The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

brian cork looking (back) at Old Sacramento

September17

I’ve been ever so busy with life. it’s good to be certain. and, those that know mw well, and perhaps not so much, all understand that it’s both Lacrosse and Soccer season.

that said, a newish friend of mine responded to a TeamSnap team email where I mentioned Mom being an Old Sacramento Debutante. he came back with some interesting information. my response is below. some of the information is new to some of you, not so much, for the rest. but, good insight into me, and whnce I come, just the same….

————

My Dad was a South Dakota farm boy and a 2nd Lieutenant when he met my Mom at a soiree in Old Sacramento in early 1959. They were introduced by my Dad’s best friend (my Godfather), who was also very close to my Mom.

My Mom grew up with Max Baer, Jr. (Jethro Bodine from Beverly Hillbillies and the son of Max Baer, the heavy weight champion) as her next door neighbor. She had the only back-yard pool of its kind in the city in that era.

A few months later, when Dad was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, he showed-up on Mom’s doorstep and, as the story goes said, “I have to go to Nebraska. If you’ll have me I need you to meet me there in a month. Plan on staying”.

She did just that. She and my Godmother jumped on a train and never looked back. I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1960. I was evidently a “Mai Tai baby”, according to my Mom. There were witnesses.

We then found ourselves at Beale AFB when Dad made Captain. My younger brother Greg was born at Roseville General Hospital in 1965. I had many adventures all over Beale AFB, rather like Huck Finn.

In 1968 or 1969 my Dad headed to Southeast Asia for the first of two one-year tours. While he had two B52’s shot out from underneath his navigators chair my Mom held post back in Sacramanto. We lived in a rented house but visited the Mathers AFB Officers Club pool through the summers. I attended Albert E. Schweitzer Elementary School. Through all that we often visited my Nana Lenci (my Moms Nana) whom lived in Old Sacramento and ran bootleg gin out of her bathtub in the ’20’s. She made the best tortellini and brodo soup you can imagine. She had also taught my Mom how to dive from the towers in Merced during the summers growing-up.

After that it was mostly midwest duty posts. Dad was highly decorated. Always promoted “below the zone”. He was the first navigator in SAC history to command a B52 Wing from the Navigators Chair. Later he moved over to Peacekeeper Missiles and commanded a Missile Wing. I believe he is also the only SAC Colonel to have commanded two Wings under separate missions.

After my Mom died of cancer in 1985, Dad sent me off to Los Angeles with my college degree to work at Northrop Corporation. I pulled out a MBA at Northrop University (which is mostly Bullshit because the school lost its accreditation). But, I double-dipped and played another round of college Lacrosse at Loyola Marymount. I spent every hour I could surfing, playing Lacrosse and volleyball while trying to be the man David Sugarman said I could be learning stocks. That’s where I also met Joanne, twenty-two years ago, this December. I’ve never “seen” another girls since (just like my Dad).

I still surf when I can, have the girl of my dreams, and love Lacrosse. Most of its tied to California, some how.

I’m certain my own daughters will read these stories one day. perhaps they will remember the “face of their father” and value his memories – they’ve formed me, after all. so, I’m delighted to share them with all of you, as well.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

lowering the bar

May3

I registered my displeasure with Apple late last week with my post: the scales of justice don’t, often enough, balance out against evil. There, I criticized Apple for potentially influencing an over-hyped-up thug-squad task-force in bullying a blog-focused journalist because he apparently bought an (stolen, misplaced, found, misappropriated?) iPhone prototype and reported his findings.

I still think law enforcement from a sleepy California town over-reacted. And, if it turns out that Apple pressured them to do so, I’ll be more than disappointed. However, as I’ve settled down a bit, I understand that the journalist and the fellow that found the iPhone prototype at a pub MIGHT have broken the law. Boundaries around ethics were likely blurred. I feel that the “finder” should have turned the handset over to the bartender – that’s what usually happens, as in lost-and-found. However, it turns out he went to a twenty-seven year old buddy in graduate school that had served in the intelligence arm of the US Navy, and together they shopped the, now (possibly) stolen, device to a handful of media sources. Gizmodo wrote the check, and the rest is becoming the stuff of historical precedent.

By the way… Another engineering friend of mine, sent me an email with the news that the majority of updates promised on the new iPhone have already resided on Nokia phones for almost two years.

Question: Was this all worked-up into a play for media attention and publicity?

Here is a check-point summary:

The kid who is an product development employee at Apple was irresponsible and lost the prototype at a pub. Another kid, whom was apparently raised wrong, essentially stole it while he was at the same den of inequity. Some self-entitled journalist who has now lowered a completely different bar, chose to advance the bad behavior. A veteran intelligence specialist, acted like a terrorist by trafficking the technology. A lower court Judge (who probably barely passed the bar) did not ask enough questions and approved the demolition of a door – as opposed to simply issuing a subpoena for records. A local task force (i.e. bored peace officers), leveraging God knows how many tax dollars and steroids (as if California has enough of those to spare) overreacted. And, Apple got a bunch of press around an upgraded piece of technology that might already be a bit tired in the terms of raising the technology bar.

So… Everybody involved is wrong, in-part, and must needs share blame, or judgment. …bar none (sorry).

Thusly, it’s gut check time.

Hellooo…

What happened to us, as a people where we find ourselves, collectively obsessed with Jessica Simpson’s teeth (she apparently prefers not to brush them) and  the not-so-amazing features in the next iPhone? So…Check… It’s got a camera on the front and the back… That’s really it mind you. Now, you can take a picture of Simpson’s artificially white teeth, in California. And, it (the iPhone) might allow you to multi-task (the Nokia and Android handsets already do this*). How can this (and, the press make us feel) be critical when we’re occupying two countries in the Middle East, unemployment is cresting at civil unrest levels, and Goldman Sachs raped and pillaged our lower-income and middle-class American-dreamers – then got bailed out – with the help goofey President Obama; a man that’s never held down a real job during his adult life, and  whose trusted advisors are Goldman alumni. NOTE:  I understand Goldman leaders are now facing investigation and possible indictment. But, the same fraternity that enabled their behavior will quietly cuts deals that will pad, other, future political careers – and, allow for the type of examples we’re setting where corporate juggernauts, like Apple, can abuse the system as a publicity stunt.

Welcome to Microsoft’s world, Apple.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters

Brian Patrick Cork

* ALERT: (and, you likely read about it here first) Apple’s next-generation iPhone could move video calling into the mainstream. Expect a wave of new products by Christmas.

toyota is not the enemy as seen in the Mirror

March13

According to the Washington Post (and many other media rags) Prosecutors in Orange County, California have filed a lawsuit against Toyota because of continuing problems with its vehicles.

The district attorney’s office accuses the automaker of knowingly selling hundreds of thousands of vehicles with acceleration defects. The office says it has the right to bring consumer protective action on behalf of Orange County residents.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels says he has no comment because the company hasn’t been served with the lawsuit.

So… Why does Toyota have to ever see such a complaint?

It’s not like Toyota is denying there is an problem and trying to resolve it. Hell, it’s obviously in their best interests to jump on the issue and make a good show of living up to their vaunted reputation as one of the finest automakers in the world.

I think I have the answer though… This is California in-motion, and soon, to be sure, our own government trying to deflect attention form it’s own foibles.

Why isn’t the Orange County District Attorney suing the State of California for mismanagement of state funds, water rights, land utilization, crop and agricultural management and losing sight of corporate pensions?

I understand glass houses shatter easily. But, casting this stone looks more like kicking the company while it’s down. Seriously… What’s the point? Toyota employs people and pays taxes. On the other hand, and as a counter-point, California can’t manage it’s own borders and squanders tax dollars.

California represents the worst of our culture when it comes to materialism and the easy buck. Here you have a County suing a corporate giant with the obvious hope of a settlement that will fill badly depleted coffers. It has such a “red neck” feel to it… Sue them for easy dollars instead of holding ourselves accountable for overseeing quality control standards.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

what next America?

January27

As I have already stated on this Blog, 2008 was a financial crisis, affecting mostly “Wall Street.” 

Looking ahead, what can we expect for America?

2009 will be the year “Main Street” gets hit. 

Mind you, 2009 will be awful for A LOT of people.  But, I believe it can be pretty good for some people focused on Best Business Practices, clear thinking, opportunities and having a plan.

But, generally speaking, the damage to the real economy so far is trivial to what will happen over the next two years.  There will be two big stories.

Business bankruptcies

Going into 2007 we knew that our financial sector was unusually strong, well-managed with strong balance sheets.  False!  Going into 2009 we know that our non-financial business sector is well-managed (outside of some weak sectors, like autos), with strong balance sheets.  Expect to be disappointed and astonished yet again.

Triage

That is a VERY scary word.

Everybody wants bailouts.  Worse, the expectation of bailouts means that few preventive measures will be taken.  This referred to as “moral hazard”.  We see this, for example, at work in California – which is already de facto bankrupt.  But, nobody gives an inch.  No lower government spending; no lower government wages; no reduced government employment; and, no higher taxes (there is more; but, you get my drift). 

Why compromise? 

Well… The Federal Government will not let California go broke.  Or the auto companies.  Or the universities.  Or the banks and insurance companies.  Or millions of households (not actually sure about that one yet).

There is not enough money to bailout everybody.  Triage will be necessary.

I have seen this under the worst possible scenarios.  But, you can probably relate to it in terms of what Kate Beckinsale does with lipstick on the foreheads of the wounded at Pearl Harbor (but, it is one of the most gripping scenes in the 2001 movie). 

To wit:

  • Those who will die anyway:  no treatment. 
  • Those who will recover anyway:  no treatment. 
  • Those will will recover only with treatment.

Making these harsh decisions might be President Obama’s greatest challenge. He may have one of the toughest jobs ahead of him since Truman.

Looking beyond the downturn, what can we expect?

The consensus confidently – almost to a man – anticipates inflation, against which the Federal government will fight either successfully (optimists) or unsuccessfully (doomsters). 

This is, however, absurd. 

People are already preparing for this “inevitable” outcome by owning mostly short-term debt.  As the end of the downturn approaches — inflation can only manifest itself in times or full employment or via a currency crisis — everyone will (should) take strong measures.  Even elderly ladies in Peoria will own inflation-protected bonds, short-maturity bonds, and hoard gold bars in their basement.

These measures will foreclose inflation as a workable option.  As the government is forced to either issue vast amounts of short-term debt or monetize the debt, inflation becomes useless as a tool.  Short-term debt becomes an albatross during inflation:  interest expense skyrockets as interest rates soar.

Seriously.

Hyperinflation always remains an option – as does atomic war and mass suicide. 

However, none of these are “solutions” in any meaningful sense.  

Seriously.

With a history of vast deficits behind us, and larger deficits ahead (from baby boomer’s retiring), the government will choose Door #2:  default.  We will just not pay all our obligations.  This is historically the most common solution.

How we decide who to pay — and how much to pay — will test America as it has seldom been tested.

  • Do we pay our foreign debts?
  • To what extent do we renege on promised social security and medicare benefits?
  • To what extent do we raise taxes vs. defaulting?  

The big unknown

The recession of the late 1920’s became a Great Depression due to a series of public policy errors. 

Most seriously:

  1. Many nations abandoned the gold standard too slowly, and
  2. The nation with the largest trade surplus wrecked the world trade system.

America was the culprit (for #2),  enacting the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930.  We can only guess at the equivalent of mistake #1, but the prime candidate for #2 is China devaluing the RMB to boost its exports. 

More later.

Remember what Hemingway thought of Spain.  Go read those books.  Spain can be defended.

“Sons Gonna Rise” by Citizen Cope.

Peace to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

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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