Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from March 31st, 2009

“Playin’ Herself in Her Girlfriend’s Mink”

March 31st, 2009 · 4 Comments

Microkhan’s off to the (ugh) dentist, so that’s a wrap for today. But to make up for the bummer nature of the suicide post, we’ll leave you with a sonic treat: “Sally Got a One-Track Mind” by Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics, an underrated gem from hip-hop’s Golden Age. Okay, granted, the lyrics aren’t […]

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The Puputans of Bali

March 31st, 2009 · 10 Comments

Microkhan’s few loyalists know that suicide is a frequent topic of interest ’round here. No surprise, then, that in the midst of reading Miguel Covarrubias’s Island of Bali, I was struck by the Mexican artist/ethnographer’s account of an infamous 1906 ritual mass suicide. Students of Balinese history (of which I’m certainly not one) are already […]

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The Epic Fail School of Espionage

March 31st, 2009 · No Comments

The full story’s yet to be told on why David Yen Lee, a longtime employee of Valspar Paint and Coatings, allegedly decided to betray a whole bunch of trade secrets to a Chinese competitor. Perhaps he’s suffering through a messy divorce, or he’s saddled with gambling debts. Or perhaps he’s just a greedy so-and-so who […]

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The Coatesville Arsons

March 30th, 2009 · No Comments

After at least 70 fires since the start of 2008, the Coatesville cops have a seventh suspected arsonist in custody. This time, it’s one of the city’s firefighters. A cause for relief? Hardly—the arsons have continued despite previous arrests, as well as the best efforts of the Chester County Arson Task Force. Why are some […]

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The World’s Longest Hunger Strike

March 30th, 2009 · No Comments

Following on last week’s post on the British experience on Pakistan’s North-West Frontier, Microkhan will soon be exploring India’s struggles to deal with its own “tribal territories.” As a somber teaser, check out this account of the world’s longest hunger strike, being carried out by a Manipuri activist named Irom Sharmila. She has been fasting […]

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Vanity Plus Guy in Cheap Gorilla Suit

March 30th, 2009 · 7 Comments

My 13-month-old son and I just spent an exceedingly pleasant evening listening to WEFUNK Show 555, a chronicle of Paisley Park‘s Golden Age creations. If you have even a passing interest in the genius/megalomania of Prince, the show is highly, highly recommended—not just for the killer music, but also for the fascinating trivia provided by […]

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“…Are Doomed to Repeat It”

March 27th, 2009 · 8 Comments

As we prepare to ramp up Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as focus more intently on the Taliban’s Pakistani havens, it’s worth looking back at the British experience in the Graveyard of Empires. Of specific interest is the classic 1898 account The Risings on the North-West Frontier, a detailed account of several expeditions carried out […]

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In Post-Soviet Russia…

March 27th, 2009 · 8 Comments

…cops evidently go the extra mile with their community policing methods. Sorry, couldn’t quite conjure up a killer Yakov Smirnoff punchline out of this clip of Russian cops going all Michael Phelps. Free Microkhan t-shirt to anyone who can.

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Dehorning Paste Smackdown

March 27th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Living here on the cramped island of Manhattan, where “nature” amounts to little more than the trees in Marcus Garvey Park, it’s easy to feel disconnected from our ranching brethren out West. So I occasionally try and force myself to get in touch with the ways of livestock management, the better to appreciate the care […]

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Burmese Voodoo

March 27th, 2009 · No Comments

Lost amidst the week’s more high-profile news was something quite significant, at least for those of us keen on Asian affairs: a (relatively) high-level State Department official dropped in on Burma, in order to feel out the ruling junta’s openness to dialogue. Stephen Blake made a rare visit to Naypyidaw, the junta’s somewhat creepy jungle […]

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The Dog Ate Our Server

March 27th, 2009 · No Comments

Apologies for the slow start today. Our Utah-based host has been down most of the morning, and is only now returning from the dead. A post on Burma got chewed up in the shuffle; starting over from Square One right now. Do not despair, loyal readers. (Both of you.) You’ll get your full complement of […]

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The Rasputin of Madagascar

March 26th, 2009 · 2 Comments

The story out of Madagascar continues to both stymie and amaze: A 34-year-old DJ-turned-mayor suddenly becomes president of a nation of 20 million, in one of the murkiest fashions possible. Microkhan has previously guessed that a shady Korean land deal played a role in bringing Rajoelina to power—along with the ongoing mismanagement of the deposed […]

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The Bulldog and the Birthmark

March 26th, 2009 · 6 Comments

My recent movie diet has mostly consisted of classy fare—I doubt Bridge on the River Kwai played many double bills with the likes of Switchblade Sisters. But Microkhan is by no means a film snob, and likes the occasional semi-brainless action flick as much as the next pint-sized Mongolian monarch. Case in point: Ernest R. […]

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Subways and the Smart Grid

March 26th, 2009 · No Comments

As promised yesterday, Microkhan’s gonna continue with its week-long series of “extras” taken from the cutting-room floor of my Wired smart-grid essay. Today’s treat? How subways can become part of distributed-generation networks, along with rooftop solar panels and backyard wind turbines. Beginning in the early 1970s, the Metropolitan Transit Authority began experimenting with flywheels that […]

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The Greening of Shipbreaking?

March 25th, 2009 · 3 Comments

A surprise court decision in Bangladesh may shutter the nation’s vast shipbreaking industry, at least temporarily. The judges were swayed by arguments made by the Bandladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, who have long contended that the industry is among the planet’s dirtiest. Indeed, you probably don’t want to know what happens to the guts of a […]

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Rubbed the Right Way

March 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but it took a tip from a Zurich-based pal to get me into The Rub’s History of Hip-Hop series. I mean, these Rub folks live less than an hour away from my Atlah headquarters. They should be part of the cultural air I breathe. But, oh no, it […]

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The Sludgy Pleasures of Zu

March 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments

The Nagas of the India-Burma border region are especially dear to my heart, seeing as how they play a pivotal role in Now the Hell Will Start. They were always gracious during my travels through the Patkai Mountains, despite facing myriad problems of their own (beginning with a tenuous security situation). And a big part […]

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“Sleek Greyhound of the Seas”

March 24th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Over the weekend, the fam and I paid a visit to the Museum of the City of New York, primarily to check out the exhibit on our fair city’s stab at going green. But the exhibit that really drew me in was “Trade”, an overview of New York’s heyday as a bustling port. As noted […]

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Dinosauring the Sandbag

March 24th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The humble sandbag remains mankind’s main line of defense against floods. Take the current situation in Fargo, N.D., where upwards of 10,000 Good Samaritans are furiously filling bags in order to combat the rising Red River. Working around the clock, the volunteers have so far managed to deploy about 70 percent of the requisite sandbags—seemingly […]

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The Smart Grid (Hopefully) Cometh

March 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment

After a wait that seemed ever-so-slightly like forever, Wired‘s cover package on smartening up the electric grid is finally here. I wrote the lead essay, which is mostly a primer on how the grid got so FUBAR in the first place. The bite-size answer? Myopia, botched deregulation, and political bickering. It was difficult to even […]

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Chewbacca Looks Reluctant

March 23rd, 2009 · 5 Comments

After playing Captain Bringdown with all the suicide talk, I thought I owed it to y’all to post something a bit more lighthearted. I’m in the midst of doing some groundwork for my next book, which deals a lot with global trade during the waning days of the British Empire. This research has led me […]

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“A Prohibition So Divine…”

March 23rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, Microkhan delved into the apparent link between literacy and suicide—the more literate a nation’s population, it appears, the likelier it is to have a high suicide rate. This theory might explain in part why so many post-Soviet nations have serious suicide problems—their citizens are well-educated, but also struggling economically (at […]

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Turtle Farming on the Bayou

March 23rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

Our nation’s turtle farming industry recently received some rather unwanted attention, courtesy of Operation Shellshock. The multistate investigation uncovered a clandestine network of reptile smugglers, whose dastardly deeds included the peddling of rare turtles to both collectors and Chinese diners. The scheme was allegedly abetted with “the help of a corrupt Louisiana turtle farm,” which […]

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Greatest Team Nickname Ever

March 20th, 2009 · 9 Comments

I’ll confess to getting a bit choked up when watching the closing seconds of any March Madness game. CBS always pans across the defeated team’s bench, revealing a bunch of dejected seniors whose careers have suddenly evaporated. Most will move on to high-level rec leagues, and to boring their children with exaggerated tales of their […]

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What Was Lea Thompson Thinking?

March 20th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Another Friday, another end-of-week paean to terrible movie reviews. This time, instead of digging though the proverbial crates, Microkhan would like to cite the A.V. Club’s recent take on the Howard the Duck DVD release: Finally, the book can be closed on the DVD era: Howard The Duck, a George Lucas production every bit as […]

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The Miracle of Concrete

March 20th, 2009 · No Comments

Sometimes the simplest measures can improve public health in the most remarkable ways. Want to save hundreds of thousands of young lives each year, while improving those kiddos’ IQ scores to boot? Cover their floors with concrete.

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The Risks of Prison Wine

March 20th, 2009 · 3 Comments

If you’re looking for proof of mankind’s inveterate need for altered states of consciousness, look no further than pruno. Long created beneath the bunks of prison inmates, and often consisting of such odious ingredients as ketchup and sauerkraut, pruno is notoriously unpalatable, even for the most hardened toughs. According to a participant in a harrowing […]

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“Supply…and Demand”

March 19th, 2009 · 3 Comments

I’ve got to buckle down for the rest of the day and focus on the Now the Hell Will Start screenplay, so this’ll be my outro post for March 19th. If you’ve never experienced the ecclesiastical comedy stylings of Father Guido Sarducci, you’re in for quite a treat. Here, he discusses his million-dollar idea for […]

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Vermont’s Baby Bust

March 19th, 2009 · 2 Comments

The most widely discussed aspect of the latest national birth figures is the sheer number of babies that dropped in ’07—more than in any year since the late Eisenhower administration. Well, that and the fact that 40 percent of those births were out-of-wedlock—the result of more and more women getting preggers without getting hitched. But […]

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Light Rail in Lagos

March 18th, 2009 · No Comments

After a lengthy bidding process, the two-line Lagos Rail Mass Transit project is set to break ground in September. This comes on the heels of the successful revamp of the city’s bus service, which now carries 180,000 passengers per day. Can the rail project ever come to fruition in a city as chaotic (and chronically […]

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