Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'Indonesia'

The Wisdom of Deer

February 14th, 2014 · No Comments

When the Indonesian government looks back upon its handling of Mount Kelud’s latest eruption, it may lament its failure to heed a clue from the animal kingdom. Two days before the volcano began to belch its noxious contents, the critters that inhabited its slopes seemed to know that something was up: “We received reports from […]

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Respectful Enemies

June 15th, 2012 · No Comments

Rampok macans were Javanese ceremonies which centered upon the slaying of tigers, perhaps as a symbolic way for humans to confirm their dominance over nature. The tigers were not sacrificed, per se, but rather forced into combat that virtually guaranteed their deaths—either against spear-wielding humans or, far more spectacularly, water buffalos. An eyewitness described the […]

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The Forces Arrayed Against Nachos

February 24th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I’m a sucker for creative metrics, such as measuring a creature’s ferocity by how quickly it can skeletonize a cow. One of my favorites is the way in which a nation’s development is assessed by how rapidly it’s being colonized by Western franchises. Take Indonesia, which is revealed here to be “opening a new convenience […]

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Plateau Bargaining

October 20th, 2011 · No Comments

The world economy isn’t only roiled by the machinations of Wall Streeters who are too clever by half; old-fashioned strikes can still upset the delicate equilibrium between prosperity and chaos. An excellent case in point is the ongoing fracas at the Freeport’s Grasberg mine in the restive Indonesian province of Papua. The operation is the […]

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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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Gangs of Jakarta

October 12th, 2010 · 3 Comments

The Indonesian capital is still reeling in the wake of a deadly gang brawl outside a city courthouse. As in most cases of Jakartan gang violence, the young men involved belonged to rival ethnic groups, each with close ties to local politicians who rely on thuggery to manage their constituencies. In fact, it appears that […]

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What Sand and Cocaine Have in Common

June 10th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Despite a government ban, Cambodian dredgers are once again raking the floor of the Koh Pao River in search of vast quantities of sand. The risk of running afoul of the authorities is apparently far outweighed by the riches to be gained from exporting sand to Singapore, which desperately needs the granular commodity to expand […]

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Gaming the System

March 9th, 2010 · 4 Comments

When conducting business deals with their fellow private citizens, people basically tend to be honest. Perhaps this is because we all secretly fear retribution and punishment, no matter how unlikely the consequences. Or maybe it’s just that we’re wired to realize that society can’t function if we’re constantly preoccupied with suspicion. Whatever the explanation, the […]

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If Vulcan Rears His Head

February 17th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Because so few potential clients are directly threatened by volcanoes, the insurance industry hasn’t developed sophisticated models to estimate damage due to cataclysmic eruptions. But sooner or later, a volcano located near a major population center is going to blow, and government cash alone may not be enough to heal the economic wounds. Could the […]

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The Arachnids Shall Inherit the Earth

February 2nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

One of our favorite barroom debates concerns which animal will become the planet’s dominant species once a comet, asteroid, or accidental release of sinister nanobots makes human civilization go the way of the Zastava Koral. The smart money’s usually on the cockroach, due to its alleged ability to survive a nuclear Armageddon. And no one […]

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What Young Men Still Do

December 30th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Headhunting of the literal sort figures quite prominently in Now the Hell Will Start, our 386-page labor o’ love. We dedicated an entire chapter to the practice, and thus field frequent questions from readers regarding whether or not the tribal inhabitants of North-East India and northwest Burma still take skulls. Our stock answer is that […]

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The Gulag-Free Archipelago

December 1st, 2009 · 4 Comments

Upon being presented with the map above, the first question that pops to most minds is, “Why is the incarceration rate in the United States so absurdly high?” But given our proclivity for the esoteric, we now find ourselves wondering, “Why is the incarceration rate in Indonesia so darn low?” There is certainly no single, […]

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The Universality of Whaam!

October 29th, 2009 · 6 Comments

We’ll confess, we often scoff at university courses that focus exclusively on contemporary pop culture—as much as we would have liked to have taken “The Simpsons as Satirical Authors,” for example, we’re not entirely convinced those classroom hours couldn’t be better spent slogging through Ulysses. But we’d make an exception for a comparative literature course […]

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Ceausescu Through the Looking Glass

August 13th, 2009 · No Comments

Richmonda, Virginia’s DJ Carlito specializes in digging up vintage, totally random vacation films and setting them to music. We’re absolute suckers for all things Romanian, so the above clip is a fave. But also check out Carlito’s found footage from Tunisia in 1967—not to mention this Indonesian propaganda flick from the heyday of (we think) […]

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Divorce in Ye Olden Tymes

July 27th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Following up on last week’s divorce theme, we thought we’d take a look back at pre-modern marital splits. While divorce may not have been common in the West until the advent of women’s lib, it was apparently a staple of several Asian and Middle Eastern societies for centuries: The outpouring of scholarly and popular works […]

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In Single Parenthood, There I Stood

May 21st, 2009 · 4 Comments

Apologies for the slow start today. As previously mentioned, Microkhan is solely in charge of Microkhan Jr. this week, due to the missus being off in Los Angeles hawking her fine, fine lingerie. Factor in the screenplay and our primary paying gig, and you’ve got a recipe for utter chaos and exhaustion. As a small […]

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Combating Corruption with Sandwiches

May 5th, 2009 · No Comments

Indonesia regularly languishes near the bottom of Transparency International‘s corruption index; in the 2008 rankings, the world’s fourth-most populous nation came in tied for 126th, alongside Honduras, Uganda, and Mozambique. With everyone’s hand out when foreign investors come knocking, it’s no wonder that major development deals fall through all the time. So what’s to be […]

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The Fallibility of Folk Medicine

May 4th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Since folk-medicine techniques ostensibly develop over many centuries, one would think its practitioners would slowly come to realize that some practices are actually harmful rather than helpful. But, alas, it turns out our species isn’t always aces at connecting cause to effect. And so we keep using treatments that are several degrees worse than doing […]

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The Kobe Bryant of Netball

April 30th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Microkhan’s Australian readers (we have at least two!) may already be familiar with Romelda Aiken’s spectacular exploits on the netball court. She is, after all, the best player on the Queensland Nationals, a lithe and aggressive scoring machine who recently racked up 42 goals in an upset win over the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. […]

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“Too Bad He’s a Killer”

April 24th, 2009 · No Comments

Microkhan recently opined that it’s best to avoid serial killers who fancy themselves musicians. To our great consternation, alas, the teenage girls of West Java seem to be disregarding this sage advice. They have apparently gone somewhat ga-ga over Verry Idam Henyasyah, a.k.a. “Ryan,” a condemned murderer who’s become an object of myriad schoolgirl crushes. […]

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The Puputans of Bali

March 31st, 2009 · 10 Comments

Microkhan’s few loyalists know that suicide is a frequent topic of interest ’round here. No surprise, then, that in the midst of reading Miguel Covarrubias’s Island of Bali, I was struck by the Mexican artist/ethnographer’s account of an infamous 1906 ritual mass suicide. Students of Balinese history (of which I’m certainly not one) are already […]

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When Tigers Grow Desperate

March 4th, 2009 · No Comments

There are less than 500 wild tigers left in Indonesia. But they’ve been mighty busy in 2009, mauling nine Sumatrans to death over the past five weeks alone. The victims were all either illegal loggers, or poachers, or possibly both. As with the tanking global economy, things are bound to get a lot worse before […]

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