Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from September 30th, 2009

At Play in the Fields of the Crow

September 30th, 2009 · 1 Comment

An absolutely haunting collection of photographs that document America’s push westward. The one above is by no means the most dramatic, but something about the facial expressions stuck with us. The caption simply reads: A noon meal in Ferdinand V. Hayden’s camp of the U.S. Geological Survey. Red Buttes, Wyo. Terr., August 24, 1870. Hayden […]

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Escape from Cat Island

September 29th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Back in March, we brought you news of mankind’s triumph over the rodent denizens of Rat Island, Alaska. Now comes word that many thousands of miles to the south, a veritable Cat Island (aka Wake Atoll) has been similarly scourged of its furry invaders (PDF): At the end of the second week in July, we […]

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“Took the Dodge Dart, a ’74″

September 28th, 2009 · No Comments

If all goes precisely according to plan, this post will publish at the exact moment our flight departs Zurich for Nairobi. But we scheduled some goodies to keep you tantalized in our absence. And we’ll also try to post an update or two from the road, assuming something noteworthy happens as we journey west from […]

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Packing Music

September 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Via Radio Nova. The soundtrack for the stacking of shirts. And if you’re a soul music fan, GStrongRaw’s entire channel is well worth a visit.

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“It’s Dangerous for Strangers in Atlantis”

September 25th, 2009 · 3 Comments

On our forthcoming trip to Africa, we certainly hope we don’t suffer Kathy Ireland’s fate and slip into an underground realm populated by refugees from an Olivia Newton-John video. But we reckon anything’s possible, so we’ll be sure to conceal our surface-world origins should foam columns give way. Believe it or not, we actually saw […]

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The Literacy Laggard

September 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We have to think there’s some sort of correlation between Pakistan’s persistent internal turmoil and its atrociously bad system of primary education. The nation may have one of the world’s top fifty economies, but its literacy rate officially languishes around the 50 percent mark. That makes Pakistan’s population less bookish than such poverty-stricken countries as […]

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Slack, Please

September 24th, 2009 · 8 Comments

Though we recently vowed to avoid apologizing for light posting, we can’t help ourselves today. Sorry, just swamped with prepping for our East Africa trip—gotta pick up our doxycycline, along with a host of other odds and ends. For the moment, though, we’ll leave you with sonic stylings of the late Joe Higgs. And we’ll […]

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A Hole in the Happiness Theory?

September 24th, 2009 · 6 Comments

So many statistical goodies to sift through in the latest report on American asylum cases (PDF). But by far our favorite oddity can be glimpsed in the chart above. What’s going on with the Bhutanese? Only three citizens of the isolated kingdom claimed asylum in the U.S. three years ago, and then none in 2007. […]

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“With the Priest Holmes Fakeout”

September 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

On a crushing Wired deadline right now, made all the worse by the fact we’re still trying to figure out our Africa logistics. (Anyone know the intercity bus situation in southern Kenya?) But no reason you should have to feel our stress—sit back and enjoy the classic cut above (which we’re pretty sure features a […]

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Can Nicorette Be Righteous?

September 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

As we’ve given ever-deeper thought to our nation’s distressingly high infant morality rate, we’ve started to wonder how best to address the problem. Everything we’ve read in recent days seems to indicate that the rate could be dramatically lowered if more expectant mothers took better care of their bodies—specifically by quitting smoking, which pretty clearly […]

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Unwinged Pegasus

September 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

Via the invariably spectacular Ptak Science Books blog, a quick peek back at the brief heyday of airborne horses: “Sep 1850 English Aeronaut Gale on horseback suffocated Bordeaux”. Is this the first man-on-horseback-in-flight death? And death by suffocation? (?) I’m not so sure that the ascent records for 1850 would’ve made allowance for running out […]

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Book Recs?

September 22nd, 2009 · 16 Comments

As previously noted, we’re about to jet for East Africa for a spell. The trip will doubtless entails many hours of waiting around—the flights alone will keep us either aloft or in airports for a grand total of 44 hours. A dreary prospect, perhaps, but at least we’ll have the chance to catch up on […]

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Even More on the Venom Trade

September 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

On the heels of yesterday’s post about the snake-catching monopoly enjoyed by India’s Irula people, we thought we’d turn our gaze slightly east and see who runs the reptile round-ups in neighboring Bangladesh. Though the erstwhile East Pakistan has no formal caste system, its society does tend to frown on a semi-nomadic people known as […]

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In an Introspective Mood

September 21st, 2009 · 3 Comments

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”–Vincent Van Gogh

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More on the Venom Trade

September 21st, 2009 · 5 Comments

In one of our recent posts regarding the troubled Pakistani snake-venom industry, we opined that government price controls were making the black market too appealing for Sindh Province’s snake charmers. As it turns out, a similar scenario is playing out far to the south, where India’s snake-catching Irula tribe is suspected of selling venom off […]

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Fourteen in a Million

September 21st, 2009 · 10 Comments

Given our recent, brain-bending encounter with the yellow fever vaccine, we’ve had a sharper eye for tales of preventive treatments gone awry. As a result, we just had to share this troubling tale of a Missouri Marine and MILVAX: It wasn’t a bullet or roadside bomb that felled Lance Cpl. Josef Lopez three years ago, […]

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The Physics of the Impossible

September 18th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Unlike some past movies we’ve highlighted as part of Bad Movie Friday—notably the irredeemably dreadful Hard to Ticket to Hawaii—Gleaming the Cube is actually halfway watchable, provided you’re willing to switch off your brain for 90 minutes. But even when we’re feeling truly charitable, there are two things that can’t help but irk us to […]

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The Venom Trade, Cont’d

September 18th, 2009 · No Comments

In yesterday’s post on Pakistan’s troubled system of snake-venom collection, we opined that technology seemed to have changed the field little. But if we’d read the latest issue of the journal Toxicon, we wouldn’t have been so quick to make such blanket claims. Because as it turns out, a Florida cottonmouth researchers are blazing trails: […]

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First Contact: The Germans

September 18th, 2009 · 9 Comments

For obvious reasons—primarily the abundance of English-language sources—the bulk of our First Contact series has focused on European accounts of “New World” civilizations. Today’s entry breaks that trend, however, by harkening back to a more intramural culture clash: that between the Romans and the Germans, during the waning years of the Roman Republic. The eyewitness […]

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Tinged With Regret

September 17th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We’re solo parenting Microkhan Jr. this week, which means we have to put off lots of tasks ’til after his bedtime—specifically catching up on the day’s e-mail deluge. That’s precisely what we were doing last night, cold Ballantine in hand, when William Bell’s classic “I Forgot to Be Your Lover” came wafting across Radio Nova. […]

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The Venom Trade

September 17th, 2009 · 9 Comments

As if the Pakistani government wasn’t already catching enough flak for its inefficacy, now some learned herpetologists are criticizing its lackluster approach to rounding up poisonous snakes: A report jointly prepared by Snake Research Academy (SRA) and University of Sindh, Jamshoro (SUJ) has slammed the snake catching methodology of the National Institute of Health Sciences […]

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Polyglot to the Extreme

September 17th, 2009 · 3 Comments

It’s basically impossible not to be bowled over by the abundance of languages in Papua New Guinea. Though the nation’s population clocks in at a shade less than six million souls, those residents speak a mind-boggling 830 languages. That’s enough to make PNG the most polyglot country on Earth, beating out runner-up Indonesia by 108 […]

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When Frisians Soar

September 16th, 2009 · No Comments

We’ve always had a shaky handle on the definition of “feedback loop,” but we think this might qualify as a case in point. Yesterday, we noticed a fair bit of traffic coming Microkhan’s way thanks to a fantastic Ask MetaFilter thread slugged “Who are the best athletes nobody has heard of?” We were honored that […]

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Is Football Our Species’ Savior?

September 16th, 2009 · No Comments

In the course of conducting some morning research on chimpanzee cannibalism, we found ourselves absorbed in a 2006 paper that compared the aggressive tendencies of chimps and humans. (A PDF can be downloaded by clicking here.) As it turns out, humans and chimps are equally adept that cold-blooded murder, but our primate brethren are far […]

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Beyond Burma Shave

September 15th, 2009 · No Comments

A valued Friend of Microkhan informs us that GMC is running a new crop of ads that refer to the Burma Road, where the company’s trucks did fine work plowing through the monsoon muck. This campaign obviously harkens back to one from the thick of World War II, when GMC touted its vehicles’ performance in […]

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Inadvertently on the Angels’ Side

September 15th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Our post about Teddy Roosevelt’s health-care reform attracted a fair number of responses, in particular the ending snippet about the Progressive Party’s opposition to privately contracted prison labor. As one commenter pointed out, this opposition wasn’t borne out of genuine concern over the practice’s moral shortcomings, but rather Big Labor griping over the downward pressure […]

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Kids Do Love Lasers

September 15th, 2009 · 8 Comments

Modern pentathlon is by far our favorite Summer Olympics sport, topping even our beloved hammer throw. There’s just something inestimably cool about an event that’s modeled after a 19th-century military mission. Plus you have to dig the fact that the fifth place finisher at the 1912 games was a 28-year-old U.S. Army lieutenant named George […]

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“There’s Always Barber College”

September 14th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Patrick Swayze starred in perhaps the most celebrated mom movie of all time—or, at the very least, the one that defined a certain kind of mom-ism in the latter Reagan Era. But we’ll always remember him as Dalton, the philosophical, mulleted boucer with a heart of gold and fists of stone. He now follows fellow […]

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Touched by 17D

September 14th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We just returned from receiving the yellow fever vaccine, with a side of polio booster. Suffice to say that the injections have knocked our mental faculties for a loop; the video above, the psychedelic trailer for Geetaa Mera Naam, provides a pretty accurate snapshot of our current state. A small price to pay, though, for […]

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Our Infant Mortality Conundrum

September 14th, 2009 · 7 Comments

No matter where you stand on the whole health-care debate, it’s tough to argue with the fact that our revamped system needs to address our appallingly high rate of infant mortality. Though the American economy is the largest in the OECD, our babies perish more frequently than the organization’s average. In fact, our national infant […]

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