their own importance, shouldering through busy crowds and sighing at anyone who might slow their urgent progress.

At random intervals, groups stand in circles and sing songs about happy times, or squalling infants.

Gifts are given.

Such is the season.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: Rhapsody

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Civil discourse these days has become pretty uncommon. You’ll rarely hear a debate that doesn’t soon slip into name calling and paranoid wailing.

It’s both sides.

Everyone is simply too afraid. Afraid of everything, yet somehow afraid of all the wrong things.

That fear is the problem, and it stunts any level of intelligent discourse by wheeling us into knee-jerk reactions and assumptions—making our conclusions for us. When angry and afraid, you go with what you know: Red or Blue.

That’s the thing about political thought however, it never quite fits into a single definition. Try as they may, there is no binary option that can capture the nuance of human belief—of our values.

Values, now there’s a word that’s thrown around a lot in politics, yet never really utilized the way it should be. Values, after all, are what it really comes down to. The truth of it is, I strongly suspect that a measure of fundamental values would show a far less divided picture of humanity than a typical measure of political preferences.

Behind the rhetoric and uproar, there do remain basic rights and wrongs, and obvious decencies which I still believe the vast majority of people can agree upon. These are values which go beyond culture and language.

They are innate to us, and are denied only by the most wretched of deviants, or those desperate souls who by poverty or avarice have found themselves denied entirely of their moral compass.

What would happen then, if people were to put aside their labels and colours—the brand names of political philosophy—and turn away from their hot button issues to discuss instead the basic values they hold dear.

No loose terms like freedom here. Tell me what that really means.

What do you love?

What do you fear?

What do you hate?

Do you realize the last answer is most likely the twisted spawn of some unknowable combination of the former two?

Or that the second closely follows the first?

Really though. If the world at large could manage such civil debate for a while—I mean really keep it going, get deep, and avoid falling back into the ‘yeah but’ type thinking which somehow convinces us that the forces of reality must in the end overwhelm the deepest of truths—what might be the result?

And what would you have to say?

-Brad OH Inc.

The Bushido of Bogney, Part V

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.

Today, 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-

-Click Here for Part IV-

Lesson 1:

When out for a walk, Bogney will occasionally get something stuck in his fur or paw. A thorn, a bur, or the like. Sometimes it may even be a clump of snow knotted painfully in his fur.

When this happens, he will limp, and look up to me for help. Finding the offending item, I will work to disentangle it from his fur. This increases the discomfort, and Bogney will pull away and struggle, which only hurts him more. If he could submit to the moment and be still, it would be over much quicker.

We all act this way sometimes in life.

Lesson 2:

Recently, Bogney had a painful stomach issue, and needed a tightly controlled diet. He needed to eat lots of fibre to get it under control, but because his stomach was hurting, he did not want to eat. Worse, when he did eat, he tried to choose soft, fatty items which were more tempting, but would only worsen his condition.

Often, our what we need and what we desire are very different.

Lesson 3:

Bogney loves to cuddle together with his parents, often ensuring at least part of him is touching each one. However, there are many occasions where his parents will be in different rooms. At these times, he will leave his bed or couch, and lay himself on the floor at the centre-point between their locations.

He sacrifices personal comfort to be as close as possible to both of his loved ones. We all stretch ourselves thin sometimes. This is the way with love.

Now however, the snow flakes are falling, and Bogney is sitting warm in his bed, watching them through the window. The pain of the past is forgotten, and he is content in his present moment.

This perhaps, is his greatest lesson to us. At least for today.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: The Constitution is America’s Bible

purelyspeculationThis post from 2014 was, and I believe remains, one of my most important and still tragically relevant. In the years since, the world–not limited to the USA–has continued down its dangerous path of theocratic madness and dogmatic adherence to outdated modes of thinking.

Have things gotten better, worse, or just weirder? Sound off in the comments below.


I’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.

The Curse of the Uncouth

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampAs the pandemic passes all too swiftly into memory and businesses start to run at full capacity once more, there are many long-lost amenities to appreciate with fresh eyes. Open air markets, dusty record stores, convenient shopping experiences, dine-in restaurants, and of course, the beloved local bar.

Returning to a closer approximation to normal at the local watering hole is a welcome relief to the cultured barfly—and the uncultured one to boot. In this wave of excitement however, there has long lingered an unspoken fear—perhaps the final curse of the dreaded Covid virus.

After more than two years of closed or limited bar service, this return to normal will debut not one, but almost three years worth of first timers to a busy bar scene. The Uncouth—they will have no experience to guide them, and no friends near in age to teach them. A stretch of clueless newbies from eighteen to twenty (CDN) will be plowing their way through crowded bar fronts, bumping into tray-laden servers, and forming lines where absolutely no line is needed.

Cologne-covered and cocky, they’ll stand with their backs pressing against the chair behind them, unheeding the discomfort of the sitting person who would much rather just be left alone.

Like spooked buffalo (or bison, for you locals) they’ll trample wild-eyed over the accumulated goodwill of crusty drunkards everywhere. Whining their way to the front of lines. Scrounging for cigarettes on the ground. Or worse yet, stealing quick hits from vape cartridges, leaving the discarded cigarettes to pile up on the ground unchecked. They’ll throw the whole damned eco-system off kilter!

They’ll request all the wrong songs, and dance far from the designated dance-floor. They’ll sing Top 40 lyrics in your general direction, and expect you to respond with enthusiasm!

This is the final sting, the lasting poison of a sickness which has already asked far too much.

Or maybe they’ll turn out ok.

Shit, I’m probably just getting old.

-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: Bullying in the Supermarket

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampHere at Brad OH Inc., we’re still working hard putting the finishing touches on our newest novel. We’ll have more info about that in the coming weeks, but for now, we’re re-sharing one of our oldest articles.

We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ It’s an adage we’ve all heard. Whether from animated rabbits, or our own dear parents, the majority of children are taught explicitly that being unkind is not the way to act in our society.

I was at a conference a while back discussing bullying in middle school, with a particular focus on cyber-bullying. The attendees were often shocked at the examples of childhood cruelty being perpetrated by and against youth these days.

Photos—often explicit—are shared around, and entire websites are dedicated to insulting one another, spreading rumours, and generally making life miserable. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a hard world for a child to grow up in.

This is especially true when we are constantly telling them that the expectations of life are otherwise—that adult society functions on the basis of good social graces, of respecting your fellow man and avoiding hurtful language. If this is how people are expected to act, it comes as a special shock to find that your peers are so steadfastly determined to undermine such ideals.

It was these thoughts which weighed on my mind as I stood in line at the supermarket after the conference ended. How can children be so cruel, and how can we teach them to act better?

The question didn’t linger very long. It was rather rudely chased from my tired brain by the glossy magazine covers flanking me on both sides as I worked my way slowly toward the register.

‘Guess whose cellulite this is’, a headline would read, and a zoomed in box drawn from a woman on the beach would reveal the unsightly lumps on her bikini-clad ass. Some celebrity had the audacity to appear in public, without the assistance of airbrushes and digital photo editing to help her. The nerve!

A man was accused of cheating. A context free photo of him hand in hand with a woman rested above a headline bemoaning his lack of values, and lamenting the inevitable ruin of his marriage.

The headlines were legion, each one attacking some vice or speculating on some perceived flaw. Entire front page spreads were dedicated to the attempted outing of supposedly gay singers, surgeries gone awry, and teens who could not afford to have yet another child.

It’s no wonder, I thought, placing my items on the scarred rubber conveyor belt. How can we tell children to be nice to each other when the clear and undeniable truth is that we cannot manage it ourselves?

It’s a savage hypocrisy. A society so feral and filled with hatred that even political debates eschew all relevant discourse in favor of painting one another as sexual deviants and money-grubbing lechers.

So what are we left to glean from the broad disconnect between expectations and practice? Do we assume that our children are stupid? That they will somehow fail to notice the overt double standard? Will they just ignore that swindling and deceit are the clear pathways to success in the job market, and that even our leaders have no qualms about saying mean things if their PR managers tell them it will get their ratings up?

Perhaps it’s not the kids who are to blame. In a society that worships the rich, adores the callous, fetishizes fallen idols and encourages its people to hack their way through friends and neighbours to climb a rung higher on the ladder, maybe such horrid indecency in children isn’t the aberration we treat it as. If these are the values we truly hold, perhaps such kids are just prototypes of the new age.

It’s a necessary survival strategy—a natural evolution.

But if our hope is for such cruelty to cease—for kids to go to school and enjoy the company of their peers, to feel safe and supported by those around them—we may consider starting the change with ourselves.

-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.