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Heroes

These Grammy-winners don't want you to pay for their album. They want you to pay for someone else's.

From pop stars to indie rock, some of the biggest names in music are speaking out in support of the creative working class.

On July 17, 2015, Wilco unexpectedly released a brand-new album as a free download on their website.

The album is called "Star Wars" and it features a cat on the cover, which is pretty much the most Internet thing ever.

But the Grammy-Award-winning rock band isn't just giving their album away for free. Oh no. They're encouraging fans to spend their money on lesser-known artists instead.


A few days after the album's release, they explained their actions in a blog post:

They're hardly the first band to experiment with different models for sharing their music on the Internet.

But Wilco is one of the first high profile acts to do so for the explicit purpose of stimulating the creative economy.

I'm sure you've heard it all before that the Internet is ruining the music industry. Hell, musicians have been fighting the same battle since the advent of the phonograph. But music fans don't want hear to the same complaints over and over again, ad nauseam. They just want to listen to the music.

What Wilco is doing is something different. They're encouraging fans to spend their money elsewhere — to enjoy music for free, if they want to, while also contributing to the continued creation of new music by working-class musicians. It's like a trickle-down stimulus package for rock 'n' roll. And that's pretty cool.

Wilco may have used the Internet to stick it to the man back in 2001, but now they're just one of several big-name bands using their power to stand up for the little guy.

Taylor Swift also stood up to the streaming music industry recently, speaking out against Apple Music and Spotify.

OK, so her approach is mostly going to benefit her own profits, but that's not a bad thing. In the case of Spotify, Swift pulled her entire catalog to protest their low, low royalty rates. And she had a few choice words to say when Apple Music refused to pay for the music streamed during a user's free trial period.

Both Wilco and Swift used their positions to champion the rights of working-class musicians, each in their own respective way.

Neither way is necessarily better or more "right" than the other. (The last thing I'm trying to do here is start a feud between Wilco and Taylor Swift; my wife and I already have that battle every time we get into the car.) Both just want to make sure that someone is getting paid for their music.

Yes, Taylor Swift is a pop music powerhouse. But it doesn't matter that she doesn't need the money — she believes artists deserve to be paid what they're worth, on every level. (To be fair, Wilco did previously manage to get Warner Bros. Records to pay them twice for the same album.)

T-Swift and Wilco are just the latest in a long, long line of musicians who have raged against their own machine.

In 2007, Radiohead famously released "In Rainbows" as a pay-what-you-want album and have been very outspoken against Spotify. Fugazi was famously stubborn about keeping prices low for albums and concert tickets alike. Bands like The Backyard Committee (full disclosure: I sometimes perform with them) and the aptly-named Bomb the Music Industry! have democratized their music through free album downloads as well as open musician rosters. Chance the Rapper has made major waves with his self-released mixtapes and has used that success to turn the spotlight onto the other members of his multimedia supporting group, the Social Experiment.

And that's just a few examples from my own music library.


GIF from TayTay's "Shake It Off" music video.

What matters most, though, is that we find ways to support artists of every kind — after all, they make the stuff that makes our lives worth living.

What can you do about it? If you can afford it, put your money where your mouth is, and support artists at all different levels of success.

Every now and then, try to drop $10 on an artist who deserves it. (Wilco's aforementioned "suggested music" list really runs the gamut, from metal to chamber-pop to J-Pop and beyond. I personally downloaded the new record from Speedy Ortiz.)

And when possible, support musicians directly, or through Bandcamp or Kickstarter, instead of bigger companies like Spotify, iTunes, or Amazon.

If you believe in the importance of a strong middle class, it only makes sense that you support the creative working class. Art shouldn't be a privilege produced and enjoyed by an exclusive elite. It's a necessity that nourishes and improves the quality of our lives, and we need to nourish it in return so that the cycle can continue.

Wilco GIF from "The David Letterman Show."

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.
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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.

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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.

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