Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from August 31st, 2011

The Underwhelmer

August 31st, 2011 · No Comments

Hacking my way through a tricky part of the book today—a section in which I must encapsulate the tumult of late-1960s South Vietnamese politics in the space of two paragraphs. The chore has me focusing on the figure of Nguyen Cao Ky, the air marshal who became South Vietnam’s prime minister in 1965 (and who […]

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Commerce Above All

August 30th, 2011 · 6 Comments

Those who’ve been keeping score might have noticed a recent Microkhan obsession with visual communication—particularly the way in which simple illustrated material can be used to convey complex messages. This is an interest that dates back to my first exposure to Chick tracts, and has now ramped up with all the energy I’ve been pouring […]

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A Fat Lot of Good

August 29th, 2011 · 4 Comments

A recent deep-dive into the history of the dye pack got me wondering about long-term trends in bank robbery. So much brainpower has gone into devising gadgets and strategies that allegedly help financial institutions minimize the risk of getting hit. Are those security investments working? That’s a tougher question to answer than I had anticipated, […]

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The Reset Button

August 26th, 2011 · No Comments

Thanks a mil for bearing with the light posting this week. Was hoping to reward y’all with an entry about Olmec jaguar worship, but the brain ain’t working like it should—the consequence of a horrendous JetBlue delay and general work-related exhaustion. Back at full strength after Hurricane Irene passes over Microkhan world headquarters this weekend; […]

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Back to the Land of the Golden Arcs

August 25th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Winging my way back to Queens today, after a truly epic reporting trip in Southern California. Can’t wait to clue y’all in to the narrative I’ve been piecing together—it’s a doozy, to say the least. As I hurtle eastward through the air at slightly subsonic speed, enjoy a classic Sean Price track—yet another example of […]

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What Would Buddha Do?

August 24th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I do not believe the prince who renounced the world in order to attain Enlightenment would approve of these copyright shenanigans in Taiwan: The funeral industry has been rocked by a lawsuit filed by a music company that accuses funeral homes of intellectual property right (IPR) infringement for playing Buddhist chants and pop music during […]

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Komrad Ivan

August 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

Greetings from a rather random corner of Southern California, where I find myself pursuing the heart-and-soul of my next book. While I’m busy interviewing an eyewitness to historic events that the bulk of Americans have long forgotten, please take a moment to delve into the University of Nebraska’s rich trove of government-issued comics. Given Microkhan’s […]

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The Ponchos: Ruocheng Ying in The Last Emperor

August 19th, 2011 · 2 Comments

After a hiatus of a few weeks, it’s time to award another Poncho, the greatest honor that Microkhan can bestow upon the minor players of cinema. As a few of you may recall, the prize is given to supporting actors for the utterance of memorable single lines—lines that, in far less capable hands, would have […]

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Drop and Gimme Twenti

August 18th, 2011 · No Comments

An otherwise innocuous story about Fiji’s efforts to combat littering reveals this golden information nugget about law enforcement in Papua New Guinea: “We did some relative studies and found that in Papua New Guinea if you are found littering – you are asked by the authority to do push-ups. For us here we tell them […]

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The Empty File

August 17th, 2011 · No Comments

As part of my ongoing, book-related effort to gain a better understanding of the Vietnam War, I recently started diving into the documentary series based on Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History. (Yeah, I know, I should’ve started with the source material—my bad.) I’ve found the first episode particularly enlightening, since part of my book will […]

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The King Abides

August 16th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Plowing back into the book this morning, after losing all of yesterday to Microkhan Jr. duties. Really scrambling to get some work done before heading out to California this weekend, for an interview of the utmost importance. In my brief absence, please check out the latest live mix from DJ Assault, one of the most […]

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Thuggee Slang

August 15th, 2011 · No Comments

It’s always interesting to note how much criminal slang, which is designed to defy common comprehension, eventually finds its way into the popular vocabulary. I believe this is a testament not only to the (arguably lamentable) glamour of transgression, but also to the accidental linguistic genius of those who rob and maim for a living. […]

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A Sailor’s Life for Me?

August 12th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Many moons ago, one of my good friend’s older brothers spent a summer on an Alaskan fishing boat. He returned with a pocketful of money and some truly harrowing tales of the seafaring life, which included a comrade abandoned off the Aleutian Islands and much drunken thuggery. The anecdote of his that I remember most […]

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Combat in Charcoal

August 11th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Along with the transmission methods for mass psychological illness, one of the main themes I’ll be exploring in my next book is how traumatized Vietnam veterans coped with their homecomings. As such, I’ve been digging into the history of post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly the ways in which the condition was glossed over by the medical […]

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The Utter Mess in New Caledonia

August 10th, 2011 · No Comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron can take some small measure of solace in the fact that his government is the only one in Europe to be vexed by violent protestors. His French counterparts are suffering through similar civil unrest, though with an asterisk: the nation’s pocket of trouble is located several thousand miles away from […]

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The Maya Moore of Fish Cutting

August 9th, 2011 · No Comments

I’m rarely impressed by the talent portions of beauty pageants. Yes, I realize that baton twirling went out with leaded gasoline, but the mediocre singing and dancing that are now commonplace in such contests have done nothing to convince me that budding artists eschew the pageant circuit. But just when I’m nearly secure in my […]

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Transition Game

August 8th, 2011 · No Comments

One step forward, two steps back with the book project, alas—try as I might, can’t quite seem to make the first-chapter transition from my opening scene to the requisite view-from-30,000-feet riff. Dedicating all of today to hammering my way through the wall, no matter how many thousands of useless words have to get deleted in […]

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More Than Words Can Say

August 5th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Back in 2009, I meditated upon the question of whether or not wartime propaganda leaflets are actually effective at weakening an enemy’s resolve or ability to flight. The main takeaway was that design really mattered, as only certain kinds of leaflets—those with clear messages that eschewed graphic imagery—made a real impact on recipients. Ever since […]

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Screentime

August 4th, 2011 · No Comments

Just got back from a morning spent shooting a Canadian documentary about pharmaceutical marketing. I’m one the film’s talking heads, on account of a 2002 piece I did for Mother Jones about the marketing of Paxil. Strange to discuss a story that I hadn’t given a second thought in nearly a decade, but hopefully I […]

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“Liable to Abuse by Excitable Persons”

August 3rd, 2011 · 2 Comments

Inspired by a post delectably entitled “A Short History of Weaponised Umbrellas,” I decided to delve into the existing literature on the topic. What I found was a prime example of early 20th-century prose, notable for ornate turns-of-phrase that are sorely lacking in today’s self-defense manuals. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the intelligent-yet-florid glory […]

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What’s Yours is Mine

August 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

King George Tupou V of Tonga is a man accustomed to getting what he wants, regardless of his desire’s impact on his people or his ability to govern. So it is somewhat heartening to learn that the monocle-wearing monarch was recently pressured into dropping plans to add another seven-figure sum to his already burgeoning coffers: […]

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Leisure Defines the Man

August 1st, 2011 · 11 Comments

Coming off a hugely frustrating weekend of writing, in which I ended up deleting hundreds upon hundreds of words that seemed cold and lifeless upon the screen. After much thought and a few of these, I figured out a big part of my problem: In an effort to make the story more vivid, I was […]

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