Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015



For the thousands of folks who packed into the Vatican's Basilica di Santa Maria last week, it was supposed to be a magical night. First, the Pope would give a special mass. Then, the crowd would exit to the piazza to the new Nativity scene. Finally, the holiday lights and decorations would suddenly brighten to every one's delight. Talk about a special moment! However, things are different this year. There's a new pope in town and he had a trick up his sleeve.

Rather than deliver the usual, humdrum...Blessed are those...type of sermon, Pope Francis changed the script. "The whole world is at war." the pontiff began "So this year, Christmas is just a charade." What? Maybe we lost something in translation. The Italian word in question is truccato. Which has a variety of meanings, like 'rigged' and 'falsify.' "There will be lights, parties, bright trees all decked out. Meanwhile, the world continues to wage war. The holiday is meaningless." Alright, it's true: The Pope just cancelled Christmas!

After the NOVEMBER OF DEATH, the Pope has reason to be angry. Let's review the tally. As everyone knows, 130 innocent people were murdered in Paris on November 13. The next day, 43 others were slaughtered in Beirut by suicide bombers. Not to forget the 224 dead in the bombed Russian passenger plane. An of course the 21 people shot by machine guns in the lobby of a luxury hotel in Mali. Let's face it: Francis is right: This is truly the most hateful month in a long time!

So should everyone really "not cover everything with tinsel and garlands and decorations" like the Pope said? Well, perhaps Francis' orders are a bit strict. But it certainly is time to look outside the box this holiday season. In addition to the above mentioned death toll, there are military conflicts being waged in retaliation. Whatever is left in Syria and Iraq is being destroyed. Migrants are flooding out, causing a humanitarian crisis.

Fortunately for all Christians, a Papal order has not been binding for 500 years or so. So, feel free to celebrate the Birth of Christ as you normally would. Just try to be more aware of the 'American Burden.' Our combination of crazy liberal rights with insane corporate greed results in wrath from other nations. Anyone who has traveled overseas knows this feeling. You never play Mortal Kombat video games, view hardcore porn or watch gory slasher movies. But...as an American...this is how the rest of the world defines you.

Friday, November 20, 2015



It's been nearly 20 years since Hong Kong was formally ceded from the United Kingdom and became part of the People's Republic of China. Let's face it: This has not been a smooth transition. To summarize: First, the SARS "Bird Flu" epidemic instantly killed 300 people in 1997. A year later, the Asian Financial Crisis struck. People's fortunes disappeared overnight. The year 2003 saw mass pro-democracy demonstrations filling the streets. The Umbrella Revolution rocked Hong Kong last year, with some squares still being occupied today. In short, it has been a tension-fueled mess.

Yet none of these milestones compares to the events last week. During the World Cup qualifying match between Hong Kong and Mainland China, unruly fans defied warnings from FIFA and the police. Instead, they launched a massive protest. They booed mercilessly during the introductions, waving banners and signs. Things got testy during the national anthem. Since Hong Kong didn't have a 'National Song' as a British colony, the Chinese inserted their own dreaded tune as the official Hong Kong anthem. When "March of the Volunteers" began to play, all 6,071 fans let loose.

FIFA responded by fining the Hong Kong Football Association. It's the first time any country has been disciplined for booing during their own National Anthem! What are the Hong Kongers so angry about? They believe the "One Country, Two Systems" plan is a complete failure. One of the reasons why the colony thrived was Hong Kong Basic Law. Drafted in London in 1912, it granted simple rights to the citizenry of the crown colony. While these were limited freedoms from a Western point of view, these actions were unprecedented in the Orient. People flocked to Hong Kong in hopes of living a free and more prosperous life.

Today, Hong Kongers straddle a tenuous line. On one side, they have a surging economy, based on the principles of free enterprise. When the People's Republic took over Hong Kong, they were hesitant to alter the finely-tuned economic machine and...for the most part...left it alone. On the other side, Hong Kongers have a giant, power-hungry nation in control of their politics. Unwilling to mess with successful corporations, they have instead concentrated on slowly taking away the personal freedoms that lured entrepreneurs to the colony in the first place.

While Beijing will undoubtedly try to control the hearts and minds of Hong Kongers, we here at the DUNER BLOG know they will not succeed. The people of the island colony are truly unique. Although they speak Cantonese and look just like folks on the mainland, their souls are not Chinese. Like Singapore and Taiwan, they may be linked culturally to the People's Republic, but their hearts beat to the drum of the West. Oops! We forgot: The score of the match was China: 0. Hong Kong: 0. No winners!

Friday, November 13, 2015



The staff of the DUNER BLOG was on assignment in Eugene, Oregon last week. We learned that many people call Eugene 'The City that Nike Built." Everywhere you turn, you see the omnipresent Nike swoosh. It's not just running shoes either. It's on sports bras, the OU football jerseys and the impressive Event Center. All of which got us thinking...Which are the most recognizable logos in the world?

#1. Nike. Year: 1971. Designer: Carolyn Davidson. When a tiny Oregon sports importing company decided to diversify into sneakers, they hired a local graphic designer to dream up a logo. She says she was inspired by the Greek goddess of Victory, who embodies movement and speed. Unfortunately, poor Carolyn only received $35 for her revolutionary design. 

#2. McDonald's. 1961. Designer: George Dexter. All children around the world know: When they see the 'Golden Arches' that means good food...and a toy...are coming. Yay! When Ray Kroc bought the chain, he hired George Dexter to dream up something special. He designed two enormous arches that would form an 'M,' visible for miles around...a must for a Drive-Thru.

#3 Coca-Cola. 1886. Designer: Frank Mason Robinson. There wasn't such a thing as a Graphic Designer back in the 1880's when the Coca-Cola Company first began bottling pop in Atlanta. The closest thing they had was the bookkeeper, Frank. When asked, he simply wrote the name in Spencerian Script typeface, as this was the standard practice for signage in the era. Sure looks different today!

#4. Mercedes-Benz. 1902. Designer: Gottlieb Daimler. In case you've wondered, Mercedes was a popular ladies' name first, and a name for a car second. Specifically, founder Gottlieb Daimler's daughter's name. He also designed the three pointed star to represent where a Mercedes can take you: Land, Sea and Air.

#5. Apple. 1970. Designer: Ronald Wayne. The founders of the tech giant felt their product was as revolutionary as the apple that fell on Issac Newton's head. The first design was deemed 'too cute; for Steve Jobs, so designer Ronald Wayne unveiled a much simpler design. The bite was added so people wouldn't confuse it with a cherry.

#6. Seven-Eleven. 1946. Designer: Fran Gianninoto. During the Depression, an entrepreneur in Dallas began selling eggs, milk and bread out of a makeshift ice house. He wanted folks to remember his long hours: 7am - 10 pm. Turns out people loved the convenience of being able to buy basic items any time. When he expanded, a designer used bright yet contrasting colors to grab attention...and a Slurpee.

#7. Google. 1998 Designer: Sergey Brin. Sometimes simplicity wins. Co-founder Brin selected a Sans-Serif Type face from a free, online design site. He then decided to spice it up by printing each letter in a primary color.

#8. Starbucks. 1971. Designer: Terry Heckler. In a Seattle antiques store, Terry Heckler stumbled across a Norse 16th century woodcut. It had a mermaid with a crown and a long tail. It was instantly selected as the new logo. Over the years, it has evolved a bit. Gone are the mermaid's bare chest and her crown has been simplified.

#9. Warner Brothers. 1923. Designer: Saul Bass.  This entertainment giant wanted a power logo with strength. The four brothers voted for a shield with the stylized 'WB' dominating the middle. It stood for quality entertainment in theaters, record turntables and television.

#10. NASA. 1958. Designer: James Modavelli. The big dreams of the Space Race are found in the future-moving NASA design. Approved by Eisenhower, then modified by Kennedy, it has graced the Apollo missions, the Space Shuttle and Station. It makes the top ten because its the only logo in space!