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Before 2017 follows too closely in the footsteps of 2016 as yet another year of divisiveness, filled with Twitter wars and men on TV yelling about "hateful this" and "PC culture that," let's take stock of some things we can all agree on.

An accurate visualization of America right now. Photo via iStock.

From the special-est snowflake liberals to the don't tread on me-est conservatives, these are a bunch of plain and simple agreements that most, if not all, Americans can come to. We're probably not going to hug and sing "Kumbaya" after this, but maybe we can tear down a little bit of that wall that's dividing us. (Then part of it can be a fence!) (See, we're already laughing together.)


Things like...

1. Freedom is good.

That's right: freedom. You love it, I love it. People have fought and died for it. Alexander Hamilton and Beyoncé have both written hip-hop songs about it.

Some people who love freedom.  Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images.

Freedom is the reason you can leave a nasty comment on this article (I can't wait, by the way) and it's the reason I walk past two mosques and a Catholic school every time I go to my local Jewish deli here in New York City (true story).

Freedom makes this country an eclectic and exciting place to live, and none of us want it to go anywhere.

2. "Batman v Superman" sucked, but the director's cut made it suck less.

Yeah, lets talk about that. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" was a hot mess. The tone, the pacing, the story, it was all completely off. Lex Luther's plan made no sense, and he was acting all weird the whole time. Just terrible.

They all know it, too. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bai Superteas.

Thing is, Zack Snyder's nearly three-hour director's cut was way better. Not "great," not even "good" really, but thoroughly watchable. It was, at the very least, an original take on the characters instead of a cookie-cutter action movie with no personality, right?

Boom, look at that. You. Me. Same page.

3. Going to the doctor shouldn't cost like a crap ton of money.

Hang on! No, this isn't me using a young, hip platform to shoehorn in an advertisement for the Affordable Care Act. (Who do you think I am, President Obama? Zing!) (See? We can do this.)

Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images.

I'm just saying: No one should have to go to the doctor and be horrified at the bill. Did you know that nearly half of American households are one emergency away from entering poverty? Imagine if you had to worry about your health while simultaneously worrying about being able to put food on the table. That's a position no one should have to be in.

Whatever becomes of health care in the future, let's agree to agree: No one wants to (or should) go into massive debt because of a health crisis.

4. Billy Joel.

Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images.

I mean, right? Come on. Piano Man? He's great.

5. We need more jobs.

Jobs are good! Unemployment is bad. More jobs means a stronger economy, more opportunity, and more money for you and yours. Who doesn't want that?

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

I'll go you one further! We need more American jobs. We need jobs to be created right here in the homeland, making American stuff and building American industries that we can pass down to future generations.

The fact that we've steadily added jobs over the last eight years is great, but it's not enough. Now, we may disagree on what those new jobs should be and how best to create them, but at our core we're all chanting the same mantra: Mo' jobs, fewer problems.

6. This is a weird picture.

Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images.

What are these people doing? Why does that one guy have an umbrella? Did they survive a pink kayak disaster or is this some kind of ritual sea-bath in Northern France? The world may never know, but you and I and the rest of America can rest assured that we agree — there are no two ways about it — this is a bizarre picture.

7. People should be able to afford their educations, regardless of income.

More people being able to pursue their education beyond high school is pretty much always a good idea. It helps us foster innovation and create those jobs and opportunities we were just agreeing on a few minutes ago.

Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images.

The massive student debt crisis is hurting all of us. Millions of young people are spending the best years of their lives buried under mountains of loan debt while trying and failing to get one of those jobs that there aren't enough of. Pursuing education should give people more opportunities, not hold them back, and, in turn, hold the whole country back.

That's just not cool.

8.  Brendan Fraser is the only actor who should star in "The Mummy."

Can't faze the Frase! Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

We're all thinking it. What's Tom Cruise doing in that new "Mummy" movie? Does the world need more Tom Cruise? Does Tom Cruise really need another franchise? Are movie-goers really that thirsty for more Tom-Cruise-runs-away-from-things summer blockbusters?

Get Fraser back in there! This is his fight.

And finally...

9. Too many toddlers are shooting people.

Yep, this is a thing that is happening.

In 2015, there were 58 shootings committed by toddlers. Which is too many by about 58. There were over 50 in 2016 as well. Here's a chart from the Washington Post with a terrifying title:

So yeah, we can probably agree that we should do something to keep guns out of toddlers' hands. I know this is a divisive issue. I don't expect us all to suddenly agree on the need for more gun control laws (although most people agree on that too) because we all saw what happened after Sandy Hook and after the Pulse shooting. (You know — nothing.) I'm not talking about taking anyone's guns away, either. I'm talking about agreeing that we should all practice enough personal gun safety to protect ourselves from toddlers with guns.

Many of the stories in that Washington Post report involve gun owners who weren't practicing proper gun safety protocol. If we can't agree on more gun control laws and regulations, I'm pretty sure we can all come together and agree that anyone who has a gun should be keeping it far away from where any kid could reach it.

Making 2017 a year with substantially less toddler-shootings shouldn't be too controversial, right?

Honestly, the list doesn't end there. It's on all of us to keep it going.

There's a lot more that we can agree on. Pie, Nutella, campfires, funny hats. The list of things that unite us has always been longer than the list of things that divide us. That's good to keep in mind.

So yes, we're probably going to keep yelling at each other in 2017. We're going to openly disagree, debate, stumble, and evolve, and we should be truly thankful to live in a place where we have the freedom to do so.

In a world of Twitter, talking heads, and fake news, it's too easy for us to lose our common ground and lose sight of our shared humanity. We forget that we all love this beautiful, messy country of ours and want it to be better, and that we want to make it better through hard work and good ideas*.

*If you consider "good ideas" ones that strip away the rights of already marginalized groups, please see above: "Freedom is good."

OK now. Back to it.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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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.

via YouTube

This article originally appeared on 02.15.22


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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

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