Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from June 30th, 2010

Buffer Overload

June 30th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Sorry for the slow start to the day. We’re working on a couple of solid posts, including a great kidnapping yarn from the ’70s, but getting clear of our other chores is taking longer than anticipated. That’s in part because of the five million e-mails that currently sit unopened in our inbox—the Times piece on […]

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The Fugitive Bake-Off

June 29th, 2010 · No Comments

One of our favorite cop-show cliches is the one about the streetwise detective who’s consigned to desk duty after committing some grievous procedural sin. The implication is that doing paperwork is significantly less useful than pounding the pavement, not to mention less manly. “Pencil pusher,” after all, is invariably an insult, is it not? In […]

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Quick and Clean

June 29th, 2010 · 9 Comments

What little we know about the efficacy of the 12 Steps, the system at the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous, comes from a lengthy study called Project MATCH. As I mention in my Wired piece, Project MATCH confirmed that the Steps perform as well as other therapies when applied in a clinical setting—though, as critics like […]

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Ye Olde Tyme Robo-Banjo

June 28th, 2010 · No Comments

We can trace our lifelong fascination with technology to a few choice childhood experiences: our first time playing Pitfall on an Atari 2600, watching The Black Hole on Betamax, and, perhaps above all, visiting The Magic Castle. The foyer of said castle featured a self-playing piano, which responded to audience requests (as long as those […]

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Grand Illusion?

June 28th, 2010 · No Comments

In response to a rash of homicides, the bedraggled city of Chester, Penn., has instituted an unusually harsh curfew, which mandates that everyone be off the streets of certain crime-plagued neighborhoods by 9 p.m. A noble effort to reduce violence, perhaps, but the evidence doesn’t bear out the crime-prevention strategy. Just ask the good citizens […]

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Push Out the Jive, Bring in the Love

June 25th, 2010 · No Comments

We couldn’t bear to leave an AA-related post atop the blog all weekend, so let us instead sign off with another addition to our growing Asha Bhosle collection. Back on Monday with more AA extras, as well as the standard Microkhan fodder that hopefully makes the drudgery of existence a little brighter for all involved.

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Not-So-Deadly Nightshade

June 25th, 2010 · 11 Comments

One of the most controversial aspects of AA’s history is the role that psychedelics may have played in Bill Wilson’s creative process. As I discuss in the Wired piece, when Wilson experienced his spiritual epiphany in December 1934, he did so at a New York City drying-out facility. Part of his treatment there consisted of […]

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Keeping the Lid On

June 25th, 2010 · 4 Comments

When I started working on the AA piece for Wired, I assumed that the nascent organization insisted on anonymity because of a 1930s stigma against alcoholism. But as it turns out, Bill Wilson created the policy for a more pragmatic reason, which he explained thusly: [In the past], alcoholics who talked too much on public […]

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The Bottle

June 24th, 2010 · 23 Comments

Regular readers know that I’ve been spending the better part of 2010 working on a Wired piece about addiction. Well, the feature is finally live, and now the full truth can be revealed—the article’s central narrative is about the history and science (or lack thereof) of Alcoholics Anonymous, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary. Here’s […]

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The Risk of the Chase

June 23rd, 2010 · No Comments

Those of you who follow Microkhan’s microblog know that the situation near headquarters was beyond hectic yesterday—not just because we had the kid on our hands, but also due to our physical proximity to a senseless tragedy. A police pursuit of two robbery suspects ended with a massive collision about 50 feet from our front […]

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The Venezuela of Its Day

June 22nd, 2010 · 7 Comments

We’ve been doing our best to work up a healthy antipathy toward Algeria, whose national team we face tomorrow in a must-win World Cup match. As big fans of The Battle of Algiers and longtime observers of the country’s ruinous civil war, our hearts go out to the Algerian generations that have endured so much […]

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The Saga Continues

June 22nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

We’re still on the hook with Microkhan Jr., at least until the early afternoon. We’ll try to check back in then, as we don’t want a long-gestating post on Algeria’s legacy of anti-Americanism to go to waste. In the meantime, we present you with two data points involving public health in Mongolia. The video above […]

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Waylaid By Progeny

June 21st, 2010 · No Comments

So much for our grand plans to start this momentous week on the right foot. Microkhan Jr.’s sitter canceled on us last minute, and unlike our Mongolian forebear, we don’t have a legion of fur-clad handmaidens waiting in the wings to take over childcare duties. And so we must dedicate our morning to tackling a […]

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Her Dark Materials

June 18th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Despite our general abhorrence of slasher flicks and Eli Roth-style “torture porn,” we do have a soft spot for macabre statues. Hyungkoo Lee’s series of cartoon skeletons, for example, still ranks as one of the finest exhibits we’ve ever seen in New York. And we’re similarly enthralled by the work of Jessica Joslin, who incorporates […]

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Asha on the Beach

June 17th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Once again, a fresh track has led us to discover a gem from distant shores. In this case, Gonjasufi’s haunting “Sheep” inspired us to seek out its source material, “Yeh Hawa Yeh Fiza” from the 1983 Bollywood classic Sadma. To our great delight, the singer is one of our all-time favorites, Asha “The Enchantress” Bhosle, […]

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Capture the Flag, Cont’d

June 17th, 2010 · No Comments

In response to the previous post regarding a biker gang’s seemingly childish obsession with stealing their rivals’ sew-on patches, a few sharp readers pointed out that this game was once the essence of warfare. One, in particular, mentioned the following: I’m definitely no Civil War expert, but I believe more medals were awarded during the […]

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High-Stakes Capture the Flag

June 16th, 2010 · 6 Comments

If you’ve ever been curious about the day-to-day operations of outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs), the recent federal racketeering indictment against the Outlaws is an absolute goldmine. The lengthy document lays out exactly how a multi-chapter “one percenter” organization generates revenue, enforces discipline, and has a raucous (albeit morally objectionable) good time. What struck us most, […]

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When Splits Get Greased

June 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Our adopted home state may have a progressive reputation, owing chiefly to its principal city’s joie de vivre, but it’s also been woefully behind the times on certain political matters. The notorious Rockefeller drug laws, for example, are just now being scrapped, though vestiges seem certain to remain. And over three decades later than most […]

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A Proud Tradition Betrayed

June 15th, 2010 · No Comments

To our tremendous relief, the 65-day blockade of Manipur appears to be over, thereby allowing much-needed food and medicine to flow into the Indian state. (Microkhan’s backgrounder on the crisis can be found here.) Now, perhaps, the local government can focus on what strikes us a problem of only slightly lesser importance: the long decline […]

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Playing the Drug War Odds

June 15th, 2010 · 7 Comments

The ship above, the gargantuan M/V Dole Chile, was recently found to be carrying $2 million worth of cocaine into Delaware’s main port. The drugs were stashed in the ventilation system of a container loaded with bananas, which the ship delivers weekly to the Port of Wilmington. All in all, a nice little catch for […]

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A Company Town’s Sudden Death

June 14th, 2010 · 1 Comment

While researching the economic feasibility of a Bering Strait tunnel, we came across this recent dispatch from the Edmonton Journal. In addition to alerting us to the manner in which the residents of Little Diomede were used as Cold War pawns, the article made us aware of the callow manner in which the Russian coal […]

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The Sacred Exchange of Knucklebones

June 11th, 2010 · 6 Comments

We’ve been lassoed into some emergency parenting today, and Microkhan Jr. is tugging on the hem of our deel as we type these very words. So let us just quickly share with you two things that bring much gladness to our collective heart: the above Donny Hathaway gem, an Afro-Cuban spin on “The Ghetto,” and […]

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What Sand and Cocaine Have in Common

June 10th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Despite a government ban, Cambodian dredgers are once again raking the floor of the Koh Pao River in search of vast quantities of sand. The risk of running afoul of the authorities is apparently far outweighed by the riches to be gained from exporting sand to Singapore, which desperately needs the granular commodity to expand […]

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Manipur on the Brink

June 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

A grim report from North-East India, where Manipur has been under seige for two months: Manipur faces an acute shortage of food and medicines with supplies of essentials cut off for the 60th day Wednesday following an indefinite economic blockade by several tribal groups. “The food crisis is simply acute and also there is a […]

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The Myth of the Mickey Slim

June 9th, 2010 · 16 Comments

Last week, the long discussion spurred by this post led one of our most trusted readers to offer this startling factoid: Bizarre note: there was a cocktail in the 40s and 50s called the Mickey Slim that was made with gin and a pinch of DDT. Sure enough, The Tubes abound with mentions of this […]

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Now That’s an Exit

June 8th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Some Wired research recently familiarized us with the career of Keeve M. Siegel, a well-known champion of both holography and controlled nuclear fusion. Siegel’s involvement in the latter technology earned him a 1975 invite to Congress, where he was supposed to make the case for additional government funding. But, tragically, he never got the chance […]

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When Bread-and-Circuses Backfires

June 7th, 2010 · No Comments

While researching a post about the ever-popular sport of wild cow milking, we came across a paper on the history of Native Canadian cowboys. A healthy chunk of the work is dedicated to the development of rodeo culture among Canada’s First Nations, who were often encouraged to engage in calf roping and bronco riding in […]

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The Oaxacan Example

June 7th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Continuing on with our promised examination of DDT’s usefulness in the War on Malaria, we’re gonna turn our gaze southward this morning. As carefully detailed here, Mexico was a longtime heavy user of DDT, sloshing out 70,000 tons of the controversial chemical between 1959 and 1999. Then the nation resolved to phase out DDT entirely, […]

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“Here Comes That Guy Again”

June 4th, 2010 · No Comments

We’re off to deal with the federal government, so we’ll outro with one of the greatest stunts in cinematic history: the crocodile jump from Live and Let Die. As amply shown above, no fancy CGI or other tricks were used in the making of this scene—croc farm owner Ross Kananga (nee Heilman) actually jumped from […]

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The DDT Equation

June 4th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Yesterday’s post about temperance medals somehow got the Microkhan community meditating upon whether DDT deserves to have its reputation rehabilitated, at least as a malaria fighter. The revisionist stance these days is that the chemical should be used to combat the disease “when no other effective, safe and affordable alternatives are locally available.” That doesn’t […]

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