Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, May 31, 2012



Indonesian fans of the irrepressible pop star LADY GAGA were devastated over the weekend.  The tweet they least wanted to read appeared on their i-phones Saturday.  Imagine their pain when they saw these words from their beloved queen scrolled across their anti-glare screens: "Concert cancelled. I'm so very sorry to the fans & just as devastated as you if not more. You are everything to me."  OMG!  It's the tweet from hell!  Oh...and speaking of hell...that's just where enraged Islamic fundamentalists told Ms. Stefani Germanotta (Gaga's real name) to go.  In fact, these threats were the reason for the cancellation.  Wow!  How did everyone get so angry?

It all started five years ago, when Indonesia first started hosting concerts for international pop stars.  Previously, the the reclusive island nation had banned such events.  You see, the combination of Islam and military rule isn't really a "Lollapalooza" type of thing.  However, nowadays there are only limited bans on satellite TV and the Internet.  This means all Indonesians can easily access the Wonders of the West.  Not surprisingly, they soon demanded Hip-Hop concerts...and had the rupiahs to spend on it.  Beyoncé was the first major Western pop star to headline in Jakarta when she performed at JITEC Arena in 2007.

When Beyoncé did her ground-breaking Asia tour, she altered the performances so she wouldn't offend any socially conservative societies.  For example, she wore a sari for the Mumbai concert.  "Get Me Bodied" was not performed in Shanghai.  Backup dancers changed to less revealing dress and kept gyrations to an absolute minimum.  Similar tactics were adhered to by the Pussycat Dolls on their tour of the region the next year.  It seemed like a pretty nice compromise...that is until earlier this year when LADY GAGA announced her show on June Third.  More than 50,000 people snatched up tickets in a couple of days.   But...when the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) saw footage of the "Born This Way Ball Tour"...all hell broke lose! 

Over the last couple of months, a number of well attended marches and protests have occurred in Jakarta.  Sponsored by the FPI, they featured the usual: Angry chanting, clenched fists and effigy burnings.  They worked.  The organization's chairman Habib Salim Alatas said the cancellation was "good news" and that "Indonesians will be protected from sin brought about by this Mother Monster, the destroyer of morals." We here at the DUNER BLOG know that her outfits are way over the top...but c'mon, Habib!  Don't you think you're getting a little carried away?  Check out this quote: "Lady Gaga fans, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping the devil. Do you want your lives taken away by God as infidels?" Sounds like someone needs to chill.

While Lady Gaga will recover and continue touring in Singapore and Australia, the real issue here involves Islam and pop culture.  It's going to be a long, arduous climb...but someday the older generation of staunch, conservative clerics will be replaced by a new, more accepting Muslim brotherhood.  This younger generation will understand a simple fact: In every society there will always be a group of people who love the avaunt-gard.  They dig crazy post-modern sculptures, paintings that look more like spilled paint than art and eccentric pop stars like GAGA.  It's just a shame that Habib and the FPI don't listen to her lyrics...they're a lot more about acceptance and tolerance than raunchy sex.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Robin is the handsome devil on the left.

The death of music legend ROBIN GIBB on Sunday hit everyone at the DUNER BLOG pretty hard.   You see, disco is the only type of music allowed to be played in our corporate offices, research centers and private gyms...so naturally we listen to the Bee Gees all the time.  And while ROBIN's passing was by no means sudden...he had been fighting colon and liver cancer for years...it never seems to soften those difficult final moments.  In short, he truly was "More Than a Woman" to all of us.

However...there is some good news! Yesterday, we were thrilled to read the headline in the DAILY MIRROR.  The outstanding British periodical is launching a grassroots campaign.  Their goal is to have ROBIN GIBB knighted posthumously.  We here at the DUNER BLOG have thrown our support behind the measure and hope you will too.  Unfortunately...as those readers familiar with British Royalty will quickly point out...there is one major problem with our plan: Knighthoods are not allowed after one dies. See...one has to be present to receive the taps on the shoulder from the monarch's diamond-encrusted sword. Darn!

BUT...rules are made to be broken...and this one has been broken before.  When Beatle GEORGE HARRISON died in 2001, Parliament rallied in support of knighthood.  The Queen reluctantly agreed.  While many of you will argue that the BEE GEES are in no way equal to the BEATLES...let's examine Mr. Gibb's impressive resumé. You already know the about their eight #1 singles and that Saturday Night Fever is the fifth best selling album of all time.  And...don't forget about the nine Grammy Awards.  In addition, the brothers have a gold star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and are in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.  Heck...the BEE GEES are even on a postage stamp from the Isle of Man.  (TRIVIA: This is where all three brothers were born.)

But what we find most impressive about ROBIN GIBB is his selflessness.  In addition to his own fame, the trio also wrote and produced songs for other artists in many different genres.  They wrote the #1 country hit "Islands in the Stream" for Kenny Rogers. They wrote the music for the Broadway smash "Grease."   They penned Rhythm & Blues songs for Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick.  Even Beyoncé topped the charts with a BEE GEE song: Emotion.   How about this for trivia?  If you include the sampling on the hip-hop track "Ghetto Supastar," the BEE GEES have topped the charts in five separate decades...the 1960's, '70's, '80's, 90's and the 2000's.  Wow! 

Disco balls will never be the same.
Finally, the Daily Mirror's knighthood movement has a huge supporter in Parliament member JOHN LEECH.  Representing the Manchester neighbourhood where the three boys grew up, he intends to introduce legislation soon.  "Robin was an immense talent and a true musical legend." Leech said. "He definitely had that Manchester grit about him and was very proud of his roots. He was an amazingly humble guy." With the music world currently dominated by egotistical, talentless auto-tune artists who spend their ungodly profits on themselves, it seems like a great idea to honor ROBIN GIBB with knighthood.  Write to Queen Elizabeth today!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Flying High: The Sukhoi Super Jet 100.

At first, we here at the DUNER BLOG largely ignored last week's terrible airliner crash in Indonesia.  To be honest, we incorrectly grouped it with other transportation tragedies of the month.  Remember?  A passenger ferry capsized in Bangladesh...there was a Dutch train crash...and a packed Guatemalan bus slid off a rain soaked highway.  All were very unfortunate occurrences...and all happen way too often...but the staff didn't do much investigation.  However, over the weekend, a colleague of the blog pointed out that this was no ordinary crash.  We looked into the shocking details of the plane crash and were appalled!  Here's what we found out:

The story begins twelve years ago in a posh Moscow penthouse.  Representatives from BOEING and Russian airline manufacturer SUKHOI are sipping champagne...celebrating while signing paperwork for a new joint venture.   Their plan is build a new, more affordable commuter plane.  Demand for short flights in emerging Asian nations is sky-high.  The story continues.  After a couple years of development, the project received some serious capital investment from the Russian government:  Eight billion Rubles! (Around $300 million). All went as planned. The prototypes passed all international tests.  It was even fuel efficient.  In April of 2011, the SUPERJET 100 made its inaugural flight for Armavia Airlines from Yerevan to Moscow.  Orders poured in for the plane. What a success story!   

Guess where on Mt. Salak the plane crashed.
Then...suddenly...it all came crashing down!  Last month, SUKHOI executives embarked on a six-nation "Fly Asia" tour to promote the SUPER JET 100.  They met with Air Astana in Kazakhstan and Shaheen Air in Pakistan.   Their next stop was Jakarta.  All was going just a planned. Sriwijaya Air executives and local journalists had just finished dining on Satay Ponorgo and Gado Gado.   Next, the happy 45 passengers then boarded the aircraft for their 50 minute "fun flight." Smooth talking Russians  demonstrated just how wonderful the new jet really is.  Many snapped photos on their cell phones and posted them on FACEBOOK.  Well...let's just end the story there.  We won't tell you about the plane crashing into Mount Salak and all passengers dying a horrible, painful death.  Oops!

Not so fast! says SUKHOI spokesperson OLGA KAYUKOVA.  Let's not jump to any conclusions! She was quick to point out that the plane that crashed "was not the same aircraft" as those used on earlier demonstrations.  She also issued statements reminding us that until the investigations are completed, we simply cannot assume the crash is in anyway related to shoddy reputation Russians have when it comes to manufacturing aircraft.  Really...Olga?  Let's look at some statistics.  According to the AVIATION SAFETY NETWORK, Russia had an accident rate "of 7.15 hull losses per million sectors, which is almost three times the world rate." We here at the DUNER BLOG don't know what a "hull loss" is but...it sounds bad.  Our travel advice for anyone traveling in Russia has always been: Take the train!  

Six times as many planes crash in Russia than in the USA.
The truth is no one will ever know who is to blame in a plane crash when everyone dies.  Until the dreaded 'Black Box" is located, don't expect any official statements from the government any time soon.  All we know for sure is for some reason, the pilot asked for permission to drop from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet a mere twelve minutes after takeoff. End of story.  We here at the DUNER BLOG send out condolences to the families of the victims and hope someday safety will be placed ahead of profits.

Thursday, May 10, 2012



Sunday's national elections in FRANCE are over and America's best friend has a new president: FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE.  Here are some quick facts: Francois is 58 years old.  His astrological sign is Leo.  His dad was a doctor.  He wears black-rimmed glasses and has a receding hairline.  And...most importantly...he won 51.7% of the vote and ousted spunky NICOLAS SARKOZY out of the top spot.  To help our readers get to know the new guy...here are our TOP FIVE THINGS WE LIKE ABOUT FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE:

#5. His Name. This guy has not one...but two...countries in his name.  His first name is, of course, derived from word FRANCE and translates into FRANCES in English.  His last name has a story: In the 1700's, François' Calvinist ancestors fled the Netherlands to escape religious persecution.  They settled in a remote village in Normandy. They were called "Hollande" by the locals and the name stuck.  NOTE: The family has long since converted to Catholicism.

#4. His Ex-Wife. We first got to know François five years ago when his (then) wife was running for President of France against SARKOZY.  (SEGOLENE ROYAL got 47% of the vote...Wow!)  While we here at the DUNER BLOG don't think French Socialism works well with other free-trade economies...we do love Mademoiselle ROYAL.   We simply adore her winning smile and envy her 'can-do' attitude.  Anyhow...in case you don't read ACTÚSTAR (France's best tabloid)...she split with François back in 2008.

#3. His Car.  While France has long since disposed of all Royal Kings and Divine Emperors, some Napoleonic traditions are hard to part with.  For example, presidents still host foreign dignitaries in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.  Also, incoming presidents still get a triumphant parade down the Champs Élysées.  However...this year...François shocked the establishment by appearing in a Citroën DS5 Diesel-Hybrid Hatchback.  We did mention he is a Socialist...right?

#2. His Spat With Germany.  The most recent "Save The Euro" debacle resulted in some pretty tough Austerity Measures for the Union...which are highly unpopular in France.  One of François' campaign promises was to nullify the recent European Constitution.  "Nicht so schnell," Angela Merkel announced Monday.  "The documents signed by Sarkozy are still in effect."  We agree with her.  As we say here at the DUNER BLOG: "You don't mess with THE MERKEL!"

#1. His Hot Girlfriend.  The first thought on many a man's mind worldwide when Sarkozy was defeated was: "Does this mean no more pictures of his hot wife...CARLA BRUNI...in the newspaper?" Worry not...dear readers...François' girlfriend is pretty darn fine too!  Her name is VALÉRIE TRIERWEILER and she is a journalist.  Ooh La La!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


This Olympic Logo has no surface-to-air missiles.


It was just like any other day in East London for bank manager ALISTAIR HOLMES.  After eating his tea and crumpets and reading the LONDON SUN, he checked his letterbox prior to setting off.  He found the usual: One bill, two annoying adverts for pizza delivery and a yellow leaflet.  Not fond of pizza, he tossed those.  He saved the bill and glanced at the flier.  Then...imagine the shock Alistair had when he discovered the innocuous leaflet was not junk mail...but very important information from the MINISTRY OF DEFENCE!  As part of the national security operations for the upcoming Olympic games, surface-to-air missiles will be placed on top of Alistair's roof!

Not surprisingly, everyone in the BOW QUARTER RESIDENCES is up in arms about the MoD's installment of explosives on their homes.  In fact, the usually quiet, tree-lined red-brick buildings haven't seen this much hub-bub since 1888.  Back then, the structures housed the BRYANT & MAY MATCH FACTORY....the site of the famous "Match-girl strike." Over 1,400 workers became inflicted with "phossy jaw," a medical condition caused by prolonged exposure to phosphorous.  Anyhow...the historic buildings have long since been converted into 700 flats.   All that remains from the factory days is the iconic 100-foot high Lexington Water Tower.  Which...according to the MoD..."provides excellent view of the surrounding area and the entire sky above the Olympic Park." 

The Lexington Water Tower and the Bow Quarter Estates.
Okay...what exactly is the British Army moving to the top of the BOW QUARTER residences?  Specifically, they are constructing High Velocity Missiles (HVM).  According to MINISTRY OF DEFENCE spokesman (No...that's not a typo...Brits spell defense with a 'C'!).  These babies have a range of five kilometers.  Their main goal is to destroy "Pop-up" strikes by helicopters, which fly too flow for standard air traffic control radars.  The HVMs will be "a last resort to intercept aircraft that are coming head on."  All of which has many residents worried...won't terrorists just blow up the tower first?  Of course not!  In fact, the leaflet reassures residents: “Having a 24/7 armed forces and police presence will improve your local security and will not make you a target for terrorists." Whew! I'm sure that wonderfully worded phrase will calm folks!

While some residents are organizing a protest, it's all for naught.  Estate management already approved the measure months ago.  "I am happy with it," said Stephen Taylor, 51, who lives in a flat beneath where the missiles would be positioned.  "I think people are getting their knickers in a twist. There's a 'meet the missiles men' meeting on Saturday and there will be a kneejerk reaction of nimbyism." We here at the DUNER BLOG don't know what 'nimbyism' is, but agree with the sentiment.  When London won approval to host the Olympics five years ago, it was all joy and optimism.  Now that it's two months away, some of the less glamorous aspects of the international games are painfully apparent to Brits like Taylor:  "This latest development brings the sharp reality of London holding the Olympics much closer to home."

The Bow Quarter buildings are above and to the right of the stadium.
The real issue here was the Ministry of Defence's arrogant attitude toward the civilians involved.  It's hard for the world's most victorious army to get touchy-feely with average people...but c'mon!  You can't just xerox 700 flyers, stuff them into mailboxes and hope no one notices.  I don't care if it was color copies...the hard-working, tax-paying people of the BOW QUARTER deserve better!  And finally...we here at the DUNER BLOG promise our next blog about the LONDON OLYMPICS will be much more fun!  Any suggestions?