In light of the riots at the University of Braintree, where Brainist zombies openly espousing the murder of humans and the eating of their brains clashed with counter-protestors, many had expected Zombie President Brayne to issue a statement. In a press conference on the steps of his company, Brayne Trust, the president offered the following remarks:

“It’s sad that once again we are seeing paranoid humans taking advantage of solid zombie citizens to advance their agenda of hate.”

This had many humans up in arms, claiming that in failing to denounce the Brainists was akin to endorsing them. “The Brainists say that they should be able to crack open my head and feast on what lies within whenever they’re peckish, said counter-protestor Anthony McGee. “They’re literally saying they want to kill me, what’s so hard to denounce about that?”

Referring to the Zombie Wars, McGee added: “Didn’t we fight a war over this?”

The Zombie White House issued a clarifying statement later in the afternoon, noting that President Brayne “categorically discourages the eating of any brains under most circumstances.” Pressed for stronger language, both the Zombie Press Secretary and President Brayne himself insisted that the previously issued statements were “more than sufficient.”

For their part, Brainists saw the remarks as a clear victory. “President Brayne struck a blow for true zombie rights today,” said Brainerd Earl, the Grand Necromancer of the Cerebrum, Cerebellum, Colossum (CCC) Society. “Even if the time isn’t yet right for him to declare total support, we know he’s got our back.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Zombie President Brayne scored a major victory today as the Senotaph voted 50-50 to confirm his nominee for Secretary of Dessication. The tie was broken by Zombie Vice President Mortis in favor, and nominee Botulia Detritus begins her duties immediately.

Many Senotaphers in the opposition Necrotic Party denounced the nominee, insisting that Ms. Detritus had no record of public service and knew nothing of dessication, having had her own children mummified at private clinics. The interview process had also raised eyebrows, as Ms. Detritus removed and stroked her brain several times during the proceedings before announcing she had no idea what anyone was talking about.

Her association with the Brainist movement has also come under scrutiny, with Ms. Detritus on record as saying that teachers should be prepared to eat their students’ brains. She has also branded mixed zombie-fleshie schools “failures” and supported the controversial brain voucher system, in which zombies trade “vouchers” representing the brains of the living which they intend to consume as soon as it becomes possible. “Ms. Detritus’s nomination,” said Senotapher Gland, head of the Necrotic Party caucus, “will set back integrated zombie/fleshy education a hundred years.”

But Zombie President Brayne’s Mortician Party defended the nominee as an “outsider” with “fresh ideas.” At a press conference, Blight House Press Secretary Amy G. Dala noted that Ms. Detritus’s “private sector experience” made her “the perfect choice for bringing rigor mortis back into the cirriculum.” When asked by an NBS reporter about whether the post was a “reward” for Ms. Detritus’s $1.2 billion dollars in contributions to the Mortician Party over the last five years, Secretary Dala dismissed this as “fake news” before slaying the reporter and eagerly consuming his brain.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

I’m a ranter by nature. That’s my thing, my raison d’etre. I don’t often rant about politics, mostly because I am far outranted there. Anything I can say has been said a hundred times better and a hundred times louder.

But today, reading the news idly and watching horrifying news trickle in from the various elections, I had a thought. And it’s one that I haven’t heard articulated before, so forgive me from departing from my usual spiel for a moment. I promise I’ll be back to ranting about pop culture and movies soon enough.

Andrew A. Sailer is a registered Republican, which often surprises people as I travel in circles where saying one is a registered Nazi would generate less scorn. The reason for this is coming of age in the Clinton era, when there seemed to be no accountability for any number of moral and ethical failings so long as the stock market stayed high. I stay thusly registered because of a strong streak of contrarianism–telling me that all the cool kids are doing something is a great way to get me to never try. I also have a strong fiscally conservative streak.

But that’s neither here nor there. My point is that because of this iconoclasm, I often get told exactly what people think about the Republican candidate de jour. And it’s usually that the candidate is a dangerous radical who will start a world war the second their finger is on The Button. I’ve heard it said that everyone from Reagan to McCain was a trigger-happy fundamentalist, even such milquetoasts as Mitt Romney. It’s become such a staid refrain that among my relatively few friends on the right, being vehemently attacked has become something of a badge of honor: if you’re being shouted at by people you disagree with, you must be doing something right.

But something’s happened now. My pals on the left have cried wolf once too often. So now that there is a candidate who really is their worst fears given life and physical form, they’ve got nothing. He’s as trigger-happy as they said Reagan was, as intolerant as they said Bush was, as bullheaded as they said McCain was. But since it’s all been heard before, and hollowly, it falls on deaf ears. It seems like the old refrain of “if they’re attacking them, they must be onto something.”

When you cry wolf one too many times, no one heeds you when the real wolf is at your political door. And then, ladies and gentleman, we are all devoured.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

“Miss Betsy, Miss Betsy!” the little girl tugged at her teacher’s arm.

“Yes, what is it?” said Miss Betsy, indulgent but exhausted after the child’s constant barrage of questions.

“Why does our class have four Donalds, three Hillaries, two Marcos, and five Teds?”

“Well, you see, it’s because you kids were born in 2016,” said Miss Betsy.

“Why does that matter?” asked the girl.

“People often name their children after candidates they like, and there are an awful lot of candidates in an election year.”

“Oh,” said the girl. “I don’t like that. I wish our moms and dads were more creative.”

“Why do you say that, Berniesandersia?” said Miss Betsy.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

“I’ll be blunt, sir. Starting in 1952, we began placing the brains of specially trained cats into homo sapiens bodies tank-grown for that purpose.”

“Why would we ever do such a thing?”

“We needed agents who could be trained but were also capable of independent thought and deviousness and utter amorality. Experiments with natural-born humans ended badly since they were incapable of being trained, and dogs trained well but could not be taught amorality and were incapable of improvisation.”

“Hm. That’s not exactly what I had in mind when you said ‘classified’ but so be it. Why is this an issue? Was the program a success?”

“A smashing success, sir. Some of our best agents came from project Catmatter, though they all invariably went rogue.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“Well, one of our former agents is the current premier of Russia. And we just elected another President of the United States.”

“My God.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

An ACT Debuting Mathematical Constant Proffered for the Education and Edification of the State of Michigan Gratis and Without any Royalties Whatsoever Upon Its Acceptance and Adoption by the Legislature of the Same.

1. WHEREAS Mathematical Amateur Monthy has praised the method employed by J. Dewing Woodard for trisecting the angle as “unique.”*

2. WHEREAS the Michigan Society of First-Grade Mathematics Teachers has noted that J. Dewing Woodard’s method of doubling the cube is “peerless.”**

3. And WHEREAS the Lansing Compass Club has, upon testing J. Dewing Woodard’s innovation for squaring the circle, declared it “like nothing we have ever seen.”***

4. BE IT ENACTED on this twenty-sixth of November, 1915, that the Legistlature of the State of Michigan in Congress Assembled does hereby APPROVE and ADOPT J. Dewing Woodard methods.

5. And BE IT ENACTED that, henceforth, they shall be applied to the financial and pension management plan(s) of this State’s greatest settlement, the City of Detroit, in perpetuity that their genius and foresight may be as evident in a hundred years hence as they are today.

Inspired by the song ‘3.14159265’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

In Washington today, the President signed the Surname Redressment Act into law. Passed by a narrow margin in a Congress controlled by Democrats, the Act establishes official government aid for those whose surnames begin with the last five letters of the English alphabet.

This aid includes monthly Alphabet Aid available to those who qualify in addition to other programs. Federal law will now require universities and colleges to consider an applicant’s last name in their favor if it is at the back of the alphabet, and the act of sorting people or things by their first letter has been officially outlawed.

Critics of the government, however, were quick to condemn the Act as equivalent to the notorious Alphabet Laws of the 1930s. The Laws had officially discrimitated against those with last names beginning with V, W, X, Y, and Z and offered financial incentives to change them. This resulted in an “Alphabetized Generation” of Yaridoviches, Xaviers, and Zarathustras who lost or gave up their original surnames.

The President, in signing the Act into law, stated that “this is about redressing the wrongs of kindergarten lines past and present, and affirming the human dignity of those who have suffered alphabetical discrimination in their lives.”

Proponents of the Act cite studies claiming long-term psychological and socal damage to children forced to the back of alphabetized lines. In their hurry to agree with the President, though, many of his supporting organizations seem to have not fully read the Act. The American Library Association, for instance, issued s press release hailing the decision followed by another calling for rational and civil discourse after it became apparent that the Act rendered every existing library classification system illegal.

At press time, it was unclear whether the law as signed would extend only to birth names or whether it would include name changes due to marriage or other causes. When asked, the President referred the question to his press secretary, who claimed that “top men” were currently working out the finer details of implementation.

The Surname Redressment Act takes effect one week after being signed into law, a period of time that supporters called “more than adequete” for its implementation.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

SENATOR ZEBULON T. MUDDLEFORD (D-FL): I like my hand. I’ll see you your “yes” vote on a highway appropriations bill and raise you one “yes” vote on a bridge to nowhere.

SENATOR RUTHERFORD L. CUBBS (R-NV): Page!

PAGE: Yes, Senator?

SENATOR RUTHERFORD L. CUBBS (R-NV): How many bridges in Senator Muddleford’s state equal the highway appropriation in the pot?

PAGE: 2.5, Senator.

SENATOR ZEBULON T. MUDDLEFORD (D-FL): Very well, “yes” votes on 2.5 bridges to nowhere.

SENATOR ALOSYIUS J. URSINE (W-IL): Is there even that much nowhere in you state?

SENATOR ZEBULON T. MUDDLEFORD (D-FL): We can always make some. Senator Ursine, are you going to ante up or fold?

SENATOR ALOSYIUS J. URSINE (W-IL): Getting too rich for my blood. Will you gentlemen accept an abstention on an ethics censure vote?

SENATOR RUTHERFORD L. CUBBS (R-NV): Throw in a “yes” vote on an authorization for the unconstitutional use of force and you’ve got a bet.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

You’s think that, given a title like the one above, that I’d be ranting against Hollywood’s lack of innovation, its crass celebrity culture, its smug sense of self-satisfaction, or any one of the numerous sins the industry has committed in the 100 years of its existence.

You’d be wrong. I come before you today to rant about something very different: Hollywood’s double standard when it comes to censorship and activism.

One of the major points that industry professionals have emphasized is the ability of their movies to make social points and advance worthy causes, addressing racism, classism, other -isms, and oppression at home and abroad. And it’s true that movies have done that…up to a point. But it’s only recently that the line in the sand has become clear.

Remember in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Soviets were the go-to bad guys? Films weren’t afraid to point out the brutal nature and horrific human rights abuses committed by the communists. And yet, in films today, you never see the few contemporary communist regimes–with one exception as we shall see–portrayed as the rights-abusing boogeymen that they often are. Why is that?

The answer is simple: money. The old Soviet bloc, and other states that espoused similar versions of nastiness in favor of a future utopia that would never be (as opposed to the fascists, who espoused similar versions of nastiness in favor of a past utopia that never was)…they never screened American films, or did so only rarely. There was no money to be lost by pointing out horrific crimes, because there was no chance of Hollywood movies unspooling officially behind the iron curtain.

That’s all changed. In a move that can only be described as Machiavellian brilliance, nasty regimes have opened up their markets to Hollywood films with strict central control. You can make your millions from a movie-hungry foreign audience…but only if the powers-that-be say so. This creates a powerful economic incentive not to piss off a given country, like China, by calling attention to any social points or worthy causes. Thus instead you have craven sucking up to the selfsame governments where once there might have been criticism, like the scenes added to Iron Man 3 or the evil, inept Americans as a contrast to the heroic, competent Chinese government in Transfourmers: The One With Swords and Dinosaurs.

Perhaps a worse example has just been dumped on our laps, though: The Interview. For a long time, North Korea has been one of the few acceptable movie bogeymen, with its abuses and excesses and brutality always on glittering display, because the Hermit Kingdom, like the Soviets of old, allowed no American movies outside of the Kim family’s private theater and there was therefore no chance of alienating a revenue-paying audience. Only the Nazis, discredited and repudiated and dead to history, were more reliable villains throughout the 2000s and 2010s–hell, several movies and video games (like the remake of Red Dawn and the first-person shooters Homefront) were reworked at a late date to swap out Chinese villains for North Korean ones in defiance of all logic. North Korea was “safe.”

But that’s all changed. The Interview apparently touched a deep nerve with the North Koreans, portraying as it does the attempted assassination of King Jong-Un. So the Koreans retained a group of hackers to sabotage Sony, the producer and distributor of the film. Releasing internal documents, emails, and even a few completed films…all this hurt the filmmakers where it hurt most, in the wallet. Realizing that they were in the same position to lose money through hackery, theater chains have begun pulling the movie entirely. They’re billing it a “safety” issue, but it’s really a monetary one–North Korea has proven, at least for now, its ability to cost Hollywood money, and no one wants to pay that price for their principles.

So, in an even more craven move than crudely editing Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing into Iron Man 3 to suck up to China, the fear of revenue loss has essentially allowed the world’s most brutal dictator veto power to censor media critical of him. People are dying under jackboots in the Hermit Kingdom as they have been since 1945, but rather than let even a relatively mild “Springtime for Kim Jong-Un” satire unspool safely, Hollywood would prefer to quietly go back to making money.

I’m sorry. That’s craven, it’s crass, and it sets a dreadful precedent for everyone who doesn’t like their portrayal in free media: if you cost people enough money either by denying them revenue or hacking it away, they’ll meekly let you go about your business. That, in my mind, is the biggest reason to seek out and see The Interview if you can find anyone brave enough to distribute it: to send the message to those selfsame craven, crass bean counters that there are bigger things at stake than their damn bottom line. A thousand reboots, a thousand thousand remakes, a thousand thousand thousand vanilla rom-coms before handing the veto stamp to those who deserve the harshest, glitziest spotlight the industry has shone upon them.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Chadwick Thaddeus Harris, known as Tad to his friends but often called Chad or Chaddeus in discourse after two quasi-pseudonyms he used in his early writing, wrote his first poems as an undergraduate at the University of Northern Mississippi and immediately attracted media attention and stiff criticism. After all 1,000 issues of the local student newspaper were stolen to prevent the publication of a Harris poem in 2002, his case was taken up by the national news media and became an intense focal point of discussion. So much so, in fact, that it all but completely overshadowed the poems themselves.

Harris tended to use the common vernacular of unrhymed, unmetered, and often prosaic poetry common to many poets in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, but his subject matter tended toward right-wing causes. Poems against immigration, against affirmative action, and in favor of the controversial military strikes of the Clinton and Bush II eras were just some of Harris’s most-cited works. The fact that he used the poetic vernacular of his contemporaries to espouse cause that those selfsame contemporaries, by and large, found incredibly distasteful, classist, and even racist, seemed to be the source of particular vitriol.

The poems have been claimed by many to have little value as poetry when compared with their value as screed, but the perfect storm of media attention generated by his first few publications established Harris as a cause celebre often held up by right and left alike as a symbol. It’s clear in retrospect how uncomfortable this made Harris, being held up as a paragon on one hand and a boogeyman on the other. In the few interviews he granted, he is consistent in denying any larger political focus to his work, holding that he wrote solely for himself and that readers were seeing what they wanted to say.

Authorities in Hopewell continue to treat his death as a suicide, but have steadfastly refused to release any further details. Harris’s blog, the only public space in which he had any significant presence, contains a final entry that many have seen as serving as a suicide note of sorts, though it is dated more than two months prior to the discovery of his body:

“The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I am seeing the end of a great age of peace and plenty for my country, to be followed by an age of eclipse, division, and sorrow. What would, I wonder, a Roman have done if they could have known the anarchy that would follow the death of Alexander Severus? As much as I pray I am wrong, I also pray that I will never live to see myself proven right.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!