Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014



Everyone here at the DUNER BLOG has a severe case of WORLD CUP FEVER.  This means that instead of researching Ukrainian Election results, the staff is glued to the TV set, watching soccer.  With the first round coming to a close, bookies and casinos from Vegas to Vienna are scrambling to make sense of the early surprises and sudden eliminations.  Here's our esteemed opinion:

THE WINNERS:  Latin America.   The host Brazil is still the favorite to win the trophy, with impressive 3-to-1 odds.  Neighboring powerhouse Argentina is close behind at 4-to-1.  Also representing South America in the knockout round are Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay.  Al toll, the host continent is an astounding 12-3 in first round games.  From Central America, Costa Rica surprised everyone by winning Group D.  Also joining the party is 'El Tri' from Mexico are going on.  Anyway you look at it, it is a great year for Latin America!

THE LOSERS:  European Teams.  There is an old adage:  'European teams only win European World Cups.'  It's true: nine of the ten times European nations have hosted the event, they have won...with the only exception coming way back in 1958.  The trend is continuing this year.  Aside France, Belgium and Holland, who impressively won their groups, only Germany and Greece have advanced.  Defending champion Spain...widely chosen to repeat...is flying home to Madrid today.

THE UNDERDOGS:  African Nations.  The seeding for spots in the World Cup is determined by a Power Index.  This measures each nation's win /loss record and their strength of schedule.  Using this formula, Europe gets thirteen teams and Africa gets only five.  Of these, Nigeria's Super Eagles and Algeria's Fennec Foxes have advanced to the next round.  Since no African team has ever made it further, this is a major accomplishment!  One major reason for Africa's recent upswing are their players' experience in the Big Leagues.  Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba was the leading scorer on Arsenal's Championship team.   Cameroon's Alex Song is a star on FC Barcelona.

OUR PREDICTION:  Argentina.  Today is Lionel Messi's 27th birthday.  He told us what he really wants: The World Cup trophy.  The four-time FIFA Player of the Year heads a talented group, all with impressive resumes.  Argentina's close proximity converts Brazilian stadiums into home field advantage. While it is foolish not to choose Brazil, we think the above trends will result in a proud victory for all of the Argentines and all of Latin America!

Thursday, June 19, 2014



The Grand Canyon National Park is overrun with buffalo!  Hundreds of the massive, roaming mammals are on the prowl, with mischief on their minds.  And they are making a mess!  Clumsy buffalo are notorious for ruining riverbeds, trampling trees and bouncing boulders.  To solve the problem, rangers and volunteer shooters are enacting a culling.  Under the law, the Park Service is allowed to hunt bison to "preserve water resources, vegetation and fragile cliff dwellings."

One legislator wants to change that.  Last week, Senator by John McCain (R-Ariz) put forward some downright peculiar legislation in Congress. In short, he wants to allow anyone who kills bison to keep the meat. Under the current policy, the buffalo meat is distributed by wildlife agencies to tribes and local charities. With McCain's Sportsmen's Act, you get to keep your prize.  This will speed the process up and is endorsed by the Arizona Game & Fish Commission.

Confused?  Well, the state of Arizona is known for its crazy legislation.  But what concerns us at the DUNER BLOG is the welfare of the buffalo species in the USA.  For our foreign readers, here is a brief history of America vs the Bison.  For the first million years, bison thrived on the North American continent. Humans changed that. First, Native American tribes employed 'buffalo jumps.'  Stampeding herds were intentionally sent over steep cliffs.  By the 1830's Comanche tribes were killing about 280,000 buffalo a year.

However, this staggering figure was nothing compared to the white settlers. Unbelievably, the Federal Government encouraged bison hunting in the 1800's.  Buffalo herds on railway tracks resulted in long delays. Bison land could be better used for cattle.  Here's the process employed:  First, the animals were shot for game, often from the windows of trains.  Then, the carcasses were left on the prairies.  A year later, after they had sufficiently decomposed, the bones and skulls were gathered to make fertilizer.  It wasn't until 1876 when William "Buffalo Bill" Cody pushed Congress to act to protect the almost extinct species.

It's taken 150 years, but the Bison have recovered.  It's a miraculous story, but an unnecessary one.  See, the real reason the Feds wanted settlers to over-hunt buffalo was much more malicious: Without Bison,Native Americans cannot survive.  Eliminating buffalo was much easier than fighting wars with the Sioux and Comanche.   This dark side of American History needs to be acknowledged.  Then we can talk about how to best cook buffalo burgers!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014



Last month, the Thai army staged a coup d'etat and took control of our favorite Southeast Asian nation. It was the twelfth time since 1932 this unfortunate event has occurred in Thailand's history.  While disapproved by the West, most foreign governments understood the coup simply had to happen.  For the last decade, the nation has been crippled by a cycle of unfair elections, civilian protests and worker strikes.  It has paralyzed the once thriving country, with all commerce (including tourism) on a massive downturn.

The solution?  The army is mandating that all 66 million Thai citizens BE HAPPY.  Specifically, the campaign is called "Return Happiness to the People."  The military wants the citizenry to forget about the conflict of the last ten years.  So, leave your RED SHIRTS at home.  Forget about the picket signs.  Instead.. Come to a free concert and eat free food!  Why all the sudden generosity?  "We're trying to create an atmosphere to gain trust and build confidence," explained Army Spokesman Weerachon Sukondhapatipak.  "We just want people to relax."

Here's how the colonel will institute forced relaxation to the Thai people.  In addition to the weekly free concerts, you can get a free "Happy Haircut" at designated barbering centers.  Not your thing?  Maybe you like dancing?  So come to a park and watch scantily clad female dancers in camouflage miniskirts dance suggestively.  Too risque?  Well, then go to Downtown Bangkok and visit Horse Petting Zoo.  See! There is absolutely no excuse to be sad in Thailand.

In fact, the only people who are unhappy in Thailand today are the people who want a return to a civilian government.  "It's surreal," explained activist Pavin Chachavalpongpun.  "It's ridiculous to believe this will create an environment conducive to reconciliation."  He's probably right. Since last year's coup, the army has made vague statements alluding to an upcoming election.  But...in the meantime...it continues to round up any anti-government and anti-monarchists leaders and activists.

In summary, we here at the DUNER BLOG are suspicious of the Thai Army and their curious motives.  The "Bring Happiness To The People" movement is eerily similar to the 'Bread and Circus" campaigns of the Roman Empire.  However, at least the Army is trying.  They are instituting a proactive campaign.  Most armies around the world just stay locked up on bases and camps.  They don't go to the cities and dance in miniskirts.  We just hope Asia's coolest country straightens things out before we visit next year!  And.. THAT'S AN ORDER!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014



Recently, an Oakland A's baseball player has been gaining a lot of notoriety.  No, it's not for his hitting streak. Nor is it for his charity work.  Nope, people are talking about the music he plays in the stadium when he "walks up" to bat.  He chose the overly sappy 1980's ballad "Careless Whisper."  Never heard of 'walk-up music'?  It began in 1974 in St. Louis.  Hall of Famer Lou Brock wanted the Theme from S.H.A.F.T. blaring in the loudspeakers before he swung the bat.  Since then, it has evolved into a silly...yet special...part of of baseball.  Let's count down the TOP TEN:

#10. Careless Whisper, Josh Reddick, RF Oakland.  Why a ballad?  Josh claims it was an impulse. "Somebody had Pandora on shuffle in the clubhouse. I was like.. 'What would happen if I tried this?'"  What happened?  Well, Bay Area fans are kooky, and they began slow dancing in the stands.  Will there be more George Michael to come? "I know 'Freedom' and 'Wake Me Up [Before You Go-Go],'" Reddick pondered. "I'm not a huge Wham! fan, but, you know, I definitely respect what they did."

#9. Danza Kuduro, Jhonny Peralta, SS Detroit.  Did you know that 35% of Major League players are Latino?  Not surprisingly, artists like Pitbull, Fuego and Wisin y Yandel are really popular.  This reggaeton anthem is particularly banging.

#8 Kashmir, Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia. Fact: Led Zeppelin belongs on this list.  They are the undisputed masters of plodding, intense hard rock. In fact, Chase credits this song to a twenty-point rise in his batting average. (Baseball players are highly superstitious!)

#7. Paint It Black, Joey Votto, 1B Cincinnati. The Rolling Stones also belong on this list.  Prior to stepping into the batter's box, you want to hear Keith Richards' legendary guitar echoing around the stadium.

#6. Jesus Walks, Jesus Montero, C Seattle. In addition to Classic Rock, Hip-hop is also popular among ballplayers, and Kanye West tops the list.  We selected this track because we think it's funny that Jesus walks up to Jesus Walks.

#5. Seven Nation Army, Stephen Strasburg, P Washington.   Also popular among College Bands, this White Stripes song is heavy on menacing bass guitar.  "It will still rock ten years from now," he explains. Stephen knows that when you associate yourself with threatening song, the opposition will quiver with fear!

#4. Crazy Train, Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland.  This track is popular in many other sports too.  It can be heard blaring in hockey arenas and NASCAR tracks as well.  These days, Ozzy Osborne is finally respected for his music instead of being hated as an Antichrist.

#3. Three Little Birds, Shane Victorino, LF Boston.  We salute Hawaiian native Shane for not selecting an ominous and threatening walk-up song.  Rather, Shane prefers uplifting reggae.   The fans at Fenway Park keep singing "Don't worry...'Bout a Thing" long after the PA system has stopped playing it.  "You live for those moments," explained the die-hard Bob Marley fan.

 #2. Welcome To The Jungle, Carlos Beltran, CF, St. Louis.  We wonder if Guns-N-Roses wrote this just be a walk-up song.  Slash's angry electric guitar riffs and Duff McKagan's drums seem to beat in time with a ballplayer's step as he approaches the plate.

#1. Enter Sandman, Mariano Rivera, P New York Yankees.  OK!  OK! We know Mariano retried last year.  But... If you've ever been at Yankee Stadium when The Sandman enters...you know what we mean!  The first Metalica chords begin thumping as he the bullpen doors open. Chin out, he proudly trots to the mound as the crowd roars in jubilation for their hero.  It's electric!