Sunday, March 24, 2019

Postblogging Technology, January 1949, I: You Know Those French

Ooh la la!
R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

I'm sure that you will have heard from Wong Lee, and thank God for him, as I'd be waiting my turn at the gas chamber at San Quentin if not for him. 

I can't believe I'm still alive, and I owe that to you. I am certainly not the kind of girl to carry an automatic --with a muffler, no less--  around with her, and I certainly wouldn't have been watching for a "tail" if you hadn't pressed the issue. But there he was, and he followed me into the lady's restroom at Happy's, down across from the archives building, and was about to plug me through the stall door when I got him first. (Yes, I used that compact trick, though frankly I never believed that the putty would stick it to the ceiling like you said.) I chose Happy's to clear my tail because it connects through the char woman's closet. 

Wong Lee's man went through the body's pockets before they dumped it in the harbour, and says the shooter is off a Shanghai-registered freighter, and no doubt the police will deem this a Tong matter --true enough. The question is, which Tong. Although the answer to that seems obvious, I thought we had an agreement that they would stay out of California if we stayed out of Shanghai. And, yes, that seems like a poor trade now, but that doesn't mean that they should be trying to edge their way back into the state by shooting me. 

Pardon me, I've got to hyperventilate until I pass out.

Yours Sincerely,

The Economist, 1 January 1949


"Economic Patriotism" The sky continues to be about to fall, as see The Economist, passim, and Socialists are terrible. People fall off mountains, and the British people may fall off a mountain (not a real mountain) unless they are very economically patriotic. In conclusion, Geoffrey Crowther does not take his job very seriously. Honestly, the most important bit in three pages is the announcement at the bottom that you can now take The Economist by air in Singapore. 

"The Onus of the Minus" Maybe he feels his real calling in musical theatre? Anyway, the cumulative total dollar deficit of the ERA nations in 1952 will be $2 billion, which is a lot, and if it happens, it will be Britain's fault for not leading Europe kicking and screaming into a brave new world of limited dollar imports. Oh, and it will be America's fault, because it runs Bizonia and is allowing Germany to run a trade surplus with the rest of Europe to finance unlimited imports from America. 

"Fifty Years On" The Economist looked at Whitaker's Almanac for 1896. It is very strange reading today. No doubt! Income tax was low, wages were low, prices were even lower, there was a whole lot more about the Royal Court and a whole lot less about the government, and The Economist's Correspondent spends a lot of time on the cricket coverage. 

Notes of the Week

"The Ruhr in Custody" An agreement laying out the Ruhr Control Authority and Military Security Board that will administer Germany's Ruhr region and allocate its exports has been signed. The Economist doesn't get very far into the details, of which there are hardly any, but, and I know I say this a lot, that would make for a short and unsatisfying Note, so it is instead padded out with handwringing about there being no German representation on the Board, except for a non-voting representative who will be invested with voting rights when a German government is formed. The Economist supposes that the Germans will see this as a Diktat by their enemies, and that they will be furious about it, and then wanders on to point out that the Board will be effectively subject to General Clay's military administration until the German government replaces that. In other parts of this week's paper, General Clay is treated as governing very much in German interests, so even if I weren't jaded by many, many failed predictions in these pages, I would be a bit doubtful that this will be so bad.

Kota Gede palace in the Republican interim capital of Yogyakarta. The
Dutch almost immediately backed down.
By Gunawan Kartapranata - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
"The Dutch Get Away with It" The latest Dutch police action in Indonesia hasn't brought the roof down on them at the Security Council. The Economist supposes that they will be as successful as the Israelis in establishing their fait accompli against the Indonesian Republicans, notwithstanding the American decision to cut off Marshall Plan aid and various waterfront strikes in Ceylon and Australia. 

"Trouble in Transport" There might be strikes in the British bus and rail industries, both nationalised. Also, the National Union of Mineworkers is pressing for the mandatory deduction of union fees from workers' pay, which would establish the "closed shop" in the British coal mines, per The Economist. I have to admit to being amazed that they're not a closed shop already. Also again, the Ministry of Labour's annual survey of trade unions shows that membership has doubled between 1933 and 1947, but only 7.5 million of a record 9.1 million union members are in unions affiliated with the TUC, which thus still has some room to grow. The Economist is pleased that many small, inefficient unions have disappeared, but there is also still room for further increases in technical efficiency in the field of labour representation. The unions are also richer than ever due to low unemployment costs and strike pay expenses. People say that now that there is full employment, social security and an industrial truce, the unions should move on to "more positive tasks," The Economist doesn't say what those are, or express an opinion, but that's what it says that people are saying.

Mohammed Nokrahy Pasha
"Rudderless Egypt" In the latest round of developments in Egyptian affairs, so anxiously awaited, the murder of the premier, Nokrashy Pasha, has left the cabinet "rudderless," which you can see from the fact that the interim government has done nothing about Sudan and not much about Palestine, just like the last cabinet. Only more rudderlessly. The only thing for sure is that when you talk about Egyptian politics, you mention the Moslem Brotherhood and intimate that if things get worse, they will do better, or that they're behind things getting worse, or something. I'm not sure. The point is, the Moslem Brotherhood is bad. I have a feeling from the tenor of the article that the premier was assassinated by the Brotherhood, but The Economist probably covered that last week, and it would be tedious to tell us that again when it could be speculating about what it means for Sudan. 

"New Year in the Negeb" Just to update the reader, The Economist goes through the latest Security Council "request" that the Sinai ceasefire be honoured, the tentative Israeli and Egyptian agreement to do so, the subsequent Egyptian change of mind, and the subsequent Israeli massive offensive to the shores of the Red Sea at that little tip that reaches up past Sinai, which is deemed to be a potentially economically and strategically valuable piece of desert wasteland.

Basically the first actual reporting this issue. To be fair, this one was composed
between Christmas and New Years. 
"Successes of the Air Lift" As bad as winter is for flying, the snow and ice of January are less dangerous than the fog of November and December (a reminder of just how far we are from "full technical efficiency" in the field of civil aviation; Yes, they have radar, but fog and night still defeat airliners). That means that OPERATION PLAINFARE can be deemed a success, having moved 700,000 tons into Berlin in the last six months, at a current rate of between 5000 and 6000 tons a day, with 7000 tons of industrial exports, 9000 tons of parcel mail, and 21,000 tons of regular mail goiung the other way along with 32,000 passengers, mostly old people and children. "It is known that the Russians have been deeply impressed by the this demonstration of efficiency and will power." There has been no resistance, and they have even kept the telephone communications between Berlin and Western airfields in an "excellent state of repair."  Some have even suggested that they are as eager to see the Airlift succeed as the Western powers, which seems a bit much. The Airlift is not sustainable; it cannot increase enough to maintain the normal life of the city, and the cost is too high, but the Russian sector is feeling the pinch of the blockade, too, and diplomacy may soon win out. And speaking of things new under the sun running away with themselves, British education is bursting at the seems, with the universities 68% over capacity and secondary schools going the same way in spite of a critical shortage of teachers.

A bit of a science note mentions the discovery of an antibiotic that can be injected into African cattle feed, protecting them from sleeping sickness and thereby producing healthier and bigger beef cattle. Since bacteria are known to develop resistance to antibiotics, the effects of this "antrycide" might be temporary, but, for now, The Economist congratulates British government scientists for helping out in one aspect of African cattleraising, even if there are many other problems to be solved before Africa can hope to export beef to Europe. Speaking of the most scientific of research, the House of Lords is very, very close to determining whatever shall be the respective rights of cars and pedestrians at controlled traffic crossings. The Economist thinks that it would be as well if pedestrians were "controlled" by the lights as much as drivers, but this is not the British way. I mention this because, again, I had no idea.

Letters to the Editor

Henderson's occasional collaborator, John Hajnal, is moderately
famous, but A. (sometimes "A. M.") Henderson has vanished
from Google. Fifty quatloos Henderson is a woman. 
R. Merton writes from Frankfurt to point out that Hitler was Versailles' fault, and that now that the post-WWII peace settlement is getting to be even worse than Versailles, the next Hitler will be on the West's head. A. Henderson, of the Department of Economics of the University of Manchester, writes to point out that the article about the cost of parenthood is a bit rubbish, since it does the income tax deductions wrong and so concludes that the gap in income between childless families and families  with children has increased since 1938, when, in fact, it has lessened. That doesn't take into account the greater expenses of the family with children, much less the lost income in a home where the mother stays home, but there it is, as far as it goes.

 John Hay writes to point out what I said when I read that article about "The Challenge to Natural Rubber," which is that if artificial rubber costs more than natural, isn't as good, and has poor prospects of a continuing subsidy from the Americans, there isn't actually much of a challenge, so maybe the time isn't right for some kind of natural rubber marketing board.  And speaking of taking the worst blitherings in these pages to task, Michel Clerc writes to point out that the postwar Germans don't seem to be getting ready for their next war so much as wildly celebrating the end of German mlitarism; while on the other hand the French and Belgian Army armies are putting themselves together perfectly well and will certainly not roll over for either revanchist Germans or the Russians. 

From the Economist of 1848

The Economist published on 30 December rather than New Year's Day, so this is one last from 1848, rather than the first of 1849. It doesn't make any difference, as the editorial offices weren't any more inclined to write anything important between Christmas and New Years then, than they are now. 

Books and Publications starts out with a review of Eisenhower's memoir. "Some reviewers," we are told, are using this book to "sow discord" by talking up differences between British and American leaders. This is not fair to General Eisenhower, who is mostly quite judicious towards his allies,  fine leader, and a natural politician, although he does leave the mistaken impression that the British were reluctant to go along with D-Day. A book by W., Rappard analogises European collective security to the emergence of the Swiss federal union. H. E. Raynes has a History of British Insurance that tells a romantic and sometimes seamy story. Really. That's what is says. Hla Myint (really!) has Theories of Welfare Economics, which is historical, analytical, thorough, scholarly and uncompromising, by a specialist, for a specialist. Arvid Enckell's Democratic Finland is by the younger brother of the Finnish premier, and "the value of the volume is more limited than its title suggests." Russell H. Fitzgibbon edits the latest edition of The Constiutions of the Americas, which is a complete and accurate translation of all 22, and "fills a need."  I assume that Hadfield and MacColl's British Local Government does the same.

American Survey

"Business in 1949" There are many signs that the American economy is slowing and entering the slump phase of the business cycle. On the other hand, the quantity of money is high for the beginning of a slump, and the interest rate is low enough to stimulate investment. Given demand for many things, even a slight decline in prices would probably trigger a buying wave. If it triggered bigger tips, that would be fine with me!

"No Voice in America" The voice America doesn't have is that of a Foreign Minister in parliament, or else of President Roosevelt in his old Fireside Chats, or even proper programming on Voice of America. If America had that, it would understand that President Truman's foreign policy has been hugely successful. Instead, Americans think it hasn't been all that much. They simply don't understand the magnitude of the Marshall Plan. Meanwhile, the Administration seems to be as amazed at winning the election as everyone else is. On Palestine, China, General Clay's Ruhr policy, and Japan, the Administration was drifting before the election, and still seems to be drifting. The worst problem is in China, where the business lobby is beside itself at being "outsmarted" by the British, who kept on good terms with the Communists while the Administration appeased Republican enthusiasms by supporting the Koumintang, but there was also the petulant effort to stop ECA recipients from trading with Russia. The only Administration officials who haven't been drifting are Paul Hoffman at ERA, who has now told shippers that he has no intention of paying inflated rates to obey the mandate that half of European relief be carried in American bottoms, and  his deputy, Howard Reece, who has fouled up the international aluminum scrap situation, as we've heard elsewhere. 

American Notes

Have you heard about the Hiss case? Here's more of the same!

"Farmers on the Fence" The Economist went to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention and witnessed a North-South divide over price supports. With the first weakening of farm prices since before the war, farmers are anxious about surplusses, and the Republican Congress introduced a new sliding-scale support scheme that would go down to 60% of current rates, and only be mandatory for tobacco, peanuts, wheat, corn and rice.  Southerners, wheat growers from the central, Republican-voting states and western fruit and vegetable growers want to abandon this scheme. Unexpectedly Democratic Mid-Western farmers and cattle producers do not.  Movement may be possible, because the Secretary of Agriculture is on the fence.

"Hope for Puerto Rico" President Truman has appointed Puerto Rico's second civilian governor, and the first native Puerto Rican. This isn't much, but the new tax holiday, meant to encourage American industrialists to set up there, may finally address the territory's chronic unemployment and stem emigration to New York.

"A New Deal for Old" Truman's victory is deemed a victory for the New Deal, and particularly Social Security, which the last Congress cut. The Administration is proposing increased benefits, a cut in the age at which they begin, eligibility for more workers, and a rise in the income limit for contributions from $3600 to $4800 to pay for it all. New health insurance and disability programmes will follow basic social security, if the Administration can beat the AMA's impassioned resistance to "socialised medicine," and it is hoped that something will be done about unemployment insurance. The American bureau then takes a cue from London by wringing its hands over the possibility that the states will increase their politically-popular payments by raiding funds meant for children.

Shorter Notes apologises for saying that the American defence budget takes up 30% of national income, instead of national budget last time, notes that Paul Hoffman has suspended economic aid to China, excepting well-advanced projects such as, coincidentally, I'm sure, a power plant in Formosa and railways in South China. The Council of Economic Advisors has made its third annual report, telling the Administration that the public works programme can no longer be deferred, that the public supports both foreign aid and national defence, which together take up half the Federal budget, meaning that the Federal budget will continue at one-fifth of national income for the foreseeable future, and that the national housing shortage requires government promotion of easy credit in this field, inflation be damned.

The World Overseas

Fritz Thyssen personally financed Hitler's
rise to power in return for his promise to
prevent socialism in industry. On the other
hand, he was fine with United Steelworks,
created in 1925 when the old Stinnes empire
collapsed, because he ran it.So he's
bad, obviously. The rest of them are upstanding
German patriots, except for that one Krupp who
knowingly used slave labour. 
"New Epoch for the Ruhr" The Ruhr has a new government. The interim, postwar period is over, to be replaced by a postwar interim period that will continue until there is a German government, which will be responsible for deciding whether coal and steel will be nationalised or not. Details of how the old coal and steel combines will be reconstructed are gone into at length. The old ownership families will be embarrassed, if not dispossessed, but creditors will not be harmed. Coal, which is profitable, is carrying about a third of the mines, which are not, leading to pressure to increase the price of German coal, which gives the British warm feelings in their nethers. Others oppose this because it looks like "milking" coal for the capital needed to restore steel. Everyone agrees that Germany desperately needs capital to restore its industry. What no-one can agree on is whether the shortage of capital will just dissolve the way all of the other bottlenecks have. In which case there isn't a shortage of capital, because it is all really down to the problems of the old Reichsmark. 

"Canada's Economic Outlook" Canada is hamstrung by the fact that its main export is boring news, and the dollar shortage has made Europeans more willing to produce and export boring news to the main consumer, me. Canada's foreign exchange holdings are increasing, thanks in large part to the gold miners, allowing it to ease emergency import restrictions and bring in more American fruits and vegetables last winter. There will be more  trade with Britain, which will not be taking Canadian bacon, eggs, salmon and apples due to the dollar, but will take wheat, cheese, base metals and some lumber, so it could be worse. Exporters who used to be able to count on the Empire Preference areas no longer will, and Nova Scotian apple growers, who exported 80% of their crop to Britain before the war, will have to cut the size of the crop in half and replant with varieties preferred in North America. There will be Federal aid for apples, but not textiles, motor-cars, beer, combs, paper, paint and household furnishings that used to be exported to places like South Africa, which is fine, because domestic demand is strong.

There's a short bit about Albania, which is surrounded by Yugoslavia the way that Yugoslavia is surrounded by eastern Europe. Yugoslavia has turned against eastern Europe, so Albania has turned against Yugoslavia, and towards the east. Or towards isolationism and autarky, whichever. It has a five year plan and will be overproducing iron and steel and coal and all of those communistic-y things under the leadership of Enver Hoxha, who is like Stalin, only Albanian.

The Business World

"The Cost of Civil Aviation" Have you heard that the British airlines are taking heavy subsidies, and that the American airlines are losing money, and, in general, that civil aviation doesn't pay right now, but that the situation is improving and that the airlines are retrenching, reforming and reducing costs while increasing services? You have? Here it is again!

There's an interesting "technological" bit in here, in which The Economist blames lack of leadership at the Ministry of Civil Aviation and advances the Tudor as an example of this failure to lead. That is, the Tudor was ruined by having too many chefs spoiling the broth.

"Reforming the Budget Accounts" Let's take a break from telling you about the budget and tell you about the way that it is reported, instead.

Business Notes

We lead off with a review of stock prices over the last year, which went up when "prophets" predicted they would fall. Interesting, but I'm not sure how technological it is.

"Basic Industries in 1949--50" The coal industry continues to develop and reconstruct, but the work will only begin to bear fruit this year. 1949 will be the peak year of iron and steel expansion, with 500,000 tons of new iron and 500,000 tons of new steel capacity and new fuel economy schemes for the greater use of coke oven gas. Seventeen thousand construction workers will be employed. Petroleum will continue to expand, with refineries at home and abroad.

A report by the Federation of British Industries complains that tax rules, especially regarding depreciation and dealing with inflation, are hampering business investment. In the usually boring financial news comes a hint of scandal, as George Gibson resigns from the Court of Directors of the Bank of England due to his name coming up at the Lynskey Tribunal. He will remain with the North Western Electricity Board, since no-one cares about that. Communist China has announced a new currency, while Egypt continues to demand the remittance of its sterling balance and its exit from the sterling bloc. The Economist continues to urge the government not to give in to these febrile, hot-headed, excitable demands that the Egyptians be allowed to have their own money and spend it as they choose.

"Anglo-Swiss Payment Problems" You see? This is what I mean about Canadian exports of "boring" being in danger! The Swiss aren't buying enough British stuff. On the bright side, there has been an agreement with Jugoslavia about the compensation to be paid for nationalised British property, clearing the way for Britain to import "160,000 standards of sawn softwood, 325,000 cubic metres of hardwood, 100,000 piled cubic fathoms of pit wood, quantities of sleepers, veneers, and other timber products," which is a very large quantity of total British imports of piled cubic fathoms, etc. On the bright side, Canada may get $2.50 a bushel for wheat exported to Britain, above the current Chicago price of $2.30, in way of compensation for delivering what at a discount price in previous years of the contract. Or it may not, as Britain can't afford it and the American bumper crop needs a buyer, and a fall in prices will result in a decline in the parity price that determines the Americans' minimum prices for agricultural goods, which will reduce American farm subsidies and ease pressure on the budget in the slump that may or may not be on. (Ronnie counts her tips: No "not" here!) Speaking of which, oil prices continue to fall as the American shortage ebbs away, while coal prices at Cardiff wharf are high for exports only. 

"Trends in British Film Production" The 45% quota cannot be met from British film production, which is not increasing fast enough to meet demand, with 1063 cinemas deemed to have enough British film to meet demand, and 2,441 seeking relief, of which so far 305 have been approved, 800 rejected. Most of the reduced quotas are still substantial (30%). The good news is that production is becoming more efficient, with the he number of weeks required to film a feature declining from 14 to 12 and a half weeks last year.

A spot on "Natural rubber's future" reluctantly admits that it is actually pretty bright, which is good since it is a healthy share of sterling bloc exports to America, and also because cars with natural rubber tires kill fewer people. I mention that to lead into a nice bit about the improvement in the British balance of trade that actually has some facts. Beats covering Uruguayan water works and urban railways bonds issues again. 

Flight, 6 January 1949


"RAF Recruiting" The RAF is as important as the Navy used to be, and it is NOT FAIR that the Air Estimates aren't passed without comment no matter how large they are, because it's NOT FAIR, and it leads to men not joining up with the RAF. 

"Rockets to the Rescue" On the fourth attempt, after a B-17 was lost trying to make a rescue pickup and after the glider skyhook disappointment and the Navy helicopter failure, the Air Force has managed to save the twelve airmen stranded on the Greenland ice cap when their Dakotas went down, using another Dakota, this one with undercarriage skis and rocket-assisted takeoff. The Air Force is very pleased that it manged to pre-empt the carrier-borne rescue effort, while the Navy is happy to make fun of B-17s.

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK - Venom 3,
CC BY 2.0,
"Canada's Defence Plans" Canada is spending more on defence than ever before. Flight is sad that Canada has decided to build the P-86 under license, and not the Vampire, even though Defence Minister Claxton politely said that the Vampire is still probably the best jet fighter in the world. This perks Flight right up, as it suggests that the appearance of the newest Goblin, the DGN.4, which probably gives more than 3000lb thrust, means that a new and improved Vampire is probably on the way. 

"A Ferocious Breed: Hitting Power and 'Toughness' Characterise the Modern Line of Single-Seat Strike Aircraft" The headline news is that the Navy has cancelled the Martin AM-1 Mauler and announced that a prototype took off from a carrier deck carrying three(!) torpedoes and some rockets, sort of as a consolation to Martin for not getting the production order. But that's pretty boring to report, and, anyway, it would mean Flight praising an American plane on the straight, so instead here's a story that includes the Firebrand, which is also a single-seat strike aircraft. It might not be able to lift three torpedoes, but it is very "tough," can go 350mph, and would be faster were it not for its dive brakes. Later, there will also be the Westland Wyvern, which will also only carry one torpedo, but it will be a 20" type, which is that much thicker  than the Mauler's 3 18." Also, there are other British naval fighters, and the Douglas Skyraider is quite nice and can also carry three torpedoes. As of the writing of this article, the Mauler cancellation had not been announced, so it is mentioned that 210 have been ordered for the Midway-class carriers, which are the only ships large enough for its ridiculous 21,000lbs gross weight and R-4360 engine. ("Ridiculous" is Reggie's word. He thinks that at that size you've gone far past the point where you should be putting in two engines, just for safety.) 

Air Commodore E. L. Howard-Williams, M. C. p.s.a., M.A. (Oxon), M. A. (CAntab), D.I.C. (London), "Don't Push Off, Jack: Reasons for the Present Difficulties in the RAF" Proper bibliographic practice says that you omit all the titles, never mind the alphabet after the name, but Dr. Howard-Williams is so precious that I am breaking the rules. Yes, I am a rule-breaker, a scoff-law, an enfant terrible. Well, okay, that last isn't quite right. The last article has a tiny little Harold King credit at the bottom, which I thought I might mention because of the usual, tedious "historical" section at the beginning. Then I decided not to, because it was quite restrained for King, so hurrah for him. But, then, this one started with a history lesson, so I have taken the gloves off! (Still, hurrah for King. Perhaps he's learning.) Once I've staggered and blundered through the Way Things Used To Be, we finally arrive at something like a point, which is that the cure for poor recruiting is to stop mollycoddling the lads, and give them a nice funeral when they die a lot. Maybe I should do an MA. It can't be that hard! 

Civil Aviation News

RAF Tengah is to be developed into a proper international airport, after Changi was proved to have unstable subsoil. QANTAS made a profit last year. British Commonwealth Pacific Airways will be flying 4 long-range DC-6s on its Vancouver-San Francisco-Honolulu-Canton Island-Fiji-Sydney/Auckland service. They are 48-seaters with a crew of nine, including 3 pilots, a flight engineer, radio operator, navigator, purser and two stewardesses. 37 bunks will be available on conversion, and total flying time will be on the order of 26 hours 39 minutes, down from the current 38 as flown by the Skymasters of Pan-American and Canadian Pacific. The fare will be  £150. As TCA adds North Stars, its DC-3s continue to be relegated to "provincial"routes. (From a mention in Aviation Week, I know that includes a Vancouver-Seattle service.) BOAC continues to proceed with replacing the Hythes on the Kangaroo Route with Constellations. "Eventually" says Flight. By the end of next month, says Aviation Week. Oh, no!  BOAC is quite chuffed that it got a second-hand Constellation for a third of the price of a new one, and reminds everyone that all services at Dorval and also New York will be closed and moved to the UK very soon. 

Chartered airlines continue to fly people and cargo here and there, with a Curtiss Commando recently carrying a load of war brides from Britain to America and oil companies sending oil things to oil fields. 

"1949 Filton Fashion" Filton has a giant airfield now, just in case you need a giant airfield. There's a Brabazon there, and it is huge. Very big. So big. It has giant Centaurus engines, which give a total of 20,000hp, which is just so much horsepower, all of which goes through common reduction gear boxes to Rotol co-axial airscrews, which are just the thing for my next 18 hour flight over the Atlantic. (Reggie says: "Over my dead body!") This isn't really an article so much as an excuse for some pictures of the Brabazon, and the same "article" which is about some photographs of Paris taken from a balloon in 1858, is much the same.

"Barracuda Come-Back" Remember when everyone joked and laughed about the Barracuda? I don't, although perhaps there were some lines about all the flaps and slats. Anyway, who is laughing now that it is back in service. Flight doesn't say why, and I forgot to ask Reggie about it, but it does hope that they won't be back for long. 

Captain David Brice, "Rush Job to Singapore: Transporting the Palestine Police Force by Yorks and Skymaster to Malaya" Captain Brice was with the chartered airline that flew all four hundred of the Palestine Police Force to Singapore recently in two Yorks and a Skymaster. The Yorks, with 40 seats, could only fly so far due to lack of crew quarters or sleeping facilities, but a relief crew was sent to Karachi. The Skymaster, on the other hand, flew non-stop except for refuelling, four times, for 91 hours in the air out of 110 operational. The plane flew with a double crew, and feeding the passengers was a challenge, as was flying over the active war zone in Syria and the monsoon season in India and Burma. Captain Brice is sad that, back in the war, there were 2000ft runways everywhere, open 24 hours a day, with BABS, SBA, VHF, HF, MF, "Sandra" and all other aids, whereas today it is cracking tarmac with cattle on the runways and aerials blown down. Though that sounds like Basra, as by the time he reached Karachi, everything was in order, and some Indian engineers even fixed the retraction-strut fairing that had gotten tangled in the nosewheel. He has a nice picture of the grueling laylover in Bangkok before he took the wheel to fly into Singapore that makes me smile and think of Reggie, who so rarely complains. I mention that mainly to get to the trip back, and a note about how the lightly loaded Skymaster could take off at only 56,000lbs, and therefore cruise all the way to Calcutta, skipping Bangkok, at 110 Imperial gallons per hour, 170 knots, flying 11 hours 5 minutes and landing with 333 gallons still in the tanks. Thanks to this and another long cruise to Karachi, Brice's Skymaster lapped a KLM Constellation, which it originally encountered , westbound, in Calcutta two days previous! They're not kidding when they say that the monsoon hampers commercial aviation!

. . . Though, to be fair, I hear that KLM is having a lot of trouble working with airport authorities in India right now, because India is boiling over Indonesia.

Here and There

For some reason it is news that a British company is running a car ferry service. I guess it is new because it is to France instead of the Isle of Wight, and uses Bristol Freighters? Flight has set the subject for the first Dorothy Spicer Memorial Essay. It is to be on large aircraft controls. The Prime Minister of New Zealand visited the Shorts works in Belfast and said something nice about flying boats on occasion of being presented with the four new Solents that New Zealand is stuck with buying. Flight is over the moon. The Air-N-Oil Shock Absorbing System is the perfect oil-and-air oleo system for small plane undercarriages that will soon overtake the industry, says the people who are trying to sell it. Trans-Canadian Airlines has a new director of public relations, Mr. R. McInnes. As I recall, the reason that the last Director of Public Relations left the company has never been made public.  The air section of the Navigation Exhibit of the Royal Geographic Society had many interesting exhibits, including an old Hadley's Quadrant, "the forerunner of the modern sextant."

"Thoughts on All-Wing Transports" All-wing transports would be better than existing transports, because they have low drag. The drawback is that they tend to go nose or tail down and fall straight out of the sky, which passengers don't like. But Northrop has probably fixed that with elevons and aile-elevators considering that the USAF has ordered thirty of them, so everything is fine.

From All Quarters

Alas, Buch fails to rise above contemporaries
South Africa is buying Vampires, the latest Vickers supersonic test rocket reached a verified Mach 1.36. The American aviation industry is concerned that there will be a shortage of 100 octane fuel due to armed forces demand. A number of people have left the board of Blackburn according to the Annual General Meeting. Airesearch Manufacturing has announced a gas turbine self-starting system, with a little electric motor that spins up the turbine. Plexeal, Ltd. has announced a new gasket made of the same material, a very thin aluminum lamination separated by skins of plastic resin. It is the best high pressure seal yet, and "involves"French and British patents.

A Book Review section pops up, a month late for those of us looking for stocking stuffers, grumble, grumble. W. A. Dickson's Aircraft: From Airships to Jet Propulsion is actually about Vickers aircraft, and is privately published by Vickers, and isn't even complete, although it is a very nice volume, suitable for gifts. HMSO has a page-turneer about German Gas Turbine Development duirng the Period 1939--45 out. It is concise and very useful. Alan Buch's Fly With the Pilot is for students who want to hear more about aviation. What student doesn't? Even the girls love stewardesses!


Lord Riverdale. Looking quite avuncular, I think.
It's his standard expression, and, when you look
at him in the Google Images gallery, a powerful
contrast to his . . uncle?
D. G. H. thinks that "helicopter fire tenders" are a splendid idea. G. Sandys-Lumsdaine, who was unfortunately too young to object to his parents' marriage, and has to bear the shame very time he signs his name, thinks that the "fighting services" are being "dangerously neglected." It might be about recruiting, or the Plaestine situation, or I don't know what else. "W/C," rtd, a Halton apprentice of 1926 vintage, in other words, someone not over-aged in grade, writes to point out that blaming the young for not turning out because they are "worse than their fathers" is probably not correct, bad psychology, and showing complete "bankruptcy of ideas." He points out that recruiting for the much larger post-war RAF is going to be harder because they need more men! No! Really! This needs to be pointed out! Also, unemployment is now lower. This, also, is a true fact! He pleads for politics to be taken out of it. Yes, the Socialist government did accelerate the release schedule, but the whole thing has been much better managed than after the last war, and the service survived that. He also thinks that Joubert's memories of the prewar life might be a bit faulty in some respects. He also has a great deal to say that sounds like personal grievances about his forced retirement that are hard to judge if he doesn't sign his name; perhaps wisest that he doesn't! Finally, Lord Riverdale (as in the comics!) writes to thank readers of Flight on behalf of the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The Economist, 8 January 1949


"Marshall Plan for Creditors?" I don't know if you've heard, but we're all doomed. The OEEC report on the four year plans of the Nineteen nations shows that they cannot achieve balanced trade with America by the time that the Marshall Plan ends in 1952, or probably ever, so civilisation will collapse in 1952. America needs a reverse Marshall Plan that will do something about its surplus. Which, I thought, was the Marshall Plan?

"Red Light in Israel" The Economist is worried that the Israelis are getting so bumptious that they are inevitably going to attack Egypt and/or Transjordan so much that those countries invoke their alliances with Britain, meaning that Britain will have to go to war with Israel, which will upset the Israelis and the Americans, because some people think that the British are anti-Semitic for some reason. Jewish arms have so far outstripped Arab. This was not true when the last truce ended, but in the mean time, the arms embargo has favoured the Israelis, because eastern Europe has sold weapons to anyone who has the money, and the Israelis have the money. At the start of the truce, Israel had 40 aircraft, of which only 8 were warplanes. In December, it had 110, 40 of them warplanes, 40 of them brand-new Messerschmidt 109s. The only solution is for Britain to lean on Transjordan and Israel to accept their losses, and for Washington to lean on Israel to settle for what it has won and stop advancing.
It's going to be a squadron of IAF Spitfires that cause the problem. By Oren Rozen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
"Schools and Examinations" Did you hear about the "School Certificate Controversy that is convulsing the educational world?" It's got to be pretty obscure if even The Economist will concede that Overseas readers, and even many in this country, will first need to be told what the argument is about . . ."  The British have an exam that students have to take on graduation, or just before graduation, I'd have to read whole entire sentences to be sure. Some schools don't like it. The Government was going to fix it. The Government mucked that up. Now the Minister has mucked it up more, and it will cause social revolution and the end of international trade in 1952 . . . No, wait, that's another crisis.

"Malays and Communists" Remember that little war against Communist terrorists in Malaya? It's going very well, so don't worry your pretty little head about it, and, anyway, the Dutch are worse. This is worth noting because the Malays live in Indonesia, too, where they are upset at those other European colonisers, so it is just as well that the Malays don't like Communists (Ronnie checks notes, recalls that "the Communists" are otherwise known as "overseas Chinese. "Oh," Ronnie goes. "Oh.") Hopefully, if Malays continue not liking Communists, as see above, the Communists won't be able to use their devious wiles to win elections if they lose wars, which might put them in a position to cut off Sterling Area rubber and tin. As to why that might happen, the Chinese have advanced their interests in Malaya since the beginning of the war by growing all the rice that Malaya was no longer able to buy from Burma. The Malays are fine with not starving, less happy with the idea of giving up land title to Chinese rice growers, on account of which the disappointed Chinese tenants turned to Communism.  Also, Chinese traders are grasping cheats and Chinese labour union organisers are . . . well, organising. By fixing all of these problems, the perfectly reasonable Malayan hostility to their Chinese compatriots will be relieved, leaving Malays to rule Malaya and the Chinese to work, resulting in tin and rubber.

. . . And The Economist wonders why the Israelis have such a low opinion of the British.

Notes of the Week

"Ulster Talks" On resort to a map, I learned that "Ulster" is the part of Ireland that is in Britain, and not Ireland. This is confusing, and you would think that someone would fix that, and that the Talks would be about that.  They are not. As far as I can tell, they are about America being upset about a plan to saw Ireland apart at the old provincial boundaries of "Ulster" and floating the bit to the north of it over to Britain, where it can snuggle up against Liverpool and . . . . The London bus strike and British railway strike are now off, as union leadership has been able to corral the membership, one way or the other, while off and away in Brussels, the OEEC Governing Council, having barely put the planning of the first year of the Marshall Plan to bed, has moved on to the next. The Economist squints at the first outlines and decides that it is too optimistic about next year's harvest and growth in industrial output, and that therefore the end of civilisation might be comfortably rescheduled sooner. Hurrah! On the other hand, the Western European Union joint defence organisation seems to be coming together well --oh, wait there's a fly in the ornament there, too. Hurrah some more!
(Geoff Crowther: A Dramatic Re-enactment)

"Reluctant Rearmament" Even though everyone agrees that WWIII is just around the corner (What? What? WHAT?), the European powers aren't spending nearly enough on defence. France is spending only 31%, Holland 18%, while Belgium intends to spend only 7.25% of its budget on defence in 1949, as it has no dusky heathens to pacify.

Less relevant notes cover the alarming rise in murder and crime in Britain, the prompt response to this in the form of two executions to be carried out in the next week, the fact that the public is not satisfied by this and wants more action of some unspecified form, and the inconvenient fact that Scotland Yard says that the crime rate is actually falling, that the statistics show that capital punishment has no effect on crime, and that the real problem is that Scotland Yard is understrength,  as may be Britains Corps of Dentistry and Doctordom if the Ministry of Health continues savaging the earnings of the dentists starting at a barely-livable five thousand pounds a year, presumably leading on to similarly draconian action against the doctors.

"The British Household" A survey of British households show that many people are renting, that people are overcrowded, and that the average rent has fallen to 12% of income, which The Economist thinks is strange.

Further afield, The Koumintang and the Communists are lined up along the Yang-tse, the Communists determined to cross the river, take Nanking, and declare a national government. The Koumintang, meanwhile, is rumoured to be about to ditch Chiang and seek a peace that leaves them with south China. In India, a ceasefire in Kashmir will leave India in control of most of the state. The next step will be a UN-brokered plebiscite to divide the country, not followed by any Punjab-style massacres thanks to . . . something. Something will come up. Something always does, unless we're talking about the economic future of Europe. Down in Delhi, Prime Minister Nehru is throwing a party for all of the assorted Asian rulers and would-be rulers (Viet Nam and Indonesia are sending representatives of their guerillas-in-chief). Australia and New Zealand, but not Israel, are also invited. Condemning the Security Council for not stopping the Dutch will be on the agenda.

While in the Gold Coast, people are talking about constitutional reform and self-government, even though they don't deserve it because they are running the cocoa farming industry wrong. A news story about how Europe is running the wine farming business wrong (mainly having to do with duties on European wine entering Britain, if you want the gory details) does not conclude that Europeans are not fit for self-government. No, just a moment, it does, so it's not hypocritical, because The Economist thinks that Britain should be running both places. Even if it is not convinced that Britain should be running Britain, as witness the recent convention of 2700 schoolchildren in London to meet with their idols of the BBC Brain Trust, where they proceeded to clap, cheer and boo comments by the presenters.

"Sanctions on the Runways" India, Pakistan and Ceylon are incensed about Dutch behaviour in Indonesia, and have decided to sanction Dutch aircraft, which will not be allowed to overfly their territories. For one, thrilling moment, The Economist toys with the idea that this a  good thing, since it is a "neat" and "useful diplomatic weapon," before sadly coming around to the point that it is a violation of the International Air Agreement, which India and Pakistan cannot suspend on the grounds that they don't have to extend airport privileges to belligerents, on the grounds that what's happening in Indonesia isn't a real war. Therefore, the International Court in the Hague should take action to prevent a bad precedent from being set about not being able to repress the darkies.

"Rome's Deal with Moscow" Italy is settling its armistice with Russia for twenty-five millions largely Italian property already seized in the Balkans, and some used battleships, allowing Italy to trade industrial goods for Russian raw materials.  Big deal, The Economist says, without bringing up the Senate's occasional vapours over Marshall Plan recipients trading with the atheistical puppetmasters of Moscow.

The Russians will take any junk the Italians can scrape together and call it square
if it means a deal to sell a half million tons of grain for some turbines. 
Shorter Notes mentions that America has recognised the new South Korean government and will withdraw part of its occupation force. The Russians smugly point out that they have already withdrawn, and ahead of schedule, although The Economist points out that the UN Commission isn't going to be allowed to cross the 38th Parallel to look for stragglers. Also, Leeds University says that the total cost of a university education (to a university, from salaries to overhead) is up since 1938 from  £125 to £192. Communist newspapers on either side of the Jugoslav split are censoring each other, and there were 5000 British schoolchildren in public schools being paid for by local authorities, which would be more interesting if they weren't special cases from abnormal homes and not some kind of experiment in social equality in private education.

BOC's mascot deserves a revival. 

American Survey

"Servants of the Public" The Hoover Commission has leaked all of its essential findings, so it is time to have a serious debate about it, with extra debate once it is actually released, in March. Since the American editorial staff isn't addicted to reversing course in mid-sentence, it is possible to read pages of their writing in something like normal time and with something like normal concentration, so I did. I still don't have a clue what the big deal is. Maybe I should look up this "Hoover Commission" some time.

American Notes

"The State of the Union" The President's "new New Deal" includes provisions for everything from housing to health, but it his determination to push ahead with civil rights that will be most controversial. That and his request for $4 billion more in revenue, mainly from corporate taxes. Congress is preparing to receive the legislation enacting the President's New Deal (and his foreign policy, and his budget message) by appointing reliable Democrats to all relevant committees. That's not really news, but the manoeuvres required to make sure that erstwhile Dixiecrats don't gum up the works, is. Which is why we need multiple paragraphs to explain a change in the working of the House Rules Committee, whereas a mere sentence suffices to let us know that the new chair of the Ways and Means Committee is 85(!!!) years old. What a way to run a country.

Doughton is responsible for the Blue Ridge Parkway and "marihuana" prohibition, and will be Chair of the Ways and Means Committee until 1953.
29, actually. Wikipedia says that he was a member
of Phi Beta Thi, the Masons, Mooses and Elks
"Unrepentant Republicans" The Economist reports that the GOP is fighting over the reason it lost the election. The reason, of course, is that Dewey and the Eightieth Congress blew a difficult election by being assholes. Considering that the Congressional delegation has decided to re-elect Taft as chair of the policy committee over Lodge and the sidelining of Ives and Knowland, the explanation is going to be that Dewey lost by running too far to the left. "No change" doesn't sound like a good starting point for a party that has lost four Presidential elections in a row, but there you are. There are voices in the party calling for change, but they are people like Philip Willkie, Harold Stassen, Senator Baldwin and (sigh) Dewey. If you were wondering, Philip is Wendell Willkie's son, who is now a member of the Illinois state legislature in spite of being, I'm pretty sure, not more than 7 years old.

"Progress Report on Defence" If the Republican National Conference can have a meeting and discuss the possibility of changing and perhaps not rejecting everything the Democrats have done since 1932, there can also be a National Military Establishment report, which says that most of the damage done by too-rapid demobilisation has been repaired, and that unity is within sight  between the services. It would be "foolish to imagine that wars can be won by any Service operating independently," so they will have to share the money. The Economist observes that the Establishment has apparently not heard of the "Earth Satellite Vehicle Programme" of "space ships" which will spin around the earth until directed by radio to destroy the enemy. That is, it's heard of it, because it reads the same comic strips and listens to the same radio shows as the rest of us, but it is more concerned about the possibility of guided missiles destroying the world before the American trade surplus has its chance , and therefore concludes that wars must be deterred before they start, and that this is best accomplished by stacking up tanks, planes and warships to the point where everyone agrees that there are too many to have a war. Oh, and also, there should be an integrated service committee on guided missiles. 
This is the first result for a Google search for "Earth Satellite Vehicle Programme 1948 Comics," but I couldn't let the search pass without noticing this much more relevant and fascinating  blog post
"Aluminum and the Seaway" You've heard the allegations that Europeans are selling American aluminum bought with Marshall Plan dollars to Americans who can't get the metal because of ever-tightening rationing here. And why is aluminum short? Canada has had to cut back on production due to a shortage of electricity due to a drought, which is also cutting production in the northern United States. The electricity shortage will also close the Alcoa works at Massena. This is why Governor Dewey is pushing ahead with hydro-electric development along the St. Lawrence. He will save the country's saucepans, airplanes and the jobs of upstate New Yorkers. The State Department will have none of that, because it wants the full St. Lawrence Seaway, which is not wanted in New York. By tying demand for more electricity to the Seaway, the President believes that he can overcome New York's resistance, even though the Seaway is likely to be a . . .

I read this and I do not believe my eyes. The Seaway is a strategic liability in this day and age of Great Circle navigation because it will lead to a concentration of industry, which will lead to a concentration of attack --I assume that this means that once the Russians have atom-bomb tipped guided missiles, the factories that will spring up along the shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway will all go into the pot together with a single atomic blast. If that isn't the weakest argument ever put forward to save the New York railroads from competition, it will serve until something sillier comes along.  It does put the campaign against public hydroelectric into focus. At least I can finally see someone who might actually be hurt!

"Troubled Waters over Oil" Oil prices are falling, which is a thing to consider this week, because the US Attorney General, Tom Clark, asked the Supreme Court to extend the 1947 "tidewater" decision to Texas. That's the law that gives the Feds control over tidal waters, and the power to regulate the perhaps 10 billion barrels of oil that lie underwater between 40 and 130 miles off the coast of Texas. The implication is that the federal government will use its power to ensure that the oil is used "prudently," unlike the expected Texas policy

Shorter Notes mentions that Democratic Party fund raising is now in the black for 1948 as money poured in after the election, and that the strike rate continued to fall in 1948 from its 1946 high.

The World Overseas

"Iraq's Empty Exchequer" A correspondent recently in Baghdad returns with word that Iraq is a poor country, badly governed. This is news because Iraq is the last of the Arab powers still in the fight with Israel, or, at least, will be if the Israelis are allowed to finish the Egyptians off in the Negeb. But is Iraq actually in the fight? There are Iraqi troops at the front, paid for by squeezing the domestic Jewish community and the mandatory "Palestine" stamps, but no greater sacrifice is asked, especially of the rich. One might think that a purely lip-service war accompanied by low taxes and an approximately balanced budget might be taken as good governance, the sufferings of the Jews apart. But, no, the fact that external revenues have fallen with the blocking of the Haifa pipeline is evidence of a fiscal crisis beyond salvation because no-one will ever buy oil again. Uncle George points out that people have been fired; the kind of people who might talk to The Economist. 

"Nationalisation in Burma" A special correspondent is off to Burma to see how the Burmese are running things. Not well, it turns out. The Burmese government takes the position that it is cleaning up the untenable mess the British left them. For example, the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company somehow made its entire capitalisation back several times over when it was a British monopoly, and doesn't make as much money now that it has been nationalised; but that is obviously ridiculous, since the Flotilla wasn't a real monopoly, and charged low and perfectly reasonable fares, and its windfall profits are just that --they fell from the clear blue sky. The Burmah Oil Company doesn't think it will be able to get production back up to the prewar 17,000 barrels a day, and Burmese politicians know nothing about business and don't seem to care about anything except the village economy.

"Sweden's Long-Term Programme" Sweden isn't even a member of the OEEC, and it still has a long term programme. It's to make a lot of stuff and sell a lot of stuff, and thereby reduce its dollar deficit in a more sustainable way than with its current import quotas.  It will be spending almost a quarter of the gross national income on investment. This, along with the export drive, will cause inflation, which the Government will have to deal with somehow, although actual policy, with generous family allowances, relief on direct taxes and "obstinate" low interest rates, goes in the other direction. The Government's only concessions so far have been a commitment to a modest budget surplus and a small cut to the investment programme. It argues that higher interest rates will lead to higher housing costs and thus demands for wage increases. The Swedes need to recognise that they can't go on like this, and embrace Stafford Cripp's disinflationary policy, says The Economist.


C. M. Woodhouse points out that the Electoral College is a flawed instrument. Not only were the voices of the 2.5 million New Yorkers who preferred Truman to Dewey not heard, had they voted for Dewey (giving him 5 million more votes and a larger share of the national popular vote), Truman would still have won. P. F. Somerville points out that since the Conservatives and Liberals are united in opposing steel nationalisation, it is easily deduced that Britain needs Proportional Representation.

This is why people ignore electoral reformers.

Geoffrey Bracken has strong opinions about reforming the budget statements, and Lewis Einstein points out that party politics don't discomfit the poor Italian peasants in the parts of Italy he visits, where they are actually not poor at all. I guess the question is whether the peasants of Tuscany, who benefit from high agricultural prices and a vigorous black market, on the one hand, and  low taxes on the other, are in the same pickle as the peasants of other parts of the country. I think Sicily is often mentioned here? Gerald Haythorne writes to point out that plans to address London's cement shortage include a cement plant with a smokestack that will tower over Pevensey Castle, which is so obviously a bad thing he doesn't even need to explain why, and the scouring of 10,000 acres of gravel beds to a depth of twenty feet over the next 117 years, leaving the land "pitted and useless forever." Part of the land to be affected is in a National Park, and the Peaks District is a "countryside of dramatic beauty," and it's all awful.

Pevensey is very picturesque. It is Not Right. 


(No visit with The Economist of 1848(9) this week. Too bad. I was hoping to be told that Napoleon III was just what France needed, that aid for the Irish poor would destroy Free Enterprise, or that Britain didn't need a revolution, because it had one in 1688, and everything was fine now.)

Arnold Toynbee has Civilisation on Trial out. It's actually a collection of essays, including an "intellectual autobiography," which is not self-indulgent from a man who is as sought after by autograph hunters as Frank Sinatra.

So, yes, the brow doesn't get much more middle than that.

 Oh, yeah, the review. Something something Jeremiah. Yes, yes, I know that you and Uncle George didn't get much in the way of a Classical western education. He was a prophet in the Old Testament who said that things would end badly, and they did. Professor Toynbee thinks that civilisation will (probably) end badly, because it has twenty times before, and he doesn't want to bet against the trend. Which is what you get when you're allowed to make up your own definition of "civilisation" and "end."

Elisabeth Barker has Truce in the Balkans out. She thinks that the unpopular communist regimes in the Balkans have effectively countered public opinion, and will survive, and that the "borderlands" will continue to be "unstable" and a drain on American resources. M. P. Fogarty's Town and Country Planning is a book. The Labour Party's Feet on the Ground: A Study of the Western Union is also a book. It could be a book about how the Western Union is a good thing, but there are too many non-Socialist voters there, so it can't say that. It really can't say what the Western Union is. I'm sure it will be sorted out eventually.

The Business World

"Europe's Economic Task" If I had to set Europe an economic task, it would be to talk about economics without once talking about the dollar. But it's not. So, again, we have to hear that the OEEC plan calls for a 15% increase in output per man hour over the next four years, and that this bold assumption is doubtful, especially when capital investment spurs inflation, and that even if it is achieved, there are not the markets to absorb all of this production, which leaves internal trade, which does not generate dollars, and, anyway, Germany and the Benelux cheat. Also, the Europeans will want to export more to the UK, as prewar, when they had a current account surplus with Britain to partly balance the Sterling Area deficit and earn dollars against US imports. To repress inflation and hold down consumption, high taxes will be necessary.

From Gianni Toniolo, Europe's Golden Age, 1950-1973," Economic History Review 2 (1998): 252--67
Business Notes

The Exchequer Return for the first nine months of the year show a shrinking surplus, from a predicted £789 million for the full year to 273 million for nine months and rising expenditures. Income tax, the EPT and the Profits Tax have risen much less rapidly than predicted or even fallen, although excises and customs have risen slightly more than predicted, as have surtax, death duties and stamps. Meanwhile, Australia is setting harder terms for not cashing in its sterling surplus, the banks are showing rising gross earnings thanks to disinflation, and possibly higher net earnings. The bullion markets have gone quiet. Also very quiet is the payments agreement recently signed with Spain, which is not at all a Fascist country, and deserves to have a monetary agreement that will allow it to export things, and for tourists and emigres to pay for things in Spain.

The important thing, The Economist says, is to not be fooled into thinking this shows an increase in productivity
"Coal Output in 1948" Britain produced 11 1/2 million more tons of coal in 1948 than in 1947, reaching a final total of 208,415,500 tons. Industry has had all the coal promised, exports have been resumed, the work force is up. Success, right? Not a bit of it! The Economic Survey said that the minimum to be produced in 1948 was 211 million tons, and the reason for the shortfall is that there were not enough new workers, and, more importantly, voluntary absences are too high. A cure for that would have been of far more value than all of these footling increases in productivity per man and new machinery. A later note extends this discovery of increased output per man hour to other industries, but they are surely seasonal. (Cotton is also profiting and reinvesting, and here, too, troubling clouds are seen. Stockholders may be asked to forego dividends and the Government to forego tax revenues in order to fund the necessary capital investment.)

I have whiplash now.

"Transport Traffic and Losses" A new front has been opened in the battle for full technical efficeincy, as a £20 million loss is confidently awaited from British Rail.

Also, the price of fuel is down, and the price of lead is up.
Jack Northrop is a year out from forced retirement. In the fuss over t
the flying wing, it's easy to forget about this dog.

Flight, 13 January 1949


""Who Can Tell?" Writing in Aviation Week, Jack Northrop makes fun of various predictions made in the 28 April and 5 May 1938 issues of Flight, as showing how hard it is to predict the future. Flight isn't at all offended, and certainly isn't going to call attention to the embarrassment of the Northrop Pioneer.

"Nationalised Air Transport" J. W. S. Brancker gave a talk about nationalised air transport to the Institute of Transport this week. He did hs best to avoid politics, but Flight examines his comments carefully and finds evidence that Socialism is Bad.

"Ordering Direct" The Socialist Government has decided that, in the future, the airlines will be allowed to ordered directly from industry. Somehow, Flight manages to find this to be a mistake, though The Economist is quite pleased.

"The Palestine Outrage" Flight is white hot about the air fighting over Gaza last week. One thing we can agree on!

"Export Trainer: Substantial Argentine Order for Prentices: High-Altitude Operation Tests in India" Percival has sold about "£1,000,000-worth of Prentices" to Argentina. Argentina may also license produce Prentices, and India might do the same.

F. A. S. Brown, "Ground Crews of the RAF: An Airman's Views on Sir Philip Joubert's Diagnosis of the Airman's Psychology" Airmen do not actually like strict discipline. They like being well-run, which goes with good discipline, and may not be enough to overcome the fact that they, like all human beings, dislike "rigorous repression and harsh punishment." Go figure!

". . . By Any Other Name" This is Flight's weekly reminder that an American company is license producing the Rolls-Royce Nene. Now open your official Royal Aero Club hymbook to p. 1688 and sing "Jerusalem."
The page is made up with a book review of a thrilling book about RAF Mobile Exhibitions published by HMSO. That's His Majesty's Stationary Office, always chasing the best sellers.

"The Modern Autopilot: A Dissertation on the Fundamentals of Modern Automatic Pilot Design: Precis of a Paper Read to the Royal Aeronautical Society by F. W. Meredith"  Mr. Meredith, of RAE Farnborough, must be a modest man, because I couldn't find him in my handy Who's Who, and ended up thumbing through back issues just to give put initials at the front of his name --Flight calls him "Mr. Meredith" here, and that seemed to stick me with either being too formal or too distant. (Whenever I read a scientific paper that mentions a "Meredith," I know it's because the author couldn't be bothered to track down a citation. For shame!) Frank Meredith, for such is he, is the guy behind the Smiths Electric Autopilot, and since  there's been more than enough about that around here, I draw the curtain. Except to mention that he is harping on again about the lack of specialised British vacuum tubes again. To fill up the page, Flight inserts short bits about the good financial news reported at the annual general meetings of Callender's Cables and Smith and Sons, speaking of.

Here and There

Charles Lindbergh secretly visited the Berlin Airlift recently, but don't tell anyone, because it's a secret. Captain Yeager took the X-1 up "under its own power" for the first time this week, in other words, ascending on the rockets rather than being dropped from a B-29. It reached 23,000ft in less than two minutes, because it is a rocket. BEA's charter division is very pleased with itself for getting a Dakota with a replacement engine into the air within 55 minutes when a Lancastrian tanker grounded at Wunsdorf. That's why we're winning the Airlift! The Aero Club is putting on a colour film about air power at the clubhouse. It is very airminded. In Russia, airminded people are commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of Valeri Chkalov, while down Southeast Asia way, Douglas Bader and Mrs. Bader are touring in a Proctor doing something or the other about Anglo-Dutch Shell interests.

Civil Aviation News

Photo by Matthew Jones Photography
The Airspeed Ambassador's split flaps have been replaced by slotted flaps to give the 49 seat variant a takeoff distance of 1480yds, down from 1700. Maximum payload is now 11,645lbs, and Bristol promises that its Centaurus 661s will soon reach a maximum 3000hp rating. Aquila Airways has bought all twelve of BOAC's Hythe flying boats with the aim of running flying boat vacation cruises next summer at "approximately £10 a day per passenger including accommodation in the best hotels for several days at ports of call." BSAA had a crash in Brazil last week, but the plane is fine and only two people were killed, and they were foreigners, so it was hardly a big deal. In fairness to Flight, it only reads like that (and it does read like that: "A Spanish official and an Indian") because the story broke too late for a Leader. The Pacific Council for aviation is meeting in Auckland to discuss a new airport for Fiji. Renfrew Airport and the Clyde Trust are fighting about runway extensions. A BSAA survey party is off to South America to look at possible routes for the BSAA SR 45, when it comes into service. GCA is now available at Nutt's Corner, and Bremen Airport, closed by the Americans in June, has reopened as an international airport. It can still only handle DC-3s and equivalent twin-engined types, but everything else is modernised, so only runway extensions are left to be done.

"United They Stood" Flight is touched by the new Rolls-Royce memorial window at Derby.

This week's first pictorial is of Mosquitoes firing rockets at the Empire Air Armament School. The second is from the Greenland Dakota rescue, and are so nice that I'd clip and forward if it weren't for the fact that I'm reading the photostat copy because I can't find this week's issue on the newstand in San Francisco, or last week's either.

"Nothing To It" A very strange article that summarises another article by Captain Hiram Sheridan of American Airways, in The Saturday Evening Post, describing something called the "Sperry Zero Reader," which is an instrument consisting of a little silhouette of an aircraft on a dial, that, if you fly your plane such that the aircraft is "zeroed"  on the dial, the actual aircraft follows a preset, straight course without deviation. This is accomplished by "feeding" the Zero Reader from a gyroscope, Gyrosyn, radio altimeter, ILS or such, and so on. Essentially, you do no need to take in all of the other instruments, since the Zero Reader serves in their place. This is what Reggie is always calling for to make radar useful in the cockpit --a way to use it while you're flying the plane. I'm just confused that the story breaks in the Saturday Evening Post. Surely Sperry has something to say about it?

"Physiological Aspects of Flying: Some Effects of High Speed and High Altitude: Precis of a Paper Presented to the SAE National Aeronautical Meeting by DR. W. R. Lovelace" Dr. Lovelace briefly discusses goggle lenses, where current work focusses on screening out the glare of atomic blasts, in very little detail, before moving on to what he does know, "g-suits." Current g-suits, developed in haste during the war, are good to protect human beings from up to 7gs for up to 10 seconds. The ones he is working on will do much better, and extend the human ability to function to much higher accelerations, both linear and radial. The suit is also the first line of defence against decompression, giving Lovelace some insight into work on pressurisation (those tunnels in the B-29 and B-36 don't work, he thinks), decompression, and high speed ejection. There's actually quite a bit of detail here, as bailing out at 600mph is very hard on the human body, but not as many solutions yet, I gather. I  hope there are before the Navy gets big jets! He is looking forward to research into carbon dioxide poisoning.

"News From Italy" A brief review of new Italian aircraft like the Ambrosini S. 1001 Grifo and P. 512.

"Aviation Analysis: A Personal Expression of Opinion on the Effect of Nationalisation of Civil Aviation in Great Britain and a Brief Review of Those Events which led to Government Control of the Airlines: Precis of a Paper Given to the Metropolitan Section of the Institute of Transport by John Brancker" I think that the Leader's summary will serve.

"Modern Electrical Systems: Use of High-Voltage Supplies on Large Civil Types: A New Battery Design" I thought this was all sorted out! We were going to use engine-supplied AC on large aircraft! Oh, wait, "a new battery . . . "Ha! You almost fooled me into reading an ad for the Exide ZCS 24v battery, as installed in the Handley Page Hermes, with its two three-phase Rotax alternators giving 120v output rectified by selenium rectifiers with a separate 115v AC system for the radar and gyro services supplied by two motor generators operating from the DC 120v supply. The Exide battery "balances" the supply.


E. S. Greenwood, the Technical Sales Manager at Gloser, writes in to say that the Derwent Meteor climbs even faster than Flight says, and that is very fast indeed. H. A. Marsh is upset at Robert Carling for being mean about helicopters. "5055" is upset at the RAF's new standard altimeter settings. Stanley Udale isn't very good at  making his point, but is very clear that the Brabazon and SR 45 are too big to pay. A. V. Cleaver thinks that "Favonius" has greatly exaggerated the economic advantage of turboprops versus jet engines by neglecting to consider engine weight, and, in particular, that they have no advantages at all over 500mph, even with efficient blades. Simon Warrender continues the last ditch battle for the flying boat by talking about the landplane's "hidden subsidy" and the fact that Britain needs flying boats because it is a maritime nation. Boats=sea=island=word salad.

I usually ignore The Economist after the second half of the month, but the number for the 15th has The Economists fiery response to the Gaza air fight. It's not a call for war, but it is upset. I don't see much else of note except the indignation in France over the suggestion that Dr. Joliot-Curie shouldn't be running the French Atomic Energy Commission. It turns out that this is of more moment than The Economist's snarling turn on the Ministry of Housing for daring to produce too many three-bedroom houses when most households are four persons or fewer; or the abolition of the Natives' Representative Council in South Africa; or rumblings from the New York Times that Truman's proposal that the government build steel plants if industry won't is "nationalisation" and "socialism."

Truman's proposed Fair Deal 1949/50 budgets

For it turns out that the news that France has an operating, chain-reacting nuclear pile at Fort de Chatillon is a "significant change in the status of atomic energy as a factor in current political affairs." The Anglo-Saxon powers have had piles since 1943, which they have used to make plutonium and research atomic weapons. They have restricted information about them and made nuclear knowledge secret. The French  have had no access to this information. This is important. The exact number of neutrons produced by the average fission of U-235 and plutonium, and those neutrons' distribution in energy and time are state secrets. Now that the French have a neutron flux, those secrets are theirs for a few weeks work. Also, they only spent a twentieth as the Manhattan Project, although this comparison isn't quite accurate, as the Project included a bomb production line. What they will do with it is unknown. What their Communist scientists will do with it is also unknown. The Economist grumpily allows that he probably won't hand it over to Russia. The question is, if the French can get there so quickly, can the Russians? The French had the advantage of some scientists and engineers who worked at Chalk River, which allowed them to imbibe Britain's unique secret of "operational research," which the French could never have come up with themselves, because, well, you know those French.

The Russians, presumably equally disorganised and lacking the brains of a Joliot-Curie, may be well behind the French. Or not.

In other news, there is a developing world shortage of nitrogen (for fertiliser), and The Economist of 1849 comes out in defence of the 13-hour day, because someone has to be the asshole now that that one factory cut the work day down to an impractical 10.

Business Roundup leads off with a long for-and-against on the question of the "Crash of '49." Are we going into a business slump, or not? The Christmas season was disappointing, layoffs and plant closings are back in the news, and the stock market has been in a slump for months. On the other hand, investment continues strong and there are signs of steady demand. On the other hand again, inflation is over, they say, and so is the adjustment it brought. I don't really have an opinion, other than being glad that this is so quick to summarise. After all, we'll know one way or the other in a few months, and I hope you're not relying on me for anything other than hot technology investment tips!
The one confusing factor is the arms buildup. Many economists don't think it can be carried much further without price and supply controls. Can the struggle for freedom abroad be conducted by limited government at home? Can America's growing economy produce all the hyperbole its press so desperately needs?

Industrial and Corporate News of the Month

Fortune has more insight into the Massena layoffs, which were dictated by the War Assets Administration because Alcoa was the only bidder, but selling it as an operating concern would strengthen Alcoa's alleged monopoly. It's alleged because Reynolds and Permanente have about the same share of production, but perhaps real because Alcoa does more alloy. Massena will have to remain at two-thirds capacity for five years, while Alcoa's rivals catch up, unless there is a national emergency.

Consolidated Vultee has sold its Stinson subsidiary to Piper. Publicker has bought a Cuban molasses interest, helping it break into the synthetic alcohol market and promising cheaper anti-freeze this winter. Public utility holding company Chade is trying to liquidate itself in Spain and re-establish itself in Luxembourg before the Spanish government can take it over, and, with it, its illiquid Argentine assets, which can be made to make money, I guess. It all sounds incredibly shady, with a side order of Fascism. The radio companies and movie studios keep putting money into television. The Chesapeake and Ohio is issuing stocks to fund postwar expansion, and Eastman-Kodak is making a huge bonus issue to retain its workforce. CAbot of Boston will build a carbon-black plant in Liverpool, after ironing out the details with the British and the ECA. Du Pont believes that trichloroethylene has the prospect of revolutionising soybean oil extraction by producing it in small, three man plants that be set up in rural areas. Merck has found a way of making the new vitamin, B-12, from mold. American Cynamid has a new way of cleaning coal, while the American Gas Association is celebrating Electric Power and Light of Boston's discovery that a low-grade bunker oil can produce 83% as much gas as 12-cents-a-gallon premium oil.  The clothespeg industry says that Swedish exports are putting them out of business.

Blue for mood.
Fortune Survey, renamed The Executive Forecast this month, because it polled executives, shows that most business executives now expect a slump in 1949.

Per the obit, Professor Wilfred Ellsworth Binkley collapsed
and died while invigilating a final examination at Ohio
Northwestern University on  7 December 1962 at the age of
82, having taught there since 1921. Dr. Binkley appearsto have been a
formidable author of textbooks
 and his assessment of the  Gilded Age
GOP certainly has the advantage of novelty. 
Fortune's Wheel starts as a letters column. Professor Herbert Stein didn't like Professor Orton's "Business and Ethics" article. Well, I didn't like it either, but I also didn't read it very carefully. I did read the extracts of Stein's letter published here, and I'm none the wiser, except that Stein thinks that Orton is dumb. Everyone liked Russell Leffington's "How to Control Inflation," which isn't surprising since it was one of those "more free enterprise lower government spending what about the deficit" articles that business loves.

Moving on to commenting in the issue, Fortune says that the article about the women's fashion industry is entirely anonymous because, well, you know women. Honestly. What would the papers do without easy stereotypes? This month sees a long article about how Mark Hanna's old GOP was actually the party of the working man, and another by Professor Archibald Cox about how labour law can move on from Taft-Hartley. About the first I have such withering contempt that I won't even mention the author's name. The second sounds like  a . . . worthy effort. File it with books on Town and Country Planning, I'm saying.

"The Atom and the Businessman" The AEC was founded two years ago on the assumption that the atom was going to be used as much for peace as for war, to "increase the standard of living" and "promote world peace." So far, it has mainly promoted world peace by discouraging atomic war. There is Buck Rogers talk of Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft and for submarines, but mainly it is about atom bombs, which require production on a fabulous scale.

Insofar as business has anything invested in this, it is as contractors to the AEC, running various facilities from the Hanford reprocessing plant to the "diverse matters" at GE Shenectady that have my curiosity whetted. No private money has been invested in atomic energy yet. Will there be atomic power? Probably, and soon. The British are already drawing 100kW off their pile, but the AEC wants something more ambitious, a "breeder pile" that "tricks" a fissioning atom of U-235 into producing more than one atom of plutonium out of naturally unreactive U-238, thereby "breeding" more fuel from the scarce U-235. The same trick will also make fissionable U-233 out of Thorium-232. All of this is possible, but the engineering challenges are formidable. AEC is cooperating with a limited set of companies, including du Pont, Allied Chemical and Dye, Tennessee Eastman, Dow, American Cynamid, Monsanto, and Kellex to develop this potential.

The contractors are all chemical companies, because chemistry is mostly what AEC needs --chemistry to get the fissionable material out of the U-238. GE operates, but did not build, Hanford. (That was done by du Pont.) The transition was rocky, as du Pont had to come back and tell GE that it needed to put in a better management team. Hanford now has 10% of GE's technical work force and 5% of the total(!)

Will there ever be a private atomic interest? Many people believe that private business has no place running atomic energy plants, so if private business comes in, it will be because the AEC has discovered what Henry James failed to find, a "moral equivalent of war" that will bind men's diverse interests together "while there is still even a limited peace on Earth." It seems a stretch to call the way we generate electric power a "moral equivalent of war!"

Hungry Horse Dam. 
"The Next Budget" Fortune covers the 1949/50 budget. Fortune being a bit behind The Economist,  I don't need to say very much except to note that Fortune just can't leave China alone, singling it out as likely to cost a lot more than in 1948, as the anti-communist government receives $600 million, up from $350 million, perhaps at the expense of the rest of the foreign aid budget. Budget cuts to cover the costs of foreign aid and defence seems necessary. Where can they come from? Rural electrification suddenly appears as an unnecessary extravagance, along with soil conservation and hydroelectric work. To make that argument one has to suddenly discover that we don't need electricity to run our industry, but if the dams are in the wrong place, this isn't a problem. All public works are inappropriate and "counter cyclical" during a boom. Do the writers talk to each other? I thought we were entering a slump! If the Hungry Horse Dam can't be stopped, perhaps the irrigation and reclamation projects associated with it, can be. Do we really need to double cropland in the interior Pacific Northwest when there are bumper crops and the government is holding farm prices up? That's a good question, actually. In sum, we have to cut a lot of spending if we are going to win the Cold War abroad without "creeping socialisation" at home.

Speaking of the terrors of creeping socialisation or some such, there's an article on the "depreciation crisis" that might be appreciated by those who do not deprecate depreciation. (Back translate to see how witty your future daughter in law can be!)

"The Southwest Water Shortage" Water works and dams may be needed to end water shortages in west Texas, and on up into Oklahoma and Kansas, which isn't what I would call "Southwest."

"The Not-so-Fair-Trade-Laws" Fair Trade laws allow the state to impose a limit on the retail price of goods supplied to druggists, and it looks like it will set a trend in industry. Fortune does not approve.

"Adam Smith on 7th Avenue" A fascinating article about the rags business in New York that I know will bore you to tears. 

Which is too bad, because it is a fascinating exploration of an industry where concentration and efficiency are terrible ideas.

"Champion Paper" This week's featured business is a pulp and paper company anchored in the southern American states, with nothing to do with your current project of making pulp and paper out of Vancouver Island trees.

"The Scrapmen" And the industry covered this month is the scrap steel business. Did you know that the total steel "fabric" of America is on the order of a billion tons, and that 3%  of that is scrapped every year? The scrapmen have been collecting a "harvest" of discarded steel for three generations now. Grandfather, a man like Hirsch Luria, learned the trade in his father's junk wagon, while the  third generation wears suits and figures that it knows what it is doing and can be trusted to bring it in. The steel industry heartily disagrees, and accuses the scrapmen of "top dressing" the deliveries with good quality material, while the scrapmen point out that they have little control over the local scrap yards from which they buy. Apparently the industry is
Apparently the industry is "shot through with caste," with one Hiram Winternitz, of Charles Dreifus, Co., of Philadelphia, representing the "Brahmin" class, going to the orchestra and sending his daughters to Bryn Mawr. He began premed at Johns Hopkins, but returned to work in the family business, although he assures Fortune that he is purely a broker, and has no scrap yard experience.

Schiavonne's, on the other hand, is very efficient, and Alex Miller, the Vice-President of Columbia Iron and Metal is the "bizarre" example of a first-generation scrap dealer who has broken into the business, with no more of a leg up than was provided by his father the fabulously wealthy truck fleet operator. (I made the "fabulously wealthy" part up. It's a lot less disconcerting than his actual moonlighting at the Department of Commerce.)

Next up is an article about window dressing, which is more than just department stores. One picture shows a gas station, another Pittsburgh Glass.

"The Next Cycle in Automobile Engines: The Postwar Engine is Emerging in Another Great Reach for More Power and Efficiency"

Chrysler's team launched the new bid for high compression engine, back in the day, and helped the gasoline engine go from  a curiosity to a mainstay, but WWII showed that the process had plenty of room to continue. New aviation fuels promised lighter and more economical engines. It has been a disappointment so far, four years into the peace, but Cadillac's high compression engine shows what can be accomplished, breaking the tape with a "tangible, though small, increase in compression for the first time since 1939."

I make fun of the sleeve valve a lot, but the key
turns out to be higher compression without
higher octane ratings by detailed engineering to
reduce predetonation. 
The new Cadillac will be able to go from "zero to 70" in a matter of seconds, and because the engine is 200lbs lighter, the car will be more manouverable and easier to steer. (RONNIE WANTS!) Much of the current progress depends on high octane gasoline, which isn't nearly as plentiful as it was expected to be, due to the catalytic cracking plants having been overtaken by demand for all kinds of new petroleum products. The industry can't afford to build even more refineries. By 1952, only 20% of production run will be 97 octane, the rest being regular, leaded 83 octane. This will be a considerable advance on the present, but still a limit on the dreams of the engineer. Introducing a third grade of gasoline at US gas stations will also mean a third pump, at prohibitive cost all the way up from station to refinery. But there are other possibilities. While running US cars on 100 octane gas promises a 40% fuel economy, dual fuel (two separate fuel systems, one of regular and one of high octane gas, in each car) would give most of those advantages without making the same demands on the refining industry. Thompson Product's Vitameter will inject additive (alcohol, water, tetraethyl lead) at the carburettor for a similar improvement without the need for dual fuel lines and gas tanks. Continental is offering air-cooled engines that will save weight, though not on anything as small as a passenger car. Gas turbine engines, if their fantastic fuel consumption could be cut down, would be a serious threat to the piston engine.

The Law section has an interesting alternate take on people's right to control reproduction of their image on television.  Performers do deserve to get paid, for all the overreaching by Petrillo and fight promoters!

Books and Ideas

A "blockbuster in the wilderness" is Reinold NoyesEconomic Man in Relation to His Natural Environment. It is 500 pages of "physiology," dedicated do showing that all human wants can be derived from  biological theory, so that a materialist understanding of physiology explains economics, or, more specifically, the theory of value, better than Mills, Jevon, and Hicks, who are the big names in the field. The reviewer, Kenneth G. Boulding, is a bit bewildered and very exasperated. I'm just bewildered. Edmund P. Learned's Pricing of Gasoline: A Case Study, shows that irresistible competitive forces rule the market for gasoline, and all of that worry about the Standard Oil monopoly is silly. A. D. H. Kaplan's A Research Study of the Committee for Economic Development shows that small business is a good thing and should be encouraged. Even Fortune thinks that's a bit thin. "Ideas" means covering interesting articles, of which A. G. Black's "Iranian Agriculture: Present and Prospective" in the Journal of Farm Economics probably stands out by saying that what is needed is not grand plans but rather cracking down on the  abuses of feudal landlords and feeding the workforce better.

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