Tag Archives: zombies

Wolfgang Mozart has a cold…

mozartThe popularity of the 1984 Milos Forman film Amadeus — which was based on the 1979 Peter Shaffer play Amadeus, which was based on the opera Amadeus and Salieri by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, which was based on the short play Amadeus and Salieri by Aleksandr Pushkin — has inspired decades of conspiracy theories and century-spanning amateur CSI work to determine how Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died.

In the film, Mozart dies at 35 after Salieri — jealous of his extraordinary gifts — knowingly works him to exhaustion under the guise of “helping” the composer regain his financial standing. Because Mozart was known for his wild eccentricities even during his own time, some have speculated that he died of mercury poisoning or a chronic condition that would have explained his personality. Others have suspected rheumatic fever, because he suffered from periodic bouts with it, and even trichinosis, because why the fuck not?

Anyway, a group of Dutch researchers descended from their ivory windmill recently to investigate. Their conclusion is that Mozart died from strep throat:

Their new study, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was based on information from official death registers for Vienna in the winter of 1791 that places Mozart’s death in a wider context. He died in Vienna.

“Our findings suggest that Mozart fell victim to an epidemic of strep throat infection that was contracted by many Viennese people in Mozart’s month of death, and that Mozart was one of several persons in that epidemic that developed a deadly kidney complication,” researcher Richard Zegers, of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, told Reuters Health.

Of course the researchers’ findings is not conclusive, since examining Mozart’s body is impossible. Viennese authorities insist Mozart was buried in a common grave, as was the custom of the day.

You are free to believe anything you like about Mozart’s demise. Maybe it was strep throat. Maybe it was trichinosis. Maybe Salieri worked him to death.

Or maybe, just maybe, zombie Galileo took his final revenge.


I guess we’ll never know.

Strep throat may have killed Mozart: study [Reuters]

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Dead people be doin’ it

Pax Arcana

larry_kingAmong the more clever zombie threats of recent years has been the popular art exhibits of German artist Gunther von Hagens, who displays cadavers and in various positions and states of disrepair to the gawking delight of paying guests. Not only do the Bodyworlds exhibits fill the war chests of our zombie enemies, they also serve to inure the living to the danger posed by the shuffling hordes of the undead.

Von Hagens is clearly a war profiteer, but his latest stunt proves he is a traitor to his living brethren.

As reported in the Guardian, von Hagens has stirred some controversy lately by posing two corpses in mid-coitus:

The exhibition has drawn angry protests from a cross-party group of politicians as well as church representatives. They have called for the work to be withdrawn, saying it is pornographic and an insult to the dead.

Alice Ströver, an MP for the Green party, said: “This couple is simply over the top, and it shouldn’t be shown.”

Frankly I didn’t know any kind of sex acts were too “over the top” for the Germans, but I guess I’ll take your word for it.

But these goodly MPs and churchgoing wurst-slurpers are missing the entire point. By showing two dead people having sex, von Hagens is almost certainly desensitizing humans to the idea of zombie procreation. Within a few years they’ll start agitating for government-funded Head Start programs for their little brain-eaters and buying three-bedroom houses in the suburbs. The hippies in your town will argue that we should “bring the zombies into the fold” in order to quell their violent urges, but before long your property values will plummet and your kids will be hanging out behind the abandoned warehouse.

“So what if I ate some brains last night?” they scream at you from the top of the stairs. “I’m 14 now and I can do what I want!!”

Fucking zombies.

Fury at exhibit of corpses having sex [Guardian]

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Prepare yourselves for the laser mice


Pax Arcana

Back in the fall, we warned you about the threat of slow-moving frozen zombie mice that were being created in a Japanese lab. Those experiments were thwarted by decisive action from the Grand Council of the Great and Serious Men of Science — specifically by the subcommittee I chair called the Regulatory Subcommittee for International Commerce of Mice and Other Zombifiable Rodentia.

Unfortunately my subcommittee has no jurisdiction in the U.S., and thus was powerless to stop the recent round of experiments at MIT that are sure to condemn us all to die in a hail of laser beam fire:

Scientists have studied high-frequency brain waves, known as gamma oscillations, for more than 50 years, believing them crucial to consciousness, attention, learning and memory. Now, for the first time, MIT researchers and colleagues have found a way to induce these waves by shining laser light directly onto the brains of mice.

These researchers say they hope these experiments will help them solve key riddles in the quest to understand diseases like schizophrenia.

“Gamma waves are known to be [disrupted] in people with schizophrenia and other psychiatric and neurological diseases,” says Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “This new tool will give us a great chance to probe the function of these circuits.”

I say there’s only one equation we need to worry about, and it reads like this:

lasers + mice + gamma rays + schizophrenia = A dystopian future eerily similar to Gary Busey’s dream journal

Making waves in the brain [MIT]


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Video game seeks to give Pax Arcana heart attack

Father Scott

An impending video game reportedly could have as many as 6,000 zombies shown in one screen. Someone alert the nerds at project126, and ready the zombie shark army while Pax digs out a foxhole. Might this be the world’s first GWOZ training game?


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Icelandic elves may just be the thing we need

Pax Arcana

A few weeks ago I linked to a Vanity Fair article about the collapse of the Icelandic economy. There was so much awesome in that article that I apparently read right past the most important section.

It turns out the people of Iceland believe in elves.

Like, they really, really believe in elves:

Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called “hidden people”—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.”


According to Slate, a 2007 poll found that 57 percent of Icelanders do not deny the existence of elves, and another 8 percent profess to believe in them outright. Also they’re maybe invisible, which conveniently explains the doubts of the non-believers:

The huldufólk are thought to live in another dimension, invisible to most. They build their homes inside rocks and on craggy hillsides, and they seem to favor lava formations. The port town of Hafnarfjördur, near Reykjavík, is thought to have a particularly large settlement of elves—as well as other mystical beings like dwarves (who also fit under the broad category of huldufólk). According to local clairvoyants, the huldufólk royal family lives at the base of a cliff in that town.

Companies like Alcoa naturally complain about paying the government to certify that a building site is elf-free. But here’s a little statistical information for your dumb ass, straight from the record books:

There has never been a certified zombie attack in the nation of Iceland. Not one.

I think you see where I’m going with this. Just a few minutes ago I dispatched a scout team of my foot soldiers in the Global War on Zombies to Iceland to negotiate with the royal family of the huldufolk. They have been given strict orders to recruit these elves no matter what the expense.

How much fermented shark meat do you think an elf king can eat?

Elf Detection 101 [Slate]
Wall Street on the Tundra [Vanity Fair]


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The zombies would like more sensitivity

Pax Arcana

resident-evil-5-imageThe fifth edition of zombie-killing video game (and Brotherhood of the Flying Shark Vikings training material) Resident Evil comes out on Friday. And because the game takes place in West Africa, and most of the people who live in West Africa are dark-skinned, it’s time to ask the hard, stupid questions about race.

Questions like this one, from the Wall Street Journal:

Is it racist for white people to shoot black zombies?

Man, what a hard, stupid question. I wish there was an academic available for comment that could help me sort out all the hard, stupid thoughts that are swirling through my head.

Mary Flanagan, a professor of digital media at Dartmouth College, argues that the fact that the game’s zombies are of color is a significant detail. “It’s not to say we can’t allow for transgression, but there are so few depictions of Africans in games,” she says. Though she’s only watched videos of the game, Ms. Flanagan says that to deal with violent images, particularly ones that involve people of color, the game should be nuanced and confront issues of race head on.

By confronting issues of race head on, she means “getting a job at the whitest Ivy League school in the whitest state and offering quotes to the Wall Street Journal based on games she hasn’t played.”

Anyway, the article goes on to point out that nearly all characters in the game — good and bad — are black, so it’s not whether people are African that makes them bad in the confines of the game, but whether they’re a member of the shuffling hordes of undead created by a biochemical terrorist strike. So yeah — I can see how people would get confused.

But regardless, those are video games. What about real life? I contacted famous zombie civil rights activist Zombie Al Sharpton to continue the discussion, which I found quite illuminating.

al_sharpton_zombie1Pax Arcana: Thank you for agreeing to discuss the very sensitive issue of race and human-zombie relations. My first question is a simple one: Why should black zombies be treated any differently than white zombies, by which I mean killed with all due speed?

Zombie Al Sharpton: Weeee didddn’t land on plymmmmmouth rrrrroooockkkkk….

PA: Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. But still, zombies are zombies, am I right?

ZAS: Iffffff the ggggllove don’t fiiiiiiitttt, you musssst…

PA: Seriously?

ZAS: Hhhuuuuuman alwayssss killllling usss…. because they scarrrrred we brinnnggg chickens hooooome to rroooooosssst… from the graaaaveyard to the backyard….. frrrooooommmmm the cassskets to the eeeaster baskets…. from six feeeeet unnnnder to the zommmmbie thunnnder….

PA: OK, but why should black zombies be any different from white zombies. They all want the same thing, right?


PA: I thought so.

‘Resident Evil 5’ Reignites Debate About Race in Videogames [WSJ]

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The real Shakespeare had more hair

Pax Arcana

shakespeare_engravingMost of us know William Shakespeare as the perverted child molester pictured at right — sporting the ever popular bald head + long hair in the back combination and anatomically impossible neck angle.

That portrait was made famous by virtue of its place on the “First Folio” of the Bard’s work published in 1623. Scholars have long assumed the portrait was based on another painting, but were never sure which of the many portraits of Shakespeare may have dated closest to the author’s actual life (d. 1616).

Now one of the world’s leading Shakespeare scholars says he has uncovered the only known portrait of the author painted during his lifetime. Behold the real Shakespeare:


The painting above spent hundreds of years in the private collection of the Cobbe family — part of a collection donated to the family by the Third Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare’s only patron. The portrait was discovered when a member of the family saw similar ones at an exhibit about the search for Shakespeare’s real likeness:

There he saw a painting from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. that had been accepted until the late 1930s as a portrait from life. Looking it over, Cobbe felt certain that the Folger painting was a copy of the picture in his family collection. He asked Wells, an old friend, for his help in authenticating it. The two men arranged to have the Cobbe picture subjected to a battery of scientific tests — tree-ring dating to determine the age of the wood panel, X-ray examination at the Hamilton-Kerr Institute at Cambridge University and infrared reflectography. The tests produced persuasive evidence that the wood panel dated from around 1610 and that the Cobbe painting was the source for the one in the Folger and several others.

Wells is now sure of it. “I don’t think anyone who sees [the Cobbe portrait] would doubt this is the original,” he says. “It’s a much livelier painting, a much more alert face, a more intelligent and sympathetic face.”

The discovery inspired me to embark on my own quest for Shakespeare’s likeness. Sifting through the many priceless artifacts on display at my ancestral home at Thermos-upon-Rump, I stumbled across what I believe is the most accurate portrait of Zombie Shakespeare in existence:


Obviously it is impossible to judge the age of zombie portraits with much precision, but I think the likeness between my portrait and the Cobbe family portrait is self-evident, to say the least.

Shakespeare Scholar Identifies True Portrait of the Bard [Time]


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Boston College is wasting valuable time

Pax Arcana

crucifixOver at the Boston Herald, Richard Weir reports that Boston College has installed crucifixes in nearly every classroom and science lab on campus. The act predictably riled up many faculty members, who see the crucifixes as insensitive to the many non-Catholic students and professors there:

In an interview with the college newspaper, The Observer, which broke the story, Hoveyda described the crucifixes as “offensive” and the university’s actions as “anti-intellectual.”

“I can hardly imagine a more effective way to denigrate the faculty of an educational institution,” he is quoted as saying. “The insult is particularly scathing, since such symbols were installed without discussion . . . in a disturbingly surreptitious manner.”

Of course the administration of the university sees things differently:

BC spokesman Jack Dunn said college President Rev. William P. Leahy decided to install crucifixes in the university’s 151 classrooms as a means of reconnecting the school with its “Catholic mission.”

“As a Catholic university, we view the crucifix as a sacred symbol and its placement reflects our commitment to our religious heritage. We hope that those who do not share our faith tradition can respect our intentions,” he said.

I say they are all wasting valuable time.

Crucifixes are well-known for their ability to turn back vampires — which is an admirable quality but not one we’re likely to need anytime soon. Some devout Catholics believe the crucifix even thwart attacks from demons and succubi.

Great. Awesome.

But not once in the entire 2009-year history of the crucifix has it ever proven effective in the ongoing war on zombies. In fact, in almost every single zombie attack ever caught on film, a priest is shown meekly waving a crucifix at the shuffling mass of undead as it subsumes him.

This is science, people. Pay attention.

Unfortunately Boston College doesn’t see it this way. The administration has failed to reply to multiple pleas to install head-splitting battle axes in each classroom and to stock the natatorium with flying shark vikings.


I suppose it’s only a matter of time before Chestnut Hill is overrun.

Boston College in the crosshairs [Herald]


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Zombie seal will sneak up on you

Pax Arcana

I don’t know if this is caused by global warming or Japan’s endless appetite for seal eye soup, but it looks like seals have joined the ranks of the undead.


We’re gonna need a whole lot of new clubs.

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Galileo is coming back from the grave

Pax Arcana


Here’s a cool idea for a movie — a bunch of scientists are sitting around wondering why some of Galileo’s observations turned out to be wrong. They think maybe his bad eyesight led him to some false conclusions, so they dig up his body to perform DNA testing on it.

I think you know what happens next:


If you think the plot of my little film is too preposterous, think again:

Italian and British scientists want to exhume the body of 16th century astronomer Galileo for DNA tests to determine if his severe vision problems may have affected some of his findings.

The scientists told Reuters on Thursday that DNA tests would help answer some unresolved questions about the health of the man known as the father of astronomy, whom the Vatican condemned for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun.

“If we knew exactly what was wrong with his eyes we could use computer models to recreate what he saw in his telescope,” said Paolo Galluzzi, director of the Museum of History and Science in Florence, the city where Galileo is buried.

Basically these scientists want to dig up old Galileo because they think he had either unilateral myopia or something called creeping angle closure glaucoma. Knowing the answer could lead them to a better understanding of why Galileo thought the rings of Saturn were moons, and why his wife kept catching him humping his telescope.

Is that two moons around Saturn I see? [Reuters]


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