As we come to the halfway point of 2016, a wild year of unpredictable politics, revolving Snapchat lenses, celebrities gone too soon and Lemonade, we thought it was as good a time as any to take stock of the things we've seen so far and share them with the world.
What follows are individual hot takes on our favorite articles from the past six months. Click the images to read each submission for yourself. We hope that our answers intrigue and entertain you as much as they did us.
What is the best/your favorite article
you've read this year? Why?
HOME FREE: HOW A NEW YORK STATE PRISONER BECAME A JAILHOUSE LAWYER, AND CHANGED THE SYSTEM
This article on Derrick Hamilton is an inspiring story about one man's struggle against a corrupt criminal justice system that sent him to jail for a crime he didn't commit. Instead of giving up or turning to a life of more serious crime (as often happens with prisoners), Hamilton decided to fight within the system. While studying the law in prison to overturn his own conviction, he became a jailhouse lawyer for other wrongfully convicted prisoners and got justice for a number of them. Eventually, he earned his freedom and name back, and, today, he continues the fight for the freedom of the wrongfully convicted.
REFUGEES ENCOUNTER A FOREIGN WORD: WELCOME
This made me one proud Canadian. A beautiful piece on the value of 'Welcome' from the perspective of Syrian refugees.
WHEN DO YOU GIVE UP ON TREATING A CHILD WITH CANCER?
This is truly a miracle story. It amazed me when I read it, and I've found myself recounting it to friends and family several times since. I admire Ester and Dan's strength to make such a difficult decision for their family, and was so pleasantly surprised by the implications of that decision. I like to consider myself an optimistic person, but life's tough, and as a way to avoid feeling too beaten down I embrace the mentality of "expecting the worst and hoping for the best." Stories like this are important to preserve hope.
WELCOME TO HILLSTONE, AMERICA'S FAVORITE RESTAURANT
My favorite article this year, has been a quirky piece from Bon Appetite on the restaurant group Hillstone. It's got a few elements that really do it for me: (a) It's a business article on a well-operated restaurant chain and (b) it reveals some of the mystique of a loved restaurant group, which is strangely fascinating.
A LETTER TO MY CREATIVE WRITING CLASS
"It is a simple redemption tale, featuring a classic anti-hero."
IS EVERYTHING WRESTLING?
I've spent far too many of my life's waking (and a lot of the sleeping) hours thinking about, dissecting, predicting and fantasy-booking the world's greatest form of live entertainment - professional wrestling. The New York Times recently asked the question, "Is Everything Wrestling?" From Ali to reality TV to Donald Trump to Kanye and the NBA, almost every spotlight now shines on someone "dialing themselves up to 11," as Stone Cold Steve Austin would say. Who's real? Who's playing a character? What's the difference? Does it matter? It seems like the rest of the world is finally catching up to the secret behind the magic I've known about all my life, and it's exciting to see it finally get its proper due in the larger culture. Also, sorry?
"WHY GROW UP?" IS A POLITICAL QUESTION: OUR CULT OF YOUTH IS NO ACCIDENT - AND IT HAS DIRE CONSEQUENCES
This article on the ‘cult of youth.’ Because the fact that we define age as a number that’s (more often than not) at odds with the state of our physical and/or mental development seems strange. And because I’m in my mid-twenties.
I'M 25 AND MY BOOBS ARE TRYING TO KILL ME
It's not an article, but a blog written by a 25 year old girl dealing with a nasty breast cancer. In addition to her great writing skills, I loved how she allowed the reader be part of her daily life and journey. It's always smart, punchy, and at the same time very genuine.
A CONVERSATION WITH YASIR QADHI ON PARIS, TERRORISM AND ISLAM
My close friend and role model Landon interviewing an Islamic theologian.
IN DEFENSE OF A LOADED WORD
This is my favorite article that I have read this year-- although it was written in 2013 -- because it's significance is more relevant then ever today, in connection to the current events surrounding racial tension in America. This article explains the difference between white people using the "n" word and black people using the word. I think it is a thought-provoking article that helps explain the matter in the most articulate and simplest manner possible.
ONLY THE ONION CAN SAVE US NOW
Because it's great to acknowledge a steadfast voice when in times of tragedy people often defer to boilerplates (eg. #prayforparis). Fear of saying the wrong thing can turn people so Basic.
FOR INMATES, "THE WALL" HAS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT MEANING
Oregon State Penitentiary, opens its barbed yard to the public to allowing inmates and civilians to run alongside each other in a prison sanctioned half marathon. The stories of the inmates and the redemption they found in running has made me completely re-evaluate the privilege of running and what it means in my life.
U.S. RECORD INDUSTRY SEES ALBUM SALES SINK TO HISTORIC LOWS (AGAIN) - BUT PEOPLE ARE LISTENING MORE THAN EVER
This article simply breaks down the success of album sales vs. digital streaming. I find it interesting as a musician to look at the way consumers (myself included) are getting ahold of music. Artists like Drake, Adele and Beyonce are having massive success in album sales. New artists like Halsey, The Weekend and Kehlani are gaining success by pushing singles. There are so many different variables when it comes to the success of an artist which corresponds to the success of the music industry.
THE MIND IS A DIFFERENCE-SEEKING MACHINE
Not so much an article, but a podcast episode: The Mind Is a Difference-Seeking Machine, with the leading expert in the emerging field of implicit bias, Mahzarin Banaji. Aside from giving personal context to the expert behind the field, it challenges how even the most empathetic and well-intentioned people can be susceptible to the world around them. They've even developed a series of exercises to better understand our own levels of implicit bias on various axes, all free to take as input to their research at implicit.harvard.edu.
TIME MAGAZINE'S 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE
can't think of a particular article that I liked the most this year, but I love to read TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People list that they compile each year. The diversity of practice and passions is always interesting, and it is usually fun to see how many of these influencers are categorized/why they supposedly made the list.
THE RETURN OF THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP
This is one of the more interesting articles I read this past year because it made me wonder if a Road Trip revival (and autonomous vehicles) can make us care more about our Earth and protect it against climate change the way that the Foodie Revolution pushed us to care more about the ethics and sustainability of agriculture. If we re-acclimate ourselves with nature instead of hopping from destination to destination, will we treat it with more kindness?
18 VINES THAT PERFECTLY SUM UP THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE
Because the article manages to do just that – sum up the human experience – with simple videos everyone can relate to. #7 gets me every time.
WHICH ROCK STAR WILL HISTORIANS OF THE FUTURE REMEMBER?
I love everything Klosterman writes. He is so amazingly logical, cleverly organizing massive amounts of information and odd, forgotten references. His writing is super entertaining, but it also challenges you to connect the dots and make up your own opinion.
Chuck Klosterman can do no wrong. Everything he writes is laced with incredibly imaginative perspectives on extremely ordinary things. In my opinion, there is no great pop cultural mind. This piece about how we’ll view Rock n’ Roll 300 years from now is no exception. Intellectual horseplay.