Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, May 26, 2016



Normally, the DUNER BLOG doesn't venture into sports. However...as one staff member pointed out...Leicester City's sensational win is more about math than athletics. The Foxes smashed their way into the record books. See, no professional sports team in any sport has ever played 132 seasons and NOT won a championship. Also, no one saw this coming! Back in September, when the English Premier League began play, Leicester was picked to finish at the bottom, as 5,000-1 to win! OK: Let's break their phenomenal season down:

THE ULTIMATE LONG SHOT. In the last century, only a handful of professional sports teams have come close to beating such ridiculous opening day odds and gone on to win a championship. The 1969 Miracle Mets opened that season having never finished above ninth in the ten-team National League. Punters gave them 500-1 odds to win it all...and they did! Likewise, the Minnesota Twins had the same odds to win the franchise's only World Series title in 1987. The St. Louis Rams went from worst-to-first in 1999, overcoming 300-1 odds. In soccer, the 2004 Greek squad was 150-1 to win the UEFA tourney and did so. In short, this doesn't happen often.

HAVES & HAVE-NOTS. The English Premier League is a lot like Major League Baseball: There are no salary-caps. This means teams can spend as much as they want on players' salaries. Not surprisingly, big-city markets dominate because they generate more revenue. The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series and out-spent all other teams each time to do so. Likewise, teams from London and Manchester have won all but one EPL title since 1992. Again, tiny Leicester (Population: 300,000) is clearly the David slaying a Goliath.

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? Of the twenty teams in the EPL, Leicester ranked 17th and spent a total of £48 million on players' salaries. Compare this to Chelsea, the top-spending team, who dished out a whopping £216 million...nearly five times more. So the heads of Leicester tried really hard to find players who were talented...yet still unknown. Enter Riyad Mahrez, a sub on the Algerian National Team. Then there's Jaimy Vardy who was playing for Fleetwood Town (no relation to the band) before being snatched up. His 15 goals this season lead the team.

THE PAYOUT. Meet Leigh Herbert. He's a 39 year-old carpenter and Leicester City season ticket holder. Every year, he casually drops £5 on his hometown team to win, regardless of the odds. When he slapped down the banknote last year, with 5,000-1 odds, he did so more out or routine than out of hopes of actually winning. Guess what? He proudly claimed £25,000 earlier this week. Betting agency William Hill reported only 24 others in the world also placed a bet. One of these is Tom Hanks! (Although he has yet to show the world the betting slip.)

THE FUTURE ISN'T BRIGHT. The case of Leicester City is clearly a reminder of why professional sports leagues need Salary Caps. In the case of Mahrez, his value went up eightfold to nearly £15 million per season. Team across Europe are licking their chops to snatch him away because Leicester cannot afford to re-sign him. However, in the NBA, where salary caps are in place, a tiny-market franchise in Oklahoma City is one win away from the finals. They made it three years ago, and managed to keep their star players intact, thanks to the salary cap.

But for the time being...live it up Big Time in the Midlands: The Leicester City Foxes are champs!

Thursday, May 19, 2016



The results are in from Stockholm! The winner of EURO-VISION 2016 is: **JAMALA!** She's a feisty young Tartar representing Ukraine. (Real name: Susana Jamaladinova) With jet-black hair and a piercing smile, her pop music future looks bright. Her song, 1944, refers to the year Stalin forcibly removed 200,000 ethnic Tartars from beautiful Crimea to dusty Central Asia. And...it just so happens...that Jamala's great grandmother was one of those unlucky people. It wasn't until 1980 that they were allowed to return. So...instead of just winning Eurovision...Ukraine also got to roust rival Russia too. Wow!

OK: American readers must be confused. Let's start with the Eurovision Contest. It's half American Idol and half Olympics: A song contest where each nation sends one pop star to represent. It dates back to 1956, when seven nations sent singers to Lugano, Switzerland. Since then, it has steadily grown, adding new nations almost every year. Things peaked in 1974, when an unknown foursome from Sweden named ABBA won. (NOTE: Their hit, 'Waterloo' also had historical overtones.)  To summarize: Eurovision is a feel-good event celebrating the wonders of pop-disco on a level unfathomable to most Americans.

Well...everyone feels good until politics get involved. A huge shift in emotions occurred in 1991 when the Iron Curtain fell. Instantly, a dozen new nations thrust themselves into the competition. Some were accepted with open arms by the established powers: Macedonia triumphed in 1998 and Estonia won a year later. However, other states (Russia) were only reluctantly invited. That's too bad, because Moscow produces good pop music. This year's entry Sergey Lazarev was the early on Ladsbroke favorite. But when voters heard Ukraine's melodic swipe at Russia, they were swayed. Putin spokesperson Maria Zakharova snipped: "Next year, just sing about Syria, Assad and blood. You will win."

See? That's not feel-good at all! Let's get back to why Eurovision garners so much attention. This year's installment tallied 200 million viewers worldwide. They tune in to the week-long showcase to see the over-the-top splendor. They love the insane on-stage pyrotechnics, jaw-dropping little black dresses and crazy costumes that would make Lady GaGa proud. Also, the vast majority of the songs are not political ballads, but silly pop songs about joy, love and flowers. And it's the only time a little country like Luxembourg can rise to the top: They are tied for the all-time lead with four crowns!

Which brings us back to Jamala: The little Ukrainian who could. She returned home to Kiev a conquering heroine. A ticker-tape parade of powder-blue and yellow confetti showered her as she arrived at the airport. But winning Eurovision comes with a catch: Your nation must host next year's event. Can the war-torn nation scrap it together? The snarky Putin spokesperson doesn't think so. She quipped: "Ukraine has hole in budget." C'mon, Maria! This isn't the Olympics, World Cup or even a Super Bowl. Armenia pulled it together two years ago... Kiev has got this covered. We say: YAY! JAMALA!

Thursday, May 12, 2016



Over the weekend, the DUNER BLOG staff watched some retro television: Carson's final episode on the Tonight Show. Robin Williams, Johnny's last guest, suggested the popular host should run for president. "You can beat those bozos, Clinton and Bush," Williams chided. To which, Carson sheepishly replied: "No way! The insipid media would find something in my past and I'd be ruined." Which got us thinking: Why hasn't today's insipid media been more vocal about Trump's embarrassing past?

#7. DA 'ALI G' SHOW: A master of pranks, Sasha Baron Cohen's short lived phony talk show was a big hit a decade ago. The premise is to dupe famous people into an interview...only to discover the host is reality a mean-spirited comedic actor. After discussing why the billionaire wouldn't invest in Ali G's disposable gloves to protect your hands from melting ice cream cones, the Donald stood up and walked out.

#6. ZOOLANDER: As everyone knows, the Donald has a penchant for super-models: He's married two of 'em! But who knew Trump also has a hankering for dimwitted male fashion models like Ben Stiller? That doesn't seem very presidential to us here at the DUNER BLOG staff.

#5. SEX AND THE CITY. One of the most popular TV shows in the 1990's featured a foxy foursome of single women on the loose in Manhattan. A cameo on the hot sitcom was a must for any egotistical New Yorker, so naturally the Donald strutted in. His first of two minor roles was a as a 'wingman' on a double date with debutante Kim Catrall.

#4. THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR. Another hot show in the 1990's showcased the talented rapper-turned-actor Will Smith. His character was a teen transplanted from the inner-city to the wealthy community of Bel-Air. Did someone say 'Wealthy?' Enter the Donald again. This time, he brought his (then) wife Marla Maples.

#3. THE VIEW. These days, the fearsome foursome of daytime TV are in full-on attack mode on all things Trump. In addition to his misogynist statements, the gals also love mock his terrible hair. However...way back in 2006...Elizabeth Hasslebeck and the others were all smiles. The hosts told Trump how much they loved his hotel and casinos and lauded his business savvy.

#2. HOME ALONE 2. Again, one must question Donald Trump's judgement. It's very bad when it comes to movies and TV...so let's just hope it's improved when it comes to important issues like Foreign Policy. Back to Home Alone 2: While the original film had its moments, anyone could tell the sequel would bomb. Not Donald! Here's the scene: Macaulay Culkin gets lost again; this time it's in a luxury NYC hotel. Enter Trump who gives the tot directions around the Plaza lobby. Hilarious!

#1. WRESTLE MANIA #23. In the USA, professional wrestling is nothing like the sport in the Olympics. Instead of being about athletic prowess, it centers on phony falls and goofy costumes. Overly staged bouts usually culminate with someone getting smacked by a folding chair. Twenty years ago in Detroit things got particularly wacky. WWE Commissioner Vince McMahon lost a wager and had to have his head shaved by Donald Trump.

We ask you, America: Do you want think this list is what Johnny Carson would consider PRESIDENTIAL?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016



The President of Kenya desperately wants your attention!! No, he's not asking for famine assistance...that plague seems to have temporarily left. No, he's not worried about the ethnic civil wars...they too seem to be on hiatus. However, together, these two crises means that over the last decade, 80% of the nation has drifted away from government control. And no one loves a lack of authority more than evil poachers. And they've gone completely berserk. Today, an African elephant is killed every fifteen minutes for its tusk, an all-time high.

So...to show the world just how bad it has gotten...President Uhuru Kenyatta gathered up all the ivory his army has confiscated recently as it re-gains swaths of territory. Next, the contraband was carefully stacked into enormous piles: Ten feet high and twenty feet across. Finally, it was all set ablaze. Never in the history of humankind has 1.5 tons of ivory ever been burned before. All toll, it represents the 8,000 elephants who died. In case you're wondering: The Black Market value is $172 million. That's much more than Kenya's Forestry & Wildlife budget. So, the question arises...Why not sell the ivory?

"From a Kenyan perspective, we're not watching our money go up in smoke," explained Director Kitili Mbathi. "The only value of ivory is the tusks on a living elephant." To better illustrate the sentiment, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust figures that one live elephant generates 76 times more revenue from tourism than from ivory sales. We're not sure how they came up with that calculation, but the point is the made: Americans don't sell seized heroin, so Kenyans don't sell seized ivory. The message President Uhuru wants you to hear is: 'Wake up, World! Africa needs help preserving your favorite endangered species.'

See, President Uhuru (Swahili for 'freedom) must be confused by the West when it comes to pachyderms. Although they aren't found in Europe or the Americas, they appear everywhere in popular culture. Brits are always talking about the Elephants in their rooms. French children love to read about Babar and Americans never stop watching 'Dumbo' on DVD. Kenyans want you to stop clutching your pretend elephants and take some interest in the actual, living animals. "I doubt whether my grandchildren will actually be able to see a wild elephant," quipped a Sheldrick conservationist.

Let's face the ugly truth: The rest of the world loves to ruthlessly extract Africa's natural resources for their own gain: Ivory, slaves, rubber, diamonds, copper, oil...you name it. It began in the 1300's when Omani traders from Asia took over Africa's Eastern shores. A century later, Portuguese sailors began claiming all of the Atlantic coastline. As evidenced by the piles of carved ivory figurines, the pillaging continues today. To solve this global problem, the DUNER BLOG proposes the first ever worldwide tariff. We demand each of the world's 1,645 billionaires pay a 2% AFRICA TAX. Funds will carefully go to issues like resource preservation. NOTE: This tax includes the 24 African billionaires. They account 1% of the total billionaires worldwide. Remember: Africa has 18% of the world's population.