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ZombieLaw studies zombies in law, politics and current events.

This is not “too realistic for comfort” TL;DR – vegan ebola eggs @toysrus

The issue of the ‘not’, the negation, is of fascination for phenomenology. George Lakoff has infamously taught us that the imperative “Don’t think of an elephant” is a cognitive impossibility, the elephant is unavoidable. To think of not-something is first to think of that thing. The act of negation is an erasure that leaves a trace.

Today’s Boston Globe: “This is not the zombie apocalypse” by Carlo Rotella, director of American studies at Boston College, continues this week’s enduring zombie ebola memes:

The American Ebola panic is a putatively nonfiction apocalyptic-contagion story, heavily indebted in both its form and its popularity to the zombie plague narratives that proliferate in our fiction.

That doesn’t mean that the end of the world isn’t coming, because of course it is, for each of us. But when fate comes for you, the end won’t have the satisfying drama of zombie plagues or CGI fireballs. The end will come, instead, in the form of a nagging ache or cough… Normal life is the grim reaper who’s almost certainly going to get you sooner or later.

We are all going to die. Sorry if you find that shocking or think it needed a spoiler warning. You will die. Everyone you know will die. As sure as Winter is coming, we will die one day. Will it be this winter? Maybe if we buy more stuff and give the neighbors candy.

See this cartoon tweeted from artist, Jim Benton and posted/discussed on reddit:

Is it safe to let the kids walk around the neighborhood collecting treats? Is it even safe to talk to neighbors? Who do we trust, the local community or the internet? “What was fake on the Internet this week: Banksy’s arrest, Red Velvet Oreos and exploding bongs” By Caitlin Dewey:

An exploding bong did not take off half a woman’s face. A Facebook PSA about the dangers of marijuana — captioned, scarily, “THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU” — claims that a young woman was gruesomely disfigured when her bong exploded. In fact, the woman pictured is an Internet-famous makeup artist dressed up for a zombie bar crawl

I mean, duh, unless the bong was filled with butane trying to make homemade dabs. Be careful kids, the food they sell today is NOT organic. Don’t accept unwrapped candy. And check for razor blades. But what about the stuff you can’t see. Maybe there’s ebola in that candy?!

In the market yesterday I had to ponder the choice of United Egg Provider certified eggs or USDA organic, certified humane, cage free, eggs from Amish country. The latter were about double the price per egg. Was I supposed to google it there is the store, maybe call the egg suppliers and ask questions? Why can’t I get a video of the actual egg from the actual chicken and every day of that chicken’s life (the car maker BMW does it for their car production when you buy a new car).

People don’t want to see the chicken, don’t want to consider where the meat comes from. We buy expensive eggs for the same reason we buy expensive colleges, it seems like it must be better if it’s more expensive and has more labels. But labels do not insure essence. It is impossible to tell which eggs is which, I have to trust the supply chain. And that kind of trust leads to terrible abuses.

UndeadWalking: “The Walking Dead Toys Remain on Toys R Us Shelves” by Josh Hill quotes NJ.com “‘Breaking Bad’ gets booted from Toys ‘R’ Us but ‘Walking Dead’ didn’t?“:

As NJ.com points out, The Walking Dead toys remain on store shelves while Breaking Bad toys have been removed.

But one has to pose the question: How soon before a Change.org petition is started for their questionable “The Walking Dead” toys, namely the collectable item, The Governor and The Fish Tank Room. It features The Governor with several fishtanks behind him with decapitated zombie heads and his little girl (also a zombie) with a bag over her head.

What about “Mad Men” toys? Mattel made a set in 2010. But there is no alcohol props so maybe this is appropriate. Speaking of AMC, The Street: “AMC Networks is no Zombie Amid Cross-border Content Deals” by Chris Nolter. Yes, obviously AMC is currently winning the Cable wars, they have emerged the new model that everyone is hoping to duplicate. “Breaking Bad” continues to change television long after it ended. And zombies are AMC metaphor for the whole business they are transforming.

Ultimately, all shows end. “Breaking Bad” insisted on it’s ending. It was a five-act dramatic opera and it could not just run forever. “Walking Dead” is a different kind of opera. Like a daytime soap, it is structured so that it could conceptually run on forever. But all things end. That is the truth of things. Things must continue to change in order to survive, only in becoming what they are not can they survive. When things become unable to change, their thing-ness is complete, they are no longer alive, dead symbols frozen in time.

Robert Kirkman chimed in on rumors that “Walking Dead” would end with it all a coma-induced dream (like the “who shot JR” season of “Dallas”, a scandal which was a turning point in soap opera history). We could no longer trust the show’s authors to be telling us important stories if they might erase it. This changed after “Lost” and people started letting the authors be lost and go with them a bit. When “Lost” ended they gave audiences a pay-off, so it starts to seem like maybe they knew what they were writing all along. This gives more authors license to drag the audience around, hoping for continual peaks of structured meaning, assuming a delayed but eventual denouement. But with comic story telling, it’s never coming.

UndeadWalking: “Creator Robert Kirkman Puts An End To A Theory” by Ernie Padaon quoting tweets from Robert Kirkman, the first denying rumors that it’s all a dream:

Going on record to answer this: http://uproxx.com/tv/2014/10/robert-kirkman-needs-to-go-on-the-record-promising-the-walking-dead-wont-end-as-rick-grimes-coma-dream/ … Rick is NOT still in a coma. The events of TWD are definitely happening.

But Kirkland’s irony plays through in the next tweet:

But Carl and everyone else are all imagined. He actually NEVER found his family. He’s been crazy since he killed his first zombie. #joking?

Because, hello everyone, it’s fiction. Now, it’s cognitively impossible to not incorporate fictional stories into our unconscious reasoning schema. It’s not our fault that we can’t not think of an elephant.

Television shows unavoidably frame our perspectives on characters. Is “Breaking Bad” safe for children? Isn’t it a pretty good story of why not to get involved in the drug business? And zombies? Are they safe for children toys this season. If so, maybe because they are fiction, whereas the characters on Bad a real villains. Zombie figure are standard monster toys. We don’t protect kids from violence in their toys, they love military toys. The kids need not watch the shows to play with the toys and the monster toy is of itself not evocative the depressing philosophy of the show. By contrast, hero worship of Walter White in his lab gear or wearing Heisenberg-hat/glasses, with money and drugs as props, might of itself evoke an idolization of a drug dealer?

I don’t know. This post is too long. Don’t go buying action figures. Financial Post: “Attack of the spending zombies” by Melissa Leong :

Are you at risk of becoming a spending zombie? Watch this FP Video by Melissa Leong for tips on how to avoid our modern tendency toward blind spending.

That video is cute and I could have used some of the tips at NY Comic Con last week – it’s funny, for every book I bought that I like I bought like one or two that I am regretting. So I have to rationalize that the ones I like were worth double.

Similarly, I have to rationalize that the expensive eggs are worth double. I tried going vegan. Like Norman Reedus it was largely a response to all this zombie exposure and some other farm snuff films I kind of wish I hadn’t seen. It’s horrific. See DailyMail: “Cast and crew on zombie show The Walking Dead are ‘turning vegetarian after grisly scenes put them off eating meat’” by Rebecca Davison:

Norman Reedus, 45, who plays Daryl Dixon told the paper that he is one of the stars to change their diet, saying: ‘I’ve become a vegetarian and I’m kind of bummed about it.’

And Hollywood.com: “Norman Reedus goes vegetarian after working on The Walking Dead“:

the special effects team has made scenes involving the consumption of human flesh in the current fifth season a little too realistic for comfort, so he has decided to adopt a meat-free diet.

I tried vegan but it was very hard to be a party of society that way and after about six months I have slowly resumed fowl and fish and cheese and even allow some exposure to pork in chinese food and have had some celebratory beef. Ugh, ‘celebratory’, so gross to celebrate by killing an animal but I am still part of this community and mean is everywhere. Even if I want to prepare a vegan dinner, I must first go to the market filled with meat smells.

I used to eat soooooo much meat. My meatballs were famous amongst my friends and family. I haven’t made them in a long while now. But again, as I said, I have already started readjusting back to their normal society and willing to eat some again. How is it that I rationalize that, I don’t know. I would like to think that if I was starving I would let myself starve rather than kill an animal but that’s probably not true, probably if I was actually starving, I might be willing to kill you, and if my family was starving. I don’t want to think about that.

We don’t want to think that anyone could die, death is so unpleasant, so let’s just not even think about it. Let’s go back to Comic Con and spend with blind consumer abandon. Let’s kill and eat and gorge on the addictive flesh, and do it again tomorrow. It’s what everyone else is doing. It’s too hard to fight the system.

Yesterday I ordered an eggplant parm sandwich. They told me they were out of eggplant. I could have cancelled the order and started again from a new restaurant but I was hungry. I ate chicken parm instead. I felt guilty about it. I’m too old for this shit. I miss enjoying my food. After months without steak, I had a bite around a campfire with friends. The surge of chemicals was intoxicating. But I knew what I was eating and the enjoyment was poisoned a little by the knowledge, but it was easy to forget when the meat was in my mouth.

It’s sad growing up. It’s sad when the toys we want are no longer available from a toy store. They told us we would always be Toys*R*us kids but they lied, they didn’t grow up with us. We are left on the curb, calling Archie McPhee for a hit of that stuff that feels like old times, a little taste of nostalgia for the old days when TV characters can come to life in our hands. Idol worship is what children’s toys is all about. We are compelled to horde for winter. Buy more stuff, eat more stuff, survive by becoming what you are not, it’s all that we are.

In conclusion, recall also: “History of Zombies “Is This A Zombie?” Not. Feminism” and This is NOT Katy Perry: “Zombie Art World: surrealism, realism, formalism, conceptualism, ART!

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, not ebola, but with a whisper, fading into an alienation of its former voice, disappearing into the global consumer morass, a zombie echo.

Ebola at Columbia

Apologies, this post only has one zombie but since I’ve started the zombie ebola conversation I may as well continue following-through on the ebola story. Nearly two years ago to the day, New York was blacked out and struggling with Superstorm Sandy, today we welcome Ebola to the city.

Columbia Spectator: “CUMC doctor hospitalized with ebola-like symptoms, reports say” by Christian Zhang and Emma Bogler:

According to the New York Daily News, the patient was 33-year-old Craig A. Spencer, a professor with the Columbia University Medical Center’s department of medicine. Spencer had returned just 10 days earlier from a Doctor’s Without Borders trip to Guinea where he treated Ebola patients, the Daily News reported.

Woo Columbia zombies! Way to score the public health brand marketing opportunity.

CNN now reporting he tests positive: “NY doctor recently back from West Africa tests positive for Ebola, officials confirm” by Ray Sanchez and Shimon Prokupecz:

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We want to state at the outset there is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed.”

Just two weeks ago a Columbia researcher was quoted in NYMag: “How to Prevent Ebola Panic in the Facebook Age” by Jesse Singal:

“Ebola’s the kind of disease that zombie movies are made out of,” said Abdulrahman El-Sayed, a researcher at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It’s the kind of thing where if you’re not close to the science and don’t understand the epidemiology of it, it’s a very scary-sounding disease — you bleed all over the place, it kills more than 50 percent of the individuals who contract it, it’s spreading like wildfire in West Africa.”

That’s pretty similar to what Rep. Farenthold said, that was quoted by Meet the Press, and that Senator Casey called irresponsible rhetoric. And recall yesterday’s post “ebola is a metaphor for zombie” and ebola as a symbol of the threat of globalism.

We are left to debate of whether the best solutions are to solve with individual self-reliance or paternal institutions. These are the kinds of great debates that the young men of Columbia College used to have while reading their core curriculum of mostly Dead White European Male texts.

Meanwhile in today’s Columbia Spectator: “Free screening of Ghostbusters tonight” by Hannah Josi:

Rumor has it that the money earned from the shots on campus still pays for all the lawn maintenance. Given how much the administration loves grass, that’s a lot of money. Thanks, Ghostbusters!

Yeah, thanks zombie Bill Murray, thanks for paying for the grass. We smoked that core curriculum into a po-mo hash of multicultural nonexistence, and the grass is all that’s left of Columbia. Like the other great institutions, it is crumbling.

In another Columbia Spectator article last month, “Dumb as Mudd” by Alex Della Santina:

What does this say about engineering at Columbia? We come to an institution to learn the art of innovation, efficiency, improvement. But we have to do that in a building that exemplifies all of the “don’ts” of engineering.

Like other zombie brands, the elite colleges have become hollowed shells, preserving their landscaping, the facade, but not the educational rigor. Columbia is an arm of the media establishment, an unregistered political lobbying institution, a tax-free hedge fund, and a facilitator of indentured servitude. It is immoral to allow 18 year olds to take out debt to pay for this kind of elite white man’s drug. This kind of liberal arts education is the most expensive addiction in America and it is fueled by viral media that reinforces the illusory prestige.

But at least the grass is nice; with that dank smell of old classrooms like Havemeyor 309. In the recent PBS profile (propaganda): “Treasures of New York: Columbia University“, PrezBo says:

you walk through the gates at 116th street and you immediately feel your IQ go up 10 points

That’s cause the elitism virus is airborne.

See more zombie Columbia or zombie New York or zombie education or, if we must, zombie Ebola

ebola is metaphor for zombies

US News: “Get Your Ebola Groove On” by Steven Nelson:

“Ebola definitely has the ‘it’ factor for scary disease. It comes from scary dark Africa, monkeys are involved and blood comes out of your eyes. Only an actual zombie outbreak could be ‘hotter.’”

Ebola has all the media thinking zombies. And commentary from the major players:

Reuters: “Is Ebola the real ‘World War Z?’ (Spoiler alert: It’s not)” by Max Brooks … yes that Max Brooks, as in World War Z author and son of mega-producer and comedian Mel Brooks:

In my book, the main reason that the zombie virus spread out of control was because the industrialized world did not want to be inconvenienced.

Washington Post: “Surprise: Americans are confident in government’s ability to handle Ebola” by Paul Waldman:

as much as Republicans have been arguing that everything is spinning out of control and the government isn’t protecting us from a deadly disease that might just bring about a zombie apocalypse, it turns out that the public isn’t going quite as crazy as you might think.

Contrast, zombie international politics scholar Dan Drezner, also writing for Washington Post: “Yes, Ebola is pretty much following the standard zombie scenario” by Dan Drezner. This kind of outbreak scenario has been exactly what he has always been writing about:

after discussing the effects of domestic and bureaucratic politics on counter-zombie responses, I closed with the following rueful paragraph:

There is a tragic irony to these predictions and recommendations. Recall the discussion of how domestic politics would affect counterzombie policies: government institutions would be able to act in an unconstrained manner at first, but politics would impose a stronger constraint over time. The organizational perspective offers the reverse narrative — bureaucratic competency will improve over time. If both domestic political pressures and bureaucratic politics play a role in affecting government policies, their combined effect could be doubly disastrous. Government agencies would have the most autonomy when they are most likely to make bad decisions. By the time these bureaucracies adapted to new zombie exigencies, they would face political hurdles that could hamper their performance.

This is exactly what’s been happening over the past month.

This exposes the difference between the zombies of Brooks and Drezner. Drezner’s are real zombies to the extent that it is a real world and ebola containment is the same concept as zombie containment. Sure, the vectors are different, as they would be different for swine flu or some other new outbreak. But the idea of Drezner’s hypothetical has always been to educate and explore ideas for real world scenarios just like this. In contrast, Brooks is an entertainer. He is interested in survivalist training but his zombies have always been fiction and a sort of deadpan comedy. For disaster preppers, their preparations are for a world without government, off the grid, taking care of oneself. Public health responses contrast with ideas of survivalist self-reliance. Who is best to fight invisible and imaginary enemies, individual survivalists or political institutions?

CSUsignal: “Ebola-pocalypse: Panic in US is justified” by Brandi Pettes:

All that time you spent creating a fool-proof survival plan for a zombie apocalypse may not go to waste. Rather than protecting yourself from a sluggish undead human being trying to bite you, you’ll need to protect yourself from Ebola.

Yes, but the preparations might be rather different, cue sales of biomedical suits, less need to learn to shoot for the head and more need to remember to watch hands, learn not to touch your eyes. But who knows what to believe, the biggest viral pattern is the memes. Consider New Yorker: “Man Infected with Ebola Misinformation Through Casual Contact With Cable News” by Andy Borowitz.

And from The Conversation: “#Ebola in the USA: don’t trust what you read on Twitter“:

Whatever you do, don’t turn to Twitter for news about Ebola. The volume and tone of tweets and retweets about the disease will make you wish you were watching the zombie apocalypse of The Walking Dead instead. It is much less scary.

But at KPBS: “Zombies Versus Real Science: Which Is Scarier?” by Beth Accomando, Nicholas McVicker, reminds the value of zombie metaphors in quality neuroscience education, again plugging the recent efforts of Prof. Bradley Voytek:

Voytek’s enthusiasm and ability to engage an audience are clear. As a neuroscientist and a member of the Zombie Research Society he’s devoted to applying science to the zombie brain, which makes perfect sense to a zombie enthusiast like me.

KRDO: “Ebola may have scared stock market” by Emily Allen:

KRDO medical expert Dr. John Torres said the stock market’s symptoms should stabilize. “Now that people are able to take a step back and take a breath and say, ‘OK, it’s not as bad as we thought it was, this was not the zombie apocalypse we were thinking about, this is something that is very isolated, hard to get, and we are actually taking good control of it, I think we are going to be OK,” said Torres.

A medical expert evaluating the stock market? Makes perfect sense, because illness is not metaphor, it’s literal. The economy is literally alive, like a giant organism that lives with us inside it in a symbiotic relations (like the bacteria in our gut). Right?

OK so, ebola is a real literal virus but it is also a symbol of globalism’s instability. And yes, zombie is literally only a metaphor but in that way it is real as symbol. This is how my stance on zombies differs from Brooks and Drezner. I believe that for both of these esteemed scholars zombies are not real. For Brooks, he discusses zombies as pure fiction, drama, comedy, action, a good motivation for learning to survive, but fiction. For Drezner, zombies are hypothetical to be applied to real world political structures for analysis of those structures. Drezner uses zombies as a foil to explore the institutional structures of world politics. In contrast to both of these, my zombies here at ZombieLaw have been different. My zombie are not hypothetical, not fictional, they are literally printed words from real publications by real journalist and scholars using this word over and over and over again.

Perhaps, metaphor is illness. At first I resisted the ebola, it was too literal for my tastes. Eventually it was unavoidable. The stylized visual gore of Romero-stle Walking Dead zombies is too similar to ebola to avoid the connections. The ebola memes have taken hold and are working to shift through zombie’s popularity and shifting political conversations about money for homeland security, Africa, and trust in government, among other topics. Hey zombies, shake the donation buckets, it’s under two weeks til election, and start of the holiday season; rev up the fear-tactics, to inspire renewed faith in public health paternalism and rampant consumerism.

zombies, responsible rhetoric?

Congressman Blake Farenthold (Republican from Texas) referred to “zombie movies” in reference to not trusting the government for outbreak control. The quote (from Oct 10th) was clipped on this morning’s “Meet the Press” on NBC :

Every outbreak novel or zombie movie you see starts with somebody from the government sitting in front of panel like this saying there’s nothing to worry about.

zombie blake farenthold

That sound bite is proceeding by a another congressman, Representative Mike Kelly (Republican from Pennsylvania), referring to liquified internal organs. Chuck Todd’s question, “responsible rhetoric?”, Senator Bob Casey (Democrat from Pennsylvania) says no.

donations militarizing zombie dogs

Police technology is sometimes bought by private donations. Civil liberties groups are concerned, see ProPublica: “Private Donors Supply Spy Gear to Cops” by Ali Winston and Darwin Bond Graham.

But if they didn’t, who would buy Zombie a vest? See Post Tribune:: “K-9 officer to get bulletproof vest“:

Zombie, a four-legged member of the Lake County police department, will be sporting a bulletproof vest … thanks to help from a Massachusetts not-for-profit group that helps obtain the protective gear

I wonder what other “protective gear” this unnamed non-profit provides. But doesn’t Zombie look cute in his picture. Surely this article is an attempt to make us think that donations can’t be bad if they protect such a cute zombie.

Meanwhile in NY Daily News: “New York state cops are loaded up with $28M in military gear” by Tina Moore and Sarah Ryley:

If the zombie apocalypse ever comes to New York, towns big and small will have the weaponry to handle it. The Pentagon has provided at least $28 million worth of equipment to 128 police departments and sheriff’s offices across the state

Recall also other zombie dogs (including other K9 with the same name), zombie police, zombie military and zombie weapons.

“reductionist, simplistic, awful caricature of genuine political debate”

Gawker: “Crossfire Is Dead, Again” by Hamilton Nolan:

It’s not sad for the loss of Crossfire—the show was always a reductionist, simplistic, awful caricature of genuine political debate, which is one reason it was canceled the first time in 2005, only to be resurrected like a lurching zombie last year.

That’s a good description of zombie politics: “reductionist, simplistic, awful caricature”. Reductionism leads to a misconception of the whole. Sometimes the simple is more confusing than the complex.

But what to do when awful caricature is the character’s only essence? If Crossfire can’t exist as a noble political debate, where is the political debate that makes the public square so valuable to American democracy? Nolan thinks it’s the internet. He’s not sad about Crossfire’s second demise, but I think it’s sad to lose the promise of argument as a way to reach truth through dialogue. Crossfire at it’s best did that, admittedly it failed a lot, but at it’s best it demonstrated the idea of dialectical opposition, of truth through the mediation of opposites.

The problem is that people assume one side is right rather than try to see the truths in the mediation. See CacheValleyDaily: “COLUMN: Zombie Moralism” by Harry Caines, which begins by quoting “Waling Dead”:

“You are either the butcher, or you are the cattle.”

What a tragic false dichotomy. Caines column is a nice description of the monster’s history but concludes with another tragic choice. First, he claims zombies are simply unreasonable:

Zombies never leave and never cease wanting to eat us. They challenge our moral ambiguity. They cannot be reasoned with or persuaded to change their diet.

So he decides that in the event of a zombie apocalypse he would loot the guns at Wal-Mart, and

I would kill the weak, old and infirmed on my way into the mountains as both an act of mercy and a necessary undertaking to ensure they would not hunt me down when “turned” by zombification.

Oh my. That’s a bit extreme, no? He’s going to kill innocent unaffected people just because he expects they will get infected and he needs to fortify the area? What kind of horrible mentality is that? He concludes:

Some of you might find that a ghastly thing to admit. But that is what you need to do if you are to survive in a world dominated by zombies. You need to remove yourself from humanity. The fact that some of you disagree with that is why this genre of horror will be with us for a long time.

Well yes, it is those questions that keep this genre going but his terrible answer is precisely why we need to keep talking about this. This is a debate that needs to be had. We can’t kill people just to fortify ourselves. That’s Nazi-style eugenics. Being human means sharing humanity with the weakest of us.

I’ve heard it said that anyone suspected of contact with ebola should be locked up and quarantined and they can sue for their due process violations later. This is the same attitude that propels ideas of indefinite detention for suspected terrorists. Fear persuades us to allow oppressive action.

Blytheville Courier News: “The value of TV time” by Chris Pinkard:

I know a lot of people say that, but I really, really do. I know spending mass amounts of time in front of the boob-tube gets a bad wrap. It’ll rot your brain. It makes you antisocial. It gives you unrealistic expectations for life.

But TV has a number of advantages. First, it teaches critical thinking. Whether it’s whatever sitcom Fox is trying to sell or CBS’s latest crime drama or AMC’s stellar zombie hit “The Walking Dead,” TV, enough crumby TV, teaches you to look at the information presented in the first act and develop a theory for how the episode will progress.

He must be sort of kidding because he goes on to recommend “The Aquabats! Super Show!” but I guess maybe he can make an argument about how that show could actually inspire critical thinking. Still TV can be good for critical thinking but it’s not about the show it’s about how we watch it, it’s about the questions we ask of the text.

TV doesn’t teach critical thinking, neither do books, these texts are tools for thinking. Reading texts (and here I mean to include visual texts and other cinematic media), questioning these texts, and discussing them with other people, those are skills of critical thinking and through practice we bootstrap our abilities.

Critical thinking makes no accounting for taste. We are free to write that “Hamlet sucks …” as is the headline for Robert Speer’s review of a new Chico State production, “… and eats brains, too”, it’s a zombie Shakespeare mashup, “Living Dead in Denmark”:

What would Shakespeare think of Living Dead in Denmark, Qui Nguyen’s silly but fun mashup of characters from the Bard’s plays thrust into an apocalyptic zombie gore-fest?

He’d appreciate the concept, I’m sure, though someone would have to educate him about zombies. He knew about ghosts and witches, of course, but blood-sucking, brain-eating undead creatures would be new to him.

That said, “Shakespeare in the Bush” by Laura Bohannan suggests that Hamlet’s father’s ghost was a “zombis” because he had a physical form. Also, Laertes was in league with the witches. The essay describes the interpretation of the Hamlet story by African tribal elders in dialogue with the Bohannan:

“It was Hamlet’s dead father. It was a thing we call a ‘ghost.’” I had to use the English word, for unlike many of the neighboring tribes, these people didn’t believe in the survival after death of any individuating part of the personality.

“What is a ‘ghost?’ An omen?”

“No, a ‘ghost’ is someone who is dead but who walks around and can talk, and people can hear him and see him but not touch him.”

They objected. “One can touch zombis.”

“No, no! It was not a dead body the witches had animated to sacrifice and eat. No one else made Hamlet’s dead father walk. He did it himself.”

“Dead men can’t walk,” protested my audience as one man.

I was quite willing to compromise.

“A ‘ghost’ is the dead man’s shadow.”

But again they objected. “Dead men cast no shadows.”

“They do in my country,” I snapped.

The old man quelled the babble of disbelief that arose immediately and told me with that insincere, but courteous, agreement one extends to the fancies of the young, ignorant, and superstitious, “No doubt in your country the dead can also walk without being zombis.”

From the depths of his bag he produced a withered fragment of kola nut, bit off one end to show it wasn’t poisoned, and handed me the rest as a peace offering.

These kind of open debates and cross-talks are important for societal growth. It’s important that we continue to examine and reexamine the conventional narratives. It’s not that either side is right or wrong. There are multiple ways of interpreting a text. The value come from sharing the nut.

We cannot privilege our own understanding of the world, we cannot assume we are correct, and so we should not kill innocent people to fortify our protection. I do not share Harry Caines amoralism, but as a city dweller, I’ll surely be one of the dead. His perspective is both intriguing and repulsive. It is worth debating, it is worth trying to demonstrate that society is only as good as we treat the weakest of us. But that may leave us all a pack of zombies. Perhaps only the ruthless will survive, but then perhaps I’d rather be one of the dead.

And what of the animals? We cannot justify our killing them either. And yet people continue to try: “10 Reasons Why I’ll Never Be Vegan” by Lauren:

Food is complicated, but let’s start with the many aspects of a balanced diet on which everyone agrees – even the vegans and paleos! This includes:

Enjoy an abundance of freshly prepared vegetables
Minimized processed foods and instead cook meals from scratch
Eat mindfully and slowly
Source local, organic foods and support small farm

Let’s not just start there, let’s end there. Lauren goes on to provide 10 rationalizations for consuming animals. They are really interesting facts and I am sure many of them can maybe be debated, but in the interest of killing Crossfire, let’s focus on what she says we agree on. Because I think maybe most people don’t really agree on those things.

They may say they do in public, but in practice they don’t. So what if a TV show actually tried to argue representing those people’s unspoken desires. What if we stopped being so politically correct that we need to turn off the arguments and instead turned to arguments about the real debates people don’t vocalize.

We need shows like CrossFire, not to rerun the same party-line nonsense we already know but to explain debates we aren’t yet understanding. If “everyone agrees” why are we buying so much McDonalds? We have climate change deniers debating on TV, where are the nutrition deniers, or the butcher shop apologists? We need more arguments about more of our society, because the beauty of democracy is that never “everyone agrees” and we need argument to help us find the complications that might ultimately simplify this mess – we need texts to read together, sharing unpoisoned nuts. Together, such a simple idea yet so complicated.

Rice and beans and salad for my dinner, but ironically it’s the dog who refuses to eat unless I add some turkey to her already lamb based processed food, she’s the smart one, refuses to discuss it too.

Baltimore liquor zombie licenses

Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun has been reporting on the extinguishing of zombie liquor licenses,

See “‘Tougher’ liquor board increases violations, closures” by Luke Broadwater and Yvonne Wenger:

In its first three months of action, a revamped liquor board — chaired by Thomas Ward, a tough-talking, 87-year-old former judge — already has found nearly 120 bars and liquor stores guilty of violations, significantly more than the previous board did in all of fiscal 2014.

Ward’s board has closed or revoked eight licenses, as many as in all of the last fiscal year. And the panel recently made a potentially precedent-setting ruling against so-called “zombie licenses,” which could jeopardize alcohol service at dozens of establishments across the city.

State law says that unused liquor licenses — which Witt and others have dubbed “zombie licenses” — are void after 180 days, but the previous board had allowed such licenses to stay valid if their owners paid their annual fees. McComas says his team has paid $1,300 a year for the license since 2009.

Moore, one of the new board members, says she realizes the decision on the Crossbar could have wide impact and marked a departure from past board rulings. A turning point for her view on so-called zombie licenses came when former state Sen. George Della explained the legislative intent behind the law.

And today, “City liquor board kills second ‘zombie’ license” by Luke Broadwater:

State law says that unused liquor licenses — which the Community Law Center and others have dubbed “zombie licenses” — are void after 180 days, but the liquor board for years had allowed such licenses to remain valid if their owners paid annual fees.

It sounds like this board is loving its power. The kind of fun Donald Trump must have when he says, “You’re Fired!”, so too this liquor board purging old rights to sell booze. Just another day killin’ zombies.

“This license is extinguished,” said Thomas Ward, the liquor board chairman.

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