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I hope that this diary will inspire a practical methodology for dot connection, more and better and funnier conspiracy theorizing (particularly as alternate explanations of boneheaded Rethug narratives) and an ongoing discussion of liberalism.
Sadly, liberalism has fallen on hard times despite being the lifeblood of democracy, innovation, exploration and good clean fun, not to mention an increasingly unappreciated and disparaged foundation of the Democratic party. As my nickname has a basis in liberalism, an explanation serves the dual purpose of revisiting a small piece of its history, and explaining by illustration why connecting disparate information may have applications beyond making timorous people more nervous.
I wrote this diary in response to the question(s) posed here by Chicagodem, in the diary entitled Mindless Diary Recommenders, I'm Calling You Out.

Is your name a reference to Harvey Birdman, or to the excellent protein-filled legume itself?

This is not, however, a diary about another diary. I believe any complaints about other diaries should be posted within those diaries themselves. More on the flip.

My family nick is actually Pinot -- Little Pine -- after my great grandfather Big Pine or Pappy the Peanut. It's also based on Pinoche, a compact trail food made of pine nuts, fruit, grains and honey that we ate on hikes and was pretty good sitting down, too. Pap was my favorite babysitter and family oddball who I apparently eerily resemble (mostly in personality and springy mountain-hiking walk, if not appearance except the eyes).
I share the mantle of eccentricity with Les Pineaux, the cousins in my particular batch: Friar Peanut is a monk who runs a religious retreat. Rancid Peanut is a (sadly, Repug) financial analyst and Yankees blowhard, and Professor Peanut, teaches philosophy and math. I am the only girl in the batch.
Back in the old countr(ies) of mountainous France and Italy, Pap was a gangly cop, philosophy and classics nut, environmentalist, botanist, orchard keeper, gadget inventor, Shavian vegetarian and maintainer of the wild animal habitats around our town. (I'm an immigrant to the hemisphere.) He always brought the older kids with him and to go along we had to keep up. He taught all the kids in his care how to walk for endurance at high altitude. All the Pineaux have a springy walk, because on inclines it's safer and less tiring not to step from inertia but to use momentum going up, and work off angles and gravity coming down. We also learned to do celestial navigation using fingers as an astrolabe and to communicate non-verbally over long distances using subtle hand signals. (Also cool for cheating at cards but I recommend combining the skill with a martial art and some form of middle-distance running, as I have.)
I later learned that Pap's skills on the trails and his commitment to habitat maintenance outside the town came from manning the local leg of the anti-fascist pipeline that delivered dissidents and information to safety. That guide who hooks up with Chuck Bronson at the end of The Great Escape could have been Pap. He believed that fascism was never vanquished permanently, so keeping the trails open was a good idea.
He was with the anti-fascist resistance in his native Spain, in France and then Italy: a courier on skis or hiking boots, a trail blazer and mountain guide. He had studied where the ancient trails were that the Romans and later, the Crusaders used and planted herbs and root veg there as blaze. These could be used medicinally and in snacks during his "deliveries" or to guide his fallback canine support to make it to the next leg of the journey should anything happen to Pap. He had really great, smart dogs that could do complex tasks with very little prompting, like run out for a pack of smokes prompted just by the way Pap tapped his cigarette. Pap's friends were alternately impressed and amused by his fascination with animal intelligence (and his morality-based vegetarianism) and said that at Pap's place, you were as likely to find chickens sitting at his table as on them. They called him Pap the Hindu.
He believed that kids were at least as smart as dogs. Kids were small but not stupid, merely limited in their ability to digest and articulate complex concepts by a still-growing vocabulary. He tested this by discussing what I later learned were classical epics and various schools of thought and ideas in plain young language. I arrived at my current loose ordering system of radical empiricism by taking to heart Pap's lesson on why we should respect life as a default and not destroy mindlessly. Every living creature knows lots of stuff, just different stuff. Was s/he or it instructive? Was s/he or it at least delicious?
The implied commitment to learn from and assist living creatures, aside from just being nice, had a variety of practical possibilities. A critter or life form might get you out of a jam someday, like the herd dog who rescued one of Pap's cousins from under earthquake rubble, and made our patriarch add St. Francis of Assisi to our exemplars. Or they might be dots that make it easier to connect to other dots, like the trail herbs he planted as blaze. Respect for habitat could mollify an inhabitant who attacked you for instinctual turf reasons but then recognized you as belonging to benign laissez faire piss. And for plain mischief, creative relational extrapolations can piss off know it all creationist dumbasses by conveying the idea that their capacity for tormenting people into eternity might have already exceeded their own design limits or thwarted their assumed purpose.
The Peanut handle for Les Pineaux came from some dumbass relatives I got to know when my family emigrated and was looking around for a place to settle. We mooched off stayed with a whack of Peanuts around the US and Canada because my parents couldn't agree on the different options and we weren't sure who'd tolerate us the longest. I just thought the dumbass Peanuts were funny (and still do) because of how slowly crazy they drove (rigidly empiricist and closet logical positivist) Pap, who kept explaining that peanuts were NOT NUTS until he sounded like a raving madman, thus disproving his own assertion. It was a losing battle of over-explanation he fought his whole life, and in a way, an existential stuggle that every intelligent and tolerant being must fight or surrender to the imprisonment of lifelong pre-emptive conformity.
I'm a pragmatist too, but more of a radical empiricist and much less flappable, since a built-in feature is valuing information from others over the dubious thrill of imposing it on them. When people reject the intelligent, civilized and often downright convivial exercise of enquiry by observation (or simply asking nice), or abandon using basic reason in favor of frankly retarded strategies like wingnut hate radio, cocktail party media or the Chicken Wing of the Democratic Party do of complaining about liberals, asking why and stropping Occam's razor is a really good idea.
During the past few years, liberals have batted 1000 in that all our most popular Conspiracy Theories are demonstrably fact based at the outset and later provide evidence that exceeds what is required by most courts except the whackjob one that the Chimperor is currently cronying up to keep his ass and the criminal gang he rode in on out of trouble in a coupla'few years.
I believe the method of enquiry should be scrupulous and pristine, particularly in extrapolating from human behavior, because chances are good that there will be a lot of volatile or messy crap. There will also be beauty and inspiration, which require special handling and which one would want to preserve for future generations to enjoy.
One of the many reasons I can't stand the Connecticut Cowboy is that he has co-opted and ravaged cowboy mythology with sloppy, dumbass handling. He's afraid of horses, for Buttermilk's sake. He might have ruined cowboy imagery for good were it not for the mythological pushback from the liberal side. We have great cowboys too. Somewhere Will Rogers is smiling because the leads in Brokeback Mountain have surely done his most famous quote justice and then some.
But back to dot connection, I'm also fond of applications of extrapolated wisdom from natural environments and creatures applied to other forms and disciplines, eg, sports, dance and martial arts movements, all of which have been inspired by observing successful animal and plant life.
In the martial arts I've studied, a lot of the most successful weapons were originally common home and garden tools. The peasants' overlords and vassals carried sophisticated weaponry like swords which required special materials to make and fix, and special practice areas and masters. Common tools, by their very availability, allowed proficiency and creative applications beyond sophisticated weapons because every use was an opportunity for practice and innovation. Elitist weapons so lethal in and of themselves had a high casualty rate on the user: if the practitioner's mastery wasn't superb, s/he became literally self-defeating. (::cough ||seppuku|| cough::)
I've also studied dance most of my life but wasn't inclined to scrap for gigs or chase the spotlight, so I changed my original ambition to join the Rockettes kickline to the far more satisfying fantasy of kicking one in the face someday. Dance forms are also transports of complex cultural and historical information, as well as being a great way to evade an attack on one's person or sanity. A well-executed rumba can foil many restraint-oriented martiality or simply shake off the frustration of watching another round of Rethug squawking points on the news. (Some Basque, Phillipino, Pacific Rim and Brazilian dances actually are martial arts flip books.) So I kid the Rockettes, who might be like the Wu Tang Clan.

Some fellow Peanuts are listed in the tip jar.

Originally posted to Peanut on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 07:52 AM PST.


What is your favorite legume dish?

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