Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from November 30th, 2009

“New Villages”

November 30th, 2009 · 5 Comments

You might recall how a few years back, Britain’s anti-insurgency tactics in 1950s Malaysia were touted as a model for American forces in Iraq. That turned out to be poppycock, of course, since the British method involved tactics far too unpalatable for the post-colonial world to stomach. Among those tactics, as described in today’s edition […]

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The Demise of “Criminal Insanity”

November 30th, 2009 · 7 Comments

In reading about the murder of four police officers near Tacoma, we were most struck by the prime suspect’s obvious paranoid schizophrenia—a disease that seems to have been wholly untreated, in part because his family members were afraid of staging any sort of medical intervention: As part of the child-rape investigation, the sheriff’s office interviewed […]

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Surrounded by Seeds

November 25th, 2009 · 1 Comment

As you tuck into your fourth helping of stuffing tomorrow evening, spare a few seconds to think about some of our less fortunate brothers from history—specifically the valiant disciples of Nikolai Vavilov, who deserves a place alongside Norman Borlaug in the pantheon of agricultural saints. Vavilov spent much of his career traveling the world in […]

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Too Big to Fail?

November 25th, 2009 · No Comments

In the midst of our annual Thanksgiving pigout, we’ve often justified our gluttony on the grounds that the ensuing expansion of our girth really shouldn’t be frowned upon by society. After all, isn’t the disapproval of fatness of a modern phenomenon, egged along by the Fitness Industrial Complex? In Medieval times, we tell ourselves, our […]

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Stoned and Dethroned

November 24th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We can honestly say we’ve never once been tempted to try phencyclidine. Nothing about the drug seems enjoyable in the slightest, starting with the fact that it tends to make grown men strip off all their clothes and rant like lunatics. (Exhibit A: Steve.) That said, it’s always nice to have cinematic confirmation that our […]

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Bulletproof: The Boxers

November 24th, 2009 · 6 Comments

It is to the turn-of-the-century media’s great discredit that they referred to China’s quasi-Luddite rebels as “Boxers.” Had the minions of William Randolph Hearts been more adept at understanding Chinese, they would have realized that the rebels’ secret society translated more literally as “Fists of Righteous Harmony,” a far more poetic moniker for an organization […]

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Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

November 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

We generally suspect that few fake kidnappings go off without a hitch. And that’s especially true when the perpetrators of the crime don’t understand the basics of cell-phone technology: At about 6am Friday morning Bangor Police received information that Mr. Daniel Chute was being held captive in an automobile in the Bangor Mall Cinema’s parking […]

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Alchemy on Shaolin

November 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

In terms of sheer quixoticism, the quest for kitchen diamonds ranks mighty high. Scores of swindlers, loons, and fabulists have long claimed to know the secret of manufacturing a girl’s best friend, using little more than lumps of charcoal and common ovens. (Peanut butter figures heavily in our favorite tongue-in-cheek recipe.) As with most alchemical […]

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Twilight of the Panthers

November 23rd, 2009 · 2 Comments

It’s been a rough year for Florida’s official animal, as 15 percent of the state’s remaining wild panthers have perished (largely due to being hit by cars). Now comes particularly grisly news out of Yeehaw Junction: An anonymous caller reported seeing a dead Florida panther by the side of the Florida Turnpike near Yeehaw Junction. […]

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First Contact: The Ainu

November 20th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Every eight to ten months, we run across a story more-or-less identical to this one lamenting the declining visibility of Japan’s Ainu minority. It’s certainly a sad tale, given that forced assimilation was the nation’s official policy throughout much of the twentieth-century. Yet the Ainu have received equally callous treatment from the West, particularly at […]

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Security and the Soil

November 20th, 2009 · 3 Comments

In Pakistan’s chaotic North-West Frontier Province, there’s a movement afoot to temporarily ban the sale of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate, which are frequently used in bombmaking. (The article mistakenly fingers urea fertilizers as the target of the ban.) This got us thinking about the reasons for ammonium nitrate’s continued popularity among the world’s farmers, despite […]

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The Surest Way to Our Heart(s)

November 19th, 2009 · No Comments

Want one of your tracks to someday be posted on Microkhan? As MF Doom so amply demonstrates above, there’s one surefire way to earn that honor: mention Snake Plissken in the very first verse.

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The Hilarity of Specificity

November 19th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Upon learning about the opening of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Me., we felt compelled to spend a pleasant few minutes going over the latest in Sasquatch research. What we find most entertaining about this field is not its sheer uselessness, but rather the seriousness of its tone. As demonstrated by the chart above, […]

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Paint, Not Books

November 19th, 2009 · 6 Comments

There’s actually been a small silver lining to our newfound anxiety over the lead content in balsamic vinegar: it’s got us thinking about education spending in a new way. How’s that? Well, upon learning that our favorite salad-dressing base might well harm Microkhan Jr.’s neural health, we started thumbing through the literature on lead poisoning’s […]

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Hippo on the Make

November 18th, 2009 · 3 Comments

The recent dearth of posts has been due to a confluence of factors: a hectic sked of writing FOIA requests, the petty frustrations of trying to get the next Wired feature going, and the sheer agony of checking out potential preschools for Microkhan Jr. We’re almost through the worst of it, though, and we’ll be […]

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The Colombian Necktie Half-Truth

November 17th, 2009 · No Comments

One of our favorite slept-on tracks of recent years is “Cali Hustle”, off the criminally hard-to-find Bay Bury-Ya compilation. In the song’s final verse, Mac Mall kicks off his bars with this clever line: Colombian neckties for small fries We’ve always taken it for granted that such a grisly fate has befallen many a criminal […]

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May Day in Tirana

November 16th, 2009 · No Comments

While watching this propaganda film of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha celebrating May Day in 1983, we had one thought, and one thought alone: what percentage of those workers in the parade earned their living digging useless bunkers?

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Six Months for a Jest

November 16th, 2009 · No Comments

The Danes are not alone in their ability to infuriate pious Muslims with drawings. A Bangladeshi cartoonist has just been sentenced to six months in prison for a work deemed blasphemous. The original kerfuffle occurred two years ago, when Arifur Rahman’s cartoon sparked riots in Dhaka. The offending artwork can be glimpsed here. The translation […]

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Transformation or Calculation?

November 16th, 2009 · No Comments

One of our favorite scenes in The Godfather trilogy occurs near the beginning of the second installment, as Michael Corleone dances with his wife at a lavish party in honor of their son’s First Communion. Kay Corleone asks her hubby when, exactly, the family will go legit—something that Michael promised several years prior. “I’m trying, […]

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You Can’t Stop the Horse

November 16th, 2009 · 7 Comments

Late start today, due to the fact we stayed up late last night watching our beloved Colts mount a miraculous comeback against their archenemies. For the record, we think Belichick’s gamble was a good one—the Pats had been unstoppable in short-yardage situations all night, and the Colts’ D has been decimated by injuries. That said, […]

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Still Waiting for Our Mini-Chopper

November 13th, 2009 · 3 Comments

It just seemed cruel to cap the week with Ms. O’Donnell’s execrable work, so we’re gonna give you a retro-futuristic treat: a World War II-era view of the rise of personal aircraft. The pamphlet’s title really says it all: Will There Be a Plane in Every Garage? The answer, as you might surmise, is a […]

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“Thrillingly Embarrassing”

November 13th, 2009 · 5 Comments

After a week’s hiatus, Bad Movie Friday returns with a vengeance, in the form of the made-for-TV Rosie O’Donnell vehicle Riding the Bus with My Sister. Perhaps Ms. O’Donnell reckoned that her star turn as a mentally handicapped woman would be critic proof, as no one wants to be accused of insensitivity. But she didn’t […]

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A Life Spent in Limbo

November 13th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Since 1983, the average amount of time a condemned American convict spends on death row has tripled to 153 months. Yet that mammoth stretch of time is nothing compared to that endured by Sadamichi Hirasawa. When he passed away from natural causes in 1987, the alleged mastermind of Japan’s most infamous and lethal bank robbery […]

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“I Spray Like the Backside of a Skunk”

November 12th, 2009 · No Comments

The rest of our day looks certain to be divvied up between childcare and working on a major secret project, so let us leave you with the latest from Big Boi—yet another track we got turned on to by the Fresh Produce crew. We can barely understand a word that guest star Gucci Mane slurs […]

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The Criteria of Clowndom

November 12th, 2009 · 4 Comments

In response to our tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Shriners in this post, a treasured reader noted that his uncle was a “Shriner clown.” At first we took this to be some sort of jest, but The Tubes quickly proved us wrong: the fez-wearing brotherhood is darn serious about its clowning. In fact, the organization hosts […]

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Bulletproof: The Mai Mai

November 12th, 2009 · No Comments

Our second installment of the Bulletproof Project takes us to the eastern Congo, where Mai Mai militiamen have been wreaking awful havoc for years now. These soldiers are known not only for their brutality, but also their unwavering faith in dawa, or sinister magic. This belief became apparent to Western observers during the violent upheaval […]

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Gone Too Soon

November 11th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We first got turned on to Donny Hathaway by reading the liner notes for The Chronic. We were amazed by how many of the samples were copped from Extension of a Man, and so we saved up some hard-earned cash to buy the album. It’s since become one of our favorites, a platter we’ve spun […]

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“Beam the Bomb”

November 11th, 2009 · 3 Comments

After posting a vintage pro-SDI ad on Monday, we got to wondering about this “Coalition for SDI” that sponsored the spot. Who could be so bold as to create the risible “Peace Shield” euphemism? We connected the dots back to Daniel O. Graham, who claimed to be the coiner of the term “Strategic Defense Initiative.” […]

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The Sad Ballad of Snake Bite Jones

November 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment

The man to the right of the pelican above is Bryan Vorster, a South African animal handler who loves to edutain the kids. Under the nom de scène Snake Bite Jones, he’s long been a fixture at the Johannesburg Zoo, where he thrills audiences by trotting out a vast array beasts—including the vultures used in […]

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The Mother of All Marvin Covers

November 10th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Our pal who lusts after a Mozambique holiday also co-hosts one of the best Internet radio shows you’ve never heard of: Fresh Produce, which broadcasts far too seldomly from “an undisclosed location in South London.” The show’s most recent installment kicks off with the Hot 8 Brass Band doing a bonkers cover of “Sexual Healing,” […]

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