James C. Banks

9/11 at Ten Years

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm

In case any reader is curious, I have not been blogging recently because I am working on transitioning to a research/editorial internship for Walter Russell Mead’s Via Meadia blog at the American Interest.  But I couldn’t pass by the tenth anniversary of September 11th without commenting in some way.  As I have written before, the September 11th Attacks were a reminder that history actually does continue; the there are no permanent defeats because there are no permanent victories; that the post-Cold War consensus was not so strong that we would never feel the influence of its antagonists.

Strangely, September 11th, 2001 was in many ways, to my memory, a mundane day during the early part of the academic year: Attending a parochial school, none of my classes were cancelled–I distinctly remember hearing that President Bush would be addressing the nation in forty-five minutes after leaving Physical Education class.  I walked home by the same route that I always did, through the baseball fields and picnic grounds of the elementary school across the street from where my parents lived.  This view has hardly changed in the past ten years, aside from some added play equipment–probably played upon for the first time for children born around the year of the attacks, considering that I helped raise those swings and climbing walls in my junior year of college.

My school did not hold an assembly on the events of September 11th until a week after they had occurred.  I have no recollection of what was said and doubt that anyone else who was there can recall either.  The events that have occurred sense then have distorted memory from the naivete of shock that pervaded after the tragedy occurred.  Since the crash of the fourth plane in a field in Pennsylvania, Al Qaeda has moved from defeat after defeat–though the American public at times was unaware of this.

Osama bin Laden’s death last spring was the last necessary victory of the War on Terror.  But these past years have demonstrated to us that whereas once history was thought to be over, it still has much to teach us.  There still is much evil in the world, the potential for which can never be eradicated by mortal influence.  What can be said but God protect us from evil, both in others and in ourselves.

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Apple: A Recollection

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Steve Jobs must have gotten something right for the Mustache of Understanding to recognize–in its worst pun yet recorded–that America needed “more (Steve) Jobs”.  I have never been a prolific user of Apple products; throughout my college days, they were like the Whole Foods of the technology industry: expensive, but only necessary for the chosen few.

I came to know them as the company that did things slightly differently, and always in their own way.  Even their retail stipulations seemed odd.  Their policy of charging retail stores the full shelf-price for a laptop and then paying the store a commission once a sale was made always a bane for me in my brief time as a technology salesman–and an employee at the only Mac store in the panhandle.  (That was back in the quaint days before the I-Pad even existed.)

At times, I wondered if Apple was on to something that all of the other software manufacturers–Dell, Toshiba, Samsung–had missed entirely, or whether they were simply attempting to be unique.  Given recent developments, with Apple briefly passing up Exxon Mobile as America’s most valuable company, I suspect that the former was the case.

Whether the company will be able to maintain its distinction as the world’s most valuable technology company–especially as it is beginning to face competition from companies like Google, with whom no one ever expected it to compete–is as uncertain as its meteoric rise.

But this is perhaps part of the company’s legacy: it was one of a thousand demonstrations that, however small a company begins, or however large it ends up, no single entity is a match for the mutability of the marketplace.  Consumer choice and financial investment are still sovereign and it is only by allying with these two entities that a company will succeed.  The concept that a company could somehow “create its own demand” is as much a reality as the Loch Ness Monster.

Housekeeping

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2011 at 12:58 am

Apologies to readers for not having posted recently.  I am in the midst of travels–as Gulliver was–first in the South, then in Albany and finally settling down around Lake Ontario.  I have been working on a new post, but mustering the discipline to put it up has proved a challenge.  Hopefully, the blog shall continue sooner as opposed to later.