“The Families That Can’t Afford Summer”
KJ Dell’Antonia | The New York Times
Most American schools take a 10- to 11-week break during the summer. The assumption that underlies summer vacation — that there is one parent waiting at home for the kids — is true for just over a quarter of American families. For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive.
In 2014, parents reported planning to spend an average of $958 per child on summer expenses. Those who can’t afford camps or summer learning programs cobble together care from family members or friends, or are forced to leave children home alone. Self-care for 6- to 12-year-olds increases during the summer months, with 11 percent of children spending an average of 10 hours a week on their own. In July 2014, a South Carolina woman was arrested when she left her 9-year-old in a park while she worked. Parents afraid of being at the center of a similar incident may be more likely to park their kids in front of the TV.
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“Angola’s Greatest Escape”
Stephie Grob Plante | Racked
"Getting selected to be in the crafts show is like running for political office," an inmate trustee named Lionel tells me. "It can take years."
For Lionel, it took two. He's a military veteran, which made him eligible to serve in the prison's honor guard. That eventual membership, in turn, granted him direct entry into the craft show. For non-veterans, there's no set route. The key prerequisite across the board is an untarnished behavioral record, not just to get into the craft fair and sell your work, but to earn access to the hobby shop to create that work in the first place. Inmates in good standing are permitted hobby shop access during their free time; free time itself is only attainable after an unspecified amount of time served, which varies from inmate to inmate.
It's a huge privilege for inmates to gain entry to the arts and crafts fair, and there's a host of reward motivations at play. For starters, the festival provides them their sole opportunity to interact with the general public.
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“The New Normal”
Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel | Invisibilia
This week, new Invisibilia co-host Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel talk to oil workers in the deep south who tried a social experiment to transform the entrenched macho culture of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In the process of this shift, they massively improved the safety and productivity of the rig, and also transformed the notion of what a Southern oil man is like.
Our second story involves a grand experiment in shifting a social norm, this time of an entire nation. In the 1990's McDonald's decided to open the first ever McDonald's in Moscow, but were impeded by the social norms around smiling and customer service in Russia. In this story Alix follows the story of Yuri, one of the first McDonald's employees, as he comes to unlearn what his teachers in school taught him: that people who smile at strangers are idiots.
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“Tim and Eric’s Joke Empire”
Max Abelson | Businessweek
Tim and Eric are figuring out a new method of comedy production. Depending on which subreddit stream you’re reading, they’re either geniuses or pointlessly nihilistic and digressive. But their ability to pump out content—from their Super Bowl advertisement for Loctite superglue to 15-minute segments of Check It Out!—while enticing household comedy names to make cameos is allowing their fiefdom to grow.