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Democracy

Ret. Major General explains the difference between an AR-15 and the military's weapons of war

Major General Paul Eaton was the commander in charge of training Iraqi troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He knows his weapons.

paul eaton, army, guns, gun violence

Retired Major General Paul Eaton shared his thoughts on whether the AR-15 is a "weapon of war."

A common criticism gun rights activists levy toward gun legislation advocates is that many people who push for stricter gun laws don’t know a lot about guns themselves. That’s not wholly accurate—there are plenty of gun enthusiasts who support reasonable gun laws—but it’s true that many people who are horrified by our nation’s gun culture are not well-versed on the specifications of our nation’s 393 million guns.

Not every American is an active part of American “gun culture." Some of us have never shot a firearm, for fun or otherwise. Some of us really are ignorant about guns themselves.


That can’t be said for anyone in the military, however. And it definitely can’t be said for a former Major General of the U.S. Army.


That’s why an explanation of the difference between an AR-15 and military-style firearms from retired Major General Paul Eaton has gone viral. Major General Eaton was the commander in charge of training Iraqi soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to weaponry.

He wrote:

“As the former Commanding General of the Infantry Center at Fort Benning and Chief of Infantry, I know a bit about weapons. Let me state unequivocally — For all intents and purposes, the AR-15 and rifles like it are weapons of war. A thread:

Those opposed to assault weapon bans continue to play games with AR-15 semantics, pretending there’s some meaningful differences between it and the M4 carbine that the military carries. There really aren’t.

The military began a transition from the M16 to the M4, an improved M16, some years ago. The AR-15 is essentially the civilian version of the M16. The M4 is really close to the M16, and the AR-15.

So what’s the difference between the military’s M4 and the original AR-15? Barrel length and the ability to shoot three round bursts. M4s can shoot in three round bursts. AR-15s can only shoot a single shot.

But even now, you can buy AR-15s in variable barrel lengths with Weaver or Picatinny rails for better sights and aiming assists like lasers. Like the military, but w/o the bayonet.

But our troops usually use single shot, not burst fire. You’re able to fire a much more accurate (deadly) shot, that way. Note: you can buy our Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight on Amazon. So troops usually select the same fire option available on AR-15.

That is why the AR-15 is ACCURATELY CALLED a ‘weapon of war.’ It is a very deadly weapon with the same basic functionality that our troops use to kill the enemy. Don’t take the bait when anti-gun-safety folks argue about it. They know it’s true. Now you do too."

Eaton is not the only former military leader who has spoken out in support of gun legislation. In 2019, a group of 13 influential retired military leaders wrote a letter to Congress, pushing it to pass the Bipartisan Background Check Act.

"Each of us has, at some point in our lives, made the choice to risk our lives for our fellow citizens and place ourselves in harm’s way," they wrote. "We were trained, we were coached, and we were prepared for the dangers that we chose to face. This is not the case for most Americans, yet they continue to face danger on the sidewalk, in their homes, at school, and at work. It is in the same spirit that led us to serve in the armed forces that we ask you, our elected leaders, to help protect the American people from gun violence here at home. We urge you to support this legislation."

Police leaders have also voiced strong support for gun legislation, which makes sense considering how much harder and more dangerous our free-for-all gun culture makes their jobs. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the largest professional association of police leaders in the world, has a position paper that outlines the gun safety laws it supports, including firearm offender registration, waiting periods, closing the gun show loophole, banning semiautomatic assault weapons, armor-piercing ammunition, bulletproof body armor and more. The IACP states that these are “common sense policies that would assist in reducing gun violence, while upholding the second amendment.”

Yep, the largest police leader association supports banning semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15. Here’s what it has to say about that:

“First passed in 1994, the assault weapons ban required domestic gun manufacturers to stop production of semi-automatic assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds except for military or police use. While the ban was in place, it was remarkably effective in reducing the number of crimes involving assault weapons. In the period of the ban, (1994-2004) the proportion of assault weapons traced to crimes fell by a dramatic 66 percent.”

If those who oppose gun legislation don’t want to listen to people who don’t know enough about guns to speak authoritatively on them, that's fine. Perhaps they should listen to these military and police leaders who not only know guns inside and out, but who also have the firsthand experience on both sides of the barrel to speak authoritatively on what can help minimize America’s gun violence.


This article originally appeared on 06.04.22

Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $100 a night, depending on the cruise. "Cruise costs vary quite a bit, our goal is to average about $100 per night, for the couple, or less across and entire calendar year," Richard told Upworthy.

The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.


“We love to travel and we were searching for a way to continuously travel in our retirement that made financial sense,” she said. They looked into deals they could find through loyalty memberships and then factored in the potential sale price of their home and realized their dream was totally affordable.

The rough math makes sense. If the couple hits their goal of spending $100 per night to live on a cruise ship, that’s $36,500 a year. Currently, the average price of a home in Tukwila, Washington—where the couple has a house—is about $607,000. Let's say you moved there today, put down 20% and financed the rest, the mortgage would cost you around $44,000 a year.

Plus, on a cruise ship, the couple doesn’t have to pay for groceries.

The Burks are able to live their dream because they’ve spent a lifetime being responsible. “We have been frugal all our lives to save and invest in order to achieve our goal,” she says. “We are not into materialistic things but experiences.”

Angelyn says that cruising takes the stress out of travel. “It is leisurely travel without the complications of booking hotels, restaurants, and transportation while staying within our budget,” she told 7 News. The couple travels lightly with just two suitcases between them and if they need anything, they just buy it on the ship or in the next port.

The one thing to consider before embarking on a never-ending cruise is COVID-19. The coronavirus is easily spread in close quarters and a cruise ship that recently docked in Seattle had 100 people on board who tested positive for the virus. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated before going on a cruise and that immunocompromised people should consult with their physicians before traveling.

Richard told Upworthy that he believes COVID-19 safety is still very important and has had both his shots and a booster. "I would suggest wearing a mask at all times when out in public no matter whether on a ship, in a movie theater, at a restaurant or even meeting with friends inside or outside," he said.

After leaving their jobs and the mainland behind, the Burks completed a 21-day cruise via the Panama canal. They look forward to a 50-day cruise around the Adriatic Sea, taking in the sights of Europe, as well as a 51-day cruise from Seattle to Sydney, Australia.

The Burks' favorite destinations, no matter how they get there, are Italy, Canada, Iceland and the Bahamas, but their ultimate favorite is Singapore.

Looking to give it all up and go on a permanent vacation just like the Burks? Angelyn has some advice for those wanting to get started.

This article was updated on May 17, 2022, after a conversation with Richard Burk.

The hosts of our podcast, "Upworthy Weekly" had a pretty funny take on the story.


This article originally appeared on 05.11.22

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.


As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.


The map may not subvert one's intuitive assumptions, but it nonetheless quantities and presents the cost of living by geography in a brilliantly simple way. For instance, if you're looking for a beach lifestyle but don't want to pay California prices, try Florida, which is about as close to "average" — in terms of purchasing power, anyway — as any state in the Union. If you happen to find yourself in a "Brewster's Millions"-type situation, head to Hawaii, D.C., or New York. You'll burn through your money in no time.

income, money, economics, national average

The Relative Value of $100 in a state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

If you're quite fond of your cash and would prefer to keep it, get to Mississippi, which boasts a 16.1% premium on your cash from the national average.

The Tax Foundation notes that if you're using this map for a practical purpose, bear in mind that incomes also tend to rise in similar fashion, so one could safely assume that wages in these states are roughly inverse to the purchasing power $100 represents.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.17

Pop Culture

'Princess Bride' star Mandy Patinkin shared a moving detail about the film with a grieving woman

Two souls connecting over the loss of their fathers. (Phew, grab a tissue for this one, folks.)

via Mandy Patinkin / TikTok

There was an emotional exchange on TikTok between two people who lost their fathers to cancer. One was actor Mandy Patinkin, the other was TikTok user Amanda Webb.

Patinkin currently stars on "The Good Fight" but one of his most famous roles is Inigo Montoya in the 1987 classic "The Princess Bride." In the film, Montoya is a swordsman who is obsessed with confronting a six-fingered man who killed his father.

Webb recently lost her father Dan to mantle cell lymphoma. She had heard a rumor that Patinkin used his father's death from cancer as motivation in a pivotal scene where he confronts the six-fingered Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) in a duel.


Rugen tells Montoya he will give him anything he wants after being bested by Montoya who passionately replies, "I want my father back, you son of a bitch."

@mandypatinktok @alaska_webb thank you for finding us and sharing this! ✨ Sending big love and light to you and yours. More in comments. #grieving #cancer #dads ♬ original sound - Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn G

Webb's father was a big fan of Montoya's performance in the film so she reached out to TikTok to learn if the rumor was true.

"I saw on the internet the rumor that when Mandy Patinkin said that line, he was thinking of his own father who had passed away from cancer," Webb said while crying. "And it was a very raw emotion. Ever since then, it's kind of really stuck with me."

Patinkin, who is a TikTok user, heard that the woman had reached out to him and he gave a heartfelt response.

"First of all, your dad is taking care of you," he said. "Secondly, it is true, 100% true. I went outside in this castle and walked around and I kept talking to my dad."

"The minute I read the script, I knew, I said to [his wife], I said, 'I'm going to do this part because in my mind, if I get the six-fingered guy, that means I killed the cancer that killed my dad and I'll get to visit my dad," he said.

"That moment was coming, and I went and I played that scene with Chris [Guest], and then I went back out there and talked to my dad," Patinkin said.

He then told Webb that she has the power to talk to her father, too.

"And so, you can talk to your dad anytime you want, anywhere you want," he said. "If you could somehow let me know your dad's name because I say prayers for anyone I've ever known. Now I feel like I know you, and therefore I know your dad, and I will list his name in my prayers every day, and they make me feel like they're with me, wherever I go, and I'd like your dad to hang out with me."

Webb responded with a video where she's so emotional she can hardly speak.

This story originally appeared on 08.25.21

@jac.rsoe8/TikTok

Some dads just get it.


There’s no shortage of stories out there showing how emotionally distant or out of touch some baby boomers can be. Younger generations are so fed up with it that they have their own catchphrase of frustration, for crying out loud.

The disconnect becomes especially visible in parenting styles. Boomers, who grew up with starkly different views on empathy, trauma and seeking help, have a reputation for being less than ideal support systems for their children when it comes to emotional issues.

But even if they often have a different way of showing it, boomer parents do have love for their children, and many try their best to be a source of comfort in some way when their kid suffers.

Occupational therapist Jacqueline (@jac.rose8) recently shared a lovely example of this by posting a video of her boomer dad helping her through a divorce in the best way he knew how.

Turns out, it was the perfect thing.


“My husband just said he’s divorcing me and my dad came over and I was non-functional in bed,” Jacqueline wrote her video, adding that “...boomer dad didn’t know what to do, so he played his favorite song, the Dua Lipa ‘Rocket Man’ remix 😂”

In the clip, Jacqueline’s dad never really looks at her, but shifts the focus by describing what he imagines while listening to the song and performing the sweetest dad dance ever.

Watch:

@jac.rose8 #divorcetok #divorcesucks #divorcesupport #divorcesupportforwomen #divorcesupportsquad #supportivedad #disabilitytiktok ♬ original sound - Jacqueline

The heartwarming moment served as a great reminder that words aren’t always necessary.

‘“I am CRYING. This is so precious, he is trying his hardest to be there for you in any capacity. How pure ❤️,” one person wrote.

Another added, “This would instantly make me feel better.”

Even Jacqueline shared in the comments that her dad “didn’t know what to say but he was there and helped me in such a sweet way. He’s the best 🥰”

Proving that he has multiple love languages, Jacqueline later shared that her dad also went out to Home Depot to replace her lightbulbs. Not only that, but her mom also made Jacqueline’s favorite dinner. Maybe boomers are okay after all.

Really, it goes to show that great parents can be found in every generation. Part of what makes them great is knowing that they don't need to be perfect in order to show up when things are hard. Being there and sharing their love is enough.


This article originally appeared on 6.12.23