Update: Zombie Apocalypse


James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris says:

    Awesome! I’m looking forward to the updates.Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    If you need ‘constituent’ lobbying during the convention, I’d be happy to lob a few demands their way.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

      Huh, that’s an interesting wrinkle. I might have to bleg for constituent demands, and hold them in my pocket until a good opportunity to throw them at delegates, whether a lull in the action or a moment when I just want to throw them a curveball.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

        I recommend ping pong balls. Numbered (there can be repeats). And literally thrown. You get hit with it, it’s your constituent’s demand.

        /half kidding.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Free melons!Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

        It just seems to me that when you get a seat at the Constitutional Convention, you become a target for lobbying, special interests, quacks, and crazies, not to mention actual concerns and ideas about how things should be from all over a plethora of ideological paradigms. Lots of opinions to sift, weigh, and balance, and not much room left over for your own thoughts and notions without some serious effort at compartmentalizing.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:


        That’s undoubtedly true today. It brings up an interesting question whether it’s actually better to do it the American Founders’ way and meet in secrecy. Both openness and secretiveness have benefits and drawbacks.

        Keeping with my interest in making this a realistic exercise, going the Founders’ way would be inappropriate, because the most common way now, I believe, is with more openness. I hadn’t thought of that element before your comments, so thank you. Now I just have to figure out how much complexity I can handle as the general manager of the simulation.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to James Hanley says:

        Abortions for some and miniature American flags for others!Report

  3. Avatar Roger says:

    Are the convention attendees zombies or non zombies or a mix?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

      The zombies are all gone. That’s why social structures have revived enough to think about a union of the new states.

      That is to say, the zombies are just an excuse for positing social collapse and reformation of new states along different boundaries, and play no role in the game (unless the students insist on having some zombie provisions in the Constitution, which I’ll reluctantly allow, since I’ve sworn not to direct them except to head off obvious silliness).Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

        Zombies are also still a decent marketing ploy.

        You might have to go with a pandemic or a post-alien invasion next time, though. Zombies might be played out. They’re close.Report

      • What do we want?

        Zombie rights!

        When do we want them?


      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        I suppose I should put this here, then:


      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @patrick–From the response of students I’ve pitched this to, zombies are still golden. But I, too, expect a day when students will roll their eyes. Hopefully by then the class has good word of mouth, because I’m not doing werewolves and vampires (and hopefully Twilight is out of print and forgotten soon anyway). As a child of the cold war, I automatically think nuclear apocalypse, but that doesn’t resonate with college students today the way it did for me in the ’80s. And I’m skeptical about fanning fears of terrorism, when I think the issue’s badly overblow already. So what’s that going to leave me? Asteroid strike?

        @chris–I’m soooo glad you left that there.Report

      • Avatar scott the mediocre in reply to James Hanley says:

        @James Hanley

        Zombies are fine, but if you are simply looking for a there and then gone cause of partial collapse, it seems like a pandemic would be just as good and less implausible (i.e. easier to extrapolate an internally consistent answer when a student asks an unanticipated question). Besides, that way it’s probably easier to tune the pandemic’s agent and vector(s) to “plausibly” produce the starting conditions you want.

        I don’t remember on the prior post whether you went through your thought process about how you came to decide on zombies.

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

        Life on a post EMP-storm planet.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        Whitley Streiber’s Warday is a great portrait of that. No zombies, though.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

        I was thinking Stirling’s “Dies the Fire” as well, but figure a post-EMP world has physics we won’t have to argue over.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to James Hanley says:

        @scott-the-mediocre–My thought process was that I was teaching a brand new experimental course, and if I didn’t get enough students to make it work well it was going to be a long hard semester. So anything that would hook them in. I might have promised donuts and bourbon every day, too.

        @jaybird–post-EMP would work well for explanation; ideally perhaps. But it wouldn’t draw the students in as much.

        I’m really counting on word of mouth in the future. And curiously, today I bumped into a student I hadn’t seen in over a year, and she told me she was recruiting students to take my Nuclear Weapons and Power course, because it was “probably her favorite course ever.” That’s what I’m hoping for next time. (Plus it’s a nice ego boost.)Report

      • Avatar scott the mediocre in reply to James Hanley says:


        Donuts and bourbon, eh? Are you sure you want to make your simulation of 1787 that realistic? If so, as a starting point, here is the well-known bar bill for one of the two celebratory dinners in Philadelphia, which somewhat to my surprise contains no whiskey or brandy, though it does include a lot of other potables.

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to James Hanley says:

        That’s what the course fee is for.

        (How else do you think I can afford to drink fine bourbon?)Report

  4. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    What’s the schedule for this? I have to know how high on the list thinking about a contest goes…Report