Engaged with the World

Category: Zombies

Voting Right

In honor of today’s primaries, here’s a an old argument about voting rights. It hasn’t yet died.

Even though Arkansas’s Supreme Court struck down the voter ID law on the eve of the 2014 midterm elections, many other states still have burdensome voter ID laws. These laws effectively prevent legally eligible people from voting. There’s another problem, as well: too many young people think their votes don’t matter. (Spoiler: they DO!)

President Jimmy Carter, that stalwart champion of international democracy, supports voter ID requirements, at least to an extent. He has cautioned that voter IDs must be free and people living in remote locations must have some way of getting them. Proponents of Voter ID laws heard the first part of Carter’s statement, but not the last.

Republicans seem to promote these laws, while Democrats oppose them. Why? Because these laws target the young, minority, and elderly voters. These voters are the least likely to have an official government ID that is accepted at the polls.

Why are all those silly liberals so upset about this? The Founding Fathers didn’t let poor people or minorities vote either. They even had the good sense not to let women vote!

According to the Brennan Center, which conducted a notable investigation into the issue, as many as 11 percent of the voting population does not have one of these state-issued IDs. That’s a lot.

Seriously, many Republicans touted these laws as a way to ensure voter fraud doesn’t happen. The only type of voter fraud these laws address, though, is in-person voter impersonation. The ID laws are an undue burden intended to address a problem that simply doesn’t exist.

voter fraud stats

Source: Check out the site for more info about the frequency and types of voter fraud in the United States.


To prevent 13 fraudulent votes from being cast, we should prevent 65 million votes from being cast. That certainly ensures a good representative democracy, now doesn’t it?

Republicans knew this. They still promoted passage of these laws, claiming that floods of illegal aliens inundated the polls and entire cemeteries emptied as their zombie residents tried to vote progressive politicians into office. A zombie without an ID could be turned away only if this law was in place.

Haha! Gotcha, Democrats! If your zombie base can’t vote, you don’t get elected! Those cocky Republicans just couldn’t resist tweaking the noses of their Democratic counterparts once the laws were passed. They brazenly admitted on multiple occasions that these laws were intended to prevent Democrats from being elected-not by keeping down the hoards of immigrants and stopping the zombie apocalypse, but by preventing the poor, young, old, and minorities from voting.

In one hotly-contested 2014 election in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, the Democrat lost to the Republican by less than 2500 votes. There were 386,434 registered voters in the 23rd District, and only 115,429 actually voted. A research team from the University of Houston and Rice University conducted a poll of a representative sample of the 271,005 registered voters who did not vote in the midterm election. They found that 12% of those polled believed they did not have the type of ID required to cast a ballot. Upon further questioning, the survey established that only 2.7% of those polled actually lacked proper identification. Still, that accounted for more than enough votes to have changed the outcome of the election.

Voter fraud is anything that tampers with a fair voting process. Inciting fear of non-existent fraud to pass laws that effectively disenfranchise a tenth of the population ought itself to count as voter fraud on a massive scale. It sure worked in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District in 2014.

Arkansas Republicans were not above inciting this kind of baseless fear. In 2012, when these laws were being promoted all over the country, our Republican Secretary of State’s spokesperson publicly claimed that there was rampant voter fraud being committed in all 75 Arkansas counties, mainly by Democratic county clerks who let illegal immigrants register to vote. According to Alex Reed, who used to handle press relations for Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin, it was absolutely essential to get rid of all county clerks who ran for office on the Democratic ticket because of this.

They might even illegally register on their illegal voter registration forms in Spanish that the Secretary of State’s office resented supplying. (All illegal aliens are Hispanic, and all Hispanics are illegal aliens. That’s a Venn Diagram with only one circle. Really.)

Almost the moment he was elected, Martin made it clear that here in ‘Murica English ought to be the official language. As if the Arkansas Secretary of State has any power over such things. (Source)

In August 2012 Reed spoke to the Union County Republican Party while on the state’s clock. He was there because he worked for the Secretary of State, who is the state’s chief election officer. In response to a question from the audience about how illegal immigrants get on voter registration rolls to begin with, Reed said:

Under federal law, we are required to print Hispanic voter registration applications and send those out. Then they send them back to us. The Secretary of State, they’re not the main registrar of voters. It’s the county clerks. That’s why I preach around to the county officials that it’s so important to have a Republican county clerk in every county. Because that’s the main person there and that’s who we work with the most. Either through error, or, they register and have the wrong address and it’s, ‘Oh well, they’re registered voters.’ … I don’t know what to say about it, other than it’s kind of a disgrace.

“It’s kind of a disgrace,” he said.

We suspect we know where the disgrace lies, and it isn’t with phantom illegal alien voters or county clerks.

Understandably, the county clerks in Arkansas were somewhat bemused by these irresponsible remarks. The Association of Arkansas Counties checked into Reed’s allegations and released a statement. The Association found no evidence in any of the 75 counties that Reed’s claim was accurate. Stung by the accusation of rampant misfeasance, Crystal Gaddy, the Republican secretary of the Association and a county clerk herself, rebuked Reed:

“I’m a proud Republican, but what’s important to me is to serve the people of Arkansas and my county regardless of political views. I am disappointed by the comments and the ensuing false perception of county clerks. I think it is vital to represent your office in a nonpartisan manner.”

Association president Rhonda Cole, a county clerk of the Democratic persuasion, agreed. “We’re here to serve the taxpayers regardless of political affiliations…. To describe county clerks or their actions as ‘disgraceful’ is unjust, unwarranted, and uninformed.”

If only all elected officials remembered that they represent all taxpayers, and not just those who share their party affiliation! Why, there might be less nasty rhetoric among politicians. We might even get some governing accomplished.

Might anyone in Washington be listening? No? I thought as much. Certainly local partisan hacks like Jason Rapert aren’t. If a constituent doesn’t support him 100%, that constituent gets blocked from Rapert’s social media, and maybe even gets threatened.

This man has a future in politics. (Source)


What the flap with these voter ID laws around the country underscores is not that there’s fraud-there’s precious little of that-but that partisan politics have sunk to a new low.

Then again, maybe it’s the same old low that Jim Crow enjoyed.

A voter denied his voting rights and an eligible voter whose ballot isn’t counted have both been disenfranchised. Disenfranchise enough people and the outcome of an election changes.

I keep hearing that Millennials feel their votes won’t count, so they don’t bother going to the polls. Guys guys guys guys guys! If your vote didn’t count, the people you’d vote against wouldn’t be so dead set on preventing your peers from voting. Your vote counts, and if you vote in large enough numbers, your votes rule.


Americans have long made a big deal of sending high-profile politicians to other countries to observe voting as fledgling democracies get off the ground. President Carter has gone on these poll-watching romps regularly. Why do we make a big deal out of observing the democratic process in new democracies? Because the validity of the election, and therefore the validity and authority of the elected government, depend upon those elections being conducted openly and honestly.

The validity of the election depends on the validity of the voting process.

Supporters of the voter ID laws claim that illegal voters will swarm the polls and elect the crazy “liberals” if swift, certain measures are not immediately taken.

Proponents of Democracy counter that the more people who vote, the better the people’s chance of being represented by someone they can tolerate.

VOTE. It matters.

Out of Zombies, Egypt

A few years ago, the Archaeological Institute of America published an article hypothesizing that the formation of ancient Egypt was linked to recurrent Predynastic zombie attacks due to outbreaks of Solanum virus. Further study has proven the early hypothesis to be true. In matters of archaeology, history, and development of civilizations, this finding is every bit as significant as learning that the Higgs boson, theorized since the early 1960’s, does, in fact, exist.

Solanum, as you may know, was isolated in 2003 by famous zombie researcher Max Brooks, who immediately published his findings in the scholarly Zombie Survival Guide. Solanum is the insidious virus that feasts on the frontal lobe, killing its human host’s ability to maintain basic bodily functions. (The virus has absolutely no relation to the plant genus of the same name, despite the fatal characteristics of the nightshades. The tastier, less deadly members of this plant genus include tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants.)

The virus keeps the victim’s brain alive, though, and actually mutates it so that it is no longer oxygen-dependent.  As the Urban Dictionary correctly points out, “By removing the need for this all-important resource, the undead brain can utilize, but is in no way dependent upon, the complex support mechanism of the human body.” The mutated brain eventually controls the body of the host, but in a very different way than the original, uninfected brain.

The most recent outbreak of Solanum happened just three years ago but was apparently confined to the jackalope population. This outbreak was particularly disturbing because for the first time Solanum was proven to have infected a non-human host. However, in examining the historical documents, it appears likely that the Rabbit of Caerbannog, encountered by the British King Arthur and his loyal Knights of the Round Table in their quest for the Holy Grail, may well have suffered the undeadly effects the Solanum virus, too.

They’d better not risk another frontal assault. That rabbit’s dynamite.  (source)

Headless skeletons found at Egypt’s historic city of Hierakonpolis are what gave the ancient zombie plague away. According to archaeologists studying the site, “[t]he number and the standard position of the cut marks (usually on the second-fourth cervical vertebrae; always from the front) indicate an effort far greater than that needed simply to cause the death of a normal (uninfected) person. The standard position also indicates these are not injuries sustained during normal warfare.”

The archaeologists’ findings mirror what we know to be true about modern zombies. In multiple documentaries about the zombie plague, George A. Romero taught us that the best way to stop a zombie is by decapitating or braining it. Deprive the Solanum of its host, destroy the tissue in which it lives, and it cannot animate that which ought not to be animated in the first place. And if you think for a moment that these films are not important, think again: in 1999, the first of the documentaries was one of 25 selected by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress as one of the most “historically… important” films ever made.

Bless your googlie-eyed wisdom and your dedication to raising social awareness, Professor Romero. (source)

Recent studies of the Narmer palette, discovered at Hierakonpolis, served as the interpretive breakthrough the scientists needed to piece together the clues at the dig site. We don’t have to tell you that the Narmer Palette was named for the famous Egyptian King of Dynasty 0. That’s a zero, not a letter, and it stands for the dynasty that begat all future Egyptian dynasties, back when begetting was still a new thing. (The people of the Levant would jump on the begetting bandwagon about fifteen hundred years later. They would maintain the trend until 70 C.E. That’s when the Romans sent them out on a diaspora, which is the Aramaic term for “schlepping your kids all over creation.”)

About 5100 years ago, Narmer ruled Upper Egypt (the south part, closer to the source of the Nile). He was known among his people as “Raging Catfish,” which, as a mascot and spirit animal, does not exactly seem terribly fearsome, but nevertheless, that’s what “Narmer” means in ancient Egyptian. The Catfish moniker may have come from his propensity to dam up the Nile to increase the tillable acres in his kingdom. Dams make for still water, where catfish like to scavenge, but when they want to go farther and butt their whiskered heads against the wall of the dam, well, they rage.

But as history would happen, the Solanum virus outbreak in the Nile Delta, to the north, got out of hand and the northern king ruling the area couldn’t keep things under control. The hordes started to move south, toward Narmer’s kingdom. Narmer would have none of that.

As soon as Narmer finished putting down the zombie hordes, the grateful citizens of the upper and lower Nile Deltas held themselves an election and declared Narmer King of Everything. It seems that the old king of Lower Egypt had lost his head, and thus his crown, in the zombie wars, the grateful inhabitants of the delta decided to give that crown to Narmer, to wear in conjunction with his own crown. Fortunately, the adoration of so many Egyptians of every stripe made Narmer’s head big enough to hold two crowns, and thus Upper and Lower Egypt united under a single ruler and the First Dynasty began.

The ancient stonecutters of the Nile were especially delighted that they could go around carving things without jumping and running for their lives every time they heard a moan. In grateful appreciation, they got together and designed the Narmer Palette, a big stone carved on both sides chronicling events of the zombie uprising.

Detail of the obverse side of the Narmer Palette, showing the decapitated zombies being presented to a doubly-crowned king.

As Egyptian rulers would frequently do upon the resolution of some momentous event, Narmer decided to change his royal sobriquet. Besides, folks in the north thought “Catfish” was too endearingly redneck for the ruler of two magnificent kingdoms. He became “Menes” and founded the northern city of Men Nefer, which means “enduring and beautiful.” In modern language, Men Nefer’s name is pronounced “Memphis.”

While “enduring” might suit the victor of the Great Zombie War who had saved humanity, Narmer/Menes probably had enough battle wounds to disqualify himself as “beautiful.”  His southern subjects recognized the need for a name change but did not like the one he chose for himself. Some people wanted him to take the title of Zombie King, but others suggested that name was probably culturally insensitive given the circumstances. So, they came up with the next most deadly creature they could think of, and they called him the Scorpion King.

Catfish the Scorpion King (source)

Book Review – This Dark Earth



John Hornor Jacobs has written a powerful novel of the Zombie Apocalypse. In his just-published second novel, the zombie virus is a biological weapon that is accidentally released from the installation in Whitehall, Arkansas. The opening scenes take place at a Little Rock hospital. After the government drops nuclear bombs intended to eradicate the outbreak, a doctor and a truck driver join forces with a military unit to set up a local government and defend against the hungry hordes of undead. They soon find themselves in conflict with a megalomaniac who wants to take over what remains of the still-living world.

Well written and fast-paced, the first-person voices of survivors shape this novel into an exposition of how some people survive and many others die when society falls completely apart. This Dark Earth is more robust than an ordinary zombie novel. It deserves classification with the exceptional novels of catastrophic social change, including Steven King’s The Stand, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon.


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