Saturday, October 13, 2018

Postblogging Technology, August 1948, I: Robots Have No Nerves

R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

Well, here we are, back in the good old Western Hemisphere. Or as close to it as Arcata comes. What a strange little town. At least I am doing something useful. As predicted, we ended up installing Bill and Dave's little bit of electronics in a Catalina amphibian. It may not be the most likely plane for the job, but it can land on an airfield, and it has room for the contraption, and for someone to do whatever the heck it is we're doing with it. Distracting me, it seems. But here I am, with a summer job to do with the Navy, and the airlines are in charge of testing out the landing lights. They're in the pocket of "Big Lightbulb," they say, leaving me in the hands of "Big Electronics." The Navy is set on the notion that radar and autopilots and such are the key to better landings, without autolanding. The Air Force's recent embarrassment with their robot C-54 letting down the gear and settling in for the landing, still 70ft above tarmac at Los Angeles, underlines some peoples' claims that you  have to have the human decision maker "in the loop."

Please don't get the idea that I'm taking a position, here. The Brits are pretty sure that autolanding is the way to go, but I can also see the arguments against it. It is pretty hard to see how it could work for a busy airport, because it imposes a five minute delay between landings. Even if you can get that down, you would be doing it with more, expensive machinery, and there are thousands of airports in America. On the other hand again, there's an article about a robot television factory in this issue of Fortune that just blows my mind. Maybe we will all be put out of work by robots next week. 

I handed your package off to Uncle George in San Francisco on the weekend when I was down state visiting Ronnie and the gang and concentrating on not smacking Miss K.'s boyfriend in the face. Well, ex-boyfriend, now, as pretty much everything everyone predicted, happened. Her mother knows, but they're keeping Dad in the dark.

As for Uncle George, he  groused, but agreed that it has to be done. He did draw the line at flying, however, and has booked passage for Nagasaki in September, then on to Davao. We should have something by Thanksgiving --real Thanksgiving, not American. 

Your Loving Son,

Aviation Week, 2-9 August 1948


Aviation Week points out that the Berlin Airlift has moved 70,000 tons of food and coal to Berlin in 30 days, using a scratch fleet of C-47s, supplemented by 50 C-54s, 10 Sunderlands, and a few Yorks. It has cost $7 million, has flown in bad weather, and relied on GCA only. Another airport is being built, and 150 C-54s brought in, which will push the airlift up to 4500 tons, enough for a bare minimum of food, industry and power. This is far simpler and cheaper than "the Hump," but difficulties underline questionable decisions not to use the Mars, and leave MATS' C-46 fleet under charter with private operators. Aviation's former editor has a job at an advertising agency, good for him[?]  MATS needs new planes. Under news, the movements of jets (in spite of the RAF Vampires arriving at Goose Bay with only 8 minutes of gas in their tanks!) and bombers to Europe are highlighted. Airpower, not ships, is being rushed overseas to back up negotiations. No atom bombs are going overseas, however. They remain in the United States under the AEC and will be moved to Europe within 24 hours if the President approves. Convair will produce the B-49 under license from Northrop, and Hughes is still trying to take over Kellett. A dozen Air Force pilots will train with the Navy, which is reorganising the rump of its transport group. Work continues on the North American XAJ-1, Martin XP6M, and a Douglas six-engined jet transport. The USAF's "push-button" C-54 gave a very impressive demonstration to passengers from the summer conference of the IAS, up until it "auto-landed" fifty feet above the runway of Los Angeles Airport, and the pilot had to take over.  Kaman is planning to begin production next year, and Landgraf Helicopters is looking for a buyer. The French are trying out prestressed concrete at Orly, the Navy reports that some of its test pilots are experiencing "supersonic sickness."

Theo Lennert, of the Air Line Pilots Association, writes to blame the lack of approach lights for the Shannon crash, while Sir Miles Thomas writes to deny that he "passed over" the Brabazon, while Scholer Bangs writes to say that he is sure he quoted Thomas correctly. 

The first Martin B-48 has been delivered, and a Pratt and Whitney R-4360VDT has run at 4000hp. Conservative MPs and Economic Cooperation Administrator Paul Hoffman have questioned the decision to ship 55 Rolls Royce Nene and Derwent engines, removed from the secret list, to Russia. Hoffman says that the decision might threaten ERP aid, but, as Rolls Royce points out, the arrangement was made two years ago, and this is just the last delivery to a country then recognised as an ally. 

Scholer Bangs drops into another helicopter shop in LA, this one Rotor-Craft, working on a rigid-rotor twin blade design. It seems to be rude for a journalist to point out just how dangerous these designs might be if the blades have any flex in them, so I will do it, instead, as a rude young man. 

Flight, 5 August 1948


"The Pioneers" The Nene-Viking flight reminds Flight of how backward flying used to be, back in Bleriot's day. 

"Then and Now" Apparently, back in those days, there was a joke about a "tangent," which meant that the power-available curve touched the power-required curve at one point, meaning that planes could only fly at one power/speed. Which was fine, because until Seguin's Gnome engine came along, aeroengines didn't have throttles. You turned them on, and they were go until they stopped. Lieutenant Dunne designed tailless monoplanes for "stability," and one even flew, hands-off, witnessed by Mr. Griffith Brewster. (I have some land title I need Mr. Brewster to witness. One's got a bridge on it.)

. . . And the point of all this, apart from making a big deal of the Nene-Viking? Nothing. No point. Except maybe that "the tangent" was a funny joke back in the day, and Geoff Smith is hoping to get some more laughs by recycling it. Me, I just wonder if people in fifty years are going to be as appalled at us as we are of Bleriot. Now, back to landing a 'Cat in the dark between two walls of flame!

Maurice Smith, "Promotor in the Air: Dutch Four-seater with Some Unusual Features" The Fokker F-25 Promotor is yet another unconventional design (twin booms, pusher) that the company is trying to flog off, although Smith is happy that at least the brochure isn't "high pressure" sales. It has a very roomy cabin with a big dash, with a pilot's seat and a three-place lounge seat behind. That sounds like a very nice compensation for having a Lycoming flat-six banging away six inches behind your head! (Although Smith gallantly says that the engine is so quiet he couldn't tell if it was running when he fired it up.) It's hot and stuffy, and no wonder! But the big cabin could be a selling point if anyone ever buys one of these 1946 machines. 
Which they won't, but at least Flight has used up some pages.

Here and There

The FAI has agreed to let the Gyrodyne be a  helicopter, and therefore it can have a speed record. A B-29 making a round the world training trip has crashed into the sea taking off from Aden, with one survivor of the 17 or 18 believed to be on board. The RAF has postponed 2400 releases scheduled for August and September, indefinitely. Retained trades range from cooks to general duty clerks, but most are in the radar and radio fitter groups. Canada is to have a jet fighter training squadron. 
Training is fun!

A Norwegian company is flogging a new seaplane, the C5, designed by Birger Honningstad for Norwegian conditions. Western Air Lines has opened a baby nursery at Los Angeles airport. Out of bounds to all passengers not accompanied by children, it has "full facilities for washing, changina dn feeding babies," as well as toys and play pens for older children. The reason given is that one third of all passengers currently are young children, which I believe! Clifford Copland Paterson, director of the GEC Laboratory at Wembley, has died.

(US birth rates)

"Derby and Wolverhampton" There are aero clubs in Derby and Wolverhampton. They are doing very well and are very exciting, and if your aero club isn't doing very well and isn't very exciting, you should be ashamed of yourself. There are companies involved with them. Given them your money. Flight said so.

Civil Aviation News

 Northolt did 48,740 passengers in June on 3,264 aircraft movements, which is a record. London Airport did 35,652 on 2,205 air movements. The Society of British Aircraft Constructors are very upset at the Canadair order and think that it will lead to the Latin Americans losing all faith in British aircraft and not buying them forever. The British are now using civilian aircraft to supplement the Berlin airlift. Two of Flight Refuelling's Lancastrian tankers have been taken over to send in fuel. In response to the Minister's appeal for support from the Dominions, the British Air Charter Association has advised the Ministry that there are between 130 and 150 four-engined aircraft available with a lift of almost 400 tons. Only a dire emergency would justify shifting them, from their normal work, but if such an emergency were declared, the industry could probably mobilise between 400 and 500 aircraft and all required crew, and this would "greatly supplement" the RAF. Various services are being increased and doing more. Sir Harold Hartley is taking an air-cruise down the flying boat route to South Africa to see what's what. Before leaving, he denied rumours that the flying boats would be replaced by Canadairs. They're going to be replaced by Hermes, when they enter service. Much better! PWA is putting the Convair 240 on the Miami-Havana route exclusively, and using them to replace DC-4s on the Miami-Bermuda route. TCA is adding a Bermuda route, soon. The Anson XX is "now in quantity production"!!!

"Power for the Giants: Preliminary Description of the Bristol Proteus Turboprop Unit: Brabazon and SR45 Coupled Installations in Detail" So the idea here is that these giant planes need a giant power plant, and Britain doesn't have a 28 cylinder or a 36 cylinder or a 56 or a 72 cylinder or whatever other fever dream that no-one funded back in 1941. So, instead, the British are going to do what the Germans did, and couple two big engines into an even bigger power plant. But because it is 1948, and not 1941, instead of coupling two Centaurus, which, I'm confused, wouldn't that just be a 56 cylinder?-- they are putting two 3500hp Bristol Proteus engines together. Now, I think that this is ridiculous, because the biggest problem with turboprops right now, after icing, is getting the speed of the turbines down to the speed of the airscrews via reduction gears that are being worked like no reduction gear has ever been worked before. And they're going to add in the machinery for getting the power from two turbines to the airscrews? In a trans-Atlantic airliner? Splash blub-blub! The coupling transmission consists of a double helical pinion, each meshing with an idler, which meshes with a single output gear. Each gear and pinion rests on ball or roller bearings, and the reduction ratio is 3.2:1. There are clutches, of course, and a torquemeter. Directly behind the airscrews are the contra-, and reduction-gearbox, which receive power from the coupling gearbox at 3500rpm. The contra-gearbox is entirely segregated from the rest of the transmission, except that its oil pump receives oil from the coupling gearbox, at two pressures, high and low, depending on engine setting. The constant speed unit is downstream of this gearing, with eight-bladed, contra-rotating airscrews specified. The engines are synchronised electronically. I do not see any mention of a reversible pitch capability, so that's at least one complexity left out, at the expense of any pilot unlucky enough to have to do an emergency, full-load landing. 

Source: Kevin Song's Pinterest
"Engine Servicing Trolley" The servicing trolley is for anti-corrosion treatment of Sabre engines being placed in storage, so the "servicing" involves bringing a load of fuel to the engine to be serviced, beginning with a lead-free tank, followed by tanks containing fuel with inhibitor fluid. The rest of the trolley is taken up with tools and gauges, the better to get the insides of the engine nicely coated with a layer of corrosion inhibitor ahead of their long sleep in the quiet warehouse at the depot, ready to roar into action the moment that World Communism begins its inevitable advance to etc.

"Holland's Air Forces: Home Industry Concentrates on Trainers: Meteors Ordered" The Dutch are making some trainers, and otherwise buying British.  

"Bleriot Commemoration" It cannot be repeated too often that a Vickers Viking nursing a pair of Nenes beside its real engines flew from London to Paris, just like Bleriot flew across the Channel. (So they're similar in the sense that the both involved flying, England and France, and now for something about underpants!

In shorter news, a land-based version of the Hawker P.1040 will be shown at the SBAC Display, while an Air France Latecoere 631 due at Port Etienne in the morning of 2 August with a crew of 12 and 40 passengers is now considered to be missing.

"Fulton Airphibian: Some Details of the Fulton Two-seat Road-Air Triphibian" Robert Edison Fulton, named for his father's friend, that Thomas, and descended of the Mack Trucks and Greyhound Bus fortunes, has recently brought a Triphibian to Britain, and although he was "reticent about many of the technical details," allowed Flight to publish some very exciting information about this very exciting machine. 
Apart from being rich, motorcycling across Eurasia in 1931, and the Airphibian, which has appeared previously in these pages, Fulton is known for eighty patented inventions, including the "Airgunneryaid," and yet another Skyhook concept. Do American patent office employees even have to be able to read?

G. B. S. Errington, "On 'Having a Go:' A Recollection of Early Flight Refuelling Experiences" Errington tells the tale of flying an A.W. 23 in aerial refuelling trials back in the day of 1939/40, and suggests that if he can do it, anyone can. 

"Foremost American Turbojet: Some Details of the Slim, Axial-flow J-35" The GE-Allison J-35, previously known as the TG-180, is a straight-through, 11-stage compressor, eight combustion chamber, single stage turbine axial design. Originally to be produced at the Chevrolet Motors plant in Tonawanda, the production contract and all details were transferred to the Allison Division of GM in Indianapolis. It is being produced in large numbers for the Republic Thunderjet and for a variety of prototypes. Compression ratio is 4:1, and airflow at 7770rpm is 70lb/sec. Combustion chambers are stainless steel, and welding is used extensively, with fabricated stainless steel blades.

"Snow in Tonawanda."

A short notice announces the death of two of the British gliders competing in the International Gliding Contests in the Samedan area of Switzerland, in two separate(!) accidents that aren't really separate, in point of fact.

P. R. Payne, "An Aerodynamicist's Reply: Suggested Layout of a Small Tandem Four-seater Pusher" P. R. Payne proposes that a light, family plane (with jet engines??) might be designed as a tandem pusher with no stabilisers. Even Flight has to intervene in a little editorial box to point out that the previous closest approach to this nonsense, the Miles M. 35, wasn't very safe. The "reply" is to an article by Robert Carling from way back in February about how unconventional layouts might be tried in larger aircraft.


L. H. W. Harris writes to point out that the Planet Satellite's landing (stall) speed is comparable to the Hawker Hurricane and Armstrong-Whitworth Ensign at a lunatic 62mph, and that probably tells you all you need about the plane. W. A. Hannam [Father?] takes up the rest of the correspondence page with a contribution on safety fuels and crash-proof tanks. He doesn't think that high flash-point fuels are actually that much safer, since the high flash point advantage is balanced by the explosiveness of the ignition when it does occur. He also thinks that safety seats are more important than more exits, since passengers have to be mobile, and, therefore, uninjured, to use the exits; but most of the letter is spent defending the flexible, bag-type "crash" tank against the armoured steel alternative. Designers don't like the bag-type because they tend to rupture the wing skin on landing, rip, and get fuel all over everywhere, but Hannam thinks that this will take a while, and in the mean time passengers can evacuate and the fire services can get to the scene.

The Economist, 7 August, 1948


"Twilight Sleep" Sir Stafford Cripps' proposal of a "British-American Council of Productivity" has produced a "storm in a teacup." You've probably heard that industry thinks that it is fine, that it is all down to trade union demarcations; so of course the argument is that this is all a Labour diversion, distracting everyone to the supposed failures of management. The Economist knows, down deep in its heart, that it is the unions' fault; that Britain has been complacent over twenty years of low world raw material costs that allowed industry to coddle unions. The problem is that it can't just be the unions' fault, because that would not be just and measured and fair, as The Economist thinks it is. Therefore, it is management's fault. Leaving aside why it is management's fault, just for today (too many companies; too many competition-stifling "cartels"), it is enough to point out that while we sleep, everyone everywhere goes ever forward into ever more technical efficiency, and that if American and British "factory superintendents" could meet over "the bench," the British would soon learn the magic of superior American technique. 

"Kashmir and Hyderabad" Muslim-ruled, Hindu majority state and Hindu-ruled, Muslim majority states vex The Economist. Good home economics says that India gets Hyderabad, Pakistan gets Kashmir. Now it is just a matter of waiting for Delhi to come to its senses and do what The Economist says. Britain should definitely do something, just not what it is doing.

"Tito's Defiance" The Economist gives us the low-down on the Cominterm-Jugoslavia affair, and offers advice. Economic aid for Jugoslavia, pressure on now-isolated Albania to end mines and the Greek Communist rebels. Then it hares off to Germany, where the German Communist Party clearly plans a unified Germany, with "One Folk, One Realm, One Leader," specifically, Stalin. Because Stalin is just like Hitler.

"The Deplorable Generation" Over the years, people have always said that the younger generation is terrible. But now it's true, and those who fall into "the deplorable vice of youth worship" can't deny it, even though they will. It's not their fault; it's due to gangs, and by "gangs," one means boys' and girls' clubs, and so the solution is not more money for youth services, but rather family something something. If only they still went into the factory on their twelfth birthday. 

Notes of the Week

Two leads, which should probably be coupled, cover the still-secret outcome of the visit to Stalin by the three Western envoys over Berlin, and Paul Hoffman's visit to Paris to instruct the Sixteen Nations to develop a Four Year Plan. Stalin's condition for lifting the blockade is thought to be a delay in implementing the London agreement, while the Sixteen Nations can only achieve solvency by 1952 with the Ruhr "open for business." The Economist has a great deal to say about how the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation is going to have to work in terms of transport, public utilities, and open borders for coal and steel, but without Germany, it is all irrelevant. Stalin probably doesn't want the OEEC to fail (I think), but he definitely doesn't want to see Germany (or part of it) restored as a great power by participation in the Sixteen. And that's where we are, and that is why I am skeptical that the Blockade is going to be lifted before winter, when the Airlift will either fail (probably), or show that it can succeed --which will be a very telling lesson about the real power of the western air forces, no atom bombs required.

"French Electoral Fever" France is supposed to have local elections in October, but the Socialists want to postpone them, fearing that the electorate will be cranky and give votes to the Gaullists or the Communists. The Communists and Gaullists are fighting to keep the elections on schedule, big surprise, and General de Gaulle is touring the land, appearing at mass rallies and being very melodramatic and reminding everyone about what a combination of nationalism, anti-communism and emotional appeals can lead to, which is Mussolini. Ronnie says that the General is just a big old blowhole, that the "bon ton" of graduates of the right French schools will never let de Gaulle take power, and that this will tide over. I'm not so sure. I think she puts way too much faith in French highbrows.

"The Gold Coast Riots" The court of inquiry report is out. "[I]n firing upon it the police superintendent should be commended for averting an ugly situation." The Economist apologises for even suggesting that gunning down unarmed protesters was wrong. (Ronnie says that British libel laws would allow the superintendent to sue the pants off The Economist, so I shouldn't judge, and I won't, but it is very  hard.) It then condemns the government for mishandling the imports scheme, as a ricing price for cocoa wasn't met by increased imports, causing inflation and forcing Gold Coast merchants to raise prices. This led to the boycott,which led to further price increases, which led to businesses being closed and an agreement with the chiefs, which was not properly explained, so that when business reopened at very nearly the same prices, the boycott was followed by looting, and then shooting. It is really all the inhabitants' fault for refusing to cooperate with the government to stop swollen shoots disease. Or for not fighting the colonialists hard enough. 

"Action in Malaya" When we last checked into the terrorist terrorising Malaya (it's not a revolt!), the Regency was bombing upland rice paddies to deny Chinese terrorists (who are not guerrillas!) a food supply. This week, the Governor, Malcolm MacDonald, gave a very spirited address to the public, raising confidence all around. Of secondary importance was the arrival of ammunition, supplies, and enough crew to allow the RAF to take an "effective toll." Former members of the Palestinian Police are being flown in to share their expertise in shooting trouble. It's probably mostly Moscow's fault. 

"Breaking the News" A final point to bear in mind for this week about the Anglo-American Productivity Council is that it was announced to the press in America before Britain, which has British MPs very, very upset. (Never mind the newspapers.) The Economist points out that, the more Britain involves itself with foreign countries, the more common this will be, so it might be as well to come up with some kind of solution that involves the British government telling The Economist everything The Economist wants to know, when it wants to know it. And maybe also some of those other newspapers, and even MPs, if it isn't too much bother. 

"The British Nationalities Act" As far as I can tell, the main effect of this bill is to further restrict most subjects' ability to claim the same rights as "real" British subjects. This, we all take for granted. Being born in Hong Kong is no guarantee of your right to move to London and open a business, if you have the wrong skin colour. The more Hong Kongers there are, and the more that have the money to do so, the higher will go the walls, because that's life. Well, who cares about that? Not The Economist! What matters is that the law doesn't take into account the important things like, and I swear, I have to rub my eyes to read this, the fact that only British press representatives can get accreditation to Buckingham Palace. What about the New Zealander reporter who wants to know about Princess Elizabeth's trousseau? WHAT ABOUT NEW ZEALAND?

"Princess Elizabeth's trousseau" is not a made up example,. The New Zealand part is.

"'Miracle' Currency Reform" Western Germans are going about buying and selling things. In shops! There is a "glut" of eggs and vegetables, and the lowest official ration has hit 2000 calories. The restaurants, selling eggnogs and omelettes and the finest Rhine wines at 5s a bottle (outrageously high, say Germans) are finally beginning to empty out as Germans head off to buy clothes and shoes. Workers crowd the labour exchanges, and with better food and incentives, they are actually working, with productivity rising rapidly. Paper, construction material and eggs have come off controls, and restrictions on American tobacco will come off next month, after the delivery of an emergency supply of $18 million in American cigarettes to tide the country over. Hard as it is to believe, one of the world's problems might have actually been solved. 

"Green Light for Industrialists" Nope, nope, spoke too soon. "It is still too soon, however, to say that the D-mark is safe." Germany has no credit channels, prices are going up, un-named people have started hoarding again, spivs and drones are on the loose again, and German industrialists are only going along because they see a "green light" in the future. This leads to the question of what is to be done about Krupp after the trialThe Economist suggests that the prewar European Steel Cartel could be as model for international control and cooperation that would keep the warmongers of Krupp in check. Or, warmongering against the right (left!) enemies, which would be just as good? Just a thought. Send your cheque to "A Special Correspondent in Northern California," Mr. Crowther!

"Women in Industry" The recent PEP Broadsheet on the"Employment of Women" shows that the Government's drive to get more women into industry is gong to fail. There are not that many unemployed but potentially employable women to start with, and the increased demand for full-time teachers and nurses has to be met from somewhere. About 400,000 single women between 16 and 60 are not employed in industry, but about 200,000 to 250,000 of them are likely in domestic service. Not only that, the number of women in the country between 15 and 60 is falling, leaving only women over sixty to supplement the work force. 

There are also bits about the International Labour Conference in San Francisco, which is in the news because one of the British delegates said something embarrassing. The Economist's correspondent points out that, besides that, it was very worthy and boring, but not nearly as boring as the Jockey Club considering opening the Stud Book to some "suspect" bloodstock, which carries the risk of reducing the export value of British bloodstock. What's the reverse of talk about the family trees of British pedigree racing horses? The tiff over Tito, which has something to do with agricultural policy, which takes us back to the great mistake of Soviet collectivisation, which was to allow a class of "kulaks" to take hold in the countryside. This was due to the urban intelligentsia who comprised the commissar force, failing to educate themselves in the realities of the class war in the countryside. The Jugoslavs haven't been doing enough educating before collectivising, and now the Cominterm has sent round strict instructions to all the other Eastern European countries to make sure that they do not raise a crop of kulaks where they meant to create proper, socialist collectives. Jewish Palestine is not collectivised, but it is certainly not going to have Arab kulaks, after expelling some half million Arab Palestinians to make way for perhaps 200,000 Jewish DPs. Arab society is "rotten," which means that it cannot fight a war, cannot absorb the DPs, and the leadership cannot tell its own people the reasons for their failures. Count Bernadotte may find a de facto settlement, but the final settlement has to be postponed until Arab society can transform itself into "something more effective." Also, oil won't flow through Haifa until a settlement is reached.

Shorter Notes points out that Western retaliation against the Berlin blockade has been completely ineffective. Why can't the West block railways the Russians are using? That would sure help! Newfoundland has voted by a slim majority for confederation with Canada, and the Canadian and British governments are moving quickly to lock it in.


Frederick Bain, of the Federation of British Industries, writes to explain why Joint Councils are better than Development Councils. F. W. Allport, of the Motion Picture Association of America, writes to protest that he didn't mean to say that the British government had no "right" to fix the import quota at so high a rate as 45%. W. Klein points out that The Economist is nuts if it thinks that going to war over Berlin is a good idea, and some old Dutch guy agrees. Hugh Townshend writes to point out that a fall in the value of the American dollar might be a solution to the dollar shortage, since while exporters would earn less for what they sell into America, they would also need to earn less to buy what they need from America. The author then goes on to talk some mumbo-jumbo about "elasticity of supply and demand," while The Economist points out that this only applies of quantities are "controlled," and, in fact, the world would just buy more American goods. Hmm. I may not know what "elasticity" means, but I can figure out that Townshend is trying to anticipate The Economist's objections, and The Economist just ignores him. 

From The Economist of 1848

The Economist is over the moon about the decline in prices of household goods, and how nice the hats are these days. Items that used to be under duty have gone down, but so has coal, at 24s to the ton for the best coals, bred, coffee, sugar, and hats, shoes and boots. Also, the hats, shoes and boots are "lighter and better adapted to the head and the feet" due to "more skill and ingenuity [being] employed in the making of them." "The general reduction in price is accompanied by an improvement in quality and form. There is a perpetual exertion on the part of the industrious classes not only to supply society cheaply, but tastefully, elegantly and substantially." I miss Ronnie.

Dr. Boulding seems more intense than "stiff."My impression
of his academic careeer is that the camera doesn't lie.

Harold Laski has a book about the Communist Manifesto out, where he says that Karl Marx wasn't a horrible person. Imagine that! The Economist replies that, yes, he was, so there, and, to prove it, look how nice the founders of the Labour Party were, and they didn't like Marx, either! Roy Lewis and Arthur Fraser have Shall I Emigrate? The Economist calls it "advice to the restless," and I think the sense of it is that you shouldn't immigrate just because you are restless, because you will take your troubles with you, but if you are tired of ration books and Europe, and looking for opportunity, it might be just the thing. Canada, by the way, has a provincial "low church and high tea" mentality, and "inveterate hostility" between French and English. B. U. Ratchford and William D. Ross' The Reparations Assignment is an excellent account of "how things really happened." It looks as though the State Department had no idea what was going on, so General Clay flew by the seat of his pants, and with his guiding star a distinctly anti-Communist one. That's how I read it, anyway, but I am sure that Ronnie will remind me that I must give the General the benefit of the doubt, as he has been placed in authority over me. Well, as far as a doughboy can order a squid around, anyway. J. H. Jones' The Structure of Industry follows Victor Morgan's "excellent" Conquest of Unemployment [I have no idea why this comes up on a Google search, but it is interesting], and while useful, is an "opportunity missed" due to reading too much like a Fortune editorial. Collectivism has failed, Keynesianism, Social Credit, technocracy and such are silly and easily dismissed; the trade cycle is natural and inevitable; monopolistic structures and agreements have nothing to do with British economic weakness; there's nothing wrong with the country that a good, brisk budget axe won't cure. Kenneth Boulding's Economic Analysis is the second edition, much revised. Nothing has been done about it being too "stiff" for an introductory class, but it is better organised and "several sticky points cleared up."

American Survey

"Labour's Political Plans" Ronnie has sternly reminded me that the serving officer is nonpolitical, and that by "nonpolitical" is meant, not getting on your superior's bad side. Have I said that in this letter? Have I said it ten times? The point is that the CIO's Political Action Committee has decided to back Truman, and I. Am. Biting. My. Tongue. However, they are also backing the Democratic ticket in Congress, and I can get behind that! 99 House Districts might switch, the CIO thinks; although the AFL is only targeting 45. Only the staunchest of Democrats thinks that the House could switch over to the Democrats, but the Senate is within reach, with 51 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and the split in the 32 seats up for election in 1948 being roughly proportional, at 18 GOP, 14 Democratic. Ten Democratic seats are safe, while the Republicans admit that 4 GOP seats are in danger, while Democrats think that it might be 6. The unions are not as cool to Wallace as they might be; but that is because they are now writing him off, The Economist says, before going off on some tangent about how Wallace rallies have a "Neo-Nuremberg" design. It then points out that with factory wages at an all-time high of $52.81 a week, and with 61 million employed, it is a tough year to run on the far left.

American Notes

"Political Answer for the President" The President's special session of Congress to address civil rights has been paralysed by Southern Democrats, who have used legislative manoeuvres to avoid an anti-poll tax vote in the Senate. The GOP, by adding their "no" vote to purely procedural motions, manage to avoid acting on their own civil rights plank without voting against being for the poll tax. (I would say voting "for" the poll tax, but the coming thing down in Washington is to not be against things.) The Republicans now need to decide just how long they want to stay in Washington, since if they miss the target, they reinforce the "Do Nothing Congress" tag, either by fighting the President for too long, or not considering his proposals long enough. Out and about, Dewey wants to keep Berlin, and thinks that it is only in danger because of Administration incompetence, but this is a time for unity, so no politics. You need to imagine someone reading this to you while giving a huge, smirking wink, Groucho Marx-style.  As for what Congress is going to do, it will probably approve the President's credit controls, and scuttle the Taft-Ellender-Wagner Act on the grounds that it is inflationary. They will not act on price controls, on the assumption that the cost of living has reached its peak, and that it is all the Administration's fault, anyway.

"Inflation and Bank Credit" This note explains the otherwise enigmatic "credit controls." The Secretary of the Treasury doesn't expect price controls, so he wants consumer credit controls, instead, along with,perhaps, a requirement for larger bank reserves.

"DP Delays" Americans are surprisingly eager to employ DPs right now, and the President has finally chosen two commissioners to sort out the 205,000 DPs who are coming to America. That is the good news. The bad news is that only 50,000 will be coming in the next twelve months, and "even the hint of a depression" will have the KKK and the America Firsters out, rioting in the streets. (I paraphrase, but with an eye to the next story. Hoo-boy.)

Reggie had the Battle of Moscow confused with
the Battle of Stalingrad. 
"Midsummer Spy-Scare" By the most curious of coincidences, the spy stories we were so wrapped up in way back in 1946 have resurged. Mrs. C. says that the papers that Wong Lee removed from the San Francisco bureau of Russian naval intelligence were "one time pads," and we had a brief go over the surprisingly complicated mathematics of the thing. (I thought that they were like our novel-almanac replacement cipher. How wrong I was!) Even then, they wouldn't be of much use if the Russians hadn't compromised their own system during Stalingrad. Since the reduplicated one-time pads were produced for a brief period of time, the information in them is also limited. And since the State Department hasn't leaked a word about it since, she thinks it knows more about who might have spied for Russia back during the war than it can let on.

In spite of the looks and the teeth, Chambers really does seem
to have been a charismatic man, entangling Hiss, Luce and
Buckley in turn. I'm going to choose to believe that he
had a winning personality.
With that preliminary out of the way, the story of the summer is that a "blonde bombshell" (actually, says The Economist ungallantly, a "brunette bluestocking") named Elisabeth Bentley has been cooperating with a Grand Jury to press indictments against twelve leading American communists for said wartime spying. She is also now appearing before both HUAC and the Senate Committee on Expenditures, and has splashed mud well beyond the ranks of the American Communist Party, with Lauchlin Currie and Harry White both drawn in. It is the silly season at its best, and, of course, a way for the Republicans in Congress to put some heat on the President. Louis Budenz and Whittaker Chambers, a senior editor at Time, no less, have followed Bentley onto the stand. Chambers has taken special umbrage at Alger Hiss. Colonel McCormick and William Hearst are likely to have a gay old time of it, and, speaking of which, Uncle George hauls out old issues of Time and points to the fawning coverage of Hiss's handsome and endearing diplomacy in San Francisco. Can you diplomatise handsomely? I mean, you can put the characters together that way, so it must be something you can do. Never mind: No-one is asking me to sit the palace examinations, and I couldn't do it if they did.

Shorter notes include one about the President extending the terms of the Atomic Energy Commissioners by two years, an Agricultural Department target for 71,500,000 acres in wheat this year, down 8%, for the slaughter of 32 million head of cattle by mid-1949, and a permanent reduction in force of 500,000 head of cattle to bring down grain prices, balance off rising meat prices, and give marginal crop and pasture land a rest. Judge Hincks of the Federal District Court in Connecticut has held up the Taft-Hartley ban on union political spending. The AFL will appeal. The State Department is taking over Voice of America next year.

The World Overseas

"Two Year Plan for the Russian Zone" One thing I like about The Economist these days that it gets to the point! So when I read one like this, which delays for all of two sentences to point out how the Labour Party would take forever to produce a two-year plan, it is pretty jarring. That's as much as I will say about this quite long piece, because we are not doing business in the Russian Zone.

"New Horizons for Eire" Our Dublin Correspondent heard from! Thanks to ERP aid and a solid trade agreement with Britain, it is a era of good feelings in Ireland, although the sorting-out of the Irish and British nationality questions has made the island's division between north and south more fraught.

By William Davis, historian - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
"War Against Markos" It somehow turned into the fashion to refer to the Greek Civil war as a war against Communist General Markos, who commands perhaps 10,000 guerrillas in the Grammos Mountains, on the Albanian frontier. The "international brigades" have vanished, and no non-Greek prisoners have been taken, but everyone assumes that Markos is receiving aid from Jugoslavia and Albania. The Communists still have plenty of ammunition for their German machine guns, and mines; but they hardly fire their few 75s, suggesting a shortage of ammunition, although there are "confirmed reports" of 105mm shelling in support of the Communists from Albanian territory. The Greek army is in good condition, has plenty of mules,  and RAF support, and will probably defeat the main Communist forces before winter. After that, the precarious economic condition of the country will make it very difficult to resettle 700,000 refugees back in their home villages, as both families and village communities have been broken up in the fighting, and it will be very hard, if not impossible, to reassemble them. Also, the Communists will attack again, soon, the moment the Cominterm gives them the word.

The Business World

"Unilever in Perspective" The main perspective on Unilever is that its turnover and profits are up a gigantic 40%, but this has more to do with  higher prices than with increased production, and they are salting away money for a rainy day, which is good news, except to investors, who won't get a look into far too much of that 40%.

The interesting part is that if the Groundnuts Scheme had hit its target, it would have produced six times as much oil as all of Unilever's other operations put together. 

"Burdens on the Revenue" Britons pay a lot of tax. In 1938, the income tax was 5s on the £, and £280 million was paid by 3.7 million income tax payers. In 1946--7, the standard rate was 9s, the number of tax payers as high as 12 1/4 million, and they paid £1156 million. This makes for much more work for the taxation offices. I'm a little vague here, because I'm not sure which ministry, with its fancy old name, is in charge of income tax, and I haven't the foggiest notion who is in charge of taxing businesses and "the transfer of farms from a rental basis to a  profits basis of assessment." The Board of Inland Revenue? Okay! Anyway, the point of the article is that there needs to be more of them, which means that more have to be trained.

Business Notes
They even have their own Wikipedia page!

"The Treasury Special Account" That is the name of the thing that will take care of book-keeping British ERA accounts. It all sounds perfectly safe and boring, although in twenty years The Economist will tell us how It All Went Wrong. Meanwhile, the TUC gets an "attaboy" from The Economist for being cautiously receptive to the Anglo-American Council on Productivity. Also, import prices are up, everyone is in a tizzy over manufacturers trying to sell "frustrated exports" to British consumer, and there are talks about Anglo-Italian trade that are not going well.

The cotton industry has failed to find the balance of the 50,000 new employees it needed, and which the British economy clearly didn't have to spare. The industry points out that they are not going to find them until they are allowed to pay more. The Central Electricity Board wants to charge consumers more for power in the winter, less in summer. Whoever is in charge of saying yes or no, is sympathetic, but needs more details. The Mexicans still have not announced a new exchange rate for the peso, a week after abandoning the 4.86 to the $ peg, because they need permission from the IMF now. (Better them than the Marines?) Talk of encouraging industry to set up in depressed areas comes down to cases with Vactric, which has agreed to go into  a trading estate in Scotland, but now can't find finance, and has stood up for favourable financial and raw material arrangements.

Bought out by the News of the World Organisation in 1961. I don't get it.

Thanks to a flood of earning and other financial information, that's it for Business Notes. (Uncle George would want me to mention that EMI has issued £2 million in 4% ten year notes, because it doesn't think it could raise the money on the stock market, which is in its "dog days."It's getting to the point where companies can only expand by spending their own profits!

Flight, 12 August 1948


"The Big Shows" Aircraft are getting bigger, which makes air shows harder to stage. SBAC is solving that problem by holding the entire show at the Farnborough airfield. The Paris Aero Show will continue to be held at the Grand Palais des Champs Elysee, but planes that won't fit through the hall doors will be shown outside, on the Esplanade des Invalides, or even at the Paris airports. Flight can't decide which is better. 

"A Flight to Egypt" "Thirty years ago last Saturday, a Handley Page biplane (an O/400 with two Eagles) landed at Aboukir, near Cairo," in a flight originating in London, the first ever to make that trip, which lasted ten days and involved stops in France, Italy, Crete, the Mediterranean and the north coast of Africa. If the pilot, then-Brigadier General, now Air Vice-Marshal (ret.) Borton, were to make the trip today, instead of being the very important director of Napiers, he would find that a modern airliner is much nicer than the cold cockpit of a biplane, with fabric flapping in the breeze. 

"Another Mysterious Disappearance" Reports of faint distress signals heard days after the Air France Latecoere 631 would have had to have come down in the South Atlantic are hard to reconcile with other reports of floating wreckage. Flight theorises that a fire broke out in flight, that the pilot managed to land, that the radio was put out of service, but was then put back into service some time later, and used to send a distress signal, before something terrible happened, leaving only a floating seat. Or perhaps this theory faced with the contradiction of wreckage and radio reports, is going with the radio reports over the wreckage. Since that would be a thin reed for the "flying boats are safer" crowd to grasp, I'm inclined to doubt it. 

Ann Douglas, "Samedan: Some Thoughts on the International Gliding Contests, 1948: A Costly Barograph Failure: The Accidents of Nicholson and Greig" 

As we've heard already, on the last day of competition, with a good wind blowing, there were two options. Most of the pilots decided to fly the Rhine-Rhone valley from Chur to Lausanne, but the British decided to take a run over the slopes of the Majola into Italy. Two British pilots landed in Switzerland or nearby, but Nicholson and Greig had both declared for Nice, the point being that these things are judged on the basis of distance flown. The two crashed within a  half-hour of each other, but for completely different reasons that do not at all involve risky flying in poor visibility to maintain speed and altitude for the flight to Nice. Greig lost a wing to the cable of a log transporter and went in, Nicholson stalled into boulders just over the crest of a ridge he barely cleared, and died sometime after landing of internal injuries. But the important thing is that the British team placed fourth, behind the subsidised Swedes and the Swiss, who were flying in home terrain.

I'm not sure what to make of this. I know that it can be hard to correct newspaper stories once they've been sent in. They have to be typeset in time to make the deadline. But there's something horrible about a story that's mostly a lark of a summer adventure, but with the death of two participants right in the middle. Also, while Douglas paints it as some horrible coincidence, both pilots were trying to make up time and distance, and it was a competition. To make it worse, there is a confusing bit at the beginning about a mix up over British money forfeited to the Swiss that I rushed through to get to the next story. I don't have the stomach to sort out the details, so don't go treat Ann Douglas as a murderer on my account, but this confirms many of my prejudices about sport gliders. 

Here and There

Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands visited the Gloster factory and flew a Hawker Sea Fury. The first of 80 Lockheed P-80s being sent, disassembled, to Britain for the "overseas training scheme" are now being reassembled. An RCAF scheme for trans-Atlantic transport training flights has been announced. Canadairs of 426 Squadron will make two to three trips a month to Lyneham, Wiltshire via Goose Bay-Keflavik, Lyneham, or Gander-Azores-Lyneham. An SAS plane overhead on the way to Marseilles reports that the 28 July explosion at I. G. Farbenindustrie in Ludwigshafen was so big that it was buffeted at 7000ft.

The House of Lords has rejected a final appeal from Mr. F. S. Short for a variation on the price paid for Short Brothers stock when the company was nationalised in 1943. Chance-Vought is moving its Stratford, Connecticut plant to Dallas, Texas, along with £60 million in machinery and 1500 employees and their families, because Texas has better flying weather and the new buildings are nicer. The captain of a TCA North Star called up a weather ship they were passing over by radiotelephone, allowing a crewman and his mother, a passenger, to speak for the first time in two years. Cape Town is to have flying policemen to check dangerous low flying and other violations of flying regulations. Olympic athletes will receive fresh eggs daily thanks to a consignment of 1000 fresh eggs to be flown daily from Dublin by Aer Lingus for the duration of the games. Sir Laurence Olivier's "Old Vic" touring company has been refused permission to charter an ANA Skymaster for the flight to New Zealand because they can't get the gas coupons, or something like that. Everyone is outraged. I'm going to have to mention this to Ronnie. She gets such a gas (clever? Am I clever?) out of being outrageous about Shakespeare. 

Civil Aviation News

The first Convair 240 crash didn't happen until 1952. Very impressive for the era,
although unfortunately it came in the middle of a
regular blitz on Elizabeth, New Jersey that
plays a larger role in the approach lighting story.
Lord Pakenham is touring Scotland by air to see what touring Scotland by air is like, these days. The airline route across the Pacific still hasn't started, but already has been reported enough to seem like old news. Well, here it is, reported again! American airlines are flying more, and losing more money, and it is all the CAB's fault. Under the latest scheme, radio operators with the British airlines will have an annual income of £625, navviators up to £725. BOAC and BSAA officers will get an overseas allowance of 11s/day, BSAA will get a European allowance of 6s/day, and the pension will pay out £312 per annum at the age of 50 with adjustments above and below that age. Tourist arrivals in Britain hit a record 44,000 in June, up 5 1/2% over the 1936--8 average. A half million might be expected over the full year, and a total of 100,000 American tourists are expected to spend £12 million in Britain and on British planes and ships this year. In Australia, the airlines are still suing each other. Qantas is going to borrow a Constellation from BOAC until the Hythe crews have completed conversion training. Australia is introducing quarantine stations where everyone must produce certificates of inoculation against yellow fever and smallpox. TCA Constellation services will use the airport at Lethbridge, Alberta, while the one at Calgary, Alberta, is upgraded.  Everyone is reminded just how rigorously Convair has tested its 240 ahead of its entry into service. 

British overseas travellers may now spend their £35 allowance in Spain. New Zealand might buy Canadairs for its national airline if the Hermes isn't suitable. Qantas is thinking about a South African service via Cocos Island and Mauritius if the South Africans will run a reciprocal one.  

"Turbines with Transport Command: Passenger and Freight-carrying Version of Lincoln with Bristol Theseus Turboprops" This is the same scheme as the Nene Viking. Two Merlins are replaced with Theseus engines in order to "accumulat[e] mass experience with turboprops." 

"Napier Naiad: Novel Design Features Embodied in the Most Recent of British Airscrew-Turbines" The Naiad is the most powerful of the three British turboprops in its class, at 1500hp, compared with the 1125hp for the Dart and 1010 for the Mamba, even though it is the same size. This is because it has a more compact design, which is reflected in the "dynamic design" of the engine. Mainly, there is a mounting ring that takes the bending load off the compressor casing and the turbine shaft housing. It does, however, mean that the moving parts rotate with respect to each other, and this requires that the compressor be mounted on gimbals, and have a self-aligning bearing and a torque connection with an annular coupling. Like all turboprops,the requirement to extract the maximum amount of energy from the air flow means that the Naiad has a multiple stage turbine. The Naiad uses the Napier ducted spinner air intake, and has a spur gear reduction gearing with a 14:1 reduction ratio(!!!) The transmission box is, no surprise, dazzlingly complicated. The compressor's high efficiency is due to a "very interesting" design, and the air flow decision has had the knock on effect of making elaborately aerodynamical design choices necessary down in the working parts.  The use of Nimonic alloys is limited at several points by manufacturing decisions, namely the choice of machining on the turbine discs, necessitating the use of Jessop's R20, G18.B and H40 steel. 

These are design features that stand out for me in the description. It's a very quick summary, and I am sure that others will find other things to interest them. Napier is a very sophisticated engineering firm, and this is its first jet age engine to see the light of day. It ought to be very interesting. On the other hand, the company also  has a reputation for producing over-complicated designs. I don't know whether I am sussing out those features in the write-up, or whether I am being led on by my prejudices, all accumulated second hand from Typhoon drivers. It is notable that no-one has bought a Naiad yet, so perhaps I'm not alone in being leery of the company behind the Sabre. 

"Sport in the Soviet Union" Russians like to jump out of planes and fly gliders. 

"An Ultra-Light: Slingsby Motor Tutor Developed from Glider" Slingsby has put an Aeronca JAP 37hp flat twin on one of their gliders to create a motorised glider to the requirements of the Ultra Light Aircraft Association. Said requirement presumably being a plane you can't fly high enough to bail out of safely. 

"Aviation in Brazil: Considerable Progress Made During Post-war Years" Yes, it did.

'Comparator,' "Aeronautical Fantasia: Some Thoughts on Dollars and Sense" "Comparator," who is in America, presumably on the Lockheed lot looking after Constellations, thinks that BOAC's "dollars and sense" position doesn't always make sense. Accepting that the Tudor is a bit of a bad job, at least BOAC should have bought more Constellations, rather than Stratocruisers. They would have been in service much sooner, and would probably have been even cheaper than the current comparison suggests. The Canadair purchase was unfortunate, because dollars are still exiting the sterling area in license fees. Giving up on American planes entirely might have been as beneficial to the British industry as the film agreement has been to British films.  The product (Tudors) might be inferior, but if you don't give the consumer a choice --. Put this down as another helping of the Brits not being able to accept that the Tudor was a flop. 


R. T. Youngman, the flap guru at Fairey, writes to point out that high-lift flaps ought to be taken for granted on modern airliners. His own Fairey-Youngman gadgets went on the Fairey F.C. 1 transport of ten years ago, while the Constellation has Fowler flaps, which are about as good. (And winning, because most airliners never have to dive bomb anything --Except high fares!) The fact that the Tudor II didn't probably has a great deal to do with its poor airport performance, and the fact that the Brabazon doesn't is just plain a black mark against the design. 

Speaking of, N. H. Prowting points out that a number of American aircraft had auxiliary controls at the gunner's position back in the day, not just the Boston. His assumption has always been that they were there so that the gunner could help the pilot out with his "normal, if somewhat onerous duties." That being back in the day when an American service pilot was supposed to be a quarterback crossed with a gorilla. Today, we just have to be quarterbacks! Next, what would Flight be without a silly letter about flying boats, with G. D. Bailey writing in to say that the SR/A1 should be developed and brought into service, lest a flying-boat-jet-fighter gap emerge. R. G. Huggett writes to point out that the Gyrodyne doesn't deserve the helicopter speed record, because it isn't a helicopter, and D. G. H. tries to be the last person to say a nice thing about flying boats in Flight by suggesting that they shouldn't be limited to Africa, but rather used everywhere, and all the people who think that they're less safe, because they can't land on land, while both landplanes and flying boats pretty much crash in open water, are silly. 

Fairey FC1 By User:Bzuk - self made using Photoshop CS, CC BY-SA 2.5,
The Economist, 14 August 1948


"Rationing by the Purse" Britain has gone off furniture rationing, has eased clothing rations, and is relaxing the rationing of some foodstuffs. How have these things, which people have long demanded, and which have long been deemed impossible, suddenly become possible? Opposition politicians may think that it is all because they complained, but in reality it is the "miracle of disinflation," caused by rising prices and falling incomes. Economists argued, months ago, against all the "practical men," that the problem wasn't a shortage of supply, but rather an excess of demand. Kill the demand, kill the shortage! Many more controls could now be abolished, if there were just the will --and if demand could be further reduced. Oh, The Economist admits, you can go to far. In a besieged city, bread is issued by the head, not sold to the highest bidder! But since food costs the British wage earner less than almost everywhere in the world, everything is fine, and "rationing by the purse" can go ahead. 

"The Uses of Uno" Grace got so disgusted by all of the UN stories in Time that she eventually just made fun of these stories. You know me. I don't see a point to a page or three of The Economist blather, so I can't even get as far as telling you what's up to make fun of it. The point seems to be that even though the Uno is expensive and costs scarce dollars and Swiss francs, it is doing worthy things, like preventing a war with its special commissions in places like South Korea. 

"The Schools Question in Europe" Communists and Catholics are fighting over who should run the schools in eastern Europe. That's not surprising. It is surprising in Belgium and France, and in the Anglo-Saxon world, where all is light. The point is  that there needs to be a "Third Force" between Catholics and Socialists, which would presumably find the schools question easy to solve; but if, on the contrary, the schools question scuttles the "Third Force," it will have "disastrous consequences for western democracy." Ladies and gentleman, The Economist

"Sitting on a Fence (by a Wavering Correspondent)" Wavering Correspondent voted Labour in 1945, and will vote Tory in the next election if Socialist ministers keep being so mean and vulgar towards the Tories. But he doesn't expect that, and he's quite pleased with the way that Socialist ministers talk about the "new British Empire," and Commonwealth, so he'll probably vote Socialist. Fewer people will vote Socialist, due to apathy, but enough to re-elect the government, he thinks. 

The problem with politics is all of this incivility!

Notes of the Week

"Moscow and Berlin" German representatives are meeting to hammer out a constitution; The Economist sternly orders delegates to brook no Soviet delays in the current Ruhr talks. It is not so eager for a resolution of the Moscow talks, although it points out that the steady erosion of the power of the Social Democratic city government is on the verge of dividing Berlin completely into Western and Russian zones, in which case, by the time the Moscow talks finally end, and the blockade is lifted, the western position in the city may still be untenable. 

"Daily Bread for Bizonia" Another story about the miracle of the loaves and fishes in Germany. I wouldn't even bring it up were it not for the fact that it points out that the Americans shipped 200,000 tons of food into Germany in the first ten days of July, while the Russians are still relying on East German food for not only export to Russia, but, probably more importantly (I owe this point to Uncle George -really, he spends so much time with us over these letters, you have to wonder if he wants to write them again!) they are using East German food to feed their occupation army. That's 200,000 young men with big stomachs out of the "Motherland!" There's also a bit about Paul Reynaud's proposed tax reforms in France. Ronnie says what's important is that Gaullist representatives split over the bill, despite instructions from de Gaulle's entourage. Also, the Select Committee on Estimates has found that some departments of the British government spend too much. There's also a nice notice about the Prime Minister on the occasion of his stepping down, with kind words for Mr. Laurent, which make me feel patriotic as a Canadian, but not to the point where I'm going to vote for the Liberals!

I shall now put in a paragraph break, as the last paragraph was too long. Certainly not for the benefit of the next notice, which is about prison reform in Britain, or the one after it, which is about free trade and transit rights on the Danube river, or the one after that, which is about how much the Germans object to the new Polish frontier, how they are supported in this by the Western powers, but really everyone wants them to just shut up about it.  Or the one after it, which is about how the Dutch are reacting badly to British action in Malaya because of British hypocrisy. 

"Old People at Work" The Economist is upset that, now that there is a old age pension, old people might be retiring. (It's not sure yet, but thinks that the rules should be changed, better safe than sorry. At least, for a change, it is on the side of additional incentives.)

The Economist has also discovered the horrible flaw that will bring Israel down. They are spending too much money. So there you go. Israel is now a "real" country. You can tell because The Economist has started explaining why it will inevitably have problems, instead of why it is a problem. In fact, in the first Leader of the 21 August issue, which I cannot bring you, by the rules around here, The Economist is on about how the truce in Palestine being now mainly threatened by the Jewish desire to continue their offensive until they have occupied the whole of the Mandate and expelled all Palestinian Arabs (with nothing but the clothes on their back), as might occupy any land suitable for incoming Jewish settlers.

I'm a little shocked by just how little of the received narrative of "plucky little Israel" flew in 1948, and just how open the ethnic cleansing was. On the one hand, the world while the world is allowing something terrible to be set in stone, it only has so much energy, and there are more important things, like the future of the flying boat.

"The Oil Companies' Dilemma" The dilemma is that the big refinery in Haifa, which can do 4 million tons a year, is fed by a pipeline running from the Iraqi oil fields through Arab-held territory. There is a branch line to Tripoli in Lebanon, but it is smaller, and the refinery there can only process 2 million tons a year. No oil is flowing through Haifa right now, and Arab public opinion is understandably dead set against it ever flowing through Haifa until the problems of the Palestinian Arabs are solved The Israelis have responded by seizing the refinery and operating it to refine the oil held there. They are now looking overseas for more crude petroleum. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is missing royalties and suffering from an unexpected budget shortfall. As for the effects on the companies, The Economist points us to a recent article by Max Thornburg in the Petroleum Times, but warns that he has the typical American attitude that, having sent so much money to Jewish refugees, they are now in a position to tell the Arab world that it is up to them to solve the Arab refugee problem.

"South Africa Settles Down"  The Economist is very pleased with Dr. Malan's government so far, as it has stepped back from the provocative, partisan and racist actions of its first fortnight in office. The new government has many capable administrators, has shown itself to be sensitive to foreign cirticism and will no doubt govern as a party of unity for all South Africans. Meanwhile, in Russia, Yuri Zhdanov has apologised for not considering the political aspects of his recent lectures on Darwinism, and this shows that Marxist Communism is just the worst of all. The sweet honey of non-Marist rationality also flows in Belfast, where the Northern Irish remind everyone that they are not really Irish, and want nothing to do with the Socialists in Dublin, unlike the Socialists in London.

It sure didn't take The Economist long to roll over for the Nationalists.

Shorter notes, in fact, if not name, indicate that there might be a new war memorial, and the way that the suggestion came up in the press, provoking a letter to the editor from Herbert Morrison is some kind of scandal. Wartime identity cards might be permanent, the Argentinian Prime Minister is in town to defend Argentina's high cost of living, Mr. Shinwell is in trouble over the decontrol of jam, which somehow might lead to less marmalade? There is unrest in the Netherlands over rumours that the deadlock over Berlin might be broken by withdrawing all occupation troops, and is leading them to suggest that, perhaps, they might raise some troops and station them in Germany. And six student nurses have requested a raise to pay their national insurance contributions. The Economist thinks that, as always, requests for pay increases are reasonable in the abstract, and terrible in these specific circumstances, and that it has to point this out because nurses who need money to pay for their national health insurance are ironic and interesting.


Henry Ward thinks that industry can't get more "efficient" as long as people can escape from industry to other parts of national life where "slackness" is tolerated.

"Where there's a whip, there's a way." Catchy!

Lewis Ord points out that, if British industry hasn't achieved full technical efficiency, compared with Americans, it is odd that it is the industries that have adopted American "mass production" are the ones that are in the most need of more full technical efficiency. The Editor's comment is longer than the letter, and puts the blame squarely on "the whole atmosphere of production." It may be just because I am a dumb old engineer, but I have no idea what does that  means. D. Bingham, of Wall Street, writes to point out that if the socialists keep on being socialists, American investors will soon sell all of their sterling securities, which will be The End, so the socialists should stop being socialists now. To be safe.

 From The Economist of 1848

UBC did not take Future. Did anyone? By the way,
Reggie truncates "Mr. Henry Wallace" without
proper ellipsis, because he used to think that
The Economist was too fussy for its own good.
The Economist of 1848 has recently noticed that Britain is being run by, and, for, the "middle class," and that the "labouring classes" can like it or lump it, because the middle class hates violence so much that it would happily pick up a truncheon and beat violence to death.

American Survey

"Spies at Home and Abroad" The Economist thinks that the current spy scare is an attempt to divert voters from rising prices. "Such a chase, however unsupported by evidence that would convince a Court, delights the perennial Roosevelt-hater, embarrasses the Democratic Party, wounds Wallace." That it might also damage rising Republicans was only brought home when one of the accused revealed a close relationship with John Foster Dulles. (Enough for me. Stone him!) America's current mood demands a scapegoat, and Communists make a good one. Since everyone thinks that the Russians must have got hold of atomic secrets from their spies, the whole thing is a vital threat to the nation's safety, and any loose atomic spies need catching before the next (atom!) war breaks out. People who had hoped that the New York Grand Jury investigation of the American Communist Party would deal with the problem quietly, is now frustrated to see the House and Senate fighting over its witnesses; but this is still not in par with the Canadian trials. Nor is it a serious enough investigation to cure a growing "national neurosis." It also reflects badly on the FBI, because it has lost control of the investigation, which ought to be its job, which HUAC is doing instead, with very dubious resources. At the same time, there is now a scandal over American intelligence services abroad. The Economist summarises developments through the appointment of Allen Dulles, then vaguely The Economist closes by wondering if America is ready for more effective institutions that work better than "cloak and daggers." From my insider's perspective, I am wondering if this is some vague hint about signals intelligence, but for me to be sure, I would have to be "inside" The Economist, not the Navy!

"The Economy of the Southwest" Here is a little song of the south. One day, The Economist was short of a story. "I know," said A CORRESPONDENT IN TEXAS, "I will copy my daughter's Geography homework!" And they lived happily ever after, the end.

American Notes

"Congress Compromises" The House has passed a truncated version of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner Act that leaves out direct Federal aid for public housing and slum clearance, in favour of "liberal credit and mortgage insurance for low-cost houses and flats." The Economist reads this as a victory for the President's plan to attack the Republicans on cost of living, since it shows that the GOP is sensitive enough to give way, and yet not sensitive enough to pass the measures that would actually help. It obviously won't be enough to save the President, but it will make a difference in local races. It is also inflationary, and will partially cancel out the effects of the credit control programme, which has now been extended by the Treasury Department's decision to raise the interest rate on short-term Government securities from 1 1/8 to 1 1/4%. Also, the 80th Congress approved the President's full request for $65 million for the United Nations, which is the going price for Peace in Our Time, apart from the $25 million now approved through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for the new headquarters building at Lake Success.

"Alaskan Frontier" Alaska is next to Russia, so naturally it will be the theatre of decision in the great atom war to come, if only because Denmark and Iceland have declined to give America bases on their soil. Alaska is very big, albeit very cold, has 94,000 people, and isn't a state, even though some think it should be. The veterans who "streamed north as homesteaders" found nothing worth homesteading, notwithstanding a $200 million investment in surveying potential homesteads, pulp and paper mills, "scarce and strategic minerals," and the Point Barrow oil reserves. A further five year plan (the point here, at last) might encourage enough private capital to invest to support the roads and rails that the Air Force needs.

My nephew loved the Jimmy Horton version as a toddler, but let's give Dwight Yoakam a chance.

The World Overseas

"In Rural Turkey" A report done up by the former British commercial attache in Ankara and published by HMSO describes Turkey as a place of the usual boundless possibilities held back by the usual problems. The 15.5 million inhabitants have an income of 109 "international units per male earner per annum," compared with 90 in Egypt, 93 in Iraq, 475 in Britain, and 661 in the United States. This is because of lack of communications and therefore markets, but also education, to which the rest of the article turns, briefly reviewing the shortage of teachers and schools before lighting on a trial "Village Institute" which shows the way forward to the bright dawning of a new "Kemalist" renaissance.

"The Defence of Pakistan" This appears to be a paid advertisement for the Pakistani Air Force. The drift is that India desperately needs defending from hordes of Muslim frontier tribesmen, and now that Pakistan occupies the frontier, it is up to Pakistan to do the defending. OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT comes very close to admitting that the problem was only ever "divide and rule" in the first place, before manfully backing up and conjuring up vague threats and opportunities in the wider Muslim world towards Russia-wards that would be fixed up in a jiffy by a few squadrons of modern planes.

"British Rule in the Antarctic" "The comedy of diplomatic manners played out each winter against the frigidly improbably background of the Antarctic is attracting increasing attention. Many doubt whether Britain can afford a spectacle which, in itself so diverting, is clearly prodigal of prestige and presumably also of hard cash." Britain began, in secret, in 1943, to establish a network of Antarctic bases to balance Argentinian and Chilean "encroachment." (As often, British started retaliating in advance of actual aggression, which began with Argentine and Chilean bases, established in 1946, except for a single Argentinian meteorological station on Laurie Island in the South Orkneys, which was handed over to them by a British explorer in the first place, in 1904.) The economic value of the Falkland Islands Dependencies has been much exaggerated by someone, apparently; it being supposed that it lies mostly in the vast shoals of tiny shrimp that go mainly to feed the whales right now, but which represent a "vast quantity of raw protein" that might eventually be harvested. Since the whales already do that, you might think that "the revival of the shore stations," developing sealing on South Georgia, and starting it in the South Orkneys, covers off as much tiny-shrimp-protein exploitation as the resource might invite.
Leith station, waiting for a new "edible fats" rush. The little guys in the foreground seem pretty plump.

But what do I know, silly engineer, etc. It is said that the Antarctic contains vast mineral resources, with the latest crop of rumours featuring uranium deposits, which should be taken with a pinch of salt, and which would be  hard to exploit, anyway. Also, the "FIDS" issues stamps, for which stamp collectors pay quite the premium, though not enough to cover the ongoing research work. To pay for a previous incarnation of FIDS,the Discovery Committee, a tax on the whaling industry was set up in 1923, which allowed the Discovery Committee to report a healthy surplus in the salad days of the Twenties, before taking a nosedive with the Depression. The healthy price of whale oil in the market today (£90/ton) has raised the tax to 51s/ton, and the take to £40,000, "highly satisfactory" given that only three shore stations are operating on South Georgia. (Factory whaling at sea pays no oil tax.) The Economist ends by pointing out that the expenses of sovereignty exercises eat up this tax revenue, and hopes for some kind of diplomatic solution that puts "trusteeship" before "sovereignty."

Either the British worker might as well lie down and
die in the street, or Dr.Rostas has buggered up.
 Since Britain is still there, I know how I'm betting.
Don't look at me. I'm just here because the Antarctic is romantic. Although, if, some day, the world has collapsed into radioactive ruin after an all-out atomic war between Britain and Argentina, and our descendants will want to know who to blame, I'll tell 'em right here! Whales! That's who! It was the whales' fault! Or maybe they were just the front for the tiny shrimp. Tiny shrimp are to blame! Are there non-tiny shrimp, our descendants will muse? then they will go back to scratching their inflamed goiters and fingering their clubs as they look hungrily at their nearest neighbour.
The Business World

"Industrial Productivity" Oh, goody. Two pages worth of achieving full technical efficiency! The Economist has long been of the opinion that British industry desperately lacked American-style full technical efficiency, and has long been at it's wit's end trying to prove this self-evident point. Well, along comes Dr. Rostas, of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, who, in his Comparative Productivity in British and American Industry has driven through all the obstacles to comparison that can be imagined, and several never thought of, to show that, before the war, the average American did 2.8 times more work by value, per hour, than his British counterpart. In some industries, such as radio, it was over 3.5 times as much. Various excuses, such as poor quality iron ore, and less capital investment per head, can be advanced, but clearly the explanation is that British workers are lazy, and that British management is unwilling to take American advice.

"The Coal Production Problem" The Government promised 200 million tons of deep-mined, 11 million tons of open-cast coal this year. Everyone in Britain and Europe is depending on this, and it is the sole excuse for the coddling the industry has received. Therefore, news that the cumulative total for the 31 weeks through 7 August is 115.14 million tons of deep-mined and 7.42 million tons of open-cast  coal is a disaster, since if the trend continues as during 1947, the year will end with a production of 196.5 million deep mined, 13.5 million open-cast, or 1 million tons short of the 211 million target, which wouldn't be so bad except that target is an "absolute minimum," and, therefore, the production drive in the mines is a "qualified success" (because the total mined is up), and a disaster, since exports aren't at the required level, since the price must come down, and quality must be improved, while Coal Board profits are very small, once payments to former coal owners are included(!) In conclusion, the workers are lazy, full technical efficiency is needed, and some mines need to be closed.

 Business Notes is mostly finance this week, although I guess we're interested in the Australian High Court striking down Australian bank nationalisation and the Malan government's embrace of sound financial principles of disinflation, then there's news. At home, the labour unions are pressing for excessive wage hikes, ECA loans might be available for large capital investments in Britain at 2.5%, and the very large American cotton crop raises the prospect of lower cotton prices. The "open cotton export scheme" has been made more open, details of the Italian trade agreement are out, the steel target looks likely to be exceeded (in spite of the claimed 10.1% decline in productivity per man hour. Seriously!), and the sugar market is "firmer."


"Three Republican Tests" Once the GOP has assumed one-party rule, it will be the "Era of Good Feelings" all over again. There will be no need to pay attention to idea-bereft Democrats or professional liberals. That doesn't mean that the Republicans will be able to do just anything. On the contrary, the aroused citizenry will demand that the party stick to its principles of cutting the budget, easing tariffs and using the ECA as leverage to coerce the Europeans to give up socialism.

"German Currency in the Darkroom" Fortune is pretty sure that the Deutschemark is overvalued, that there will be too much money in circulation once the German refinancing corporation is in business and taxes cut; also, there are too many controls, the Germans have lost all initiative. And, in general, the end is nigh.

"Is the Construction Boom Over" Two Leaders isn't much material to make a judgment on, but Fortune clearly just turned into The Economist. The story is that, due to a reduction in veterans' applications for VA mortgages, a "buyers' strike is now hitting the real estate market." Other indicators reinforce the impression that, as see title, etc.

"General Spaatz Lays It On the Line" The Luce press is publishing General Spaatz's thinking on air power in Life, ghost-written by Fortune's Charles J. V. Murphy. We are all going to die, unless the government takes the Navy's air force away, and we keep the Communists away from the Channel coast. (In other words, unless we defend Germany. Because of air power. Supersonic intercontinental atomic bombers and missiles being much harder to maintain if we don't have access to global raw materials, you see.)

Books and Ideas

This week's timely contribution to our vital, ongoing debate over ideas that people have about things is a review of John Stuart Mill's The Principles of Political Economy, hot off the press only a hundred years ago today. The reviewer is John Galbraith, so this isn't the usual Fortune, being a tad to the left of the author you'd think would be given this assignment, Mill being, I am told, a "classical liberal," which you can tell from a Taftie by the colour of their underbelly plumage, or spots on the underside of their umbrella, or some such Roderick Haig-Brownism where the punchline is that if you're close enough to the mushroom to see that, you're already dead.

Next up is a review of Vernon Mund's Open Markets. He's for them. Galbraith says that he's a borderline zealot about them. "K. H." takes on Dixon Wecter's The Age of the Great Depression, which covers the economic history of the Depression and the goldfish swallowing craze. I turned three the week before the Crash, but I certainly remember goldfish-swallowing! Fortune liked Wecter but thought him a bit shallow, and recommends Broadus Mitchell, Depression Decade, for more economic history, less goldfish-swallowing. Solomon Schwarz's The Living Standard of the Soviet Worker: 1928-1938-1948 finds that Soviet incomes peaked in 1928, fell by as much half during the Five Year Plan, recovered to 80% of 1928 by 1938, then began to drop again even before the German invasion, after which it plummeted. Even today, average income is half that in 1928, but unequally(!) distributed, so that the average worker needs to "put their women to work" (quotation marks to save me from Ronnie's fury!) and grow their own food in vegetable gardens. David Maxwell-Fyfe's Monopoly comes from the Conservative Party Centre, and deeply disappoints Fortune by defending cartels, tariffs and currency controls. He (and the party) aren't so much for monopoly as understanding of them. The argument is that cartels arise naturally in depressions, and can't really be effectively dismantled by the courts. The job, he thinks, should belong to the Board of Trade, which Fortune thinks is a terrible idea, because that makes monopoly-fighting a job of the government in power. Moses Abramovitz's The Role of Inventory in the Business Cycle shows that we really don't know what inventories do during the business cycle, when they are properly measured. Stephen Potter's The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship seems to be a book about being horrible. John Williams, in an article on "The Task of Economic Recovery"  in Foreign Affairs, thinks that the ERP will work, as long as there is enough American investment abroad to make up for the dollar shortage.

Fortune's Wheel

Readers are upset about the article on small film distributers because the profiled businessman wasn't "typical." Not so, the editor says, before going on to defend Jacob Lawrence's pictorial of Coloureds in the Mississippi Delta region against critics who think that it has a "theory." Fortune really doesn't like Bell and Howell, stopping the press to point out that it was mistaken in saying that the Bell and Howell microfilm camera was in any way better than the Eastman Kodak. On the same page as a Bell and Howell ad!

"ECA: The Going Concern" Now that the ERP is up and running, the question is whether America can use it to force the Europeans to be less socialist. There's more here, but nothing terribly relevant. It's depressing to see Harriman rise to the top again after the b.s. he pulled with Uncle Henry over iron ore.

"The Oil Play: Something Besides Record Profits and Spot Shortages is Happening: The Industry is Moving Up to a New and Broader Plateau" Drilling is getting more expensive as the wells go deeper. "With every additional foot of drilling, costs mount geometrically," with the cost of wells rising from $22,000 to $86,000 in the last ten years. Fortunately for the industry, investment has risen to cover the costs. When Pure Oil announced a 14,000ft well in Wyoming, speculators turned over 80,000 shares.  Earnings are up well above stock market averages, and profits even more so. The industry explains that this is because it is handling far more oil than ever before, up to 6 million barrels a day, more than a million over the wartime peak and twice prewar, and with prices up 23%, that's so much money that they are spending $5 billion on  expansion; but because that money is coming from the stock market and not earnings, they are borrowing, and have convinced themselves that they are not making money at all, because with inflation and devaluation costs based on prewar evaluations, "earnings are greatly overstated." Growth is real, but the problems shouldn't be underestimated. In the past, the industry has suffered a swift turnaround from a half century of growth int he Depression, due to overproduction pushing prices down. Fortunes reading is that gluts are a cycle, and not just one more Depression-era problem. Through WWII, although the industry continued to expand, there was a such a glut of heavy heating oils that sales were at near cost, and the industry's ratio of profit to worth lagged well behind manufacturing. The current shortage is on the heavy oil side, since it is driven by heating oil, not gasoline, although this has something to do with the advent of thermal cracking, which has reduced the refinery share of heavy oils to gasoline, and catalytic cracking even more so.  The article gets a little carried away with its metaphor, but it sounds as though catalytic cracking is good for the consumer and the company, because it allows the refinery to deliver more of the product that is needed at the time, whether gasoline or heating oil, by adjusting the fractions. This has also shifted the profits away from the integrated producers like the "seven sisters," and towards pure production plays, since the value of a barrel of crude has risen in comparison to its products.

Heshmat Ala'i, "How Not To Develop A Backward Country" Last June, the Prime Minister of Iran went on the radio to explain the government's new seven year plan, drawn up by Morrison-Knudsen, the California engineering firm. It involves a capital expenditure of $560 million, and is the basis for an application for a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Ala'i cannot argue with the objectives, but he does object to the use of "large-scale blueprinting" as "the quickest way of raising living standards in backward countries such as Iran." The American engineers and economists who favour this kind of grand planning, "a TVA on the . . . ," defend it on the grounds that the stationary economy of a backward area has a very low ratio of aggregate capital to total population, "and little, if any additional capital is formed." (I think that might mean that the place is poor.) Therefore, long-term investment on large-scale public works and social-improvement projects will make them . . . not poor. The argument "ignores several economic realities." All capital development under any economic system requires sacrifice of present to future. Thus the drop in Russian living standards under the Five Year Plans, and the current British problems. Even US living standards are squeezed, he proposes, by domestic capital formation, international reconstruction, and national defence expenditure. That can't possibly mean inflation, so perhaps he is talking about taxes? Anyway, after all the circuitous talk, which I thought might develop into one of those headscratching intuitions that the financial pages of The Economist are always posing in impenetrable metaphors, he comes to the point. You should make sure you're getting value for money.

So, in Iran, these largescale investments have driven inflation. Hmm. One sentence paragraphs aren't good writing, but this thought doesn't go anywhere, except to mourn the old days of the gold standard. There! I made two sentences! Three!

The founder of The Economist (UH-OH!) made a distinction between "floating capital" and "fixed capital." On principles of charity, I'm assuming that this must actually mean something, and am settling for "house poor" in my head. Your house is worth big numbers, but you've spent so much on it that you have no folding money. Therefore, old The Economist of 1848 thought that a country needed lots of small and medium-sized concerns that produce thousands of commodities, principally "non-durable consumer goods. In later stages, durable and semi-luxury consumer goods  may follow." Only when this infancy has passed can the new economy turn its "inner resources of accumulated small capital," which is liquid and mobile, into large investments. "The wisdom of small-town bankers and old-fashioned Yankee trades would prevail." What does this have to do with anything that came before or after? Well, The Economist of 1848 sold these men subscriptions, so there's that.

From the wisdom of circulation, we come crashing right back to the point about value for money. Largescale public works don't pay for themselves. What does? Well, that's a pretty crass question, so we won't answer it, although if I were the editor, I'd suggest something about taxes on those "small town bankers and Yankee traders" absorbing all their  "liquid and mobile capital," and, to be fair, I'm going to assume that that is what Ala'i might have meant. (Although I'll turn out to be wrong.) Under Reza Shah Pahlavi (1921--41), the large state investments were in public factories, some 150 industrial and mining enterprises built by the state and granted domestic monopolies. These ran deficits, so that by 1946--7 the ordinary deficit was 22.5%, covered by customs, tobacco monopolies and oil royalties. So, in the specific case, not taxes on small-town bankers and Yankee traders, but mainly on Anglo-Iranian, which employs 65,000 persons in Iran who are not small-town bankers, etc., but who do have money.

Speaking of bankers, short-term loans are available in Iran at 15 to 36%, long-term loans at 12--40%. That makes investment in anything but speculation on inflation, pointless.  This might be taken as an argument for the external capital investment, but hold on to your horses, because $500 million is (I need a chorus!) a lot of money, and "nine-tenths" of Iran's working population is useless due to malaria, venereal disease, intestinal troubles, tuberculosis and trachoma. The last construction programme simply withdrew all the fit  minority from agricultural labour, and new public works will do the same. (I'm going to take a wild guess that Mr. Ala'i comes from a landowning family.) The food supply will decline; inflation will rise. The works will be impossible to maintain, and the money spent on them will find their way back out of the country with the foreign contractors. What is needed is more basic necessities such as soap and clean water, at good prices; or, to put another way, more purchasing power for workers, consumers and entrepeneurs. This would set in motion a "continuous expansion of investment and consumption." He tells a story of the Near East Foundation not being able to give cows away due to peasants' fear of angering the village headman and the "cowman" from whom they were used to rent cows. This, Ala'i deems a "fear psychosis." "The most precious export commodity the U.S. has to offer is not its money wealth, but its revolutionary society in which individuals take their chances, express opposition to authoirty when and if they want to, and feel no dread of punishment if their experiments fail."

There's also an article about liquid manure, later.

"SAE: That World Phenomenon, the American Automobile, Owes a Great Debt to a Highly American Institution, the Society of Automotive Engineers" The SAE publishes a monthly SAE Journal, an SAE Quarterly Transactions, and a 790p SAE Handbook specifying recommended practices in piston-ring grooves, magneto mountings, and other automotive elements "to the total fo nearly a thousand." It also holds conferences. It is very American. Has Fortune mentioned how American? So American that Stalin's "commissars of motoring" probably hate them.   Has it mentioned anything else? Stanwood Sparrow likes rear engines, Bill Stout is a "gadfly," Lee Oldfield has a "sharp but convivial tongue," and Frank Spring likes foreign cars. They are all SAE members!
The public sessions and publications ensure that the industry keeps no deep, scientific secrets, which is good.

But what about returns on investment in research?
 A box explains that an American automobile is designed by a committee, or committee of committees, with each consisting of specialist engineers and draftsmen, who work from the outside in, beginning with body changes and face-lifts before getting on to more fundamental chassis alterations. Each unit has its specialists, but the look of the "mock-up" comes from a stylist. It is only when major chassis alterations are made that the full panoply of design committees becomes involved, often from outside firms, as when the Wilys, Studebaker and Nash concerns joined to plan  a transmission produced and, strictly speaking, designed by Warner Gear.

"Young Sears, Roebuck" Fortune explains how the sixty-two year-old retailer has managed to cash out on its 1945, $300 million expansion investment. Sales have doubled to $2 billion, the company is the sixth-largest industrial concern in America, and $107 million earnings in 1947 were fifth largest in the country. $1 out of every $20 spent by consumers on retail is at Sears. General Robert Elkington Wood, who spearheaded the expansion, reminds everyone that Sewell Avery of Montgomery Ward, did nothing of the kind, and points to the Statistical Abstract of the United States as his inspiration. "Impressive population growth, unprecedented savings and some significant population shifts" justified the investment in Wood's mind.

The Delta country travelogue follows.

"The First Automatic Radio Factory: A Prodigious British Machine Builds Three Radio Circuits A Minute" Whereas the first industrial revolution replaced the human hand with power-operated machines, the next will "replace many functions of the human brain with electronic perceiving, coordinating, computing and memory devices." This curious device

the ECME, or Electronic Circuit Making Equipment, is installed in a shed at Sir Richard's Bridge, Walton-on-Thames, and is a highly flexible precursor to the "Machines Without Men" predicted in Fortune in the November 1946 issue. ECME is currently turning out circuits for a small, two-tube radio, and for a four-tube radio an oscilloscope (described here as a "radar-testing device"). Inventor John A. Sargrove, who started as an apprentice to a Budapest linotype repairman and who has been chief engineer of British Tungsram Radio Works for the last eleven years, was the first recipient of the Clerk Maxwell award of the Institution of Radio Engineers, and believes that his ECME is at the electronic industry's "bridge" between mass and automatic production because his machine is designed for simple designs suitable for mass production.  He hopes for contracts for much more complicated-sounding devices such as guided missiles, soon. The key to ECME is the new idea of the "printed circuit," promoted by the Bureau of Standards. This was originally a chemically-impregnated silk sheet on which the circuit patterns were drawn in silver dust. When the sheet was set on a ceramic plate and chemically dissolved, an electrical circuit was "printed" on the plate. Sargrove has improved on this with a "spray-milled" circuit, in which the plastic plate on which the circuit is built, is no longer just a supporting feature, but molded into part of the circuit. He can thus build in resistors, inductance coils and condensors. Sargrove has not been able to enter into any export agreements for ECME due to raw material shortages, but he has American representation through American British Technology, and is introducing American engineers to his idea. They are especially interested in television parts.

Indian investment paid for the original ECME, but the contract was withdrawn. He seems to be angling for investment in an improved ECME to make television parts. I find it very hard to believe that his machine made good radios, and there is a bit in there about how his methods become more accurate as the frequency of the signal rises.

The article about small-town independent cinemas follows.

Meanwhile, in the real world . . . 

"Ammonia as Fertiliser: The Deep South Has a New Source of Concentrated Nitrogen: Cotton Planters, and Their Plants, Are Eating it Up" Down on the Mississippi, they've gone ammonia mad, or they have "anhydrophobia," or they have "ammonia-mania." It was only in the spring of 1947 that Dr. W. B. Andrews published the first paper on the use of ammonia on crops in the Deep South, after four years of research, but even in that year there were 200,000 acres of Delta land under ammonia, and this year the total will rise to 600,000, one-fifth in sugar cane. The fields are using 15,000 tons of anhydrous ammonia, and the ammonia cylinders are everywhere on the roads. Anhydrous ammonia has a vapour pressure of 200lbs/sq inch, so it puffs out of the cylinders under its own steam and directly into the soil. Direct contact is corrosive, and it is a wee bit explosive, but it is also super hydrophilic, so it dissolves into soil moisture in no time. The injection is only 3 inches below the seed, and a bit of back pressure hangs briefly over the fields like a semi-solid mist, and then it vanishes in the dew. (Literally.) Shell has been experimenting with this in California since the Thirties, but only came up with dry application in 1938. Application in Mississippi was held back by the fact that mules really, really don't like ammonia. (Fortune says that it is because they're scared by the hiss, but Miss K., who is frightfully smart and well-read, points out that you can scare off birds by spraying ammonia cleaner, because it smells like cat urine.)  Cats --and panthers, I guess-- aside, the Mississippi Delta is the natural place to experiment with ammonia, because the soil washed down from by the river is naturally rich with potassium and potash, although the planters only settle for liquid nitrogen because they can't get "the solid." They eat a lot of beans in Mississippi! 

I'm sorry. I'll try harder to grow a grownup sense of humour, but I work with pilots, and we often have to sit in the seat for a very, very long time. And then the landings scare the -- Ahem. Ammonia is already providing 30,000 of America's estimated annual consumption of 800,000 tons of nitrogen fertiliser.
At 7.3 cents per pound of nitrogen, ammonia is the cheapest form of nitrogen available to the farmer, and easy to apply. There's talk of a 40,000 to 50,000 ton ammonia plant for Mississippi to be paid for by some kind of cooperative venture, to supplement and compete with Commercial Solvent's plant, bought from the government for only $5.8 million, although it cost $11 million to build, back in 1943.

"The Month of Mayhem: A Note on the Melancholy Circumstances of Working in August" Thank. God. I'm. In. Northern. California. Not that you can tell the difference between a "can't work" Dallas 104 degree August day and the deck of a Catalina on Arcata Field on the same day, but at least we can flee outside, or take a skinny dip in the ocean and immediately regret it. The article covers off fashion (it's against it --in August), diet (more water, less heavy food), salt pills (Do you need them? Only if you're an athlete or do heavy work; otherwise, just sprinkle some salt on the first beer); speaking of which, drinking, which is suprisingly moderate; air conditioning, which is probably getting more work done, although few workplaces, even in New York or even Texas, are fully mod-conned yet.

Shorts and Faces

John L. Hennessy became head of Statler Hotels' catering operations since 1917, has changed the industry in many ways, and rose be president in the years after Statler's 1928 death. He is credited with various innovations, such as making the price of the entree the price of the full meal. Statlers' did quite well last year. Fortune has a bit of a thing for stock-picking methods, says Uncle George, who has a thing for crackpots with stock picking methods. He reminds me of this when I ask him for help about something called "the Dow Theory," which is up next. "Ignore it," he says. "It's rubbish." So does Fortune, quoting Joseph Mindell's recent book, The Stock Market. Lowell Wakefield, "bespectacled son of an Alaska fish packer," is promoting Deep Sea Trawlers, Inc., which is sending refrigerated trawlers into the Bering Straits to trawl the deep sea. The king crab industry used to be dominated by the Japanese, and depended on cheap canning labour in Puget Sound, but Wakefield's new approach is to clean, boil, disjoint, wash, freeze and weigh the meat within two hours, than freeze it. As crab meat stays "fresh" under this treatment, it can then be sold as such. Wakefield is doing well enough to be looking for investors, even though he showed an operating loss and has not paid his RFC loan back, arguing that this is because the king crab's migratory habits aren't known, yet. The American Institute for Foreign Trade, set up in Phoenix, Arizona two years ago by two AAF officers on a surplus airfield and surplus US government dollars, promises to train overseas salesmen who can schmooze it up from Latin America to Tokyo --and who pay for their own education, thanks to GI loans. They pay special attention to the wife, often the biggest obstacle to a career in overseas sales.

"On £6250 a Year," A correspondent, struck by the article on the American "$25,000 a year man, writes about the British "£6250 a year man" in 1948, while noting that the Brit is much less common than the American, even if his cost of living is lower. So, first, taxes: Assuming the earnings are all earned, so no investment income, and a wife and three children, the income tax deduction allowances are $720 for wife, $720 for three children, and $1600 for the earned-income exemption, leaving a balance of $21,960 to be taxed. The income tax is 15% on the first $200, 30% on the next $800, 45% on the balance of 20,960, so that the balance of income after tax is $15,298. Local rates surtax then takes $3,475, for a total taxation of 53% of income. Life insurance payments are deductible for income tax but not surtax purposes, so assuming $2000 in saving for old age, $700 are recovered from the tax burden, leaving $9,823. Naturally, a British man of such means is sending his three children to a public school, unlike the American, who can send his children to a public school. (Yes, it is all explained at length.) The upshot, assuming that one child is paying $300 in public school fees and the other, $1200 in university tuition, while the other is either young or one of God's special children. There are many more details, but suffice it that home purchase, a maid, entertaining, cigarettes and alcohol are all covered off before arriving at a residual of $523 for "expenses, savings and contingencies." This is not a lot, and therefore the British executive is manfully bearing up to hardship like a man, and is not at all a toffee-nosed Saville Row-dressed gent that you could barely tell from a spiv and/or drone except by accent. 


  1. I was going to say that the Economist was having another of its campaigns to reduce the number of women reading it but then it turned out it was more of a campaign against common decency.

  2. You can tell a very serious (man) by the fact that he's too busy to not offend you.

    . . .

    I'm still amazed that that was Taft's campaigning position seventy years ago. Some things never change.