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ZombieLaw studies zombies in law, politics and current events.

Zombie games and us-them relations

From Boston Globe: “…surprising insights from the social sciences. ” by Kevin Lewis, subtitled: “My anti-zombie ally”, profiles work from Paul Adachi of Brock University:

Violent video games may temporarily boost aggressive impulses, but they can build fellowship, too. In an experiment, students at a Canadian university played a first-person shooter game for 12 minutes fighting zombies, in cooperation with another student online. This other student was described as being either from the same university or a rival American university. After ostensibly playing with the American, the Canadian students reported significantly more favorable attitudes toward the other university and Americans in general—but not other extraneous groups—and were just as likely to report being a “team” as if they had played with a fellow Canadian student.

Adachi, P. et al., “Brothers and Sisters in Arms: Intergroup Cooperation in a Violent Shooter Game Can Reduce Intergroup Bias,” Psychology of Violence (forthcoming).

This perception of us-them relations is important for distinguishing who is a zombie and what is it to be a human. This is like a shibboleth test for group membership (friend or foe?), but this research shows that these shared distinctions help developing group bonds. The us-them border is a formation, never fully formed, always in formation and developing from interactions. The enemy of my enemy is my friend…?

Consider ZombieLaw tags: other and psychology .. or Canada.

Happy Halloween

Orlando Sentinel: “Frightfully early? No, say Halloween stores” by Kyle Arnold:

Zombie paraphernalia is still popular, including a range of zombie pets to go along with gruesome masks and costumes.

KPBS: “The Unofficial Launch Of Halloween” by Beth Accomando:

”Your costumes, your zombie doesn’t want to smell like Febreze he wants to smell like a zombie. The one for zombies is called rotting decay,” [Scott Lynd of Froggy’s Fog] said.

AND at good4Utah: “It’s Almost Time for Comic Con” … by which they mean Salt Lake Comic Con 2014, Sept 4-6, but given that Halloween has already begun, the headline is also applicable to the upcoming 2014 New York Comic Con, Oct 9-12. Of course in New York it’s always Halloween and it’s time for fall fashion cosplay. Also in fashion, Labor day traditionally signifies the end to wearing white. So bring out the fall colors and radically overthrow that summer wardrobe.

Labor day is a good day to raise the dead. This holiday is about radical worker organizations but has been quieted by picnic feasts of BBQ’d pork. Families stay at home and eat meat while Congress raises money. Labor relates to the zombie-slave themes of Haitian sugar mills. But the modern labor day, like the modern day zombie, is consumed with consumerism.

Of course there’s that racist term “Indian Summer” which suggests lingering warmth, so the Natives don’t put all their shorts and sun dresses in storage yet. But it is time to turn the merchandise to Halloween. Wait another week and it starts to seem like the skeletons are being put out in honor of 9/11. Oh and then Columbus Day. So get it out early to avoid improper associations. Zombies for Labor Day.

And take them down at election day. November’s midterm elections are coming, Nov 4, if we wanted we could have an entirely new House of Representatives and a whole bunch of new Senators. Yes I’m serious. Vote against every incumbent. Your own zombie is not better than the rest, vote them all out, every single one of them. Take down all the zombies in November. ALL OF THEM!!! Remember remember the fifth of November 2014 we could wake up and it could be a whole new legislature. And we could do that repeatedly until these people started really working faster because they wouldn’t be here the next year to try again.

Happy labor day, trick or treat,

back to zombie college

This is a third part of a recent series of ZombieLaw posts on zombie education (see part 1: “Advice for the incoming class of zombies 2018“, posted Aug21 and part 2: “Making Justin Peligri into a zombie“, posted Aug22). School is back in session, welcome back zombies.

Recall the syndicated column by Walter Williams already posted in the Aug21 post, is now available at the Jackson Sun with a different title: “Tuition pays for zombies?“. It’s also been republished at Lubbockonline: “Higher education has lost sight of some of its mission“.

zombie williams

So let’s take another moment to examine the Williams article. In truth, I honestly can’t tell whether he is being sarcastic when he says “Every so often, colleges get it right” and then refers to firing a professor for political views. I don’t think he is. But as with all good opinion article it’s not about the specifics of the argument but about spreading the controversies. Williams does this with verve.

A similar controversy at CFA Illinois: “Chancellor decrees faculty at Illinois are subject to civility test; Trustees back her to the hilt” by Richard Slaugesen, and “More than 3000 Scholars Boycott the University of Illinois!” by Corey Robin.

Williams concludes:

The bottom line is that many colleges have lost sight of their basic educational mission of teaching young people critical thinking skills, and they’re failing at that mission at higher and higher costs to parents and taxpayers.

But he is wrong to cite zombies or Star Trek as part of the problem. Topics that excite students are exactly the solution to getting young minds interested in the critical thinking skills necessary to be transferred to serious conversations about serious topics. Students who produce data-driven well written answers to question about “if Superman could really bend steel bars?” are learning skills for writing other scientific reports … maybe… sometimes… education by skill transfer is notoriously difficult.

Let’s also look at Williams mention of the organization FIRE. Because fire is fun and is often a weapon against zombies. Also that organization is fun. Academic freedom is hard to measure but Williams mention of FIRE is an important gesture toward the controversy. Because colleges have another educational mission larger than the training of the young minds on their campus. They also have a educational mission to the community-at-large (with various communities to be accountable, private trustees and/or public legislatures). In American democracy (particularly at public institutions and any of those private but funded with public money) we would desire free speech, strong First Amendment protections. It’s hard to jive that with protecting young minds. Even a message of social justice can become a speech code. The mission of educating the public about what is good can be at odds with free expression and academic creativity (consider the themes in the TV show “Masters of Sex”).

This week for Teachers College shared Columbia University Facebook status with images of Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters”. They kicked him off campus, right? Yeah that’s probably what’s going to happen to me and my zombie projects too.

Dr. Peter Venkman and Dr. Raymond Stantz

Recall also, the great work “Overthinking Ghostbusters” by Adam Bertocci. For more Teachers College, Columbia University recall “zombie cats of Teachers College” (mentioning Thorndike’s cats, the “Resident Evil” subway map and Columbia’s Havemeyer classroom).

zombie resident evil new york subway mapHavemeyer  309

Cities are like panopticons and both subways and classrooms create an opportunity to commingle with the fellow cats. Speaking of Columbia zombies mingling, see last week in Columbia Spectator: “A story of the first ISOP” by Luke Foster:

we were all in varying degrees of zombie-fication from jet lag, but there was instant conviviality and camaraderie that first evening in Lerner Party Space.

Truer to my own experience, in Glossy News: “College Senior More Concerned With Zombie Apocalypse Than Future” by Don Plattner.

Meanwhile, college remains the only path to professional certification and zombies are not only at the IVy elite parties, see PortNews: “ Zombie apocalypse here” by Vickii Byram:

Zombie Apocalypse roadshow at UNSW Rural Clinical School … the UNSW Museum of Human Diseases popular outreach program … the Zombie Apocalypse. “It’s an enjoyable hands-on learning experience for both children and adults. It can also inspire students to get more involved in health and medicine – there may even be some future doctors in the crowd,” Mr Williams said.

Yes, future doctors and lawyers have no choice but college, but others don’t need to pay zombie tuition to learn. It’s free on the internet:

Imgur today: “If you ever want to do something with your spare time (except for imgur of course)

Still, most online tutorials don’t teach teamwork (maybe use online games for that). Despite student laments, college requires group participation. College forces students to study together and learn to live and work together. Everyone bitches about group work but the college experience is in part to learn to live and work together. That’s one reason people still pay so much for college admissions, to be sorted with ‘similar’ minds, because the networking is literally worth more than the teachers (because they don’t pay the teachers anywhere near the wages of a socially just world!). Only through role-taking and teamwork can simple minds accomplish great things (think about ants!).

ants pulling

However, Ars: “Learning CPR from YouTube: maybe not a great idea” by Katie Collins. The implication is we still need research and schools to tell us what really works. But as the comments make clear, we should instead learn CPR from watching the TV show “Breaking Bad”. Still for serious chemistry consider Solid State Chemistry at MITx starting this Wednesday (if only social bonding was as simple to master).

Undergraduate courses are still somewhat useful, just overpriced and not necessarily focused on useful content, but it’s not about the topic title, its how you use the skills later (and who you meet along the way). See Newsminer: “A day in the field with UAF undergrads” by Meghan Murphy:

Chris Clement is ready for anything — zombie apocalypse, restraining an eagle or offering a definition of cryptorchidism in dogs, which is when one or both of the testes doesn’t descend.

Yes, college is still good for some things, after all, young pups gotta do something before their balls drop… but while properly scaffolded curriculum in critical skills sound great, it’s often the free-wheeling radical professors who inspire the imagination needed for social justice and to change in the world; students need both (zombie false dichotomy).

“Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren will become a zombie.”

13WHAM: “Mayor Warren to participate in Fringe Festival“:

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren will become a zombie.

zombie mayor lovely warren

It is part of a performance at this year’s Rochester Fringe Festival.

Recall Mayor Warren was one of the 16 New York mayors who joined with Attorney General Schneiderman in efforts to promote the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act (the Zombie Kill Bill). That bill did not pass during the last legislative session but the issue of zombie foreclosures remains a serious problem throughout the country. AG Schneiderman is up for re-election in November. Perhaps the bill will return next year.

Also noteworthy, Mayor Warren is the first woman mayor of Rochester.

Desegregation law in Arkansas

Education Week: “Arkansas Desegregation Agreement Outlives the Law It Is Based On” by Evie Blad:

while the rest of Arkansas’ districts are following a new school choice law created by the state legislature in 2013, the Garland County districts have been turning down transfer requests under their own zombie version of the 1989 law.

See more ZombieLaw: race, education and Arkansas.

Senator Kirk: “America might get overrun with zombies”

WAND17: “A Child and a Senator Strike Up an Unexpected Friendship After Suffering Similar Strokes” quotes U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, Republican, junior Senator from Illinois:

“I was playing one zombie game to help me with my hand eye coordination between me and the computer,” said Kirk. “And I would always joke with him that if he didn’t get better at the zombie game, that America might get overrun with zombies.”

zombie senator mark kirk

Senator Kirk previously (in 2012) suffered a paralyzing stroke and this “zombie” quote was about conversations with a now-12-year-old named Jackson Cunningham who is also recovering from a stroke. Best wishes to both on their recovery.

See also the AP version of this story from the end of last year: “Ill. boy, US senator inspire fellow stroke victims” by Kerry Lester:

The two often talk about zombies, video games and Kirk’s ferocious black cat, Cleopatra.

See more ZombieLaw on Illinois, Senate, video games, and strokes.

“startling defeat of cynical legislating”

Charlotte Observer: “A troubling bill; a surprising no on economic incentives” by Peter St. Onge describes a moment in North Carolina legislature which he describes as a “a startling defeat of cynical legislating.”

It happened with H1224, an economic incentives bill that also would have limited how counties, including Mecklenburg, could raise sales taxes. The bill had turned into zombie legislation – dead and alive and dead again – before Senate Republicans revived it once more by linking it to two other bills.

The ‘startle’ is that the other Republicans stood against the leadership on principle as against passing unpopular legislation by linking it to more popular ideas:

in one unexpected moment, the party with power checked itself, for the better of everyone.


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