How to be a Decent Human

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I’m not a great person.

Sometimes I’m not even good, exactly.

I’d like to think I’m alright.

At the very least, I certainly try to be decent.

It’s not such a complicated thing really. I read a quote from comedian Ricky Gervais recently. He was commenting on the idea that people felt like they couldn’t joke anymore, and how that really wasn’t the case. The full quote is below.

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The crux of this really comes down to how a person reacts to a contrary opinion. Yes, you can tell a joke, but if it ends up hurting someone else that hears it, the question becomes not ‘was the joke funny’, but rather, ‘do you give a shit’?

Caring about other people is, after all, one of the chief qualifiers of decency.

If you tell a joke (or any other sort of comment or action) that gets a negative reaction, you don’t have to defend the joke, or your values, or lament the days where we could say anything we wanted and expect others to choke back their pain in defense of your ‘humour’.

People might be hurt. They may be upset or offended. And you, despite the joke being yours—and assuming it was not meant to hurt—can hear that pain.

It may come as a surprise that you can even ask questions. Not to challenge or undermine their feelings, but to better understand their experience to the extent they are comfortable sharing it.

In the end, you may both be able to learn something, transforming a painful encounter into an opportunity for mutual growth.

It’s not always easy, and no one likes being called out or corrected. It can be uncomfortable, even confusing at times to realize that something you’ve said or done has been deemed inappropriate by another.

What do you say? What do you do?

Well, one simple trick is to start with an apology. You don’t have to fully understand the nuance of differing opinions—it can be enough to understand that another is hurting, and that you are sorry for that. People sometimes need their pain acknowledged, and your obstinate focus on the hilarity of your joke should never undermine that need.

After that, there may be room for discussion, learning and growth. It’s important to remember of course, that the learning just may include the fact that the joke simply wasn’t funny, and that you should not repeat it.

That can be enough.

It’s not that you can’t discuss things anymore—it’s just that the discussion needs to have two sides. You’re not being told not to be yourself—unless you’re an asshole—and certainly, you can still feel free to joke around. Just realize that sometimes, there will be people who will point out the flaws of that joke. From there, it’s up to you to improve the approach, content, or delivery… or risk proving that the real joke is you.

-Brad OH Inc.

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‘Fire Pro Wrestling World’ Review

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Now that our novel ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ is on it’s way to market, there’s only one sensible move to make. Official endorsements! Yup, that’s right—we’re selling out!

Well, we’re trying at any rate, but the offers are few and far between. So, this one’s a freebie.

Fire Pro Wrestling is a weird sort of series—easily cast aside for flashier, ‘official’ franchises by an undiscerning eye. For the most part, it’s based on Japanese wrestling companies (this new edition scored an official association with NJPW), or completely fictional characters. Furthermore, it’s a 2D game which looks like a very slightly updated version of the WrestleFest arcade game.

Beneath this surface simplicity however, there is a depth to Fire Pro that only a fanatical wrestling fan could ever begin to appreciate. For starters, it’s creative, or ‘edit’ mode is robust enough to allow every last wrestler one could ever dream of being in the game to be created to excellent likeness, with perfect move sets, and logic which ensures that when the CPU controls the character, they play and act just like their real-life counterparts.

The result is that with Fire Pro, you can have any sort of wrestling game you want—or all of them. The roster is limited only by your memory space and imagination, allowing for 1000s of unique wresters divided up into all the various leagues, federation, divisions, and categories you can hope for. Rings can be created as well, and with the increasing accessibility of the online community’s support, building these dream rosters has never been easier.

Fire Pro Wrestling World isn’t perfect, and the User Interface could certainly use a lot of work. Occasionally, it will force you to scroll through your list of wrestlers with no ability to sort them—just hundreds rolling by in one big list. It’s frustrating to say the least, and this is not the only such example of poor user design.

Nonetheless, this iteration of the long-loved franchise is likely to be the best and longest supported we’ll ever see. While this is particularly true of the PC version, which features a host of user-built mods to solve the problems Spike-Chunsoft cannot, my preference has always been console, and that’s where I’ll enjoy it for now.

While the PS4 community is growing slowly, and may never match that of the PC crowd, I’ve had little trouble finding very fine versions of most every wrestler, boxer, or UFC fighter I’ve wanted, and am left with little room for complaint.

In the end, Fire Pro Wrestling will remain a niche title. Not everyone will get past the dated look. The gameplay—which requires a greater sense of timing, skill, and knowledge of how to ‘work’ a wrestling match—can be a challenge to newcomers, but remains rewarding to vets who understand that wrestling matches are not just fights. This is the kind of wrestling game that includes a button to let your opponent pull off a move in order to get a better match going. I suspect it’s the only one of that kind.

Niche title though it may be, that niche is strong. It’s a game made by passionate people, and it inspires a passionate following. While other companies focus on picture-perfect graphics and flashy modes, with iterations every year trading one feature for another without ever really providing what the consumer wants, Fire Pro goes a different route. Fire Pro is about fun and creativity. It’s closer to a Lego set than a DVD. It lets you enjoy it in your own way, and find whatever you love about wrestling within its endless possibilities. Many people actually prefer ‘simming’—watching an entirely CPU controlled match—even more than they play.

I guess this isn’t really a review after all. Not in the traditional sense at any rate. It’s really more of a love letter. Fire Pro is an amazing series, and Fire Pro Wrestling World—despite it’s flaws—may be the crown jewel of that franchise. It is more accessible, has a better online community, and to put it simply, it’s endless fun.

Go buy it.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: EViL

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

This post was originally from March 19th, 2017. It remains sadly relevant however, and we thought it deserved a re-share.


In the great old stories, it’s never hard to spot the source of evil. It may be a winged beast, or a black rider, or a simple, unblazoned ring sitting on a table, just waiting to change the world…

In reality, however, it’s rarely so easy. Evil may take many guises, and come from any direction. Is evil inherent to humanity? Can it ever be prevented?

Education, equal opportunity and the provision of basic needs and human rights is the most obvious answer, for by removing the greatest temptations towards desperate actions, we are most likely to see them decrease. Yet there seems to be an evil in this world which pervades and permeates even the best intentions. It sprouts up no matter what we do. It finds the cracks, or makes them, and it’s dark blossom unfolds often where it is looked for the least.

Traditionally, there are two ends of the polarity in response. One is to be jaded and fearful, rejecting everything different lest it bring evil in with it. This may prevent the terror from without, but it transforms the hearts of people, and creates hatred and evil within.

The other side would be unending faith in the goodness of human kind, sometimes to the open denial of the gathering clouds. This is idealistic, and often this school of thought is quickly met by the bitter reminder that in the end, best intentions cannot ward off evil acts.

We cannot be too careful, or too careless. Vigilance is the price of peace, and those who would deny the presence of evil may soon suffer its harsh truth.

Alas that we do not have a ring to focus on and destroy. Evil is a more insidious thing than that, manifested most often in the sins of pride, greed, and avarice—the strongest motivators of human vice. We cannot see it, nor cast it into the volcano to banish it forever.

Yet the discerning heart can feel it grow. Where will it strike? None can say.

Still, if you pay attention, you can feel the tension in the air, smell the fresh tinders and see the sparks dancing against the black night sky. Old threats and bedtime stories are alive again. Evil grows…now is the time for heroes.

-Brad OH Inc.

Who Are We?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

One phrase that’s heard with depressing frequency these days is the impotent refrain of “this is not who we are”.

It begs the question—who are we?

That’s a pretty deep question to anyone but an asshole.

Personally, I’m a little bit different around pretty much everyone I know.

I notice their sense of humour, the tones and facial expressions they respond to best, establish nicknames and idioms to go back to in need.

Alone? That’s a wildcard.

Still, I don’t expect that’s what makes someone something.

Is it their actions?

Their stories?

The changes they’ve made?

The happiness they’ve created?

…Who am I?

A soul, lost and confused, trying it’s best to do good for the world. Taking it all in—the good, the bad, the perverse, the fanatical. Working to process it all, to understand it all, to bring it all together, and in the light remind it.

…Who it was in the beginning.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘That’ Guy at the Bar

 

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I’d arrived early for my flight, so naturally I found myself at the airport bar having a few last beers before calling it curtains on another fine vacation.

With the thrill of travel still having hold on me, my eyes shot about the room, this way and that, taking in all the different sorts of people gathered. Now, they were no longer the fascinating locals of a strange land, but a mixed assortment of likeminded travellers coming or going to where I would never know.

It was a fairly typical crowd. Young couples with diamonds in their eyes, old men with coals. People exhausted from long treks and people eager to start new ones. And of course, there was ‘that’ guy.

We’ve all seen him before.

Red faced and talkative. Talking too loud, talking too much. Talking too forcefully—too absolutely certain of the value of his long-winded rants, and utterly convinced he was the life of an otherwise non-existent party. He was the kind of idiot you see all the time.

The kind I do my best to avoid. And I certainly tried.

I scrolled through my phone and sipped my beer while waiting on my burger. Still, I’d glance up now and then, taking in the annoyed but patient expressions around him.

He’d already shouted out a young couple sitting on the side of the bar near him. They laughed and waved as they hurried away. I saw his laugh melt into a leer as he watched her take her partner’s hand and leave. Then he fell into blathering to a bunch of young ‘bros’ at the bar, and I figured that would keep him occupied for a while.

My burger arrived, and I thought that was the end of it.

As I finished my meal and got to work on my next beer, I noticed that the young men had been abandoned by their loud-mouthed old counterpart. He was on the other side of the bar now, clawing at some young lady as he bellowed about his life and worth and ‘stories you wouldn’t believe’.

I wondered if she could be his daughter. That would explain the perturbed expression on her face and the patience she showed as he leaned his red face in over-close and tried once more to catch at her arm. How many times had she found him like this?

Or maybe she was just another poor stranger. Perhaps she knew the younger men and was trying to make her way past him to join her companions.

They were staring at their phones now though, and their lack of recognition seemed almost intentional.

She glanced about nervously as he spoke. I felt concerned, but maybe she was just late for a flight and struggling to remain polite.

I caught her eye at one point, and it seemed the look held overlong. Nervously, I glanced away, hoping she didn’t take me for another idiot ready to cast my hand in on the action.

Was he trying to kiss her there, or just leaning in too much under the weight of his drink?

Everyone else stared intently at whatever screen was nearest at hand. But now, I was worried.

He offered to walk her to her gate and she said she would be fine.

He persisted, and she joked that she was a big girl and could handle herself.

She laughed nervously and cast her eyes downward as she tried to step around him. That didn’t work either.

Finally, I felt guilty. I’d waited too long, thought too much.

That’s the point of all this. ‘No’ is a word to be respected. And she’d said it in every way possible while avoiding making too much of a scene.

He was circling around and cornering her near the exit by the time I stood up. I caught her eye again, but spoke this time, loud enough for the bar to hear me above his commotion. “Are you ok there?”

Until that moment, she had held her countenance in a nervous, meek mask of worry and embarrassment. Now, it threatened to break as she leaned desperately around him to answer me, “…no.”

That one did the trick. I turned to him now, giving her my back and clearing a way to the door. He looked up at me with the wry confidence of a man who has been told he was special all his life and finally came to accept it as sacrosanct.

“You need to leave her alone.” Bereft of his banter, I imagine the whole bar heard me. Still, few looked up from their phones. But she took the opening, and darted through the exit.

He held my gaze for a moment in challenge, his ruddy face wrinkling with the supreme disappointment of a toddler being told they couldn’t keep the toy they’d torn from the shelf. Then he shrank back.

“Ok,” he said with a churlish sneer, and slunk off to his seat. He sat back down with the young guys, and soon they were all laughing again.

People kept scrolling on their phones.

I wondered if I was too aggressive, and sat in uncomfortable silence until the bar tender slid over a free beer. “Good man,” he said with a conspiratorial nod.

My vacation was over. She was, presumably, safe. He, I assume, would be unaffected by the encounter.

As I finished up my second beer before moving onto the free one, I reflected on the questions I’d asked myself before acting. The justifications for my potential silence.

Was she his daughter? No.

Was she just a patient stranger? No.

Was she amused by the banter but in a rush to catch a flight? No.

It was clear enough now. It wasn’t about her shyness, or her effort to be polite. Her patience in avoiding a scene didn’t matter, and my reticence to be part of one didn’t either.

She’d said no. At least four times. That was all that mattered, and that should have been the end of it. She should not have had to repeat herself, and if she did the whole bar should have risen loudly to back up her statement and support her choice. But that’s not the world we live in.

It should not have come down to one lone person accepting they would have to be the one to stand up. But I guess that’s where we are these days, and it’s probably well ahead of where we were not so long ago.

I slid the empty cup across the bar and started on the free one. It was cold and smooth.

‘That’ guy at the bar. I thought about the term. It should mean something different. Not the pushy idiot who has no place in the bar to begin with, but rather the ones willing to speak up for those going unheard.

I wondered, if I ever saw the moment to be ‘that’ guy again, would I hesitate?

No.

-Brad OH Inc.

Project FearNaught- ‘We’re All Going to Die’

Sad but true—we are all going to die. The awareness of death is a distinct privilege for humans—our cerebral capacity allows us to foresee our inevitable endpoint in a way that no other animal can imagine. This ‘mortality salience’ is among the driving forces of humanity, and has been the genesis of countless stories and myths, as well as a key feature of almost all major religions.

The question always becomes: What happens when we die? It’s as if some certainty to this quandary might settle our nerves when the time comes—and well it may. However, the funny thing about death is that not many get the chance to report back. So, whether it’s pearly gates, Elysium fields, an endless void, or something entirely different, we are left to wonder.

Today however, we are going to take this issue head-on—providing a minimalist view of the afterlife which should be accessible to all, and act as an effective guidepost for personal moral accountability. This is not meant to be taken as a proof or even a strong belief, but rather a fundamental jumping off point: a basic answer, and a prompt for greater personal insight.

Whether you seek admittance into Heaven, Valhalla, or any other similar notion, what I want to provide for you today is a roadmap of behaviour guaranteed to get you there.

In order to do so, I will present you with five simple assumptions. Once these assumptions are accepted, I will outline a fundamental interpretation of the afterlife which will suffice to guide the action of any man, woman, or child seeking a positive post-mortem experience.

The 5 Assumptions are:                          

  1. We have a sense of right and wrong:

Specifically, the assumption is that we can feel good or bad about actions we have taken. For instance, if we think about betraying a friend, we may feel guilty. If we consider being there to help a loved one, we may feel proud or valued.

  1. Our experience of time is relative to our experience of pleasure/ pain:

This one sounds a bit more complex than it is. What I am seeking here is a basic recognition that when we have a good time, it seems to fly, and that when we suffer, time seems to drag.

  1. Death is the greatest displeasure:

As animals driven by animal instincts, our general inclination is to avoid death at all costs. Essentially, our own death is the worst thing to experience.

  1. When you die, your life flashes before your eyes:

It may be that none of you are as well-equipped as me to accept the truth of this one. It’s an old concept for sure, and one that I myself have recently experienced and will attest to in a roundabout sort of way.

  1. A number cannot be divided by zero:

This one may come as a twist, but in order to finish this concept, we need to agree on this basic mathematic principle—specifically regarding calculus and graphing.

Now, based on the five assumptions we just agreed on, we can imagine a very interesting and poignant thing happening the moment we die. First of all, as I’m sure you can surmise, you’re going to have your life flash before your eyes. On top of that, since we agreed that you have some semblance of morality, you are going to have certain feelings—some positive, some negative—about the way you have lived.

However, we’ve also agreed that our experience of time slows down as we experience more adverse situations, and further, that death is the worst thing to experience. Considering this in relation to our final fact, I ask that you imagine a graphic function for a moment.

For this graph, we will have the X-Axis represent our experience of pain. The lower the value, the more pain we experience.

The Y-Axis will represent our experience of time. The greater the value, the more relative time any given moment seems to take.

Since death is the worst possible experience, as the X-Axis approaches death (or a zero divisor), the value of the Y-Axis (our relative experience of time) grows exponentially greater without ever reaching said zero.

This is called an asymptote. The Y-Value will veer upwards towards infinity as the X-Value creeps closer to its natural dead-end. According to the precepts of our graph, what this means is that as we approach the moment of death, we find ourselves in a single moment experienced as an eternity.

So here we are, stuck in an eternal moment, looking back at our lives, and feeling good or bad about it—or some mixture of both.

This concept affords to us a vision of eternity which compels us to virtue, not to avoid punishment—which is no true virtue at all, merely coercion—but for the reward of decency itself. It is a functional clearing of the dogma and artifice which has grown over the reliefs of truth, and tasks us simply with being prepared to face ourselves and our actions not only on the day of our death, but each preceding day as well.

This to me is the most basic understanding needed to live a righteous life. The concept we should take away from it, simply put, is that we should take no action we would not be comfortable looking back on for eternity.

Share this, and use it each day. Think on your actions, and encourage others to do likewise. For Project: FearNaught to change the world, we must confront our virtues and vices head-on. That is the purpose here. The task may be daunting, but it can be accomplished…have no fear.

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

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

Where the Children Sleep

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Over here, the children sleep,

In warm and comfy beds,

They dream of games and food and joy,

And peace is in their heads.

Will they see their friends at school?

Will they see a parade?

Will their parents yell today?

Or will their anger fade?

Over there, the children sleep,

On ground filthy and cold,

Will they have the same tomorrow?

Perchance will they be sold?

Will they have friends remaining,

When the bombs somehow bring peace?

Will their parents hold them tight,

or dying will they cease?

Yet we continue on our way,

Dividing here and there,

With more than enough to go around,

And make it ‘us’, everywhere.

Around the world, the children sleep,

The darkening night away,

And do they dream in that deep sleep,

About a better day?

 

-Brad OH Inc.