Military Zombie Chicken Plan is Real but Sarah Palin still False
A few weeks ago, Gordon Lubold at Foreign Policy caught an “exclusive”, which was promptly copied and spread across the internets. See “Exclusive: The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously.“. This story probably had a wider spread than any “zombie” story this year (here also at CNN), but I don’t know how to measure how wide the story went except by how it feels to me in my daily zombie news searching.
The wide coverage reminds me of the Estately zombie map story, which similarly caught fire with local news and spread wide despite my initial feelings of insignificance. In both these stories, it was reality blending with fiction, with the use of hypothetical monster zombies used in a real world (in contrast to the real zombies of this blog which are the written word itself). These zombie hypotheticals (which are similar to Max Brooks’ Survival Guide and Dan Drezner‘s International Politics) use a varying degree of fiction to explain the “zombie” parameters and experts like Matt Mogk at ZRS can continue to debate the finer points of these fictional zombie varieties.
My initial inattention to Estately and to this CONPLAN highlights a problem of my being entrenched in the meme set, it’s hard to notice when there is something that will catch everyone else’s attention. To me, this zombie military plan seemed insignificant because there had already been so many other military zombies and educational zombies, it didn’t seem like a big development (and there were other much more interesting “zombie” politics that week and I was busy).
The “plan” is already a few years old, recently released but still old. It’s from before Senator Coburn wrote about the HALO waste, before the IRS Star Trek bit, and before both General Dempsey and Brig. General VanHerck “joked” publicly about the military’s zombie plans.
Still, this news story caught the media by storm. Even my sister’s mother-in-law emailed to tell me she heard about it. I was like, “but what about the “zombie” Senator, two “zombie” Congressmen and Clintons’ “walking dead” all that same week.” She didn’t seem to care.
So to track the expanse of this plan story let’s look at the Google trend for the words CONPLAN and CONOP. These are words that I do not recall seeing before Mr. Lubold’s article. The Google trends show that these words haven’t been too prevalent in the last few years, though CONPLAN did have some peaks in the mid-Bush years:
Looking at the news links that Google attached to the peaks for CONPLAN, it seems that previously plans 8022, 8022-02, 5029, and 5030 about scenarios with North Korea had provoked interest. This month, was CONOP’s first major peak and it peaked higher than CONPLAN, which makes sense since Lubold’s article calls it a CONOP. Google forecast function predicts that CONOP will return to its minimal usage, but it is currently unable to predict CONPLAN. Next, zooming in on the past 30 days, both words peaked but their shapes are different, CONPLAN had a second peak just under a week after the article first appeared.
So there are CONPLANs for the invasion of Korea but the likelihood of that plan becoming actualized it highly unlikely. Same for the zombie apocalypse plan. It’s a CONPLAN, it exists, as surely do other bizarre CONPLANs for all sorts of crap that’s never going to happen. But does that make it not a real plan? It’s a real plan when it becomes useful and in this case the 8888 plan is most useful as a demonstration of how to write a CONPLAN. This is a plan on how to write plans and in the highly unlikely scenario of zombie chickens, you can see how to put them in a category for a plan.
Meanwhile, it is also noteworthy that in some communities of discourse, 88 refers to Hitler. I only know this because of Showtime’s “Homeland” and then confirmed it with the Urban Dictionary. H is the 8th letter in the alphabet so 88 is HH or Heil Hitler (or maybe it’s Heil Hydra now?). So if 88 is Nazi, then 8888 is like drunk math for double Nazi? Because evil zombies are like nazi evil times two?
We should also consider that 8888 is also the IRS form for direct deposit (in which we give the government our bank account number) and the number refers also to the 8888 Uprising in Burma, August 1988 in which superstitious Buddhists against Soviet land planning mixed with student led protest. And see also in Brazil, CONPLAN refers to controversial urban redistricting land use issues in Brasilia. And notice in the above trend results, CONPLAN is being searched most frequently in Germany and Brazil.
Now of course, fictional monster zombies aren’t real but neither is a military invasion of Korea real, still it’s real planning regardless of whether there is any actual possibility. Planning is always sort of imaginary. Plans become real only when we engage them and we need to plan for even the wildest possible scenarios.
In ConPlan 8888 it says:
Because the plan was so ridiculous, our students not only enjoyed the lessons; they actually were able to explore the basic concepts of plan and order development (fact, assumptions, specified and implied tasks, references etc) very effectively.
It’s a ridiculous plan, but it’s still a plan. Recall also that Spc Moyers was court martial for his ridiculous zombie planning.
And so we should notice with CNN’s Jamie Crawford, that the 8888 plan includes another disturbing thought, more disturbing than fictional evil magic:
Maintain emergency plans to employ nuclear weapons within (the continental United States) to eradicate zombie hordes.
So, are there any scenario in which we have plans to nuke within the U.S.? What if the Nazi’s or the Reds or aliens invade and are occupying US soil? Is there ever an option of tactical nuke of the U.S. in defense of the country? And if the weapon is never acceptable at home, why should it ever be acceptable in other lands? Is it a never weapon or a sometimes weapon?
Again, recall the Newsweek covers politics we could consider the conspiracy theorist mindset (which is connected to belief in paranormal and urban legends). Who controls the right to nuke the U.S.? Could it ever be used in a 8888-uprising style action?
And with these trends, Sarah Palin jumps in on the “zombie” planning meme, and on her Facebook calls it “unbelievable” government spending. But she doesn’t directly mention CONPLAN 8888 and so PolitiFact now says her statement was false.
Politifact’s PunditFact checked her claim and they call her statement false. At first, their analysis completely missed the recent 8888 plan entirely. Obviously, the meme flow wasn’t as wide as it seemed from my vantage. PunditFact thought Palin was referring the CDC zombies story from 2011. The CDC has good research showing that their zombies were useful for the purpose of their health education mission and teaching emergency preparation but based on the timing of Palin’s post, it seems much more likely that she was responding to the 8888 plans. PunditFact has since updated with reference to the 8888 plan but still calls Palin’s claim false. They rely on the CNN quote from Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for U.S. Strategic Command:
This document is not a U.S. Strategic Command plan.
It’s like Magritte’s “Treachery of Images”
When Hurricane Sandy was about to hit, there was this funny photoshopped picture of all the monsters attacking. I thought it was a joke but then the power in NYC went out for many days. Now, when an iPhone emergency storm warning buzzes, I take it a bit more seriously, but still it’s usually insignificant. As it turned out Hurricane Sandy wasn’t a “real” hurricane, only a “superstorm” but still, the power was out. And it’s likely to happen again but still not at every emergency warning. How are we to know when the forecast is real??? How can we plan for unlikely contingencies without becoming crazy conspiracy theorists?
When the crazy shit happens, I hope the government has a plan because I am useless without the internet. And, I am really glad that Sarah Palin is not one heartbeat away from deciding if we should nuke New York City to save her real America.
But what about the “chicken zombies”, the CONOP suggests they aren’t a threat but might inspire you to become vegetarian, which is probably a good idea. Again looking at Google Trend, zombie chicken is peaking too, with searches mostly from the US and the UK but the top city searching is Ho Chi Minh City. The Google forecast predicts it will peak again in a few months, and then again.
It’s a global world and zombie memes spread like salmonella, or like chickens with their heads cut off. Don’t become a chicken zombie, think both imaginatively and critically about your plans. The image of a pipe is not the same as a pipe, just as the map is not the territory, but still it’s helpful to have maps. Plans for unreal situations can help inspire ideas to prepare for the unexpected in reality because if reality is anything, it is often unexpected.