The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Commentary and Critique (Page 1 of 3)

Everyone is NOT a winner

 

For some time, especially during the earlier part of this decade (201x), there was a lot of pressure put on schools and children’s sports groups to have an “Everyone is a winner” policy.

A good example of this is a flag football group that my son belonged to.  While they did not come right out and SAY that everyone was a winner, each week they would give an award to one of the players for outstanding sportsmanship.

It did not really dawn on me that this is what was happening at first, and to be honest, I was more lost in the fun of watching my son play than actually paying attention to the awards part.  But when I did see it, it was a bit of a shock to me and I felt a little disheartened.

It was about four weeks into the “season” when they were doing one of their little ceremonies that they picked out this one little boy as this week’s outstanding player.  I did not know the name, but when the little boy came forward, I realized that this is the little boy that would never play.  All he did was cry and throw tantrums.  I remembered that there was one time that the coaches were trying to get him to play, so they HANDED him the ball and told the other kids to stay back and let him run.   But all he did was sit on the ground with the ball and cry.

Even my son, who was five at the time came to me afterward and asked, “Why did he get an award, he never played.”

This is where I decided to make sure that I teach Gideon that this is not right.

I work hard to make sure that he understands that there are always going to be winners and loser.  But that losing does not mean that you you ARE a loser.  It means that you made mistakes and to try a little harder next time, or to try something else next time.

Until this flag football team that my son was on, I had thought that people had moved away from that whole “Everyone is a winner, just for trying.” mentality.  Granted, trying is the main point and if you do not try, you do not even have a chance to succeed.  So in that respect, credit should be given for taking the chance, for getting out there and for making the effort.

But no… You are NOT a winner just because you MADE the effort, and I was lucky in that my son could see this even at his young age.  He could tell that if you lost, you lost.  There are no rewards for failure and there is no victory lap for the losers.

He also understands that congratulations should go to the winning teams.  When we have been places where we play against someone, and they win.  He is the first one to go over and shake hands with them and congratulate them.  If he is the winner, he is happy, and will jump around, but will always take time to complement the other player.

If it is so easy for my son, a six-year-old now, to understand this and to live that life, then why is it that the adults that run these programs and for the parents that participate in them to figure it out?

I have taught Gideon from the start that he will win some in life and will lose.  I have told him that he will probably lose more than he will win and that is fine.  That is it not about the loss itself, but about the way you handle the loss and how you express it to others.

Being a good loser and understanding that you lost means you try harder next time, is every bit as important, maybe more so, than winning and knowing that you did it all right.   Right now Gideon seems to understand that, he will say things like, “Poppy, I know what I did wrong, I will get it right next time.”

I hope that he keeps that up.  Keeps that mentality and drive, and does not let teachers or other parents take that away from him.

Thanks for reading.

How I was banned from Google AdSense…

This is a story without a happy ending, having to do with a large company with no customer service, and it started in March of 2009.

It is about a company that seems to have grown so large and become so successful, that it can no longer afford to put people in place to help others.  What I plan on sharing with you is not so much that I was banned from Google’s Adsense program, but the processes through which I tried to resolve the problem and the results of that.  I will discuss a little about the process of being banned and what, I am pretty sure, was the cause of my being banned.

Monetizing my site.

After my site, this site that you are visiting right now, had been up for s few years, I decided that I would like to see if I could make a little money from it.  Not being sure how to go about it, I was told about using a service like AdSense, that would allow people to click on content relevant links on my blog, and send them to other sites.  I, in turn, could recieve a small stipend from AdSense for people doing this if they were good clicks.

I am sure I do not need to explain the process to you folks reading this.  Pay-per-click has been around long enough at this point and there are enough of them out there, that this should all be common knowledge to even the greenest of surfers at this point, So I will not bore you with THOSE details.

Shortly after the site went live, I received an email that, for anyone who runs a site and has AdSense, makes the blood freeze in your veins.  The notice from Google that my account had been suspended because of invalid clicks.  Through some investigation, I finally determined that was happened was that my wife had, without knowledge of the consequences, followed several links on my pages to advertisers.  Because of the fact that these clicks came from the same IP as my home, even though it was a different computer, they determined that I was attempting to defraud them, and closed my account.

This is where the issues I have with Google start.

Customer Service (or the lack there of.)

When I first received the email for Google explaining that there was a problem, I panicked. I did not want to have a mark against me with something like this, so I sent in a request for more information.  This is when I discovered that Google has a policy about not sharing the the details of HOW they know that you may have been the cause of the invalid clicks on your site that cause the Ban.  They appear to have a proprietary system that they cannot tell you how they know, for then, I am assuming, you might learn how to defeat it.

I had, during this time, start my own investigation online to see if other people had suffered this fate and what they had done to overcome it.  I was not disapointed, and I discovered that I was part of what appeared to be a very large family of people that had been banned by Google for thing that they considered to be violations.

I will not say that everyone that I met on the Google AdSense forums was innocent.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  There were a great number on there that, when you visited their sites, were in clear violation of the TOS for the AdSense program.  Some of these were sites that I cannot understand how or why they were accepted in the first place.

Then there were many that were banned for very minor issues, the most common of which is not having a privacy statement.  Some of these sites were also guilty of have two or more Monetizing services set up to work on their sites.  Then there were yet others that I, no matter how hard I tried, could find nothing obviously incriminating about them.  This left me to assume that they might have been in the same boat as I was myself.

During this time, I had submitted my first Appeal to the Adsense team and waited to see what the response would be.  I wrote a detailed explanation of what I think was the cause of the erroneous clicks and informed them that this would not happen again.  After I sent this I decided to spend what I thought was going to be a few days looking at the other people and seeing if I could offer advice on the forums.

Within a matter of hour, or so, I received a reply from them stating that they replied stating that they reviewed my request and my site and decided that my site, the one you are reading right now, represented to much of a risk to the Adsense advertisers and they would not allow me back into the system.

Thus started my crusade.

I continued to putter around on the forums and answer questions here and there.  I also made it a point to try and corner a Google employee, on the rare ocassions that one posted something there, but always met with defeat.  They would either not answer any of my questions, or they would refer me to the TOS.

This served as nothing more than fuel for my ire.  I was not content to just sit and not do something about it.  Yes, a mistake was made on my part, but it was just that, a mistake.  We all make them and they are meant to be forgiven at least once.  I can understand it if you make the same ones over and over again, then there is a time to cut a person loose.

So I continued to try and reach someone, anyone, that could help me out.  I found numbers to call within Google and those got me nowhere.  It seemed that when I reached a person, they knew nothing or did not know where to direct me.  I sent letters to any address I could find, even being so nice as to include self addressed, stamped envelopes with them.  All explaining my situation and then asking them to reconsider their banning me.  I never received a reply.

Conclusion.

Google has still not contacted me, and I am still banned from their Adsense program, but I am still working on them.  I am not going to just let this go.  This draconian attitude that they have of only giving a person a single chance just does not make sense to me.  One and your done, I think is what someone on the forums told me.

Google needs to really rethink this program if that is the attitude they wish to keep.  Or, if they plan on playing that way, at least do us all the honor of not even pretending and eliminate the whole “Appeals” process.  It is all just smoke and mirrors anyway and only seems to serve the process of making people THINK they have a chance to get back into the system.

I have since moved on to a company called InfoLinks for my site advertising.  Granted, I am not getting rich and I do not expect to break the bank anytime soon, but that was never what it was about.  All I ever hoped to do was make enough to pay for some of my operating costs for this site.  Anything more would have been icing on the cake.

Don’t Wiki me!

I like Wikipedia.  I really do.

There is something kind of neat about an encyclopedia that the “People” have some control over and can edit.  You might call it a “Leuteenzyklopädie” of sorts, if you will.

This is a tool in which people from all over the world can create, edit or dispute articles and use the provided information in the same way that you would any other encyclopedia.  There is a caveat, however, and that is what I have decided to write this piece about.

The problem lies in the fact that it IS a “open source” encyclopedia.  As such, you should use the information that you get from Wikipedia with the understanding that you should accept it as information that you would want to double-check or verify before accepting it as the gospel truth.

Now… I say that with no malice towards those that run or administer Wiki or Wiki itself.  I say that with the understanding that because of the nature of the system, it is possible for people to get in there and add information that is not quite correct or a flat out lie and this information being distributed before anyone has had the chance to edit, correct or delete it.

I will not go through and list all the examples that I found links to for the various errors that were posted to Wiki over the years.  Most of them Wiki was already made aware of and have corrected.  I will, however, direct you to the official Wikipedia links for how they approach that which I am discussing here.  I will list them at the end of this article.

The main point here is that the old standard applies the same now as it always has.  Verify your sources… do not just rely on one source, such as Wikipedia.

Use it, but do so with the understanding that people just like you and me have the access to go in and add and edit information on that service.  People that may or may not know enough to intelligently write about the topic in question.

Just remember… “Caveat Lector”

 

 

Links to Wikipedia’s policies on Reliability and Criticism.

 

 

 

Mr. Obama’s statement regarding the Christmas day Terrorism Attempt

I just listened to Mr. Obama’s statement regarding the attempted terror attack.

Funny… without digging up the recording from George Bush and going strictly from memory, does his goal not sound similar to both George Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s resolve to flush out and hunt down the people who perpetrated both the 1993 WTC terror attack and the 9/11 terror attack?

Hmmm…

Just sayin’.

Standing up…

What do you stand up for?  What ideals or principles do you feel so strongly about that you will stand up for them no matter what? Are you willing to sacrifice your career or reputation in the defense of your beliefs, as long as doing so does not cause or create physical harm to others or violate any just laws?

When Carrie Prejean was asked about her opinion on “Gay Marriage”, her response was a testament to her personal stand on that issue.  She could have told the judges a lie and told them what they wanted to hear in an effort to increase her chances to win the Miss America pageant, but she did not.  She had a code that she lives by and stood up for it.  Didn’t Citizen Barack recently espouse the SAME sentiment of what HE though marriage meant?

Regardless of how you feel about the topic, you have to respect the fact that she did not bend her standards in order to increase her chances of winning.  She chose not to take the easy way out.

Now… there is a lot about the pageant that I will not speak to for two reasons… first is that I have always thought that beauty pageants were silly.  Second is that, anymore, they are not about true “beauty”, but about how much beauty you can purchase.  Lastly… I do not care.  Seriously… the only reason this stood out to me is because of the news that it has garnered through all the groups that were offended by her comment.  There is actually a LOT of this that I had to research before writing this piece.

Before this news hit the stand, I had not a clue who Carrie Prejean was and now wish I had never heard the name Perez Hilton and in my reading (and yes… watching his video regarding the pageant), I am mystified why anyone would consider anything that he had to say as important.  People wonder why I choose to steer clear of the television as much as possible.  Either way, this has been a little bit of an education for me.

To be honest, and in my own opinion, I too support Carrie’s take on “Gay Marriage.”  I do not believe in it, but that is my opinion.  I will tell you that if you were to ask me and I am more than willing to debate the issue, standing up for why I believe it is wrong.  But the fact that I am standing up for my beliefs is my point here, I will not bend just because you might be offended.

It is like the old saying goes.  “You have to stand for something, or you will fall for anything.”  The same is true here.  If you start caving in on your beliefs just because they do not make you popular or help you win a show, then when and where does it stop?  You give in on one thing, then another, then another and before you know it, you are a politician.

There… I have said my piece and will leave it at that.  If you disagree with me, more power to you… speak up!  I am always interested in a little friendly debate and I will respect your ability to stand up for your beliefs…  even if I do not agree with them.

Warning…  If you choose to debate, I am game, but I will not tolerate attacks for the sake of attack.  Those will be deleted immediately.

Thank you for your time.

Returning from Vacation

Did you ever notice that vacation, in many cases, is more trouble than it is worth?

Sure… you are away from work, having a good time and enjoying life.  Times are good, life is good… maybe you might even find yourself in some island hide-away or on some isolated beach somewhere.  Drinking a frosty adult beverage, watching the local wildlife and their mating rituals, or even participating in them (if you are not married.)

Then, like the proverbial splash of cold water after you get out of the dry sauna… you are back at work.

Walking back into work after having a few days off usually puts people like me into and instant bad or sour mood.  I have also been known to take out my dissatisfaction about being back at work on others.

Then you reach your desk.  If the process of returning to work itself was not traumatic enough, then getting to your desk is that point where you start reconsidering that idea of running off and joining a circus somewhere and making lion taming your chosen profession, or, as in my case, that I should have been a plumber.

Usually, upon returning to your desk, you immediately see that not only did the world NOT stop turning while you were gone, but neither did the emails stop coming in out of respect for your decision to take time off.  Voicemail is there in droves to prove that people were not willing to accept your desire to take a little “me” time, and the pile on your desk looks very much like the paperwork fairie took a crap on your desk.

All in all, the return from a good vacation is very hard on the spirit.  You are getting a little glimpse of what you hope is your future, when you eventually get to that golden time called, dare I say… Retirement.  Then you are thrust back into the real life of work, deadlines, expenses, problems, solutions, etc…

So…  once again at work, what do we start doing with our free time?  Planning for the next vacation, and where we will go on that one.  Always looking for someplace new and exciting, or… as in my case… someplace that has lots to see and little to do with other people short of ordering food, talking or otherwise spending time with my wife, playing with the dogs or walking where there are few other people.

Man… I hope my lotto number come up soon…  Retirement is still too far away.

Battlestar Galactica – The End… Maybe

So… a couple weeks ago Battlestar Galactica ended.

I really liked this show, a lot.  But like Babylon 5, years before, the writers were smart, and instead of creating an open ended storyline that would keep going until it was little more than an excuse to keep a franchise running (… can anyone say “Enterprise”?), they made a series that would have a clearly defined beginning, with interesting people who all had back-stories, and ran with it, keeping us guessing the entire five years. Then, like clockwork, it had a clearly (or not so much, depending on who you ask.) defined end.

If you are one of those people that has not seen the whole series yet, you may want to stop reading now, I plan on talking about the last show and some of the other things that I saw through the series that made me stop and go “Hmmm”, as Arsenio Hall might have said. So consider this your “Spoiler Warning.”

First…  I liked the feel of the Galactica from the onset.  It looked like a Battleship, had the feel of a battleship, and even had that appearance that you might expect from a ship that was made for battle in an airless environment.

As an example, take a moment the next time you watch BSG, and look at the layout of the ship, then watch a movie like “Hunt for Red October” or “Red Tide”, and notice that the Galactica resebles a submarine in many aspects.  This is also, more than likely, how any near-future ship that we send into space will look.

Then there is the story line.  While this BSG series used most of the same issues and plots of the original series from the 70s, it did it the way I think the original writers wanted the stories to flow.  For those of us who recall, the original series was kinda campy and hard to take too seriously.  But there was good reason for that, from my point of view, that was that it was competing against the legacy of movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  There was just too much serious Sci-Fi out there at the time, so they had to “lighten it up” a bit.

This series, the new BSG, was dark.  Yes, It had it’s ups and downs, but overall, like one of the guys in the little show right before the series finale said… how happy can you make a show, when your race is in jeopardy of destruction?  There were no “cutesy” or “warm and fuzzy” moments in it, and no thought provoking epilogue from Captain/Admiral Adama at the end of the show.  If you recall the original series, you will remember what I am talking about.

The storyline that the new BSG carried with it is one that I think we will all carry with us.  Watching Rosalyn grow as a character and then watch her as the cancer ate her alive but she still fought through it all, then, once they were all safe on the new “Earth”, she finally lets go and dies with Adama by her side, his last act being that of placing his ring on her finger.  Seeing Cara Thrace seem to die, then come back… only to discover, in the last episode, that she probably was never really there to begin with.  Then to learn that the colonists may have been the seeds of what you and I are today in some form of modernized Panspermia.

BSG was one of those programs that, now that it is over, has left a hole in me.  Not just in the sense that now there is some open slot in my Television viewing schedule, but in the sense that it leaves so many questions open to interpretation.  There things that you sit and try and think out, now, that probably will never be answered.  I hope, though, that Ron Moore and his team leave it that way.

Let BSG be one of those things that all of us, the fans, will sit around for years and wonder about.  Let it fuel our conversations as we sit in Starbucks (pun intended) and drink our latte’s, and talk nerd talk about these shows.

That is what keeps the characters alive.

Making the move to Vonage…

So… after almost twenty years with AT&T, feeding the giant, so to say, the wife and I have decided to move our phone line to Vonage.

I am sure that this evokes images of the silly commercials and the famed “Woo Hoo” song by the “5,6,7,8’s” who sang the song in the first installment of the Kill Bill movies.

All that aside, I have actually been with vonage for a few years… about four or five now, they provide my 877 number for this site and the second line that comes into my house.  More often than not, I use that line as my main line because the clarity is so much greater than that of the land line.  It is also the line I use for the TTY device I use to speak to my mother, who is deaf.

In all, vonage does offer a lot of features for what you pay.  The few times I have had to call them for something, I have never had to deal with anyone rude or with an accent so thick I almost feel like I need a passport just to ask for technical support… much like I have to go with any time I call AT&T for line or DSL support, when I am at work.

I have had a couple people tell me the not do this, but I have to think that they have been around long enough to be considered stable… and if my office “SamuraiMarine Hotline” is any sign of thing to come, then I am sure I will be plenty happy.

Besides…  it is also going to save me about $25 dollars a month making the move!

What is Conservative? What is Liberal? What does it matter?

The other day a co-worker found out that I listen to Sean Hannity during the day while I am at work.  His first response was;  “You’re listening to Hannity all the time now, so now you’re not even going to pretend you’re an Independent anymore?”

First off, this is not the first time someone has said something like this, people assume that when you listen to a certain type of music or a certain type of talk radio, that you are automatically a certain class or political persuasion of people.  Yet through that train of thought, at least for those that ask and are serious about the question, they do not realize exactly how ignorant they sound.  No offense to the asker listed above, since he is a reader.

The best part of understanding anything, is to be able to, objectively, listen to both sides of an argument and make a determination based on what both sides have to say and compare it to your own research.  I do this with everything I hear on the stations that I listen to.  For the record, the stations that I listen to are as follows: Sirius – Patriot 144, Sirius – POTUS 110 and Sirius – Left 146.

To be honest, the hardest one to listen to is Left 146.  These people are fawning and cooing all over the Obama administration like he is the best thing since sliced white bread (you may take that however you want.)  This station is like one long continuous squishy ObamaGasm, I usually feel like I need to get tested for an STD after listening for too long… ironically this is something that CBO will cover in his new Universal Healthcare.

As if things are not bad enough on their own, we feel the need to divide ourselves further by creating these petty “Gangs” of political rivals whose only goal in life is to squabble over how to run the government instead of actually RUNNING the Government, like a poorly made remake of “West Side Story” with the rival gangs dancing up and down the streets getting nothing more done than producing their own CO2 atmosphere.

Look at the government the way it is now, and look at the achievements that have been made by it over the last several years, say about the last twenty years.  In fact, in my opinion, the last good president we had was Reagan… not to mention that he was my Boss for a short period of time.  There are many out there that will debate this fact, but look at the history and what he accomplished in the disastrous wake of the Carter administration.

I am not opening this post up for debate or argument on the effectiveness on presidents of the past, however I am going to bring into question the effectiveness of the current political parties that are in power.

If the next four year pass the way I expect them to, I feel that we are going to truly see what little value there is in a single party “running the show”, so to say.  If CBO and his team accomplish nothing ver the next four years, then who will they have to blame?  The Dems control the house and the senate, there will be no one to blame but themselves.

That being said, you might ask; “‘Samurai… are you saying that the Republicans would do better?”  And to that I would answer a resounding NO!!!  The Dems and the Reps have made a special point of demonstrating their uselessness over the last fifteen years or so.  If there has ever been a better time for a Third party to come in, like the proverbial knight in shinning armour on his (or her) white steed, then it is now.

There are unfortunately few “Third” parties that would even have a chance to do anything, and among these would be the two more powerful… the Libertarian and Independent parties.  Both of whom I respect a great deal, and the reason for which I abandon the sinking ship of the Republican party and boarded the smaller, but better staffed, Independent Party.

I would ask that anyone reading this, take the time to look at the reason they belong to the party that they chose and learn about it and why you are part of it.  Have they done everything that you think they should of or are you simply staying on with them because you think it is the right thing to do.  If you can look at the recent history of their ACCOMPLISHMENTS, not what they SAID they would do, but what they DID… and say that you are proud of them and what they stand for, then by all means… stay with them.  But if you cannot accept that they have made their decisions based on your desires, or if they do not stand for what you believe in, then for G-d’s sake, leave them behind!!!

You may think you are only one person, but every movement starts with one person.  Maybe if the Dems and the Reps see people leaving them in record numbers, then they will realize that they are making mistakes.  I feel that the only reason that they get away with half the stuff they get away with is because of the complacency of us, the people that put them in power in the first place.

Thank you for your time.

What happens after “Girls Gone Wild”?

I see the commercials all the time, they permeate late night television preceded by that warning that the following commercial contains adult situations.  You are then presented by about a minute of women in various states of nudity.  All blocked out in the appropriate areas but the censor panels.

Trust me… I am a normal male and sometimes I am curious about these movies, and I have seen at least one complete video once, but I cannot justify paying for something like this.  But seeing these commercials does cause me to wonder about a few things.

Before I proceed, let me tell anyone reading this that I am not berating or condemning any of the people that make these videos.  They are all adults and I am relatively certain that none of the people in the videos are caused to participate out of duress.

I understand that there is good money in porn… and in spite of what anyone will tell you, these programs are pornography.  They do not, in my opinion, qualify as art.  That being said, I can also understand that if the girls in these videos are being paid for their performances, use this as a medium to get fast cash, and for their sake, I do hope that they make some money from these shows.

I do have a concern, though, for the people that participate in these movies.  What happens after the initial excitement of making them wears off?  What happens when these ladies suddenly realize what they have just done and that they are now the focal point of fantasies all over the world? because I have to think that these are not just sold in the USA, but elsewhere as well.

I am sure that there are those of the women that participate that really do not care that they are now on display, but I am sure that there are also many more that will suddenly have that moment of clarity where they see what they have done as a mistake.  Whether it is just after the video is shot, or when they happen to see themselves on one of those late night TV ads or when someone at their REAL job or in their school recognises them and figures that if they made a show like that, then they are probably easy “lays”.

There is no doubt that there is a market for these types of movies.  They sell very well, if you read up on the people that put the movies out.  But I do wonder what the long term effect is on those that are in them.

If you happen to stumble upon this article, and you are someone that participated or knows someone that has, in these programs.  Please share your thoughts with me.  I would really like to hear your story.

Thanks.

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