+

Congress just decided that continuing to fund health care for 9/11 first responders is a pretty good idea.

(Also the sky is blue and candy tastes good).

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act is a bill that would extend the already existing health benefits for 9/11 first responders until 2090. It covers medical and other expenses for a long list of conditions that many first responders face as a result of the rescue and recovery efforts after the aircraft crashes on 9/11.


It's a bill that's about as controversial as this kitten:

You're not polarizing at all are you, little guy? Photo from iStock.


It came as a surprise to many people that the bill has had some trouble getting passed. So much trouble in fact, that it prompted America's newly-bearded and recently retired late night sweetheart to return to TV.

I'm speaking, of course, of Jon Stewart, who appeared on The Daily Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he urged Congress to stop playing politics with "this necessary bill" and showed just how bad things can get for the responders.

Stewart with the remaining member of a full panel of first responders from five years ago. Screenshot via "The Daily Show"/Comedy Central.

Thanks in part to Stewart's dedication and action, the Zadroga Act is now is now moving forward.

Legislators agreed on an $8.1 billion reauthorization on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, and attached it to the $1.1 trillion spending bill funding the federal government through most of 2016.

That spending bill, by the way, is the must-pass legislation that narrowly avoided yet another government shutdown before the end of the year.

Essentially, Congress took the two bills that most exemplify their inability to get stuff done on time, stapled them together, and are now nudging them through the House while patting themselves on the back.

Mad yet? Here's another kitten:

You support common sense legislation don't you, buddy?

The Zadroga Act/spending bill double-stuffed Oreo of incompetence won't be voted on until next week, but this is a positive sign.

Especially since the world's easiest bill to get behind has faced such a seemingly uphill battle.

"It's been a tough fight, and it has been a long fight, but it has been worth it," said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who's been working on 9/11 legislation since 2001. "All [the first responders] ask of us is that we never forget their sacrifice, and Congress is now sending a clear message back: We haven’t."

Many are also calling it a huge victory for the public voice.

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaking at a news conference announcing the renewal of the Zadroga Act. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"It is a testament to the extraordinary power that Americans can have when they raise their voice and demand action,“ said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, implying that the public outcry championed largely by Jon Stewart has had a real effect on Congress deciding to act.

But the fight isn't over, and the problem never will be.

The simple fact is, a huge number of 9/11 first responders face both mental and physical health problems every day as a result of their heroic actions. Over 8,500 people are currently being treated by the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center.

In the New York Fire Department alone, 109 responders have died from illnesses linked to ground zero exposure.

Passing the Zadroga Reauthorization Act is, as Jon Stewart put it, "literally the least we can do."

Congress, it would appear, can still be trusted to do the least they can do.

The passing of this bill is important, necessary, and impossible to disagree with.

Just like this kitten:

Yes you are! YES YOU ARE!

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