Schrödinger’s Zombie

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Last week, a brutal occurrence in Florida piqued many of our interests. A man was eating another man’s face, and when police shot the man, he seemed to not care very much and continued dining on the poor victims mug. The assailant was shot again and died. The victim is still alive, but in serious condition.

With all of our talk and waxing about the zombie apocalypse — from television, to videogames, to Facebook posts about who would be the hero and who would be the first to die on one’s friends list — it seems we are absolutely in love with the idea of it. But what’s more is that we are also quite serious about it. And this disturbing news story has made the possibility all that more real.

On the Facebook, someone posted a string of events in May that were in one way or another signals of the zombipocalypse going down. Someone commented on the string asking for sources. I did this below. So if you came for the sources, by all means, skip ahead. But first, I would like to discuss the physical matters, psychological reactions, and finally emotional reactions.

Less than 1% of bite injuries are from humans (source), so all of the recent biting action may or may not be an increase in occurence. My gut says no, though it is remarkable as much of the activity appears to be happening in the same region. As for the chemical, hazmat, and rash business between FL and GA, that’s particularly interesting. The number of questionable occurrences seems high for it to simply be a fluke. And the kinds of physical reactions the public are experiencing are disconcerting. Rashes spread fast, and airborne compounds that can be cause for a hazmat cleanup is problematic. But ‘hazmat’ queues a specific psychological response for me as I instantly conjure up thoughts and images of bioweapons. This response is an important layer to examine.

The world I have lived in has changed dramatically since September 11, 2001. I would argue that is the same for many. Words like ‘terrorism’ pluck subtle strings in some, or rattle roaring chords in others. Regardless, a strong undercurrent of fear came along in the wake of 9/11. And if there is any one group who capitalizes on fear, and has grown to be lethally efficient in doing so, it would be the news and media at large. They are certainly in the business of finding out what the public is interested in, finding/seeking related stories, and capitalizing on the mob. Some examples may include zombie-like activity, creepy chemical scares, etc. The skeptic in me would also like to suggest that sad people and scared people spend more money, buy more products, and increase overall consumption. NOTE : I found no source for scared people consuming more, but some common sense and logic allows me to speculate that folks will buy more non-perishible goods, weapons, and survival gear when a disaster, terrorist attack, catastrophe appears to be immenent. The emotional reactions to frightening news stories are not just limited to sadness and fear, but rather a broad spectrum of feelings.

Novels, movies, internet niches are dedicated to surviving extinction level events for humanity. And for some folks (myself included as an appreciator of sci-fi, et al), news of zombie-like attacks conjure up a certain sick sense of excitement. The zombie apocalypse fantasy many have been romanticizing the past decade can start many ways, and this last month in news certainly would spell the beginning of the end. Again, sadness and fear may rear their ugly heads as the perceived reality of dealing with death on a massive, global scale comes to the stage. That much is almost expected of humans. We’re supposed to be higher-level thinkers and feelers, after all. However, in first world lives that have been increasingly isolated and lacking challenge for our innate survival urges, a change like so would be welcome. A perceived benefit being the catharsis related to killing a zombie; murder that isn’t really murder.

While a zombie apocalypse is a sci-fi whimsical notion, sci-fi often becomes sci-fact, and speculative evidence is appearing in small heaps. It never hurts to be prepared with a contingency plan to the ‘white picket fence’ model that has been so forcefully integrated into dominant first-world culture. In any case, these are interesting times. Sometimes when people hear hoofbeats, they think ‘zebra’ when it’s only a horse. But as my friend Jim says, ‘it’s still hoofbeats, and I’d hate to get trampled.’

The following are ‘zombie-like’ behaviors from May 2012.

5.16 –
High school contamination, hazmat situation.
5.19 –
Sketchy hazmat situation at Fort Lauderdale Airport.
5.21 – **Illinois**
Man bites woman.
5.23 – **San Diego**
Man bites cousin’s nose off.
5.23 – **Georgia**
Hazmat scare on I-285.
5.24 –
Hazmat scare on school bus (pesticide).
5.25 –
Unruly passenger subdued in Miami.
5.26 –
Man eats other man’s face, is unfazed by first gunshot from police.
5.26 –
Doctor spits blood on arresting officer in DUI stop.
5.27 – **Georgia**
Contractor bites Lowe’s employees, resists arrest.

UPDATE : A redditor found pics of the aftermath. Click to see original post, pics are in the header (one of face eaten, the other of the bodies). As a warning, the pics are graphic, not safe for work, and should be viewed at your own risk.

5.28 – Officials at the Institute for Genomic Biology issue a hazmat warning at 8.16pm. After the spill had been contained, and the IGB evacuated, the situation does not get cleared up until after midnight at 12.19am 5.29. All of this occurs after a shooting is reported at 12.05am 5.28, which turns out to be a self-inflicted, non-fatal wound.
5.29 – Man bites two officers during arrest yesterday in Madison, WI.
5.29 – A man in NJ stabbed himself repeatedly and threw his own intestines at officers. Seriously.
5.31 – Maryland student admits to killing roommate, eats brain and heart.

Final Update : It has come to my attention that the meat of this post is really in the timeline. That said, it’s hard to read with all the updates. A new post contains a sole, <a href=””>up-to-date timeline of the perceived zombie apocalypse</a>. Cheers.


2 responses to “Schrödinger’s Zombie

  1. Dude, that’s just disgusting. hehe.

  2. This continues to get weirder…

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