Video from the Zombie Symposium lectures and panel discussion appears to be available for those of you who missed it — or for those of you who were present who want a repeat viewing. I expect dance remixes will be available shortly on YouTube.

Here it is in it’s entirety, chopped up piecemeal for easy digestion:

Stan Woodard’s introduction: archive page | streaming video | MP4 video (15MB)

Dr. Dianne Diakite’s presentation: “Some Plausible African Antecedents of the Zombie Phenomenon in Haiti” archive page | streaming video | MP4 video (52MB)

Dr. Andrea Wood’s presentation: “Tracking the Zombie in Popular Media” archive page | streaming video | MP4 video (47MB)

My own presentation: “Fashionably Late: Zombies Among Us in Nature, Technology, and the Business World” archive page | streaming video | MP4 video (62MB) | My presentation slides in PDF format (with the correct fonts, bitches) (May later also be appearing on the archive page as I have submitted it for inclusion…)

Panel discussion/Q&A session: archive page | streaming video | MP4 video (48MB)

Share and enjoy!


September 30, 2009 · Posted in Everything Else  

From Alexandra:

What blew my mind so much was that if you look at our universe’s beginning as a mere ripple in something larger that slowly oscillated into our Big Bang, not only are WE merely a speck in a vasty universe, but our universe is a mere speck in a much more vasty…something. I mean, whoa. And then the idea of how matter is encoded into the folds of spacetime, and how our perception of what we’re seeing in terms of time and light speed could be totally incorrect because of these folds, and how that can explain how the probe heading towards the sun is slowing down when we didn’t predict it would, because instead of traveling straight through space it’s having to navigate these folds of gravity, like a lure bobbing on the waves. I need some serious drugs to dig deeper into this.

My reply:

Different observers under different effects of accelerating forces already see such differing views of reality (with regard to distances and elapsed time, but also with regard to perceived forces on other objects [for instance, if you are traveling with two electrons and perceive them as stationary you see them repel each other, but if you see them zipping past you see them attracted to each other by the magnetic fields they generate as moving charges]) — well, we tend to (mistakenly, in my view) discount ourselves from the equations as sacks of mud propelled by self-willed spirits, but the photons and other particles that inform us also inform everything else in the universe and those things aren’t as easily confused as us. Causality itself is actually warped by the lens of warbling translucent structure and is literally physically different all the way into the past and all the way into the future as we simply walk around, just like a view into a holograph changes as you view it from different angles. Is the lion’s mouth in the image open or closed? Are the bird’s wings up or down? The image is simply undeniably different depending on where we stand, and, as consumers of light, the image is all we have to go on. That’s what holographs do.

Also our concept of gravity is permanently fucked and really needs to be discarded. Items leaving a gravity well leave under more acceleration than Newton predicted, items approaching a gravity well aren’t pulled in as strongly as predicted — there’s obviously at least one more variable. People have tried several times to explain it every time they’ve seen it — the mass/inertia-based hypercharge force, the expansion force/dark energy, gravitic “force lines”, presence or absence of dark matter — it’s exactly like when people had figured out that Ptolemy was wrong but Copernicus hadn’t come along yet to make the math all simple again by suggesting that the sun was at the center. Newton is our Ptolemy here. We love him too much to put a stake in his heart and cut his head off with a shovel, but his lurching stinking corpse is really ruining the party.

In my more mystical moments I feel it ought to be possible to push ourselves along the wall of the holograph in whatever direction we choose until the picture more resembles what we want to see. We’re already coasting along it in a time dimension at a pretty fucking huge clip (at least, all the way out on this edge of the hologram) and every choice we make and every causal interaction changes our trajectory a tiny smidge… possibly as much as a child dragging a line in the water from the deck of a cruiseliner changes its course, but sometimes a good deal more dramatically, I would think.

My point is if the collections of photons we call an image is our view of a holographic universe, than each separate collection (yours, mine, give or take another seven billion, and that’s just observers on our twirling rock) is completely, causally speaking, a completely different literal physical universe, with “uncertainty” being the quantifiable distance between my viewpoint and yours, or Heisenberg’s and his measuring device of choice. Is this the Copenhagen “many worlds” view? I still only see it as one so I don’t think of it as such….

But it does make it unimaginably big. Especially if there are more completely separate holographs. But that’s all extrapolation based on the big bang thing, which I’m not sure is the right explanation either….


September 25, 2009 · Posted in Everything Else  

In no particular order:

  • Nothing keeps you from unzipping the chest of a stranger and shoving your hands inside for a good rummage.
  • Burlap may start out dirty but never gets any dirtier than it already is.
  • When people go to all-out war with one another, what you really have to watch out for is runaway technology that has it in for everybody.
  • It is very important to ignore the voices of authority, reason, and experience and take all your advice from the crazy artist guy. And people will follow your lead in this if you tell them they need to with a very earnest expression on your face.
  • It really really sucks when people die but it’s all better as long as you see their ghosts escape to the stars, which, for some reason, is way way better than keeping them in a convenient box where you might be able to put them to use again later, even when it’s pretty well established throughout the rest of the movie that parts is parts.
  • I seriously need to create my own small army of burlap-wrapped-spare-parts homonculi. I’d be running this place in no time.


September 14, 2009 · Posted in reviews  

So here’s one of the current business scenarios, translated into the language of metaphor.

The boss says, “Let’s run the Iditarod.” Not my usual scene, but I’m paid as a consultant. Figure out how. That’s my job.

“Sure,” I said. “Dogs, a sled, cold weather gear, spare parts, supplies…. I’ll hire a consultant, we’ll make a list, raise some capital, and go shopping.”

“No money for that. Capital is hard to come by,” he says. “Let’s run a few races first, start small, and we’ll expand to actual huskies and a sled and a trained driver. Meanwhile, we have an old refrigerator box, some dental floss we can weave into whatever ropes it takes to tie dogs to it — whenever we can get them — and I found us some chickens.”


“Yeah. They cost less than a twentieth what a dog costs, they’re cheaper to feed, and if we tie hundreds to the sled –“


“–whatever, we’ll fuckin’ fly!”

“So let me get this straight. We’re going to spend the next six months weaving reins out of dental floss and making snow shoes and parkas for chickens so that in a year we’ll have won enough prize money to afford an actual sled and a dog or two?”

“Sure! And when we have a dog or two we’ll put ’em behind the chickens to make ’em run faster! But not months. Weeks. And maybe only four of them. If we don’t get the prize money rolling in fast we won’t make payroll.”

And six weeks pass. We’re up to our armpits in snow, pulling a cardboad box piled high with shivering chickens and ruptured and pillaged sacks of chicken feed, with ropes made out of dental floss cutting into our bodies.

“This would go a hell of a lot faster if we ditched the chickens,” I say. “And it would leave more chicken feed for us to keep up our strength.”

“We’re not ditching the chickens,” he replies. “I paid thousands of dollars for enough chickens to pull as much weight as a team of dogs. We’re not leaving them behind. We just have to find a path where the snow is shallower….”

“Have we won any prize money yet? It’s been hard for me to see anything like a finish line through the blinding glare of the absurdity of this situation.”

“Not yet. Keep pulling!”

Does anyone really want to see where this scenario is going to end? Because I don’t. And I’m sick to the teeth of chicken feed.


September 11, 2009 · Posted in Everything Else