Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'military'

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:····

Voyage Into Inner Space

June 12th, 2012 · 6 Comments

The above comes from the military manual given to all new arrivals at Johnston Atoll, the Pacific island where we dumped a whole bunch of toxic material back in the day. I can’t help but love the accidental Zen of this motto. More on the Johnston Atoll lifestyle here.

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Tighten Up Tighter

June 11th, 2012 · No Comments

The Army knew better than to stick a talent like Will Eisner in a foxhole. The artist was allowed to serve his country from behind a drawing board, where he was the chief creative force behind a series of comic instructional manuals. The best-known of these was Preventive Maintenance Monthly, the highlight of which was […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Where Do We Go Now?

November 1st, 2011 · 4 Comments

With roughly six months to go ’til my first book is due, you can expect plenty more research extras in the coming weeks. A lot of those posts will be designed to help me think through some of the slippery issues I’m encountering as I shape the central narrative—I’m still struggling to understand the mindsets […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

With Friends Like These

September 8th, 2011 · 4 Comments

As Muammar Qaddafi continues to rage, rage, rage against the inevitable dying of the light, the time has come to assess just how much damage he wrought during his absurdly long rule. I never cease to be amazed by the man’s longevity; just recently, in fact, his name came up in my book research, as […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

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 […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

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 […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

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 […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

In Praise of Ugly Robots

April 8th, 2011 · 1 Comment

For robot designers, the natural inclination has always been to make their creations look more and more human over successive generations. After all, isn’t it safe to assume that we ultimately want our artificial analogues to reflect their makers’ biological perfection? But there is a danger in this trend, depending on the sorts of applications […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Battledrome

December 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments

I’ve previously written about the odious racism of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, where various peoples from around the world were displayed like zoo animals. For the most part, these folks were asked to inhabit ersatz villages, so that their clothes and customs could be gawked at by paying customers. But some of […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

The Art of Product Placement

July 14th, 2010 · 4 Comments

The armed forces obviously have to deal with a lot of requests from Hollywood, which is why the various military branches all have entertainment liaison offices. If your forthcoming production is supposed to depict military personnel, or you want to film on a base, you need to go through an elaborate clearance procedure that occasionally […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Thwarted by Ocular Weakness

March 29th, 2010 · 4 Comments

If you have even a passing interest in the nuts and bolts of warfare, we highly recommend this thorough exploration of Afghan marksmanship. We’ve all heard how rural Afghan boys are essentially born with rifles in their hands, and that meme has led to a belief that Taliban soldiers are expert shots. But the reality […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Psyops on Thin Dead Trees

December 8th, 2009 · 7 Comments

The advent of electronic media has apparently done little to diminish the use of propaganda leaflets during wartime. Over the first six weeks of the Iraq War, for example, the United States Air Force dropped 31.8 million leaflets, primarily geared toward encouraging conscripts to surrender and oil workers to resist scorched-earth orders. This June 2003 […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

Armed Lounging in Angola

December 2nd, 2009 · 4 Comments

A secret major project beckons, so we’re off to deal for a spell. To fill the void, please enjoy this sequel of sorts to that excellent “SAS in Malaya” video that we posted a few days back. The scene this time is strife-torn Angola, but the same jaunty atmosphere remains. And if this is your […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

“New Villages”

November 30th, 2009 · 5 Comments

You might recall how a few years back, Britain’s anti-insurgency tactics in 1950s Malaysia were touted as a model for American forces in Iraq. That turned out to be poppycock, of course, since the British method involved tactics far too unpalatable for the post-colonial world to stomach. Among those tactics, as described in today’s edition […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

Security and the Soil

November 20th, 2009 · 3 Comments

In Pakistan’s chaotic North-West Frontier Province, there’s a movement afoot to temporarily ban the sale of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate, which are frequently used in bombmaking. (The article mistakenly fingers urea fertilizers as the target of the ban.) This got us thinking about the reasons for ammonium nitrate’s continued popularity among the world’s farmers, despite […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·······

Fourteen in a Million

September 21st, 2009 · 10 Comments

Given our recent, brain-bending encounter with the yellow fever vaccine, we’ve had a sharper eye for tales of preventive treatments gone awry. As a result, we just had to share this troubling tale of a Missouri Marine and MILVAX: It wasn’t a bullet or roadside bomb that felled Lance Cpl. Josef Lopez three years ago, […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Kids Do Love Lasers

September 15th, 2009 · 8 Comments

Modern pentathlon is by far our favorite Summer Olympics sport, topping even our beloved hammer throw. There’s just something inestimably cool about an event that’s modeled after a 19th-century military mission. Plus you have to dig the fact that the fifth place finisher at the 1912 games was a 28-year-old U.S. Army lieutenant named George […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Rescue Ops in the UTTR

June 23rd, 2009 · 5 Comments

The Air Force is currently combing the Utah Test & Training Range in search of a pilot whose F-16 crashed late last night. Even if the pilot managed to safely eject from the doomed aircraft, though, he could be tough to locate. As we previously noted, the UTTR is bigger than some states: If you […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

The Ghost Fleet

April 10th, 2009 · No Comments

The ultimate fate of the National Defense Reserve Fleet has become a hotly contested matter in recent years, as environmentalists claim the aged ships are leaking nasty toxins into California’s Suisun Bay. That certainly seems logical, since these rusting hulks were built in the age of asbestos, lead paint, and other environmental bogeymen. But a […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Draft as Drain

April 7th, 2009 · No Comments

Upon learning that Poland is set to end military conscription starting early next year, Microkhan got to wondering about the economic effects of nixing the draft. Is it a net good to have thousands of 18-to-21-year-olds pounding the pavement in search of jobs or educations, as opposed to learning how to march and fire weapons? […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Overlook Hotel Times Twelve

April 6th, 2009 · 2 Comments

One of my great regrets was not bringing a camera on my 1999 trip to the heart of the Greenland ice sheet. I was there doing a freelance piece on the Air National Guard unit responsible for resupplying polar scientific missions; we spent three days on the ice, learning how to survive in the event […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The World’s Longest Hunger Strike

March 30th, 2009 · No Comments

Following on last week’s post on the British experience on Pakistan’s North-West Frontier, Microkhan will soon be exploring India’s struggles to deal with its own “tribal territories.” As a somber teaser, check out this account of the world’s longest hunger strike, being carried out by a Manipuri activist named Irom Sharmila. She has been fasting […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

“…Are Doomed to Repeat It”

March 27th, 2009 · 8 Comments

As we prepare to ramp up Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as focus more intently on the Taliban’s Pakistani havens, it’s worth looking back at the British experience in the Graveyard of Empires. Of specific interest is the classic 1898 account The Risings on the North-West Frontier, a detailed account of several expeditions carried out […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Dinosauring the Sandbag

March 24th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The humble sandbag remains mankind’s main line of defense against floods. Take the current situation in Fargo, N.D., where upwards of 10,000 Good Samaritans are furiously filling bags in order to combat the rising Red River. Working around the clock, the volunteers have so far managed to deploy about 70 percent of the requisite sandbags—seemingly […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Ares’s Laboratory

February 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment

If you ever find yourself at the intersections of Skull Valley and Stark roads in western Utah, take a long peek out the car window. See that barren nothingness that extends as far as the eye can see? That’s paradise for budding Air Force jocks: The Utah Test & Training Range, where the munitions of […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···