Monday, February 1, 2010

Las Vegas

I’ve mainly been in national and state parks since I left Helena and didn’t really plan to go to Las Vegas, but my friend Julia was in town so I drove down and met up with her. She was at a social psychology conference. Social psychologists completely lined the Rivera, which was funny. Apparently evolutionary psychology may be a stronger trend than I thought. Now I’m fine with that on one level, trying make some guesses at why the data we get might be evolutionarily advantageous is an interesting thing to do. In my limited experience the research evolutionary psychologists do is no better or worse than any other psychologists. The problem is their total misunderstandings of human evolution. To make a good guess at why something might be an advantageous adaptation takes a real understanding of evolutionary biology, archeological findings, physical anthropology, ethnographies and health studies of hunter-gatherers, etc. Some people have training in these things, most social psychologists don’t and so many of them seem to theorize off these totally incorrect assumptions like: most early humans spent a lot of time and energy trying to get food (they didn’t), most early humans raised children in at least semi-nuclear families (they didn’t), hunting was really important (it wasn’t), most people that were alive at mating age didn’t live past age 40 (they did), etc. Now I’ll step off that soapbox and talk about Las Vegas.

Las Vegas makes no sense. I like to imagine that one day some future archeologists will look at Vegas and spend a lot of time trying to figure out why so many big buildings and people were in this randomly placed outpost.

It’s a city built largely by the mob and it was built as the sin city. At some point some people with a lot of money thought they could make more money by pitching it as more of a family atmosphere. So now we have this completely ridiculous mixture of gambling, scantily clad women, little kids, old couples from south Florida, clowns, mimes, art, strippers, and a bunch of preserved bodies (and for some insane reason I actually went to see that).

Not a good thing to see right before or after eating

Me and a Storm Trooper

The best part is that these seemingly opposed things don’t stand in opposition in Vegas. The whole package is just completely accepted by everyone. People that would be completely disgusted by some of the things they see in Vegas (or would at least pretend to be disgusted) let their 8 year old daughter see them in Vegas. Now its not so strange that another area would have different understandings of what goes together or of what is and isn’t ok for public consumption, but this isn’t a city of its own inhabitants – it’s a city of people from places like Iowa and Wisconsin. Where else do you get something like that? If anyone knows, I’d like you to share.

An old couple with grandkids thought this was the funniest thing they've ever seen

On another note I figured out how to beat Vegas. Trying to actually win money is way to unlikely. However you can be super-cheap. Go to the 25cent video poker machines. It takes forever to lose $5 on these things. By the time you lose $5 you can have 2 $5 drinks for free. And thus you have beaten Vegas. . .

Beating Vegas

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