David Bouchier

Commentator

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

I very nearly posted a photograph on my Facebook page the other day. This would have been a rare event. Normally the page simply sits there, unchanging, like a picture on a gallery wall. Some of my friends post pictures of themselves, their friends, relatives, pets, airports they are passing through, and even meals they have cooked or eaten in restaurants. But I don’t want to force my friends to live my whole life at second hand, it’s just not that interesting.

Katrina Br*?#*!@nd / Flickr

The labels “introvert” and “extrovert” have been around for a hundred years to describe two personalities we all know well. Introverts are reticent, quiet, and quite enjoy being alone. Extroverts are more sociable, generally louder, more talkative, and more active. These are stereotypes of course, but where would we be without stereotypes? Most of us have no trouble in accepting one or other of these labels for ourselves, and for me it’s easy. On a test of introversion, I scored 100 percent, which is the best I have ever done on any test.

They say that nostalgia is never what it used to be, and that’s true. But still it never goes away, and renews itself in each generation. Nostalgia is the warm feeling we get when we imagine the good old days. Television, and especially public television, is a wonderful source of ready-made nostalgia, with its apparently endless series of quasi-historical dramas, many of them British, like Midwives, Home Fires, Victoria, the perpetually repeated Downton Abbey, and now The Victorian Slum.

The German philosopher Hegel, whose theories have given more headaches to more students than any number of keg parties, once said: "What we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history."  If Hegel was right, you have to wonder why we have traditions like Memorial Day, which are designed to remind us of the past.

Courtesy of Pixabay

NPR’s Weekend Edition on this station has a segment called "Barbershop,” on which invited guests can openly discuss any subject in the news. Not in my barbershop you can’t. My barber has strong opinions. With the big voice of Fox News shouting from a screen over our heads, he tells me what I need to know, but evidently don’t, about foreign policy, economics, the complexities of social class and race, the nature of democracy and government, and just about any other topic that comes up. I’ve learned to keep quiet.

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