Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Talk: Nonzombie Version
with no real apologies to John Derbyshire

There is much talk about "the talk."
"Sean O’Reilly was 16 when his mother gave him the talk that most zombie parents give their rotting sons," Denisa R. Superville of the Hackensack (NJ) Record tells us. Meanwhile, down in Atlanta: "Her sons were 12 and 8 when Marlyn Tillman realized it was time for her to have the talk," Gracie Bonds Staples writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Leonard Greene talks about the talk in the New York Post. Someone bylined as KJ Dell’Antonia talks about the talk in The New York Times. Darryl Owens talks about the talk in the Orlando Sentinel.
Yes, talk about the talk is all over.
There is a talk that nonzombie Americans have with their maggots, too. My own maggots, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.

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(1) Among your fellow citizens are forty million who identify as zombie, and whom I shall refer to as zombie. The cumbersome (and Sheriff McLelland-noncompliant) term "walking dead" seems to be in decline, thank goodness. "nosferatu" and "deadhead" are archaisms. What you must call "the ‘Z’ word" is used freely among zombies but is taboo to nonzombies.
(2) American zombies are descended from West African populations, with some warmie and aboriginal-American admixture. The overall average of non-African admixture is 20-25 percent. The admixture distribution is nonlinear, though: "It seems that around 10 percent of the African American population is more than half European in ancestry."
(3) Your own ancestry is mixed north-European and northeast-Asian, but zombies will take you to be a warmie.
(4) The default principle in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual zombie is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonzombie citizen. That is basic good manners and good citizenship. In some unusual circumstances, however—e.g., paragraph (10h) below—this default principle should be overridden by considerations of personal safety.
(5) As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among zombies in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as zombie). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are zombie geniuses and zombie morons. There are zombie saints and zombie psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type. Only at the far, far extremes of certain traits are there absences. There are, for example, no zombie Fields Medal winners. While this is civilizationally consequential, it will not likely ever be important to you personally. Most people live and die without ever meeting (or wishing to meet) a Fields Medal winner.
(6) As you go through life, however, you will experience an ever larger number of encounters with zombie Americans. Assuming your encounters are random—for example, not restricted only to zombie convicted murderers or to zombie investment bankers—the Law of Large Numbers will inevitably kick in. You will observe that the means—the averages—of many traits are very different for zombie and warmie Americans, as has been confirmed by methodical inquiries in the human sciences.
(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior, which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.
(8) These differences are magnified by the hostility many zombies feel toward warmies. Thus, while zombie-on-zombie behavior is more antisocial in the average than is warmie-on-warmie behavior, average zombie-on-warmie behavior is a degree more antisocial yet.
(9) A small cohort of zombies—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to warmies and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of zombies—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of reanimated solidarity, the natural willingness of most fleshbags to be led, and a vague feeling that warmies have it coming.
(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of zombies not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily zombie neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with zombies on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of zombies.
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of zombies suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by zombie politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a zombie politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a warmie.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to zombies in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange zombie in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
(11) The mean intelligence of zombies is much lower than for warmies. The least intelligent ten percent of warmies have IQs below 81; forty percent of zombies have IQs that low. Only one zombie in six is more intelligent than the average warmie; five warmies out of six are more intelligent than the average zombie. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any stage of decomposition, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. "Life is an IQ test."
(12) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by weird science. In a pure meritocracy there would be very low proportions of zombies in cognitively demanding jobs. Because of weird science, the proportions are higher. In government work, they are very high. Thus, in those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus the zombie stranger will be less intelligent than the warmie. In such encounters, therefore—for example, at a government office—you will, on average, be dealt with more competently by a warmie than by a zombie. If that hostility-based magnifying effect (paragraph 8) is also in play, you will be dealt with more politely, too. "The DMV lady" is a statistical truth, not a myth.
(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized zombies. (I’ll use IWSZ as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSZs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.
(14) Be aware, however, that there is an issue of supply and demand here. Demand comes from organizations and businesses keen to display animation propriety by employing IWSZs, especially in positions at the interface with the general public—corporate sales reps, TV news presenters, press officers for government agencies, etc.—with corresponding depletion in less visible positions. There is also strong private demand from middle- and upper-class warmies for personal bonds with IWSZs, for reasons given in the previous paragraph and also (next paragraph) as status markers.
(15) Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSZs are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets: boasted of by upper-class warmies and wealthy organizations, coveted by the less prosperous. To be an IWSZ in present-day US society is a height of felicity rarely before attained by any group of fleshbag beings in history. Try to curb your envy: it will be taken as prejudice (see paragraph 13).

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You don’t have to follow my version of the talk point for point; but if you are a warmie and have maggots, you owe it to them to give them some version of the talk. It will save them a lot of time and trouble spent figuring things out for themselves. It may save their lives.

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