The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Siamang - Issue Seven
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Get To Know

The Siamang, photo from Christian ArtusoThe Siamang
(Symphalangus syndactylus) is a tailless, arboreal, black furred gibbon inhabits the forest remnants of Sumatra Island and the Malay Peninsula, and is widely distributed from lowland forest to montane forest, even a rainforest. Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is the third largest protected area (3,568 kmē) in Sumatra, of which approximately 2,570 kmē remains under forest cover inhabit by 22,390 siamangs. The Siamang's melodious choir singing breaks the forest's silence in the early morning. The largest of the lesser apes, the Siamang can be twice the size of other gibbons, reaching 1 m in height, and weighing up to 14 kg.
The Siamang eats at least 160 species of plants, from vines to woody plants. It also eats flowers and a few animals, mostly insects. Although the Siamang can live up to 30+ years, the illegal pet trade takes a toll on wild populations. Poachers kill the mothers because mother Siamang are highly protective of their infants. A major threat to the Siamang is habitat loss due to plantation, forest fire, illegal logging, encroachment, and human development. Palm oil plantations have removed large areas of the Siamang's habitat in the last four decades. These and other illegal activities have devastated their remaining tropical rainforest especially in Sumatra.


Just a Theory


J. David Bell

Capitalizing on new state initiatives that would require the teaching of evolutionary and climate science to be counterbalanced by competing theories (Intelligent Design, Climate Ignorance), Republicans have now set their sights on an even more pernicious scientific theory: the theory of gravity.

"The prevailing orthodoxy among liberal elites is that some mysterious, invisible, unmeasurable force actually sticks our bodies to the planet," said conservative talk-show host Lush Rimshot. "We maintain that our children must be taught both sides of the debate."

When asked to specify the alternative to the theory of gravity, Rimshot mumbled something about tiny, harpsichord-playing angels sent by the Apostle Paul to lower true believers gently to earth.

Similar attacks on the so-called "GraviNazis" were afoot in Texas, where a bill was introduced in the state legislature that would require children to hang upside down from monkey bars for six straight hours until loss of consciousness enabled them to experience a condition resembling weightlessness, and in South Carolina, where Lieutenant Governor Angre Glauer likened belief in gravity to the practice of witchcraft. "My ol' granny done tole me ya don't feed mincemeat t' no snappin' dawgs," Glauer told the Columbia Star-Sentinel. "If'n ya do, them bad boys'll jist keep on breedin'." When asked to elaborate on the relationship this piece of folk wisdom bore to the science of gravity, Glauer dropped to the ground, made the sign of the cross and foamed at the mouth.

Opponents of gravity-only science education note that the scientific community is deeply divided over the validity of quantum mechanics, the heliocentric system, and indeed any dern thang that ain't writ down plain in th' Good Book. Senator James Inahuff of Oklahoma warned that if the "hoax" of gravity were not exposed to the clear light of the Gospel, countless federal dollars might be squandered in fruitless efforts to prevent Chosen Ones such as himself from being scooped up into the heavens during the coming Rapture.

"We will win in the end," Inahuff predicted. "Truth always prevails over falsehood. The theory of gravity will go down to bitter defeat when all the world's people come to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior." Were such a theory legitimate, Inahuff noted parenthetically, the Good Lord would never have been able to walk on water.

Lots of equally stupid people were unavailable for comment.

J. David Bell is a recovering academic whose fiction and creative nonfiction appear in such journals as Permafrost, SNReview, Smash Cake, and Queen City Review. He is also a co-founder of the Citizens Climate Corps, a grassroots organization in southwestern Pennsylvania focused on climate change education and activism. You can follow his exploits and read his stuff at

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