Magazine August 30, 2010, Issue

Heap o’ Nothin’

(Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)

Back when August was called the dog days, columnists got a break. We were allowed, even expected, to write about nothing much because there was nothing much to write about. “Nothing happens in August” was a given. If you pointed out that World War I and Lizzie Borden both exploded in the first week of August, you were reminded that exceptions prove the rule; as for Hiroshima, that was just a coincidence.

The low-key, upbeat, dog-days vacation column thus became a journalistic tradition. As with all traditions, there are certain rigid rules. First, never depress your readers. Strive for humor but

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