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October 23, 2014

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Unusual conventions fuel Las Vegas economy

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Dressed as an Andorian, Caralee Nelson poses for photos at the annual Las Vegas Star Trek convention Saturday, August 13, 2011 at the Rio.

Pedestrians along the Strip can encounter an assortment of action heroes and celebrity impersonators. And the likelihood of running into the weird and the wacky is all the greater depending on the conventions in town.

In recent weeks, you might have spotted the mermaid Ariel, Star Trek’s Spock or an Albert Einstein look-alike. Other lobbies swarmed with computer nerds capable of hacking your cellphone. So our advice: Before coming to town or booking a room for your relatives, check with the hotel for what conventions or events it is hosting.

Otherwise, be prepared for these kinds of events, which have occurred in the past six weeks:

    • 2011 Mermaid Pageant
      Photo by Sam Morris

      MerCon

      Marketed as the “world’s largest mermaid gathering in history,” the MerCon convention made a splash last weekend at the Silverton, which was able to accommodate dozens of women (and a few men) dressed in tails. Events included a mermaid pageant, fashion show and authors who read from their works and signed autographs. Mermaid-friendly vendors were trading in tails, hair and pirate paraphernalia.

    • Las Vegas Star Trek Convention
      Photo by Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun

      Star Trek Convention

      Celebrating the 45th anniversary of the science-fiction pop culture phenomenon, Trekkies gathered at the Rio for the opportunity to come face to face with celebrity alumni actors. With 20,000 in attendance, a new Guinness World Record was set for the largest gathering of people dressed as Star Trek characters (1,041). The previous record was set last year at Dragoncon convention in Atlanta, when 571 showed up for the photo op.

    • Def Con
      Photo by Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun

      DEF CON 19

      Only computer hackers need apply. Participants at this year’s event had to maneuver through this registration form:

      If you’re here at DEF CON, Connect to the DEF CON 19 server!

      IP: 10.0.0.32

      MAC address: 00:11:32:0B:DD:16

      Name: DC19-MEDIA.DEFCON.ORG

      This year we are experimenting with a server to host all past DEF CON presentations, free for everyone to download and share.

      DOWNLOAD: Past DEF CON speeches, presentations, music, and more.

      UPLOAD: Like a drop box you can upload whatever you want, you just can’t delete it or overwrite it once you do. Yes I know you can abuse this. Please don’t.

      SHARE: Your con pictures, audio, video and files.

      Enough said. DEF CON 20 is scheduled to return to the Rio in July.

    • Convention crowd
      Photo by Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

      Black Hat

      Black Hat, another computer security gathering, convened this month at Caesars Palace. Attendees included hackers, information technology security professionals, representatives from federal agencies and large corporations looking to recruit and hire. Hot topics this year included how to tap into cameras and microphones on cellphones and experimenting with the possibility of using Facebook as a facial recognition database.

    • Rollercon
      Photo by Leila Navidi/Las Vegas Sun

      RollerCon

      Roller derby lovers have taken the sport to a whole new level. The five-day convention at the Riviera celebrated its seventh anniversary with 1,500 attendees. Scrimmages, challenge bouts and classes like “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Blocking Laverne & Shirley Style,” and “YOU Are an Ass-Kicker: BELIEVE IT” were on the daily schedule followed by a nightly gatherings such as a “Riedell Pajama Party.”

    • Amaz!ng Meeting 9
      /Courtesy

      The Amaz!ng Meeting

      Sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation, The Amaz!ng Meeting, dubbed TAM, was a celebration of critical thinking and skepticism. From randi.org, the sponsor’s website, the best thing about TAM: It’s the community. You’ll be with hundreds of people who prefer the world the way it really is: Real.

      Held at South Point, TAM featured a space science and skepticism focus, titled “TAM 9 From Outer Space,” including a keynote address from science superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and host of the PBS program “Nova ScienceNOW.” Other events included exhibits, workshops and speaking panels.

      More than 1,600 attended, including psychologists, monster hunters and secular authors.

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