World Wide Web casinos
Companies have been gambling on the Internet, with little to show for it so far, but soon individuals will be able to turn their home computers into high-stake casinos. Gamblers will be able to play computer-game versions of poker, black jack, and slot machines, betting with accounts secured by a credit card. A number of enterprises are hoping to cash in on America's gambling fever, with a pioneering venture, called World Wide Web Casinos, set to get started by the end of the year. "We think we're onto something rather huge," says company president Peter Demos in an interview with Greg Miller of The Los Angeles Times. "The Internet is the future, and the world is our casino." One analyst predicts that on-line gambling could turn into a $10 billion-a-year industry by the year 2000. Federal law prohibits wagering over the wire, but the actual transactions will take place in the Caribbean island of Antigua, where gambling is legal. "The Internet is a global communications technology not bound by the laws or control of any one government," insists another company official. Betting "cannot be illegal" because it takes place in casinos that are "legally licensed and taxed by the host government." Law-enforcement agencies disagree. Congress has appointed a commission to study the gambling industry, including the ramifications of on-line casinos.
The Manson family: Raising your kids for you
Marilyn Manson's new album Antichrist Superstar was the third top-selling CD in the country in its first week of release, according to the Billboard charts. With his stage name taken from the suicidal sex symbol Marilyn Monroe and the serial killer Charles Manson, this ordained Satanist priest and his head-banging band have carved a profitable niche for themselves in the pop culture by openly defying every moral principle they can think of. Wearing T-shirts that read "Kill God, Kill Your Mom and Dad, Kill Yourself," the band celebrates hate, racism, sexual depravity, violence, and blasphemy. Religion is a favorite theme, as they mock God and indulge in hate-filled rants against Jesus. Marilyn preaches the gospel of hell, which inexplicably his adoring teenage fans love to hear: "When I'm God everyone dies," goes the lyrics of one song. Another croons, "I've looked ahead and saw a world that's dead. I guess that I am too. I'm on my way down now, I'd like to take you with me." The pop culture has really gotten this bad. Whether or not Marilyn Manson is fully serious in his pop-depravity or is just yanking the public's chain, his mass popularity--and the fact that his records are sold without question by mainline corporations--signifies serious cultural decay. But in an interview, Marilyn actually said something insightful: "Raise your kids better or I'll raise them for you."
Paying big-time for manners
Businesses are spending big bucks teaching new employees the academic subjects they should have learned in school. Now they are spending big bucks teaching them the manners they should have learned at home. Etiquette agencies are charging $495 a day for one-on-one instruction in the social graces--what parents used to teach for free. The tab is picked up mostly by businesses, who increasingly are sending their employees to the new finishing schools. "A lot of our younger employees will be well-equipped with book knowledge, sales skills, and computer skills," says the human resource executive at a Chicago-area bank. "But what we find they lack is social grace. The reality is that it does still matter."