Monday, 9 January 2012

Jottings from the Tropics: 9 Jan 2012

I canvassed some people today (where some = 1) on the pub horse trough situation. At least three Tablelands pubs did have horse troughs, which were used extensively (for horses and probably also for town drunks), until very recently. One went flying off with Cyclone Larry in 2006 and the other two were removed after the buildings burnt down. In the latter cases, not only do the horses have to go thirsty now, but so do the locals. Neither the troughs nor the hotels have been replaced. That’s downright un-Orstrayan.

- o O o -

While I was failing to fall asleep at two o’clock this morning, my mind turned to solving one of the more difficult questions that face humanity — vampire metabolism and the optimum human-to-vampire conversion rate to ensure a continuing supply of fresh blood. In short, sustainability for the blood-sucking undead.

I’m certain this problem has been discussed many times in novels and academic journals and at learned conferences, but I wasn’t going to get out of bed at aforesaid small hour and fire up the computer to check. Of course, the more I contemplated this issue, the less sleepy I became. Anyway, my conclusion was this — unless vampires exert some sort of control over their rates of population increase and resource utilisation, they will become extinct very quickly.

Exactly how quickly, I’m not sure. I don’t know how often yer average vampire feeds or how much blood it consumes in one sitting. That some (all?) vampires are capable of going into a type of diapause, occasionally for centuries, would affect a population’s annual consumption rate. ‘Plague’ years, in which some meddling kid/reporter/high school student inadvertently reanimates an entire swarm will also have a dramatic impact on the figures. There’s a lot to consider here.

And what about the epidemiology of vampirism? Can vampires control the transmission of vampiric tendencies in the way that snakes can deliver venom-free bites? I’d hope so, because a lone vampire infecting only one other human per month will give rise to almost 4,100 vampires in a year and well over 16,000,000 in two. (W, how's my maths?) That’s assuming no staking, no beheading and no exposure to sunlight during the same period.

Which brings me to another issue — rates from the population. Non-vampires seem to be really rather inefficient at it, only dealing with one or two at a time. Even mass culls are not particularly effective. Blowing up an entire town might seem like a good idea, but who’s going to pay to rebuild it? And what about all that potential income lost to a region, especially a rural one? Good grief, some places are suffering enough without having half of the infrastructure wiped from the map by over-zealous vampire hunters. But the economics of vampirism is a conundrum for another sleepy night. One thing at a time.

So here’s the deal, vampires: 1) welcome to the blog; 2) I hope you weren’t offended by the previous paragraph; and 3) you have got to think this through. There are solutions. For example, members of the Ɯberwald League of Temperance (‘Live not in vein’) have abandoned human blood and get their sustenance from other sources. But they live on the Discworld — world and mirror of worlds — where different rules apply. And let’s face it, here on Earth, vampires survive on human blood and it is unreasonable to expect significant dietary change in the short term. (And don’t give me any of that vapid so-called vegetarian malarkey. If I see any porcelain-skinned windswept-and-not-terribly-interesting types shimmering in the daylight and sipping on mouse-blood cocktails, they are going to get pinned to the wall with a star picket. Who’s with me?) The most practical solutions — according to my 2 a.m. brain — are a lower human-to-vampire conversion rate (be exclusive: Count Dracula rather than the Cullens) and nixing the near-immortality thing. Not dying is going to kill you for sure.

Anyway, those were my conclusions. I think, in the future, if I can't sleep I should just stick to counting sheep.


Kirk said...

How about recruitment of non vampires into vampirism? I'm sure there might have some troubles from different blood born diseases too And what are the tax benefits of being a vampire? Are there any?

laurak@forestwalkart said...

the mirror thing's a myth. and so is the ONE BITE and you're changed.

when the vampires finally come 'out of the coffin'...synthetic blood which can be heated to 98.6 in the microwave will be available to all those vamps wishing to mainstream.

(how do i know this? no, i'm not a vampire, but i did watch True Blood)

Snail said...

This is the problem about trying to build stories around beings that are supposed to be human but have fictional biologies.

The recruitment (via bites) of non-vampires to the ranks of vampires appears to proceed at a geometric rate. So without removing individuals from the pop'n, they are just going to keep increasing until everyone's a vampire. Then whose blood would they drink?

They've managed to handle blood-borne diseases for a long time, so that might not be a major issue. They're undead after all. (Although they do metabolise, so here undead = alive.)

Tax benefits? I suppose there'd be an advantage to spending centuries in suspended animation. Though from the few vampire stories that I've read, I think they're all independently wealthy. I don't recall any of them saving receipts and logging phone calls.

Snail said...

Ah, synthetic blood. That's the go. Haven't seen True Blood, but from what you're saying someone's clearly given the problems some thought. Is there further suggestion about non-vampire to vampire conversion rate?

laurak@forestwalkart said... these's a big ordeal to 'turn someone'...they have to be totally drained...buried for a day...then brought back by the vampires blood. now the vampire who brings human dead back to life with their blood, is, in a sense responsible for them...forever. so changing someone over is a real task & responsibility.
it's not like the 'one bite and your turned.' SO there wouldn't be as much turn over as you might expect. of course, in these stories there ARE those vamps that like to get their blood the old fashioned way...bite & suck humans. usually they just drink a little and then 'glamour' them into not remembering...well, where the heck did these puncture wounds come from??!!
(anyway...if you like that kind of fantasy stuff, vampires, shape shifters, and other mythological spirit beings...OH and it's a bit racy...seductive...check out True Blood)