The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

reverse bank heist

July16

Through the week we saw numerous reports that banks including Bank of America and CitiGroup are reporting near record quarterly profits.

Then today, I saw this article: Banks eye higher fees to boost declining revenue.

I’m not going to even bother to set off on a rant, here. The hypocrisy (and, lack of consistency in the media’s reporting) is so choking I’m simply going to head off to the boat for the weekend and swill my opinions down with icy cold bottles of Fat Tire beers.

There are, however, solutions.

I bank in London and Scotland.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Helen Thomas and finishing well

June7

So… Helen Thomas just plain blew it. Late in the game, she lost her greatest potential.

Dammit… Things, aren’t supposed to turn out this way. So, we need to seek and divine the lessons best learned, here.

Many people abuse their position or authority, both accidentally and with grim purpose. However, it’s more like a cardinal sin if a journalist does such a thing. Especially if yours is a voice for the ages, like that of madame Thomas.

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Thomas was influential in my life because she offered a unique opinion; and, that of a pioneering female, a daughter of immigrants, and  with a force of will few will ever match.

I won’t bother with a background story of my own, here. I will only add that I first met Thomas when I visited Capital Hill in 1987 after having read her book: Dateline: Whitehouse. I had some questions, so I sought her out. It’s that simple really. This is, amongst other things, what Prudent Gentlemen do.

While serving as White House Bureau Chief, she authored a regular column for UPI, “Backstairs at the White House,” which provided an insider’s view of various presidential administrations. Thomas was the only member of the White House press corps to have her own seat in the White House Briefing Room. All other seats are assigned to media outlets.

So, I found myself calling and emailing her from time-to-time for the odd insight (she sounds just like she looks like she’s supposed to). She was always terrific, if possibly overly-thorough with her views. She always wanted to make sure I agreed. I often did not. And, I believe she managed to appreciate that about me.

So long Helen Thomas, we won’t be seeing (the same way) you.

I supposed I’m bothered mostly because one possible epitaph for this hearty and ferocious woman might be: “She didn’t finish well”.

I’m not certain if much else could be more important.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

obama's grandma isn't driving Healthcare

January21

Yesterday, Marc Kutter came by for a visit. He’s always such a breath of fresh air. We shared some good things. For me, the best was the reminder that I have good men like that as friends.

Marc is in the Healthcare-oriented business, and legislation is going to be pivotal to his company’s success. And, we talked about how life and work should be fun. Meaningful.

This got me to thinking of a fairly recent press conference President Obama lobbed in our general direction. Ironically, he’s fighting with the House over a viable healthcare plan for American citizens. But, they’ve already exempted themselves from having to suffer it themselves. So, I think Obama is fighting a losing battle here (and, we’re going to pay dearly for it). I’ve made this point in an earlier post. You can read it here: healthcare is not for You.

Nonetheless, Marc has inspired me. You should meet him. I suspect he’ll have the same affect on you. So, I’ve crafted and sent a letter to President Obama. I was, in part, also inspired by a not-quite-similar effort, that, in fact, had significant results in it’s own right. You can read here: Berkeley’s Contribution To Terrorism.

In any event, here is my letter. You should feel free to do the same. Cut and paste if you must.

Dear Mr. President,

I watched your recent press conference with great interest – but also dismay. So, perhaps that makes it morbid fascination. But, a direct result of my own agonizing efforts must now include me making a few observations on the healthcare debacle debate that is currently raging in Washington. There’s obviously a lot of limp-writed hanky waving concern over to make healthcare affordable. And, for very good reason. This nation of ours is arguably the wealthiest on the planet, but almost a third of it’s citizens can’t afford decent healthcare that could, at least, be on-par with second-world countries (like Canada or Sweden).

One metaphor you leveraged over the course of your speech, in comparing what we have now, to what some of our allies (Sweden, Great Britain, for example) have, was to talk about how, if my neighbor bought a car and I bought a similar car, and then found out my neighbor’s car cost $6,000.00 less, I’d want to know how I could get that deal.

…wait… Before I get too far down this road, I have to wonder why you don’t compare the average citizens healthcare options as they relate to your own, and those of the House and Senate?

In any event, that analogy got me thinking about the cars that I’ve owned, and why and how I came to own them. From there, I started thinking about my Dad, and the cars we had when I was growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. My Dad always used to say that his mother, my Grandma (not to be confused with my Nana 0n Mom’s side), apparently always knew the precise moment to get rid of her car and buy a new one;  just before every major system in the car needed to be repaired or replaced. He knew this from personal experience, because as a young man in a large family he was the “beneficiary” of the old car, and those expensive repairs ended up being his headache.

Dad had some interesting stories about some of Grandma’s older cars. There was the car with the hole in the floor of the back seat, through which he and siblings liked to drop pebbles through as they drove. There was another that didn’t make left turns, so they had to plan all of their shopping trips very carefully so they could get home. And, there was another car that had no reverse gear, so that he had to leave a note on the car windshield politely asking to be given an exemption from tickets due to this extenuating circumstance.

That type of experience had a profound experience on my Dad. When he first entered the Air Force he bought a brand new sports car. But, it broke down a lot. So, he sorted out it made more sense to buy used cars, of certain makes and models, after someone proved they were reliable.

In listening to those stories – and, I really listened carefully, I worked hard to not have my own “Grandma’s Old Car” experience. I always had a job. In fact, I’ve an entrepreneur most of my life, starting when I was twelve, with my own lawn care company. That makes for great experience. You should have tried that yourself – having a real job (before you were handed the Presidency), I mean. It probably would have come in useful in terms of being able to make solid decision, based upon example. So, I’ve always save my money and learned to appreciate it’s best uses. I bought all of my own cars, including an 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. And, I took care of them.

My Dad was one of the highest decorated Air Force Officers of his era. Military officers in the 1970’s did not make a lot of money, by any measure. Dad decided to retire from the Air Force in 1980, mostly because Mom was on her last legs (so, we thought), and dying of cancer. She managed to hang-on for awhile (no thanks to our insurance company). However, Grandma did decide to pass away around that time… and, left us a car. I did not care (about the car, Grandma was cool enough). But, Dad would no longer have access to his Command Staff vehicle, so he needed a new (or different) car. My brother Greg, did not like to work, and college for him would be looming soon. So, Dad had to save money. He asked me for my beloved Karmann Ghia. In return, I became the “lucky” recipient of Grandma’s old car. I was just  in college at Radford University the time (on a Cross Country scholarship), and the only thing lucky about that car was that my dorm was across across the street from a kind and extremely honest auto mechanic, who very quickly became one of my newer best friend. By the way… Freshmen at Radford were not supposed to have cars. But, never mind that. That was only a rule. In any event, the the car was a 1966 Cadillac that got about 5 miles to a gallon of gasoline, and required a major repair approximately every 100 miles. After about ten months (and countless adventures I’ll never dare recount in writing), I came to the same realization that my Dad had come to years earlier: a free car is not necessarily a bargain.

Even my auto mechanic was thrilled when I bought a Fiat X-19 (but, for different reasons).

Mr. President, you’re a busy man. Keeping Oprah entertained and Michelle and her own Mom out of the Oval Office is distracting, I’m sure. So I’ll just cut to the chase here… When you became President of the United States (or, “POTUS”), you became the proud owner of responsible for the “Grandma’s Old Car” of healthcare systems. No matter how you try to fix it, it’ll be a broken-down, worn out, more dangerous than useful, and more costly to fix than a useful replace system. It will cost us buckets full of money. It will cost you boat-loads of political capital. It won’t get you – or more importantly, United States citizens – where we need to go in terms of improving the health. And, you’ll end up having to replace it anyway.  Or – it could very well kill your Presidency, and you’ll be the guy who didn’t get healthcare for the American people because you and the Congress were just too attached to the old system. Or, worse, you could not lead by example, and were followed by the House and Senate.

In a way, I actually understand. I see things in ways others don’t want to look. Oddly, I loved Grandma’s Old Car (I loathe what our healthcare system is killing people around me I’ve protected all of my life), but it was killing me financially, and quite frankly, it could have gotten me killed literally if it had broken down in the wrong place at the wrong time (well… It did do that a number of times. But, each time was another road to a great adventure. But, most citizens don’t need that sort of drama in their lives). So I did what was necessary. I gritted my teeth; did my homework; junked the old car (and, the Fiat); and, allowed me to stop living my life as an indentured servant to my car.

Mr. President, the American people can learn to work with a new system. You and Congress need to drive the same car we do. And, we need to stop living our lives as indentured servants to our insurance companies. We need you and the Congress to grit your teeth, do your homework, and get rid of our old, broken-down, worn out, more dangerous than useful, and more costly to fix than replace healthcare system, and introduce something entirely new. The old system with a few cosmetic changes just isn’t going to get us where we need to go as a country. Yet, as I prepare this letter, the headlines are screaming: Democrates begin discussing smaller health Bill.

COME ON!

The picture of you that I’m including says a lot. You’re not having any fun. This isn’t pick-up basketball or social work, is it.

You are not leading us. Certainly not by example. By the way… The next letter you get from me is around the way you are letting veterans (and, their families) be treated by the Veterans Administration.

You know it, Congress knows it, and the American people surely know it. We elected you because we wanted that “Change We Can Believe In” you thumped your chest over. Look… If the Republicans and the Blue Dogs want to moan and cry about the cost of a public option Mr. President, then call their bluff and give us a single payer system like my Canadian friends, for example, and cousins have. It works (certainly better than what you have on the table for us), they love it – actually no, they don’t love it, they take it for granted. It’s something they feel they are entitled to as Canadians. And everyone is covered for what you already know is a very reasonable and affordable cost. It might help if we we weren’t financially bailing our criminal bankers and a scandal-wracked financial system. How about re-directing a lot of those funds into quality of life systems.

Once people experience health CARE as opposed to health INSURANCE, the debate will be over and the people who made healthcare for all a reality for the American people will be national heroes.

Lead us. First by example. Then by executive decision. It’s what Thomas Jefferson designed the Constitution around.

You can do it Mr. President. “Yes You Can”.

Patriotically – and, on behalf of my Brothers and Sisters. Because this is what Prudent but Optimistic Gentlemen do.

Brian Patrick Cork

formula for Disaster

November3

So… It’s all about Talladega in the motorsporting news these day.

However, while researching something completely unrelated, another story caught my eye, having naught to do with Talledega, NASCAR at all, but, sort of vaguely connected with the world of Formula One motor racing.

You can, and probably should, read the relevant story here. Because, I assure you, I am going to deviate wildly from it as I indulge myself with this post.

Formula One racing – which is something I’m not particularly interested in because I’ve never seen the point (rather like lap dances at trucker bars). However, I do fancy the idea of racing Porsches, late at night, or in the misty early morning when dawn only offers a hint of cracking. But, I suppose the cars that Formula One “pilots” use might be seen as quite nifty, were you a ten year old boy. You might think “Ooh, cool”, without really understanding why, and you might ask your Mom to buy you jammies with a picture with a Formula One car on them… Or, there are, of course posters, that include pin-up type girls that add to a fantasy that is, ultimately, for a ten year old boy, meaningless – and, that would be fine – because there would be nothing wrong with that, because, well, because you’d be ten.

But to a grown up, I really don’t see the appeal of Formula One racing, or the associated cars. To me, it looks very much like some men, with names like Al LaFauries (tanning enthusiasts, to be sure) in those expensive cars driving pointlessly round and round a racetrack with their asses getting numb. And then, stopping. It’s repetitive, it’s noisy, it’s even more horrendously, mind-numbingly, repetitive, actually, and if you like Formula One motor racing, or are interested in it in any way, and you’re not ten years old, I’d have to say that there’s probably something wrong with you.

Or, on the other hand (I will be getting to a point shortly)…

formula One RacingFormula One is a deafeningly loud, extraordinarily expensive, rock-star-meets-the-road spectacle. It’s a multinational pastime in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of fans pay up to $1,000 a ticket to watch 22 drivers from 11 teams go around complex circuits at 200 miles per hour. In a series of 18 races (or Grand Prix) in Monaco, Turkey, Japan, Brazil, Bahrain, and elsewhere, the drivers compete for points based on their place at the finish of each race. At the end of every March-to-November season, the circuit’s highest point earners are crowned in two ways: by team (the Constructors’ Championship) and by driver (the Drivers’ Championship).

While the drivers with multimillion-dollar contracts command the attention and acclaim, the real competitors in Formula One are the cars themselves: ultralight, mid-engine, open-cockpit marvels of precision engineering, power, and speed. “The difference in raw driving ability between the fastest and the slowest driver is unlikely to be more than one second per lap,” says Autosport writer Mark Hughes. “The difference between the fastest and slowest car is perhaps three or even four seconds per lap. So the fastest driver in the slowest car would still be nowhere, whereas the slowest driver in the fastest car would be quite successful.”

Unlike Nascar, which keeps the field evenly matched by restricting what race teams can do to their cars, Formula One is all about fine-tuning the vehicles. There are a few general regulations (called the formula), which dictate things like the number of cylinders an engine can have and the car’s maximum length. Everything else can be tweaked. The top teams — which have thousands of employees — can blow more than $400 million a year trying to make their cars go a few milliseconds faster.

But, other than all that, something mildly interesting, that is vaguely connected to Formula One, did actually happen. You may have seen the story. It doesn’t involve cars, but it does involve a video of the multi-millionaire son of a wannabe fascist dictator indulging in paid-for “spanky” sex with women who were allegedly dressed as Nazis.

Now I don’t see anything particularly wrong with that; what people do in their private lives is their business, and people’s sexual proclivities rarely have any bearing on their ability to do their jobs, so the details of what Mr. Max Mosley was doing are totally irrelevant. But it’s interesting because of the furor it has provoked in the, otherwise, crushingly tedious (don’t forget ass-numbing) world of Formula One motor racing.

The heads of several organizations involved with Formula One have been quick to criticize Mr Mosley, saying that he ought to be ashamed of himself for bringing the industry into disrepute.

…sigh… Have you been to a Formula One event? I have. I’ll admit it. It’s sheer spectacle on every conceivable human platform.

al lafauries, race car driver and tanning enthusiastSo, I’m qualified to add that it’s quite funny, to me anyway, to read about spokespeople for major car manufacturers claiming a moral high ground; the car is arguably the worst thing that has ever happened to the planet – after human beings, obviously. And, it’s very hard to think of an invention that has had a bigger negative impact on the environment than the automobile. So, it’s potentially amusing to see a bunch of men who have grown rich from the glorification of mindless, ass-numbing, utilizations of automotive technology with HOOTERS emblazoned everywhere (maybe that’s just NASCAR, but who cares, really), over  vilifying one of their colleagues over his lack of moral standards.

It’s also difficult to know exactly what the pious defenders of Formula One are complaining about. They surely can’t be offended by the idea of hiring women to dress in a manner that’s arousing to a male audience, because I had a quick look at the ITV Formula One website, and there’s quite an extensive collection of photographs of what they call their “Pit Babes”, who are, arguably, attractive young women in bikinis and similar attire. So the marketing of women as a sexual commodity is obviously not what’s offended them.

If it’s the sadomasochistic aspect of the affair, then I’d refer again to Formula One itself – because to actually watch an entire race, with all it’s noise and repetition and sheer Sisyphusian, ass-numbing, pointlessness, and derive any pleasure from it, you would have to be a masochist, or a ten year old boy. And, you’d need to be a sadist to put it on television. So again, pot, kettle, black.

I wonder if the real reason that all these ultra-rich polluters and despoilers of nature are angry is that if one of them is caught being a bit naughty in an (allegedly) Nazi-themed brothel, it might make the public suspect that the rest of them are also turned on by that kind of thing (possibly like some Christians and Megadeth). And while they sleep perfectly sound with the knowledge that their business activities directly affect the delicate balance of life on earth, the idea that people might find out that they’re a selective bunch of ass-numbed perverts that act like ten year olds, fills them with dread.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Especially fellow Porsche drivers. Those, Prudent Gentlemen!

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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