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Heroes

This explorer spends his life testing the limits. But why does he bother?

Answers to the question, "Why bother leaving the house at all?"

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Universal Pictures: Everest

In 2004, explorer Ben Saunders skied from the north coast of Russia to the north coast of Canada via the Arctic Ocean.

During this solo trip, he spent 72 days — or 10 weeks — in complete solitude, dragging nearly 400 pounds of supplies behind him.


Image from Ben Saunders' TED Talk.

But that didn't satisfy his thirst for adventure.

In 2013 and 2014, Saunders led the first successful journey on foot from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. That trip took 15 weeks.

Sure, Saunders' feats are impressive. But why does he do it? As an interviewer once asked him, "If it is being done somewhere by someone, and we can participate virtually, then why bother leaving the house?"

Here are a few of the reasons Saunders gives for his relentless drive to explore.

"Because it's there."

This quote is often credited to George Lee Mallory, the man who may (or may not) have been the first person ever to summit Mount Everest. Mallory is pictured below, second from the left in the back row.

Image from Ben Saunders' TED Talk.

When asked, "What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?" Mallory replied, "It is no use. ... What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy, and joy, after all, is the end of life."

Mallory was last seen alive disappearing into the clouds on Mount Everest in 1924.

"No one else will ever, could ever, possibly see the views, the vistas, that I saw."

When Saunders completed his expedition to the North Pole in 2004, he was traveling over a drifting sea of ever-changing ice.

Because of the constant shifts in that terrain, he had an experience that no one in the world will ever have again. NO ONE in the world will ever see exactly what he saw.

And that seems pretty worth it.

Image from Ben Saunders' TED Talk.

Saunders explains in a TED Talk, "I can try to tell you what it was like, but you'll never know what it was like. And the more I try to explain ... the more words fall short, and I'm unable to do it justice."

"Real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and challenge."

Sure, this one's a bit cheesy, but hear him out.

Ben Saunders, extravagant explorer, is aware that you could get the answers to almost any question you could think to ask, right from your laptop or phone.

But in all his years of subjecting himself to extreme challenges, he's learned something important: "If I've learned anything in nearly 12 years now of dragging heavy things around cold places, it is that true, real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and from challenge."

In the end, Saunders' point is this: "We could all benefit from getting outside the house a little more often, if only we could summon up the courage."

No, you don't have to walk to the North Pole. No, you don't have to hand in your laptop and quit the Internet entirely.

But there is a lot of truth to what he's saying.

Many of these quotes were taken from Saunders' TED Talk titled "Why bother leaving the house?" If you have the time, it's worth checking out the whole video here:

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.

Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" cover still rocks.

When Micheal Jackson released "Smooth Criminal" in 1988, I was a 13-year-old named Annie. As you can imagine, the "Annie, are you okay?" jokes came fast and furious, and they haven't let up much in the three and a half decades since.

It's all good. Those jokes gave me a respite from the "Annie get your gun" and "little orphan Annie" ones, and besides, it's a great song. It wasn't Jackson's biggest hit, but it was always my favorite, and not just because it bore my name. The music video—a nine-minute, dance-heavy mini-movie set in the 1930s gangster era—made it even better.

But apparently, mentioning "Smooth Criminal" or "Annie, are you okay?" to the younger folks doesn't conjure up the zoot suits and dimly lit speakeasy images it does for me. For them, it brings up images of an alternative rock punk band playing in a … boxing ring?

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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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