The collegiate educational establishment has gone nuts. The psychobabble of today’s elite on university campuses obsesses over class, race, gender, inequality, its victim status, and the sins of our fathers … and zombies (I don’t want to leave that out.) It is turning its narcissism into fraudulent disciplines of academic scholarship.
Spoken like an engineer, which Franklin upfront admits to be (with education at Tufts), but refusing to acknowledge that his preference for STEM-subjects does in fact mean he is a kind of “educational snob”;
I don’t believe I’m an educational snob.
If you don’t believe it’s raining, is it not raining? See Moore’s paradox.
Critical theory is important in ways that many engineers cannot understand. It stems from a misunderstanding of humanities as if it were a subject distinct from the present. Franklin believes that humanities study should be like “The Monument Men”, fighting to recover lost stolen art from the past. But it’s also about learning to see with various lenses. It’s both (and neither), like a zombie should be! An engineer may have very little use for critical theory, but critical theory has very little use for analyses of usefulness. When utility becomes the end-all measure of the importance of a thing, we all become zombies.
At HuffPostLive today a live chat: “Zombie Studies 101” with English Professors Kyle Bishop and Sarah Lauro, and with Tiffany Mark, a zombie cosplay mom, Jason Luna, an a rpg-fantasy graduate student in a zombie class. Bishop says:
We study a lot of things that aren’t real. In the liberal arts particularly we’re not terrible interested if something is real or not because if people care about it, if people create it, if people invest time and interest in it, then it does become real.
EXACTLY! The engineer takes reality for granted and works to build with it. The social constructivist questions the fabric of reality. These are both investigations of Nature but very different kinds.
Lauro steals the show with the best quote of the video segment, (made better by her immediately following with reference to Gilgamesh):
We’re all going to die.
Are we just hiding behind zombie metaphors? No, as Bishop says, metaphors can bring out the truth in a more telling way than any direct assault might. Bishop notes “The Fool” – see also the tarot card Fool:
In medieval courts, the court jester was someone who was not expected to follow the same rules as others. He could observe and then poke fun. This makes the Fool unpredictable and full of surprises.
Becker’s last question is about survival preparedness. The gamer-grad-student, recognizes the need for water and a melee weapon. Sadly, Professor Bishop takes the question seriously and something about shelters with “clear shots”. Professor Lauro selects a slightly more intellectually-driven choice that applies for both the fantasy world inventory list and to Haitian folklore scholarship: salt. Take this with a grain of salt, a classic cliche, and salt provides electrolytes to possibly help counteract some neuro-toxins (?) or at least if you are drunk, some salty food with your bread and water?
My research has also revealed other potential zombie cures besides salt. So, in my zombie apocalypse go bag: my puppy, maybe some frogs (zombies might be afraid of frogs), some alcohol, preferably rum (for Baron Samedi). And juju! Juju beads or beans? Magic charms or candy? Both!
Let’s see what else? Love? …and comedy, maybe a recording of some standup, and some jazz . Also we are going to need facts; download a copy of Wikipedia and some classic books so we can read them without internet. Probably some engineering and medical texts would be most useful, but some classic DWEM texts might also be good, ya know, for culture… hahah – why would we need that?
We’re going to need food and water (iodine pills? maybe also iron pills?) And lots of other things. Do we need Shakespeare for survival? Neither of the English professors went there but I think it would have made a stronger argument.
Because Critical Theory is useless in an apocalypse world of self-reliance in a survivalist mentality. Gladly, that’s not the world we live in. In the real world, even if there is a Katrina-like-apocalypse, we need help from the community; we can be prepared, but we need our friends and neighbors to help, we are not alone, and laughter is good medicine.
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven
[and again we can blame that same English teacher for that quote earworming through my brain]
Meanwhile at MSU Social Work: “Enrollment now open for summer 2014 zombie apocalypse course” contact: Glenn Stutzky.
UCLA Law Review Discourse: Prosecuting the Undead: Federal Criminal Law in a World of Zombies by Michael L. Smith, 61 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 44
This appears to have published last year (July?), so I’ve missed this for a while already. It refers to Chodorow‘s tax article and claims that criminal law is better suited to zombies than tax law may be:
Part I of this Essay will briefly discuss the implications of a zombie apocalypse and how tax and tort laws are unable to address this disaster. Part II notes that federal criminal law’s broad scope and liberal use of strict liability allow legal action against unconscious zombies. The creation of new crimes prohibiting the spread of the zombie germ or attempts to spread this disease, coupled with severe fines for these crimes, will address the simultaneous problems of the government’s loss of revenue from a decimated tax base and the government’s need for revenue to combat the zombies. Part III discusses how criminal restitution can supplement federal crimes and tax laws by transferring the resources of the undead to the living, providing those still alive with necessary funds to purchase weaponry and supplies. I conclude that while Chodorow raises a valid critique of tax laws, extant criminal law—for all its contemporary shortcomings—may effectively serve the functions of the tax code when the undead begin to attack the living.
In NYTimes: “Don’t Quote Me on This” by Maria Konnikova:
it’s too easy to get sucked into the very sort of vortex Emerson warned against, to drift from fragment to fragment without pausing to consider the whole that any of them imply. I become a link zombie, mindlessly hungry for more: The lure of quotation wears me down. The problem is one of limited time and energy meeting limitless content: knowledge being elbowed out by sheer information, context be damned.
Hey, that sounds like the zombie-style of this blog! But seriously,
“I don’t know much about public art but I know what I like” by Lavanya Malhotra in the National, is about campus art and refers to the Wellesleyan zombie statue controversy, and remarks on art at colleges, admitting:
When it comes to art, I simply don’t see the appeal of the grotesque.
These zombie references to Emerson and grotesque, remind me of another great American writer, Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small Town Life” (1919), beginning with chapter: “The Book of the Grotesque“:
It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.
Why is that in my head? Well, as the Wendy Liebman joke goes:
It was like, ‘Go, Mr. Jameson!”
OMG, was I abused by my high school English class too? Are these AmLit meme sets useful or destructive? Reconsidering education as a form of child abuse might help explain a lot, and not just about testing, but reading lists too. (Query: Did I only go to law school because of repressed inadequacies from high school English?)
In his memoirs, “By My Own Hand“, the attorney Rulan T. Burton wrote:
While Sherwood Anderson moved me to creative undertakings, Ralph Waldo Emerson taught me to stick with a task until it warmed to a fire heat.
To bookend this post, Konnikova wrote:
this is not a new problem. It’s endemic instead to a certain approach: the laziness of not really knowing what you’re looking for but hoping to find something that fits, the intellectual equivalent of mindlessly yanking open the fridge. I’m not sure what I think about immortality, so I’ll borrow from someone who’s done the heavy lifting and hope I find a ready match.
“Clashes over self-proclaimed governor in Donetsk” by Daryna Shevchenko and Kostyantyn Chernichkin:
“Now even more people will come to the rally, because if he (Gubarev) is taken to Kyiv then the Right Sector will make a zombie of him,” says Oleksiy Matviychuk, a construction worker and protest participant from Donetsk.
Was that in English or translated?
According to Wikipedia: The Right Sector is
a Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary and political opposition collective of several organizations, described by some major newspapers as having far right to neofascist views.
So Gubarev is against them?? Is the protest participant saying that they will make him a matyr? or use him to justify further fascism? or that they are going to kill him? or?
More information is available at an earlier article “Donetsk’s self-proclaimed separatist governor talks to journalists, gets arrested” by Daryna Shevchenko, but still I can’t say that I understand Ukrainian politics. I think it has something to with this rich guy Serhiy Taruta?
Back in September, ZombieLaw first mentioned Martin Ulrich Hinrichs also known as “Nightmare” when the Coloma Township Police Dept (in Michigan) put out an APB on its Facebook in connection to the zombie-masked robbery of a Wesco station.
Today in the Herald Palladium: “‘Nightmare’ pleads guilty” by Scott Aiken is a rather thorough reporting. It says he pleaded to armed robbery, another charge was dismissed and he won’t be treated as a habitual offender status. He is scheduled for sentencing on April 14th and still “faces a sentence of up to life in prison.” Aiken writes:
A heavily tattooed Coloma man who wore a zombie mask to hold up a gas station on Sept. 20 has pleaded guilty to armed robbery. Martin Hinrichs, 23, told a Berrien County Trial Court judge that he and some friends had been doing drugs, needed money, and came up with the idea of robbing the Wesco International gas station on North Paw Paw Street in Coloma.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, Debra Cassens Weiss at ABA Journal asked “Is it ‘pleaded’ or ‘pled’?“. It seems that statistics of actual usages by the U.S. Supreme Court and advice from the editor of Black’s Law Dictionary concur on the use of “pleaded”. However, nearly 70% of the over 3000 survey participants preferred “pled”. A comment from DB wrote:
Actually, I thought it was “plead” not “pled”
The first line of Mr. Aiken’s article used “pleaded” but the headline uses “pleads”. So there is a dual issue of spelling and grammatical tense. Either way, who cares! Grammar is for zombies! Let’s care about people. Let’s care about what will happen to Nightmare?
Twenty-three years old and facing a life in prison. And because he got high and shared a dumb group-think idea. Well, at least he got to see Florida before being incarcerated. How much will his body now cost the system? Or is the nasty open secret that the system profits of the exploitation of people like this. First, seducing him to the life that led to his crime (see an entertainment industry that glorifies criminal violence) and now he’ll become a long-term cog in the prison industrial machine.
How much money was already spent by the system in moving him from Florida to Michigan. What if that money had instead been spent on his early childhood education? Not that I have any idea what his early childhood was like, maybe he was a prep school kid gone rogue, but probably not.
We could consider Nightmare’s actions as a social cost on the system or we could instead consider all those people who have profited and will continued to profit on maintaining Nightmare’s role in this system. They take home paychecks for maintaining the criminal justice system, they are the system, and that system is profiting on Nightmare’s body. If there were no criminals, there would be no criminal justice system, and so the criminal justice system, like a factory farm, needs criminals as it’s product-meat.
And as with Disney or bacon advertising, there are always hidden market forces driving people to become corporate profits. Not every bacon advertisement becomes a bacon sale, and not every Grand Theft Auto play becomes a crime committed, but surely some of this is related or else companies wouldn’t pay for bacon advertising.
They pay for advertising because they know it works. In fact, I don’t know if it’s related, but I wrote about that bacon ad yesterday and last night I lost the willpower to resist pepperoni pizza. (I know, gross.) I didn’t consciously think of the Oscar Meyer ad when I was debating myself over food craving. I haven’t caved to meat-temptation in a while. I was hungry, tired, mildly intoxicated, was it that advertisement from earlier in the day that weakened my willpower, probably not, but it’s a strong coincidence.
I didn’t realize until I sat back to blog today. So, some poor pig was tortured for my two dollars worth of pepperoni. I feel bad about that. But thankfully, I’m not going to life in prison because of that weak decision-making. And I’ll try to eat less animal products in the rest of my meals… As with grammar, we do our best and try not to beat ourselves up too much about the small things; try to consider the deeper meanings and potential for larger systemic change.
But fear arises, can one study texts with a critical eye and still become subliminally contaminated by their messaging? I consciously processed the advertisement and even wrote about it’s intended effects and still the coincidence of my weakened will is too strong to be ignored.
Language is the virus that makes zombies of us all. You cannot unhear a meme and it will contaminate you in ways you will never understand. I should probably be more careful in how I study “zombie”. Reading might be more dangerous than I had previously considered. Somebody send Nightmare a good book, he’s got some time…
This ZombieLaw ranting post, a bit all over the place because there’s a bunch of “zombie” references worth noting today.
Let’s start with CBSNews: “Nina In New York: Wake Up And Smell The Bacon, For Reals” by Nina Pajak about an Oscar Meyer “Wake Up and Smell the Bacon” promotion:
Probably, studies will find that over time it contributes to massive weight gain and perhaps creates a troubling Pavlovian response in its users to alarms and buzzers of all kinds. Perhaps one day we will read about people who, upon hearing a beeping or ringtone associated with their Oscar Mayer app, walk across five lanes of active traffic or disrupt a movie or concert or class or make a scene on an airplane in a desperate and uncontrollable attempt to feed their insatiable, zombie-like craving for bacon.
I would encourage you to watch that advertising because it’s awesome and totally captures the addictive properties of the bacon smell and how something about victory is evoked in tasting the salty flesh — maybe it’s the killing? I would also encourage you watch some pig snuff films, watch what happens in the slaughterhouse.
Oscar Meyer uses personality and sexuality to sell what is in reality a disgusting industrial process. Why do people want their bologna to have a first name? Not the pig to have a name, but the company to magically rename a horrid process into something enticing. Through a new name, the dissociation begins. A pig by another name does smell more savory.
People are evil but they don’t want to think that of themselves. They will do whatever they can do dissociate their own evil. Comedians, entertainers, social critics, they shove it back in our face. There is no greater modern example than the South Park guys;
Gamespot: “South Park RPG censorship feels like a double standard, co-creator says” by Eddie Makuch quotes Matt Stone and has a video of reviewers talking while playing the new game;
“There is an interactiveness that makes it different. In movies and television you can do stuff that’s morally grey very easily, because you get to show consequences, you get to show reward, but in a video game there’s a reason why everything is a Nazi, zombie, or alien–these are pretty clear moral choices,” Stone said. “There are things that make people more uncomfortable in an interactive world, definitely. But that said, what we had in the game, we could have shown that on TV pretty easily, especially now.”
In the video the Gamespot guys give some examples of the censorship; abortion, anal probing, and Nazi symbols for the German version. There is still interactive pooping. (Side note: are there apps to help children learn to poop? Learning to poop in the right place is a moral choice as is deciding when it’s ok to talk about poop.) Back to Stone’s point, is morality different in TV and in interactive video games?
Similarly, how does morality change between countries? Is it somehow different to use the Nazi symbol in Germany than it is Colorado? Doesn’t the context matter? Isn’t a South Park episode always just a South Park episode? Should texts be free to share, for symbols to freely commingle? Isn’t that part of the spirit of our democracy? But see other ZombieLaw on symbols (Rising Sun flag, Cleveland Indians, etc..). Speaking of which, see BangkokPost: “The zombie Nazis of North Asia“
Way to go South Park guys for always finding a way to push the limits. I’m still really surprised no one has tried to kill them for their image portrayal of prophet Mohammed as a censored box. And also surprised that Book of Mormon is still running on Broadway. At testament to both the weakness of recent Broadway and to the skillfulness of their musical at tapping the classic Broadway musical comedy conventions.
Speaking of Book of Mormon. Congratulations to Bobby Lopez on his Oscar for “Frozen”. I assume he’s going to try for Television now? Mr. Lopez, your EGOT awaits.
But first, back to “Frozen”, a great animation and musical in it’s own right. This show’s cross-marketing is only just beginning. Time to get the boys – the Brozens (see Bronies) – here’s a zombie hockey mask that looks an awful lot like the ice monster guarding the queen’s mountain-top ice palace, at CBSSports: “Hockey PHOTO: Semyon Varlamov has a new mask with zombie snowmen” by Brian Stubits about a new hockey mask by artist Dave Gunnarsson for Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche, entitled: “Dawn of the Frosty Zombies – Snowing Dead in the Rocky Mountains“:
In modern media, it’s all about the cross-promotions. (Frozen is available on HD download in less than two weeks) And for example, next time you watch a television sitcom, notice every time you hear a reference to bacon – not just in the commercials, in the actual plot or jokes of the show. Wonder why that scene is in the diner, or at a breakfast table, sure, we could argue it’s normal, art imitating life, but so too, life imitates art, and advertisers know it. They pay to get bacon references, and the parade of symbol repetition generates sales. Not every bacon wakeup call leads to bacon sales, but eventually it does.
Like a worm or a virus, as in ArsTechnica, running your own email server, “Taking e-mail back, part 2: Arming your server with Postfix and Dovecot” by Lee Hutchinson:
We touched briefly on concepts of ownership and security before talking about the responsibility that comes with that ownership and security. E-mail is like a puppy, and once you step up and own your own puppy, you’ve got to take care of it, clean up after it, and make sure evil people don’t infect it with horrible viruses and transform it into a zombie.
Aww the cute little email server, post(hello world), and next thing you know it’s biting the hand that feeds it with offers from Nigerian princes, tech support phishing scams, routing to all your friends and family. It’s just a puppy, but no, it’s a living breathing animal and you have to treat it nice! We are all animals and we all need good treatment lest we turn into zombies.
Animals need water, BloombergBusinessWeek: “Can Water Under the Mojave Desert Help Quench California?” by Peter Waldman
“The desert aquifer is tied to growth on the southern coast. Why else would a small Orange County water agency do a project in the middle of the desert?” says Conner Everts of the Southern California Watershed Alliance. “We call these ‘zombie water projects’—projects that come back to life when people worry about drought. At some point California is going to have to make water a much more serious part of land-use decisions.”
Past droughts have produced zombie proposals such as bringing icebergs from Alaska by barge and towing acre-size plastic bags filled with water from Northern California rivers. This time around critics are sneering at Governor Brown’s $15 billion plan to bore a pair of 30-mile tunnels east of Sacramento to channel Sierra Nevada runoff to critical agricultural land. The Poseidon desalinization proposal for northern Orange County, an area with plentiful groundwater and a successful water reuse program, also draws ridicule from Everts and other environmentalists, who say desalting seawater is expensive and emits greenhouse gases. “It’s like Cadiz. These things just don’t die,” he says.
And finally, for this post, NYTimes Sunday Book Review of Walter Kirn’s ‘Blood Will Out’, “The Journalist and the Masquerader” by Nina Burleigh suggests:
a zombie Gatsby and Kirn the post-apocalyptic Fitzgerald, chronicling upper-crust America in free fall.