Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'public health'

The Circle of Life

October 8th, 2013 · 3 Comments

Fact-checking Tasmania’s claim to be the roadkill capital of the world is no easy feat, since few of its potential competitors (we’re looking at you, Madagascar) keep accurate statistics regarding flattened wildlife. One thing that is certain, however, is that the remote Australian state is a tireless innovator in the roadkill space, dedicating vast resources […]

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The Perception of Risk

April 19th, 2013 · Comments Off on The Perception of Risk

It’s a good thing I didn’t encounter this graph until after the Grand Emprette joined us here on Spaceship Earth. It’s a salient reminder that the simple act of producing life is still several times more hazardous than any thrill-seeking leisure activity, no matter how seemingly nuts. It’s worth noting that this graph would have […]

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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 […]

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Groggy

November 29th, 2011 · 2 Comments

It’s no secret that myriad small Pacific nations are having problems with First World diseases, especially those related to obesity. Fiji’s dictatorial government believes that its citizens’ expanding waistlines are due not only to food consumption, but also to overindulgence in yaqona, a mild intoxicant you may know better as kava: Fiji’s all-time favourite pastime, […]

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Managing the Bloodshed

November 16th, 2011 · Comments Off on Managing the Bloodshed

While heading to Microkhan Jr.’s preschool the other day, I heard a dreadful squawk emanate from courtyard of an apartment building. It took me a moment to realize that someone was killing a chicken for supper—a bird likely purchased from one of Queens’ many live poultry shops. I had no problem with the violence, as […]

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Taipan Be Not Proud

October 26th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Nearly two years ago, I posted about the exorbitant prices of anti-venom, which seem largely due to the reluctance of pharmaceutical manufacturers to service such a relatively small market. The end result of those companies’ economic sensibility is a dearth of medication in Papua New Guinea, where snake bites are a serious public-health problem: In […]

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The Hazards of Herding Blitzen

May 4th, 2011 · 1 Comment

In case you don’t keep regular tabs on Scandinavian jurisprudence, I’d like to draw your attention to a recent legal triumph by a group of Sami reindeer herders who operate in Sweden’s forbidding north. After 14 years of litigation, the herders have finally won the right to let their animals graze in the forests around […]

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The Scope of the Slithery Problem

April 22nd, 2011 · 4 Comments

One of the great riddles of epidemiology is the toll of snakebites on India. Various studies over the years have estimated the annual death toll anywhere from 1,300 to 50,000. Until recently, the most convincing analysis out there, based on data from local hospitals, put the number of fatalities at roughly 11,000 per year. But […]

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A Different Kind of Road Rage

April 12th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Because Bangladesh’s public institutions are rickety at best, frustrated citizens often feel as if they have no choice but to resort to vigilantism. That’s certainly been the case in regards to the country’s abysmal road safety situation, as the police seldom exhibit any interest punishing drivers who mow down pedestrians or rickshaw pullers. The result […]

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A Disease of Special Knowledge

January 10th, 2011 · 7 Comments

My line of work has brought me in contact with more than a few schizophrenics over the years, both as story subjects and as correspondents. I’ve become quite familiar with the seemingly impenetrable logic by which such people try to make sense of the world, and how their off-tangent worldviews occasionally lead to the commission […]

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Suicide in Sri Lanka

August 17th, 2010 · 1 Comment

My previous posts about suicide haven’t been particularly cheery, and not just because of the grim subject matter. Everything I’ve seen in recent years has convinced me that our current anti-suicide measures aren’t working particularly well, given the stability of America’s suicide rate over the past half-century. It’s quite discouraging to realize that innovations such […]

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The Suicide Conundrum

July 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) Sorry to start this gorgeous summer day on an exceedingly somber note, but it’s time to talk suicide. I’ve written a lot about this topic, primarily from a public-health angle. Despite all we’ve learned about human psychology over the past several decades, we seem unable to make much of a dent […]

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The Myth of the Mickey Slim

June 9th, 2010 · 16 Comments

Last week, the long discussion spurred by this post led one of our most trusted readers to offer this startling factoid: Bizarre note: there was a cocktail in the 40s and 50s called the Mickey Slim that was made with gin and a pinch of DDT. Sure enough, The Tubes abound with mentions of this […]

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The Oaxacan Example

June 7th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Continuing on with our promised examination of DDT’s usefulness in the War on Malaria, we’re gonna turn our gaze southward this morning. As carefully detailed here, Mexico was a longtime heavy user of DDT, sloshing out 70,000 tons of the controversial chemical between 1959 and 1999. Then the nation resolved to phase out DDT entirely, […]

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The DDT Equation

June 4th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Yesterday’s post about temperance medals somehow got the Microkhan community meditating upon whether DDT deserves to have its reputation rehabilitated, at least as a malaria fighter. The revisionist stance these days is that the chemical should be used to combat the disease “when no other effective, safe and affordable alternatives are locally available.” That doesn’t […]

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The Rabies “Racket”

May 18th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Healthy skepticism is obviously the lifeblood of a functioning society, yet there are moments when distrust of The Man can have dire consequences. That is too often the case in the public-health sphere, which we reckon makes sense—the notion of injecting ourselves with foreign agents is terrifying, especially since it’s so hard to observe how […]

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A Question of Lead

May 17th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Back in November, we opined that the likes of the United Nations would be well-advised to focus less on paying for physical improvements to impoverished schools, and more on reducing lead poisoning among very young children. As it turns out, the endlessly troubled city of Detroit might want to consider heeding that advice, too: A […]

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Bumps for Life

May 7th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Yesterday, a pal of ours asked whether the following stat (gleaned from a recent Harpers article) could possibly be true: One out of every 85 humans living today will meet their end as a result of a vehicular accident. That figure may sound ridiculously astronomical, but data from the World Health Organization lends some powerful […]

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“People Who Died for Our Entertainment”

May 4th, 2010 · Comments Off on “People Who Died for Our Entertainment”

Back in the 1930s, a New York subway conductor named Manuel Velazquez befriended a middling boxer named Pete “Kid Indian” Nebo. Like many pugilists of the era, Nebo fought two to three times per week in order to make ends meet. As a result of his athletic pursuit, Nebo suffered terrible brain damage, and was […]

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First, Do No Harm

April 28th, 2010 · Comments Off on First, Do No Harm

While we’re sensitive to the fact that millions of people trust folk cures more than modern remedies, stories like this one make us question whether shamanism deserves to survive in the post-antibiotics age: A couple in Samoa ,who perform traditional healing, have been found guilty of causing actual bodily harm, but had charges of manslaughter […]

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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 […]

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The Last Beer Run

March 16th, 2010 · 4 Comments

The sign above, which features script that translates as “Attention: Drunks,” was briefly part of a safety initiative in the Romanian town of Pecica. The mayor was concerned that too many of inebriated pedestrians were getting mowed down by cars, and so sought to duplicate a series of warning signs that he had once encountered […]

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The Comfort of Statistics

March 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment

For those suffering from a grave case of ursinophobia, we provide the following snippet from Bear Facts, an informational brochure produced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Many bears live in Alaska and many people enjoy the outdoors, but surprisingly few people even see bears. Only a tiny percentage of those few are […]

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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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Choke on This

February 16th, 2010 · 2 Comments

There’s an old chestnut (of dubious veracity) about how more rock climbers perish in auto accidents to-and-from the cliffs than from accidental falls. We thought of that contrarian info-nugget this morning upon stumbling across some surprising morbidity news from Britain: Last week, the House of Commons’s Environmental Audit Committee heard evidence that about 35,000 people […]

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Desperation in Action

February 8th, 2010 · 4 Comments

One of our treasured Japanese correspondents just have us a heads up about this tragedy, involving an airplane stowaway who apparently froze to death while concealed in a Boeing 777’s landing gear. Such deaths are actually somewhat common, not to mention quite predictable—at 35,00 feet, temperatures are insanely icy, and oxygen scarce. Yet men and […]

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Reason Through the Haze

January 29th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Having finally closed the Wired story that sent us out to Kenya last fall, we’ve moved on to another big project for the magazine. This time the focus will be on addiction, which means you should expect plenty of drug-policy posts in the coming months. We’ll kick off the fiesta today by noting this paper […]

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Buried Whales, Cont’d

January 22nd, 2010 · 3 Comments

Our recent post about the hazards of whale burial attracted a celebrity commenter: Steve O’Shea of the Auckland University of Technology. Best known for his squid-hunting endeavors, O’Shea is also overseeing the research into the public-health consequences of interring beached whales. He takes us to school thusly: I can assure you that E. coli is […]

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A Sadder Breed of Fail Whale

January 19th, 2010 · 5 Comments

What to do with beached whales who can’t be guided back out to sea, and so perish on the sand? In parts of New Zealand where the indigenous Maori hold sway, this has become quite the conundrum. The trust that oversees Maori fisheries recently proposed harvesting such unfortunate cetaceans for meat—arguably a more humane option […]

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The Roots of the Trainspotting Generation

January 15th, 2010 · 3 Comments

“There is nothing sadder than an aging hipster,” Lenny Bruce once opined. While there’s certainly a kernel of truth to that statement, we believe the late comedian missed the mark by just a few degrees. Far sadder, in our estimation, is an aging drug addict, whose aims to recapture lost glory not by feigning interest […]

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