The month of August has a bad reputation, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. People talk about the “dog days of August” because of its painfully hot and humid days that seem to stifle activity. This is especially true in the Washington Metropolitan area where temps often reach the 90Fs and 100Fs and humidity is almost unbearable, making people flee the area in search of cooler spots.
Nothing important ever happens in August. Everyone is away and for those left behind (yes, that’s what it feels like) the only redeeming feature is that roads and places are less crowded in August. August is so boring, it seems to exist to make us miss July and long for September.
August 2011, however, has been anything but uneventful. The US economy continued to tank and early in the month, for the first time ever, Standard & Poor’s downgraded its U.S. long-term debt assessment from AAA to AA+. The markets plunged after S&P’s announcement and continued to do so in the following weeks. Unemployment continued high and Obama’s popularity continued to sink. The GOP presidential hopefuls had a debate in Iowa, where creepy Michele Bachmann won the 48-person straw poll.
More recently, a 5.9 earthquake centered in Virginia shook the earth and the nerves of people in Washington and New York City, and was felt as far away as Cleveland, Toronto, Chicago and South Carolina. Colorado also had an earthquake. And just a few days after the Virginia quake, hurricane Irene hammered the US Northeast with deadly winds and strong rains, killing 25 people and causing significant damage.
Outside the U.S., August saw several days of riots in London, escalating conflicts in Syria and Lybia, and the death of 30 American troops as a transport helicopter was destroyed in the worst single incident suffered by foreign forces in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.
For these and other reasons, August 2011 has been more unbearable than others.
I won’t go as far David Plotz in his 2001 article “August: Let’s Get Rid of It”, where he literally suggests ceding the first 10 days of August back to July and the last 10 days to September, leaving August with just 10 days. “That is just enough: Every summer we’ll be able to toot happily, Gosh, August went by so quickly this year,” he says.
Me, all I want is for August 2011 to end and to go away quietly so we can be happy and carefree again when September arrives. And here’s to September!