Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from February 28th, 2011

Rabbit in the Moon

February 28th, 2011 · No Comments

Just one of those days, alas. Back tomorrow with a post on mercury mining in Kyrgyzstan; ’til then, bone up on the history of China’s space shuttle, one of my favorite pieces of aeronautic vaporware.

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The Simple Logic of Slumming

February 25th, 2011 · 4 Comments

I have no plans to watch the Academy Awards this weekend; any enterprise that once saw fit to honor the abysmal Crash is simply not worthy of my time. But I do harbor some fond memories of ceremonies past, including the most hilarious no-show in the Oscars’ history: Michael Caine’s failure to accept his Hannah […]

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The Money Pit

February 24th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Back in 1985 or thereabouts, I made the worst business decision of my life: I traded all of my Star Wars action figures to a classmate, in exchange for a Fisher-Price Space Shuttle that made “beep beep” noises when a rubber buttons was depressed. To my credit, I realized within a matter of days that […]

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Dreaming in the Trenches

February 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

From the 1915 paper that first legitimized the scientific study of combat-related trauma, Charles Samuel Myers’ “A Contribution to the Study of Shell Shock”: Dec. 27th–While in hypnosis he gives the name of hte man in the same trench with him as K. He “sees” very clearly the position of the trenches, their shallowness and […]

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Beware the Piper

February 22nd, 2011 · 6 Comments

One of the core tenets of the scientific method is total transparency. An experiment cannot be trusted if it can’t be replicated, so every step in the process must be documented and described for the masses. Those who resist these guidelines are often guilty of chicanery. Thus the good people of Srinagar, Kashmir’s gorgeous capital, […]

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The Steamboat Willie of Malaysia

February 21st, 2011 · No Comments

All this solo parenting has reacquainted me with the role that animation plays in kids’ development. In those moments that I’ve plopped Microkhan Jr. down in front of Team Umizoomi in order to secure a few minutes of peace, I’ve usually spent some time reminiscing about the cartoons that shaped my worldview. As previously noted, […]

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Coco’s Lament

February 18th, 2011 · No Comments

Thanks a million for putting up with sporadic, half-baked posting this week. Totally drained by Mr. Mom-ing it, a routine that left precious little time to formulate ideas into coherent paragraphs. But help is on the way, as the Grand Empress is making her way back to Atlah this very moment. All should be back […]

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Genteel Decline

February 18th, 2011 · 2 Comments

When I’ve looked at cases of urban decay in the past, I’ve typically focused on two types of hollowed-out human settlements: towns that were suddenly abandoned, and those that transformed from prosperous to troubled as their principal industries waned. But there’s a third model of decay to be considered, and that is one in which […]

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Swounds

February 17th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Absolutely nothing in the tank today—totally drained by a fifth consecutive day of solo parenting. Gotta use all available mental bandwidth to start outlining a forthcoming Wired opus ’bout an ingenious casino scam. You know the drill—enjoy the prime example of Malaysian movie music above, and catch you again as soon as I’m able.

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“The Basest Treachery is Often Employed”

February 16th, 2011 · No Comments

The ruins on Nusa Roviana, an island off the coast of New Georgia, include a baker’s dozen worth of skull shrines. These mystical fixtures were vital to the political structure of Nusa Roviana’s society, which centered on all-powerful chiefs who claimed an ability to communicate with deceased ancestors. But the islands’ inhabitants were not only […]

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The Quinby Smoker

February 15th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Behind every mass-market product is an invention that made its creation cost-effective. In the case of honey, that technological marvel is the humble bellows smoker, which produces a non-toxic haze with the power to chill out agitated bees. It does so by messing with a colony’s communications system: Sentries are supposed to alert warriors to […]

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Avoiding the Dreaded Shoelace Belt

February 14th, 2011 · No Comments

This is gonna be a rough week, as we’re solely in charge of Microkhan Jr. while the Grand Empress is off doing her thing in Vega$. The good news is that, with the aid of several Yuenglings last night, I believe that I’ve been able to reset my internal clock to deal with the situation […]

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The Greenless Island

February 11th, 2011 · 7 Comments

Abandoned human settlements are a pet topic ’round these parts, so I couldn’t resist the urge to post about the Japanese island of Hashima (aka Gunkanjima). Entranced by this haunting collection of photos, I tracked down a primer on the coal-mining outpost’s tragic history. As is so often the case with operations designed to pillage […]

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Caught in the Grip

February 10th, 2011 · No Comments

Deadline day here at Microkhan headquarters, so please make do with some downbeat Canadian dream pop for now. Listen closely for a moment that obviously made a big impact on Dan the Automator, seeing as how he copped it for a Deltron 3030 chorus.

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…But Somebody’s Gotta Do It

February 9th, 2011 · 4 Comments

A dozen years ago, this New York Times Magazine story wormed its way into my memory banks by citing a single, jaw-dropping stat: “About 70 percent of all Indian motel owners—or a third of all motel owners in America:mdash;are called Patel, a surname that indicates they are members of a Gujarati Hindu subcaste.” After reading […]

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Devil in the Details

February 8th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’m juggling a pair of true-crime yarns at present, and thus taking a keen interest in the contortions of an ambitious robber’s mind. What I’m starting to surmise is that even the sharpest crooks often lack a key mental skill: the ability to plan an endgame. Though their schemes may be brilliant on paper, criminals […]

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The Opulent Goodbye

February 7th, 2011 · No Comments

The late Hmong military leader Vang Pao is currently being memorialized in grand fashion, as his culture’s traditions dictate: [Vang Pao's] funeral — six days and nights, with 10 cows slaughtered and stir-fried each day — has become a send-off for the ages. It began last Friday, his body borne on a horse-drawn carriage through […]

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“Champ of the Ivories”

February 4th, 2011 · 7 Comments

I have done my earnest best to keep self-promotion to a minimum on Microkhan, while also refusing ads in order to preserve the pristine reading experience you’ve (hopefully) come to know and love. But, alas, I’m going to ask you to endure a bit of jersey-popping on this cold winter morn, as I try once […]

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The Fanged King

February 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

The granddaddy of Malaysian vampire flicks, 1968′s Raja Bersiong tells the tale of a pre-Islamic king who develops a taste for human blood—a culinary affection that eventually leads him to grow long fangs, and then (spoiler alert!) to be killed by his subjects for paying more attention to his snacks than his royal duties. As […]

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The Golden Age of Twice-Cooked Pork

February 2nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

Apologies to my vegetarian readers for what is about to commence: a post about the grisly business of producing pig meat, a delicacy that I seek out far more often than my arteries would like. (I will perform nearly any feat of self-abasement in exchange for some top-notch lechón.) Though I’m accustomed to reading about […]

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The Grim Handiwork of Man

February 1st, 2011 · 2 Comments

In researching my Teddy Weatherford yarn for The Atavist, I was compelled to revisit a tragic event that I described in Now the Hell Will Start: the Bengal famine of 1943, which ultimately claimed the lives of 3 million Indians. In the book, I detail how a bare modicum of foresight could have prevented the […]

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