Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from November 30th, 2010

Jimmy Rasta on the Skids

November 30th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Try as I might to keep apprised of the political situation in the Solomon Islands, I regrettably lose track of the thread from time to time. Thanks, then, to the commenter who recently showed up to offer his two cents regarding Jimmy “Rasta” Lusibaea, the former ethnic militia leader who had become the Solomon Islands’ […]

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Signifying Nothing

November 29th, 2010 · 3 Comments

The human rays of sunshine above are academics devoted to the study of juche, the nonsensical North Korean ideology that stresses self-reliance above all else. You would think that men and women in possession of advanced degrees would recognize the flaws in an economic theory that denies the basic sociability of our species—or, at the […]

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The Only Way to Fly

November 24th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I’ve long refused to travel during the holidays, a stance that makes even more sense in this era of rampant junk touching. I might change my mind, however, if modern air travel bore any faint resemblance to what’s on offer in the Khrushchev-era Aeroflot commercial above. Dancing flight attendants in futuristic pink mini-skirts and white […]

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Music is Our Underwater Torch

November 23rd, 2010 · 4 Comments

While I enjoy a good sci-fi concept album as much as the next khan, few bands are adept at creating mythologies that measure up to their music. Ziggy Stardust’s backstory has always struck me as prosaic, for example, while the “Red Star of the Solar Federation” from Rush’s 2112 is only a tad less schlocky […]

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Tone Deaf

November 22nd, 2010 · 3 Comments

I spent much of the weekend zipping through The Reluctant Communist, former Army sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins‘ memoir of the 39 years he spent living in North Korea after walking across the demilitarized zone in 1965. It’s a harrowing read, primarily because it reveals the North Korean establishment to be even more deluded than I’d […]

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The Grandeur of Glory

November 19th, 2010 · 4 Comments

(Cross-posted to/from PLoS Blogs) All the recent chatter over the dangers of professional football compelled me to look up one of my favorite snippets of Greek mythology: the tale of Achilles’ choice, from Book Nine of the Iliad. For those who have only foggy memories of high-school English, the story goes like this: the gods […]

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I Want You to Want Me

November 18th, 2010 · 7 Comments

There’s a scene in My Best Fiend in which Werner Herzog reveals what made him believe that Klaus Kinski possessed rare talent. It was a brief moment in a film whose title now escapes me, about a German soldier who is executed for deserting the army to be with his girlfriend. (A Time to Love […]

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Soul Points

November 17th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Even by the most conservative estimates, Tonga is the most intensely Mormon nation on Earth. The official estimate is that roughly 15 percent of Tonga’s population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Mormons adherent place the figure much higher—typically around 32 percent, and sometimes even higher. This is par for […]

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Spinning in Molasses

November 16th, 2010 · No Comments

Too sick to offer anything halfway intelligible this morning—to cop a line from Killing Zoe, I feel as if the rest of the world is in a bubble of glass and that I’m rubbing up against it like a bad windshield wiper. As I recuperate, please enjoy the classic Jamaican rocksteady cut above, later made […]

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An All-Too-True Fish Story

November 15th, 2010 · 9 Comments

You probably already knew that times were rough in Camden, New Jersey, but this photo essay really drives home the sad reality. In a part of the nation chock full of towns that have seen much better days, the former home of RCA Victor has become the poster child for all that can go wrong […]

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Battling Gaston vs. Pretty Pierre

November 12th, 2010 · No Comments

Americans are not the only ones who question soccer’s emergence as the world’s favorite athletic pastime. The sport has also occasionally come under fire from anti-colonialists, who would prefer that their nations opt for the games that were popular before the Europeans came a-knocking with their guns and smallpox. The Tunisian historian Borhane Errais is […]

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Entertain Us

November 11th, 2010 · No Comments

I’m churning out the third draft of a major project this morning, so just some music to get you through the a.m. I saw the guy above, Eric Lewis, play last night in the basement of the Red Rooster. The bloke who introduced him said that he was essentially a cross between Prince and Thelonious […]

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Juiced

November 10th, 2010 · No Comments

It’s no secret that the world of thoroughbred racing now mimics the very worst aspects of professional cycling, with so many contests determined by pharmaceutical aids. Less well-known is the impact that performance-enhancing drugs have had on other animal-centric sports, where doping has become commonplace despite the relatively meager financial rewards on offer. Pigeon racing, […]

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Before the Robots

November 9th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The great pleasure in the clip above is not necessarily the music, but rather the bewildered faces of the German kids in the audience. Take a close look—most seem deeply unsure of how to react, yet still fully aware that they’re bearing witness to an early flicker of greatness. I wish I could dig something […]

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Heaven to the Kaliai

November 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Staying on the near-death experience theme from yesterday, I went and dug up one of my all-time favorite papers on the topic: Dorothy Counts‘ 1983 study of NDEs in New Guinea. Of particular note were the visions described by the Kaliai, a people who inhabit West New Britain. When they hallucinate about the Great Beyond […]

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Near-Death Nation

November 8th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Readers who’ve been checking this space for a while may remember that I have a longstanding fascination with near-death experiences and the ways in which they can alter lives. And so I was struck by this line from a recent Wall Street Journal piece about researchers’ continuing attempts to determine why, exactly, folks on the […]

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“Just Sweat Me Like Moneypenny”

November 5th, 2010 · No Comments

Major projects and chores all piled up today, so please sustain yourself on one of the few songs in music history to explore the sexual tension that existed between James Bond and M’s secretary. Saucy.

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The Wizard of Rub

November 4th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Many moons ago, I found myself at a basement party where a band named after a Dungeons & Dragons creature provided the entertainment. The star of the show was a diminutive man with a bushy beard and a strange contraption draped across his chest. It looked to me like a badly wrought piece of armor, […]

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Varmints on the Ascent

November 3rd, 2010 · No Comments

It is a good time to be a squirrel in the United States. For starters, the bushy-tailed rodents are no longer coveted by hunters, to the great distress of many aging sportsmen. The latest numbers out of Pennsylvania don’t lie: The wider availability of squirrel species has not been enough to buoy squirrel hunting participation. […]

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The Logic of Protest

November 2nd, 2010 · 8 Comments

If you haven’t already, be sure to hit your local polls before the day is through. I’ll be taking Microkhan Jr. into the voting booth this afternoon, and I’ll let him pull the lever at the end (though he won’t actually get to make any ballot selections). For the umpteenth time since I turned 18, […]

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Crowns Are People, Too

November 2nd, 2010 · No Comments

Much is made of the way in which the Soviets scored themselves some really nice artworks in the waning days of World War II, scooping up the priceless paintings and statues that the Germans had looted on their doomed march toward Moscow. But our side had some sticky fingers, too, to the great consternation of […]

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A Perfect System, Soaked in Blood

November 1st, 2010 · 1 Comment

Though my gambling amounts to little more than the occasional hand of $5 blackjack while in Vegas, I’m fascinated by the work of oddsmaking. It takes a special kind of genius to create a system in which the house will always win in the long run, though by just enough to preserve the game’s entertainment […]

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