How John Ringo Ruined My Zombie Apocalypse

I have a zombie problem, a serious one. No, the dead are not walking up to my porch, pounding on the back door to get inside for a screaming snack. Those are just socialist wanna-be’s trying to get at any extra cash I may have stashed away. The zombie problem I have is more cerebral (no they are not moaning “brains…).

Here’s the thing: I have come to really enjoy good zombie fiction. Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, World War Z, The Walking Dead and its spin off Fear the Walking Dead– I even liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And those are only the movies. I am not one of those people who find it impossible to suspend disbelief and if the writers and producers make even a token nod to science they get my kudos and a hearty Huzzah!

I’m wandering, sorry. See, this all John Ringo’s fault, him and his “Black Tide Rising” novels. Ringo created, I believe, the most well-thought-out scenario for the sudden onset of a Zombie Apocalypse. No spoilers involved here by stating that the notion of a two stage infection that allows the contagion to spread virtually unnoticed for several weeks before people start turning into neighbor-chomping death machines satisfies all of those things I needed to “disbelieve” in order to accept the notion of a Zombie Apocalypse. Furthermore, the Zombies are both more frightening and more pathetic as a result.

Fast Zombies vs. Slow Zombies is a topic fans of the genre have beaten to death so I’m not going to talk about the various merits and demerits of each type. For purposes of full disclosure I think Fast Zombies are a requirement for a world-ending apocalypse, but that’s just me. Ringo’s zombies are fast, no doubt about it and as a result the world goes to hell in a handbasket with a satisfying rush for those who want to get into the survivors’ stories.

And here is where John Ringo blows a hole though just about every other zombie story, including The Walking Dead (and I am a huge fan, make no mistake). John Ringo sat down and really thought about who would survive and how.

If you’re reading this, have never read the books and are thinking of checking them out, stop here, because spoilers abound. You’ve been warned.

Let’s skip the public and look at the American military, in particular, the United States Navy. Most particularly, we want to look at nuclear submarines. Both missile and attack boats go to sea for prolonged periods without any contact with land. Unlike ships at sea, particularly Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups, they don’t get new personnel mid-deployment. Ever. If the boat is on patrol when the virus/bacteria/cometary dust particles/whatever are dispersed, they are not getting a dose of it. Period-frakking-dot. Ringo did lots of research and I did very little so I’m going to generalize: missile boats go out for six month stretches where they find a deep hole in the ocean and stay there, while attack boats are generally out for three months at a whack. Since the Navy is aware that Shit Happens (it’s why they exist, after all) the boats are over-stocked with supplies. I have no way of knowing how over stocked, but an intelligent guess would be 100%. Why 100%? Because if I were in charge that’s the minimum I would want and I suspect the folks in charge of such things are both smarter and even more pessimistic than me.

So, we have a number of nuclear submarines at sea, uninfected and they can be out there, barring serious mechanical failure, for six months to a year before supplies run out. Besides John Ringo and Nicholas Sansbury Smith, NOBODY ever mentions this in all the zombie fiction I’ve read, and Smith mentions it almost in passing (in his Extinction series). These are Navy ships chock-full of very smart, very dedicated people and you can bet that if the Zombie Apocalypse strikes the folks in charge will order the subs to stay clear while at the same time making sure they have all the information the Navy, the CDC and USAMRIID can collect about the disease at the center of the outbreak. Note that this actually did NOT happen in Ringo’s books, the information transfer, that is. The government doctors knew how to make an effective vaccine so long as they were willing to commit what some would consider murder to do it, and never sent detailed instructions to the subs.

So, writers of the Zombie apocalypse ignore Nuclear Submarines. Except Ringo. And now it’s always in the back of my mind when I’m watching my favorite Zombie Apocalypse movies or TV shows.

Thanks, John.

Next: why is the military so damned ineffective at containment once things start getting to the swarming hordes of neighbor-chomping death machines stage? This particularly bugs me if we are talking about Slow Zombies, the moaning, shuffling, got to surprise you or overwhelm you with numbers type of zombies. In AMC’s The Walking Dead the scene of some fortified outpost with a few Abrams tanks and other vehicles spread about, all with half-eaten soldiers everywhere you look is almost an every season staple: you’ll see it at least once. And now, whenever I see it I think: Didn’t they ever hear of Kill-Boxes, Claymores, Zones of Fire, frakking 120mm CANISTER? In one episode of TWD the survivors use some loud vehicles to lead an enormous herd of zombies away from their home camp. Awesome Idea, but better if you lead them away (and upwind) with an Abrams and then cut loose with a few rounds of canister so those zombies will never annoy anyone again.

Is an Abrams Main Battle Tank something you can hop into and start up after it’s been sitting a while? No. How do we solve that problem? See Nuclear Submarines above. The folks who keep those multi-billion dollar war machines moving could figure out how to get a few tanks rolling, of this I am sure.

So, writers of the Zombie apocalypse ignore all that military hardware lying about and were also unaware of how to use it to turn zombies into gooey red slime the consistency of tapioca. Except John Ringo. So now when I watch The Walking Dead I have tanks and canister shot running through the back of my mind.

Thanks again, John.

In the same vein, there should be surviving military outposts. There would HAVE to be. Sure, things would get out of hand in the cities- you don’t need a Zombie Apocalypse for that, just turn off the power for a few days. But let’s look at some staples of zombie behavior:

They are drawn to sound/light/movement.
They can smell the living.
They will travel long distances to get at what they see, hear or smell.

Somewhere in the midst of this, somebody in the military or police or the Walt Disney World Security Team is going to figure this out and use it against the zombies. TWD tipped a hat at this idea where one community used deep pits and wind chimes to lure in the dead and trap them. If somebody with any kind of authority puts this together relatively early (say the cities are burning, but the living still probably outnumber the dead) the zombies are toast. If the zombies are NOT toast, everybody deserves to die.

Damn you, John Ringo, you thorough, inventive bastard, you. Oh, and Dark Tide Rising really does need a fifth book…

Windows 10

Yeah, I’ve been gone a while and the only people looking at this site are the frustrated script kiddies trying to hack their way into the admin page. Sometimes I get upwards of 500 alerts in a single day! It’s almost flattering… almost.

Anyhow, I’ve been running the Windows 10 Technical Preview on my spare workstation, an older AMD Phenom II X4 2.6GHz, Quad Core with 8GB of RAM and an older generic Radeon HD 4600 series graphics card with 512MB of DDR3 video ram and a pair of older Sata II HDD’s. I figured it would run okay- my guess was that Microsoft would not let Windows 8 happen again (though to be honest, 8.1 ran acceptably on this rig as well).

Let me tell you- this thing absolutely screams. It loads nearly as fast as my newer machine with the SSD main drive! MS did some slick engineering with the boot kernel to get the system up and accessible while loading the rest in the background. When I dropped in an old 120GB SSD as the primary… the POST takes longer than the OS load. I have had ZIP, Zero, Nada compatibility issues even with my ancient, creaking Paint Shop Pro 5. The video drivers were not in the OS, but the generic Radeon drivers for Windows 8.1 work just fine. Netflix sucks using the store app and the included IE browser, but is just fine in Firefox.

The Start button and menu are back! A little funkified, but MS cannot resist the urge to change things. The OS is smart enough to know if you have a touch screen and adjusts accordingly. Love Metro? You can have it with a minor tweak… oh, and Metro apps can now run in less than full-screen. Multi-monitor support is so far flawless, but I’ve only tested on a single machine.

I first installed this as an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 Ultimate x64 because MS promised the days of “wipe and install fresh” were over. So far, they have been right. I re-installed after a few months because I swapped in the above-mentioned SSD.

I use the spare workstation to VPN to work when I work from home. The Windows Store provided a version of the VMWare View client that frankly sucked, but downloading the latest from VMWare fixed that up instantly. Cisco AnyConnect VPN works just fine, but I generally use a PTP VPN over an ASA so I can use my VoIP phone so my experience with that is limited to testing for curiosity’s sake.

I am currently on Build 7879 and I’ve got to tell you- this will probably be the first time in a very long time that I will upgrade my OS as soon as the new version is available commercially.

Other software I have been using with this Tech Preview:

Office Libre
Avast Free AV
Standard Chrome
Standard Firefox
Tor Browser
Office 2010 Pro plus
Office 2013 Pro
TrueCrypt 7.1a
Second Life (got to try at least one game, after all)

I haven’t yet put my Steam account on it- I may upgrade my current graphics card in my main machine and move my GTS 550 ti over to the Tech Preview machine and give it a try, assuming I can find something dirt cheap better than the 550.

XP is exiting stage left, people. It’s not like you have not been warned…

My response to one of our sales folks when asked to quote hours on upgrading three existing XP boxes to Windows 7:

If we are re-installing and can do them all at once, about 4 hours, otherwise probably 2 hours each. In-Place upgrade (which may not be available and should be avoided anyhow) about 12 hours (this includes being forced to start over and install from scratch when the in-place upgrade goes to hell).

Seriously, folks. We’ve been warning you about this for over a year now.

Social Media is a pain in my butt

I just went through the hassle of deleting my Google+ profile and wiping out all my circles, etc. Facebook is soon to follow. This isn’t a privacy thing- I gave up on that a while ago, no, this is a quality of life issue. On Google+ I was getting people adding me to their circles and I had no idea who they were. Since I hadn’t even looked a Google+ since I set it up a year or two ago I couldn’t see any reason I should allow it to keep making associations for me that I did not want it to.

Facebook has been a bit of a love/hate relationship. I like keeping tabs with friends, but I post less and less, and getting bombarded with “like this if you’re for/against ” crap is just getting old. The ads are sometimes pretty disturbing, too. I’ve pulled the plug on Facebook a couple of times, but I really think I’m done now. If I feel the need to spout off about something I’ll do it here (which is why I just renewed my domains). I came within a few days of just letting them both expire, but in the end I just couldn’t let Methuselah’s Daughter just vanish and to keep that I have to keep, so there we are.

I’m not opposed to Social Media, I just don’t see that I need it and it is starting to become a pain in the butt. Once it gets to that point, why keep at it?

If You’ve Nothing To Hide, You’ve Nothing to Fear

Yeah. Tell that to Michele Catalano, who had her home visited by the government because of an un-fortuitous collection of searches made by house members on the internet.

Dean Esmay does a good job of laying out the absurd irony of it here. Vodkapundit’s Stephen Green adds his own commentary as well.

To call this Orwellian is… well, right on the money.

Want More Government?


Via Cold Fury



Sort-of new wheels. 2005 Kia Optima.

Caved In

Once again, back on Facebook. I figured that a week away didn’t lead to withdrawal symptoms, so what the heck?

Sayonara, Facebook!

No more Facebook for me. Seriously, all done.

The last time I said this was in response to Facebook’s annoying habit of changing and resetting privacy options- every time they tweaked something they would automatically reset my privacy options to the default (read that as “wide open”). I got over that after about a week and reactivated my account, mostly because it was the easiest way to keep up with the antics of my grandchildren.

This time, no it is not about the NSA, it’s simply that I took a look at my timeline and realized more than 60% of my posts were political. This surprised me because I at least claim to hate getting all this political crap on Facebook, yet here I was, a prime offender. When I realized that and accepted it I just went over my Facebook experience these past few months and came to understand that more often than not checking Facebook served to piss me off.

Seriously? I don’t need anything extra to piss me off. I realized that I was getting into political arguments with my neighbors that I NEVER would engage in face-to-face, and not the GOOD kind of arguments- these were tit-for-tat exchanges between me as a right-of-center with some libertarian leanings type of guy and people whose ideologies ran from left-of-center to so far left I had to look right to see them.

Nothing good would ever come of this and a value my friendship with these people too much to let something as ridiculous as Facebook become a problem. My wife will keep her account and I’ll keep up with the kids and grand-kids through her.

More of the Story of the Belleau Wood

The ship came alive in Belle’s sensors, the energies she would unleash slowly building as the countdown approached the zero mark. Twenty hours earlier she had begun charging the toroid magnets of the Constriction Channel, flooding them with liquid helium, then gently ramping up the current running through them, monitoring for any hint of failure. There was none, she had been diligent the past ninety days, expending her meager repair reserves to ensure integrity of the main reaction drive and supporting systems. Nonetheless she had built in a comfortable safety margin in case anything cropped up as the system was placed under full load for the first time in nearly 1000 subjective years.

Detection arrays were retracted, gossamer constructs that could not withstand the deceleration she would subject herself to over the next year. Fuel to thrust calculations were updated real-time as any new information became available. Belleau Wood had been collecting and compressing fuel throughout her long voyage, a 1500 kilometer wide electromagnetic field funneling stray hydrogen and helium atoms into the processors for sorting into useful isotopes and mere coolant or cold reaction mass. The tanks were fully charged, deuterium/tritium compressed nearly to the point of collapsing into degenerate matter. Once the Drive was fired there would be more energy…

Belle herself was running at only twenty percent capacity and most ship’s systems were powered down in order to send all available power to the Drive. Everything indicated it would ignite as scheduled, but if anything went wrong Belleau Wood would streak through the system at nearly .25C and likely not even be noticed.

Approaching from 13 degrees above the plane of the ecliptic, just outside the orbit of Neptune, Belleau Wood announced herself to the Solar System as hydrogen poured into the reaction chamber and was compressed beyond the point of atomic cohesion, collapsing and reformulating in a blaze of energy arcing out in the general direction of the Sun. Belle ran the thrust up slowly, but relentlessly to just over .28 standard gravities, sufficient to set her on speed and course to overtake her target in just over a year and still leave her sufficient fuel to navigate upon arrival. She could have shortened the interval, diving deep into the system and decelerating at more than four standard gravities, but there were too many variables she could not account for. Besides, she wanted the target to see her coming.

Belle ran through weeks of diagnostics once the drive was running and her supply of energy became nearly unlimited. Satisfied Belleau Wood was sound Belle began to fiddle with the mix of elements pouring through the Drive, creating a brilliant visible light for her target world to see. A beacon to draw the attention of any who might be watching.

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