Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015



As we all know, this will be the last DUNER BLOG ever. See, the world is slated to end on this coming Sunday, September 27th. Therefore, there will be no more human life, no more Internet, and no more DUNER BLOG. Confused? Well, let's sort this whole messy Blood Moon / Doomsday Prophecy thing out.

The Harvest Moon.  This refers to the full moon nearest to the Autumnal Equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, the moon is at its closest point of the year to the earth, and is actually larger on the horizon than in months prior. Native Americans have been celebrating this event for centuries. Over time, American farmers incorporated the celestial oddity into their cultures as well.

The Lunar Eclipse.  Lunar eclipses are totally better than their Solar counterparts. First of all, you can look at them without wearing any unsightly eye protection. Second, Lunar Eclipses take two hours...not two minutes...to occur. So you can be late to the party and still not miss the show.

The Blood Moon.  This Sunday night, we will be treated to a Super-Moon Total Lunar Eclipse. This rare celestial event hasn't occurred in thirty years. When the Earth's shadow (umbra) combines with Rayleigh Scattering of sunlight, light beams produce a unique red hue. As they shine on the moon, a unique visual occurs, called a Blood Moon.

The Prophecy. Thirty years ago...when the last Blood Moon happened...humans did not have the Internet. Back then, if a non-denominational pastor from Texas spouted a bunch of nonsense about THE END OF THE WORLD, no one would listen. But since we do have the Internet today, we give this guy a lot more credence than he deserves. John Hagee cites Joel 2:31. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day the Lord comes." The preacher is convinced this ancient passage is a direct reference to Sunday's eclipse.

The Mormon Response. Never ones to miss out on a Doomsday Theory, a prominent Mormon author has also issued numerous warnings about Sunday's eclipse. Julie Rowe has written books warning followers to take heed of the harmful Blood Moon. She may be right. When flash floods killed 16 women and children over the weekend in Utah...a tragedy she predicted...many folks in Salt Lake are buying up emergency supplies for Sunday night.

The Evidence. Hagee, Rowe and other so-called prophets have piled up an impressive list of natural disasters in the last week to prove their doomsday predictions are real. In addition to the flooding in Utah, there was a massive earthquake in Chile and inexplicable cloud formations in Costa Rica. Throw in the drought, the massive death of Saiga antelopes and beached whales...and it does really seem like the world is ending this week.

NASA's Statement.  OK, it's time for us to leave the world of superstition and legend behind and ask the experts about Sunday's Blood Moon.  Noah Petro, a lunar scientist at NASA (with a PhD) reassures us that this is just a fun astronomical event. "The only thing that will happen on Earth during an eclipse is that people with wake up with nick pain because they spent the night looking up" Maybe there will be DUNER BLOG next week after all!

Friday, September 18, 2015



Bad news from Minnesota. Earlier this week, the despised Lion Killer Dentist returned to work in suburban Minneapolis. Escorted by security, Walter Palmer calmly strolled past a dozen protesters and a handful of journalists. Not exactly the conclusion environmentalists were hoping for. They wanted new dialogue on animal preservation. Unfortunately, it took only one month for the American public to forget about the entire issue and move on to a new topic. Well, we here at the DUNER BLOG will gladly carry the torch for LION RIGHTS. There's a lot to discuss..

As a child, I often wondered: Why do lions figure so prominently in our society? They are only found in Africa! That may be the case today, but three thousand years ago Panthera Leo was more prevalent. Lions were plentiful throughout Southern Europe, the Middle East and even India. Since this is the also the same region where the world's religions, literature and culture began, LIONS figured in prominently in all fields. Hence, today, we still have lions appearing in everything from Children's stories to figures of speech to mascots for our sports teams.

Unfortunately for lions...for the next 3,000 years...their species didn't evolve as rapidly as their natural enemy: Homo Sapiens. Continual advances in weaponry spelled the eventual end of their once vast habitat. In fact, the last wild lion...north of the Sahara Desert...was shot in Morocco in 1920. See, lions and people have always struggled to coexist. Today, ranching conflicts have led to the most lion deaths. They pose a huge threat to livestock and have been erased from much of the Sahel. Today, lions only really exist in protected reserves and national parks.

While this may seem like good news, a study from Canada's McGill University recently shed light on the new "Natural Law" found in these confined areas. Although prey is plentiful, lion populations are on the decline. It appears Darwin's Laws don't work in these small areas. When confined, predators change behavior patterns and reproduce at lower rates than their free-range counterparts. The scary part of this study: Since there are hardly any free-range lions left, this means the species is doomed to eventual extinction.

All of which brings us back to Cecil. He was a great example of what an average lion is today. As we all know, Cecil was lured out of the national park when Palmer tied an antelope carcass onto his jeep and slowly drove to the exit. There he was legally killed, rendering Zimbabwe officials powerless to prosecute. In summary, humans really need to rethink our attitude towards lions. It will be so confusing to future generations. Lions will only exist on the helmets of professional football players from Detroit!

Friday, September 11, 2015



Without doubt, the biggest concert tour of 2015 belongs to TAYLOR SWIFT. So far, the 1989 Tour has grossed $128 million...and it still has 24 shows to go. Last month in Los Angeles, Swift sold out the gargantuan STAPLES CENTER for sixteen straight nights...a new record! But what is truly amazing about the 1989 TOUR isn't the ticket sales. Nope, it's the impressive list of friends that have appeared on stage with Tay-Tay. With each city, comes a surprising, electrifying new 'Bestie.' Here are the top ten:

10. Mariska Hargitay, Philadelphia.  Taylor is a HUGE fan of the TV show Law & Order SVU. In fact, she named her pet cat Olivia Benson after the main character of the show. So, naturally, it follows that Taylor, the cat and the actress who plays Olivia are all close friends in real life.

9. Serena Williams, London.  It just so happens that there was another huge event the same weekend Tay-Tay did her shows at London's cavernous O2 Arena. It's a tennis tournament called Wimbledon. But how about this for coincidence? Serena Williams...a very close acquaintance of Swift...won the title match. That deserves a round of applause and a duet on stage.

8. Lorde, Washington DC.  The 'Royals' singer is from New Zealand and Swift won't be touring there. So, she invited Lorde to our nation's capital to perform the smash hit together. This friendship might be the most legitimate one on our list. Their Instagram pictures have a whopping 1.3 billion views.

7. Lisa Kudrow, Los Angeles.  Aside from Law & Order, Tay-Tay's SECOND favorite TV show is 'Friends.' Naturally, she identifies with the silly blond character Phoebe, played by Lisa Kudrow. And...since we know how much Swift loves felines...it only made sense to have the two sing "Smelly Cat" as a duet at Staples.

6. Heidi Klum, New York. To be a member of Taylor Swift's Inner Posse, you must either be a fellow Pop Star OR a Super-Model. While the German superstar may be twenty years older than Swift, this doesn't stop them from being extremely close BFF's.

5. Russell Wilson, Seattle.  Football has always been Pennsylvania-born Taylor's FAVORITE sport. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers haven't been in the Super Bowl lately. But the Seattle Seahawks have been in the Championship game the last two years. Basically: If you are the Best in your field, you are Taylor Swift's friend.

4. Ellen DeGeneres, Los Angeles.  Swift's favorite Talk-Show has always been ELLEN at 4pm. She has been a guest on this program more than any other. Naturally, when Swift was in Los Angeles, the two fabulous females were like totally hanging out together...like....everyday. So it was no coincidence that Ellen would come up on stage and tell some jokes.

3. US Women's Soccer Team, New York. Fresh off their World Cup championship, the gals did a tour of the East Coast to celebrate. First, they saw Michelle & Barack at the White House. Next, some coffee with Live! With Kelly & Michael. The next night, they were in East Rutherford to join Taylor Swift on stage. Isn't it amazing that Taylor knows all twenty-two members of the team?

2. Joan Baez & Julia Roberts, San Francisco. Okay, these friends of Taylor are a bit confusing. In fact, Taylor called them "Heroes" in addition to friends. One is old enough to be her grandmother. Nonetheless, the Folk Music legend and the Oscar-Winning actress traipsed up on the stage at Levi's Stadium for lots and lots of hugs.

1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles.  Taylor Swift's 'Girl Power' message must be completely lost on Kobe. As everyone knows, this Los Angeles Laker doesn't exactly have a great reputation with the ladies. Let's see...There was the rape trial, the numerous affairs and derogatory comments...but that's all in the past. At least Taylor finally met someone taller than herself!

PREDICTIONS:  Here's who we'd like to see on stage with Taylor at selected upcoming concerts:
Sept. 25. Nashville (Bridgestone Arena): Dolly Parton & Al Gore.
Oct. 25. Toronto (Rogers Centre): Drake & Stephen Harper.
Oct. 10. Omaha (Century Link Center): Warren Buffet
Oct. 17. Dallas (AT&T Stadium): George W. Bush & Tony Romo
Nov. 11. Shanghai (Mercedes Benz Arena): Hu Juntao & Yao Ming.  

Friday, September 4, 2015



The DUNER BLOG mailbox has been stuffed with letters regarding President Obama's decision to rename the tallest peak in the USA. Let's get started:

Didn't they already change the name to Denali? Ted, Oakland. Good question, Ted. Back in 1980, the National Park Service did, in fact, rename the land surrounding Mount McKinley. So the National Park has been called Denali for 35 years. However, the mountain itself remained named after the 25th US President.

Is McKinley really worthy of such an honor? Scott, Cincinnati. Let's review the highlights of his life. As a teenager, he volunteered to serve in the Union Army, surviving the bloody the Battle of Antietam. Returning home, he married, had a family, became a congressman and then Governor of Ohio. He is best known for defeating William Jennings Bryan in the pivotal gold/silver debate of the 1896 Presidential election. Suddenly, he was gunned down in 1901 Leon Czolgosz. Hmm. I don't know what more Bill McKinley could have done for his country.

What does the world 'Denali' mean? Helen, Houston. The folks who live around the 20,310 foot peak are the Athabaskans. The word "Denali" translates as "The Tall One." George Vancouver was the first non-Inuit to view the mountain in 1794, but he just called it "Stupendous!" During the Alaska Gold Rush, a miner named Frank Densmore named it after himself. A decade later, a "McKinley for President" supporter audaciously slapped the moniker on the peak and it stuck. In 1917, it officially became a national park.

Does Obama have the authority to rename a mountain? Bill, Baltimore. That depends on who you ask. A Congressman from Ohio will tell you the answer is a solid NO. House Speaker John Boehner called it "a constitutional overreach." He feels only an act of Congress can can change a geographic name. Nonetheless, the Executive Branch is confident. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell issued the change "immediately."

Shouldn't everyone be fighting the wildfires instead? Walter, Memphis. Good point! But basically, the whole point of the trip to Alaska is a desperate attempt for the President to get tepid American attention span back on Global Warming. Sure...one such fire scorched an area the size of Connecticut...but US media attention is still focused intently on Kylie Jenner's 18th birthday party. Tomorrow, Barack will become the first US President to cross the Arctic Circle. It's unlikely to receive much news coverage either.

How does Mount Denali compare to tallest mountains worldwide? Elaine, Duluth. Well, the highest 188 mountains are all in the Himalayas, so let's just talk Western Hemisphere. Here, Argentina's Mount Aconcagua in tops. In North America, Denali is the tallest, besting Canada's Mt. Logan by 769 feet and Mexico's Orizaba Volcano by 1,914 feet.

What will the punishment be for using the old name? Carl, Colorado Springs. Hmm. The President did not specify that fact, Carl. But you do make a great point. All around the world, there have been initiatives to revert back to 'native' names with mixed results. Maps still have Australia's Uluru labeled as Ayers Rock. Bombay has been Mumbai for decades, but Bollywood hasn't become Mollywood. People will still call Pluto a planet as well. Let's just hope the Feds don't spend too much money re-doing all the signage..