Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, January 29, 2016



The New Year is barely under way, but in Taiwan it's already shaping up to be the YEAR OF THE WOMAN. Two events on the Peaceful Republic of Taiwan ushered in a decidedly feminine tone for 2016. First, a 56 foot high replica of a brilliant blue stiletto high heeled shoe was unveiled in Chiayi on the southern coast. Secondly, for the first time ever, a woman was elected Taiwanese President. Tsai Ing-wen Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won in a historic landslide victory.

Let's start with the shoe. This glitzy modern masterpiece cost TW$23 million (that's US $686,000) to build. Steel beams provide the structure for 320 pieces of shimmering blue tinted glass. Billed as a non-denominational house of worship, it is scheduled to open on February Eighth (Chinese New Year). In today's selfie world, owners hope to draw ladies to visit the stiletto for that all important photo. "Most ladies love to wear high heeled shoes," explained spokesman Hung Chao. "I believe this building will match their imagination." Hung is right. The shoe has already been mentioned in top chick magazines like Marie Claire and Elle.

Now let's discuss the second item in Taiwan's YEAR OF THE WOMAN: President-elect Tsai Ing-wen. What a success story! Not only is she the island nation's first female chief, she is also Taiwan's first un-married president. How did she do it? Ing-wen was the first major politician to embrace the popular Sunflower Movement. This hugely influential group combines modern issues (Same-sex marriage, transparency in government, the environment) with their main political goal: Distance from mainland China. Like their counterparts in Hong Kong, these motivated students get things done. Last year, they stormed the Legislative chambers (The Yuan) and successfully persuaded lawmakers to nullify the Cross Strait Trade Agreement.    

When Ing-wen managed to get the DPP to join the Sunflower Movement, she formed a successful alliance between students, young professionals and liberals. In last week's general election, they demolished the Pro-China Blue Party. A new future for island nation looks bright and lucrative. Everyone knows that Taiwan is one of Asia's true success stories. The Trade Agreement would have allowed for hordes of mainland migrants to flood across into Taiwan. While there would be an initial boost to the workforce, it was feared this would also eventually lead to a drain on social programs.

While this all sounds adventurous and ambitious for every one's favorite Asian island, don't expect any instant, monumental changes from incoming president Tsai Ing-wen. She has re-iterated her goal to be more of a 'care-taker' of Taiwan than a brazen revolutionary. While she would love to see the People's Republic relinquish their claim to the '23rd Province' of China, she rationally knows better. Technically, the PRC still claims ownership of Mongolia, the world's 19th largest nation. (Qing Dynasty emperors never signed the 1911 peace treaty.) Nonetheless, in Taiwan it's time for everyone to strap on the stilettos and sing: "I am woman, HEAR ME ROAR!"

Friday, January 22, 2016



Normally, when the Academy announces their nominees, January becomes a happy month for the entertainment press. Columnists giddily predict winners while insiders laud dark horse candidates. Not so in 2016. This year, media coverage has been dominated by the lopsided ethnicity of the actors involved. For the second year in a row, all twenty nominees are white. Across Hollywood, celebs are protesting. Will & Jada Pinkett Smith are boycotting. Whoopi Goldberg had a meltdown on The View. Even Trump weighed in! After conducting copious research, we here at the DUNER BLOG agree. This is no "Cry-bullying" issue. To illustrate our point, here are four egregious Oscar Snubs:

#1. Straight Outta Compton: Best Picture. The surprise movie hit of the summer succeeded on all cylinders. Smartly directed, Gary Gray combined heartfelt acting with artful storytelling. In short, the film humanized the scary world of gangsta rap...not an easy accomplishment! Audiences responded: It grossed $170 million in the US alone. Critics agreed: It scored an 88% on the Rotten Tomatoes site. This is eight spots higher than the Vegas favorite to win Best Picture, the lengthy Western epic The Revenant. Looks like the Academy blew it.

#2. Michael B. Jordan: Best Actor. Most moviegoers groaned when another Rocky flick hit theaters during Christmas. Further examination proved them wrong. The movie Creed worked because it relegated Sly Stone to the role of reluctant trainer. Instead, screenwriters put the focus of the film on the upcoming new boxer, the son of Apollo Creed. Michael B. Jordan shined in the role, turning in a stellar, truly heartfelt performance. The National Society of Film Critics gave him the 'Best Actor' award, but the Academy didn't even nominate him!

#3. Jason Mitchell: Best Supporting Actor. Spoiler alert! At the end of Straight Outta Compton, the crazy life of a professional rapper catches up with one of the members of NWA. When Easy-E dies at the end of the movie, there was not a dry eye in the theater...everyone cried! You don't accomplish this with sub-par acting. Jason Mitchell's portrayal of the anonymous inner-city youth instantly turned into a national celebrity was riveting. Yet it is easy to understand why the role failed the wow the Academy. 85% of them are white and most likely would be afraid to even go into the Cinaplex to see it!

#4. Whiz Khalifa:   Perhaps the most glaring omission of all comes in a lesser category: Best Original Song. But...if Academy voters were turned off by old-school gangstas like NWA...they must be horrified of Whiz. He always snarls and his body is covered with menacing tattoos. Nonetheless, the song was #1 for twelve weeks on the Pop Charts. Furious 7 was one of the year's biggest movies. Instead, songs from obscure films (Racing Extinction? The Hunting Ground?) get the nod.

But don't worry, Oscars. At least you're not as off-base as the GRAMMY AWARDS!!

Friday, January 15, 2016



The Presidential Primaries start in just a couple of weeks! While you will be bombarded with endless stories about the candidates themselves, we here at the DUNER BLOG thought we would cover something just as important: The spouses of these folks. So here is our list of Potential First Ladies. They are ranked by their current Las Vegas odds to win this year's election. We added scores in the two categories that count most for First Ladies: Beauty & Brains.

#7. Mary Pat Christie. 30-1. At the tender age of twenty, Mary met a much thinner Chris Christie. They were both undergraduate students at the University of Delaware. They married two years later. For the next two decades, Mary has remained svelte, working as an investment banked in Manhattan. Meanwhile, her husband grew larger as governor of New Jersey. They captured hearts nationwide when 9/11 struck: Mary was just two blocks from the World Trade and survived the chaos. When she finally managed to cross the Hudson River, her husband was waiting for her on the pier. Awww! Beauty: 1. Brains: 9

#6. Columba Bush. 22-1. The most unlikely lady on this list was born in Leon, Mexico to a middle-class working family. She went to school, attended Catholic Mass and helped her mother with chores. Then...her life changed forever one fateful day in 1970. The sixteen-year-old was at church and happened to meet a visiting English teacher named Jeb. He was instantly smitten and wowed the teenager with his worldly charm. Much to chagrin of the wealthy Bush family, they married in Austin four years later. Columba has remained a loyal and strong mother and wife, but secretly wishes she had never left the traditional life of her native Mexico. Beauty: 2. Brains: 4

#5. Jane Sanders. 12-1. As a Democratic Party volunteer, she worked on Bernie Sanders' first major win: Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. At the victory party, Jane and the Mayor met and have been together ever since. While his political career blossomed, she earned a PhD and has engineered successful social projects, like building schools and hospitals! She even served as President of Burlington College! What makes this relationship extra special is her three step-kids. Bernie says time and time again about how he "considers them to be his own." That's America!  Beauty: 3. Brains: 10.

#4. Heidi Cruz. 10-1. This blond Southern California babe graduated from Claremont McKenna College, where she became active in the school's Republican Club. Whilst working on the 2000 George W. Bush Presidential Campaign, she met her future hubby, Ted Cruz. In addition to having three kids, she worked at Goldman Sachs. Heidi also has a European Business Degree from the University of Brussels! Although Senator Cruz staunchly denied it, his health benefits were paid for by the financial giant as a spouse of an employee.  Beauty: 7.   Brains: 8

#3. Jeanette Rubio. 8-1. Born and raised in Florida, Jeanette attended South Miami High School. At Miami Dade College, she majored in cheer leading. After graduating, she began a stellar career as a Miami Dolphin cheerleader. Her pinnacle occurred in 1995, when the first-ever Dolphin-Gals Swim Suit Calendar was released. Jeanette was Miss August! After marrying former classmate Marco Rubio in 1998, she retired from the Dancing Arts and is a mother of four. Beauty: 9. Brains: 2

#2. Melania Trump. 4-1. The Donald's third wife hails from the tiny Alpine state of Slovenia. At age 18, she moved westward to Milan and launched a successful modeling career. Her Big Break came in 2000, when she was featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. This caught the eye of Donald, who instantly signed her to Trump Model Management. When the two wed in 2005, one of the attendees was future foe Hilary Clinton. Beauty: 11. Brains: 2

#1. Bill Clinton. 2-1. Slick Willie is by far the most complex figure on this list. At first, we here at the DUNER BLOG were concerned that he might be uneasy being the First First Man. I mean...there isn't even a title for such a person! But then we remembered just how much Bill Clinton loves living in the White House. All those banquets.. the amazing chefs.. the exotic foreign dignitaries.. But most importantly: Young, sexy interns!! Watch out, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Daddy's Home! Beauty: N/A. Brains: Lots

Tuesday, January 5, 2016



As of January First, the People's Republic of China officially terminated their controversial "One Child Only" policy. This was great news for Zhou Meifen of Wenzhou. At 12:01 AM on New Year's Day, she gave birth to her second child. Had the baby been born two minutes earlier, she would have been forced to pay the $12,000 Birth Control Tax. But...since her child came in the 2016 calendar year, she instead became the first Chinese citizen in thirty-five years to legally have two kids!

Why did China change course? Simple demographics. Census figures have clearly demonstrated the old policy's failures. Last year..for the first time ever...China's labor force declined. For the world's second largest economy, this is a recipe for disaster. Another obvious problem is that folks in China are living longer. Who will take care of the old? Finally, the PRC had to face the biggest problem from the One-Child Policy: People were cheating. The birth ratio of boys to girls in China is 1.22 to 1.

When the ordinance first came into effect in 1980, Communist officials were unaware of the Sonogram. Invented in 1956 in Glasgow, its original use was to detect flaws in industrial ships. It wouldn't be used to view unborn fetuses for another twenty years. Hence, the idea that future Chinese citizens would be using an UltraSound machine to detect the sex of a fetus...then have it aborted if it turned out to be female...was unthinkable.  But that is exactly what happened. Today, China has the highest abortion rate in the world at 30%. (It's a whopping 62% in the 20 -29 age range).

The social impacts of the One-Child policy have been disastrous as well. It must be very confusing for a young woman in China's male-dominated society. If you conceive a male, then your world is wonderful, filled with blessings and praise. However, the other half who conceive girls are often subjected to a forced abortion. Many women have a second abortion if they fail again to produce a male heir. This has resulted in high depression rates for Chinese women, which sometimes culminates with death. China is the only nation on earth where more women commit suicide than men.

Most importantly, the Chinese government realized that lifting the One-Child ban would not instantly result in a horrific population boom. Projections show that 40% of families in rural China are planning on enlarging their families. However, in Shanghai, that figure drops to 25%. Cost of living expenses in urban areas have tripled since 2000, and most people simply cannot afford anything. Finally, don't expect any version of the Chinese Brady Bunch anytime soon: The Two-Child Only Policy is now in full effect!