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Thanksgiving must be really hard for pessimists.

Holiday shade courtesy of "Arrested Development."


It's the one day when we're all supposed to happily focus on the good things that exist in our lives and the world, but all you can think about is how it's not supposed to be this warm in November but "thanks, climate change," and the food that we're eating is covered in pesticides and preservatives, so we're all going to die from it, which is actually very fitting since that's what the Pilgrims brought to America anyway — disease and death — and speaking of death, are we really going to keep calling it the death tax, or are we finally going to get real about inequality once and for all, and...

And I get it. Those things are bad. No argument there.

But gratitude has proven positive emotional and psychological impact — and all the realist, half-glass-empty people deserve those benefits just as much as anyone else!

So here are 21 things from 2015 that even a pessimist can be grateful for.


1. The White House proudly displayed the LGBTQ flag colors.

Rainbow Brite would be proud. Photo by Mladen Antonov/Getty Images.

When marriage equality became the law of the land on June 26, the White House lit up in a rainbow to commemorate the occasion. The White House. Was a rainbow. That happened.

2. To help children with cancer, MIT engineers created arobot stuffed animal named Huggable.

Huggable wasn't invented just to give us all the feels. He was made by MIT engineers this year to help children in cancer hospitals deal with the emotional and psychological trauma of battling the disease. But it's just one of many examples of how us humans continue to use science, creativity, and compassion to make people's lives better.

3.People aren't taking injustice lying down.

Fight for 15 protesters spread their message. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.

Everywhere you look, people are standing up and fighting back. From college campuses to multinational corporations, from protests and boycotts to marches and campaigns, it's clear that people are recognizing their power. And that means they haven't lost faith and still believe they really can change the world. "Oh, they're just naive," the pessimist in your head says. But not so fast. Their activism is actually working. See #1, #11, and #17 as proof.

4. A lot of Americans have finally stopped denying science.

According to a poll by the National Surveys on Energy and Environment, fewer people than ever are denying the existence of climate change. Or — to put it more glass-half-full — 70% of Americans believe that climate change is real, and that's more than ever before!

5. This guy is a teacher.

His name is Chris Ulmer. He's a Florida special education teacher, and a video of him complimenting his entire class, student by student, went viral last week.

Image via ABC News/YouTube.

But he's not the only amazing teacher out there. Not by a long shot. Despite all the horrible stories and statistics that exist about our education system, there are still thousands of passionate, smart, creative, and compassionate people working their butts off to make children's lives better every single day. They don't get a lot of attention, but they are out there. And those kids are probably going to grow into better adult humans because of them. So yeah. Thanks, teachers.

6. This.

(OMG, the widdle paws and eyes and tongue and nose and ears!)

7. Social media is being used to connect people around the world to fight for justice and equality.

For all the selfies and silly trends that give social media a bad rap, it's undeniably been a game-changer for positive social change. Several items on this very list happened a lot sooner thanks to social media than they would have if sites like Facebook and Twitter didn't exist. It's easier now than ever for people to make their voices heard and actually have influence.

8. "America's Next Top Model" has finally been canceled.

Tyra Banks, smizing. An art form that she taught with passion on "ANTM." Photo via David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. (On the off chance you actually liked the show responsible for giving a man a facial hair weave, you can be grateful for the 22 — TWENTY-TWO (!) — cycles you already had.)

9. STEM is finally starting to love (and respect!) the ladies.

There's undoubtedly still a ton of reasons why being a woman in a male-dominated field is hard, but here's something that should help: A study this April found that women are now favored for tenure-track positions in university science departments. They are twice as likely to be hired as an equally qualified man. Take that, patriarchy!

10. The Black Lives Matter movement.

Remember when everyone said it was just a hashtag? Wrong. All across the country, young people are standing up to fight racism — winning tangible victories (University of Missouri, anyone?) and forcing presidential candidates to take note. They will not let racism go unchecked on their watch. And they're just getting started.

11. Barbie is stepping into the 21st century.

Actress Zendaya and the doll made to look like her and her famous dreadlocked hairstyle. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

From introducing eight new skin colors to creating a doll with locs (above — isn't she pretty?) to inclduing a boy for the first time ever in their newest commericial, the still-popular iconic doll company is making sure that children across America might actually have play experiences that reflect real life. Now if they could only get over that unrealistic body shape and size. But I digress.

12. People are finding creative ways to do something about the refugee crisis.

It was hard to find something to be grateful for when looking at the current refugee crises around the world.

But then I stumbled on the story of the mom who is helping thousands of refugees by giving away free baby carriers to help getting children across the border and lightening the load. Or the organization that actually meets refugees at the water's edge to give them warm blankets and care for them as they get out of their boats. Remember that while the bigger picture may look terrible, you can always see goodness and kindness and love if you look a little closer. We just need the governments of the world to follow suit.

13. You're alive! YAY!

Sorry, just had to get meta real quick here. Life may not be perfect, it may not be exactly want you want it to be, and it may be downright unfair sometimes. But you being here right now means that you have another day to maybe help someone else, maybe get some help yourself, and at the very least have another opportunity to enjoy #15 on this list which brings me to...

14. Bacon. Mmmm. Bacon.

Yeah, sure, there's a chance it could kill you, but odds are it probably won't. This holiday, don't just be grateful for this fatty, salty treat. Be grateful that the odds are forever in our favor.

15. The Affordable Care Act still stands.

On the off chance the bacon strips do make you sick, be grateful the Supreme Court upheld the ACA this year. Millions of people continue to have access to affordable health insurance.

16. Diversity in media. It's getting better. And better.

2015 has actually been a really good year when it comes to increased gender and racial diversity in media.

From Aziz Ansari's "Master of None" to Amy Schumer's hit, viral-clip-ready "Inside with Amy Schumer" to Viola Davis' and Regina King's Emmy wins to ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat," now is a good time to turn on the television and maybe, just maybe, see someone other than a white man as the lead. Nothing against white men, but it's about time.

17. President Obama blocked the Keystone pipeline.

People have been fighting the pipeline for years on the grounds that it would cause major harm to the environment. Looks like the environment — and those activists — won.

18. Diseases are being wiped off the face of the earth.

"Bye, diseases!" — Marilyn Monroe (I'm guessing that's what she's saying here.)

No matter how much pink we wear or how many concerts Bono holds, it's easy to think that deadly diseases like cancer and AIDS will never go away. But guess what? We are actually beating diseases that once killed millions of people.

Guinea worm (which I know you may have never heard of but was killing 3.5 million people a year in the mid-1980s) is now set to become the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be eradicated. Only 15 cases were reported in the first eight months of this year. Almost gone! And if that doesn't move you, poliovirus type 2 was completely eradicated this year as well.

19. Some young celebs totally get it. "It" being equality.

Move over, Raven-Symoné. There's a new crop of young female celebs, and they're using their voice and their platforms to tackle inequality head on. From Amandla Stenberg and Zendaya to Ariana Grande and Emma Watson, 2015 saw the rise of the conscious young female celeb. They talked about race, diversity, gender inequality, feminism, and well — that's a good sign for the future, right?

20. Global poverty is actually decreasing.

What? Everyone in the world isn't getting poorer? That's right. Even though the wealth gap is growing and far too many people still don't have what they need to survive, the data actually says we're doing a bit better than before.

The World Bank announced that they project less than 10% of the world's population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of this year for the first time. If nothing else, that's proof that we could maybe actually eradicate extreme poverty one day. We're making progress.

21. Love. <3

Yeah, I'm going there.

Whether it's the romantic kind or the family kind or the friend kind or the I-don't-know-you-but-let-me-help-you kind or the severely-underrated-but-really-incredible self kind, love in all its forms is pretty amazing.

If you think things in the world are bad now, Debbie Downer, imagine how they would be without any love at all.

Now go enjoy some turkey or some ham and add a small plate of thankfulness to your gigantic mug of haterade this year. It will feel good, and it's good for you.

P.S. To practice feeling good right away, go ahead and give the video of teacher Chris Ulmer and his students (from #3 above) a watch. I dare you not to smile.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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