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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sulake v. Singaporean Parliament

This may be a little off topic from the typical "Chinese-American kicker," but this topic I found a little interesting. This topic may also concern young teens across the globe.


After reading several South East Asian based newspapers, I came across a line stating that the Singaporean Government is starting to address online gambling. According to a news article from Out-Law.com, Singapore's Second Minister for Home Affairs, S Iswaran reported that the Singaporean Government is reviewing how to "restrict access to, and patronage of, online gambling platforms" throughout 2013.

Why would this concern young teens?

There is a popular game on the web for teenagers called Habbo Hotel. Through this game kids can chat, party, roleplay, design, and create their own rooms. This seems pretty innocent right? Well, on Habbo there is also an economy that is executed by the exchange of their virtual furniture and currencies. This big economy almost exclusively revolves around the use of online gambling and virtual casinos (see this Habbo Wiki page). Based on a poll conducted on a forum (now only accessible via the Way Back Machine), approximately 60% of the users who still play have participated in some form of online gambling on the site whether it be casinos, grabbers, or small scale "p2p" games. With Sulake (company that runs Habbo) still trying to recover from the heavy losses caused by the 2012 Mute combined with the constant number of Habbos quitting each and every day, could crashing the economy run Sulake bankrupt? Sulake has already seen the effects of banning casinos in one hotel already, Habbo.dk (Danish). The population of the hotel dropped significantly from 900 members daily, to just under 100. Imagine if the same fraction gets cut off from their third largest hotel habbo.com which accounts for users in Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Poland, Malaysia, Canada, and the Philippines. That would be a heavy loss for Sulake, and most likely a good number of the investors they still have will simply pull out.

Some may argue that the Singaporean Government would have no interest in a teenage social networking website. The gambling that takes place on Habbo is NOT regulated, NOT taxed, CAN be conducted by scammers, IS an example of underaged gaming, DOES involve furniture bought with real money, and IS also disregarded by the outsourced MODs from Costa Rica. Tell me, are virtual chips any different from virtual furniture?

With all the problems going around now, and Sulake having to fire more and more staff members each day, it looks as though they're going the same direction as MySpace. I wish Sulake and all Habbos the best of luck and my humble regards.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wikipedia: Detroit Chinatown Wiki

www.detroitchinatown.org/ http://Chinatown Wikipedia Detroit's Chinatown was originally located at Third Avenue, Porter St and Bagley St, now the permanent site of the MGM Grand Casino. In the 1960s, urban renewal efforts, as well as the opportunity for the Chinese business community to purchase property led to a relocation centered at Cass Avenue and Peterboro. However, Detroit's urban decline and escalating street violence, primarily the killing of restauranteur Tommie Lee, led to the new location's demise, with the last remaining Chinese food restaurant in Chinatown finally shut its doors in the early 2000s. Although there is still a road marker indicating "Chinatown" and a mural commemorating the struggle for justice in the Vincent Chin case, only one Chinese American establishment still operates within the borders of the City of Detroit. The Association of Chinese Americans Detroit Outreach Center, a small community center, serves a handful of new Chinese immigrants who still reside in the Cass Corridor. Madison Heights Just north of Detroit in Madison Heights, there is a small but present strip of East Asian commercial outlets along John R. Road, which include restaurants and retail managed by individuals of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Filipino descent. Also located in Madison Heights is the Association of Chinese Americans' Chinese Community Center. Although the Chinese American population of Southeast Michigan is comparatively smaller than other American cities, the Detroit chapter of the ACA is the only branch of the Organization of Chinese Americans to have a fully operational community center, as well as two satellite service centers. Lion Dance Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDYyjeN7L28

Monday, January 7, 2013

Y/A! Response Travel>China>Hong Kong

 Yahoo Answers Response:
Link
Asked By CharCharr
Question:

What is it like to live and work in Hong Kong?

I live in the UK and have an identity card to live and work in Hong Kong. I really like it there and am considering of moving to live there in a few years when I have more qualifications and such. The thing I'd like to ask is, what is it like to live and work there? I heard the work ethic is really hard? Or does this only apply to certain areas of work or...
If anyone can give me insight to work life and just life in Hong Kong, preferably from your own experiences, it'd be much appreciated. Also any other information that would be good to know to help me make the decision. Thanks!

My Response:
In the actual Hong Kong island is rich and prosperous, except the other parts of Hong Kong aren't so swell. Kowloon is a wonderful city, but don't let the tall skyscrapers and tourist-friendly signs fool you. Deep within Kowloon runs many slums (a lot more than expected). These slums aren't any old welfare or government subsidized property as in the US; these are crap homes built for elders 80+ who work their butts off to afford a box no larger than the front seat of a car. These boxes are made of chicken wire and cost more per square footage than the average luxury home in neighboring HK Island. The elderly usually dwell these areas, and you'll usually find them playing mahjong or cards and speaking not the usual Cantonese, but a hillbilly version called toisan (they won't understand English either).

On the actual Hong Kong Island, everyone would speak basic to moderate English. Knowledge of basic Cantonese is still essential if you want to be successful in your job performance. Living on Hong Kong Island is also very expensive unless your company covers the expenses. One thing I might add however is that in Kowloon, food is very inexpensive, I'm talking in the pennies. Whether in the day or at night, there is always a street food monger. The venders at night usually are selling small bite sized things called siu yeh. The hours to find these in Kowloon generally are 9pm - 4am. Dim sum occurs from 6am-2pm. And then street food for the late afternoon.

If you would like to read a newspaper and aren't able to read traditional Chinese print, The South China Morning Post I would say is the best for foreigners (if you're white, the gweilo :D). Financial papers are also very common and sometimes free and printed in English. Chinese television is hard to understand so I would avoid the Cantonese TVB station as even I can't understand them (although the children shows can be a great resource in learning Cantonese such as After School ICU). For English news ATV World is currently the most popular. TVB Pearl is becoming more and more popular and it is the best English language news for Hong Kong and southern China. To catch up on news from the UK, you can hook up a special connection plan to watch BBC1. One big thing in Hong Kong is that people don't like mainland China there. To many Hong Kongers, China is perceived as a bully because of their disputes with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

I do warn you, DO NOT DRIVE! Hong Kong Island is the only part of Hong Kong that it is safe to drive, except that is where the traffic is. Take the MTR for long distance travel if you have to. OH SAY GOODBYE TO SNOW! It never snows in Hong Kong. The major weather and climate reports usually are about Typhoons and rainy seasons. Pollution is also a major issue in Hong Kong and in most weather reports, you would see a pollution forecast (weird). Don't be surprised if you see a brothel here and there. These are all illegal establishments, usually run by a triad smuggling people into Hong Kong from the mainland. They can be commonly found in the redlight district of Hong Kong Island, catering to Asian tourists. The Wan Chai red light district has regular missing people due to criminal activity involving organized crime, so the back allies should generally be avoided.

The Hong Kong police are terrific at their job I must add. There are many of them and have 10x the manpower as New York City. This will give you a piece of mind when it comes to crime. The Hospital care is also great. Most of the medical staff are graduates of Hong Kong University if not trained in the US, Canada, UK, or AU. They fixed me up pretty well when I broke my leg. Fire is an issue in Hong Kong due to their high rises and tight enclosed spaces with limited exits. Plus the cheaply made tenements with poor wiring. This can be avoided as long as you don't choose to live in a slum.

Language wise, you should learn Cantonese as soon as possible. Many of the elderly people only speak either Cantonese or Toisan. They do not speak Mandarin, or English. Many of the children can speak basic Mandarin and English, but it isn't that great. If you would like to meet somebody with great lingual skills in English, university students are the key people.

That is all I can think of or remember for now. Goodluck with your job!

Source(s):

I used to live in Kowloon as an expat and still make frequent visits there from the United States.

Mahjong: a game of 3 dragons

Whether it be in one's own home for sport, or being played secretively with hard cash, mahjong has always been a key component of Chinese culture. Mahjong is a game that has been played for centuries if not millenniums. The game is played with small tiles with special markings; with many of the tiles having a piece of Chinese culture on them. Many of the tiles are $20s worth of plastic that you can pickup at the local dollar store, while others are engraved with fine artwork, representing the tile's culture and heritage. Each variation of Mahjong comes with its own history, but they all play a role in the social bonding and piece of mind of the players. Hong Kong Mahjong style, which is the variation I have played, can be found in local Chinatowns. These games are late at night and typically played by the older generations with high stakes but still considered social gaming. Every loss is still accepted by the old folks and they continue to play nearly everyday until the early hours of morning. Sometimes these games are considered illegal to many American state governments (see here if you apply). Even in the states where social gaming is prohibited, many Chinese immigrants disregard these laws and continue to play anyway. Some court cases had instances where defendants were able to evade the gaming laws claiming that mahjong wagers are not forms of gambling as gambling is defined as wagers on games of chance. These defendants were able to prove that mahjong is almost entirely based on skill (which is controversial in my opinion). In Macau, it is very common for international tournaments to be held. Many professional players inhibit bets similar to poker. The only difference between these bets and inhome mahjong games is that in tournaments, the only money wagered is a high buy in fee--the winnings being a fixed amount. In regular mahjong, the payout is determined by the consistency of the winning hand. Ironically, in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities are very strict with gaming, with gaming fees rather high compared to the United States and Canada. Only licensed parlors referred to as "schools" are allowed to host mahjong games involving cash. Even then, stakes must be kept low, otherwise the school's license gets revoked (see South China Morning Post for articles regarding gambling raids).

Where can I play it?
mahjongtime.com
Mahjong Time offers numerous tournaments with chips (games for fun), coins (tournament buy-ins), and cash which is the transaction method. It is safe and I have paid for all myself using paypal. I'm unsure about credit transactions though. The cash games are using REAL CASH and you must be 18+ to submit transactions. Under law they are not defined as an online casino as they have argued with district courts in southern California that mahjong is purely based on skill. Their headquarters is based in San Diego, California. 

Facebook
On Facebook's search app bar, there is a decent version called Mahjong Hong Kong. Just type that in and you will be led to a logo with a mahjong tile surrounded by a blue and yellow back round. It is pretty good if you run out of chips on Mahjong Time and serves its purpose. I recommend it for practice as you can take your time on this version.
喬恩




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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Next Topic

southwaterfront.com/
Mahjong's impact in Chinese society + social gaming

Best English Language Chinese Newspaper

South China Morning Post
A great buy, and is obvious once you read the articles its site provides. It has a wide coverage of the Mahjong gambling den raids done by the Hong Kong Police Force which are the topics that I'm interested in. It seems to say the news as is compared to most of Hong Kong newspapers which take political sides (democratic or pro-Beijing). One thing I'm not used to that most newspapers in China do not include are some components of the weather reports. They include pollution levels and predictions for whether the levels would increase. Very peculiar. A great buy, and don't be a cheap shot trying to get the articles free online. They place cookies on your computer so that your page will time out after a few articles without subscribing.