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23

WEDNESDAY

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The rich are different from you and me.” True, but it turns out Homo sapiens pecuniosus has plenty in common with the hanging fly. Or so says Richard Conniff in The Natural History of the Rich: A Field Guide. Conniff explains bizarre rich-people behavior in terms of naturalistic theory: Though you might conclude that Monied Guy’s decision to spend $15,000 for Sennheiser Orpheus headphones when he could get the equivalent sound quality for 40 bucks merely proves he’s an ignoramus, Conniff shows he’s actually acting in accordance with the handicap principle—the basis of which seems to be that male animals in the wild engage in stupid, wasteful, or pointlessly dangerous behavior just to get laid. In short, if you gave a dung beetle enough moolah, he’d probably buy $15,000 headphones, too, in order to keep the species going. It’s too depressing. Conniff is here at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Michael Little)