I've always had a perverse pride in being born on August 2. Middle of summer, so when I was a kid often my friends weren't around for birthday parties. But the weather was always warm, and often my family was away that week too, with family friends  at a summer-rental house in Newport Beach or Laguna. As time went on I collected a group of writer-friends with the same birthday. Lawrence Wright, Erik Tarloff, Caleb Carr, not to mention our departed symbolic leader James Baldwin. (And my hometown friend, the musician and composer Greg Tornquist. And Judge Lance Ito!)

And now -- August 2 is a redolent date for America as a whole. It's the day when the country, allegedly, goes broke. There's a very artful pairing with July 4, the date when the nation symbolically got its start. In historical fact, as we August 2ers know, most signatories actually put their names on the Declaration of Independence on August 2. So our date might go down as the day when the nation got its start -- and when its modern model showed its fecklessness.

When you hear the cautionary references to "August second" in these next few days, give a thought to those of us who sit up with special pride.