Monday, January 30, 2006

Journalism and Publishing Ethics

I realize that blogging doesn't necessarily equate to Journalism, and that the debate will rage on. However, online journalists and bloggers should at least consider the standards set out in the Society of Professional Journalists' Ethics Code. I quote from an article by J.D. Lasica in the Online Journalism Review site:

"Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money."

You could make an argument that Journalists should be well paid, so they might be less susceptible to bribes, but for those who would be corrupted there is usually never enough of the green stuff to deter them from taking more. If an organization, or commercial entity said they would be willing to pay for the privilege of posting content to your web site or blog on the condition that they had complete editorial control how would you respond? Would you sign the contract whether or not you agreed with their view point or philosophy? How do you protect a journalist or blogger from threats and extortion, as these actions may be more effective and more widely used than the use of favors or bribes? How many publishers would be willing to admit that they were intimidated into retracting or altering a story? For these reasons we shouldn't pass negative judgement on sites simply because they function under some degree of anonymity unless they are publishing obscene or illegal material. Anonymity can serve the important purpose of whistle blowing when the consequences of exposing an injustice within a corporation or government can be severe. Of course if you prefer anonymity, then you shouldn't abuse the right by posting silly rants and flames simply because you have no fear of repercussion. This raises the question whether anyone is truly anonymous on the web? Judging by the information collected by various search engines, and government attempts to obtain it, the answer would seem to be no unless you use one of the many services that will enable anonymous surfing through proxy servers. Web site publishers would not have similar anonymity, especially if they use registered domains, so they should be willing to stand by their content.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Socks in the City

For this woolly story you need to "Pull your socks up", "Put a sock in it", and then let me "Knock your socks off" with some useful facts about our foot friends, and then cozy up for some ideas about what we can do with old socks. I assume pretty well everyone in North America has socks, but my apologies to anyone out there who actually does need a pair especially if you live in more Northern climes as I do... Full Story

Now, I could recite a whole lot of factoids and amazing information about the wonderful world of socks, but Dr. Joyce Smith Ph.D. and Norma Pitts have already put together an amazing fact sheet called Selecting Socks that is very professional, thorough, and chock-full of information. They discuss fiber content, construction, finishes, new technology and performance fabrics, types, and sock care. You would be hard pressed to improve upon the information provided in that article, and it would seem that the simple sock is yet another marvel of modern technology. You can even buy socks with anti-static and anti-bacterial finishes. Apparently the durable anti-bacterial agents in the fiber reduce bacterial growth and resulting odor, while withstanding repeated launderings (might be handy for sports enthusiasts). Next time we'll talk about some creative uses for old socks including the good old "Sock Puppet".

By the way, the origin for the expression "Put a sock in it" is said to come from the early Gramophones that had no volume control, and to play them more quietly you would put a sock into the trumpet. Who knows?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Has the Poker Craze gone too far?

There are probably thousands if not millions of sites, and blogs devoted to poker in all its forms. God forbid we need any more discussions, web sites or spam related to poker, but in terms of the consumer we are witnessing a revolutionary change in the gaming market place. Internet gambling is now generating revenues in the billions, and yet the owners operate in geographical anonymity and limbo since their operations are deemed illegal in the United States... Full Story

I doubt that there has ever been such a dynamic shift in the history of gambling enterprises. The impact of this is being felt now at every level of society. Why does your co-worker want to skip lunch and sit at his PC? Could he or she be betting a full house, or bluffing for the pot at their favorite poker site? The implications for gambling addiction, and treatment are staggering as well. Stay tuned folks. The World Trade Organization has already sided with Antigua against the U.S. on fair trade policies as they pertain to the legality of Internet gaming. See how many different TV programs you can find relating to poker as you surf through your cable listings. The biggest names in Poker are having a field day while most other poker players will be sheared and fleeced. It's a national obsession at the moment, and the celebrity factor is huge as well with prominent movie stars like Ben Affleck and Toby Maguire playing high stakes games. It may be just a matter of time before we have legalized Virtual Vegas accessible at any computer station. Will the games be honest then, and are they honest now? Of greater concern will be the money, and time wasted by those who might spend too many hours gambling online thereby creating heart break for themselves and their families. What do you think of this tremendous, and growing appetite for online gambling? Are criminal elements involved in these enterprises? Will gambling addiction spread like wildfire especially among internet savvy youth? No matter what the answers are to these questions it is very likely that within a few years there will be legal online gaming for both the operators and the players. See the Congressional testimony on Internet gambling by Tom W. Bell. Let Seasons Under The Sun hear your opinions on this subject.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Confession Time

This post is part of a Meme with tags to other sites in case you would like to visit them, and see what others have "confessed" to. I was tagged by Jeffrey who was tagged by Luka, and so on. Not everyone is a fan of memes, so if you dislike them then please read the rest of my posts on this blog for a "meme free" experience :-). After this I will no longer be a meme virgin, although it might take another fifty posts or so before I get on another meme train!

  • I confess... that I don't like confessing too much.
  • I confess... that I have never confessed to a priest.
  • I confess... that I am an espresso addict.
  • I confess... that I am not a fan of Paris Hilton, but Angelina Jolie is OK.
  • I confess... that my wife is the most beautiful woman on earth... Really!
  • I confess... that I like to kiss my cat.
  • I confess... that I love a good bottle of red wine.
  • I confess... that I am envious of those who own a domain name.
  • I confess... that once you start confessing it's hard to stop!
I am now asking for volunteers who read this blog to keep the meme alive, otherwise I will have to start tagging, although I may be breaking meme protocol by not tagging anyone in this post. Tags: , , ,

Friday, January 06, 2006

A New Novella

The first three chapters of my Novella in progress are finished, and are available to read here as the most recent posts prior to this one. The Novella itself will be published in book form on a separate site, and new chapters will only be published there in the future. There is a link to the Novella site on the side bar. Seasons Under The Sun will now return to business as usual, and that is to publish provocative material of varied nature with a little humor thrown in along the way.

The Novella story is a true life account of my days as a gambler, and high roller in Vegas. Those days subsequently led to high risk bets in financial markets, and a nasty turn of fortune. They were exciting, and fun times too, as I rubbed elbows with some interesting characters to say the least. Although in the end it is a cautionary tale, I hope you find the story compelling. It may have some resonance in your own life as well, and I welcome any feedback. What is your opinion of the gambling life, or the boom, and rapid growth of gaming across the country? I have come to my own conclusions, but gambling is a personal decision, and its impact on people is quite variable. You will now see a few ads on this site about gambling, although I have filtered some. You will also see ads related to gambling problems, or addictions. For better or worse these ads reflect the story content, and as always it is entirely up to the reader to decide in a reasoned fashion whether the ads are of any interest, or value to them.

Disclaimer: The author is not presently involved in any gambling activities, and this site is not intended to promote such activities. The author has no direct financial interest in gaming sites or casinos, either as a participant, employee, or owner.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Farewell Las Vegas III

"Gambling makes the mind burn. Can this be turned into the fire of purification and understanding?"
- Miron Stabinsky with Jeremy Silman
Zen and the Art of Casino Gambling (1995)

The following piece is a continuation of Farewell Las Vegas II.

What circumstances create a dedicated gambler, and why do some gamblers fall off the precipice into the abyss of degenerate, addicted gambling? I don't pretend to have all the answers to those questions. I was an avid gambler myself, and did suffer significant losses (not in casinos though). However, I never crossed over that magical line into the realm of severely, addicted gambling where one is financially, and spiritually bankrupt. Such individuals can resort to immoral, and even illegal acts in order to obtain cash for gambling... Full Story

I've had at least a passing acquaintance with such people, and you can't help but feel that in addition to their own shortcomings society has let them down as well. Science is beginning to shed some light on factors that contribute to gambling problems. Studies would indicate that there is a relationship to the serotonin deficiency disorders such as depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder (repetitive betting could certainly be seen as a compulsion). Co-morbid addiction problems are more frequent in hard core gamblers as well. Of course, there are many who would argue, and with some rationale that it is a problem of the spirit, that the addicted gambler becomes bereft of spiritual influence, or discipline. I would subscribe to all of these theories to some degree. If you know someone who may be in the throes of gambling addiction, or if you are heading down that lonely road yourself please know that there are many community resources in most North American municipalities that can provide help. On the internet there are standardized tests or questionnaires available to answer, that can indicate if someone has a significant gambling problem. There are numerous chapters of Gamblers Anonymous in almost every major city, and newer Gambling Decisions programs are in some jurisdictions as well. It is important to intervene for many reasons, but attempted suicide is a significant risk in advanced gambling addiction.

With that in mind, I return to the story. It was one of those fateful, life events that my coming of age (Eighteen) coincided with the legalization of Casino gaming in Alberta. I don't think that one can under estimate the influence of legalized gaming when it comes to influencing youthful minds, and society at large to participate in gambling. This in turn has tremendously widened the net of potential problem gamblers. What game became my recreational passion? Blackjack...

To be continued...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Farewell Las Vegas II

"Winning isn't going to change your life. So don't bet so much that you can get hurt. If that's what betting is all about for you, wear dog tags so they know where to ship the body"
- Larry Merchant
The National Football Lottery (1973)

The following piece is a continuation of Farewell Las Vegas.

It doesn't always serve a purpose to air our private lives in public. Sometimes though, as a writer or journalist, there may be some value to others in sharing past experiences. For better or worse, the events I am going to relate did happen... Full Story

Despite these events, I have been fortunate enough to reach middle age healthy of mind, body, spirit, and "finances", with a wife I adore. I've reached this point despite the precarious path I once traveled, and some of the characters I rubbed elbows with. It is only now after abandoning that negative path, and with sober reflection on those events, that I can offer up a cautionary tale. I hope the reader finds it provocative, informative, and entertaining. Who knows? This story might act as a small beacon of light, and warning flag to someone presently caught in a web of financial, and gambling intrigue...

The Story continues here...