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Shopping has merit, gambling none - Zach Porter

I like to buy stuff. CDs, DVDs, computer gadgets, camera gadgets, food, bric-a-brac. Shopping is fun, a way to pass the time, and define yourself materially by the clothes that you wear, the stylish products you own, that sporty little car you drive and the designer sweater wrapped around your neck. Perhaps a set of golf clubs shimmering in the back seat. Maybe it's your CD collection that reveals something about your personality type, the music stored on your iPod, a USB connection to your soul. Whatever the case, stuff is made to be bought and the stuff you bought may tell you something about yourself, who you are.

This is all fine and well in my book, shopping and buying stuff that is, but I can't understand the attraction to gambling. Being a shopaholic is one thing, but a gambling addict is another. At least shoppers this holiday season will have something to show for themselves besides that credit card bill. Gamblers won't even have a bill, just pockets turned inside out. The shoppers will have gifts in hand for their families and friends; gamblers will be lucky to find a quarter to call someone who cares.

What is this attraction to throwing money in a slot machine, betting $200 at a time on cards? I can totally imagine throwing that much money away at the Apple store but spending it in an instant and losing it, without anything to show for it? I don't think so! Money is made to be earned, not gambled. It's simple: You work at a job and money is your reward. The only thing gambling earns is more money to gamble. The process is meant to sustain itself, not the gambler, who is used up then promptly discarded. You're going to lose!

I don't generally believe in hedonism and fun without consequence, but if you must; I will tell you the one and only secret to beating the house on your next trip to Vegas or Atlantic City. Just play the five-cent poker machines all day. Make sure the pretty little ladies come by with the complimentary stiff drinks. Get whatever is your pleasure. Make sure that they keep 'em coming as you waste those nickels. Congratulations, you've beat the house if you're feeling a little woozy. Now you're primed and ready to see what else the city has to offer.

But really, what is the fun in gambling but just an obsession with winning? Only in the movies, people. Earn money and please promptly spend it on wine, women, and song; but don't help those casino floors get even larger and more maze like, trapping you in and bleeding you dry. Nothing to show for yourself but embarrassment.

I don't really know how I got on this topic, I guess it was all the holiday shopping which is now complete. Hallelujah! But now I have to wrap. What a pity. And hopefully people are buying tangible things for me, too, wrapping them up for the big day.

Zach Porter is a photographer for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 or zporter@news-daily.com