Sumatra – Monday Map

When Marco Polo visited the island Sumatra in 1292 he recorded its name as Samarcha.

Much of the population had already converted to Islam by that time. But nearly three-hundred years earlier the “King of the Land of Sumatra” (Haji Sumatrabhumi) had sent an envoy to China in 1017. And long before that it was known as the Land of Gold, because of the mines in its highlands.

Sumatra 1588 map

Map from 1588

And before international jetliners, it was about as far away as one could go, the very edge of the earth, and as exotic an alien world as ever visited by Westerners outside of science fiction.

Below is a section of a much larger map of South East Asia from 1710, with an example of the wonderful detail.

Sumatra 1710 section onemanz.comSumatra 1710 map detail

Until well into the twentieth century most of the Sumatran interior was dense rain forest jungles. Over 50% of its natural forests have been removed for farming and human population requirements. The result is the serious endangerment of its many native species, like the Sumatran tiger and the newly discovered the Tapanuli Orangutan, the first new member of the Great Apes in almost a century.

New Great Ape Species Identified as Tapanuli Orangutan

Pongo tapanuliensis declared separate species of Orangutan

First encountered in 1997, it joins Humans, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and the other Orangutans as true Great Apes

There was much to hoot about at the end of 2017, at least if you are among the orangutans hidden deep in the forests of Tapanuli, in Northern Sumatra, as they have been declared a new species of Great Ape in scientific paper “Morphometric, Behavioral, and Genomic Evidence for a New Orangutan Species,” published in the November 20 issue of Current Biology. And that declaration was based partly on the animals enormous hooting calls, which can be heard for many miles.

New Great Ape SpeciesThis is the first new species in almost a century to become a member of the exclusive evolutionary club that includes us Homo sapiens. The bonobo, a close evolutionary cousin of the chimpanzee was identified in 1929. In addition it unique vocalizations, the species has genetic differences, and differences in the shape of its skull and teeth spacing from the other two orangs, the Bornean orangutan (P. pygmaeus, with three subspecies) and the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii,) which were themselves declared separate species in 1996.

Photo: T. Laman

The bad news is, the scant 800 known members of this new species of orang are already among the most endangered species on earth. They reside in a small area of Northern Sumatra, with habitat already under siege by the industrious progress of mankind, about to build a dam and roads that could devastate this delicate ecosystem.

It is hoped these shy, gentle creatures will be championed by humans with the foresight to keep them from vanishing just as we come to know them better.

New Great Ape Species Sumatra inset map New Great Ape Species map

3D Map Courtesy of: Physical Panoramic Map of Kab. Tapanuli Utara (with my habitat overlay)

Highlights of the paper and the start of its summery include:

* We describe a new species of great apes, the Tapanuli orangutan Pongo tapanuliensis

*Genomic analyses corroborate morphological distinctiveness of P. tapanuliensis

* P. tapanuliensis comprises the oldest evolutionary lineage in the genus Pongo

* With fewer than 800 individuals, P. tapanuliensis is among the most endangered great apes


Six extant species of non-human great apes are currently recognized: Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, and chimpanzees and bonobos. However, large gaps remain in our knowledge of fine-scale variation in hominoid morphology, behavior, and genetics, and aspects of great ape taxonomy remain in flux. This is particularly true for orangutans (genus: Pongo), the only Asian great apes and phylogenetically our most distant relatives among extant hominids.

The paper may be acquired at

Other reading:

BBC Story on P. tapanuliensis with adorable video

National Geographic Story

Nature Story

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas…

Today is the last day of Christmas. Make the most of your Twelfth Night by partaking in some of these tried and true traditions:

nibbling favorite dainties, sipping something scintillating, explaining to the local constabulary that you were simply wassailing a few apple trees to insure a productive harvest.

Or enjoy a little Twelfth Night or what you will.

The Harvey Weinstein Phenomenon

A friend from overseas wrote to ask for my take on the Harvey Weinstein business. And I hadn’t actually made much effort toward such a proposition.

She said people in her country remain puzzled by the way we are making such a big deal out of Weinstein while ignoring the behavior of Donald Trump.

Frankly, when I heard about Weinstein I assumed it was just par for the course where the casting couch was concerned, and didn’t read any details, until later when it was all over the news.

And now I have read about some of it, I remain skeptical.

I fear that, just like in Washington politics, this will be marginalized as if Weinstein is some monstrous aberration, when he is only one of countless men, and the occasional woman, in positions of power who have done this sort of thing forever, if not always in such a reportedly depraved manner.

I wonder how many people remember when Bill Clinton was being persecuted by the “Family Values” Republicans over the Monica Lewinski affair, and the head of the House Ethics Committee that was leading the persecution had to resign suddenly from Congress, when it came out that he too was having a sexual affair with a young intern.

Isolating and attacking the one whose private behavior ended up in the papers seems to part of the creed of such hypocrites.

So, I was surprised by the number of women and some men who were emboldened to come out with their un-provable claims of Weinstein-style piggishness and villainy about other well-known figures. I am sure the belief that any such claims would result in their being bankrupted by an indefensible lawsuit kept many quiet for years.

Others feared the stigma or suffered trauma they did not want to go public with, but feel braver by joining those who already came forward.

Many others probably felt it a calculated choice to keep mum, and one that was necessary to get ahead in their profession, like something bad happened to them but they weren’t going to allow it to ruin their lives or stop them from moving forward.

It has long been rumored that Tom Cruz was Gay, despite his famous wives and girlfriends, while some who might have real inside info put it more like he did what he felt he had to do as an up and coming actor to further his career.

As the saying goes, “Who do you have to blow to get a drink/job/audition in this place?”

Sadly, there is nothing new or unusual about that. According to the legend, shortly after Marilyn Monroe became a made superstar she phoned her friend, the columnist Hedda Hopper, to say off the record, “I’ve given my last blow job.”

In modern times I have known a successful actor who is straight, but who could have been a much bigger figure in Hollywood had he acted upon the invitation from a now dead super-agent to call the man’s private line during extracurricular hours. But he chose not to go that route and has had a good if not stellar career anyway.

It really has been Hollywood’s open secret since the silent movie days. It remains a much less open secret in places like Congress, on Wall St. and the business world in general.

I find it rather amazing, really, that we have gone from the Bill Cosby revelations to Harvey Weinstein to George Bush, and how it is turning into a phenomenal shift in society.

Or at least I hope it is a shift and not just the latest tabloid tempest that plays out before such people get back to their usual way of doing business.

For all the cries of “they all do it” or “that’s just the way the world works” or “that’s just locker room talk,” I hope people remember that there are many in positions of power who aren’t that way at all, and would never impose themselves on others who are vulnerable to such abuse.

But far from par for the course in American politics, I sure wish a lot more people would have paid more attention to the dishonorable piggery of Donald Trump rather than choosing to either ignore it or disbelieve the overwhelming evidence of it, when they went ahead and voted for him anyway.

I feel it sadly safe to say we have a very long way to go before the Harvey Weinsteins and Donald Trumps of the world are no longer tolerated by civilized society.

And that is one man’s word on…

The Harvey Weinstein Phenomenon

Good Times

Note to self:

No matter how late you think the party may go, do not drink a cup of 8 O’Clock coffee at 7 O’Clock PM, unless you are realllllllllly fond of twiddling your thumbs at 2:45 O’Clock AM with no hope of getting to sleep any time soon.

I guess it’s time to re-read those footnotes Christopher Tolkien typed up about the maps he made that his father didn’t use in the Lord of the Rings.

Good times.

TCM October Horror Fest – Free on TV

Tuner Classic Movies’ Line Up of Classic and Not So Classic Horror Films

All through October TCM has commercial-free horror films

Below are what is coming up (sorry I missed the first week!)

Sunday 10/8

2:00 AM Night Of The Strangler (1975)
2:15: PM My Blood Runs Cold (1965)
8:00 PM The Return Of Dracula (1958)
9:30 PM House Of Dracula (1945)
10:45 PM Billy The Kid vs. Dracula (1966)

Monday 10/9

12:15 Am The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920)
2:00 AM Jigoku (Hell) (1960)
4:00 AM Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (1959)

Tuesday 10/10

8:00 PM Cat People (1942)
9:30 PM The Body Snatcher (1945)
11:00 The Man In The Shadows (2007) (Martin Scorsese presents: Val Lewton)

Wednesday 10/11

12:30 AM I Walked With A Zombie (1943)
2:00 AM The Seventh Victim (1943)
3:30 AM Bedlam (1946)
5:00 AM The Leopard Man (1943)
6:15 AM The Ghost Ship (1943)
7:30 AM Isle Of The Dead (1945)

Thursday 10/12

5:00 AM The Power (1968)

Friday 10/13

6:30 AM Kiss Of The Tarantula (1976)
8:00 AM Snake Woman (1961)
9:30 AM Village Of The Damned (1961)
11:00 AM The Nanny (1965)
1:00 PM The Innocents (1961)
2:45 PM A Place Of One’s Own (1945)
4:30 PM The Bad Seed (1956)
6:45 PM The Curse Of The Cat People (1944)

Sunday 10/15

2:15 AM Blacula (1972)
4:00 AM Scream Blacula Scream (1973)
8:00 PM Horror Of Dracula (1958)
9:45 PM The Brides Of Dracula (1960)
11:30 PM Black Cats And Broomsticks (1955)

Monday 10/16

12:00 AM The Phantom Carriage (1922)
2:00 AM Diabolique (1955)
4:15 AM Gaslight (1944)

Tuesday 10/17

8:00 PM The Devil’s Bride (1968)
9:45 PM The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957)
11:15 PM The Mummy (1959)

Wednesday 10/18

1:00 AM The Curse Of The Werewolf (1961)
2:45 AM The Plague Of The Zombies (1966)
4:30 AM The Reptile (1966)

Sunday 10/22

2:00 AM Willard (1971)
3:45 AM Ben (1972)
8:00 PM Dracula, Prince Of Darkness (1965)
10:00 PM Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1969)
Monday 10/23

Eyes Without A Face

12:00 AM The Monster (1925)
2:00 AM Eyes Without A Face (1960)
3:45 AM Kwaidan (1965)

Tuesday 10/24

8:00 PM The Innocents (1961)
10:00 PM Diary Of A Madman (1963)

Wednesday 10/25

12:00 Curse Of The Demon (1958)
2:00 AM Carnival Of Souls (1962)
3:30 AM From Beyond The Grave (1973)
10:00 AM The Devil’s Own (1966)

Thursday 10/26

5:30 AM Rasputin, The Mad Monk (1966)

Friday 10/27

8:00 PM Psycho (1960)
10:15 Pretty Poison (1968)

Saturday 10/28

6:15 AM Mark Of The Vampire (1935)
7:30 AM The Devil-Doll (1936)
9:00 AM What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)
11:30 AM Little Shop Of Horrors (1960)
1:00 PM Village Of The Damned (1961)
2:30 PM Children Of The Damned (1964)
4:15 PM House Of Dark Shadows (1970)
6:00 PM Night Of Dark Shadows (1971)

Sunday 10/29

12:00 AM “M” (1951)
2:00 AM The Brood (1979)
3:45 AM Repulsion (1965)
8:00 PM Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970)
10:00 PM Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

Monday 10/30

12:00 AM Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)
2:15 AM Onibaba (1964)
4:15 AM Ugetsu (1953)

Tuesday 10/31

8:30 AM White Zombie (1932)
10:00 AM Mad Love (1935)
11:30 AM Dementia 13 (1963)
1:00 PM 13 Ghosts (1960)
2:30 PM The Fearless Vampire Killers (1966)
4:30 PM House Of Wax (1953)
6:00 PM Poltergeist (1982)
8:00 PM The Old Dark House (1932)
9:30 PM The Haunting (1963)
11:30 PM House On Haunted Hill (1958)

Wednesday 11/1

1:15 AM The Cat And The Canary (1939)
2:45 AM The Old Dark House (1963)
4:30 AM The Bat (1959) TC mark

Fearless Girl statue firm pay $5M over non-equal pay for equal work

The US Department of Labor accused State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), which paid for the Fearless Girl, of not paying hundreds of female executives on par with male executives.

While there’s nothing new about that sort of thing in the white collar world, this time it is the company that crowed about their support for women in the workplace, when they commissioned and installed the statue of the Fearless Girl facing off the famous bronze Wall Street Bull on lower Broadway in New York City.

While denying they were not in compliance with specific regulations covering government contracts, the Boston firm State Street (SSGA) has agreed to pay out $5 Million dollars in a settlement stipulated in this USDoL Conciliation Agreement.

According to the story at BBC Business, the settlement also covers the underpayment of 15 African-American employees, compared to their white colleagues. This was all the result of a 2012 financial audit. State Street reportedly said they just wanted to put the situation to rest.

Artist Kristen Visba said that her metal sculpture of the child with arms akimbo as she bravely faces the much larger bull statue represented the future.

Many critics of the installation responded by saying the Fearless Girl statue was nothing more than a marketing stunt, since it was paid for by a major investment firm. Those critics included Arturo Di Modica Di Modica, the artist who made the bull statue, which was unveiled in 1989 in tribute to the American economic recovery following the 1987 stock market crash.

fearless girl bull New York Times BBC

 photo: New York Times


Early morning dew do?

I would like to say, in reflection upon my lovely early morning fitness march I had yesterday in Prospect Park, when so many of my neighbors were out walking their dogs, who gleefully frolicked while catching up with their canine friends, whomever failed clean up the poop caked into the tread of my New Balance shoe, I hope your dog turns on you and shits on your pillow.