Friday, April 13, 2018
The most disturbing news story of the week is not what you think! No, it's not an inflammatory Trump Tweet. Nor is it another NBA player found cheating on his pregnant wife. It has nothing to do with Facebook. Nope, this week's truly terrifying item comes from a beach Spain. A dead Sperm whale washed ashore. While this happens all the time, this time things were different. See, the enormous mammal did not die from natural causes. It died from the 40 pounds of plastic found in his stomach.
Sadly, dead sea creatures washing ashore with bellies full of colorful plastic is becoming commonplace worldwide. The largest problem is the Pacific Plastic Patch. While it sounds pretty, it is truly the opposite. Simply put, it is an enormous section of the North Pacific where waste collects. Why does this happen? Well, ocean currents are circular. So this means the center (gyre) of a current's massive circle receives little movement. Over the last fifty years, floating debris has accumulated. Hence, the name Garbage Patch.
There's lots of fishing nets and waste from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, but most of the trash in the garbage patch is plastic. The difference between plastic and this other waste is simple. Other debris will eventually deteriorate, but indestructible plastic is stuck in the ocean forever. Well...actually, scientists speculate that plastic will eventually disintegrate in 500 years. So we'll just have to wait until the year 2518 to know for sure! It's clear: The real problem with the GPGP is delicious, brightly colored micro-plastics which whales just love to eat.
Thursday, April 5, 2018
APR 5 TIGER & ELEPHANT ATTACKS ON THE RISE IN INDIA
Surprise! The toughest guy in the world isn't a GUY! Nope, it's 23 year-old Rapali Meshram. She lives on the edge of jungle in the Indian state of Maharashtra. One night, she heard her favorite goat scream in pain. She rushed outside to discover a massive tiger, crouched and ready to pounce. Did she run back inside and lock the door? Not the world's toughest guy! Instead, she grabbed a stick and tried to protect her goat. Details of the fight are sketchy, but we know that her mom dragged her back inside. Before heading to hospital, she took a selfie.
While this story of misplaced bravery makes for fun copy, the truth is Rapali is one of the lucky ones. Since 2014, one person a day in India dies from a tiger or elephant attack. Do the math: That's 1,144 people getting mauled or trampled to death in the last three years. Most deaths happen in a similar manner: A rancher or farmer attempting to protect their property. While it may seem extreme, remember: The goat, cattle or fruit tree is the person's lifeline, so it truly is a "life or death" matter.
The current problem began forty years ago, when the Indian government implemented the conservation act. Large swaths of sought-after lands were parceled off for nature reserves. At the time, there was enough land for every man and beast. Nowadays, new human settlements are seen as economic development, even if they are on the edge of a nature reserve. Belinda Wright of a Wildlife Protection Society agrees. "The shrinking of good quality habitats is an absolutely critical concern for the future of India's iconic animals."
Saturday, March 31, 2018
MAR 30 INSIDE KIM JONG UN'S ARMORED TRAIN
It's shaping up to be a most busy year for North Korea's reclusive tyrant KIM JONG UN. On April 27th, he is scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-In. It will take place in the oddly named 'Freedom House' in the Demilitarized Zone. Later in the year, there are plans to meet with quixotic US President Donald Trump. To prepare for these auspicious summits, Kim Jong headed to Beijing to meet his only ally in the world, Chinese President-for-life Xi. Since this is the hermit dictator's first international trip since assuming power in 2011, the visit to China is indeed historic.
Details about the interior of the mystery train are harder to come by. Photos show a dated, but lavish, furniture in plush conference rooms. Flat screen TVs and maps of Korea adorn the walls. Our only first-hand descriptions of the inside of the train come from Konstantin Pulikovshy, a former Russian diplomat. In a NY Times interview, he recalled a visit to Moscow by Kim Jong Il in 2001. Live lobsters and cases of Bordeaux wines were served. "It was possible to order any dish of Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French cuisine," he noted. Unverified reports tell of a crew of gorgeous, scantily-clad female conductors. Think of it is as a Playboy Mansion on rails.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
MAR 24 WHY IS PURPLE ASSOCIATED WITH ROYALTY?
At the DUNER BLOG headquarters, we often listen to the All-Eighties radio station. When Prince's Purple Rain played the other day, a staff member asked: "Why is purple always associated with royalty and religion?" Well...when you ask a historical question like this at this office, be prepared for a very long-winded response. So let's get started!
The color purple's popularity in ancient times can therefore be seen as a clear case of 'Supply and Demand.' Given this rarity, purple clothing was only used by the wealthy and powerful. Adding to the rarity, obtaining this purple dye was quite labor-intensive. First, you crack the shell and remove the snail. Then find a tiny gland and extract a white mucous. Once exposed to six hours of sunlight, it will turn into purple. As expected, it takes hundreds of snails to make an ounce or two of the gelatinous substance. Homer states that purple dye is "worth its weight in gold"
Throughout antiquity, the Phoenician city of Tyre was the center of the Murex production. Pliny the
Suddenly, everything changed in the year 1856. That's when an 18-year-old chemist tried to synthesize an anti-Malaria drug called quinine. William Henry Perkin instead invented a simple chemical purple dye. It was refined and mass produced and the British chemist died a multi-millionaire. Rightfully so. His wondrous gift to the world meant that rich and poor alike could finally wear purple clothes. Even an oddly-named musician from Minneapolis can don an oversized crushed-velvet PURPLE overcoat. Rock on!
Saturday, March 17, 2018
MAR 17 THE MOST POPULAR SPRING BREAK DESTINATIONS
It's mid-March and in America that can only mean one thing: SPRING BREAK! For our readers outside the USA: Originally for the Easter holiday, American universities usually give students a whole week off classes. While some students use the free time for intense extra studying sessions, many others instead head south to warm beaches for intense party sessions. According to this year's AAA survey, here are the five most popular Spring Break destinations:
#5. Cancun. Although Mexican resorts have been hit by a crime wave recently, there is one demographic who does not care: Spring Breakers! Not normally the 'news-reading' type, college kids come for the white-sand beaches and the turquoise Caribbean waters. NOT! The main appeal of Cancun is the 18+ drinking age. This solves the biggest problem underage college kids face. As expected, a high level of tequila poppers leads to a high ranking on the party scale for this destination.
#3. Honolulu. Oahu boasts high visitor numbers year round, but March is their top month. Waikiki
#2. Ft. Lauderdale. Everything changed for this small town in 1960. That's when Connie Francis filmed the movie 'Where the Boys Are' on the main beach. This small act instantly created the whole concept of the Spring Break beach party. For the next two decades, the city was besieged by college kids every March. It became unmanageable, and in 1980 the city council passed strict laws. Next, the city successfully re-branded themselves with high-end additions like the Ritz Carlton. Rich kids still count and likely are responsible for the high ranking.
Friday, March 9, 2018
MAR 9 FAQ'S ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME
Yesterday was a huge day for Star Wars fans. Luke Skywalker finally got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What a ceremony! Surrounded by Imperial Storm-Troopers, Mark Hamil beamed with joy outside the El Captain Theatre. Even Han Solo was there! For those of you wondering why it took forty years for this to happen, we here at the DUNER BLOG have answers about this unique, but complicated, landmark.
Who oversees the Walk of Fame? This difficult job is in the hand of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. While officially in the city limits of Los Angeles, the special neighborhood has its own form of ceremonial self-government. It also has its own mayor...although since Johnny Grant passed six years ago, the position has been vacant. To get a star, you must be nominated by your studio. About twenty nominations get approved each year. Disney, the new owner of the Star Wars franchise, decided it was time to give the nod to Luke.
How did it all start? Our story begins in the 1950's. Hollywood councilman Harry Sugarman was constantly asked by tourists: "Where are the stars? Why can't we see them?" As the legend goes, Harry and buddy E.M. Stewart had lunch to discuss the problem. They drew stars on cocktail napkins and wrote famous names in the middle. At first, they hung them on the wall, like they do at Sardi's in NYC. Over time, the idea evolved into a the Walk of Fame. Eight were unveiled in 1958, but the event generated little fanfare. In fact, it was buried on page 23 of the L.A. Times.
Who pays for the Walk? As expected, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce receives no taxpayer
Finally, if you decide the visit the Walk of Fame, here are a couple tips: Plan ahead and locate where your favorite stars are ahead of time. Most people haven't heard of 95% of the "celebs" who have achieved the honor. Also, be prepared for crowds. Ten million people make the pilgrimage annually!
Friday, March 2, 2018
MAR 2 THE LAS VEGAS KNIGHTS: THE BEST EXPANSION TEAM EVER
One of the most exciting happenings in professional sports is the EXPANSION TEAM. This occurs when the league decides to enlarge the number of clubs. The event is rare: Since 2000, there have been only seven new teams in the four pro leagues in the USA. Here's how it works: Cities compete against each other, trying to the impress the commissioner. They must show that they have a cosmopolitan city, a rabid fan base and a NEW stadium. Next, the owner comes up with a team name, colors and mascot. It all comes together on Opening Day, when a new franchise is inaugurated into Pro Sports forever.
Sadly, the next chapter in the expansion team's story isn't as exciting: Losing. See, it's hard to suddenly invent a winning club. To build a new team, the league holds an 'expansion draft.' While it sounds impressive...in actuality...it's just choosing between mediocre players donated from the other teams. Next, coaches must create 'instant chemistry' among the squad. The results aren't stellar. Expansion teams since 1960 average a 22% winning percentage. Ugh!
How did the Golden Knights get so good so quickly? First, they hired a brilliant General Manager. George McPhee zeroed in on talented, but unheralded players. William Karlsson was average in Columbus last year, but has netted a team-best 34 goals this season. Tiny Jonathan Marchessault is only 5'9", so other clubs passed on him. But he's notched a whopping 63 points so far! Next, there's the "Home Field Advantage.' The glittering, modern T-Mobile Arena has sold out all 17,500 seats every home game. Finally, there's something called 'Beginner's Luck!'