As some of you might have guessed, I’ve recently become somewhat busy. Med school is not currently kicking my ass, but I’m expecting it any day now, and my girlfriend and I are working on the ongoing rent situation. Suffice it to say that I’m not really managing five posts a week anymore, or anytime soon. I’m moving to a MWF schedule, with an optional post on weekends. Hopefully I’ll get this thing running again.


Post-Mortem: Berserker Task Force

Leader of the berserker task force stops by to have a chat

Me, Former Berserker (FB): Good morning. I’m sorry about the timing, it was just the only way our schedules lined up.

Randall Tandy: More my fault than yours, buddy.

FB: I guess it is. You have a pretty hectic schedule, actually. I was surprised to learn that. The berserker task force may serve an important function, but I wouldn’t have imagined you were very busy most days.

Randall Tandy: Your first guess was right. We’re not usually busy. Most of my free time is spent doing talks, lectures, and interviews about our work.

FB: You’ve had a bit more than fifteen minutes.

Randall Tandy :I won’t lie, it’s been a hell of a journey. Nothing I’m doing is really special, it’s all a matter of knowing how zombies work.

FB: Most of the early pioneers in the anti-zombie movement were incompetent at best; they didn’t know how to handle a rogue berserker.

Randall Tandy: No, they didn’t. We have much better techniques to handle them now. And I have to contest that, I’m not anti-zombie.

FB: Most critics of the task force would disagree, and I’m not sure I see your point of view as clearly here as I do theirs.

Randall Tandy: I have nothing against zombies if they can co-exist with all the other people in this world. Some of them can’t do that, and those I do have a problem with.

FB: Berserkers.

Randall Tandy: Berserkers are zombies who’ve given up on their humanity. The thing that we didn’t realize early on was that the process is reversible. So many bureaucrats and soldiers gave up on the victims of this disease because they thought they couldn’t be saved- or that it was too expensive.

FB: How would you handle a berserk zombie? Walk me through the process.

Randall Tandy: The most important thing to get right is containment. Berserkers will break through any barrier you put in front of them, or hurt themselves trying. Something like sedation is more effective because it minimizes harm to everyone, but not all drugs will work on berserkers. If containment fails, our primary concern is evacuating the area. A successful evacuation can leave us with enough room to let the rage play out. If a berserker acts without anyone to injure, there’s no reason to do anything about it. Harmless property damage is much better than carnage.

FB: That’s surprisingly enlightened of you. What about if evacuation fails?

Randall sighs.

Randall Tandy: Then it fails, and we move from there.

FB: Thanks for giving us some insight into your organization, Mr. Tandy. I think it should help some of my readers out.”

Randall Tandy: Thank you for letting me.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought: In Defense of Eating Brains

Many modern, urbane, sophisticated zombies like to pretend that we don’t eat brains. It’s an understandable kind of pretense. Eating brains is shameful. There are no zombie heroes in our fiction who haven’t overcome the adversity inherent to their identity. It can’t be done, in the public imagination. Cannibalism evokes such an ingrained reaction of disgust and revulsion that no one can consider what an entire species that needs to eat brains could mean, and how to deal with that.

There’s one simple defense of brain eating that hasn’t been attempted; eating brains is best for everyone. The dead aren’t using theirs. If they’re uninterested in resurrection, there’s little to no reason to leave the brain untouched. I’ve brought up this point before when urging folks who wanted one to get a DNR stamp on their license, but here I’m making a more nuanced point: it’s possible that giving the brains of the dead to zombies is the only ethical method of handling them.

Zombies require human brains to survive. This is a well-known fact. As long as acquiring brains is difficult, illegal, or otherwise stymied by society, zombies will inevitably do so in less and less ethical ways. The need for brains is indelible, and so trying to prevent a zombie from eating them only leads to bad incentives. The zombie kept away from brains will not only act in desperate ways to acquire them, but will eventually, if they fail, enter a berserker state, endangering themselves and everyone around them.

Until we can produce synthetic solutions which provide the same benefits to zombies that human brains do, we must be vigilant to prevent new problems from springing up. Any solution to the problem of zombies requires accepting our need for brains first; the rest can come after.


Myth 12: Zombies Are Strong

With our berserker rage and our superhuman regeneration capabilities, zombies can seem infinitely dangerous to the unarmed non-zombie observers. Though zombies can be very destructive when enraged, they remain at their previous levels of strength. What zombies do that makes us so threatening is that we ignore pain.

During a rage, the usual sensations that accompany pain don’t reach the brain. A zombie will not stop when the pain starts, they’ll power through it. The discomfort, the blood loss, and the soreness mean nothing to a berserker. Eventually, other effects from these injuries will catch up to the zombie, but not before some serious damage has been meted out. However, anyone aware of this can use normal means to overpower a zombie.

Magical Arts

Fair Arts: Introduction to Biorhythms

The human body naturally has several patterns that recur periodically. Without the art of biorhythms, studying the rhythms of the body is fairly useless; the body’s ecosystem is fairly delicate, and the conscious mind can overcome and equally, subvert, natural variation.

The easiest of the cycles to access magically is the intuitive, because it’s the most responsive to the trance states common in magic. To get in touch with it without magic, spend time doing some mindless work, and alternate that with meditation. This promotes the right mental habits to access the intuitive rhythm.

Accessing the other biorhythms is beyond the scope of an introductory post.


Access Zombiewood: The Auditor

The Auditor (2013) was the first film to pit Christian values against zombism. It was inevitable. While religious people had been suspicious of zombies, they’d been divided on how suspicious to be. The more progressive preached tolerance. The more traditional preached segregation. It was a simple debate, lacking in nuance.

The titular auditor doesn’t have any interest in finances. He audits souls. Every kindness is balanced against every cruelty. The movie begins with him judging three people in quick succession, none of them zombies. One good, one neutral, one evil. The treatment of each of them sets up our expectations for how the film’s protagonist will be handled.

After the introductory scenes with the auditor, focus shifts to the zombie. Ryder Young is a walking stereotype of a contemporary youth culuture, though increasingly hard to recognize now. The film hides his identity as a zombie for maximum effect, but we have no need for such manipulation. His status as a zombie is meant to remove all previously established audience sympathy- or so the movie’s backers may have thought. The audience disagreed, and many watching the movie came away with more sympathy for zombies.


Post-Mortem: Sinew

In this interview, I talk to a zombie who’s learned how to adapt his old lifestyle to his new condition.

Vanilla Civilian: So. BDSM.

Sinew: Yes, that is our topic of discussion today. Is there something funny about that?

VC: Not at all, it’s…fascinating.

Sinew: Of course. I live to fascinate.

VC: I think you probably want to  start with why it appeals to you generally.

Sinew: Do I. Well, if master insists. BDSM appeals to me because the act of subjugation is a subversive way of engaging with traditional sexual dynamics. And it’s hot.

VC: Oh-okay. Um. So that, what kind of stuff do you do with that?

Sinew: Wax, clamps, petplay, hand-feeding, collars…I try to keep things a little interesting.

VC: Right. Uh, how did things change after you turned?

Sinew: Zombies have completely deadened sensation. Pain no longer worked the same way, and neither did pleasure.

VC: How did you cope with that? How did you adapt?

Sinew: I got creative.

VC: …

VC: Thanks for stopping by.