Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bad news on the zombie front

Now that the Large Hadron Collider is temporarily shut down for re-wiring, I don't have to worry about the world getting sucked into a black hole approximately one nanosecond after some guy in Switzerland goes, "oops." The bad news is, according to a new mathematical model, zombies are a far greater menace than I originally thought. Researchers in Canada have found that unless swift and dramatic action is taken at the outset of a zombie outbreak, the zombies could easily wipe out the human race.

Now, this particular summary in Wired online leaves a few questions unanswered. Mainly I am wondering if the model applies to the new-style fast zombies (as in the movie 28 Days Later), or the old-school slow ones. Let's assume it's the latter, since I think we can all agree that the fast ones would pose a problem. But one would think that all but the extremely slow and frail could outrun or even outwalk the slow zombies. They are indeed so slow, that one has to come up with creative ways of passing the time--say, theatrically cowering in a corner--while they make their approach. How could these guys take over the human race?

According to an analysis of this article by my beloved husband, in an epidemic there is always a period of time during which people don't understand what's going on. A few dead guys staggering around in the mall--so what? That's normal, right? And meanwhile these guys are gorging themselves on a handful of unwary shoppers over by the Mervyns side-entrance. During this phase, the "oh, those can't be zombies" phase, they multiply, and before we know it, they have sufficient numbers to overwhelm the living. Volume trumps speed in the end.

Further discussion raised the following additional points. Zombies lurk. Like the Spanish Inquisition, they are, by definition, unexpected, and their lurking skills make them even more so. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, zombies are relentless. As we know from the workplace, it is the relentless who succeed most often, far more than the wise, the charming, or even the powerful. In fact, extreme relentlessness may be a sign that someone is a zombie.

I'm not saying we have to drop everything and obsess about zombies. Indeed, that kind of fear can be paralyzing, which is exactly what slow zombies want. But neither should we be complacement. I would just keep an eye out for those slow, lurking, relentless types, and sound the alarm if you start seeing more of them.

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