Tag Archives: uplifting news

Small Silver Linings: The Pandemic Is Killing The Flu

Things are pretty awful right now. Let’s not underscore that.

A global pandemic is still raging and world is in turmoil because of it. Even with multiple vaccines available, we’ve still got a long way to go before we can honestly say it’s over.

As bad as that is, it’s still important to find some silver linings. You don’t want to undermine how bad things are, but you also want to embrace whatever positives you can. Even if they don’t warrant the suffering, they can help us process the overall impact.

To that end, I want to highlight something that’s easy to overlook in the midst of a raging pandemic. This disease we’re fighting is awful. It’s killing way too many people and our efforts to stop it have been mixed, at best. However, those efforts have brought other indirect benefits.

One of them has to do with the seasonal flu. Every year, it seems, some nasty bug seems to go around in certain areas. I’ve certainly experienced it. I’ve endured the flu before and most people agree. It’s not fun. It’s an experience we can all do without.

Now, due to the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the flu has been effectively kneecapped this season. According to some recent data from the Center for Disease Control, this has been the mildest flu season in years.

CDC: Decreased Influenza Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Following widespread adoption of community mitigation measures to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the percentage of U.S. respiratory specimens submitted for influenza testing that tested positive decreased from >20% to 2.3% and has remained at historically low interseasonal levels (0.2% versus 1–2%). Data from Southern Hemisphere countries also indicate little influenza activity.

Again, and it’s worth belaboring, this silver lining does not make up for all the terrible things the COVID-19 pandemic has incurred. An overall decline in flu cases hardly makes up for all the suffering we’ve endured in this pandemic.

At the very least, it shows that there’s real merit in embracing these public safety measures. There’s real benefit to regularly washing your hands, wearing a mask, and not congregating in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

It has certainly changed how I look at public health. In the past, I’ve actually been sick and gone to class or work. I tried to endure the illness, not understanding just how much it affected others around me. This pandemic has changed that.

Now, when I’m sick, I’m making damn sure I stay home. I’m also washing my hands a lot more regularly and thoroughly. I imagine I’m not alone in that sentiment. These are all hard lessons that we’ve all paid a terrible price to learn. At the same time, we have that much more reason to endure and overcome this awful pandemic. Beyond simply beating this dreaded disease, emerging in a world where the flu is lesson common is definitely a more appealing world overall.

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The First People Have Received The COVID-19 Vaccine (And We Should Celebrate)

It’s almost over. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that with each passing day.

This historically horrible year is almost over. We’re in the home stretch with the holidays approaching. A new year is almost upon us and the bar for improvement for 2021 is laughably low compared to previous years.

We can also say with a straight face that the COVID-19 pandemic is almost over. I say that knowing full-well that cases are still rising and people are still dying at a horrific pace. That’s still objectively terrible.

The reason there’s hope now is we actually have a working vaccine. Thanks to the heroic efforts of scientists, doctors, and those who volunteered to test this unproven treatment, the key to ending this pandemic is upon us.

It also is just the first. There are multiple vaccines in late stages of development. It’s very likely that we’ll have a second effective before New Years. That’s a powerful one-two punch to this pandemic that has killed so many and disrupted so many lives.

These aren’t folk remedies or something some shady health guru is trying to pawn for a quick buck. Contrary to what anti-vaxxers may claim, these vaccines will actually protect people. As of this writing, it’s being distributed to front line care workers and vulnerable populations.

Just this past week, the first individuals received the vaccine. It started with a British woman in Coventry. It continued with an ICU nurse in New York City. CNN even captured it in a live video feed.

CNN: ICU nurse in New York among the first people in the US to get authorized coronavirus vaccine

A critical care nurse was the first person in New York and among the first people in the United States to get a shot of the coronavirus vaccine authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York City, was administered the vaccine during a live video event at about 9:20 a.m. ET on Monday.

Dr. Michelle Chester, the corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health, delivered the shot.

“She has a good touch, and it didn’t feel any different than taking any other vaccine,” Lindsay said immediately afterward.

This isn’t just a turning point in the fight against a deadly disease. This is something we should celebrate. Moreover, I believe this is the kind of celebrating we should learn from.

I admit I’ve celebrated some less-than-important things in my life. Hell, I celebrated the day when comics started coming out digitally the same day they came out in shops. I treated that like I won the Super Bowl.

People celebrate all sorts of events that they believe to be the most important thing in the world. Whether it’s their team winning a championship or a movie grossing $2 billion at the box office, we all have a different bar for what warrants celebrating.

For just once, let’s all re-think where we raise that bar. Let’s also let this be a prime example of something that’s truly worth celebrating and praising.

Make no mistake. Creating this vaccine this quickly is a remarkable achievement. We’ve endured pandemics in the past. Some of those pandemics have killed far more people. This disease could’ve definitely killed more. If we didn’t have this vaccine, or even if we had to wait a year to get it, thousands more would’ve died.

Now, going into 2021, countless lives will be saved because of this. It’s a testament to the power of science, hard work, and human ingenuity. It’s as heroic as we can be without the aid of superpowers or magic wands. As someone who loves superhero media, I say that’s a beautiful thing indeed. So, let’s all take a moment to appreciate and celebrate this achievement. I also fully intend to get this vaccine, once it’s available. When that day comes, I’ll gladly share that moment and encourage others to do the same.

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An Ode To Cam Newton’s Suits

As I write these words, I’m still basking in the utter sports bliss that was the start of the NFL season. I know I’ve made a bigger deal of it than usual. I will not apologize for that. Cut me some slack. This year has sucked on so many levels. Indulging in my love of football made it suck a little bit less. I hope others feel the same.

While I cherished every last bit of the action in week 1, there was one other bonus I wanted to note. That’s Patriot’s quarterback Cam Newton’s suit. I know. It’s not the most important issue facing this world today, but just look at it. Take a single moment out of your day to appreciate this incredible feat of men’s fashion.

I want to put it into words. I just can’t. There’s no way my writing skills can do justice to this look. Between the bow tie, the yellow coloring, the hat, and the shoes, I don’t think Shakespeare himself could articulate how amazing this is.

When I saw this, I just couldn’t stop smiling. I also know this isn’t the first time Cam Newton’s fashion sense has raised some eyebrows. This is what he wore to a serious press conference one day.

Again, I have no words. That ridiculous, colorful style that seems so outlandish to the rest of us? Hell, that’s just Tuesday for Cam Newton. I, for one, thank him for that. Say what you will about his skills as an NFL quarterback. The man has style.

I know it’s not exactly the most salient issue facing the world in 2020, but come on. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this.

Mr. Newton, as someone who appreciates men’s fashion as much as the next guy, I sincerely thank you. This year sucks just a little bit less because of you.

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Henry Cavill Building A Gaming PC In A Tank Top To Barry White Music: You’re Welcome

The internet can be a sick, twisted place. Depending on where you go, you’ll lose your lunch, your innocence, or your faith in humanity and not necessarily in that order. However, every once in a while, it gives us something that reminds us just how awesome the world can be.

Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unspecified gender, I give you Henry Cavill assembling a gaming PC in a tank top, set to Barry White music. Trust me, it’s as awesome as it sounds and the rest of the internet agrees. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

You’re welcome.

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Appreciating Some Awesome Things Father’s Have Done

Things are still pretty messed up right now. It seems like the year 2020 is determined to make us all lose hope in humanity and the future.

That’s where awesome fathers come in.

Father’s Day is this Sunday. For someone who has an awesome dad like me, it’s special because it gives me a chance to appreciate him in the way he deserves. I’m already preparing a little something for him that I hope he enjoys. He’s such a great guy and it’s because of him that I have hope for the future. Him and father’s like him are what help us stay strong during difficult times.

To those who don’t have a relationship with their fathers, it’s tragic. I feel for them. I hope they have a father figure in their life that they can look up to. Fathers are capable of so many amazing things. To help inspire that spirit, here’s a video from the channel Storytime With Reddit documenting some real life stories about fathers being awesome. Enjoy!

I sincerely hope that helped make your day. To all the awesome fathers out there, including my own, thank you for stories like this.

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Happy (And Bittersweet) St. Patrick’s Day!

Let’s not lie to ourselves. Some holidays are more noteworthy than others. As long as we’re being honest, a sizable number of people probably didn’t remember that today is St. Patrick’s Day. For once, you have a perfectly valid reason for forgetting. When there’s a global pandemic making headlines, tanking the economy, and disrupting society, you can be forgiven for letting it slip your mind.

I won’t deny it. I usually don’t make a big deal of St. Patrick’s Day. For me, it’s just a fun event that involves going out to a bar, hanging out with friends, and drinking beer while watching sports. Given all the sports cancellations, most of those plans are already shot. It’s disappointing. It also makes it difficult to get in any St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

Even if you don’t care for the holiday, it still sucks that we lost what is a fun social event that you can celebrate on your own terms. Chances are most will just spend this day trying to make due with this harsh new reality of enduring a global pandemic. It’s not fun or festive, to say the least.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to enjoy it. I made sure I had a case of beer and some Jameson’s Whiskey on hand for today. I may not be able to hang out at a bar or enjoy a good party, but I can still kick back with a few beers and celebrate in my own special way. I encourage everyone to do the same. Even if you don’t drink, do what you can to make this bittersweet holiday a bit more enjoyable.

Times are tough. They’re bound to get tougher, but they’re destined to get better. Make the most if it. Find a way to have a little fun on this bittersweet St. Patrick’s Day. If not, then plan on making up for it at some point. That day will come and when it does, it’ll be sweeter than any beer or whiskey you could ever taste.

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A (Hopeful) Perspective On The Coronavirus

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As a general rule, I always watch the news with a skeptical eye. That’s not just because we live in an era of fake news, misguided outrage, and conspiracy theories about shape-shifting lizard people. I’ve learned from time, experience, and observation that the news can only ever tell part of a story as it’s happening. The full story never comes out until much later. Sometimes, it’s years later.

That’s not easy when following stories like the coronavirus. Unlike other major news stories that make headlines for all the wrong reasons, this is a serious issue. This is something the public needs to know about. The coronavirus is not just a nasty cold. It’s killing people all over the world. That’s an indisputable fact and one that warrants serious concern.

At the same time, there’s a context worth noting. As bad as the coronavirus is, it’s not the second coming of the Black Death or the Spanish Flu. This is not the kind of disease that will turn the planet into a post-apocalyptic wasteland in the mold of a Stephen King novel. It’s still serious, but it’s not a global cataclysm. Even if it ends up killing millions, there are over 7.6 billion people on this planet.

Human beings adapt.

Human beings survive.

It’s one of the few things we’re good at.

There’s another perspective worth considering when following the news of the coronavirus. Unlike the devastating plagues of the past, humanity has developed a decent infrastructure for medicine, technology, and research. Granted, it took us centuries of trial, error, and mass death and there’s still plenty of room for improvement, but that system is there. It’s better than nothing. Just ask Medieval Europe.

That system is already doing its job in combating the virus. Already, researchers at the University of Texas in Austin have mapped out critical portions of the virus. That sort of thing couldn’t have been done this quickly or at all just 30 years ago. This data is critical for the development of treatments and, ultimately, a vaccine.

The fact that this happened so quickly after the outbreak is something the news hasn’t reported on. Even if treatments develop and the virus is contained, as we’ve seen with other recent outbreaks, it probably won’t be a huge story within the ever-changing news cycle.

We know this because in late 2019, the first vaccine for Ebola was approved for use by the FDA and it barely showed up in the headlines. Considering how much panic the Ebola outbreak caused several years ago, this is quite a triumph. It shows just how quickly our current system can respond to these diseases.

Again, there’s still room for improvement and accessibility to medicine is a major issue, but the coronavirus is not some new form of disease. It’s a virus. We know what viruses are. We have the technology to study, treat, and combat them, more so than we have at any point in human history. Considering how much better we’ve gotten since the heyday of the AIDS pandemic, I say that’s reason to be hopeful.

That doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. When the CDC issues a warning about the coronavirus, we should take it seriously. At the same time, we should take comfort in the knowledge that we live in an era where human ingenuity has limited the suffering caused by these devastating plagues.

As with Ebola, we will eventually develop a treatment for the coronavirus. It won’t be perfect, but it will limit the death and suffering it causes. It also won’t make the news because it’s just not scary or dire enough. At this point, finding effective treatments for diseases is so mundane it barely qualifies as news. That’s an objectively good thing.

I hope that helps provide a bit of context and hope to the news surrounding the coronavirus. It’s still worth taking seriously, but we shouldn’t let grim headlines distract us from the great things that humanity achieves when faced with a challenge.

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An Uplifting Story About Family, Baby Showers, And Unexpected Kindness (On An Airline)

Sometimes, your faith in humanity needs a little boost. Even as someone who genuinely believes in the inherent goodness of most people, I admit I sometimes need a reminder. It’s true. People can be horrible at times, but they can also be awesome. It’s easy for the horror to catch your attention because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s rare.

That, alone, is worth taking comfort in. However, it’s also worth noting those who go above and beyond to be awesome in a very special way. As such, here’s a brief story involving real people who did something amazing and were rewarded by an unexpected gesture that made it even more amazing.

On top of that, it happened in the middle of a flight from Colorado to California. That’s right. Being crammed into a giant metal tube flying at 500 miles-per-hour wasn’t enough to stop this incredible gesture. I wish I could do justice to how wonderful all the people are in this story. I’ll let the details speak for themselves.

Today: Strangers on plane throw baby shower for couple flying home with adopted newborn

Bringing a baby home is always a special moment, but it was made even sweeter for Dustin and Caren Moore on a Southwest Airlines flight. When the new parents flew home to California with their adopted newborn daughter, they were treated to an impromptu baby shower.

In a Twitter thread that has been liked more than 15,000 times, Dustin shared details of the kindness the family experienced from Southwest flight attendants and passengers. He said he was inspired to share the story last week after he was having a tough time and wanted to bring some positivity to Twitter.

“It’s been a difficult week. But, rather than publicly air my grievances, I’d like to share w/ you the kindness strangers offered us the day we brought our daughter home,” he wrote. “I hope our story uplifts you, and reminds you there is goodness to be had in this world.”

On Nov. 8, 2019, the Moores flew from Colorado to California. “Parents who after 9 years of trying had been blessed with their first child. Parents who felt scared, but determined in their new role,” he wrote of their emotional state during the trip.

When their daughter woke up from a nap and needed a diaper change, Dustin said a flight attendant named Jenny cleared space in the back of the plane and gave them privacy.

“After a change, Jenny and another passenger complimented my beautiful daughter and politely asked what had prompted a flight with such a young infant. I gave them the shortened adoption story, to which they hastily offered congratulations, and shared a few more kind remarks,” he wrote.

A few minutes later, another flight attendant named Bobby asked about their daughter, so Dustin said he shared a few details about their adoption story.

“Then, we heard the intercom,” he wrote. “The attendant Bobby came on and announced a special guest on the flight. Our daughter. ‘She’s just been adopted by her parents Caren and Dustin, and is making her way home.'”

The entire cabin erupted in cheers and applause.

Flight attendants then passed out napkins and asked passengers to share any words of wisdom they may have for the new parents. At the end of the flight, 60 napkins were handed to the Moores, which they have now placed in a scrapbook.

Dustin said he and his wife were blown away by the kindness of strangers. He added that some of the tips have already been helpful.

Take a moment to wipe the tears from your eyes. Then, take another moment to consider the scope of the kindness included in this one story. Two people were loving and kind enough to adopt a child and embrace her as their own. It’s a beautiful gesture that deserves praise, but never makes the news.

It doesn’t have to, though. The people on this flight, who were total strangers, mind you, saw this gesture and returned the favor. They gave this wonderful couple the kind of love and admiration that will likely stick with them for the rest of their lives. That’s the power of kindness. That’s how great people can be when given a chance.

Remember that the next time you’re feeling cynical and jaded. People can be wonderful when you give them a chance. It can be even more wonderful when you repay kindness with kindness.

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An Uplifting Story About A Man Who Saved Thousands Of Jews From The Holocaust (In Defiance Of Orders)

If you watch the news or follow social media in any capacity, it’s easy to think that the world is going to Hell and we’re all just waiting for our turn to get burned. It’s not hard to find a terrible news story that seriously dents your faith in humanity. Sometimes, it’s not even headline news. There are plenty of stories of people just being assholes.

As I’ve noted before, these types of stories can skew your perspective. In the grand scheme of things, the world is getting better. You don’t have to look that hard for evidence of that, either. The problem is few people bother looking.

To help with that, I’d like to share a brief, but uplifting story from one of history’s darkest time periods. It occurred in the early years of World War II, just as some of the worst atrocities in human history were starting to unfold. In such a time, it’s easy to see the worst in people come out.

At the same time, it can also bring out the best in people. One of those people was a man named Chiune Sugihara. Chances are you haven’t heard of him and that’s a shame because what he did was incredible. At a time when thousands of Jews were fleeing Germany and seeking refuge, Chiune used his position as a vice-consul of the Japanese Consulate in Lithuania to issue visas to refugees.

On top of that, he did this in defiance of orders from the Japanese government. He broke rules and protocol to help thousands of desperate families escape Europe. He was even punished for it after the war. Even so, there are thousands of people alive today because of what he did.

His story is remarkable and one I encourage everyone to learn about. The Holocaust Museum has a nice summation of his actions, but there are so many more. Here is a small excerpt.

Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 hundreds of thousands of Jews and other Polish citizens fled eastward ahead of the advancing German army; many refugees found at least temporary safety in Lithuania. Options for escape were limited and required diplomatic visas to cross international borders. One route was through Asia using a combination of permits issued by foreign envoys responding to the refugee crisis: a bogus visa for entrance to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao and a visa for transit through Japan.

One such diplomat was Japanese Imperial Consul Chiune Sugihara, the first Japanese diplomat posted in Lithuania. In the absence of clear instructions from his government in Tokyo, Sugihara granted 10-day visas to Japan to hundreds of refugees who held Curaçao destination visas. After issuing some 1800 visas, Sugihara finally received a response to his cables alerting the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo of the situation in Lithuania. The Foreign Ministry reported that individuals with visas headed for the United States and Canada had arrived in Japan without money or final destination visas. In his response, Sugihara admitted to issuing visas to people who had not completed all arrangements for destination visas explaining that Japan was the only transit country available for going in the direction of the United States, and his visas were needed to leave the Soviet Union. By the time the Soviets ordered all diplomatic consulates closed, in late August 1940, Sugihara had saved thousands of Jews over the course of just a few weeks. Because of his efforts, Yad Vashem awarded him the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1984.

The story of Chiune Sugihara may not completely restore your faith in humanity, but it should serve as a strong reminder. Even in our darkest hours, people can still do great things for the right reasons.

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Bachelor Parties, Masculinity, And A (Much Needed) Feel Good Story

bachelor-parties-san-diego

There’s a lot of bad, depressing news in the world. There are just as many depressing trends in terms of politics, society, and the very world we live on. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. We live in an imperfect world and, thanks largely to our own refined survival instinct, we pay more attention to the bad news instead of the good news, which is there.

Every once in a while, though, some news emerges that strikes all the right chords, evokes all the right feelings, and reminds us that humanity can still be pretty darn awesome. I’d like to share one of those stories that I believe is just that awesome.

It involves masculinity, bachelor parties, and a happy accident turned into something incredible. It’s one of those stories that we need right now. In case you haven’t been watching certain commercials and the visceral reaction to such commercials, the state of masculinity has been precarious, to say the least. While I’ve made my opinions on the subject known, I don’t deny the debate is ongoing and exceedingly frustrating.

Then, a man named William Novak came along and showed just how amazing men could be when given the opportunity. The story, which went viral for all the right reasons, started with a wedding, a bachelor party, and an email typo. Not even three “Hangover” movies could’ve created a perfect storm like this.

Angelo Onello was getting married. His brother, Devin, was responsible for sending out the invites to the bachelor party. By complete accident, he misspelled an email address and sent a message to William Novak in Phoenix, Arizona, who was not the same Bill Novak that he’d intended to invite.

Now, most people probably would’ve just deleted the email or let the sender know that it was a mistake. William Novak of Phoenix, Arizona is not most people. He’s a cut above the rest. Instead of just deleting the email, he replied and said he’d love to attend. He would help Angelo, a total stranger, have the best bachelor party he could possibly have.

Let that sink in, for a moment. Novak doesn’t know this man. He doesn’t even live in the same time zone. Angelo lives across the country and the bachelor party was in Vermont. That’s a hell of a trip, just to help out a total stranger. Most people will make excuses to avoid any drive more than an hour for a blood relative.

Again, Novak isn’t most people. He’s more awesome than that and people respond to awesome. To pay for the long trip, he actually started a GoFundMe page. He was only trying to raise about $1,000. He ended up raising over $5,000. When someone announces they’re going to go out of their way for a total stranger like that, it’s hard not to support them.

By all accounts, the trip and the bachelor party that ensued was a success. Mr. Novak helped a total stranger enjoy himself. He also showed that when given an opportunity, men will go out of their way for one another and for all the right reasons. Mr. Novak’s story resonated so much that even late night talk show hosts like Seth Meyers took some time to tell this amazing story.

It’s a story that deserves to be told. It’s a story that shows that men can do amazing things for no other reason than because it’s amazing. You don’t have to look too far to see heart-warming stories about people helping strangers. This one is just one of those stories that came along at just the right time.

Men, women, and everyone in between can appreciate the gesture that someone like Mr. Novak demonstrated. He’s not just a decent husband and father. He’s the kind of guy who will help another guy have a memorable bachelor party. Regardless of where you stand on gender politics, that’s the kind of masculinity that’s worth celebrating.

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