An August Month
August 2, 2009 9:45 AM   Subscribe

"August is the cruelest month," is what Eliot must have meant and Edna O’Brien wrote a novel called August Is a Wicked Month, and indeed, it has proved historically to be a month of dramas and crises, especially sociopolitically. Leo is a fixed, intransigent sign and can create stubborn stances in the world and it is a notorious month for coups, bombings and revolution. The late rock writer Al Aronowitz penned the line, "August is the month when wars start." Both the first and second world wars broke out in August. The first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. There were significant cold war crises in August. The Berlin wall was built in August 1961. The Tonkin Gulf crisis marked a serious escalation of the Vietnam War in August 1964. Russia invaded Czechoslovakia and ended the Prague Spring in August 1968. Gorbachev was ousted for being too liberal by communist hardliners in August 1991. Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Russia invaded Georgia last August. (slightly corrected paragraph via)
posted by infini (94 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Leo, huh.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:47 AM on August 2, 2009


Cicero, meh.
posted by Mblue at 9:49 AM on August 2, 2009


Hmmm, Leo.

So... nothing to do with most of those events occurring in the Northern Hemisphere and, August being at the height of the Northern summer, good weather being conducive to military operations?
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 9:54 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Those hot dry winds that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen." - Raymond Chandler.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on August 2, 2009 [19 favorites]


I blame Caesar.
posted by datter at 10:02 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


"August is the cruelest month"

And 1 is the loneliest number.
posted by Askiba at 10:09 AM on August 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ah, screw Darwin and let's here it for astrology.
posted by Postroad at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2009


For anyone interested in learning more:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August
posted by ahrara_ at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


The first rule of August Club is that you do not talk about August Club.

The second rule of August Club is that you invade other countries.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Monday is definitely the most heartless day, and there are five of them this August. Coincidence, or what?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:15 AM on August 2, 2009


Nixon resigned in August.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:16 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't like August much at all, mostly because it's supposedly the hottest month, but what I like even less are columns like the Slate column linked in the FPP that try to make hay out of hating August. ("I hate Jefferson Airplane because they were formed in August!")

I'll have to admit it's intriguing that so many wars and coups seem to have started or occurred in August, but I'll bet you could find clusters of similar occurrences in other months and come up with a theory tying them all together. Several major peace treaties were also signed in August. Doesn't that make it possibly the most peaceful month?
posted by blucevalo at 10:24 AM on August 2, 2009


blucevalo: sorta like distinguishing where to draw the line between pattern recognition and apophenia
posted by infini at 10:26 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Personally I put it down to the British weather. I mean.....where I live (Bristol) we've had three times the average rainfall for July. Same washout for the last two years. We're all getting a bit twitchy here in good old Blighty. So what better collective way to get some sun and let off a bit of steam than having a pop at Johnny foreigner on his home turf? I mean we have a national passion for getting drunk and picking fights with locals - why not do it in a more organised way? Capital idea!
posted by MajorDundee at 10:26 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


@MajorDundee: less of the Flashman guff thanks.
posted by channel-1- at 10:30 AM on August 2, 2009


infini: Ah, very good! My hat's off to you.
posted by blucevalo at 10:31 AM on August 2, 2009


Seriously, screw August.
posted by Neofelis at 10:34 AM on August 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


apophenia

Rocker or mod? Oh damn.
posted by hangashore at 10:35 AM on August 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


August 2009: Sarah Palin declares the world is her oyster.
posted by grounded at 10:40 AM on August 2, 2009


...sorta like distinguishing where to draw the line between pattern recognition and apophenia
posted by infini


Apophenia is an anagram for "An 'Ah, pie' op." And this whole thread may yet be resolved by pecan pie. Weird, huh?
Or was that the other thread?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:47 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


And that is why I have adopted the Turkmenbashi calender.

Welcome to you, O "Alp Arslan," you gently fading, over-ripened summer month, your nights full of bright stars speckled with meteor showers, your elderberries ripening and your watermelons so sweet.

It's a great month and nothing bad ever happens here.
posted by Auden at 10:53 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


And August is the only month with no national holidays. Cruel!
posted by tspae at 10:56 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else did bad stuff in August?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:56 AM on August 2, 2009


You mean the Austrian terminator, don't you?
posted by infini at 10:57 AM on August 2, 2009


August is the beginning
of the end of summer
and that's not cruel
it's just a bummer
posted by belvidere at 10:57 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


*takes off plumed hat with a flourish* bluecevalo, its a daily struggle i face
posted by infini at 10:58 AM on August 2, 2009


I just opened notepad and rattled off an even longer list of equally significant war events that happened in July.

Honest!

there would have been a bunch I bet
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:00 AM on August 2, 2009


In fairness to April, it AND August pretty much share most-dreaded status for me. April is usually when spring kicks in and sucks all the air out of the room, filling it instead with sinus-clogging pollen, and filling my nights with drunk idiots who generally stay inside when it's cold. I like the cold, for many reasons, this being one of them. Have you ever noticed that hot weather seems to make a certain kind of person exceptionally happy, and how that person is almost always a complete and total asshole? It's like a whole time of year invented just for morning people. And August is their most glorious hour: It's miserably hot all the time, the movies so bad they weren't even good enough to compete with all the other bad summer movies make their debut, kids shamble around despondently knowing that they're soon to return to school, and generally nothing good comes of any of it, ever. It's the one month I contemplate a new career in super-villainy. Only it'd be too hot to wear a costume.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:01 AM on August 2, 2009 [8 favorites]


Dictionary.com says:
au⋅gust /ɔˈgʌst/ [aw-guhst]
–adjective
1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama.
2. venerable; eminent: an august personage.

August is also a (rather rare) first name (inspired by Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor). Since the month of August is also called the "Dog Days of Summer", Hanna-Barbera used the casual form of August to name one of its first (and IMO, best) cartoon dogs Augie Doggie. And there is nothing wrong with Augie Doggie.
posted by wendell at 11:02 AM on August 2, 2009


I hear that because the planets are aligned *just so*, that August is also the month when most confirmation bias occurs.
posted by vertigo25 at 11:09 AM on August 2, 2009 [7 favorites]


Between this and the FPP on January Jones, I'm all monthed out.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:12 AM on August 2, 2009


Well I was born in August, so there is that. A baby born at the end of August is what you get when you fornicate neath the Christmas tree amidst the un-opened presents when your gentleman friend is on leave from the Navy.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:19 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beijing's Bloody August
posted by Abiezer at 11:20 AM on August 2, 2009


I hear that because the planets are aligned *just so*, that August is also the month when most confirmation bias occurs.

I can anecdotally attest to that.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:22 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


WW2 began in September
posted by A189Nut at 11:29 AM on August 2, 2009


Could AC prevent the sweaty malaise that leads to war?
posted by Cranberry at 11:34 AM on August 2, 2009


Belief in astrology is strong evidence of a weak mind.
posted by Tube at 11:39 AM on August 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy: Well I was born in August, so there is that. A baby born at the end of August is what you get when you fornicate neath the Christmas tree amidst the un-opened presents when your gentleman friend is on leave from the Navy.
Isn't the end of August eight months after Christmas?
posted by Doofus Magoo at 11:41 AM on August 2, 2009


Isn't the end of August eight months after Christmas?

Not every sailer goes on leave at the same time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:47 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not every sailer goes on leave at the same time.
Only the sausage seller is a sailor when it suits him. With bread.
posted by Mblue at 11:54 AM on August 2, 2009


[NOT HEMISPHERIST]
posted by Burhanistan at 11:57 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a kid growing up in southern Ontario, August was when the CNE commercials started showing up on television. That was the always the first cruel little reminder that school was creeping close. July always seemed full of sun and promise, August has dread attached.
posted by davebush at 12:00 PM on August 2, 2009


Some Witch are [NOT HEMISPHERIST].
posted by Mblue at 12:03 PM on August 2, 2009


The first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. There were significant cold war crises in August. The Berlin wall was built in August 1961.

Don't forget that Internet Explorer 6 was released in August 2001.
posted by sour cream at 12:05 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


"...it has proved historically to be a month of dramas..."

That word, I don't think it means what you think it means.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 12:06 PM on August 2, 2009


That word, I don't think it means what you think it means.
Verb or noun, eh?
posted by Mblue at 12:11 PM on August 2, 2009


Jerry Garcia died in August.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:14 PM on August 2, 2009


Jerry Garcia died in August.
See?
posted by Mblue at 12:19 PM on August 2, 2009


Hey great post!

August does indeed figure prominently in many financial crisis' including, of course, our current difficulties which most attribute to starting in August 2007.

Of course the term “credit crunch” is colloquially applied to the difficulties impacting the credit markets, then rippling out to effect business activity in general.

We can measure the credit crunch by looking at a market rate known as The London Bank Inter Offer Rate, or LIBOR.

LIBOR, a rate at which banks will lend to each other, is a reasonable proxy for the willingness of financial institutions to make short term loans, not only to each other but also retail class entities.

LIBOR is also used to price Swaps (a form of derivative) as well as retail lending rates.

Before the credit crunch we saw 3M LIBOR at roughly the BOE base rate plus ten to twenty basis points.

In August 2007 LIBOR soared as various institutions experienced difficult obtaining credit. It corrected but when Lehman Brothers collapsed LIBOR spiked to 130 basis points above the BOE base rate

Data for LIBOR rates during September 2008 can be obtained from The British Bankers Association [ .xls ], or BBA, and it shows LIBOR soaring from this point on.

It corrected somewhat, but then a year later as US Investment Banks (e.g., Lehman) started to tumble it took off again.


Other instances of August being a difficult month for economics:
  • August 1799 in Hamburg a speculative bubble in commodities collapsed as a result of a break in the Continental Blockade.


  • August 1819 in the United States we saw the collapse of a speculative bubble in manufacturing capacity.


  • August, 1848 in the United States we saw the collapse of a speculative bubble in railroads.


  • August, 1890, England, we saw the simultaneous collapse no fewer than THREE speculative bubble focused on Argentinean real estate, Brazilian coffee and Chilean nitrates.


  • August, 1907, both France and Italy saw the collapse of speculative bubbles in industrial capacity.
There are some others that I can't cite at the moment.

And, of course, there is the old English expression "Sell in May and go Away but buy back on St. Leger's Day", which will insure the prudent investor is totally out of the markets during this very, very cruel month.

So yeh, great post! Lots of bad stuff happens in the markets in August.
posted by Mutant at 12:27 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jerry Garcia died in August.

I nominate August for Most Awesome Month In The History Of Months.
posted by cmonkey at 12:36 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


How many of the stories about the significance of august are published/posted in august?
posted by ServSci at 12:43 PM on August 2, 2009


Also, related...Woodstock ended.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2009


Around here August has tomatoes AND blackberries. Clearly it's the best month of the year.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:51 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whereas for me August 8th has regularly been a great day*. So many good things have happened to me on that date that every year I actually look forward to it. I've met girlfriends, found new homes, suddenly finished deals, all on 08/08. I'm sure the fact I now have a positive outlook on that day helps, but really, the list of things that happened to me on that day is so vast and random it constantly surprises me.

*exception being the death of Louise Brooks.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:09 PM on August 2, 2009


In college I lived in a loft overlooking a large parking lot behind the biggest bar around. We kept a thermometer just by that window, and sure enough, the fights in the parking lot were directly correlated to temperature, year after year.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:15 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a cruel, (cruel,) cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It's a cruel, (it's a cruel,) cruel summer
Now you're gone

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on August 2, 2009


Lost my virginity in August, been fucked ever since.
posted by pianomover at 1:37 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was born in August, so I've always liked the month. Hey, I never had to go to school on my birthday. Until these past few years I did really dislike the August birthstone, peridot (pale green stone), but now that I realize spring green really suits me, I've gotten to like it so I have no complaints at all.

July, now. July is the devil.
posted by orange swan at 1:43 PM on August 2, 2009


July, now. July is the devil.

If you say it is, then I'm sure it is, after all, anything can be whatever you would like it to be, especially if you would like it to be more terrible than it already is.

But from my always more outdated point of view, July has a great, hot, honest heart; there is no question to it, or ambiguity.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2009


Around here August has tomatoes AND blackberries. Clearly it's the best month of the year.

Zero snow helps too.
posted by trev at 1:55 PM on August 2, 2009


I thought July was a woman.
posted by Nonce at 1:57 PM on August 2, 2009


The sole significance of August is that a twelfth of all things happened in it.
posted by w0mbat at 2:02 PM on August 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Belief in astrology is strong evidence of a weak mind.
posted by Tube at 11:39 AM on August 2


all that from a link on an art site with a great opening paragraph that inspired an FPP ?
posted by infini at 2:02 PM on August 2, 2009


August is that last puff on the cigarette of your 10am smoke break, before go back to work; the final few gulps of your drink after the bouncer yells says it's closing time; the turning down of the car stereo as you pull into work, the sigh as you turn the hot water off on a cold morning. It's not the end, but the realization that an end is coming, whether you want it to or not and usually sooner than you'd like.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:18 PM on August 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


Mentioning astrology in anything but a critical light does not win credibility points. Nor should it.
posted by kldickson at 2:24 PM on August 2, 2009


Mentioning astrology in anything but a critical light does not win credibility points. Nor should it.

Goddamn is this kneejerk reaction to anything vaguely metaphysical one tiresome fucking aspect of MeFi. The url to the link has the word "mythology" in it, for God's sake, and it's just barely even relevant to the FPP anyway.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:54 PM on August 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, my horoscope for August says that August will be great but September will suck badly, so I'm not sure what to do with this post.
posted by effbot at 2:58 PM on August 2, 2009


I was born in August, and I noticed this phenom long ago. And yes, I was the "atomic bomb", the "revolution", the "war" and the "Berlin Wall" in my family.
posted by telstar at 3:11 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


one should put up a post on vedic astrology and its influence even today, particularly among the emerging multinationals that are popping out people's cars and 2 cent phone calls - credibility in some cultures accepts that the rational/irrational divide may not be as clear as the separation that emerged post the Enlightenment in western civ. does it make their achievements any lesser?
posted by infini at 3:32 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Goddamn is this kneejerk reaction to anything vaguely metaphysical one tiresome fucking aspect of MeFi.

I am pretty much 100% in the anti-metaphysical camp around here, and even I find kldickson irksome.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:37 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hate August. It's my least favorite month.

In Tucson, the temperatures can start threatening to hit 100 degrees as early as April. By May, we start hunkering down for the summer ahead. June comes along, sometimes without a day where the high doesn't hit 100. July brings the monsoons, which can bring sweet relief when they're right and miserable mugginess when they're not. Keep in mind that many of us in Tucson have swamp coolers, which are inexpensive to buy, cheap to maintain and fix, and also ring up a lot lower electric bill than A/C. The tradeoff is that they're not working worth much when the dewpoint goes north of 55 degrees.

So when August comes around, we've been dealing with our trademark ungodly heat for several months. The last gasps of the monsoons are playing havoc with the swamp coolers. The temperatures tend to stay higher and higher than before, or at least it seems like it. Low temps often don't dip below 80. Schools are starting which means the traffic becomes horrendous. And there's nothing going on. No grand activities, no festivals, and the summer movies are even tapering off. It's hotter than hell out and there's nothing fun happening, even in a metro area of a million people.

Then September comes. It seems my outlook changes drastically come September 1st. Labor Day is around the corner. We've survived the worst of summer and soon the heat will moderate and the nights will be cooler, which is a great respite. We can fire up the chiminea on the back porch. Football season is about to start, and baseball season is hurtling down the frenzied pennant race homestretch. The green chiles are ready in New Mexico. Fiestas in Santa Fe. And it's also my birthday month. September is my favorite month of the year.

So yeah, I hate August. I think justifiably so. The sooner it's over the better.
posted by azpenguin at 3:59 PM on August 2, 2009


So what you're saying is that I should reschedule my green card interview for next month?
posted by saturnine at 5:25 PM on August 2, 2009


Belief in astrology is strong evidence of a weak mind.

That's such a Taurus thing to say.
posted by The Whelk at 5:40 PM on August 2, 2009 [8 favorites]



Well I was born in August, so there is that. A baby born at the end of August is what you get when you fornicate neath the Christmas tree amidst the un-opened presents when your gentleman friend is on leave from the Navy.


I'm a September baby or a "New Years hangover." if you're my mom.

I like reading the horoscopes cause it's the only part of the newspaper that tells me only good and happy things will happen to me today. also, for some reason, a friend got me a full astrological outlook profile as a gift I know, and it said my carrer would experience a chaotic but beneficial turn soon. The next day I got a chance to pitch to a major publisher do de do do de dum
posted by The Whelk at 5:50 PM on August 2, 2009


So August is incredibly hot and historically violent. It's also a pretty active month for hurricanes.

I still like it better than January.
posted by thivaia at 5:55 PM on August 2, 2009


Well, one nice thing about accepting "the rational/irrational divide" is that it provides complete immunity to penis-theft. I would dispute the idea that rationality is a "western" value though. There are plenty of rational thinkers in the "east" and bucket-loads of irrational thinkers here.
posted by Humanzee at 6:02 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


The wonderchicken was born 44 years ago today, although at the time there was little indication that miraculous poultrification was in his future. Other than the beak, feathers and diffuse glow, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:11 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]




I signed up here in August '02. I guess I never had a chance.
posted by stavrogin at 6:34 PM on August 2, 2009


Approximately 1/12 of all events have taken place in August! Scary when you think about it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:42 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Running for mayor...in August!
posted by Mike Mongo at 8:35 PM on August 2, 2009


I think we could compile an equally compelling list of dramas for other months.

On the other hand, many governments go on break during August, so then would be a good time to do something sociopolitically dramatic.
posted by Extopalopaketle at 8:57 PM on August 2, 2009


WW2 began in September

And what month comes for September? QED.
posted by !Jim at 11:27 PM on August 2, 2009


The wonderchicken was born 44 years ago today,...
Happy Birthday and several more if you've quit kvetching about $5 noobs.
posted by Cranberry at 11:30 PM on August 2, 2009


I think we could compile an equally compelling list of dramas for other months.

Why yes, yes we could.
posted by tspae at 11:38 PM on August 2, 2009


if you've quit kvetching about $5 noobs.

whut?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:24 AM on August 3, 2009


"August is the cruelest month"

And 1 is the loneliest number.


And my birthday is August 1st which explains why I'm cruel and lonely . So lonely.
posted by minifigs at 4:33 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Will people please leave that Eliot quotation alone? All you're doing, Polly Curtis*, is proving that you've 1) heard a famous phrase and 2) failed to understand it.

(*though you are by no means alone)
posted by Cantdosleepy at 5:41 AM on August 3, 2009


We have a serious preponderance of May birthdays in my family, so apparently among my relatives, August is the month for gettin' it on, wacka chicka wow wow.

Or maybe, just the month for forgetting your birth control. It's so hot you don't even want to wear a condom!
posted by emjaybee at 7:31 AM on August 3, 2009


In Tucson, the temperatures can start threatening to hit 100 degrees as early as April.

Enough of your sob stories. I'm in Ireland, and an Indian guy in work promised us in April of last year that he'd buy us all a drink when the temperature reached 25 degrees (77 Fahrenheit). We set up a screen scrape from the Met Éireann website so we'd know the instant it happened. It never happened. Not once. All year.
posted by kersplunk at 10:24 AM on August 3, 2009


So when August comes around, we've been dealing with our trademark ungodly heat for several months.

I think this is a problem with Tuscon, not August. See, here it's only been above 100 every day since early June.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2009


So... nothing to do with most of those events occurring in the Northern Hemisphere and, August being at the height of the Northern summer, good weather being conducive to military operations?

Or it's hot as all f*ck and tempers are short?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2009


ah, kersplunk, quit ya complaining, I'm an Indian girl in Finland and still waiting for someone to buy me a drink
posted by infini at 8:44 PM on August 3, 2009


and baseball season is hurtling down the frenzied pennant race homestretch.

I just can't conceive of baseball being "frenzied".
posted by telstar at 3:03 PM on August 4, 2009


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