+

The Austin family in Concord, New Hampshire, went through a roller coaster of emotions shortly after the ball dropped to ring in the new year.

Their fourth child, a son named Cainan, was the first baby born in the city in 2017, at 7:44 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Hours earlier, around 1 a.m., father Lamar Austin also lost his job, via text message no less. But he told the Concord Monitor, "Sometimes you lose something and you get something even better."


Lamar with his new son, Cainan. Photo provided by Lamar Austin, used with permission.

Austin made an honorable choice to put family first. His former employer made a choice too — one that sounds heartless, but was legal.

An Army ammunition specialist who served six months in Iraq, Austin struggled to find steady work to support his family after he left the service. He had bounced around a variety of jobs, from crossing guard to fryer manufacturing, and relied on support from veterans programs and his local church community. "It’s been tough, but God has always provided for me when I needed it," he said in an interview with the Concord Monitor. "Some kind of help always came in the strangest forms."

In the fall of 2016, he received an opportunity to put his military training to use at Salerno Protective Services, a private security firm based in New Hampshire. Austin was hired on a part-time basis for a 90-day trial period, during which he was reportedly expected to be on call 24/7.

Main Street, Concord, New Hampshire. Photo by John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons.

The problem is much, much bigger than Austin and this one company.

Even if Austin were a full-time, salaried employee with an expectation of job security, it might not have mattered.

New Hampshire is an "employment at-will" state, which essentially means contractual employees can be terminated from a job at any time, without reason. Some states do have limitations on this law, but not the Granite State.

New Hampshire recognizes the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but for Austin and his family, it wouldn't be enough. Even working full-time at that wage, he would gross just over $15,000 a year, which is well below the poverty line for his family. While New Hampshire might have a low unemployment rate, underemployment is a different story — and the situation can be worse for veterans.

Furthermore, the United States is one of the only developed nations that doesn't guarantee paid parental leave after the birth of a child. Some U.S. companies do choose to offer maternity leave (or at least unpaid time off with a job to return to), but paternity leave is still hard to come by.

The CEO of Salero Protective Systems did admit to an "error in judgement" one week later, and while he and Austin have reportedly made peace with one another, it doesn't change the fact that things like this have happened and will continue to happen as long as the law allows it.

The whole Austin family together. Photo provided by Lamar Austin, used with permission.

Austin's termination was unfortunate. It was also nothing new. This time, however, people are paying attention — and that could make a difference.

Local politicians, including State Senator Dan Feltes and Executive Councilman Andru Volinsky, have voiced their support for both the family and for family-friendly labor policies in general.

Sara Persechino — a Concord resident and total stranger to the Austin family — was so moved by their story that she launched a GoFundMe campaign to help them out, raising more than $8,000 in the first five days. "I don’t think anyone should ever have to choose between their family and their job," she told The Independent.

Even more, Austin has been offered several new job opportunities from people who were touched by his story. Representatives from the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers chapter and the AFL-CIO labor federation reached out to encourage him to take advantage of the flexible and family-friendly support nets offered by their respective unions. Austin would still have to start as an apprentice as he hones his trade, but skilled labor could be just what he needs to find steady work.

Austin hasn't made any decisions just yet, as he is focusing on being a good dad to newborn Cainan and a good husband to his wife, Lindsay. He already knows that no matter what happens, he'll always have his family — and that's what matters most.

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.

Keep ReadingShow less
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.

Keep ReadingShow less
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.
Keep ReadingShow less