Friday, May 29, 2015

What a pope

There are a lot of people out there who think Pope Francis is a super sort of person.  His fans are not just among Catholics though, but in fact he has a lot of supporters in my crowd of people, the atheist/agnostic left wing set.  The main argument that they tend to default to is that he is so much better than previous Popes, which is definitely true.  His stances on things like gay rights, women's rights, and other progressive issues are better than previous incarnations of the office.

But he is still awful.  "Better than the old Popes" should not be our yardstick for greatness!

For example, when Ireland recently passed new legislation making same sex marriage legal the Vatican's response was to call it "a defeat for humanity".  Francis responded to this by stressing that marriage is between a man and a woman instead of taking the opportunity to call for change.  The organization Francis heads is one of the most powerful institutions in the world for deliberately oppressing gay people.  It still is openly and unapologetically sexist.  It still pushes programs and ideas demonizing contraception that are substantially responsible for the AIDS epidemic in Africa in particular, and enormous suffering throughout the world in general.

Francis' opinions are slightly less evil than the standard line for Popes in the past, but that is because doing so is the way to gain the most approval, support, cash, and converts.  He can't get away with the hard line rhetoric of the past in most first world nations anymore so he backed it off a notch.  Just enough to gain support from people willing to look for any improvement, no matter how small, but not nearly enough to avoid being an evil bigot.  After all, he wants to keep all the homophobes in the fold.

It is like Francis is Darth Vader and the progressives who cheer him on are Luke Skywalker.  "There is good in him, I know it!" they cry.  I would have a lot more patience for Luke's whining if Vader hadn't been so happy to blow up Alderaan, and I would have a lot more patience for people supporting Francis if he wasn't an absolute monarch living in unthinkable opulence while taking great pains to stomp on those among us who are already struggling the most.

If you want to find someone good to support then find someone actually doing the right thing, someone who fights through incredibly difficult or tragic circumstances to help those in even greater need.   That person is not Pope Francis.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Once more, not quite, thankfully

Today Elli got really sick.  I was volunteering outside the school after pickup time selling tickets for the upcoming Fun Fair on Saturday.  The day was clear and hot and I wish I had brought my hat.  Elli was with me and complained that her stomach didn't feel great and her head hurt.  I got her to drink water and sit in the shade but by the time we left she was in terrible shape.  I had to carry her home on my back with the groceries and school stuff in my arms, which was a bit of a trick at times.  By the time we arrived home I got to experience what it is like to have a sick child vomit on your back just before you arrive at the bathroom.

I think pursuing unique experiences is a great thing, generally speaking.  That said, I don't think there is much to recommend getting puke on your back.  It isn't much different from getting puke elsewhere but it is extra annoying to clean up.

The really scary thing about it wasn't the simple logistics of cleanup though, but rather that Elli's ongoing kidney issues manifest as vomiting.  When she threw up I was filled with visions of more hospital trips, blood tests, imaging, and antibiotics treatments.  Going through that was rough for me and it had to be an awful lot worse for someone who actually had to deal with the pain and trauma personally.  I was so happy to recently get the news that Elli was pretty much back to normal and the doctors felt there was little need to see her again so even a hint that she might be relapsing was terrifying.

Thankfully it seems like she only had heat stroke.  Heat stroke isn't great obviously but at least it is defined, temporary, and straightforward to deal with.  It doesn't have the spectre of long term damage and won't keep on popping up randomly at the worst possible time.

It sure doesn't take much to suddenly bunch me up with tension, to ratchet up my worry that Elli is suddenly back to being scarily sick with something that has little in the way of solutions.  Even though I know that throwing up is unlikely to be a sign of her old illness that worry is hard to shed.  I am particularly good at not worrying about things beyond my control and at shutting down my fretting when logic tells me I should not be concerned.... and yet all it takes to get my adrenalin pumping is for her to say that her tummy doesn't feel well.  Such is being a parent I suppose.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Beyond the Max

(More Mad Max spoilers.)

Lots of times I rage at movies that are terribly unrealistic and abuse science.  I do love both sci fi and fantasy though so clearly I am ok with all kinds of things that don't fit well within our understanding of physics.  It isn't raw disagreement with standard physics that gets me, but rather inconsistent violation of physics.  If a world is defined as one where mumbling arcane incantations and waving a staff around can create fireballs I am totally on board.  Sounds fun!  But if the army crossing the great plains takes 1 day to go across one way and then 6 days to go back because the writer or director was too lazy to get it right then it bothers me to no end.  It doesn't bother me if the world requires faster than light travel, but please don't insult me by having someone spout nonsense to support it - just say "turn on the FTL drive Sandy" and go with it.

I am somewhat torn about Mad Max in this regard.  Mad Max clearly tears science a new one in many ways, primarily as it relates to food, fuel, and water.  The movie has people living in a nearly featureless desert driving around in cars constantly.  Somehow they manage to pump, refine, and deliver enough gasoline to have a car centric society without having enough infrastructure to make clothes, or computers, or anything really.  They also apparently have gasoline potent enough that a motorcycle, when fully fuelled, can run for 160 days straight.  It is a good thing their motorcycles can do this because people apparently just drive around the desert for their entire lives without having any access to fuel.

The story is set in Earth's future though so it is entirely reasonable to imagine a fuel has been invented prior to the cataclysm that is 100 times more energy dense than gasoline.  Somehow humankind found a new sort of fossil fuel source, called it gasoline, and they are using it.  That is pretty ridiculous, but for a movie like this it is a perfectly fine assumption.  Super magic gasoline, why not!

Food is trickier.  There seem to be tons of people wandering about the desert with no source of food or water at all.  We see two people opportunistically munch down on critters in the film but aside from one special spot controlled by a warlord no one appears to have a single thing to eat or drink available.  How these desert nomads manage that feat is never quite explained.  Also unexplained is how the awful warlord manages to only give out water periodically, does so by pouring it on the ground, and yet somehow the peasants under his control don't die.

This one I can't explain away.  It is just a magic required by the setting - food is incredibly scarce but lacking it just causes suffering, not death.  At least not right away.  That is fine though as it is clear from the outset and consistent throughout the movie.  Changing it would significantly alter everything in the movie and wouldn't really add anything.  I also approve of the fact that they don't try to explain the nonsense but just build the world and go with it.  People don't really need food that much, fine.

One thing that Mad Max does superbly well though is not breaking immersion within the fight scenes themselves.  The tactics the various villains in the movie employ are absolutely insane (attack the enemies by attaching yourself to a flexible flagpole and twanging towards them with bombs on spears!) but they are all members of a fanatical cult lead by a megalomanic, convinced their antics will guarantee them entry into Valhalla.  Berserkers don't need no stinkin' logic!  The cars and people respond well to things that happen to them like explosions, gunshots, punches and spear wounds.  The heroes are a lot tougher than one would really expect, but other than that the brawling is remarkably realistically choreographed and felt great.

I spent a lot of time thinking "Wow, those people are NUTS" but I did not spend time thinking "Wow, that is so preposterous.  Come on...."  Again, they took a crazy premise and then ran with it in a way that felt natural and smooth.  Obviously people in this situation would do nutty things, but given the world they live in and what they did everything played out in ways that made sense.

That is the ticket, really.  If you describe the world and outline whatever crazy science alterations are required to make it work I should be able to then predict the results of actions.  If you have to come up with bullshit nonsense to forward the plot then I get grumpy because it feels ridiculous and the immersion breaks completely.  Mad Max was so much fun because I could tell that the characters weren't going to magic nonsense their way out of trouble - they lived in a world where they had to win by guts, grit, moxie, brains, brawn, skill, and speed.  And they did, and it was a wonderful spectacle to behold.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

To the Max

(Contains mild spoilers for the Mad Max movie.  Not that spoilers matter at all for enjoyment of the movie, but there you have it.)

A couple of people reported to me that there was a kerfuffle surrounding the new Mad Max movie.  Apparently Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) got all kinds of angry about the movie and tried to organize a boycott of the movie on the basis that it had overt feminist themes and a strong female lead, or somesuch.  The internet initially bore out those accusations as there were tons of articles out there yelling about how terrible MRAs are and how this boycott is disgusting.

The trick is that this story has not been perfectly reported.  First off, the person calling for the boycott is Roosh, the guy behind Return of Kings, in this post in particular. Roosh isn't an MRA - he specifically notes that he isn't an MRA and thinks they are a bunch of victims.  He even spent a bunch of time on twitter telling people he isn't an MRA, and the MRAs spent a bunch of time telling people that they aren't the ones calling for a boycott.

Roosh is a bigoted, homophobic, sexist, mysogynist asshole.  I still think it is useful to get the terms right though, as although there is definite crossover between PUAs, MRAs, and straight up male supremacists like Roosh it makes a lot of sense to know who exactly we are talking about.  This is especially true when it is really just this one guy the whole blowup is based on.

At any rate, I wanted to know what exactly it was that got a male supremacist all up in arms so on Friday night I went to see the movie.  Did the characters in Mad Max go on feminist rants, shouting "Down with patriarchy!" as they crushed men underneath their spiked boots?  Nope.  From that perspective Mad Max isn't a feminist film at all.  It portrays a post apocalyptic society where a few men rule over everyone with brutal tyranny.  They keep women as milk machines and as breeding vessels, but they also keep the men as raw slaves as well as cannon fodder for war.  The protagonists fight against these evil tyrants with a big part of the plot being the rescue of some of the women kept for breeding purposes.  The main duo who star in the film are Max, a man, and Furiosa, a woman.  Both of them drive, fight, stab people, blow stuff up, wrestle, and are generally badass in every way.  Neither is portrayed as the main hero though - they work together each bringing their own particular skills to the table.

So by the standard of chanting feminist slogans and crushing all men Mad Max was not a feminist film.  It just showed a terrible society run by a few awful men and the fight against that situation, while making it clear that both men and women could contribute to that cause.

Really though that makes it a shining example of feminism to me.  Furiosa even had a significant physical disability and while it sometimes made things hard for her it didn't stop her going out there and making it happen, at all.  You don't get to see women with disabilities being big damn heroes in action films... ever, really, and so that is fantastic.  The film didn't make it all about men being evil though, nor about how women are great, but just had people doing stuff and made it clear that their sex had no bearing on their capabilities.  As if they lived in a world where talent and capability were the defining factors rather than being male or female.  That is, after all, the feminist ideal.  The goal is equality, not female supremacy, and every feminist I know of looks forward to the day when yelling about feminism is no longer necessary.  (Theoretical, at best, but it would be nice!)

So Mad Max isn't a film that is ramming feminism down anyone's throat.  It is just a film that gives women the chance to have agency, do important things, and be marquee heroes just as much as the men.  As such I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up, as it is the sort of thing I want to see more of in future.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oh my feet

For several years now I have been going barefoot throughout the warmer half of the year.  There have been plenty of issues with this, nearly all of which have been based around other people reacting to my bare feet with irrational rage.  It is very hard when someone dresses in a way you aren't expecting, you see, and the only reasonable way to deal with that confusion is to lash out at them for daring to challenge your preconceptions.  There are occasionally issues with overly hot road surfaces, pokey bits of gravel, and other physical challenges but those are minor compared to the social blockades people put up when you step outside the lines.

This year I have only gone barefoot three times.  Spring is the ideal time for it as it is warm enough to be comfortable but the roads are not yet able to burn me.  Despite that I just haven't been in the mood to fight with people about my mode of dress and so I have been wearing sandals nearly all the time.  I like being barefoot generally speaking but I don't actually relish the confrontations that go along with it, despite the attitude I often display around it.  I want people to stop being assholes about policing my footwear but I don't take joy in their indignation and bitterness being directed my way.  I just feel like it is a thing worth changing.

I have felt distracted, tired, and uninterested in fighting this spring.  That might be due to me getting less sleep than usual because of my new raiding schedule, or maybe it is my generally higher level of busyness.  I can't say for sure, but I have definitely been slipping on my shoes because I just don't want another showdown about it.

It makes me sad to be this way.  I want to be the fearless crusader, a neverending font of energy and vim, fighting the good fight at all times and against all foes.  That isn't me right now though, unfortunately.

The shoes aren't the thing, exactly, though obviously I think people's attitude towards shoelessness is ridiculous.  It is the general assumption that people make, the entitlement to tell others how they must dress, that is my real target.  Hard to say if I ever make any real progress that way but that larger goal is important to me and I want to strike at it when I can.

For now though I am going to try to nap more and be more efficient with my time so I can get back to fighting shape.  At the very least I want to have that 'bring it on!' attitude back, regardless of any attention that I get from random shopkeepers eager to send the riffraff on his way.

Monday, May 18, 2015


I have been quiet the past week.  There are a couple reasons for that.  First off the app I have been using to automatically send my posts to Facebook went away so people who know about my blogs from there haven't seen me.  If you know of a free app that will do that for me please let me know.  The other thing I have been doing is prepping for and going on a camping trip for four days to Algonquin Park.  Today I got home and my balcony quickly ended up looking like this:

In case it isn't obvious, this is lots of camping bits out drying in the sun before being packed away again for another six months.  It was an interesting trip for me because I was going with a new group of people and because I was doing all the food preparation, planning, and cooking.  I have done plenty of camp cooking before but sorting out exactly how much of everything to pack was new.  I am pleased to report that I did a fine job as we brought back a minimal amount of food and everyone seemed to enjoy what I created.  There are some adjustments to make for next time of course - I need to pack more of the barley, rice, and lentils so that if we need to bulk up a meal we can do it without carrying much extra weight.  I also should cut back on the g.o.r.p and other snacks because almost 3 kilos of that was twice as much as we needed.

Going out with a different group of people also brought a good bunch of culture shock.  My other group is very laid back and we plan relatively short travel days with lots of beer, extra food, fancy dining, and excessive candy.  We also enjoy staying up most of the way through the night and waking up quite late.  On this trip though everyone was out of bed incredibly early - I was the late riser at 7:15 one morning and that blew my mind.  I am used to people staying up till 4:00 around the campfire and then sleeping till 10:00!  I kept collecting tons of firewood thinking we would need it but everyone wanted to go to sleep as soon as it got dark so my mad woodsman skills went mostly untapped.

There is also a really tricky thing when you are going camping and the chain of command isn't clear.  I learned camping from my parents where I really didn't get a vote, and most trips I have been on Wendy has been in charge.

This time it was mostly Naked Man who ran the show but unfortunately we had some differences of opinion on how exactly that show was going to go.  Upon arriving at the park we discovered that the route we had planned for Friday was likely to take either 12 or 18 hours depending on who we believed - the map had it clocked at 11 hours.  I was thoroughly uninterested in paddling for that long and arriving at dusk but Naked Man was absolutely set on punishing us to the max and then doing another 12 hour paddle the next day.  For me that was a total non starter - I would have been miserable and bitter that my vacation was nothing but aches and struggle.  I want to paddle but four hours of effort is plenty to get the feeling that I have worked and then I want to chill at the site in the sun and spend time hunting down prime deadwood for the evening's entertainment.

8 hours into our brutal Friday trek we were clearly only a bit more than halfway to our destination.  The difficulty wasn't just the duration as we were doing single carryovers on long portages and canoeing down a river that was often completely blocked with overgrown alder trees.  Two of us were completely unwilling to commit to another 6 hours of travel so we had some tense discussions about whether or not we would stop at the really cruddy unmaintained site on the river or push on.  We ended up travelling for 2 more hours and staying at a perfectly reasonable place, which allowed us to finish that leg of the journey a day late at 14 hours total.  Thankfully our route allowed us to leave the next day perfectly on schedule but having skipped an entire day of travel.

It gets tricky when a group of four has to make a decision like that.  Camp at the terrible spot, paddle on hoping the next spot isn't taken, or go all day and some of the night to arrive in misery in the dark.  It ends up being a contest of wills and desire and that can be complicated.  We couldn't split up the gear and food in a way that would work so somebody was going to have to give in.  I was spending time inside my own head, wondering if I would have to actually say the words "I am staying here with the food.  You want to starve, go right ahead and paddle off."

I didn't think I would have to say those words, but there was always the possibility in my mind that Naked Man would be totally unwilling to back down and insist on finishing the route as planned.

I don't know if I will go out with this group again - it really isn't clear.  I like them well enough, but a group that wants to get up at the crack of dawn and paddle for twelve hours isn't a good fit for me.  I enjoy a different style than that, and I don't want to be the complainer that drags everyone down nor do I want to be pushed along on a trip that doesn't suit me.  It won't come up for another year at least though, so I have some time to sort out how I feel about doing it again.

One really great note though:  No bugs.  Going in May gave us nice temperatures and a almost complete lack of buzzing nuisances and that really made the trip so much better.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A blind spot

Today Elli and I went on a class trip to see Black Creek Pioneer Village.  It is a historic site with a large number of original and historic but relocated buildings where kids can learn about the 1810-1860 era in this part of Canada.  The tour guides were fairly entertaining and the kids enjoyed themselves a lot but they clearly had some huge blind spots that I wish they would try to address.

The first thing I took issue with was the repeated statement that the reason the white farmers were here at all was cheap land.  That is certainly true but clearly it should be stated why exactly that land was so cheap:  Because the natives had been nearly wiped out by plague, war, and forced resettlement.  Noting that there was a ton of land and not explaining why is a huge failure on the part of educators.  Whitewashing the past so people can feel less guilty about the abuses long ago only makes it easier to accept the abuses of natives going on even now.

Our guide also made a point several times about how in the past people had strange and terrible ideas about gender roles and danced around the idea of the rampant sexism at the time.  He tried to make it clear that things were not good back then without *directly* criticizing the repression and bigotry that was the norm.  While saying "women were considered the property of their fathers or their husbands" isn't going to make the kids smile it will teach them a thing or two.  Sadly the guide really put his foot in it when he followed up his statements about enforced gender roles with this gem:

"Let's try on some clothes just like they wore back then!  Don't worry, I won't make the boys put on a dress!  Ha ha ha."

Really dude?  Talk about how bad those old timey folks were with their sexism and then make it clear that it is so shameful for a boy to touch girl things that you wouldn't dare expose them to that?  It just made me twitch to see the hypocrisy unfold before me.

So Black Creek is pretty great if you want kids to learn about ancient printing presses or horses or scythes.  If you are looking to have them learn about more important things though, things that might actually affect their lives now, or which will grant them greater perspective on the world around them.... not so much.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Crunch time

I am going on a camping trip to Algonquin park in one week.  I have been camping a number of times in recent years but this is going to be quite different for a variety of reasons.  I am going with a completely new group of people and instead of being able to just sit by and let others do the food planning I am going to be running that particular show myself.  This is somewhat more difficult than it usually is for my trips because instead of plans to do short paddles with lots of resting we are planning to run light and do long trips with punishing portages.  That means we really want to do every portage in a single go, which means I have to shave off every kilo of material I can.  I don't want to cut it too close though as I don't actually know how much food people need being as I haven't done this before.

I want to try this new thing of running lean and pushing ourselves really hard.  I think it will be fun!  Not that running leaner than the last few years will be difficult - people brought cases of beer and literally double the food we needed on the last few trips and I *know* we won't be doing that.  However, it is a difficult balance to strike between having extra food so we aren't hungry and miserable and  having too much weight and having to change our route dramatically to actually be able to complete it.

Right now we have a two pretty easy days and two punishing days.  Thankfully both punishing days have much shorter routes available should we realize that we have greatly overestimated our carrying capacity, paddling speed, or moxy so even if we have to audible to easier routes it won't totally wreck the trip.  I know that Naked Man will put up all kinds of fussing if we end up needing to chicken out on the hardcore route he has drawn up for us, but I suspect it is better to to at least admit that it might happen ahead of time rather than get in over our heads.

It is odd, the way I view this in my head.  I am not actually looking forward to punishing physical exertion, but I expect it will make me a happier and better person in the long run.  Getting away from technology and connectivity every so often is a good thing - it grants perspective.  As Calvin's dad would say, suffering builds character, and we all need more character, right?

Worst case is that we have a terrible time and I get some more ideas for Disasters that can happen in my new game Camp Nightmare.  I can't lose!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sexy talk

Ontario is introducing a new sex education curriculum in schools.  I am quite a fan of it for many reasons, including that it openly discusses gay and trans identities and places them as equal to straight and cis identities, but my approval is not limited to that.  It also begins sex ed with discussions of consent and teaches young children that they have the right to decide when and how they are touched.  That is a fantastic lesson to begin with as it applies not just to sex when and if they get there, but also just to life in general.  We should be telling kids explicitly that they can choose their own identity, that those choices are valid, and that they can control who touches them and when.

There are also a lot of nuts and bolts sorts of things that are big improvements over the old and outdated current curriculum.  Acknowledgement of things like anal sex and masturbation are long overdue.  Obviously these are taught at very different age levels - young children starting from toddler age usually figure out masturbation, though clearly it changes in tone some as they mature, so they need to know that it exists, it has a name, and it isn't wrong.  Anal sex on the other hand is something that kids don't need to be taught about until they are quite a bit further along.

Of course people hate this.  Many of them are pulling their children out of school in protest and there are lots of Facebook campaigns, yelling of slogans, and calling into radio shows to complain.  "Stop teaching our children to masturbate!" they say.  "Schools should not be demonstrating how to have anal sex!" they chant.  The fearmongering is intense, but fortunately most of what they say is absolute nonsense and has no bearing on what is actually going to be taught.  Obviously schools aren't going to be teaching children how to masturbate... they are going to be saying that people do that, there is nothing wrong with doing so, and no one should feel bad for touching themselves in a way that gives them pleasure.

I am sure there are some people who are demonstrating and being all kinds of angry about these changes only on the basis of false information.  Some of them surely believe that teachers will strip down, bring in porn stars, and demonstrate anal sex on their desks to give the students a proper sense of technique.

But most of them don't.

Most of them don't believe that at all, but they are so incensed by the idea of acknowledging that gay people exist and that gender isn't an absolute binary laid down by God at conception that they seize on any ridiculous talking point to object.  Also there is a lot of sex negativity in the mix, and a desperate fear that talking about sex will somehow cause teenagers to suddenly start bangin' away like rabbits, ignoring the obvious fact that no knowledge about sex means teenagers have sex more but with less protection.

Funny thing is that some of the things people are yelling about aren't even significant changes.  Things were chugging along just fine and then parents noticed that someone was going to admit that sex is a thing, people have bodies, and sometimes people don't fit cleanly into the square holes that they are used to and lost it.  It isn't all the changes, but also just that suddenly these topics made it into the public consciousness and knowledge of them spread.

I am happy to report though that the government's response to these protests has been to listen to them and then to totally ignore them.  Yes yes, you are all very angry, and come September these changes are going to be in place.  Deal with it.  Sometimes the government backs off good initiatives because fools make a stink about them but not this time it would seem.  I approve, and the vindictive side of me is glad to see religious folks who want to keep their children ignorant and bigoted getting shown the door.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Good news

Yesterday Elli and I went to Sick Kids Hospital.  We have been there a lot over the past few years dealing with her ongoing kidney issues so it is becoming a familiar pattern.  No matter how many times we need to do the drawing blood process though it is always a traumatic thing.  Elli likes giving blood about as much as I do, which is to say it is a very unhappy thing, and she lacks the discipline yet to keep it together.  Buying her a stuffed animal after the tests has become a routine for us now though there is still a bit of conflict over whether or not the stuffed animal can be as big as she is or not.

Thankfully the visit yesterday was a good one for us.  Elli hasn't had any serious issues for a year and a half now and her tests came out better than ever before, just barely outside of normal.  The doctors there think that we should just keep doing whatever it is we are doing and come back in a year to see if anything has changed.  The message was, in essence, that Elli is fine and will not need further intervention but that they will keep an eye out just in case.  Both of those things are a tremendous relief.

It is a joyous thing to be coming out of Sick Kids feeling so much better about the world, especially when we see so many children there who are so much worse off.  Not only are our problems going away, but seeing how ill the other kids are gives me an extra dose of gratitude that our struggles were never as bad as that.  Oftentimes we parents look around the world and see people's carefully curated histories of their children's accomplishments and wonder why we aren't achieving all that they are.  Looking at children who aren't trying to win medals but are really just hoping to live another year helps lift you out of Facebook jealousy mode and makes you happy that all you have to worry about is how good your kids look on Facebook.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A reason for being

I get lots of emails from the local Toronto polyamorous Meetup group.  I have only ever attended one event over the two years I have been getting these emails and I wasn't particularly impressed.  I think the group suffers from not having a clear reason for existing.  They generally have two kinds of events that happen, one of which is useful and makes sense and the other which doesn't so much.

The useful kind of event is generally a Chat N Learn where people sit around and discuss topics of interest to poly people - dealing with coming out, jealousy, privacy, and other such concerns.  Honestly people in any sort of relationship could benefit from these discussion groups but because poly people have fewer models they get extra benefits from this sort of thing.  I am not particularly interested in these groups personally because I feel like the reading I have done and the discussions I have had with other poly people have taught me all the theory I want.  Practical experience has to come at its own rate.

Less useful though is the constant stream of meetups at bars.  I just don't see the appeal of showing up at a bar to meet people who happen to have one thing in common with me that doesn't lend itself to interesting conversation.

"I date more than one person."  "Me too."  /crickets

What that means is that you have a bunch of people sitting around drinking knowing that the thing that they all have in common is they can all ignore the wedding rings on any fingers.  So of course people treat it like a pick up event where all they are there to do is find somebody new to bang.  Nothing wrong with that if that is what you are into, but that sort of event usually ends up being pretty terrible for the women who show up as they get relentlessly hit on.  I don't like bars at the best of times because I don't particularly enjoy loud noises nor the taste of alcohol and an event where we can't figure out what we are supposed to be doing isn't making it any better.

If you want to organize a speed dating event or some other thing that is explicitly designed around people hitting on one another then that is great.  Unfortunately when that isn't what an event is about explicitly but some people treat it that way you have general unpleasantness for some and uselessness for others with not much actual success.  A much more successful strategy is the poly board game nights that some people have been arranging because you have a thing to do together that isn't size each other up for sex.  You can just play some games with people from whom you don't have to hide your lifestyle and if chemistry happens, cool, but it isn't expected or necessary for everyone to feel the event was a success.

It is a bit of a tricky thing.  I like the idea of people who struggle with mainstream acceptance of their lives having a place to meet like minded others.  Support for marginalized groups is a good thing.  I think that support works a lot better though when it is paired with other shared interests because those interests provide a great way to ease into other more difficult but also more important conversations.