Zombie Mail

Write a nice piece on All Saint’s Day, and not a drop of mail. Write a piece on zombies attacking, and après moi, le déluge. Some of the best.

JS writes in:

Dear Sovereign Czar,

I enjoyed your post on zombies, even though I am a huge fan of zombie fiction. I, too, think it’s unrealistic, both for the reasons you gave and for the ones from cracked.com, which is the ultimate resource for gaining knowledge on the internet. What I liked most about your post was the comparison to a Laotian army. I found that hilarious from what I’ve read about the war in Vietnam and Laos’ struggles when they tried to fight the North Vietnamese. They really sounded a bit pathetic, much like your version of a zombie army.

Now, I do have a bone to pick [The Czar gets it] with you over your number of zombies. Every zombie fiction (that I like) is predicated on them being unnoticed for a short period and ‘getting loose’ amongst normal people. This causes them to infect a number and, depending on the waiting period, infecting more before the outbreak can be contained. Now, you’re exactly right about the proportions to the general populace and our ability to eliminate them; however, it would only take 1 area with catastrophically bad treatment of the zombie plague for it to get out of control and threaten a whole country. And I’m not willing to bet on universally smart responses to zombies, so I’m going to continue to prepare by reading entertaining stories and watching far-fetched movies.

God Bless,


Thanks, JS! Of course, the Czar was referencing the Laotian army only in terms of numbers. However, regarding your second point, think that one out. Zombies, we see, do not exactly lurk or hide around gathering strength: they sort of come out, attack Barbara, and eat her brains.

So follow along: outside of an incredibly busy funeral home, the most zombies you would see would be staggering down streets in a fairly developed community, and at best, only one or two. These would easily be dispatched not be federal or state forces, but by a local cop who could readily stroll up to the thing and fire a 9mm or two right into the neocortex.

Regarding the slowness of universally smart responses, the interesting thing is that the local populous (say, Hank and his Glock that he walks around the house with) could have his community cleaned up by the afternoon while the President was still at Vegas. “This is my moment,” Hank would say, strapping on the old 17 as he watched from his window while two small kids poked a shuffling zombie in the eyes with sticks.

Vegas. God, think of all the accidental head shots that would be happening out there.

PS: Does an Australian zombie yell out “Brines?”

Island Dweller, who might have natural defenses to a zombie invasion unless there is a funeral home or morgue on his island—dunno, he hasn’t invited us to see it, which is why we put him in a desert, writes in:

Your illustrious majesty:

There is one other factor that needs to be added to your list, it would seem:

Zombies, being dead, without doubt emit an unmistakable odor that would prevent them (except it conditions of a dead calm) from sneaking up on anyone. To supplement your comment re: blowflies, anyone who has ever sensed this odor with their olfactory bulbs would be in no doubt as to its origins and could easily make arrangements to give the emitters a very warm welcome indeed. Shouldn’t be too difficult to round up some good ‘scoped rifles and deal with matters at a distance.

Island Dweller

Yes, and the Czar wants you to know how often he agrees with Island Dweller. The Czar mentioned to a doctor yesterday all the weird fascination with zombies, and the doctor admitted that while he likes The Walking Dead, he says that medically these guys would be falling apart in hours entirely on their own.

Speaking of professional opinions, we totally forgot that erc is in charge of digging vast, underground earthworks for us, and we should have gone to him first for some important calculations!

The volume of earth over the casket is about 7′ x 2′ x 4′ = 56 cubic feet (allowing the casket 14 cubic feet of displacement). I design a lot of retaining walls, and we use 120 pcf for the weight of drained soil. Solid rock (granite) has a specific gravity of about 2.5, which is about 155 pcf, compared to concrete (which is mostly rock and sand) at 150 pcf. Since we use the weight of the soil to calculate wall stability, a lower weight would be unconservative, so I think we’re probably on the right track. (But we also put a 1.5 factor of safety on both sliding and rotation, so maybe that explains some of it.)

We sometimes design planters over suspended slabs and specify “light weight” planter mix, which has a lot of vermiculite of styrofoam beads in it. That gets down around to 5 pcf. Of course, if the grave diggers don’t compact the soil as they usually don’t (which why they mound the “fluff” up over the grave so it can settle to level (which it usually overshoots, making a shallow depression).

So, the weight of the earth is about 6,720 pounds, which is still plenty.

Big problem with zombies is: what is their energy source? Not a lot of calories in brains, particularly in politician’s brains. Energy equation does not work out. Even the dead have to do work (force times distance) to move which requires energy. So, they save a lot of energy by not breathing or pumping blood around, and, one assumes they are not warm blooded, but the Gods of Thermodynamics must still be obeyed.

Indeed, thanks for reviewing the math with your, um, odd expertise. As far as energy, zombies need to consume a lot of brains. You would think this would work in their favor, given how many living people there are, comparatively. But no—erc is right; the zombies would be running out of steam faster than they could replenish it. erc, what do you think? A relaxed person produces about 400 btu/h; a slow-moving zombie probably consumes 300 btu/h to be generous. That food supply, or whatever it is that powers the zombie, will be done in about three hours assuming its digestive system is still metabolizing carbohydrates.

erc adds:

On a totally separate subject, I once supervised a sizable project at a National Cemetery. I never found anything “spooky” about the place and actually found it extremely peaceful. So, it is distinctly possible that when you dispatch one of your enemies, they really do go”to a better place”.

Hmm. The Czar never thought of it as charity. Could we deduct the costs of firing squads on our taxes?

Not under a democrat, of course.

About The Czar of Muscovy

Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia by upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.