Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016



It began as a rather boring newspaper article. A Chicago Tribune beat writer traveled to Kentucky to interview Colonel Sanders' nephew. Yawn. However, things became exciting when the reporter, Joel Ledington, asked to see an old scrapbook on a bookshelf. It contained the usual black-and-white photographs, cards and portraits. Then...suddenly....he saw a handwritten note. To the astonishment of the world, it listed out the 11 herbs and spices of KFC's secret recipe. This prompted us to count the Top Five Trade Secrets:

#5 Dr. Pepper. This tale begins way back in 1880.  The setting is the soda counter at WB Morrison's Drugstore. The place is the dusty town of Waco, Texas. Here, Charles Alderton first served his first Dr. Pepper. Twenty-three ingredients came together in a delicious concoction. Instantly popular, the recipe was patented five years later. Since then, the 23 items are known only by a handful of CEO's. NOTE: Although it tastes like prune juice, company officials have stated it contains no prune juice.

#4. Bush's Baked Beans. For decades, Bush's has been the top selling brand of canned beans in the US, controlling 80% of the market. That's 55 million pounds of legumes annually! How did they do it? With a secret family recipe...of course! The legend expanded in the 1990's when Jay Bush (grandson of the founder) appeared in popular TV commercials with his mischievous golden retriever, Duke. The gag is that the dog wants to sell the secret recipe.

#3. McDonald's Special Sauce. There are millions of hamburgers marketed to the earth's hungry consumers. But the BIG MAC outsells all others every year. People simply crave the one ingredient not found on any other burger: McDonald's Special Sauce. Every day, it's delivered in pre-sealed containers. The cartridges are then placed in steel squirt guns and glopped on to sesame seed buns. Although it tastes remarkably like Thousand Island Dressing, company spokesmen have informed us otherwise.

#2. KFC's Secret Recipe. Back to the original item. In response to these outlandish claims, YUM! Foods released a statement. They clarified that the document listing the amounts of the 11 herbs and spices remains "locked in the KFC vault." They also reminded us that it is sooo secret, the spices are "mixed at different locations around the US, to protect the full recipe." We here at the DUNER BLOG see this angry and defensively worded statement as a clear indication that Joe Ledington has indeed discovered the secret.

#1 Coca-Cola. While KFC restaurants are found in 108 nations worldwide, Coke tops all products on this list. In fact, there are only two countries that DO NOT drink Coca-Cola: North Korea and Cuba. Sorry, Pepsi, but you are a DISTANT second place. Earth is addicted to this beverage like none other. John Pemberton, a Confederate general, is credited with the original recipe. It changed a bit over the years...the cocaine had to removed...but the successful combinations of sugars, vanilla and caramel has never been improved upon.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016



Well, the Rio Olympics concluded yesterday with a rousing ceremony. The traditional hand-off to the next host took an un-traditional turn, when Japanese PM Shinzo Abe appeared in a Super Mario costume! An hilarious ending to a memorable games...marred only by troubled US swimmer Ryan 'Swim-Shady' Lochte. Sigh. Our final of three Olympic blogs gives four different ways to view the Medal Counts.

BY CONTINENT. As everyone knows, the USA dominated as a country, finishing first among nations. However, North America as a continent placed only third. If it weren't for Jamaica, we would have been fourth. Nope, Europe took home nearly half (47%) of all medals. Asian nations China, Japan and Korea all fared well, placing their continent in second place at 21%. At the bottom were Australia and Africa with 5% each.

INCLUDING THE USSR. In Rio, the USA padded its standing atop the all-time medal count as well. Curiously, still in second place is the USSR. They only participated in ten Olympic games! Since 1994, medals are split amongst fifteen 'new' nations. All of which begs the question: How would the USSR have fared in Rio? Let's do the math. Despite the bans, Russia still finished fourth with 56 medals. Surprising Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan tabbed 18 and 17. Even Uzbekistan took home 13. Politically torn Ukraine was down with only 11 medals. The rest: Belarus: 9. Georgia: 7. Lithuania & Armenia: 4 each. Add in 3 others and you get 142! This bests the USA and places the former superpower in First Place.

BY U.S. STATE. Based on their birthplace, it's fun to see how individual US States would fare if seen as independent nations. For example: California hauled in 28 Gold Medals. This is seventh best, ahead of France and Italy. New Yorkers grabbed 13 for second place, while Illinois had ten. The next two entries had immense help from one super-athlete. Maryland (Michael Phelps) and Texas (Simone Biles) round out the top five.

BY UNIVERSITY. According to the NCAA, US university athletes brought home 78 medals  It was a good Olympics for Pac12 conference...only two schools didn't medal. In first place is Stanford with 27 medals, helped enormously by swimmer Katie Ledecky's five. Berkeley and USC had 22 and 21. Texas tied with Florida for fourth place with 13 each. But...we here at the DUNER BLOG bet the Florida Gators are not proud of alumnae Lyin' Ryan Lochte's contribution!

Thursday, August 18, 2016



With all of the eye-popping events in the Rio Olympics, combined with all the jaw-dropping comments in the Presidential Elections, here's a story you might have missed. Last week, an alarming study was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It discovered that the birthrate in the USA has fallen to its lowest rate ever. This goes all the way back to the 1910 Census, when the US first began calculating such data. Wow!

Let's dig deeper: In the first three months of 2016, only six babies were born for every 100 women, aged 15 - 44. While the birthrate has been in steady decline since 1970, the sudden 10% dip in the last five years warrants our attention. There is some good news. The study also found that women are giving birth at an older age: 26.2 is the new average. This means that teen pregnancies are down and the 30 -44 group is at an all-time high: Every tenth woman is this group will give birth this year. That means more babies come to functioning households and less babies are coming to confused teenagers.

While there are countless factors for the decline, we here at the DUNER BLOG feel Pop Culture is mainly to blame. In short: Families are not cool anymore. Look no further than prime-time TV. From 1950-1990, most of the top shows were family oriented. During this period, shows like Leave It To Beaver, All In the Family and The Cosby Show dominated the Neilson ratings. Then, in the 1990's, things began to change. Friends, Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory took over, showing a major shift in the American ideal. These days, fewer and fewer parents are role models. Tough cops, C.E.O.'s and Bachelorettes dominate TV today.

Let's combine the CDP's study with another statistic from the last census: Life Expectancy. Today, Americans enjoy the longer lives, clocking in at an average of 78.7 years. With advances in science and healthier diets, we can only expect this number to grow in coming decades. You know what this means: Our country is on a dangerous course. Nations with lots of older people and fewer younger workers don't function well. By the year 2040, there will be fifty million people retirees in America, but no one to take care of them.

Finally, let's insert one more statistic: Public spending on Education. It's down nationwide, as politicians scramble to slash taxes to gain votes. So not only are there fewer children, but they will also be less educated. To be blunt, the future of the USA looks unstable at best. Unfortunately, Americans today are obsessed with spending wildly on cars and computers. They want lower taxes so they can buy even more things. They have little interest in anything other than the present tense. C'mon, America! We need to start looking towards the future. Let's make a bigger, smarter and prosperous future generations.

Friday, August 12, 2016



The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are in full swing! They are defiantly true to the Latin motto established back in 1894: Citius, Altius, Fortius. (Faster, Higher, Stronger). Our mailbox is jam packed with questions. So let's get started:

What's the story with the Tongan Flag Bearer? Jessica, NYC. Few of us stayed up until 11:15pm to see all 200+ countries in the Parade of Nations. But those who did were handily rewarded when the delegation from the Pacific nation of Tonga's delegation entered Marcana Stadium. Proudly carrying the flag was Pita Taufatofua. He wore traditional Tongan dress and was covered in coconut oil. The Taekwondo athlete instantly shot to internet super-stardom. But it came with an ugly side: TODAY SHOW hosts Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb insisted on touching his chest. Yuck!

What's the deal with the Refugee Team? Francisco, Peru. The theme of the original Olympics in ancient Greece was to suspend all political issues and instead compete athletically. This spirit is kept alive during this years' games through the Refugee Team. It consists of ten athletes who are displaced by conflict and cannot return to their home nations. Five are from chaotically new South Sudan. Two are Syrian Christians. Nice gesture, but no chance of medaling either!

What happened in the stands during a tennis match? Dmitry, Moscow. The Brazil / Argentina rivalry is well known in South America, but now the rest of the world is learning how intense it has become. During a tennis (!) match between the two, shouts escalated to blows and both spectators were removed. In the parking lot, they continued to debate who's better: Pele or Maradona...

What gives with the Michael Phelps Death Stare? Brad, San Diego. Prior to a race against Chad le Clos, a longtime rival from South Africa, the American athlete swam in a sea of anger. Phelps has yet to elaborate on what occurred beforehand. We here at the DUNER BLOG say: Whatever works for you, MP. Do it! On Tuesday, the man from Baltimore broke a record that has stood for 2,168 years: the most individual gold medals collected throughout multiple Olympic games. Sorry, Leonidas of Rhodes, but you're #2 now.

What's the story with the Uber driver from Philly? Frank, Philadelphia. OK, this a sweet Feel-Good story that you might have missed. Few Olympians have lucrative contracts endorsing Subway Restaurants...like Michael Phelps. Take shot putter Darren Hill, for example. This Team USA member couldn't afford to fly his family to Brazil. BUT.. when his dad Ellis, an Uber driver, mentioned this to passenger Liz Willock, his luck changed. She organized a 'Crowd-Fund' and sent the proud papa on his way to Rio. See? This is what the original Olympic spirit is all about!

Thursday, August 4, 2016



Yesterday, London's Metropolitan Police unveiled new uniforms for their beloved Bobbies. Boy, do they look different! Instead of the standard wool coats, Bobbies are now wearing grey Kevlar body armor. Instead of the black billy clubs, they are now carrying Sig Sauer MCX machine guns and Glock 9mm sidearms. Heck, some don't even walk anymore...they drive customized black BMW motorcycles. Don't panic: For the time being, only a fraction of patrolmen will don the new uniforms. Traditional Bobbies are still present.

With all the issues the US is facing regarding Police Presence, this item provides a great opportunity to review the history of the world's first cop squad. It all began in 1829. At the time, London had no formal law enforcement. Rather, the city had a mix of night-watchmen, private constables and Royal Army officers...all operating for their own motives. It did not work. As the city grew and grew into an industrious powerhouse, things became more and more dangerous in the streets.

Then came a new British Home Minister, Robert Peel. His vision was to create a completely new police force. Although under the control of the government, it would also be accountable to the people. From a building on a small alley named Scotland Yard, he sent his new regimens out into the streets. Armed with only a whistle and a baton, they tirelessly walked regular routes. They stopped to meet and greet people and eventually gained the trust of everyday citizens. In a nod to their creator, they were called "Peelers." This moniker didn't stick, and so they used his first name and were termed 'Bobbies."

As today, Londoners in 1829 complained about being policed. They said their personal liberties were being restricted by the Bobbies. In response, Peel quipped: "I want to teach people that LIBERTY does not consist in having your house robbed by organized gangs of thieves." At the time, massive factories demanded more and more employees. Workers streamed into London, creating a new, morally-challenged society. Peel's reply: "We shall not leave our principal streets in the nightly possession of drunken women and vagabonds."

Currently, London is again under siege from a new menace: Terrorism. Neighboring France and Belgium have been hit hard by random attacks recently, so England must be prepared. Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe called it the "reality of having to deal with armed and deadly attackers everyday." He feels it is a question of "when, not if." While some Londoners admit to feeling "more nervous than secure," the vast majority understand this is just all part of our new era. Welcome to what the DAILY MAIL calls the "Age of Terror."