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ZombieLaw studies zombies in law, politics and current events.

Flakka Flakka

Fozzy Bear takes a salty bath in Florida. Where did he take it? Flakka flakka! Random killing in Florida. Flakka flakka. It’s not funny, but what’s funny is how the media grabs the words.

Readers of the this blawg know by now that what was once daily blogging has become few and far between. The obsessive daily zombie link collection is still ongoing on twitter @LawZombie. But sometimes a story is just too big and gets me blogging. I should probably have done something like this for this past week’s Zombie Knife legal ban story. There was a lot of press on that. And also there is an interesting lawsuit about green-suited protesters at a gay parade. And more importantly Senator Durbin deserves a zombie portrait (and some other Senators caught the word this past year, so hopefully that post is coming). But until then here’s the Flakka-cannibal story.

First, let’s note the very recent ZombieLaw post about K2 zombies. Synthetic drugs are a common zombie theme. It overlaps with the zombie theme of neuroscience and goes directly to philosophical issues of identity. From a materialist perspective, chemicals change who we are because ‘who we are’ is the mere a composition of chemical interactions. Therefore the legal choices about these chemicals (regulations of drugs, medications, food, etc…) are important for zombie law.

Second, why do some “zombie” stories just catch media fire like this? I think Florida media is a factor; the speed at which Florida’s criminal news hits the world media and the willingness of public officials to speculate on the record feels different. I think this relates to their publicity laws but I don’t really know. If any readers have insights on this, please share.

Finally, this is a murder. A gruesome, gory, face-eating, murder with no reasonable explanation. That’s about as zombie as it gets.

GossipExtra: “CANNIBAL ATTACK — Police: Man Murdered Couple, Bit Off Pieces Of Victim’s Face!

who could forget the spring of 2012, when a a Miami man, Rudy Eugene, partially chewed off the face of a homeless man named Ronald Poppo, sparking a national debate on the existence of zombies.

Aww, 2012, special times, a dear-place in my heart. Except does anyone remember that the toxicology report on Rudy Eugene didn’t show bath salts. Who cares, the speculation got legislation passed, so let’s try it again?

Metro: “Florida man bites victim’s face zombie-style, kills couple: Police” by Kimberly M. Aquilina:

Police said they aren’t ruling out Flakka or “bath salts,” but toxicology tests are still being run.

Recall previous posts: “Demand hearings on how Bath Salts became bipartisan” and “Bath Salts by any other name.” So, now it’s called Flakka?

NJ: “What is flakka? The ‘zombie drug’ that causes terrifying hallucinations

Reason: “‘Zombie Drug’ Paranoia Resurfaces After Teen’s Terrifying Homicidal Outburst“:

A 19-year-old man stabbed two strangers to death and tried to eat the face of one of them, once again provoking warnings about the “zombie drug” flakka.

DailyStar: “Dead couple found with ‘Zombie’ suspect eating man’s FACE“:

A COUPLE are the latest victims of an alleged “zombie killing” after police found their bodies with a suspect eating on of their faces.

DailyMail: “How the terrifying ‘zombie’ drug ‘flakka’ has already flooded into Australia – and it’s WORSE than ice at just $7.50 a hit
TheBitBag: “Flakka Epidemic In The US? Watch Shocking ‘Zombie’ Effect Caused By Drug” and “Terrifying Drug Flakka Leads People To Cannibalism: Is It The beginning Of Zombie Apocalypse?

EliteDaily: “What You Need To Know About Flakka, The Drug Turning People Into ‘Zombies’

CW39: “Deputies: Bath salts may have pushed 19-year-old to eat faces of victims“:

This isn’t the first time Florida police are dealing with zombie like behavior. Remember that guy back in 2012 who chewed off the face of a homeless man?! Bath salts change you, there’s no doubt about it!

Yes, who needs toxicology reports? There’s just “no doubt about it.”

Hmm, ya know, or maybe it’s just “bizarre” and “random” ?

UpRoxx: A Florida Couple Was Murdered In Yet Another Bizarre ‘Zombie’ Killing
by Stacey Ritzen”

Syracuse: “Zombie drugs? Florida man stabs couple, eats dead man’s face in ‘random’ attack” By Geoff Herbert :

Four years after a Miami “cannibal” was caught eating another man’s face, a similar zombie-like attack has been reported near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

And before we close, let’s remember that this killer, is a person. Amazingly the cops didn’t kill him (with many people on twitter suggesting it would have been different had he been another race). Who was this killer, why did he do this? We may never know.

IBtimes: “‘Zombie’ Killing Update: Suspect Austin Harrouff Isn’t Himself, Friend Says

Uproxx: “ Accused ‘Zombie Killer’ Austin Harrouff Maintained A Bizarre Online Persona Leading Up To Murders

Twitchy: “Apparently the Florida zombie killer was wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat on the night of his rampage

PokemonGo: This Week’s Zombie Addiction (2/2)

This is the second part of a new collection of some of this week’s “zombies”. There are two posts in this dump. I hope to also add a third post of explanation later. As always, there are more “zombies” @LawZombie on Twitter.

As stated in the previous post: In the past few days there have been two viral media “zombie” news developments: PokemonGo and an outbreak of bad synthetic marijuana, called K2, in Brooklyn. Neither the idea of social media zombies or drug zombies is new. Nor is either’s association with youth culture or hipster Brooklyn culture, or augmented reality, fantasy worlds, being zoned out. Still there is some irony in the legal fake marijuana being more dangerous than the illegal natural plant product. And in public safety officials denigrating the popular activities of the public, as if the public is “stupid” instead of that stupidity being what they are to protect and serve. Both stories highlight a paradox of addictive behavior and questions of protecting people from themselves. Also the Streisand effect that insulting it may promote it. Although, maybe that’s somebody’s goal? The GPS data in PokemonGo will be a boon for law enforcement, and K2 Zombie has a lobbying group.

So, the previous post listed the K2 zombies and in this post, the PokemonGo zombies. Both of these posts are simply collections of a lot of media links from the past few days. Either the title of the article has “zombie” or the text used “zombie”.

So let’s begin:

TechAeris: “Pokémon GO: Everything a non-player needs to know“:

It’s been almost a week and you’ve noticed weird things. Strange things. People are suddenly everywhere, staring at their phones, babbling and making strange sounds. Some are overly excited and making noises that sound like a sneeze. No, this isn’t the zombie apocalypse. It’s the Poképocalypse!

CityLab: “This New App Reminds Distracted Pedestrians to Look Up From Their Phones“:

“It’s starting to feel like a smartphone zombie apocalypse—there are so many people looking down at their phones and missing out on the city around them,” he says.

CNET: “Pokemon Go safety tips from police include ‘do not run into trees’“:

I’ve been confronted over the last 48 hours with strange, zombie-like people wandering with apparent aimlessness around my neighborhood.

KIMATV: “Pokémon Go: The new distracted driving app“:

If you see Zombie-like people walking down the street, holding their arms straight out in front of them and waving their phones like a searchlight, chances are they’re playing Pokémon Go.

Bustle: “The First Step To Being A Master Of The Viral Gaming Sensation“:

Don’t worry, there is definitely not a zombie plague sweeping the nation. Those folks walking around, eyed glued to their phones and occasionally looking around frantically are probably playing the viral gaming sensation Pokemon GO.

710Keel:”Pokemon GO…For Dummies [VIDEO]

So, as you drive around town and see more and more kids, walking zombie-like, faces buried in their phones, at least now you’ll know the basics of the game they’re playing.

BlastingNews: “Pokémon Go has city streets filled with zombie-like walkers staring at their phones“:

Pokémon Go has turned the streets and sidewalks of major cities into a scene usually reserved for zombie movies and shows. People are walking unaware of their surroundings while staring down at their smartphones full of Pokémon Go directions. There’s no better evidence of the Pokémon Go zombie effect than there is in New York City’s Central Park.

Toronto24hours: “Pokemon Go: Has the world lost its mind?“:

North America has been invaded. It’s not the Russians or North Koreans– it’s much, much worse. Pokémon has taken over and forced millions of people to succumb to a zombie-like state, seeming to wander around aimlessly with their heads buried in their phones.

Observer-Reporter: “Poke … what?“:

Apparently, the game places Pokemon characters at coordinates all over the map. Using their phones, the Pokemon chasers follow signals and signs to locate the little creatures and clobber them with a red ball. This explains the roving groups of kids walking, zombie-like with heads down, through neighborhoods. It also explains, sadly, why I’ve seen more than the usual number of drivers with the phones in their hands, which has to be some diabolically more treacherous version of distracted driving.

MediaPost: “Pikachus And Zombies“:

Players literally look like zombies because they’re physically moving around, yet clearly experiencing something that doesn’t quite line up with the world around them. They’re in another world.

Patch: Pokémon Go Players Save Home, Family Dog from Fire

Royal Oak is a popular destination for people playing the game, and the library adjacent to City Hall is a Pokémon gym. “All these kids,” Davids said. “It’s like a zombie apocalypse walking toward our building.”

Commercial prospects, get them in but make them buy:

DesMoinesRegister: “Some Des Moines stores: No ‘Pokemon Go’ unless you are a customer

Zombie Burger had a picture of a similar sign posted on its Facebook page.

NatchezDemocrat: “Is future of tourism in Pokémon Go?“:

As much as I might be amused watching people wander around a bit like zombie in an alternative universe, it wasn’t until I bumped into a local tour operator that I realized that there might be an added benefit to this new craze.

NZherald: “NZ could be major player in augmented reality

If you’ve been out in your local neighbourhood this week, you may have wondered if the zombie apocalypse was upon us. All over New Zealand, people are wandering around with their arms extended, staring at their smartphones, stopping only to frantically swipe their screen then continuing on, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings

POLICE and official warnings:

WWMT: “Public officials warn Pokemon Go players about trespassing“:

A zombie Pokemon Go apocalypse is upon us.

Polygon: “Police are warning Pokémon Go players to stay safe after injuries, dangerous encounters“:

Other departments, like Vancouver’s police force, said it was concerning to see large groups of players in a “zombie-like” state, wandering the city at all hours of the night. In a statement, Constable Brian Montague said players need to remember that they’re still in the real world and they need to take in their surroundings. Being unaware of what’s happening around you, he said, could lead to physical injury or dangerous situations.

BostonGlobe: “Don’t let your Pokémon game lead you into danger“:

Police added that they’ve received reports of zombie-like players fixated on their screens wandering into busy streets, perhaps in an attempt to snag a Rattata, a rat-like Pokémon — or maybe a Gastly?

DailyStar: “ Pokemon WARNING: Obsessed gamers need to read this“:

Branches across the country have been mobbed by zombie-like gamers running down the aisles in search of the virtual monsters.

MyPolice: “Pokémon Go, also known as the Pokémon zombie apocalypse

Newsday: “NYPD’s Bill Bratton says he’d like Pokemon craze to go away

“I haven’t the faintest interest in that stupid craze,” Bratton told reporters. “I think too many people have been watching the zombie shows on TV. Basically our millennials seem fascinated about making themselves walking zombies looking for Pokemon.”

Gothamist: “Bratton: Millennials Need To Stop Playing That ‘Stupid’ Pokémon Go Game“:

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton hates a lot of things: rap music, rappers, the Black Lives Matter movement, the City Council, cell phone cameras, weed, and staying in NYC on the weekends, just to name a few. Now, something new has earned Bratton’s ire—Pokémon Go, the “stupid” augmented reality app that’s turning Millennials into “walking zombies,” or maybe that’s K2, who can keep track of the fads these days!

In fact, the only thing dumber than Pokémon Go are those dumb idiot millennials (and on-duty cops!) that play it, apparently. “I think too many people have been watching the zombie shows on TV and basically our millennials seem to be fascinated with making themselves walking zombies,” he said. “It’s like looking for a tooth fairy.”

With drugs?:

Leafly: “Catch These 7 Cannabis Strains for Your Next Pokémon GO Session” (oh great, because that makes it safer!):

Have you noticed more people walking around your neighborhood swiping on their cell phone in an almost zombie-like-state recently? Chances are, that person is trying to catch ‘em all on the new gaming app Pokémon GO, which his already been installed more times in its first week than the dating app Tinder in its five years of existence.

Demographic differences – rural vs. urban:

Inverse: “It’s Possible to Lose at ‘Pokemon Go’ Permanently, If You’re Broke“:

Playing Pokémon Go out in the sticks is tough. It turns the cutesy mobile game into a high stakes cage match. City dwellers don’t know the pressure of trying to slowly grind your way up the Pokémon ladder when you’re given resources at the same rate bullets are handed out in a zombie apocalypse.

more drinking and sex:

EliteDaily: “This Pokémon Go Drinking Game Gets You Trashed On Your Quest To Catch ‘Em All

Really though, the closest corollary to it is a zombie virus — there suddenly came a day when packs of wandering, silent figures, migrated blank-faced from place to place, searching endlessly, hungrily for something you can’t see.

TheTimes: “Pokémon? It’s cruising without the sex“:

James is sensing it might be a really good way to pick up girls. They call themselves “trainers”. You can spot them by their zombie shuffle.

Playing at work (and again, police!):

EHSToday: “Sincerely Stefanie: Pokémon NO! Protecting Your Workers from Digital Zombies“:

They were completely oblivious to their surroundings (hence the term “digital zombies”).

Fighting the digital zombie apocalypse is only possible with collaboration between employers, workers and safety managers.

Gawker: “Four NYPD Cops Are Under Investigation for Apparently Playing Pokémon Go On-Duty

The malware (as if the game itself isn’t the hacking life itself):

BDlive: “Pokemon Go not legal in SA yet but that is unlikely to stop local players“:

According to a statement by IT security company Sophos‚ there is already one “malware” remix of the Pokemon Go app out there. “The ‘remix’ is deliberately poisoned with an Android spyware/RATware/zombie toolkit that hides malware code inside a fully functional and otherwise identical-looking version of the original app‚” the company said in a statement. It is better to wait until the official South African release.

NakedSecurity: “Fake Pokémon GO app watches you, tracks you, listens to your calls“:

In fact, the crooks have gone there already, with at least one hacked “malware remix” of the official Pokémon GO app doing the rounds.
The “remix” is deliberately poisoned with an Android spyware/RATware/zombie toolkit that hides malware code inside a fully-functional and otherwise identical-looking version of the original app.

Did anyone even notice this other zombie game, alternative VR game:

NPR: “‘Walking Dead’ Town To Get Zombie Geocache Trail

The AMC series The Walking Dead is shot around Woodbury, Ga., and officials there launched a game called Zombie GeoQuest. Fans can use GPS devices to find virtual treasures.

K2 zombies in Brooklyn: This Week’s Zombie Addiction (1/2)

This is the first part of a new collection of some of this week’s “zombies”. There are two posts in this dump. I hope to also add a third post of explanation later. As always, there are more “zombies” @LawZombie on Twitter.

In the past few days there have been two viral media “zombie” news developments: PokemonGo and an outbreak of bad synthetic marijuana, called K2, in Brooklyn. Neither the idea of social media zombies or drug zombies is new. Nor is either’s association with youth culture or hipster Brooklyn culture, or augmented reality, fantasy worlds, being zoned out. Still there is some irony in the legal fake marijuana being more dangerous than the illegal natural plant product. And in public safety officials denigrating the popular activities of the public, as if the public is “stupid” instead of that stupidity being what they are to protect and serve. Both stories highlight a paradox of addictive behavior and questions of protecting people from themselves. Also the Streisand effect that insulting it may promote it. Although, maybe that’s somebody’s goal? The GPS data in PokemonGo will be a boon for law enforcement, and K2 Zombie has a lobbying group.

So in this first post, this week’s K2 zombies, and then in the next post, PokemonGo zombies. Both of these posts are simply collections of a lot of media links from the past few days. Either the title of the article has “zombie” or the text used “zombie”.

So let’s begin:

NY1: “Renewed Warnings After 33 Allegedly Overdose on K2 in Brooklyn“:

When NY1 visited this neighborhood earlier in the day, we found stumbling people bracing to hold themselves up at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Broadway. Some residents call it Zombieland.

AMNY: “Brooklyn’s zombie apocalypse with K2
AMNY: “Apparent synthetic pot overdose in Brooklyn hospitalizes dozens, NYPD says“:

Thirty-three people were hospitalized from an apparent synthetic marijuana overdose Tuesday morning after they were discovered in and around a Bedford-Stuyvesant building, police said.

Authorities received a 911 call about men smoking marijuana at 362 Stockton St. around 9:38 a.m. and found “multiple [people] with an altered mental state,” according to an FDNY spokesman.

“It was like ‘The Walking Dead.’ A zombie scene,” said Brian Arthur, 38.

10TV: “Synthetic marijuana overdose turns dozens into “zombies” in NYC

BizJournal: “After K2 overdoses turn 33 into zombies, New York cracks down on retailers

NYTimes: 33 Suspected of Overdosing on Synthetic Marijuana in Brooklyn (with video link):

There is a word that local residents and workers use to describe a group of drug users whose presence they say has grown around a busy Brooklyn transit hub: zombies. What was once a few familiar faces has turned into a tribe of strangers, walking around, staggering and looking lost, in the throes, it is believed, of the ill effects of K2, a synthetic drug that officials in New York have been working hard to eradicate.

NYPost: Cops on zombie patrol in wake of mass K2 overdose

Cops are corralling K2 users and forcing them into ambulances to make sure they’re not turning into “zombies” following the mass overdose in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, surveillance video captured near the corner of Broadway and Stockton Street during Wednesday’s outbreak shows the terrifying moment a family of tourists come face to face with one of the “zombies” who apparently overdosed.

And more from the NYPost, article originally titled: “I’m one of the 33 zombies who overdosed on k2” and later became: “I feel bad for scaring this family while I was high on K2” has interview with one of the victims, initials J.J.:

This tourist family turned down the wrong Brooklyn block — and came face-to-face with a K2 “zombie” overdosing on the synthetic weed, a new video shows.

Yahoo: “Paralysed people: ‘Drugged zombies’ high on dangerous designer drug swarm suburban streets“:

The ‘zombie apocalypse’ has taken over Brooklyn with a mass of overdoses recorded in a single day all reportedly caused by the insidious synthetic drug K2. Users have been dubbed ‘stoned zombies’ after 33 people were admitted to hospital on Tuesday. Local authorities labelled the situation as “Zombieland.”

9news: “‘Zombies’ high on dangerous drug swarm Brooklyn“:

Stoned “zombies” have taken over a Brooklyn street with 33 overdoses recorded in a single day from the synthetic drug K2.

ABC7NY: “Protest against K2 held in Bedford-Stuyvesant, led by Doe Fund“:

K2 users are left stumbling around. Others become violent, unpredictable and appear to be in a zombie-like state.

And, some explanation of the neurosciences:

MarijuanaTimes: “Massive K2 Overdose in New York Lands 33 in the Hospital“:

One witness recalled it to be “like a scene out of a zombie movie, a horrible scene,” when he spoke to the New York Times. Having seen it myself, synthetic cannabis is dangerous and the witness said he saw three people collapse, which wouldn’t surprise me at all. While synthetic cannabis does hit the same receptors in your brain as the real deal, it doesn’t treat them the same and the synthetic cannabinoids have not been tested on humans, so the effects are unpredictable and can (and likely will) change from batch to batch.

LiveScience: Why Does Synthetic Marijuana Make People Act Like Zombies? also available at CBSNews: “Why does synthetic marijuana make people act like zombies?“:

Other changes in mood, thinking and perception have been linked with synthetic cannabinoids. Their use has been associated with paranoia, which is an unreasonable distrust of others; anxiety; panic attacks; and psychotic episodes. Together, these mind-altering behaviors have been labeled as the “zombie effect,” according to K2/Zombie DC, a public-education campaign based in Washington, D.C., that uses zombie-themed messages to raise awareness among teens and parents of these drugs’ dangers.

Regular marijuana contains the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which can attach to receptors in the brain to activate the release of chemical messengers that can make people feel paranoid or anxious, he explained. But the marijuana plant also produces another compound known as cannabidiol, or CBD, which stops the brain from continuing to release these chemical messengers, he said. As a result, when people smoke pot, “CBD reduces the negative effects of THC,” D’Souza said. However, this is not the case when people use K2 or spice, he said. Although synthetic cannabinoids contain THC, they don’t contain CBD, so the release of chemical messengers in the brain goes unchecked, thus creating more undesirable effects, D’Souza speculated. When young people hear the term “synthetic marijuana” or “fake weed” to describe synthetic cannabinoid products, it gives them the false impression that spice or K2 will have effects similar to those of marijuana. “But there is a massive difference between spice and marijuana,” D’Souza said.

But see also, RawStory: “Here are 5 important ways ‘Synthetic Marijuana’ does not make people act like zombies

Zombie pride. It’s not 2012 anymore.

What do you call a zombie that stops writing? Answer: a zombie.

A fascinating part of the fast-slow zombies debate might be whether they are the same creature; sometimes fast and sometimes slow or different sub-species. Time is relative to context.

Regrets and apologies to prior fans of this blawg. We had a good run 2012-2015. The tricklings of recent posts cannot hope to supplant a lack of exuberant overproduction characteristic in earlier years. Still, for continuing zombie law references, the Twitter feed: @LawZombie remains, semi-active, as a sort of zombie politics clipping service. There have been some highly interesting moments over the year and I do hope to one day comment on them.

The commentary previously provided by this blog has shifted attention away, but this project is not dead. Today for Pride NYC recall some terrible writing: ZombieLaw: “Zombie Pride” written four years ago in 2012, in which I wrote about lions (because they organize in “prides” and eat their prey like zombies) and about Alan Turing (a gay man who won the war for the British allies by inventing modern computers, read as: zombie algorithms.).

Why did I make a zombie portrait of Turing? I thought I only made those for people with “zombie” quotes, but that was an early post so apparently I hadn’t invented that rule yet. Oh, zombies and their zombie rules, but everyone forgets that rules are meant to be broken. Without rules, clear boundaries, it is impossible to think outside of them, outside the box. Rules presume their own violation. Contracts presume the possibility of breach and even with well drafted categories, the dichotomies are false; there will always be violations of the categorization schema. There will always be rule violators! The question is always, how should we treat violators.

The seeds of pride were hard fought battles. Fetishes, strangeness, queer hobbies and bloody consumption. Embrace desire. Give no fucks to the moral establishment. The hard lesson of pride’s history, the struggle continues precisely because the establishment continues. Even a reformed establishment is establishment. Order presumes another status of disorder.

History is non-linear. A joke may seem played out until it hits a new audience. Ideas at the margins and fringes of networks may take a long time, or many iterations in varied contexts, and the patterns of integration are uniquely irregular. But, when ideas fit, they takeover network spaces such that they may later appear to have been inevitable. Failures are not necessarily good reason to stop, but reason to try again.

Take pride in what you do and keep doing it. People will tell you that repetition expecting different results is a hallmark of insanity. They are (consciously or unconsciously) part of the establishment and if they can stop you from trying then their status quo is preserved. Things do change but not quickly, and then sometimes very quickly. Unfortunately, some heads get beat in every movement and that head might be yours.

It took a lot of people coming out and taking pride in who they are, and not being afraid to keep repeating their message, to accomplish what’s happened so far. Repetition is an essential myth. We are never really repeating anything. Every time the actor takes the stage it is a wholly new performance. Even a digital repetition encounters a new audience and takes new meaning.

Charles Pierce of Esquire has been calling Paul Ryan a “zombie-eyed granny starver” for a long time. I’ve tweeted the exact same quote from many (many!) of his articles (see this tweet search: lawzombie granny zombie esqpolitics). I thought the joke was getting rather old, and yet this week, Joy-Ann Reid retweeted it (regarding the gun control sit-in) and LawZombie got more retweets than maybe ever. I had seen it this joke for 4 years, but most people were just seeing it for the first time, and it resonated this week despite seemingly nothing to do with granny-starving now.

To conclude this post about pride and language that mentioned Alan Turing and Charles Pierce, I must note the other Charles Pierce, philosopher, “father of pragmatism”, whose middle name was Sanders (seriously, no joke! Sanders!), from Wikipedia, Charles Sanders Pierce (1839-1914), with an example of his “syllogism to illustrate the unreliability of traditional forms of logic”:

All Men are equal in their political rights.
Negroes are Men.
Therefore, negroes are equal in political rights to whites.

I’m not sure computers will ever grok that joke, but if you can, then you should realize it’s no joke. Pride 2016! Because it’s not 2012 anymore. That we continue to zombie toward fuller equality while retaining pride in our individual uniqueness – a paradox of liberty and the rules required to frame the box of order while thinking outside of it, that the fast and the slow are both zombies and that equality is not one law for the lion and the ox, it’s the wizard giving all the friends of Dorothy literally nothing, except all the feels.

GOP leviathans

First, let me apologize for being remiss in updating this blog. There are a number of very significant political “zombies” from the past few weeks and I will write about those soon. If you are reading the @Lawzombie Twitter feed then you are already up to date on those but I do owe those politicians some zombie portraits.

However, today I would like to take a moment to comment on last night’s GOP debate, and first about a commercial that aired repeatedly during it; the trailer for the upcoming Ron Howard movie “In the Heart of the Sea“. This movie is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick published in 2000. It is about the real-life story of a whaling voyage that was also the basis for Herman Melville’s 1851 classic “Moby Dick“.

Now there are many versions of this trailer online but the version that aired repeatedly last night during the GOP debates on FoxBusiness was a version of the final trailer cut to a 30-second spot, which asks:

“Monsters are they real?”

This tagline made me laugh for lots of reasons. First, zombies are they real? Second, what’s real? Is this the real story of Moby Dick? Was Moby Dick real? Was it a pun on all the real dicks on stage last night? Is the irony that even this real-life story is not really, real, or is the irony that Moby Dick really was real and we killed them all.

Recall “Military Zombie Chicken Plan is Real but Sarah Palin still False” and “My failed “zombie” cognitive research, Part 3” and “SciencePunk: Real Zombies“.

Are the real zombies those with Cotard’s syndrome, or parasite-infected insects, or hacked computer botnets? OR are the real zombies the fiction, the George Romero characters and those from “Walking Dead”? When fiction has the power to shape reality, what is real? Is global warming real? Is the war on Christmas real? Is reality real?

Who are the real presidential candidates? The frontrunners both have “real” in their twitter names, does that make them real? Let’s look closer at last night’s debate transcript:

Governor Kasich: “as the governor of Ohio I have to deal with real challenges”
Governor Kasich: “the real jobs come in the downstream, not in the upstream, but in the downstream.”

Governor Bush: “That’s not how the real world works.”
Governor Bush: “My worry is that the real economy has been hurt by the vast overreach of the Obama administration.”

Does that word mean what they think it means? Is it anything more than reinforcing their subjective confidence?

Also maybe we should note “real estate”:

Senator Cruz: “we had loose money, we had an asset bubble, it drove up the price of real estate”
Fiorina: “Government created the problem of a real estate boom.”

What is real estate? What is property? Would there be any property rights at all without the Hobbesian “Leviathan” of government to enforce those supposed rights?

Senator Paul: “I want a government really, really small, so small you can barely see it. “

So would it really be there at all? How could there be any property rights at all without a strong government to protect them? Which leads to the debate between Senators Paul and Rubio about whether it is conservative to add a trillion dollars to military spending.

Trump: “I want to do something really special. I want to make our country greater than it’s ever been.”

Great like Moby Dick? Big and massive and real! Real like Jesus? Because whether the book is historical or fictional doesn’t matter, it’s the story that matters. Recall there is a leviathan in the Bible too.

However, in the tale of the whaleship Essex, in “In the Heart of the Sea”, the ship wrecks in South America, and the surviving crew may have resorted to cannibalism. Because after all, this really is a zombie blog.

once more unto the epistemological void: #UBScholarsontheRoad @UBCAS @HodgsonRuss

“We know we’re doomed,” Professor David Castillo said. Then he said something about being on a train barreling down a track towards the end of the world and either we can’t change course or we don’t believe we can. It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the small changes needed to fix it, he said, it’s a “failure of political imagination”. Then there was a raffle randomly selecting from business cards to receive his book “Baroque Horrors” and other gifts. After all, this was a promotional event for the University of Buffalo alumni community in New York City, October 27, 2015.

The setting was back-dropped with Times Square billboards behind the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of Hodgson Russ LLP’s magnificent room. The speech began after an hour of cocktails and hors d’oeuvre. The first speaker introduced the event, part of a ‘Scholars on the Road’ series, designed to reconnect alumni with their alma mater and ultimately raise donor money, because as he said, “state support continues to decrease.” The “ironic tones” were noticeable.

For the main event, Professor David Castillo of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Buffalo spoke about his interest in zombies. Apparently, Castillo was also the speaker at the first Scholars on the Road event a few years ago, so this event was sort of a reprise. It is October, time to recycle the zombie talk.

Professor Castillo began with his own interests in the 16th and 17th century romance literature, particularly Spain. He wanted to do an “archaeology of horror” about the “culture of curiosities” and collections of oddities (see Wikipedia: Cabinet of Curiosity). Then he examined the etymology of “monster” (monstrum = to demonstrate, show, reveal; and monere = warning, admonish). He emphasized that monsters are signs and warnings.

Then he summarized an old Spanish story from 1647, written by a female writer. He likened it to “White Zombie” in that a women was possessed by a man who would take her away from her home at night. When it was discovered, the women was cleared of her responsibility by officials but the husband was still upset, and so he locked the wife inside a wall for many years (a sort of second zombification). Castillo’s point was that racial slaves, objects of desire, loss of will to a voodoo master, denouncing the role of women in the culture, these have been a source of fiction going back almost 400 years or more.

Moving right along, he jumped to George Romero 1968, “Night of the Living Dead”, and the monsters now become “agents of apocalypse”. Then 1978, “Dawn”, a shopping mall, “They are us,” “consuming ourselves to death”. And then “Land of Dead”, “we are decay” and the beginning of the “self-consciousness of the zombie”. As Castillo explains, in Romero’s world, the mall is the center, the military surrounds that providing service in and out, and outside is the world of the zombies: mass spectators distracted by fireworks unable to avert our eyes even as we become aware of impending demise. And, for Castillo, “The Walking Dead” is simply a continuation in that line of post-apocalyptic landscape.

Continuing the metaphors of consumerism, homelessness, unsustainable population growth and unending piles of garbage. The one common feature of the diverse metaphors: “we made them”. The apocalypse approaches “no horsemen needed, walkers will do”. It is the “fantasy of a zero point”, a fantasy of starting over as a new person, free from our daily schedules, free from the constant ping of iPhones.

This fantasy allows us to ask ourselves, what will you do in apocalypse? It is an opportunity to examine our values, politics, and sense of self. In this way the zombies represent a society afraid to break its own routines even when those routines are leading toward certain demise.

It’s not particularly optimistic. Castillo encourages we read his new book on zombies “Zombie Talk: Culture, History, Politics” but even more he recommends his upcoming book “Mediologies” about the “power of media to frame reality”. He mentioned work on visual literacy and how new media in law and courtroom is changing the way juries see information.

Referencing his NY Times article from last year “Dreamboat Vampires and Zombie Capitalists,” he suggests that reading the comments is better than the article. So the event host read a few of the top comments, but then couldn’t pronounce “epistemological”. He’s not an academic so I guess, how would he know? (get it? how would he know! epistemology!) Maybe take a selfie to prove the moment is “real“.

So what do we do about it? There is “no magic bullet” for zombies (they’re not werewolves). But Castillo argues that “thinking about it is part of the solution.” Mere reflection may be enough to shake free from the “mass of indistinguishable cadavers”. He is, after all, a humanities professor for a state university.

Castillo suggested that George Romero prefers working in B-movies for the flexibility of the format; the ability to control his message that he would not get with a major Hollywood blockbuster production budget. Does he prefer working at SUNY Buffalo for similar reasons? Is it another conflict of the individual and the system under domination of economic forces? Or is it all just part of the fireworks show, another distraction? We pay “lipservice to individuality” but are we unavoidably zombies: “mass consumers possessed by a hunger they don’t understand” and it’s self-destructive.

In conclusion: Recycle. Reuse. Repurpose. It’s October, play it again zombie Tom, some jokes never die and Castillo got a big laugh when, late in the speech, he casually mentioned Jesus: you know that guy who returned from the dead with that eat-of-his-body meme. Big laugh. It seems like the oldest zombie joke there is and yet still Castillo got a laugh out of it. Jesus isn’t even a zombie (he’s a lich) and still Castillo got a laugh out of it.

Because, we are still shuddering from Dracula, still afraid of reverse colonization, still hating on the movie version of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, and like in 17th century Spain, still watching an empire in decline while thinking to ourselves that this is the beginning of the end of the world. As if it hasn’t always been ending, as if Hegel hadn’t already taught us that’s the only truth of things (that they end).

And in case you are wondering (as one audience questioner was) for this Halloween, Castillo plans to dress as a father (he has teenage children who plan to trick-or-treat). It’s not an easy world for zombie fathers, but Castillo is on sabbatical now so maybe he can use it as a chance to shake up his routines. As for me, this event was a good opportunity to shake up my own routines. Thanks to Professor Castillo and the University of Buffalo College of Arts and Science for the open invitation and thanks to Hodgson Russ LLP for hosting them. I met one of their lawyers in the elevator on the way out. She was just leaving work (after 8pm) and seemed a bit frazzled, but nice enough to direct me back to the subway, and back onto that train to the end of the world. Shout-out to Lisa in real estate. Nom nom…

End of the world … and I feel fine.” Oh yeah, how do you know?

LA Zombie Breedlove murder charges dismissed

Recall the story of Derrick Murray, supposed L.A. Zombie of Evansville, who threatened police on the internet, and caused the police to embarrass themselves when they flash-banged his neighbor. Then Judge Posner’s 7th Circuit opinion called those cops “Keystone Kops” and that week they arrested Murray for murder?! Well now, those murder charges have been dropped.

TristateHomepage: Defense Attorney: Breedlove Murder Case ‘Tarnishes Everyone Involved’“:

For nearly two months, the three men were being held in jail as their defense attorneys publicly complained about a lack of information from the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office.

14news: “Charges dropped against 3 suspects in Breedlove murder” posted by Sean Edmondson and by Jess Raatz and Jessica Schmidt:

Bobby John’s attorney and Murray’s attorney believe there was never any proof.


Two of the suspects, Bobby John Handegard and Bobby Michael Handegard, were released from jail on Friday afternoon.


Derrick Murray, is still in jail on a federal hold related to another case.

That federal charge is for marijuana. See from August in Evansville Courier Press: “Defense: Nothing linking Murray to Breedlove shooting” by Mark Wilson:

Murray was on federal supervised release from a 2012 charge of making Internet threats against Evansville police. He was arrested after a probation officer found “evidence of criminal activity” on his cell phone, according to court records. As a result, he also faces a separate felony charge of dealing marijuana.