It appears that a lot of people believe the world will come to an end next Friday, possibly during a zombie apocalypse.
Now that I have your attention, let's proceed with a discussion of how various accounting principles are influencing congressional negotiations over the "fiscal cliff."
Just kidding! We are going to talk about the end of the world and the zombie apocalypse. Honestly, this is a big deal. The Web, which always knows what is really important, is full of it. Panic buying has popped up in Russia. At an antiterrorism summit meeting in San Diego this year, law enforcement officials got to see a demonstration on what to do in the event that Southern California is taken over by zombies.
Also, there have been quite a few recent developments that might well be interpreted as a sign of the end of days:
The 5,125-year-long Mayan calendar stops on Dec. 21.
Scientists report the discovery of an elephant that speaks Korean.
Rick Perry says he might be considering another run for president.
All right, the elephant has a very limited vocabulary. But ever since the world failed to come to an end in 2000, apocalypse aficionados have been looking at December 2012 because of the Mayan calendar thing. I believe the zombies were added on simply because, right now, zombies are really popular. There's a high-rated zombie TV series, "The Walking Dead," a whole bunch of best-selling zombie graphic novels, and an upcoming Brad Pitt movie, "World War Z."
The movie isn't being released until June, which suggests that Brad Pitt doesn't have much faith in the Mayans.
What is it about zombies that everybody likes so much? As villains, they aren't particularly well-rounded. They don't plan, so the plot options are pretty limited. You can't develop a forbidden relationship with one. You don't see a handsome male zombie fall in love with a teenage human and then announce that sex is out of the question because of the threat of neck-biting and, therefore, all he wants to do is cuddle and talk about feelings.
That actually may be the key. Zombies never want to talk about feelings. I'll bet nine-tenths of the world's zombie fans are guys.
These days, if you want to sell something, you add zombies. If you've got a supply of pup tents you can't get rid of, re-label them "zombie survival shelters" and they'll fly out the door. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been trying to get people interested in emergency readiness by repositioning the advice as "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse." Organizers of that counterterrorism summit meeting in San Diego said they featured a section on zombie fighting to brighten up an otherwise pretty grim five days of meetings on homeland security.
Zombies. Always the life of the party.
People do love a good apocalypse. The National Geographic Channel feels it's got a big hit in "Doomsday Preppers," which is sort of a "Project Runway" for people with fallout shelters.
Every week, "Doomsday Preppers" visits folks who are getting ready for a cataclysm — terrorists, earthquakes, the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, nuclear war. The program is sponsored by a brand of "gourmet emergency food" and it features a team of experts who grade this week's survivalists on their preparations. "Your score is 63 out of 100; you have 10 months' initial survival time," they told a guy who was making weapons and growing algae to feed his five children in case of a collapse of the world financial system.