virus: Meme Update #27: Vegas Baby

Richard Brodie (
Sat, 1 May 1999 14:26:40 -0700

In this issue:

	Vegas Baby
	Book of the Week: The 48 Laws of Power

Vegas Baby

[The streets glitter with neon gold, but the real gold is in the counting rooms deep within the bowels of the place. Las Vegas is designed as a brothel for the wallet, a place where a fool and his money can have the divorce of a lifetime. In Virus of the Mind, I described how gambling games had evolved to take advantage of our psychological "hot buttons" and make themselves more and more attractive to us. Now Jeffrey Gitomer, syndicated business columnist, Meme Update subscriber, and author of the bestselling book "Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless -- Customer Loyalty Is Priceless" (reviewed in Meme Update #26 ), tells us that the entire city of Las Vegas has evolved into one large money-extracting machine. He was so struck by the memetic engineering of Las Vegas on a recent visit that he submitted the following, which I'm publishing in its entirety here in Meme Update:]

When you arrive at McCarran Airport near downtown Las Vegas, the first sound you hear is the gentle, melodic, hypnotic, ring-tingle of the sirens -- er, I mean the slot machines. They lure you to their coin and dollar orifices, and tell you how to play and WIN. You try to resist, but the sirens are sweetly ringing. Finally you can't stand it, and you decide to "try" ten dollars worth. Then a cherry pops up and you hear the sound of money dropping into the well of the machine -- more, more, more -- until the ten bucks is gone. Such is the life of a memetically challenged gambler.

Then it gets worse -- you get to the hotel. More singing and ringing, and you walk by people shouting the exuberance of a hot craps roll as your bellman drags your bags to your room. Two things you notice in the casinos -- no clocks, no windows. No sense of time or if it's day or night.

Now you're back downstairs to try your luck at approximately 55/45 odds in the house's favor -- but you feel lucky, baby. You are gonna win big! It's Vegas, baby

The elderly cocktail waitress is there for a "free" drink -- that costs a buck tip -- and the dealers are trying to smile, knowing eventually you will go into the tank.

So you finally get up -- half broke and in mental pain -- can't get worse -- But wait -- it can -- you are about to enter the shopping meme. And when you do -- you must seek the ultimate experience: The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Atmosphere is the same as the casino -- no clocks, no windows. And it has that feeling of late afternoon, almost dusk. A sort of buy now, and eat dinner here -- it's so convenient -- and the atmosphere is like Disneyland. A mall for all malls. Incredible interior fountains and store designs -- and of course -- hourly shows of sound, light, and fury at the center fountain -- it's Vegas, baby. Bring money.

And then as fast as you can say "baby needs a new pair of shoes," it's over and you're back at the airport and the final ringing lure of the slot machines. That last chance to get them back, maybe hit the big one just before you board the plane for who-knows-where.

FINAL CAUTION: Getting to the airport an hour early can cost you an extra few quid. My advice is get to the airport fashionably late -- just in time to board -- with no time to slot. Leave with a few dollars, please.

And for those of you not familiar with the three big lies -- there is now a fourth. "How'd you do at the casinos?" "Broke even."

Submitted by
Jeffrey Gitomer
Author, father, husband, salesman

Book of the Week:
The 48 Laws of Power
by Joost Elffers, Robert Greene

A title like "The 48 laws of Power" is a real grabber. We all want power, and the idea that there are 48 ways to get more of it -- well, shoot! I ought to be able to use at least a few of them, right? It's a thought-provoking book, and one with some cool stories drawn from history. One of my favorites is the story of the Chinese warlord who was caught at home with only a few soldiers when attacked by a huge army. The warlord told all of his soldiers to hide, then he sat out by himself in front of the gates, knitting. The attacker was so sure he was up to some trick that he turned tail and ran.

Much of the book seems overly Machiavellian, but then again the pursuit of power can easily conflict with ethics and loyalty. One chapter dwells on the point that your best friend makes the best scapegoat. I really don't want power that bad, and I'm sure I don't want to be best friends with anyone who does.

At its best, this book is thought-provoking in its challenge to our entrenched beliefs on how people behave and ought to behave. You know at least one person who takes the ideas in this book to heart. Forewarned is forearmed.

Order this book now from the Memetics Bookstore:

All the best memes,


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