+
hotline with kindergartners, hotline to get pep talk from kids

Peptoc, created by the students at West Side Elementary.

Remember the Callin’ Oats hotline that started back in 1987? You know, the emergency Hall & Oates helpline where you’d dial 719-26-OATES to hear a song? Press 1 for “One on One,” 2 for “Rich Girl,” 3 for … well I don’t remember the options beyond 2. “Rich Girl” was always my pick.

Hotlines might have been a relic destined for the Gen X archives, had 2020’s lockdown not prompted people of all ages to to seek out entertainment in any way they could. Hotlines are indeed hot once again. And perhaps more clever than ever.

You can call the Hogwarts Admission Office, receive support through your existential crisis and even listen to poetry to escape from the mundanity of modern life.

But perhaps no hotline could be as wholesome and delightful as Peptoc, where callers can tune out the harsh noise of the world and fill their heads (and hearts) with wisdom, encouragement and life advice from kindergarteners.

That’s right, pure joy is just a phone call away.


Once you dial 707-998-8410, you’ll hear a child’s voice prompt you through delightful options:

“If you're feeling mad, frustrated or nervous, press 1. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press 2. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press 3. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5.”

What exactly does a “pep talk” from kindergartners sound like, you may wonder. Well, it goes a little something like this:

“You can do it!”

“Keep trying! Don’t give up!”

"Bro, you're looking great!”

As for when you feel mad or frustrated, the kiddos suggest taking three deep breaths, punching a pillow, or getting ice cream and/or shoes. I mean … pretty sound advice.

As the hotline intro suggests, Peptoc was created as an art project from students at West Side Elementary in California, with the help of their teachers Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss.

Martin shared with NPR that the idea was moved by her student’s unwavering positive attitudes that remained consistent throughout the pandemic and wildfires. She thought their optimism could be something everyone could benefit from.

"Their creativity and resourcefulness is something that we need to emulate, because that level of joy and love and imagination is what's going to save us in the end…And you know, with the current situation in Ukraine and all of the other terrors and sadness that we all carry, it's really important that we continue to hold this light." Martin told NPR.

Taking a page from that late Susan O’Malley’s book, Martin made the project a form of “social art,” meant to engage people through interaction with the art itself.

O’Malley’s “Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self” made inspirational posters from the advice of strangers. With Peptoc, we instead get inspiration from little children. Or as one woman who called then told CNN, “joy straight from the literal mouths of babes.”

It seems Martin was right—this is something the world has very much needed. As of Feb 26, the hotline is already up to 700 callers per hour.

Though the hotline itself is free to call, you can help support the hotline fees by clicking here to donate. Any excess money goes toward the school’s enrichment programs, which Martin adds has undergone massive budget cuts.

Next time you’re feeling down, Peptoc and the students of West Side Elementary are here to lift your spirits. Art, plus laughing children … what’s not to like?

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
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.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

Keep ReadingShow less
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