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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

two words:

love and hate.

or, love and hatred.

they represent genuine extremes, I think.

as an aside… we’ve witnessed; and unfortunately, some of you have lived – “love hate” relationships.

but, some people love to hate. we assign that to terrorists, for example. other folks might submit they hate to love.

“there’s nothing in this world so sweet as love. and next to love the sweetest thing is hate.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’m intently considering my keyboard, and thinking love is an elixir, whereas hatred is fuel. however, both can be the foundation for a cause. and, a result of a cause, I  suppose.

apparently there exists, some where, but I don’t, in truth, care precisely where, a study using a brain scanner to investigate the neural circuits that become active when people look at a photograph of someone they say they hate has found that the “hate circuit” shares something in common with the “love circuit”.

I’m thinking the opposite of love is not hate. however, it could be indifference. but, we’re trying not to introduce other words, here. on the other hand, indifference is not the same result if you say: the opposite of hate is not love. the meaning, if not the entire context changes, and radically.

what the hell, I’ll add an aside, here. me? I’ll fear indifference long before hate, and certainly love. indifference might suggest the loss of hope. And, maybe that’s the key to strapping on a vest stuffed with dynamite, or losing the will to love. love might take more courage and effort than hate, after all.

these words, and their application, might represent an important battlefield. the on-going war that rages (now, that’s an interesting word relative to this line-of-thinking) between these emotions is relentless. we seem to have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another, unflinchingly. it’s more likely that love will turn, and viciously, into seething hatred, and not so likely that hate will transform itself into love. if someone were to say: ‘I hate loving”, it’s sad, but that is more easy to relate to than: “I love hating”, which almost sounds like a chest-thumping cause for action, or call-to-action.

hate is often considered to be an evil passion that should, in a better world, be tamed, controlled and eradicated. yet, I think were you a biologist, hate is a passion that is of equal interest to love.

like love, hate is often seemingly irrational, and can lead individuals to both heroic and evil deeds. this fascinates me. how can two opposite sentiments lead to the same behavior?

perhaps that line-of-thinking led Ella Wilcox to say: “love lights more fire than hate extinguishes.”

I can’t say I agree with that. for example, love is often viewed as given, whereas is hatred is acquired. but, we can demonstrate how hatred is ladled-out carefully and becomes so much more powerful over time. if someone handed a terrorist (we really do leverage that term liberally, don’t we) a flower, they would likely shove up the givers butt, or grind it into dust and mix it with weed-killer and craftily introduce it into their coca-cola. having said that, perhaps the makers of coca-cola are actually terrorists of a sort because soft drinks are, indeed poison, and slowly killing a large portion of the worlds population. too many people say: “I love coca-cola”, and not enough say: “I hate coca-cola”. but, I digress (although shareholders of coca-cola enterprises love to make money, and certainly don’t hate it).

me? as I continue to explore the complexities of living the authentic life, I’m more likely to try and love, in general. or, at least care. this is where indifference creeps back into the thinking. I’m not sure you can win once love is part of the equation because many lines become blurred and the self can be lost. but, nobody actually wins where hate evolves. that’s a kobayashi maru. I’ll submit once indifference corrupts the soul, there exists hatreds foothold. and, I’ll often try to encourage my fourteen year old daughter to try, and hard, not to even use the word hate in a sentence – especially relative to people, and also inanimate objects (like new cellular telephones) – but more so, then, from a common-sensical standpoint. I also want her to be careful about dispensing and leveraging the word love. there is that tipping-point, after-all.

it all requires a lot of thinking and consideration. a cause, if you will, for that winnie-the-Pooh figgerin’ spot.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Nicholas Johnson is often found in-and-amongst the companies I’m working with to change the world. I’m not clear what it is he is doing most days. But, some times he’ll haull-off and come up with a pearl worth sharing. For example, in a recent meeting with an uncertain conclusion, he announced the existence of an on-line service called www. billfloat.com. Apparently if you need to pay a utility bill, for example (and entrepreneurs, just like most people, do that) you can convince this shadowy organization to pay your bill up to thirty days in advance for a transaction fee of a mere five dollars. All you need is a viable bank account and the best hopes of the funds being in it by a later, albeit pre-determined, date.

This is different.

Voila!

I feel billfloat is an example of: “being part of the solution, and not the problem”. Five dollars is a reasonable fee for a greater peace of mind. Obviously living paycheck-to-paycheck is living on the veritable edge. But, that is the reality for a growing segment of our national population. Here, someone clearly came up with a solution that is not, in my hardly humble opinion, userous like many of those strip-mall situated paycheck loan (shark) services.

Or, the current banking system, for that matter.

I’m often asked something along the lines of, “If you weren’t running your current business (this is assuming they understand what it is I do), what would you work on, or be doing?”

There’s not a single answer to this question; it can change day-to-day. As I’ve stated on this blog, and through a great deal of public speaking, I could never have planned or anticipated my own career-path. But, in light of our global economic situation, and Johnson’s research, I think if you asked me today, I’d say I would like to start a bank.

There are very few people who really love their bank. I use a private bank and this means I don’t have to suffer the same inconveniences realized by most folk. For example, many are dealing with overage fees that stack up, misleading fine print, and a general malaise born of an apathetic sense of fatalism. However, there’s a unique opportunity in that mainstream contempt for financial institutions. And, concurrent with this is an incredible amount of government backing that essentially makes it a no-risk environment. People are simply hungry for anything different, something contrarian.

A David to the Goliath banking industry. If you will, something heterodoxal. This is where I often realize my best potential and opportunity.

The name of my bank would be something supremely boring, like SmartBank or bank on brian (In my businesses, I typically use small caps for my name because it’s not about me, it’s about what I do). The idea behind it is that bad behaviour in the banking – which is in truth, aligned with Wall Street – world has been largely inevitable because their compensation structures incented people to do overly risky things. the Bank of brian would maintain a reserve level 2-3x higher than Federal requirements, and any other bank. I’ll aspire to World Bank status as well and align myself with European protocols (have you bothered to wonder why the US doesn’t have any World Banks?). Bank of brian would have no bonuses unless goals such as preserving mortgages were met or exceeded and loans made to emerging culture companies based on best practices, carefully monitored milestones and accountability proliferated. I suspect critics would say this would make it impossible to attract top-shelf talent. But, every time the bank gets attacked we’d turn it into an advertising opportunity to emphasize why we’re different.

To wit:

“We can’t attract top-shelf talent? Go on…We take your money and put it in a vault. We don’t need the million-dollar bonus geniuses on Wall Street to do that. SmartBank. Bank, smart.”, would say I.

Bank on brian.

In fact, the first few years of SmartBank would be largely focused on acquisition through every trick in the book. At the very beginning pull a Gmail/WordPress.com strategy ,and make it invitation-only. I’m confident this will create a buzz and also allow you to give amazing white-glove service to the initial customers that want to catch that glassy-fronted wave, who will in turn tell their friends and create a tsunami. That’s called “viral” marketing and that always works when people like what they see and experience. Ironically that would represent a novel experience with banking today where the objective appears to be lining the pockets of bankers while stripping down customers. You can also target certain profitable segments and ultra-safe depositors at first, like Gmail users in San Francisco (using Firefox with an ad-blocker) who make six figures a year. There would be only one style of checks and debit cards and they’d have a distinctive design so if you saw one you’d say, “What’s that?” a-la the American Express Black or Plum card (I have both and everyone’s follow them through every transaction) products which would then start the whole conversation again about how SmartBank is different.

For the first two years you could also do things like not allow accounts larger than the FDIC-insured limit. No one has ever heard of a bank turning away money (unless you, ironically, have poor credit). But, you’d say that although everything SmartBank does is risk-free, it’s still a startup, and if people have more than the insured limit (today it’s 250k for single and 500k for couples) in an account, they should put the extra somewhere else. Again, statistically (and, those types of numbers in the right hands [like my own] never lie) this will impact a very low percentage of customers… And, everyone; everyone, I say, will think it’s naught less than remarkable. This tactical growth can be phased out after a few years; in fact, it would be yet another PR opportunity:

“We’ve been in business now long enough that we feel comfortable with larger accounts.” Boom, free coverage.

I’m not defined as a “tech guy”, but I am more often identified with successful technology, and the associated leadership. So, of course a lot of focus would be on the Bank of brian website. Imagine, if you will, something along the lines of an old-time vintage design aesthetic combined with a Google-like (web 2.0?) simplicity and attention to speed. All logins would be two-factor, with the default being SMS’d  to you with a one-time code to log in when you gave your email address (Just so we’re clear, I’ve given this a lot of thought, for good reason, done my home work, and already using consultants). A significant part of the website would be the blog. It would have a strong Ben Franklin-like common sense voice, with a Thomas Jefferson oriented pragmatic tone with a few cool savings or home management tips each week. And, in-line with my own cultural architectural views, it would cover at least one financial industry story a day that was relevant to historical examples alined with current events for perspective.

For example:

“Bank of America spent forty million dollars on airplanes last year. We spent forty thousand to develop an iPhone application so you can check your balance from anywhere.”  (the average useful iPhone app costs $2.99.). NOTE: Not Android, at first. I say this because quality control is crucial here – and Apple defines that, while Android is working on it.

“Here’s how to block advertising when you browse the web with Firefox; it makes the web faster and less annoying.”

“So-and-so Bank’s website requires you to use Internet Explorer. We insist that you don’t because there are way cooler and faster browsers like Firefox, Opera and Safari. Here are links to those open source browsers you can switch to today.”

“Goldman Sachs just paid out sixteen billion dollars in bonuses to their employees. If we had an extra sixteen billion dollars lying around, we’d put it in the bank for a rainy day. By the way… If Goldman Sachs had never paid out bonuses they never would have needed government intervention.”

Sixty eight Million Reasons Your Bank Sucks. That’s the amount Bank of America collected last quarter in needless ATM fees.” …well, needless to customers, any way.

That’s all made up, for now. The headlines would almost write themselves, and every time a financial institution is in the news it’d be an opportunity to contrast why SmartBank is different, and what the underlying philosophy is behind why it’s different.

I’m a Social Historian. I study and consider why things happen. And, then I do something about it.

As trumpeted above, all of the marketing would be on the web and viral the verbal, or word-of-mouth part would follow (like eBay and Amazon) – because it’d be an online-only bank like ING Direct. No storefronts (brick-and-mortar) where people have to wait in line, or risk a bad interaction with a disinterested teller, or get robbed and need insurance.

To be clear…Basically, a lot of the historical risk of running a bank could be eliminated. When you sign up it would have a: “tell your friends about SmartBank” address book (like LinkedIN) feature that would connect you to them if they signed up for an account, give you both money (I should make the point that Bank of America actually does have something like this, so I have to keep thinking about it because of the karma thing), and also make it easy to send them money, PayPal-style, if they have an account.

I’ll pause here and offer that you might see a trend in my thinking… I’m picking, showcasing and reflecting products and services that appear to be working, and adopting them as my own for your benefit. This can be referred to as “best practices”. And, we need o be all-in on that.

I suspect SmartBank would make money and reward shareholders and customers alike, which just might separate it from the likes of Bank of America, for example. So… How would the Bank of brian make money and also provide terrific customer service, you ask?

I think it wouldn’t touch anything risky on the financial side. However, it would be a data company. As it turns out, data is a hot industry as evidenced by hiring and investment trends (and, I’m a subject matter expert in both areas). The first three years the focus would be entirely on customer acquisition, marketing, PR, and establishing a world-class tech team building a rock-solid infrastructure. SmartBank would likely make less money than non-customer-centric banks currently do, but it would be more than enough to build an amazing product in a sustainable way, like Craigslist did with newspaper classifieds. After a certain milestone, say one-hundred billion in deposits, I would buy or clone Mint. SmartBank would have more (and accurate) data about its customers than almost any other company in the world other than credit card companies, so the online interface would have Mint-like lead generation offers that are based on accurate information. For example, if you spend one hundred and forty dollars a month on electricity, but if you switch to this new solar provider you’d save two hundred dollars a year. Think of it like Gmail (By the way… I’ll admit to referencing Gmail, consistently in this post, to honor Nicholas Johnson and his possibly being a catalyst for much of this) contextual advertising but based on where you spend your money rather than the words in an email. There also might be aggregate data opportunities for economic research or targeting, but I’m not sure if I like, or have a firm understanding of, the privacy implications there.

SmartBank probably couldn’t, and I wouldn’t want to raise Venture Capital, or anything like it, because having any sort of exit expectations, and the predatory influence that would reflect Wall Street, would completely kill the “safety story”. Like most of my businesses today, I would want to bootstrap, and after a few years would be hugely profitable. I understand the irony in this vision coming from a felon. But, there is yet another example of my being Jeffersonian, a heterodox, and the contrarian, eh.

By the way… The existence of bank of brian would also put significant pressure on existing, more traditional, banks and the Federal Reserve,  because depositors would be leaving in droves, putting pressure on their reserve requirements. Existing banks couldn’t compete in a traditional way because they have such a sordid history of customer apathy and bad PR. SmartBank wouldn’t be trying to capture their profits, so-to-speak. However, we would reflexively be unhinging them while driving much more revenue, but in smaller amounts, but a larger end-result.I think this would end up looking something like a credit union, but for the masses.

Thanks Nicholas. And, the rest you readers can thank us both, at some point.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I’m certain we, that collective we, liked (and, still enjoy) the movie Pulp Fiction (1994) for a broad-range of reasons – all cause celebre.

I appreciated Quentin Tarantino allowing us a vehicle that kick-started the career of Samuel L. Jackson (“Jules Winnfield”) and also re-started the acting careers of John Travolta (“Vincent Vega”) and Bruce Willis (“Butch Coolidge”). I value the ironic humor with it’s numerous pop culture references and extensive use of homage (look for an example below for extra points). But, for me, the best part was the eclectic dialogue. And, supreme amongst all that witty prose was the Samuel L. Jackson character Jules’ liberal use and interpretation of Bible verse as a preamble to his murderous violence. Notably this passage:

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

Jules ritually recites what he describes as a biblical passage: Ezekiel 25:17, before he executes someone. We hear the passage three times – in the introductory sequence in which Jules and Vincent reclaim Marsellus’s mysterious light emanating (and never explained) briefcase from the doomed Brett; that same recitation a second time, at the beginning of “The Bonnie Situation”, which overlaps the end of the earlier sequence; and in the epilogue at the diner.

That being true scripture is Urban Myth and Legend. In fact only a select few words and/or phrases used in his speil are generated from the true scripture. For the sake of clarification, the following is the accurate scripture as presented in the bible (this is not me saying the Bible is accurate):

“I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them.” – Ezekiel 25:17

So… My point is that I like creative and nimble prose. I also enjoy senseless contrived cinematic violence. And, as luck, or providence, if you will, would have it, the Bible is chock-full of ass kicking – and, is often a great cinematic source.

As a result of this, a sporting handful of ebullient buddies and I rallied our own witts and have come up with the following cocktail (many of those were also involved, as were Fat Tires and Modelo Especial’s) of bon mots that liberally leveraged Bible verse to promote violent contextual imagery….

Examples:

Exodus 2:11

“One day, after Moses had flowered into Manhood, he went amongst the people, where his own people gathered, and there, watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating down upon a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way, and then that way, and upon seeing no one of merit, Moses killed the Egyptian, thusly raining vengeance upon him, and hid him in the sand”. – Optimistic Gentlemen

Sure, Moses was a great leader, an emancipator of his people – and, a prophet. Most people don’t know that he also was the Biblical equivalent of Splinter Cell‘s Sam Fisher, a well-honed killing machine, able to slay from the shadows bereft of pity or remorse. Martin Luther King may have had a dream, but Moses had a body count.

Picture the movie scene: An Egyptian soldier is wailing on a hapless Hebrew when Moses, clothed head-to-toe in black, drops down from the ceiling. Moving with cat-like grace, he sneaks up behind the soldier and, taking his head in his hands, snaps the man’s neck with one savage twist. As the lifeless body slumps to the ground, Moses lights up a cigar. “Well,” he muses dryly, “looks like someone bit off more than he could Jew”.

[…pause…]

…I refuse to even pretend to be apologetic for that. And, I’ll stand firm in my belief that my Jewish brothers Marc Lewyn and David Taylor-Klaus, Prudent and Optimistic Gentlemen, to be sure, would slap their thighs with me.

II Kings 2:23

“…From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road under the yoke of his God, he came upon some youths come from town and jeering him. ‘Go on up, you baldhead’, they said upon him. ‘Go on up, you balhead’, they said unto him again, and repeatedly. He turned around, and upon them in turn, looking upon them with disdain, and in reply called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the nearby woods and mauled forty-two and six of the youths”.

You’ve  been there. I did not say I’ve been there. But, we’ll assume you’re walking along, minding your own business, when a gang of cocky, young bastards start hurling abuse at you. Most of us would just keep walking, or maybe, yell some insults back – or, flip them the bird (example of homage: multiple people have died from Chuck Norris giving them the finger). Elisha (commonly regarded as the Luke Skywalker to the Prophet Elijah’s Obi-Wan Kenobi), however, decides to take it one step further. Invoking the name of God, he summons mother#@*&ing bears to come and claw the @#%& out of them.

You can always count on an ill-timed digression in-and-amongst my blog posts. And, we’ll pause here without exception, and offer this for consideration:

Christians are constantly asking for prayer in schools to help get today’s kids in line. However, we beg to differ in terms of potential tactical options. We clearly need bears in our schools. Public schools, private schools, probably even home schools. If every teacher had the power to summon a pair of child-maiming grizzly avengers, you can bet that schoolchildren nowadays would be the most well-behaved, polite children, ever. It’s a simple choice: listen to the biology lesson, or get first-hand knowledge of the digestive system of Ursus horribilis a-la God himself.

It should be pointed out, as we meander our way back to Elisha (he is such a bad-ass that he struts around with a girls name along the lines of Johnny Cash’s Don’t Call Me Sue), that even after his death, Elisha continued to kick major butt. II Kings 13:20-21 tells us (loose interpretation, here, mind you) that when a dead body was thrown into his tomb and touched Elisha’s bones, it sprang back to life (we’re not clear how the corpse manages this, but we can’t explain the mysterious briefcase in Pulp Fiction either). It’s unknown whether Elisha had this power in life, as well as death, but we like to think he did, and that he had the habit of killing his victims with bears, resurrecting them, and then promptly re-summoning the bears to kill them, again. He’d just repeat the whole thing over and over until he got bored. That’s what we call sending your enemies to endless hell. Never mind purgatory. Pure bear-chomping, endless, hell. This is a terrific foundation for both a action-oriented gore-movie and video-game spin-off.

Ezekial 23:19

“…yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the dyas of her wayward you and away from the eyes of her God, when she was a lowly prostitute of high reputation in Egypt (naturally). There, she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of  donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses”.

NOTE: We’re giving Kent most of the credit for that one.

And, I’ll warn you now… I’m departing from my typical gentile self and indulging in some striking rude and graphic language, here. Just run with me around this one. But, you’ll also have to participate and utilize some creative word-smithing for full effect.

To wit…

Contrary to what you may think, the Bible has never shied away from talking about sex. In fact, the entire Song of Solomon is clearly dedicated to describing a couple enthusiastically honoring God, complete with lines like: “I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers”. This verse, in, or out, of context, is particularly explicit, though, possibly informing us that Egyptians are hung like farmyard animals, and can ejaculate in quantities to rival the annual flooding of the Nile.

All this imagery is crucial from a socio-historical perspective. It’s relevant to intellectualista’s and movie-buff’s alike because there is perspective of the human dynamic. Keep in mind, the Egyptians were the Jews’ former slave masters and are the bad guys in this particular story (okay and most Biblically-oriented stories). So, you know their reputation for supreme endowment was well earned when the worst their enemies could say was, “Go on! Go back to those big-cocked bastards! We hope you’re pleased with their enormous [insert creative college inspired descriptor].”

It should be noted that those swaggering old Egyptians didn’t exactly run from their reputation. Egyptian ruins are littered with statues like Min, the god of huge dong-having (in the spirit of the original intent of this blog post, this just might remind you of a certain 1980’s teen favorite movie). They even invented the phallic obelisk to advertise it (picture the Washington Monument, that just happens to be an obelisk). That was their statement to the world: “Gaze upon our [insert creative college inspired descriptor] tower and despair.”

I’ll reckon that this carefully interpreted passage creates a problem, certainly a challenge, for many new Bible readers. I’m also going to take some serious heat from my Christian brothers. Oh, really? However, once you’ve read this, it is impossible to go back and read the above referenced story-oriented Bible verse depiction of Moses killing the Egyptian guy the same way. This is verily the stuff of Pulp Fiction. When it speaks of the Egyptian beating the Hebrew slave, you have no choice but to imagine Moses turkey slapping the man (look it up). If anything, however, it makes Moses’ deadly intervention all the more justified.

I have a call into Quentin. I’m thinking Tim Roth, or even Samuel L. Jackson, playing the role of Moses. I’m as yet unclear if we go space opera like Star Wars, Post-Modern or Black Comedy. Neo Noir is certainly a possibility.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Biblically-Oriented Chuck Norris FUN FACTS:

1. Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn’t stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.

2. A blind man once stepped on Chuck Norris’ shoe. Chuck replied, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Chuck Norris!” The mere mention of his name cured this mans blindness. Sadly the first, last, and only thing this man ever saw, was a fatal roundhouse delivered by Chuck Norris.

3. When his martial arts prowess fails to resolve a situation, Chuck Norris plays dead. When playing dead doesn’t work, he plays zombie.

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

Okay… So, I’ve taken a few days respite from posting to this Blog.

The mail (hail) of concern resonates.

And, speaking of which… I’ve also been listening, and carefully, to a broad-range of music.

When was the last time you really listened to songs, and strains, and felt the movement of it all, through your bones to your soul?

Do it now!

Along the way…

“Do you know what love is… Can you really feel it”.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I haven’t been myself of late.

I’m going to die, and it’s hard understanding comprehending that.

All of which means that I am out of my element and doing a great deal of reading, almost none of it pleasant.  I have forced myself to make time to care about other things, and I’m disinclined to fiddle about even with leisurely pursuits, except when I simply can’t take it anymore. That’s when I run, and hard, like few mortal men are capable of.

Aside from that milestone, and considerations abounding what happens next, there is a lot happening in my life – and more or less importantly, in other people’s lives. And, I worry about all of them. It’s a self-imposed burden. I might also pause, here, and ponder if it might be self-evident, but others, will most certainly call it, now or later, self-indulgent. But, regardless of my legacy, be it evident today or tomorrow, I feel responsible – for everything and every body. Just so we are clear on the subjects, I don’t feel guilty about what’s been happening with Brett Michaels (the former lead singer for the 80’s “glam band” Poison), although the ecolological travesty unleashed upon us and the shorelines of  the Gulf Coast by British Petroleum has me on edge.

However, I see a glimmer of hope. Nearly four hundred years after the death of William Shakespeare (some called him Bard, while I know him as impish), scholars are ready to add a new play to his canon.

It’s true. You can read something about the events, unfolding by the hour, here.

The play is called Double Falsehood, or the Distressed Lovers and it’s believed, by the Prudent Gentlemen, anyway, that Shakespeare wrote the play, but found itself improved upon by, another dramatiste, John Fletcher, a Jacobean Playwright (The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of King James I (1603– 1625) of England, who was also James VI of Scotland.) who followed Shakespeare as official playwright for the King’s Men.

The play is apparently based on an earlier work by Shakespeare, based on an episode from Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote. Rest assured, this is naught less than a cause celebre for the Prudent Gentlemen, and an object de gravitas for myself. Consider my passion for Quixote, here: tilting don quixote.

“Double Falsehood has thrills, spills, sword fights, violent sexual assault and to, most modern ears, the potential for a terrible ending.”

I’ll trust that Haley Anne and Emma Jo will read these words, perhaps one day. Without the eye-rolls I suffer today, the effort that is Double Falsehood, will be evaluated, with conviction, remembering the face of their father, and perhaps with fondness over his keen sense of proprieties.

Anyway, whenever it is, I’ll surely await its coming with unseemly interest.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

what’s all this about?

I can’t explain what that damn tree means - or, if it might stand for something.

However, here I do discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

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.

brian cork by John Campbell

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"Perhaps victory can be realized best when the heart changes."

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about this particular Theme:

I'll warn you now that Tarski is theme of this blog created by Benedict Eastaugh and Chris Sternal-Johnson. It is named for the logician Alfred Tarski. I'll recommend his papers ‘The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages’ and ‘On the Concept of Logical Consequence’, both of which can be found in the collection Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics.