2013 — 20 March: Wednesday

I have neither Styron nor du Maurier in my little library1 but have seen several films based on du Maurier's work. The most terrifying of which (Roeg's "Don't look now") left a lasting impression in February 1974 as I walked uneasily back to my bed and breakfast in Windsor.

It comes after an account of being entertained in Cornwall by "Daphne de Maurier", who "put out a wonderful meal but who makes a terrific fuss about being impoverished, this being all highly incongruous considering the fact that she lives in the most enormous house I've ever seen and that she's #1 on the current list". A few days later (March 31, 1952), the twenty-six-year-old wrote to his publisher at Random House, Robert Loomis, again mentioning his poverty-pleading hostess. This time Styron got the name right, adding that du Maurier "seems very nice [and] would still, I think, be good for a fair-to-middling roll in the hay".

James Campbell in TLS

The rich are different from me. I wonder if he met her "boy in the box"?

Why does Santayana...

... come to mind, I wonder? (Though not very hard.) Wonderful thing, hindsight.

By coincidence, the month of March is also the fortieth anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Vietnam. Was Vietnam in your category as a war of choice?

Absolutely. The United States did not have vital national interests, and there were many other things we could have done in Vietnam to have promoted those interests we did have. But the wars have much in common. They both show the folly of overlooking local realities, be they political, cultural, or historic, and trying to impose our views on these societies and trying to remake these societies using large amounts of American military might. That seems to be the clear lesson of Vietnam, the clear lesson of Iraq; it's also the clear lesson of Afghanistan. And we've got to be more modest and more discriminating in what we believe we can accomplish against the backdrop of military force. But we've now had three enormous wars of choice.

Bernard Gwertzman, interviewing Richard N Haass in CoFR

More than $1 trillion, more than 30,000 US casualties, more than 4,400 American lives... I still recall the brief assessment I first read in mid-1980.

If I'm to enjoy tonight's hot, tasty, nutritious meal, I'd better get started on stuffing my next batch of crockpotted delights.

I can't remember...

... the last time I simply strolled around Soton at my leisure, calling in at King Burger for what Magnus Pyke once assured the nation was a perfectly nutritious and wholesome lunch. Meanwhile, the prolix "Rudolf" has written again, telling me the three Direct Debits his team transferred is the "full list". Just shows what little he knows, which is probably why he's "Head of Customer Services". And Uncle ERNIE's third £25 cheque finally arrived, so that was another little trip out as soon as I got back.

I suspect the reason the 16GB Lexar USB stick I found in Staples2 was so cheap (£6) reflects its write speed, which is less than 5MB/sec. Its read speed is far less shabby.

I knew...

... when I bought the 60" Pioneer Kuro plasma screen just over four years ago that Pioneer was then on the point of getting out of the business. Despite making what were widely regarded as the panels that their competitors needed to beat, they apparently only ever managed to get about a 6% market share, so they withdrew gracefully. This evening I learned that Panasonic is now heading exactly the same way. So here's hoping my present screen will last3 until OLED technology presents a viable alternative.



1  Though I know who they are :-)
2  While looking for my next pack of A4 hole-punched plastic pockets to hold my next set of DVD cover artwork.
3  Its 50" predecessor — also a Pioneer plasma screen, though only 1,280x768 resolution — lasted seven years, after all. And I only replaced it because I was unable to 'work around' the ghastly HDCP protocol.