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Lake Effect essayist Jim Spangler has been thinking about education - specifically whether colleges and universities are places that teach critical thinking skills: 

“Don’t bring up politics when you are at our house for Christmas,” my daughter warned me. And I didn’t, and neither did anyone else, most likely having been also warned. That way there was no chance of a Christmas-ruining argument over, what else, but the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Essay: Unequal From Birth

Jan 24, 2018
Illustration by Katherine Lam / Milwaukee Magazine

Sociologist Matthew Desmond was featured on Lake Effect a couple of years ago, as his book, Evicted, was just coming out.  The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, as it shed light on the scope of the Eviction crisis in the U.S. in general, and Milwaukee in particular.

READ: 'Evicted' Book Paints a Heartbreaking Picture of a Milwaukee Under Stress

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You don’t need us to tell you that it’s cold outside.  When the thermometer reads 5-below or even 5-above, sometimes it can be hard to get up the motivation to go outside.  But Lake Effect essayist Eric Hansen explained in 2009 that there are some compelling reasons to get outside when it’s so cold out, and it’s a message that bears hearing again:

Lake Michigan is a flash of beauty in our daily lives. Glasslike and calm one day, raging with storm-surge waves the next, the lake is a sweeping spectacle, our shoreline the front-row seats.

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At the beginning of the year, self-improvement is often on our mind. Sometimes, bettering ourselves can come through self-discipline, but sometimes others play a role in steering us on a new path.

For writer and former white supremacist Arno Michaelis, a series of events and people helped change his life for the better. Michaelis recalls his encounter with a worker at McDonald's who was one of the first to show him compassion, even when she represented everything he was supposed to hate.

Dear nice old black lady at McDonald’s,

Myles Hopper

There are still a few candles yet to be lit for Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. And even when the last menorah candle is out for the season, there will be plenty of Christmas trees and Christmas lights to illuminate the darkness.  Both lighting traditions add up to a bigger picture for writer and Lake Effect essayist Myles Hopper.  He offers his “Five-Step Guide to Surviving December.”

Step I. Complain.

Photo by Oliver Contreras-Pool / Getty Images

There was a flap surrounding a White House ceremony a few weeks ago honoring Native American contributions to the military. And while there were serious concerns raised about the President's remarks, Lake Effect contributor Art Cyr says it's important to recognize the bigger picture that extends well before this one point in history:

Essay: Braveheart Boy

Nov 21, 2017
Illustration by Michael Marsicano / Milwaukee Magazine

This Friday, Lake Effect will air a one-hour special about the proposed Foxconn factory in Racine County, recorded on site at the Prairie School in Wind Point.  Our Across the Divide broadcast, produced in association with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, examines questions about the project as it moves forward.

There are not a lot of people in the area with direct experience with the Taiwanese company.  But Milwaukee writer Dan Simmons has some indirect experience, having taught someone who went to work for Foxconn in China:

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Today and tomorrow mark the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the time when the Nazi campaign to eradicate Jews in Germany became explicit and violence against them commonplace.

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Lake Effect essayist Jim Spangler wishes politicians would read more Shakespeare, especially the line in Richard III that goes, “When words are scarce, they are seldom wasted.”

Spangler himself tries to take that lesson to heart in covering three separate topics in the span of one essay, starting with the demise of the family reunion:

Essay: Escape

Oct 14, 2017
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If you grew up with siblings, quite often they also served as your friend, confidant, and playmate.

For essayist and Lake Effect contributor Lauren Groh - who you know from her Appalachian Trail updates - her sister was one of the first people she explored the outdoors with – primarily in their childhood tree house:

Kevin Hagen / Getty Images

Last month, President Trump addressed the annual fall assembly of United Nations in New York City. Lake Effect’s foreign policy contributor Art Cyr says despite the administration’s obvious frustration with the UN, we’re in it for the long haul:

“It is a new day at the UN.”

That is what Ambassador Nikki Haley, the United States representative to the United Nations, said on CNN to underscore current criticism and demand for reform of the world body by the Trump administration.

Essay: Letters From the Past

Sep 14, 2017
Pierre Mornet / Milwaukee Magazine

Essayist Lauren Fox’s grandparents saw what was happening in 1930s Europe and decided to leave. It's something Fox has thought a lot about recently and reflects on in the September issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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To some people, camping is the ultimate getaway. Lake Effect essayist Meagan Schultz is not one of these people.  

“We’ve never done this before,” my husband said to me with obvious reluctance. “Why don’t we just try one night and see how it goes?”

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Do you remember your first car?  Of course you do.  It’s been a while since Lake Effect essayist Jim Spangler bought his first car, but it’s an event - and a car that still occupies an important place in his memory:

With the car show season in full swing, what could possibly upstage this admitted old car fan from attending the best car show in Milwaukee you ask? Tickets to the same Sunday’s matinee performance of Hamilton in Chicago, my wife answered.

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So-called “White Nationalists” demonstrating in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend told reporters they felt emboldened by the election of Donald Trump last fall, and his calls to “take America back.”

Lake Effect essayist Jim Spangler has been thinking about the America to which some would like to return:

There is much talk these days about what old timers call the “good old days.” Now all that has been coopted by some fellow in Washington D.C. as “Make America Great Again.”

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