All posts tagged: spare time

​​​​​​​Whatever Happened to Teen Babysitters?

​​​​​​​Whatever Happened to Teen Babysitters?

[ad_1] Babysitting used to be both a job and a rite of passage. For countless American teens, and especially teen girls, it was a tentative step toward adulthood—responsibility, but with guardrails. Perhaps you didn’t cook dinner, but you did heat some leftovers for the kids. Maybe you arrived to find them already tucked in, and you read them a story, turned out the lights, and watched TV until the car turned into the drive. You knew who to call if anything serious came up. Paula Fass, a historian of childhood at UC Berkeley, told me that she started sitting around 1960, when she was 12 or 13. By the time she’d arrive, she remembers, the parents had put their kids to bed and stocked the fridge for her to raid. They recognized that she was grown-up enough to be an extra eye in the home—but childlike enough to go looking for snacks. Sitting was a “quintessentially American experience,” Yasemin Besen-Cassino, a Montclair State University sociologist and the author of The Cost of Being a Girl: …

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

[ad_1] This past December, I threw a party to celebrate a major milestone in my life: the 1,000th day of my New York Times crossword-solving streak. My friends, none of them fellow cruciverbalists, poured in wearing their black-and-white best, armed with outsize praise for my presumed intelligence: How smart I must be to complete the Times puzzle every day! Their comments affirmed that the crossword—and particularly the Times one—carries a certain mystique. For 1,000 consecutive days, I had passed this bourgeois aptitude test, proving my linguistic and cultural acumen in my guests’ eyes. Since its invention in 1913, the modern American crossword puzzle has undergone something of a reputational shift, from frivolous distraction to status symbol. In reality, the crossword is many things: a site of play, a cultural forum, a daily pleasure. And, because it traffics in language—the stuff people use to form identity, signal belonging, and ostracize others—it’s also a political entity. The writer and crossword constructor Anna Shechtman knows that casting such a pastime as political might sound ridiculous. As she writes …

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

[ad_1] This past December, I threw a party to celebrate a major milestone in my life: the 1,000th day of my New York Times crossword-solving streak. My friends, none of them fellow cruciverbalists, poured in wearing their black-and-white best, armed with outsize praise for my presumed intelligence: How smart I must be to complete the Times puzzle every day! Their comments affirmed that the crossword—and particularly the Times one—carries a certain mystique. For 1,000 consecutive days, I had passed this bourgeois aptitude test, proving my linguistic and cultural acumen in my guests’ eyes. Since its invention in 1913, the modern American crossword puzzle has undergone something of a reputational shift, from frivolous distraction to status symbol. In reality, the crossword is many things: a site of play, a cultural forum, a daily pleasure. And, because it traffics in language—the stuff people use to form identity, signal belonging, and ostracize others—it’s also a political entity. The writer and crossword constructor Anna Shechtman knows that casting such a pastime as political might sound ridiculous. As she writes …

Who Made the Oxford English Dictionary?

Who Made the Oxford English Dictionary?

[ad_1] The Oxford English Dictionary always seemed to me like the Rules from on high—near biblical, laid down long ago by a distant academic elite. But back in 1857, when the idea of the dictionary was born, its three founders proposed something more democratic than authoritative: a reference book that didn’t prescribe but instead described English, tracking the meaning of every word in the language across time and laying out how people were actually using each one. As Sarah Ogilvie writes in her new book, The Dictionary People, the OED’s founders realized that such a titanic task could never be accomplished by a small circle of men in London and Oxford, so they sought out volunteers. That search expanded when the eccentric philologist James Murray took the helm in 1879 as the Dictionary’s third editor. Murray cast a far wider net than his predecessors had, circulating a call for contributors to newspapers, universities, and clubs around the globe. He instructed people to read the books they had on hand, fill 4-by-6-inch slips of paper with …

American Families Have a Massive Food-Waste Problem

American Families Have a Massive Food-Waste Problem

[ad_1] If you have children, you probably already understand them to be very adorable food-waste machines. If you do not have children, I have five, so let me paint you a picture. On a recent Tuesday night, the post-dinner wreckage in my house was devastating. Peas were welded to the floor; my 5-year-old had decided that he was allergic to chicken and left a pile of it untouched on his plate. After working all day, making the meal in the first place, and then spending dinnertime convincing five irrational, tiny people to try their vegetables, I didn’t even have the energy to convince them to take their plates into the kitchen, let alone box up their leftovers for tomorrow. So I did exactly what I’m not supposed to do, according to the planet’s future: I threw it all out, washed the dishes, and flopped into bed, exhausted. Tens of millions of tons of food that leaves farms in the United States is wasted. Much of that waste happens at the industrial level, during harvesting, handling, …

The Musk-Zuck Rivalry Isn’t Worth Your Time

The Musk-Zuck Rivalry Isn’t Worth Your Time

[ad_1] A plea to look away from the battling billionaires. Illustration by Paul Spella / The Atlantic; Sources: Bettmann / Getty; ALAIN JOCARD,ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Getty. August 14, 2023, 7:03 PM ET What follows is not news. Earlier today, Elon Musk furthered the narrative that he wishes to engage in hand-to-hand combat with Mark Zuckerberg, tweeting in such a way as to suggest that he was at Zuckerberg’s front door. (Previously, he called Zuckerberg a “chicken.”) By typing these words, I am complicit in what has been a months-long bit of posturing over the ridiculous premise that the pair will fight in a “cage match.” If you’re hearing this all for the first time, I apologize profoundly. My general framework for navigating modern life is to try to imagine, and then make sure to never bet against, the dumbest possible outcome. Thanks to our tech billionaires, it’s harder than ever to game out what that might mean. Would Musk and Zuckerberg sweatily groping each other among Etruscan ruins on pay-per-view constitute the dumbest …