The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

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

on opening mosques, minds and hearts

August18

I’m following the multiple lines of thought around building a Muslim Mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

My initial reaction was to bristle. I feel this is natural. But, soon I had to at least try and think the matter through like a Jeffersonian. Mind you, Thomas Jefferson studied the Qur’ran in earnest. In fact, loyal readers of this blog know that I’ve chronicled that Jefferson bequeathed his own copy of the Qur’an to the Library of Congress upon his death. That was a great bargain. And, he understood the importance of making a public spectacle of executing wrong-doing Extremist Muslims with pigs blood-drenched ordinance. However, this raises some thoughts, and possible misconceptions driving misinterpretations of all manner of scripture around Lex Talionis, or the principles pertaining to: “an-eye-for-an-eye” /1.

Meanwhile, President Obama is being both public and clear that his position is: every American has the right to practice their religion freely anywhere on American soil. In many ways we all observe one another’s traditions. We are smack in the middle of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Yesterday he told an intently listening crowd gathered at the White House:

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country”. He added: “That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

And, I’ll stand in agreement with that.

I don’t know, yet, if it’s a good idea.

There are sure to be some logistical concerns. And, the Muslims intent on establishing the Mosque might be a bit insensitive, I think. There is a lot of opposition that appears to think this is a deliberately provocative act that will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah. Or, maybe these are plucky Muslims hoping to set an example of some sort that might inspire positive feelings going forward.

I’m thinking we need to be open-minded, here. Once the Mosque is built and operational, tolerating activities in-and-amongst it will be a terrific example of “turning the other cheek”. Just to be clear, according to Luke 6:29 (English Standard Version from 2001):

“To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.”

Time and again, the American people have demonstrated a rich history of rallying back, working through issues, and staying true to our core values and emerge stronger for it.

And, this is where we turn the tide on the Extremist Muslim terrorists.

When we bogged down our own airports with hyper-security measures and fear we gave the terrorists a form of victory with our inconvenience. And, we are creating enormous debt waging a global war against them on multiple theaters of battle. But, Rep. Ellison’s afore-referenced platform was one of tolerance and the requisite open-mind.

“Terrorist”, “Muslim terrorist”, “fanatical Muslim”, “fundamentalist”, and “devout Muslim” are not synonymous (we hope, any way). This is an opportunity to walk amongst and with Muslims and understand them better – and, they us. Also, if your friend is also your enemy, and is in your front yard, we have an opportunity to embrace him (and, pat him down). If he breaks faith, rank or rules, we can then offer him a round-house kick al-la Chuck Norris, or thump him soundly with an olive branch until he understands what Teddy Roosevelt meant when he advised everyone to: “speak softly and carry a big stick”.

Meanwhile, in the sprit of all this and that, both good and uncertain, I’m listening to Jaron and the Long Road to Love’s Pray for You.

Check out more of their work on iTunes. Tell’m Cork said: “hey”.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

_________________________________

/1 – In Islam the Qur’an permits exact and equivalent retribution. The Qur’an, however, softens the law of an eye-for-an-eye by urging mankind to accept less compensation than that inflicted upon him or her by a Muslim, or to forgive altogether. In other words, Islam does not deny Muslims the ability to seek retaliation in the equal measure. But it does, however, promote forgiveness and the acceptance of blood money not as a mandatory requisite, but rather as a good deed that will be eventually rewarded (Qur’an 5:45).

On occasions, however, the “eye-for-an-eye” rule is applied quite literally.

The phrase, “an-eye-for-an-eye” is, in truth, a quotation from several passages of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 24:19–21Exodus 21:22–25, and Deuteronomy 19:21), and not the Qur’an, in which a person who has injured the eye of another is instructed to give the value of his or her own eye in compensation. At the root of this principle is that one of the purposes of the law is to provide equitable retribution for an offended party. It defined and restricted the extent of retribution in the laws of the Torah.

In modern times, the phrase still loosely applies. Should a person commit a tort that results in personal injury of the plaintiff, they must pay for the repairing of the injury (e.g. an eye transplant). This is called compensatory damages.

The English word talion means a punishment identical to the offense, from the Latin talio. The principle of “an-eye-for-an-eye” is often referred to using the Latin phrase lex talionis, the law of talion.

existentialism isn’t cool it just Is

April21

I may have the coolest vocation on the planet. I work with people that change the world, in turn, helping them make better decisions.

And, I learn things as well.

Recently I started to meet with a fellow that refers to himself as a: “serial entrepreneur”. To be candid, I feel that phrase is, in truth, silly. There is, and it’s true, once you bother to consider the nuance, an immediate negative connotation attached to it – from the “serial” perspective, mind you.

Me? I’m working daily to be a successful entrepreneur – just so we are clear.

It’s not just how you do it; how you say it, matters. Sometimes potentially more so. In fact, former United States President Bill Clinton reminded us recently in a TIME Magazine interview: “What we learned from Oklahoma City,” Clinton said, “is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold. [But] the words we use do matter.”

Read more:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1982949,00.html?xid=rss-topstories#ixzz0lZ1UBfOB

One of my points, here (that makes all the more sense if you’ve been following other recent posts), is a cross-roads when it comes to existentialism, heterodox and being Jeffersonian.

In any event, this fellow (mentioned earlier, mind you) is forty two and has realized not but a string of failures – this includes two marriages, and other collateral damage (not the least of which includes lawsuits and burned investors). But, he has an image in his head about what an entrepreneur has, does, looks like, acts like, and can do.

So… I asked him a simple question: “Is it possible that you are living someone else’s dream, and not your own”?

He was stunned (and angry). And, thusly, I had the potential, at hand, for my desired effect. And, the promise of a change evolution in behavior.

And then he began to weep…

“The truth is I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. I was always looking for the easy button. Now I’m so far behind I don’t think I can ever find it”. And, he added: “But I hate all of it. The work is so hard. I never make any money. I can’t save. My credit is ruined. I just want a decent place to live, a reliable car, and to make sure my kids can go to college”. And, finally: “Can you help me find a stable job? That would make my wife happy. Me too”.

So, I did just that.

He had to walk away from a life-long dream, just like that. And, I believe this is when he became  an existentialist. He finally recognized the dangers of living an inauthentic life.

Right. So, what is an existentialist?

If you have been following this Blog the last couple of weeks (and, it’s likely you have), you know we have begun to explore the existentialist, relative to the heterodox and my jeffersonian leanings.

So, how might they, the existentialist, be different than you?  What do they know?

According to Wikipedia, Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of 19th and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, generally held that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of existence of the individual person and their emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts. It is not some abstract set of theoretical truths. In simpler terms, it’s a no-nonsense philosophy that encourages you to take a hard look at your life and ask two essential questions: Who am I, and how shall I live?

Its goal is to awaken us from the morbidity of irrelevance and, have us grab life by the lapels and start living authentically.

Unfortunately, there is no particular school that offers a systematic account of existentialism. Its founders were fierce individualists who avoided labels, detested “-isms,” and refused to be lumped into any group.

So there is no grand philosophical system here. Essentially, existentialism exists at the intersection of the essays of Friedrich Nitzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, the novels of Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoevsky, the religious writings of Soren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich, and the plays of Harold Pinter and even William Shakespeare (particularly Hamlet and King Lear.)

Clearly, existentialism is older than the term itself.

The philosophy is apparently based on six general themes:

  1. Acceptance of the Absurd. Each of us drops unexpectedly into this world, in a universe where time – at least as we know it – has no beginning, space no end, and life no pre-set meaning. It is an inexplicable mystery. This realization is hardly new, of course. Ecclesiastes kicks off with the words “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. What does man gain from all his labor and toil here under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). Existentialists believe that it’s only when you confront the fundamental absurdity of life that you begin to live honestly.
  2. Personal Freedom. Life itself may be meaningless, but you give it meaning when you begin making important choices. These, in turn, reveal who you are. With freedom of choice, however, comes responsibility. Taking ownership of your decisions means not blaming your parents, your spouse, your teachers or anyone else for the shape of your life. More responsibility brings greater freedom. And with it: hope.
  3. Individualism. Existentialists are keenly aware that society continually pulls you toward conformity. There are immense social pressures to go along, get along and live pretty much like everyone else. Existentialists challenge you to buck conventional wisdom, express your true nature, and follow your dream, whatever that may be.
  4. Authenticity. Most people are so consumed by desire, guilt, fear or anxiety about what other people think that they find it almost impossible to follow their true calling. However, it’s only when you begin to do what you want – and not what others expect – that you begin to live authentically. But expect resistance. Institutions want to mold you. Other people want you to go on their trip. It’s far easier to live unthinkingly as part of the crowd. Yet authentic individuals are in control of their own lives.
  5. Passion. Being passionate and engaged is crucial. This doesn’t mean acting crazy or hysterical. Quite the opposite, in fact. Existentialists believe you should devote yourself to a cause, one that you’re willing to organize your life around, perhaps even die for. For Kierkegaard, that passion was the pursuit of truth. For others it may be artistic expression, healing the sick, or building a business that employs hundreds and serves thousands. In all walks of life, you’ll find that passionate men and women are more purposeful.
  6. Acceptance of Death. Life is finite. Yet existentialists don’t see this as a reason for pessimism. Facing death is what forces you to take life seriously, use your time wisely and make meaningful choices. It should invigorate your life. As the character Andy puts it in The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Nietzsche, the philosopher most closely associated with existentialism, refers to it as the noble ideal.

Your life, he argues, is an unwritten book that only you can write. Or, he says, visualize your life as a kind of artistic project, except that you are both the sculptor and the clay.

This concept runs throughout existentialist works. Martin Heidegger counsels that we should learn to “dwell poetically.” Kierkegaard offers that, “to exist is an art.”

All existentialists agree that life has the meaning you choose to give it. Sartre even declared that man is “nothing else but what he makes of himself.”

This view is fairly widespread in the West today. But it was once considered revolutionary. The Catholic Church, for instance, decided that Sartre’s ideas were so dangerous that it placed his entire works on the Vatican Index of Prohibited Books – including those he hadn’t yet written!

Ideas can be dynamite. And the proclamation that you should live your life on your own terms rather than according to the dictates of an institution was explosive.

Well… Bold and fearless, says I. If you have a servants heart and you seen synchronicity, daily, combined with a keen desire to reflect and represent the best virtu that God could inspire within you through discernment, what better terms?

Perhaps that’s why existentialism is called the philosophy of freedom. No matter how things stand in your life, you choose how to interpret your situation. You choose how to respond to it. Even if you do nothing, you still have made a choice. There is no escaping the consequences of your actions – or your inaction.

This makes some people profoundly uncomfortable, of course. They don’t like facing up to the world as it is. They don’t want responsibility. It’s easier to blame others, circumstances or “the breaks.”

Existentialism, however, is known as “the no-excuses philosophy.” You may be old. You may be broke. You may be sick. But existentialists say you start from where you are and move forward. How? By accepting responsibility and making choices.

This isn’t always easy. Pursuing authenticity requires relentless self-examination. It exposes you to things about yourself that you may not want to know. It may cause discomfort or friction with others.

But inauthentic lives, by comparison, are shallow, trivial and unsatisfying. They are often marked by the dogged pursuit of material goods, social status or the approval of others.

In many ways existentialism is a return to the roots of philosophy, a return to the ancients’ concern with truth, virtue and the art of living well.

Existentialism offers a guide to the perplexed. It shows us not just how to live, but how to flourish, how to create meaning in a senseless world. Those who reject this philosophy often do so not because they don’t understand it but because they can’t face it.

And that’s unfortunate. Existentialism provides a practical way of thinking about the world. It offers personal freedom and empowerment. It is a path to dignity and nobility.

An existentialist doesn’t live as though he has forever, frittering away his time and putting off until “someday” the things he really wants to do. He or she recognizes that each day, each moment, is precious and irreplaceable.

The next, and on-going test: Combining Existentialism with Heterodox and Jeffersonian ideals. Hang on; this must needs be a barn-burner. God gave me discernment. I might as well use it.

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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