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Las Vegas: 7/10

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Las Vegas is a place of extremes.

And overall, I loved the visit.

Women: 3/10

I haven't seen many women who are more my type.
Even many casino showgirls or the street hustlers for picture -the ones you'd expect to be very attractive- didn't make much of an impression.

I don't doubt there are plenty of cool, smart, and attractive women in Las Vegas, but I didn't happen to see many of them.

Food: 2/10

Lots of big chains, and I'm not of a big fan of those.

You can get plenty of great food, but the prices go up to a point where the quality/value ratio is less than ideal, especially around the strip.
But even some of the upper scale establishments lacked “flair” -or, at least, the type of flair I associate with “good food experience”-.

Beauty: 9.5/10

Las Vegas is spectacular.

And not just the man-made bits with the Bellagio fountain, the strip colors, and the plush hotels, but also what's around the city.

The Grand Canyon is absolutely spectacular, and no picture I've ever seen does any justice to seeing the real thing in real life, which is truly majestic and powerful.

Lucio Buffalmano at the grand canyon

I also flew over it with an helicotper.
The moment when the canyon "opens up" beneath you is truly spectactular:

Riding a bike around Red Rock was also awesome.
Perfect roads, in a perfect scenary.
It's best enjoyed with a slightly bigger engine than 50cc: the perfect "S" bends really deserve some power to enjoy the drive together with the scenary.
But even with a 50cc, overall, awesome.

lucio buffalmano in red rock

The negative side is that the more popular spots can get very crowded with tourists, including the strip, and the popular downtown areas like Freemont Street Experience.
Outside the hip areas, you also get to see a much more squalid reality.

But overall, there is plenty of beauty.

General Quality Of Life: 6/10

I think you have to be the right fit for Vegas to enjoy Vegas.

To me, there was a feeling of "fake" in that place.

Little Roman style Caesar palace, little Paris, little Egyptian style pyramid, little Venice.... All great, in a way, but also all copies.
The plush and glitz after a while also starts becoming all the same, and it just feels inauthentic.

I loved the visit, but wouldn't see myself living there for longer stretches.

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The Gun Experience

I shot some real guns for the first time -finally-.

We drove deep into the Nevada desert, and arranged a bunch of targets, and sampled a number of different guns.

A good opportunity to reflect on guns, guns power dynamics, and personal growth.

Personal Growth Seen Through Gun-Stages

I used to be crazy about guns.

Or better yet: guns made me crazy high with power.

I had a Beretta 92 blank gun, and I loved that gun so much, and it made me feel so powerful, that I used to walk with it around the house.
Even going to the bathroom. I’d lay it in front of me, pick it up, move it around. It just made me feel invincible.

Then, thankfully, I matured a bit.

Today I still like guns.
Even like them a lot.
And holding a gun still gives me a certain rush.
But not even close to what it used to be.

And it’s not as much about power anymore.
It’s more like “oh awesome, this toy can allow you to have some fun with marksmanship, and can also help you defend yourself”.

I ascribe those changes to personal growth, emotional maturity, and even personal empowerment.

In the real world, guns are rarely useful for power.
If we wanted to psychologize, we might even dare say that guns are a crutch for those who don’t have much real-world skills.

From a power perspective, today I see guns more as tools.
They are extremely helpful in some (limited) circumstances, and if they were legal in Europe, I’d definitely own a couple for target shooting and home defense.
Guns can also be great power equalizers, which is awesome and very much in line with this website’s credo of empowering people -and unerdogs- against coercion.

But they’re not very helpful in reaching the type of power that really matters in a social species like ours -and especially not in modern civilization-.
Social skills, power dynamics, professional skills, domain knowledge, entrepreneurship, money… These all beat guns.

Hunting, Ethics, and Personal Growth

I’ve had a similar growth when it comes to hunting.

If I had to be frank, starting to shoot/"hunt" with an air rifle as a kid counts as one of my life's biggest rushes.

Today, I still understand why some people like hunting, and might also do it myself. But I also understand and agree with some of the animalists’ stance: it’s a bit too easy to use modern weaponry against animals that are largely defenseless.

Plus, there is the uttalitarian perspective: if we had to eat, defend ourselves, or if we had to stake our humans’ claim on some land against big and aggressive animals, then there is a goal to achieve. In that case, hunting is a means to a goal, then it’s fair to shoot, and it also adds to the fun/rush.

But when you need to go on some walled reserve to hunt for some animals that you don’t need for consumption, that you don’t need to defend from, and that you don’t want to remove from some specific areas, then… That defies the whole purpose, no?

My personal experience is the reason why some hunters' defense of hunting as a primal, "male" expression don't sit well with me. In my personal life, they were more expressions of child development, than adult.

So today, albeit I’m not against either guns or hunting, when I look at people who are a bit too much into guns, or who are a bit too much into hunting, and doing it often, I see it as a slight con, and a potential character red flag.

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Learning to Gamble - & Tour Guide Power Dynamics

I also did a gambling guided tour with a supposd "gambling expert".

Very interesting from a social and power dynamics perspective.

Overall, he was an OK guy, and could have improved in some areas:

  • Avoid credit scalping: he pitched his tour like he was going to teach me how to "win" at gambling, which to me was all BS. Many of his tips were also over-sold and inflated, like he was giving me these super-valuable tips that I had to be grateful for

 

  • Scrap the judge-quizzes that widen the power gap: at the end of each explanation, he asked questions to make sure I understood the concepts, and gave a token gift for each good answer. That widened the power and authority gap between me and him, as it framed him as the teacher / judge / tasker, and me as the pupil / executioner of his tasks. The token gifts only made the whole dynamic worse

 

  • Share the win in half: as part of the tour, he'd put $5 in a slot machine to teach customer how to use it. And as part of the tour, the win was for the customer. I insisted we'd split the potential win, and he kept repeating that it was part of the tour, and all for the custoemr. We took out $15, and I gave him $10, which he took right away. It's pocket money, but out of principle I'd have respected him more if he'd have reminded me of the "50/50 split" I had proposed.

 

  • WIIFM "5 star review request": at the end of the tour, he asked me to leave a 5 star review because he had to "beat the younger folks doing the same tour". He was too direct and forceful in his request, and framed it badly as his own personal battle (and why should I use my time to help him win his personal battle against people I don't even know?)

 

  • He lost some respect for being a low-power provider: he said all his money went to his wife. She was Chinese, he said, and "it's true that Chinese love money". So he gave her everything because "happy wife, happy life". I couldn't help but lose quite some respect for him after that

On the plus side, I learned a lot about gambling in some of the most iconic Las Vegas spots.

Edit: correcting typos.

lucio buffalmano next to Caesar statue

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WOW! I am so jealous now for an unknown reason!

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on March 27, 2021, 1:19 pm
  • Avoid credit scalping: he pitched his tour like he was going to teach me how to "win" at gambling, which to me was all BS. Many of his tips were also over-sold and inflated, like he was giving me these super-valuable tips that I had to be grateful for
  • Scrap the judge-quizzes that widen the power gap: at the end of each explanation, he asked questions to make sure I understood the concepts, and gave a token gift for each good answer. That widened the power and authority gap between me and him, as it framed him as the teacher / judge / tasker, and me as the pupil / executioner of his tasks. The token gifts only made the whole dynamic worse

Well, from my personal experience, those credit scalping and judgement games might work well on guys like Elon Musk: a smart, friendly, handsome, rich guy, grown up with rich friends and rich parents, educated to become a nice gentleman.

From your look only, the gambling guide probably think that you are another smart, friendly, handsome, rich, foreign, gentleman-style, young tourist who are not experienced to identify his low-level power moves. Of course, he was deadly wrong this time. However, this strategy might be his optimal strategy while dealing with a stranger tourist.

  • We took out $15, and I gave him $10, which he took right away. It's pocket money, but out of principle I'd have respected him more if he'd have takee out

You are probably a little bit rich, such that cannot image how much 10 dollars worth for some guys. One day, after I hand over a ten-dollar greenback as a tip to an Uber driver, he immediate drives away with the speed of the light! Probably he thinks that I will soon regret or soon find out that I wrongly gave out a ten instead of an one.

  • WIIFM "5 star review request": at the end of the tour, he asked me to leave a 5 star review because he had to "beat the younger folks doing the same tour". He was too direct and forceful in his request, and framed it badly as his own personal battle (and why should I use my time to help him win his personal battle against people I don't even know?)

This trick does not work with psychology genius like you, but, it does work for average people, I guess. For example, if he served me for several hours, and he did not make a big mistake, then I cannot really reject this request. However, if he did not make this request, I probably won't voluntarily spend two minutes to give five stars.

I think I understand your point here. Are you saying that "power through" is better than "power over" in this small request?

 

Guns can also be great power equalizers, which is awesome and very much in line with this website’s credo of empowering people -and unerdogs- against coercion.

But they’re not very helpful in reaching the type of power that really matters in a social species like ours -and especially not in modern civilization-.
Social skills, power dynamics, professional skills, domain knowledge, entrepreneurship, money… These all beat guns.

Agree 100%. Brute force is just one of the tools. Although many people might argue that the war is still the last and most determining option to resolve a conflict, I would say that even if brute force is determining the outcome, the winner will still be the guy who knows politics (a.k.a. power dynamics), rather than the physically strongest guy. Physical strength beats one guy; politics beats million.

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Quote from selfriend on March 27, 2021, 5:22 pm

This trick does not work with psychology genius like you, but, it does work for average people, I guess. For example, if he served me for several hours, and he did not make a big mistake, then I cannot really reject this request. However, if he did not make this request, I probably won't voluntarily spend two minutes to give five stars.

I think I understand your point here. Are you saying that "power through" is better than "power over" in this small request?

Yes, power through is generally better.

PERSONALITY MATTERS MORE THAN KNOWLEDGE

And I think this is a case that's more about personality, than about knowing the psychology and power dynamics behind it.

For example, before you stumbled here, you probably did feel sometihng was wrong when your ex was playing win-lose games, but you weren't sure what, and wren't sure what to do about it.
Now that you're even more aware, the feel might even bigger, but chances are that something was there even before.

This is similar.

The personality that is more likely to be annoyed when told what to do, or being tasked with a manipulative approach, is the personality we refer to here as "high in power".
People high in power don't appreciate being tasked, being coerced, being manipulated, and generally being in the losing position of social exchanges.
They might not know the full power dynamics behind it, but they're just annoyed by it.

It's important to know how to handle these folks because most people who go places are high in power.

GENERAL POOR APPROACH & BETTER ALTERNATIVE

It was also a generally poorly persuasive approach, no matter the individual's personality.
He'd have done much better if he had given a final small taken and then said "man, it was a pleasure spending these hours with you. Look, if it was helpful and you can spare 2 minutes to leave a review, that would be really cool and it would help me a lot".

Then I'd have said "sure man", and then he'd hand a small goodbye thing (optional, it's not even needed), tell me which direction to go if he hadn't done it already, remind me what else is worth seeing on the way, give me a hug, a smile... And he'd have gotten his 5 stars review.

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Loved this post, I think I would have the same feelings about Vegas was cool to see your perspective I will still have to get there one day I think and check it out

As for guns I also love them as you said feels so powerful to shoot them and a rush, I have a few family members who love guns and hunting, they took me as a kid (16) and it really did not sit well with me I never went again. I found it was just an ego thing they were showing off their "manliness" who could be more violent or care less about the animal.

I use to think I am weak for not being like that but now I have grown a lot I realize they are actually the pussies and I am much more mature and mentally stronger to handle life, they are stuck in patterns while I continually get better

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Lucio Buffalmano
Quote from Mitch White on August 6, 2021, 9:29 pm

As for guns I also love them as you said feels so powerful to shoot them and a rush, I have a few family members who love guns and hunting, they took me as a kid (16) and it really did not sit well with me I never went again. I found it was just an ego thing they were showing off their "manliness" who could be more violent or care less about the animal.

I use to think I am weak for not being like that but now I have grown a lot I realize they are actually the pussies and I am much more mature and mentally stronger to handle life, they are stuck in patterns while I continually get better

Yeah, same here, also coming from an area where hunting is popular.

And I agree with you: there is a dynamic where showing that you care as little as possible is a way of "displaying true manliness".
That might happen even more in today's society actually. Where over-caring is considered gay/soyboy, some people think that the most manly thing you can do is to go the opposite.

Often, it's just a different type of virtue-signaling instead, and sometimes overcompensation.

And I fell for it as well, by the way.
And probably still not 100% out of it (props to you for maturing that quicker :))

But I did take major steps forwards. These days what I consider as higher expression of power ("eagle") would be to put an animal in your crosshair and then... Look at it, and let it go.

Unless you needed it for food, of course.
Then things change.

It is possible to go too much in the other direction as well.
Erasing and canceling all expressions of human power is not a step forward, it's a denial of life.
I think humans earned their place at the top of the power and food hierarchy and we have the right to use the environment for our benefit.

Using the environment in a thoughtful way that doesn't completely destroy it and minimizing pain and suffering for other animals seem to be a better approach towards progress and a more enlightened stage of using power.

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Oh, and about Vegas :D, yeah, love it or hate it, it's a unique city.
Definitely worth a visit.

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Very well said and I agree 100% 👌👌

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