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Not going up

By Tom Toles


I knew it!

Last week I was diverted from my normal Friday Rant by the urge to stop and smell the flowers. And what happens? Missed the financial mini-meltdown late Thursday, which could have been a mighty trampoline for me to jump up and down on while castigating the Titans. I guess I should save happiness for my own time and stay grindstone-focused while at work as capitalism intended.

But the OTHER thing I knew was that we were part Neanderthal, as science finally figured out Friday. And, no, I don't mean just LOOK at that guy sitting next to you, or any former presidents who don't need to be named. I try to be a follow-the-evidence type of person, and up ’til last week the evidence said NO INTERBREEDING. My position all along has been that that was REALLY HARD TO BELIEVE. Modern humans and Neanderthals lived in the SAME PLACE for fifty THOUSAND years and there was no interbreeding? How about fifty thousand SECONDS? Bouquets of Iris may or may not have been involved.

And, drum roll, the scent of the Iris is............ROOT BEER! Oh, yes! Congrats to scompton1 --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | May 10, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  DC  
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The general image of Neanderthals as a dull and thuggish bunch may be off the mark; by at least one admittedly speculative anthropological theory, they were a scattered, peaceful lot living in European bottomlands... until, after a hundred thousand years or two of calm existence, the next out-of-Africa bunch -- from whom we are primarily descended -- turned up. These (this arguable theory goes) were aggressive upland-dwelling hunters, the Cro-Magnon forebears, who fell on the unprepared Neanderthals in their valleys, and very nearly wiped them out (likely with help from imported germs).

The genetic research that shows modern humans everywhere except Africa have about 4-5 percent Neanderthal genes adds that the Cro-Magnon prototypes apparently did a bit of breeding along with their (alleged) butchery. ... Sometimes I wonder, at least symbolically since we are talking speculative theory here, if it isn't that little Neanderthal percentage in our makeup that's peaceful and wants activation, and the allegedly advanced Cro-Magnon gene array that leads humans into thuggery. In which case, calling someone a Neanderthal might be a compliment -- and the corresponding insult might be calling someone a "murderous Cro-Magnon."

Posted by: worldgarden | May 13, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't live in DC anymore, but took Metro for about, oh, 20 years.

Yes, the escalators need better maintenance, no denying that. And yes, it always amazed me how many people would skip available stairs when they were available - I took them a lot since it was nice to work my legs after a day behind a desk.

But I will say I hate taking the Metro escalators as stairs. The riser height is not similar to stairs and is uncomfortable and awkward. Going down, the pattern of the tread gives me a weird sense of vertigo (I have to look at it, because of the above-mentioned awkwardness of spacing - up isn't as much of a problem for some reason).

So yeah, I'm a person who doesn't mind taking stairs, and I hesitate to take the stalled Metro escalators as surrogate stairs. I always feel like I'm going to fall down or hurt myself somehow.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | May 10, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

All weekend my Wife was asking me what the Hell I was doing, and I told her trying to figure out what the aroma of irises was. I'll have to check again when I get home today, but I don't get Root Beer. Maybe it's due to the fact I'm part Cro-Magnon and not Neanderthal.

Posted by: bavery1 | May 10, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I had no time to smell the flowers and irises are not in bloom yet here. I find it rather ironic that one would 'choose' to compare the smell of an iris to that of root beer instead of the other way around....ahh yes...such is human nature, taking credit over mother nature...
Guess the statement would ultimately have the same outcome....or would it?

Posted by: bertzel | May 10, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Tom, I, too had a hunch that there was interbreeding going on in Europe. I mean, look at our track record... If there's a female who looks different (exotic), we humans are on top of it, so to speak. Now, whether the interbreeding was consensual or not, I also have a hunch, but I'll leave that for another day as I am more focused on gloating right now, about how my anthropological skills have placed me in the "I told you so" category.

Nice to know, too, that we "modern" humans didn't annihilate the Neanderthals. We've got a propensity toward annihilation that is well documented, as well. So, glad Libido won out.

My wife's great grandmother, a Native American in the Portuguese colony of Brasil, was actually "captured" by her Portuguese great grandfather when she was about 13. I'm betting similar "interbreeding" took place among early Europeans. And who can argue with the result, if not the methods?

Posted by: Thinker_ | May 10, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

This is for serious comments but all I can say is your work starts my day, opens my eyes and, often makes me smile! thanks

Posted by: jrsh | May 9, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I was surprised that Mr. Toles passed up a chance to talk down the economy.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | May 9, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Tom, right on! You must have been at the Woodley Park/Zoo metro yesterday. Looked like a scene out of a Kilimanjaro movie.

Posted by: taxcutsin12 | May 9, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

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