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upworthy
Democracy

People are sharing the things America does best. Here are 17 things they're totally right about.

National Parks? Yep.

america, america does best, reddit
via Pexels

Someone throwing up a heart around Old Glory.

If you watch the news all day, you’ll probably think that America is a politically divided, dangerous, bigoted, contentious, depressing place that’s slowly losing its grip on being a world power. That’s because there are very few media outlets that can stay in business reporting good news. (Unless they’re Upworthy, of course.)

Humans have a negativity bias, so they are much more interested in hearing about the world’s problems than what’s going well. That makes it easy for them to develop a warped view of their country and the world that is much more negative than it should be.

Thousands of people on Reddit came together to make people feel a lot better about being an American recently after a user named KyleB2131 asked, “What does America do better than most other countries?” The post received thousands of responses from Americans and people abroad about the things that truly make the country great.


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A lot of the responses are about how America excels in innovation and has wonderful topography highlighted by a fantastic system of national parks. Americans are also incredibly creative and make the best entertainment in the world.

“This may be one of my favorite Reddit threads of all time,” a Reddit user named BigPlainV wrote. “Being tuned in to American mass media makes me feel like I live in the most fucked up armpit of the world. This thread has single handedly made me proud to be an American again.”

“The American mass media, I believe, is our biggest downfall,” circ2day added. “Because bad news makes more money than good news, that's all we get. Everything is aggressively sensationalized for the sake of getting views. This makes America look incredibly bad to outsiders.”

Here are 17 of the best responses to the question, “What does America do better than most other countries?”

1. 

"Turning corn into things that are not corn." — rlemon

2. 

"I was going to say cornbread but everyone said rest stops. Have y’all ever had cornbread?" — Admirable-Ad-2554

3. 

"I love the Interstate Rest Areas on road trips. I'm a Canadian from the west coast, and was always VERY impressed with the 24/7 rest areas. Clean washrooms, nice grassy areas for dogs, picnic tables, and a lot of times people selling crafts, or offering free coffee!

"I've only driven through the western states, (WA,OR,CA,NV,UT,AZ) but yeah, those rest areas were always reliable. Always well-marked signs when the next one was coming up. Just made everything about traveling easier! Thanks, neighbors!" — Ubba-Ga

4. 

"Jazz." — PuzzleheadReveal58

5. 

"National Parks." — Big-Win6220

SmellLikeSheepSpirit added:

"Absolutely. People complain about crowds at the national parks, but this is somewhat by design. As you mention the American national parks are very accessible, they have handicapped trails. They have large educational visitor stations. They have viewpoints on the roads. They're meant to "market" the outdoors to the masses. They're a "park" much like an urban park is. Most have truly amazing drives that give a great sampling of what they offer.

"They also have amazing landscapes that see much less usage only a few miles out. People miss the point that they work for both the layperson/day visitor AND the person who will spend 5 days in a roadless wilderness. And of course there are wilderness designations for that reason."

6. 

"Make sure there's ice in your beverage." -- HegemoniHarbinger

DJ33 added:

"I asked where the ice machine was in a hotel in Dublin and the woman at the desk thought I was damaged in the head. She'd clearly never, ever had anyone ask that before."

7. 

"Buffets. No buffet I’ve had can beat the one’s I had in the states." — sueRiot

8. 

"Music — The United States is the birthplace of Blues, Jazz, Rock and Roll, Hip Hop, Punk, Bluegrass, Country-Western, Rap, and a half a dozen different forms of regional folk music. Nearly every culture in the world imitates our musical forms." — Mike the Bard

9. 

"While we have a LONG way to go, the USA is comparatively better than a lot of places regarding supporting people with disabilities." — Kittenesque02

10. 

"The ability of the American farmer to produce food. It is really staggering the amount of food that is grown here." — fat-dum-stoopid

11. 

"Women's sports are really well supported here - so are female athletes. Despite many things Americans might say about it - if you go to other countries female athletics is really almost non-existent." — Juls7243

12. 

"America wins EVERY Super Bowl!" — Leyline

13. 

"Air conditioners everywhere and free public restrooms. You have to pay to use the restrooms in Europe." — SnooDoughnuts231

14. 

"Business. Hands down. It’s their biggest advantage in my opinion. Deals with Americans just get done easier. Compared to other countries American businesses are more open-minded to new things, don’t try to fuck you over, want a win for both sides, want simpler agreements, negotiate fairly, hold up their end of the bargain, etc.

"If you have even done business internationally you really see what a strong advantage it is. Other countries everyone is fucking everyone over, or are close-minded, slow as snails, and obsessed with bureaucracy. Commerce just flows better there." — Stopinstinker

15. 


"Think big and be bold. I am originally from Europe where people often just think small." — throwaway32132190432

16.

"Serious answer? Logistics. We're quite a large country and we've gotten very good at moving things around." — weirdoldhobo1978

17. 

"Chatting, I’m from an Asian country where most people will avoid talking to stranger. But you can literally talk to anyone you met in the street in the US and most of them are willing to talk." — _formosa_

Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.
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Cavemen must have been perpetually late, given that humans didn't get around to inventing the sundial until 1500 BCE. The first attempts at measuring time via sun movement were shadow clocks created by the Egyptians and Babylonians. These led to the sundial, an instrument that tells time by measuring shadows cast by the sun on a dial plate. Sundials were our preferred method of timekeeping until the mechanical clock was invented in 14th-century Europe.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Sara Bogush

In 1972, Hamilton introduced the world's first digital watch. Its $2,000 price tag was hefty, but by the '80s, digital watches became affordable for the average person. Now, both technologies have merged in a cool invention, the digital sundial. Created by French Etsy seller Mojoptix, this outdoor clock uses the patterns on a suspended wand to mold natural shadows into a digital-looking time readout. The digital sundial has two major drawbacks: It only reports the time in 20-minute intervals, and it's not very effective after sundown. But it sure does look cool.

Here's the digital sundial in action!

This article first appeared on 9.15.17.

Kampus Production/Canva

How often do you change your sheets?

If you were to ask a random group of people, "How often do you wash your sheets?" you'd likely get drastically different answers. There are the "Every single Sunday without fail" folks, the "Who on Earth washes their sheets weekly?!?" people and everyone in between.

According to a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Mattress Advisor, the average time between sheet changings or washings in the U.S. is 24 days—or every 3 1/2 weeks, approximately. The same survey revealed that 35 days is the average interval at which unwashed sheets are "gross."

Some of you are cringing at those stats while others are thinking, "That sounds about right." But how often should you wash your sheets, according to experts?

Hint: It's a lot more frequent than 24 days.

While there is no definitive number of days or weeks, most experts recommend swapping out used sheets for clean ones every week or two.

Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD told Cleveland Clinic that people should wash their sheets at least every two weeks, but probably more often if you have pets, live in a hot climate, sweat a lot, are recovering from illness, have allergies or asthma or if you sleep naked.

We shed dead skin all the time, and friction helps those dead skin cells slough off, so imagine what's happening every time you roll over and your skin rubs on the sheets. It's normal to sweat in your sleep, too, so that's also getting on your sheets. And then there's dander and dust mites and dirt that we carry around on us just from living in the world, all combining to make for pretty dirty sheets in a fairly short period of time, even if they look "clean."

Maybe if you shower before bed and always wear clean pajamas you could get by with a two-week sheet swap cycle, but weekly sheet cleaning seems to be the general consensus among the experts. The New York Times consulted five books about laundry and cleaning habits, and once a week was what they all recommend.

Sorry, once-a-monthers. You may want to step up your sheet game a bit.

What about the rest of your bedding? Blankets and comforters and whatnot?

Sleep.com recommends washing your duvet cover once a week, but this depends on whether you use a top sheet. Somewhere between the Gen X and Millennial eras, young folks stopped being about the top sheet life, just using their duvet with no top sheet. If that's you, wash that baby once a week. If you do use a top sheet, you can go a couple weeks longer on the duvet cover.

For blankets and comforters and duvet inserts, Sleep.com says every 3 months. And for decorative blankets and quilts that you don't really use, once a year washing will suffice.

What about pillows? Pillowcases should go in with the weekly sheet washing, but pillows themselves should be washed every 3 to 6 months. Washing pillows can be a pain, and if you don't do it right, you can end up with a lumpy pillow, but it's a good idea because between your sweat, saliva and skin cells, pillows can start harboring bacteria.

Finally, how about the mattress itself? Home influencers on TikTok can often be seen stripping their beds, sprinkling their mattress with baking soda, brushing it into the mattress fibers and then vacuuming it all out. Architectural Digest says the longer you leave baking soda on the mattress, the better—at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. Some people add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda for some extra yummy smell.

If that all sounds like way too much work, maybe just start with the sheets. Pick a day of the week and make it your sheet washing day. You might find that climbing into a clean, fresh set of sheets more often is a nice way to feel pampered without a whole lot of effort.

Fowl Language by Brian Gordon


Brian Gordon is a cartoonist. He's also a dad, which means he's got plenty of inspiration for the parenting comics he creates for his website, Fowl Language (not all of which actually feature profanity).

He covers many topics, but it's his hilarious parenting comics that are resonating with parents everywhere.

"My comics are largely autobiographical," Gordon tells me. "I've got two kids who are 4 and 7, and often, what I'm writing happened as recently as that very same day."

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Somewhere in Salt Lake City, a Girl Scout is getting allll the good mojo from The People of the Internet.

Over the weekend, Eli McCann shared a story of an encounter at a Girl Scout cookie stand that has people throwing their fists in the air and shouting, YES! THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE. (Or maybe that's just me. But I'm guessing most of the 430,000 people who liked his story had a similar reaction.)

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Pop Culture

Artist paints characters as described in books, then shares side-by-side with film versions

He doesn't know who he's painting, and it's fascinating to see who is close and who is way off.

Jazza tries to guess who he's painting based only on written descriptions.

Anyone who's watched a film based on a book has experienced the disappointment of a movie character not matching their imagined version of what a character looks like. Book authors offer descriptions of characters with varying levels of detail, usually just enough to help us form a mental picture or give us necessary information about them, so we may not all imagine them the same way.

Some characters' physical features are crucial to their story, such as Harry Potter's lightning-shaped forehead scar, but some are just an author's attempt to share whatever they themselves imagine a character to look like. There's often a lot that's open to interpretation, though, so it's a bit of a crapshoot whether a film depiction of a book character will match a writer's description of them—or a reader's vision based on that description.

One artist is exploring this phenomenon with a video series in which he paints characters based solely on their written descriptions. Jazza, who has made a name for himself on social media with his creative art videos, is given the features of a character as described by a writer without being told who the character is or where they're from. Then we see how his depiction compares to the character as shown on screen.

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