Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, February 24, 2017



In a world where people are constantly being divided by race, religion, orientation, political views, cola preferences, etc... It is comforting to know there is one item that will always unite our planet: Our love of iPhones! Incredibly, Apple sold its billionth iPhone two years ago, and will soon pass the two billion mark. Here's the crazy part: The billions of iPhones are all made at the same factory. Wow! History is being made in China. However, there have been numerous times in human history when a new product storms onto the market and mesmerizes the planet. Here are five such products and their amazing factories:

Foxconn Assembly Plant, Zhengzhou. Twenty years ago, the city of Zhengzhou was just like the others in Henan Province: impoverished. Then, the government in Beijing announced it was selected as a site for a new venture. A state-of-the-art factory was built along the polluted shores of the Yellow River. Today, they employ over 200,000 people who churn out 600,000 phones every day. To do this, Foxconn operates 100 assembly lines that work 24/7. The international company stays mum when asked questions about salaries, hours and working conditions.

Cambridge University Press, England. Let's go back 600 years to another time Earth went bonkers over a new communication device: The Book. (For our younger readers: A book is sheets of paper with writing on them bound together on one edge.) Hand-written books have been around for centuries, but things changed dramatically when Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440. Now everyone could have one! A century later, King Henry VIII commissioned the construction of an enormous publishing house. For the next 300 years, it churned out a million Bibles and the world lined up to purchase them.

Ford's Piquette Plant, Detroit. When this factory opened in 1908, there were less than 200,000 automobiles in the USA. The horse & buggy still ruled our roads. Then the Model T was born. Using an assembly line that only made one type of car (in one color: black), they managed to make a car for everyman. See, it cost just $2,000 ($18,000 in today's dollars) to purchase one. The automobile love story began. By 1924, it would produce 10,000 Model T's everyday. A short three years later, American tastes changed. Other companies sold cars painted different colors. The last Model T rolled off the assembly plant in 1927.

Royal Naval Dockyard, Portsmouth. Another innovation of Henry VIII was the establishment of the world's largest shipyard. Henry knew his rivals in Spain and Portugal were building bigger and better boats and wanted England to compete. His wisdom would pay off thirty years later. These modern warships would defeat the galleons of  the Spanish Armada in 1588. This would usher in a period of insane construction in Portsmouth, producing flotillas of massive oceanic vessels. Royal ships would visit every corner of the globe, leading to the phrase: "The sun never sets on the British Empire."

General Electric Plant, Boston. Nothing symbolizes American ingenuity more than Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb. People were excited. They quickly discarded their dangerous kerosene lanterns and began using this amazing, new invention in their own homes. To serve the overwhelming demand, Edison and associates established a company. General Electric was one of initial twelve to debut on the newly-created Dow Jones in 1898. (And the only one that survives today). The combination worked, and GE produced billions of bulbs, thus lighting up the world. However: Nothing lasts forever. The last standard incandescent light bulb built in the USA was in 2010.

Friday, February 17, 2017


A study released yesterday by the American Automobile Association (AAA) confirmed what many people already knew: Millennials are the most dangerous drivers on the road. The comprehensive study used data involving crashes and tickets and combined these with a survey taken by 5,000 people nationwide. The results painted a scary picture. Not only are millennials the most reckless drivers on our highways…they also care the least about other motorists.
Let’s look at the numbers. 35,092 people were killed in the USA while driving last year. That’s a whopping 7% increase from the year before, the largest such spike in over 50 years. The study puts a lot of the blame on millennials. They’re more likely to crash than the two age groups who normally top the survey: Teens and the elderly. (The latter actually improved their stats from last year). And it doesn’t take a genius to know the reason why.
Millennials have an intense desire to keep eyeballs glued to screens 24/7” noted AAA columnist Matthew DeBord. In-car infotainment systems aren’t just for directions anymore. They are hooked up to smart phones and allow drivers to perform an array of unsafe activities. In addition to texting whilst driving, they also run red lights the most. It seems the concept of defensive driving is completely lost on this generation. They also speed and rear-end other motorists more than other age groups.
Perhaps the most alarming finding in the study involves millennials attitude toward the privilege of driving. Twelve percent feel it is acceptable to drive 10mph over the speed limit in a school zone and eighty percent admit to texting while driving. While they are statistically the biggest risk takers, millennials feel they are the safest. The majority feel they are superior drivers. No other age group feels this way.
Yikes! Is there any good news in this blog? Yes: Millennials don't drive much. Just ask Craig Patterson, a marketing manager at Ford. "They don't have the kind of love affair with cars growing up," he explained. Also, millennials are found in urban areas, where cars are less practical. Finally, they love to use Uber and Lyft. So remember...next time a millennial is behind the wheel...buckle that seat belt and pray for the best.

Friday, February 10, 2017


The story of men going the moon will be confusing to future historians. It began in 1960, when President Kennedy triumphantly challenged NASA to perform the unthinkable in ten years’ time: A person walking on the moon. Nine years later, Neil Armstrong strolled on the lunar surface. Four more times, Americans would venture 252,088 treacherous miles and again set foot on the moon. Then, in 1972 everything suddenly stopped and no human has returned since. That is until entrepreneur Naveen Jain made his stunning announcement earlier this week.
Moon Express now has all the capital it needs to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon,” Jain told CNBC. “It will be in November or December.” Wow! While the news is exciting, let's look deeper. Moon Express is not planning a manned expedition this year. In fact, the small robotic spacecraft that will land on the moon is about the size of a dishwasher. Nonetheless, this event is more than one small step for mankind, it’s a giant leap for future exploration.
See, if all goes to plan, Moon Express plans to offer trip to the moon for people by the year 2026. Think of it! It will be the ultimate Bucket-List experience! To accomplish this, Jain is teaming up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. “It’s very complimentary as a matter of fact,” Naveen explained. “Elon will build the rockets and we will do the rovers.” They even have the legal go-ahead for their project: The US Federal Aviation Administration gave them permission.

You’re probably wondering: Isn’t going to be really expensive? Who will foot the bill? For starters, Naveen is sure to win the $20 million in Google’s Lunar XPrize Competition. (This reward is for the first private company to land a capsule on the moon and send back HD images to Google Maps.) Nice, but this huge operation will take billions…not millions…to fund. To secure this capital, the billionaire simply plans to mine the moon. Apparently, there are gold and platinum deposits galore on the lunar surface...as well as Helium-3, a clear and non-radioactive fuel

Wow! These are some pretty far-fetched plans. Naveen is a dreamer and he is clearly following them. While they are impressive, it is interesting to compare the motivation for the lunar expeditions of the 1960’s and today. The Apollo missions were federally funded and intended for the betterment of science and humankind. Today, we care little about silly, lofty ideals and instead have financial ambitions. We plan to use the natural resources of the moon to make people back on earth more wealthy. Sigh. We here at the DUNER BLOG would like a little more research and little less exploitation.

Friday, February 3, 2017



Super Bowl 51 is just days away! All across America, supermarkets are stocking the shelves with chicken wings and potato chips. Fans are preparing to gather around their big-screen TVs for the NFL championship game. While there are articles galore about the Super Bowl itself, we here at the DUNER BLOG want to use the occasion to educate our readers about something else: The rising number of American Football Leagues around the world. Here are three of note:

Superliga Nacional de Futebol Americano (Brazil). In the land where soccer is king, American Football is also gaining fans. With twenty teams in two conferences, all of the major cities in Brazil now have clubs. Many are owned by soccer franchises, who use their stadiums for football when the soccer teams are away. For example, Rio de Janiero’s famed Santos Club also owns the Rio Imperadores. Not surprisingly, their rivals are the São Paulo Storm. They have yet to meet in the championship game (The Brazil Bowl), but watch out when they do!

Egyptian Federation of American Football. (Egypt & Jordan). Ten years ago, football-hungry American students at the University of Cairo decided to take their scrimmages to a more formal level. Today, there are six teams spread over two nations. The majority of the players are Arabs, with only a handful of Americans brave enough to play football in the Sahara Desert. Excitiment is growing. Last year, the first Egyptian Bowl was played in Cairo. Last month, the Cairo Hell Hounds defeated the Amman Barracudas 12-10 on a 67-yard touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Seif Swailam to win Egyptian Bowl II.

Japan X League (Japan). Since the island nation took so well to Baseball, it only figures that the nation would also embrace another American pastime: Football! Unlike the Arab league, the vast majority of the players in Japan's league are from the states. Most have NFL or College Division I experience. Last December, the Fujitsu Frontiers defeated the Obic Seagulls to win Japan X Bowl XXX in the famed Tokyo Dome Stadium. Yep, they have been playing football for three decades in Japan. Over 25,000 fans attended. Wow!