Not Quite Virgin Territory


Silicon Society

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By E.J. Gong Jr.
Net Virgins a Hoax? So What?

We learned this week the Internet virgins story was a big hoax. From the outset, it sure seemed suspicious.
     Two 18-year-old “religious honor students,” Mike and Diane, would have their first sex for the world to see via a live Webcast.
Screen shot of was a joke. (ABCNEWS)
It all seemed fishy, but the possibility of a real Truman Show experience titillated us.
     This week, the Web site’s creator admitted it was a scam, saying Mike and Diane were out-of-work 20-something actors. He said he planned to have the two actors abstain from sex during the big moment. Ken Tipton, the creator, would then appear on camera to say “gotcha!”
     The truth is that Tipton, a struggling Los Angeles movie maker, craves attention and money. Judge him however you want. What’s more interesting was how the press handled this story and how angry it got when reminded the Internet—like life itself—is filled with both truth and BS.
     At a hostile press conference held at a condom shop (no kidding), two dozen reporters from places like the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Reuters and The Associated Press blasted Tipton.
     They screamed, “It was a con!” and, “You're a liar!” Several shouting matches broke out between Tipton and angry reporters.
     Journalists, like anyone else, don’t enjoy getting suckered.
     Perhaps we’ve been given too many reasons to trust the Net. There’s been the first live Internet birth, the quirky-but-honest JenniCam and real-time stock quotes. But don’t forget the fake TWA Flight 800 bombing records posted online and the e-mail Kurt Vonnegut supposedly wrote, but didn’t.
     Maybe there’s a simple lesson here: Don’t believe everything your hear…and read on the Internet.

Larry and Michael

What’s Larry Ellison doing with former junk bond king Michael Milken? Oh, nothing…just building a massive educational empire. Two years ago, they quietly kicked in $500 million to establish Knowledge Universe, a company aimed at buying educational firms.
     So far, they’ve purchased more than a dozen companies worldwide, ranging from a U.S. educational toy maker to a British job training center.
Larry Ellison Larry Ellison has his eyes on education. (AP)
Ellison and Milken hired former Sega and Mattel CEO Tom Kalinske to oversee the project. The Burlingame, Calif.-based firm is so secretive it doesn’t have a public relations office. When I ask for more info, the receptionist told me—somewhat defensively—that Knowledge Universe is private and isn’t required to explain what it does.
     I finally got through to Kalinske for a quick chat and he said the company wants to be a “cradle to grave” educational firm. They want to own preschools, day-care centers, schools for high school dropouts and learning centers for retirees. Folks, keep your eyes out for this company.

The Croc is a Crock

A chain e-mail rankled one of the nation’s finest hotels this week. Someone sent out a story about a crocodile eating a golfer at the posh Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla.
     Maybe folks would have dismissed the tale if weren’t for the gruesome attached photograph. In it, a worker with rubber gloves pulls out a human arm from the croc’s ripped-open stomach. The photo, which isn’t for the faint of heart, is all too real. Too bad the story isn’t.
     Breakers Hotel spokeswoman Jacqueline Whitmore said it has received hundreds of calls from potential guests around the country.
     “I compare this prank to tabloid journalism,” Whitmore says. “When you're at the top of the heap, someone wants to knock you down.”
Crocodile belly
Click here to view the photo.
Graphic content; proceed with caution.
The Breakers Hotel, which is a martini glass’ throw from sprawling estates, has had many a famous guest, including Andrew Carnegie, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Harry Truman and the Prince and Princess of Wales.
     But there are no crocodiles in that part of the state—just alligators. And the golf course isn’t on a swamp.
     A spokesman for the Florida Department of Game and Fresh Water Fish thinks the photo is real, taken in South America where massive crocodiles have been known to eat villagers in rural areas.

E.J. Gong Jr. is an staff writer.

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