Chapter 5: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MY OLDEST SON AND ME
What lies beneath this paragraph is not one of my essays. It is not a character. It is not satire. What lies beneath this paragraph is something wholly genuine and true. My father recently showed me his manifesto, a 100 page, and ongoing, document which details the ways in which the events that transpire in the popular “Planet Of The Apes” franchise will soon take hold of our reality. Having recently been introduced to Google, my father spends all day at work researching strange animal incidents. I now receive daily updates I’d like to share with you all. Mostly though my father has created the world’s first anti-pet blog, a very unpopular view point. I hope you find it as upsetting as I did.
May 17, 2017
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MY OLDEST SON AND ME
It has been over 15 months since I last had an entry in this ongoing saga I have titled “Planet Of The Apes”. During that time I have continued to search for evidence to support my claims that the Apes will one day rule the planet. There have been some incidents to prove my point but they did not have the “wow factor” that could add to my already impressive list above. However, last Thursday as I sat in a Holiday Inn in Kankakee IL. reading the front (italics by author) page of the USA Today paper there was an article I could not let go by.
The following is what grew out of my thoughts from it.
My oldest son and I differ on a lot of things. That should surprise no one since there is a forty-year difference in our ages. But now is not the time nor place to go into that subject too deeply. Let me just say, on the important things, like what is really important in life, we do agree.
One disagreement we have, and I’ll let you be the judge whether or not it is important, is on who will eventually take over and rule the world. I contend that the apes will have world domination while he believes the machines will one day run our lives. Both subjects make great movie plots. But we are not talking fantasy here. We are dealing with apocalyptic realism.
I’ll admit that at times I can see his point of view. Although I have not come to the place I am today without some hesitation, i.e. kicking and screaming, I am not entirely old school. I recently bought my first smart phone. When I asked the kid behind the kiosk that sold me the phone if it came with an instruction booklet, he smiled (laughed actually) and said, “No. It’s really pretty intuitive.” As I left the store I asked my wife what “intuitive” meant. She said, “Look it up on your smart phone.” “How do I do that?” was my response. She grabbed the phone, touched something and then spoke these words, “Google, what does intuitive mean?” Within a few seconds I had an answer.
It seems as though every week there is a news story about some new technology that is making our lives easier. And the younger humans are adapting and embracing it whole-heartedly. Just last month there was a little girl shown on You Tube trying to strike up a conversation with a discarded water heater as it stood on the curb waiting to be picked up by the garbage man. She thought it was a robot. She even went as far as to give it a hug and plainly said, “I love you robot, I love you robot.” But I’m not going to dismiss that as foolishness. If my son is right and the machines do take over, when that little girl grows up I bet they go easy on her.
But it is not the water heaters or even the microwaves we need fear. It is…(da, da, da) the rhesus macaque monkey.
Jason Overdorf is a freelance writer. A quick search of the web reveals the following about him:
Jason Overdorf is GlobalPost’s Senior Correspondent in Berlin. He previously covered India for GlobalPost, and spent about 15 years living and working in Asia, where he was a frequent contributor at Newsweek International and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He is a former recipient of a reporting fellowship from the South Asian Journalist Association and has been honored with awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the World Health Organization and the Society of American Travel Writers. His travel articles, personal essays and political commentary have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, the Asian Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian Magazine, Departures, Travelers’ Tales and other publications. He has degrees in English literature and creative writing from Columbia University, Washington University and Boston University.
He has also written articles for Newsweek, Atlantic and Scientific American, many of them dealing with India. The point here is he is no Johnny come lately nut job. He knows India’s culture and its day-to-day life. He is also not a personal friend of mine. I do not know any more about him than what you just read above. My point here is the article he wrote for USA Today and I read while eating breakfast at the Holiday Inn in Kankakee last Thursday about the rhesus monkeys was not solicited.
The headline was, “INDIA TRIES BIRTH CONTROL TO CURB MONKEY BUSINESS.” Now, you have just got to take time to read that article no matter how late it will make you for a meeting.
The article relates that the rhesus macaque monkeys are invading neighborhoods around India. And they are not just a nuisance, like a bunch of pigeons. They are climbing walls of apartment buildings to get up on the roofs. And they are not going up there because this ol’ world is getting them down and the rat race is just too hard to take. They are going up there to get a drink of water. The monkeys swing from the pipes on the water tanks until one of them breaks and then it’s happy hour. One homeowner in the apartment said this type of thing happens quite often. The owner also said, “They used to jump into the balcony and come into the kitchen and open the frig, just like any human does.” (An interesting choice of words. Ed’s note).
The article notes that even though the monkeys only weigh 12 to 17 pounds they can cause much damage and are considered among the most dreaded pests in India. (Excuse me, but flies that land on the potato salad at a picnic are pests; cockroaches that scurry under kitchen cabinets when the light is turned on are pests; dogs that lick my face when I don’t want them to are pests; a mother-in-law that lives next door is a pest. Monkeys that open your refrigerator door and help themselves to your beer are something else.)
When the monkeys aren’t drinking water they are eating fruit. In one fruit growing district of India the rhesus macaque population has increased more than fivefold over the last ten years. The animals create up to $300 million in crop loss every year. Residents are warned to keep their doors and windows shut. “Wherever they go panic spreads” said primatologist Iqbal Malik. “Any house that gets raided by monkeys is left in shambles – eatables on the floor, crockery broken, taps open, wires cut, plants mauled.”
If this problem existed in America we would simply declare open season on the creatures, hunt them down and shoot them. Or better yet, we would make a reality show about hunting them down and shooting them. But the government in some states in India has a better idea and is not standing idly by. Their preferred method is birth control. They are testing an injectable contraceptive that is already being used on the horses and the white tail deer population in the U.S.A. (Maybe I should pitch that to the networks.) The idea of just shooting the monkeys in India will never catch on. It seems as though the monkeys are associated with the Hindu god Hanuman. This only adds to the problem. Many people in urban centers feed them at temples and parks believing them to be holy.
Other avenues have been attempted. In one district sterilization is being carried out. At a cost of $1 million eight sterilization centers have been set up. Officials pay a bonus of $10 a head to trappers for captured animals. Over the past ten years they have sterilized more than 125,000 monkeys. The sterilization process is costly and difficult and that is why there is a push for contraceptives. Oral contraceptives have been attempted but the inability to ensure the correct dosage in the female monkey does not offer it much hope.
Injectable contraceptives are better but they only last only for a year and then need a booster shot. Plus they cost $100 a dose, much too prohibitive for wide spread use.
Primatologist have found that a langur monkey, a much larger and dominant species, can be used to scare off the rhesus macaque. They have even hired monkey trainers to bring in langur monkeys to keep out rogue rhesus macaque out of buildings. To bolster the langur numbers the government even hired people (as in humans) to dress up as langur monkeys and try to scare off the rhesus macaques. (Please don’t gloss over that last sentence. Read it again and let it sink in.) However, the fake monkeys just didn’t get it done.
So to my oldest son I offer these parting words. If you ever do find yourself surrounded by a bunch of 15 pound crazed primates while watching Netflix in your living room you can always utter a life saving phrase like, “Alexa, how do I defend myself against a monkey hell-bent on world domination?”
It’s at this point I need to admit I wish I could write good enough to make this stuff up… but I can’t.