and when pubmed is full those undead theorems shall walk the earth

My internet alert for Zombies turned up this over on P Z Myers website.The journal Diabities Care Vol 17, Issue 2, 152-154 has an article in the December 2010 issue by M.M. Tai called


A mathematical model for the determination of total area under glucose tolerance and other metabolic curves’.





Which is all well and good however from the abstract:

OBJECTIVE–To develop a mathematical model for the determination of total areas under curves from various metabolic studies. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS–In Tai’s Model, the total area under a curve is computed by dividing the area under the curve between two designated values on the X-axis (abscissas) into small segments (rectangles and triangles) whose areas can be accurately calculated from their respective geometrical formulas.

This sounds a lot like high school calculus to me. If you replace Metabolic curves with just curves then Dr Tai has stated the Trapezoidal rule one of the first techniques taught to calculate the integral (area under the curve). Which as we can see has many uses, not just total glucose tolerance. What is cheeky is the author has called it Tai’s method, not the Leibniz or Newton method. Whats also impressive is that on google scholar the article has been cited 135 times. Which for published articles reproducing known mathematics is a lot. Scientist in some universities live and die professionally by the citations their articles garner. I am hoping this article is being cited as an example as why interdisciplinary studies are important.

It was Murray Gell-Mann who used the ‘eight-fold way’ (hippy) to explain the spectrum of hadrons (fancy word for subatomic particles like protons & neutrons). It was only after mixing with mathematicians, promptly pulled out ‘Introduction to first group theory’ that allowed Gell-Mann to open up symmetry and group theory to become one of the fundamental tools of particle physics. In his defense group theory wasn’t taught in high school in the 1960s.

I don’t mean to be snarky on Dr Tai, actually I do, but its probably because I am feeling a bit snarky about the whole ‘science in society’ thing at the moment. Especially after hearing the conversation of customer in front of me in the Australian geographic shop:

“excuse me why is this clock reading GMT what is that?”

“thats the Greenwich standard time to which we adjust our clocks”

“So thats the time in London is it?

“No, thats the time in Greenwich”

“Why whats so special about Greenwich”


of course I had no alternative but to beat them to death with a copy of Dava Sobel’s Longitude.

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Its starting to look a lot like a Zombie Christmas

Yes its that time of the year.



to also set the scene you might like to sing from Michael Spradlin’s book which takes two dozen christmas carols.

Tiny tot’s eyes are no longer aglow, they’re in a bowl. Good King Wenceslas Tastes Great and we Deck The Halls With Parts Of Wally. You’ll find all the soon to be classic Zombie Christmas Carol Classics, like I Saw Mama Chewing Santa Claus, Zombie, The Reindeer and many, many more.


Good King Wenceslas Tastes Great

Good King Wenceslas tastes great;
We might as well eat Stephen,
When the brains lay round about,
Toasted crisp and bleedin’.
Brightly shown the moon that night,
Though the virus cruel.
When a poor man came in sight,
He made fine undead fuel.
Hither, Zombies chase after her.
Agnes, she is yelling.
Yonder peasant, how she screams,
For her brains they’re a jelling.
Surely she will try to hide
Underneath the mountain,
Or deep in the forest hence
While Agnes is digestin’.
Bring me flesh, and bring me brains.
Bring me Zombies hither.
Thou and I will see them dine;
They even bite through leather.
Free and screaming, forth they went,
Zombies right behind them,
Through the poor souls’ wild lament.
Bitter brains are better.

Happy Holidays

‘Twas the NIGHT Before the uprising

Many thanks to Mira Grant the author of the excellent Feed & Deadline. Whose work I shameless recreate here

T’was the night before Christmas
  when all through the house


Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
The boards had been nailed ‘cross the windows with care
In hopes that the dead would pass by, unaware.


The children were sleeping -the ones who’d survived,
Though no one could say dreams of sugar plums thrived,
And mama with her chainsaw, and I with my gun,
Were just praying our brains would be ours come the sun.


When out of the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my place to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a shot,
Prepared to do battle with ruin and with rot.


The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Gave a luster of mid-day to zombies below.
When what did my wandering eyes there discern
But a miniature sleigh in a full four-point turn, 


With a steely-eyed driver, a knife in his teeth,
Come here to distribute some holiday grief.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!


“Now Vincent, Now Stephen! Now, Mira and Jessie!
On, Robert, Romero -time’s come to get messy
 To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away, Dash away, Dash away all!”


As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of weapons, and Santa Claus too.


And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof, 
Then the fire from heaven came showering down,
Igniting the zombies who clustered around.


They stumbled and fell, faces melting like tallow,
As a voice from behind me said “Youth can be callow,
But son, this is war! Best find your guts quick!”
I turned, and I found myself facing …Saint Nick.


His eyes, how they squinted! His mouth, how it frowned!
He was angry and lean, not a spare ounce or pound.
A bundle of weapons was flung on his back,
And he looked like a soldier, just opening his pack.


“The dead have come looking for good girls and boys,
And they’re not singing carols, they’re not bringing toys.
You’d best come with me, if you want to survive,
You believed in me once. Let me keep you alive”.


It may have been madness, it may have been fear, 
But something about him made everything clear,
So I called for my children, I nodded my head.
“We’ve been good this year. Save us all from the dead”


He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Booby-trapping the house ‘gainst those undying jerks,
Then he led us all up to the roof and his sleigh,
Where we took to the air, and we soon were away. 


There are undead galore at the North Pole, it’s true,
But I’d rather give blood than be made into stew,
So we joined Vampire Santa and flew out of sight….
Happy Christmas to all, and to all, a good bite.

Warning this post will contain clowns

The_weapon is going up from the cub scouts to the scouts in the first week of next year. He could have gone up sooner but since they will be loosing me as a leader form cubs to scouts they wanted to hang on as long as possible.

The 2nd badge he will earn is scoutcraft. It requires him to be able to demonstrate a bunch of stuff:

 Learn and be able to demonstrate the following knots: 
a) reef knot
b) clove hitch 
c) sheet bend 
d) rolling hitch.

2. Flag
a) Describe the Australian flag and how to use it. 
b) Hoist the flag.
c) Break the flag.

3. First aid
a) Know how to report an emergency.
b) Know the first steps to control bleeding.

4. Safety with camping tools
a) Know the laws that govern the carrying and use of  knives in your state or territory.
b) Know and understand the safety rules for the use and storage of knives, bush saws and axes.
c) Demonstrate an understanding of the rules that apply to the supply and use of firewood in camping areas in your state or territory.
d) Demonstrate the use of a pocketknife or multi-tool.

5. Patrol System
a) Discuss with your Patrol Leader the requirements of the Pioneer Target or other appropriate Target of the Award Scheme.
b) Discuss with your Patrol Leader how the Patrol system operates in your Troop, e.g. election of Patrol Leader, appointment of APL, responsibilities and operation of Troop Council.

c) Show an understanding of the structure and duties of the Patrol.

all good scouty stuff.

It got interesting when the_weapon started to investigate the laws around knives, we could have just consulted an expert but instead we checked out the police and department of Justice.  There is a perception that violence involving knives is on the increase. Consequently in Victoria laws were passed to crack down on knife violence. From the Department of Justice’s website FAQ

Stabby the clown

It is an offence to possess, carry or use a knife or other controlled weapon unless you have a lawful excuse. A lawful excuse can include carrying a knife for the purposes of your job, or when participating in lawful sport, recreation or entertainment activities, for example when fishing. 
Carrying a knife for the purposes of self-defence is not a lawful excuse.


The_weapon has read all this material and to explain it to his patrol leader put it like this,

“If I am a small kid getting picked on by a bully at school everyday and in fear of my life and I carry a life that’s a crime. If the police stop and search me and I tell them that I am the side kick to Stabby the knife throwing clown that’s okay.”

Can’t argue with that sort of reading comprehension.