Category Archives: Current Events

Happy 4th Of July! A Brief Message On Love And Patriotism

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. And in the spirit of the 4th of July holiday, I made this video to celebrate America, the country I love. I also take a moment to share my views on patriotism and what it means to truly love your country. Enjoy!

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Thoughts, Feelings, And (Dire) Predictions For The Future Of Abortion (And Many Other Rights)

Let me start by saying I had a sinking feeling I would have to write about this a while back when Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. I also want to make clear that I am very hesitant to give my opinions and feelings on topics like abortion and not just because I’m a man who will never know what it’s like to be pregnant.

However, I think this moment in history is worth talking about. It may very well mark a turning point for the United States and the western world in general with regard to abortion rights and human rights in general. And it’s a bad turning point, at that. That much, I am willing to say.

But there’s no getting around it anymore. Last week, the Supreme Court made it official. Roe vs. Wade is overturned and abortion is no longer a constitutionally protected right in America. It is hard to overstate what a big deal this is for women, men, and children of every age. I honestly don’t think I can put into words what a monumental shift this is.

That’s why I gave myself a few days to process it before writing about it or mentioning it in any meaningful capacity. Like many others, I certainly had a knee-jerk response when the news came down. Even though I wasn’t surprised, it still had an impact once it became official. And it’s hard to know where we’ll go from here.

Even with that extra time, I do find myself settling into a certain resignation to what this means for the near and immediate future. And it’s here where I want to share some of my sentiments.

First off, let me just start by saying my usual hope and optimism that I’ve discussed in the past is pretty much dead. I made an effort to cling to hope and some general idea that the good of humanity will overcome the bad. Well, now I’m willing to say it outright.

I was wrong.

I still believe there are good people in this world and they vastly outnumber the bad people. But the bad people are the ones with the money, power, and influence. They’re the ones who spent years working behind the scenes, exploiting the system, and lying when they had to in order to make this happen.

You can’t appeal to their humanity.

You can’t reason with them.

You can’t even call them out on their hypocrisy and expect that to change anything.

These politicians, judges, religious zealots, and advocates are as bad as they come. But that doesn’t matter. Don’t expect them to lose a wink of sleep over any outrage or suffering this decision causes. They knew what they were doing. They just didn’t care. And there’s nothing anyone can do to make them feel guilty about it.

Secondly, I also want to make clear that I have no more respect for religious convictions. Usually, when I talk about religion, I make it a point to say I respect the sincerely held beliefs of others. I even acknowledge I have religious people in my family.

Well, I still love and respect those people. But I have absolutely no respect for their religious convictions anymore.

More than anything else, this ruling has proven once and for all that religiously motivated morality is dangerous, detrimental, and regressive. It’s not a coincidence that those on the Supreme Court who made this ruling are devout Catholics, a sect of Christianity that has always been vehemently anti-abortion.

Never mind the fact that the Catholic Church has been behind some pretty horrific crimes.

Never mind the fact that the Catholic Church is run by celibate priests who will never need abortions.

This brand of religiously-motivated morality had driven the anti-abortion movement since the rise of the religious right. They claim they’re trying to save babies, but the end result is micromanaging and criminalizing female sexual behavior. If you need any proof of this, just look at how the anti-abortion crowd criticizes contraception.

It’s not hypocrisy.

It’s just a means to an end.

It’s also why this ruling is just a first step.

Make no mistake. This same court and these same politicians will go after birth control next. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. They want an America where getting contraception is a crime, where any kind of pre-marital or extramarital sex is dangerous, and where women’s bodies can be controlled and managed by the state. Abortion and contraception are just obstacles and they’re going to keep attacking.

And lastly, here’s the final point I want to make.

These assholes are going to succeed.

I sincerely hope this post ages poorly, but give it another four years. I promise you that contraception is going to be the next thing on the chopping block. It won’t happen all at once, but it will happen. These people, who have ample access to oil money, religious organizations that don’t pay taxes, and a voting bloc that will never vote for another party, will keep pushing and they will push non-stop.

I’m sorry if that sounds dire or pessimistic, but this is where my broken spirit is right now. My faith in the future and in humanity’s ability to come together was already hit hard by COVID-19. Now, this is the final nail in the coffin.

It’s over now.

Evil didn’t win. Lying, cheating, power-hungry assholes won. And honestly, that’s worse.

Now, that they’re emboldened, they’re going to go after more rights. Losing a right like abortion and contraception access is just the beginning. It won’t be long before things like same-sex marriage, porn access, and voting rights are targeted. Yes, people will protest and voice their outrage. But that’s not going to change anything.

And here’s here where I’m going to make a few predictions. Granted, they’re very dire predictions and I hope I’m wrong about all of them. But having seen so many distressing trends in my adult life as an American, I think I’ve gotten a good feel for how our politics trend. So, this is what I expect to happen.

For the weeks and months after the ruling, there will be outrage and protests. It will garner quite a bit of media coverage. Abortion rights advocates will vehemently and passionately attempt to rally support.

But it won’t change a damn thing.

That’s because the people who make these laws and enforce them aren’t going to change their minds on anything unless it directly benefits them. Remember, they’re assholes. The most protests can do is mildly inconvenience them. Sure, you can try and commit to vote the anti-abortion people out of office, but because of gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, that’s not going to do much.

One way or another, these same politicians that fought to end abortion rights will keep winning elections. It’s not a matter of getting out the vote. It’s just a matter of them gaming the flaws in our election system to gain power and stay in power.

And don’t bother threatening them either. That’ll just get you arrested and allow them to paint your side as the violent radicals.

That’s no just me making an anti-violence disclaimer. Violence of any kind really won’t change anything with this issue either. The government has the soldiers, the guns, the military, and the drones. No matter how dedicated you are to fighting for abortion rights, anything you do to any authority figure will only mild inconvenience them and give them a perfect reason to put you in jail or worse.

With or without violence, the result will be the same. People will get bored of meaningless protesting and move on. Some other crazy news story will happen to draw everyone’s attention away from this issue, be it a celebrity scandal or some other political upheaval. And once the protests stop, it’s back to politics as usual.

By that, I mean that when November comes around, the republicans will win big because the democrats didn’t solve all the problems in America for the brief two years they had power. And once republicans get back into power, they will do anything and everything to ensure they can’t lose it ever again.

That means more restrictive voting laws and more efforts to ensure that their opponents can’t do anything to help anyone, ensuring they can paint them as ineffective in the next election.

Eventually, whether it’s in 2024 or 2028, there will be a situation where republicans control Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. When that happens, expect their control to be complete.

They won’t just take control. They’ll ensure that they never lose it again. That means they’ll be able to pass any law they want to end abortion access nationwide, ban all the books they don’t like, and make sure that everyone strives to live a life taken right out of a bland, boring 50s sitcom.

It’ll be a boring, repressive future in which women, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community suffer horribly. But that’s where we’re heading. Baring a massive upheaval or an alien invasion, I don’t see this changing.

Again, I hope I’m wrong about all this. But this ruling has pretty much ended my remaining optimism for the future of America, the world, and human rights in general. This was just the first step towards a much larger regression. I wish I could say it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

But honestly, I don’t see that happening. Last week was a bad week, but make no mistake. The worst is yet to come.

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Filed under abortion, Current Events, politics, religion

Happy Juneteenth (And Why You Should Celebrate It)

Today is Juneteenth.

For a sizeable segment of the American population, it’s a day that carries a special, often personal meaning. That’s because it celebrates the formal end of legal, institutionalized slavery in the United States. For those whose ancestors endured the horrors of slavery and the slave trade, that meaning is impossible to put into words.

While this day has been celebrated in many forms since the end of the Civil War, it only became a federally recognized holiday in 2021. Now, many could argue it took way too long to formally recognized the importance of this day. I certainly understand and appreciate those sentiments. Regardless of how long it took, Juneteenth is here and we, as a country, are finally acknowledging its importance.

I know there are a lot of heated politics surrounding race, history, the Civil War, and minority issues in general. I’m certainly not qualified to discuss those politics, even though I’ve tried. For today, though, I think we should set the politics aside because what this day represents goes beyond politics.

We can’t beat around the bush.

We can’t ignore the facts of history.

For nearly a century after the United States gained its independence from Great Britain, slavery as an institution was both practiced and protected. In a country that espoused life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that is not a trivial oversight.

Slavery, no matter how common it has been throughout human history, is a barbaric practice. It was barbaric in the 1800s and it’s barbaric today. Sadly, the forces of greed, racism, bigotry, outdated traditions, and cruelty keep that practice alive and well. Sometimes it’s sanctioned. Sometimes it’s illegal. Whatever form it takes, though, it’s still unjust.

There’s just no way to properly articulate an atrocity that was allowed to legally fester and propagate for decades in the Americas. The fact it took a bloody civil war to finally end should make clear just how potent those ugly forces can be.

In the end, though, we were able to end the Civil War on the right side of the issue. We, as a nation, were able to accept and declare that slavery was wrong and could no longer be tolerated. It isn’t just barbaric. It’s antithetical to the ideals behind the United States of America.

Yes, we don’t always measure up to those ideals.

Yes, we still haven’t fully mended the wounds left by centuries of the slave trade.

That’s exactly why we need a holiday like Juneteenth. It doesn’t just celebrate how we were able to take this critical step in righting an egregious wrong. It reminds us that we’re still striving towards those ideals. We’re still trying to be the kind of nation that breaks the shackles of bondage rather than tighten them.

Sometimes, we make mistakes.

Sometimes, we encounter setbacks.

Sometimes, we’ll even outright fail in our efforts to pursue those ideals.

Even so, we can never lose sight of them. We should never stop striving for them. That’s what it means to learn, grow, and evolve as a nation. I believe we can continue to do better and Juneteenth is a way of reminding ourselves that we can be better.

So, in that spirit and with those ideals in mind, I wish everyone a safe and happy Juneteenth.

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Jack’s Graduation Speech: Class Of 2022

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is my personal message to the Class of 2022. I feel like those graduating high school and college this year have overcome more than most. These past two years have been unprecedent and uncharted in terms of challenges. And for that reason, along with plenty of others, I want to offer them both my encouragement and some meaningful advice that I hope will guide them as they move forward. Enjoy!

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Happy Memorial Day 2022!

Today is Memorial Day.

For many, it marks the start of the summer. The weather gets hot, the pools open, and schools are out. It’s a wonderful time, indeed. We should enjoy it, especially after the events of the past two years.

For others, it’s more than just another long weekend. It’s day to acknowledge, honor, and cherish the brave men and women who decide to serve their country. That is not a trivial decision. Whether we’re in the midst of war or trying to preserve peace, making such a decision takes a special kind of spirit. For those who actually see combat, it takes even more.

Every year, I go out of my way to acknowledge the importance of honoring our veterans. I have family members who served in the military. I’ve even had a few see actual combat. It is not something just anyone can do, but it’s a service that every country, community, and society needs in order to function.

These men and women put their lives, their bodies, and so much more on the line whenever they serve. Regardless of how you feel about the politics of conflict, these are the people who often find themselves on the front lines. They’re the ones who rise to the occasion when their country calls upon them. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that we wouldn’t even have a country without these veterans.

We should always appreciate the sacrifices they make and the work that they do, but a day like this gives us a chance to offer a more formal acknowledgement. It doesn’t just extent to parades, a day off, or good barbecue with family. It’s an opportunity to tell every one who has ever served, even if they’re not with us anymore, how much they matter.

If you get a chance, use this day to help a veteran in need, be it a family member or someone in your community. If you can, please consider donating to one of the many military charities out there. Even during times like this, anything you can spare will help.

So, once again, to all the amazing veterans out there who are serving, have served, or have family members in the line of duty, I sincerely thank you.

Happy Memorial Day!

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Lessons From Japan’s (Deadly) Work Culture

Karoshi: Why Do So Many Japanese Die From Overworking?

In general, being a hard worker is a respectable trait to have. Regardless of your background, culture, or political affiliations, we tend to value and celebrate those who are willing to put in the extra effort into whatever they do for a living. It’s not easy. It can be incredibly stressful at times. Then again, most things worth doing are.

I certainly remember plenty of times when I worked hard. Going all the way back to high school, I can recall days in which I spent nearly every waking hour grinding away at something or another, be it schoolwork, chores, or a part-time job. I remember being drained when all was said and done, but I was ultimately stronger because of it.

That being said, there is a certain threshold in which hard work ceases to be about productivity and just becomes downright damaging. I suspect many people have approached or cross that threshold at some point in their lives, whether it’s with school or a career. However, I don’t think enough people appreciate just how damaging excessive work can be.

This brings me to Japan and their legendary, albeit infamous, work culture. Think back to the longest, hardest day you had at school or your job. In Japan, that’s basically Tuesday. Work for them is not just some 9-to-5 gig you do for a paycheck. It’s a sizable chunk of their lives, more so than American or European workers.

Working overtime, sleeping at the office, and sacrificing for the company aren’t seen as above and beyond. That’s the standard. Yes, it’s a very high standard, but let’s not forget these are real people pushing themselves in extreme ways to meet that standard.

While this high emphasis on work has helped Japan become one of the best economies in the world, it does have a dark side. It’s so prevalent and common, in fact, that the Japanese even have a word for it. It’s called Karoshi, which translates to “overwork death.”

It’s exactly what it sounds like, but it’s actually more complex than that.

It’s a serious ongoing issue in Japan. You don’t have to look far for horror stories about what happens to people who succumb to Karoshi. There are real cases of otherwise healthy 31-year-old men dying of heart failure after regularly working 14-hour days for 7 years straight.

Take a step back and appreciate that kind of strain.

You work so long and so hard that your heart gives out.

It’s one thing to work until you’re tired and sore, but it takes a special kind of strain for your heart to just give out.

As bad as that is, this isn’t the only way Karoshi manifests. Beyond the long hours at the office and the constant stress that comes with it, you can see other signs throughout Japan. It’s not that uncommon to see people asleep on the streets or on park benches. It’s as normal as seeing someone taking selfies.

For a more in depth look on how this unfolds in Japan, check out this video. It’s what got me interested in this topic and inspired me to bring it up.

Now, I’m not looking to denigrate or demean another country’s work culture. I understand that not every society sees work the same way or approaches it in a way people from my part of the world would recognize. At the same time, it’s hard to overlook the issues that result in people dying of heart attacks before they’re 40.

It’s something the Japan is trying to address, but changing ingrained culture isn’t easy. Changing peoples work habits isn’t easy, either. People are set in their ways. I say that as someone who regularly struggled with Spanish quizzes in high school, but never though to adjust study habits.

It’s also an issue I think highlights and important lesson for any society that emphasizes hard work. Yes, it’s generally good, but there are limits. There comes a point where the work is more valued than the person doing it and when you reach that point, the well-being of the person becomes an afterthought.

Those who claim that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life may beg to differ. To them, I would remind them that the human body doesn’t recognize whether or not you’re doing something you love or something you hate. It just knows when it’s being strained to the point where it starts failing.

I feel like this will become more relevant in the coming years. The events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have already significantly affected the workplace and I’m not just referring to the rise of telework. If anything, these events have accelerated the pace of automation. The jobs that used to require all that grinding are becoming less and less necessary.

What will that mean for workers in general?

What will that mean for work culture like that of Japan?

Will it make Karoshi better or worse as certain jobs become more scarce or unnecessary?

These are difficult questions to answer right now, but I suspect that these trends won’t change peoples’ inclination for hard work. It’s just a matter of where that effort will be directed and how we’ll balance it out with the health of the individual. That’s a balance that we still need to strike, no matter how many jobs get automated.

Work/life balance isn’t just a popular buzzword. It’s critical to those who want to both be productive and live fulfilling lives. If you’re life is all work, then is it really living in the grand scheme of things? If anything, the Japanese phenomenon of Karoshi offers insight into what happens when there is no balance. The line between working hard and working yourself to death can get blurred at times, but it’s worth making that line just a little bit clearer, if only to navigate it more effectively.

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A Brief Message To Those Protesting Disney For Supporting LGBTQ+ Rights

In general, I try not to react too strongly to news that pisses me off or makes me question my faith in humanity. I know that’s not easy these days. Everyone has a news feed. It’s generally not hard to come across a news story that just enrages you to no end or find some grifter political type saying something incredibly stupid.

I have written about certain issues and infuriating people in the past. I even admit that sometimes, that does help me process the stupidity and frustration. However, there are just certain stories, trends, and political talking points that can never compute for anyone with a single shred of decency or critical thinking skills. Those are the topics I usually avoid discussing.

This time, though, it’s just too stupid to ignore.

That’s because it involves misguided, right-wing habitual whiners going after Disney.

Seriously, they’re going after Disney. It’s not even because they have a long history of treating their workers like shit and manipulating copyright laws for their own benefit. They’re protesting their stance on Florida’s stupid “Don’t Say Gay” bill and claiming that Disney is “grooming” children for sexual exploitation.

Now, I don’t want to get into the many reasons why this effort is a textbook example weapons grade stupidity. I also don’t want to get into why the “Don’t Say Gay” bill should be opposed, both by major corporations like Disney and ordinary people who just have a shred of compassion. Plenty of people smarter than me can explain the issue and highlight why it’s so damaging to LGBTQ youth.

The most I’ll say is that it’s just a dick move in general, preventing teachers from mentioning important things like sexual orientation and sexual identity. Some may argue that these are topics that are not appropriate for children. I would argue that’s bullshit. LGBTQ people exist. They have families and children of their own. Ignoring it isn’t just absurd. It’s just an overall dick move to a vulnerable minority.

Haven’t we done enough of that crap over the course of human history?

Aren’t the lists of massacres and long-running traditions of discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation long enough?

Seriously, what or who does it threaten? How does teaching children that gay, queer, and transgender people exist harm them in any meaningful way? Being informed is not the same as being groomed.

That brings me back to the protesters. These misguided whiners are harping heavily on that aspect of Disney’s stance. They claim that Disney taking a position on a grossly anti-LGBTQ+ bill is part of an agenda to groom children for exploitation.

I sincerely hope I don’t have to explain just how dumb that is. Yes, I realize many of these protesters are probably radicalized from right-wing media bubbles and Qanon supporters. That shit is basically a cult at this point. They’re now in a mindset that assumes anyone who opposes them is somehow a child predator. I wish there was something I could say to convince these people how misguided that is, but I know there isn’t. If I tried, they’d probably just claim I’m part of the conspiracy.

Now, having said all that, I’d still like to send a message to all those whining about Disney, their stance on LGBTQ+ issues, and organizations that exploit children. I promise it’s not an attempt to convince them that they’re in a cult and they’re being brainwashed by grifters, politicians, and internet trolls fishing for clicks. It’s just a simple note that I hope they take into account.

You’re being assholes.

Seriously, you’re not helping kids, parents, or anyone for that matter. You’re just being assholes, preventing kids and their families from enjoying their time at Disney World. How is that stopping the exploitation of children? How is that going to make Disney any less “woke” in your eyes?

If you were in a real Disney movie, you’d be the villain. You’d be the bad guys. You’d be the ones making children cry, especially those who belong to vulnerable minorities.

I’ll say it again. You are being assholes and you actually are harming children. I don’t care if being an asshole is your twisted idea of fun or if you genuinely believe you’re doing the right thing. You’re making kids and their families miserable. I don’t care what you’re agenda is. It’s a dick move, plain and simple.

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Happy Easter 2022!

Today is Easter Sunday.

I know it’s not the most elaborate holiday. I also know it is founded in certain religious traditions, which may or may not apply to familiar festivities. It may not be a holiday on the same level as Christmas, Halloween, or even Arbor Day in terms of profile, but it’s still special holiday to many.

For me, personally, Easter has always had some unique connotations. For a family like mine, we never need too many excuses to get together and celebrate. We’ll use any excuse to just craft an elaborate feast and invite everyone we can to a certain location. It’s just how we connect, celebrate one another, and enjoy one another’s company.

Over the years, I’ve really come to appreciate that. I have some genuinely fond memories of Easter Sundays with my family. When I was a kid, it usually involved a big Easter Egg hunt with me, my siblings, and my many cousins. As an adult, it usually involves a nice feast that gives me a good excuse to cook fancy deserts that my friends and family love and cherish. The religious connotations are secondary. It’s the family moments we create that matter.

After the past two years, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting every single tradition we hold dear, I’ve come to appreciate those moments even more. This year will mark the first time my family has been able to enjoy a proper Easter Sunday gathering. For that, I am grateful and I intend to cherish it.

So, regardless of how you view this day, I hope everyone has a chance to do something special today. Even if it’s just something as simple as eating Easter themed candy, use today to celebrate. You don’t have to be religious or understand the elaborate history of the day. You just have to be willing to share a special moment with friends and loved ones. That’s what makes any holiday special.

With all that being said, I wish everyone a safe and happy Easter Sunday.

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It’s Daylights Savings Today (And I Hate It)

This won’t be a particularly long or in depth post, mostly because I don’t think it needs to be. I imagine many in America waking up this morning are feeling the same way I do. They’re all still a bit groggy and frustrated because today is Daylight Savings Day. Specifically, it’s the day we all spring our clocks forward an hour.

For most of us, it’s done automatically through our smart devices. For others, it’s just a minor inconvenience to adjust all the clocks. There’s a reason why it’s done and I’m not smart enough to break down those reasons. All you need to know is that we gain an hour in the fall and lose an hour in the spring. It’s just something we all collectively agree to do, as if the concept of time is that fungible.

All that being said, I’d just like to add one simple sentiment to the mix.

Fuck daylight savings time.

Fuck losing an hour in the middle of spring.

Fuck the whole concept, in general.

There, I said it. I just needed to get that off my chest. I imagine I’m not the only one who feels this way. I just hope that everyone is able to adjust accordingly today. It’s going to be annoying and jarring, but we’ll get through it.

Like it or not, time moves forward no matter what our clocks say.

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Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s not just another national holiday. It’s an opportunity to remember just how far we’ve come as a nation reconciling with its unjust past and how much further we have to go in realizing one man’s dream. Regardless of your politics or attitude, take advantage of that opportunity today. The past cannot be changed, but the future can be molded.

In that spirit, please take a moment to re-listen to Dr. King’s legendary speech, if only to keep that dream alive.

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