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Censorship I Guess

I had been told that I wasn’t behind the Great Firewall here in Macau. This is ChinaLite after all. I certainly have had no reason to think so before. Facebook and Twitter work with no problem. BBC World is on FTA TV FFS. Yet somehow I can’t get onto rollingstone.com without using a proxy.

I didn’t even notice at first. I had innocently clicked on this link to a story by Matt Taibi about crazy Michelle Bachmann. I saw the screen shot above and just figured their server wasn’t feeling well. Thought no more about it till I came across the link again elsewhere and when visiting it saw the same screen. No way was this sort of site offline for days. Unless they had pissed of Lulzsec I guess. That in itself would have been a news story.

So I turned on my proxy, which until now had been unused, and there it was; all the news that fits.

I have no doubt RS has been critical of China. But how come it is on Macau’s blacklist when none of the other usual suspects are?

Odd.

Typhoons

This has been my first one of any note. The signal was raised to 3 yesterday and has only just been lowered to no signal. It is still raining quite heavily though.

The signals are based on how close we are to the eye of a typhoon. It goes from 1 (vaguely nearby) to 10 (direct hit). You can read about the Hong Kong system (which Macau follows) here.

Things only get interesting at about signal 8. When that happens all public transport stops and I don’t have to go to work. If it goes to 8 when I am at work supposedly I can’t leave. Rumour has it though that you can just go and pay a taxi a lot of money to get you home. Or else you can ride out the storm in one of the bars.

Typhoon season lasts from May to November with October/September being the worst. Supposedly we are in for at least 9 typhoons this season.

There’s a very organised system to let you know what’s going on. Every apartment block has signs like this:

Apparently I’ll also automatically get an SMS if it goes above 5.

So What Is The Show Like?

A lot like that. No really.

So What’s Macau Like?

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Asia-Lite. I’ve heard it called that a number of times by people here and it is very true. There is a European feeling to the place that extends beyond the Portuguese street signs. Four hundred years of colonisation will do that. It makes for a very soft landing for a new ex-pat.

This really is a company town, or rather country, or rather six companies in one industry. Eighty per cent of the economy is gambling and associated service industries. Six companies have licenses to operate casinos. SJM, run by Stanley Ho, had a monopoly until 2002. I work for the Venetian Sands, one of the Las Vegas companies that came in after 2002. I am officially employed by the casino itself but work on the Cirque Du Soleil show.

The job is great. I haven’t worked in this level of theatre for a while and although it was intimidating at first I soon remembered that I am actually good at this sort of stuff. It is wonderful to be working with professionals again. Everyone knows their job and just gets on with it. After years of working with clueless clients it is fantastic.

Language wise I am not having any problems. English is the main language of the show crew here. Macau’s official languages are Cantonese and Portuguese. The latter really only remains on government signs and menus. Hardly anyone speaks it here aside from the Brazilians and Portuguese ex-pats. Mandarin is fairly common too but English is the lingua franca. Although the majority of guests come from mainland China, the real area of growth is India.

One of the factoids I remember from my casino orientation, which was done in English by Cantonese HR ladies to a room full of Filipinos, Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians and one native English speaker (me), is that over half of the world’s population lives within a 5 hour flight of Macau. India, home to a billion people with a rapidly growing middle class, speaks English. So most of the casino staff do too. This is no doubt going to affect the country as a whole.

My Cantonese is coming along. Learning with a mixture of mp3 lessons and asking locals and ex-pats for tips. I know my numbers, please/thank you and “here”. Basic stuff for dealing with taxis and shop keepers. I also know how to order a beer but with widespread hospitality English, I’ve never used it.

Guilted into travel blogging

Antonios has pointed out that I am breaking the unspoken Rathdowne contract of compulsory travel blogging. I thought I had a pretty strong defense in that I am living here for the foreseeable future so it’s not really travel and besides, don’t we all communicate visually through Path now? But I am caving in to peer pressure regardless.

More to come

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Stupid facts

Just jam the correct sentence in. No one will notice that the next sentence contradicts it.

“The Dog Dies”: Movie Spoiler Graffiti Hits Los Angeles

Wooster Collective: “The Dog Dies”: Movie Spoiler Graffiti Hits Los Angeles.

 

 


Johann Hari: You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as “one of the great menace of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell — and some justice on their side.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the “golden age of piracy” – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda-heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can’t? In his book Villains of All nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then – plucked from the docks of London’s East End, young and hungry – you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O’ Nine Tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains – and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century.” They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

(Continued)

Winning the War on Terror one boner at a time

from the WaPo

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.

Testing from iphone

Let’s see what we can do with this