Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



Over the weekend, many Americans were glued to their televisions, watching the World Series.  A California team, the San Francisco Giants, clobbered the hapless Detroit Tigers...four games to none.  This resulted in many fans making astronomical claims about their squad, claiming they were the 'most winning-est team of all time.'  As expected, we here at the DUNER BLOG conducted research.  We found that there is no actual English word for 'Winning-est" but there is a mathematical formula for determining the true answer to the hypothetical question.

Sports Beat Writer ROB BOUDREAU attempted to answer this difficult question using simple math.  His formula divides the number of championships by the number of seasons played to determine a "Winning-est" percentage.  Using this formula, here are our findings by sport.

According to Boudreau's Equation, the San Francisco Giants are the fifth winning-est baseball team ever.  In first place...surprise!...is the New York Yankees.  With 27 World Series Championships over 112 seasons, their mark of 24% easily surpasses the St. Louis Cardinals.  Using this formula, the Miami Marlins are in third place.  While they've only won twice, they've only been around for sixteen seasons.  Also: The Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo have a 27% score in the Nippon League.

FOOTBALL (American)
Don't worry soccer fans...we cover your sport later.  American Football proposes a tough question for the equation.  Do we use all football leagues or just the NFL?  If we use all leagues...dating back to 1919...the Green Bay Packers have the highest percentage at 16%.  If we use only Super Bowls, the San Francisco 49ers are the best team, with a perfect 5-for-5, 100% score.

People really love the Stanley Cup!
This sport has a clear-cut, all-time winning-est champion: The Boston Celtics.  With 21 titles in 62 years, they have a 33% score.  This bests the Los Angeles Lakers.  Although the Lakers have played many more championship games, they have also lost many more championship games.  Losses don't count for anything in Boudreau's Equation.

Like Basketball, Hockey also has an easy answer to the 'winning-est' question: The Montreal Canadiens.  In this sport, you play for the coveted 'Lord Stanley's Cup'...the coolest trophy in all sport.  Although it is currently living in Southern California, the 16 kilogram, solid-silver trophy has gone to Quebec a whopping 24 times...good for a 33% score.

Although Mr. Boudreau's only used his theory for American sports, we found they work for European soccer teams as well.  After many calculations, we are proud to announce Real Madrid is our choice for winningest soccer team ever.  They've hoisted the Copa del Rey 38% of the time.  Although Manchester United has won 19 times, they've been playing since 1888 and this brought their score down.  Hitler's ban on soccer teams hurt Bayern Munich's numbers and we simply can't make enough sense of the Argentine Leagues to give Boca Juniors a score.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Here's an important news item you might have missed.  Tempers flared in the South China Sea last week when the USS George Washington sailed into the hotly disputed waters.  You're likely asking yourself: Why is the US Navy sending a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the Far East?  According to a Pentagon spokesman, the Navy is merely conducting "joint military actions with a regional ally" and there is no cause for alarm.  It just feels alarming when the USA calls Communist Vietnam an ally.  But... hey...that's just another example of how strange world politics have become in the South China Sea. 

Unfamiliar with the South China Sea?  You shouldn't be!  Economically, it is the most important body of water in the world.  Over one third of the earth's total commerce floats on its busy shipping lines.  (Sorry...Persian Gulf...you need to diversify!)   Let's check out the stats: Every day, ten million barrels of crude oil enter the South China Sea through the Straits of Malacca.  Every day, eleven million i-Pods are shipped down the Pearl River.  So it comes as no surprise, that every nation that borders on the South China Sea has a major economic interest in controlling the important body of water.

The odd part about the enormous, 1.5 million-square-mile Sea, is its lack of islands.   Aside from Taiwan and Hainan there are only a few, tiny island chains.  How tiny?  The largest of the Sparatly Islands (an island chain in the sea) is less than a mile long, with a highest point of ten feet.  This means at high tide, half of the isle's land mass disappears!  None of  which matters to any of the six nations claiming them as sovereign territory. The Sparatly Islands are so important (geo-politically) that sixty-four Vietnamese soldiers died defending it from Chinese troops in 1988.  NOTE: China still controls them today.

Another reason why the South China Sea is so important is the potential, untapped oil and gas reserves lying under the surface waters.  In this part of the world, environmental groups aren't listened to...so massive plans are already underway to cover the sea with massive oil rigs...as soon as tomorrow.  Everyone knows that China is thirsty for gasoline, so it comes as no surprise that the PRC has the most audacious claims of the six-nation dispute.  They are demanding some 80% of the sea.  This claim is in obvious violation of International Maritime laws...which apparently don't translate well into Cantonese!

Back to the USS Washington.  Although married economically, China and the USA still jostle and joust over global superiority and sometimes this involves bizarre behavior with meaningless desert isles, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and sharply worded statements.  At least there is one bright light in the heated dispute.  While tensions continue to mount...there is one thing all six nations in the dispute can agree upon: JAPAN has absolutely, positively, without doubt, no say in anything in the South China Sea...so don't even ask! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Eddie Murphy as Doctor Doolittle

Didja ever read the children's book Doctor Doolittle?  Remember, the magic man who could speak to animals?  It's also been made into movies as well.  Anyhow, not only could Dr. Doolittle speak with animals...he also lived with them.  Lions lounged in his living room.  Parrots perched in the parlor.  Snakes slithered on the sofa.  Kids loved the concept of a zoo and house rolled into one...what fun!

Well...guess what?  Every one's favorite children's book came to life in Central Nigeria last week.  The rainy season is from April to October, and it smashed records this year, surpassing the previous high set in 1948.  This resulted in the Benue River spilling its banks and flooding dozens of cities and hundreds of towns built near the important waterway.  While it's true...floods occur everywhere...however, in Central Africa they are particularly dangerous.  Because along with the dirty water comes hippos and gators!

The mighty Benue River has burst its banks.
"There is now a hippopotamus in my house!" cried Makurdi resident Wuese Jirake. "My house is still inundated with the flood waters above my waist."  It isn't just hippos.  State media reports that "crocodiles, snakes as well as other dangerous animals" have been reported.  They simply swim into peoples' homes, stores, offices...even libraries.  (Who knew hippos could read?).  It looks like the dangerous animals are gonna stay awhile too...unfortunately, local weathermen have more rain in the forecast.

All toll, some 140,000 people have been displaced in Nigeria.  The death toll currently stands at 148...but it will undoubtedly rise.  See, along with the dangerous animals, torrential waters carry deadly diseases as well...all of which  are difficult to clean up afterwards.  The dire situation is putting pressure on the government in the capital, Lagos.  President GOODLUCK JONATHAN (his real name) and his CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) coalition government want to help... but they have been cautious allocating funds to agencies wrought with corruption and graft.

While it's fun to remember the crazy world of Doctor Doolittle, the real issue here is the unique ecological problems Africa faces.  Simply put, the other five continents have it easy.  The are located within favorable latitudes.   This means they are blessed with large swaths of profitable forests and fertile grasslands.  They have long, navigable rivers and coastlines suitable for harbors.  They don't have to deal with things like the Sahara: The world's largest desert which continues to grow at an alarming rate.  Nor do the other continents have to deal with crazy hippos who swim into your kitchen.

Here's the DUNER BLOG'S solution: Have Nollywood TV producers in Lagos make a reality TV show about the disaster.  We'll call it SNAKES ON A SOFA, and then everyone could see firsthand the differences between Africa and the rest of the world.  Are you listening RYAN SEACREST?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



If you've been to any shopping mall, high school parking lot or Jamba Juice lately, you've probably seen someone wearing a T-shirt or hoodie with the words 'HOLLISTER' on it.  And, if you're from Northern California, you might be wondering if the teenagers wearing these latest, coolest threads are from the city of HOLLISTER, which lies about thirty miles inland from beautiful Monterey and scenic Carmel.  To answer this question, our staff spent hours conducting copious amounts of research. Finally, we here at the DUNER BLOG have an answer:  NO!  The two HOLLISTERS are not related.

Let's start with Hollister the city.  The quaint town of 35,000 residents live in a pleasant valley surrounded by rolling hills.  Prior to the launch of the clothing line, the tiny town's only claim to fame was earthquakes.  See, it was built directly on top on the San Andreas Fault line, so Hollister has had more quake epicenters than any other city on earth.  It's named after WILLIAM WELLES HOLLISTER, a famed rancher.  In 1852, this entrepreneur drove 10,000 sheep from Ohio to California.  Although less than a thousand sheep actually made it to Monterey County, Hollister made a fortune as the state's only producer of wool...that is, until the railroads arrived twenty years later...bringing a more efficient way to transport livestock.

Rush Hour in Hollister, California.
Next up: Hollister the clothing line.  Oops, it's not a clothing line...it's a lifestyle brand. It was created by retailer giant ABERCROMBIE & FITCH to compete with such other pseudo-labels like AÉROPOSTAL (not really from France).   To help promote a cool, new image for a clothing line, Manhattan marketing gurus invented a character named John M. Hollister.  Here's his fictional life: Born in Laguna Beach in 1922, he traveled the South Pacific as a youth before returning and "discovering California and himself." To celebrate this epiphany, John M. Hollister began designing surfer-inspired clothing in his small, seaside shack.  Over the years, it has quietly mushroomed into the global brand it is today.  Like...Whoa...Dude!

Although this fantasy marketing scenario seems silly, it is actually incredibly lucrative.  Since the initial launch of the first HOLLISTER CO store in Ohio in 2000, it has multiplied to 578 stores today.  (Not bad for just twelve short years.)  The company boasted $1.5 billion in revenue last year...which was a much better profit than parent company ABERCROMBIE & FITCH.  However, everyone knows that teens are fickle.  In a few short years, HOLLISTER CO will no longer be "cool" and giant retailers will launch a newer...better...lifestyle brand that every teen will like totally need!

All of which brings us back to the original question: How do people in the city of Hollister feel about the clothing line?  Apparently, there is a grass-roots movement brewing to sue the clothing giant.  We tried calling a few residents but instantly ran into problems.  See, today, two-thirds of the population of Hollister, California is Latino.  We had trouble asking complex questions about their feelings en Español.  Which is ironic, because the only reason the city is named after HOLLISTER in the first place was because the white ranchers who settled there were tired of everything else in the area "being named after Saints in Spanish!"   

So...the next time you see someone wearing a HOLLISTER hoodie...just smile and know that they are likely a sheep rancher from Central California who speaks Spanish.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012



OMG!! It's almost here!! JAMES BOND DAY is this Friday.  That's just 48 hours away.  What? You've never heard of JAMES BOND DAY?  Well, that might be because this is the first ever JAMES BOND DAY.  See, it was exactly fifty years ago on October Fifth, 1962 that the first Bond movie, Dr. No, had its London premiere.  And it just so happens that the latest installment, SkyFall, opens in theaters on October 26th.  To celebrate this made-up holiday, we here at the DUNER BLOG want to answer some common questions about everyone's favorite international spy.

Hasn't Hollywood ran out of Ian Fleming novels by now?
Yes.  Let's check the math.  The Londoner wrote fourteen Bond novels.  Skyfall is the twenty-third film.  The last book adapted for film was Octopussy.  After they ran out of books, United Artists started using short story titles instead.  For example, Quantum of Solace appeared only in Modern Woman Magazine.  The Living Daylights was a colour pull-out in the Sunday London Times.

Are the movies anything like the books?
Kinda.  Ian Fleming was a Naval Intelligence Officer during World War II.  These experiences provided inspiration for his spy novels.  The first five movies followed the books quite accurately.  However, as times changed, United Artists sought to update plot lines to reflect current times.  For example, in the book Moonraker, James stops a rocket from being fired on London.  When the film Moonraker,  was released thirty years later, Bond actually flies in outer space!  NOTE: Ian Fleming was a diverse author...he also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Who is the Best James Bond actor?
Debate will always rage on this sensitive subject, so here goes.  Basically, there are two types of Bond flicks.  Type A Bond Movies are gritty, violent and follow the books much closer.  Here, 007 fights with his fists and drowns bad guys in public toilets.  In these films, Sean Connery and Daniel Craig flourish.  Type B Bond Movies are more light-hearted and fun.  After a villain is killed and is dangling from a telephone pole, Bond quips: "Thanks for hangin' around."  In these films, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan shine.  (Notice how we didn't answer the question?)

Which is the best Bond song?
For many, the best part of a Bond movie is the opening credits and musical score, sung by the hottest stars of the day.  In the 1960's, it was Tom Jones belting out "Thunderball."  Paul McCartney & Wings told us to "Live and Let Die" in the 1970's.  But the best?  Well, the only Bond Title Song to top the US Billboard charts is Duran Duran's "View To A Kill" in 1985.  In the end...however...the best Bond song of all time is "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon.  Good luck topping that, ADELE!
What is the best Bond movie?
We saved the best question for last.  According to ROTTEN TOMATOES, the most respected film critics on the Internet, the first film, Dr. No, is the best ever, receiving an aggregate score of 98%.  The Bond movie that made the most money (adjusted for inflation, of course) is The Spy Who Loved Me which almost beat out Star Wars as the top grossing film of 1977.  However, the best Bond movie of all time must be From Russia With Love.  It has a believable plot, great locations (Istanbul and Italy) and DANIELA BIANCHI is the best bond babe ever!