The best of Mashable in 2015: Stories that inspired, surprised and influenced

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Things We Loved

The hottest place for total solar eclipse fans is one of a few cold, small islands in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. We traveled to one of the only places where the full astronomical event was visible.
A mother and daughter living in Canada will soon have 43 Syrian refugees living inside their small Toronto home.
A 140-character look into the lives lost in the Paris terror attacks. (You can view the full memorial here.)

Read more…More about Features, Us World, Longform, and End Of 2015

My high school teammate, Kobe Bryant

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Before Kobe Bryant was an NBA superstar, a Los Angeles Lakers icon and a basketball legend, he was a Lower Merion Ace

Twenty years ago this season, as a high school senior, Bryant led Lower Merion to the 1995-96 Pennsylvania state championship. That was also his final season as an amateur, and as anything remotely resembling a normal teenager. Months later, he was playing in the NBA, against grown men before audiences of millions

Now Bryant is on a different cusp. He’s 37, slogging through the final season of his Lakers contract and visibly in the twilight of his career. Speculation abounds about how many more seasons he’ll play.  Read more…

More about Features, Nba, Basketball, Kobe Bryant, and Entertainment

7 things you can do with the new iPhone that you definitely hadn’t considered

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On the eve of yet another iPhone upgrade, it’s time again to push the boundaries of imagination, to help uncover every possible feature this new device has to offer.

Sure, the iPhone 6S has double the RAM of the 6, a new “3D Touch” feature and an improved camera, but it’s real value will come from however consumers decide to use it

From the Cookie Monster reference when you ask Siri to divide by zero to the ability to customize your text vibrations, iPhones are a deep well of mystery. So here’s a list things the new iPhone can do that you definitely haven’t even considered Read more…

More about Iphone, Features, Humor, and Watercooler

Inspiring women beat poverty by translating for the sick in hospitals

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When she was only six years old, Maria Vertkin had to become the voice of her Russian Jewish family. She was the one who spoke English the best

She remembers having to translate medical information for her parents — an enormous, potentially dangerous responsibility for someone so young. In hospitals and clinics, one word can be the difference between life and death. When that word is in a language the patient doesn’t speak, trained interpreters need to fill in the gap.

“If you’re a kid in an immigrant family, you are the de facto interpreter and translator,” Vertkin tells Mashable. “Because kids learn so much faster, and acculturate so much faster.” Read more…

More about Health, Features, Business, Nonprofits, and Social Good

This delicious meal came from the trash

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LOS ANGELES, California — Today’s chefs are digging through Hefty bags for your next appetizer.

The idea of stretching ingredients is hardly new, but many chefs are testing even more extreme limits in an effort to avoid food waste. It’s gourmet junk food — and could already be at the tip of your fork.

In an attempt to reduce astronomical waste in the industry, leaders are applying innovative techniques to turn vegetable scraps and what’s known as “seconds” — produce that isn’t deemed visually fit for the market — into stunning meals.

And we’re not talking a tiny amount of trash. Author of American Wasteland Jonathan Bloom says there’s about a half-pound of food waste created per meal served in restaurants. Nonprofit End Food Waste Now estimates the average restaurant produces 150,000 pounds of garbage per year. France recently recognized the issue, requiring all edible food from supermarkets to be donated to charities rather than sent to the landfill Read more…

More about Recycling, Environment, Features, Recipes, and Cooking

8 times Instagram policed women’s bodies

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Note: The following article contains content that may be considered NSFW.

For women, Instagram can get a bit like an overprotective parent, begging you to cover up or be punished.

The past year has been especially harsh, with several women receiving Instagram time-outs for “inappropriate content.” These women have had their images — and bodies — policed by the social media platform and its usage guidelines. And they are not having it.

The platform’s nudity guidelines have sparked outrage over banned pictures and accounts, prompting activism across the social network and beyond. The latest example is Chrissy Teigen, who challenged Instagram to take down her post of a topless W Magazine shot. (It did.) Read more…

More about Social Media, Features, Social Good, Activism, and Instagram

9 LGBT influencers sound off on their biggest queer pet peeves

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Pride Month is a time to celebrate the triumphs of the LGBT community, including the fact that same-sex marriage is finally legal in the U.S.

Celebrating progress is needed in any social movement — after all, what’s activism without appreciating the successes of your struggle? But celebration can’t overshadow the work that still needs to be done.

There are many frustrating, everyday misunderstandings or misconceptions around gender and sexuality that, for LGBT people, indicate the number of remaining barriers to true equality. Read more…

More about Features, Lgbt, Social Good, Gay Pride, and Activism


My date with a dead bird: A snapshot of the ethical taxidermy resurgence

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A European starling, dead and frozen at -35 degrees Celsius, is thawing on a plastic tray in front of me. It’s the same kind of bird that has woken me up on countless Saturday mornings with its high-pitched trill, a sound that earned it mentions in Shakespeare’s work. It’s all of eight inches long, beak-to-talon, and cool and oily to the touch. 

This bird died in the summer, when its beak turned yellow, and its soft, matted feathers are purplish-black and speckled brown, with splashes of iridescent green.

Next to the dead starling are the tools I will use to dissect it, then put it back together again in lifelike form: a dental pick, tweezers, a scalpel with individually wrapped disposable blades, a steel brush. There’s also a clay tool, which our instructor casually tells us to call a “brain scoop.” Read more…

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80 years since Alcoholics Anonymous began, glimpse inside a 1965 meeting

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Image: Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images

Image: Philippe Le Tellier/Paris Match via Getty Images

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in the U.S. in 1935, just two years after the end of Prohibition and three decades before these photos were taken, in the spring of 1964. June 10 marks the fellowship’s 80th anniversary.

AA was founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both alcoholics. Their 1939 book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism became informally known as the Big Book. Many of the book’s principles are still used to treat addiction today. Read more…

More about Features, Alcohol, History, Addiction, and Lifestyle

35 historical mug shots reveal astonishing criminal stories

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1872

James Whitewater killed two men. While in prison from 1872-1889, he embraced Christianity. In 1889, the Nebraska legislature passed an act allowing the governor to pardon two inmates who had “been in jail more than 10 years or whose conduct while incarcerated merited such mercy.” When released, Whitewater walked through the prison gates and “rolled in the grass from joy.”

Image: Nebraska State Historical Society

In the mid 1860s, police forces began to photograph the suspects they arrested. These photographs became known as “mug shots,” after the British slang word “mug,” meaning face.

Generally, officials took full face and profile photographs. If convicted, men had another set of images taken after their hair and beards were shaved off to limit the spread of lice. Women’s hair was not shaved. Read more…

More about Photography, Crime, Features, History, and Prison