Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from February 26th, 2010

That’s What You Get for Not Hailing to the Chimp

February 26th, 2010 · No Comments

We have never attempted to conceal our fascination with movies starring non-human primates. That quirk of our character shines through yet again in this week’s Bad Movie Friday installment, featuring the 1951 Ronald Regan vehicle Bedtime for Bonzo. Suffice to say that the trailer above makes us weep for the scientific literacy of Eisenhower Era […]

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A Taxidermist’s Best Friend

February 26th, 2010 · 8 Comments

Nearly a year ago, we marveled at the way in which ancient physicians used ant jaws as sutures. Blame our childhood Flintstones habit, but we have a soft spot for techniques that require the assistance of live animals. And so imagine our glee upon discovering the role that dermestid beetles play in the twin disciplines […]

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Echoes of the Empire

February 25th, 2010 · 7 Comments

This will be our last Ug99-related post, we promise. But before we ended our brief run of bonus material related to “The Red Menace”, we thought we’d shout out one of the potential heroes of this story: the late A.E. Watkins, a British botanist who spent much of the 1930s roaming the globe in search […]

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Nothing Like the First Time

February 25th, 2010 · 1 Comment

In researching our forthcoming Wired piece on drug and alcohol abuse, we’ve found ourselves keenly interested in the tales that addicts tell about their first inebriatory experiences. One common thread we’ve found is a sense that the first drink or dose provided something that the person had always been searching for—the intoxicant made them whole, […]

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The Undertow

February 24th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Already plugging away on our next Wired feature, this time about addiction rather than wheat-devouring fungi (or, for that matter, the creative benefits of social media. Today’s outline day, which is always a chore—envisioning the structure of a lengthy magazine piece requires even more mental bandwidth than we usually utilize. Fortunately, we’ve got The Skatalites […]

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Using the Red Menace Against the Reds

February 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

One of the most interesting things about Ug99, the fungus that is currently threatening the world’s wheat supply, is how it managed to sneak up on us. For nearly four decades, the disease that the Puccinis graminis pathogen causes, known as stem rust, was little seen in the wild, and certainly no great peril to […]

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Shell Game

February 24th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The Wired cover story this month is not our Ug99 opus, but rather a brilliant meditation on the future of money. A couple of years hence, you can forget about the ATM—just think “pay this man,” and neural implants will automatically wire dough from your bank account to your creditor. Or something like that. In […]

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The Red Menace

February 23rd, 2010 · 6 Comments

It took over half-a-year, but the Wired piece that brought us out to Kenya last fall is finally live. It’s the tale of a wheat-killing fungus called Ug99, which is currently sweeping across Central Asia. The pathogen is remarkable because it can easily overcomes the genetic defenses created by the Green Revolution. As a result, […]

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The Appeal of Uniformity

February 23rd, 2010 · 3 Comments

An Applebee’s recently opened up here in Atlah, and it’s doing pretty decent business on a strip of 125th Street that attracts scant foot traffic at night. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the restaurant’s success, seeing as how we praised the chain’s business acumen in a 2005 Slate column. But we do find it […]

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Ending the Cycle of Blood

February 23rd, 2010 · 2 Comments

In reading about the persistence of clan feuding on Mindanao, we got to thinking about how governments can best end such cycles of revenge. Our natural assumption is that these feuds exist where organized justice is in short supply, and so familial units take over the role of punishing offenders. But a University of Maryland […]

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Days Like This

February 22nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

At some point in the not-too-distant future, we hope that the considerable time we spend on Microkhan will lead to some sort of remuneration (apart from the obvious psychic rewards). But until we figure out a way to turn y’all’s interest in Hmong beauty pageants, Medieval drinking habits, and boxing kangaroos into some sort of […]

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The Ride Og Wishes He Had

February 19th, 2010 · 2 Comments

We realize we should stop being surprised by the scientific illiteracy of our countrymen, but we just couldn’t let this loopy tidbit pass without notice: Did humans live at the same time as the dinosaurs? Three in ten Texas voters agree with that statement; 41 percent disagree, and 30 percent don’t know. We have a […]

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Carving Out a New World

February 18th, 2010 · 1 Comment

If you haven’t caught it already, The Independent‘s latest dispatch from the jungles of Laos is well worth a read. It’s an eye-opening look at life for the Hmong tribespeople who decided to remain in Southeast Asia after the end of the Vietnam War, rather than take the CIA up on its offer to resettle […]

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The Questionable Power of Horse

February 18th, 2010 · 8 Comments

In keeping with our recent paying-gig focus on addiction science, we’d like to turn your attention toward the remarkable work of Lee N. Robins, who recently passed away. In the early 1970s, after hearing rumors that tens of thousands of Vietnam War veterans had come stumbling home as hopeless heroin addicts, Robins vowed to determine […]

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A Master’s Secret

February 17th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Contrary to what you might conclude by checking out our “music” tag, we don’t only permit hip-hop, soul, and vintage ZZ Top to enter our eardrums. We’ve also taken quite a shine to ukulele music in recent weeks, a jag that has brought us in touch with the work of the late, great John King. […]

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If Vulcan Rears His Head

February 17th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Because so few potential clients are directly threatened by volcanoes, the insurance industry hasn’t developed sophisticated models to estimate damage due to cataclysmic eruptions. But sooner or later, a volcano located near a major population center is going to blow, and government cash alone may not be enough to heal the economic wounds. Could the […]

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Lord of the Snow

February 16th, 2010 · No Comments

Big doings up in the Yukon yesterday, as Austrian dog-sledding superstar Hans Gatt captured his fourth Yukon Quest title. If you’ve ever been curious about the strategies employed by professional mushers during their competitive odysseys, we highly recommend the invaluable “Check Point” blog, which is sort of the ESPN.com of dog sledding. We especially enjoyed […]

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Choke on This

February 16th, 2010 · 2 Comments

There’s an old chestnut (of dubious veracity) about how more rock climbers perish in auto accidents to-and-from the cliffs than from accidental falls. We thought of that contrarian info-nugget this morning upon stumbling across some surprising morbidity news from Britain: Last week, the House of Commons’s Environmental Audit Committee heard evidence that about 35,000 people […]

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The Hero of Tippecanoe

February 15th, 2010 · 4 Comments

On this President’s Day, we can think of no better way to celebrate our nation’s most exalted job than by recalling the wise, though incredibly logorrheic words of the starcrossed William Henry Harrison. As the American history nerds in the audience will recall, Harrison doomed himself to an early death by refusing to wear a […]

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Harvey Takes a Stretch

February 12th, 2010 · 2 Comments

For the record, we think Harvey Keitel’s performance in Bad Lieutenant is one of the most awesome acting jobs in cinematic history. It’s such a grandiose villainous turn, in fact, that we have a tough time seeing him as anything other than a crack-smoking, sexually deviant New York City cop. And so we get a […]

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Fuel for a Growing Nation

February 12th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The lamentable advent of Bud Select 55 got us thinking about the history of nutritional science—or, rather, the ways in which dodgy scientific claims have been used to peddle all manner of food products. We’re of a mind that such science-y pitches do an excellent job of reflecting cultural neuroses. So just as today we’re […]

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The Agony of Victory

February 11th, 2010 · 8 Comments

Despite our longtime enthusiasm for ski jumping, we just can’t seem to drum up much interest in this edition of the Winter Olympics. Perhaps that’s because we currently find ourselves smitten with an entirely different set of cold-weather games—those which comprise the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, held annually in Fairbanks, Alaska. Most are simple tests of […]

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Cashed Out

February 11th, 2010 · 5 Comments

A few days back, we touched on the challenges of undermining one’s enemy by counterfeiting his currency. Today we’d like to shift the focus to another tactic of fiscal warfare: issuing a new currency upon seceding from a national union. We all know the Confederacy did it back in the day, but it has become […]

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Rhymes for the Deluge

February 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment

A minor blizzard out here in Atlah today, and we’re using the weather as an excuse to steal some time for our Secret Major Project™. Back soon with all the information you know and love; in the meantime, please enjoy the decidedly NSFW cut above. Seriously, do not hit play if you’re in a Puritanical […]

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Blitzed on Feudalism

February 10th, 2010 · 11 Comments

Living in Europe during the Middle Ages was certainly no picnic, given the abundance of horrid diseases, the precariousness of the food supply, and the constant threat of having one’s arms lopped off by a passing knight. Yet how much agony and anxiety did the denizens of Medieval fiefdoms really experience? Not bloody much, given […]

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Chasers Versus Runners

February 9th, 2010 · No Comments

Our affection for the Indian sport of kabaddi is well-known around these parts. But our taste in the athletics of the subcontinent doesn’t always run toward the brutal, as proven by the soft spot we’ve recently developed for kho-kho, which can perhaps be best described as a formalized version of freeze tag. We won’t pretend […]

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Fake It ‘Til You Make It

February 9th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Nations at odds have long resorted to counterfeiting one another’s currencies, on the theory that doing so can severely undermine a foe’s economy. But the tactic just doesn’t sting like it used to, in part because cash is so less essential today, but also because the increasing sophistication of anti-counterfeiting technology has made the gambit […]

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A Third Trip Around the Sun Commences

February 8th, 2010 · No Comments

Today marks the second anniversary of Microkhan Jr.’s birth, an event that can only be appropriately honored with the De La Soul cut above. The kid sorta shares a name with the group’s DJ, plus we agree with the spoken sentiment at the song’s beginning—fatherhood makes up for a lot of day-to-day drudgery. Though, granted, […]

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Desperation in Action

February 8th, 2010 · 4 Comments

One of our treasured Japanese correspondents just have us a heads up about this tragedy, involving an airplane stowaway who apparently froze to death while concealed in a Boeing 777′s landing gear. Such deaths are actually somewhat common, not to mention quite predictable—at 35,00 feet, temperatures are insanely icy, and oxygen scarce. Yet men and […]

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The Soul-Warping Nature of Fandom

February 8th, 2010 · 10 Comments

Last night, a certain sporting event didn’t go the way we had hoped, leaving us questioning why we invest so much of ourselves in supporting certain teams. Even under the best of circumstances, such fandom leads to nothing but heartache most years, as seasons inevitably end on sour notes. Is it time, perhaps, to give […]

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