Monday, March 24, 2014

Postblogging Technology, February 1943, II: To The Gates of the Pure Land


Wing Commander R_. C_. Q.C., D.F.C.
L_ House, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire.

My Dear Father:

I hope you will forgive my impertinence in taking over your correspondence with your cousin again, dear Father-(Out-of)-Law. Uncle is travelling in the East with the redoubtable Wong Lee, and someone here must congratulate you, as I am told that your decoration must otherwise go unpublicised  for now. Uncle is also frantic to continue his campaign on the Earl's patience in respect to electrical engineering versus "little steel." And he has, perhaps, noticed that confinement is wearing on me and that I would welcome this opportunity to make myself useful.

More on Uncle's itnerary. He will be touring facilities in Buffalo on the Boeing matter, but I do not think anyone takes that seriously. The real meat of the trip, it turns out, is a visit to some Heaven-forsaken suburb of Detroit. There is talk of Uncle Henry taking over a white elephant that one of his business partners ran up for an Army contract and cannot now "make go." Fortunately, his son will have the last say in that matter, and Uncle and Edgar have an understanding. Uncle will be returning via Chicago and Vancouver, so you can expect to hear more of our mutual friend, as well as from the yards, on the subject of a mad owner,  dictating minute changes to the refit of Sparrow. 

Needless to say, Uncle is quite beside himself at the prospect of going to war. He will not admit it, but he is jealous of your DFC! I should probably slip and say something about boys being boys if I went on about it. You and he are now definitively pencilled in as guests of honour in Santa Clara for the holiday season of 1946, amongst our family heroes from the wars returning. I hope that you shall be available, as, Heaven willing, your grandchildren will be there.

Time,  14 February 1944


"Devious Dipomacy" &etc. The paper is upset at Izvestia being upset at the Pope. Poland is at the root of it, the paper says, but it approves of various measures to promote regional autonomy --if they go through.

"Brighton Speaks" And says that the Tories are in trouble.

Germany: "Situations Wanted" Several "Situations Wanted" ads in German newspapers are parsed as evidence that Germany is collapsing. Would that it were so.

"Squandered Lives" The paper notes the famines in Honan and Kwangtung. It is suggested that "skyrocketing prices" have played a role, as well as blockades, crop failures and hoarding, while international relief agencies "must pay prohibitive prices" for food. It is suggested that Chungking can do something by prompt and leaderly action. Father writes (see below) that it would accomplish rather more by issuing silver until the rich are willing to part with their rice. But if there is one thing that Chiang and his cronies will not do. . .  The paper also notes Madam Sun's recent statement.

War News

"The Great Test is Ahead" The paper is pleased by the cheap capture of Kwajalein, but quotes General Marshall to the effect that people still do not appreciate the full magnitude of the 'great test ahead.' Rumour has it that the people of Kwajalein fought for the Japanese because they believed that the Army would perpetrate a pogrom, and the paper is willing to put it on record that the General has received protests in regard to the use of flamethrowers at Tarawa.

The paper also credits 2000lb bombs dropped by land-based bombers. The Navy, "with its new carrier strength and antiaircraft fire, was no longer nervous about land-based aircraft." We are referred to another article, on Secretary Forrestal's annual report, which notes that the "45,000 ton" Iowas now carry "148 antiaircraft barrels, ranging from 20mm up to five-inch dual mountings." Monte Cassino, and not the defences opposite the Nettuno bridgehead, is the "stone wall" of the Italian campaign. German blockade runners are on the loose. Those brave, brave captains and their crews. If only they were not taking war materiel to Japan!(**) The paper quotes General Montgomery on being "fed up" with the war. Germans are not sending fighters up against American bombers. Berlin is "dying" under air attack.

  Stilwell and Mountbatten are fighting about the Ledo Road. Father has now met Stilwell. His opinion, he says, is of Marshall and the President, not Stilwell, since knowing that Marshall put Stilwell in charge in Burma tells Father everything he needs to know about their true opinion of Chiang and his army. the Marine Corps Women's Reserve held its first birthday this week. They are college girls and very spit-and-polish (but meek in the face of "real" Marines), but still girls, with feminine accoutrements everywhere and men trying to "crash" their social functions. After Valentine's Day, imprints of lipstick will no longer be tolerated on Vmail. It "ruins" the automatic feeders, which must be stopped and cleaned after very pass. I somehow suspect exaggeration --and a girlish fad.

Girls and machinery, you know?


The President is probably going to run again. 

A House bill for a $2 billion tax increase reached the President's desk, in place of his own $10 billion and Wilkie's $16 billion. Wilkie argues that since the national debt will be $300 billion, and annual interest alone will be $6 billion, almost as high as the entire 1934 budget, so that we must have high taxes in order to "save our standard of living in the future." I smell a rat. What happened to the good old Californian Republicans of old? (Not counting the Engineer or his father, of course!)

The President signed the new veteran's bonus bill. Only $300. You will know that Uncle will not be satisfied until the bonus is higher than a ten percent down payment on one of Uncle Henry's five-thousand-dollar houses, but some progress. 

Representative John Rankin, Democrat of Mississippi, thinks that only communists, the "tax escaping fortune of Marshal Field III," and "Walter Winchell --alias no telling what" want soldiers to vote if it means violating the sacred constitution with the Federal ballot. Invited to elaborate on Winchell's "alias," Rankin called Winchell a "little kike" on the floor of the House. Mr. Rankin hates Coloureds, rich people, especially liberal rich people, Jews and many other groups to be named later. And aliasses. The House seems to have more tolerance for boors than I do in my house!

"Mahout" The GOP will win in 1944, unless they don't. Credit (blame) will partly go Harrison Spangler.  which is why he gets the four-page cover story in this number. Senator Vandenberg endorses General MacArthur, because there is no reason whatsoever that a 65 year-old divorced bachelor who sends tanks after veterans cannot be President, and not because Senator Vandenberg is a horrible old woman who has persuaded himself that spoiling Governor Dewey's chances will somehow open his way to the Presidency. I almost feel sad for Colonel McCormick and General MacArthur, who are so confident in their intelligence and influence, and so readily duped.

"Hunger Postponed" Last summer, writing from his 1500 acre farm near Mansfield, Ohio, novelist Louis Bromfield predicted famine in February. It was delayed by a prior engagement, and has rescheduled for April.

Senator Lodge is going to war. Or, possibly, is just not comfortable in his own skin.

Henry Wallace is an idiot, Mackenzie King is a snake. Canadians cannot get spirits, thanks to rationing and shortages, and, more importantly, the artificial rubber programme. Politicians and the press join to worry that cutting back to a 48 hour week is essentially a return to the Great Depression.


"Engineer-Architect" Hermann Herrey, "no starry-eyed planner," proposes to solve Manhattan's soon-to-be-fatal congestion problems by completely reorganising its street grid and land use. The key would be an eighty-foot high, six-level "belt highway," at an estimated cost of $250 million. "All this, thinks Herrey, would involve no volcanic disruption of city life." 

The Press: "The Times Gets Ready" The New York Times is preparing for the future by purchasing a radio station, and placing it under  a  man who is in charge of managing the paper's adoption of facsimile distribution of newscopy via radio to "a receiver in the reader's living room." Uncle will be beside himself at the prospect of dealers selling such an elaborate electrical gadget into homes so soon after the deep-freezer.


America has an official oil policy, which is to expand its stake in Arab oil. The Western Hemisphere current supplies 88% of the United Nations' petroleum needs, and reserves are being depleted faster than they can be discovered. Manhattan-based businessmen have "[F]ormed the China-America Council of Commerce and Industry, chairmanned by Thomas J. Watson, International Business Machines Corp. president and global good-willer." It is supposed that the U.S. will supply two-thirds of China's presumably enormous postwar imports. Because of course the first thing that the Chinese people will do when peace comes is spend foreign exchange on American typewriters! 

(J.) Magnin's and Bullock's are to merge, A sad day. As you will have heard, the NYSE finally went into the black last year. 


The artificial rubber programme is in trouble. The easiest path to production is via industrial alcohol. The plants making rubber out of alcohol made out of grain are well ahead of production targets, but will be halted in their tracks by the growing grain shortage. The petroleum-derived process relies on butylene made at the 100-octane cracking plants, meaning that it is in direct competition with 100-octane gas aviation gas manufacture, while the promised butyl manufacture[?], the only viable substitute for rubber in inner tubes apart from Du Pont's small neoprene production, has not emerged at all.  Butyl is produced at a reaction that cannot take place above 150 degrees below zero, and must then be heated to 150 above. Production is negligible. Allotments of civilian tyres have fallen below what "Rubber Boss Dewey" once called the "starvation diet" of 30 million," and prewar stockpiles of both tyres and natural rubber are used up. Truckers actually talk of a transportation collapse." Related, the paper notices the formation of the National Federation of American Shipping, upon which subject Uncle has bombarded the Earl with enough optimism for a sequel to Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. 

Education Various schemes to persuade high school students to finish their degrees before entering war work are discussed. Cleveland is the national leader, somehow managing to have more students enrolled last September than the year before, while at the other extreme, San Francisco has all but given up, handing out a full semester's equivalent of credits for "war work." Texas, which after WWI banned all public school second language education as divisive, is now moving towards bilingual education in Spanish. 

Art Some "primitive" watercolour paintings done between 1815 and 1825 by a "Miss E. Willson" has come into the hands of a New York dealer from an unspecified collection and been sold for surprising sums with surprising speed.  I am not sure why this story is in the paper, but my eyebrows cannot rise any further at the personal details. Ah, well, it is Uncle's subscription, and I read out of the strictest sense of duty. 

Decision, by Edward Chodorov, is earnestly left wing but terrible, and its racist, war-profiteering Senator villain leads into the next story, about former isolationist, John T. Flynn, who publishes, with Doubleday, As We Go Marching. This short but powerful work discovers the fact that an unwieldy public debt is the true cause of Fascism (or vice versa).  The paper asks whether the example of Sweden and Baldwin's Britain does not suggest that the debt can be managed "dynamically," and hypothetically supposes that Mr. Flynn would give an answer that would seem to imply (no, really, that is the drift of the article!) that Americans just have not the brains of Swedes. I do not know about this, but I am having some difficulty understanding whether it is Fascism, Communism, or even an excess of Democracy which leads to high public debt, or vice versa. All that I can be sure of is that public debt threatens my future prosperity, and no amount of mathematical mumbo-jumbo by advanced British theorists will change this future-fact. 

What, after all, has mathematical mumbo-jumbo ever given us?

Flight, 17 February 1944


The paper thinks that the Bishop of Chichester is an amiable old fuddy-duddy for being worked up about the bombing of Berlin. At the same time, it is a dangerous argument to say that the bombing is justified on the grounds of shortening the war alone. Where else might such an argument lead? Manganese. Nikopol. Manganese manganese manganese. This has been your quota of "manganese" for this number. 

War in the Air

All aircraft are on tactical work in Italy this week as the Germans counterattack. The paper approves of using strategic bombers for tactical work when the alternative is losing the war. Men! Always so logical. (To let you in on a little secret, Sir, that is woman-talk for "silly.") Buried in the article is a discussion of whether or not airpower can be counted upon to cut off a battlefield from reinforcement. James (who is leaving again next week) says that someone is having a conversation through the press that he is also having in private. I assume that this is about the Invasion air plan?

"Halifax Development" It is good to hear of the Hercules replacing the Merlin to good effect, instead of vice-versa, as I was feeling a little sorry for it. 

"Jet versus Airscrew" The dreamy Mr. G. Geoffrey Smith contributes again. At least, I assume that he is dreamy. The paper certainly has a crush on him! Or am I guilty of "recycling" Uncle's joke?

"Shock Waves at Sonic Speed" Apparently, the wings of aircraft designed to fly at around the speed of sound have to be specially designed, and this might be hard. That seems to conflict with Captain Mcintyre's "next few years."

Here and There

General Smut's "personal" Avro York is actually to be property of the Department of Defence. Captain Macintyre of Scottish Aviation believes that civil aviation will within a few years achieve 700mph. 

"Flak" A precis of an article on the German antiaircraft arm from the German press. They sound very professional and well-equipped, which is depressing considering that this is only what the censor allows them to reveal. 

The paper's correspondence page continues to be very long and full of very well-worked up papers on subjects that make me wish my boy were born and grown up enough that I could be watching over his shoulder right now as he discovers these things for himself.

I'm sorry, I know that sounded broody, but I do not retract a word of it, and I'm crying a little right now, because when I think of these boys --and I think they are boys, to write so earnestly and so intelligently about jets and the law of reaction, and the (lack of) potential of broadcast electrical power, I cannot help also thinking about the great and terrible pending event that has them penned up together in their boredom as winter turns to the spring of 1944. 

The Economist, 19 February 1944


“Chickens to Roost” “the sky is black with chickens coming home to roost at the Ministry of Fuel and Power.” The miners are upset that the minimum wage award did not lead to a general increase in miner wages. Speaking of impertinence, they make much of the fact that they are paid significantly less than workers in engineering for more difficult and dangerous work. The paper grants that they have something of a point, but not much of one, considering that output per man is low and falling, and that if the miners want more money they should work harder. But now they have been all cozened and indulged, and will not see the iron logic. There must be nationalisation, and rationalisation, the closing of pits and the introduction of mechanisation, etc. The paper certainly knows a very great deal about coal mining, for men who "toil not, neither do they spin." Well, cloth, anyway. A marvellous tale of how the world should be is quite another matter!

“Outlaw Europe” German occupation and oppression has caused a breakdown in the European social order, moreso in the East than the West, admittedly, but it is in France that people are demanding an end to economic dominance by the “two hundred families.” They’re going to go communist, is what the paper is saying.

“The Principles of Trade –III: The New Liberalism” Rereading Uncle's diaries, I gather that he loathes this series as a grand waste of time and paper. I see why.

Notes of the Week

“Russia and Finland” The paper thinks that Russia should offer Finland a moderate peace, as much to undercut German propaganda as for any other reason. Russia-Poland, electoral reform, educational reform, India, pay-as-you-earn, Latins.

“Employment Policy” The paper senses an incipient Great Surrender on full employment, which the Government looks to abandon as a fever dream releasing us from its clutch with the morning light. “The Size of the Market” looks at the notion that Britain cannot have the kind of consumer goods-led prosperity that exists in America because its market is too small, and rejects it.

American Survey

“Only Fear Itself” Our Washington Correspondent attended a meeting of a  private professional and business women’s club somewhere in the bedroom suburbs/market garden belt part of Washington. The ladies who lunched talked about the postwar. They are worried about the future. A doctor’s wife was convinced that her husband would have no practice to return to, as the non-mobilised doctors would have aggrandised all the patients, and because of socialised medicine. 

Apropos of not very much, Mrs. Murphy says that she may begin to "try again" this summer. I do not suppose you want to hear these details, sir, but I want to stress just how important Uncle Henry's "health care" organisation is to families such as the Murphys. Mrs. Murphy may joke that she is going to keep on keeping on until she finally has her daughter, but the truth is that she was married in 1931, and was beginning to think that she would never be able to afford a second. Now she is quietly determined to accumulate babies as long as "she has a doctor," and all that implies. As she joins me in what passes for a constitutional in our condition, I got to field pointed questions about plans for the land between the creek and the park road, where the trees failed again this winter. She points out its suitability for houselots. I can hardly discuss Uncle's plans, but, word to the wise, I should  like the Murphys to get an inside track.  

Back to the lunch meeting with OWC. Teachers and social workers are worried about juvenile delinquents, and there was a “difficult discussion:” about “racial facilities” in local schools. Perhaps, OWC concludes, these fears are over-done?

The World Overseas

Ulster’s old unemployment problems are likely to reassert themselves after the war; Spain’s autarky is working to the extent that the country’s economy has not collapsed. Germany’s coal and steel situation suggests problems in the mines not dissimilar to those of Britain. (Or America.)

The Business World

“Long Term Housing Policy” Planning will save us. Uncle claims that building more houses will save us. Perhaps there could be both?

Business Notes

Tramp rates are up; Canadian Pacific finally pays a dividend; Woolworths’ is doing better than expected; there are glimmers of hope in the Northern Rhodesian copper mining labour situation.

Time, 21 February 1944


The Germans counterattack under the cover of winter weather in Italy with the support of their siege artillery. All German men not yet mobilised of the classes of 1884--1893 are now called up. Swiss sources report that the Germans are trying to squeeze out another 900,000 men for military service. The paper has brotherly love for General Holland Smith of the Marines. (Yes, I am being facetious.) The paper ridicules German radio for announcing the sinking of Ranger. 

The paper feels that it is time to salute the Russian General Staff, which it choooses to write"Shtab." Beats describing them as "lanky," "gangly," "salty," or "dark," I guess. The Tribune elects to run the story of an air raid that led to the loss of B-24s  "Fyrtle Myrtle" and "Golden Gator." The former was so-called because it carried a new father and an expectant one, and was lost without survivors.  "Golden Gator" flew on to crash later, and four men escaped. In order to help the paper's audience better imagine the fate of the fathers of "Fyrtle Myrtle," the Tribune's correspondent dwells at great length on the gruesome fate of the other seven crewmen of "Golden Gator." 

The Tribune is published in Chicago, "C-h-i-c-a-g-o," not "T-o-k-y-o."[***]

Britain continues to arrange a "counterbloc" in Western Europe against a presumptive Russian rival block in the East. Britons are told to prepare for the tension of the "nip and tuck" of the invasion by taking a rest day, lying about in a lighted room with an open window with some diverting reading. It sounds heavenly, but perhaps not the best tone to take just now? You certainly do not sound as though you have any time for "rest in the incumbent position!" Turkey is still neutral. The paper notices conflict between the Soongs and Dr. Kung.  Disease follows famine in India. the paper is surprised that the excitable Latins of Costa Rica are not going to have a civil war, after all. . 


Our Correspondent in British Columbia reports that the property of Japanese coastal residents deported to the interior of the province has somehow fallen into the hands of the provincial government and will be disposed to the benefit of returning (White) veterans after reasonable expenses &tc, not least to cordially encourage said persons of Japanese descent to go elsewhere. No doubt this will work as well as countless would-be anti-Chinese boycotts over the years, and those whose wallets have unaccountably fattened will have to work all the harder to not look their returning former neighbours in the eye in years to come! Perhaps to wash out the taste of the story, we are told under the same dateline of a temporary relaxation of Canadian meat rationing. This may be greeted by general salivation, but is merely intended to dispose of a surplus caused by a backing-up of shipments intended for Britain.  Oil and Russia dominate Washington discussions of foreign relations. The President has signed the repeal of the Exclusion Act. An end of an era here in Santa Clara... New Jersey politics are finally being cleaned up! Tax accountants do not know what they are doing! Theodore Bilbo is to be head of the Senate District (of Columbia) Committee. The City's Coloured population is apprehensive that he is ill-suited for office, especially as his first act was an order for "gangsters" to get out of town,  when, in fact, Washington's crimes are all political, not personal. The paper is puzzled. 

Governor Bricker visited Washington this week to explain that he would be the most anti-New-Deal-President of all! Uncle says that he is "auditioning for Vice-President." The paper is warming to Wendell Wilkie, cooling to Henry Wallace. Your Member of Parliament is back in Ottawa from the fighting to give a speech calling for more generous veteran's benefits after the war. Bad news for Halsey; Spruance is to be a full admiral. The paper is amazed by the amount of materiel $4 billion dollars will buy and move to "England" for the invasion, and tells a little story about US troops pumping out a manor house's flooded basement. Is this normal? Are many of the stately homes of England sitting on top of standing floods? I can imagine it, given how hard it is to get anything done here on the carriage house, never mind Arcadia, but it cannot be good for the structure!

The paper reports that while two years ago almost 50% of draftees had various technical skills, the current Selective Service call-up shows only 180 out of every 1000 having "usable skills." Secondary schools are now running preinduction courses to teach "fundamentals."

Science, Press, Education, Arts

A Swedish scientist believes that bacteria originating in the chemically-rich atmospheres of Jupiter, Mars or Venus might travel to Earth on meteorites. The paper proposes "Flu from Venus," and notes University of California's Charles P. Lipman's old claim to have found living bacteria in ancient meteorites. Long distance calling is getting easier in America. Already robot voices tell callers the time and weather, while switchboards automatically route local calls. Now, Bell Telelphone Laboratories shows a mechanical brain which enables long distance calls to be put through without human assistance. Already in use in Philadelphia, it will spread across the nation after the war, when the equipment is available. "Eventually, [engineers] believe, it will be possible for a customer to dial an out-of-town call on his home or office phone." 

This will not eliminate the need for operators, says the paper. In fact, the number of operators has increased as telephone use has increased; but it does "seem to foreshadow a day when men will seldom hear an operator's voice." 

Orestes H. Caldwell, editor of Electronic Industries, thinks that railroad train crews need two-way radios. I am mildly amazed that they do not have them already, but Caldwell's point is that there is enormous room for railways to buy things from the industries that subscribe to Mr. Caldwell's trade magazine. Perhaps even music and news will be broadcast in "dismal railroad waiting rooms." Dr. Hattie Alexander of Manhattan loses only 25% of her patients to influenzal meningitis thanks to the new sulfa drugs. The Air Surgeon's Office encourages the use of benzedrine to maintain crew alertness on long missions, and of course, it is well known as a cramming aid and as the "pep in the German Army's pep," but the Surgeon now cautions that people should use no more than 30mg of benzedrine per week. To end a benzedrine alert, one should take a mild sedative. 

The New Yorker will no longer let its copy appear in Reader's Digest. Marshall Field III has dismissed the editor he brought in to found the Chicago Sun. The first Coloured newsman has been accredited to the President's regular press conference, "light-skinned Harry McAlpin of the Atlantic Daily World."

The US Army is running correspondence courses for frontline soldiers ranging from grammar to electrical courses. Colonel Spaulding, who runs it, is one of the "fastest sandwich and coffee racers" in the halls of the Pentagon, and uses particularly colourful slang substitutes for profanities.


Retail sales in 1943 were an all time record $63.3 billion, up 10% above 1942,up 64%, or 23.2% adjusted, above the 1935--39 average. The most amazing thing, the paper says, is that the numbers are not higher. With total income payments to U.S. people zooming to $142 billion, more than twice 1939, it was expected that Americans would run out and spend all of this, causing unprecedented price inflation. "People can still sometimes outsmart the economists."

Justice Thurman Arnold has found new ways to pursue his old practice of breaking preventive patents, though the decision seems likely to be reversed. Advertisers are advised to avoid ads that annoy servicemen. Frank A. Pearson and Don Paarlberg think that the "the U.S. is committed to the impossible task of feeding more people and animals on a better diet than the land can provide." All sorts of things can lead to disaster in 1944, and probably will, unless Americans promptly adopt an abstemious diet of cereals, beans and potatoes. This can be achieved by letting food prices rise. 

On the one hand, so long as the price of oranges be allowed to rise with beans, I encourage this line of thinking. On the other hand, if Professor Pearson and his former graduate student thinks that the high rangeland and low marshes of the Snake and Columbia should go into beans and potatoes, I have hoes, shovels and bucket yokes ready for them. Watch out for rattlesnakes! Speaking of, Congress wants to run industrial deomobilisation. The WPB has cut the supply of glass jars to the salmon roe canning industry. I was not aware that this was even an industry, but apparently it is used as bait in the inland trout fishery. Perhaps this is news for you or your wife?

Flight, 24 February 1944


The paper is uncomfortable about the bombing of Monte Cassino, but judges that it was probably for the best, in this best of all possible worlds. Truk happened. I know this well, as only a day after James returned from Los Angeles, he was called away again to fly off to meet Intrepid at Pearl Harbor. Another carrier attacked, another steering gear failure.

The Economist, 26 February 1944


“Showing the Flag” The Prime Minister’s review of the progress of the war in the Commons was a great set piece. Also, apparently, there will be an invasion. I am also taking away a certain pessimism about extravagant promises of a rapid end to the war? But Uncle points out that this is what Mr. Janeway says, so it must be wrong. The paper thinks that flying boats are so practical, and will hold its breath until it turns blue if you disagree! (Again, I am treading on Uncle's toes because I see his point.) 

War in the Air

In the paper's version of the Truk attack, which may be a bit of trans-Atlantic churlishness, the operation was a bit of a letdown, as the Japanese Combined Fleet had withdrawn from the harbour, depriving Admiral Spruance of his chance of finishing the job that some say he left half-done at Midway. (And by some, I mean at the very least a certain Admiral's pet sub-lieutenant. Uncle, in his usual contrarian way, is a bigger Spruance booster by the hour that he spends with young Lieutenant (j.g.) A., although an unfortunate episode involving a porcelain vase of sentimental value may have intruded itself. I am inclined to forgive the boy a bit. It cannot be easy to grow so quickly into such size, with all joints and limbs poking out untended in all directions. Which perhaps gives you a misleading impression of the young man, Sir, as he is quite handsome for a boy of his age --says Grace, looking down her nose at the vast gulf of four years!) The paper notices, of course, the American daylight raids.

Here and There

Captainn J. H. White of BOAC is to be commended for making three journeys totalling 2400 miles in the air in 9 hours of flying time in complete darkness recently. So where was he going? N.B. Never mind, the last number of Time for the month describes its new Stockholm bureau, formed by a man flown to Sweden from Britain by a Mosquito. That's one. 

C. A. H. Pollitt, "The Flying Boat: Will it Survive?" No.

"The Turbosupercharger" A very brief paper. As James says, this could be a very important technology for the future of marine motorships. I am not sure that aviation-suitable installations have much to teach marine engineers, tho'. Certainly this paper does not any new light! (Except to carefully notice the importance of making sure that the air-fuel mixture in each cylinder is the same. I imagine that would be quite a difficulty with these new engines.)

"The World's Best Aircraft" I am reminded of the one about lifting yourself up by your own bootstrap here. First Flying does a paper about the world's best aircraft, and Flight excerpts it. Now Flight replies. Will Flying reply to Flight? Anything to fill pages while we wait on the first buds and continental invasions of spring! Oh, my summary. It turns out that actually British planes are best!

Behind the Lines

The Japanese have put a new fighter in service. It flew at Rabaul. Nothing else is known about the new fighter. Oh, come on, paper! German boys may now be air force cadets! (In other late breaking news, Columbus discovers America!) A Vichy paper reports that the Germans have developed an infrared spotlight to support their AA. I hope for the boys' sake that it is true, but common sense makes me doubt it. Karl Zeppelin claims that the recent attacks on the German air industry have had no effect, and the apparent shortage of German fighters is due to stockpiling against the invasion. Or it might be due to changeover to new kinds of aircraft. As meanwhile the Germans are stepping up the use of FW190s and Bf109s as night fighters, I think that it is safe to say that the graveyard has met another whistler. The Japanese minister responsible blames "bottlenecks" for holding back Japanese aircraft production. Having heard all of this before often enough, I am supposing that we should expect vast fleets of Japanese aircraft in, say, 1947. Too bad you started the war in 1941, then!

C. G. Volkes, "Air Filtration" A worthy subject belaboured worthily, wearily, wanly. It probably says it all that one of the illustrations is of the air filter off of a Boulton Paul Defiant.

Notes of the Week

“Unconditional Surrender” the paper wants more clarity with regards to what this means, to encourage the Germans to surrender already. There is to be a by-election, quite exciting! Correspondents at Anzio were censured by the army, quite outrageous. Finns and the Balkans, also Poles and the Argentines are excitable. (Uncle says this when he cannot be bothered to parse the substance of the dispute, and so do I.) The British Medical Association is cautiously welcoming of “socialised medicine.” The Federation of British Industries supports a better world. There is to be another call-up of men from industry for national service in Britain. All the men have already been earmarked, but still… Also, in America some are being released for, or even compelled to enter, industrial employment.

“The Use of Resources” Has the commitment of so many resources to aircraft production at the expense of warlike stores been wise? Time will tell.

American Survey

Our Correspondent in Ohio reports on “Less War Work.” In the Cleveland area, raw material and spare part surpluses are appearing in war industries, and there have been layoffs and hours-worked cuts in some plants and in shipyards. There are even surpluses of certain classes of materials, such as tanks. The country, it is said, needs to get ready for peace. The Coloured population is even revisiting the idea that it is “last to be hired, first to be fired.” Race relations in Cleveland are, however, on the whole quite good, not least because there are not that many grounds to complain of not being hired on the basis of colour or ethnic background. When everyone can get a job, there is not much racial discrimination in hiring! I am only a woman, and I can see the case. I do suppose that it is going without saying that this could change.

The World Overseas

“The Northern Flank” Scandinavia is doing relatively well out of occupation, all things considered.
“Malnutrition in Dublin” After our Dublin correspondent’s explanation of the brilliant plan to use higher school fees to discourage the obnoxious excess of highly educated graduates over suitable jobs, it does not come as a surprise to read this headline. One Professor Fearon has now done a statistical study to put the phenomena on a firm scientifc basis, concluding that malnutrition is a serious matter in larger families(!). Our Dublin Correspondent has still not heard that Modest Proposal was a parody. I wish he would ask himself just why there are large families in Dublin when the labouring occupation will barely support them. Who does he think provides for orphans, if not their kin?

The Business World

“The Outlook for Tobacco” Is wonderful. This is the true “inverse elastic” product. The higher the prices go, the higher goes consumption! Remarkably, people smoke more when they are worried about their finances. Or  not remarkably, at all.

Business Notes

“Looted Gold” The United Nations warns neutral countries not to accept German payments in gold which does not belong to them. Profits are fine. Sir Leighton Seager, reporting to the Chamber of Shipping, hopes that buoyant international trade will carry the British merchant marine forward in the world to come.

“Railway Returns” are high as people take profit, concerned about the postwar outlook.
“Research in Industry” is good. There needs to be more than lip service, though.

“Chinese Exchange” Attention is drawn to the parlous state of the Chinese monetary situation. Specifically, inflation is eating away at the incomes of those in Chungking who depend on foreign remittances in paper money, and now adjustments have accordingly been announced. I hate to confess to being wounded by your stringencies on the risk that Fat Chow is taking, but here is our defence. The reply will relieve some distress there, at least so long as the United States dollar still passes in the heart of Sechuan Province. 

Time, 28 February 1944


Sun was seen in Moscow this week. "If spring is here, can the second front be far behind?" Muscovite: "Yes." Another byelection defeat for the Conservative candidate, a Cavendish running in the old family seat. The paper does not suggest how this could never happen in America, so I do not have to throw it down in disgust. The Germans are making rubber out of dandelions. "U.S. Rubber Development Corporation" discovers that the best way to get rubber out of the Brazilian jungles is to pay Brazilian gatherers enough money. As opposed to their other idea, which was apparently some version of 'scientific management.' The bombing of the monastery of Monte Cassino has left a bad taste in people's mouths. The paper is amused by the way that the Brazilians put a prominent American critic of the Republican persuasion in jail and were amazed to receive a diplomatic protest. Marshal Sugiyama and Admiral Nagumo are out as Japanese chiefs of staff after the attack on Truk, covered at slightly greater length elsewhere in the  paper. Stilwell, MacArthur, Chennault and Nimitz are arguing Pacific strategy via the press. (And even the Pentagon, we hear.) James points out to me that in this latest round, Admiral Nimitz suggests the need for a landing in the Philippines. Presumably MacArthur agrees, so on to Manila? Eniwetok and Engebi fall to amphibious assault. German bombers might have penetrated to London by using air-dropped tin foil (actually, would aluminium not be better, or am I confused?) to defeat radiolocation systems. 

James points out good news for Uncle. It should be possible to "filter" out these returns electronically, giving the electrical engineers their own version of the good old "shells versus armour" game! The massive American daylight air attacks are reported. The paper has so much purely Platonic, brotherly love for General Wilson that it makes him this week's cover story. Also a fav with the paper, General Rotmistrov, and "rough and rugged" Lewis Brereton. His job is "to umbrella" the invasion, in preparation for a projected peacetime assignment verbing words for the paper. The paper is not impressed by the outcome of the Battle of Arakan, a minor sideshow where only small Japanese forces are likely to be engaged, and where truly heavy fighting will have to wait until after the end of the war in Europe.

The paper considers it news that Lieutenant Kong Wau Kau is flying a P-51B in 8th AAF Fighter Command and has just scored his first kill. Because it is news, unfortunately. 


Administration and Congress still fighting over who gets to run demobilisation. And subsidy bills, and the tax bill. Polish WACs, sent to America by the Polish Government-in-Exile, impress everyone with their feminine wiles, which will presumably convert the US Polish community to supporting the Government-in-Exile against the Russians. Because that will be hard.

US farmers took in $19 billion, up $3.5 billion on 1942. Estimated carry-over profits are $12.5 billion. Economists warned of a runaway land boom. (The proposition being that we will spend our profits on more land so that we can grow more oranges to feed the --wait, there is a flaw in this plan, for which see this month's Fortune.) Instead, they are saving the money for reinvestment in homes and tractors so that we can live better and grow more oranges with less work later. Damn you, farmers, with your rationality! I want my price inflation! Several prominent Democrats have made anti-Administration statements of one or another sort. Straws in the wind, blowing down the roads where the Wilkie caravan winds its way from event to event. Senator Burton has joined the race to be Vice-President. (Although the paper pretends that it is a Presidential campaign.) Southerners spread rumours of "Push 'Em Clubs," in which Coloureds compete to jostle and push white folk in the street. The Army Specialized Training Program just got combed out of 110,000 young men,"stunn[ing] college presidents." Only about 30,000 taking advanced courses in medicine, dentistry and engineering were left untouched, and 5000 enrolled in the programme in spite of still being 17. Colleges without contracts for woman students were particularly hard hit, and serve the chauvinists right! The Navy is so hard up for officers that it will commission 22 Coloured officers. They will probably serve in segregated ships.

Science, Etc.

A lie detector caught out Mrs. Edna Hancock of Brooklyn in perjury last week when she accused Mr. Murray Goldman of rape. It turns out that Mrs. Hancock is a slut, the paper cheerfully concludes. I usually leave it to Great Uncle to send out dacoits to avenge the injustices of the world, but I am meditating a change in my usual abstention. A machine which first cracks the shell of a walnut, then injects a mixture of oxygen and acetylene prior to passing the nut on an assembly line under a flame, causing an explosion which separates shell and meat is predictably unimpressive to the walnut industry, but the inventor gamely carries it over to the sugar beet industry, which needs a device to split up beet seed clusters. Here, apparently, his ingenuity will be rewarded, and soon sugar beets will be able to economically compete with sugar cane. The fact that we are already growing sugar beets in competition with sugar cane is ... Well, I have long since given up on understanding the business of farming in America except insofar as it rebounds on our returns. Hmm. Exploded oranges? Perhaps a cheap juicing method?

The presidents of Hunter College and the University of Chicago are in the news today. Both are cracking down on their faculty, but in quite different ways. President Shuster of Hunter wants them to stop saying outrageous things ("communism is good," "Negroes are an inferior race") to the impressionable girls under his care, while President Hutchins wants to rein in outside activity by faculty in various ways. 


Bernard Baruch's latest report on demobilization is out. Presenting it, Baruch's "junior partner," "shrewd oldster" John Milton Hancock said, "There is no need for a postwar depression." "Fine point students" find nothing new in the report, but that may be the point. What needs to be done is obvious. The question is, can we do it? Or something like that. I reread myself with satisfaction. I could write for the paper. Just sketch out an article, add adjectives until I crack, and it's done! No, wait, here I learn that Mr. Hancock is an "optimistic Ancient," and it would never have occurred to me to capitalise "Ancient." I have much to learn.

In a transition first, the Gopher Ordnance Works are being torn down. 500 buildings, $69 million on 21,000 acres, built to make powder for the Allies, and never even operated. "You wouldn't believe it, but this cornfield was once a war plant." 

Eh. It is funnier in America.

Uncle Henry is in the  news. His partnership with Hughes to build a giant flying boat airliner, has just been bashed by the War Production Board. The paper likes the Brewster business, but I doubt it will hold its fire in the unlikely event he tries to build the Boeing ship there. Another Liberty has broken up, this one at the dock, fortunately. The paper is all over his talks with Venezuela. Frankly, this is the same business as the Hughes thing. He fobs the enthusiasts off by upping the ante, which is natural enough for him, anyway. Speaking of, Republican "Henry J. Kaiser for President" clubs are sprouting up. Seriously. Well, he is registered GOP, but I think the county has made its opinion of California Republicans clear enough. The state party will have to go another direction before it can expect a favourite son candidate to get very far on the national stage. 

Most embarrassingly, the paper describes his "245lb frame." 

the national stockpile of foreign wool is being liquidated, hopefully clearing the way for us to make a profit. Oh, dear. It can be hard sometimes for me to remember whether I am for or against free trade.

Miscellany, Milestones, Radio, Etc.

Charles Eugene Bedaux, "wily industrial engineer," has died of a self-administered overdose of sleeping powders. I know that you lack time for trivia, but have you heard the one about the trans-Saharan pipeline for edible oils? Because that was Bedaux. 

Frances Langford is touring the fronts with Bob Hope's USO Group. Which I mention only because I miss James so much, and have Embraceable You playing as I write.

Aero Digest, 15 February 1944

"Look Here, Mr. Striker" It turns out that strikes in wartime are bad!

"Aviation's Post-War Dillemma" Business could turn down for various reasons.

Editorial: New bill proposed in Washington, something something bad news. 

Guest Editorial: William Thomas Piper (President, Piper Aircraft), "'Main Street in the Coming Air Age," If only someone builds airfields everywhere, people will fly everywhere!

I cannot say that anyone reads Aero Digest for that stuff. Even the Roosevelt-hating can be got better elsewhere. They read it for the technical papers, and those are of limited interest. That said, Uncle is at least at the edges of that interest, and my obligation continues. So I  notice a paper on "new uses of the electron microscope" in industry (checking the quality of raw material samples), followed by "Electronic Process of Plastic Bonded Molded Plywood."  With a pageover Minneapolis Honeywell ad for electronic control systems for bombers, you might be forgiven for imagining a plywood plant run by an electronic brain, which would certainly interest  you, Sir, given your plywood investments. However, it is just about the use of electronic heaters-at-a-distance to ensure even glue setting within the board. I am sure that you are aware of this. I cannot help wondering if this could be used in cooking?

Perhaps it is sensing the waning of attention of even the most earnest, the paper launches a new "What's Ahead?" series. Aluminum to replace house shingles? Radio wave heating to assist in tin-can making? Diesel engines in trucks and cars? Lighter aluminum-made freight cars? A carrot-beet hybrid called the "wobbie?" Facsimile reproduction of newspapers in one's own living room is mentioned here, too. So is colour television, three dimensional television, and even "storing up" television for later use. That last -hmm.

The paper's version of the aviation news frankly admits that the decision to stop painting B-17s is intended to bring up the production rate, admitting the rather obvious point that the decline in aircraft production in January to 8789 from 8802 is a disappointment, greater structure weight notwithstanding. This is sort of confirmed by the statement of C. E. Wilson of the Aircraft Production Board that the results were most gratifying, because the greatest increase in production came in combat units. If you have to look that hard for a silver lining.... In Aero Digest's world, jet propulsion is years away. Rear Admiral Portal (yes, as a matter of fact, and actually your boss's brother) is in Washington for talks about . . .things. James is supposed to fly to see him if he can get away from Intrepid. "Things," of course means British carriers to the Pacific. 

In family matters, your youngest has applied for permission to take a road trip to Sacramento now that his car is roadworthy. But this requires me to back up.

As you will recall, Uncle could not resist a good carrying-on at our "Robbie Burns Supper" last month. I know that he expressed some mild doubts --as he should. How in Heaven's name do you keep a secret from one teenaged girl at the table when there is another teenager present who is "in?" I know that Uncle does not care to keep this a secret, but a promise is a promise.

Last week, "Miss V. C." asked to talk to me about 'matters of some delicacy. And so it came to pass that we sat down over tea like proper ladies (as I suppose I now am, alas), while she, with all the discretion that is possible to seventeen years, delicately pointed out how uncannily similar certain family traditions of the McKees are to Chinese New Year practices. 

Oh, how hard it was, Uncle, to keep a straight face as this girl with her raven hair and high colour asked another of equally dark and straight hair and equal colour and an even more -ahem- eyelid if she had ever considered that perhaps there was some "Oriental influence" in our family background?

No, no, I said. (Truthfully, at least, for her.

At this point I got a real surprise, as she produced with a flourish the version of the family tree provided by her mother, Mrs. H.C." (Uncle's alias scheme does not restrain me to confusing reuse here, because I do not scruple to identify Uncle Henry by his actual family name. Not when Aunt Betsy covers her tracks so well!) It seems that, uncomfortable with the way that it pointed in various directions,  her mother has interpolated some additional McKees into the lineage, and, not surprisingly, the details of these imaginary persons fail the test of historical soundness in some cases. I am left spluttering, trying to explain how someone can be at the Spokane factory the year before it is founded, and "Miss V.C." pounces, announcing that Lieutenant A. has discovered that some of the old Chief Factor's  business papers are at the state archives, and would this not be the natural place to look for McKee Asiatic connections?

Oh, dear. From many a false premise, an indisputably correct conclusion. Fortunately, it is a wild goose chase, and Great Uncle reached such of the Doctor McLoughlin's papers as were extant long ago.

But this is not the issue. It is the road trip, and I worry about my place in locum parentis. Young A was put onto this by the Engineer, who can have no motive other than to do a favour by proxy to a certain Admiral. He, of course, is looking forward to a weekend in Sacramento without parental supervision, while I am most intrigued by the connection, and wish to see it develop. The Engineer is torn between the temptations of Pacific First and his religious pacifism, and the conflict is developing in an interesting direction indeed if he is cultivating the Admiral, of all people.

So here is my solution. I have given tentative permission for the trip, subject to Uncle's veto when he returns. However, Wong Lee will go as chaperon, and the children, will stay at our young housekeeper's aunt's home, and this will mean that that young lady accompanies the party. Two girls and a boy seem like a safe chemical combination to me, at least on the road, and Wong Lee and the aunt can combine to check young A when he appears to claim his prize. 

Speaking of comrades in old exploits, I will end by addressing your concerns over Fat Chow. Yes, he is in grave danger in Berlin. Yes, his Pan-Turanian acquaintances are madmen. But they, unlike the regular run of Central Asian ruffians, are willing to operate his network and carry materials to and from Chungking. I cannot guess how long this will last, but Fat Chow tells my sister not to worry too much about the Gestapo. His German acquaintances are (part of) the Gestapo, and yet have their minds on revolutions sweeping out of Shamballah and throwing the Reds out of Asia. 

Don't ask me to explain. Fat Chow thinks that it is a combination of desperation, lack of sleep, organic madness and benzedrine washed down by cognac. At least they are right to think they could use a little of what Shamballah has to offer!

*Just so there is no confusion, I will go on the record that Uzbekistan is better than Kazakhstan in every possible way but one: the Gate of Shamballah is on the Sino-Russo-Kazakh border.

**It's hilarious because Lascars are cowardly and Japanese girls are submissive!

No comments:

Post a Comment