Speed Reads

Summertime and the living is scary

Jon Stewart is nostalgic for when shark attacks were the worst thing about August

The Daily Show is on vacation, but a few weeks ago Jon Stewart went on a bittersweet trip down memory lane. "It's been a rough summer so far," he said, citing the violence between Gaza and Israel, Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists, and all over Syria. "It makes you kind of nostalgic for the news stories of summers gone by." In August, Congress and the president go on vacation, as does much of the news media. So in the August of 2001, for example, the big story was shark attacks — a tradition certain corners of the TV industry have kept alive, in diminished form.

Since Stewart taped this in July, things have only gotten more depressing — ISIS has tried to annihilate the Yazidi religious minority and is currently trying to influence U.S. foreign policy by murdering journalists, a St. Louis suburb called Ferguson became ground zero for America's fraught race relations and police militarization debate, Ebola is endemic in West Africa, and Robin Williams is dead, to name a few dismal developments. Stewart's darkly comic lament is at least something to keep in mind the next time you read about sharks lurking off the Florida coast. --Peter Weber