Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cold Evening of the Dead

Ok, here is the second part of that zombie business I was writing about. Hmm, maybe I should publish a book on zombie

Necroman and his friends arguably make one of the best cases in support of my previous assertion that a zombie's greatest weakness is excellent choreography. This they do through a first-hand account of stumbling into a zombie neighbourhood at night and joining in one of the activities common zombies partake in during their leisure hours. This activity was (obviously, given the nature of zombie psychology) dancing. Here is a reprint of Necroman's account:

"I went out for a walk. It was late, it was night. Creepy sounds appeared when I passed the graveyard wall. A flash in my eyes, I was hit by the light from this skull turned into a mirror ball. Last night the dead were coming on to me, dead bodies and has-beens were all I could see."

"I saw the dead a Moonwalkin'......yeahhhhh. I found myself caught in the heat. Out of a grave a zombie babe is pulling my leg. I'm going offto the bone rocking beat, dancing like hell in this afterlife discotheque. Was asked up for a rigor mortis breakdance on a headstone. A dead moonwalkin' vampire chick dragged me by the bone."

- Necroman highlights three important aspects of zombie culture that I would like to mention.

1 - Zombies love to dance, and may have invented the moonwalk. Having starred in Thriller, it is indisputable that zombies had a connection with Michael Jackson (who has become a zombie, maybe in the last 5 or 10 years) and so one must question all of Michael Jackson's supposedly original dance moves in light of this revelation.

2 - Zombies may be able to improvise and adapt better than we had previously expected. This tendency is displayed in their use of a skull as a disco-ball in the absence of a real disco-ball. This could mean that zombies may actually be able to adapt to life in a world de-populated of humans, as they may be able to improvise many other goods and services that we have not considered.

3 - Zombies do have attractive individuals, as seen by the 'zombie babe' that Necroman danced with. This could represent an alternate means of zombie reproduction independent of spreading the zombie plague to humans. If this is true, we may have more to fear than a bite on the neck. If zombies are able to breed, then we may have to strike them pre-emptively and without provocation in order to protect ourselves from the possibility of having to out-compete an ever increasing zombie population.

Thus, Necroman's account provides us with a few very important issues to think about. The key, though, is that he has independently proven my assertion that dancing may be our best chance at survival when the time comes to fight against the undead hordes. Good luck, and polish up them blue suede shoes; you're going to need them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

World War Z

So I haven’t updated this thing since Mayday. A lot has happened in the world around me since then. The fascists, I mean, Conservatives, won the election here in Canada. Obama won down south. And most importantly, the global capitalist market economy is collapsing under its own weight. The Soviet Union fell less than twenty years ago, its system over-strained by war and struggle on a global scale. Now their enemies are failing because of the lack of a REAL world conflict. It seems that unregulated free market enterprise is its own worst enemy. Sometimes it feels good to say, “I told you so.”

Anyways, I want to talk about something more fun today. Clearly the world is heading for the end times, and with them will inevitably come the Zombie Plague. I know, you’re thinking, “the Zombie Plague can’t happen to me.” Unfortunately, you are mistaken. Any supervirus that surfaces over the next ten or twenty years has the potential to be the Zombie Plague. With that in mind, I’d like to resurrect a study I wrote concerning zombie culture for a Facebook group last year. I figure, we need to be prepared. So, here is the first of a two-part examination of zombies and their role in our future world:

Ok, so let me begin. In their song "Where Do Monsters Go?' Necromantix ask "Where do monsters go when they're not on the film set? I wanna know if they ever sleep, or do they wander the night? Do they have a home just like you and me, or are they homeless living in the street?" as well as a few other significant questions. These particular questions, when pertaining to zombies, are ones that need answering. While dozens, maybe hundreds, of zombies have appeared in films over the years, their lives off-screen remain a mystery to us. So, I would like to list what we know about them, and what we can infer from the evidence.

- Since zombies rarely ever appear anywhere but on film, it is safe to assume that they, as a demographic group, tend to specialize in one specific industry. This is good for us, because it means that they lack many other skills that may be needed in the future. Obviously, without humans, zombies will be living in a world that they will find impossible to sustain. Over-specialization is obviously one of their greatest weaknesses. Sure, they can act, but unless they learn very quickly (which we know they can't) any zombie-dominated society will be bound to fail due to the lack of skills and abilities possessed by its members.

- No human has yet been seen playing a zombie in a movie. So far, zombies have taken all such roles. Conversely, no zombie has ever played a human in a film. This leads me to believe that the Zombie Acting Union has far-reaching powers. Clearly, the zombies have organized in order to protect their livelihoods, and have been incredibly successful. From the power of their labour union (it must be quite large as films from across the globe use only zombies in zombie roles) one can infer that a left-wing, or left-of-centre political ideology is dominant among zombies. This too can work to our advantage. If the zombies ever run amok, we can take to the streets waving red flags and chanting socialist slogans. Once the zombies see this, they will be moved by the spirit of international comradeship, and will inevitably march with us through the streets (probably singing their own songs such as "A Brain in Every Pot", or "Hammer, Sickle, and Thighbone"). Such an alliance would be advantageous for both sides. We will obtain protection, as well as a formidable fighting force, and the zombies will gain long-term security (see 'over-specialization' above). Thus united as a single vanguard, we will march with the zombies towards the total victory of the masses over the powers of both the Reactionary Governments, and the Liberal Bourgeois.

- Zombies have been subjected to intense discrimination in the past. This can be seen by the lack of acting credits at the end of every movie they appear in, as well as the previously common practice of portraying zombies as both dumb and slow. Lately, this trend has been on the decline. Specific famous zombies have received acting credits (such as the leader-zombie in the new "Dawn of The Dead"), and zombies are being portrayed more and more often as the intelligent and athletic beings that they actually are. This trend of decreased discrimination in films is representative of an easing of ethnic tensions between zombies and humans. This can only bode well for the future. Less tension means less likelihood of a riot that could lead to a Large-Scale Zombie-Related Disaster (or LSZRD as certain anthropologists have begun to call it).

Thus, by examining what little we know about the zombies who live among us, we can come to two significant conclusions. First, a LSZRD is increasingly unlikely in the near future, and second, in the case of a LSZRD there are specific things we can do to vastly increase our chances of survival. So the next time you see a zombie, don't imply that he is lazy, slow, or dim-witted. Either compliment him, or talk about Gramsci, Marx, and just might save your life.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day

Happy May Day everybody!! May 1st is celebrated worldwide by labour movements, workers' unions, socialists, and anybody dedicated to the improvement of labour conditions and workers' rights. Unfortunately, Canada and America do not celebrate, likely due to the stigma attached to labour agitation during the Cold War. In any case, today is a day for both joy and outrage. We must always be thankful for those who have given their lives in the endless struggle for a better life, while never forgetting that this battle is not yet won.

Long live the International. Long live freedom. Long live justice.

Happy May Day

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I have an intellectual axe to grind today. Well, actually I have two, but I’m going to avoid one of them and rant about the other. What I’d like to discuss is a skill that the majority of the population is completely lacking: critical thinking. Yes, I’ve spoken about this a very many times, but today I’m going to illustrate the pitfalls of going through life without thinking critically about what you read and hear by using an example from one of my classes last year.

In one of my Mediaeval history classes last year there was a student who just didn’t have a clue. A complete account of the most classic moments involving her stupidity would take far too long, so I’ll use one event to demonstrate my point. In order to understand the thoughts and behaviour of people who lived in the Middle Ages, one must understand that the thought-world they lived in was dominated by religion. Thus, we started the course by reading some of the more important sections of the Bible. When we got to the part about Adam and Eve this clueless student put her hand up and mentioned that the fateful apple that doomed the couple is an ancient pagan symbol for wisdom, and suggested that this story may thus reflect an earlier, decidedly pagan, root of early Christianity.

At this point I’d like to pause, and ask if you can see what is wrong with her analysis? Are there any questions you can think to ask about her evidence, argument, or conclusion? Think about it for a few seconds before I continue.

This student’s analysis reveals a complete lack of critical thinking skills. This deficiency, aside from making her look stupid, also caused her argument to fall very wide of the mark. In order to prove that the “pagan apple=wisdom” somehow found its way into the Bible there is a long series of questions that need to be answered so that a chain of causation can be established. Without proof of a causal chain, no historical argument has any value.

So, exactly which ancient pagans used the apple as a symbol for wisdom? Where and when did they live? How could they have had any connection with the man (yes, it was almost certainly a man) who wrote down the Adam and Eve story? Unless you can answer all these questions, and more, such an argument is useless. Well, this student revealed her ignorance by not being able to answer any of the questions, though if you knew her you would not have been surprised. Thus, the irrelevance of her idea was made abundantly clear.

Now, let’s try and answer these questions and see if we can come to a real conclusion here. Is there a connection? Did she just miss it through her inability to examine the evidence? Well, though I am no expert on pre-historical Europe, or the thousands of groups of people who lived in all of its various regions, I am aware that certain ancient Celtic groups did indeed use the apple as a symbol for wisdom. But, since at least 99% of the world’s population still thinks the word “Celtic” refers to an ethnicity, you will quickly meet a discouraging wall of ignorance if you follow this line of inquiry. From what I can tell, the specific groups in question lived in either France or Britain. Unfortunately, this actually covers many dozens of different ethnic and cultural groups who all happened to speak a related group of languages, which we now refer to as Celtic (or Gaelic, which is closer to the actual word). There was, however, a group of Celtic-speaking people who were settled in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), who may or may not have used this exact symbol.

Now, the people who wrote this part of the Bible belonged to a semi-nomadic, Semitic-speaking tribe that was eventually referred to as the “habiru”, or Hebrews. They lived in many areas of the Middle East at this time, though probably not in Asia Minor. Is it possible that the European pagans and the Aramaic monotheists met up and assimilated each other’s symbols? Probably not. Though I won’t rule it out, I would certainly laugh at anyone who tried to make this argument, even if they referred to the group of Celts in Turkey. Thus, the student’s conclusion is easily proven wrong with the application of only a tiny fraction of critical thought.

However, her argument is also disproved by following a completely different line of questioning. Had she merely asked a few more questions about the “apple” she may even have discovered it. Here are my questions: Was the Bible written in English? What language was it written in? When, how, and by who was it translated into English? Does the word apple mean the same thing in these languages?

Allow me to quickly answer these questions. This section of the Bible was written in ancient Hebrew. Eventually it was translated to Greek and Latin, and from there into Old English, or Anglo-Saxon. From there it was translated, or updated, into Middle English, and now Modern English. Though I’m not sure what the word in question was in the original text, it was translated into Old English as “apple”. However, in Old English there were two words that could have been chosen, since they both meant the same thing. These words were “apple” and “wasten”, and they both meant what the modern word “fruit” means. After 1066 the French-speaking Normans conquered England, and Old English merged with French to create two recognizable languages. First came the French dialect known as Anglo-Norman, and then came what we know as Middle English, Chaucer’s language. By this time the word “wasten” had been replaced with the French word “fruit”, and “apple” had transformed into the word for the specific fruit that we would recognize. This little change in meaning was missed when the Bible was updated, since to whoever was updating it, “apple” was not a foreign word. He probably thought it was referring to a specific fruit rather than the generic fruit that it meant in Old English. Thus, we still see the word as “apple” and think of apples, when we should be seeing the word “fruit”, and we should probably be thinking about peaches or apricots. So, the “apple” that supposedly represents wisdom, isn’t even an apple at all.

Ok, that was a little long-winded, but I hope it gets my point across. The things we think about our history can change drastically if we merely think about them critically. I hope you learned a lesson today, and I really hope you learn how to apply it. Ciao per ora, and keep thinking.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


These last few months have drained me immensely. Between the hardest semester ever and all sorts of moving things and throwing parties, I'm totally spent. If I was just tired it wouldn't be so bad, but I've become mentally exhausted as well. I can't sit down for long enough to think about anything stimulating, and when people ask me things along the lines of "what's new?" I end up drawing a blank. Usually I have something to say, an issue to discuss, an injustice to lament, an indignant rant just waiting to be released. But now I've got nothing. It feels like there's a fog inside my head that solidifies and prevents any thoughts from moving around in there. Maybe I've spent all my intellectual energy on my essays and have nothing left for regular life. With that in mind, let me tell you what I've been writing lately, since it's so much better than anything I've been typing here:
-An essay concerning the formation of national identities through sport. I used a case study of the 1998 World Cup in France to explain how French nationalism and national identity were changed drastically by the success and composition of the French team.
-An essay linking the rise of the Cult of the Virgin Mary in the late 14th century to the portrayal of women found in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the very best of the courtly romances.
-A history of the Canon Law concerning marriage, the battle over control of marriage fought by the Church and the nobility in the early Middle Ages, and the eventual effects on the interpretation of "legitimate marriage" (mainly highlighting the conflict between consent and consummation) on court cases form 16th-century Geneva.
-A refutation of Martin Luther's doctrine of "justification through faith alone" using the Bible and other works on Theology that he would have had access to. The result is that Luther's theology is found to be incomplete and inconsistent.
-A short recap of the events surrounding the formation and destruction of the Paris Commune in 1870.
-I've also written 2 essays on wartime Vietnam, and still need to write one about a 16th-century religious woman in Spain who was put on trial by the Inquisition. The trial transcript is fascinating...and a little frightening.
So yeah, maybe I'm just spent. If you'd like to hear more about these and other issues concerning soccer, history (mainly Mediaeval), or theology, don't hesitate to ask; at least it will give me something to talk about. Ciao for now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I just spent an hour typing out a long entry about Castro, Communism, and Socialism. When I went to post it, Blogger told me that I had to type in my password again to do anything. Then it didn't recognize my password, and somehow I lost the entire entry. Words cannot describe my rage and frustration, not even all the best profanities. Go to hell Blogger; I'm wishing the Malocchio on you an yours right now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

La Semaine Sanglante

The machine crushes us again;
Capital is triumphant;
The machine gun restores order
Cutting down women and children.
Usury, wild with rage,
Atop our incinerated corpses
Welds to the workers' strike.
The strike of those assassinated.

On his death it 1887 Eugene Pottier's famous song the Internationale was published. It quickly became the anthem of socialists, communists, and left-wing democrats wordlwide. The verse above, while not part of the final song, refers to the fateful events in Paris of May 21-28 1871. Still known in France as The Week of Blood, this was the week when French troops under General Thiers stormed Paris and massacred 30,000 civilians. Their crime was the declaration of the Paris Commune on March 26. The Commune was an independent republic, governed along socialist lines, in which all people were free and equal. It marked the most success that the proponents of liberty, equality, and fraternity would ever have in a major Western nation. To this day the Communards stand out as the bravest, most heroic fighters for peace and justice the West has ever seen. They paid for their beliefs with their blood. Not just men, but women and children as well, were shot, stabbed, and beaten to death in a week-long orgy of murder, as the Forces of Order reasserted control over those who would rather be free and equal citizens than subjects of a corrupt political-economic system that exploits their labour and crushes their humanity. Let the Commune be a lesson to us all. All effective political action practiced by the populace will be crushed, brutally if necessary, by those whose unjust power is threatened. Sure, we have the vote, but if voting changed anything, it would be illegal. Long live peace, freedom, equality and justice. Long live the memory of the Commune, and the brave souls who lost their lives in defence of these very ideals. This is the final struggle. Let us gather together, and tomorrow the Internationale will be the human race.

Stand up, wretched of the earth;
Stand up, galley slaves of hunger.
Reason thunders in its volcano;
This is the eruption of the end.
Of the past let us wipe the slate clean;
Masses, slaves, arise, arise;
The world is about to change its foundation.

There are no supreme saviours;
Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune.
Producers, let us save ourselves;
Decree the common welfare,
That the thief return his plunder,
That the spirit be pulled from its prison.
Let us fan the forge ourselves;
Strike the iron while it is hot.

The state represses and the law cheats,
The tax bleeds the unfortunate;
No duty is imposed on the rich,
'Rights of the poor' is a hollow phrase.
Enough languishing in custody,
Equality wants other laws:
No rights without obligations, it says,
And as well, no obligations without rights.

Hideous in their self-glorification,
Kings of the mine and rail;
Have they ever done anything other
Than steal work?
Into the coffers of that lot,
What work creates has melted.
In demanding that they give it back,
The people wants only its due.

The kings make us drunk with their fumes,
Peace among ourselves, war to the tyrants!
Let the armies go on strike,
Guns in the air, and break ranks.
If these cannibals insist;
On making heroes of us,
Soon they will know our bullets;
Are for our own generals.

Labourers, peasants, we are;
The great party of workers.
The earth belongs only to men,
The idle will go reside elsewhere.
How much of our flesh they feed on,
But if the ravens and vultures;
Disappear one of these days;
The sun will still shine.

This is the final struggle.
Let us stand together, and tomorrow;
The Internationale;
Will be the human race.

Friday, January 4, 2008


With the recent death of populist leader Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, a friend and I were discussing politics, dictatorships, and Democracy. It really got me thinking about what Democracy is, and what place it has in our modern world. The following are a few of the ideas I have. None are very well-thought out arguments, so bear with me.

-The word Democracy is Greek for "people power" or something of the sort. Though most thinkers have interpreted this as "political power for the people," there are certainly other ways to look at it. I personally interpret it to mean "economic power for the people." Thus, the ideal that I think we should be striving for is not the expansion of the franchise, but a situation where regular people hold real economic power over their own lives, and where the working classes hold real economic power over the nation. Many people would rather have money than vote, and only when economic power is more widely distributed and de-centralized can any true "Democracy" ever exist.

-Churchill once said that the greatest argument against Democracy comes from talking to the average voter for a few minutes. He is actually completely right about that. How does the rule of the populace make sense when the populace is ignorant? How does it make sense that a Political Scientist gets the same one vote as some inbred redneck? (I'm thinking Noam Chomsky and Britney Spears right now) Sure, everyone deserves equality both under and before the law. I think everyone also deserves some sort of economic parity. However, universal suffrage clearly makes less sense when you look at it closely. Even a simple test asking voters about the parties and candidates involved would weed out the ignorant who foul up the election results. How else could George Bush or Stephen Harper be elected if not through voter ignorance?

-Voter ignorance is usually surpassed by voter indifference. What is the point of allowing the entire population to choose their leaders when only a fraction of them actually bother voting? Unless a significant majority of a nation turns out to vote, it's kind of ridiculous to call it a democracy. I see only two solutions to this: either limit the franchise, or make voting a civic duty like taking the census is.

-Something that always scares me is the tendency for Democratic nations to elect leaders who subsequently turn into tyrants and oppressors. How exactly can anyone defend the idea of Democracy when the unjust prejudices of the majority of a nation's ignorant and self-centred citizens elect a man (or woman, though not often) who persecutes part of that very nation's population? Just because the majority is racist, or sexist, or whatever, does not make it acceptable. Unfortunately for proponents of Democracy, the system itself tends to perpetuate and legitimize oppression and persecution against minorities when it is in the interest of politicians to pander to the ignorant and evil. Tyranny of the masses indeed.

-What is better for a nation: A corrupt and inefficient/unjust Democracy, or an effective dictator? I personally would argue for the latter. The ideals behind Democracy are no substitute for good government, regardless of the form that government takes. Yes, I understand that dictators have more of a chance of becoming tyrants than elected officials, but that does not mean that Democracy is always better. Every nation is different, and just because one form of government works in one place, that doesn't mean it will work in another. Democracy is not always the best option available.

-Someone once told me (and he knows who he is) that a Monarchy is never legitimate since it does not reflect the will of the people. While often he would be correct, it is important to understand that this is not always the case. I agree that all forms of government derive their legitimacy from the approval of the population, yet a vote is not the only form of approval. The example I have in mind here is with traditional native societies in countries that have been colonized. Their traditional Monarchies or Tribal Councils are often better for them than imposed Democracies. The best example here is that of Hawaii. Look at how terrible the annexation of Hawaii by the United States has been for the native population. In cases like Hawaii's, Democracy cannot be reasonably defended.

-The Athenians had a practice that I would really like to see revived: the Ostracism. Essentially, the populace would vote to kick one leading citizen out of the city for a year. Imagine how cool that would be. Who would you kick out?

Anyways, that's what I've got for now. Don't get me wrong, I'd still prefer to live in a Democratic nation rather than any other (as long as it has a left-wing government). I just feel that Democracy is not the sacred form of government that many people make it out to be. It has problems and limitations just as every other government does. The key is to identify these problems, and work towards solutions. If we treat Democracy with too much respect, we will miss what's wrong with it and never be able to improve it. Now that would be a tragedy. Ciao per ora.