• Paradigm

In his Straight Dope column this week, professional genius Cecil Adams takes a break from spouting off about weird arcana that’s of no practical use to anybody and tackles a much-ignored topic: is the stench of amassed dead bodies, emanating in this case from zombie armies, toxic enough to kill you? Some nasty shit wafts off of dead bodies, Cecil reports, though the scent won’t necessarily do you in. Still: “Conceivably . . . if you were locked up for an extended period with a roomful of rotting zombies, the fumes might accumulate to a perilous degree. I will say personally, however, that if I were in that situation, the danger of hydrogen sulfide poisoning would not be uppermost in my mind.”

This is an important question, and it reminds me of something that’s been bugging me about AMC’s celebrated show The Walking Dead, otherwise a masterpiece of realist dystopianism. But seriously: what is the deal with zombies, when they’re violently assaulted with, say, an ax—a not-infrequent occurrence on the show—spurting blood? My own Adamsian investigation brought me to Internet medical clearinghouse Wikipedia, which in its entry on death (“‘Dying’ redirects here. For the process of coloring, see Dyeing“) claims that one side effect of this common condition is the cessation of cardiac activity. The heart stops pumping, etc. Where is all this undead blood coming from?

Which is to say: if you’re dressing as some sort of sexy zombie this weekend, save a couple bucks on ketchup. There’s no need to overdo it. You’re dead!