Pistorius murder trial postponed

South Africa: A South African court has postponed to August 19 the pre-trial hearing of Oscar Pistorius, who has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, to give police time to wrap up their investigation.
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Magistrate Daniel Thulare also on Tuesday extended bail for Pistorius, South Africa’s Paralympic sprint star.

Earlier, Pistorius arrived at court for the first time since being freed on bail in February over the Valentine’s Day killing of model Reeva Steenkamp.

Sporting a grey suit and blue shirt and tie, and looking tense, the sprinter known as the “Blade Runner” walked through the main front entrance and headed straight to a courtroom packed with media and his family.

Tuesday’s hearing came just days after a British television channel broadcast leaked crime scene pictures showing the blood-spattered bathroom where Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp multiple times through a locked door.

Prosecutors have charged the 26-year-old with premeditated murder.

Conviction carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

But the athlete claims he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder in a “terrible accident” and the defence wants the charge reduced to culpable homicide, which risks up to 15 years behind bars.

Steenkamp, 29, who had been dating Pistorius for just a few months, suffered gunshot wounds to her head, elbow and hip.Her mother June told Britain’s Channel 5 in a show aired on Monday the couple had been having arguments.

‘”We’ve been fighting, we’ve been fighting a lot,” Reeva once said in a phone call, June Steenkamp remembered.

“She must have been so afraid in the toilet and somebody is firing bullets through the door. And already one bullet had hit her so she must have been in severe pain also,” said June Steenkamp. “We don’t know what happened. There’s only one person that knows what happened.”

AFP

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Blonde or brunette neither hair nor there

BLONDES may have more fun, but brunettes are sexier and the kind of girls you’d most want to introduce your to parents, according to a new survey.
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The recent study of 1000 Australians looked at the influence of hair care, colour and style on men and women.

Some of the more interesting findings to come out included that 39 per cent of the men and 60 per cent of the women surveyed preferred brown hair.

According to the survey conducted by Australian hair product supplier Head & Shoulders, Aussie blokes believe brunettes make the best lovers (24 per cent) and are the most suitable to introduce to their parents (38 per cent).

Proud Griffith blonde Alana Villata, 20, said despite the findings she’d never consider going dark.

“I love my blonde hair,” she said.

“I think it makes me who I am and sets me apart from a lot of people.

“I don’t think it really matters what colour your hair is. It’s more about personality and morals.

“It matters what is inside. I’ve got a boyfriend, obviously he prefers blondes.”

Local hairdresser Brittney Colloridi said, in her experience, colour didn’t play a big role in influencing relationships.

“It’s not about the colour. It’s who you are as a person,” she said.

“I do think hair is important. It can make you feel more confident in yourself.

“But women change their hair colour all of the time. You could be lighter when you meet someone but go darker later on.”

Ninety-one per cent of the Australians surveyed claimed hair was a key element to a person’s sex appeal.

Women found dirty hair (79 per cent) and dandruff (64 per cent) two of the biggest turn-offs.

Women are also far less likely than men to pursue a relationship if their potential partner turns up with unclean, unhealthy or unkempt hair.

Foxy Locks hairdresser Richard Brewer said he was surprised people were so superficial.

“I’m actually amazed to tell you the truth,” he said.

“I think it’s pretty shallow that hair colour would make such a difference.

“But then again it’s only an opinion. I have found a lot of blondes have been changing to brunette lately but that’s only to disguise their regrowth.”

“I doubt it has anything to do with a survey.”

Frizzy facts

– 39% of men prefer brown hair.

– 60% of women prefer brown hair.

– 24% of men think brunettes make better lovers.

– 36% of men think blondes are more likely to cheat

– 38% of men think brunettes are the most appropriate to introduce to their parents

– 91% of Australians think hair is a key element to a person’s sex appeal

According to a survey conducted by Australian hair product supplier Head & Shoulders

HAIR APPARENT: Griffith girls Brittney Colloridi, 20, and Alana Villata, 20, believe hair colour isn’t as important as a new survey suggests. Picture: Anthony Stipo

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Crawf to roll into Mildura

AFL Hall-of-Famer Shane Crawford will travel through Mildura as part of his gruelling Tour de Crawf later this month.
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Crawford will set out on the Tour de Crawf from Melbourne on June 20 as part of a 3600km bike ride across the Nullabor to Perth, where he is scheduled to arrive on July 11.

The ride aims to raise funds and awareness for Breast Cancer Network Australia following his successful 760km walk from Adelaide to Melbourne in 2010, which raised $600,000 for BCNA.

Crawford is scheduled to arrive in Mildura on June 22. He will spend the night in the region following a family-fun day event on the Saturday afternoon at the Mildura Rowing Club lawns.

Event organiser and BCNA member Shirley O’Brien has encouraged the community to get behind the event.

“We’ll have live music, jumping castles, merry-go-rounds, sausage sizzles, hot and cold drinks, face painting and hair colouring,” she said.

“There will be prizes given for the craziest pink outfits and the best ‘Welcome Crawf’ banners.

“We’ll also have a raffle and first prize will be a table for 10 at The Footy Show, second will be a GIANT push bike and third will be a voucher from Focus on Furniture.”

As a measure of Crawford’s ride, he will ride further than the cyclists in the Tour de France in fewer days.

‘LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE’: Shane Crawford will visit Mildura as part of Tour de Crawf later this month.

More than $150,000 has already been raised through corporate sponsorship for the ride.

Crawford, who played 305 games for Hawthorn from 1993- 2008, said in a statement the bike ride would be a life-changing experience.

“But the pain and agony I will go through riding 3600km in 22 days and crossing the Nullabor is nothing compared to the pain Australian women battling breast cancer go through each day,” he said.

Anyone wanting more information on the event can contact Shirley on 0427 273 488, or via email at [email protected]南京夜网

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IT’S NOT OVER: Dumped Soward offered Dragons lifeline

RUGBY LEAGUE
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St GeorgeIllawarra skipper Ben Creagh insists Jamie Soward has the full support of the squad’s senior players despite the premiership-winning five-eighth being dumped to the NSW Cup.

The 28-year-old was yesterday axed to the Dragons’ feeder side, the Illawarra Cutters, for the second time in the space of 12 months.

It comes a little more than two years after Soward was preparing to make his State Of Origin debut.

Full coverage of the NRL

Dragons coach Steve Price excused Soward from training for a couple of days “to clear his head” after St George Illawarra’s narrow loss to the Bulldogs.

And speaking only hours before the Dragons confirmed Soward was again NSW Cup-bound, Creagh stressed the much-maligned pivot still had the full support of his teammates.

“He does – 100 per cent,” Creagh said. “Pricey has given him a couple of days off to clear his head. I’m sure he’ll be at training [today] and we’ll get on with it.”

Soward, who will turn out for the Cutters in an NRL curtain-raiser against Newcastle on Saturday, has already inked a four-year deal with Penrith from 2014.

His manager Sam Ayoub said Soward hadn’t asked for a mid-season release and would play out the year in Wollongong.

Chase Stanley has been named to replace Soward at five-eighth for the Dragons’ crucial clash against the Knights, with Nathan Green promoted to the centres.

Utility Will Matthews was the only other player to be caught in the selection squeeze, but Price stressed the entire squad needed to take responsibility for the Dragons’ recent run of outs.

“We’re all accountable – myself included – and every player that takes the football field,” he said.

“We’ve got roles to play and it’s important that each individual plays those roles.”

The Dragons named Origin duo Brett Morris and Trent Merrin – pending their fitness after the series opener tonight – with Daniel Vidot relegated to an extended bench.

Prop Dan Hunt is in line to return from a knee injury, but Matt Cooper remains sidelined with a toe complaint. “It’s another big test for us and most of these games are must-win for us,” Creagh said.

“A lot of the guys know that, but we’re not too far away.”

Creagh and Michael Weyman addressed more than 200 teenage boys at an inspiration day for the Top Blokes Foundation at WIN Stadium yesterday.

“We’re giving all these young teenagers a bit of insight in how we achieved our dreams [of playing NRL], about how we got there, goal setting and that’s extremely important – not only in footy but in life as well,” Creagh said.

Jamie Soward, right. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

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Fanning the Ice and Fire

The Red Wedding: Tears, vitriol and anger among fans after the airing of the now infamous Episode 9. Photo: SuppliedGame of Thrones delivered a sucker punch of colossal proportions to its millions of fans worldwide this week.
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The death of a number of key characters saw thousands hit social media to vent their despair and outrage at writer George R. R. Martin and series producer HBO.

Reaction videos were uploaded to YouTube, the Twitter account @RedWeddingTears was created solely to retweet anguished outbursts, a Downfall parody was created and even 2009’s meme of the year Keyboard Cat made a return.

Martin himself has said the scene was the most difficult he had to write, skipping over it until he’d finished the rest of A Storm of Swords, the third book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

So why the vitriol? Here are three expert views on why our hearts were so broken by this week’s events in Westeros.

The pop culture expert

Queensland University of Technology Film and TV lecturer Mark Ryan said long-form television allowed viewers to form deep attachments to characters.

“Particularly in Game of Thrones where there are so many plotlines, so many houses … audiences get invested,” he said.

Dr Ryan said the HBO series was part of a trend in contemporary TV to subvert expectations, citing Breaking Bad, True Blood and The Walking Dead as other current examples.

“TV shows are trying to steer away from being predictable, and as a result killing off main characters and plot twists that are not favourable keeps viewers on the edge of their seat, keeps them guessing.”

Thousands of reactions captured on social media included fans’ pledge to “give up” on the show.

But Dr Ryan doubted Game of Thrones was in any danger of burning out its audience with emotional upheaval.

“Because of the power of the brand, because people are so invested in the characters, the following keeps growing and growing.”

As of press time, Dr Ryan had not seen the now-infamous “The Rains of Castamere” episode.

“My guess is someone like Jon Snow, or Robb, might be in danger,” he said.

“Am I warm?”

No comment.

The geek whisperer

Paul Russell is a manager at Brisbane’s Ace Comics & Games store, and has been dealing with fanatics of all kinds for over ten years.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that fans feel really entitled, and they get really angry when things aren’t the way they think they should be,” he said.

“The problem is that gets really dull if you get everything handed to you the way you want it.”

He said Martin’s strength is a willingness to torture his fans.

“You need failure and despair to make a story work … he’s not there to pat you on the head and whisper comforting things in your ear.”

Russell admitted he found that out first hand.

“When I first read the Red Wedding scene, I threw the book across the room and didn’t touch it for two weeks,” he said.

So he was ready for this week’s outrage.

“I was waiting for the shitstorm afterwards – it’s fun to watch fans lose it.”

The author

John Birmingham often kills beloved characters in his techo-thrillers, such as the Axis of Time and Wave trilogies.

“If you’re writing a story where you’re putting your characters in danger, if you’re being true to that, some of them are going to be hurt,” he said.

“As soon as you accept some of them have to die, you get past that emotional blockage … it’s a very, very powerful thing, having the ruthlessness to do that.”

Birmingham said even now fans will occasionally tweet him to voice their displeasure at a character’s grisly end.

“But I’ve never gotten that weird, stalk-y Misery reaction where they tie you up in the basement, break your legs and demand you re-write it,” he said.

“I’m aiming for it, one day I’ll get there.”

The author said TV viewers were used to seeing characters meet their maker – but only temporarily.

“How many times did Buffy die … in Stargate, Daniel Jackson probably died half a dozen times but always came back one way or another.”

“When people die in Martin’s book, they’re dead, they’re not coming back and TV viewers are not used to that level of brutality and honesty.”

Birmingham also said book readers had more control over how they consumed the horror, whereas TV watchers were the prisoners of HBO producers DB White and David Benioff.

“Those of us who put in the hard yards knew exactly what was coming and were prepared.”

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LETTER: Postcode hardly worth debating

I FIND it a bit perplexing and sort of amusing that there seems to be an idea that if Lake Macquarie doesn’t have an individual postcode it’s kind of a mysterious and elusive destination that no-one can quite find.
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And maybe it’s even Port Macquarie.

As if anyone actually searches out places to visit by postcode listings.

I had no problem when I googled Lake Macquarie on the net in determining its exact geographical location.

Living in a rural area that is often identified as ‘‘about 80 kilometres north of Newcastle’’ for anyone outside the area to get an idea of where I am, I accept that’s just the way it is.

I think it’s a bit parochial to be so concerned over such an irrelevant technicality.

In the same way, Hunter Valley doesn’t have a designated postcode.

Lake Macquarie is exactly the same.

Just enjoy where you live, and don’t sweat the pedantics.

Leisure centre will be more than just a pool

THE proposed Kangaroo Flat Aquatic and Leisure Centre will bring a range of benefits to the community.
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I think when it is constructed it will be more than just a swimming pool, it will be a community hub.

A gym, a creche, an adventure splash park and a wellness centre are all planned for the new facility at Browning Street in Kangaroo Flat.

Just think of all the students, families and community groups that will be able to use it.

The multi-purpose centre will be one of the best-used facilities in the city, in my opinion.

Having a centre where people can learn to swim, meet up with friends, work out in a gym and learn about healthy eating is worth fighting for.

To see the City of Greater Bendigo say this project is its number one priority is great step. To have federal candidates Lisa Chesters and Greg Bickley throw their support behind it is also positive.

All parties involved with this project need to be on the same page to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.

The price tag for the project is a big one – $28 million – which is why it is important for local, state and federal governments to work together.

Last night, speaking to the people making this project a reality, I came to understand the thinking behind the project.

Everyone involved has a clear direction and a strong passion to get it started.

I can’t wait to see the impact it will have on the community – and to use it myself.

– KRISTEN ALEBAKIS, reporter

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LETTER: Silt rings alarm bells

THE article “River discharge sought”, (Herald 31/5) should engender alarms along the Hunter River.
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The river is already silting as the above picture at Horseshoe Bend, Maitland, shows.

At Weston, Kurri Kurri Landcare has been battling to get the silted heavy metal mining waste and smelter waste removed from Swamp Creek. All to no avail. Nothing has been done.

Where once there were deep pools and few minimal intrusive floods and a much greater water-carrying capacity, now the creek floods dangerously into homes around the Fourth Street bridge.

Numerous flood and catchment studies have been released – in 1992, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, and 2008.

Two contradictory studies were published a day apart in July 2010, and two more diametrically opposed to one another in April and May 2011 would seem to suggest an elaborate scheme to confuse residents at risk.

Residents live in fear of floods in June and February when the east coast lows bring torrential rains.

As far as I am aware not one councillor or council staff member has offered any apology or reason for the unbelievable lack of empathy for people who face this danger.

Is Maitland at risk from mine waste silting? You bet your life it is. Look at the dog wading in the fast-silting river as the sun sets on autumn of 2013.

Traditional family unit vital for stable upbringing

The disintegration of traditional family life and the rise in fatherless homes is having serious social implications in Western societies, and the clamour for same-sex marriages further compounds this problem.
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The civil purpose of marriage is not simply to reaffirm the love of a man and a woman for life, nor just to register a business arrangement.

The main purpose of marriage is for the legal protection needed for the one institution that ensures society’s stable future.

All healthy societies in all times and places in history are unanimous that the orderly procreation and upbringing of children is best in a natural family, or as close as possible by relatives or surrogates in extreme necessity.

As family life breaks down, so does society.

The decline in marriage and the rice in illegitimacy are prime factors in the rising crime rate, in poverty and in social decay generally, i.e. decency, manners.

The results of fatherlessness are even more alarming from recent studies in US and UK.

Chaos results when communities permit a large number of young men to grow up in broken homes (usually dominated by women) and who are never able to acquire a stable relationship with a male role-model to help restrain their masculine impulses and guide them into proper male roles.

Crime, violence and unrestrained rebellion from the whole social structure are almost inevitable, as we see increasing today.

Many studies have shown that children raised in traditional mum and dad families are much more likely to finish school, to get a decent job, to socialise, marry and settle down than to resort to lawlessness from frustration.

The traditional family is the best department of health, education, and welfare ever “invented”.

We must nurture and protect it.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom within our society as well. Lest we forget!

Brendan Keogh,

AFA president,

Bendigo Branch, Victoria

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‘I am not weak. I am unlucky’

Dr Anna Thomas, who studied international students and gambling, says many are naive about the risks. Photo: Penny Stephens1Hong-Li read about Crown Casino in a Lonely Planet guide. At a family send-off at Chengdu Shuangliu Airport, en route to a three-year stint as a student in Melbourne, one of his cousins gave him a copy of the travel bible.
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“A 24-hour non-stop cavalcade of illuminated excess,” he read. “You’ll either be spellbound or nauseated.”

Thirty-five thousand feet above the ground, however, the neon gaud of some casino seemed irrelevant. Gambling had never really interested him. At his farewell party the previous evening, everyone had played mah-jong, the way they do at weddings and at wakes. The ivory tiles, emblazoned with dragons and flowers, clicked and rattled into the night.

Completely incomprehensible to the layman, mah-jong is a means of bringing extended families like Hong-Li’s together. It’s even said to sharpen the brains of the elderly. But he drifted in and out of the game, chatting instead to friends. Everyone was envious of his impending adventure.

Hong-Li * is 22 years old. His face is sallow and wrung out. During his 18 months in Australia he has cultivated a wispy beard and a pot belly. He shows me a photograph taken in the week before he flew out of Chengdu. In it, he is lean and full of boyish brio. He and his stunning girlfriend stare down the camera. He shakes his head. “I need to go to the gym, exercise more, go in the sun more,” he says.

There are three subsequent photos in his iPhone gallery – a self-portrait taken at arm’s length, a pile of gaming chips and a shot of his landlord’s cat. “It’s been hard to make friends,” he says, picking at the phone. “Especially recently.”

I was introduced to Hong-Li via the man tutoring him in algorithms, of all people. I wanted someone who could offer an insight into the challenges faced by the more than half a million international students currently enrolled in Australian colleges and universities. Hong-Li, I was told, was isolated and disengaged.

When Hong-Li suggested we meet in the food hall at Crown, it was obvious the casino loomed large in his stay in Melbourne.

While he is loath to admit it, Hong-Li is one of a growing number of international students with gambling addictions. Though hard data has traditionally been hard to come by, a study conducted by Swinburne University’s Dr Anna Thomas and Professor Susan Moore, which sampled nearly 1600 local and international students from Victoria and Queensland, painted a bleak picture.

Published this week in The Journal of Gambling Studies, the study found that while international students actually gamble less than their Australian classmates, they are more prone to problem gambling overall.

Dr Thomas and Professor Moore found that 6.7 per cent of international students have serious gambling addictions, nearly six times the average of the general population. Also, international students that gamble are far more vulnerable to problem gambling than local students. “Many come from a quite closeted environment and suddenly they have a lot of freedom in a new country and possibly access to a large amount of money for living expenses,” Dr Thomas says.

“Also, international students often come from countries where gambling is restricted, or in some cases where it is banned altogether. The casino is therefore new and very exciting for them.

“However, they are often very naive about the risks, believing they can beat the odds of a totally random casino game. When they do run into trouble, we found that many are reluctant to seek formal help and counselling.”

Wesa Chau, the founder of the Australian Federation of International Students and a former ambassador for Responsible Gambling Awareness, says in Chinese culture there is a stigma attached to seeking help.

“Chinese people do not like to go and see counsellors,” she says. “If they do, they are seen as being crazy. Counselling still equals mental illness for many Chinese.”

In this respect Hong-Li may well be true to type. The only thing he needs, he insists, is a few more good hands of blackjack.

“We don’t have counselling for this at home,” he says. “We don’t have a word for counsellor. Gambling is big in our culture, too. So many Chinese films are about gambling. Every family plays dice and card games. But if you cannot control it, you are considered a weak person. I think I am not weak. I am only unlucky.”

Erroneous beliefs about gambling are disproportionately high with some international students, says Diane Jenkins, a Gambler’s Help community educator in Hong-Li’s area of Melbourne.

“More so than local students, some international students think they can beat the house,” she says. “They think they’ve developed a system that can win in the long run.”

Ms Jenkins says loneliness, boredom and poor living conditions can also lead to excessive gambling. “Students are often looking for something exciting and going to the casino they think will bring this to their life. We hear again and again that they don’t like the degree that they’re doing. Also, some of the accommodation that we hear about is almost like a cell and they often struggle cooking for themselves now they are away from home.”

Hong-Li says there was nothing to do in his early months in Melbourne. “My study was easy. There was nowhere to go out where I live. I have to come into town, but I know few people here. I don’t drink. The casino was interesting to me.”

Walking along the Yarra River one night after class, he was stopped in his tracks by Crown’s hourly explosion of fire. Flanked by tourists, he stood open-mouthed, slightly taken aback by the spectacle. In his pocket he had a $10 note and some coins for the bus home.

When the fiery display petered out, he wandered onto the gaming floor and took in a game of roulette. Eventually, he wagered his note on his lucky number, eight. “No more bets,” the dealer said in the neutral voice common to the game. The ball spun and spun and then stopped – number eight.

He put one-third of his winnings in his jacket pocket and placed the remainder on the eight and again it won for him. In a little over a minute, he had won $8000. By the first inexorable whoosh of the next fire show, he was waiting at a cab rank, his heart racing and his wallet bulging. He’d just won more than $15,000.

The next day, he stayed longer. He returned a considerable proportion of his previous day’s winnings, before breaking even with a late run of eights. Within a week, he was cutting classes to visit Crown. He eschewed the pokies and the big wheel and instead sought out games that would test his skill. He scoured internet sites for information on blackjack and baccarat. Years of intense mathematical training were finally bearing fruit.

Those first few months, he says, “were like a trance”. He was betting up to $1000 a hand. In five minutes one day he won $20,000 by doubling up on blackjack.

The next week was the Melbourne spring racing carnival. Crown was swamped with boozehounds. “The vibe was very bad,” he says. With an eye to impressing some Chinese girls in their Flemington frocks and fascinators, he coolly put $3000 on the eight. A successful wager would have netted him more than $100,000. The ball locked into the slot and the croupier mouthed “eight black . . .” But it teased and trickled next door – 23 red.

He started chasing his losses. Within a week, he had blown everything – all his winnings, all his tuition fees and all the money he’d put aside for rent.

Hong-Li shares a two-bedroom house in the south-eastern suburbs with an Indian student who juggles full-time study with a job at a convenience store. They barely see one another. There is no direct train line to the city so he catches two buses to get to university or – as is the case now – the casino.

On the way there, he writes emails to his family and friends, conjuring up stories of cramming sessions, exam results, celebratory parties and road-trips around Australia. On the way home, his brain is too scrambled for such concoctions and he invariably falls asleep.

His father is a senior manager at a large factory. I ask if his parents are wealthy. “They are hard-working, yes,” he says. “My father is very high in his job.” He sighs. “They are honest people. Proud.”

The first time Hong-Li was wiped out, he told his parents he needed to buy a car. They wired $20,000. He later told them he was taking extra units over summer. Well done, they said, and transferred thousands more. Most recently, they have covered the alleged costs of moving to the inner city, an essential means of bumping up his grades.

Hong-Li says he’s not as superstitious as many of his countrymen. But he adheres to several rituals. If he’s having a rough trot, he adjourns to the bathroom and washes his hands for several minutes before taking up residence at a table out of view from the losing one.

Before he starts punting in earnest at the baccarat tables, he has a few looseners at roulette. He always bets on the eight. He doubles up if he wins. He moves on after half-a-dozen unsuccessful bets. He always seeks out an Australian croupier.

Today his bus was 20 minutes late and the table where he normally opens proceedings flashed its recent results: 8, 16, 8, 8, 24, 8. “That bus should have been on time,” he says.

When things were going well, he found himself bumping into increasingly familiar faces, speaking the same tongue.

“We’d say hello and talk about if we’re winning, what dealers we like, what numbers are up, what we’re eating,” he says.

But the more money he loses the less inclined he is to connect with other people. “Sometimes I’m in there all day, from morning until the last bus, and I don’t say a word to anyone,” he says. “All I do is wave my hand to the dealer.”

One man he is communicating with is his loan shark. He initially applied to Cash Converters for a payday loan but he was rejected, owing to a lack of payslips. The loan shark, who is roughly the same age and from the same Chinese province, rings several times a week and leaves messages. He tells Hong-Li he has his father’s email address.

“I am paying big interest rates,” Hong-Li says, shaking his head. “I am trying to win the rates right now.”

Hong-Li says although he is depressed he tries to remain positive. Optimism, they say, blooms the cheek of every gambler. “I have a good system.”

He says he

has to go and heads for the casino proper. His eyes are fixed on the carpet, a dizzying, hotchpotch arrangement of coins and jewels. He passes a conga line of poker machines and arrives at a roulette table. He stops, straightens his shoulders, nods to the croupier and reaches for his wallet.

* Hong Li is an assumed name

Jonathan Horn is a Melbourne writer.

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