I'm pretty happy with the way this conversation on G+ turned out. It started out moderately hot, with some insults and not a lot of actual content, and ended up (as of this writing, at least) with a few topics we agree on, some neat history and philosophy of governance, and more civility. I'd go over the bit by bit, but it's easier just to read it.
Last night, I had a choice between two social gatherings (!!), and went with a skeptics group run by (and I do mean to state it so strongly) a local philosopher. It was a lively discussion on celebrity endorsement of scientific, anti-scientific, and semi-scientific positions. I loved the sharpness of the people there and the variety in opinions. It was a bit unwieldy in size, but was a delight. There is a point of slight awkwardness in that one of the people who attends the meeting is a former would-be employer, but that can be navigated.
There's a skeptical conference coming up that I am thinking about attending; it's a bit expensive and I'm trying not to spend a lot of money (spectacularly failed at that yesterday, when I bought a Playstation Vita and a lot of oranges, haha) until I'm more employed. I probably will go, but there's another bit of potential awkwardness in that there's someone I asked out on a dating site who's going to be prominent there.
I do kinda regret not being able to attend both meetings last night; the other one was about cross-domain reasoning, which is a topic I'd like to study in grad school, but it was also hosted in the home of someone who leads a group I'm generally wary of (hive of people of the libertarian flavour of transhumanism).
I do feel that being here is good for me; my natural reclusive tendencies might not win out in the end if I can keep attending enough social events to meet folk before I feel the need to go hide.