The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Lar Gibbon - Issue Thirty-Seven
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The Lar Gibbon  from Christiano Artuso The Lar Gibbon is found in Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, although their range historically extended from southwest China to Thailand and Burma south to the whole Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. They are usually found in dipterocarp forest, including primary lowland and submontane rainforest, mixed deciduous bamboo forest, and seasonal evergreen forest. They are mostly frugivorous with fruit constituting fifty percent of their diet, but leaves, insects and flowers form the remainder. Their fur varies from black and dark-brown to light-brown, sandy colors. The hands and feet are white-colored, likewise a ring of white hair surrounds the black face. They are usually active for an average of eight hours per day, leaving their sleeping sites right around sunrise and entering sleeping trees an average of three hours before sunset. They spend their days feeding, resting, traveling, in social activities, vocalizing, and in intergroup encounters. True brachiators, they propel themselves through the forest by swinging under the branches using their arms. With their hooked hands, they can move swiftly with great momentum, swinging from the branches. Although they rarely come to the ground naturally, while there, they walk bipedally with arms raised above their heads for balance. Their social organization is dominated by monogamous family pairs, with one breeding male and one female along with their offspring. Family groups inhabit a firm territory, and each morning, the family gathers on the edge of its territory and begins a "great call", a duet between the breeding pair. Each species has a typified call and each breeding pair has unique variations on that theme. Recent studies indicate that gibbon song have evolved to communicate conflict in terms of predation. In the presence of Asiatic tiger, clouded leopard, crested serpent eagle and reticulated python songs were more likely to contain sharp wow elements than normal duets. Sexually, they are similar to other gibbons. Mating occurs in every month of the year, but most conceptions occur during the dry season in March, with a peak in births during the late rainy season, in October. On average, females reproduce for the first time at about eleven years of age. Gestation is six months long on average, and pregnancies are usually of a single young. Young are nursed for approximately two years, and full maturity comes at about eight years. On average they live to be twenty-five years old. They are threatened in various ways: they are sometimes hunted for their meat, sometimes a parent is killed to capture young animals for pets, but perhaps the most pervasive is the loss of habitat. Their habitats are threatened by forest clearance for the construction of roads, agriculture, ecotourism, domesticated cattle and elephants, forest fires, subsistence logging, illegal logging, new village settlement, and palm oil plantations.


Populist Science -- Notes from a Diary


Ted Scott

It's December 20, 2025, and I'm just sitting here in the cabin that my wife and I bought 30 years ago. The solstice will be at 10:49 PM, and I've got some time to kill, so I thought I would read some of my diaries before the event. These last few pages are kind of spotty, with only a few useful sections that I labored over. The writing gets plainer as I age, so I only read the best parts.

November 13, 2020 - Amazingly, Trump pulled it off. He won the election handily, taking Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and the all-important state of Ohio. He lost the popular vote by a large margin, more than in 2016, but he won the Electoral College vote with narrow margins in all the critical swing states. Democrats complained that exit polls differed from actual vote counts, sometimes significantly, but what could they do; the voting machines were all certified by the Attorney General.

How did he do it? Analysts may disagree, but my view is that project "Warp Speed" was the deciding factor. His hundred billion dollar project sucked nearly all of America's best biotech researchers into it, and many stayed right up to October when victory was announced. Of course, the early announcement caused some grumbling at the end. Many of the scientists had complained that the extreme secrecy had limited their knowledge of what was going on. Secrecy limited scientists' access to "need to know," which was standard for military projects. After all, it was crucial to keep the Chinese from beating us to the vaccine, so just as Kennedy had pushed NASA to beat the Russians to the moon, we had to win this race, and the Chinese were ahead of us when "Warp Speed" was announced.

Trump knew that if we won, America could get back to work full time, and the Chinese economy would be left behind. By pledging that all Americans would be vaccinated before other countries' citizens, he satisfied his base and assured their full support for his reelection. The Democrats could hardly argue otherwise.

The first vaccinations began on November 1. Some scientists complained that the date was too early, and there wasn't enough testing. Others explained that by using artificial intelligence to design the molecular structure of the vaccine, there could be little doubt about its effectiveness. The details of the vaccine remained secret, but we learned that the vaccine was (like the COVID virus) an RNA protein. It worked by somehow wrapping around the COVID and preventing its attachment to ACE2 proteins on cell surfaces in the lungs and other internal organs. Because the anti-virus was not an actual virus, it could not reproduce so it would not spread between humans. The problem was that a massive amount of the anti-virus must be given to patients to produce a cure, so it could only work at prevention where there was little or no COVID in the patient. The design of the molecule made it stable for reasonably long periods so that it could act as a prophylactic. Subjects would need periodic injections of the anti-virus to prevent COVID infection. Large scale manufacturing would be required, but early tests showed that subjects could tolerate this new designer protein in their blood for a while at least. Further research would be needed to determine optimum dosing and dosing schedules.

If they had stayed with the old fashioned way of making vaccines, by basing them on the actual weakened or killed virus, they could not have beaten the Chinese, and they couldn't have started the vaccinations before 2021. Trump would probably have lost the election, maybe by an insurmountable amount.

March 21, 2021 - The early results of the vaccination program showed promising results. By then, over 100,000 Americans were vaccinated, and only a handful had caught the COVID-19 virus, and there had been no reported deaths. Although "Warp Speed" had been successful, Trump shut down many of the laboratories. After all, America was still in a recession, and there was a limit to federal spending except where some economic benefits could occur. The project was turned over to the military, where it could be weaponized.

Republicans still controlled the Senate, so they could block spending bills proposed by the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives and cuts proposed by Republicans to try to reduce deficits caused much infighting in both branches of the legislature. But there was bipartisan support for the pharmaceutical industry where companies were ramping up production of the new vaccine. It was a fantastic opportunity for drug companies since almost everyone would want to take the drug for life, and the actual formula was a closely guarded secret. It was a lot better than hiding in isolation and social distancing.

With the proven success of the vaccine, Trump's popularity grew. Still, no other country had a proven vaccine, and America was finally getting back to work. Unemployment was decreasing every month and soon stood at just over 7 percent. Stock markets were at new highs. Trump promised that by 2023, every American would be vaccinated against COVID-19. Trump's popularity went through the roof. Polls show that more than 70 percent of voters would vote for him again, and there were efforts in some states to repeal the 22nd amendment to the constitution.

December 21, 2021- There have been reports that some anti-vaccinators refused to be vaccinated. Curiously I find myself among them. Although elders like myself have been offered free and early access to the vaccine, both my wife and I decided, after discussions with our daughter--who is a doctor--that we would skip it. We found that we had adjusted to the more sedentary lifestyle of the last two years. We would only associate with people who were vaccinated, and therefore we would be at low risk. Though this seemed selfish to us, we argued that we couldn't transmit it to anyone we came in contact with since they would all be vaccinated.

November 22, 2022 - The Democrats take a whupping! The movement to repeal the 22nd amendment is in full swing. Only Massachusetts and California still have a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives. It is 60 years since the death of JFK. Some small memorials are held in some places that were formerly called "Blue States."

I begin to notice something odd as I routinely scan the obituaries in the local paper. Almost all the dead are younger than me, not by much, but a few more than I would've expected. Either the population of older people is less than I thought, or the death rate among younger people is greater than expected.

November 23, 2022 - I google the subject "Death rates per hundred thousand." The data are two years old. Frustrated, I try to find public data from a more recent period. When I call an actuary friend for advice, he tells me that that kind of data is now considered proprietary and cannot be shared due to increased competition between insurance companies. Only crude, out-of-date data is available to the public. Just like weather data, I think. All government functions are being privatized. I should have known.

Maybe I've just got too much time on my hands, but I was still curious. Could it be that there are fewer elders, or that the death rate is higher among younger folks? I decided to ask my grandson to look into the matter. He needed a senior project, and he was a lot more skilled in computer-assisted research than I was. When I explained the project, Roger said he would try to find answers for me. He knew a few hackers. Perhaps they could help.

December 21, 2022 - Today Roger called me. He had some results of his investigation. I was right; both hypotheses were correct. There were fewer elders, AND the death rate among younger elders was higher. On his own, Roger had extended the inquiry to try to look into the cause of death. Although not available in all cases, there was strong statistical evidence that Alzheimer's death rates had increased from 2020. How could that be explained?

December 25, 2022 - We racked our brains for a few days, and then Roger said that maybe he could tweak the data to find correlations between the excess Alzheimer's deaths and location. Maybe there was a genetic or environmental dependency. It turned out that was not the case; instead, Roger found a strong correlation with regions where there was a high anti-vaccine sentiment. In fact the correlation was negative. Anti-vacciners were less likely to die from Alzheimer's. We had discovered something important, something very important.

March 20, 2023 - It took this long, but finally, my daughter, Roger's mom, got acceptance for her paper "Does the Covid-19 Vaccine Cause Alzheimer's?" in JAMA. The New England Journal of Medicine also accepted it. Because of its timeliness, both journals took the unusual step of accepting the article for publication. Kara had listed Roger and me as co-authors of the piece. Roger would graduate with honors.

June 21, 2023 - The paper created quite a stir within the medical community. Trump tried to shut it up through his usual mouthpieces, but no one paid attention to Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell, and Trump couldn't find any well-known reputable doctors who were willing to take a stand against it. Soon the story was on the front pages of all the major newspapers and magazines and was being covered by the talking heads on TV; even Fox News had to cover the story.

Today, scientists have confirmed the findings of our paper and have determined that it is worse than imagined. There are already people in their thirties coming down with Alzheimer's. A major push is on to find a cure for the vaccine. Scientists theorize that the COVID-19 vaccine somehow attacks the myelin nerve sheath and allows nerves in the brain to form unwanted attachments.

December 20, 2023 - The repeal of the 22nd amendment came within two states of being adopted, but now the politicians are in full retreat. Mitt Romney is the only Republican senator likely to be reelected.

December 20, 2025 - Back to the future! So much has happened. The Chinese finally produced a true vaccine and conducted a full range of animal and human tests. No one takes the "Trump Vaccine" as it is now called. But enormous damage has been done. Sixteen million new cases of early-onset Alzheimer's have been diagnosed, although most scientists believe that this disease is different from the usual Alzheimer's. A new congress was elected and a new president. There are several new constitutional amendments under consideration. Chief among these is establishing a new Science Department with the power to set its budget and that of the military. The chairmen (3) will be elected by congress. Also importantly, an amendment overturning the Supreme Court's decision on "Citizens' United" and the addition of several restrictions on lobbying and political fundraising. Most of the Democratic legislators who received huge pharmaceutical contributions are out, as are nearly all Republicans. However, most of them have come down with the "New Alzheimer's" and are living in nursing homes. So far, no cure has been found, though research is underway.

Ted started writing about 10 years ago. His poetry and a memoir have been published online and in local anthologies. He hopes to publish his collected works in the near future, so he can write some new stuff. He taught physics for over 30 years.
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