The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life
Browsing Radford University

all dirt roads lead to Obamacare

October23

as most of you know, I went to college at Radford University.

that’s where I first heard the derisive remark that, “all dirt roads lead to Virginia Tech”.

while I never actually had an issue with the denizens of Blacksburg, I see a lot of reasons to take shots at the hapless Obamacare website that now turns the term national healthcare into an oxymoron.

almost every path you take with the new healthcare system going forward is going to feel like a dimly lit rutted road. thusly, all dirt road will lead to Obamacare.

perhaps Virginia Tech can heave a sigh of collective relief to have that monkey off their backs. not even Michael Vick could scramble out of the hole the oval office has spawned for an unfortunate raison d’être.

never being lost for an opinion, and often with a strident effort, I’m getting a lot of feedback on my thoughts around whats not happening with the Obamacare website. Here is a significant point I’m going to focus on awhile…

j edgar hooverthe GOP worked ferociously to convince the White House to push this off for a year. That’s what fueled the government shut-down that the media-centric “obamacrats” skewered Republicans over. I doubt they knew the healthcare sit was going to blow-up, let alone be the biggest security blunder since J Edgar Hoover. but, had Obama worked with the Republicans instead of drawing his saber and standing over his toys, they would have ironically helped him save face.

this might be a new best example of, “lost opportunity cost”. another term the White House is likely all to familiar with.  perhaps now we know why Obama waited until his final term to try and pull this off.  it had to be on his terms… terms. terms. terms.

I wonder if this is the fatal “burning platform” for the Democrats?

so… If you watch news that is trending platforms like Yahoo!, you won’t see much information about Obaitandswitchrama aka Obamacare.

That’s because the media won’t let you frown at the current administration. evidently the Oval office had no idea the most massive piece of software developed since SAP was more buggy than an ant hill.

well… some potentially good news for CEO’s that come under any civil or criminal scrutiny is that they will be able to play, “the Obama card” and claim, by precedent, that despite their fiduciary responsibilities, they had no idea what was happening around them.

by the way… don’t bother wiring your Congressman about this problem that will soon define who we are as a people… both the House and Senate are exempt from the predations and faults of the new healthcare system. they represent you with the same level of care they might actually donate a kidney to you with.

this is an Ayn Ran nightmare. Obama is not Atlas. problem is none of us dare shrug.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

saying Goodbye to Chris Langer

October9

Hello Pearl.

I’ve only just learned about Chis’s death by reading the obituary section of the Radford Highlander magazine. I did a quick Google search and came up with his broader obituary.

I knew Chris for a couple of years at Radford University. I played on the Lacrosse team with him. I’ll submit his tour were the glory years. One of my favorite memories of Chris was him defending the goal at practice with a sawed-off goalie stick without a head. I’m pretty certain he was on acid. I recall Coach Woolley looking askance at him with chagrin. However, that weekend Chris shut-out Richmond. Chris was fairly well known for experimenting with a lot of things, including nutrition. He was always razor-thin. Chris was very intense. But, you could not help but like him on a deep level.

“An accomplished athlete, Chris played two intercollegiate sports for Radford University, where he was an All-Conference lacrosse goaltender and a member of the 1981 Virginia Intercollegiate State Championship soccer team.”

I’m not the least surprised Chris travelled far-and-wide with a rather ecclectic career-path searching for a way to connect with a lot of people and make a difference. I’m also not surprised that he appeared to feel that he pissed-off a lot of people. I’m sure they all forgive him because he had an aura of uniqueness about him that made him more interesting and inspiring than irritating or hurtful.

I really do hope this message finds you. People cared about your husband, and his legacy is real. Consider me a friend. I coach my daughters in Soccer and everyone else’s sons in Lacrosse. I tell my Chris Langer story to every goalie on every Lacrosse team I coach.

“Chris” Cork, ’84

super vision for what really matters

November11

Warning… Epic Blogpost alert, here.

If you’ve been following this Blog – and, of course, you have – you know that I’m enthralled with the idea of using Android on desktop and laptop computers. We have it working on two HP’s now. More about that to be sure. But, there is more to all of this this than most of you are aware.

The above tantalizing preamble above aside, allow me to get you moving in the right direction with this thought: If you have super powers then use them for good, says I.

And now for the really interesting part…

Google is now part of the evil empire. So, I have to evaluate whether it’s in the best interest of my own shareholders, and that of the world, at large, itself, to keep them as clients. I once had a similar dilemma with WebMD (insider information concerns, and then of course, the situation with the burning house) back around 2001, and another company I can’t name (but, in 2004 they were the largest website development company on the East Coast).

…what? Larry Page, himself, clearly dictated years ago that Google will “do no evil”.

As many faithful readers of this Blog are fully aware, and – don’t bother even trying to deny it, I had a Padawan on my hands named Nicholas Johnson who is a rabid Google and Android fan. He kept me on my toes and would go after me (and Steve Jobs) regarding all things relative to Google and the Android platform.

He did good, in that regard.

It’s certainly because of Nicholas that I now use an HTC EVO 4G cellular telephone that also happens to be an Android device (this will change, at some point. But, for the moment, I’m using it to experiment with, and learn). And, part of that entails putting Android on certain devices in a manner that could possibly unhinge Microsoft. I won’t bother pointing to a prior post about this. Just scroll down. Do it!

In any event, about six weeks ago he (Nicholas) came up with some market share numbers that had the Android platform making significant ground on Apple’s iOS. There is no doubt that one day the iPhone will likely be an also ran. And, that is fine, even by me. Apple sets the stage, if not consistently commanding it. And, they will pioneer and forge ever more promising technology advancements. And, Android will help prove Apple right. And, as a shareholder, I could never complain. And, by the way… You might be aware of the fact that Verizon just picked-up the iPad (even before the iPhone (that’s coming soon). So, that re[presents something of a paradigm (think SKYPE-ish) and how the world might lean into the Apple iOS.

As I mentioned above, I recently picked up the HTC EVO 4G handset offered through Sprint. Once again I was fed up with the awful service we have to suffer at the hands of AT&T. Mind you, I’m convinced it’s not the iPhone, as a hand-set. The AT&T infrastructure is clearly over-loaded. So,  this is really a great excuse for me to continue my open-minded quest for wicked-cool gear. Along the way, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of HTC, itself. They make great hand-sets used by almost all of the mobile service providers (including Apple). I’m not going to offer a review of the HTC EVO 4G, here. Suffice to say that it’s working great. I got used to the Android platform while using my NexusOne (now in the able hands of my eight year old who has upgraded to an HTC HERO). NOTE: I think the HTC EVO 4G is (was?) the first to use Android 2.2. Feel free to correct that information if I happen to be mistaken (but, it’s what Sprint says on all the promotional collateral). And, I’m not dropping any calls, yet. I’m told the voice quality is much better (by my wife any way).

Just in case you want some verification that HTC is onto something, don’t worry about my opinion. Do your own research and focus on consumer reports like the following:

http://reviews.cnet.com/best-cell-phones/

http://www.phonerated.com/menu.php?topic=best+phones+by+category

However, my point might not be what you are warming up to, thus far. So, go ahead and get ready.

…here it comes.

If I am going to preach being open-minded, then I need to make that my stand as well. Always. So, this might mean being in league with Google, other than them being a client of mine.

So, we are going to clear up some information, or even misinformation…

To wit… The battle between Apple and Google in the mobile space has been heating up, to be sure. But, new market share numbers from research firm Nielsen show the race isn’t even particularly close.

According to a recent report released, that compares the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, Apple’s iPhone OS has more than triple the market share Google’s Android operating system. Nielsen puts the iPhone OS market share at twenty-eight percent (28%), while Android’s is at nine percent (9%). The numbers also put Apple in second place behind BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM), which has a thirty-five percent (35%) share, and remains the leader in business utilization with a very loyal user base (but, keep watching Verizon – because their adoption of iOS gadgets is a game-changer). In third place is Microsoft Windows Mobile with nineteen percent (19%), followed by Google (not sure what this means, to be candid), Palm four percent(4%), Linux three percent (3%) [this could be interesting in terms of the actual {not Android} emerging open-source community], and Symbian two percent (2%). And, with recent Apple numbers now in-hand, we know that Apple is now selling more units than Blackberry. So, the business world is catching on… So, as to be expected, it’s going to be all about Apple and Google. That’s cool by me because I(and, those that follow me) own both stocks.

NOTE: Apple and Google both moved up by two percent (2%) in the first quarter of 2010. In the same period, RIM and Microsoft both lost two percent (2%) market share. And, this probably reflects the iPad that is changing everything. And, counts as mobile, certainly. I feel compelled to point-out that the iPad numbers failed to meet expectations this quarter. But, this is, ironically, Apple eating itself. What I mean by this is the iPad has everyone thinking twice about what type of mobile computer to purchase. Laptop sales are off as people consider buying an iPad instead – or, possibly the Android-powered tablet. But, the screen size will end up being an issue. And, again, Verizon will facilitate smart business people like John Adamski leveraging that platform to build platforms that also change the world. HINT: A company to watch is: eSenseRetail Corporation.

It should be also noted that when it comes to the mobility wars, Apple’s iPhone (jailbroken units aside) is only sold through exclusive service providers in key markets, whereas Android handsets are sold prolifically by almost all the service providers. To keep things in perspective, it takes multiple service providers and handset configurations combined to compete with Apple that might be setting the standard.

Might?

Pause for a moment and consider this as an abstract perception… Apple’s are not for everyone. But, Android devices are for everyone else. As long as Apple keeps it’s valuation, what else really matters?

Well… My point is that HTC can also set a quality standard. The Android OS is still unrefined. However, the quality of the hardware is outstanding. And, yes, as I’ve mentioned, HTC has it’s hand in building the iPhone. Hardware plus software plays are part of the formula for making money – both commercially and in stock ownership.

By the way… Just to further demonstrate that I’m not biased, my personal opinion is that Blackberry’s (I used the 8900 for awhile) might have the best voice quality. But, that simply won’t matter, soon enough.

Also… Chinese mobile phones are also in demand because they can be had cheap (it’s all relative, eh) and are often better knock-off’s (not only are three cups of tea important in China, but they have three separate levels of manufacturing quality – and, that is crucial in terms of understanding how to do business in-and-around China) than the original manufacturer. For example, six months ago, no one had heard of of G five mobile which was only founded in 2003, and they are now number ten in the world with a focus on China and India.

Swinging this bloated post around…

And, the epic nature of this post will broaden with the harsh reality that Google Inc.’s methods for recommending websites are being reviewed by Texas’ attorney general in an investigation spurred by complaints that the company has abused its power as the Internet’s dominant search engine.

So, get your collective heads around the emerging reality that, despite Serg’s and Larry’s best intentions (and, I know they were sincere because I saw their eyes twelve years ago), Google has grown up, and must needs act like a company corporation more concerned for the best interests of shareholders (profits) than altruistic interests.

Thusly, this will herald a strong likelihood that Google has joined the ranks of Microsoft as evil empire, despite it’s aforementioned credo of “do no evil”.

There is more (so much more) you didn’t know…

It’s not commonly understood that Google does not actually make anything. They buy almost everything. Back in July 2005, when Google seemed to have so much money it didn’t know what to do with, it quietly went about buying up a load of start-up companies. Some of these never really saw the light of day: for instance, Dodgeball, a service that allowed you to text a group of friends in a similar way to Twitter, has never really appeared anywhere in Google’s stable. Don’t just take my word for it. Read more, here (do it!): http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/a-complete-history-of-android-470327#ixzz14tk1w6bM.

This includes the Android Operating system. This makes for a vital difference between them, and companies that are true innovators, like Apple. It actually makes Google more like Microsoft, doesn’t it?

The antitrust inquiry carefully disclosed by Google about a month ago (you probably did not read the fine print of their 10-Q, and the media made little too-doo over it)  is just the latest sign of the intensifying scrutiny facing the company as it enters its adolescence.

Since its inception in a Silicon Valley garage twelve years ago, Google has gone from a quirky startup to one of the world’s most influential businesses with annual revenue approaching thirty billion ($30 lots of 0’s).

The review appears to be focused on whether Google is manipulating its search results to (gasp) stifle competition.

FACT: The pecking order of those results can make or break websites because Google’s search engine processes about two-thirds of the search requests in the United States, and handles even more volume in other parts of the world.

QUESTION: Does the Google generation want to acknowledge this? Perhaps of greater interest (to me anyway) is, do they care? And, does it matter?

…no… probably not… yes.

This fascinates me. And, this is why I get to be the “Cultural Architect”.

That aforementioned (I’ll trust your tracking with me, here) dominance, as perpetrated by Google for the benefit of people that pay them (altruism be damned, Larry), means a website ranking high on the first page of Google’s results will likely attract more traffic, and generate more revenue – either from ads or merchandise sales. That is influence. And, manipulation. So, there is Machiavelli raising his head – and, Microsoft that better be ducking theirs (keep reading).

On the flip side, being buried in the back pages of the results, or even at the bottom of the first page, can be financially devastating and, in extreme cases, has been blamed for ruining some Internet companies. That is also influence.

Influence is power. And, Machiavelli wrote the book on that subject: The Prince, in fact (see also The Art of War – and, it’s apropos).

What most of you certainly won’t know, and thank the North American media, for that, is European regulators already have been investigating complaints alleging that Google has been favoring its own services in its results instead of rival websites.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget that Google might pride itself on a pledge to maintain open architecture. But, quality will suffer for a long time. And, that is another vital difference between itself and Apple. So, there is Google being a bit more corporate, while Apple continues to lead the way both in terms of its pledge to be the best, and keep it fresh and, altruistic – while also being profitable. Genius, at naught but it’s very best.

Never mind the Adobe FLASH issue. That’s all a feint. Trust me. And, guess what? The end will justify the means, there. That makes sense if you are doing your home work, here.

There is nothing, ultimately sophomoric, about lessons learned at the feet of Machiavelli. That’s another thing Dr. Nick Pappas taught some of us at Radford University.

So… Microsoft could never match the “feel” of Apple (I’ve been using Windows 7 now for five weeks just to research this very point and to avoid any opportunity to be a hypocrite, or uninformed). Google has had it’s shot, but might be facing a big miss, here.

And… Google, not satisfied to let any and all coders into its Android app store (oh, those Babylonian whores), has invited non-coders alike to invent mobile apps of their own with a simple building-block system that, it claims, anyone can use (and, they are).

Did you know that Facebook developer Joe Hewitt isn’t buying Android creator Andy Rubin’s definition of what “open” means. I’ll not add a link to either Facbook or Mr. Hewitt. My daughter uses Facebook. And, I’m convinced it’s all a tragedy if not a plot realized by true terrorists to unhinge our community.

The promise, unrealized as yet, is to let every person who bores their friends talking about what a great idea they have for an app to build the thing and be done with it. Those that are sophomoric, and unrefined will think this is appropriate and fair. But, I’ll take them to task with an admonition that they don’t understand quality and accountability (although some Google apps are certainly great and cool and solid, to be sure).

Bear with me for a bit, this is a bit of a geek fest. You may be rolling your eyes (but if you are I bet you are also concerned about finances), but I’m having fun, with all of this.

Last month Jobs attacked Google’s Android smart phone operating system, arguing there are so many different versions of the software it’s hard to argue the software is accessible to users and developers as Apple’s iOS.

Shortly after that  Andy Rubin (the guy who actually coded Android, acquired by Google) replied, via Twitter, posting a computer command that would allow a developer to download and play with Google’s Android operating system. The message: “open’ means being able to play with the code”.

…Geek me with a spoon.

To help Mr. Hewitt’s point along, however, Android isn’t as open as, say, Linux (i.e. Ubuntu (not to be confused with the African tribal ethical philosophy) – something I use more and more (the operating system, not the philosophy [well… some times], and other open source projects, where anyone can add to the project before each official ‘release.’

Google App Inventor platform for Android demonstrates how markedly Google’s philosophy differs from Apple’s, whose app model it copied emulated to a great extent. Apple wants a velvet rope to keep sub-par developers out, but Google just sent them an engraved invitation, potentially opening the floodgates for exactly the type of deluge of unsophisticated apps that Apple seems so eager to avoid.

To wit…

“App Inventor requires no programming knowledge,” reads the Google’s description of the program, currently in a closed beta. “This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app’s behavior.” That reads cool. But, the result might not be. And, I like knowing. It’s what you don’t know, understand, or can see that can and will kill you first.

In summary, when all things relevant to mobility, handsets, platforms, and service are said and done, I only really care about best-of-class and quality. So, right now HTC appears to make the best quality handsets, and Sprint might be the best cellular service provider, and Apple might be the standard for excellence that drives all of them mad with the passion to innovate, compete and improve.

And, as I’ve mentioned in a prior post, I love it, because the death-knell for Microsoft is booming. Apple is leading Google right down Microsoft’s throat, and they are going to choke on all of it.

Apple will come and go. Perhaps like the old Bell Labs. Google has seen it’s day. Few people will be millionaires now because of it’s stock. And, that reality has also changed it’s culture – just like what happened at Microsoft. Interestingly, employees can still build wealth by owning shares of Apple.

All of that is a good thing. Because we all win. Especially if you understand: The Way Things Work.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

authentic human progress

November5

Last week, I recalled that, during my many visits to the desert (you’ll ask: “metaphorically speaking?” I’ll respond: “does it really matter?”), I met a wise man named Buck O’Neil – a prophet, if you will – and, asked him the secret to a long, successful life.

“Good genes,” was all he said, at first.

Buck left us all behind October 6, 2006 – the day before my birthday, just like Dad. There is a rhythm and pattern to life with that. But, we’ll discuss it some other time.

His hair was white and his face was mahogany, calling pleasantly to mind a pint of Guinness. “I’m ninety-years old,” he continued, then pressed his fingertips to unlined cheeks, which shone like polished apples.

“Good black don’t crack”, he mused (I’m not sure he actually mused, but that word works, here).

With that, I was fully prepared to move on, and thanked him. In fact, I was already rising halfway from my seat, like a bluffing panelist on To Tell the Truth, when he said softly: “There is one other thing.”

So, I settled back, curious, I might add, and he said:

“I never fill my stomach. My mother was a great cook, but my father told me, ‘She’s only filling your stomach so another woman never gets to. She’s just trying to hold on to you.’ Ever since, I can eat more, but I never do.”

Look… The stories around Buck are countless. Many of them will bring a tear to your eye. Others will make you slap your thigh with joy in preparation of laughter. He was a black man, and it never mattered to him, even though it did to everyone else. But, everyone respected and loved Buck (Note: That might be a vital difference between men like Buck and Barack Obama. By the way, did you know that  Obama high-tailed it to Asia, pouting over his loss of the House Tuesday? Other than a vital need to drive home a point, here, I’m loathe to include Buck in the same story as Obama. But, the only real difference Obama will make in our lives is he must now change his plans to stay in power).

Let other, more articulate folks tell those stories. Especially those that lived them alongside Buck. I never had that privilege. But, I try to learn from men like him, every day, and any way.

Part of that is my on-going efforts to live the Authentic Life. And, that includes having a life well-lived, and worth remembering by those I’ve lived amongst.

So… What, then, is the secret to a life well-lived?

Here was another hint. “Don’t hate another human being,” said O’Neil, whose father was the son of a slave. “Hate cancer. Cancer took my mother, took my wife four years ago. Hate what happened on September 11. But don’t hate another human being. God made man.”

…oh wow.

I did, in fact, find myself thinking: But God made men who denied you, at various times, a toilet, a hotel room, an education, a living, your very humanity. And, of course, I voiced those thoughts, because that’s what I do (“oh really?[!]”, you exclaim. “Brian has opinions he foists on people?”).

“My parents always told me most people are good,” continued O’Neil. “Even when I was young, (Note: he lived his early days in Carrabelle, Florida), most people were good. The thing was, good people sometimes let the bad people have their way. But who wrapped their arms around Jackie Robinson in his time of need? Pee Wee Reese of Louisville, Kentucky, did. The commissioner of baseball in 1947 [Happy Chandler] was a man from Kentucky.”

With this, his left hand grabbed my forearm, and his right fist rapped his own breastbone as if it were a door.

“It comes from in here,” said he. “Doing the right thing. It takes somebody to change something. My grandfather was a slave. And God saw it wasn’t right, so he sent Abraham Lincoln. And Abraham Lincoln joined hands with Frederick Douglass, who joined hands with Sojourner Truth, who joined hands with Harriet Tubman – and, so on.”

Apparently, and thusly, human progress, in O’Neil’s view, is a chain of men with virtu (the Greek form, mind you) in their hearts (the word virtu always has me thinking of Dr. Nick Pappas at Radford University), linked at the wrist and leading to you.

O’Neil paused, and I could only sit quietly in wonder through what must be churning through that lovely mind, and then he added:

“This is the greatest country on Earth, but we can be better. That is going to be your job.”

He held my forearm like a bat. “In my day we changed some things. Now it’s your turn to change things. And you’ll do it. I know you will.”

I did pause. And, when I confessed that I struggled, with my generation, challenged to change our channels manually, much less to change the world, he invoked the memory of his grandfather Julius, born into slavery in South Carolina, and owned by a man with the surname, O’Neil.

“Grandpa used to tell me he loved Mr. O’Neil,” he said. “And I would ask him: ‘Grandpa, how could you love a man who kept you as his slave?’ And Grandpa said, ‘He never sold off a mother from her children, he never sold off a husband from his wife.’ And Grandpa, this is before all the doctors and all the medicine we have today, lived to be one-hundred-and-two years old.”

Was this good genes, I wondered, or something greater? I was merely seeking the secret of a life well-lived – how to progress – and, felt I was getting closer. So, I asked about that. And when the old man, once again, took my arm in his hand, I felt physically linked in that chain-of-virtu to all who had gone before me…

“Love,” he half-whispered, as if sharing a confidence. “Love, man. This is the whole thing.”

So… You gotta be a “Love Kat”. It’s been awhile since I invoked that one. It’s timely to be sure.

Peace be to my brothers and sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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