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 Pexels

It seems that we can never have enough living space. Even back in 1492 when the planet was, by modern standards, virtually uninhabited, every king, princeling and adventurer was engaged in a passionate search for new territory. Columbus, of course, won the jackpot – although he never knew it. Seven million square miles of real estate, not even counting South America, and entirely empty, except for the people who happened to be living here.

Rick Bowmer / AP

When the words “Autumnal Equinox” appear on the calendar, as they did on Saturday, they send a little chill through the heart as well as the body. Labor Day is one thing, but this is official. Summer is over. This is the moment when our Earth, or at least our hemisphere, begins to tilt away from the sun. A cosmic event like this should be more dramatic. But nothing much changes, not yet.

Courtesy of Frenchly

It has been reported, but not much discussed, that Norwegian researchers have discovered that intelligence, as measured by standard IQ tests, has been declining since 1975. I had been wondering about this myself, especially for the last couple of years. In the national league table of IQ tests, America comes in ninth, slightly behind Norway. In case you hadn’t guessed, Hong Kong and Singapore come in first. America’s average IQ score has gone down at about the same rate as in many European countries, which seems to suggest that intelligence is on the decline across the Western world.

Courtesy of Pexels

I must admit to having a mild phobia about shoes. It dates back to childhood, when every school year began with a new pair of regulation leather shoes, choice of black or black. After a summer of bare feet and sandals, our feet had to be "broken in" to these new shoes, and we hobbled about in agony for the first two weeks of school, taking small, careful steps and sliding like ice skaters on the smooth leather soles.

Diane Bondareff / AP Images for Homewood Suites by Hilton

So here we are at the symbolic end of summer, and the symbolic end of the vacation season. Personally, I love vacations, being lazy by nature. But I know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. This summer I’ve had plenty of opportunity to study other people (and myself) in a state of leisure. While I am usually relaxed to the point of inertia, my fellow vacationers often seem nervous, anxious, and restless. In France I watched one busy professional, down from Paris for a couple of weeks, wash his immaculately clean car three times in three days, and vacuum the interior too.

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