Tag Archives: coronavirus

Rethinking Jobs And Business: How Pandemics And Relief Benefits May Change Both

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The world is always changing. That’s the only constant.

Sometimes, it changes more rapidly and chaotically than usual. That tends to happen a lot when major events transpire, such as a once-in-a-generation pandemic that infected millions and shut down entire countries. I hope I don’t have to belabor that to anyone with a news feed for the past year.

At the same time, these kinds of rapid upheavals can get us thinking harder about things we tend not to question. I’m not just talking about how much we take our health, our infrastructure, and our essential workers for granted. I’m referring to bigger concepts about how we approach life, society, and how we structure our lives.

One area that seems to be getting more scrutiny lately is how we approach jobs, work, and careers. I’ve certainly given it more thought, mostly in terms of the impacts of telework and how I used my stimulus check. I suspect many others have contemplated these topics in new ways in wake of recent events.

Now, as the pandemic nears its end, some of those concepts are already manifesting in the real world. One effect, in particular, has been especially jarring in America, mostly for reasons that other industrialized countries may find laughable. It has to do with people not wanting to work for a lousy, unlivable wage.

I know that shouldn’t be such a radical concept, but it is and as a proud American, I find it infuriating. There’s no getting around it. The ages for the average, non-CEO American have been stagnant for decades. It’s an issue that has been festering since long before the pandemic and even before I was born.

Before the pandemic swept in, there was an ongoing debate on whether the minimum wage should be increased to $15 nationally. I won’t get too heavily into the politics and talking points behind it, mostly because it ultimately descends into cycle of speculation and fallacies. I’ll just say that the pandemic has complicated that debate in unexpected ways.

During the height of the pandemic, the economy was basically shut down. Suddenly, millions were out of work and businesses had to shut down. Many still haven’t fully recovered. A big reason why many didn’t starve to death or end up on the streets was because of government relief packages, which included extended unemployment benefits.

While America’s relief package wasn’t nearly as generous as other countries, it was certainly better than nothing. I know plenty of people who genuinely needed that relief to stay afloat in terms of paying bills and feeding their families. It’s also not unreasonable to say that this was a critical measure in terms of preventing the pandemic from getting even worse.

However, this effort revealed something remarkable. According to a study done last year, the unemployment benefits that many workers received was actually better than their previous wages. It wasn’t an insignificant chunk of the work force, either. The benefits were greater for approximately 68 percent of American workers.

What does that say about the wages we’re paying our workers?

Moreover, what does that say about the system in general that workers can make more by not working than they would if they were?

Something about that doesn’t add up, literally and conceptually. I get that this was an unprecedented situation. At the same time, it reveal something about how we see work and workers. It’s something businesses are starting to realize too.

As the country and the world opens up, new job opportunities are arising. That’s good news for those who have been out of work. Unfortunately, those same businesses are having a hard time filling those positions.

The jobs are there.

The workers are there.

They just aren’t gravitating towards one another.

Here’s a brief rundown of the situation, courtesy of NPR. If you haven’t been working or are lucky enough to have kept your job during the pandemic, it should offer some insight and perspective.

NPR: Millions Are Out Of A Job. Yet Some Employers Wonder: Why Can’t I Find Workers?

At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed, businessman Bill Martin has a head-scratching problem: He’s got plenty of jobs but few people willing to take them.

“I keep hearing about all the unemployed people,” Martin says. “I certainly can’t find any of those folks.”

Martin helps run M.A. Industries, a plastics manufacturing company in Peachtree City, Ga. The company makes products used in the medical industry — specifically, in things like coronavirus tests and vaccine manufacturing and development.

But as he struggles to keep up with demand, Martin is finding it almost impossible to find new workers.

As someone who has worked his share of lousy, low-paying jobs, I can’t say I’m surprised by this. Don’t get me wrong. I still feel for the business owners who need workers to keep things going. I just can’t forget how arduous it was, working hard at a job that paid so little and left me so exhausted at the end of the day.

If the alternative is staying home and collecting unemployment, which ultimately pays more, then the choice is easy. That’s especially true for those who have kids or relatives they need to take care of. It’s not that they’re lazy, as some overpaid pundits love pointing out. It’s just that the nature of these jobs aren’t that appealing, especially when the pay is so low.

If anything, this situation has inspired us all to take a step back and look at how we approach work, jobs, careers, and business. When you think about it, it’s a little distressing that we build so much of our lives around work. It’s not just something we do out of obligation and responsibility. Many literally have to work in order to survive.

Is that right?

Is that just?

Is that healthy for society as a whole?

I say this as someone who has been lucky enough to have jobs that I’ve both loved and hated. I know what it’s like to work for a business that you hate. I also know what it’s like to have a job you find genuinely fulfilling. Not everyone is that lucky. In fact, I suspect the vast majority of the population, even in America, never experience that luck.

I get that there are economic reasons why some businesses can’t pay their employees high wages. I’ve worked in fast food restaurants. I know the profit margins aren’t exactly large. I also know that, even when I could make more than minimum wage, it was rarely enough to live on. That’s not even factoring the physical toll some of this work takes.

Despite that toll, there was still an undeniable stigma to those who didn’t work or those who simply avoided low paying jobs. In America, it’s a direct extension of that old protestant work ethic that equates moral worth with a willingness to do backbreaking labor for minimal pay. I’m not saying that work ethic is wrong, but I do think it needs to be re-evaluated.

The pandemic suddenly gave people an option on whether or not they wanted to do these kinds of low-paying jobs. Many understandably opt to just collect unemployment. They may not live luxuriously, but they will live. In some cases, they’re even better off.

It may be a sign of things to come. I already speculated on how the pandemic relief bills could be a precursor to a universal basic income. Now that people have experienced life in which their survival isn’t directly tied to having a low-paying job, I think it’ll be difficult to back.

I also think that’s a good thing. Regardless of how you feel about minimum wages, work ethic, or running a business, I think it’s generally a positive trend that we’re starting to decouple work with the right to survive. I think it’s a trend that has to happen, especially as automation does more and more of the low-skilled labor traditionally done by human workers.

It’s true. Some people are lazy and don’t like to work. Some people are just so driven and incapable of not working. Both still deserve to live without needed a job to keep them from starving to death or losing their home. As bad as this pandemic has been, I sincerely hopes it inspires us to rethink how we structure our society. There is a better way of doing things. We should always strive to do things better. Sometimes, that means rethinking everything we’ve come to believe about work, business, and life in general.

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How Wearing Masks Helps Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19 (With A Helpful Illustration)

I got to be honest. I really don’t like posting these little PSAs about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and why people should get vaccinated. The fact I feel their necessary is seriously undermining my faith in humanity. I get that reasonable people will disagree about certain issues. I’m happy to debate those issues.

However, this isn’t a disagreement over whether Han or Greedo shot first.

These are disagreements that can and will get people killed by getting them to hesitate or outright reject actions that could save their lives.

This is not an online forum. This is a pandemic. Like it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over. It should’ve been over by now. We have multiple vaccines available that are free, available, and will save your life. However, that wasn’t good enough for some people. Even when loved ones die from this disease, they still refuse to get it.

That’s not just reckless. That’s just plain stupid and it’s killing people.

On top of that, it means many areas are going back to implementing the mask mandates that so many of us despise. I don’t deny it. I hate wearing a mask too, especially in the middle of summer. For a brief time, they were disappearing. For a few glorious weeks, I could go to a grocery store and not wear a mask.

That changed last week. Now, masks are being mandated for every indoor facility. I even got a message from the New York Comic Con. They’re requirement every attendees to wear a mask.

This is all because of idiots and assholes refusing to get vaccinated. Those same idiots and assholes probably think masks don’t work, either. They’re likely among those who protest masks. These same people are going to get more people killed, including innocent people who just don’t know any better.

However, I hope those innocent people can still be reached. That’s why I’m offering another one of these PSAs. It’s one I seriously hoped I would not have to do again, but the idiots and assholes made it necessary. For the rest of the year, it seems, we’re going to have to wear masks indoors. Don’t blame me or the government. Blame the asshats who are making this pandemic worse.

If you need an explanation as to why a mask is critical to stopping this pandemic, then please see the following illustration that I found on Reddit. It perfectly explains how masks work and why they’ll protect you.

I know it was vulgar. I know it utilized pee. I’m sure it grossed some people out. That doesn’t matter, so long as it gets the point across.

So please, wear a damn mask and get the damn vaccine. You’ll save lives and protect your own. If that’s not enough for you, then you’re just being difficult.

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A Perfect Cartoon To Highlight The Frustrating Absurdity Of Anti-Vaxxers

I know I’ve been giving those who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine a hard time in recent months. I won’t apologize for that because I don’t regret that in the slightest.

I’ll say it again. These people are being assholes. They’re the reason why this pandemic is still raging. They’re also the reason there’s a new variant that’s causing cases to spike in various parts of the country. I’m sorry, but I can only be so understanding when people are being assholes to a point that gets other people killed.

However, rather than bemoan these people for their dumb decisions and dumber politics, I thought I’d share something I found on Reddit that perfectly illustrates why the anti-vaxx crowd are so infuriating. It’s funny and it’s dumb, but it’s also painfully relevant.

Again, get vaccinated people. Quit being assholes.

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What The COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdowns Have Helped People Realize (According To Reddit)

Let’s be honest. At this time last year, a lot of us were in a bad place. The COVID-19 pandemic was going full throttle. We didn’t have a vaccine yet and had no idea how long it would take to get one. Even by then, the deniers and the idiots couldn’t avoid it. This crisis was real. These lockdowns and public health measures were real. We didn’t know how long it was going to last. Normal, as we knew it, may as well have been another lifetime.

Now, we can actually say with a straight face that the pandemic is almost over. Thanks to widespread vaccine efforts, we’re at a point where many of those emergency measures are being lifted. Even among the states that were hardest hit, the final restrictions are coming down. The normality we once took for granted is almost upon us once more.

I cannot overstate how big a relief that is. I also doubt anyone will forget what it was like to endure over a year of lockdowns and restrictions. I like to think we won’t take this sort of thing for granted again, although that may be hoping for too much. For me personally, this pandemic has taught me a lot about just how frail our modern world is. It also taught me how vulnerable we still are as a species and a society.

That’s just one of many lessons. Others have learned them to and then some. Now, as the restrictions are lifting and life as we knew it is returning, I think it’s beneficial that we all take a moment to reflect on what this pandemic helped us realize. Many of those realizations were harsh, to say the least. They’re still worth acknowledging.

To that end, I found a helpful video from the YouTube Channl, Radio TTS. This channel covers some posts from the popular r/AskReddit subreddit. Some of these responses are a lot more personal than anything I experienced. They’re still worth sharing. If you have others you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

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COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted: Thoughts, Feelings, And (Unexpected) Implications

Mayo Expert: Fla. Will Suffer 'Unnecessary Deaths' As COVID-19 Restrictions  Are Lifted | WJCT NEWS

This past week marked a huge milestone for my home state. Like so many others, the COVID-19 restrictions that have pretty much defined our lives since late March of 2020 were finally lifted. At this very moment, we are no longer in a State of Emergency.

There are no more capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, and movie theaters.

There are no more mask requirements that are enforced by the state.

There are no more social distancing requirements for outdoor or indoor events.

Just typing that out put a smile on my face. It also fills me with this strange array of emotions that I don’t quite know how to articulate. Like so many other fellow Americans, I watched this year-long horror show that was the COVID-19 pandemic unfold before my eyes.

I felt it affect me, my friends, my community, and my family in profound ways. I know people who got the disease. Some of them still don’t have their sense of taste and smell back entirely. I know people who have died from this disease. I also was unable to attend major family events, including a wedding, because of this damned disease.

I could go on, but I won’t. It’s just impossible to overstate how big an impact this disease had on our world. It’s going to leave scars that will last years. It’s going to define an entire generation and beyond. If I ever have kids, I’m going to struggle to explain to them what it was like, navigating this pandemic.

For a time, it felt truly apocalyptic. There was a long stretch last year where my dad and I were constantly making up dates for when things would get back to “normal.” At one point, it was May 15th, 2020. At another, we thought the 4th of July would be the end of it. Then, we started looking towards Labor Day.

At some point, we just came to realize that there was no use hoping anymore. We had no idea when this would end. For all we knew, this pandemic would draw out for years. Even after news about a vaccine emerged, we were still skeptical. A life without COVID-19 restrictions still seemed so far away.

Now, that day has come.

However, the effects are still there.

Recently, I went out to have breakfast with my parents at one of our favorite diners. There were no capacity restrictions. There were no mask requirements either. However, a number of people were still wearing masks, including most of the staff. My parents even wore masks when they first entered, even though they’re both fully vaccinated. I didn’t wear one, but I had one with me, just in case.

To some extent, it was downright jarring, not having to wear a mask. Yes, it was liberating in some ways, but it still felt so unusual after having spent over a year under these restrictions. You almost feel more vulnerable not wearing one, especially in an enclosed space like a crowded diner. I’m sure that’s a feeling we’ll have to get used to again, but it doesn’t change one inescapable truth.

This “normal” that we’ve been waiting for doesn’t feel “normal” to us anymore.

I don’t know if that’s temporary or if that’s something that will linger on for years to come. I know people who have stated outright that they’re going to keep wearing masks, even if the number of COVID-19 cases drops to zero. To them, the mask has become just another part of their lives. The see it like a seatbelt or hand soap. It’s not about avoiding a disease anymore. It’s about staying healthy.

That’s an implication that I don’t know that we’ve collectively processed. I certainly haven’t. I’ve no inclination to throw away my masks. I also have no plans to stop the frequent handwashing that I’ve come to embrace since last March. That does lead me to wonder whether this is truly our new “normal.”

I put that in quotes because, now that the state mandated restrictions are lifted, it’s on us to determine what form that normal takes. Will that mean always wearing a mask in certain settings? Just the other day, I went to the grocery store and I still wore a mask. The signs on the front doors saying they were required were still there. Until they come down, I’ll keep doing so.

At the same time, a part of me feels like I’m still adjusting. I’m almost reluctant to embrace a post-pandemic world because I saw how bad it got last year. Maybe that feeling will fade with time. Maybe within a few months, mask wearing will become a rarity and everyone will be eager to put the memories of the pandemic behind them.

I don’t claim to know what will happen. I just know that it’s going to take a while to get out of this mindset that a year of pandemic restrictions has wrought.

That’s just my experience, though. How do you feel? Have the restrictions in your state been lifted? If so, how have you and your family reacted? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Got My Second Shot Of The COVID-19 Vaccine!

Countries in the Americas notified of first COVID-19 vaccine allocations  through COVAX - PAHO/WHO | Pan American Health Organization

It’s official. I got my second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine! As of now, I can count myself among those who are fully vaccinated against this terrible disease that has so ravaged the world. To say it’s a great feeling doesn’t do justice to all those who have endured hardship over the past year.

Once again, I cannot praise the brave nurses and doctors behind this effort enough. They are true heroes and, coming from a lifelong fan of superhero comics and movies, that’s saying something. This pandemic has been harder on you than most. Your efforts, your bravery, and your commitment to healing the sick is truly astonishing.

Like my first shot, this one was just as smooth. I showed up a few minutes early, stood in line for a bit, showed the nurse my vaccine card, and they did the rest. It was no worse than a flu shot. My arm was sore for a while, but other than that, I felt fine.

Now, I feel even better. I cannot overstate how big a relief it is that I’ve gotten this vaccine. It’s not just more peace of mind than I’ve had since early last year. Having been vaccinated, along with other friends and family, I can actually start planning things beyond this pandemic.

Last year, I couldn’t travel. In fact, I have not left my home county since October last year. I’m ready to get out again. I’m ready to visit friends, family, and beaches. I am so ready.

I missed out on a lot of great moments last year.

I don’t intend on missing out this year.

Once again, to the doctors, nurses, researchers, and scientists who helped develop this vaccine in record time, I sincerely thank you. On behalf of everyone who has lived through this once-in-a-generation pandemic, thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts.

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Jack’s World: How Will We Tell Future Generations About The COVID-19 Pandemic?

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a more serious video than I usually do. I started working on it a number of weeks ago. I’ve been writing about the COVID-19 pandemic off and on since it began last year. It has been depressing, to say the least. I don’t deny I have been downright dire at times.

However, the end is in sight. Having gotten my first shot of the vaccine, I can honestly say the worst is behind us. It’s not over, but it does raise a number of questions. This pandemic is going to have a ripple effect for generations. People are going to remember this. It led me to wonder how we’ll talk about it in the future. I decided to make this video as a means of offering a big picture overview.

It’s serious, but I try to make it hopeful. Enjoy!

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The COVID-19 Pandemic: One Year Later

At this time last year, the world was a very different place. There’s a running joke that people now refer to this as “the before times,” but in retrospect, it’s no laughing matter. The world, as we knew it, before the COVID-19 pandemic might as well have been a different universe. Honestly, I look back at those times with mixed emotions now.

Back then, we could go to a crowded movie theater and not feel unsafe.

Back then, we could go to a restaurant without a mask and not feel at risk.

Back then, we could go to a concert or sporting event and enjoy being surrounded by thousands of cheering fans.

Back then, we could decide to travel on a whim, going wherever we pleased without concern about what was closed or cancelled.

I long for those times, as well. I miss them as much as everyone else. Even with all the encouraging news about vaccines and improved treatment, the world is a long way from returning to those fanciful times. Some wonder if we’ll ever go back. I hope we do, but I don’t want to dwell too much on that.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because, here in America, we’re nearing the one-year mark for one things really went south. The COVID-19 pandemic may have begun in late 2019, but the world didn’t really start feeling the effects until February 2020. That’s when the news started to get scary and dire. That’s also when things started shutting down, from major sports to major events.

However, it really didn’t sink in until March 2020. That’s when it became painfully clear. This was not going away quickly. This was not some storm that would pass. It was not going to go away after a few weeks, despite what some claimed. It was when the harsh reality sank in. The pandemic was here and our lives were never going to be the same.

I remember where I was at this time last year. I was having coffee with my mother on a Sunday morning. She too had been watching the news. We were both concerned, but didn’t know just how bad it was going to get. On that same day, I started getting notices from friends and family. The next day, the state made it official.

Everything was being locked down. Schools were closing. Movie theaters were closing. Everything that wasn’t essential was being locked down. People had to either start teleworking or lose their jobs completely. Nobody could travel outside their state. Some states even began stopping people with out-of-state plates from entering. It was that serious.

It happened so fast. In just a few days, the world as we knew it shut down. We didn’t know how long it would last. We didn’t know how bad it was going to get, but it got pretty damn bad.

To date, over 2.5 million people have died from this pandemic. Millions more have been sickened and left to suffer. Numbers like that are impossible to wrap your head around. This pandemic crossed borders, cultures, and classes of all kinds. It didn’t matter what you believed in or who you voted for. You were still vulnerable.

It’s hard to overstate how much this pandemic has changed our world in the past year, so I’m not going to try. I don’t doubt that it will have a major place in future history books. It will also be a traumatic moment in our collective memories.

Regardless of your age or background, you’ve felt the effects of this pandemic. This past year has seared itself in your memory for all the wrong reasons. We’re at a point where we can barely remember what the world was like before all this happened. It’s a painful reality, but one we cannot and should not ignore.

I’ll definitely remember this past year. No matter how long I live, I suspect I’ll feel the effects of this year until my dying days. I don’t claim to know what will happen in years to come or how much the world will change from here on out. I just know that, one year ago, the world as I knew it changed forever.

We all took it for granted. We can look back on it fondly, but let’s not dwell on it too much. We can’t change the past. We can only effect the present.

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Jack’s World: My Picks And Predictions For The 2020 NFL Season

Every year, just before the NFL season kicks off, I write out my predictions and picks for the season. Being a lifelong football fan, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year, being what it is, has added some new complications. Be that as it may, I’m still going to try. This time, though, I’m going to offer my picks through my YouTube channel, Jack’s World.

If you like this new format and would like me to make more videos like it, please let me know in the comments. Enjoy!

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New York Comic Con 2020 Is Cancelled (And Everything Is Worse)

In case I haven’t made it clear enough, this year fucking sucks. I want nothing more than to purge the year 2020 from my memory. Every week, it seems, a new brand of awful emerges to crush our collective spirits. Most of it stems from the global pandemic that has cancelled damn near everything we love.

Some of those cancellations hurt more than others. Personally, I can endure going a year without the NCAA basketball tournament. I can even endure NBA and NHL playoffs getting pushed back. Those are painful, but they’re bearable.

Then, there’s the New York Comic Con. Losing that is a different kind of pain. Losing that hurts me on a level that I cannot put into words. I’ve been bracing for it ever since the San Diego Comic Con got cancelled.

Finally, it became official and still, it hurts. As bad as this year has been, this just makes it utterly irredeemable.

Verge: New York Comic Con is Cancelled

New York Comic Con’s physical presence is canceled this year. The annual convention typically takes place in Manhattan’s Javits Center. Organizers announced today, however, that “it likely comes as no surprise that NYCC 2020’s physical event at the Javits will not be able to run as intended.”

Because of the pandemic, all major events this year — including Google I/O, E3, and SXSW — have come to a stop. Organizers canceled San Diego Comic-Con in April for the first time in 50 years in favor of an online event. NYCC will follow suit with an online-only event, taking place October 8th-11th, through an online portal dubbed New York Comic Con’s Metaverse. “We are partnering with YouTube to bring to life four days of incredible content from the biggest studios, publishers and creators in the business,” organizers said.

Although digital is the best effort any event can safely make, events like Comic Con are social affairs. The fun for many fans is dressing up, seeing favorite celebrities in person, and spending time with fellow geeks. Online events are also ripe for logistical problems; SDCC’s online event, which took place late last month, had streams taken down due to copyright claims or required fans to have access to several streaming platforms.

I’ll say it again and I’ll belabor it as much as I damn well please. This hurts me. This hurts me a lot. I don’t care for some live “virtual” event. That didn’t work for San Diego. It’s not going to work here, either. Having a virtual comic convention is like having a virtual massage. It’s just not physically possible.

I’ve been going to the New York Comic Con every year since 2012. I’ve documented some of those trips. What makes it worth going to has less to do with the news that often comes out of these conventions and everything to do with the experience. You cannot replicate that with a fucking livestream video that cuts out and gets interrupted by shitty insurance commercials ever 20 minutes. You just can’t.

You go to congregate with your fellow fans.

You go to share a colorful, engaging experience with people who share your interests.

You go to meet new people, bond over your hobbies, and enjoy the many activities that you can experience in New York City.

Now, I’m not the most socially capable person on the planet, but at the New York Comic Con, I feel like I can connect with anyone. I can make new friends, flirt with cute girls, and share memorable moments. It’s an experience surrounded by spectacle. There’s just so much to see and do. The idea of not being able to do it this year is just soul-crushing.

I get why it can’t go on. Given the crowds at the New York Comic Con, it’s not exactly easy to social distance. We’re in a pandemic. Thousands have died and thousands more are likely to die before all is said and done. It’s awful. It’s taking lives and destroying the things that make life worth living.

There’s no upside. There’s no hope, aside from waiting another year, assuming the world is still intact. I’m willing to be patient, but my spirit is now fully and utterly crushed. The New York Comic Con is cancelled this year and everything is worse. There’s nothing more to say.

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