Sunday, November 30, 2014

A dangerous drug

There is plenty to say about Ferguson and the riots going on there.  It is yet another sad entry in far too long a list of young black men gunned down by police with no credible reason to think they actually posed a threat warranting such a thing.  As I have said in the past police officers should all be wearing recording equipment because we know it drastically reduces incidents like this one and it makes it so much easier to either exonerate officers who were actually acting reasonably or prosecute them when they were not.  The thing about this case that really is getting me riled up today though is the way marijuana is being used as a tool to support police action.

Michael Brown had marijuana in his system when he died, about 12 nanograms worth of THC.  Not a huge amount, but enough that he was presumably feeling the effects.  If you read sites like this without thinking much you might conclude that this has some bearing on the situation at all.  Looking at testimony in the case you see experts giving very convoluted statements meant to imply that this amount of marijuana is somehow extreme or dangerous.  Law enforcement tried to use this to suggest that Brown was more likely to be violent or unpredictable.

This is all ludicrous.  Marijuana isn't some new drug that nobody knows anything about.  Whether you are a seasoned stoner or a medical researcher your conclusions are the same - marijuana makes people relaxed, reduces pain, gives them the munchies, and makes them slow and stupid in higher doses.  Suggesting that somehow marijuana is likely to turn people into ravening beasts is no more sensible than saying "Well, the victim did go to Starbucks a couple hours ago, and you know what caffeine does to people..." except that caffeine is probably a lot more likely to make someone confrontational and marijuana is only likely to make them sit down somewhere comfy and daydream about nachos.

It is racism, plain and simple.  There isn't any more reason for mentioning the THC in Brown's system than there is talking about whether or not he drank a venti latte recently but people are happy to seize on any reason to justify his murder.  They talk about him being a petty criminal (true, but shoplifting isn't punishable by being gunned down in the street without a trial last time I checked), about him being belligerent (disrespect of cop is not a crime), and about him being high.  It is all a smoke screen for the real story, which is a young man being murdered for the crime of being black.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Two victories

Two pieces of good news greeted me in my feed this morning.  First off serial abuser Jian Ghomeshi has been arrested and charged with several counts of sexual assault.  When his scandal began to break he led off by hiring a PR firm, launching a ludicrous lawsuit, and making a Facebook post that claimed a bunch of women were all conspiring together to smear him with sexual abuse allegations.  A lot of people bought into his story and defended him vigorously on the grounds that he is a popular and pretty cool radio host and someone like that wouldn't do anything bad, right?

Ghomeshi's PR firm has dumped him, his lawsuit is done, and his Facebook post is a subject of derision and disgust.  I hope in future people are clever enough to realize that when a man in a position of power says "Many women are claiming I assaulted them but I totally didn't, honest!" the smart money is on them being an abusive asshole, not on some ridiculous conspiracy theory.  I wish that people had not been so easily taken in by his bullshit assertions but I am heartened by the fact that the world has thoroughly turned against him and it seems Ghomeshi will face serious consequences for his actions.

The second thing that makes me happy is the latest on Julien Blanc, the pickup artist who was planning on hosting a series of talks in Canada where he would advise men on how to be violent, abusive, and downright evil to women in their pursuit of sex.  There was a big campaign to ban him from Canada (which despite my disgust for Blanc gave me some severe misgivings) but it seems that the campaign was successful without being successful.  That is, Blanc and his company have cancelled his appearances in Canada and are going with online education only.  

The government did not step in at all as far as I can tell and this decision was based purely on social and economic pressure.  A large number of companies withdrew their association with Blanc presumably causing his company no end of problems and they claim that the cancellations were made in order to protect the safety of their employees.  That might even be accurate as I know there are an awful lot of people who would quite happily take a swing at Blanc given a chance.  Regardless it makes me very happy to see pure civilian pressure having such a huge effect.  The crushing weight of disapproval and the accompanying dollars were sufficient to destroy Blanc and no guns were required, which is just the way I like it.

Society has plenty of evil people in it but as time goes by their evil is pushed more and more to the margins, slowly edged out by the power of numbers and changing standards.  It can be hard to remember that when we want so much for things to be better right now but it is important to realize that team good is winning.  Blanc, Ghomeshi, and those that defend them squawk so loudly because they realize that they are *losing*.  It is up to all of us to make sure that this continues to be so.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

V is for

It is November so lots of people are growing out their facial hair to raise money or awareness for men's health.  I already have a goatee and growing a beard isn't especially feasible because it gets insanely itchy and I don't feel like having my face be on fire for three weeks.  Instead I am going to do something much harder.  I am going to talk about my own medical history in an attempt to help destigmatize it, which is especially important in this case because my personal issue is among the most stigmatized ones around.

I suffer from erectile dysfunction.  According to WebMD, this is something that happens to about 5% of men in my age group and that number rapidly rises with age.  There are plenty of treatments for it that sound utterly terrifying to me such as penile injections, vacuum pumps, and surgery but thankfully my case is quite mild can be completely fixed with a low dose of viagra.  (Actually the off brand, but nobody would recognize the name.)  It is also one of those things that is associated with so much shame that nobody wants to talk about it even though we all know it is endemic - our spam folders are full of proof of that.

My case is also weirdly specific in that it only comes up when using condoms.  For anyone who isn't especially familiar with how condoms affect sex, imagine looking at a beautiful sunset... but with a giant latex balloon over your head.  You can still see the sunset of course because the balloon is translucent but it really does put a damper on the experience.  (Also it would probably really hurt if you got it caught on your ears on the way down - be careful with that.)  This only became relevant for me in recent times when I started practicing polyamory and had multiple sexual relationships simultaneously.  Condoms are amazing and wonderful as they make that situation drastically less likely to involve STDs.  Also condoms are awful and I hate them.

Talking about this sort of thing is hard because so much stock is put in the idea that a man is represented entirely by a giant throbbing erection.  This is a very damaging idea because some men don't have penises, some penises aren't on men, some of those penises aren't large, don't get erect, or otherwise don't fulfill the culture requirement of 'being a man'.  The fact that penises are so often referred to as manhood is testament to this destructive viewpoint.  It also places penetrative intercourse on a pedestal which is especially problematic for gay people but also for anyone else who has sex that isn't just a penis entering a vagina.

There is a lot of cultural pressure for men to not talk about their medical issues and just maintain a stoic silence.  This is doubly true whenever that medical issue involves sex.  The admission of sexual issues goes far beyond other medical problems and becomes about moral and life failure.  As if somehow a man has nothing to bring to the world if he doesn't have a permanent hardon.

In theory I know about how stupid and awful all this stuff is.  In theory I can ignore it.  But in practice when I have been having sex and had to deal with erectile dysfunction I was overcome with shame, guilt, and self doubt.  Staring at my groin thinking "You had ONE job, ONE!" and worrying that my partner was going to think that they did something wrong or that I am not sexually attracted to them (which has never been the case) made it all the worse.  No matter how much I want to be immune to such thoughts I am not; I am a product of the culture in which I was raised.

I use Viagra, and when I do it fixes a medical problem I have quite nicely.  Much like people use insulin for diabetes, or aspirin for heart problems, or bandaids for cuts I use viagra for erectile dysfunction.  Talking about it and trying to remove the stigma from it will be useful for other people like me and it might just help everybody else by eroding a lot of the terrible ideas our culture has about what it means to be a man.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Doctor Wendy

As of yesterday Wendy has completed her thesis defence and is a PhD.  She does not want me to call her Doctor Oakden because that is her father's name and that would be weird.  She has informed me that she wishes to be Doctor Wendy.  I am going to have to get used to this.

Yes, Doctor Wendy.
No, Doctor Wendy.
As you wish, Doctor Wendy.
Just so, Doctor Wendy.
I love you Doctor Wendy.
Oooh, just like that Doctor Wendy, yes!

It all feels a little bit ridiculous, particularly because I never felt much concern about the title in the first place.  We are both feeling amazing because the stress has been lifted, the struggle is over, the new phase our of life is nigh, but if that had come by Wendy quitting the PhD two weeks ago I would be totally fine and still so proud of her and what she has done.  Needless to say she wouldn't have been quite so enthusiastic.

Her public presentation went great and I was very pleased with myself that I followed everything and understood all of what she was saying right up until the fifth last slide.  I figure getting 80% of what is going on in a Medical Biophysics PhD talk is pretty good for a homemaker.  Of course following the outline isn't precisely the same thing as actually understanding what quantitative T2 really means, but I will take my small victories.

You might assume that we went and tied one on afterwards, celebrating wildly into the night.  Instead we went out for dinner and a couple drinks, came home, and were both asleep before ten o'clock.  Party animals we are not.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hypocritical dirtbags

I wrote last week about Julien Blanc, a reprehensible individual who teaches men to abuse women to get the sex they want.  Part of his usual defence when people call him on his shit is to shout about free speech.  However, it seems that when he is faced with other people talking about him critically his dedication to free speech evaporates in a real hurry.  He has elected to try to use meritless legal bullying tactics to try to silence people who criticize him and he has suddenly discovered that free speech applies to other people too.  Who would have thought?

Here is an article talking about how Blanc ran into a legal brick wall when he tried to pull his censorship bullshit on the wrong person.  I love it when people get righteously smacked down in their attempts to censor others and my delight is multiplied when the person in question is a hypocrite who has spent so much time trying to use free speech as an excuse for despicable behaviour themselves.  When that public humiliation is delivered to an abusive misogynist like Blanc it is a delicious cherry on top and I am the kind of person who loves those neon red cherries.

Schadenfreude is not an emotion I am proud of under normal circumstances but Mr. Blanc's tears are *delicious*.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why I swing left

My parents were visiting me over the last few days to help Elli celebrate her birthday.  During the visit we got talking about Canadian politics and my parents wondered how I managed to go from supporting right wing parties when I was a teenager to left wing ones now.  I gave some kind of answer that was true but not entirely complete and I figured I would talk a bit about it after some more thought.

I have always had a money demon sitting on my shoulder urging me to scrimp and save, to avoid debt no matter what, to live on the cheap.  That informed my teenage political choices to a remarkable degree and I mostly based my affiliation on what party I thought would run a balanced budget and avoid debt.  I was one of those single issue voters.  The Reform party (now defunct) made that a big part of their platform and so I found them very appealing.  I wasn't particularly party loyal though - I was all about fiscal responsibility and thought that was how to get it.

If you actually look at spending history in Canada and the US though you find that right wing parties don't do any better balancing budgets than left wing parties do.  Right wing parties tend to lower taxes and spend money on the military, police, and prisons.  Left wing parties tend to spend money on social programs, health care, and the environment.  Since I only get to pick what sort of ways the government is irresponsible with money I will happily vote for my money to go the left wing route.

More importantly though I broadened my horizons in terms of what I care about in terms of governance.  Right wing parties are strongly associated with religious groups, Christianity in particular, and I dislike that intensely.  People should of course pursue whatever religion (or lack thereof) they like but politicians should not use religion, especially one particular religion, as their guiding light when governing a nation full of people who do not follow said religion.  I don't like the way in which Christian worship is often infused into government and I especially dislike how it is often used as a justification for bigotry by those in power.

That bigotry is another troubling issue for me, religion or no religion.  Scapegoating immigrants, marginalizing queer people, and dumping on the poor are pretty standard features of right wing parties.  We don't need extra defence for wealthy, straight, white people - they are doing pretty well as it is.  As far as I am concerned government should not exist to enforce the current social hierarchy. Rather it should focus on creating as much overall happiness as possible and that goal is best served by helping the downtrodden, not by propping up the oligarchs.

In Canada in particular I don't yet know which party I do support, but it is abundantly clear which party I do not.  What my vote will look like next election will depend on what exactly the parties put up as their platforms.  After that my riding will go Liberal like it always does and my vote will be of no consequence, as it always is.  Democracy!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A rough job

I read an article written anonymously entitled "I Don't Like Being A Mother."  Reading it made me kinda sad because the reactions to it were so angry.  Plenty of people blaming the author for being unhappy and others making it clear that she must be doing it wrong because parenting is just *so worth it*.  The thing that is clear to me is that we really need to stop glorifying parenting and insisting that everybody who tries it made the right decision.  That isn't true.  Some people aren't happy as parents.  Sometimes that is because they just aren't suited to it, sometimes it is because their particular children aren't a fit for them, sometimes it is their partner that turns out not to work so well.

Parents all have good moments and bad moments.  There are crying times and happy times.  Unfortunately when we insist that everyone must agree that it is all worth it we make people feel terrible for any regrets they may have while lying to ourselves.  It is worth it for some people but as in all things our experiences vary greatly person to person.

I am one of those people that just doesn't have those sublime moments in parenting.  There are fun times, good times, but there aren't moments that just make me melt like other people seem to describe.  That doesn't mean I don't love my daughter nor does it mean I am going to give up on doing my damndest to be a good parent.  My coworkers are fine, it is just the job description that doesn't work so well for me.

I think a lot of people who are already parents feel like if they tell the truth about their experiences that others will simply elect to never have children.  They desperately want other people to make the same choice whether to validate their decision, to provide more rugrats for playdates, or just to have more relatives around.  Some of course truly do love bringing up children and want others to share in that but unfortunately there is just too much desperation for that to be the only reason for the push to procreate.  Nobody pushes other people to try a particular job that is just super fun the way they push for children.

I am happy for people who do truly love parenting, truly.  I want them to share their joy with others.  I just want all of those to respect that other people don't have that experience and that doesn't make them wrong, flawed, or even bad parents.  It just means they have a job that they are doing their best at even when they don't like it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A standard trope

Being caught in an elevator while it is stuck between floors is a regular trope in TV and movies.  It is an easy way to put people in an unusual situation where they can't get away and have nothing to distract themselves.  Plus, it is always great to have someone go into labour at just that particular time to generate an instant disaster.  Last night I got to try out being in an stuck elevator and it wasn't nearly as much fun as media would have you believe.  No revelations or sudden plot twists at all.

The really ridiculous part is what happened outside the elevator.  The Artist was over for dinner and had popped out for five minutes to get a coffee.  Elli and I rode the elevator downstairs to send off a friend of hers and then proceeded back up... only to stop on floor 8.5 with a jolt.  Mere seconds after our elevator stopped The Artist came back inside, rode the other elevator up to our place, went in, and discovered that we were missing.  She sat around our condo wondering where in the world we could have gotten to - my phone was even sitting on the table and I would definitely have taken that if I had to leave for an emergency.  So much confusion!

Meanwhile Elli and I were in the elevator thoroughly bored out of our skulls.  I told the concierge to go to my room and tell The Artist what was going on and he said that he would do so but he clearly failed.  Unfortunately we were screaming at each other through an elevator door so misunderstandings are understandable.  Elli and I played Steamroller which is a game in which I roll back and forth across the floor of the elevator trying to squish her and she jumps over me.  Then we played Go Fish with imaginary cards (she won), sang songs, tried to nap, counted to 200, and told stories.

Finally after an hour of lying on the floor of the elevator the technician showed up and opened the doors.  The floor of the elevator was about a meter and a half above the 8th floor so I had to hand Elli down and then jump down myself.  Elli was quite excited about getting to see the bits between the floors through the open elevator door.  We took the stairs up to my place because both of us were thoroughly *done* with elevators for the night and found The Artist crashed on my couch.  She was much relieved to see us, as you would expect.

One trope down, one thousand to go.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Freedom to be an ass

Julien Blanc is big news this week.  He is a pickup artist who holds seminars, writes books, and does online coaching to teach men how to pick up women.  He is a raging misogynist asshole who advocates aggressive pickup techniques, both social and physical.  The guy is scum.  This week there is a campaign going to try to get him banned from Canada to make sure he can't give some planned seminars here.  While I think Blanc is an awful human being and I am damn sure he has done a bunch of terrible things I am not comfortable with this campaign.

The trouble with the government stepping in to revoke someone's access to the country like this is that they will inevitably use that power wrongly in future.  Free speech doesn't mean that only the people who you agree with can speak - it means that everyone can.  In particular the government isn't stepping in on the basis of something he said or even something he did but rather they are basing this action on something they think he might say.  Imagine that a speaker was coming to town to give a speech on a subject near and dear to your heart and the government banned them because they might say something the government disagreed with.  In my case I imagine a speaker coming to talk about polyamory at a conference getting denied entry to Canada because the government disapproves of nonmonogamy.  (Which they do, in a big way.)

Now there are plenty of actions against Blanc that get my heartfelt approval.  Picketing the hotel where his seminar will take place?  Great.  Writing angry emails to any organization working with his event?  Super.  Screaming on your blog about what a shitcanoe Blanc is and how you will boycott every business that works with him and unfriend everyone who gives him cash?  I approve!  But I am deeply hesitant to get behind government officials stepping in to decide who gets to come to Canada based on what they may or may not say when they get here.  People and businesses can feel free to take action because they aren't backed by the power of guns in the way the government is.

If Blanc does show up and say things that fall afoul of our hate crime laws or our laws against encouraging criminal behaviour then by all means arrest his ass and park him in a cell.  I will be cheering from the sidelines if that happens, mark my words.  Even so, I don't like the idea of officials banning him based on a social media campaign and his reputation.  A ban on the basis of a criminal record, proven in court, okay, but this isn't the case here.  I liken this to capital punishment.  Sometimes we all know a murderer is guilty and feel like they should die, but the cost of letting the government execute people is that innocents will sometimes die and that is too high a price.

Friday, November 7, 2014

I Love You

The way we discuss and understand love in our culture is hugely influenced by our standard monogamous relationship model.  I think this is the sort of thing that people often forget because it is easy to go about thinking that our cultural norms are a baseline for everyone and fail to examine them critically.  I read an article talking about how terrifying confessing love can be and how important it is and while saying "I love you" for the first time packs a wallop no matter what sort of arrangement you have it is very different in polyamorous relationships vs. monogamous ones.  Exclusivity changes the tone of "I love you" (ILY) in really important ways.

The primary issue at hand is the necessity of love being reciprocal.  If you can only have one relationship it makes sense that you really want love to go both ways and thus ILY sets the relationship up for an immediate crisis - all in or fold are the only options, no checking allowed.  That situation is entirely different when both parties can have other relationships because unrequited love isn't necessarily a problem.  Certainly people generally want their feelings returned but if they can have a mutually loving relationship with someone it is usually (not always!) perfectly fine to be in love with someone else who doesn't feel the same way.  Sometimes it is only a matter of time, of giving the other person the weeks, months, or years they need to find those feelings too but even if that never occurs you can still go about your life and get all the things you need.

I have been in the situation of being in love and not having it be returned, being loved but not returning it, and being in a mutually loving relationship.  I like the third the best obviously but of the first two I would rather be in love over being loved if it isn't going to be mutual.  I can handle my own feelings even if they are intense and challenging but it is much harder when I have to worry about hurting someone else.  Perhaps it is my sales experience or maybe dating online as a man but in both cases I have learned to deal with regular rejection.  Rejecting others on the other hand is *hard*.  Not a fan.

The second thing that stands out is the lack of a relationship escalator in polyamorous relationships.  You don't have to get on and ride all the way to the top to marriage and permanent partnership so ILY isn't a commitment or statement of intentions but simply a description of a current state.  If I love someone now I can simply say that because it is true and I don't have to worry that long term plans are being made around that statement.  Polyamorous folks don't necessarily need to agonize over what exactly ILY means or worry about where it is going to the same extent because they aren't necessarily grappling with the followup question of "So, when do we take the next step?"

It isn't all advantages for the poly folk though.  What we gain in flexibility we lose in scripts and clear guidelines.  When a relationship could be anything from a occasional hookup to a lifelong partnership and there is no agreed upon set of expectations at the beginning it can be challenging to figure out what ILY is going to mean.  How much are you going to be willing to lean on each other?  How often are you going to be able to be together?  These questions are much more complex when there isn't an end goal and a recipe for getting there.  I like that freedom a lot but it does come with extra reflection and negotiation built in.

The first time Wendy and I said those words we were both in a bit of a panic.  It was very much like a traditional romantic comedy ending; a sweaty, twitching, desperate, terror-filled scene that turned into radiant joy and one HELL of a kiss.  I wasn't expecting ILY but I could sure as heck tell something was up and my response was instantaneous and heartfelt.  That situation had plenty of other baggage involved because we were roommates and had our relationship blown up there wasn't a place for everyone to sleep but honestly the real thing that had me so terrified was not the logistics.  I had already decided I was ready to marry her and hearing those words meant my dreams were on their way to being fulfilled.  I was shoving every chip I had straight into the middle before the words were even fully out of her mouth.

With Val on the other hand it was very different.  For starters I hadn't already settled on marrying them for a variety of reasons.  Our spouses, knowing each other for only six weeks, minor details like that.  Val got out a handmade fortune teller like the one you see above and got me to pick colours and numbers till I arrived at the choice between 2, 4, 6, and a set of hearts.  At that point I realized that the hearts would definitely have the words I love you written beneath them and I chose them without hesitation.  Val gave me an out by confirming that I wanted to choose the hearts but I knew I wasn't going to back away even though I had no idea yet how I would answer.  As expected the hearts had ILY underneath it and then my mind went into overdrive.

Well this is good.
Val loves me, okay.
I am happy about this.
But do I love them back?
I know they are super and I *like* them a lot.
I am definitely getting fall in love feelings but it hasn't gone nuclear yet.
For sure I won't lie or exaggerate.
I have to say something... hesitating too long!

I replied that I was pretty sure I was falling in love but wasn't entirely there yet.  I was probably not very coherent over the next half hour as I was furiously examining my own feelings to determine if in fact I was in love with Val and could honestly say that.  Trying to sort that out while maintaining some semblance of conversation amidst a sea of chemicals was certainly a trick.  My conclusion was that yes, I was in love with Val and I said so.

Even though the ILY exchange with Val was awkward by some measures it was still completely okay.  I knew that even if our feelings were somewhat unbalanced we would keep seeing each other and that it would be all good.  I truly did have the option of just checking and seeing another card.  All in and fold were not my only options.  Given that choice, given the freedom to just wait and consider, I took a half hour and decided that it was definitely time to get all my chips in.

There may never be another moment quite as intense as that first ILY with Wendy.  It was uniquely powerful in my experience and it is certainly true that the all or nothing element of monogamy lends a certain impact.  But given the choice I will go with the flexibility and freedom of polyamorous I Love Yous.  The experience has less edge but it also has less fear, more comfort, and more freedom and that is a trade I will take every time.

Picture from:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Drink up

A large study done at the university of Uppsala in Sweden has found a very large link between drinking cow milk and dying young.  Of course the clickbait titles of articles about this get the science all twisted up but when you actually look at the data it is pretty shocking.  In a large group of middle aged women the subgroup that drank three or more glasses of cow milk a day was found to be almost twice as likely to die over the course of the study as the subgroup that drank less than one glass a day.  (The men in the study did not show this same trend.)

This illustrates the problems with science and medical reporting pretty clearly.  We don't actually know if the group that drank more cow milk did so for some other reason that caused their illnesses, if something else is correlated with both cow milk consumption and illness, or if there are other confounding factors.  Say for example higher income people drank far less cow milk but had access to better food and healthcare - this could produce this sort of result without saying anything about cow milk itself.  There are a lot of other things that could be going on.

Also the articles mention things like milk programs for children without noting that this has nothing to do with them.  The study examined middle aged people only and drawing broad conclusions from that data across all age groups is a very dangerous and foolish thing to do.  There is every reason to think that young people and middle aged people metabolize cow milk in different ways and have different reactions to it.  The articles also fail to adequately note that the correlation between cow milk and mortality was only found in women.  These details are extremely important when you want to get beyond raw data to begin to have a conversation about policy.  You cannot generalize a link found in 39-74 year old women to the population at large.

On the other hand I do think this tells us that the messages we get from the government and the cow milk lobby about the health benefits of cow milk are bogus.  It has always been clear that cow milk is not necessary for health but now the science is making it even more obvious that there is no medical reason at all to consume it.  We are far beyond not *needing* it, and in fact it is now obvious that it isn't even much use.  Barring this current result it generally seems that cow milk is not a harmful thing to consume but shouldn't be considered a necessity any more than carrots, dog meat, or strawberries are.

The articles are generally getting the point across that milk isn't nearly as necessary as we have been led to believe but they are doing it in a way that butchers the actual data and causes unnecessary confusion.  The truth on this topic (including the level of uncertainty in the current study being examined) is readily available and easy enough to understand that any member of the public reading it could grasp it and reach appropriate conclusions.  We need the people who write science and medical articles to take public education a lot more seriously.  It won't get as many instant clicks but it will establish a reputation for good information and that is worth a lot of clicks in the long run.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A little bit of agreement

Though I have not been writing about it much these past couple years I have continued to go about barefoot from spring to fall ever since I started doing so in 2010.  It has become a bit of a thing in the eye of the public though very few people actually go full on barefoot.  Generally they buy minimalist shoes that kind of feel like going barefoot and hope to gain all the benefits without the risk of punctured feet and rude shopkeepers.

538 did a piece rounding up the available research on the topic of minimalist shoes and the general conclusion is that it is probably a good idea for most people but that the data is very limited.  Certainly there are some people that should be using minimalist shoes, some that should be using thick shoes, and for nearly everyone it makes only a small difference.

Generally speaking my experiences with going about barefoot have been positive.  Most of the time I get strange looks and stares but occasionally something more interesting happens.  This summer I was approached twice on the subway by curious people and both times the interaction was pleasant.  One of them wanted to show me pictures of her home country (it was someplace tropical but I can't recall which country) and describe how going barefoot there made so much sense.  The other was worried about talking to me about it because he wasn't sure if I was going barefoot because I couldn't afford shoes or because I disdain to wear them.

I had yet another store hassle me about going barefoot this year though this time they were much more willing to bend.  They talked to me because other customers were complaining that they allowed me in the store with no shoes on.  Seriously people, this is your problem?  That the local grocery store isn't enforcing a dress code and keeping out the weirdos?  First world problems, right there.  At any rate, when I said to the manager of the store "Oh, no worries, I will just shop somewhere else then." they responded by assuring me I could still shop but that they wished I would wear shoes so they wouldn't get more complaints.  Small victories, I suppose.

However, the time for bare feet has passed in Toronto.  It is now definitely too cold for me to do that so I have begun wearing socks and shoes like a chump.  My eclectic habits seem to be piling up as I age - I am going to be one weird ass old man.