Not hard

Have you ever seen this stupid slogan?

It’s bullshit, through and through. It’s wishful thinking by meatheads.

I agree with Abe:

An obsession with “hard” masculinity is a very old trope, but one that continues to plague us. It’s often supported by facile historical comparisons that fall apart upon closer inspection, but it remains one of the most reliable tools for manipulating men into a whole array of harmful behaviors. Self-destructive showing off, domestic abuse, abusive relationships between friends, violence, support for political “strong men”, support for war, hatred of “weakness”, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia – all the traits we currently categorize as “toxic masculinity” tend to be supported by the notion that being a “hard man” is a good thing, and being not that is a bad thing. I think this Lonerbox video is a good companion piece to Thought Slime’s earlier look at the same topic, from a different angle. The reality is that this psuedo-historical “ancient wisdom” is both a-historical and (in my opinion) instrumental in creating hard times.

He has the link to the Lonerbox video, which is a must-watch. The whole thing is great, but the last line in particular is a killer.

Even prehistory refutes the claim. Look at Neandertals: bigger than us, more robustly boned, strong, active hunters of big game, truly hard men. Then they got supplanted by a bunch of sneaky, gracile, skinny (relatively) boys from the south. Humans have never relied on being a more muscular species than anyone else.


  1. says

    it remains one of the most reliable tools for manipulating men into a whole array of harmful behaviors. Self-destructive showing off, domestic abuse, abusive relationships between friends, violence, support for political “strong men”, support for war, hatred of “weakness”, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia – all the traits we currently categorize as “toxic masculinity” tend to be supported by the notion that being a “hard man” is a good thing, and being not that is a bad thing.

    Add to that list refusing to get vaccinated during a pandemic and dying. I can’t tell you the number of memes I’ve seen with this theme: vaccinated people (or those wearing masks) are controlled, manipulated, cowardly, feminine/gay/trans, weak “sheep” while unvaxxed people and those shunning masks are tough, courageous, defiant, strong, manly, warrior “lions.” (I saw one the other day that said something like “I survived wooden spoons, lead [!!!], drinking from a hose,… I’m not afraid of COVID.” The person who posted it later died of COVID.) Joe Rogan exemplifies this nonsense.

  2. Nemo says

    I literally just saw the first panel of this yesterday, but with the words superimposed over Joe Rogan’s face. /vomits

  3. Bruce says

    I agree. The hypothesis about people and times getting better and worse is pretty vague. If the fantasists increased the specificity of the hypothesis by putting time length estimates on it, then it could be easily disproven. Without time limits, the hypothesis becomes so vague that it merely states that people and times don’t stay constant, which is so inevitable that it makes clear how meaningless is such a “prediction” as if it had anything to do with cause or effect. And it begs the questions: were there EVER time without both hard and soft people? And were there ever times without both good and poor conditions? Depending on who you ask, every age is simultaneously both the best of times and the worst of times. Were Presidents such as Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Eisenhower, or Trump hard or soft, good or poor? For each case, all possible answers can be documented.
    For myself, I feel I am such a hard man that I want to go find a hard woman to go be hard with. Now I’ll just think of Joe Rogan as an accidental trans ally, based on his implicit endorsement of hard women or whatever he’s been saying. Surely we can rely on him to tell us what one thing all men and all women are always being. 😜

  4. says

    And yet it is pretty obvious that the hard men wind up being mere employees of the smart men. The hard men shovel the shit, dig the ditches, mow the lawns and unclog the plumbing of the smart men. And, when the rare hard man figures this out, the smart men send them off to die in a war, and take the hard man’s significant other. Yeah, being a hard man is greaat, you gomers.

  5. Samuel Vimes says

    No, fortunately I’ve never had the displeasure of seeing that meme, before. And now that I have, I am stupider for it.

    Best I go watch a Potholer video to counteract the effect.

  6. says

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that hard men are generally concerned about heirarchy – they want to be the best, or the top dog. But smart men know that there can only be one top dog and lets the hard men struggle amongst themselves over who is the best at mowing the smart man’s lawn.

  7. Rich Woods says

    “Hard times create strong men”

    The facial detail (not to mention the armour) in that image isn’t good enough to be certain, but given the context that’s presumably a depiction of Julius Caesar. Caesar brought his gens out of comparative obscurity and himself from disfavour. He was the foremost general of his age, adding Gaul to the Roman territories and eventually beating Pompey, the other great general of his time. Caesar was instrumental in converting the Roman Republic, with all its strengths and weaknesses, into the Roman Empire, with all its strengths and weaknesses (a project only completed under his adoptive nephew Octavian, of course). His is almost always the first name any modern person thinks of in relation to some generic mention of Rome in antiquity.

    But Caesar didn’t conquer Britain. He tried twice and he failed twice. So, unless the image is meant to illustrate Aulus Plautius and perhaps even Vespasianius, why attach this slogan to this image in its context? One man is world famous but failed twice in his self-imposed task, while the other two are much less famous but did succeed after more than two decades of conflict. Does the creator of the image have the least clue about what he is actually conveying?

  8. Walter Solomon says

    The first time I saw it, it was attributed to a Saudi king or something. Supposedly he said he’s drives a Land Rover but his son will be riding a camel and then says the nonsense above.

    My question — who, honestly, takes memes seriously? And how appropriate is it that Richard Dawkins is “the father of memes”?

  9. wcaryk says

    “While Alpha males are often gifted with superior physical attributes — size, strength, speed, and good looks — selected over the eons by the strongest surviving and, essentially, getting all the girls, the Beta Male gene has survived not by meeting and overcoming adversity, but by anticipating and avoiding it. That is, when the alpha males were out charging after mastodons, the beta males could imagine in advance that attacking what was essentially an angry, wooly bulldozer with a pointy stick, might be a losing proposition, so he hung back at camp to console the grieving widows whose Alpha-male mates had been stomped into mastodon moss. ”
    — Christopher Moore, “The Beta Male Manifesto”

  10. says

    There was a recent Conspirituality episode about this stupid cyclical notion of history – “82: Steve Bannon, Mystic (w/Benjamin Teitelbaum)”:

    While Americans were transforming esoteric strains of yoga into a commodifiable industry in 1980, a young naval officer named Steve Bannon was picking up theosophical texts in metaphysical bookstores and practicing Zen meditation in secret while stationed in Hong Kong. He was wary of his countrymates liberal explorations of Eastern philosophies, aware of the nationalistic roots upon which these “mystical” systems were founded. Then he stumbled into Traditionalism, a perennial philosophy that consumed all world religions, as popularized by the likes of French metaphysicist René Guénon and Italian antisemitic conspiracy theorist Julius Evola.This week we welcome Benjamin Teitelbaum, an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and International Affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of the book, War for Eternity: The Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right. Teitelbaum gained access to leading right-wing figures around the world, including Steve Bannon. He’s got their number and brings receipts. Get ready for a long, strange trip….

    I haven’t read the Teitelbaum book yet, but I did recently read another relevant one, Edward J. Watts’ The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome: The History of a Dangerous Idea:

    As this book intriguingly explores, for those who would make Rome great again and their victims, ideas of Roman decline and renewal have had a long and violent history.

    The decline of Rome has been a constant source of discussion for more than 2200 years. Everyone from American journalists in the twenty-first century AD to Roman politicians at the turn of the third century BC have used it as a tool to illustrate the negative consequences of changes in their world. Because Roman history is so long, it provides a buffet of ready-made stories of decline that can help develop the context around any snapshot. And Rome did, in fact, decline and, eventually, fall. An empire that once controlled all or part of more than 40 modern European, Asian, and African countries no longer exists. Roman prophets of decline were, ultimately, proven correct-a fact that makes their modern invocations all the more powerful. If it happened then, it could happen now.

    The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome tells the stories of the people who built their political and literary careers around promises of Roman renewal as well as those of the victims they blamed for causing Rome’s decline. Each chapter offers the historical context necessary to understand a moment or a series of moments in which Romans, aspiring Romans, and non–Romans used ideas of Roman decline and restoration to seize power and remake the world around them. The story begins during the Roman Republic just after 200 BC. It proceeds through the empire of Augustus and his successors, traces the Roman loss of much of western Europe in the fifth century AD, and then follows Roman history as it runs through the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) until its fall in 1453. The final two chapters look at ideas of Roman decline and renewal from the fifteenth century until today. If Rome illustrates the profound danger of the rhetoric of decline, it also demonstrates the rehabilitative potential of a rhetoric that focuses on collaborative restoration, a lesson of great relevance to our world today.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Rich Woods @ # 8: … Caesar didn’t conquer Britain.

    Not so sure he really tried. From Adrian Goldsworthy’s bio, I took away the impression that ol’ Gaius Julius invaded that island as more of a reconnaissance-in-force, pursuing the rumors that the locals might have gold or pearls or some other riches that might help with Caesar’s chronic budgetary problems. When he found only another batch of dirty barbarians, he cut his losses and moved on.

    As for the theme exemplified by that meme – ehh. Recycled, simplified-to-stupefaction Toynsbee.

  12. PaulBC says

    Indoor plumbing explains “good times” more than “strong men.” That and other forms of sanitation have prevented many deaths and made life more livable overall. I guess plumbing is still considered a “manly” profession, so maybe that’s what they mean. (But no it’s not.)

    The rest is pure crap. Peacetime is when most lasting advances occur. War can lead to specific technological advances such as the atom bomb or radar, but not basic research, the arts, or for that matter the creature comforts that allow people to focus on their work. The people who love being “strong” are the ones who would have us in a perpetual state of war merely to establish a pecking order. As the old Irish Spring commercial went: “A mite stronger than I care to be.” They stink.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Five will get you ten that the author of this meme is a basement-dwelling lardass* who has never done a sit-up in their lives.

    *Hey! I can use that word! THAT’S OUR WORD!

  14. PaulBC says

    Even prehistory refutes the claim. Look at Neandertals: bigger than us, more robustly boned, strong, active hunters of big game, truly hard men. Then they got supplanted by a bunch of sneaky, gracile, skinny (relatively) boys from the south.

    That sounds like you’re promoting a stereotype. Yes, you can draw some conclusion about strength from skeletal remains, but there’s no reason to think Neandertals engaged in more toxic masculinity than those who displaced them. I like to think of them as gentle hippies. Of course, we don’t really have the behavioral evidence either way. Life was hard for everyone at the time.

    Note: I have a noticeable brow ridge and wondered if I had Neandertal genes long before it was cool. I never actually bothered to check through 23andMe though based on my siblings’ results I think the level is unremarkable. Anyway, please don’t dis the Neandertals just to make a point (which I agree with completely).

  15. cartomancer says

    It is very tedious for a Classicist such as myself to look upon such nonsense. This simplistic model of history (if it’s not too much of a stretch to dignify it with such a term) has its roots in Roman ideas and ideals, most specifically the mores of the Augustan age following the Civil Wars of the first century BC (particularly Livy) and the late first century SIlver Age following the Civil Wars of 69AD (particularly Tacitus and Juvenal). Though to the Romans it was not a cyclical model at all, but rather a straightforward acknowledgement of rise and fall, success and decline. It was also not a model based on physical strength and toughness, but rather on moral character and civic virtue.

    The basic idea was that frugality, simplicity and having enemies at the gate to keep you on your toes keeps the men virtuous and honest, while wealth, luxury and a life of ease makes men greedy, venal and unconcerned with the public good, such that social cohesion implodes. The contrast was between a focus on the common good and a focus on selfish pleasure-seeking. Romans being who they were, their idea of decline was intimately bound up with becoming more effeminate and more foreign (particularly more Greek), and the opportunities their empire brought for such undesirable cultural traits to seep into Roman life were blamed. But to the Romans masculine virtue (“virtus” means “manliness”, to the Romans they are literally one and the same) was not about fighting prowess or capacity for violence or physique or sexual conquest or anything like that – it was about bravery, willingness to sacrifice yourself for the greater good and an unswerving dedication to family, state and duty.

  16. says

    Prof. Bret Devereaux at debunks this extensively in his fremen mirage series.

    That is in fact where I saw the same picture first, with the following caption:

    The typical form of the meme. I cannot identify the first painting, it looks very modern. The third is Thomas Couture, Romans during the Decadence (1847). As we’ll see, figuring out when, exactly, Roman decadence is supposed to be is hard, but it certainly isn’t anywhere within at least two centuries of Roman decline.
    The second and fourth are from a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole called The Course of Empire, which is itself essentially this meme, just in the 1830s. That timing, we will find, is no accident – the modern version of this idea has deep roots in Romanticism (c. 1800-1850), a reaction against the reason of the Enlightenment – which makes it more than a touch ironic that this brain-dead meme is so frequently presented as clear logic.

  17. says

    Perhaps this is a bit tangential, but recently I learned of a medieval Italian representation of one Roman emperor’s defeat. Specifically, in the late 1300s Giovannia Boccaccio wrote De Casibus Virorum Illustrium (“On the Fates of Famous Men”), in which Boccaccio has imaginary conversations with famous people throughout history who failed spectacularly. One of these figures was the Roman emperor Valerian, captured in battle in the late third century by Persian emperor Shapur I, the only Roman emperor to suffer this fate. Boccaccio says Valerian’s defeat was God’s wrath because the emperor had been so mean to the early Christians. I’m not exactly an expert on medieval literature, but it’s an interesting glimpse into how much medieval scholars (at least the ones in Italy) knew about Rome and how they interpreted the events and fate of the empire. I now dread to think how someone like Rogan would interpret the cause of a Roman emperor being defeated by the Persians.

  18. cartomancer says

    It is also worth dissecting the paintings used to illustrate this little meme, above.

    What we have is a picture of Julius Caesar’s expeditions to Britain (the White Cliffs of Dover are prominent in the background, and the military stylings are late Republican), two panels from the American artist Thomas Cole’s “The Course of Empire” (1833-36) and the French artist Thomas Couture’s 1847 “The Romans during the Decadence”.

    The Caesar picture is entirely inappropriate even within the schema imagined. Caesar represents not Rome at its frugal, simplistic, military height (that, to later Romans, would be Scipio Africanus or Cincinnatus or Fabius Cunctator or Mucius Scaevola), but rather the last days of the Republic. Caesar’s day was seen as the nadir of Roman decadence by Augustan writers – a time of lasciviousness (Catullus, Ovid), selfish military adventuring (Sulla, Caesar, Antony), oppression of the common people by rising oligarchs (everything the Gracchi tried to ameliorate), aspiring tyrants (the aforementioned Gracchi, Sulla, Marius, etc). and so on. Augustus’s vision was of a Rome restored from those depths. In Tacitus’s estimation the Britons themselves were the virtuous, frugal, clean-living ones (the speech he gives to Calgacus at the Battle of Mons Graupius exemplifies this – a hairy barbarian chieftain speaking mellifluous Latin oratory as a virtuous man should), and the Romans just spread their corruption to the island. They called it culture and sophistication, but it was really just a part of their enslavement.

    So that’s a bit crap for starters. Next up, Cole’s Course of Empire. That was a painting depicting this theme in classicising vein, but really it was a pretty obvious allegory for US imperial expansion, especially that of Andrew Jackson. The images show another non-cyclical progression from the “savage” state of nature through the “arcadian”, ideal, pre-urban state to the culmination of empire (the second picture above) in its city-state stage, to the destruction (picture four) and eventually the silence and emptiness of uninhabited ruins. The main themes of the picture are entirely American ones – the importance of living in harmony with nature rather than trying to usurp it (the Classical age has no trees or vegetation in it, for instance), the dangers of enslaving others (the invaders in Destruction could well be the slaves of the civilisation), the transience of power, and so on. Also, the invaders in the fourth panel are themselves the more virile and morally virtuous ones, so from their perspective they are the ones creating prosperous times for their own people. One people’s decline and fall is another’s rise and prosperity.

    As for Couture’s picture, that too was a fairly thinly veiled allegory for 19th Century French society just before the 1848 Revolution, condeming the upper classes, and particularly the recently restored House of Bourbon (July Monarchy) for their vices. It’s an anti-monarchist picture, redolent with French Republican values. Indeed, the greatness it alludes to in its truncated statues of marble titans is the greatness of civilised virtue brought about under the original French Revolution, which the restored Bourbon kings have squandered. The “weak men” here are the ancien regime, the traditional rulers of France, who, through the lens of Republican thought, were never virtuous and good. They weren’t degenerates from some prior pristine state, they had always been like that.

    So, actually, none of these pictures embodies anything of what

  19. ethicsgradient says

    I first saw this meme on the site of the historian Bret Devereaux, who did an excellent job of demolishing it in a series called “The Fremen Mirage” (from early 2020, and based on the books, not anything in the recent film):

    He also did a series on the Spartans, with real facts, not the nonsense in “300” and so on. He’s very good at taking down modern misapprehensions about military history, especially as expressed in popular culture (and how can you resist a blog that takes pride in calling itself “A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry”?)

  20. Artor says

    @PaulBC most of the adult male Neanderthal skeletons we have found show signs of serious physical trauma that they survived. Someone matched the injuries up to modern professions and found they were very similar to rodeo riders: getting the shit stomped out of you by megafauna is pretty much the same whomever you are. But the shit-stompers in Neanderthal days were wooly rhinos, mammoths, Irish elk, and things like that. And the Neanderthals lived to hunt again! Those broken bones had healed! I don’t know how toxic their interpersonal relations were, but Neanderthals were bad fothermuckers,

  21. PaulBC says

    cartomancer@24 I thought “So, actually, none of these pictures embodies anything of what” was already elegantly put and self-explanatory.

  22. PaulBC says

    Artor@26 OK, not gentle hippies, maybe singing cowboys? I mean you can’t prove they didn’t sing about their exploits with the local megafauna.

    There’s a lot of myth-making about Neanderthals, but I like the positive myths better. I often feel I’m a rather primitive thinker myself, relying on visualization more than logic (painfully working through the latter as needed). I’d rather think of myself as a little bit Neanderthal than somehow “superior.”

  23. Rich Woods says

    @Pierce R. Butler #12:

    The scale of Britannia was known to Romans thanks to Pythias the Navigator and someone else whose name now escapes me (another eponymous Navigator, likely Phoenician). Cornwall had been a trading target for the Phoenicians for 500 years before Caesar, being one of the major sources of tin, lead and zinc flowing into Europe. Trade in gold and copper from Wales was also well known, as were the pearls reaching the continent from the Thames estuary.

    To say that Caesar was acting upon a dodgy rumour is laughable. For whatever reason(s), he fucked it all up.

  24. rwiess says

    Proto-gibbon walked out of Asia, upright and mostly monogamous, found a paradise in Africa, and radiated in many directions. Those who stayed with the original program now rule the world. Those who focused on The Strong Guy Gets to be Alpha and Gets All the Women led to gorillas. Civilization does not flow from strong men.

  25. drew says

    Maybe give them credit for noticing cycles in history and for trying to learn from history, then help them by correcting them. They’re offering us a framework they use already to work with to educate them.

  26. davidc1 says

    @31 That lady who showed the American meat industry how to do a better job of getting the cattle
    slaughtered once said that Civilization got a head start from the guys/woman in the back of the cave
    making axes and stuff like that.
    Or something like that.

  27. says

    @davidc1 35
    In support of the person you are referring to,
    “Triadic (ecological, neural, cognitive) niche construction: a scenario of human brain evolution extrapolating tool use and language from the control of reaching actions”.
    My favorite paper looking at the evolution of tool use. Including cognitive tools. They include stuff showing how tool use in the lab in primates is correlated with brain growth/activity in regions associated with the anatomy controlling the tools.

  28. robro says

    cartomancer @ #24 — Thanks for the details. I recognized the Coutour parts, and noticed the omissions. I did a search for the first one using “Romans at Dover”. It seems to be artwork from a game, “Ryse: Son of Rome—Landing at Dover” where Ryse is the Roman military leader. JC apparently isn’t in the picture. Just as well since Caesar’s attempt to invade Britain failed.

  29. tacitus says

    In religious circles, hard masculinity manifests as muscular Christianity — basically all the prerequisites for Christian nationalism.

  30. cartomancer says

    The thing about Caesar’s invasion of Britain is that he never really intended to spend the military resources needed to conquer it properly. It was pretty much just showboating and raiding so he had some good loot and impressive tales to tell in his write-up for the people back in Rome. His real ambition was political power, and playing the daring military commander was one road to achieving it. In that sense he succeeded in his goals. Not that he really needed to add any further victories to his CV by that point. Many in Rome were already accusing him of war crimes thanks to his quite excessive slaughter of the Gauls over the previous decade.

  31. KG says

    Björn Kurtén’s Dance of the Tiger portrays Neandertals as matriarchal and following elaborate codes of politeness – and as distinctly in awe of their patriarchal AMH neighbours (who are referred to in the book as “blacks”, while the Neandertals are “whites”). Text accompanying the novel explains Neandertal extinction as due to a combination of this asymmetry with hybrid sterility (which we now know, of course, not to have been the case, at least not always). An enjoyable read, anyway.

  32. microraptor says

    PaulBC @29: I’m pretty sure that the stereotype of Neanderthals as being super-hunters who ate mammoths, rhinos, and Megalocerous at every meal has been debunked. Investigations of the isotopes in Neanderthal bones has shown that at least some of them appear to have lived on mostly vegan diets.

  33. Dennis K says

    @40 cartomancer — He was also a decent writer, at least from the one translation I’ve read (Carolyn Hammond). I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if his use of third-person was hubris or if that was just popular style. His self-grandiosity aside, I rather enjoyed The Gallic War and it never struck me from that piece in particular that he cared all that much about “conquering” Britain.

  34. cartomancer says

    Dennis K,

    Caesar’s famous use of third person has a very simple explanation – he was writing an account for his heralds to read out about him in public back home. His Gallic War (and, perhaps even more so, Civil War) was originally conceived as a series of dispatches from the front to keep his public profile high. Since he was absent from the political heart of Rome for years on end he needed to do something to keep his supporters impressed, and having regular accounts sent back about his victories did the job nicely (and allowed him to control the messaging). A Roman audience used to regular recitals of new books by the people who wrote them expected that if you were reading out a work of literature in the first person, you were its author.

  35. rblackadar says

    rwiess@31 “proto-gibbon” in this context puts me in mind of a roomful of monkeys typing out History of the Decline and Fall…</.>

  36. says

    The very least I can say offhand about this is, that all of the hard times being caused today are caused by “strong” people — who are destroying all the civil society and political/legal infrastructure that makes for good times. And in many if not most cases, they’re doing it with the conscious intent to prevent “weak” people from getting any benefit from civil society.

    And no, good times don’t “create weak men;” they’re just times when people can get out and get what they need without having to be “strong” or well-armed or willing to kill anyone who gets in their way. That is, in fact, the definition of “good times.”

    (And on a side-note, that first picture was of the Roman invasion of Britain, which IMO doesn’t really qualify as “hard times,” even for the Britons. A better example of “hard times” might be a picture of Romans fighting for their own city a few centuries before.)

  37. chrislawson says

    Also, far from being a military force of nature/”hard man”, Julius came within a hair’s breadth of being destroyed by Pompey. It is one of history’s great what-if moments: if Pompey had surged forward to complete his defeat of Julius’s legions instead of waiting to let his forces recuperate — unfortunately for him, waiting long enough for the rest of Julius’s legions to get back to Rome — then Julius would never have been Caesar and we would probably know him only as a failed player in the Roman civil wars.

  38. Akira MacKenzie says

    Really? Is that the best abuse you can serve up? I’ve seen more pithy banter from spoiled 10-year-olds.

  39. Akira MacKenzie says

    Yikes, and I thought I had a proofreading problem! At least show some self-respect and TRY to use proper grammar and spelling in your asinine screeds.

  40. vucodlak says

    To be hard is to be brittle.

    To be brittle is to be broken.

    To be broken is to be human.

    To be human is to be soft.

    To be soft is to absorb blows without breaking, to flow together to become stronger with others than you ever were alone, to survive when the stubbornly hard are all dust. The fourth step is really a choice- be human, or be dust.

    I’m much too lazy to put pictures behind that so imagine, like, frolicking fauns or technicolor dildos or whatever makes you happy in the background.

  41. says

    Still no obvious information about behavior beyond shallow impressions. The multi-bigot appears to be settling on ablism more broadly now that they’ve recognized the challenge…now that I’ve reposted with the proper formatting will they go for the dig?

  42. Akira MacKenzie says


    Normalcy is boring, just like you. I’d rather have a world filled with transsexual Jews, each swinging 10-inch black cocks than one populated by pathetic, mediocre, white man-children who can’t think of anything better to do with their failed and useless lives than post lewd comments on a biologist’s blog.

    But please, show us on the dolly where PZ bad-touched you?

  43. vucodlak says

    @ peter1, #80

    Yes, I am mad, speck. If you had any inkling of what lives in my head, you wouldn’t be so eager to attract my attention. But now you have it, so what do you want?

  44. StevoR says

    @ The latest incarnation of the obsessed stalker troll :

    It is clear you have a huge interest in trans sex (more than most actual trans people FWIW I’d say) & a set of fetishes of racist and sado-masochist flavours. There is plenty of such material available on the internet provided consensually and ethically by people who enjoy it. However, your current binge of spamming and getting repeatedly deleted is simply tedious and pathetic. You might be turning yourself on by typing up your fantasies here but no one on this blog is your consenting partner or paid sex worker. You aren’t welcome as the repeated bans of you and deletions of your spammed sexual fantasies should have already made obvious.

    Do away and reconsider your life or / & find an appropriate stash of varied erotica and pleasure yourself to that rather than here.

  45. StevoR says

    Before you vanish again out of morbid, mild curiosity – what exactly do you think is “mad” about being “woke” and why exaclty do you oppose Social Justice as a notion and what does that make you & your ideological bedfellows, troll?

    Would you rather be meatphorically asleep and supporting Social Injustice?

  46. microraptor says

    The only thing insulting about this latest troll is how pathetic and boring their attempts to be insulting are.

  47. davidc1 says

    Double plus bugger,I missed the troll AGAIN,Can’t he run on Greenwich Mean Time,instead of one from the selection box of time zones you amurics have?
    Can someone at least take a screen shot of his batshitcrazy wackloony so I can see what I am missing?

  48. KG says

    Proto-gibbon walked out of Asia, upright and mostly monogamous, found a paradise in Africa, and radiated in many directions. – rwiess@31

    Where did you get that from?

  49. PaulBC says


    “proto-gibbon” in this context puts me in mind of a roomful of monkeys typing out History of the Decline and Fall…

    Heh. I thought of Gibbon but didn’t get any further on what to do with it.

    I have started reading The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, which claims to cast the middle ages in a more positive light. It’s OK, but I realized why I find it disappointing. I’m just not that interested in political and church history no matter how you want to spin it. The case I have seen for re-evaluating the middle ages is the incremental development of technology, such as improved plows and I would eagerly read about medieval agriculture if written for a popular audience. The authors have no interest in that at all, but present their “Rome never really fell” thesis which is fine but I think I heard it before and it seems like a matter of semantics.

  50. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @106: Presumably from one of Edward Gibbon’s mostly monogamous, and apparently radiative, ancestors.

  51. rwiess says

    Where did I get proto-gibbon from? (First, sorry to distract from the troll thread.) We all know those ubiquitous pictures series where the knucklwalking predecessor finally stands up and becomes human. Over my life (I’m 73), I have watched the fossil footprint finders push bipedalism furtherand further back in time. I learned that lesser apes are bipedal on the ground, but more importantly they are bipedal on the huge horizontal tree branches that make walkways in the sky, where we don’t see them. So which assumption shall we go with for the lives between some primate ancestors and humans and their know ancestors? Knuckle-walkers or bipedals? And what about the monogamy thing, present in gibbons, not in knuclewalkers. I acknowledge this is speculation, not science – but that phantom knuckle-walking assumption is also speculation, and getting more speculative as anthropology explores the past. Recasting these assumptions leads to great conversations about why humans rule, and gorillas don’t. So it came out of my brain, and I invite about any response (except trolls.

  52. KG says

    Thanks. This article agrees with you, at least about locomotion (it doesn’t deal with socio-sexual arrangements). Since genetics seem to establish clearly that chimpazees and humans are more closely related to each other than to gorillas, it implies that knuckle-walking evolved independently in gorillas and chimpanzees, but of course similar pressures on similar animals can produce similar results. Socio-sexual systems seem to be very flexible evolutionarily in the Hominidae (living members: orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, humans), since even chimpazees and bonobos are quite different in this regard; and culturally and individually among humans at least.

    I recommend Jean Gimpel The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages, Alfred W. Crosby The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600, and Seb Falk The Light Ages: A Medieval Journey of Discovery. Medieval western European societies were highly innovative in technology and (proto-)science, both generated internally (in my own particular areas of interest mechanical clocks, eye-glasses, punctuation, lower-case letters and cursive scripts, and at the end of the period moveable-type printing), and borrowed from elsewhere (paper, Hindu-Arabic numerals, probably the compass, various aspects of Greek and Islamic proto-science, most of which which were then further developed). I don’t know what period The Bright Ages covers, generally the term “Dark Ages” has been restricted to the period between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and sometime around the 9th or 10th century – most of the items I’ve listed come from later, the developments in writing systems being an important exception. A lot came in from the Islamic world from the 11th century onwards, through Spain and Sicily, and from the Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) Empire and via the Mongols somewhat later.

  53. PaulBC says

    KG@111 Thanks for the recommendations. My public library doesn’t have most of these, though the one by Seb Falk is available online as an audiobook, so maybe I’ll start with that. (I consume a lot of books as audio right now, though this would probably be better in written form.)

    It’s funny that the authors of “The Bright Ages” were able to get away with such a similar title. It has favorable reviews but your suggestions seem more in line with what I was looking for.