Zombies: Why they’re more likely than you think.

Zombies: Why they’re more likely than you think.

The word zombie conjures up images of the dead rising out the earth from their graves. It used to be the primary way people thought of the undead. Now, with pop culture and creative writers and directors, the zombie has evolved into a myriad of types and interpretations. There are types that are no longer undead, but people infected with a “rage virus” or people so removed from their own humanity that they go mad and become cannibals. Then there is the question of consciousness. Some types of zombie are mindless, others are able to think simply like we imagine cavemen to be like. They can even be intelligent and able to think as we do but with the desire to destroy and consume us driving them.

We know what zombies are, right? Now you’re probably wondering how likely it is for the dead to come back to life to feast on our flesh. Reality time, it’s not. Sorry, maybe science will blunder upon a way to re-animate necrosed tissue in some way but it won’t be the zombie apocalypse we’ve seen in the movies. I’m not an expert in biology but I know enough to apply some careful thought to this. What mechanism in nature exists that can re-animate dead flesh? I haven’t heard of one, maybe because it doesn’t make sense. Something that’s dead is food. Everything that lives in some way is trying to keep living.

So what does make sense? Well, the usual culprits are viruses, bacteria and parasites. There is a reason for this, there are real-world examples of each that (not on their own) could potentially lead to the apocalypse we fear.


Let us start with a virus like rabies. It can cause extreme aggression and altered behaviour but is often fatal past a certain point. In order for it to be a zombie virus, it would have to mutate in a way to not kill the person in the process. Cannibalism would be less likely and violence would be the main issue with infected people. The scary part of rabies would be the vectors of infection. Viruses can be transmitted through just about any medium including the air, making it one of the worse options.


Next would be bacteria. There are bacteria that can alter behaviour, notably toxoplasma gondii found often in cats and other animals. It can lower IQ, increase recklessness and alter attention span making the infected more susceptible to predators which benefits the bacteria. Infection vectors for bacteria and parasites are more classic compared to zombie lore. Infected bodily fluids and materials like blood, feces, and questionable water or food sources.


Time for the fun little guys known as parasites. There is a wide variety of parasitic creatures that can be as small as bacteria right up to insect size (like the Costa Rican and Jewel Wasp) with my favourite for creepiness going to the flatworm (or fluke).  There are many (I’ll say too many) types of flatworms that hijack the brains of its victims making them suicidal and easy prey for predators.


One thing to help reduce that growing panic you be having is that any of these possibilities, even with mutation, are still highly unlikely to give rise to zombies on their own. Should any two or all three team up, then the human race will have a very unpleasant time. In nature, any of these organisms crossing paths will just kill each other. The possibility of just one unique host animal able to bridge the biological gap and create the (living) zombies we see in the media may be incredibly low but still possible.

No matter how unlikely zombies actually are, the official stance of the CDC is that if you’re prepared for a zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for any disaster. Don’t believe me? Google it.

Stay healthy survivors.

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Another long time, no post

Another long time, no post

I’ve been bad. I made a post on Medium about writing and have neglected to follow my own advice.
I want and need to do more writing because I want to get paid for it and I actually do enjoy it on occasion. I realise some of it will be crappy work but I can still do some enjoyable writing for the sake of it.

I’ve made an account on Fiverr after doing some on-line research on freelancing. I have yet to make a “gig“, as they call them, but once I do it may make me a bit of cash and get me some valuable experience that could lead to more opportunities. My user name on there is Jonny07 for anyone who needs a laugh.

I’m choosing to be optimistic until proven otherwise and will try to make more posts (more consistently) in the future. Needless to say, my book needs more attention because I’m sure it’s beginning to feel like an unloved stepchild.
Time to see if I can put my lack of money where my mouth is.

Long time, no post.

Long time, no post.

I’ve been busy with my two part-time jobs, lazy, and just unmotivated in general.  I like making excuses too.

However, I have actually done work on the book I’m writing. Not as much as I’d like but something is better than nothing. I have (mostly) completed the intro to my book and the rest lies ahead of me. I regard every little bit I write as a victory, otherwise I would quickly become discouraged and likely stop altogether. Even writing this post is helping to flex my writing muscle, even if only a little. For any one who’s interested, I’ll post a short sample of what I’ve written for my book so far:

“As I look at the grizzly scene, I try not to gag from the smell. It hasn’t been long enough for them to start decomposing but the sheer amount of blood creates a dense, almost acrid smell that’s off-putting at least. I’m surprised at how composed I remain, even after noticing a portion of skull with an eye still attached staring at me from the floor behind the couch among the other assorted parts of skull and brain matter. I can’t even tell who it belonged to.”

Not much context but I hope it was intriguing at least. If I can muster it, I’ll keep writing and posting. When I have more actually written, I’ll post another update specific to my book and maybe another sample.

I’m cheating on you with myself…

I’m cheating on you with myself…

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What I actually mean is while I’ve been trying, more or less, to do a post every week, I’m going to have to dial it back to maybe one a month. I’m actually giving a good effort to do what I’ve wanted to do for some time and write a book that has been in my head for years.

If I do any more posts than that (or less) you can probably blame my book. I will likely post updates as to how the book is coming along and how frustrating it is to try and write one. If my posts are not updates, they’ll likely be something I feel the inspiration or need to vent about which may help bolster my creativity for my book (or, more honestly, provide a break from it).

While I won’t reveal all about my book, I’ll tell you it will be similar to the show Heroes. People with powers. It will be centred around one individual over, what I hope, is a three book series.


 

This part may help fellow wannabe writers

As for the way I’m writing it, I did a bit of research into writing software so I could choose the right program to help organise and expedite the writing process. Two programs stood out, yWriter and Scrivener.

From what I can see, Scrivener seems to be the most polished and feature-heavy program of the two and for good reason. It’s 40 dollars. USD. It has a 30-day free trial but I didn’t try it out. I don’t know how many of those features I’d use and I didn’t feel the need to spend 40 dollars. Anyone with money problems, tight budgets, or a genetic pre-disposition to cheapness may find the price tag a bit steep.

As for yWriter, it’s free! That should appeal to many but also raises some concerns. Are there annoying ads? Are you going to have to pay for additional features? How good could it possibly be? Let me help a bit: there’s no ads; you get the full program; it does seem pretty good. If you want to donate to get it registered, it’s mainly a way to show support and it’ll be 24.95, max. It may not have as many features or be as flashy as Scrivener but I read through all the info for both and decided even yWriter had more features than I’d need and I didn’t have to pay for it. Pretty good deal!

I chose to use yWriter but I still recommend anyone who is thinking of writing look into both (and possibly more) and just get what will work best for you and what you want to do. If writing is something you are serious about, 40 dollars is not a lot to invest to help make it a reality.

 

If money is the root of all evil, what’s its exponent to itself?

If money is the root of all evil, what’s its exponent to itself?

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Don’t mind the fairly laboured math joke of the title, I aim to discuss the sloppily-effective, disjointed economic system we have compared to the value we place on essentials. My particular focus will be on the shift of value due to a world disaster where there would likely be a suspension of rule of law, like a… Oh, I don’t know, zombie apocalypse. I can hear the eyes rolling but let’s just assume it’s possible. I maintain that a viral/bacterial, parasite hybrid could hijack the central nervous system and/or brain and produce the famous zombies we know of in popular media.

So, assuming it’s all possible, what becomes of our economy then?
Currently we watch the news and read the articles, all of which are yelling economic crisis and collapse. If what we have is so good and advanced, why do we have all these problems with businesses and economic classes? The only logical answer is that the system sucks. Even if the problem isn’t the system itself, it’s the execution. A good system, I’d argue, would be hard to take advantage of. I think that would be best represented by the outcome of a disaster situation. Without stock markets, credit bureau’s or banks the tried, tested and true barter and trade-based economy would rise.

If a zombie apocalypse were to happen, the things we value would change drastically along with their supply. Food and water would be paramount and more valuable than gold is now. In a disaster situation, someone with a well would be considered rich and have a valuable resource to trade for food or weapons. The economy we have now is focused on wants, not needs. Water and food are cheap because they are plentiful and easy to get and produce. The economy is so bad in many places now because everyone is trying to get their own fortune over everyone else. Those who have money will always have an easier time making more and maintaining what they already have. Those who have to struggle will often fall behind and have little or no opportunity to catch up. There. I just explained the dwindling middle class. If you want the specifics, go take an economy class.

Despite the necessity of food and water even at times of peace and stability, the values remain disjointed. Shortages in supply and production can affect the pricing but never to the degree where you would take a bottle of water over a gold bar. Enter the zombie apocalypse, an event that suspends rule of law. This suspension of governing law ramps up peoples survival instincts adjusting their personal value systems. With no official economic system and money becoming essentially useless, trade and barter becomes the easiest and most efficient method to obtain resources.
If you get caught in a grocery store during an apocalyptic event and stock up on food then run into someone who stocked up on weapons (improvised or otherwise), it would make sense and benefit both parties to trade for mutual survival. With any system there is the potential for exploitation. Someone with power may use it to coerce a beneficial situation for themselves. However, ignoring that aspect, a trade system compared to what we have now would be harder to take advantage of. Without the addition of monetary notes and currency values, the value of traded resources would not be static and vary depending on the need of the individuals in the trade. The lack of independent value of currency would keep everything else normalised affected only by supply and demand based on culture and region. A trade of fresh water for gold would now seem silly but possible when water is more necessary for a majority of people.

Now when you think of how our money, gasoline and economy changes values based on analysts, brokers, and banks the oddities are more apparent.
Maybe I’m wrong that a trade system would be better, but I’m confident in saying that what we have now is dysfunctional and needing, not just renovation but innovation.

Who’d do it better?

Who’d do it better?

Have you ever watched a movie and thought a different actor could do it better? Well that is exactly the kind of conversation that my cohorts and I had recently while at work.

The primary movie in question was The Last Samurai. Our general, collective distaste for Tom Cruise prompted us to come up worth a different choice. My suggestion was Liam Neeson, regardless of the fact that he is basically a trump card as far as actors go.

I even postulated that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fresh from his role in “3rd rock from the sun” would’ve made a better Frodo Baggins. Many suggestions and discussions on that subject took place that day. I was always right, of course.

This was just a post to outline the kind of wonderful, inane and wonderfully inane conversations that happen to creep up at work.

Try it for yourselves, pick a favourite movie. Now, how would you cast it?

Why I got rid of Facebook and Instagram.

Why I got rid of Facebook and Instagram.

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Some people look at me as if I’m odd. Not for the myriad of reasons they usually do, specifically when I tell them I don’t have Facebook. “Why”, you ask. Well there are many reasons, some of which you may already be able to come up with. I actually haven’t had Facebook for a while. This post was more inspired by Facebook’s image-centric acquisition, Instagram. I had an Instagram account until recently just to follow people I know and because I’ve always had an interest in photography (even the amateur kind) that you could find on there.

The problem I had with it was, for the most part, the same problem I had with Facebook. For one, I’m not interested that you had a soda and “it really hit the spot”. I also don’t need to see 10 consecutive images of your pet.

Secondly, the “discussions” were a bigger part of why I got rid of both accounts. I like to pretend that social media sites should be a forum for your own ideas, beliefs and interests that you should be able to share with others free from persecution or bullying (if said beliefs are not hateful, harmful or intended to be towards others). Sadly, because of the very thing that should be great about Facebook and Instagram plus the lack of enforcement of their terms of service for the very things I outlined above, they become more of a forum for judgement, hate and bullying. On Facebook, I would be dragged into arguments about things that need not be argued about mainly because I had an opinion that others simply disagreed with. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a discussion about things controversial or otherwise on an occasional basis as long as it’s not someone just telling me I’m wrong. It was especially annoying because most people are stupid (more so than myself) and having to prove them wrong only to have them dismiss it because they can’t accept it (likely from stupidity) was taxing and got old very quickly.

Thirdly, I feel Facebook and Instagram act as a corrupting influence to those that use them. I say this because I felt it personally which was why I decided to get rid of the last vestige of FB. More on that in a bit. There have also been studies that have shown that people who have FB tend to be more depressed or unhappy (which I believe correlates to the amount of time spent on it). I’m not including citations to such studies because I’d like to believe that people are able to Google (side note: I find it amusing that “Google” is a verb now) to find those studies themselves. Anger, depression, sadness and other negative emotions tend to be more contagious than positive ones I find. The problem with the users of FB and IG is the impulse to say something about everything. So when they see something they don’t like or disagree with, something negative must be said. I know there are people who can resist this impulse but there seems to be more people who can’t. With that, the reason I got rid of IG is because it began to suck me into the behaviour of being a terrible person.

I follow the Suicide Girls (a modeling site featuring women with unique looks, e.g. odd hair styles/colours; tattoos; piercings; differing body types, etcetera) because I’m a fan of photography and the female form in many of its permutations. A common sight to see on one of these posts are men and women commenting “gross”, “yuck”, or “ew”. I ask, who needs to see that? Certainly not the poster, subject (if a person) or myself. It would be easier to just pass on by and not say anything and yet people are compelled to spread that negativity and signal to all others that they are a closed-minded, judgemental, and hateful people. In my case, there was a girl who was unhappy about the name of the website, thinking it was about helping those with suicide. Understandable, to a point. With a bit of research anyone can find out that the name Suicide Girls comes from a quote in a book by Chuck Palahniuk. The line she crossed was to scold the people who made the post and the people who viewed it. I responded with some very not nice things to say. It was after that, I looked at how easily incensed I can be in the presence of such blatant ignorance and decided I didn’t need that influence. You may think, “but surely such things take place on other social media sites” to which I respond with “of course”. I just don’t find it to be so rampant on other sites. In the case above, the picture on IG would get around 100 comments with roughly 20 of them being negative. The same picture on Tumblr would get hundreds more “likes” with not one negative comment. To me, it says a lot about the kind of people attracted to these sites and about the people running them.

There also seems to be a trend of people dropping their FB accounts for a variety of reasons though I hope the main one is a resurgence of tolerance, morality, manners and intelligence. Something I would like to see is social media websites deciding on what kind of people and content they are willing to allow on there (and enforce it) and letting the public determine through use of those sites which ones they want to be a part of. Facebook and Instagram are supposed to be more “family-friendly” sites but my experience is that they are more unfriendly than I’d like.

Happy happy happy?

Happy happy happy?

In searching for the song Pharrell Williams did for Despicable Me 2 I discovered something that may ruin (in a good way?) my life for the next couple of days. 24hoursofhappy.com which features a 24 hour music video for the song with different people dancing in public for each play through.
At the time I was drafting this post, I had been watching the video for about 2 hours. You may think I’d be sick of the song and yet you’d be wrong. (A feeling everyone should become familiar with)

I had watched a TED talk earlier about how something as simple as posture could influence, not only others, but your own mood. A “power” posture could lower stress and increase confidence which raises questions as to how contagious happiness is. If a miserable ass such as myself can become so enthralled by a music video with a repetitive song about happiness then there must be some truth to the theory.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole situation is that it makes me want to get up and dance myself. A terrifying prospect, if there ever was one. I happen to be bad enough that others trying to dance in my proximity while I’m trying to dance simply get worse. Like a black hole of talent from which no skill can escape.

Regardless, my recommendation is for anyone who reads this to check out the website and just embrace the happy. No matter your mood, there should be at least one or two people whose dancing and/or personality should put a smile on your face.