The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

rumors of the conspiracy to hide the truth are to be ignored

December3

Rumors concerning any conspiracy to hide the truth from you are lies and should be ignored.

Does that news offer you comfort?

So… Were I to inform you that I’m the un-noted head of an, otherwise, secret society of skeptics who seek to disprove the foolish beliefs of conspiracy theorists and paranormal enthusiasts (carefully referred to as: Skeptics of Conspiracy and the Paranormal), would you believe me?

How about the media is your friend, and the internet purveys all things factual and truthful?

Or, would you think we, that collective “we”, that might in fact be those insidious “they” often whispered about with uncertainly, were foisting yet another conspiracy to throw you off our tracks?

Take comfort in the simple fact that you know all that you are allowed to.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

are computers portals to chaos or confusion?

August27

I’m thinking it was either early  2001 or 2002 when David Gardner, the co-founder of The Motley Fool, and I were hanging out here in Atlanta in a local hotel bar pondering optimistic investment options, when it dawned on me how technology is, and will remain, a two-edged sword.

Between the two of us we had six gadgets scattered across a small table that included bulky cellular telephones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s), and one pager (his, not mine), and a camera (again, his not mine). Since, statistically, the odds are good you are reading this blog, and you are at least thirty four years of age, you are probably thinking back with the vision of a similar array of your own.

I was telling David how one of my investors (think Palm Pilot and then PalmOne) that I was coaching and a company I was recruiting for called Handspring had collaborated around the Handspring Vizor devices (that, as you might know, then evolved into the Treo line of products) working with a cellular company to form (what is now) a “smart phone”. The Handspring was a PDA that you could now also use as a phone using a Sprint snap-on module (and, yes, I was an early adopter)! So, you had the least amount of “stuff” you needed to do a lot of business on the fly. By the way… The Handspring  and Palm collaboration realized one of the first efforts to utilize USB connectivity for synchronization, and worked brilliantly with the Macintosh operating system out-of-the-box.

I was pondering my gadgets when I looked at him and asked:

“Do you think all this technology simplifies your life and business, or creates more stress and confusion?”

That was another of my “Forrest Gump” moments as we subsequently witnessed that Motley Fool take a lead in driving a great deal of attention around convergence and mobile technology platforms.

With the advent of Apple’s iPad (and, obviously the iPhone) maybe the answer to my question today is: “as complicated as you prefer”.

I think Nicholas Johnson would appreciate that because he likes to fidget and tweak stuff, in the spirit of all things Windows and Google. He is also apparently offended by things “that just work (a la Apple).

And, this will bring me around to what is currently a continued bastion of confusion – the PC (to be sure all computers are, essentially “PC’s” – some are just more PC, or useful, or work, for that matter, than others) – all of them aspiring to be compared to an Apples.

I have an iPhone and I’ve owned hundreds of computers (mostly Apples).

Here is another question in this time of economic uncertainty, continued efforts around convergence, mobility and the unending quest for what the real “truth” is, any where:

“are computers portals to chaos or confusion?”

Today, if you are under forty years of age, and asked a question, you will almost always go to Google.com for the answer. And, this might be where we realize the true cost of chaos. There is an old rule that allows: “if it’s in writing, it must be true”. Print is a powerful tool or weapon – and, misinformation can be the result.

Picture the twenty five year old “techie”, all-sophomoric, to be sure, at a cocktail party when they get challenged with a great question. The first thing they’ll do is whip out their Treo (well… maybe not) or Android device, fire up Firefox and google the question. Whether the information they find is accurate or not, it will often be touted as gospel and spread like wild-fire.

Think about it… If you Google a topic, most of what you read as a result is from blogs (sic), websites designed to influence thinking, white papers based on uncertain facts, “chat” responses posted on written articles of uncertain origin, etc. Other sources of information those which you find on MSN that can include media-hyped head-lines about the stock market and other economic reporting that is rarely based in fact. And, this is what forms our thinking and opinions daily. Wikipedia might have some credibility due to its community-based self-regulation that suggests some integrity from the intellectual community. But, how do you know if you don’t balance the information against information possibly found in a library or research facility.

I studied Social History (not a widely promulgated course-of-study, and some what “unofficial”) – or why things happened at Radford University and through other programs most of you won’t have access too. And, that has helped form my super powers perspective and position as a heterodox and contrarian. For example, if I read about a certain stock on a blog or through an oped, I know how to verify the information – and, first via skepticism. I focus on what most people don’t realize what they don’t know.

I also ask a lot of questions and always cross-reference. And, that is where I’ll end this piece and hope you pass this on as both a historical perspective of reference, and a warning around how to absorb knowledge, form your own super powers for good use, and be part of the solution, and not the problem.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

about that vineyard

August11

I’ve apparently struck a chord with the news I want to purchase a vineyard.

My preference would be Spain.

I’m not looking for investors or partners.

And, I don’t view this as a retreat. More so a platform.

Apparently, and according to Hemingway, and my Granddad, Spain is easier to defend (more about that some other time). And, the people are like none other on the planet. And, yes, I did predict Spain winning the World Cup. The mountain ranges of Spain influence the climates of many Spanish wine regions (and politics), isolating regions like Galicia in the northwest, and protecting the Rioja region from the rain and cool winds from the Bay of Biscay.

All of this, and it’s import, are things, and critical things, that Prudent and Optimistic Gentlemen understand.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

when sharp witted nuance is a blunt edged weapon

July19

High Court Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring.

And now, the stage is set for a subtle shift and the potential change for history in the making.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Well… You probably would not ask such a question – especially as we approach a weekend. But, I, on the other hand, spend endless and seemingly sleepless nights pondering implications of such things (it’s all part of being Jeffersonian, and a Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman). What is not widely understood is that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who already decides whether liberals or conservatives win the Supreme Court’s most closely contested cases, is about to take on an even more influential behind-the-scenes role.

Kennedy will inherit Stevens’ power to choose the author of some court opinions.

I am on my toes!

Why is this important, you finally ask?

The crafting of these opinions has historically been used to subtly shape a ruling or preserve what is, almost always, a tenuous majority. In fact, I feel this creative utilization of the nuance is at the very core of what Thomas Jefferson had in mind as he outlined the structure of the US Constitution – and, what it is capable of in the right minds.

For example: An unwritten high court rule gives the senior justice in the majority, most often the chief justice, the power to assign opinions.

NOTE: The overall balance of power on the court is unlikely to change, with President Barack Obama’s choice of Elena Kagan to replace the liberal-leaning Stevens. So, today, this change might keep the court’s most liberal justices from writing some of its biggest decisions. When the liberals win an ideologically driven case by, say, a 5 to 4 vote, the court’s two senior justices – currently Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, both conservatives – are sure to be on the losing side.

With Stevens gone, Kennedy is now next in line to swing opinion by assigning language to support or deny.

It’s both insidious and brilliant – and, a great example of why people refer to the nebulous “they”. This makes Kennedy potentially one of “them”.

You’ve likely read other snippets in this Blog when and where I’ll refer to something said by former Bush administration solicitor general, Paul Clement. I called him late last Friday to ask his opinion of these current events. He was quite busy with a matter related to his boat. However, he did offer that putting the power to assign opinions in Kennedy’s hands is: “…the single most important dynamic change.” brought on by Stevens’ departure.

David Garrow, a Cambridge University historian who has written about the court, said the 74-year-old Kennedy already writes a disproportionate share of the court’s big decisions and will have even more chances to do so now because he can assign opinions to himself.

Will you sleep now, reader?

This is the nexus point where the Heterodox has his day. So, look for me sustaining an opinion in this matter in the weeks and months to come. Ayn Rand would carefully alight one of her unfiltered cigarettes, fix you with a steady gaze, and then point the cigarette at you to emphasize her point that the potential for manipulating the direction of rules in a manner that disallows balanced and informed decision-making is not tolerable. And, I’m not clear this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind. He might be spinning so fast in his grave that the earth could well remove itself from it’s axis.

But, maybe not if we remain alert.

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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