Episode 611: Owning Up

Zombie Cliche Lookout: Mistakes and Accidents

Accidents are a normal part of everyday life. People slip and fall. Drivers hit each other. Cooks cut their finger. Cops shoot people because they think they grabbed their taser but actually had a pistol. Webcomic authors make typos in their comic write-ups. People are imperfect beings on their best days, complete messes on their worst.

A zombie apocalypse is going to bring out the worst in a lot of us. Don’t get me wrong, they say that crises bring out the best and the worst in people, and zombies will be no different. We’re going to see the best mankind has to offer, but we’ll likely also see the worst. Of course, what this thought is referencing are the choices people are making, not their overall level of focus and ability.

If you can screw up and hurt yourself and others on perfectly sunny days after eight hours of sleep and a full belly, what are you going to do in the rain, while running from zombies, when you haven’t slept or eaten in days. My guess is that you’re going to make a few errors along the way. Hopefully they’re small enough that they don’t cost you your life, or the life or someone else.

About this Episode:

Getting minifigs to carry other minifigs is way harder than it has any right to be. I considered using a stretcher, but I think it would be a little weird to have one suddenly available. I doubt many local news anchors keep stretchers handy in their living room.

Discussion Question: Governmental Incompetence

The incompetence of the government is often a central part of the zombie outbreak story. In fact, it’s often one of – if not the only – reasons why the threat isn’t contained from the start. I’m curious though, how much of a factor do you think this would really be? And do you really think they would be as incompetent as they are portrayed?



Dave considered using a stretcher but conveniently forgets all those boards they’ve been carrying up there, surely they can’t have nailed all of them up? Like any good large project, there’s bound to be a couple left over! 😀


Well, they used most of the boards that were upstairs… okay ,yeah, that’s a fair point.


Now, Dave is warming up the real stinker of a trope: That of having to put out of their misery one of their family! I’m curious as to just how Dave will handle having to get the adults to tell the kids what has to happen before Daddy becomes one of those monsters outside? 😀


I think I’ll make the children to it. For extra pathos.


now that.s the time to die and turn into the zombie right i.m right huh guys


Well he’s not dead yet; he might have an episode or two left in him.


We would likely see a response from the government that would be, in retrospect, derided as “bumbling.” Look at the recent Ebola issues. We didn’t have a widespread outbreak not because of the government response but rather in spite of it (ie. we got lucky).

Of course, the government will be in a losing situation. The disease will spread fast, and it will be something no one has ever had to deal with before. By the time the situation and countermeasures are understood, it will be too late for containment. And then, of course, there is the panic which the disease itself will cause.

You know, Dave, I highly recommend a book that you may wish to read not only because it’s interesting as hell, but because you may wish to add a side-plot based on the scientists racing to find a fix: John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza.

I think in that book you’ll see parallels to what’s happening here. Epidemiology barely existed at the time of the outbreak. The disease tended to kill healthy young adults in much greater numbers than the old and already-sick. It spread really easily and was lethal. This caused panic. The government had to respond, which it did fairly quickly and drastically, but, despite that, it *still* spread like wildfire.

Scientists had to theorize and discover what a virus was (most scientists still doubted the existence of germs at this point), stumble upon a method for vaccination (I don’t mean they had to develop a flu vaccine, I mean they had to invent modern vaccination and *then* develop a flu vaccine), and then somehow get it implemented.

The death toll was staggering, but the flu was a disease to which the survivors were immune and with which the dead stayed dead.

Also, since you’re a gamer, you might be interested to read this article about how the CDC used a pandemic which erupted in World of Warcraft due to a bug in order to study how people behave and disease spreads in the real world:

The Great Influenza:


That sounds like a hell of an interesting book. I got really into World War I history a few years back, and read quite a lot about the “Spanish Flu”. I’m going to add this to my wishlist.


There is a great line in Tom Clancy’s book “The Sum of All Fears” To paraphrase here “This, like most bad decisions, was made by intelligent people with the best of intentions”

There are a lot of very smart people in government, but like all bureaucracies, eventually the intellectual energy of the people involved gets channeled into managing the political network of the bureaucracy itself as opposed to the original mission. This is true not just for government but for any large organization. How much energy is wasted by managers at a company like GM for example, trying to manage their career path and make sure that they kiss all the right asses to get the next promotion as opposed to actually running the company? What you usually wind up with in a situation like this is top officials who excel at navigating the political labyrinth as opposed to delivering real world results. They learn to In addition to this, people who have become so secure in their political power tend to feel insulated from situations that might fall outside their worldview. (Kind of like Ted worrying about the holes in his walls)

Do I think government is totally incompetent…..Id have to say no. But I do believe that the multilayered bureaucracy to comprises it is totally inadequate to react to a situation like the ZA effectively in the short term. If the outbreak occurred somewhere distant and unfolded over a few weeks then I bet they would be all over it. If they had to react in days or just hours they would b useless.


That is a fantastic quotation right there. I never read The Sum of All Fears (I’m just not a Clancy fan, with the exception of The Hunt for Red October).

I’m curious, have you watched House of Cards? I don’t care for the show too much (it’s my wife’s thing), but it is interesting to see how much time and energy is expended in creating alliances and scheming versus that actual task of governance. I think it hits on a lot of what you’re saying here.


Clancys earlier stuff was better in my opinion. Once he abandoned the Jack Ryan character I lost interest.

I have never seen “House of Cards” I don’t watch TV much. Its not a lifestyle choice, its a consequence of having kids who are old enough to be involved with multiple activities, have nightly homework, and my long list of home improvement projects. Trust me, enjoy your free time now.


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Having been a soldier a long time I can say that I agree with the comment above about the bureaucrats that would muck things up and in some cases make the situation worse due to their lack of competence. I would say that on the lower levels, National Guard and Reserve units of all branches would be very useful and could definitely make the difference between survival and being wiped out on the smaller scale. Most of those units have weapons, food, medical supplies and other equipment that would be extremely useful to a local situation.

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