+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy
Culture

A hopeful, open letter to Susan Collins from someone who worked hard to defeat you

A hopeful, open letter to Susan Collins from someone who worked hard to defeat you

I have something I would like to say to you, Senator Susan Collins.

My name is Tim Mercer. Yes, the same Mercer who's mother appeared in an ad on television opposing you this past election. And yes, the same Mercer who's brother put out multiple full page ads in the Portland Press Herald and got national attention when you refused to answer his questions in an airport a year ago. But before you tune me out, I would like you to hear me out. Some things might be hard to hear, but I assure you there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

First off, I would like to congratulate you on your decisive win over Sarah Gideon to retain your seat as senator for the great state of Maine: a state my family calls home—a place I have lived for over 10 years of my life. Even though I have disagreed with you on most issues, you have potential to be the best person for the job. Not for the senator you are right now, but for who you could be.

Over the past few days, I've discussed your voting record, position on issues and your commitment to Maine and the United States with numerous people who work with you and held positions within the walls of the state capitol in Augusta, ME. In recent years, I had become disenchanted with your ways, and full disclosure, I was going to write you an angry letter. But as I heard these people talk about you, I realized that you have their respect. The people who disagree with you had some good things to say, as did those who are more alined with you. They were all very candid, so there were no perfect scores, but that is okay. I don't trust perfect.

With every conversation I had, there was one consistent tone: hope.


You clearly have something special with the people of Maine based on your tenure as their representative spanning over two decades. Not only that, but you won convincingly as a Republican in a state that favored Democrat, Joe Biden, as their choice for the next president of the United States. You are clearly doing something right. But you have done some things wrong, too. The first thing that comes to mind is Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

This was your opportunity for that career-defining moment. But instead you voted for Kavanaugh in 2018. Eight months later, you told the New York Times you didn't regret that decision. Why? I know you received harsh criticism, and I understand where it came from. In supporting Kavanaugh, you've threatened the safety of women and their right to choose. With your pro-choice views, which we agree on, you were the Republican that should have voted against Kavanaugh. I am not sure if you were pressured or made some sort of deal with Trump, but either way it wasn't a good look.

Although you claim to be a champion for women's rights, when the national spotlight was on you, you disappointed a large amount of people. It was your chance at the big solo and we were expecting to hear this glorious note, but instead, we got Selena Gomez without the auto tune. You could have knocked it out of the park by making a decision that would forever put you down in the books for standing against alleged sexual assault. I wonder if you regret that decision now?

Then there's your bipartisan voting. It seems that you are able to boast a bipartisan voting record because you side with Democrats when your vote has no impact on the final result. That is like purposely putting your credit card down at a restaurant after someone else just footed the bill. It is a hollow gesture that has no effect on the situation, costs you nothing and makes it seem like you genuinely meant to do the right thing. When you are called out for voting the party line, you can just point to your record to show how often you have gone against the Republican narrative. Similarly, the person with the second fastest credit card reflex at an eating establishment, when accused of never picking up the tab, can always point out how many times they have tried to pay. Technically, neither of you are wrong, but I am sure you can see how it isn't right.

Another aspect of your voting that's troublesome to many is your voting record for taxing the wealthy. I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and while he is a multi-millionaire, he says he only pays 4% in taxes. I pay over 20% (and let's just say I am not expecting an American Express Black card to show up in the mail anytime soon). According to Politicsthatwork.com, you vote to tax the wealthy only 18.2% of the time. I understand there might be a margin of error on those statistics, but I am pretty sure it isn't 81.8%. There are so many hard working people in the state of Maine and across the country who desperately need your help.

Also, I do find it strange that you haven't held a town hall meeting in 20 years. As a woman of the people, which you claim to be, I don't understand why you wouldn't be eager to hear our voices much less avoid them. Then I heard something interesting that every single person I talked to who worked with you confirmed. You have a reputation for having thin-skin. Face-to-face adversity appears to be difficult for you. There was even someone who organized an event that you spoke at, recalling your extremely unusual request to see the RSVP list so you could seemingly vet them. Speakers look at those list all the time out of curiosity, but this was different. My guess is that you probably know what I am referring to. My point is that I think I understand you a little better now. You seem to want to control your environment. Perhaps you should let go of that and start holding town halls more often. You might take a few lumps, but you will also get plenty of praise from your supporters—especially if you take more steps to look Mainers in the eye and connect on a human level.

Finally, I need to ask this because I would be remiss if I didn't: Is the support you have shown for President Trump over the past four years genuine?

I know the Overton Window moves left and right, but Trump has found a way to make it move down. In other words, statements and actions so juvenile, rude and completely baseless used to mean the end of a political career. For President Trump, it is known as "every day of the week." I challenge you to find a 30 second clip from any of Trump's rallies where he doesn't insult someone or make it about himself. The man has successfully divided the United States of America to a level I never thought possible, and that is not an easy thing to do.

I find it hard to believe that you, a public servant for 23 years, doesn't cringe on an hourly basis about the fact that you have to report to a misogynistic narcissist with no political experience, who doesn't pay his taxes and has the bed side manner of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog. You will soon be free of him, and you will have a chance to work with the Biden administration, a president who possess dignity and values. You might not always agree, but at least it will be an adult conversation.


The gridlock in Washington is the most dysfunctional it has ever been by far. You know this, Susan. You have a front row seat. You could be the spark that leads to a different way of thinking. This country was so desperate for anything other than business-as-usual in our federal government that they elected Donald Trump, and continued to convince themselves that his behavior wasn't that of a spoiled five-year old who needs attention. All the time.

People need to remember that you were a maverick in years past. I believe you can get back the ear of the Democratic constituents you lost and keep the Republican ones so loyal to you. Someone has to break this seemingly endless and profoundly dangerous cycle of behavior on Capitol Hill. There needs to be a first, and I really think you could be her. Forget about who is Democrat and who is Republican, and lead by example. Someone needs to step up and it may as well be you. We as Americans know the difference between disingenuous actions and those that are pure of heart. If you lead the way, people like my mother, my brother and I will all be right behind you.

By the way, I also think I understand why you didn't (or couldn't) answer my brother's questions when he approached you in that airport last year. Maybe it is because you couldn't in good conscience give an answer when he asked questions like, "What do I say to my daughter when president uses language on a daily basis that would get her kicked out of school?" Maybe it is because you couldn't justify it either, but you had to be loyal to your party. Those days are behind you and you made it through. You have the next six years to get your "maverick" on and make a difference. And I can't wait to see what you do.

This country has too much potential to keep going down a path where the best case scenario is everyone being consistently angry and growing even more divided. The worst case scenario is all-out civil war, which doesn't seem far fetched enough at this point. President Trump's version of unity is telling militia groups like The Proud Boys to "stand by," and it is scary to think about what that might lead to. Those guys seem like the kind of fellas that could cause a great deal of chaos. I do believe we all want the same thing: freedom, unity and the pursuit of happiness. We have dug ourselves quite a hole, but Susan, if you can be the catalyst that pulls us out of it, you will be one of the most important trailblazers in political history.

Make America great again, because the last guy who preached those words kind of went the other way on that one. If you can pull this off, even if you put your credit card out first, I will be the first one to buy you dinner.

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

Bill Gates in conversation with The Times of India

Bill Gates sure is strict on how his children use the very technology he helped bring to the masses.

In a recent interview with the Mirror, the tech mogul said his children were not allowed to own their own cellphone until the age of 14. "We often set a time after which there is no screen time, and in their case that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour," he said. Gates added that the children are not allowed to have cellphones at the table, but are allowed to use them for homework or studying.


The Gates children, now 20, 17 and 14, are all above the minimum age requirement to own a phone, but they are still banned from having any Apple products in the house—thanks to Gates' longtime rivalry with Apple founder Steve Jobs.

smartphones, families, responsible parenting, social media

Bill Gates tasting recycled water.

Image from media.giphy.com.

While the parenting choice may seem harsh, the Gates may be onto something with delaying childhood smartphone ownership. According to the 2016 "Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today's Digital Natives"report, the average age that a child gets their first smartphone is now 10.3 years.

"I think that age is going to trend even younger, because parents are getting tired of handing their smartphones to their kids," Stacy DeBroff, chief executive of Influence Central, told The New York Times.

James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that reviews content and products for families, additionally told the Times that he too has one strict rule for his children when it comes to cellphones: They get one when they start high school and only when they've proven they have restraint. "No two kids are the same, and there's no magic number," he said. "A kid's age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level."

PBS Parents also provided a list of questions parents should answer before giving their child their first phone. Check out the entire list below:

  • How independent are your kids?
  • Do your children "need" to be in touch for safety reasons—or social ones?
  • How responsible are they?
  • Can they get behind the concept of limits for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Can they be trusted not to text during class, disturb others with their conversations, and to use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly (and not to embarrass or harass others)?
  • Do they really need a smartphone that is also their music device, a portable movie and game player, and portal to the internet?
  • Do they need something that gives their location information to their friends—and maybe some strangers, too—as some of the new apps allow?
  • And do you want to add all the expenses of new data plans? (Try keeping your temper when they announce that their new smartphone got dropped in the toilet...)


This article originally appeared on 05.01.17

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

What dog is best for you?


PawsLikeMe might know you better than you know yourself.

Hello from the other siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide!!! I'm a dog and I love youuuuuuuu!!!

Because PawsLikeMe knows about your dreams.

Your DOG dreams, that is.

How? A dog-human personality quiz!

A sophisticated one, too! From their website:

"The personality assessment is based on 4 core personality traits that influence the human-canine bond; energy, focus, confidence, and independence."

It also takes into account environmental factors and other special circumstances as well.

It's not uncommon for dogs that are adopted to be returned because they just aren't compatible with their owner's life.



PawsLikeMe aims to stop dog-owner mismatch by playing dog matchmaker! Its goal is to help people find the right dog for them.

Need a dog that's friendly with kids but loves learning tricks and is also house-trained? DONE. Have other specific requirements? DONE!

Ya got options.

When you go on the website, you can opt to just answer the four most important questions in a dog owner's life:

1. What's your energy level?

2. What kind of parties do you like?

3. What kind of dog personality do you want?

4. What is your personality like?

After those four questions, you can begin searching for a doggie match.

Or you can opt for the full questionnaire (you should) ... and basically feel very, VERY understood.

I took the full PawsLikeMe quiz, and when I saw the results I was kindof taken aback:


PawsLikeMe GETS ME!

Then I was the whisked away to dogs who are just ready to love me.

Listen. My apartment in NYC doesn't allow dogs. But if it did? I'd be 91% ready to adopt Carli. She's perfect, and I love her. CUE ADELE and her songs of lost opportunities to love!

With all the 80 gajillion personality quizzes out there in the world, this one is hands down THE BEST.

Take it for yourself! You won't regret it.


This article originally appeared on 11.06.15


New baby and a happy dad.


When San Francisco photographer Lisa Robinson was about to have her second child, she was both excited and nervous.

Sure, those are the feelings most moms-to-be experience before giving birth, but Lisa's nerves were tied to something different.

She and her husband already had a 9-year-old son but desperately wanted another baby. They spent years trying to get pregnant again, but after countless failed attempts and two miscarriages, they decided to stop trying.


Of course, that's when Lisa ended up becoming pregnant with her daughter, Anora. Since it was such a miraculous pregnancy, Lisa wanted to do something special to commemorate her daughter's birth.

So she turned to her craft — photography — as a way to both commemorate the special day, and keep herself calm and focused throughout the birthing process.

Normally, Lisa takes portraits and does wedding photography, so she knew the logistics of being her own birth photographer would be a somewhat precarious new adventure — to say the least.

pregnancy, hospital, giving birth, POV

She initially suggested the idea to her husband Alec as a joke.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"After some thought," she says, "I figured I would try it out and that it could capture some amazing memories for us and our daughter."

In the end, she says, Alec was supportive and thought it would be great if she could pull it off. Her doctors and nurses were all for Lisa taking pictures, too, especially because it really seemed to help her manage the pain and stress.

In the hospital, she realized it was a lot harder to hold her camera steady than she initially thought it would be.

tocodynamometer, labor, selfies

She had labor shakes but would periodically take pictures between contractions.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Eventually when it was time to push and I was able to take the photos as I was pushing, I focused on my daughter and my husband and not so much the camera," she says.

"I didn't know if I was in focus or capturing everything but it was amazing to do.”

The shots she ended up getting speak for themselves:

nurse, strangers, medical care,

Warm and encouraging smiles from the nurse.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

experiment, images, capture, document, record

Newborn Anora's first experience with breastfeeding.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Everybody was supportive and kind of surprised that I was able to capture things throughout. I even remember laughing along with them at one point as I was pushing," Lisa recalled.

In the end, Lisa was so glad she went through with her experiment. She got incredible pictures — and it actually did make her labor easier.

Would she recommend every mom-to-be document their birth in this way? Absolutely not. What works for one person may not work at all for another.

However, if you do have a hobby that relaxes you, figuring out how to incorporate it into one of the most stressful moments in your life is a pretty good way to keep yourself calm and focused.

Expecting and love the idea of documenting your own birthing process?

Take some advice from Lisa: "Don't put pressure on yourself to get 'the shot'" she says, "and enjoy the moment as much as you can.”

Lisa's mom took this last one.

grandma, hobby, birthing process

Mom and daughter earned the rest.

Photo via Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

This article originally appeared on 06.30.16