Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'psychology'

The Small Pleasures of Camel Meat

August 3rd, 2010 · 7 Comments

Last week I chimed in about the seemingly never-ending quest to bring deposed Chadian dictator Hissène Habré to justice. To add to that sad story, it’s worth remembering how Habré first gained international notoriety: the 1974 kidnapping of French archaeologist Francoise Claustre, who was held for nearly three years before gaining her release through the […]

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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 […]

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Back from Whitefish Bay

June 3rd, 2010 · 15 Comments

Though there were moments during our vacation when we were tempted to chuck it all and reboot our lives as laborers on the Soo Locks, we finally managed to make it back to world headquarters yesterday. It might take us a day or two to shake off the mental dust, but Microkhan should be back […]

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Nothing Like the First Time

February 25th, 2010 · 1 Comment

In researching our forthcoming Wired piece on drug and alcohol abuse, we’ve found ourselves keenly interested in the tales that addicts tell about their first inebriatory experiences. One common thread we’ve found is a sense that the first drink or dose provided something that the person had always been searching for—the intoxicant made them whole, […]

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The Appeal of Uniformity

February 23rd, 2010 · 3 Comments

An Applebee’s recently opened up here in Atlah, and it’s doing pretty decent business on a strip of 125th Street that attracts scant foot traffic at night. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the restaurant’s success, seeing as how we praised the chain’s business acumen in a 2005 Slate column. But we do find it […]

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The Questionable Power of Horse

February 18th, 2010 · 8 Comments

In keeping with our recent paying-gig focus on addiction science, we’d like to turn your attention toward the remarkable work of Lee N. Robins, who recently passed away. In the early 1970s, after hearing rumors that tens of thousands of Vietnam War veterans had come stumbling home as hopeless heroin addicts, Robins vowed to determine […]

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A Master’s Secret

February 17th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Contrary to what you might conclude by checking out our “music” tag, we don’t only permit hip-hop, soul, and vintage ZZ Top to enter our eardrums. We’ve also taken quite a shine to ukulele music in recent weeks, a jag that has brought us in touch with the work of the late, great John King. […]

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The Man Who Wasn’t There

February 5th, 2010 · 1 Comment

We fully acknowledge that this wasn’t a red-letter week at Microkhan, at least in terms of posting frequency. Paying gigs got in the way, as did Microkhan Jr.—the parenting equation has changed dramatically now that he’s figured out how to open the front door. Worry not, though, we’ll be back to full strength next week—though […]

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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Astronaut

February 1st, 2010 · 2 Comments

About a decade ago, we had the privilege of spending some time out on Greenland’s ice sheet, in the company of the Air National Guard unit responsible for keeping polar scientists stocked with food and medicine. Much of that trip is a blur, due to the fact that we lost innumerable brain cells due to […]

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Anatomy of a Hoax

January 28th, 2010 · Comments Off on Anatomy of a Hoax

A great piece out of small-town South Carolina on an alleged attempted murder that turned out to be nothing of the sort. The “victim,” Pearl Brown, wasn’t very detailed oriented, and that was ultimately her undoing. She probably should have researched the link between head trauma and amnesia a bit more, a line of inquiry […]

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The Horse Gallops Onward

January 22nd, 2010 · Comments Off on The Horse Gallops Onward

When it comes to sports fandom, we’re incurable pessimists—perhaps no surprise given our decades-long love affair with the most miserable franchise in the history of athletics. And so in the run-up to this Sunday’s monster Colts game, we will not dare to offer any sunny predictions about the inevitability of a Super Bowl. We’ve been […]

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The Jonestown Diet

January 8th, 2010 · 3 Comments

During one of our recent discussions about food taboos, a sage commenter noted that one of the theories regarding such prohibitions is that they aid social cohesion—if we can all agree to, say, eschew beef or Funyuns, we instantly have something that defines us in opposition to “The Other.” Given the inherent creepiness of that […]

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Bear Fat as Mental Savior

January 6th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Just before we broke for Christmas, we posted about the possibility that America’s recent love affair with unsaturated fatty acids may be part of the reason our crime rates have dropped so precipitously. Now comes word that fat may have another positive application: curing folks afflicted with witiko psychosis, which (allegedly) causes a sudden craving […]

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A Language Not Quite Universal

January 6th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Contrary to what we learned in Mrs. Glickman’s Algebra II class lo those many years ago, mathematics is not a language that transcends all cultural barriers. That’s because tackling math problems requires a willingness to give in to abstraction, a leap that not all cultures are equipped to make. Just check out how the Saora […]

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The Soviet Road Not Taken

January 4th, 2010 · 1 Comment

For anyone with even a passing interest in cult psychology, San Diego State University’s Jonestown Archive is well worth a thorough gander. Our favorite section, of course, is a compendium of primary sources that date back to Jim Jones’s earliest days in Indiana. Among the choice morsels contained therein is a petition that all members […]

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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 […]

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The Demise of “Criminal Insanity”

November 30th, 2009 · 7 Comments

In reading about the murder of four police officers near Tacoma, we were most struck by the prime suspect’s obvious paranoid schizophrenia—a disease that seems to have been wholly untreated, in part because his family members were afraid of staging any sort of medical intervention: As part of the child-rape investigation, the sheriff’s office interviewed […]

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Bulletproof: The Boxers

November 24th, 2009 · 8 Comments

It is to the turn-of-the-century media’s great discredit that they referred to China’s quasi-Luddite rebels as “Boxers.” Had the minions of William Randolph Hearts been more adept at understanding Chinese, they would have realized that the rebels’ secret society translated more literally as “Fists of Righteous Harmony,” a far more poetic moniker for an organization […]

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Who Will Slip?

August 10th, 2009 · Comments Off on Who Will Slip?

We find ourselves in full agreement with The Economist‘s argument against America’s draconian sex-offender laws, which prescribe too-harsh punishments for youthful blunders and other crimes unlikely to be repeated. But we were struck by this passage from the polemic, which would seem to undercut the magazine’s case: A meta-analysis of 29,000 sex offenders in Canada, […]

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The Mob Psychology of Desperate Men

July 2nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

It took us well over a week, but we finally got around to finishing Harp of Burma last night, while sitting on the 2 train back from Brooklyn. Yes, a week-plus is an awful long time to tackle a so-called children’s book, one which clocks in at a measly 132 pages. But such is life […]

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When the Disease Beats the Cure

May 11th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Last night, Microkhan finally got around to completing the Stanley Kubrick circuit by watching Paths of Glory. Suffice to say that the film is a potent reminder of the World War I’s absolute ghastliness; we can scarcely imagine what it must have been like to be an 18-year-old lad in the trenches, ordered to venture […]

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“Too Bad He’s a Killer”

April 24th, 2009 · Comments Off on “Too Bad He’s a Killer”

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 Man Who Heard Voices

April 6th, 2009 · Comments Off on The Man Who Heard Voices

Contrary to what Law & Order reruns have taught a generation of armchair lawyers, the so-called insanity plea is the rarest of legal birds. According to one New York study, which looked at a decades’ worth of court data, psychiatric defenses were attempted in roughly 0.16 percent of criminal cases. Yet even when both sides […]

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The Umpteenth Angel of Death

April 3rd, 2009 · 4 Comments

One of the best magazine stories I’ve ever read is James B. Stewart’s “Professional Courtesy,” which first appeared in The New Yorker nearly a dozen years ago. The piece recounts the sordid tale of Michael Swango, a health-care worker whose favorite pastime was injecting elderly patients with lethal drug cocktails. Stewart tracked Swango’s whole career, […]

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The Coatesville Arsons

March 30th, 2009 · Comments Off on The Coatesville Arsons

After at least 70 fires since the start of 2008, the Coatesville cops have a seventh suspected arsonist in custody. This time, it’s one of the city’s firefighters. A cause for relief? Hardly—the arsons have continued despite previous arrests, as well as the best efforts of the Chester County Arson Task Force. Why are some […]

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The Downside of Reading

March 5th, 2009 · 7 Comments

In scanning the World Health Organization’s latest compilation of suicide rates, you can’t help but wonder why self-slaughter is so prevalent in Eastern Europe. All of the highest rates occur in countries from the former Soviet Bloc, such as Lithuania (68.1 males per 100,000) and Belarus (63.3). The rate in the United States, by contrast, […]

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The Limits of Hectoring

February 27th, 2009 · Comments Off on The Limits of Hectoring

My occasional Hulu habit has brought me in contact with a series of anti-reckless driving ads aimed at teens. They’re actually kinda clever—a game-show host magically appears in a careening car, offering the most fabulous prize of all (continued life). All the commercial’s protagonist has to do is tell his dumb-dumb pals to slow down—a […]

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The Allure of the Fuzz

February 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

It doesn’t take a fancy head-shrinking degree to guess why some folks like to imitate cops. But we’ll let an expert break it down for you nonetheless. “The ordinary person who impersonates a police officer is likely to feel powerless in some way in their life,” says Dr. Phillip Resnick, director of forensic psychiatry at […]

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