Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014



Last week's G20 Summit in Sydney was a complete and utter mess. Let's review. First, French President Francois Hollande insisted his new mistress be present at all private meetings. (Awkward!) Then, Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Chinese Premier Xi got in a drunken brawl over nothing. As usual, Putin stormed off two days early in disgust, angry his sovereignty claims to Poland were denied. The Summit ended with Angela Merkel publicly shaming all of her peers for their unprofessional behavior.

Lost in all the drama of the G20 Summit was the disappointing delay in Climate Change Resolutions. Nineteen of the G20 nations signed various pledges. Each action was designed to address each nation's needs. For example, the US will spend $3 billion to a new organization, while Germany and France gave $1 billion to the UN. Likewise, Japan will invest a billion dollars in green research. Even China agreed to 26% cuts by the year 2020. But one country refused any help whatsoever: The host nation Australia.

"Australia needs to know that Global Warming does not stop in the South Pacific Ocean," quipped German President Merkel. "It effects the entire planet." However, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott begs to differ. He gained high office last year with election promises to cut carbon taxes. With donations pouring in from mining and coal giants, he won national elections to become Australia's 28th Prime Minister. Even Chevron donated to Tony's campaign.

Now Prime Minister Abbott is keeping his word. With the world's most powerful leaders gathered on his doorstep, he stood alone and cast the lone "NAY" vote. The truth is Tony truly doesn't believe in Global Warming.  Let's review his infamous quote on the matter: "It's crap. A left wing conspiracy to de-industrialize the world." Abbott's mentor, Party chair Maurice Newman took it a step further, chastising the "Global Warming priesthood of 'scientists' and their misguided religion." Polls indicate most Aussies agree with this stance.

We here at the DUNER BLOG are not scientists. But we do know for a fact the existence of human-caused climate change. We also believe in playing it safe. If one form of energy is proven to be cleaner than another...by all means...let's use it. Nations need to make adjustments and start switching from coal to natural gas, solar or wind power. Aussies need to understand that Merkel is right...Global Warming is every one's problem. So please, get your head out of the sand, Prime Minister Abbott!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014



Rome is abuzz about a new proposal from Italy's Culture Minister,  Dario Franceschini. Believe it or not, but he has backed a proposal to rebuild the Colosseum in Rome and convert it to a modern arena. As expected, a tidal wave of cultural backlash has engulfed the capital. "It needs to remain an icon!' shouted professor Giorgio Croci. He believes restoring the crumbling ruin to a usable venue is "beneath its dignity."

Really, Giorgio? Who are you to define what dignity means to a marble building? Let's review the facts. Roman Emperor Vespasian ordered the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater in the year 70 AD. The previous year had seen four emperors executed, and Vespasian was eager to please his angry constituency. Fortunately, he knew what exactly what Rome desperately needed: Bread and Circuses. His first order of business was to build a 65,000 stadium in the center of the city...the largest in the empire.

Vespasian chose a site just next to the Colossus of Nero statue. At 103 feet tall, the bronze behemoth was about the same size as the Statue of Liberty. For the Inauguration Games of the new stadium, excess was in order. Six thousand wild animals were killed. In addition to the native bulls, boars and oxen, emperors imported lions, tigers and elephants from Africa...because it's more fun to kill a bigger beast! Over time, the Flavian Dynasty fell out of favor, but the stadium kept on going. People starting calling the Amphitheater The Colosseum, because it was behind Nero's Colossus Statue.

Why bring this up? Because we think Professor Croci has forgotten about the Inaugural Games and the reason why the Colosseum was built in the first place: To entertain the masses. When the barbarians finally toppled Rome in 476 AD, they melted down the Nero statue but left the Amphitheater intact. For the next thousand years, it still housed gladiator fights and religious services. The end of the fun came suddenly in the year 1349. A major earthquake destroyed a third of the structure, and it was never used for entertainment again.

Fast forward to the year 2014. Finally, someone has the common sense to propose Rome uses their most famous building for what is meant to do: Host grand events. People didn't have the money or the resources to re-construct it after the 14th century quake...but they do now! AC Roma has asked for it to be used for soccer. The Teatro dell'Opera wants to bring La Traviata to the famed stage. The pop music band One Direction could sell it out in minutes! However, we here at the DUNER BLOG want to take it a step further. Let's have the soccer team, the prima-donnas and the Boy Band fight each other gladiator-style! Now THAT'S entertainment...

Thursday, November 13, 2014



Ask any American about the Thanksgiving Holiday, and you'll hear the same story: It commemorates a feast between English Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Unfortunately, the real facts surrounding the first Thanksgiving are quite different than what Americans learn in Elementary School. Fortunately, we here at the DUNER BLOG are here to help you sort this mess out.

MYTH #1. The Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock. Here's what actually happened. In 1741, construction of a wharf in Plymouth Harbor began. Suddenly, a 94-year old man named Thomas Faunce arrived and demanded all building be immediately halted. See, Faunce knew the precise boulder where the famed Pilgrims had landed 121 years prior. The new pier was being built directly on top of this sacred rock. Although many doubted the old man's memory, the wharf was moved 200 yards away to appease him.  NOTE: Plymouth Rock's geologic name is Dedham Granodiroite.

MYTH #2. Turkey was the main course of the feast. Sorry, but turkeys were not found on Cape Cod at the time. Likely, they ate waterfowl...like geese and duck...and perhaps venison. Sweet potatoes were also not yet found in North America. Cranberries are native to the region, but people don't normally eat them without sugar, which was not available. Pumpkins and squash, however, were on the table. Historians know for sure they were plentiful and were consumed daily.

MYTH #3. Thanksgiving is named after this event. Wrong! The term Thanksgiving was first used in 1637 by Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop. But it was not in reference to a feast in Plymouth years prior. Rather, it commemorated a gruesome pre-dawn raid of a Pequot village in Connecticut when defenseless people were shot, clubbed and burned alive. "A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children." Gov. Winthrop declared. "This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots."

MYTH #4. Abraham Lincoln officially decreed a peaceful holiday in 1864. Sure, Lincoln did push the legislation through Congress, but it was hardly peaceful. The next day, he also signed legislation to exterminate a Sioux colony in Minnesota. At least George Washington got it correct...kinda.  His Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1789 officially set aside only one day a year for the holiday. This was because Americans were having Thanksgiving feasts after every slaughter, and this meant dozens of frenzied feasts every year.

MYTH #5. After the first Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and Indians lived happily ever after. The truce did not last long. War erupted two years later and the natives lost. The chief was decapitated. His head decomposed on a pole in Plymouth for the next 24 years. Smallpox from English cattle decimated 90% of the Wampanoag population, which was almost extinct by 1632. Since then, the Wampanoag have lived a marginalized existence in the shadows of prosperous New England. 2,000 of them can be found on a reservation today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014



Last Wednesday, New Zealand's Prime Minister JOHN KEY made it official: His nation will vote next year on a referendum to change their flag. He wants to ditch the Union Jack and replace it with a fern leaf, which "better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation." (Psst: We heard that the PM was overheard on a flight mention that he is sick of hearing how similar New Zealand's flag is to Australia's.) But whatever his motivation, we here at the DUNER BLOG salute Mr. Key. It's always great to question national flags, anthems and coats-of-arms. Here are ten other flags that also need replacing:

BELIZE.  This looks more like an album cover for THE VILLAGE PEOPLE than a national flag. Even the national motto songs like a pop song: 'Sub Ambra Florea' is Latin for 'I flourish in the Shade.' Also confusing is the cricket paddle. How can you play cricket under a tree?

BOSNIA. Introduced in 1998, this flag has a political agenda. Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs are united as the three sides of the yellow triangle. In hopes of becoming more than just a 'potential candidate country,' the shade of blue is exactly the same as the shade on the EU flag. The stars are meant to be "infinite in number," meaning there can be many more EU members coming...

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC.  When President Boganda unveiled this flag in 1958, he explained the symbolism. "France and Africa march together" is the theme, so the French tri-color is included with African green (hope) and yellow (tolerance). The vertical red stripe symbolizes "the blood people will spill to protect the nation." Yuck!

KYRGYZSTAN.  Although it looks like a giant volleyball, the center of the Kirghiz flag is actually the sun. The stripes are a 'stylized representation of a yurt dwelling.' You'll notice exactly forty rays of sunlight to acknowledge the forty tribes that united to defeat the Mongols in the 1300's.

MOZAMBIQUE. Did the guys from Grand Theft Auto design this flag? Well...to clarify...the AK-47 is meant to symbolize the defense of the African nation. The book represents education, the hoe is for agriculture and the star is for Marxism. Together, they make up the most gansta flag in the world.

NEPAL.  Trivia time! The only non-rectangular national flag in the world is Nepal. See, the triangles reflect the Himalayas. A blue border of peace frames the sun and the moon. Like Nepal, they will be around forever. Unfortunately, when the Nepalese flag blows in the wind, it looks like vandals ripped it to shreds.

ST. LUCIA.  Once you understand that the blue is the ocean and the two triangles represent the twin volcanoes on the Caribbean island nation, this flag makes sense.  To those who do not know this tidbit, this flag looks more like the Star Trek Enterprise insignia. Or maybe SPECTRE from the James Bond movies?

SWAZILAND. A proud shield and sharp spears show strength and protection against enemies. The black and white color scheme means that black and white people can live together in Swaziland. Finally, the three royal tassels are 'tinjobos' or royal seals. We feel sorry for Swazi elementary school kids on Arts & Craft Day when they have to draw this complicated mess!

TURKMENISTAN. Sorry, Swaziland, but the world's most intricate flag comes from Turkmenistan. The five carpets on the left are from the five main tribes of the Central Asian nation. The wreath hints at their harmony together. While the idea is admirable, the blur of this colorful flag when waving in the wind induces nausea and causes citizens to vomit.

UNITED STATES.  Overly busy and out-of-date, the USA needs a new flag as well. When was the last time the original thirteen colonies were of any relevance? With 50 stars, aren't we discouraging any new states? According to the Second Continental Congress, who adopted this geometric mess, the stars were originally meant to symbolize 'a new constellation.' Which group of stars are we talking about?