The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

history is always in the making but understanding makes it meaningful

January26

I’ve heard, and admittedly not verified, that Barack Obama only came to the United States in time to attend college.

that need not make him unique, compared to other foreign (like) exchange students. but, he is a bit different in that he happens to have followed his career-path as a social worker into the presidency of our nation.

I do believe that Mr. Obama is a United States Citizen. so, lets put that angle to rest.

the reason I’m making a point of this is it struck me (while running in the rain yesterday)  that if Mr. Obama did not grow up in the United States he was probably not exposed to our history. he was raised in places that probably failed to drill into him the value of lessons learned at Valley Forge and what occurred because of Louisitania. I can only speak for myself to be absolutely certain, but I’m reasonably confident the bulk of our learning about this nations history occurs in middle school (it was called Junior High School while I was scratching my head in those years spread across stops in Arizona, Nebraska, and Wyoming following my Dad through his valiant career as an Air Force Officer).

there is a lot to be said, not just about nuance, and that includes, with its greater import, perspective. and, what about culture and community? those things form us as a people.

more later. but, I’ve had some things in the back of my head really bothering me about the Oval Office, and they are coming to light with greater clarity with each passing month. during his State-of-the-Union speech address last night he proposed that we “freeze spending (unrelated to defense) for the next five years”. but, we need to cut-back to pre-2008 spending levels. I don’t think he “gets it” even though, and ironically, the majority of his henchmen, flunkies, cabinet are theory-humpers, I look into the eyes of our president, and I can’t see someone truly invested looking back at me with the cast of steady gaze that inspires my confidence. I was raised by warriors and leaders. I don’t recognize Mr. Obama. I respect the office. I just can’t be sure about the agenda.

this sort of thing bothers a Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

why we party

December30

The main purpose of a political party is to get its members elected to office and then push specific objectives that follow a sustained line-of-thinking.

Although our current president (I used small caps, purposefully) Barack Obama, is clearly more interested in staying in office for the sake of just being in office. He is apparently in mortal fear, now, of being ousted after a single term – an ultimate form of humiliation suffered by tense denizens of the Oval Office (see the hapless Jimmy Carter). This is the only reason he petulantly gave up his efforts to over-tax the wealthy (under his own earthly father’s vision). But, let’s all of us, collectively, firm up our satisfaction in knowing the fellow and his government whore group have been routed (as in seriously ass-kicked).

Meanwhile… Parties are, otherwise,  made up of people who have the same general idea and goals about governing. Once in power, the purpose of the Party is to accomplish its goals for the city, state, or nation. While not in power, the Party acts as the “loyal opposition” until it can elect a majority of its members to power.

Look for Obama to devolve into a form of petulant terrorist if he finds himself wobbling towards lame-duck status under eight years. I’m currently of the belief that he thinks wealthy people, not of his design, don’t deserve their status, and need their assets reallocated to fuel his ideals. More on this later. However, we need to be ready. That’s both the Heterodox and Jeffersonian in me – as well as the Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman.

To be clear… The Founding Fathers disliked political parties, calling them “factions” motivated by self interest.

Historical footnote: Then President, George Washington, was so disturbed over the quarreling between Hamilton (Federalists) and Jefferson (anti-Federalists) that he famously devoted much of his Farewell Address to the evils of parties. You need to understand that the people who supported Hamilton and Adams were called Federalists (ironically supporters of the Constitution) but they were not, in fact, an organized political party.

The first recognized party in America was made up of the followers of Jefferson, who, starting in the 1790s, called themselves Republicans (or, I love this, Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans). Hamilton and those who opposed Jefferson, kept the name Federalist and appeared to be content with a form of rabble-rousing.

Let’s be clear, Jefferson’s Republican Party has no ties to the current Republican Party. In fact, the current Democratic Party considers Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as the founders of their party. But, somehow, after Bill Clinton, the Democratic party forgot that they are public servants, and appear more intent on creating an environment that serves their own miserable means.

More later. Read between the lines. Talk amongst yourselves. Care.

There might be the gnashing of teeth. Possibly the shaking of fists. Certainly voices will be raised.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

jeffersonian expectations against Realities. Or, the predicted triumph of the few over the fewer

December1

It’s been a rather long, tumultuous, and educational experiential journey refamiliarizing myself with the PC (as opposed to Apples), Windows – by way of the Android Operating System – and technology in the form of upheaval; the kind that requires and creates change. “Experiential” is an interesting word for the purposes of this post. The word derives it’s meaning from a learning process at the feet of old philosophers, yet it’s also apropos to a dedicated process of learning something new by, essentially, immersion. And, here we are…

Along the way, I find myself constantly reminded that we’ve become terribly reliant upon the internet for information with it being the uncertain arbiter of truth.

So… It’s become my view that the Internet, or any technology can not, will not, and should not act as a proxy to achieve the dreams and social goals we lack the courage to propose, debate, and legislate.

Thusly, I stand firm the Jeffersonian and Heterodox.

And, not often enough, we’ve discussed what being Jeffersonian means, on this Blog. However, today I’ll add some thought around what it does not mean. There will most certainly be the shaking of fists – and, furiously, that. Possibly the gnashing of teeth. Heated words, to be sure. The portent of change, inevitable.

NOTE: Don’t be overly concerned if you are reading this and come to a bound conclusion that you’ve waded, possibly unsuspecting, into my thinking mid-stream. We must all begin somewhere, and it’s how we finish, and that likely, counts for the most.

In any event, I’ll offer this abstract to maneuver you along:

It is often claimed that Internet technology will revolutionize society by privileging the small and benefiting the individual. We term the utopian tendency to hail a new communication technology as an inherently positive, decentralizing, and democratic force. In a manner of speaking this might be referred to as an example of the: “the Jeffersonian syndrome (named in honor of my hero so often appropriated to identify the decentralized, democratic outcome – the predicted triumph of the many over the few).”

It’s not just me, mind you. Others started it…

“Life in cyberspace seems to be shaping up exactly like Thomas Jefferson would have wanted: founded on the primacy of individual liberty and a commitment to pluralism, diversity, and community” (Kapor, 1993).

And,

“…the social liberalism of New Left and the economic liberalism of New Right have converged into an ambiguous dream of a hi-tech ‘Jeffersonian democracy’. Interpreted generously, this retro-futurism could be a vision of a cybernetic frontier where hi-tech artisans discover their individual self-fulfillment in either the electronic agora or the electronic marketplace” (Barbrook & Cameron, 1998).

Huh? “agora”?

Social critics dislike paucity. For example, society (that collective you), they (the social critics) complain, suffers when there are too few firms in a market, too few political choices, or too little communication. Small numbers of firms coordinate actions to stifle entry and innovation, largely at the expense of consumers. Concentration at the most extreme results in rapacious monopolies that produce inferior products at high prices. Likewise, a small number of political parties limit voter choice, stifle policy change, and produce voter apathy and special interest politics. Society would clearly be better served, so the critics argue, by greater political choice and the accompanying increased voter participation. Too little communication is also bad for society, as limited communication precludes understanding, diversity, and community.

Weep not for the minority, although, it is that collective “they” that hold most of the power, and the wealth, under many definitions, that is part of it.

Social critics often place their hopes in technology to erode the dominance of the few and foster diversity. Many view the internet as a liberating technology. Indeed, they embrace the internet as subversive, a technology that will pry power away from the few – tyrants, censors, robber barons and phone monopolies (let’s not forget Obama, Obamacrats, and that insidious media) and return it to the people. The internet, so the critics claim, will usher in a new era of perfect market competition, more direct democracy, and greater community-building (cf. Dyson, 1997). Ultimately, it will undermine the dominant few in many segments of society, and usher in a more democratic and heterogeneous political and economic system.  A system that will produce infinite consumer choice in the marketplace, deliver true democracy in the political realm, and provide unlimited and enhanced communication in the cultural realm.

This view leads to fallacious expectations about the impact of technology. And, these misguided expectations are cyclic and predictable. Corollary to this might be  a brief historical discussion of earlier communication technologies. Jeffersonian claims about the Internet are rebutted by the three propositions:

1.  New technologies do not operate in isolation from existing organizations and systems;

2.  Valuable information is never cheap; and,

3.  The economics of information markets imply concentrated structures.

And, so… The Internets non-Jeffersonian impact on economic, political, and community structures is discussed using three cases:

1.  The online market for books;

2.  The claims made about direct democracy; and,

3.  And, political parties, and the hopes for computer- mediated communities.

It’s not that I wish to promote an opposite, dystopian perspective, nor do I consider the Internet impotent in terms of societal change.

Instead, I wish to call attention to the Jeffersonian-esque view of technology as a very predictable mis-perception that is a waste of our energies.

First, as a society we must, in reasoned deliberation, conclude that we are in need of one or more of the goals we have discussed here; be it less concentrated markets, greater economic efficiency, more direct democracy, a more decentralized political system, or more participatory and emancipatory communities.

Second, after a rational analysis of our goal and the changes needed in the social, political, and economic domains to approach it (addressing also the question of if and how “the” internet has the potential to aid us in these ends).

Third, and perhaps finally, we need to advance that goal through policy.

The hype surrounding technology is also predictably old: the introduction of the PC ushered in the “PC revolution” quite simply because many analysts expected the technology to usher in just that – a revolution (a revolution of what and how the revolution was to happen was never quite specified). The hype and bluster of the internet and in particular electronic markets is thus just yet another round of new technologies and anticipated revolutions.

Think in terms of what the catapult meant to war nine hundred years ago.

These technologies have had, and may yet have, a broad range of important and far-reaching implications. The question on the table is whether these technologies will deliver on the promised Jeffersonian expectations of decentralization and democratization, or whether this revolution will yet again fail to materialize. As I’ll struggle, here, in my own inarticulate manner, to have made clear, the weight of history leads us to doubt, the present conditions in electronic commerce lead us to doubt, the claims made about direct democracy lead us to doubt, and the idolatry of the computer-mediated community lead us to doubt.

This makes me perhaps not fearful, but certainly watchful of the idyllic, sophomoric generation that sees computers and the internet as the “easy button”.

While this post has approached these domains largely using an economic perspective, I’ll grimly suspect that judicious analysis from other perspectives would also cast the Jeffersonian expectation in an unflattering light. But, stay focused on me. But, as my own Mother expounded: Question everything, and accept nothing until the truth of the day is best known.

Where the drive of the heterodox crosses paths with the passion and intellectual nuance of the Jeffersonian, you’ll find that truth in the light of the seeking heart.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

flash This

August31

For the sake of a balanced argument – and fair, possibly, unbiased opinions (think: informed decision-making), Electronista has a short article on the: lack of Flash for WebOS.

My views over Steve Jobs’ and Apples position relative to Adobe and it’s sagging Flash products are well considered, documented, and understood (consider my prior post: the Flash on apple debate isn’t PC). But, now that Adobe has finally released Flash 10.1 and released it from it’s beta status, allow me to sum-up the current state of Flash on Mobile Devices:

1. Every non-geek (and people that think they are, otherwise, informed, I have talked to thinks that Flash works on every current phone except the iPhone.

2. Adobe says that Flash 10.1 will work on every mobile device (except Apple). Is this passive aggressive behavior? Or, possibly a marketing twist that inappropriately paints Apple the villain.

3. Adobe has demonstrated a slow, buggy and very crash-prone beta of 10.1 on Android OS 2.2 that appears to ONLY works on the (Google) Nexus One (the phone that all of you know I tried in good faith, and then handed over to my eight year old daughter [who prefers her 3G iPhone]).

4. Palm says Adobe hasn’t given “any sign” it’s close to Flash 10.1 for WebOS.

5. And Flash 10.1 doesn’t run on any other phone, either.

Yet the lack of mobile Flash support is still seen as an Apple problem.

I love that. This continues to demonstrate that the collective we look to Apple for leadership – even in ways the masses (followers) can’t fathom.

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.

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