Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013



Over the weekend, the staff of the DUNER BLOG went to Stanford University for the 116th installment of our beloved football rivalry.  In our attempt to keep our minds off the lopsided game on the field, we instead decided to list our 15 favorite College Football Rivalries and their beloved trophies.

THE BIG GAME. Cal vs. Stanford.  First played: 1885. Overall record: Cardinal leads, 59-46-11.  Trophy: The Stanford Axe.  At the first Big Game, the Stanford Rally Committee fired up the crowd by chopping the heads off stuffed teddy bears.  Berkeley students stole the axe.  Today, the original axe is mounted on a plaque.  The winners of the game get to keep it for 364 days, until the next football match.

THE GAME. Harvard vs. Yale. First played: 1875. Overall record: Bulldogs lead 65-57-8. Trophy: The Little Red Flag.  This rivalry is the oldest of all.  How old? The first score was 4-0.  (You're asking yourself: How is that score possible?)  Back then, a team got zero points for a touchdown..only the chance to make the one-point conversion!

THE RIVALRY. Michigan vs. Ohio State.  First Played: 1897. Overall record: Wolverines lead 58-44-6.  While other college football match-ups are older, this rivalry is the most important.  Over the last 40 years, it has determined more Rose Bowl and National Championships than any other game on our list.

THE BORDER WAR. Kansas vs. Missouri.  First Played: 1891. Overall record: Tigers lead 57-54-9.  Trophy: Indian War Drum.  While most college football rivalries are fought only on the field, these two sides actually fought a bloody conflict during the civil war.  Over 4,000 people died in savage, guerrilla-like attacks.

THE CIVIL WAR Oregon vs. Oregon State. First played: 1894. Overall record: Ducks lead 60-46-10. Trophy: Platypus Trophy.  This odd award represents both sides of the rivalry.  It has the bill of a duck, but the tail of a beaver.

THE EGG BOWL. Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss.  First played: 1901. Overall record: Rebels lead 61-42-6. When this grudge match was first played, footballs weren't as nicely shaped as they are today.  In fact, many Mississippians thought they looked like eggs, and the moniker stuck.

THE HOLY WAR. Utah vs. BYU.  First played: 1896. Overall record: Utes lead, 57-34-4. Trophy: Beehive Boot. Since the Brigham Young University is a religious institution and the University of Utah is a public one, when the two meet on the football field, it hearkens back to the crusades.

THE RED RIVER SHOOTOUT. Texas vs. Oklahoma.  First played: 1900. Overall record: Longhorns lead, 60-43-5.  Named after the body of water the separates the two states, this rivalry is unique because it is always played at a neutral site: The Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

THE APPLE CUP. Washington vs. Washington State.  First played: 1900. Overall record: Huskies lead, 67-32-6.  As everyone knows, the top product in the state is apples.  Awhile ago, the large basket of fruit was replaced with an impressive trophy.

THE WORLD'S LARGEST COCKTAIL PARTY. Florida vs. Georgia. First played: 1915. Overall record: Bulldogs lead 50-40-2. Trophy: The Okefenokee Oar.  This game is also played at a neutral site, Jacksonville.  Today, city officials are trying to distance themselves from the 'cocktail' nickname after alcohol-fueled melees tarnished the last couple games.

THE IRON SKILLET. Southern Methodist vs. Texas Christian.  First played: 1915. Overall record: Horned-frogs lead, 46-40-7.  Back in the 1940's, a SMU fan mocked the 'Horned-frog' nickname by frying frog legs before the game.  TCU won the game and the fan presented the skillet he used (as well as the tasty frog legs) to the opposition.  The tradition continues today.

THE LITTLE BROWN JUG. Michigan vs. Minnesota. First Played: 1892.  Overall record: Wolverines lead, 73-24-3.  Although not little, and certainly not brown, this story is true.  After the mud-filled 1903 game ended prematurely in a 4-4 tie, the angry Michigan team was in such a hurry to leave Minneapolis, the left behind their silly jug.  A custodian gave it to the coach, and a legend was born.
THE VICTORY BELL. USC vs. UCLA.  First played: 1929. Overall record: Trojans lead, 46-29-7.  In the beginning, the two universities shared the same stadium, the LA Coliseum.  After scoring, each team proudly rang a large railroad bell, which was generously donated by Sothern Pacific.  However, when UCLA began playing home games in the Rose Bowl, they took the bell with them.  Today, the prized object is shared.

THE KEG OF NAILS. Louisville vs. Cincinnati.  First played: 1929. Overall record: Bearcats lead, 30-21-1.  Although these two schools are much better known for their basketball programs, we just had to mention the Keg of Nails.  See, the winner of this game is 'tough as nails,' so...

THE PAUL BUNYAN TROPHY. Michigan vs. Michigan State.  First played: 1898.  Overall record: Wolverines lead, 68-33-5.  Sure, it was wrong to put the University of Michigan on the list three times.  But we just adore this cute statue!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013



The Walt Disney Corporation will take a step closer to world domination in December of 2015.  That's the date when the Shanghai Disney Resort will officially open its doors.  Covering nearly 1,000 acres, it will cost $3.7 billion US dollars to construct.  When finished, the Disney Resort Shanghai will have the largest Sleeping Beauty Castle of any of the six Disney Destinations. 

You're asking yourself: Doesn't China already have a Disney Resort?  Correct!  Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005.  However, technically speaking, Hong Kong is still not part of China, per se.  Like neighboring Macao, these two areas are classified as Special Administrative Regions (SAR).  Chinese citizens cannot just enter into a SAR.  Special Visas are required and only a limited number of Chinese visitors can enter each year. 

Nonetheless, the immense resort has become amazingly lucrative, far exceeding expected results.  The Disney CEO, Bob Iger, knows this.  He understands that millions of Chinese citizens still visit Hong Kong Disneyland...despite the paperwork headache.  So, it only make fiscal sense to build another, even bigger, amusement park in the People's Republic of China itself. 

Next question: How does a Communist country allow such blatant private enterprise as a gigantic Disneyland?  Well, the Walt Disney Corporation technically only owns 43% of the Resort.  The remaining 57% is owned by the city government of Shanghai.  The questions keep coming:  How do people in Communist China even know about Disney?  Answer: They don't.  Everyone in the Western World grew up with the constant barrage of Disney cartoons, movies and merchandise.  However, an average Chinese citizen only vaguely knows of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.  During his frequent visits to China, CEO Iger noticed.   He says the new park will be "the best of Disney, but designed specifically for the people of China.

In conclusion, we here at the DUNER BLOG have mixed emotions towards the Shanghai Disney Resort.  On one hand, we fear the Disney corporation's worldwide takeover.  With $75 billion in total assets, it should be included in G20 talks!  On the other hand, we applaud the opening of mainland China to US business, investment and culture. For example, the City of Shanghai is holding an online vote as to which design the new Disneyland subway station would have.  Anyone can log on and select the design they like best.  However, we still can't see Chairman Mao visiting the Happiest Place on Earth...

Thursday, November 14, 2013



Next Friday, November 22nd, will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.  You won't miss it: There will be ample 24-hour news coverage, long-winded documentaries and a tasteless made-for-TV movie on Bravo.  However, we here at the DUNER BLOG want to express our salutations to the late, great president by reviewing our favorite JFK Memorials worldwide.

John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City.  As the nation's largest handler of international air traffic, JFK is the new 'Ellis Island' of the USA, welcoming the world to the our nation.  Originally called Idlewild Airport, after the golf course it replaced, it was wisely renamed in 1964.

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.  When opened in 1968, it was the largest structure in the world.  Today, it's fallen to fourth place in this category, but it's still steeped in history.  All manned space flights from NASA left from legendary Launch Complex #39.  This includes the all the Apollo Lunar missions as well as the Space Shuttle voyages.

The Fifty Cent Piece.  Although not widely used in circulation, the half dollar is still a totally awesome coin.  At 11.4 grams, it is also the heaviest.  Only three other presidents (Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington) have their portraits on US coins.

The USS John Kennedy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  This aircraft carrier was originally intended to be a Kitty Hawk-class carrier, but it received so many special modifications it became its own, separate category of vessel.  'Big John' weighs 82,655 tons!

John F. Kennedy University, Pleasant Hill, California.  You know you're important when an entire university bears your name. 


John F. Kennedy Tunnel, Antwerp, Holland.  One of Europe's busiest tunnels connects the busy port with the main city.  It is for cars only and apparently has horrible rush hour traffic.

Kennedy Brücke, Vienna, Austria.  JFK famously met Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev in this European capital.   NOTE: It spans the Vienna...not the Danube...River.

Rua Kennedy, São Paolo, Brazil.  This broad boulevard bisects South America's largest city.  It connects Parça Kennedy with the Financial District.

Avenida JFK, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  You can't get from the airport to downtown without traveling on this four-lane highway.


Kennedy Island, US Solomon Islands Territory.  It may only be two miles wide, but this isle is named in tribute to Big John.  Don't forget: JFK was also a veteran and war hero! 

Kennedy Mess Hall, University of Dayton.  We will never know why people in this small Ohio college decided to name the cafeteria after the former president.  Let's just hope they serve Boston Baked Beans!

JFK Tower, Cumberland Maryland.  JFK signed lots of legislation to help the poor.  Hence, it is only fitting to name a low-income housing project after him!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013



This week's blog is a lot like an episode from the old SUPER-FRIENDS cartoon show.  Here's the plot: Evil Lex Luther's darkness ray has plunged Gotham City into darkness day and night.  All seems lost until Superman gets an idea.  Holding a gigantic mirror, he flies high in the sky.  Then, the Man of Steel reflects enough sunlight to light Metropolis and saves the day.   Fantastic!

Believe it or not, goofy cartoons became reality last week in Norway.   See, the town of Rjukan was built in a steep mountain valley.  Long ago, this hidden location provided protection from savage Viking barbarian raids.  However, these days, the valley setting has become more of a curse.  During the lengthy Scandinavian winters, the town is pitch black for five months straight.  Yuck!

Not any more!  An insane idea, started by Sam Eyde over a hundred years ago, was revived and implemented.  Here's what happened: First, helicopters moved three 183-foot-high mirrors to the top of a nearby mountain, some 1,400 feet above the town.  Called heliostats, these enormous reflective structures are more commonly used in the Middle East for solar power.  Controlled remotely by computers, they follow the sun across the sky, projecting sunlight to the city below.  Ingenious!

Last Wednesday, they were finally put to test.  The residents of Rjukan gathered in the town square.  They had to wait a couple hours for the clouds to clear.  Then...BAM!...the downtown was drenched in precious sunlight.  The citizens erupted in delight, triumphantly waiving Norwegian flags and downing vodka shots.  The mayor cried as a local rock band cranked out the chorus to "Let The Sunshine In" by the Fifth Dimension.  Stupendous!

The future looks bright for the people of Rjukan.  "Before, when it was a fine day, you see blue sky above and know the sun was shining," explained Karin Roe, a local resident.  "But you could never see the sun.  It was very frustrating."  Scientists were also on hand.  They were astounded that the mirrors really worked.  The temperature of the city went up to 45 degrees Farenheit.  Hot damn!