Sunday, March 24, 2013

I'm so over the zombie apocalypse, a rant

Normally I'm a pretty easy going guy. Everybody has their own slant on the world, and mostly that's all good. It's always interesting to me how someone can take the same situation, the same facts, and come up with a totally different interpretation of it. I was in one group that got into a ferocious argument about if it was called a "non-member surcharge" or a "membership discount" on the price of the event.

Lately it seems that all fiction is dominated by vampires, werewolves, and other fantasy creatures. A bit tiresome, but I don't have to buy it or read it. Zombies seem to be pushing their way into that group, and  that makes no never mind to me.

But when zombies come up seriously in Quebec politics, I sit up and take notice. It seems like the zombie apocalypse is getting big press these days, and in a way that I don't get, seems to be taken seriously. People say they are preparing for a ZA. (I'm not gonna type it out in full anymore.) I can't tell if they are stupid, or lazy, or mentally deranged.

Say it with me people. Zombies aren't real. They don't exist; they can't exist. There are many things to be worried about these days, but the ZA is not one of them. There never will be streets full of the undead stumbling along mumbling brains. And if there were, modern day America is going to be slim pickings for them, especially if they start in the Walmart parking lot.

I love me a good conspiracy theory. Seeing how the whack-o brains think and distort reality is amusing. It's light entertainment. Sometimes a good one offers an alternative explanation for things that actually survives a few moments of thought. But the weak spot of almost every conspiracy theory is that they ignore human nature. They assume some secret group with nearly unlimited competence and resources to carry out obscure tasks in pursuit of an arcane goal. If they were that good they'd be running the economy in a straight forward way, as the government itself, or some world spanning corporation. Anybody reading the paper knows that competence isn't a governmental strong point. But wait! It's all a ruse to lure you in!

But the biggest failure is they assume people can keep a secret. There's an old saying, three can keep a secret if two of them are dead. It's true. Let's imagine for a moment that somebody in the government ordered that the twin towers be bombed, and somehow coordinated the planes crashing into them to cover it up. Think about who has the stroke to order it in secrecy, and just think of all the people that would have to be part of it, from people making the plans and giving orders, engineers to figure where the bombs should go, down to the guys that actually install the bombs in the buildings, all while they are full of people. And not a single one of these hundreds, possibly thousands of people has geeked to the astronomical payout for a kiss and tell book called "I helped cause 9-11 and Dick Cheney gave the orders".

Not that I for a minute believe what the government says. One of my more useful filters is to assume that everything an elected government official says, is a lie, or an incomplete version of a truth. Kevin Page excepted of course. Harper proved Page was telling the truth by trying to fire him and stonewalling.

So now we're on about the ZA. There are people that seriously believe that the Centre of Disease Control in Atlanta is working to create zombies through vaccination programs for the flue, polio, and other diseases. Or some more secretive corporation. I can't tell if they are deranged, or just using the ZA as shorthand for thinking the world is all fucked up in unspecified ways, and want to be ready in ways that make them feel good. Which in America means carrying around some honking big weapon, ready to play hero. Cars and guns, inversely proportional to the size of brain and dick.

Now, in fact, there are any number of people that believe the global economy is becoming unravelled and we are reaching some crisis point. Fair enough, and there's lots of evidence pointing that way. Buying a basement of food, paying down debt, and a bunch of other activities are a practical, rational response. If things don't come unglued, one can always eat down that stockpile.

One might seriously disagree with the policies and governmental practices of Harper or/and Obama and believe they are ruining their respective countries. There are any number of oppositional activities one could do, with varying practicality and efficacy. Harper is for all intents and purposes an elected dictator. Obama has some restrictions on what he can do, but since he's crossed the line about retail drone strikes on American citizens, it's not a big step to wholesale use of the military. Good luck with opposing them.

Or you could believe that Harper and Obama (or their love child) are a sign of the second coming, or the rapture, or a bunch of other hooey. You might be in favor of this, assuming that you are one of the chosen that is going to heaven. Or you are just a garden variety fruit loop, and your response involves prayer. Or maybe hoping the aliens come rescue you.

You could be worried about being laid off from your job, getting some new super-bug, having "the system" make a mistake not in your favour and put you through hell, or the Trilateral commission raising prices of essential commodities, or the Illuminati revealing themselves, or your car breaking down, or your spouse leaving you, or any number of other things. There are various responses to these, some more practical than others.

In all of them, a proper response depends on being able to name the issue, identify and quantify the risk, listing the hazards, and evaluating the mitigating factors. Waving your arms and shouting about the ZA is not going to get you anywhere. It might take a spreadsheet to keep track of your issues and responses, but that's what Excel is for. When you find out that you are much more likely to be struck by lightning than be a victim of a terrorist incident, you might change your personal security routines, and start laughing at airport security procedures.

But in all cases, just being all riled up about the ZA isn't helping you. In fact, it's hindering you by preventing you from thinking about what real, actual risks you are facing, and figuring out what you can do about them. Coming to understand that they are not a practical risk is a valid outcome. Being trampled by a rhino is not on my list of things to worry about, and most of the time, being mauled by a bear or cougar isn't either. But go hiking in the Rocky Mountains and it's very practical to consider the possibility of being attacked by a bear.

One of the things that made a great impression on me when I was a kid was some of the Notebooks of Lazarus Long, and this one in particular, "What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!"

Book club today, discussing A Stroke of Insight. I thought it was an excellent read, and intend on rereading it. This was a good one to read on the iPad, what with some of the technical words being very easy to look up in the iBooks app. Our brains are a more remarkable organ than I had believed. Pity that most people waste the one they were given.


  1. Totally agree with all of your thoughts. Something that I found funny is a photo I saw on facebook captioned with "the zombie apocalypse is already here" and the photo was a few people walking down the street with their eyes on their iphones/ipads. I kind of think that is fitting.


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