The Almanac

Demographics

Factory shipments of air-conditioning equipment to dealers and distributors typically peak in June. Last June they reached a record high, with some 870,000 central-air-conditioning units shipped. The strong economy and unprecedented levels of housing sales and construction are thought to be the main factors. The spate of heat waves in recent years has also contributed, as air-conditioning has come to be seen not as a luxury but as a potential lifesaver, especially for the elderly. Half of all American homes have central air-conditioning, and 80 percent of new homes do. The market is even more saturated in Japan. Accordingly, the industry is eyeing the long-resistant European market, which shows signs of relenting: for example, from 1993 to 1998 the percentage of new cars equipped with air-conditioning rose from just about zero to 28.

Arts & Letters

June 16: "Bloomsday," the date on which James Joyce's novel Ulysses takes place, and the annual occasion of commemorative events throughout the world. This year celebrants in Dublin, the novel's setting, can see the only complete handwritten manuscript of the novel in existence, a document that has never before been in Ireland (Joyce wrote Ulysses while living abroad). The manuscript will be on exhibit at the Chester Beatty Library, in Dublin Castle; it is on loan from the Rosenbach Museum & Library, in Philadelphia. In 1919 Joyce arranged to sell a manuscript of his novel-in-progress to the New York attorney and art collector John Quinn. He sent the material to Quinn in installments -- often before he had finished revising it -- until the book's publication, in 1922. Quinn sold the manuscript to the book dealer A.S.W. Rosenbach in 1924. It contains the earliest and most complete existing versions of many of the book's chapters, and also the cleanest -- something that Joyce's publisher, faced with deciphering his countless revisions, would no doubt have appreciated. Food

Each June, as schools let out for the year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program -- an affiliate of the National School Lunch program, which subsidizes lunches for children from low-income families -- resumes. This year lunches will be served at some 31,000 sites, ranging from schools and community centers to churches and camps; this is the largest number in the program's 32-year history. The number of children who receive lunches through the summer program has been rising recently, after dropping drastically in the 1980s; during the 1990s the program drew roughly 2.2 million children annually. Even so, participation is far lower than in the school-year program, which served 15 million children last year. The disparity in enrollments apparently relates to visibility and accessibility: a 1994 survey found that half the families who were eligible for the summer program were unaware of its existence, and half of those who did know about it lived too far from a program site to want to participate.


Illustration by Kandy LittrellHealth & Safety

Farming fatalities typically peak during the summer, especially among children, who do more farm work when school is out. In 1998 some 32,000 children and teenagers were injured, and 100 killed, in farm-related accidents, half of which occurred during the summer months. This season brings the first national safety guidelines for children working on farms. The North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks -- a series produced collaboratively by various agricultural health and safety commissions -- will be available at fairs, 4-H clubs, supply companies, and other venues. The guidelines contain questions to help parents assess a child's readiness for specific tasks -- "Do the bales weigh less than 10-15% of the child's body weight?" "Does the child do things that seem dangerous for the thrill of it?" -- along with corresponding advice. The guidelines are an attempt to reduce injuries without resorting to government regulation.


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