This weekend we went to Reason's Dynamic Cities conference in Las Vegas, where we saw all our old pals and a few interesting speakers. I also got to see one of Sigfried and Roy's tigers use a giant tiger-sized litterbox. Vegas truly has it all.

The weekend began with Christopher Hitchens, who's always a joy. He smoked and drank his way through a talk on "The War on Pleasure", and admitted to a little schadenfreude at the riots in France.

Next up was Drew Carey, who seemed a little off his game, or maybe I wasn't drunk enough. I saw him once at Reason Weekend and he killed with an absolutely filthy set that had the audience (again, drunk) crying. He passed out stickers that say "I (heart) being treated like a criminal by the TSA" for everyone to put on their luggage for the flight home.

Drew brought out Paul Gilmartin, another comedian, who played a dumb rightwing politician taking questions from Drew and the audience. He made me laugh a couple of times: "I don't hate homosexuals, just their faggoty ways." (Or maybe I just like the word faggoty. I'm a woman of simple tastes.)

I missed the two opening speakers on Saturday and arrived just in time for pollster Frank Luntz. His aggressive, condescending style immediately put me in a sour mood, and his steady stream of platitudes, bad jokes, and copious nonsense inspired feelings of violence of which I'm not terribly proud. The consensus among the people I talked to was that he is indeed full of shit.

Next up was a panel on gaming in Las Vegas, the highlight of which was a Vegas economist named William Eadington, who was sharp and witty. They were followed by a panel on transportation, where I learned that Bob Poole seems to have finally triumphed in his plan to smash the state. Once governors saw Illinois get a check for $1.83 billion for the Chicago Skyway, little dollar signs appeared in their eyes and they began rooting around the attic for stuff to sell.

Joel Kotkin was the luncheon speaker, and I thought he rambled a bit. Then there was a panel on Kelo, which really didn't offer anything new, though it featured Chip Mellor, who is a hero. After that was a panel on "Who's winning the war on pleasure?" moderated by Jacob Sullum, who told me afterward that he thought their presentation needed more sex.

Rounding out the afternoon was a funny panel on Las Vegas including LV Review Journal columnist Vin Suprynowicz, some reminiscences from Matt Welch on his time in Prague during the early nineties, and John "Buttman" Stagliano on "extreme art."

We got up early on Sunday to see Burt Rutan, who was suitably crotchety. He's pissed because he's in his sixties now and feels that he wasted his younger years by not taking enough risks. He says he could have built and launched Spaceship One twenty years ago, and it kills him that he waited so long. We're geeks, so we got Mr. Rutan to stand still while his wife took our picture with him.

The highlight of the panel on "Rescuing Failed Urban Schools" was my friend Lisa Snell's chilling warning about Rob "Meathead" Reiner's evil plan to nationalize preschool. She truly rocks. Go look at her blog.

Sunday also had a talk by Tim Lynch, who runs some kind of neurobiology company. I think he misjudged his audience, because literally I could have given his talk -- it was that lightweight. Cosmo made me laugh when he passed me a snarky note: "I know of neurobiology..."

We had to skip out during the final panel, which was a shame because it was very interesting, and inspired me to keep writing this silly blog. Mike Snell actually reads it once and a while, so I have to keep it going, just for him.

Thanks Reasoners!


The Wine Commonsewer said...

I do read your blog and thanks for the shout out. I plan on linking to you blog so you better go and buy yourself a fat lot of bandwidth.

Agree that Lisa rocks. But. I may be biased. :-)