Being Black in Video Games

Being Black in real life isn’t super easy. Sure you always have company whenever you go shopping, even if you started alone. You’re more likely to have a living will or healthcare proxy (at least you should). Because Black folks are dropping dead like it’s Jim Crow again.
South Park’s new game recently introduced a slider that was labeled “Difficulty” and changed the character’s race. The darker you are the “harder” the difficulty. It’s funny because it’s true.

At least Fractured But Whole lets you be a person of color if you really want to. Or if you just really want to see a person of color as a hero in a video game. Continue reading “Being Black in Video Games”

Let's Talk about Sex… and Birth Control.

Step one to survival is being prepared for the worst before having to actually survive the worst. Some might say one of the worst consequences of sex is pregnancy. Fortunately, birth control exists to prevent pregnancy– If you’re prepared.

All of the many forms of birth control seek to accomplish the same goal: prevent pregnancy before it happens.

Some methods are for use before sex. Some for use after; and a few for use during sex. Regardless of the method, it’s imperative to have a plan if your plan isn’t to make a baby.
Planned Parenthood does a fantastic job outlining the many birth control options the world currently has to offer. They even offer a handy quiz to help you determine what the best method might be for you.
The Pill or condoms might be a great option while we’re living in the current state of things and shit has yet to hit the fan. However, after an apocalyptic event, while we’re seeking comfort in the private parts of others, The Morning After pill might be the best option. Continue reading “Let's Talk about Sex… and Birth Control.”

Into the Archives: SOLARIS (2002)

SOLARIS is a 2002 movie about…. Space? Love? Time? Truth or Consequences?

SOLARIS is the kind of movie that means different things to different people. It might be a horror movie if you identify with Dr. Gordon. It could be a Love story if you relate more to Dr. Kelvin. Finally, if you relate to Dr. Snow, it’s a kind of existential introspection.
There is a beautiful planet called Solaris that demands to be explored. As with many beautiful things, the planet may be dangerous. Is it’s bright and beautiful display a beacon or a warning?
This ambiguity is what drives the ground crew behind the mission to Solaris to send a security team when they lose contact with the original team. The security team didn’t make it. No one really knows where they went or seems to care. Whatever. Apparently, the next step it to send a psychologist… He also happens to be friends with one of the doctors on the mission… and a qualified astronaut.

Continue reading “Into the Archives: SOLARIS (2002)”

Likely Apocalypses: World Wide Nuclear War

Let’s expand on some of the likely apocalypses we touched on back in our list of likely apocalypses.

First up in the list of likely apocalypses: World Wide Nuclear War

Nuclear war may be inevitable, but we have been lucky so far. However, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that the end of the cold war has made the threat of the nuclear war an irrelevance. In a lot of ways, things are more dangerous than ever. There are two nuclear powers who refuse to play nicely with each other in Pakistan and India, then there is the newly armed and unpredictable North Korean regime, and a belligerent Russia keen to reassert its power to the world. According to analysts, there is a 5% chance that a nuclear war could happen every decade. All it takes is for someone to press the detonation button. A single US stealth bomber can carry 16 B83 nuclear bombs. Each of those bombs can produce 75 times the yield of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and a single Trident submarine can destroy over 40 million people. Continue reading “Likely Apocalypses: World Wide Nuclear War”

How to Trick People Into Liking You…

People are fairly simple creatures who are easily tricked because of their addiction to patterns and basic context cues. People want to trust you, like you, not need to kill you. Heck, you could be an asset to their team if you turn out to be someone they can trust, let their guard down around, and learn to lean on.
We see characters like Daryl on The Walking Dead become fan favorites both in and outside of the show while still being kind of dickish. That’s because in fiction people aren’t real. In fiction, people can’t have all the minutia that actual human relationships are based on.
In reality we dislike people because of their minutia and, surprise, it’s that same bit of detail that makes us either likable or leave-able.

So what are the little things we can do to trick people into liking us?

1. Ask them questions about themselves and their feelings the LISTEN to their responses.

Most people listen to respond rather than listening to understand. Think about it the next time you observe a conversation. The person who isn’t speaking hears something they think they know about and have a response poised and ready on the tip of their tongue. They’ve officially stopped listening to understand the other persons point and are just waiting for a break so they can respond.
This is rude and selfish. If you’re telling someone about your dearly departed grandmother and you see their eyebrows raise up and their mouth do that “O” shape where  they clearly have something to say about hospice facilities while you’re still talking about… Well it doesn’t matter now because clearly your audience doesn’t care.
Don’t show people you don’t care about what they’re saying by listening to respond rather than to understand. Sit, Listen, and take time to process what you’ve heard. Then respond. Keep in mind, sometimes the best response is just agreement or acknowledgement. “I hear you.” “That’s the worst.” “I can’t believe that.” “I’m so sorry you had to experience that.”

2. Be helpful when you can and give a brief reason when you can’t.

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and do nothing or let someone take care of you. Sometimes it’s super rude even if you technically have nothing to do.
The worst thing you can say when you’re on a team or doing anything with other people is, “That’s not my job.” This one phrase is a sure way to make people side-eye you with utter, unabridged contempt. It’s worse than, “no” or “I don’t know how” or  even making an excuse that makes it clear that you don’t want it.
“That’s not my job” is somehow both dismissive, condescending, and mean. You’re rubbing it in that they still have work to do AND you’re not going to help; not because you can’t but because you just don’t want to.
It doesn’t hurt to help. If anything you gain skills and build a rapport with people through a shared struggle. And if you can’t help someone, don’t waste their time whining about all the things you have to do or how your arm hurts or whatever your real or fake reason is. They asked for help not a time suck. Again, this is selfish. This person is so busy or overwhelmed that they’ve humbled themself and asked for help.
Apologize with a sentence (not a run-on) explaining why you can’t. “Sorry, I’m in the middle of cooking these beans (they understand that the beans will burn if you leave them, you don’t need to explain).” “Sorry, I don’t know how to swim; maybe Joe does? (it’s great if you can offer an alternative; but don’t commit someone else to helping)”

3. Do what you say you’ll do.

The worst people are the people who can’t be relied on. People who can’t bother remembering to do things for others and are regularly letting people down.
It’s not just about being the kind of person that people can’t depend on, it’s about being the kind of person that makes life harder for other people. Your slack needs to be picked up or projects can’t be completed or children go hungry and die (in extreme cases).
The solution isn’t to shy away from responsibility, it’s to recognize that what you do or don’t do effects other people and get it done.

4. Try not to complain. If you must, follow up with your solution and plan.

Everyone hates their job. Everyone’s life is hard. Everyone’s body starts to fail after 25. Everyone could stand to lose a few pounds or tone up or eat better. Shut up and do something about it or just shut up.
Complaining gives people this great feeling of release because it’s good to get things off your chest– unless you’re the person listening to the complaints. Complaints are not communication. People who complain want sympathy not solutions which means there’s no real role for people who listen to complaints.
If you want advice, ask for advice. If you want to complain, get a diary or come ready with your own advice.
Like listening to understand, have conversations WITH people, not at people.

5. Mind your manners.

The weird thing about killing people with kindness it that they never seem to see it coming.  I had a roommate in college (who is alive and well to this day) who hated me– specifically she hated having a roommate. I went out of my way to pretend I didn’t notice.
I was nice to her and respectful of our space. I didn’t try to be her friend or invite her to parties. But I was kind to her friends and let her use my refrigerator and offered help when it was convenient or relevant. Eventually she and I genuinely got along swimmingly. I forgot she made me feel unwelcome and she forgot to make me feel unwelcome. The kindness ended up killing the animosity.
Being nice doesn’t cost you anything, doesn’t make you look bad, and doesn’t make life harder. Making the effort to mind your manners is not only basic decency but also the finishing touch you need to make your personality the kind that people are fond of.

So can you trick people into liking you?

Making a habit of all five of these things will guarantee more people will like you. Unfortunately these are not tricks. These are just things that people should do and other people will respond to.
You can fake them for a time, but eventually you’ll either grow to be a more likable person or your true colors will shine through and you’ll get a lot of side-eye and hear a lot of whispered conversations.
P.S.: Sorry if this headline tricked you into clicking. TLDR: some things don’t come naturally but you if you try them you might like the results.

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Quick Survival Tip: Stand up for Yourself

Survival, in a pre- or post-apocalyptic world, requires compromise and self-reliance. We often see apocalyptic fiction where there is one leader and it’s his way or no way and everyone just gets dragged along with wide eyes and gaping jaws.
That didn’t work out for Rick Grimes or any of Alice‘s (Resident Evil) friends. Why? Because everyone else had thoughts and ideas and didn’t stand up for them or the value of their lives.
Sometimes people try to speak loudly and use tactics to assert dominance and get you to go with their flow.
Often, we think, this isn’t right. But rarely do we vocalize that thought and even less often do we stand up and fight for it.
Standing up for yourself can be seen as more hassle than it’s worth. However, at the end of the world, with a leader making decisions you’re not 100% for, standing up for yourself could be the only thing between survival and death.
When Rick Grimes is telling you you’re storming Woodbury or Alice is shoving a gun in your hand and leaving you with a child to protect, you’ll wish you had more practice standing up for yourself.
I’m terrible at speaking up for myself, but recently I had the opportunity, and I took it!
I had an insurance claim for my phone recently and they tried to replace my phone with what they were calling an equivalent phone. It wasn’t and everyone knew it.
I called the service line and was asked at least four times in a three minute call if I wanted to complete the claim (read: shut the fuck up and take the offer).
I tried to explain to the woman on the phone that I’ve done my research and I— She just started spewing facts about this lesser phone (it has a calculator too!) at me like an eight-year-old with their fingers in their ears saying, “la la la, I can’t hear you.”
That was neither helpful nor respectful. I still refused to close the claim.
It was clear that they weren’t being fair and my expected role in this scenario was to be quiet, stupid, and compliant.
Instead I took to tweeting (not rudely, mind you) as it’s the loudest place on the internet, citing my research, and refusing to drop or close the claim. I pointed out that what they were doing was quite clear and very offensive.
So, after I stood up for myself, the called me and offered a much more reasonable solution with little to no pain or suffering involved.
Because I stood up for myself, I had a new, actually equivalent phone three days after the incident.
I won’t get into the mechanics of customer service but shit that was frustrating. I wish it had been that easy from Jump Street.
Unfortunately, making things fair and easy isn’t in everyone’s best interest. Most people will feel that frustration and give in to the stat-spewing call rep or finger-pointing ex-sheriff.
If you realize you’re getting a raw deal, don’t stand for it. Channel my mom (who I use to call to deal with things like this), or your demanding aunt, or your picky friend and speak up.
When it comes to the division of food for survival and someone tries to tell you that you don’t deserve an equal share, you’ll be better prepared from practice and you’ll develop the confidence to know you deserve better.

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Killing Zombies: What they don't tell you

The likelihood of zombies rising up and trying to eat your face isn’t the point. What is the point is that if zombies do rise up you need to be prepared to kill them or you’ll get eaten.
Everyone knows you should aim to disable a zombie’s brain to take them down for good. But what do you do before you start swinging? How do you prepare to fight instead of flee? Continue reading “Killing Zombies: What they don't tell you”

Why you should try to stay on our good sides.

Alright, so this is actually a post about us, because we are awesome.
In March, ICoS will have been going for a year. A year! In that year, I have got to know Tavia and Char quite well, and I tell you this: if these girls lived in the UK I would move heaven and earth to ensure they were on my post-apocalypse team. Why? I’ll tell you why.
Continue reading “Why you should try to stay on our good sides.”

Non-Essential But Awesome Skills To Learn Before The Apocalypse

I have mad skills when it comes to Microsoft Excel. I can cook a mean dinner. And, I’m somehow capable of folding a fitted sheet without using curse words or outside tools. None of these skills will help me survive anything outside of a housewifeing contest or the cubical wastelands — everyday life.
I was watching Ninja Warrior and I realized, there are some serious skills that are mostly useless in everyday life but would be insanely useful in apocalyptic life. Continue reading “Non-Essential But Awesome Skills To Learn Before The Apocalypse”

A Discussion of CROSSED

Crossed is a graphic novel written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Jacen Burrows, and published via Avatar Press. The story is set in a world where suddenly there are people who “stop being nice, and start being real.” Unfortunately, “real” in this scenario is bloodthirsty, rape-crazy, and straight up ultra-violent.
Crossed” is how the infected in this universe are described because they develop a cross-like rash across their faces. The rash isn’t an issue. What is and issue is that fact that the infected, unlike other apocalyptic infected, want to rape you to death and mutilate you and destroy you as slowly and horrifically as possible. Because that’s fun now, and okay, because no one can or will stop them. Don’t get me wrong, the Crossed can and do feel pain — but they love it and it won’t slow them down. So, either kill them dead or don’t get caught.
One of the main themes in Crossed was not getting caught. Our protagonists pushed on and on in a constant effort to not get caught by the Crossed until eventually they realized that there are some serious flaws in a plan to live just so you won’t die.
anninyn and I both read volume one recently and needed to discuss it. So we did. Together. In detail. With spoilers, and swears, and graphic descriptions, and even some spoilers for the movie Serenity (which, if you haven’t seen you need to; so, go fix that ASAP).
Below is our discussion and we hope you join in on it if you’ve read the book too. Continue reading “A Discussion of CROSSED”