The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Blue Monkey - Issue Thirty-Four
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The Blue Monkey  from Christiano Artuso The Blue Monkey is a species of Old World monkey native to Central and East Africa, ranging from the upper Congo River basin east to the East African Rift and south to northern Angola and Zambia. They are found in evergreen forests and montane bamboo forests, and lives largely in the forest canopy, which provides both food and shelter. They are very dependent on humid, shady areas with plenty of water and eat mainly fruit and leaves, but will take some slower-moving invertebrates. Despite their name, the blue monkey is not noticeably blue; they are mainly olive or grey apart from the face, the blackish cap, feet, and front legs, and the mantle, which is brown, olive, or grey depending on the subspecies. They range from 50 to 65 cm in length, (not including the tail, which is almost as long as the rest of the animal), with females weighing a little over 4 kg and males up to 8 kg. The blue monkeys live in female-philopatric social systems where females stay in their natal groups, while males disperse once they reach adulthood. Group sizes range from 10 to 40, containing only a single adult male. They are often found in groups with other species of monkeys such as the red-tailed monkey and various red colobus monkeys since they sometimes join other monkeys for extra protection. Their groups usually consist of one male with several females and infants, and this gives rise to matrilinear societies. In these female-bonded societies, only 5-15% of their activity budget is occupied by social interactions and the most common social interactions within a group are grooming and playing. Relationships between group members vary: infants interact most frequently with their peers and adult or juvenile females and are rarely seen near adult males. Alloparenting is common among blue monkeys. The most common infant handlers are juvenile females, and usually one infant is carried by a number of alloparents, possibly to allow the infant to learn to socialise at an early stage in life. Their mating system is polygynous, with a corresponding sexual dimorphism in size, as the males are the substantially larger sex. The males mate with more than one female, but the females only mate with one male. The female attracts males to copulate with her through body language. Females normally give birth every two years, during the onset of the warm, rainy season; gestation is around five months, and the infants are born with fur and with their eyes open. Like almost all guenons, the Blue Monkey suffers from a loss of its natural habitat. As well, where pine plantations replace natural forest, they may be treated as a threat by foresters, since they sometimes strip bark from exotic trees in a search for food or moisture. They are also hunted for bushmeat.


Déjà vu


Jim Tuggle

This place is phenomenal!

After I died a few days ago, I cleared the Pearly Gates without a hitch. Let me tell you, I'm here and loving it. I know you have a lot of questions about how this note got buried in that colossal stack on my desk. It suggests I'm already in Heaven, which I am.

Wait a minute! How can that be? If I wrote this note before I got here, how can I be telling you that I'm here before I got here? Without getting into all the rules and regs, here's a quick rundown on this apparent conundrum. Once someone departs from the physical and enters the mystical, the rules allow the recently departed to let their loved ones know they made it. My dear sweet wife, I'm in Heaven. Literally!

The rule I'm referring to allows me to send an elusive small hint that suggests that I'm all right not to worry. These little hints can come in the form of your hair tingling on the back of your neck or chills running up and down your arms for no apparent reason, or in the middle of the night, a familiar scent riding a soft, cool breeze gently touching your face. These little clues can't be overdone; nothing spooky or anything like that. So I checked around and asked if I could write a note and stick it in all those papers on my desk. They hummed and hawed about it. "Never been done before," they said. Anyway, tada, here it is.

Now it's a week later, and I have yet to get this note stuck in the middle of my papers. I was on my way to Heaven Central to get it delivered and low and behold; you will not believe it--I saw God roaming around. My curiosity compelled me to follow along behind Him. Quite by accident, He sees Gandhi, Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammad had taken on their human forms. There they were having an energetic discussion about the conditions on Earth. Always intrigued by a lively conversation, God took on Michelangelo's image from the Sistine Chapel. Let me tell you, He looked magnificent. The other guys started making room for Him. He thanked them, then slipped into the North Heaven spa to join in the debate.

The big hitters always draw a crowd, so I fell in with everyone else and listened in.

"What's up?" God asked.

Gandhi started off, "We're talking about the precarious political situation on Earth. Religious zealots are gathering up easily malleable nitwits for suicide missions. There're blowing up anybody and everybody--children, mothers, even members of their own faith. Moses passed by a few minutes ago on his way down to South Heaven to help with the children. That's how this whole conversation started. Things down there are getting so barbaric."

Abraham chimed in, "Then we have the wealthy jerks bending all the rules just to stuff another few coins in their pocket. The super-rich is sucking the life out of the working class like a vampire bat feeding on a baby calf. It's just shameful. But the really big deal is those nine nuclear-armed nations. A few of those countries are governed by card-carrying lunatics. It's like a bunch of drunks sitting on powder kegs while puffing on cigars and flipping ashes at each other. I know things are fixing to blow. It doesn't look good, Father."

God shrugged then dipped himself down under the cool, pristine water. When he popped back up, He said, "So?"

Jesus shook his head, "Looks like they're going the same route as all the other planets before them."

Mohammad spoke up. "Yep, from the looks of it, we're going to have upwards to eight or nine billion souls flooding through those Pearly Gates any day now."

"Not a problem, is it?" God asked.

Mohammad smiled, "Nope, we've processed that kind of surge many times. You would think the law of averages would dictate that once in every billion years or so, those humans would work it out before they blow themselves up."

"I agree," God mused. "We've run this hypothesis so many times, and it never fails. Humans advance to a certain intellectual point; then they burn themselves up. Maybe we should change something?"

"Like what," Jesus asked?

"I'm not sure," God lamented, "but I'm certain of one thing--it's risky business throwing intelligence in the mix. Just think of it, every living thing goes merrily along, doing its thing. Some evolve, some don't. Some get lucky, some disappear. But when it comes to humans, well, they're different. They do great things; however, they do some asinine things, too. We've been through this iteration since time began. It never fails. Those malcontents progress to the very same level, and every time, boom--fire and brimstone is their fate. How wonderful it would be if they could get past all that interminable hatred."

"Well, Dad," Abraham said, "déjà vu all over again."

God gave Abraham that cocked-eye in-your-face look, "Always with the Yogi stuff. I know what you're getting at, and you're right. I'll never send them any sort of sign again. Sending messengers down to help prod those nincompoops toward peace and harmony was a big mistake. Peace and harmony turned out to be hate and fear. They get on this religion kick--" He rubbed his forehead a few seconds, then continued, "Every earthquake, volcano, flood, whatever--'it's Me'… 'He's angry'… 'It's God's will.' It's always Me punishing some group for some natural event."

I could see that God was getting a little worked up. Everybody else could see it, too.

God started up again. "If they can't figure something out, the first thing that pops in their head, 'Well, God did it.' Why would I do such a thing! It's nature. It's life. Stuff happens. I've given them all the intellect they could ever use. If it's a disease, cure it. If it's geology, work around it. If it's climate, protect it. But no, all those preachers, priests, rabbis, Imams--they blame Me for all that calamity just to give themselves a leg up on some other someone." The frustration was clearly showing as He said, "Disregarding intelligence is woefully sad."

He pondered a moment more, then in a huffy sort of way, He started again, "Humans know living next to a volcano can be dicey. If you live near a river or an ocean, it has a risk; you might drown. If the earth shakes beneath your feet from time to time, it might be a bad idea to build a big tall stone house. Then when all hell breaks loose, the preacher proclaims in all his pompous temerity that God did it. I didn't do it! Ignorance did it!"

God fell silent for a moment or two, then nearly in a whisper as if He were talking to himself, "Religion should be so easy--just help each other. That's all. Forget the rest of the buffoonery."

Mohammad suggested, "You could send one of us back. Maybe it would be different this time."

"Really?" God said with a scowl, "It was a mistake the first time, and you think another trip will fix things. You do remember they nailed your brother to a cross." He waved Mohammad off. "No more visits--no one goes back!"

Jesus asked, "Would you like for me to look into the future to see when the end is coming?"

With a touch of sarcasm, God countered, "Please--My Son, you know I can do the research much better than you. Plus, it would take the drama out of the situation. I don't care how the humans handle their plight. If they blow themselves up, so be it. Sure, the pain and suffering from such a calamity will be a heavy burden, but that's on them. It's not on Me. You know I feel the pain of every unnecessary death, be it one or a billion."

God splashed a little water on His face, then looked at each man in the spa, "When the end comes, I will begin again. On the next go-around, I guess I'll still give them the brain power to figure things out; then we will see what they come up with. Someday, maybe they might get it right."

Gandhi smiled at his Father, "You know Dad, some famous human said, 'Repeating the same experiment and expecting a different result is insanity.'"

"I do know that little ditty, Mahatma. Here's one for you, 'In an insane world, is the sane man insane?' Toss that around." He winked with a little smile. "You know," He said, "just because someone famous said something, doesn't mean he's smart or that what he said is anything worth remembering."

Abraham had been silent for a while, "You know, Dad, we don't have to allow the humans to develop the next time. That comet that killed off the dinosaurs allowed the mammals to grow into a dominant species."

God shook his head. "No, we will never meddle with the laws of physics. I allowed the universe to create its own laws, and those laws are what they are. Abe, the next chance you get, come on up to the house. I want you to take a good hard look at the control room. I've got trillions of galaxies on predefined courses, trillions of stars in every galaxy moving along nicely--you've heard the expression, God knows this or God knows that--well, I'm up to speed on the big things, but the asteroids, comets and all those weird little things zipping around, I have to look that stuff up. So the short answer as to the comet that killed the dinosaurs--if I fiddle around with the little stuff, I might screw up the big stuff. So for the next planet Earth--what will be will be."

Just then a message appeared on a small white cloud drifting by, Hey, it's Pete, I need some help at the gate. All hands on deck!

In that instant, they were gone.

"My, my, it looks like I'm going to hand-deliver this note; I'm on my way. See you at the gate."

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