Conversations in Management: Zombies!

“Not that zombies are an everyday occurrence, but most people can wrap their brains around them.”

Alex Alemi.

zombieScranton, PA. Fort Wayne, IN. Bakersfield, CA. Austin, TX. Austin? Did you ever think you’d see Austin on a list with those other déclassé cities? Probably not, but there it is. Sure Austin’s weird, but weird like Fort Wayne? Gimme a break! Despite your skepticism, Cornell University has linked these locales in an important way. These are the four places you don’t want to be during the Zombie Apocalypse. The Cornell team made this announcement during the American Physical Society’s March 2015 meeting (tellingly held in San Antonio not Austin). If you passed on session A29.00007: Exotic magnetism on the quasi-FCC lattices of the d3 double perovskites La2NaB’O6 (B’ = Ru, Os) you might have dropped in on the more genial S48.00008: The Statistical Mechanics of Zombies. But even this was not for the faint of heart. In the program description, the team revealed that, “While most of the initial investigations have focused on the continuous, fully mixed dynamics of a differential equation model, we have explored stochastic, discrete simulations on lattices.” Most of us won’t have a clue about what any of that means but the bottom line is clear. There are definitely places to avoid during the Zombie Apocalypse—and Austin’s one of them.

 Before you put your house on the market, you might want to take a look at the state-by-state Zombie Apocalypse vulnerability map. Produced by real estate brokers Estately Inc., the map shows that Mississippi and New Jersey are the two worst states to be in when the zombies go on the offensive. Like the cities mentioned above, Mississippi and New Jersey are rarely mentioned in the same breath and since neither includes the Cornell four, our chances for survival are becoming murky. But there’s something a little suspicious about Estately’s map as they’re hawking property in Austin and no doubt will, along with real estate agents everywhere, try to convince us that even during a zombie apocalypse, “there’s never been a better time to buy a home.”

If relocation isn’t an option, just cruise on over to the Center for Disease Control’s website where you’ll find Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. It’s a comprehensive site that provides some background on zombies as well as helpful tips on creating preparedness kits and plans. The Missouri Department of Conservation goes a step further and provides advice on actually dealing with zombies. They provide a five-point identification guide but if you’re confused about a zombie’s appearance you’re probably a goner anyway. Their website offers many insights such as why you should avoid cauliflower fields, what to do if trapped in a deer stand and how to catch and release if you snag one on your fishing line. While suggesting that chainsaws and axes make good defensive weapons, they caution that, “a severed zombie head can still bite.” Ouch!

Alemi’s suggestion that we can wrap our brains around the zombie issue may reflect a poor word choice as this organ seems to a zombie’s favorite snack item. Then again, maybe it was just meant in fun—and it was. Cornell used zombies as an entertaining way to model disease outbreaks, the CDC used zombies to talk about planning for real disasters, Missouri was just playing and the real estate guys were—well I’m not sure about that one. So what’s the message for us non-zombies? Lighten up! Kid around more. Most of all, don’t take things too seriously. Enjoy yourself—you’re alive and not a zombie (yet).    —Ebert

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