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Diatribe: Perceived Carry Decoys.

I read too much news.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe.  Today I’ve stumbled across something so incredibly stupid I can’t believe it’s not satire.

Perceived Carry Decoys

How about fake guns for those who want to give off a “don’t mess with me” persona?  Apparently, a company called Perceived Carry Decoys was founded in late 2014 by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served multiple tours including Iraq.  The company intends to sell fake guns to “bridge the gap between hardcore everyday gun toting enthusiasts and those who are less willing to have a firearm in their home.”

Wait? … What?

Yes, this man and his supporters think that our world will be more peaceful if everyone thought that everyone else might be carrying a weapon!

While these

As if there aren’t enough guns in the world already, this goon wants to introduce an arsenal of realistic artificial weapons to frighten away the folks with the real ones!

“No waiting for background checks, no fees for classes, permits, or ammunition, protect yours today!”

I’m still not sure this is real!  It seems like a bad sketch from a 1980s episode of Saturday Night Live!

“A PCD device is meant to be a means of crime deterrent, rather than a means of self defense.  After all, who’s going to run up on a person with a gun?”

Someone please tell me this is a joke!


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Copyright © 2015

Ovation: The Controversial McDonald’s “Signs” Commercial.

ArchesLast weekend, I found myself inside a recently-remodeled McDonald’s in my small town.  While I’ll admit to frequenting its drive-thru window in the past, it’s not too often that I go inside to eat as it was , historically, quite loud and “kid-centric”.  The new interior design of the new restaurant is, surprisingly, adult in nature and reminds me more of a Starbucks than a burger joint.  Customers can no longer see the goings-on behind the counter, which is nice, and the seating is arranged in small groups with lots of electrical plugs as if guests are encouraged to enjoy their free wi-fi and make feel more at home while they eat.  Most importantly, I was pleased that they were able to work around and old tree near the entrance and they kept the existing sign that can be seen from the nearby interstate.

Local McDonald’s franchise owners are allowed to put whatever message they want in the little yellow box beneath the golden arches on the sign outside their restaurant (ours said “Drive-Thru Open During Remodel” for weeks) and local owners have been using them to spread messages to their communities for years.  Recently, McDonald’s introduced a new commercial that features a montage of these signs and some of the heartfelt messages that have appeared on them.

The ad campaign, which includes a children’s choir singing a version of “Carry On”, is drawing controversy from critics who accuse the fast food giant of profiting from disasters including 911, hurricanes, bombings and floods.

Executives from McDonald’s have stated that the ads were intended to show the company’s history in local communities and that’s how I see it.  I like the commercial.  I see it as an attempt to be about more than burgers and Happy Meals.  The message of “We’ve been there with you” isn’t a bad one … it’s a new and different approach to marketing fast food that people are finally starting to understand is really not very good for them.

It could also be the smartest marketing move we’ve seen in a long time.

See the stories behind the signs at


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Copyright © 2015

Diatribe: America’s Continuing Fascination With The Antics Of Sarah Palin.

Conservatives Gather For Voter Values SummitLast week, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin placed herself firmly in the news once again by sharing photos of her six-year-old son, Trig, standing on the family’s black Labrador Retriever via social media.  She claimed the photos were somehow symbolic of her son’s “perseverance” yet her message was met with instant anger from those who find it unacceptable to climb on house pets.

Needless to say, one of the first to respond was People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who issued the following press release:

“It’s odd that anyone—let alone a mother—would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo. Then again, PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera.” PETA via Press Release on January 2, 2015

Needless to say, Mrs. Palin was quick to respond.

“Dear PETA, Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog. Hey, by the way, remember your ‘Woman of the Year’, Ellen DeGeneres? Did you get all wee-wee’d up when she posted this sweet picture?  Hypocritical, much? Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?  Aren’t you the double-standard radicals always opposing Alaska’s Iditarod – the Last Great Race honoring dogs who are born to run in wide open spaces, while some of your pets ‘thrive’ in a concrete jungle where they’re allowed outdoors to breathe and pee maybe once a day? Aren’t you the same herd that opposes our commercial fishing jobs, claiming I encourage slaying and consuming wild, organic healthy protein sources called  ‘fish’? (I do.)

“Aren’t you the same anti-beef screamers blogging hate from your comfy leather office chairs, wrapped in your fashionable leather belts above your kickin’ new leather pumps you bought because your celebrity idols (who sport fur and crocodile purses) grinned in a tabloid wearing the exact same Louboutins exiting sleek cowhide covered limo seats on their way to some liberal fundraiser shindig at some sushi bar that features poor dead smelly roe (that I used to strip from our Bristol Bay-caught fish, and in a Dillingham cannery I packed those castoff fish eggs for you while laughing with co-workers about the suckers paying absurdly high prices to party with the throw away parts of our wild seafood)? I believe you call those discarded funky eggs ‘caviar’. Yeah, you’re real credible on this, PETA. A shame, because I’ll bet we agree on what I hope is the true meaning of your mission – respecting God’s creation and critters.” – Sarah Palin via Facebook

And PETA, not unexpectedly, responded again.

PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs, and judging by the reaction that we’ve seen to Sarah Palin’s Instagram photo, we’re far from alone in that belief. Palin’s Facebook response shows us that she knows PETA about as well as she knows geography. Yes, we campaign against the Iditarod because when the dogs aren’t being driven—sometimes to death—most live chained or inside cages for their entire lives. And we’re a vegan organization, so we sit on pleather couches, wear stylish vegan kicks, and consider fish friends, not food. (Also, by the way, we just sent a case of vegan caviar to Vladimir Putin—and no, you can’t see his house from yours, Ms. Palin.) We have no reason to believe that the Palin companion animals aren’t ordinarily pampered, and we wish the entire family a peaceful and humane 2015.” – PETA via Press Release on January 3, 2015

This morning, despite many clearly important stories from around the globe, major news outlets ranging from The New York Post to US Weekly and others, feature Mrs. Palin’s photo and a headline about the “controversy” on their home page.  Apparently, much like a Kardashian or the lady from Dance Moms, her special brand of absurdity is a commodity that makes American consumers mob for more.  And Palin keeps selling it … every chance she gets.  Many of the stories defend her! TIME’s headline, for example, states “Sarah Palin Is Right: It’s a Blurry Line Between Edible and Petable“.

Frankly, I think claims that “at least he didn’t eat the dog” qualify a mother, or anyone else, for the label of “bizarrely callous”.

Surely, anyone with the intelligence to make it to the “final four” in a race to the White House knows that publishing pictures of your kid standing on your dog is not a good idea.  And most with a functioning cortex would simply ignore a rant from PETA if said photos did reach the public eye.  But not Mrs. Palin … when she sees an opportunity to be in the news, she grabs it.

After all these years filled with failed vice-presidential runs, lukewarm reception to reality television ventures and lackluster book sales, Sarah Palin fails to realize that a surprisingly large segment of the nation’s population continues to admire her … she is, curiously, a role model.

Almost half the nation’s voters thought it would be a good idea for her to be Vice President.  Let’s hope they don’t all think it’s a good idea to let their kids stand on their dogs.


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Copyright © 2015

Ovation: Citizenship Requirements For High School Graduation Make More Sense Than Chin-Ups.

citizenshipIt’s been almost thirty-five years since I graduated from high school and I have yet to use any of the “math skills” that I learned in Algebra I, Algebra II or Calculus.  Nor have I climbed a rope or done twenty chin-ups … a Physical Education requirement prior to graduation.  Even in college I had to pass a swimming test before I was handed a diploma!  At no time, however, throughout my education was I taught how to balance a checkbook, pay taxes, buy insurance or fix a car … each a necessary life skill.  I sat through some U.S. History courses but I was never required to understand the basics surrounding the responsibilities of being a United States citizen.

Recently, a group of educators and lawmakers in North Dakota have taken note and a bipartisan group is sponsoring a bill that would make high school students pass a test about government and history in order to graduate … the same test that immigrants take to become citizens.  I think this makes perfect sense and should have been a requirement all along.

I’d like to suggest a few other requirements for high school graduation …

  • drivers educationDrivers’ Education.  In some U.S. states, completion of a Drivers’ Education course is not even required to obtain a drivers’ license let alone a high school diploma.  It seems clear to me that if everyone were required to know and understand the same “rules of the road”, the nation’s highways would be much safer and few automobile accidents would occur.
  • imagesCA38VZ32Understanding Credit Card Debt.  Each spring, new graduates are bombarded with offers from credit card companies hoping to take advantage of their newfound independence and lack of understanding regarding credit card debt.  As of October 2014, total credit card debt in the U.S. was more than $882.6 billion!  Only the mortgage and student loan debt markets are larger.  Clearly, a few classes in high school wouldn’t hurt.
  • starbucksNutrition.  While there is no denying the importance of exercise, Physical Education requirements in the nation’s high schools often provide little if any instruction on the preparation or consumption of foods that compose a healthy diet.  Children would benefit greatly later in life if they knew more about how to make a salad and less about play sports.  They’re all going to eat but very few will join the NFL.

Voting on the North Dakota citizenship bill will take place during the upcoming legislative session and, if passed, the new law will become effective during the 2016 school year.  The bill’s sponsors hope the new law will be applied country-wide a year later.  If successful, the United States will become a nation of equally informed and educated voters who understand how their government and approach the ballot box accordingly.

I did the chin-ups and swam the laps required for me to get a diploma but was left to my own devices when I needed to assess candidates in a general election, invest in a mutual fund or plan a healthy menu.  Don’t get me started on the years I spent learning to speak French.

What do you think?  Should passing a citizenship test be required to graduate from a high school in the United States?  What other requirements should be considered?


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Copyright © 2014

Diatribe: GUEST POST – Banksy Calls Us Out: Do We Love Our Mobiles More Than Each Other?

shutterstock_227421814In the 1960s, Swiss novelist and playwright Max Frisch defined technology as “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” Although Frisch’s commentary is more than 50 years old and was before smartphones, video messaging and social media, his words echo loudly in the halls of modern philosophical debate.

More recently, the renowned and enigmatic U.K. graffiti artist Banksy graced the door of a Bristol pub with his latest piece entitled “Modern Love,” in which he portrays two lovers in an embrace, each looking at a cell phone over the other’s shoulder. The poignant piece has again raised some pensive questions: Has humanity lost touch with itself? Does technology hinder our ability to connect with other people offline? Have we in fact embraced technology so completely that we no longer experience the world around us?

What Is Nomophobia?

If there is any indication that the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes,” it would be the fact that nomophobia, or the fear of being without mobile communication, is a legitimate fear that is reportedly on the rise in all of the industrialized countries of the world, according to Psychology Today. College students have confessed to taking their cellphones into the shower with them, and 63 percent of adults have admitted that they would rather give up chocolate than their mobile devices, reports Business 2 Community. And, 33 percent said they would prefer to give up sex, says Telenav.

What, or Whom, Is to Blame?

GuestBloggerSo, what’s so wrong with that? Maybe contemporary tech is actually worth these sacrifices. The wonder, and most humanly significant aspect of mobile communication devices, is that no one ever has to feel alone again. No more standing by yourself looking conspicuously single at a crowded party when instead you can busy yourself with your Facebook friends. Why stare longingly at a beautiful sunset all alone when you can Instagram a photo of it and share it with the world? An issue arises, though, when we are not alone, when we are with loved ones, and yet still cannot bring ourselves to put our phones away. We would rather check-in, chat or text with someone somewhere else than pay attention to those standing right beside us. Can the faceless “LOL” of a text replace the sound of a friend’s laughter?

Is it really the technology, though, that is destroying our authentic communication skills? Cell phones are incredible tools that can enhance our lives, provide us with the answers to questions that used to take days of book research to find and can instantly put us in contact with the people, who are thousands of miles away, in an instant. The mobile device is a tool of unlimited promise and capability, but what happens when we value the tool more than we value the results of its work? What happens when we love the means of communication more than the meaning of it? What, or whom, is to blame?

It Is Us, Not Technology

Despite the many instances that suggest mobile technology and communication have caused a deterioration in the quality of human contact—that it causes complications in romantic relationships, that it has become something we depend on so completely that some have admitted they would rather lose a finger than be without it—still, we make no move to slow down its progression. Prolific writers and artists, like Fisch and Banksy, satirize our technology obsession, and yet we have accepted virtual communication as our actual reality.

Technology did not kill genuine, meaningful human communication. We did.

Jayme CookJayme Cook is a writer and English instructor living in Phoenix, Arizona.  She studied writing in Wales, UK, and teaches college composition.


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Copyright © 2014

Ovation: Google Removes “Ass Hunters” From Its Play Store.

ass hunterLast Saturday, Cleveland police responded to a 911 call concerning a juvenile in a local playground who was on a swing set and pointing a pistol was “probably fake” and scaring everyone.  When police confronted the boy and instructed him to put his hands in the air he, instead, reached for his waistband where he was carrying an “airsoft” handgun which was lacking the orange safety indicator usually found on the muzzle.  The officers reacted and shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice who died from the injury on Sunday.

America’s fascination with guns continues to escalate.  Guns manufactured and sold with the intention of harmless play have become so realistic in appearance that law enforcement officials can’t tell them apart.  Yet, parents still buy them for their children and allow them to carry them to Ohio playgrounds.

Hunting and killing for sport and amusement appears to have become the status quo.

At least one online giant is trying to discourage shooting people for fun.  A game where players hunt and kill naked gay men for sport has been yanked from Google Play after multiple complaints.  The game, called “Ass Hunter”, has been playable online for several years but was only recently uploaded to Google’s Android app store.  It’s description reads:

Popular game hunting on gays is now on android! Play and do not be gay! Legendary game, where you are the hunter and your mission is to kill gays as much as you can or escape between them to the next level.  Gays may be hidden in bushes and inexpertly catch you.  Remember!  When they catch you they will do with you whatever they want ;)

ass-hunter-2In the game, the camouflage-wearing hunter walks through the woods looking for naked men hoping to shoot and kill as many as possible.  Once shot, their heads explode and their bloody naked bodies are displayed on the ground.  If the player doesn’t shoot them in time, they pin him down and rape him.

What happened to cap guns and other toy pistols that were clearly meant for children’s’ play?  We played with spring-loaded dart guns that would barely shoot a dart across a room with enough force to make its rubber plunger stick to anything at all.  Whatever happened to Nurf?!

Is it any wonder that kids bring realistic toy guns to playgrounds nowadays?  When they’re incorporated into playtime children often stop seeing them as weapons.  I firmly believe that guns should not be marketed and sold as toys and that parents should never encourage their children to play with guns.

Take your kid hunting with you if you must, but don’t give him a toy gun and teach him that it’s ok to bring it to a playground.  Because it’s not.

Kudos to Google for removing the despicable, ignorant, hateful, disgusting and violent “Ass Hunters” from its app store.  Hopefully, toys stores will soon begin to think twice about selling lifelike weapons to the nation’s children.


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Copyright © 2014


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