The Horsemen of the Hypocalypse: A Revised Guide for Evil Overlords
My friends and I have often been called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. After all, between us we have mad scientists, mad medic, mad pilot, mad students and mad beer guy. Oh, that’s five – no wait – really, it’s eight. Eight Horsemen – except two are women… Of the Apocalypse – well, only theoretically… and as scientists, that should really be “hypothetically” since we haven’t actually tested it… The Hypothetical Apocalypse, then – the Hypocalypse.
The Eight Horsepersons of the Hypocalypse…
…Because these days, a mad scientist needs friends: a safety officer (medic), emergency transportation (pilot), minions (students), and refreshing adult beverages (beer guy)! When the time comes to unleash our zombie plague and take over the world, we have someone covering all bases – entomology for insect vectors; medic for the human vectors; the “thingy in the brainy”; Intel, for, well, intelligence; transport and aerial vectors, and a musician to create a truly epic soundtrack!
Being an evil mad scientist sure has changed from the “Good Ol’ Days” when an extinct volcano, piranha pools, big red button on the laser and a white Persian cat were all that were required to be a “good” Evil Overlord. OSHA regulations and Workplace Safety have decertified volcanic lairs due to silicosis and radon. Piranha pools require yellow-painted safety rails, a protective screen cover, water-surface motion alarm and Animal Care and Use certification that the piranha will not be mistreated in any way. The Big Red Button which triggers the City Destroying Laser or rockets requires positive action locks, should be in a separate room behind multiple security stations, and should be painted a psychologically-soothing mint green. Don’t *even* get started on the Environmental Impact Statements, Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), Unmanned Aircraft System registration and space treaties!
Oh, and by the way, cat hair and delicate electronics don’t mix. An Evil Overlord with a cat will have to strip, shower and don a clean-room suit before entering the Control Room. It’s rather difficult to be seen as an imposing Evil Overlord while wearing white footie-jammies and a hair net. [Not to mention that a truly hairless cat just doesn’t set the right tone. – the Entomologist]
What’s an up-and-coming mad scientist to do in this age of regulation, oversight and Environmental Health and Safety Inspections?
Sure, there’s a list out on the Internet of Evil Overloard Do’s and Don’t’s – Don’t monologue, don’t have a big red button, do hide the self-destruct, do provide a generous retirement plan for your minions. However, it is the opinion of the Eight Horsepersons of the Hypocalypse that the list just doesn’t go far enough! Consider the following, instead…
No, no, a thousand times, no! Have you every *been* in an extinct volcano? They are hot, dirty (black dust gets *everywhere*) and too far away from civilization. Merely “dormant” volcanoes are prone to become un-extinct when the so-called “Hero” sets off your Doomsday Bomb and releases the plug holding back all of that pent-up magma. Extinct volcanoes tend *not* to have that pressure, rather, they have a disturbing tendency to collapse into the empty magma chamber, ruining all of your laboriously collected artwork and tasteful interior decorating.
Instead, consider a nice tropical island *without* a volcano! Waterfalls are nice. The sound of water falling is an excellent white noise cover for your activities and they provide a natural way to get rid of the waste heat from your laboratory, manufacturing and electronics. They are also just plain soothing – after a long, hard day of planning World Conquest, don’t you deserve a relaxing frozen drink beside a beautiful waterfall?
On the other hand, tropical paradises with waterfalls – like extinct volcanoes – are usually so darned far from civilization. It’s awfully hard to pop into Trader Joe’s or Starbucks when it’s a minimum 8 hour flight back to the city. [Of course, you will need to have your own pilot – be sure to treat them well – but that will be covered later! – the Pilot]. Consider finding a nice inner city neighborhood that can use a tidy influx of jobs and capital. [Call it ‘Urban Renewal,” renovate historic buildings, and you can probably get the government to pay *you* for the job! – the Biomedical Graduate Student]
[Indeed, revive that urban area enough and the Starbucks and Trader Joe’s will come to you! Plus if you revive say Detroit, which is already an international shipping port, who’s going to notice your large shipments of weird things required by your plan? – the Entomologist]
[Invest in state of the art transportation equipment – or better yet, invent your own! But ensure that your transportation staff is given plenty of time to learn and practice upon said equipment before any sort of evil plan is put into place. And remember, ergonomics is not just the study of human transactions! Design your badass escape vehicles to work well with their human operators. Style counts! – the Pilot]
[Better yet, form your own charity that has an air wing which provides airlift capacity to other charities in cases of emergency or hard to reach areas. Other charities and the government can help fund your private air force! – the Biomedical Graduate Student]
IACUC and IRB panels
These days, a Biomedical Researcher can’t scratch their nose without filing regulatory paperwork [What is the duration of scratching? How many layers of dermis will be disturbed? Is the scratching device FDA approved?] One advantage of being an evil genius mad scientist is doing away with all of the regulatory burden and oversight of the academic and corporate researchers. Unfortunately, that is a dangerous precedent, considering that the Hero can shut you down with a simple phone call to the USDA!
Create your own certification authorities: Environmental Health and Safety department (EH&S, with Chemical Safety and Radiation Safety review boards), Institutional Animal Care and Use committee (IACUC, for animal research), and Internal Review Board (IRB, for human studies). The committees need a charter, a set of standard operating procedures to be employed throughout your organization, regular meetings and minutes, and both internal and external advisors who are experts in the field – clinicians for the IRB, veterinarians for the IACUC and a Health Physicist/Chemist for EH&S. The beauty of this plan is that as long as the committees follow appropriate regulations for their review procedures, they can decide that creating Rodents of Unusual Size is a perfectly legitimate and ethically sound laboratory procedure and the government cannot say otherwise. In fact, you can probably get government grants to pay for the administrative costs and compensate your external advisory board members!
Sure, it’s a cost-saving measure, but absolutely no outsourcing. Hire professionals to build your headquarters [Note, *not* a “lair,” you need to avoid keywords such as this to maintain a low profile in the intelligence databases – the Intel Graduate Student]. Professionally designed interfaces will avoid many of those inconvenient “back doors” which can be exploited by the Hero and Government Agents. [However, beware that this is no guarantee! – the Intel Graduate Student] Keep in mind that there have been cases in the news lately in which government has ordered a company to unlock or provide an “official” back door into the system. This is why you want to hire your own developers! A good Design Engineer will ensure that the Weapon Activation and Self-Destruct mechanisms are totally separate – preferably in separate rooms, cities or even continents!
Have a business plan and stick to it. If you don’t have a business plan, check with your bank, your insurer, you investment counselor for a recommendation. Don’t have any of those? Get them! Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance! Seriously, there’s a Wharton Business School graduate out there desperately in need of a job. Hire the help you need.
Invest in small businesses. Monopolies are not necessarily a good idea. You won’t face resentment from local business owners if you are their main customer. [Nobody wants to go out of business because the company that they relied on for income got forced into divestiture by the court! – the Biomedical Grad Student]
In addition to Design Engineers, don’t forget the Architects! [Remember that architecture affects morale. Do not give into the temptation to build ugly buildings based on the Brutalism of the 1970s. Instead look at the factory and lab designs of the Victorian Era with an eye towards modern OSHA requirements. If the research permits it, install windows for natural light. Use tasteful (and tactical) landscaping around your buildings. Build paths and gardens, perhaps with outdoor lunch shelters. – the Entomologist]
Hire the best. Pay the best. Get the best.
The Peasants are Revolting: Improving Minion Morale
Unless you have a few million cloned little yellow – um, creatures – to do your bidding, you need to consider an investment in the health and well-being of your minions. Slave labor is not a good idea. It is against international conventions, breeds resentment, offers too many opportunities to the Hero, and in the long run can cost more than you save. [Not to mention, it attracts the attention of every law enforcement agency between here and Interpol. – the Intel Grad Student]
Pay well. Happy minions are loyal minions.
On the other hand, be very careful with termination procedures. If a minion needs to leave your service, it is counterproductive to simply eliminate them. It’s bad for morale. Instead, offer a generous retirement plan and build a retirement village within your “arcology” [Note: *not* a “compound” – see above re: specific Intel trigger phrases! – the Intel Grad Student]
[Offer retaining fees for minions. If injured on the job or unable to continue due to, say bad knees, don’t just pay the insurance claim, pay for retaining fee. Even if they can’t continue with your company after they can serves as sources of information if they go elsewhere. – the Biomedical Grad Student]
Promote healthcare and good hygeine – have a generous health plan, low deductible insurance, well equipped hospitals and clinics, health education plans and outreach clinics. Don’t neglect your own health and hygiene, either. Get some rest. After all, “if you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything!” Get the best treatments for yourself – medical and cosmetic. A bald head, pointed goatee and a penguin-like waddle are dead giveaways. Visit the health club, get a trainer. Stay fit so that you can outrun anything. Keep in mind that the Hero is looking for the bald, fat guy with the white cat – be the ripped rock star and mess with his head.
Cover the relatives as well as your minions: A sick relative needing an expensive surgery can lead to a serious security breach. Counter-intelligence loves to find a weakness in your minions’ home lives. Close those gaps and secure your borders. [*Always* listen to the medic/doctor. If the Doc says “avoid this condition” – you’d damn well better avoid it lest they decide to enforce their orders with creative pharmaceuticals and genetic agents! – the Medic]
[Partner with a local university, preferably a research university. Support their research in fields that you are interested in – it’s not outsourcing if it’s supported by your generous endowment! But, don’t forget to fund other areas so that it is not obvious what you are interested in. – the Biomedical Grad Student]
Endow scholarships for all students to compete for, but also offer tuition remission programs as a benefit to employees. Provide jobs and vocational training. When the Hero comes looking for information, your investment will pay off in security and loyalty. When everyone works for you, *wants* to work for you, and is happy and satisfied, they’re pretty much guaranteed to tell the Hero that “there’s no one here by that name!” [Nothing ensures loyalty like paying for someone’s kids to go to a high quality university! – the Biomedical Grad Student]
Support local churches, law enforcement, emergency services, and the military. The community is going to have a hard time seeing you as a bad guy if you are the sponsor of the local interfaith council, the guy that bought the town a pair of police dogs and the new fire truck, as well as the guy that accidentally ran over, backed up over and ran over again the incompetent head of the local VA hospital.
Invest in charities. [Don’t forget to sponsor feel good legislation – it’s for the children. – the Medic]. Sponsor the local fair, scout troops, 4H, FFA. [Sponsor summer internships for promising future plant and animal breeders and skilled tradespeople – after all, even Jabba had a skilled (and loyal) handler for his Rancor! – the Entomologist]
[Sponsor internships in research labs with genetic engineering as well as veterinary medicine and animal behavior – what’s the point of creating vicious attack-sea-bass with “fricken’ lasers” if you can’t control them? – the Beer Guy]
Invest in quality martial arts and weapons training. No one needs site security that can’t hit a bullet with the broad side of a barn. Remember: “only stormtroopers could be so precise” and that “storm troopers can’t hit anything”? It’s a fine balance between merely *appearing* incompetent (while being supremely competent) to lull the enemy into false confidence – and appearing competent to discourage the enemy instead. Hire the best trainers – better yet, send your own minions off to train and achieve certification as trainers. It will be a sound investment in your own security, and the morale boost from intramural competition is another plus. Martial arts promotes defense and is a healthy activity. Skill academies for the kids will help raise the next generation of loyal minions, and provide stress relief for the adults in a safe [and secure – the Intel Grad Student] environment.
Patents and Intellectual Property:
Learn from Monsanto – use lawyers, but also maintain good public relations. [Don’t hire, clone your own legal staff and send them off to the best schools and internships – the Beer Guy]
Have your scientists and/or engineers come up with some interesting things as a result of their research for you? Why not help them patent those products? [An additional revenue stream will benefit you and your researchers! The Entomologist].
Diversify, diversify, diversify.
All of the above takes money. If your factories and laboratories are producing high-demand products *in addition* to your secret weapons, zombie virus and potent hallucinogens, you’ll have multiple built-in revenue streams to support your core business and provide jobs and job security for your minions and their extended families.
Avoid overly long explanations. We understand – you wouldn’t be an Evil Overlord if you weren’t smart and a bit egotistical. You’ve worked hard for this moment, and it’s important to take a little “me time” to really enjoy it. All well and good – but make sure you’re gloating is short and to the point.
Use bullet points or an outline, no more than can fit in 10 point Arial on a 3 x 5 index card [Avoid Powerpoint! A bored audience is a dangerous audience. – the Medic] Stick to your card with very little variation. You don’t want to give your nemesis any way to derail your train of thought to distract *you* – studies show that’s when the nemesis is liable to use a hidden gadget to escape his bonds. [The main thing you have to keep in mind is this: Is the euphoria of gloating worth the potential of losing everything? – the Beer Guy]
If you really *want* to monologue, you can do it as long as you keep operational security in mind! Details of your secret plan? Oops, that was the one you discarded six months ago. Location of the bombs? Sorry, I forgot that my GPS was malfunctioning! [Remember to have fun with it, too. If the “hero” does escape, there is nothing funnier than watching him try to get to sub basement 13 to disable the hydrogen feed for a project cancelled 6 months ago. It will keep him occupied and out of the way while you finish your real plan. – the Biomedical Grad Student]
[A good counterintelligence campaign works wonders even when you don’t monologue. Having the hero chase after superweapons or headquarters that don’t exist is extremely helpful for accomplishing your goals without interruptions. – the Intel Grad Student]
Your Own Epic Soundtrack
Be a patron of the arts. Don’t steal that Rembrandt, buy it. Support the auction house. Endow the Museum and get them to build a branch in your community – that way you *and* your minions get to enjoy the fine art.
Support the symphony. Endow music and art scholarships, encourage the company band, orchestra and chorus. [Not to mention the company softball team and family picnics. – the Pilot]
Hire a composer to write your theme music. [There are composers writing *awesome* music for commercials, video games and Twitch streams. They can write one for you, too. – the Music Intern] Remember the individual themes that John Williams wrote for Star Wars? Whose theme was more epic? Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker? Luke’s theme was pretty and inspiring, but The Imperial March was *majestic*!
Hire that composer. Like that movie music? Find out who composed it and go from there. [Go to You Tube and Twitch. Pick something, listen, try again. When you find something you like, track down the composer. They’d be happy to make some money doing what they love. – the Music Intern]
Always have music in your offices, factories and labs. It sets the mood and reduces stress. The same goes for art – you’ve had a designer create the perfect workspace, now fill it with things that are pleasing to the eye! Avoid too much abstract, though, it might give that rare disgruntled employee too many ideas. [Not to mention motive, concealment, weapons of opportunity! – the Intel Grad Student]
Be the Hero of Your Own Story
Finally, keep in mind that YOU ARE THE GOOD GUY in this community. You’ve provided jobs, education, health care and retirement plans. When the Hero (or Government) comes calling, the community is *not* going to sell out their greatest benefactor.
To the lab tech whose wife was cured by the medical miracle your own labs produced, you are the Hero.
To the single mother of 3 whose kids received full-ride scholarships to Med School, Law School and Business School, you are the Hero.
To the Artist and Musician who can afford rent, meals and health insurance, you are the Hero.
Most of all, remember that being an Evil Overload is not just a job, it’s a calling.
[Many thanks to Phil, Chris, Cathe, Kacey, Brent, Stephen and Brian.]