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The Necropocalypse

Someone's always predicting the end of the world. This category is about a possible apocalypse, necropocalypse, or other doomsday scenario. What might happen, how to prepare, and other wild speculation about things that will probably never happen.

Posted by on in The Necropocalypse



The Top Ten Zombies of All Time


The greatest zombies ever, from history, movies, and games

Bill Hinzman - Night of the Living Dead

Any discussion of memorable zombies must begin with Bill Hinzman. In the opening scene of Night of the Living Dead, a woman and her brother are visiting a graveyard, paying their annual visit to their father’s grave. The man teases his sister about unspecified graveyard monsters. They’re coming to get you, Barbara. They’re coming to get you.” Just then a strange, shambling man approaches. He is pale, with dark eye sockets, and a stiff, awkward gait. The strange man attacks. This strange, unsettling man is played by actor Bill Hinzman, modern cinema’s first zombie. George Romero’s first zombie. Bill Hinzman is not the scariest zombie ever. His makeup and behavior were not the best ever, but he was the first. The original. If you want to track the whole line of stumbling, flesh-eating zombies back to their origin, it all leads back to actor Bill Hinzman.



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Posted by on in The Necropocalypse

West African Vodou

From Haitian voodoo to popular movies to recent reports of zombie attacks throughout the world, zombies have a rich history. Originally zombies were created by West African Vodou rituals. Vodou, or Voodoo as we know it now, began in the areas of Benin, Togo, and Ghana (West Africa) and is still practiced by nearly thirty million people there. In Vodou rituals, it was said that a dead person could be revived by a bokor, or sorceror. The person would then be a "zombi" who would be under the control of the bokor, since they no longer had a will of their own.

vodou chiefsvodou chiefs in Africa, January 2013

Haiti, and Harvard Science

Eventually, West African beliefs and rituals made their way to the New World, and Voodoo became popular in Haiti. A certain voodoo ritual coud turn a dead person into an undead, mindless thing, a zombie. In the 1980's, a Harvard ethnobotanist, Wade Davis, attempted to track down practitioners of the ritual and study it. What he found was startling. By using a combination of two special powders, a voodoo holy man could turn the dead into zombies. One powder, Coup de Poudre, contained tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin from the flesh of the pufferfish. The second powder would consist of powerful dissociative drugs. The neurotoxin would cause a person to be paralyzed, heart rate and pulse rates would be so low and weak that they couldn't be detected. By all accounts, a person would appear dead, and they would often be buried. When they were dug up, they appeared mindless, but alive. It was Wade's belief that the trauma of being buried alive, when combined with the powerful drugs, would cause a person to believe thay had come back from the dead. They were zombies, partially, because they believed they were. Of course, the drugs were a big part of it. Watch a serious drug addict on a major high and tell me they're not zombies. Anyway, Wade's research was the first official, scientific investigation that gave some creedence to the concept that zombies could, in fact, be real.

WZ   NOL      SAR

Pop Culture

Zombies shambled into popular culture in 1929 in a book named The Magic Island, by William Seabrook. It was about traveling in Haiti, and it introduced the word 'zombi' into the American lexicon. The first zombie film, White Zombie, followed in 1932. It was about a woman in Haiti who is turned into a zombie by a voodoo witch doctor. Haitian zombies were mindless beings, alive but not alive, who were controlled and used as slaves by voodoo witch doctors.

In 1968 George Romero introduced a new kind of zombie to the world. Night of The Living Dead showed mobs of undead creatures intent on attacking people and feasting on their remains. Though the word 'zombie' was never used in the movie, a new kind of zombie was born: clumsy, aggressive, and ravenous. Zombies struck a chord in the American subconscious and the world hasn't been the same since. Romero made several more zombie movies, and so did a lot of other people. Zombies became the slow, stumbling, undead horrors we've all come to know and love, and they wanted brains, human brains. Zombies were in movies, on tv, and even in songs. In 1988, Wes Craven made The Serpent and The Rainbow based on the work of Wade Davis. The zombie craze idled along for decades until it took off in the last few years. More movies were made, as well as bestselling books (World War Z, the Zombie Survival Guide), video games, and hit tv shows (The Walking Dead). 

Where do zombies come from?

So, where do zombies come from? Well, typically a zombie apocalypse starts with some sort of fast spreading virus. The virus would have to attack a certain zimagesstill from "Night of The Living Dead" 1968area of people's brains, destroying their higher functions such as reasoning, coordination, and complex thinking. What is left of the brain would be the primitive part: the hunger, the aggression, the lack of impulse control. There are a few known viruses that do this to some extent. Creutzfeldt-Jakobs Disease is one that causes dementia or delirium along with a loss of coordination, stiffness of limbs, and difficulty walking. Sound familiar? If someone were to tweak one of these viruses slightly, we might find all the elements needed to create zombies. Makes you wonder what's going on in those government labs, right?

Brain Parasites!

Another way that zombies could come about is by brain parasites. No really, stick with me here. There's a parasite called toxoplasmosa gondii that lives in the brain of rats, but the parasite can only reproduce in the intestines of a cat. So, this wily parasite overrides the rats natural survival instincts and makes the rat go toward a cat instead of running away from it. But wait there's more! Scientists estimate that possibly up to 50% of all humans are infected by toxoplasmosa. It can cause personality changes and mental problems. All that would be needed to start a full-on Brain Parasite Necropocalypse is a more potent version of toxoplasmosa that would affect humans the way it does rats. Humans running around with no instinct for self-preservation, with compromised brains and no ability for rational thought? Sounds like zombies to me.


Neurogenesis is another possible way zombies could come about. Because of recent research into stem cell research, scientists can now re-grow dead brain tissue. The problem is that the stem, or base of the brain tends to control only basic functions necessary to keep the body alive. Higher functions are in other, more distant portions of the brain, and those portions die off over time. So, a brain that's only capable of low-level, basic functions like survival and feeding? I'm hearing the z word. But one or two patients doesn't make a zombie apocalypse. It would take some ruthless government or corporation trying to build a mass of subservient, unintelligent people to serve their evil purposes to get a real zombie outbreak going.


Last, but not least, we have nanobots. these are tiny, microscopic machines that can be implanted into the human brain (or anywhere else). These little Screen-Shot-2012-10-30-at-4.21.07-PM-620x411machines can be programmed to repair or destroy anything. They are working now on being able to use nanobots to repair neural connections in the human brain. In addition, they've found that these little nanobots can live long after the host is dead. Bingo. Zombies with nanobots in their heads that go on repairing their brains even after the body dies. Or what if these little bots go haywire in a living person's brain and destroy the wrong parts? Worse yet, if these bots are programmed for survival, how far will they go to keep their host body moving, even after it's dead? Will it re-program the host's brain to attack someone else so it can find a new host? Oh no, zombie apoc. here we come!





Real Life Zombies?

Warning: The following is real-life gruesome. You may NOT want to read further if you have a weak stomach.

So, maybe you still think zombies are far fetched, but a lot of people are beginning to believe that zombies are real. Last Memorial Day a homeless man in Miami was attacked in a 'zombie-like' fashion. A naked, growling man rushed up to him and began biting his face off. Officers on the scene shot the attacker, but said the attacking man continued to feed on the other, even after being shot. The growling attacker was killed on the scene after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. After many rounds of surgery the victim, Ronald Poppo is recovering in a Miami hospital, though he lost both eyes and most of his nose in the attack. See the CNN story on the attack here:


Nanobots? Brain Parasites? Neurogenesis? Neurotoxins? The Rage Virus? Could zombies be real? It doesn't seem too far fetched. We've gone from witch doctors and sorcerers to science labs and clips on CNN. What's next in the evolution of zombies in our culture? I'm not sure I want to know.

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A while ago I posted about five essential tools you need for when the next apocalypse breaks out. Since it was the most popular blog post so far, I decided to do another. So, here are three more essential items you need for the next apocalypse. They're small, easy to carry, easy to get, and could save your life in an emergency.


1. A Bandana. You've seen those cotton bandanas at outdoor stores? Ever wondered exactly what you would need one for? Well these handy items have so many uses i may not be able to list them all. Get one in a bright color and you can use it to signal for help. You can use it as a trail marker so you don't get lost. Wear it as a headband, a hat, or as ear muffs or a neck gaiter when it's cold. If its very hot, soak it in cold water and put it on your neck to stay cooler.  

In an emergency situation, it can be used as a bandage, an eye patch, or a sling for an injured arm. If you break a bone and create a makeshift splint, use the bandana to tie it in place. Fold it into a pouch and put in ice for a cold pack for use on major injuries and bruises. For extreme injuries, it could even be a tourniquet.

If there is an apocalyptic situation, you won't have access to all the things you're used to. You'll realize quickly that you need to improvise, and that common items will have to be used in new ways. Your bandana can be worn as a mask to keep out dust and germs. It can also be a potholder, a dishtowel, a napkin, a washcloth, or a handkerchief. There are so many uses that, maybe, you're starting to realize that you should carry a few all the time. Keep one clean and use the others for general camp uses. A bandana can be used as a sleep mask, or a lens cleaner. You can filter water through it to filter out particulates before you purify water. Wrap the bandana around a small stone and then tie some cord around it. Now you can throw the line over a tree branch to make a shelter, hang a tarp, or hang food. Use it as padding between you and your pack, or wrap fragile items in it before you stow them in your bag. If you needed to, you could tear a bandana into thin strips and make a short piece of cordage. That cord can be used to tie items together, tie them to your gear, or make a little snare trap. You can use small pieces as a candle wick or as tinder to start a fire. Finally, a bandana can be folded into a small pouch to carry all the miscellaneous little things that you can't afford to lose. Or, lay out your items on it, gather up the edges, and tie it to a stick. Voila, you have what used to be known as a hobo bag that you can sling over your shoulder. Uses for your bandana are only limited by your imagination. Carry a few of these and that's ten or twenty other things you don't need to pack.


2. Garbage Bags. Everyone knows that a garbage bag can be used to carry things. It keeps your stuff dry and can be expanded or compressed to carry a little or a lot. Unlike a lot of bags, a garbage bag can carry water, which might save your life if the 'stuff' hits the fan. Not only can you carry water, but you can use it to collect water, either from rain or from evaporation. Since we're on the subject of water, leave your garbage bag full of water in a sunny spot until it heats up. Hang it somewhere. Poke a hole in the bottom and you have a warm shower- a wonderful luxury in an apocalypse. You can carry food in it or use it to trap small animals for food. You can use one or more duct taped together to make a tent or other shelter. Put one below you at night as a ground cover to keep out the chill of sleeping on the ground. Or, stuff it with leaves and grass to make a mattress. Wear one during a zombie apocalypse as a barrier against dangerous zombie blood and other fluids. You can make a sling or tourniquet out of one or use a piece of it to make a water proof covering over a bandage. If you find yourself in the rain, cut arm holes in a garbage bag and make a poncho. Stuff leaves or old clothes in your new poncho to keep warm.

Food, water, and warmth are three of your main concerns in any emergency situation, and garbage bags can help with all of these. If you're smart and can improvise they have even more uses. Since they're lightweight and easy to pack, there's no reason not to carry a few.

 G-bagg-bag-dressgarbage bag dresses

3. Duct Tape. Is there anyone who doesn't know the wonder of duct tape? It can fix almost anything: Cars, bikes, tents, rain gear, water bottles, and almost anything else. It's strong, pliable, and waterproof which makes it usable in all sorts of situations. A major apocalypse means you'll probably be scavenging for things you can use, and chances are that many of those things will need a little repair. Duct tape. You can use it to hold a bandage in place, to make a first aid sling, or to stabilize a splint. You could even use it to hold a wound together, in a pinch. Use some with a few garbage bags (you already have those, right?) to make a shelter or tarp. Need to make a bowl or a drinking cup? You could do it with duct tape. Make a belt, or a sling for a weapon. 


Duct Tape has added benefits in a zombie apocalypse. Don't have the heart to kill a zombie? Duct tape over its mouth and duct tape handcuffs render a
zombie pretty harmless, (though it would be a lot easier just to kill it). Being bitten by a zombie would not only cause you a long, slow death, but would turn you into one. It must be avoided at all costs. Luckily, duct tape can help. Reinforce clothes with duct tape to make them bite proof. Sleeves and shoulders are one priority, though don't forget some zombies are ankle biters. Make duct tape hand and wrist guards or zombie proof neck gaiters. If you can't find a helmet, make one from duct tape. You may look silly, but it'll help you survive.

D tapeD tape_variety

So, here are three items that will serve you well in any emergency. Thow them in the glove box of your car, put them in with your camping gear, and store all three with your emergency survival gear. They can be useful for first aid, for shelter, for carrying food and water, and for basic comfort. With these three things you can rig up lots of improvised necessities and make your apocalyptic experience a little less miserable. They can be the difference between death and survival or the difference between surviving and thriving. 

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If things hit the fan, certain tools can save your life. You need to get tools that are well made and durable. If you stop and think about it, you can probably list dozens of tools you'd like to have for a long tern survival situation, but I'm going to focus on the five basics that are absolutely necessary. Here's my list of five essential tools for the apocalypse.

1. Pocket Multi-Tool. Okay, imagine that the world as we know it is ending. No lights, no electricity, no cell phones. All the little things you take for granted are gone, or not working. That includes electric can openers, power tools, and so on. You need a good multi-tool like the Swiss Army Huntsman by Victorinox ($35). It has two sizes of knife blades, plus both kinds of screwdrivers, a can opener, bottle opener, wood saw, wire stripper, hole punch, and a few other tools. If you're bugging out and on the move, these handy tools are way easier than carrying all those bulky tools individually. Plus, Swiss Army Knives are guaranteed for life. Another option is the Leatherman Sidekick ($32). It has most of the same tools, plus a built-in set of pliers. It's only guaranteed for 25 years, but both Victorinox and Leatherman are known for quality. Beware of cheap quality multi-tools. Some are poorly designed and frustrating to use. Others may fail you when you need them most. These two tools will serve you well. They're a great option for EDC, for a bug out bag, or to keep in your tool box.

2. Heavy Duty Knife. Okay, your multi-tool has a small blade for normal little cutting tasks, but you'll need a bigger, beefier knife if you're going to survive an apocalypse. When you're looking for a good survival knife, there are a few things you want to look for. Carbon steel holds an edge well and is relatively easy to sharpen. Most important, carbon steel is very durable and very tough. It will stand up to hard tasks much better than stainless steel or lesser materials. When looking for a heavy duty knife, look for carbon steel. Another thing you'll want to be aware of is the thickness of your blade. Get something 1/4" thick or more for strength and durability. A blade of more than 5" is recommended by many, including the Pathfinder Survival School. Smaller knives often don't provide the leverage you need. Lastly, get a knife that is full tang. For those unfamiliar with the term, full tang means that the knife is one solid piece of steel from its tip to the end of the handle. Again this ensures that your knife won't break when chopping or prying. While I don't have the room to list all the great knives that will serve you well in a bad situation, here are a few that I have used and trusted. They have the attributes listed above.

The Grayman Mega Pounder 7.5 ($255) is a beast of a knifel. It's 13.5"( total length) with a 7.5" blade made of 1/4" thick 1095 High Carbon Steel. These are tough knives made to work, and capable of standing up to tough tasks without breaking. For years, Grayman sold exclusively to soldiers and law enforcement officers, people whose lives often depend on their knives. Now they are available to anyone. You can cut, chop, and dig with these knives. Want to make a shelter, pry open a crate, or dig a hole? These knives will face every task, and never let you down. The maker claims you'll never break it, but if you ever do, it's guaranteed for life. Another option is the First Strike by Fehrman Knives ($400). It also has a 7.5" blade, though its overall length is slightly shorter (13"). It is made of CPM-3V Steel. It can chop small trees, split wood, and cut like crazy. As the Company motto says "When your situation turns ferocious, you want tools that are just as fierce. You want tools that you can depend on in trying circumstances. Fehrman makes just such tools, tools that will not fail you when you need them most." In short, Fehrman knives are guaranteed not to fail ... for life. Both these knives are tough, dependable tools that will take a great deal of punishment and come back for more.

img0724The Grayman Mega Pounder comes in a variety of sizes

Both Grayman and Fehrman make other knives and all are extremely solid. Many custom knife makers, such as Fallen Oak Forge, make a great variety of well-designed, top quality knives in carbon steel. The advantage of working with a custom knife maker is that they can make a knife that conforms to your tastes and needs. For the budget minded, Tops Knives makes a variety of great knives in the $200 range. Most conform to the standards outlined above. Check the specs for each to make sure you're getting what you need.

3. Dead On AN18 Annihilator Utility and Wrecking Bar. As the name says, the Dead On Annihilator($30) is made to be a wrecking tool. At 18" long and 3.6 lbs., the Annihilator is a serious tool, and since it costs around $30 you might just need one. It's a demolition hammer, a tile ripper, a nail puller, and a serious pry bar. It has a hammer at one end and a razor sharp steel spike on the other. It even has a bottle opener. In the apocalypse, you'll likely find lots of uses for a tool like this. Trapped in a building? Take out a wall and escape with the Annihilator. Need to build a shelter from old building materials? Use the Annihilator. Want to smash through a door to loot a building? The Annihilator. Need to bash the occasional zombie on the head? It's good for that, too. 


4. A Serious Tomahawk. Tomahawks have been used for centuries as both weapons and tools. U.S. soldiers have used them in every major war since the 1700s. Today's top tactical tomahawks are still made with soldiers in mind. A BFT01 CPKsoldier today can't carry a different tool for every task. They have to carry tools that do a variety of things, and that won't break or fail under stress. When you're in the field, a faulty tool can't be replaced. It's the same during a SHTF situation. You want to carry a tool that is also a weapon. And it has to be tough. The Hardcore Hardware BFT01 Tomahawk ($430) fits the bill on all counts. Made for the soldiers of Australia and New Zealand, the BFT01 is made of one piece of teflon coated D2 tool steel from its head to the end of its handle. At 18.5" and nearly two and a half pounds, the BFT is no toy. The blade and spike can be put to a variety of uses, and the pommel has a chisel point which allows it to be used for prying. According to the company's website "some of the tasks we expect you'll use our BFT for include the following: chopping, hammering, digging, cutting, as a climbing aid, defeating locks, smashing windows and windshields and raking out their frames, puncturing steel radial tires, smashing steel clad doors, and breaking through walls including those made of brick." In short, this tomahawk does it all, and the tough D2 steel holds an edge even after lots of abuse. For combat, the axe blade is useful against zombies and other opponents. It can be used to slash, chop, or hook. The spike on the other end is designed to penetrate kevlar helmets and body armor. Another option would be any of the fine tomahawks made by RMJ Tactical. They are made in America, similarly designed for both tough use and combat, and their price range is similar.

deuce deuce_1200-thumbthe newly redesigned Deuce II from Zombie Tools

5. A Dependable Blade. In any post apocalyptic scenario, a sword or other big blade is almost a necessity. You'll need it for major chopping tasks, and possibly as a weapon. After all, bullets will be in short supply, and you'll need something to deter other survivors who are eyeing your gear and your food. When it comes to apocalyptic weapons, you should be looking at Missoula's Zombie Tools (www.zombietools.net ). They make everything from Katana style swords to machetes, tomahawks, and everything in between. All are handmade, full tang, from American steel and wrapped with Montana leather for the grips. They are the baddest blades around. I recommend a Vakra (kukri) or Hooligan (machete/sword) if your blade will be doing double duty chopping wood and other items. If you'd prefer a two handed weapon, the Deuce II ($400) can't be beat. Check out the video on their website where they use a Deuce to chop a truck hood in half, destroy a TV, bisect an air hockey game, cut several phone books, and take a few whacks at a concrete highway divider before the blade finally fails. That is one tough blade, the kind you can depend on when you need it. Another fine maker of knives, swords and other blades is Miller Brothers Blades. They make everything from functional katana swords and Jungle choppers to smaller, edc knives. Customers have a choice of steel types though all are of exceeding quality and durability.

So there are your essentials for the apocalypse. Do you need all five? Well, that depends. If you'll be on foot, you may not want to carry all five. If you'll be in the woods you may choose some tools, while if you're in an urban environment you may choose differently. If your budget is an issue, you may decide that having all five is overkill. Just be careful of substituting cheap tools for the ones listed. Cheaper means less durable and breakage could mean your life.

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Posted by on in The Necropocalypse


Zombies are everywhere these days. Ok, not actual zombies, but shows about zombies, books about zombies, websites about zombies, everything about zombies. Here in Missoula we have a zombie film fest and a company called Zombie Tools that makes actual swords for killing zombies. Zombies are a big part of our pop culture these days, and you might say that a lot of people have an obsession with zombies. The big question is why? What's the attraction? Why all the interest in zombies? I've studied the issue and come up with some answers.

Since the caveman days, humans have been wired for danger, for survival. Zombies strike a primitive chord in us on both counts. Our modern world is orderly and safe. It's well-lit and better organized. We have police and firemen to protect us from dangers, and most urban dwellers don't have to worry about facing a saber-toothed tiger on their way to work. We're wired to look out for danger, though, and zombies satisfy that. Part of our primitive brain is still focused on survival, but a lot of those primitive dangers are gone. Zombies show up, though, and suddenly the primitive survival part of our brains light up. It turns out a little danger, even if its only a movie, sparks something deep inside of us. Look at the popularity of Stephen King books, monster movies, slasher movies. We like to be scared. We might even need it, in controlled doses. Zombies let us focus on danger and survival in a way that our rgular lives don't.


There are a lot of scary creatures out there in the horror genre, and none of them have grabbed our collective consciousness like zombies. Why? Because of the good old zombie apocalypse. Yeah, not only are zombies scary, they come with their own full blown apocalypse. A total break down of society. Suddenly our organized, well-lit lives are plunged into darkness and confusion. All the institutions that protect us are gone. Chaos rules, and we must survive. Suddenly life is primitive and fierce. Our primeval lizard brains are finally in charge. Survival. When we think of zombies, we also get to think about how to prepare, what we need, what we would do. Survival. The primitive part of our brain is happy.

Another advantage of zombies is that they are adaptable. They come about because of a mysterious plague, or vague viruses. No one really knows how zombies are made. Because of this, zombies can show up anywhere. Any country, any climate, any time frame. Zombies show up in adapted Jane Austin novels, in The Civil War, in the Dark Ages. It may be hard to justify space aliens showing up in the Middle Ages, or killer pterodactyls attacking New York City, but a zombie virus could happen anywhere, any time.


The best thing about zombies, though, is that they're approachable. I mean that, as monsters go, a zombie is a creature that you think you might be able to fight. An old-style vampire with inhuman strength and supernatural powers? No. A super-advanced alien with high-tech weapons? No way. How about a thirty foot, irradiated spider? No. Nobody wants to fight any of those things, but a zombie looks like a possibility. First off, they're slow, especially if you're looking at the old George Romero ones like in Night of The Living Dead. They shamble and stumble around, and even an average person might think they have a chance against one. Second, they're not very intelligent. By definition, nearly all of their higher brain functions have ceased. We like to outwit people (and animals) that are dumber than we are. It makes us feel smart and capable. It's another reason we like zombies. Lastly, zombies are unarmed. We don't have to worry about them attacking us with guns, bazookas, or rocket launchers. Most versions of zombies are not even smart enough to wield clubs or sticks. That means that we can fight them with anything from hammers and baseball bats to pitchforks, shovels, and crowbars. No fancy weapons needed. All this combined makes us look at zombies and think that we have a pretty good chance of fighting them. With the right weapons, and strategy, defeating a bunch of them looks possible, even to someone who hasn't spent lots of time in the gym or the dojo. 

So, that's the attraction of zombies. They give us all sorts of opportunities to use the survival and fight instincts we still have ratlling around in the primeval parts of our brains. They seem vulnerable enough that an average person could fight them, and live. Plus they give people a good excuse to go online and look up all sorts of interesting stuff about weapons and tactics and how to prepare for the next necropocalypse. We get to use a little imagination, and best of all, since zombies don't actually exist, we can all pretend it's just a fun diversion.

hate zombies_sticker_400       Sticker from Missoula's Zombie Tools


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