Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to School

Well, it has begun. However, this time, I'm focused. I know precisely what I want to do, and what it is going to take.

For those who are not aware, I have decided I want to become a Certified Public Accountant. If you could not tell by the previous posts, I have finally begun to intellectualize a subject once foreign to me; the economy and financial theory.

I feel content. At peace. The subject has enough cross-over potential to satiate my need to do new things, enough employment potential to take care of my family and I, is fulfilling in that I can help others to keep themselves from being enslaved, and also, is not subject to a whole lot of debate.

Another added bonus is how it may assist me politically. It has been a long journey for the man-child who once declared himself a socialist. But I figure if you are going to lean to the left, take it to the right by way of their main subject of concern, finance.

But as I sat and observed my fellow classmates at MCTC and juxtaposed them to my experiences at University of Minnesota. There were several stark contrasts but also, massive similarities.

You can already imagine the disparity in socio-economic backgrounds. The University being pre-dominantly young white adults with parents paying for their education. MCTC being a diverse group in age, color, socio-economic background; but far more on financial aid, far more with children (60-70% in my English course), many more outside of the general college age.

But one thing was similar in both of my experiences, neither groups of students really had a whole lot of work experience within corporate/wannabe corporate offices. Many never have been financially independent, even fewer are financially literate.

The words of Asheru rattle around in my mind, "Only time will tell what this new world brings. Revolutions in order, let the mood swing, swing."

This time I have to get it right. I have come to the conclusion that I will never fit in. I am done trying to please people. I know what I want and right now, I need to please myself, my family, and my friends who I know I can trust to want the best for me. The friends that I can count on one hand.

God, give me strength to do what I need to do in school as well as in my career. And give me the courage, love, and compassion to stay humble.

The new mantra: "One day at a time."

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Mutual Appreciation Society

If Quantum Physics teaches us anything, life is chance.

No matter how rich, how powerful, how strong; everyone falls from grace. We are all human and it is our inescapable fate. As Outkast wrote, "Even the sun goes down, heroes eventually die, horoscopes often lie, and sometimes why? Nothing is for sure, nothing is for certain, nothing last forever, but until [he] close that curtain, it's [them] and I, Aquemini." Excuse my edits, but there is a point to made.

For as well as you may compete and rise to the pinnacle of power, the imperfect side of you will bubble to the surface like oil through water. The fact of the matter is, as beings of the universe, we are drawn to the truth as much as the truth is drawn to us, no matter how hard we try to run. Why do you think those who have known too much in history have died prematurely? This is human nature 101.

It is far too easy, especially in the reach for power, which is necessary for change, to get your legs cut out from under you. Peter Tosh knew this full well when he channeled the words of the American visionary Benjamin Franklin in a song, "If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones." The key to survivability in a competitive world is to join a Mutual Appreciation Society.

Look at the likes of George W. Bush, Elliott Spitzer, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Jack Ryan, Enron executives, Michael Jackson, Robert Kelly, and many more politicians, businessmen, and celebrities. All of them, with severe character flaws and yet, they are going to be financially and politically okay, and why? Because their friends as well as enemies do not have it in their best interest to start airing dirty laundry or pointing out character flaws.

How does one join a Mutual Appreciation Society? Very simple, start small.

Now, I'll admit this is probably my worst quality; I am far too open and far too honest. However, I know adopting this concept as a personal policy is a key to my success and I have enviously seen others utilize this practice with incredible results. Simply edify those around you, if they are unedifiable, find others to be around and edify them. Choose the ones who have the intellect, maturity, wisdom, power or resources to do something beyond the norm either now, in the near future, or even further down the line.

Why do you think every U.S. President and almost every Fortune 500 executive went to college? Now, did I say graduate? No. But it is institutions and organizations that encourage great thought that will attract great thinkers and great talent. First, make sure you can take care of yourself, then watch these people's backs, show them a good time, let them confide in you. And try as you might, let not a word of judgement pass from your mouth. Even if they ask, tell the truth, but in the most respectful way possible. But don't be phony, mean everything you do and the more you do these things in service, the more you will understand the personal benefits.

It was the most painful lesson in life for me to learn that anyone can be great, but not everyone can be great. And even the greatest, without a social network of people who truly respect them on a certain level, will never attain their full potential.

Choose your friends widely, but wisely. And don't kick people while they're down; because what goes around comes around, my friend.

Playing the Percentages (an addendum to Getting Grown)

One thing I have always been pretty decent at is Texas Hold 'em.

I used to watch Celebrity Hold 'em every night before I went to sleep, as nothing else was on, and to see how certain artists of all kinds went about their game, as I felt it gave me insight into their character. Plus, it was fun to see which ones got plastered as they watched the game from the Loser's Lounge.

This game, however, is a fantastic metaphor for human competition in a capitalistic society. Willie Nelson sung, "You better know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to when to run." And what Willie was describing was playing your percentages, playing the odds.

You never know what the river will show, but if you start out pretty well (ie. a King and Nine suited) and you can afford it (ie. are in the chip lead), drop 1/10th of your chips before the first card is flipped. In games like poker and capitalism, controlled and calculated aggression is well rewarded. If you've got cards, make your opponent(s) bet to stay in. Never show fear.

However, rule #1 and #2 remain. Never buy more chips than the game is worth and always, ALWAYS know your odds.

Getting Grown



Legal full adulthood.


Being 21 (almost 22), my life is so dramatically different than it has ever been and honestly, I personally never knew the possibilities of where diligence could take you until now. My academic past as well as former personal path was me simply trying to find the right fit; I've switched schools 9 times, I've been a serial boyfriend (in one relationship after the other), always looking at my skills and trying to plug those abilities into whatever seemed to be the most accessible outlet.

However, the truth of the matter is, there is no easy road to success and no shortcut to happiness. I've come to the realization that you have to look at your life as a timeline in the span of the existence of an organization, business, or civilization. Your present is shaped by your past, and your future is shaped by the present.

Granted there are serious situational advantages and disadvantages for everyone. In present-day America, if you do enough in the present, you can catch up to or fly past those with the advantage, even though the rich definitely have a leg up in the power and resource department. However, given the right teaching in a world of hardship, those who have a history of struggle can be much more physically and mentally tougher. The bottom line is, as Ghandi said, YOU have to make the change YOU wish to see in the world; and it is generally more profitable and influential if you do so.

M.I.A. has been a perfect example of this in the music world. A child of Sri Lankan political conflict, she embraced all things danceable but not altogether related: Dancehall, Electro and Hip-Hop. And also, added her own political belief and "fight the power" mantras from a cultural minority rarely heard from. Now, she is everywhere; radio, movies, clubs, and television.

The economic law of supply and demand applies to original thought. The rarity of truly original thinking, that is embraced by the mainstream world consumer, yields the highest returns monetarily and influentially, as you have the most intellectual property ownership, control on the supply (unless you have signed this away), and you have begun a new trend in consumerism; which if sustainable, will be built upon.

However, there is a problem with the simple equation of O(riginality) + D(emand) = R(eturn on investment). Without the right exposure; the resources for promotion and marketing, the "hook-ups" from your social network, this equation falls flat. Also, you have to add in the costs for producing your product. Therefore, it really is A(wareness) x (O + D) - C(ost) = R; simplified, A(O + D) - C = R.

All of this being said, you have to start with building your financial backing far before you have your idea formalized, and this same formula can be applied to how you attain that backing from an employer. This part I truly wish I had understood sooner. The more connections you have, times specialized experience or training, plus the demand for that skill set, minus the cost of keeping you on, is the basis on which employers will hire and fire you. If any of your fellow employees start beating you in one of these areas, that is a loss in job security, and makes it much harder to earn that next promotion.

Sounds simple, right? But as I look at my fellow deuce-and-a-singles, as well as people who are older, I am astonished at how many people do not realize this. Or maybe they are missing the final major component.

Socrates wrote, "Let him who would move the world, first move himself." Motivation. Without motivation, we can throw everything else out the window, because it won't be completed. And for all the skills you have, if you do nothing at a job long enough, you will get fired in the modern American economy. M(otivation) x [A(O+D)] - C = R.

Everybody, somewhere along the line, has a dream. And if you read, or listen to every American success story, we hear what? "It began with a dream." This equation, in my limited experience, separates success stories from just, well, stories. If you have love in your heart, please take heed and pass it along.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Music of the Twenty-Teens

You heard it here first; Electro Pop, House, and Fusion, will be the next big music trend. It's going to be the 1980s again, where the American teenager thinks they are so unbelievably modern and afterwords, we will all look back in fondness but yet, in ridicule.

The State of Babylon

An art exhibit was being held showing art pieces featuring currency. Three men, at different points in time, walked by and looked at a painting of a United States one dollar bill that focused on the "In God We Trust" printed on the bill.

The first man said, "I am so proud of the Christian roots of this country, that we would show our faith even on our currency." This man felt justified and quickly moved on to the next piece of art and upon leaving the museum, went back to his life as usual.

The second man said, "Money is the root of all evil, the United States dollar reflects the hypocrisy of the American capitalistic system." This man also felt justified and quickly moved on to the next piece of art and upon leaving the museum, went back to his life as usual.

The third man, an inquisitive type, thought of the past, present and future of the featured symbolism:

"Currency has been important for the human economy, we need representative value to be able to calculate abstract economic gains, losses, and worth.

God has been important, is still important, and will continue to be important in baseline human culture.

The American forefathers were considerate of both of these facts.

However, as a Jew/Christian/Muslim myself, when utilizing currency, which has no value outside of the trust of value we place in it; what are we trusting? Does this statement infer that God is money?

Or that money is God?"

This man did not stir from this concept as it rocked him to his core as a believing Jew/Christian/Muslim. He had to be ushered out by the art museum staff.

To this day, no one knows what became of him.

So Here Goes!

Welcome to the first installment of the Neoteric American.

This blog will simply be a collection of thoughts by me, Joseph Clinton Collins, son of a family of perservering educators who overcame the entrapments of our imperfected American democracy to become successful in their pursuit of truth and affecting many lives along the way.

I cannot promise that this blog will be chronological or even always all that exciting. Actually, I promise you it won't. But it will be honest, come from a background of multiple perspectives, and provide you with information that you may have not acquired from other sources. In order to preserve my journalistic integrity, I will try to do as much research as possible to substantiate my words; but in all fairness, this is my blog, so you as an enlightened individual should expect bias and opinion -- even when I say I will try to keep it to a minimum.