Friday, October 30, 2015

Postblogging Technology, September, 1945 II: Praying for a Good Victory

Group Captain R_.C_., OBE,
c/o Chateau Laurier,
Ottawa, Canada

Dearest Father:

This package may be held for you at the desk for quite some time, the way things are going, but I am aiming at you via the most likely destination, and this means that our courier will not have to carry it across the Atlantic, instead of other important materials. 

I know that I sound like a shrew, nagging you this way, but now that you have confirmed your Christmas visit, may I appeal to your better nature for a visit to Santa Cruz for Thanksgiving as well? The reason is that the university's San Francisco benefactos have proved less than forthcoming, and the Engineer's son believes that a winter trip to Europe will be fodder for the gossip columns. I think he may be overestimating his stardom, but the business demands a healthy ego, and I am anyway not eaget to spend time in his company, reforming his ways. This is not another waspish comment on his personality. He's just a flake, and it is  hard to restrain myself and be ladylike when he starts talking about politics in terms of things that belong in pulp magazines. 

My point, before I digressed into saying unpleasant things about a distant relative, is that since he is not going, "Miss V.C." must. Hopefully, she will charm the general's toes into a curl, win a renewal of the papers he holds, and earn the Engineer's gratitude, if there is such a thing. She will be flying out early (it has been arranged with her instructors), so that one of the Fathers can chaperone her on the way. Unfortunately, he will be in Rome for his full sabbatical, and "Miss V. C." will fly the Atlantic alone in charge of BOAC, picking up your youngest as a travelling companion in Montreal for the trans-continetal leg. (Whether you and your wife want to meet them in Vancouver and fly down together is up to you, as we haven't bought the tickets from Montreal on, yet.) She very much wants to pick your brain about of Atlantic air, especially after the oh-so colourful stories our courier likes to tell. 

Fat Chow returned, not coincidentally, on the same ship he travelled out on. He formally proposed to Miss v. Q. in the brotherhood's garden. It will be a civil service, since Fat Chow does not believe it will serve his bride well for their union to be widely known, even at Berkeley. I was there to see Queenie's relief when she heard, and young Miss K, ostensibly immersed in childhood things, perked up noticeably when Queenie talked of lynchings and beatings.

Wong Lee tells us, in strictest confidence, that the beneficiaries of the mortgages are not  named, which means that the papers are not sensitive. Though it is possible that the materials in the Harrimans' hands are more sensitive. 

Uncle George writes from Vancouver, where he is meeting with Easton. As you will have heard, with the war over and reconciliation achieved, the young man will be taking over active management of the shipping side of affairs from Hongkong. This is rather tricky business, as the first special load is expected, in San Diego, next week. He is still waiting on you before flying to Los Angeles, where he hopes to close out his friend's business with the network, which is about to go very sour, as his friend has decided not to return to his show when it resumes in a week's time. This will trigger the breach-of-contract clause, and since the network cannot use its "morals" weapon, it will presumably turn on the pre-recording issue. Our friend can now show that there is a better alternative than disc recording, and, hopefully, separate from the network. Whether the young men down at Santa Cruz can actually deliver an equipment that will operate in studio conditions is, unfortunately, another question. The best guess now is, not until next summer.

Speaking of business indefinitely delayed, Tommy Wong writes that the business of his squadron has picket up in recent weeks. It might be, he says, two, or five, or even twelve years before they need to do this work for real, and they need to get some practice in before returning to weather flying.  

In the meantime, you will have heard from your youngest, at least if I can twist his ear by long-distance. He tells me that he is settling in at school, although he is not used to being held to account on his maths!

I should finally mention that your newest grand-daughter is a charmer, and you should not delay a second before you meet her!  


Friday, October 23, 2015

Postblogging Technology, September 1945, I: Family Atomics

From Nyrath's Atomic Rockets site. Best webpage ever!

R_. C_. (Group Captain, RCAFVR, Ret.),
The Athenaeum,
London, U.K.

Dear Father:

Please accept everyone here's congratulations on taking the bull by the horns and tendering your resignation. I had the feeling that with all the atomic fever these days, you might have been held in limbo for as long as you chose to delay your decision, and you are needed far more in Vancouver than in endless meetings, trying to peer in through the clouds that hide the future of our new atomic age.

You will be glad to know that I am out of hospital and fully ambulatory, although I shall not be able to ride until after surgery and rehabilitation, which Doctor Rivers has me down for in December. And that is probably as much as you, a man, wants to know! I have been introducing the twins to their baby sister, who was in such a hurry to see the world, and making their acquaintance again. Thank Heavens for Fanny and Judith!

Thank Heavens, too, for  Uncle Henry, who visited me repeatedly in hospital. Ironically, he could not see me during my time in Permante, Oakland, although I was in no shape to entertain visitors! Still, he is enormously pleased at the work done by his hospital, and has been working up a speech on the importance of health and highways in the postwar world. Ideally, he needs a few more alliterating desireables for his "Post-War Four Points," but Permanente and an American autobahn are a good start. Now if only I can persuade him to leave the Satsuma money where it is. The last thing anyone needs to hear is of Japanese investors in Frazer-Nash.

As for our business here, Miss v. Q., your correspondent of the last month, has at last made her much-talked of journey to Virginia, to gingerly feel out just what kind of work might be available for a polyglot of her talents in the new work of no-more-Pearl-Harbours. It was very much a rush, as she had to be back in town for the beginning of classes, so she will be return in December, hopefully this time as a married woman, for Fat Chow is now expected at the end of the month. Your youngest practically flew over us in his haste to reach MIT and "real engineering" classes, with so little time in San Francisco on the layover that we ended up sending "Miss V.C." out with a care package. She has since been amusing us with unladylike improvisations of a chant which begins "Rooty-toot, rooty-toot, we are the girls [lads] of the Institute. . . "

Speaking of "Miss V.C." she is now fully roped into Lieutenant A_.'s round of San Francisco visits around the Gold Coast. As he is perhaps not the most charming of spokesmen for this oh-so-sensitive business, our old friend, the Engineer's natural son, is in for the ride as well. (Actually, he is charming enough, if he can avoid making a bad impression by breaking an antique vase. Just ask your cousin about that, as any excuse to talk about it. . . ) This makes "Miss V.C." all the more important. Not only does she have working tyres on her car, but she is the only one of the three who is actually attending the university! To the extent that the mortgage holders are at all motivated by the Governor's oh-so-noble goal of educating the youth of California with ill-got British investors' money, perhaps a representative of the new generation will help. 

If, on the other hand, it is a matter of the interest rate which the university can afford to pay on the instruments, probably not. I hear that the Trustees are increasingly focussed on the paper held by this general in Berlin. It's the Harriman stake, and might be enough to cover the university's needs, with stringent economy. Will "Miss V_.C_." might soon be taking her European grand tour under the most unusual circumstances?

The thought of "Miss V.C." having a Berlin adventure is, almost, enough to make me hope for the success of the project. After all, if exchange controls are maintained in Britain, we shall not need to take up another line of work to keep the Earl and his friends in sorts, after all. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Soldier From the Wars Returning: A Recap: And the First in a Series, It Looks Like

Chris Friedrichs reminds me of the need for a recap, which is nice, since mining my own archives is something that I don't need library time to do. 

It also makes me feel bad, because he also told me about hosting a TV event connected with the NDP childcare promise (which I totally support!) for Thomas Mulcair in his garden, because now I am going to be a bad student and betray my family's long tradition of NDP support by endorsing the Liberal Party. 

Bench Grass endorses the goober. Notasshole who is the second choice, and certainly not the asshole we have right now. And not the Greens, because, well, Kotos explains. This isn't a decision reached out of some deep commitment to principle. Bench Grass is very, very tired of scraping up labour at work, and sees a lot more of that in a future in which we elect a government committed to reducing the Canadian public debt. The problem is that there's too little debt already.

Moving right along, it's time for the recapping. What needs recapping? Technology? That's . . .kind of a big thing to recap. Also, if you've been paying attention, my view is that the history of technology is not exogenous to economic and social history; something of relevance to both 1945 and 2015. 

So, if there's a single thing that jumps out at me in the news from August of 1945 that doesn't involve the end of World War II, the atomic bomb, and the transformation of the Japanese state, it is Alvin Hansen's departure from the Federal Reserve. He's the soldier, and he's going home to teach at Harvard. Get it? Time to drink stone wine, etc? 

I tried. So. Time magazine is not kind to Professor Hansen in that 23 August, 1945 article. It's a coup against the old Keynesian by the President and his preferred monetary adviser, the superbly-named "Marriner Stoddard Eccles." (He's no Kennesaw Mountain Landis, but who is?) Hansen is a dangerous "left winger," whose policies are likely to stoke the inflation that Eccles sees coming. 

Well, my friend, consider that battle won. Inflation turned out not to be the problem. I might write a different sentence if this was the 1970s, but I'm choosing to declare 2015, instead, as the end of the short run and the moment when we have to face the problems that stem from mistakes made in 1945. .
The CSLP was introduced in 1964.  It was designed to supplement the resources of individuals and their families by providing loans to full-time students who could demonstrate need.  The Government of Canada set the interest rate, and paid the loan interest during. . . enrolment and for six months afterwards . . .  Borrowers were given up to 9.5 years to repay . . .

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Postblogging Technology, August 1945, II: Unconditional Love

Group Captain R_. C_.,
OC Special Intelligence Interpretation Unit,
RAAF Richmond,
NSW, Australia. 

Fatherly Brother:
One more note from me from San Francisco. You will be glad to hear that your daughter-in-law is to be released from the hospital next week, that your grand-daughter flourishes, as also the twins under the care of Fanny and Mrs. Judith. Babies, babies, you will say, and well you might! Certainly I shall, at least when I get back from Napa, and before I am off to Virginia. What an exciting life I lead! 

Things will not be all domestic for your return, however. We have word that the Navy is to send your son to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the Fall term. But Brother George's ship is expected in Vancouver next month. All are disappointed to hear that you must fly to London before your release. Nevertheless, Christmas in Santa Clara!

Here at home, "Miss C." and "Miss V.C." combine to bring interesting word. Apparently, the low interest rates are presenting some difficulties to the university as it seeks to renew certain mortgages written at its foundation. Their sixty year terms are up at the end of the year, and the holders have expressed some reservations about renewing at current terms. The interesting point here is that the  instruments are said to be very candid in certain matters, specifically in naming a certain former President as co-beneficiary. And so did the Governor provide for his bastard, you might say. But the point is an individual is not, and cannot be, a charitable institution. Investors with long memories, I am told, might still take some personal satisfaction in getting their money back. 

Or, more likely, a bit of judicious blackmail --it is not as though this is likely tobe allowed to become public! Now here is the thing. The Engineer has conceived the notion that "Lieutenant A" is the young man to call around San Francisco, and perhaps elsewhere (I am told that there is even  a brigadier in Berlin holding a note) to get the matter settled and the mortgages rolled over. This is where "Miss V.C." is concerned, because somehow an arrangement for her to drive Lieutenant A around the city has been proposed. Well, driving is courting in these parts --I am not sure about espionage!

We shall see if there is a safe in a Gold Coast mansion for Wong Lee to investigate at the end of this; and whether the Engineer is more embarrassed to be known as the son of the Governor, or as a half-caste, whether or not his mother was an "Indian princess." 
There's something about Mr. A if she's still willing to see him after three months of B.O. . . .

I Remain Your Most Humble and Obedient Little Sister,
v. Q