Archive | April, 2012

Religion flash cards!

26 Apr

So I came up with another business idea last week. Religion flash cards! I don’t debate with theists anymore about religion, for the same reason I don’t debate with children about the existence of Santa, but there are still plenty of people out there that enjoy debates.

Atheists as a whole tend to be much more knowledgeable of the various religions. This is due to several different factors, but mostly because the average person who deconverts to atheism did so after having taken the time and effort to fully explore the realm of religion and to educate themselves on what the various faiths say.

But for all the atheists out there that might only have a cursory knowledge of other religions, I’m developing these flash cards to help them study and improve their knowledge for debates.

The problem I’ve run into is that this sounds simple on the outside, but once you get started trying to write flash cards, it’s a giant tsunami of information. It took me several days just to get through Judaism. I wanted to cover the main aspects of a religion, but also wanted to cover important details that people could use in debates. I quickly found myself bogged down in making flash cards aimed at precise biblical stories, rather than overarching themes of a religions.

I’ve tried to restructure, but it’s still difficult. Christianity alone has so many denominations, it’s ridiculous. I could make an entire deck of flash cards just on Catholicism alone!

I figure I’ll cover the major themes of each of the major religions, and then I’ll create a separate section on debate material. This whole thing is painstakingly slow…

One of the things that really stood out to me while writing down these flash cards was just how absurd some of the views are. I knew they were there, that’s partly what led me to be an atheist, but doing this is letting me rediscover them. I find myself pausing to ask “Do people really believe this stuff?!? That’s sick!”

Hopefully the cards and the knowledge they’re attempting to imbue will have the same affect on any readers.

I started a business

20 Apr

My goal is to travel around the world, but to do that, you need money. How much money depends on what kind of a life you’re going to lead and how you’re going to travel.

If you want to stay in a proper hotel every night, eat at fancy restaurants, and go on guided tours, all while maintaining a big house in suburbia back home, then traveling requires a LOT of money.

However, if you’re going to travel with just what you can fit in a backpack, you don’t mind using couch surfing or hostels, and you don’t have an obligations back home, then traveling can be very affordable.

The quest that as always bugged me though was “how do people who travel affordably still have enough money to eat? I mean, you’re going to run out of money sometime. It’s a mathematical fact.”

This is true, you do need some way to replenish your funds. This can be done either by working odd jobs while traveling, or by having passive income.

Passive income is any income that doesn’t require your direct interaction to make you money. The entire business is automated and you don’t have to worry about it, except to check in from time to time.

As such, I’ve started a flash cards company. Over the course of a week I digitized 500+ flash cards and put them in a printable format. I developed a website in an afternoon using a hosting company with drag and drop website creation, and I setup an account with e-junkie that handles the transactions.

Earlier this afternoon while I was walking my dogs, I made my first sale. I didn’t have to do a thing and I made $10. It’s a start, but I’m hoping the website will really start to pickup. I need to sell about 15 sets of flash cards to pay for the project, then I need to make 4 sales a month to cover operating costs of the website. Anything after that’s profit.

I have a few other business ideas in mind, I might execute those when I get them worked out a bit more.

Here’s my business if you’d like to check it out!

Trayvon Martin’s death has nothing to do with “Stand Your Ground” laws.

6 Apr

The murder of Trayvon Martin has nothing to do with the doctrine of “stand your ground.”

For anyone who doesn’t know what “stand your ground” is: it is a legal doctrine stating that someone who has a legal permit to carry a concealed weapon has no obligation to run away if they are attacked in a location they are legally permitted to be in. This doctrine is not universal across all 50 states. It is, thankfully, the law in South Carolina, where I legally hold a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Unfortunately, the media, and many of my fellow liberals, seem to be targeting the “stand your ground” law as if it was somehow responsible for Trayvon’s murder. It wasn’t.

What George Zimmerman did was not “stand your ground.” He chased a child down and shot him in the chest. It was fucking murder and it disgusts me that we’re still talking about this and he still hasn’t been arrested.

There’s nothing to debate about. It’s a clear as night and day as to what happened:

Zimmerman, a self appointed captain of neighborhood watch (who intimidated and scared his neighbors) saw a “suspicious” looking person in his gated community. By “suspicious” he means black. (Because clearly, all black people are criminals and none of them can afford to live in his private community, so obviously the kid was suspicious.) Zimmerman then called the police to report him. Meanwhile he was  following Trayvon.

Rule # 1 of carrying a concealed handgun: AVOID BAD SITUATIONS.

Zimmerman went looking for trouble. His motivation was clearly racial as he was heard using slurs like “coon” on the phone to 9-11! In the 9-11 calls made by neighbors after Zimmerman approached Trayvon with his gun, you can hear Trayvon screaming for help in the background. The screaming suddenly stops after the sound of a gunshot.

The police department, that has a history of racism, sends a narcotics detective out to the scene first, instead of a homicide detective. When Zimmerman tells them that Trayvon attacked him and broke his nose, they took his word for it, because hey, he’s white a great guy! Nevermind the fact that Zimmerman showed no signs of being hurt, and when you break your nose, there’s blood EVERYWHERE.  Nevermind the fact that a 17 year old kid was dead on the ground with a can of ice tea and a bag of skittles. The fucking racist police officers let him go. To make matters worse, they then  intimidated the witnesses. The people who heard Trayvon screaming for his life came forward to say so. The police said “No, you heard Zimmerman screaming for help.” What. The. Fuck.

As I’m writing this, the murderer is still free, and a child is still dead, and hopefully people are waking up to the reality that justice is America is a joke.

The moment Zimmerman went after Trayvon was the moment he crossed the line. People who don’t carry weapons with them, who haven’t taken the required safety classes, don’t understand the mindset those classes are supposed to instill in you.

Having a license to carry a gun is not a license to kill.

Your use of force needs to be proportional to the force being used against you. If someone punches you, you can’t pull out your gun and kill them. You need to be in immediate threat of death for you to reasonable be able to pull your weapon.

You need to avoid dangerous situations at all cost, but should you find yourself in one, you have the inalienable right to defend yourself.

Zimmerman disregarded all of this when he went after Trayvon and murdered him because he was black. Attempting to use this tragedy as a vehicle to advance anti-self defense causes is inappropriate, especially when the doctrine you’re attacking has nothing to do with the tragedy.

Look, carrying a gun can be equated to wearing a seat belt. You don’t wear the seat belt because you hope or want to get into a crash, you’d like to avoid that at all costs; you wear it in case. That’s the same mindset behind carrying a concealed weapon.

Unfortunately people like Zimmerman exist. They always have and always will. The best we can do is prosecute them to the full extent of the law; however, attempting to reduce us all to unarmed and helpless bunny rabbits, crying into the phone to 9-11 while people are dying, hoping that the police (who are several minutes away at best) get there in time is not the answer.

Travel blog?

4 Apr

I would like to eventually turn this blog into more of a travel blog. This blog has always been a digital representation of myself and the things I’m interested in, and for the past few years those interests have primarily revolved around religion and politics. Thrown into the mix were posts on gaming, feminism, and medieval living history. While I’m still interested in those things, I’m slowly starting to see a new interest emerge, which is great! I’ve been starving to discover a new passion for almost three years now.

I really want to travel. I don’t want the 9-5 job. I don’t want the house in the suburb with the white picket fence, I don’t want the cars, the mortgage, the bills, and all the other material “stuff” that shackles people to one location or another. I want to have nothing and everything at the same time. I want to be free, and I mean really free. The kind of free that others might label nomadic and poor.

I want to travel around the world, staying in exotic locations, working odd jobs to afford enough to eat for the day. I want to have amazing life experiences. The odds of me being here, given everything that could of happened differently from the beginning of time to now, are unfathomably stacked against me. Therefore it is my moral obligation to live as amazing life as possible. It would a crime against life itself if I squandered this gift in an office so I could afford credit card payments for more useless crap.

Setting that goal was easy. The hard part is figuring out how to make it happen.

I’ve started listening to travel podcasts for precisely this reason. One such podcast is The Indie Podcast. On one particular episode they had on Adam Barker, the guy behind Man vs Debt. Barker made a really interesting point (and I’m paraphrasing):

When people think about traveling, they think it’s terribly expensive, and it can be, but it can also be extremely affordable. The problem is that many of them want to live two lives. They want to travel the world, but at the same time, they want a steady job, a nice house in a safe neighborhood, a two car garage, a mortgage, PTA meetings, etc… If you want to maintain all of that AND travel the world, then yes, it is terribly expensive.

However, if you’re willing to sell all of your stuff, if you’re willing to be nomadic, then traveling can be a really cheap thing to do. It looks like the most expensive things are plane tickets. Once you’re on the right continent, you can usually take a train, a bus, or a boat.

But what do you do when you run out of money? How do you eat?

This has been the biggest and most frustrating question for me. Everywhere I look, people just seem to give the answer “Just do it. Make things happen.” Which is no answer at all. Look, seriously. The Beatles were wrong. Love isn’t all you need. Love won’t put food on the table, love won’t pay the bills. Similarly you need to have some type of income to sustain you while traveling.

The ideal situation would be to make money while traveling. That’s where passive income comes into play. The people who travel for a living seem to have some type of small income stream trickling in. It might not be much, but they don’t need to really put any energy into maintaining it, and it’s enough to pay for food.

From what I’ve gathered, it seems that this usually takes the form of some kind of web business, or investing.

Another great way to make money while abroad is to have a job that doesn’t require you to stay in one location, a job like a programmer or website developer.

This is what I’d ideally like to be doing. Although it requires effort, you can make more money that with passive income.

To that end I’d like to try and learn programming or web development. Lately I’ve been playing around with Python, and have been experimenting with a code academy introduction to JavaScript. Seems pretty fun, but I’m going to have to double down on my efforts to stay focused and study.

So this whole thing leaves me standing at a crossroads. I have several options:

Go to Australia for a working holiday, then from there start to travel around the world.

Try to get a Silver Fern visa from New Zealand, work there, then travel around the world.

Join a volunteer program, then travel the world.

I’ve looked around a volunteer programs and the one that looks the most interesting to me is English Opens Doors in Chile.

Normally the idea of teaching children English scares the shit out of me. I’m horrible with languages, and I would just be a deer in the headlights if put in front of a class of kids, all of them looking at me to somehow teach them my native language.

The EOD program does it a little differently. You don’t need to speak Spanish (you’ll learn it while you’re there) and you’re not the one teaching the kids. The head teacher is teaching the kids. You’re just there to help the kids with their conversational English. The other big plus is that you don’t pay EOD, they pay you. Room and board is taken care of with your host family, and they give you a small monthly stipend to use however you want. It’s not much, but then again, the cost of living in Chile isn’t very high.

If I went with either OZ or NZ, I’d have to save up a little more money. This is the hard part since I’m currently out of work and stuck in a really shitty economy. If I went to volunteer, I could leave in a few months and be over seas quickly. Though this is just postponing the issue of needing more money to move to the South Pacific.  I’ll have to think about it.

My favorite part of planning for an adventure is by far picking the gear. I LOVE picking the specific gear I’ll need for a trip. I enjoy comparing and contrasting various items for weight, cost, performance, etc. I guess it’s my inner nerd.  I have a wish list so far.

I need to get a real backpacking backpack. I’m still doing research on this. I won’t necessarily be living on a cliff face in Patagonia for weeks on end, but I will have a lot of my belongings with me.

I also need to get a good DSLR camera. Lately I’ve been looking at the Pentax K-r. I want to be able to take amazing shots of my journeys around the world. A good DSLR is key.

I also recently fell in love with the GoPro Hero 2. I’d love to take video like in that link.


So yeah, hopefully if things pan out, I’ll be able to start posting about amazing travel adventures here!