Star Wars as Spanish soap opera. I’d probably watch this more than I have the original.
What do you get when you combine a lot of free time, the internet and a banana? This.
The LSE had a surprisingly good lecture on immortality and how the concept has effected human civilization. It’s about an hour and a half but worth it.
Everything left to float in the North Sea ends up drifting to the small island of Texel. Here’s a 15 minute documentary about some old guys on that island who take their beach-combing seriously.
How can you not read this article when it has a paragraph like this?
For a brief moment in the early ‘80s, it looked as if the brave new world of Alien studies was going to splinter irreconcilably on the issue of Officer Ripley’s panties—the anti-panty camp accusing the pro-panty wing of uncritical phallocentrism, the pro-panty caucus accusing the anti-panty wing of repressive and self-defeating assumptions about what constitutes sexism.
The DNA of dogs is so jumbled that it isn’t any help in figuring out when or where they were first domesticated.
…the burden feels less like Noah building an ark and more like Schindler making a list.
It’s not good news that World War Z is going through extensive reshoots and script edits. I suspect this is due to the efforts or the producers to transform the book, which is a collection of anecdotes loosely held together by the concept of a zombie apocalypse, into a cohesive narrative that follows a small number of main characters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you’re going to make this book into some sort of visual media, do it with a TV series where you can change the setting and characters every week. Make it the Love Boat or Fantasy Island of the 2010s.
Note to readers: This post is about the TV show The Walking Dead. If you haven’t been watching many of the references probably won’t make sense but hopefully it’ll still be interesting. If not, at least it’s got a cool zombie killing clip.
Image via Wikipedia
So, I’ve enjoyed AMC‘s The Walking Dead quite a bit through this season and the last. It hasn’t been without its problems but overall it’s been an enjoyable show. The final ten minutes of the last episode (the ‘mid-season finale’ – whatever that means), however was pure gold. In particular, this bit:
Shane is not a beloved character among many fans in the series and he’s done some pretty…questionable things but most criticism leveled against him involves judging him against norms developed in our ordered and ‘civilized’ world.
I cut Shane a bit of slack. Perhaps it’s because I know soldiers who’ve come back from deployments with PTSD or had my own (thankfully brief) brush with post deployment stress but expecting people to just be able to flip between ‘normal’ life and ‘oh, crap, there’s a rocket whistling over my head/zombie trying to eat my brain’ isn’t too realistic.
Thus, if you remember the movie The Hurt Locker, you have a character who is capable of handling the intense stress of deactivating IEDs yet is completely unable to handle a decision like which cereal to buy.
Shane is that character from the Hurt Locker. He’s unable to turn off ‘survival mode’ and (I suspect) is the only time the character feels alive. Just as William James must eventually return to Iraq because he fits in nowhere else, Shane can not be satisfied in a safe environment. Seeking out danger and being in the proverbial ‘shit’ allows him to become totally immersed in the present and not worry about the way the rest of the world around him is falling apart. He doesn’t need to think about his failed relationship with his best friend’s wife (Dude, we totally thought you were dead!) or the fact that he abandoned a good man to a horrible death (Sorry, Otis!). All he needs to do is point and pull the trigger.
So while we like to think there are inviolate universal constants known as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ that’s not necessarily true. Take, for example, the question of whether you should kill the fat man (or, if you’re a glutton for punishment, should you kill the backpacker). Now think about making some of these questions repeatedly. How likely is it that we will remain consistent or hold ourselves to some moral code when short term practicality seems more effective.
Hershel, Rick and Shane each represent different ‘civilizations’: Hershel a religious based value system; Rick a secular, capitalist system and Shane a post-apocalyptic, Hobbsian one.
Throughout the season all three characters have been trying to communicate to each other. Hershel was the least communicative as religious societies have to describe and explain the universe around them and have difficulty incorporating new information without avoiding questions that undermine the entire system (see: Galileo). As a result, he wants to get his visitors out of farm so he can quickly forget about them and return to life as ‘normal’.
Rick has been attempting to convince Hershel to allow the group to stay, essentially on an argument of efficiency.
Hey, Mr. Bourgeois capital owner! Let us stay and we’ll produce more widgets/farm your land/protect you from zombies.
At no point (even though Rick’s group is the only one with weapons) does Rick even consider upsetting the status quo of ownership or the means of production. He’s even willing to consider living next to a barn full of zombies if those are the rules of the existing system.
Still, Rick and Hershel appear to be on a path to coexistence even if they don’t agree all the time. Just as religion and capitalism have formed an alliance of varying degrees of easiness.
Shane, however, is a much different (and alien) culture. He and Rick have been talking past each other all season, both unable to accept (or even understand) the values and priorities of the other. In the scene above, things come to a head.
Shane first sets his sites on destroying ‘religion’. He pumps five non-lethal (for a zombie) rounds into the walker* before dealing it the death blow. Ultimately, religion can not withstand the reality of the dead returning to life and the zombies attempting to devour the living. Watch how Shane shoots the zombie. His disdain and carelessness while shooting it (I can remember very few other times when he appeared to barely aim at a zombie and his body language seems more different – as if not seriously threatened by this ‘walker’) can also be read as a demonstration of how little thought he gives to the religion based value system. After Shane kills the ‘religion zombie’, Hershel collapses and is unable to do anything for the rest of the show. He’s been defeated.
Then Shane (and virtually the entire rest of the group) starts killing zombies. About half way through, Shane turns to his friend, Rick and in another offhanded move, shots ‘his’ zombie. With that shot, Shane gives physical manifestation to his argument that ‘things are different now’. The old rules in which they were sheriffs and their loyalty was to a set of community standards and rules (to which Rick still tries to abide with) no longer apply. He shoots the zombie and, like Hershel, is rendered immobile until the end when he take a step (literally and figuratively) towards Shanes point of view.
So the next time you want to slag poor old Shane for doing some pretty horrendous stuff, remember. He’s had a rough day…
*Not sure how far you can take this analogy but could the five rounds represent previous attempts to destroy religion? Competing religions, Enlightenment, Communism, materialism, for example?
Well, it’s TwShiloh’s sixth ‘official’ anniversary (the actual origins of the blog are really lost in time so I’ve assigned October of 2004 as the origin of this little slice of heaven).
The year has seen some pretty dramatic changes around here as we abandoned our WordPress.com blog and got our very own domain name. I kept the old site open as an experiment and as it continued to receive activity I recently decided to reopen the site and cross post most of my stuff there as well as here. Still, this (twshiloh.com) remains our primary site.
We witnessed the departure of Jason Sigger from the blogging field. I looked to Jason as a source of inspiration and motivation for my own humble efforts here and his departure leaves a sizable hole in the interwebs. He is missed and I eagerly await his return to the public square.
The timing of the anniversary, coinciding as it does with the season and my own predilection for horror themed entertainment has encouraged me to hijack this post to recommend a couple of recent items which I have consumed.
Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh is an interesting take on the post apocalyptic genre. Unlike others in the field, the end comes with a whimper rather than a bang. Rather than one event causing the end of civilization, the book takes a close look at one man and his small group of friends over ten years as a collection of events contribute to a general yet marked dissolution of civilization. Since the story follows an ‘everyman’ big picture events like global warming, wars, financial collapse, etc. are only discussed tangentially but you see the effects of them on Jasper’s life. In some ways this book reminded me of a flip side of Brave New World and I’d recommend reading these together. I knocked this back in a few days and it was a compelling read. This book is very much a product of our current time and does an excellent job of playing upon our current fears of financial, political, economic, environmental and military uncertainty.
Robotapocalypse by Daniel Wilson was another fun, yet not nearly so profound, read. Very similar to Max Brooks’ ‘World War Z‘ only replacing the zombies with robots, the book still manages to provide some neat twists that make it worth reading. In fact, there clearly is a sequel buried within this book focusing on the fully autonomous robots (no more can be said without spoilers).
Shifting from books to games is Dead Island. I’ve been playing for a couple of weeks now and while it’s a very good zombie game, I’m not sure it’s worth the current $50 price tag, especially given that you can pick up Left4Dead or its sequel for less than half that. They aren’t the same games as Dead Island has some role playing elements to it but there’s nothing so compelling about it that makes it imperative you get it now. Wait for the sale and revel in how good it is as a $20 game.
And now, since this is the sixth year of the blog and I was unable to find any appropriate images to go along with that, let’s celebrate the number six with Iron Maiden…
This sounds great. I really don’t think I’ll be going this year but I can still dream….
Before the race, you will be given a flag belt, just like the overly intimidating game of flag football. These flags represent your health.
The zombies want to take your flags and maybe eat your brains.
If you lose all your health flags, you die. And the zombies win.
Health bonuses will be hidden throughout the course. If you find one and carry it to the finish, it will save your life.
What You’re Up Against
Throughout the 5K obstacle race, there will be 12 man-made and natural obstacles for you to complete. Runners may choose NOT to complete an obstacle, BUT any runner who skips an obstacle will not be eligible for prizes.
There will be zombies. Their job is to chase you and eat you — but mainly go after your health, in the form of your flag belt. Avoid the zombies to keep your health flags.
Use speed, strategy and your intact brains to make it to the FINISH LINE with at least ONE FLAG INTACT. If you finish with zero health flags, your time will be recorded, but you will not be eligible for awards.
How You’ll Do It
There will be a start line, and a finish line, but what happens in between is up to you. There are multiple routes to reach the finish. Choose wisely, or your 5k might turn into a 10k.
What a brilliant idea to use the flag football idea.
I really do love our modern world in which artists can target very specific demographics with their work. Still, this is getting a bit weird.
A movie that incorporates zombies, Finland, and the U.S. Army? Are these people reading TwShiloh? How could you hit so many pleasure centers of my brain and NOT know I exist? I mean, how can it possibly go wrong?
March 1942. Captain Martin Stone leads an American unit on a mission to destroy an enemy bunker; joining forces with an elite platoon of Finnish soldiers; Cpt. Niemi and Ltnt. Laasko. The troops are torn apart by the same enemy soldiers they had killed a few minutes earlier in an ambush. The living dead? Evil forces? Or SS experiments gone wrong?
Ok, so the history is crap (Finland and Germany were fighting the Soviet Union in 1942 although the U.S. didn’t follow the lead of the U.K. and Commonwealth nations in declaring war on the country). But it could still be cool.
Perhaps it’s a general frustration at having two wars going on for a decade without a really satisfying enemy or big battle to look forward to. It seems like, in an effort to scratch that itch, we’ve decided to resurrect the Nazis and kick their ass again. But Nazis themselves are a bit boring (besides, we know we can beat them) so we seem to be facing a rash of Nazis cranked up to ’11′.
In addition to War of the Dead (above – zombies) and the already written about ‘Iron Sky’ (space Nazis) there’s the upcoming The 4th Reich (apparently more zombie Nazis!).
And what’s not to love about zombie Nazis? You get to kill ‘em twice!
Here at TwShiloh we are pleased to see that the U.S. Government has finally decided to embrace the threat posed by zombies. In a bold move, the CDC has issued guidelines for how to deal with the upcoming zombie apocalypse.
The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen.
Since this is an official government document, you have to expect it to be a little watered down. Still, I was shocked at how paltry their suggested list of suppies was:
Water (1 gallon per person per day)
Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Where’s the chainsaw? Where’s the high powered rifles?
Still, there is some valuable intelligence buried in this document revealing much about our undead foes that, up to now, was pure speculation.
On the bright side, at least we now have official government confirmation that the bite of a zombie is incurable and medical suppies will be of no value. Amputation may be the only chance…
Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home
Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team.
Aha! The CDC slipped here and now we have confirmation that the government has created something called ‘Zombie Response Teams’ (ZRTs?). Might these be the real mission of the National Guard WMD teams?
Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance!
So, zombies are clearly fast movers of the Zach Snyder version rather than the George Romero type. That’s bad news. The ‘get out of town fast’ warning is a dead giveaway (excuse the phrase).
An additional tidbit is the name of the person who will likely head up any zombie outbreak taskforce: Ali S. Khan (sounds like a psuedonym to me). According to Mr. Khan:
“…CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).”
So, a tip to all you CDC drones…don’t piss off Mr. Khan or you’ll find yourself on one of these ‘medical teams’.
(As an aside…how do I get a gig writing stuff like this for an offical government agency? That, my friends, is a dream job.)
There are some 35,000 church forests in Ethiopia, ranging in size from a few acres to 300 hectares…These spiritually-protected woods, also known as coptic forests, comprise a decent chunk of the 5 percent of Ethiopia’s historical forests that are still standing.
This image is from BoingBoing but they didn’t provide any details of what it might be. Seems pretty clear to me. The Ruskies are planning on building an army of cyborg dogs (of the Lassie variety, apparently). This would allow them to fetch tennis balls in outer space or deep under the ocean. As we have no similar capability, we’ll quickly be crushed.
Dan Drezner has a guest post by a fellow scholar about the quest for political scientists to be relevant. I’d argue you can take out the ‘political scientist’ phrase and replace it with ‘intelligence analyst’ and get a very similar feeling. Yes, I know analysts aren’t supposed to do policy recommendations but they are supposed to be relevant to decision making and that’s a pretty fine line. However you feel about that particular point, however, I’m convinced there’s some relavance here. I was going to do a whole post on the article but I ended up just quoting it at such length that you should really just check it out.
Oh…and it’s got zombies in it.
The Wall Street Journal had a nice article about Pat Craig whose life’s work has been making a home for unwanted/discarded carnivores.
His Wild Animal Sanctuary, as he calls it, is the largest of its kind in the U.S., he says, with a food budget alone of nearly $500,000 a year. In all, the not-for-profit relies on donations to support most of its nearly $2 million-a-year budget. Visitors, who pay $10 apiece, can view the animals from an elevated walkway.
If you’ve got a couple of spare bucks you could do worse than to send a few to his Wild Animal Sanctuary.
Speaking of animals, the illegal animal trade is estimated to top $6 billion a year. As an illegal money maker it is “exceeded only by the drugs and arms trades.” Also, such activity tends to get much, much less attention that the transport of narcotics or weapons (plus usually much smaller penalties if you’re caught and convicted) so it’s a big draw for criminals.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 15,562kg of ivory were seized between 1989 and 2009, with 66 per cent of this collected in the last decade. Analysis…indicates three-quarters of this was obtained through organised crime rings. In Tanzania, the picture is even worse, with 68 per cent of the 76,293kg of ivory seized during this period being smuggled by organised crime.