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What Google can show us about our reaction to mass shootings.

If you watched the news Wednesday or the following morning, you heard of yet another mass shooting.

This one in San Bernardino, California.


Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images News.

It was the 1,042nd mass shooting since Sandy Hook in December 2012.

Not again, you think, as you scour the Internet for details.

You come across a report with "live updates" like this one from the LA Times. 14 people have died, 17 are injured. Police have killed two suspects, a man and a woman, and another one is in custody.

You and millions of others turn to Google, where you type in the location of this shooting. You tweet or update Facebook about your rage, your frustration that this has happened again, your despair that politicians will still do nothing to protect you or anyone else from the next mass shooting. Because there will be more. The pattern will repeat itself. We know this. We've seen this.

Then you probably forget about it for a bit. Until news about the next mass shooting breaks.

A candlelight vigil after the WDBJ shooting in Roanoke, Virginia. Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

According to Google Trends, interest in a mass shooting peaks on the day of or the day after, and then almost immediately drops off the day after that.

This is what happened with the WDBJ shooting in Roanoke, where Vester Flanagan shot and killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward on Aug. 26, 2015 during a live report.

U.S.-specific search interest for "WDBJ shooting" peaked on Aug. 26 (represented on the chart by the number 100), but then quickly dropped off on Aug. 27.

This was the day that major outlets like the New York Times reported on one of the victim's fathers calling for gun control.

During the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where nine people were killed just a few months ago, U.S. search interest peaked the day after the shooting on Oct. 2, then rapidly faded by Oct. 3, just one day later.

And if two is a coincidence, three is a pattern — the same search behavior can be seen of the Isla Vista shooting, where Elliot Rodger killed six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara on May 23, 2014.

It's not just these three. It repeats when you look up the trends for the mass shootings in Marysville, Washington; Charleston, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee, and others.

We care about these tragedies. We care about gun control. Why do we lose interest so fast?

Maybe because we get burnt out quickly on the tragic details. Maybe a few days in, we're being bombarded by information and have less need to seek it out.

Maybe there's nothing to do but get angry for one day — a few at the most — and then move on.

Maybe after so much death and so little being done about it, we feel there's no hope of any meaningful gun control legislation passing Congress, of any laws or initiatives addressing related issues like the misogyny behind Rodgers' attack, or the anti-abortion rhetoric that motivated last week's Planned Parenthood shooting.

If there were a time to enact gun control, you'd think that the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, where 20 children and their teachers were gunned down almost three years ago, would have been it.


There were three-fifths as many "Sandy Hook" searches from Jan. 13-19, 2013, when President Barack Obama announced a four-point legislative plan to prevent gun violence. Yet by April 14-20, 2013, we had moved on, and the proposed legislation failed to pass, even in a Democratic-controlled Senate.

We want solutions, but have we somehow failed to demonstrate significant, lasting outrage over them?

Maybe we know Congress won't stand up to a powerful gun lobby on behalf of their constituents, as CNN reported after the Senate defeat.

But if we don't search, and if we don't speak out beyond a day after a mass shooting, when solutions are so obvious and have been enacted successfully in every other developed country in the world, then it's on us when nothing changes.

A mere three days after the San Bernardino shooting, the search pattern is already following the trend of the shootings that came before it.

The day after Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino, a Senate amendment expanding background checks at gun shows and for online purchases — and one that would ban people on the terrorism watch list from purchasing guns — were rejected.

By that day, search interest in the shooting dropped to almost zero.

If we want things to change, we can't let our attention waver. Writer Nicole Silverberg put together a guide on how to contact your elected officials, along with a sample email and phone scripts and tips from Everytown for Gun Safety.

Let's break this cycle. It may seem difficult now, but we have the anger, and we have the tools. Let's use them to make things change for the better.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

Nonprofit exposes 'housing cartel' behind sharp rent increases across the country

"In Phoenix alone, you've seen rent increase 76% since 2016."

Photo by Daniel Tadevosyan|Canva

Nonprofit exposes reason behind sharp rent increases

It's no secret that there's a housing crisis in America. That's not to say that there aren't enough houses for people to live in, there are plenty of houses and apartments available, they're simply unaffordable. Over the past several years the cost of housing has increased to an amount that is so out of reach for the average person, that homelessness is on the rise as people unable to pay their rent are evicted.

While the housing prices continue to climb, wages have essentially stayed the same. This has led to people across the country making difficult decisions in an attempt to keep a roof over their heads. But most people have no idea why rental rates have skyrocketed in less than a decade. One nonprofit is exposing where this unexplained increase is stemming from with the help of the attorney generals' of Arizona and Washington D.C..

More Perfect Union is a nonprofit media organization aimed at empowering working people. Recently, the organization tackled the American housing crisis with a pretty shocking discovery.


There's a singular company behind the exorbitant housing prices in Arizona and D.C. though the states are thousands of miles away from each other. The attorney general of the District of Columbia calls the company an illegal housing cartel due to the tactics used and the money made. The company is called RealPage, which uses an algorithm that pulls from renters confidential information to skew the housing prices.

Landlords sign a contract to work with RealPage, but according to documents uncovered by the investigators, if a landlord pushes back against the rates, the company can expel them from the program. But what about all the empty units? There doesn't seem to be a concern because the rates are so high that the landlords still increase their revenue even when some apartments are empty for long periods of time.

This may feel a bit like a movie plot, but it's not science fiction. RealPage may be operating in multiple states across the country contributing to the unaffordable price of housing for American citizens.

a view of a city with tall buildingsPhoto by Gabriel Valdez on Unsplash

"We're talking about an algorithm that aggregates otherwise confidential information that the landlords have that ordinarily they would not share with their competitors," Washington D.C. Attorney General, Brian Schwalb says. "That allows then the algorithm to spit out a pricing recommendation. All designed to keep the overall market at its highest peak."

Arizona Attorney General, Kris Mayes explains, "they're not charging what the market can bear they're controlling the market. It's leading to the exacerbation of our affordability crisis, our housing crisis here in Arizona."

RealPage's practices are so concerning that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice stepped in to remind landlords and companies of antitrust laws. "Your algorithm can't do anything that would be illegal if done by a real person," the text reads on the screen, in part.

Landlords who sign up are bound by the rules set by RealPage, which state RealPage sets the rental rates, leaving landlords little option to opt out. They company even sends out "policing agents" to enforce these prices by physically checking on the landlord and leasing agents. Landlords are lured in with the promise of increased profits, some may not realize at the outset that the prices their renters would be expected to pay would be unaffordable causing some to become homeless.

But with RealPage working with landlords across the entire state, every rental property would increase nearly simultaneously, leaving renters no choice but to pay more than they can afford. In reality this may mean getting second and third jobs, foregoing important medications, pulling children out of afterschool care to allow them to care for themselves and more just to afford housing.

The problem with algorithms setting rental prices and anything else that has to do with human needs is that computer codes are not human. They don't know that Alice living in 3B is a single mom out of work because she just had a mastectomy. An algorithm doesn't factor in that Marc in the split level is having to drive an hour every day to help care for his elderly mother or that Carol on the first floor left an abusive relationship and this was the only place she could afford.

Leaving the lives of people up to an algorithm can have disastrous affects, and the lawsuit the attorney generals are bringing will highlight that concern using RealPage as the example.

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.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

@penslucero/TikTok

Pency Lucero taking in the Northern Lights

Seeing the northern lights is a common bucket list adventure for many people. After all, it ticks a lot of boxes—being a dazzling light show, rich historical experience and scientific phenomenon all rolled into one. Plus there’s the uncertainty of it all, never quite knowing if you’ll witness a vivid streak of otherworldly colors dance across the sky…or simply see an oddly colored cloud. It’s nature’s slot machine, if you will.

Traveler and content creator Pency Lucero was willing to take that gamble. After thorough research, she stumbled upon an Airbnb in Rörbäck, Sweden with an actual picture of the northern lights shining above the cabin in the listing. With that kind of photo evidence, she felt good about her odds.

However, as soon as she landed, snow began falling so hard that the entire sky was “barely visible,” she told Upworthy. Martin, the Airbnb host, was nonetheless determined to do everything he could to ensure his guests got to see the spectacle, even offering to wake Lucero up in the middle of the night if he saw anything.

Then one night, the knock came.


In a video Lucero posted to TikTok, which now has over 12 million views, we hear Martin ushering her out to take a peek. Then we see Lucero’s face light up just before seeing the sky do the same.

“I thought it was a prank,” the onscreen text reads in the clip. “And then I see it….”

Watch:

@penslucero

I’m on the verge of crying every time I watch this video I still cannot believe it. 📍 Rörbäck, Sweden

“I was mostly in awe of what this Earth is capable of,” Lucero recalled. “I never expected it to be THAT beautiful for the naked eye.” This is a hopeful sentiment against the widely accepted notion that the northern lights are often better looking in photos than they are in real life.

As Lucero asserted in a follow-up video, “Our video doesn’t do it justice at all…I would argue it’s even better for the naked eye.”

@penslucero Replying to @PatriotFamilyHomes ♬ Golden Hour: Piano Version - Andy Morris

Others were quick to back Lucero with anecdotes of their own experience.

“It’s definitely possible to see it like in the pics. I saw it this winter in Norway, there was bright green, purple and so much movement.”

“They’re so much better in person, the way they dance and move around is insane and beautiful.”


Of course, if you ask Martin, who everyone agreed was the best host ever, seeing guest reactions of pure wonder and joy is even “better than the lights themselves.” But still, he can’t deny that there’s a breathtaking magic to it all. He shared with Upworthy that “Sometimes it feels like it will pull you up in the sky like you are in the middle of it. I wish everyone would have the chance to witness it.”

northern lights

A photo from Martin's Airbnb listing

a0.muscache.com

When it comes to tips for actually seeing the northern lights, Martin admits it still mostly comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Luckily, his Airbnb listing can help with that.

Nature has a great way of reminding us that beyond the distractions and distresses of modern life, there is sublime beauty waiting for the chance to capture our hearts.


This article originally appeared on 03.27.23

Woman taking a selfie at the beach

Social media has made it very easy to alter your appearance using filters. They may come in handy when you need to record a video but look a bit under the weather—just turn on a soft glow or a makeup filter, and boom, you're camera-ready in less than two seconds. But there has been a lot of talk around the use of filters and teen girls' self-esteem and unrealistic expectations seemingly placed on women.

One woman has taken it upon herself to strip away the filters to prove that, while she is beautiful, her face doesn't actually look the way it does with the filter on. The most interesting thing about these filters is that they're so good, you can't tell they're filters. Gone are the days of filters that made everyone look like a Glamour Shot from the 90s. These filters move with you and even have pores so no one can tell it isn't actually your face.

Well, it is your face—kinda.


Mimi Webb starts off the 20-second clip using the infamous Bold Glamour filter. It's the filter that has people questioning their perception of their own faces because the contrast is so jarring. But Webb doesn't stop with one filter. She puts on another and makes sure she emphasizes her use of a ring light. After turning the ring light off and taking all the filters off as the video is ending, the woman removes her makeup, revealing an inflamed, irritated and blemished face.

People flocked to the comments to thank her for exposing the truth behind filters.

"You're beautiful & this message is SO important thanks for the reminder," one person wrote.

"You are beautiful. In real life, we all have imperfections. As a mature woman, I appreciate your honesty. Thank you," another said.

"Thank you so much. You did not know how much this was needed," a woman commented.

Social media can really do a number on people's self esteem, especially when they're comparing themselves to something that's not real. Messages like the one Webb shared can help pull back the curtain on the reality of social media. Watch her video below.

@missmimiwebb

#greenscreenvideo

This article originally appeared on 6.9.23