Monday, January 23, 2012

Bracing for a Boom of Dragon Babies

Chinese calendarWas in the car today when I happened to hear I. Nelson Rose talking the Wire Act and the future of online gambling in America on “Here & Now,” an NPR show.

Nothing we haven’t heard or read before, particularly if we have been keeping up with the various state-level developments that happening in the wake of that December memo from the Department of Justice noting that the Federal Wire Act of 1961 applies strictly to sports betting (and not other forms of gambling). Or if we happen to follow some of what Rose has been writing about over on his Gambling and the Law blog of late.

Still, it was interesting to hear both the questions and Rose’s answers, and perhaps notable to consider that NPR saw fit to give it a quarter-hour’s worth of time to discuss. You can listen to the segment online here.

When Rose was done, the show then segued to a segment on the Chinese New Year which begins today.

“Here & Now” did a good job keeping me from changing the channel, initially by introducing the segment with Warren Buffett performing “I’ve Been Working the Railroad” on the ukulele. Apparently Buffett’s company owns the railroad operator Burlington Northern-Santa Fe in China, and more than a billion Chinese travel during the Lunar New Year holiday period, including many by train. The song was part of an advertisement.

I didn’t change the channel after Buffett was done, though, because I was intrigued by the host Robin Young explaining how Asia was “bracing for a boom in dragon babies.” The funny-sounding phrase brought to mind fantastic, B-movie scenarios, but in fact Young was referring to how the Year of the Dragon (which starts today) is widely considered by the Asian countries that follow the Chinese calendar to be the luckiest of the twelve in the cycle.

Thus have many families been carefully planning to have children during the current year, or “dragon babies.” The segment went on to share quotes from a Hong Kong couple talking about children born during the Year of the Dragon being both smarter and luckier.

Hong Kong’s medical system is in fact being put under extra strain to accommodate the extra births (about a 10% increase). The educational system also feels the effect of there being more “dragon babies” than children born in other years, although those effects aren’t felt until a few years later when those children start going to school. “Dragon babies may not receive the same quality of education as children born in other years,” commented a Hong Kong University professor.

In other words, one might argue that it is in fact less advantageous, practically speaking, to be a “dragon baby” than not, since you could face issues initially with regard to your birth and care, then later in terms of the education you might receive.

The segment (which you can listen to here) got me thinking a little bit about how superstitions in poker -- such as coveting lucky hands or seats or the like -- can sometimes have real, practical consequences on game play. Or, to look at it from the other direction, how others’ apparently irrational predilections can affect the fortunes of the logical-minded trying to coexist and/or prosper in their world (or at their table).

The Year of the Dragon begins todayMeanwhile, if there isn’t already a band named the Dragon Babies, I’m grabbing that one right now. Fire-breathing power pop is what we’ll play.

Brace yourselves.

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