Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



We are sooooo excited here at the DUNER BLOG.  The Olympics start on Friday!  We simply love the OPENING CEREMONIES.  We all gather around the Big Screen TV and watch the "Parade of Nations." It's when the athletes from each country march into the stadium.  The order is very important.  Since the ancient Olympic games started there, Greece always gets to go first.  Then, the other nations proceed in alphabetical order. Finally, tradition states that the host nation...Great Britain, this year...parades last. It's always fun to watch and critique the "national costumes,"  which often include silly things like Bowler hats or pink bandannas.  But most of all, we just love to see the whole world come together as one...just like in a Pepsi commercial.

It's a fact: LONDON is the only city in the world to ever host the Olympics three times.  You might be saying...No fair!  That's British favoritism!  However, once you hear the stories of the first two Olympiads, you might change your mind...

1908 Games.
The fourth Olympiad was supposed to be in Rome, not London.  However, Mount Vesuvius suddenly erupted.  It was hastily decided the games would be moved.  Since London's bid came in second place, they got the nod.  (The move wasn't because of Rome's air quality...the Italian polizia were needed to shovel ash in Naples!).  Anyhow, here are some of the notable events from the 1908 Games:

Women's sporting attire looked different in 1908!
First Parade of Nations.  King Edward thought it would be nice to have all participating nations march around the newly built stadium behind each of their flags.  There were twenty-two nations at the time.  This means it took a lot less time than the five hours it will take the 204 countries scheduled to march on Friday.     

Flag Dipping Controversy.  Even though these games were 104 years ago, one thing remains constant...there will always be misplaced political squabbles in the Olympics.  Back then, it was Finland. Having been recently annexed, the Finns grudgingly marched with the Russian Empire's team.  Likewise for unhappy Arab athletes behind the Turkish flag bearers.  But things got chippy when the US captain refused lower the Stars & Stripes to King Edward.  "This flag dips to no earthly king!" he quipped.

Marathon Distance Changed. The Royal family thought it would be nifty if the marathon began at  Windsor Castle (specifically...below the windows of the Royal Nursery) and ended at the stadium.  The only problem was this distance was twenty-six miles...not the accepted twenty-five.  To accommodate the king,  the number was changed.  The official marathon distance has remained at 26.2 miles ever since. 

1948 Games.
Just like the 1908 Games, London was not the first choice to host the 1948 games.  See, the previous two Olympiad had been cancelled due to World War Two.  Prior to the war, the International Olympic Committee had given the 1944 Games to London...but the city was still in shambles after the German air-raids.  The 1948 Games were all ready to go to BALTIMORE...when King George announced that the games were staying RIGHT HERE!

The Austerity Games.  The London Sun coined this term to describe frugal mood of this Olympiad.  Nothing new was constructed...Wembley Stadium wasn't even given a fresh coat of paint.  Food rationing took place in the dormitories.  Athletes scalped their tickets to make an extra buck! (Wait a second...they still do that today!)  Perhaps the mood of the XIV Olympiad was best summed up by the New York Post: "These games are Spartan as well as Greek!"  

No Germany or Japan. Back in ancient Greece, an Olympic Truce was held throughout the Aegean region so that all could travel safely to Olympia to participate.  During the games, all political differences were temporarily put aside for the sake of the sports.  Unfortunately, modern humans simply cannot do this. We continue to ruin the proud spirit of the Games with other matters.  This was true in 1948.  Germany and Japan's applications were denied due to their "roles as aggressors."   

It's Filmed In Color! Eight years prior, Hollywood had released "The Wizard of Oz" in beautiful Technicolor.  Excited about furthering the use of this wonderful technology, it was announced the London Olympic games would be captured using a new "Bi-pack Technichrome Technique."  Talk about fancy!

2012 Games.
This time around, Londoners won't have to worry about any volcano erupting or any World War still smoldering.  Nope, this time everything has gone just as planned.  All we have to do is sit back and enjoy the satellite feed!  Go USA!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012



It's the boxing match no one expected to see.  Shh...You're just in time for the introductions.  Here's the public address announcer:  Ding! Ding!  "Ladies & Gentlemen.  Welcome to the championship bout to determine the heavyweight snob of the world!  In one corner...the defending champ...weighing in at 65 million people...with his nose high in the air...it's the REPUBLIC OF FRANCE!  The opponent...with a hefty population of 37 million...the challenger and reigning snob of the Western Hemisphere...the STATE OF CALIFORNIA!"

Oops!  Once again...we've gotten ahead of ourselves here at the DUNER BLOG.  How did France and California become enemies?  It all began two weeks ago...on July First to be exact.  On that day, Section #25980 of the State Health Code officially became a law, thus banning the sale of FOIE GRAS in California.  It took years of intense lobbying, but persistent animal rights activists finally achieved their goal.  And they were particularly proud about the wording of the ordinance.  They wanted everyone to realize that the: "force feed[ing of] a goose for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size" qualifies as animal cruelty.  All violators will be punished with a painful $1,000 fine.

So...why do the French care about Section #25980?  Well it just so happens that France is the world's largest supplier of delicious Foie Gras.  And it just so happens the California is the world's largest importer of Foie Gras.  It's no secret: The Golden State loves to be decadent.  Believe it or not, but those chardonnay swilling and brie munching Californians account for one quarter of the world's total goose liver consumption.  And in our wacky global economy, this means a lot of people in France are going to lose their jobs because activists half a world away managed to get the state assembly to ban a delicacy item.

But guess what?  Nobody pushes France around!  Or so says PHILLIPE MARTIN, a member of the French National Assembly.  The politician from the Pyrenees is pursuing legislation that would ban all California wines imported into France.  Martin feels singling out one luxury item is unfair and wants to show solidarity "for our foie gras makers and for all food makers."  Now that will show 'em!  Or maybe it won't.  California Wine Institute spokesperson LAUREL PINE points out that very little Californian wine is consumed in France. "It feels like a little bit of a slap in the face of a product that France is proud of."  Pine also pointed out Americans buy one trillion dollars worth of French wine annually.

Enough!  The truth is...We here at the DUNER BLOG are hesitant to support either side.  We admit to enjoying haûte cuisine.  For example, we simply adore Swiss chocolates.  However, we also understand that no living creature should ever have to be force fed.  The problem is that we feel issues involving ethics and appetites are best solved in arenas other than the French National Assembly and the California State Legislature.  We'd like to see the Assemblée Nationale in Paris concentrate on getting marginalized Algerian immigrants some overdue civil rights.  And we'd love it if the fools in Sacramento stop slashing our Education budget.  Let's leave the foie gras issue for the talk shows, PETA protesters and social media outlets to work out.

Friday, July 13, 2012



Our cyber-mailbox has been jam-packed with questions about Mexico's President-Elect, ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO.  So let's get started!

Has Mexico ever had a more handsome president?
The simple answer is: No! Peña Nieto is Mexico's 89th president.  We looked at the photos of all previous 88 leaders and only Antonio López de Santa Anna comes close.  We even threw in Mexico's two Emperors, (Iturbide and Maximilian) and it's still no contest.  In fact, the only Mexican who could even be considered in the same league as President Enrique is Enrique Iglesias

How can you be both the Governor and President of Mexico?
This is confusing.  The nation...the United States of Mexico...is divided into thirty-one states and a federal district (Mexico City).  The state closest to the metropolis is also named Mexico.  It comprises of the capital, Toluca, and most of the suburbs.   In reality...it's all one big city and both are considered part of the greater "metropolitan area."  Prior to winning the presidency, Peña Nieto was governor of the State of Mexico. 

What's the deal with his hot wife?
Actually his spouse is a difficult subject.  See, Peña Nieto's first wife Mónica died suddenly in 2007 from respiratory arrest.  He has since remarried to Angelica Rivera who...you guessed it...is a rich and famous TV actress!  We here at the DUNER BLOG love the show and couldn't have made up a better character for a telenovela soap opera than "La Gaviota" (the seagull).  The heartwarming doña is professional tequila chef who flirts with her co-workers.  The show's title is "Destilando Amor" or "Distilling Love" in Spanish.

Why the comparisons to George Bush?
During a campaign stop in Guadalajara, a reporter asked candidate PEÑA NIETO about his literary side. "Which books influenced him as a student?" the reporter inquired.  EPN awkwardly stumbled through his reply...much like the former American president so famously did.  "I have read a number of books, starting with novels. I'd have a hard time recalling the titles," said Peña Neito.  When asked to elaborate, he continued bumbling...again, much like "W" would do.  Enrique proceeded to incorrectly identify novels written by Carlos Fuentes...which was great fodder for liberal media outlets.

Why did Rebecca Black endorse him?
Remember the video that was a YouTube sensation last year? "Gotta get down on Friday?" Well, it turns out Rebecca's family is from Morelos where her uncle is a local politician in EPN's political party (the PRI).  Although she's only 14 years old and can't vote in either country, she still wants people to know it's important to stay informed on politics.  "Peña Nieto is going to do a fantastic job," she said.  We here at the DUNER BLOG share Rebecca Black's enthusiasm and know the new president will make Mexico great again!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012



Recently, Iranian President MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD has been pretty boring...giving us bloggers very little to blog about.  He's just been doing petty things.  You know...like another denial about supposed nuclear activity...or a statement that an Iranian battleship didn't stray into Iraqi waters...or that they've delayed the trial of some lost American hippie hikers.  But Saturday's announcement from Rear Admiral, ABBAS ZAMINI,  (Deputy Commander of the Iranian Navy) was a blogger's dream.  He informed us that: "Three super-heavy submarines have already been deployed to the country’s southern waters of the Caspian Sea."  Bloggers, start your engines!

Okay...for those of you who cheated in High School Geography...here's a quick primer on the Caspian Sea.  It's not really a "Sea" at all...it's really the earth's largest "Lake."  But, since the Caspian is nearly five times larger than the lake in Second Place (LAKE SUPERIOR), it is practically an ocean.  With no outlets, its water salty like a sea...not a lake.  It also produces oceanic seafood, like Caviar, Sturgeon and Herring.  Finally, we can blame the Greeks.  When the world's first map makers arrived here in the Fifth Century BC, they thought it was the end of the world and named it the Hyrcanian Ocean.  In short...whatever you wanna call it...it's BIG!

Anyhow...for most of human history...things have been peaceful on the mighty Caspian Sea.  For the last thousand years, the rules were simple: The Persians owned the Southern section and the Russians owned the Northern section.   However, the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought chaos to the shores of the lake.  Three new nations now instantly owned prime Caspian coastline. Azerbaijan owned prime Western shoreline, while Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan received most of the Eastern shore.   The problem is that each of the five nations has a different idea on where the territorial claims for the fabled body of water should be drawn.

Things have been getting dicey lately.  Azerbaijan has been accused of cozying up to Israel when they signed recent trade agreements.  Treaties with enemies are highly frowned upon in an Islamic nation...secular or not!  And no one hates Israel more than Iran.   Hence, the Admiral in Tehran declared the submarines were needed to "monitor Azerbaijani activities" purely for self-defense.  Yeah, right!! The real reason is oil.  Iran admitted its petroleum production has slipped 15% in the last quarter.  The nation must discover new sources...and one just happens to be next to its northern neighbor, Azerbaijan.

In summary, Iran just wants to flex its muscle and remind the other four Caspian countries of her military might and that the Caspian Sea is theirs.  The Ayatollahs are also opposed to the Trans-Caspian-Pipeline...a 200 mile-long underwater project that will bring much needed natural gas from Turkmenistan to Europe and rival Iranian dominance.   Finally, we have just enough time to answer a couple obvious questions.  The names of the three subs are: Qaeem, Fatah and Nahang.  Prince Caspian is a character from a C.S. Lewis book, but lives in the fantasy world of Narnia, not Central Asia.