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Tag: New York Times

Dan Egan and “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes”

Now that we have made the exciting announcement for the 2018/2019 Go Big Read book selection, let’s dive a little deeper. What’s the book about? Who is Dan Egan?

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes chronicles the recent changes to the Great Lakes and the new species invading them in the past several years. Some of the species, who may have started out in one of the Great Lakes, have now spread to all of them.

What does this mean for the Great Lakes?

According to a New York Times article reflecting on Egan’s book, although these invading species clean out the lake, they are also “sucking up 90 percent of the lake’s phytoplankton,” and that does not mean the lakes are benefiting from this change. As Egan puts it, “It’s the sign of a lake having the life sucked out of it.”

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes has been chosen for the 2018/2019 Go Big Read year.

In recent years, various invading species have made these lakes their home, largely thanks to shipping vessels dumping these foreign species directly into these Great Lakes. Some of these include: spiny water fleas, fishhook water fleas, bloody red shrimp, and most extreme, the zebra and quagga mussels, which have spread more rapidly than any other invasive species. Egan refers to the spreading of these mussels “like cancer cells in a bloodstream.”

Egan pairs these problems with potential solutions for the future. Achieving tangible solutions to this problem in the Great Lakes requires action from the E.P.A and other legislators, Egan suggests, which right now, might be difficult.

So, who is Dan Egan?

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes author Dan Egan.

Egan is a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for his investigative reporting on the Great Lakes. He is also a senior water policy fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Hitting close to home, Egan has spent his life studying how the Great Lakes around Wisconsin and other Midwestern states have been changing and potential solutions for this issue.

For more information on Egan and his book, check out the publisher’s website: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.

 

Gillian Keebler
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

 

Childhood Trauma and its Potentially Detrimental Effects

“‘Chaotic — there is no other way to describe my childhood. I always felt alone.’”

Rob Sullivan, now an adult, still remembers the traumatic events from his childhood that impact him every day. In an interview with the New York Times, Sullivan discusses how the trauma in his life as a child has led him to hardships in his adulthood.

Running into trouble with the law as an adult, Sullivan believes that he is responsible for making bad decisions in his own life, although experts claim that this troubling path may begin long before the individual recognizes it.

What happens to a child in their youth can affect their decisions as an adult- whether that be ending up in prison or even their overall cognitive functioning.

“’Childhood trauma is a huge factor within the criminal justice system,’” said Christopher Wildeman, a sociologist at Cornell University and co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. “’It is among the most important things that shapes addictive and criminal behavior in adulthood.’”

As seen in Hillbilly Elegy, author J.D. Vance describes traumatic events of his own childhood that still affect him and his relationships today.

“In my worst moments, I convince myself that there is no exit, and no matter how much I fight old demons, they are as much an inheritance as my blue eyes or brown hair” (230).

Author J.D. Vance pictured with his grandmother. CC Image Courtesy of the J.D. Vance website.

Childhood trauma affects everyone differently, but for both Sullivan and Vance, the troubling memories from their childhood do not fade away with age.

Both Sullivan and Vance completed questionnaires that measured the degree of childhood trauma, criteria including physical and verbal abuse, abandonment, and several others, and the two of them scored relatively high.

In Sullivan’s case, there have been many connections to those in prison and their experiences with childhood trauma.

New York Times study followed 10 newly released prisoners in Connecticut for a year, Sullivan being one of them. A look at their histories demonstrated that before they were prisoners, many of them were victims of abuse.

Seven of those 10 completed a questionnaire to quantify the level of childhood trauma they experienced, and all but one scored four or more, indicating a high degree of trauma and an elevated risk for chronic diseases, depression, substance abuse, and violence.

Although traumatic childhood experiences affect individuals differently throughout their lifetime, most adults remember many of the traumatic events they experienced. For Sullivan, he has run into trouble following some patterns of previous family members, such as substance abuse and prison. Although it is a grueling process, he hopes to turn his life around for the better.

Child trauma affects the lives of many adults today. CC Image Courtesy of Pixabay.

“’I have never followed through on anything in my life,’” he said, tears in his eyes. “’It’s hard. I know if I end up back in the streets I will end up drinking and using again.’”

Undoubtedly, childhood trauma has been scientifically proven to affect individuals in their adult years. It will be interesting to see what kind of continued discoveries we will read about childhood trauma moving forward and possible solutions for this serious issue.

Gillian Keebler
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

“I Am Malala” TimesTalks 
Malala Yousafzai was interviewed by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor for The New York Times TimesTalks series. Jodi asked about Malala’s life in Pakistan under the Taliban regime. She also had Malala talk about her campaign for universal education and how she is working to achieve her goals.

Malala displayed a humble sense of humor and a great deal of maturity for a 17 year old during the event. The interview allowed viewers to see a more personal side of the young activist. Malala discussed how much she misses her best friend, but that she does get to Skype her often to catch up and also to hear what is happening in her homeland of Swat Valley. Though not all the information she hears is hopeful. Malala expressed her frustration that girls she used to attend school with are engaged to be marry at only 17 years old and will no longer be able to continue their education.

Malala’s prevailing message throughout the interview was that Malala shared her story to inspire others to create change, she said “YOU should stand up for your rights, YOU should speak up.” Malala is currently working on education projects in Pakistan, Jordan, Kenya, and Nigeria. She shared that her own mother is now attending school five days a week to learn to read and write since she had never received an education. In a touching moment, Malala asked her mother to stand up in the crowd to introduce herself and explain why she is now learning how to read and speak English.

Watch the TimesTalks video below and share with us your thoughts on the interview.

Michael Pollan Column in New York Times

Michael Pollan recently wrote an opinion column for the New York Times in response to President Obama’s speech on health care.

In the article, Pollan argues that the biggest problem with health care in the U.S. is not the system itself so much as our poor diet and high rates of obesity.

Pollan states:

Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to
devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.
That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately
depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and
reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry.

Read the entire New York Times opinion column