David Bouchier


David began as a print journalist in London and taught at a British university for almost twenty years. After coming to the United States in 1986 he continued to teach and to publish a regular humor column in The New York Times regional edition.  He joined WSHU as a weekly commentator in 1992, becoming host of Sunday Matinee in 1996. His latest book of essays, Peripheral Vision, was published in 2011. His other books include A Few Well Chosen Words, The Song of Suburbia, The Cats and the Water Bottles, The Accidental Immigrant and Writer at Work. He lives in Stony Brook, New York, with his wife who is a professor at Stony Brook University, and two un-musical cats.

Courtesy of Pixabay

In my youth I was a great fan of science fiction – and if you promise not to tell anybody I will confess that I even wrote some. But science fiction has gone downhill since those ancient days. There’s not much science in it now, not even imaginary science, and precious little about the future either. Fantasy has taken over. A typical story pits brave but puny human beings against mighty forces of evil. I know life sometimes feels like that on a Monday morning, but it's a thin literary diet.

In The Plague, a 1947 novel by Albert Camus, the citizens of Oran in Algeria are decimated by a dreadful infectious disease, which (having no choice), they bear with heroic stoicism and endurance. Literary critics say that the plague described in the novel is a subtle metaphor of the German occupation, or of evil in general. But I read it as a much more transparent metaphor of the common cold.

I have been waiting to write about the Bitcoin phenomenon until the whole fantastical pyramid collapsed, revealing the conjurer behind the curtain. But, although the illusion has been wavering and fading a bit recently, I suspect that it may be days or weeks before the final dénouement. So I’ll just throw in my electronic two cent’s worth now: 

My parents taught me to be polite, and it has always been a handicap. It didn’t take long for me to discover that politeness is a losing strategy, and that the loudest and most boorish voice in the room always wins. A polite person wears an invisible strait jacket, and is inhibited from doing all sorts of effective, self-promoting things, like yelling, bullying, insulting, and boasting. Unfortunately, these are the essential tools of success in the modern world. 

Liz West / Flickr

How many Valentines did you get so far? Statistically, by first delivery on Wednesday morning, you should receive at least three, because over a billion Valentine cards are mailed every year, which means three or four for every man, woman, and child in the nation. But, of course, it doesn’t work out like that. The young and the beautiful get far more than their fair share, and others get none at all. When it comes to Valentines we are definitely not all created equal.