We just returned from Mexico, but Las Vegas seems much more foreign to me. The airport with a casino with loud and glaring videos advertising the main casinos in town. The lobby of the hotel is a casino. I see people sitting on top of their slot machines putting money in, but nobody looks very happy. Many of the other casinos look like a larger version of something that parents would set up for a children's birthday party -- gaudy and patently phony. I have a hard time imagining what the attraction would be.
There are two other large conventions in the hotel. The National Strength and Conditioning Association and a national pawnbrokers association. I was talking to a fireman from the first convention, or just got back from Chico. Incidentally, the awful picture that was on the main page of the Washington Post was from Paradise, about 12 miles from Chico. Much of the town is under evacuation orders. Driving to the Sacramento Airport, when we got a little closer to the fire, the visibility was not much more than 100 yards.
Last I heard, Freedomfest had 1300 paid participants at almost $500 apiece. The meeting has 120 booths. Some are people making investment pitches, but most are very conservative organizations, such as Cato and Heritage Foundation. Both Ron Paul and Bob Barr have booths as well.
I know almost nobody here. I did spend a couple of afternoons with Milton Friedman's son, David, when he was younger and less famous. In later years, he showed no sign of recognition when I encountered him.
A number of sessions are devoted to debunking environmentalism. I do not know if the people are offended by the idea of environmental disruption or government programs to supposedly mitigate the problem. Gold and the dollar seem to be of major concern. People like Steve Forbes and Richard Viguerie will be talking about politics.
There is a strange feeling in being immersed in an alternative universe -- stranger still in an environment like Las Vegas.