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Welcome to “A Song of Nice and Fire” Upworthy’s weekly series recapping one of the most brutal shows on TV. Since brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, Eric March has taken it upon himself to dig deep, twist and turn, and squint really hard to see if he can find the light of kindness in all the darkness. He may not always succeed, but by gosh if he won’t try his best.

Here’s what he found on this week’s "Game of Thrones."


If seven years of bumping around Westeros has taught me anything, it's that the game giveth, and the game taketh away. No more so than for those of us who recappeth the game on the internet.

Poor snowy horsemen. Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Last week was full of human kindness. This week, not so much. So ... I'm going to do things a little differently.

I'm going to summarize the down and dirty of what happened in each location. Then, I'm going to give the nicest person in that location special props. An award, of sorts. Named after the kindest, gentlest soul ever to visit there.

Let's give this a shot, shall we?

Dragonstone

The episode opens just a few days (weeks? months? What timescale are we operating at here again, anyway?) into Daenerys' triumphant homecoming to Dragonstone, where she and Varys are just not getting along.

The spymaster tries to whisper sweet, manipulative nothings to the breaker of freaking chains to no avail because, of course, there's the tiny matter of Varys trying to have Dany killed way back in season one. Varys does manage to slip back into the dragon queen's good (or, let's be honest, medium) graces by playing the complete and total honesty card and declaring his loyalty to the continent's smallfolk, a concern Daenerys purports to share, even though she will shortly be raining dragonfire down on a fair percentage of them.

[rebelmouse-image 19529516 dam="1" original_size="700x476" caption=""So. Who saw Spider-Man?" Image by Helen Sloan/HBO." expand=1]"So. Who saw Spider-Man?" Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Later, Melisandre shows up for some light exposition about gender neutral pronouns in high Valyrian, and Dany's 4/5 badass female war council hash out their battle plans for taking back the Seven Kingdoms. Could Tyrion's encyclopedic knowledge of the Casterly Rock sewer system finally be about to pay off?

Perhaps not if Daenerys heeds Olenna's advice to "ignore all men."

On the eve of battle, Missandei and Grey Worm decide they can't hide their terribly hidden feelings from each other anymore. What follows is about as tender a love scene as we're likely to ever get on "Game of Thrones," which means...

The Shireen Baratheon Award of Generosity goes to: Missandei and Grey Worm: She for teaching a eunuch how to love and he for apparently being the only man on either continent who's heard of cunnilingus. I mean, do the women have to put it in a raven, guys? This isn't rocket science.

Winterfell

In response to an invitation from Tyrion, Jon and Davos discuss plans to meet up with Daenerys and her dragons — and Sansa is like, "You guys."

Then, Jon tells all the northern and Eyrie lords about his plan to get down with a Targaryen restoration — something none of them are particularly stoked about, given Dany's focus on killing lords and masters and the human burning that happened during the last go-around — to save the world from the White Walkers and Sansa is like, "YOU GUYS."

Unlike previous iterations of the Stark-men-go-nobly-unto-their-certain-doom show, both Jon and Sansa sort of have a point here. Sansa is darn sure correct that Jon is way too trusting of some self-appointed queen whose dad killed their grandpa and uncle only, like, 15 years ago. But Jon really has seen the White Walkers, and they really are scary, and they really do need the dragons to re-dead them. Anyway, the whole thing ends with Jon naming Sansa temporary Warden of the North in his absence, which is something his dad/secret uncle never would have done.

Somewhere in there, Jon grabs Littlefinger by the neck in the crypt, because Stark men grabbing Littlefinger by the neck always seems to end well, and tells him to lay off Sansa, which will definitely happen because Littlefinger respects the wishes of others, especially Stark men who grab him by the neck.

Your hilariously empty threats give me life. Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Finally, Jon trots off toward his destiny and Sansa manages to give 'em a lil' wave goodbye.

But her eyes are still clearly screaming, "YOU GUYS!!!!"

And the Maester Luwin Medallion of Ultimate Kindness goes to: If you think about it, it was really nice of the tombs of previous generations of Starks to provide a hard surface for Jon to strangle Littlefinger on. Even if it was short-lived and Jon will likely live to regret it before too long, boy did Littlefinger have it coming.

Oldtown

Deep in the stacks, Archmaester Ebrose and Sam argue over the title of Ebrose's Westerosi history thriller about all the wars we just saw happen over the previous six seasons — Ebrose thinks it really needs to pop, while Sam thinks it should be more "poetic." (If you were ever wondering if HBO and George R. R. Martin haggled over "Game of Thrones" versus "A Song of Ice and Fire," for the series title well ... now we probably know.)

Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Meanwhile Jorah is no longer zombie-handling Sam from the confines of his cell — instead, he's sitting in a dank room receiving a depressing prognosis and contemplating suicide-by-sword.

It's a relief, then, when Sam approaches him with a tray full of sharp metal implements, a jug of rum, and a plan to cure him by straight-up carving the disease off Jorah's body. It's a gross process, made all the grosser by an end-of-scene match cut between Jorah's gooey back knifings and a bowl of creamy soup hundreds of miles away. I mean ... GOSH.

And the Little Sam Prize for Pure Goodness goes to: Sam. Obviously. For literally scraping the leprosy off Jorah's back. Come. On.

The Riverlands

Fresh off a righteous around-the-fire chill session with Ed Sheeran, Arya catches up with Hot Pie (Hot Pie!) who gives her a killer pie crust tip and fills her in on the goings-on with her surprisingly alive siblings, which gets the tiny assassin sidetracked on her mission to kill Cersei and points her north.

Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Later on, trying to warm herself with the world's most pitiful fire, Arya finds Nymeria! Her direwolf! And asks her to come back to Winterfell with her! And because this is "Game of Thrones," she does and they live happily ever after!

Just kidding. The direwolf unceremoniously trots in the opposite direction. Because, as Arya realizes, "that's not her." (Not, as in literally not her, but as in that's not her style to come along. Apparently, this was a reference to a line from season one? Gotta stay past the credits, I guess.)

And the Brienne of Tarth Honor of Heartwarmingness goes to: Hot Pie, for giving Arya his secret pie recipe. First brown the butter, before slaughtering your enemies' family members and baking their digits into the filling. Gonna stow that one away for Thanksgiving.

The high seas.

Below deck, all is smooth sailing in the Iron Fleet on its way to collect the Dornish army. The Sand Snakes lay in their hammocks fantasizing about the various Lannisters they're going to whip/throwing star to death while Yara and Ellaria get to know one another a little-to-a-lot better.

Of course, then Uncle Euron ruins the moment when he comes flying in like the lead singer of Rhode Island's third best Iron Maiden tribute band and spoils everything, slaughtering various extras and the two Sand Snakes you probably didn't care about, while taking the one Sand Snake you also didn't care about but at least definitely recognized, Ellaria, and Yara hostage. Confronted by his father's brother holding his sister at ax-point, Theon takes a deep breath, screws his courage to the sticking place, and ... bravely jumps into the sea.

Oh well. You'll get him next time, Theon.

And the Ser Davos Seaworth Herald of Compassion goes to: Random piece of shipwreck, for holding Theon afloat after he abandons ship. Perhaps he doesn't deserve it — he sexually harassed his sister, killed two innocent farm boys, and sold out the entire North to a crazed serial killer — but hey, everyone deserves a 27th chance. Right? Way to come through in the clutch, hunk of driftwood!

Random Acts of Niceness

  • It was cool of those wolves not to eat Arya's horse, who was definitely like "screw this" throughout that entire scene.
  • Varys is a "small-d" democrat? Could we be headed toward a revolution of the Westerosi political system? Five years from now, will we be arguing about Pentosi interference in the Targaryen-Lannister election?
  • Ser Davos knows how to read! All those lessons with Shireen finally paid off. Thanks, Shireen! Wonder whatever happened to that scamp.

That's all for now, folks! Join me next week when hopefully Daenerys and Jon bro out over their vinyl collections, the Night King helps paint the Wall a lovely burnt umber, and Randall and Dickon Tarly's father-son road trip back to Horn Hill ends in a tearful game of catch.

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

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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.

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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.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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