Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, January 29, 2015



Over the weekend, President Obama visited Indian President Modi in New Delhi. The occasion was Republic Day...when the world's largest democracy was born. To celebrate, finely decorated camels proudly paraded in front of Punjabi paratroopers. Barack and Michelle looked on in pure amazement. However...later in the ceremony...things were reversed. It was the people of Delhi who looked at the Obamas in pure amazement. Why? Because The Prez cruised down under India Gate in one helluva cool Cadillac Limousine. Not familiar with The Beast? Here's a quick primer..

It has its own plane. I'm sure you were already wondering... How does Obama get The Beast to India in the first place? Well, the Secret Service has a specially designed C-17 GlobeMaster aircraft. Its sole purpose is to carry Limo One anywhere President Obama travels.

It isn't a Cadillac.  Although The Beast has Escalade tail lights, trim and rims, the rest of the vehicle is pieced together from other Chevrolet models. The chassis and engine are from the Chevy Kodiak, which is mostly used for commercial dump trucks. The transmission is from a sports car. All in all, it adds up to one of the most expensive cars in the world: $1.5 million dollars each.

It has a desk.  The most powerful man in the free world needs an office...even when he is driving. Part of the interior folds down to create a four-foot long work space. It's linked directly to a military satellite through a SATCOM dome on the roof.

It is extremely well protected. Let's check on the specs on Limo One. It has five-inch thick, multi-layered bulletproof glass. The tires are Kevlar-reinforced and can never go flat. Nuclear strength foam protects the gas tank. Armor plating on the door is eight inches thick...which is twice as thick as as an airplane's exterior. Put this all together and you have ten tones of protection.

It guzzles gas. Despite having a Dura-max Diesel engine, The Beast is not fuel efficient. We're talking a paltry eight miles to the gallon! Despite this, and the extreme weight, The Beast can really fly! It can go from zero to sixty MPH in just fifteen seconds...in case Barack needs to get away really fast..

It has a sample of Barack's blood. Be careful if you're rummaging around the trunk of Limo One. Next to the oxygen tanks, shot guns, grenade launchers and tear gas containers, you'll find a red box. Inside is a sample of the President's blood. See, you never know what the evil Bio-Terrorists are planning. Like the Boy Scouts say... Be Prepared!

It has a new license plate. Last year, The Beast sported a license plate for the first time. (Not that any Highway Patrol officer would pull the Presidential Limo over!)  Nonetheless, Barack wanted to make a statement, so a Washington, DC plate was affixed. "Taxation Without Representation" is the motto on the bottom of all DC plates, which references the fact that the 700,000 residents of the nation's capital still cannot vote. NOTE: With the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, this will not change soon!

Thursday, January 22, 2015



One of last year's top stories was the dreaded EBOLA EPIDEMIC. Eight thousand people died worldwide. An astounding two of the deaths were in America...so naturally a media-fueled panic engulfed the nation. Media outlets whipped up a frenzy of foreboding stories and dire predictions. With the help of social media, insane rumors somehow seemed credible. Here's an example: Ebola is a Bio-Weapon unleashed by ISIS that will kill millions of Americans daily. While this is creative, it is not even close to being true.

The Ebola scare lead to many unfortunate stereotypes about the African continent in the American psyche. As the source of the deadly disease without a cure, many newscasters and politicians called for immediate suspension of all incoming flights from Africa. Andrea Tantaros of Fox News quipped: "We cannot trust people from Africa to be truthful about their activities, so they are not allowed to come here." Late night comedians took it a step further: "If Santa stops by West Africa before coming to New York.. I'm boarding my chimney up!" Ouch!

Let's fast-forward to the present. Now that the quarantines have ended, the scientists are sorting out how this horrid epidemic began. Was is a sordid cesspool of human waste in Lagos? Nope. How about rotting wildebeest carcasses in Mali? Wrong again. Thankfully, epidemiologist Fabian Leendertz has the answer. He has located the exact spot where the epidemic began. It's a Red Ironwood tree in the village of Meliandou in the nation of Guinea. Now that's precise!

Here's what happened. This tree is infested with Angolan free-tailed bats (Mops Condyluras). Naturally, the children of the nearby village love to hurl rocks at it. One kid came into contact with a bat (or as the locals call them: Mice That Fly) and contracted the Ebola virus. How does Fabian know this? He tested all possible animal carriers of the Ebola virus. This included thirteen other bat species as well as duikers (small antelope), chimps and monkeys. He then cross referenced the spread of the virus on a map and found this tree. What a cool scientist!

We here at the DUNER BLOG want Americans to get a more rational view of Africa. With more land in the tropics than any other continent, unique animal species have evolved there. Some are loved outside of Africa. For example, zebras and giraffes. These animals are imported to zoos, made into cartoon characters and inspire millions of stuffed toys. However, the Angolan Free-tailed bat...a unique species found also only in Africa...falls into the other category: A feared creature from a strange land. C'mon! You can't love the butterfly and disrespect the caterpillar. Africa is a treasure. Let's respect all her wondrous creatures!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015



Last Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown went to Fresno for a most important event. He attended the groundbreaking ceremonies for California's High Speed Rail Project. Soon, it will take around two hours to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles. To celebrate the first bullet train in the Western Hemisphere, we will list the TOP TEN BULLET TRAINS routes currently in operation.

#10. TGV  Paris-Marseilles. In the 1960's, France was drunk in the technology craze. Engineers designed underwater cars, hovercraft buses and high speed trains. While the first two ideas failed, the très grande vitesse (very high speed) train became a source of French pride when it opened in 1981.

#9. Afrosiyob.  Tashkent - Samarkand. When Marco Polo traveled between these two cities in the year 1265, it took weeks. Nowadays, Uzbek Rail can do the task in just over two hours. In a region deemed unsafe for air travel, this is a welcome sight. And...at just $25 for a one-way trip...it is the least expensive on the list.

#8. THSR  Taipei - Kaohsiung. When Taiwan's High Speed Rail opened in 2007, it did more than just whisk folks around an island. It also improved strained relations with Japan. A joint project with the motorcycle giant Kawasaki resulted the coolest looking trains you'll ever see!

#7. Talgo  Madrid - Barcelona. A similar story of a bullet train uniting cultures happened the next year in Spain. High speed rail means that Catalonia and Castile are now just two and a half hours apart. With seventeen El Pato (the duck) trains daily, communications between the two regions are improving.

#6. ICE  Frankfort - Cologne. Germany was slow to join the High Speed craze, but nowadays, it boast the second fastest train on earth. At 279 MPH, it takes less than an hour to link the two important cities.

#5. KTX.  Seoul - Pusan. Whoop! Whoop! Gangnam Station! From here, you can board the Korea Express. Constructed with a curious mix of public and private funding, ticket prices are fixed: Exactly half the current plane fare. The beautiful scenery becomes a blur when the top speed of 217 MPH is reached.

#4. Italo.  Rome - Milan. As everyone knows, Italians like to go fast. Hence, they invented the "Ferrari of the Rails," the Alta Velocità. It holds the record for the fastest all time rail speed of  356 MPH. There were no passengers...only terrified squirrels...as it accelerated through Emilia-Romagna.

#3. HSR.  Beijing - Shanghai. This train is the future of rail travel. Using Maglev technology, it levitates above the tracks. There are no vibrations whatsoever! This baby also achieves the top speed to legally travel on land: 302 MPH. In a nation that clearly represents the world's economic future, the HSR is the backbone.

#2. Eurostar.  London - Paris. Since Roman times, the crossing of the English Channel has been an issue. In the 1500's, Leonardo da Vinci proposed a floating bridge. Napoleon envisioned a platoon system. Then, in 1994, the world's longest undersea tunnel officially opened. It is truly a marvel showing how humans can overcome any obstacle!

#1. Shinkansen.  Tokyo - Osaka. Last year, the world's first bullet train celebrated its 50th anniversary. In 1964, Japan joined the jet age in spectacular fashion, whisking people past Mount Fuji at 275 MPH. Since then, over ten billion passengers have boarded the first and the best. However, perhaps the most impressive statistic is the average delay: Thirty-six seconds. Now that's efficiency!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015



We here at the DUNER BLOG thought we would start 2015 with a light-hearted topic: BOND GIRLS. Specifically, the twenty-fourth installment of the famous spy series will hit theaters November 6th. To drum up publicity, EON STUDIOS announced the name of the gorgeous, sultry actress tabbed to play the female lead...A.K.A....the new BOND GIRL. Imagine our surprise, when Italian hottie Monica Bellucci was announced.

Why the surprise? Because Monica is not a 'Girl.' In fact, she's fifty years old! This surpasses 39 year-old MAUD ADAMS who played Octopussy back in 1983. Never heard of a BONG GIRL? See, in every James Bond movie, secret agent #007 seduces outrageously sexy ladies. It's simple. First, he gives a debonair glance and delivers a corny pick-up line. (NOTE: Don't ever try to use one in real life.. You'll get slapped!) In the next scene, they exit the casino and head to the club. After a quick dance, it's off to James' suite for sexy time.

To learn more, we here at the DUNER BLOG conducted copious research. We watched all 24 movies and determined that Secret Agent #007 romances 4.2 women per movie. Actor ROGER MOORE was the most sexually active, bedding six beauties in A VIEW TO A KILL alone. (NOTE: These included Playboy model Tanya Roberts and singer Grace Jones!) Actor SEAN CONNERY comes in second place on the list with 3.6 babes per movie. Current Bond actor DANIEL CRAIG only averages two chicks. Hey! That's almost monogamy!

Author IAN FLEMING was a self-proclaimed chauvinist, as evidenced by the overtly sexist character names of female characters in the James Bond novels and short stores. Some names are coy and alluring, like Mary Goodnight and Kissy Suzuki. Others are playful and fun: Jenny Flex and Plenty O'Toole. Others are downright graphic and naughty; Pussy Galore and Honey Rider. Unfortunately, the lead female character in the 2015 movie 'Spectre' is named Lucia Sciarra. Yawn.

Which brings us back to our original topic: Monica Bellucci. Fans of foreign film remember her as the passionate Alessia in Remember Me, My Love. Action movie fans know her as the leather-clad, werewolf-slaying Persephone in the Matrix movies. This combination makes Monica a natural for a Bond Girl. As to her age, her casting shows that the target age group for 007 audiences has changed. In the swinging '60's and '70's, suave Secret Agents were teen favorites. However, in the 2000's, Marvel superheroes and Hunger Games archers dominate the coveted kid market. Today, Bond movies are for men in their fifties... so Monica makes complete sense. We look forward to seeing her on the big screen!