Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from October 31st, 2012

Textbook Hardball

October 31st, 2012 · No Comments

As someone who hopes to earn a passable living through scribbled stories, I have taken an unusually keen interest in Guyana’s recent copyright brouhaha. The government of the chaotic South American nation recently had the audacity to declare that it would be purchase all its school textbooks from local pirates, who could offer far better […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Sandy Be Not Proud

October 30th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Though I didn’t realize it when we moved here, the current Microkhan world headquarters occupies a relatively high-altitude slice of Queens. As a result, we suffered little meaningful damage in Hurricane Sandy—certainly nothing that a little spackle, paint, and elbow grease can’t fix. But our hearts break for fellow residents of this vast metropolis who […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·

Bad Glue

October 29th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Hurricane Sandy has yet to hit Microkhan world headquarters with full force, but already there are problems—particularly in the palace’s lavatory, where a plastic skylight appears to be secured with an epoxy several notches weaker than that which magazines use to hold perfume samples in place. Working furiously to prevent a mess of rain and […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Layer by Layer

October 26th, 2012 · No Comments

Out and about today, corralling some killer photos for the next book. Back on Monday with a lengthy exploration of turtle riding.

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Accept Your Lot in Life

October 24th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Whoever was in charge of putting together this orientation handbook (PDF) for St. Petersburg’s migrant workers probably had the best of intentions. Yet their decision to portray those workers as mere tools, as opposed to flesh-and-blood humans like the welcoming Russians, was a revealing faux pas. As a Tajik blogger so forcefully put it: We […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Garments of Egg Smugglers

October 22nd, 2012 · No Comments

The fear of detection begets some of the most admirable innovation around, a technological truism proved by the photographic records of Australian Customs. These galleries are chock full of devices that smugglers have used to route around law enforcement, mostly in order to convey drugs from Southeast Asia. But there are also several wearable inventions […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Joyous Mayhem

October 18th, 2012 · No Comments

The typical peace of Oslo was recently shattered by one of my favorite wedding traditions: the Chechens’ enthusiasm for turning vehicular processions into demolition derbies, as participants jockey for the exalted slot just behind the bride and groom’s car. (More examples here.) Lives are occasionally lost in such a manner, which is why various governments […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

When Curves Were King

October 17th, 2012 · No Comments

We’re all aware that standards of beauty shift over time, which is why there is such a vast difference between the body types of Peter Paul Rubens’ subjects and today’s Olive Oyl-ish fashion icons. How the taste pendulum swings seems largely tied to a basic law of economics: our species values things according to their […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Can’t Buy a Thrill

October 16th, 2012 · No Comments

Given that 2.4 million Americans have served in either Afghanistan or Iraq, there is bound to be a point at which some veterans who run afoul of the law will point to their combat experience as a mitigating factor. When lawyers cobble together such defenses, they will doubtless flip back to United States v. Tindall […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

The Beginning of the End

October 15th, 2012 · No Comments

So today’s the deadline for the final draft of my next book; with any luck, I’ll have some bound galleys to give away before Christmas. It’s been a long, draining process—thirty-eight months of reporting, writing, and furious pacing about my shoebox-sized home office. Tough to believe that I’m just a few hundred checked endnotes away […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

A Clear Division

October 12th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I am generally no great fan of books about mountaineering disasters, but Buried in the Sky really got its hooks into me. That’s partly because of its unique narrative viewpoint: the tale’s protagonists are not the Western adventurers who met with bitter fates on K2, but rather those adventurers’ Sherpa guides. The authors did a […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

The Micronesian Olympics

October 10th, 2012 · No Comments

The Micronesian Olympics—now known as the Micronesian Games for copyright reasons—were first held in 1969. As these photographs attest, the athletes competed in front of crowds that numbered in the dozens or even less. Yet those first Olympics still occupy a cherished place in the memories of Micronesian sports fans, particularly those whose tastes run […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Mary, Queen of Business

October 9th, 2012 · No Comments

Mary Antisarlook, popularly known as Sinrock Mary, was at one point the wealthiest woman in Alaska. She made her fortune by controlling a herd of approximately 1,500 reindeer, which she inherited after her second husband’s death in 1900. Mary was able to keep the herd together despite numerous legal challenges to her ownership, including those […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Dedication to Minutiae

October 5th, 2012 · No Comments

Back to endnoting the book today. The whole agonizing process has made me regret my lack of organization while writing—at some point, I just got tired of affixing Post-It notes to each and every primary-source document. I’m paying the price now, and I guess so are y’all—I’m too slammed to post anything richer than the […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Life in Limbo

October 4th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Please take a moment today to check out this astounding collection of mid-1970s photos from Ujelang Atoll, a Micronesian speck that once played host to nuclear refugees from nearby Enewetak. When these particular photos were taken, the Enewetakese had been in exile for three decades, after being bounced from their homes so the United States […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

The Purpose Server

October 3rd, 2012 · No Comments

The tri-winged Barling Bomber was one of the most notorious military boondoggles of the 1920s. The exorbitantly expensive plane, which never made it out of prototype, was knocked for being ludicrously slow despite being equipped with an unprecedented six engines. It was a prime example of what happens when designers feel obligated to respond to […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Persistence of Myth

October 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

It has become an article of faith that the illicit drug business is every bit as sophisticated as its Fortune 500 counterparts. But a closer look at the industry’s transportation practices reveals some definite scientific shortcomings. As this Dutch study of drug-courier techniques demonstrates, trafficking networks continue to employ concealment practices that have long been […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Here Comes the Boom

October 1st, 2012 · 2 Comments

Our species ability to control avalanches remains more art than science, which makes sense given the challenges involved. A thousand different variables play into each situation, ranging from the constitution of the snow to incremental changes in air temperature. On top of that, the means by which we knock away threatening snow—namely, by pelting it […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···