Back From the Future

I am going to put you in a science fiction story that has the potential to change your life. Ready?

I want you to imagine the next ten years.
– What is it you hope to accomplish?
– What career goals do you want to attain?
– What does your living situation look like?
– What kind of car do you have?
– What kind of friends do you have?
– What are your interests?
– How do you spend a Saturday night?
– Where have you traveled?
– How much money are you making?
– What are you doing for a living?
– What does your love life look like?
– What do you look like?
– What kind of foods do you eat?
– How much exercise do you do?

Answer these questions and any others you think of but do it in such a way that you ignore potential obstacles. Assume that everything goes your way. Assume it all works out. What does your ideal life in ten years look like? Write it all down.

Now go do that and come back for the science fiction paragraph. It’s right below this amusing photograph.

tea

 

Did you do it? Are you lying? I’m not going to know so you’re only lying to yourself which kind of defeats the purpose of self-actualization. Go on. I’ll still be here. Once you have, scroll past the photo below and learn the second part.

 

elephant6

 

Okay. Now I want you to pretend from now on that you were living this ideal life in the future. And then something happened, you don’t know what. But whatever happened destroyed your timeline. And now your consciousness has been plunged back to the present. You are Future-You. And due to the rigors of time travel you’ve forgotten most of how you got where you were in your ideal life. The only thing you have to go on is what you just wrote down. Tell yourself, “This is how my life is supposed to be.” Now all you have to do is figure out how to fix your timeline so that you can get back to your ideal life. Time travel is rough. It’s not likely that you’ll get everything perfect, but if you just get close, think of what an improvement that is over whatever your life might be now.

So get to it. Every second counts, traveler.

– Jack Cameron

If You Want To Stop Trump You Are My Ally

la

These are not normal times. In some ways, the current political climate is simple. When the President of the United States is appointing open fascists and white supremacists, it is easy for a rational individual to take sides. Over the last few years I have engaged in countless political conversations on and offline. I would often point out that the extreme right is significantly different than the extreme left because the extreme right is embraced by the Republicans whereas the extreme left is largely ignored by the Democrats. This point has become less and less true over time.

It is easy to explain the dangers of the extreme right because everyone understands what a Nazi is. It goes without saying that bigotry and fascism must be resisted at all costs. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought against such things. When you have the President of the United States attempting to ban all immigrants of a certain religion, when you have Republican congresspeople voting against something as simple as giving  a woman the same rights as a man, when the Vice-President of the United States is not against so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for people who happen to not be heterosexual, it’s easy to be against them.

I see the current Republican Party as a former bastion of fiscal conservatism that has been entirely corrupted to the point where it has lost any claim of moral high ground and represents a clear and present danger to the future of the United States of America as we know it. They have become a party that embraces hate while claiming to be victims. They are systematically erasing safety nets for poor people under the delusion that anyone who is poor simply is not working hard enough despite the fact that most of them, including the President got their money from their parents. The cognitive dissonance involved in being a Trump-supporting modern day Republican boggles my mind.

We are at war right now. That war is a class war. And so far, all of the casualties have been on the side of the poor. They do not get too many headlines because rather than using tanks and bombs, Republicans use laws and fear to do their killing. This is not to say that poor people are not being shot. They are being shot every day. Some are shooting themselves as frustration turns to despair. Some are getting shot in domestic disputes. And far too many are being shot in the street by police officers so afraid for their own safety that they would rather shoot an unarmed black man than chance that he might have a gun. Worst of all, it is a class war that all Republicans and too many Democrats refuse to admit is even happening.

If this is war (and it is), then who we ally ourselves with is less important than their resolve to defeat the enemy and what they bring to the table. In World War II Allied soldiers did not spend a lot of time making sure that the soldier next to them wasn’t a racist. All that mattered was that they were willing to fight the enemy. In this case, if you want to take Trump and his ilk down and oppose them at every turn, I do not care who you voted for or if you even voted in 2016. All I care about is if you want to stop this shit show as quickly as possible. If you do, then we are allies. Period. I don’t care if you’re a so-called ‘Bernie Bro’, if you’re ‘Still With Her’, if you regret your voted for Trump, if you voted for Stein, if you wrote in your girlfriend’s name, or if you just wish you would have voted at all. It does not matter. Not in this war.

This leads me to the biggest problem the extreme left has. It is one of the reasons we failed in 2016. It is the one thing that can stop us in 2018 and 2020. We need to stop eating our own.

Last week Bill Maher and Cornel West argued about West’s calling the 2016 Presidential election a choice between a disaster and a catastrophe. Maher was indignant that West would dismiss Hillary in such a way. West went on about if only Bernie had been given a fair chance. Maher pointed out that literally anyone is better than Trump and logically endorsing Hillary in 2016 to stop Trump was the only choice. I would go on, but even if you haven’t seen the clip, you know this argument. You have probably had this argument. I know I have. Probably a few dozen times. They both have valid points and they are both wrong. I have been wrong when I have attacked Bernie supporters for being so stupid as to not vote against Trump. None of this matters. Bernie supporters should not be attacking Cory Booker. Hillary supporters need to get over the fact that some people will never like her no matter what. West and Maher arguing does nothing for our cause and helps only people like Donald Trump.

It goes further than this though. And here is where I expect things will get a bit uncomfortable for some people. This is not comfortable for me. I oppose bigotry because seeing an entire group of people as less than people is wrong. When someone is called out on their bigotry a common response is for the bigot to say that their accuser is actually a bigot…against bigots. This is not unlike a domestic violence perpetrator saying that calling him an abuser is abuse. And yet, there is a sliver of truth here. It is not abuse to call an abuser an abuser. But if we called that person an abuser and locked them in a cell by themselves 24 hours a day in solitary confinement, that is clearly abuse. Similarly if we call someone a bigot and then treat them as less than people, we are being bigoted. It is a fine line, but I think it’s an important one. The same smug feeling of superiority present in a Neo-Nazi is also present in the self-righteous left wing social justice warrior and in both cases it is a malignant affectation.

The solution to this is not an easy one. We must continue to condemn bigotry in all its forms. We must also continue to resist the urge to feel self-righteous. We must condemn without dismissing. We must reject without excluding. We must treat our enemy better than they treat us. And we must set aside our individual differences and recognize that our enemy is in the White House because in large part we were too busy fighting each other to fight the true enemy. It is okay if the person next to you or the person running for office does not share your every value. It is okay if we vehemently disagree on some issues.

Do you agree that Trump needs to be stopped and that resistance at this point has become a patriotic duty? Then you’re my ally. We can settle our other differences after we have won. Let us have the courage to accept each other’s differences. This need not be a weakness. The history of America shows it can well be our greatest strength.

– Jack Cameron

A Typical Situation

domestic
You’re an 18-35 year old male. Your job is physical in nature. Maybe you work construction. You’ve got a wife. Kids. You work hard. You make okay money but the bills aren’t getting any cheaper and the wife and kids sometimes seem to spend it faster than you can make it.
The combination of trying to be a good Dad, trying to be a good husband, and trying to make ends meet is daunting in the best of circumstances. It only makes sense that you might have a drink or two at the end of your day. Maybe you smoke cigarettes or pot. Maybe on the weekend you try some harder drugs.
You tell yourself you deserve it. You tell yourself it’s just how you cope with day to day life. One day things do not go your way. Your boss is being an asshole. Some coworker fails to do his job which messes up your job. You go to the bar and have a few after work. You get home. Your wife is mad that you got drunk. She’s mad at the money you’re spending which reminds you how much money she’s spending. The argument gets loud. Maybe you hit her. Maybe you don’t. Either way, some neighbors call the police. In the state of Washington police responding to a domestic dispute arrest whoever they determine to be the aggressor. More often than not, it will be the male. So the next thing you know you’ve been arrested. The charge is Assault 4 Domestic Violence. If you managed to break anything in your house you’ll probably be charged with Malicious Mischief. Your bail is $1,000 no bond. That means you’ve got to come up with $1,000 cash to get out. You don’t have $1,000 laying around and neither do your friends. One day a prosecutor shows up to your cell and tells you that you can leave jail and not only will you be free, but the prosecutor says he won’t even seek any more jail time. All you have to do is plead guilty.
So you plead guilty. You figure that will be the end of it. You’ll get out. The prosecutor gets another conviction. Everyone’s happy. But then they tell you you’ll have to go for a Domestic Violence Evaluation. You don’t think much of it because it’s gotta be better than jail. You get out of jail. You might find that while you were in jail you discover that there is now a no contact order that does not allow you any contact with your wife. You literally can’t go home. You also can’t talk to, call, email, or text your wife. You can’t tell someone to tell her something. Any of that would be considering a violation of the no contact order which would result in more charges, possibly more jail time, and worst of all, it will establish a pattern which increases the chances of significant penalties for your actions. If you’re unlucky and sent a bunch of texts to her, an overzealous prosecutor may make each text a separate charge. If you want any of your stuff from the house, you’re going to have to have the police there with you.
With luck, maybe your wife wants to have the no contact order lowered or removed. If not, then you need to find a place of your own and that’s not going to be easy because when a prospective landlord does a background check on you they’re going to see an assault charge and probably have no idea that it might have simply been a loud argument. There’s also the part where if you spent any length of time in jail before getting out, you may or may not have a job to come back to making it even more difficult.
You get yourself squared away. Maybe your friend has a spare bedroom. Maybe your wife wants the No Contact Order lifted but it can’t happen until you get that Domestic Violence Evaluation.
So you go to the evaluation. You learn it’s not free and that you have to pay out of pocket for just about everything that happens at this agency. A counselor asks you what happened. You tell your story. You try to remain calm. You try to explain how everything you did was entirely reasonable given the circumstances. You tell the counselor how you are not a violent person. When you hear that the counselor is going to talk to your wife (who the counselor calls ‘the victim’), you aren’t sure what she might say and so you mention that she likes to make stuff up.
You find out that when this is done, you will at the very least end up with an 8-hour anger management class or at the very most a full year of attending domestic violence group therapy. There will be random drug tests. Each of these things is going to cost between $30-$60 depending on where you’re going and how much money you make.
You also find out that while you are in the program you are to remain alcohol and drug free. You learn that any random drug test that comes back positive will mean three additional months of the program. You learn that failure to show up to the required classes can result in unfavorable reports going to the court which may or may not result in you going back to jail. You may also learn that successful completion of the course is required before any lifting of the No Contact Order can be implemented no matter what you or your wife want.
If you are incredibly unlucky and have managed to lose your home and your job during the course of this, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to come up with money for your weekly classes simply to avoid going back to jail all while trying to find housing and a job with a background check that says you assault people.
I have been working for an agency that treats domestic violence perpetrators for eight months. I’m an anger management counselor. If you lack a pattern of criminal activity, did not have charges that were all that serious, or did something that was reasonable but illegal, you may find yourself in a class like I run. The scenario I described above is the most common sort of client I encounter. The details change, but the overall story often remains much the same. Knowing that I do my best to treat my clients with a level or respect and care that most of this system lacks. I do not do this because the clients deserve it. I do it because no one learns much from someone who does not respect them and I would like to help. But I also cannot pretend the system is not broken.
I tell clients that I got into this field to help people and that I will do the absolute best I can to help them get through this uncomfortable and sometimes outright horrifying stage of their life. I also tell them that if I fail to help I will at the very least make this portion of the process as painless as possible because treatment and training should never be punishment. My job is not to punish. It’s to help.
I can see how what I have written may be considered taking the attacker’s side. It’s not. I am showing the attacker’s perspective. Domestic violence is a serious, dangerous, and all too often life-endangering occurrence. Reporting domestic violence can literally be the difference between life and death. It is for this reason that I feel so strongly that we need to provide ongoing support and help for domestic violence victims and perpetrators. I feel we can do much better than what we do now. Hopefully I can be a small part of making those necessary changes.
– Jack Cameron

Kickstart Your Kickstarter

KickStart Cover

A few years ago a friend of mine invited me out to lunch to talk about a Kickstarter campaign he wanted to do. I did some research and gave him my thoughts on crowd funding in general and what I felt would make a compelling and successful Kickstarter campaign. He succeeded in raising over $100,000. Since then I have consulted on dozens of projects. These consultations have been everything from a quick once-over to fully controlling the entire campaign. In every case, the campaigns I worked on succeeded.

Initially this seemed like a promising thing. If my advice was helping these people succeed in making thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars, maybe I could make a few bucks of my own consulting on Kickstarter campaigns. Unfortunately, the one problem with this is that most individuals who are launching Kickstarter campaigns do not have money to spare for a ‘Kickstarter Consultant’. Often when talking to potential clients they would be incredibly generous and passionate about the project and my working on it until I mentioned wanting to be paid for my work.

This led me to create Kickstart Your Kickstarter which is now available through Amazon.com. This simple e-book is much of my Kickstarter expertise distilled down into an easy e-book with just the necessary information one might want if they were going to start a Kickstarter campaign. And because I know that Kickstarter creators rarely have money, I’m selling this short little e-book for 99 cents.

I will not get rich selling this book, but you may very well get rich after reading it.

– Jack Cameron

Driving For Uber in 10 Steps (Even if you don’t have a car)

 

 

img_20160922_150358959

As some of you know, I recently started driving in Tacoma for Uber. Many people want to know what my experience has been like and I figure this is the best way to tell everyone all at once. What I’m going to do here is tell you the process I went through. If you are interested in becoming an Uber driver yourself, there is a link at the bottom of the article. Click it. If you use that link and become an Uber driver you and I BOTH get at least $100 after your 40th ride. It’s a referral bonus.

I became interested in Uber for two reasons. One was that I needed a new car. The other was that I needed a job where I could make my own hours. Uber has such a need for drivers that they have a program called Xchange Leasing where you can lease a car that qualifies for Uber through a participating dealership. You can apply for the program through the link at the bottom of this article. Once you apply, they will tell you whether or not you’ve been approved in a day or two. Even if you have bad credit you’re likely to be approved. There’s a chance you will only be approved for a car that is already in the program. This will limit your options, but as long as you’re patient, you should be able to find a car that suits your needs. I’m currently driving a 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

The way the lease works is that every week when you get paid, Uber automatically takes out the payment for your leased car. (Typically between $135-$175 a week.) If you make less than the payment amount any given week you can pay it directly or pay it the following week. You do not want to get more than a week or so behind on payments. There are a couple of things that make Uber’s lease different from most car leases. One is that there is no mileage cap. This is understandable as Uber would like you to drive as much as possible. The other is that after the first 30 days if you need or want to return the car, you can do so after giving a two week notice with no penalty beyond paying for the weeks you had the car. If you keep the car for the duration of the three year lease, at the end they will give you the option of buying the car. While the payments are fairly steep, the advantage of this lease over others if you’re driving for Uber make it a relatively easy choice.

The other advantage to Uber is that you can never be late to work or be unable to take a day off. There is no event in your life that you’re going to miss because you had to work. You can Uber any day, any time and you can stop any day, any time. If you want, you can never work on Monday again. You need time in the morning to get the kids off to school? You can take all the time you need. Want to take a four hour lunch? Go right ahead. Just looking to make some extra money around the schedule of your other job? Uber is great for that too.

These are the reasons I got involved with Uber. Now I’m going to explain what the process was like getting into a leased car and beginning to drive people around for money. I’m going to be talking about specifically what it was like for me in the Tacoma area but most of this can be applied anywhere.

Getting The Car

Once you are approved, Uber will send you a list of participating dealerships. These are dealerships that typically have cars available for leasing through Xchange Leasing. Most dealerships have a specific person who deals with Uber leases. You will want to find out the name of this person and keep in touch with them. This part of the process was easily the most time consuming. It took me roughly four weeks of calling and emailing to find a participating dealership that had a qualifying vehicle available. Their stock of these vehicles changes daily. Often I would call just after a vehicle was leased or sold to someone else.

When you go to the dealership, bring $250 in cash. They will want the down payment before they get the ball rolling on getting the lease in order. You will then want to talk to your insurance company. They will give you specific instructions on the type of insurance required for the lease. This is insurance provided by you. Uber does not pay for it. The dealership will not let you drive the vehicle off the lot without this insurance. There is Uber-provided insurance as well, but this does not take the place of your personal car insurance.

Getting Your Car Ready For Uber

Next up, you need to go down to your local Uber office with your new car. An Uber technician will inspect the car. If you got your car from a dealership, you probably will have no trouble whatsoever. Most Uber offices are fairly busy. Expect to wait a little while.

After passing the inspection, they will give you a piece of paper with links to two online courses. One is a general knowledge test of your area. This test is about forty questions long and fairly simple. The other is an online defensive driving course and it is not short. It’s a six-stage online driving course that goes over just about every aspect of driving. It’s like online driver’s ed and it takes a few hours to complete. I did it in two sittings.

Now that you’ve passed the car inspection, the general knowledge test, and the defensive driving course, you need to wait for Uber to process all of that and send you an Authorization Letter. When you have that letter, you can take it down to your local city government office and get a local business license. Most cities are very familiar with Uber driver’s doing this and will be very helpful. In Tacoma you can get the business license for $25 (or $99 if you think you’ll be making more than $12,000 through Uber).

Finally, once you have the business license, you can go back to the Uber office and they will get you set up in the system and get you an Uber sticker for your car. Once this is done, you’re officially an Uber driver and can start going out and earning money immediately.

The 10 Steps For Leasing A Car To Be An Uber Driver

  1. Use this link to apply. Wait to be approved. (Usually 24-48 hours)
  2. Find a participating dealership that has a car.
  3. Give the dealership $250 down payment.
  4. Get insurance for the car.
  5. Take the car to Uber to have it inspected.
  6. Take an online test of general regional knowledge (About 40 questions)
  7. Take an online defensive driving course (This is long. It takes 4-6 hours.)
  8. Wait for Uber to process everything and email you an approval letter.
  9. Take copy of approval letter and get city business license.
  10. Take business license to the Uber office. They will give you an Uber window sticker. They will get you into the system and you can turn your app on and start driving.

– Jack Cameron

QUINTANA SCRIPT EXCERPT*

jesus (1)

It was recently announced that Jon Turturro will be reprising his role from The Big Lebowski as Jesus Quintana. Below is a script excerpt from QUINTANA.*

TITLE CARD: 1990

INT. JESUS QUINTANA’S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM

WALTER SOBCHAK sits on the couch. JESUS QUINTANA walks into the room he’s carrying one bottle of beer. He uses a bottle opener on the wall to OPEN the beer. He then DRINKS THE ENTIRE BOTTLE. He looks at WALTER.

JESUS
So. You want to roll with the Jesus?

WALTER
You and I are the only ones who give a fuck about the game, man.

JESUS
We need a third. Who you got, man?

WALTER
How about the Dude?

JESUS
The Dude does not roll like you and he does not roll like the Jesus. What about the little guy?

WALTER
Forget it. Donny’s a surfer. He’s out of his element on the land.

JESUS
Tell you what. Jesus is gonna think on it. You come back Saturday. We talk it out.

WALTER
I can’t. Not Saturday.

JESUS
You come see the Jesus on Sunday then.

WALTER
Sounds good. With you on the team, how can we lose?

JESUS
You know it, baby! Jesus never lose.

WALTER
You’re not going to miss any games being all the way across town are you?

JESUS
Shut the fuck up. You can count on Jesus. Jesus is planning to move to Venice soon.

WALTER gets up and heads for the door.

TITLE CARD: THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY

EXT. LA STREET DAY – WALTER SOBCHACK is walking down the sidewalk and encounters a LEMONADE STAND. There is an 8-YEAR-OLD boy behind the stand.

8 YEAR OLD
Hey. Hey, Mister. You want to buy some lemonade?

WALTER
What?

8 YEAR OLD
Do you want some lemonade?

WALTER
Sure. I’ll have some lemonade

WALTER takes a paper cup of lemonade and drinks it.

WALTER
That’s pretty fuckin’ good lemonade.

8 YEAR OLD
Five dollars.

WALTER
For lemonade?

8 YEAR OLD
Five dollars.

WALTER
Are you hustling me?

8 YEAR OLD
You said it was fuckin good.

WALTER
I can’t believe it. I’m being hustled by a fucking kid.

WALTER pulls out his wallet. He opens it. He has RECEIPTS and TWO ONE DOLLAR BILLS.

WALTER
I can give you two dollars.

8 YEAR OLD
You owe me five.

WALTER
You know what? Fuck it. Fine. My friend lives just down the street. Come with me. I’m sure he can front me five bucks for your little hustle.

8 YEAR OLD
Who’s going to watch my stand?

WALTER
Do you want the money or not?

EXT. – OUTSIDE JESUS QUINTANA’S HOUSE – DAY

WALTER & 8 YEAR OLD walk up to the front porch of JESUS QUINTANA’S house. Walter KNOCKS on the door. He waits. KNOCKS AGAIN. No answer.

8 YEAR OLD
Nobody’s here. Where’s my money?

WALTER
He’s here. He told me to meet him here.

WALTER tries the door. It’s unlocked. He steps inside. The 8 YEAR OLD steps in with him.

INT. JESUS QUINTANA’S HOUSE – DAY – MOMENTS LATER

8 YEAR OLD
Did we just break in here?

WALTER
Shut the fuck up, kid. Jesus lives here.

8 YEAR OLD
What are you talking about? This ain’t no church.

The two of them walk through the house, down a hallway. They hear the sound of a SHOWER just as it turns off.

The bathroom door opens. JESUS QUINTANA walks out soaking wet and completely NUDE.

The 8 YEAR OLD SCREAMS and runs out of the house.

JESUS
What the fuck, man? Get the fuck out of here!

WALTER
We were going to talk about our bowling team! Remember!

JESUS
Deos Mio, man. You break into my house with some fucking kid and want to be on my team. Fuck you, pendejo. Get. The. Fuck. Out. Jesus will never roll with you!

WALTER turns around and starts walking towards the open front door.

WALTER (muttering)
Stands around naked in front of a kid. Calls me names. Guy’s a pervert.

*Note: This is NOT really a script excerpt. It’s something I made up.

The Myth Of Fridays

friday-083Most people who know me know that I’m an atheist. I try to be the sort of atheist who does not believe God exists but does not really care too much what your religious beliefs are as long as you don’t force them on other people (especially me). My girlfriend is a practicing Pagan. In the past I have been a Christian and a Quaker. If prompted I will tell someone that I feel we are all on a path of discovery when it comes to religious beliefs and that those paths are all different. I will say how it makes little sense to me to argue that you are wrong simply because you are on a different part of the path than me.

That sure sounds nice. And it is something I try to keep in mind. But there is a nagging thought in my head. A variation of this though is in the head of every atheist I have ever talked to. It’s the thought that gives atheist a bit of an asshole reputation. That thought is, “How can otherwise intelligent human beings who demonstrate the ability to think rationally, apply evidence, and use logic believe that there’s an old man in the sky who created everything in the universe but only cares about us and did this all in six days as recently as six thousand years ago?”

I have never found a satisfying answer to this question and so I have employed mental tricks to avoid the thought. The typical mental trick I try is that I pretend religious friends and family are playing different Live Action Role Playing (LARP) games. Each religion is a game with a set of rules and it’s all centered around an imaginary afterlife that you get when you die depending on how well you play the game while you’re alive. From a believer’s perspective I can understand how condescending an insulting such a concept is, but understand the idea here was to keep that annoying question out of my head in an effort to be nicer to those who believe and not bug them with that question.

Of course this too has a problem. If I manage to convince myself that it’s all a bunch of LARPers, then the lie I’m telling myself is that every believer knows deep down that God is not real and their religious convictions are illusions. And if I’m not careful I end up saying things to let them know I’m in on the joke. A joke that they aren’t actually telling.

Then something happened. I read a book. The books was called Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari. There’s a lot in it but one of the more surprising things to come out of reading it was the concept of myth. Not just myths like Thor or Zeus but myths like nationality and money and days of the week. These are things that have no objective value but only exist because we decide that they do. Really there’s about as much evidence that today is Friday as there is that there is a God. Friday isn’t REAL. It’s an agreed upon myth. There is no scientific test that will prove it is Friday.

The problem for an atheist like myself then becomes what myths are acceptable and what myths aren’t? There’s no real way to live in society without accepting the myth that printed fabric paper has value as do digital numbers in a bank account. Not one strand of DNA in me can be definitively called ‘American’ because America is simply a place we’ve all agreed exists but is actually just a part of a land mass that we have all agreed to call North America. Why is it I would never have a problem with someone believing it’s Friday but I would have a problem with someone believing that a God created them? I wouldn’t think someone just isn’t very smart or at the very least they aren’t intellectual if they still believe in Friday.

I don’t have any answers here. This is just something I was thinking about and I figured I would share it.

– Jack