Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from January 31st, 2012

Mutineers Move Markets

January 31st, 2012 · No Comments

The recent unpleasantness is Papua New Guinea provides a salient reminder that the global financial system, despite employing some very sharp minds, often acts on impulse. In response to the recent mutiny outside Port Moresby, Standard & Poor’s has slashed PNG’s credit rating. An S&P analyst explained the firms rational thusly: We have these ratings […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

The Scribe Mind

January 30th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I recently finished up Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, which is an absolute beast of a book. Aside from that great apocalyptic party scene in Bury St. Edmunds, there’s a terrific set piece in which Buford gets pummeled by Italian riot cops. I love the way he recounts his thought process while being savaged with […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Write Your Name Across the Sky

January 27th, 2012 · No Comments

One of the book-related research tangents I’ve become ensnared in is the early history of parachuting. As you might suspect, the development of this important life-saving technology produced more than a few martyrs to the cause, as well as some heroes with complicated backstories. One of my favorite examples from the latter category is Carroll […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Working Overtime, Fighting Crime

January 26th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Getting thwacked by this Wired story I’m working on, which requires me to comprehend the nuances of both ribonucleic acid and artificial intelligence. Suffice to say, my brain’s full-up for the next twenty-four hours; see you back here shortly.

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Value of a Dolphin

January 25th, 2012 · No Comments

The loyalest of y’all may have noticed that I have a longstanding fascination with the legal system’s efforts to value the supposedly invaluable. Which is why I was struck by this recent tidbit out of the Solomon Islands: THE High Court has ordered the Solomon Islands Government and the Ministry of Fisheries to pay Marine […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

Striving for Perfection

January 24th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Given my attraction to tales about how folks cope with nasty twists of fate, I was bowled over to discover this rarest of Korean War artifacts: a program from the 1952 prisoner-of-war Olympics held at Pyoktong, North Korea. In addition to containing numerous photos of the sports contested—such as tug of war, football, and bizarre […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Purple Tin

January 20th, 2012 · 6 Comments

Though Europeans are generally drinking a great deal less these days, the Scottish are bucking the trend. Per the chart above, alcohol consumption has been steadily rising in the land north of the border established by the Treaty of York. The question that no one seems able to answer with any degree of certainty is […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Mad Dash

January 19th, 2012 · No Comments

Taking a day to plow through edits on Chapters Three and Four of the forthcoming book. Need to have the first 50,000 or so words to my editor by February 27th, so I’ll be ducking out on occasion to enter the hardcore writing bubble. Back tomorrow with a post about the dispiriting trend in Scottish […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

The Specialist

January 18th, 2012 · 10 Comments

By now you may have heard of the landmark federal conviction of Alfred Anaya, who played a key role in a drug trafficking ring that moved product from Mexico to the Midwest. What makes Anaya’s downfall so interesting is that fact that, by the government’s own admission, he never touched any drugs himself; his role […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

The Worst Good Time

January 17th, 2012 · 4 Comments

I’m a few pages from the end of Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, a study of Thatcher-era football hooliganism that doubles as a meditation on crowd dynamics. It’s perhaps best known for its opening set-piece, in which the author tags along with a bunch of Manchester United supporters on a depraved trip to Turin. But […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·······

The Pouring Forth of Words

January 13th, 2012 · 1 Comment

A moved-up book deadline has me scrambling over these next few days, so I’m just gonna ease you into the holiday weekend with some Uzbek pop. I don’t understand a word, of course, but my hunch is the ladies of Shahrizoda are preaching against the evils of materialism. The highlight is around the 1:08 mark, […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

The Teetotaler of Ulaanbaatar

January 11th, 2012 · 1 Comment

It’s a little hard for Americans to wrap their heads around alcoholism’s social toll in places like Mongolia, where the perpetually inebriated constitute a significant percentage of the potential workforce (and also commit the majority of crimes). So it will be interesting to see whether the government’s lead-by-example campaign makes any sort of impact on […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Hazardous Duty in Thule

January 10th, 2012 · 1 Comment

This memoir by the former bassist for Barbara Allen and the Tennessee Hot Pants includes a great vignette about playing Greenland’s Thule Air Force Base, where young men once scanned the skies for incoming Soviet ICBMs. Deprived of female companionship for months at a time, and surrounded by little but shiny white nothingness for most […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

At Least He’s Not Pandering

January 9th, 2012 · 5 Comments

One should perhaps never be surprised by the nature of political discourse in a country where the Simon and Garfunkel song “Cecilia” was once banned. Yet there is still something rather jarring about a leader who willfully disparages his own populace, as Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika did last week: Mutharika challenged Malawians to appreciate […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

A Name Lost to History

January 6th, 2012 · No Comments

Taking advantage of a brief lull in the Wired action to steal a day for the book. Back on Monday with a post about the history of submarine rescue, a teaser of which is posted above. One more thing: If anyone can shed light on the real name of an Algerian secret policeman who went […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Decimal Points

January 5th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I should have mentioned long ago that noted Microkhan ally Nathan Thornburgh has launched a new project near-and-dear to my heart: Roads & Kingdoms, a site that operates under the hard-to-resist motto “Journalism, travel, food, murder, music.” The first several weeks’ worth of posts have focused exclusively on Burma, where Nathan and his co-creator traveled […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Kafka in Seattle

January 4th, 2012 · 4 Comments

Amid all the wearying hullabaloo over the Iowa caucus, the passing of a major figure in American history seemed to have slipped off the radar. Gordon Hirabayashi, who died at 93 on Monday, was one of a small handful of Japanese-Americans to legally contest the Roosevelt Administration’s internment policy—a policy that, in this project’s humble […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:········

Monkey with the Lingo

January 3rd, 2012 · 6 Comments

Among the many bizarre books I’ve been reading for research purposes, few are stranger than Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Fire, the former Black Panther bigwig’s account of becoming a born again Christian in the late 1970s. Cleaver spends much of the book repudiating the Communist allies who once supported him, including the North Korean dictator […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····