Log in

No account? Create an account
Pet Dragon


The Meaning of It All

or, There and Back Again

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

(no subject)

So. Here we go.

Topics that will be covered today: first impressions of Las Vegas and the beginning of TAM4, school-without-the-ranting, and a shout-out to my Stillers.

You haven't lived till you've been in a barroom full of people in retro Steeler jerseys waving Terrible Towels. I'm just sayin'. *g*

Okay, so, Las Vegas. Due to a missed flight, I arrived around midnight. At the risk of offending anyone who a) lives there or b) chooses to go there on vacation, this place is, um...not my idea of heaven on earth. *g* I was staying at the far end of the Strip, at the Stardust Hotel, which is actually a little more restrained than most, apparently, but you still have to get through a mouse-maze of glittering, ringing, flashing machines just to get to the front desk. And there, at midnight, were lots and lots of bleary-eyed Midwestern types stolidly shoveling in all their money like so many trained rats. Brrrrrr. I wouldn't have minded so much if it had looked like they were having fun. (But they didn't.)

Side note? I was *so* disappointed to find that the slot machines no longer have LEVERS, for heaven's sakes. All you do now is push a button. Which, I'm told, is much more efficient. But no FUN!!! I was bummed.

So the hotel was fine, as soon as I got up to my room. (Oh--you can play the slots at the airport and Keno on the TV in your room. Wouldn't want anyone to miss an opportunity to lose their money!) And bright-and-early the following morning, off I went to the conference, where our first speaker was the inimitable Christopher Hitchens.

Actually, I met him in the lobby as he was on his way into the conference, where he snorted majestically upon finding out that I and the person I was talking to at the time were from New York. "New York? Bloomberg? I don't know how you people live with yourselves." To which I could only reply, "Don't look at me. *I* didn't vote for him." But actually, in person, he was extremely polite and gracious in that peculiarly British way. Which didn't stop him from giving a deliciously sardonic speech. His new book is about Thomas Jefferson, and because the overall topic of the conference was Science and Politics, he tailored his remarks to Jefferson's views on the separation of church and state, and also touched on the Sally Hemings revelations. He stops shy of being an apologist--he actually said something to the effect of "It would have been far more admirable had Jefferson had the courage of his convictions on slavery rather than leaving the question for the next generation"--but he also acknowledged that historical context is important.

Hitchens is a very intelligent man, and you're never going to catch him out on factual knowledge. I was impressed with his answers to questions from the audience. He didn't rant at people, and when he *didn't* know the answer to something he had no problem saying as much. (This is rarer than one would like amongst pundits.) He gave an interesting and entertaining talk, and I was slightly disappointed that the Jefferson book was already sold out by the time I got to the sales table. I got another of his essay collections instead, and while I certainly don't agree with everything he says and thinks, I respect the fact that he absolutely does his research and knows his stuff. He does have his opinions, though. *g*

Next up: Michael Shermer! Watch this space.

Okay, so, school. We're deep in cardiovascular/pulmonary, and we're also having to start thinking about the first round of standardized tests, which we'll be taking before we can start rotations in July. So in order to try and break the routine and keep some interest in what I'm doing, I'm organizing the first school production of "The Vagina Monologues" for the school. I'm hoping this can be a *minor* extracurricular activity, and more fun than hassle, but who knows. I miss acting sometimes, darn it.

Okay! That's enough for now. More on TAM4 coming soon.
Tags: ,