Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012




Not surprisingly, the DUNER BLOG headquarters has been swamped by letters, faxes, tweets and pokes...all asking for more information about LANCE ARMSTRONG.  Let's get started....

How many times did Lance win the Tour de France?  Is this a record?
The American cyclist has won the race seven times!  Yes...this is the record.  Three men have won the Tour five times. The most recent was Spaniard Miguel Indurain in 1995.  In fact, the only cyclist in history who can even come close to Lance is Belgian Eddie Merckx (Not misspelled!).  He was won more Tour de France stages than Armstrong and has won more Grand Tour victories.  NOTE: This includes the other two events, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España.

Are Lance's Tour de France medals given to second-place finishers?
Indeed they are!  Poor Lance must pack up his seven 1.4 kilogram medals and FedEx them to the cycling headquarters in Switzerland.  They will be sent to the following riders, who are no longer second fiddle but legitimate Tour de France champs:
  • 1999: Alex Zülle (Switz.)
  • 2000: Jan Ullrich (Ger.)
  • 2001: Jan Ullrich (Ger.)
  • 2002: Joseba Beloki (Spain)
  • 2003: Jan Ullrich (Ger.)
  • 2004: Andreas Klöden (Ger.)
  • 2005: Ivan Basso (Italy)
Perhaps the happiest people are those who finished in fourth place.  Just like in the Olympics, they now get bronze medals!  NOTE: Jan Ullrich is still under investigation himself, so fifth place finishers might get lucky too!

Who decided to take them away? 
This is the disturbing aspect of the scandal.  Surprise! It's not a bunch of jealous Europeans who dug up seven-year-old test results to tarnish a legend.  The largest cycling organization is the U.C.I. (Union Cycliste Internationale).  Founded in the year 1900, and based in hoity-toity Aigle, Switzerland, they oversee not just the Grand Tour events but other wheeled competitions in Mountain Biking, BMX and Para-biking as well.  They looked at the same tests and dismissed the case.  Believe it or not, it's actually the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) who has waged this disgusting "witch hunt" against our hero.  For shame!

Do we have to give back our yellow Lance Armstrong Livestrong bracelets?
What makes Lance Armstrong such an superhero isn't his wins on the track.  Nope, we love Lance for his courage off the track.  See, in 1996 he was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer.  The cruel disease had spread to his lungs and brain.  Doctors only gave him a 40% chance of surviving.  However, always the competitor, he beat cancer...just like he beat everyone on the Tour.  After retiring, he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  Through the sale of yellow bracelets for $1 each, he raised over $500 million for cancer research.  Wear them with pride today!

Is Lance Armstrong still a hero?
You bet your butt he is!  Monsieur Armstrong has managed to match his amazing accomplishments on the bike in real life as well  We told you that he survived chemotherapy and raised half a billion dollars for cancer research.  But did you know he was engaged to marry pop star Sheryl Crow?  And didja know he has 4,000,000 Tweeter followers?  However, the most important evidence than Lance is still a hero is the simple fact that despite the scandal, not even one advertising agency has dropped him as a endorsement pitchman.  If corporate America still loves you, than you are still THE MAN! NOTE: Duner's blog is on vacation the next two weeks.  ¡Adios! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The Old and New Bay Bridges.

History was made 500 feet above the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay last week.  Workers constructing the new Bay Bridge lifted a whopping 77-million pound block of steel...a new world record.  Speaking of records, when the new span opens on Labor Day next year, it will be the "largest, self-anchored, single-tower suspension bridge" ever!  The new bridge will replace the old one damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. (We do things slowly in California).  Anyhow, this bridging accomplishment set off a torrent of debate at the DUNER BLOG headquarters.  We wanted to know: What really is the longest bridge in the world?  Here's our findings...

Longest Bridge (Any type): Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, China.
Unlike the Californians, the Chinese build things quickly.  It took them only three years to build the bullet train from Peking to Shanghai.  The once arduous 800-mile journey can now be done in under four hours.  Along the way, you'll pass over not only the world's longest bridge (164,000 meters) but the second, third and fifth longest bridges in the world as well.

Longest Bridge (Over Water): Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana.
Sure...anyone can build a bridge over land.  That's easy!  What takes real American ingenuity is to build a 23-mile bridge over water.  When opened in 1956, it was hailed as engineering marvel.  Exactly 9,500 concrete pilings were submerged in the Mississippi Delta to support the bridge and protect it from gator attacks. 

Longest Bridge (Suspension): Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, Japan.
The problem with the Danyang Bridge and the Pontchartrain Causeway is that they are horribly boring!  (You'll notice: No photos. Yawn!).  Nope, true bridge enthusiasts need more than a flat line two yards high.  People love suspension bridges, with their powerful towers and the graceful, gentle arching of the cables.  The longest suspension bridge in the world is currently in Japan. NOTE: Past champions: The Golden Gate is #10 and the Brooklyn Bridge has dropped to #79.

Everyone loves the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Longest Bridge (Arch): Chaotianmen Bridge, China.
Once again, a famous landmark has been bested by a random structure in Asia.  This time, it's the Sydney Harbour Bridge's turn to drop in the rankings.  Having held the top spot for four decades, the iconic span is now the fifth longest, but first in terms of awesomeness.  It supports train, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.  It has hosted the Olympic Games, the world's first New Year's firework display and even a Formula One race.

Longest Bridge (Cantilever): Pont de Québec, Canada.
While not as loved as suspension bridges, Cantilever bridges are equally impressive engineering feats.  With only one anchorage, they are stronger than standard spans and have proven this durability over time.  Such is the case for the Pont de Québec, which opened to great fanfare in 1917.  It remains the last span over the mighty Saint Lawrence river before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.   NOTE: Tappan Zee in New York is #10.

Proposed Longest Bridges:
John Lennon was right: Humans are dreamers. Here are four ambitious bridge projects that might someday be built in your lifetime:

Gibraltar Crossing. It's only 24 miles!  We can connect Europe and Africa!  It existed in Arthur C. Clarke science fiction novel...why not in real life?  The most serious proposal came from architect T.Y. Lin which features 3,000 foot towers strong enough to withstand some of the world's swiftest ocean currents.

Bridge of the Horns. A mere 18 miles separates the tip of the Arabian Peninsula to the African mainland.  A proposal headed by Saudi billionaire TAREK BIN LADEN (Osama's half-brother) is raising $20 billion to build it.  It would provide direct access for 300 million African pilgrims to Mecca.

You could DRIVE to Russia, Sarah Palin!
Bering Strait Crossing. Recently, interest in connecting the hemispheres has been waning.  It reached its zenith in 1907 when the Russian Czar began constructing trains to reach Alaska.  The Revolution ended his plan.   The freeway crazy 1950's saw American interest grow, but no serious proposals have been put forward. 

Sunda Strait Bridge. Of all these wacky proposals, the Indonesian one seems the most plausible.  It proposes a series of spans to connect the islands of Sumatra and Java.  Combined with a bridge over the Malacca Strait, this would mean one could drive a car from London to Bali.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012



This week's blog reminds us how something really small can morph into something completely global.   It all began on a frozen February night in Moscow.  Suddenly, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova got an idea.  She told her band-mates: "Rather than sit around, swilling vodka, and complaining about how horrible Putin is...we should do something!"  So the gals in the punk rock outfit Pussy Riot decided to stage an impromptu concert at a Moscow church.  The plan was to let the rhythm of a bass guitar solo get their message across.  They screamed lyrics that asked the Virgin Mary to save them from the tyrant leader.

Oh...we left something out.  It wasn't just a church.  Actually, they chose the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Храм Христа Спасителя) for their publicity stunt.  You know...that big, colorful, onion-domed building across the street from the Kremlin?  In fact, it's the tallest Orthodox church in the world. The iconic structure was built by Czar Alexander the First to celebrate the Russian victory over Napoleon.   Heck, even Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture was debuted there, led by Peter himself.  Get it?  It's a very important monument, and shouldn't be the site of any political rally...especially one by a crazy, costumed alternative punk band called PuSsy RiOt.  (The girls want us to spell it that way.)

Not surprisingly, the band members were arrested less than a minute into their performance.  (We made the part up about the bass solo!)  Anyhow, here's where the things get dicey.  In most other world cities, the gals would be jailed, charged, fined and released and no one would care that some crazy punks burst into a cathedral for thirty seconds.  Not so in murky Moscow.  Under their "judicial system," the three band members are still in jail today, 175 days laterA 2,800 page indictment was handed down, charging them with hooliganism and a seven-year sentence. Nyet!

All of which comes at an interesting time for the current czar of Russia, Vladimir Putin.  No friend of human rights, he has never tried show the world that he is a democracy-loving friend of the West.  However, he tries not to provoke.  But placing three silly girls in prison for seven years for a poorly thought-out 45-second protest provides the perfect vehicle for opposition.   It went global last week because Madonna just so happened to be in Moscow for a concert.  She wrote "PuSsY RiOt" on her back.  That must've peeved off Vladimir for sure!

The whole mess all comes to a conclusion this Friday, when the court in Moscow announces the verdict.  From Russia to Rwanda to Reykjavik, there will be "PuSsy RiOt" candlelight vigils.  Be sure to go online and find one in your town.  You might even run into a favorite celeb!  Not only is Madonna involved but also such pop icons as Pete Townsend, Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga.  Stay tuned, readers...the verdict will be read at precisely 2:00 pm Moscow time!  NOTE: They sound about as good as they look.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich

Wednesday, August 8, 2012



The US Presidential Election is just two short months away!  As you might have guessed, the DUNER BLOG has been approached by representatives from both campaigns desperately seeking our endorsement.  Let us make one thing clear: The DUNER BLOG has a policy of not endorsing any candidate in any election.  Let's face it: The only thing more useless than an endorsement from us would be an endorsement from a stupid Hollywood Celebrity...So let's get started!


Donny & Marie Osmond.  Okay...this one is a no-brainer.  As we all know, the signing, dancing and smiling Osmond Family members were the World's Most Famous Mormons until Mitt came along.  According to Donny, the Romney candidacy has Americans "wanting to know more about our faith." 

Jenna Jameson.  If you're gonna get an endorsement from a Porn Star, it had better be from a hottie...and that's Jenna.  She's enshrined in the Adult Video Hall of Fame for her 161 (!) film appearances.  But don't worry...she's not voting for Mitt for any specific policy.  Vegas-born Jenna reminds us: When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office."

Gene Simmons.  The lead singer of the famed glam-rock band KISS endorsed Romney for the top job.  According to Dr. Love: "America is a business and should be run by a businessman."  Don't laugh: Gene's estimated net worth is $300 million...not bad for a guy who released an album titled Love Gun.

Kid Rock.  If you thought KISS was silly, you should listen to some of Kid Rock's music!  Nonetheless, both Kid and Mitt share the shame Michigan roots.  In fact, Romney has chosen the Kid Rock song "Born Free" as his official campaign theme.  (NOTE: This is not the same song from the 1968 movie.)

Jeff Foxworthy.  Although shunned by most pollsters, the Redneck vote is very important and increasing all the time.  Romney knows this and met with the Southern comedian to eat "cheesy grits" and say "y'all."  Jeff wants us to know that a job as important as the Oval Office needs a person with smarts.   Quipped Jeff: "We don't elect presidents on personality. We did that in 2008!"    


Hilary Duff.  While not as politically influential as other teen pop stars like JUSTIN BEIBER or BRITNEY SPEARS, Obama must be particularly fond of Hilary's endorsement.  Why?  Because back in 2004, when Hilary Duff was on top of the pop charts, she sang at President Bush's Inauguration Bash.  Meaning, she...like...totally changed her mind and now supports a Democrat.

Maurice Sendak. Although currently dead, the children's author donated $500 to the Obama campaign just days before his passing.  Where The Wild Things Are is Barack's favorite childhood book, and the author read the book to kids at last year's White House Easter Egg Roll.  

Kal Penn. Believe it or not, but losers who hang out at White Castle Burgers all day can vote too!   Penn...the Indian/America actor who hilariously plays Kumar the Pot-Head on the screen...is actually very active in Obama's re-election campaign.  Kal is an associate director for Public Engagement and has stumped in 26 states so far.

Dana DeArmond.  Just because Mitt nailed Jenna's endorsement doesn't mean the Republicans have the Porn Vote.  Nope, Obama's stance on Same-Sex marriage guaranteed this industry's support.  Whether Barack is ready for actually living an alternative lifestyle was brought up by actress Dana DeArmound. "I have a crush on Barack and on Michelle. I actually think I have romantic feelings for Michelle. I wish they'd take me on a date.”

Eva Longoria.  Did you know that (Desperate) Housewives account for 11% of American voters?   That's why the sexiest TV cast member is out fundraising for the current President.  She's managed to raise $500,000 so far.   Which is about what she makes per episode on the TV show.

Thursday, August 2, 2012



Wow!  The DUNER BLOG staff had one helluva good time watching the OPENING CEREMONIES for the OLYMPIC GAMES last Friday night!  What a party!  As expected, thousands of DUNER DOLLARS were wagered during the PARADE OF NATIONS.  We tried to best each other's knowledge of the obscure nations from around the globe.  You know...the tiny, little nations who only get mentioned on American TV every four years.  You know...not just Guinea...but Guinea-Bissau as well!

For those of you who watched the ceremonies outside of the USA...be glad you didn't have to listen to our pompous TV Host, BOB COSTAS.  He loves to talk over every person and babble during every song.  However, Bob did have one item which got the whole crowd into lively debate.  When the sari-clad athletes from TUVALU marched out, Costas mentioned how the tiny Pacific nation had sold its Internet domain code (TV) for $50 million...just because their internet suffix is a common abbreviation for the word television.  Soon, we all started wondering if any other codes had been sold...or coveted...or demanded.

We conducted copies amounts of research and have grouped them into three categories.  First up: Countries who actually sold their Internet domains.


Tuvalu.  The first country to cash in on their Internet code netted a cool $50 million for two valuable letters.  While this might not seem like much...Remember: Tuvalu has the third smallest population in the world at 10,500.  This means each citizen has $5,000 in the Tuvalu Trust Fund gaining interest!

All Hail Mighty Montenegro!
Montenegro. When voters in Montenegro officially left Yugoslavia six years ago, they were excited about self rule...a new flag and national anthem.  Most folks had no idea that their new Internet prefix, ME, would be so valuable.  And guess what?  Even you can purchase your own name (e.g. JohnSmith.me) for a price lower than you might expect! 

Colombia.  In 1819, revolutionaries rejected the imperial name New Granada and renamed the northwestern region of South America after Christopher Columbus.  They had no idea what a financial boon this would be two hundred years later, all because the abbreviation would be .CO.  See...there are 90 million 'dot.com' addresses...so 'dot.co' addresses are now needed.  Bogota gets 25% of the revenue generated by .CO Internet, which was $30 million last year!

Oman.  A number of companies approached this Middle Eastern nation and inquired about using .OM for spiritual sites.  However, the Sultan isn't exactly strapped for cash, so he has quietly denied use outside the kingdom for his national Internet domain.

Austria.  It is confusing how Austria received .AT.   Larger Australia got .AU...that makes sense.  But why American Samoa got .AS makes no sense.   Fortunately for the Alpine nation, many English words end in -at.  Austria has sold a couple of gems (like KittyC.at and Bor.at.) but has rejected many others.  

France. When Paris heard how the lowly Austrians were pimping out their letters, they began to worry the same thing might happen to them.  Sacre-bleu!  To insure the integrity of the .FR suffix is never compromised, all businesses must prove they are based on French soil before they are issued an .FR Internet address.


Cameroon. The Central African nation was actually named after the abundance of shrimp European explorers found in the Sanaga River.  (The Portuguese word for shrimp is camarão.).  Anyhow, today many Typo-Squatters are purchasing addresses like Amazon.cm or Google.cm...just because clumsy-fingered people omit the 'O' in .com.

South Georgia. An enterprising start-up is attempting to compete against industry-leader BLOGGER.COM (The best such site on the Internet.)  The concept was to have the most simple address possible: BLO.GS.  The site is up and running, but legislation in the South Georgia & Sandwich islands is also up and running!