Why you should care
Summer’s closing up. Here’s a review of some of the stuff we’ve learned.
Pooja Bhatia is an OZY editor and writer. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Economist, and was once the mango-eating champion of Port-au-Prince.
Ah, summer — we barely knew thee! Kudos to those of you who had a nice chunk of time off. Bummer for those of you who did not. A smidge of consolation: Pretty much everyone pees in the pool anyway, and what happens when they do is really, really gross, according to OZY’s Anne Miller.
More consolation, this time from OZY contributor Vignesh Ramachandran: You, vacation-deprived soul, are not alone. As he reported back in May, vacation is shrinking for most American workers. The average American employee uses only half of her time off. That’s not because employers are stingier with vacation days — the number of vacation days hasn’t much budged. A Protestant Ethic might be at, er, work. “Regions like North America, Japan and South Korea are ‘vacation deprived,’ while countries like Brazil, Germany, France, Spain and Denmark are ‘vacation rich,’” Ramachandran reported. Whatever happened to Clark Griswold, he wondered?
Maybe Clark went to Lisbon. As OZY writer Laura Secorun Palet reported last week, one of the few bright spots in Portugal’s down-in-the-dumps economy is tourism. It’s up 12 percent over last year, and it’s not just because of the sunshine or the bureaucracy-busting ways of the tourism secretary. It’s also the cheap prices. Those cheap prices have also managed to birth a whole new creative economy. Seeking to turn the economic doldrums into art and design, Lisbon could well be the next Berlin.
On vacation or not, the summer has been a bit weighty for all of us. The Islamic State continues to spread awfulness in Iraq and Syria. Retired deputy CIA chief and OZY regular John McLaughlin tells all the reasons the IS is a greater threat to Americans than al-Qaida before 9/11: It’s rich, has a lot of members and commands actual territory. The day before we published McLaughlin’s analysis, the IS claimed responsibility for the horrific death of journalist James Foley. The loss hurts very much. Israel and Gaza hurt.
And Ferguson hurts, too. For many civil rights activists, police violence against blacks is a historical motif that needs to end. How is not clear, but it will take some forward thinking. OZY Editor-in-Chief Carlos Watson told us last week about four people — the Ferguson Four — who’ve been thinking ahead, and advancing civil rights, opportunity and justice.
Optimists believe the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Sometimes it bends so slowly that it’s hard to tell whether that’s true. When we lose faith, as can happen, one of the folks we turn to is Melissa Pandika, OZY’s science writer. Just over the past few weeks, she’s told us about some miraculous inventions, like hypoallergenic nuts and ways to capture the earth’s native energy.
But sometimes things get dire. The interns go back to school, our nighttime picnics end sooner, and the leaves begin to brown. That’s when we turn to portraits like this one, rendered by OZY intern Nick Osdol.