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Flight attendant shares a tearful message on her last flight before being furloughed

The human cost of the coronavirus pandemic can be measured in many ways. Illness and death top the list, of course, but the mental, emotional, and economic toll must be acknowledged as well. Though the woefully inconsistent and inadequate U.S. response has led to far more suffering than necessary, and although better control of the pandemic would have saved us from a lot of it, some struggles were inevitable.

One industry that was going to be hit hard one way or the other is the airline industry. With people being advised to stay home and avoid close proximity with others, especially in enclosed spaces, airplane travel has been out. And seven months in, the ongoing hit has become unsustainable. As of October 1, 40,000 airline employees have been furloughed.

One flight attendant's heartfelt farewell as she crewed her final flight has been shared by ABC's Sam Sweeney, and phew, it's a doozy. She holds back tears as she explains how American Airlines has been forced to reduce flights, which has resulted in job cuts and how much she has loved working as a flight attendant.


After thanking the passengers and the airline for the opportunity to "see this big world" and to make lifelong friendships—having to take a few breaks to compose herself as she was speaking—she called on everyone to practice kindness and compassion toward one another. It's a heart-wrenching clip that puts a human face on the economic toll the pandemic has taken.

Some efforts have been made to avoid such job losses. Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio attempted to pass a bill in the House to save those jobs—an extension of the Payroll Relief Program from the CARES Act—but it was blocked by the GOP. DeFazio gave an impassioned speech decrying the block.

"Flight attendants, they don't get paid a heck of a lot of money," he said. "Pilots—yeah, they do well. Mechanics, gate agents, tens of thousands of those people have been furloughed as of yesterday. They've lost their jobs, they've lost their healthcare, some of them are going to lose their homes. They don't know how they're going to make ends meet, feed their kids, or do anything else, all because the Republicans in the House of Representatives would not agree, and the Republicans in the Senate will not agree to a larger package that contains these provisions. These are vital provisions, they're time-sensitive, but the larger package would provide relief to tens of millions of Americans—the HEROES package would extend healthcare to people who've lost it, the HEROES package would extend unemployment to people who've lost it, the HEROES package would send out individual checks, the HEROES package would send money to keep small businesses going..."

DeFazio's time ran out and his request for another minute was denied.

"Well I'm sorry, I'm not gonna stop talking. I'm tired of bureaucracy around here—it's time to do real things for the American people!" he shouted. "And this is real. These people's lives are at stake."

The pandemic has been tough on all of us, but when jobs and businesses are hit by forces beyond their control and Americans are losing their livelihoods by the millions, it's time for the government to stop the bleeding any way it can. And when partisan bickering gets in the way of helping the American people, it's time to make our voices heard at the ballot box.

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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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.

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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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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