America is a much freer place
than it was a few decades ago, and one way you can tell is that
changes once considered unthinkable now occur almost unnoticed. A
case in point came when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a
bill to legalize online gambling.
Atlantic City casinos, which now offer various games on site,
will now be able to provide them to patrons at home or wherever
else they have access to a computer. New Jerseyans will be able to
play the slots without getting off the couch.
Doesn’t sound like such a big deal, does it? But 40 years ago,
there was only one way to take part in casino gambling: Get in your
car or board an airplane and go to Las Vegas. For decades, Nevada
was the only state where it was allowed.
Why? Because gambling was regarded as disreputable, the seamy
habit of criminals, hustlers and lowlifes. Many people thought
entering a casino was the first step on the road to
self-destruction. So governments generally made gambling
To anyone who grew up since then, all this may sound bizarre.
The casino-goer you know may be your strait-laced grandmother.
Today, 38 states feature casino gambling establishments, including
those on Indian reservations.
Nearly 60 million people — 1 in 4 adults — visited these
places in 2011, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).
The industry now accounts for almost 1 percent of the national
Legal gambling is all around us, and it’s only going to become
more ubiquitous. New Jersey is the third state to allow online
betting, after Nevada and Delaware, and others are sure to
The Obama administration spurred progress in 2011, when the
Justice Department abandoned its position that federal law
essentially prohibits online gambling. State lotteries, of which
there are 43, may now sell tickets beyond their borders.
Legal restrictions can only do so much, regardless. In the
digital age, policing online gambling is only slightly easier than
curbing online pornography. In the debate over legalization, says
Chapman University law professor Tom W. Bell, “always looming in
the background is instant access to overseas casinos.”
For the gambler determined to circumvent the law to wager from
the comfort of home, he told me, “there’s some hassle, but you can
do it — and not get caught.” A survey commissioned by the AGA
found that 4 percent of respondents already take part in online
That black-market competition is one reason the casino industry,
which once opposed Internet betting, has gotten behind it. Better
to provide it themselves, even if it means many players will stay
away from casinos, than to let unregulated foreign operators corner
The industry’s support for change is a mixed blessing, as the
New Jersey measure illustrates. Gamblers would have to establish
accounts with casinos, and industry officials “expect the state to
require gamblers to have to appear in person at a casino to open
their accounts and verify their age, identity and other personal
information,” reports The Associated Press. A rule of this kind
would serve to get patrons in the door, where they may be induced
to buy food, drink and tickets to a show.
The new law also requires participants to be physically in New
Jersey to place bets, at least for now. What lies ahead is far from
being a wide-open, consumer-driven business. Still, it’s a far
better deal for customers than being denied a legal avenue to
Drastic change hasn’t happened overnight, and it won’t start
now. But we have seen a steady, gradual process of opening up
freedom in this particular realm — a process that is not about to
That’s because as more and more Americans have encountered legal
gambling, they have discarded the exaggerated fears that once
blocked it. The vast majority of patrons, it turns out, don’t
become compulsive gamblers, don’t blow the rent on blackjack and
don’t desert their families.
Bringing a casino into a community is not likely to set off a
wave of crime or social decay. Neither is allowing it in the
Attitudes that took years to change are not about to turn
around. At a casino or a racetrack, you can’t be certain of winning
any wager. But in the policy arena, the continued expansion of
legal gambling is as close as you can get to a sure thing. …
America is a much freer place
As the first Catholic Pope to resign from his position since Gregory XII in the 15th century, Pope Benedict XVI has startled the world with his announcement that he will step down by the end of this month. While controversially conservative (and much less benevolent-appearing than his predecessor the grandfatherly Pope John Paul II), the German-born religious leader did have an open mind at least in encouraging a renewed relationship between the Catholic Church and art, viewing the use of beauty as a path to the sacred.
Named the Pope in 2005, he oversaw the 500th anniversary of the forming of the Vatican Museums by Pope Julius II, including a gathering of hundreds of “Patrons of the Arts” in the Catholic Church, as well as the permanent opening to visitors of a necropolis some 2,000 years old filled with ornate mausoleums. As the head of Vatican City and its immense Vatican Museums, the Pope casts influence not just over the Catholic Church, but the presentation of the history of art as well.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Hundreds of giddy Ravens fans poured into the streets Sunday night, whooping, hollering and high-fiving complete strangers as they celebrated the team’s 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
On the far opposite coast, however, a spirit of hope and anticipation rapidly faded into sullen disappointment as dejected 49ers fans tried to absorb their team’s loss.
In the East, Patrons who packed into Mother’s Federal Hill Grille in Baltimore to watch the Ravens’ second Super Bowl appearance since the team arrived in the city in 1996 jumped up onto the bar and began belting out a rendition of the Queen song “We are the champions.”
Bartenders sprayed purple party string into the air.
“I love this team. I love this city!” screamed Andrew Bieler, 21, shortly after the game ended.
Ashlee Tuck, 28, shouted “Yes!” and alternated between kissing her boyfriend and dancing as fans streamed out of the bar.
Michael Falls, 25, said he plans to take Monday off from his accounting job and his boss was going to do the same.
“I’m going to live up the night,” he said.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined in the fun, dancing and singing alongside the fans.
Librarians hate to be depicted as bun- and glasses-wearing shushers, hellbent on silencing any and all noisy activities within their sacred domain. Fair enough: Librarians are highly skilled, well-educated and socially aware as a rule, and should not be reduced to a cultural stereotype ranking only a notch or two above a church lady on the hipness scale.
Nevertheless, there’s a lot to be said for that shushing. I’ve long believed that one of the most precious resources libraries offer their patrons is simple quiet. Alas, for too long I’ve been forced to confine this sentiment to bar-stool rants because for all I knew I was being hopelessly retrograde. Libraries are constantly talking up the new — and often clamorous — services and activities they have added or plan to add in order to “better serve a diverse community” (and by extension, justify their continued funding in the eyes of public officials who like to appear forward-thinking). But take heart, seekers of serenity, for now we have data!
Lesbian couple Ariel and Shawnee McPhail recently had a meal at the Stingray Café in New Bern, N.C., but left with more than a doggie bag. While on their way out, owner Ed McGovern handed them a rambling anti-gay missive:God said in the last days that man and wom[a]n would be lover of self, more [than] the lover of God. That man and woman would have unnatural [affection] for one another. Then, the coming of the Son of Man, who is Jesus. So please, look at your life. See how it hurt[s] everyone around you. And ask the Lord to open your eye[s] before it [is] to[o] late. The Love of Christ P.S. my daughter also was gay. It destroy[ed] her life and my grandson.McGovern confirmed with NewsChannel 12 that he did give the couple the letter, and has given other gay patrons similar letters — “out of love.”The McPhails said McGovern has the right to his own opinion, but believe what he did crossed the line. “If we’re experiencing it, then other people are too and that’s not fair,” said Ariel McPhail.Continue Reading… …
Today is the birthday of American sculptor and art icon, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The pioneering art patron who founded New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art would turn 137 if she were miraculously still alive today.Gertrude was born into the illustrious Vanderbilt family in 1875, and endowed with all the extravagances afforded to her by her well-heeled last name. She acquired her second famous surname, Whitney, at the age of 21, when she married Harry Payne Whitney. But the female artist, known for her large-scale public sculptures and memorials, was by no means constrained by the successes of her various relatives. On the contrary, the iconic figure paved her own way in the realms of art and fashion, going down in history books as one of the most influential art patrons of the 20th century.Read More…
| Read “Patrons at Hotel Maya in Long Beach party like it’s the ‘end of the world’”
If you’re reading this, then the world didn’t end Friday.
But that didn’t keep people from getting anxious — some even joyously excited — about the thought of it being their last night.
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