Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'Wired'

For the Love of Duke, Cont’d

January 8th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Last October, Wired was kind enough to publish a story I’d been working on for 16 months—the tale of a lonely Appalachian woman acted as a money mule for a crew of Nigerian con artists. That woman, Audrey Elaine Elrod, was lured into the conspiracy by a scammer who posed as a Scottish oil worker […]

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The Specialist, Cont’d

March 21st, 2013 · 2 Comments

Non-fiction storytelling is ridiculously time-consuming. My latest Wired story, which began life as a Microkhan post in January 2012, has been in the works for nearly a year. Granted, much of that time was wasted on tasks that didn’t pan out—I’m still waiting for a certain FOIA request to come through, for example, not to […]

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Working Overtime, Fighting Crime

January 26th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Getting thwacked by this Wired story I’m working on, which requires me to comprehend the nuances of both ribonucleic acid and artificial intelligence. Suffice to say, my brain’s full-up for the next twenty-four hours; see you back here shortly.

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The Eyeball Test

September 16th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I had to do a double-take this morning when I saw that The New York Times had a (digital) front-page feature on the Freedmen controversy. The question of whether Black Indians deserve tribal membership is something I wrote about six years ago, in a mammoth Wired piece that pondered the role of genetic analysis in […]

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Demo or Die

September 12th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Let me start the week by directing y’all’s attention to my latest Wired essay, in which I argue for the revival of a bygone regulation: the requirement that patent applicants submit working models of their inventions. Sound onerous? Yeah, that’s the point: The abolition of the model requirement [in 1880] was initially a boon to […]

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The Reset Button

August 26th, 2011 · Comments Off on The Reset Button

Thanks a mil for bearing with the light posting this week. Was hoping to reward y’all with an entry about Olmec jaguar worship, but the brain ain’t working like it should—the consequence of a horrendous JetBlue delay and general work-related exhaustion. Back at full strength after Hurricane Irene passes over Microkhan world headquarters this weekend; […]

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The Unsung Hero of Slots

July 19th, 2011 · 8 Comments

After a gestation period that lasted nearly a year, my latest Wired story is finally out. It’s a tough one to summarize, but the tale centers on a Cuban-Latvian engineer who figured out a way to replicate the slot machines manufactured by International Game Technology (IGT), the S&P 500 company that has long dominated the […]

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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 […]

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Made in America

March 18th, 2011 · 9 Comments

I somehow went almost an entire month without pimping my latest Wired feature, which appears in the March issue (alongside Joel Johnson‘s excellent cover story on the Foxconn suicides). The piece is a deeply reported essay that tackles a tricky business proposition: For companies that make products out of atoms, does manufacturing in China and […]

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Charlie Don’t Surrender

March 1st, 2011 · 9 Comments

Over the past day or so, I’ve once again been flooded with mail regarding my Alcoholics Anonymous opus from last July’s Wired. The reason, of course, is Charlie Sheen’s recent decision to come out hard against the organization, which he accuses of being (and I paraphrase) a fraudulent mind-control cult with an abysmal success rate. […]

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Needle in the Haystack?

August 24th, 2010 · Comments Off on Needle in the Haystack?

It’s been ages since I last checked in with Hugh Rienhoff, the Bay Area biotech entrepreneur who I profiled in the February 2009 issue of Wired. For those unfortunates among you who haven’t read the piece, Rienhoff has spent much of the past six years analyzing his young daughter’s DNA, in the hopes of discovering […]

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From the AA Mailbag II

July 1st, 2010 · Comments Off on From the AA Mailbag II

As a counterweight to the critique offered in the post below, I offer one of the more intriguing pro-AA responses I’ve received this week. It comes from a longtime AA member who offers an unusually harsh take on the organization’s history: I’m 28 years sober…My master’s thesis looked at the influence of James and Jung […]

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From the AA Mailbag

July 1st, 2010 · 2 Comments

As noted in the post below, I’ve been absolutely deluged with e-mail responses to the Alcoholics Anonymous piece. I’ve been doing my best to read each and every one, and to respond when appropriate. Apologies to those who don’t receive replies—I’ve only got one brain and two hands. Though the vast majority of the feedback […]

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Keeping the Lid On

June 25th, 2010 · 4 Comments

When I started working on the AA piece for Wired, I assumed that the nascent organization insisted on anonymity because of a 1930s stigma against alcoholism. But as it turns out, Bill Wilson created the policy for a more pragmatic reason, which he explained thusly: [In the past], alcoholics who talked too much on public […]

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The Bottle

June 24th, 2010 · 23 Comments

Regular readers know that I’ve been spending the better part of 2010 working on a Wired piece about addiction. Well, the feature is finally live, and now the full truth can be revealed—the article’s central narrative is about the history and science (or lack thereof) of Alcoholics Anonymous, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary. Here’s […]

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Cheesy Ain’t Easy

May 26th, 2010 · 8 Comments

So how does Frito-Lay create the world’s favorite orange-hued snack? We reveal the secrets of Cheetos manufacturing in this month’s Wired. Our favorite factoid, as a teaser: Every half hour, an in-house lab analyzes the chemical composition of samples pulled from the cooking line to verify that the Cheetos have the right density and nutritional […]

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Angels With Dirty Faces

May 11th, 2010 · Comments Off on Angels With Dirty Faces

We were gonna hit you with another Bulletproof Project entry this afternoon, but paying gigs and prior commitments have conspired against us. The next few hours are all about writing FOIA requests and researching an upcoming “Mr. Know-It-All” column for Wired, before we bolt downtown for an evening of industrial design, Pakistani food, and Cavs-Celtics. […]

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Echoes of the Empire

February 25th, 2010 · 7 Comments

This will be our last Ug99-related post, we promise. But before we ended our brief run of bonus material related to “The Red Menace”, we thought we’d shout out one of the potential heroes of this story: the late A.E. Watkins, a British botanist who spent much of the 1930s roaming the globe in search […]

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The Undertow

February 24th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Already plugging away on our next Wired feature, this time about addiction rather than wheat-devouring fungi (or, for that matter, the creative benefits of social media. Today’s outline day, which is always a chore—envisioning the structure of a lengthy magazine piece requires even more mental bandwidth than we usually utilize. Fortunately, we’ve got The Skatalites […]

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Using the Red Menace Against the Reds

February 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

One of the most interesting things about Ug99, the fungus that is currently threatening the world’s wheat supply, is how it managed to sneak up on us. For nearly four decades, the disease that the Puccinis graminis pathogen causes, known as stem rust, was little seen in the wild, and certainly no great peril to […]

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Shell Game

February 24th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The Wired cover story this month is not our Ug99 opus, but rather a brilliant meditation on the future of money. A couple of years hence, you can forget about the ATM—just think “pay this man,” and neural implants will automatically wire dough from your bank account to your creditor. Or something like that. In […]

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The Red Menace

February 23rd, 2010 · 6 Comments

It took over half-a-year, but the Wired piece that brought us out to Kenya last fall is finally live. It’s the tale of a wheat-killing fungus called Ug99, which is currently sweeping across Central Asia. The pathogen is remarkable because it can easily overcomes the genetic defenses created by the Green Revolution. As a result, […]

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Thanks for Your Patience

December 17th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Our pressing Wired deadline hits in exactly four hours for now, so we’re scrambling. Thanks for putting up with our relative lack of thoughtlessness these past few days—we’ve had to dedicate the bulk of our mental bandwidth to Kenya-related matters, for the good of the whole Microkhan crew. As we lean for the finish-line tape, […]

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A Word from Our Sponsor

August 25th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Apologies, but posting will be a bit more sporadic than usual over the next few days. We’re in the homestretch on Draft Two of the Now the Hell Will Start screenplay, and we’d really like to avoid imitating the bloke above by blowing our chance at the end. We’re also swamped with an epic Wired […]

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Like Sands Through an Hourglass

June 22nd, 2009 · Comments Off on Like Sands Through an Hourglass

We’re on a soul-crushing Wired deadline for the day’s remainder, so we’re gonna outro with a little vintage Tony Allen. Soak it in, and catch you again tomorrow morning.

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The Anteater Ritual

June 10th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Jonah Lehrer, one of our most brilliant Wired colleagues, just posted about the infectious nature of bad dancing. Checking out his hilarious video evidence, we couldn’t help but think of this fictional antecedent. Who knew you could learn so much ’bout neuroscience by watching terrible ’80s sex romps?

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Microkhan and the Lawsuit King

May 26th, 2009 · 7 Comments

It’s not often that Microkhan has a personal stake in the day’s big news. But the curious case of Jonathan Lee Riches, a.k.a. Irving Picard, is a notable exception. Riches, a federal inmate doing a stint for wire fraud, has apparently passed the time by engaging in a most curious hobby: Filing as many frivolous […]

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The Smart Grid (Hopefully) Cometh

March 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment

After a wait that seemed ever-so-slightly like forever, Wired‘s cover package on smartening up the electric grid is finally here. I wrote the lead essay, which is mostly a primer on how the grid got so FUBAR in the first place. The bite-size answer? Myopia, botched deregulation, and political bickering. It was difficult to even […]

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The Slow Geek Movement

February 13th, 2009 · Comments Off on The Slow Geek Movement

Wired “Senior Maverick” Kevin Kelly writes a touching ode to Amish hackers. The German-speaking denizens of Lancaster County may eschew modern conveniences, but they’re still plenty tech-mad. A key passage on a jerryrigged electrical system in an Amish woodworking shop: The boss takes me around to the back where a huge dump-truck-sized diesel generator sits. […]

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