Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from July 30th, 2010

“Some People Get Mad…The Revenger Gets Even”

July 30th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Sorry to end the week with a whole bunch of radio silence, but the work crush got the best of me on this sunny summer Friday. Didn’t want to leave y’all with Mac Batchelor atop the page—no offense, Mac—so let me outro with yet another installment of Bad Movie Friday. This week’s victim/honoree is the […]

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The Legend of the Swedish Bear

July 30th, 2010 · No Comments

To ardent fans of arm wrestling, there is no greater hero than the famous Mac Batchelor, a Los Angeles bartender who never lost a single match over his twenty-five year professional career. Even more impressively, he won a fair share of those matches while blasted out of his skull on whiskey and beer—his tolerance for […]

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Jyoti Devithe is Not a Happy Camper

July 29th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Full context here. Devithe, a legislator in the Indian state of Bihar, probably had her heart in the right place, since massive, endemic corruption can be tough to tolerate. But it’s rarely advisable to take a page from the Taiwanese parliamentary playbook.

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Rodent Ops in the South Pacific

July 29th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Ever since reading Robert Sullivan’s Rats, I’ve become convinced that the furry little banes of urban sanitation will someday rule the world. They are like land-dwelling versions of the dreaded zebra mussel, adept at turning a minor incursion into a full-blown invasion before any Homo sapiens are the wiser. And once they’ve conquered a piece […]

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Ring the Alarm

July 28th, 2010 · No Comments

A Wired deadline just snuck up on me, so off to hit the keyboard. In my brief absence, please check out this excellent history of Tenor Saw, the dancehall legend who never made it to his 23rd birthday. The singer’s violent demise remains one of music’s great unsolved mysteries: It shouldn’t have come as a […]

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Making a Mint Off Evil

July 28th, 2010 · 9 Comments

The case against former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré appears to be as damning as they come. Like many of the twentieth century’s great monsters, Habré was fairly assiduous about documenting his regime’s brutality; according to this essential dossier, he received over 1,200 personal memos regarding the torture of dissidents, many of whom were eventually murdered […]

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The Father of Boom

July 27th, 2010 · 2 Comments

During my guest stint over at Ta-Nehisi’s place last week, a commenter reminded me of my all-time favorite Otto von Bismarck quote: “Politics is the art of the possible.” The unsmiling German statesman may have meant that all successful negotiations must end in compromise, but I’d like to think he also had faith in politics’ […]

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The Yank Who Helped Save the South

July 26th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Amputations accounted for roughly three-quarters of all battlefield surgeries during the Civil War, which meant that artificial limbs were much in demand after the bitter conflict’s end. Captain Ahab-style wooden stumps were an easy fix, but they tended to severely curtail a man’s productivity. Fortunately for the shattered nation, then, a Massachusetts linguistics professor named […]

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And So the Khan Returneth

July 26th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Thanks for putting up with the spotty posting last week, as I struggled to keep up with the hectic sked over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ realm. Did my best to cross-post when I could, but I’ll admit to lazing out a bit—which is why you’re getting Bad Movie Friday on a Monday. (All the background on […]

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Jerks and Great Art

July 23rd, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) Growing up, Jack London was high atop my personal literary pantheon. The first time I read “To Build a Fire”, it absolutely rocked my world—I mean, who knew you could have a story in which the protagonist’s death-by-freezing could be portrayed in such a sweet manner? (That closing vision of “the […]

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Rastafarians and Quakers

July 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) I’m usually averse to attending egghead confabs, but I’d certainly make an exception for the upcoming Inaugural Rastafari Studies Conference, which will mark a half-century since the publication of the first academic treatise on the religion. Like all young faiths that manage to outlive their founders’ generations, Rastafari is now grappling […]

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Splitsville Gets Smaller

July 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) I had to engage in a bit of uproarious guffawing upon reading this brain-dead take on New York’s long-awaited shift to no-fault divorce. The writer pleads for Governor David Patterson to veto the bill, using that tried-and-true “won’t somebody please think of the children!” logic lampooned so memorably on The Simpsons. […]

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Super Croat

July 21st, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) I know y’all spend a lot of time talking about superheroes, given Ta-Nehisi’s lifelong predilection for Spider-Man, Batman, and various members of the Marvel mutant universe. As a former comic-book nerd myself, who hopes that his cherry copy of Uncanny X-Men #266 (first Gambit appearance!) will someday fund his son’s education, […]

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The Lives of Brian Cathcart

July 20th, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) In response to Ta-Nehisi’s introductory post yesterday, a treasured commenter brought up the idea of doing a non-fiction recommendation thread this week. As fate would have it, I’ve long been planning to use this space to champion a few of my favorite off-the-radar non-fiction gems. Let me now start doing so […]

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The Suicide Conundrum

July 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) Sorry to start this gorgeous summer day on an exceedingly somber note, but it’s time to talk suicide. I’ve written a lot about this topic, primarily from a public-health angle. Despite all we’ve learned about human psychology over the past several decades, we seem unable to make much of a dent […]

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The Vanishing Artist

July 19th, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) I’m eternally fascinated by great artists who seemingly fall off the face of the Earth. Many disappear because they lose battles against their demons, but others simply decide to change paths and opt for stability. Bettye Swann certainly falls into the latter category, as detailed in this excellent 2005 piece from […]

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Hogs and Dogs

July 19th, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) There’s controversy brewing in southern Mississippi, where Jackson County recently approved a hog-dog bay. That’s an event in which a hunting dog corners a boar in a pen, to the ostensible delight of onlookers. To those who oppose the practice, it comes perilously close to an interspecies take on dogfighting; to […]

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A Tooth for a Tooth

July 19th, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted to Ta-Nehisi Coates) In certain precincts of Albania, where familial ties still mean everything, minor grudges have a way of spiraling seriously out of control. Take the the sad case of the Morevataj clan, which has been embroiled in a decade-long blood feud thanks to a drunken spat that ended in murder. According to […]

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“When Getting Even Just Isn’t Enough”

July 16th, 2010 · 2 Comments

In the name of holding our blogging cards close to our chest, so that next week’s TNC guest stint is something special, we’re gonna be taking you straight into Bad Movie Friday on this lazy summer morn. Some of our closest friends would argue that Avenging Force doesn’t deserve a place in the schlock pantheon, […]

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Called Up to the Bigs

July 15th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Apologies for the dearth of posting both today and this week, but we have solid excuses: we’re still doing press for the Alcoholics Anonymous piece (as evidenced by the above clip from today’s The Brian Lehrer Show), and we’re saving our choicest cuts for next week’s guest stint over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog. Yes, we’ve […]

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Thou Shall Not Pass

July 15th, 2010 · No Comments

It would take a rock-hard heart not to be moved by the plight of the Iroquois national lacrosse team, which has been frustrated in its efforts to attend the world championships in England. The team’s members hoped to travel on passports issued by their tribal government, but the British have refused to recognize the documents—despite […]

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What We Fear Most

July 14th, 2010 · 1 Comment

By the time this post goes live, we’ll be sitting in a dentist’s chair, getting our teeth scraped and sandblasted for the first time in well over a year. We’ve consumed vast quantities of dark coffee and sugar over that period, so we expect a very rough experience. Considering our natural fear of dentists, we […]

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The Art of Product Placement

July 14th, 2010 · 4 Comments

The armed forces obviously have to deal with a lot of requests from Hollywood, which is why the various military branches all have entertainment liaison offices. If your forthcoming production is supposed to depict military personnel, or you want to film on a base, you need to go through an elaborate clearance procedure that occasionally […]

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Grand Delusion

July 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments

One of the creepiest things about Burma’s ruling junta is its insistence on creating the trappings of prosperity, even as the vast majority of the nation grapples with desperate economic circumstances. Take the recent Yangon Auto Show, which followed the Western blueprint to a T with scantily-clad models draped across shiny new vehicles. Yet the […]

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Satan’s Salad Dressing

July 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments

We’re in the process of trying to find an insightful passage to read at a pal’s forthcoming wedding. (Suggestions welcome, by the way.) It’s taking us much longer than anticipated, in large part because we keep getting sidetracked by old favorites we’ve discovered while ransacking our overstuffed bookshelves. Case in point: Lawrence Wright’s Saints and […]

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Nose and Grindstone

July 12th, 2010 · No Comments

As we pound away at day-job matters this afternoon, please take a moment to enjoy our favorite X-Clan track above. We’ve taken the liberty of fast-forwarding past the esoteric sermon that precedes the actual music. But if you’d like to learn more about the concept of, er, “white kryptonite,” by all means, please rewind.

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Goliath Cometh

July 12th, 2010 · 8 Comments

We encourage you to click on the photo above to get a better sense of the Christophe Colomb‘s truly gargantuan size. The recently christened cargo ship is one of the world’s largest, capable of carrying over 13,300 containers of goods. That’s more than six times the size of most container ships, which typically top out […]

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The Throw-In

July 9th, 2010 · No Comments

Today’s expedited spy swap in Vienna brought to mind an even more dramatic trade: the 1962 exchange that brought downed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers back home, and sent “Rudolf Abel” back to Moscow to live out his days as a KGB trainer. Yet there was a third person involved in that sensational Berlin swap: […]

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Ice Van Wyck

July 9th, 2010 · 7 Comments

At the end of Wednesday’s post about one of the least heralded pioneers of refrigeration, we noted that the “ice lobby” had been instrumental in frustrating John Gorrie’s dreams of freezing water via mechanical means. This notion struck us as rather humorous since we can scarcely think of a less valuable commodity these days than […]

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It’s a Family Affair

July 8th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Yesterday’s arrest of a suspect in the long-running “Grim Sleeper” killings was made possible by familial DNA searching—in a nutshell, the suspect’s genetic material wasn’t in California’s database, but a family member’s was. A paper from earlier this year explains how the Golden State decides when such a search is enough to warrant further investigation: […]

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