Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow Monkey caste system, Japan (video)

CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly; Nature (PBS), Documentary Galaxy

Hold on. Primate electronics are fun!
"Hell's Valley" (Jigokudani Monkey Park) may not be a familiar name, but one thing about it is very popular -- a place in Nagano where one can see "snow monkeys," Japanese macaques, taking an onsen, a hot mineral bath.

Hell's Valley is easy to pass while driving on the way up to Shiga Kogen. Jigokudani Yaen Koen Park opened in 1964, and since then many thousands of people from around the world have visited to observe the lifestyle of the Japanese macaques, Macaca fuscata, a species of monkey native to northern Japan's "Alps."

It is the most northern-living non-human primate, surviving winter temperatures of below -15 °C. They have brown-gray fur, red faces, hands, and bottoms, and short tails and often seem remarkably human. It arranges itself by heredity with each social position handed down (like India's old Vedic caste system) from the mother. But every rigid system has to eventually give way to an individual, in this case -- as in the case of the Buddha -- a little prince.

Human sex trafficking (
(PBS/Independent Lens) "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women" Urmi Basu, the founder of New Light, explains to America Ferrera the caste system in India and how women end up in prostitution. This landmark transmedia project featuring a four-hour PBS primetime national and international broadcast event, a Facebook-hosted social action game, mobile games, two interactive websites, educational video modules with companion text, and an impact assessment plan all inspired by Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the widely acclaimed book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

The series follows Kristof, WuDunn, and six celebrity activists including Diane Lane, America Ferrera, Olivia Wilde, and Nicole Kidman as they travel to nine countries and meet inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. Embedded in the linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality -- which still needlessly claims one woman every 90 seconds -- is the single most vital opportunity of our time. And all over the world, women are seizing it.
O, the hells (naraka, niraya)!
In the wild they spend most of their time in forests and feed on seeds, buds, fruit, invertebrates, berries, leaves, and bark. The monkeys have a body length ranging from 80 to 95 cm. The males weigh around 10-14, kg while the females are usually half that at around 5.5 kg.

The park is located in the Yokoyu River Valley, which flows down from Shiga Kogen, the Japanese Highlands. At an elevation of 850 meters, the area is called "Hell's Valley" due to the steep cliffs and hot water steaming out from the Earth.
It is also a fairly harsh environment in winter with snow on the ground for a third of the year. But it is a natural paradise for 200 or so monkeys living there. Humans are lucky, too, because we can enter their world and watch them enjoying themselves.

Watching monkeys play, take a leisurely onsen or a swim is a lot of fun. The monkeys generally ignore their human counterparts and just get on with whatever it is they want to be doing.

Race and Caste - Ambedkar vs. Gandhi
(Arundhati Roy) "The Doctor and the Saint" on the Annihilation of India's Caste System. Maybe the "great soul" Mahatma Gandhi was not who we think he was. Rather than a poor saint who saved a country, he may have been a very rich and privileged, Western-educated political leader who presented himself as a "holy man" (sadhu). Columbia University Teachers' College, 2014. Should "untouchables" (dalits) quit Hinduism and adopt any other religion free of corrupting casteism? B.R. Ambedkar says yes!

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