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An 11-yr-old's daily tic-tac-toe game with her mail carrier is quietly a metaphor for America in 2020

The United States Postal Service has dutifully delivered mail to Americans from deep in the heart of Manhattan to deep in the heart of the rural Midwest for nearly five decades as an official entity and centuries longer than that as a service. Even as electronic communications has taken the place of handwritten letters, most of us still rely on the regularity of mail delivery as part of our daily routine.

Even this 11-year-old knows she can count on USPS delivery, as evidenced by the tic-tac-toe game she started with her delivery person. She taped the "board" to the inside of the lid and takes turns with the mail carrier each time the mail gets delivered.

"My 11 y/o daughter had insisted on checking the mail the last couple of days," wrote BallCoach79. "Today, I checked it. This is what I found."


The image is sweet. But it's also an opportunity to talk about the dire situation the USPS is currently facing—one that could drastically impact the integrity of our upcoming election.


With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of slowing down in the U.S., and with far too many Americans refusing to take the necessary steps to mitigating it, our fall is not looking too promising. The pandemic lull that was expected during the summer months hasn't happened, and there was already a second wave predicted as we move into the autumn months. It's quite likely that Election Day on November 3rd will coincide with an extremely dangerous time to go to the polls in person, which means millions of Americans will want to or need to vote by mail.

Despite the fearmongering from certain factions, including the president, voting by mail can be done safely and securely. Several states have voted entirely by mail for many years without any major issues. In fact, Washington state which has allowed all voters to vote by mail since 2005, and the state is ranked second in the nation for electoral integrity.

But voting by mail will only work if our mail system works. And right now, USPS is being effectively destroyed not only by the decreased business mail due to the pandemic, but also by a uniquely weighty congressional mandate to prefund all of its employee pensions, ongoing budget deficits, and demonizing attacks by the president of the United States.

The postal service is something we all take for granted. Because it's always been reliable, we assume it will just always be there. But it's in real danger of running out of money and having to shut down, which would be devastating to our elections, not to mention the other personal and business disruptions it would cause.

We can all help. Here's how:

1. Sign a petition to send to Congress and the U.S. Treasury here.

2. You can also sign a petition by texting USPS to 50409.

2. Help the USPS directly by buying stamps here. (Sales of postage and products is 100% how the USPS is funded. Despite being overseen by the government, no taxpayer funds go to funding it.)

3. No, you can't donate directly to the USPS. Seriously, commit to writing some old-fashioned letters to your loved ones and buy stamps. (Bonus: Buying a bunch of "Forever" stamps now will save you money down the road, since they never expire. And there are tons of cool designs to choose from.)

Also, make sure your order a mail-in ballot now if your state requires you to do that, and send it in at least two full weeks before election day.

Let's all show the USPS some love, both by being kind to our individual mail carriers and by supporting the work they do. The best support we can give is making sure this long-standing institution survives these tough times.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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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.

Pop Culture

John Cena sets new world record with 650 wishes granted with the Make-A-Wish Foundation

He’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I'll drop everything."

The multitalented, mega famous John Cena might hold many titles, but this might be the coolest one yet—and it has nothing to do with wrestling.

The actor and WWE performer just broke the Guinness World Records for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As of July 19, Guinness World Records reports, Cena has granted a whopping 650 wishes. The highest amount any other celebrity granted was 200.

The 16-time world champion first became a wish-granter back in 2002. Since then, he’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I just drop everything. I don't care what I'm doing," he said in a WWE produced video after granting his 500th wish. “I can't say enough how cool it is to see the kids so happy, and their families so happy, I truly want to show them that it's their day.”
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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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