Saturday, May 4, 2019

Postblogging Technology, March 1949, I: When Roosevelt Bombed Pearl Harbour

R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

Thank you so much for putting Mr. Sutter on the case! It turns out that this was a particular bit of research for which he was well suited. Not as a distinguished member of the California bar, as you would think, but as a man. It turns out that the archives were withholding a file because they thought it would give me the vapours or something. 

Just to review, I've been trying to find out why Horace Stevens didn't show up for Binger Hermann's trial in Portland in January of 1910. It's a bit of a puzzler, and for three years I thought I was going to ask either Stevens or his family, but I couldn't find the man! It seems hard to believe that he just disappeared, but last year, after one too many detective movies, I finally decided to look at the obvious other avenue --"Unidentified corpses of 1910." It was a pretty long shot, but Mr. V. has some friends who write detective novels, which is just as good as actually being a detective, if you ask me. They disabused me of the idea of some desperado shooting Stevens on the train to Portland and heaving the body out of the windows. Dramatic, I know, but reading the biographies of the men of the Land Scandal puts you in the way of thinking of these things. Anyway, it turns out that it's harder than it seems, and the body usually ends up on the tracks, attracting attention. Better, I was told, to pack a big, empty trunk. 

Bodies showing up in trunks, you say? Well, yes. Specifically, in Los Angeles, in early February. Said trunk was weighted with some dumb-bell plates and wrapped in a terrycloth Turkish bath towel, and thrown in Buena Vista Lake, but floated to the surface. a Los Angeles detective took charge (I'm not sure why, since the body was turned over to state troopers out of Bakersfield) and proceeded to generate a thick, thick file by going around every boxing gym in Los Angeles looking for the man's supposed homosexual lover, on the basis of a violent murder in a fit of jealous rage, etc, etc. The file included many pictures of a decayed, naked male body, since the detective had to prove a violent death, and there was evidence of a beating and death by asphyxiation. Hence the womanly vapours. 

Since I requested the file the week before the attempted "hit," and was, in fact, there to see it, not knowing that the clerks were going to claim that it had been lost, it'll do as a movie-plot explanation that I was ordered rubbed-out because it is a vital clue. Well, it or one of the other 132 files in the fasicle, but this is the biggest and most interesting one, so there's that. 

(Who else is surprised to hear a moderate Republican attributing defeat in 1948 to the party refusing to repudiate conspiracy theorists who claimed that "Roosevelt bombed Pearl Harbour"?

Yours Sincerely, Ronnie

Vought F7U Cutlass; No tail, no problem.
Except for being unflyable. 
Just in case you don't think I keep up with Aviation Week (. . And you may be right. . . ) the big stories are that Northrop is still struggling for Air Force money to build some flying wings; Convair is looking for someone to swoop in and buy a bunch of their 240s so they can keep them in production; The Board of Curtiss-Wright continues to fling each other out of the windows; the cost of the proposed new 65,000t super-carrier keeps rising; the cost of a 70 group air force is so astronomical that even with the budget increases, the 57 group plan is more realistic; various guided missiles are in "the production stage;" that the USAF is going to investigate the sources that fed the "hatchet job" against the B-36; that the spectre of 1946 has arisen, as Wisner Holland of South Georgia Flying Service promises a roadable Ercoupe imminently, and says that he has solved the ground cooling problem that no-one has ever before mentioned in print, although I guess it's a pretty obvious problem; that PAA is buying the Curtiss-Wright Delumel Electric Flight Simulator to train crews for the Stratocruiser; that we are still talking about bringing GCA in; that Forrestal is fighting the Navy's super carrier on the grounds that bombing is an Air Force job; that a B-47 flew across America in less than 4 hours, far too fast for even a jet interceptor to get in the way of an atom bomb mission. A letters column runs in the second number of the month with an impassioned defence of flying wings from the chief engineer at Northrop.

In short, it looks as though interceptors, giant bombers and giant aircraft carriers are all in trouble in Washington. 

Flight, 3 February 1949


"Small Mercies" Flight is very upset about something that the Ministry of Civil Aviation did that involved charter airlines and the BEA.

"Heads and Tails" Flight needs two leading articles to explain how terrible it is.

"Women's Royal Air Force" Flight saves some indignation for the idea of letting women join the RAF in peacetime.

"Vertical Separation" It turns out that the BALPA sent two letters to the Ministry of Civil Aviation arguing that there should be more vertical separation in stacks before the Northwood Disaster, which means that the Ministry has too much bureaucracy.

That was a very peevish set of Leaders.

Maurice Smith, "'Mamba' Balliol in the Air"Advanced trainers have to be able to stand abuse, and this one can dive at 450mph, "which some people will think is excessive." Some people might include Smith, who doesn't like the "five sturdy screen pillars" that hold up the large windscreen and sliding canopy against these speeds. He is more impressed by improvements on the controls, with the ailerons, already "pleasant," getting their tab area doubled. That said, the purpose of the flight was to evaluate the propeller and engine screws. This is the sort of thing people will need to know about if the Apollo and Viscount go ahead! "Starting procedures are under examination," he says, by which he means that the Mamba and its airscrew are complicted gadgets and the makers are fiddling with the right way to turn them on without RUINING EVERYTHING! First, the master power control goes on; then, the airscrew pitch must be fined to minimum with the feather button after the "high pressure cock" is eased open but not turned on. Next, fuel must be fed to the combustion chambers with igniter plugs only, and a Lucas valve is included for just that purpose, which must be turn to "on." At this point, double check to make sure that the throttle is fully closed, since if it is open at all, the engine won't start. The ground crew then starts the ignition cycle and open up starter air. The gas starter accelerates with the "sound of a small motorcycle" (not a small sound!). At 1000rpm, the high pressure cock is turned on, and the Lucas switch cut off. At this point, you can takeoff, unless the oil temperature is too low. In some cases, it might take so long to heat the oil that enough gas has been  burnt in the mean time to "seriously affect range," and expedients like pre-heated oil are being considered. The airscrew pitch is then advanced to 4 degrees, just enough to overcome the brake's "grab" and give good taxiing speed, but very confusing for old time pilots used to using airscrew pitch at rpm as a gauge of power. Instead, check the built-in torquemeter, and when pressure hits the minimum for takeoff, off you go! After all that fussing, the takeoff is "exhiliratingly" fast, although the recommended climb speed is a modest 150mph. The Mamba Balliol has lots of power, is quiet, and is vibration-free, although Smith fancies he can pick up the rumbling of the second reduction gear. However, it is a bit sluggish in response, unlike other turbine planes. Cruising speed was 220mph, "considerably" higher than the Merlin version. Smith went through the usual manoeuvres, which the Balliol does well, but not, "naturally," feathering the airscrew. Although the good news is that the Mamba and Python are much easier to relight in flight than other turbines due to their vapourising-type combustion chambers. If the airscrews are feathered, the process is two-step, with the blades being allowed to rotate to full coarse under air pressure before feathering is attempted. Landing started at 120mph, and the Balliol was down to 90 before touchdown. There is then some fiddly-sounding to-doing over the airscrews to persuade them to behave. This all sounds awfully complicated, but, Smith assures us, it is really not, and at some point after the Merlin trainer (either Balliol or Athena) goes into service, a more polished turboprop may follow. 

Less consequential news notes that Air Vice-Marshal Atcherley is off to Pakistan to be the new chief of the Royal Pakistan Air Force, and that the first Chilean-made airplane is a twin-rudder tricycle made at the Central Workshops of the Chilean Air Force.

Here and There

A B-36 recently completed a test bombing run from Texas to California, carrying almost 38 short tons in the form of missiles without warheads, made the 2900 mile return flight to Texas, and then had its main starboard undercarriage collapse on landing, which I guess qualifies as a partial success. Mr. Sopwith's address to the annual general meeting of the Hawker Siddeley group repors that Avro has a new bomber under development, that both Hawker and Gloster had jet fighters under development for the RAF, and that a production order had been received for jets for the navy. There have also been orders for the Python. Airtech is installing gas tanks with an 1800 gallon capacity into the fuselages of British American Air Service Haltons for the Berlin airlift. 

Civil Aviation News

The main story is about the final arrangement between charter airlines and BEA, as approved by the minister, which doesn't seem terribly important to us. The report on the Northolt disaster concludes that it was caused by human error. At least one important error has been identified: the regional controller broadcast a regional QFF as a local one, with the result that the Swedish DC-6 had its altimeter off by 28ft. That isn't enough to cause an accident given that the stacking height was 500ft, although the inquiry does find that to be too low. So there must have been another mistake, which was probably made by the RAF York. BOAC might introduce a flying boat service to Dar-es-Salaam, which is in Africa, if the flights can be slotted into existing airports and if flying boats can land on Lake Naivasha, near the city. The Miles Gemini crash at Croydon last February was caused by overloading.
Lake Naivasha is nowhere near Dar-es-Salaam, although it is convenient to assorted expats who'd like a BOAC connection to Blighty. By McKay Savage from London, UK - Quiet dusk over Lake Naivasha, CC BY 2.0,
There's a Tokamak there now.
Various services are getting better, more numerous, more convenient, or more ticket-shared. We're told yet again that British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines will soon introduce a 31 hour DC-6 service across the Pacific. It is also news again that the Bristol 170 is flying fresh fruit from Spain (specifically, Barcelona) to Britain.

"Sea Fury Trainer" The Hawker Sea Fury T. Mk. 20 Naval Trainer has  a double canopy, and one was at RNAS Culham when a Fleet Air Arm exercise involving some Seafires beating the place up, happened. So Harold King said, "enough of this boring crap," and went up in a Harvard to take some pictures of Seafires.

By Source, Fair use,
"Ramjets: Some Experimental Applications: America Goes Ahead" The article briefly summarises the history of ramjets (air is rammed in the front, set on fire with some gas, and then it scoots out the back, pushing the plane along. It is hopeless below very high speeds.) Then it points out that the Americans have been working on ramjets since the war, and, finally, it gets to some news, whcih is that the Americans have declassified the Marquardt C30-1.0, a "subsonic" ramjet with a limiting speed of Mach 1.0, which has been flown in wingtip mountings on various USAF planes. The navy is testing the Gorgon IV, a larger aircraft with a ramjet, designed to be launched from a ship catapult, and several helicopters with ramjets at the tip of the rotors are being tested. One of these is the Marquardt Whirlijet, which, technically, has a pulsejet and not a ramjet. Little can be said about British efforts apart from the fact that they are focussing on missiles. In conclusion, ramjets have a future in guided missiles and perhaps helicopters, and perhaps also in Mach 1.0+ manned aircraft if the alternate approach of decelerating supersonic airflow at the nozzle without prohibitive loss in thrust, fails.

Precis of "Radar as an Aid to Study of the Atmosphere, a paper given before the Royal Aeronautical Society by Dr. F. E. Jones Radar has been used to detect clouds, lightning, and is being developed for measuring wind speed. So are radiosondes, and here high frequency radar pulses can be used for communication channels to the balloons to give better telemetry. It is very frustrating that the mechanical chronometers in radiosondes aren't giving the necessary one part in a thousand accuracy, and work is being done on an electronic chronometer, which will be read at the weather station with an automatic recorder driving teleprinter and one of those pens-on-scrolling-graph paper things. This has nothing to do with microwave radar, which is a thing that meteorologists love and will use more in the future.

In shorter news, BEA is laying off 100 ground crew at Northolt, and Blackburn has published a very nice new pamphlet on aeronautical engineering as a career.

"Able Mable" It is still news that the Martin AM-1 Mauler can carry two torpedoes, for a maximum all up weight of 29,000lbs, which is AMAZING in a single-engined plane with a 50ft wing span. The test pilot says that it was remarkably light and handled easily and that landings were no problem. Reggie says that the test pilot is clearly a very unusual person, and probably bursts out of chains and throws cars at communist spies in his spare time. Or her spare time, he says, before --actually, I'm not going to say anything more about that, Ronnie said innocently.

"The Women's Royal Air Force: Conditions Under Which Women Serve with the RAF Outlined by Air Commandant Hanbury" This is the shocking moment where it is revealed that male RAF members will have to obey orders from superior female officers. Saluting will be involved. Shocking! Married women will be accepted as long as they have no children under fifteen for whom they are legally responsible, and they can guarantee that "family circumstances" will not interfere with their "full mobility." Female members of the WRAF will be allowed to resign the service after marriage as long as they don't wait more than three months to apply.


Commandant Peake, nee Watts, widow of AAF pilot "Jock"
Hanbury, retired from the service in 1950  married Air
Commodore Sir Harald Peake in 1952, and had one son,
Andrew, born 1956, when Felicity was 43 and Air Commodore
Peake was 57. 
D. V. Jenkins writes that if you really want to improve RAF manning, the Air Council should improve the living standard of all ranks and get rid of the "usual indignities" that other ranks suffer. J. Crowdy and L. G. Brookes contribute to the ongoing discussion of how jet propulsion works that seems pretty silly to me. John Scott contributes a very long letter on the recent change in standard altimeter settings. Flight finds it necessary to point out that all of the complaining letter writers have ignored the actual content of the notice. R. H. N. MacAulay, Bristol's publicity man, writes to say that he didn't make a mistake when he said that the Bristol Freighter was the only twin on the Berlin Airlift. Someone else --a usually reliable source did-- so he did nothing wrong when he asserted that the Bristol Freighter was the only twin on the run, even though he is apologising.

The Economist, 5 February 1949


"Hook Without Bait" The Economist is not impressed by Stalin's latest "peace offer," because only expansionist Russia is a threat to peace. Everyone wants peace and disarmament, and perhaps we could get some of that if the Russians are nice about the Austrian Treaty. As for a west German state, the Russians are just going to have to learn to live with it. Norway's "conciliatory but firm" response to Soviet pressure to the effect that it is still looking into joining into a "regional security system comprising countries on the Atlantic" is below, in a Note.

"Challenge of Competition" As German industry comes back, various British persons are worried about German industry. The Economist suspects the first sly movements towards cartels and controls and protection and such-like terrible things. It looks forward to all of those British industries that are afraid of competition, failing because of competition, which will be their fault, because, as  I think someone once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and also more efficient German competition."

"Soviet Year in Eastern Europe" The Economist reviews all the terrible things the Soviets did in Eastern Europe this year, and also the Soviet-Jugoslav split, which was a nice change of pace, although "bound to revive Bulgarian and Albanian threats against [it]."

"Set the Drinkers Free (By a Correspondent) "Correspondents" don't usually write Leaders, but obviously the issue of alcohol licensing in the United Kingdom warrants an exception. There is now a fight between the breweries, who want the "freedom" to own tied houses that only sell their product, and those opposed to tied houses, who have united with "dubious allies" in the Temperance movement to demand --the nationalisation of inns and public houses? Is this for real??? Our correspondent, having gestured in the direction of "Silkingrad," which is presumably the place where the bars are all nationalised (because it has a Russian name!) comes up with the reasonable compromise that it should be a crime for breweries to own bars, and once this law is passed, the free market will sort things out, and people will finally be able to buy "raspberryade" and light refreshments along with their beer.

Notes of the Week

"Personalities and Programmes" John Edwards is to the new head of the Board of Trade, which somehow relates to Labour being torn apart over more nationalisation versus less, going into the 1950 election. Then, because this issue isn't silly enough already, it lays out the Liberal party platform, the main element of which is a "rationalisation and improvement" of water supplies under a Ministry of Water, leading to a joke about Undersecretaries for Hot and Cold Water. I need to talk with the first guy about my morning shower as soon as he's elected, because it sure seems like the second guy thinks he should be in charge of it.

"Economic Polity Debated" Yes! It is! Debated! In the Commons, you see. Because the Opposition opposes Sir Stafford Cripps . . . statistics? That doesn't make any sense. The Economist frets that the Government doesn't understand the vital role of the City in generating "invisible exports," by doing this and that with commodity markets, which is very opaque, but which you can only understand if you are in the market, and, by the way, when are you bringing back convertability so that the City can earn even more invisible exports? Which is a thing that none of the opposition members said while opposing, so the real "debate" here seems to be The Economist versus the Government.

"Mr. Bevin Compromises" The final constitution of the Council of Europe is in, and Britain's proposal that the national delegations vote as a bloc, has been rejected. We can now move on to get more "first class men" involved so that the Committee can actually do something.

Add caption
"Pause in China" The Economist is very upset that the pace of events in China has slackened. Someone needs to tell it to do what everyone else does: Go to the washroom, and would it kill The Economist to swing by the concession and pick up some more popcorn on the way back? Easy on the butter, please. Sublimely oblivious to the fact that armies on foot and hoof don't campaign in the winter (as Uncle George's explanation of three months ago holds, and still holds), The Economist supposes that, having conquered half of China by force of arms (in the summer and fall, just to remind ourselves), it is spending (the winter) trying to conquer the other half by threats. But, so far, no-one is feeling threatened. Because, and I repeat myself, it is winter. The Communists take this opportunity to remind everyone who has some US dollars to their account that they are "war criminals" and will face justice. They can, Uncle George says, either leave to be with their dollars, or send their dollars as hostages for the justice communism seeks. It has also been suggested that Acting President Li Tsung-jen could deliver other people's dollars (or, to be precise, the actual person of Chiang and "other Koumintang leaders"). Pending a resolution, General-President Li, and also General Fu Tso-yi in Peking (I think we are saying that again, instead of "Peiping") are at least temporarily removed from the list of war criminals. T. V. Soong has already fled to Hong Kong, and there is the question of the foreign embassies, which remain in Nanking and have simply sent staff members to Canton to keep company with the Sun Fo cabinet and perhaps book them passage outwards bound for greener pastures.

Uncle George is cynical, and I know you are, too, but I have to admit that you've been right about things so far. The question, then, is whether Americans or British are right about the Communists. Will they go in with the Soviets for world revolution, or turn out to be people that we can do business with? The attitude in Chinatown seems to lean towards the communists being monsters, although Uncle George assures me that that those are just long memories of the days of the Dowager Empress and her clique, plundering the wealth of the Tongs. Here, I wonder if Uncle George isn't being cynical enough. From Peking to Canton is ten thousand leagues, as they say.

"More Pay for Farm Workers" Arbitration awards have recently pretty much split the difference between employer and worker demands, but the award to farm workers goes far less than half way. The Economist is satisfied that what they did get (an increase in the minimum wage and a reduction of work hours by 1 hour a week), was quite munificent enough given that agriculture is an "undermanned industry," but warns that the Government must be prepared to resist demands for increases in prices to cover the wage award.

There's a note on progress to reform of the court martial system as a result of war experience, and then one about the effects of the removal of the lid on newspaper circulation, which has been for the Daily Mirror to take a clear lead, with an advertised circulation of 4.1 million, followed by the Daily Express. The Daily Mail hasn't improved its "presentation" as much as expected, serious papers like the Manchester Guardian, but not the Times have lost ground, Sunday papers are up, including the Sunday Times, News of the World is up from its already enormous base, and The Daily Telegraph is doing very well out of the serialisation of Churchill's memoirs. The Economist is very, very disappointed by the success of the Daily Mirror, and scolds the nation.

"Israel Takes Shape" "Now that the fighting and flouting of Uno" are over, official recognitions are being showered upon Israel, now that the elections are over and Israel did not go Red. Mapai, Ben Gurion's "Moderate Labour" party, took 153,000 of 427,000 votes cast, while Mapam, the left-wing socialists, took only 63,000. The United Religious Party took 53,000, and both did better than the Cheruth united front of ex-terrorists, while the Stern Gang will be lucky to muster a single seat after a decade of holding up its own people for the money to buy explosives.

"Exit Miranda" Miranda is an Argentinian politician who was the head of the country's National Economic Council for a very short length of time. He is taking the blame for the failures of the postwar economic policy, which led to an "alarming state of inflation, external indebtedness and internal confusion." The Economist prescribes "limiting capital investment to a level which Argentina can honestly afford."

"Rationing Abundance" Because eggs are a "first-class source of protein," the Government has encouraged egg production. There are now enough eggs for everyone to have three a week, but the price is too high at 3d, so the Government is reducing the price to 2 1/2d, which means that the supply must be rationed, you would thin, but that's not what is happening, so the title only refers to rationing in general. More eggs means more subsidies and a larger 1950 budget, which is terrible, The Economist concludes. It might be thought that the problem with letting the price rise to an unsubsidised 4 1/2d is that there would be a return to starvation and diseases of malnutrition, but, in fact, the working class spends all of its money on beer, tobacco and football pools, so it's really their fault. (I guess we can add "the Daily Mirror," too.)

"More Clothes Unrationed" Clothes are, in effect, rationed much more by price than by coupon. What should happen is that the ration point value of cotton goods should be increased. What the Minister has done instead is take nearly all woollen and woven clothes of the ration, which will lead to people having more coupons to pursue cottons and knitted wool, "making them scarcer than ever." The Economist recommends removing clothes from rationing altogether.

"Marshall Music" Radio Luxembourg has been seducing the British public with "hillbilly chants," Boy Scout ads and popular ballads. Now the US State Department has bought a fifteen minute time slot after 2 PM to talk up the European Co-operation Administration, which The Economist thinks is silly, because people who listen to dance music don't care about politics.

"$300 Million Saved On Coal" The story on the year is an increase in European coal production of 50 million tons, which might seem like a happy story about improvements in the coalfields, but which is actually a story about saving $300 million on American coal exports. The biggest proportional expansions were in the Ruhr, which is still below the pre-war level, and in Poland, which is already 8% higher than the prewar peak. France and Czechoslovakia are also at their prewar peak, but The Economist takes pleasure in awarding a wooden spoon to Britain and western Germany, which are still below their 1937 figures, with totals plateauing in the last few quarters.

"Dr. Malan Avoids Trouble" By forming a commission to look into his government's native policy, Malan's Nationalists have kept Havenga's Afrikaner Party in the governing coalition in spite of pushing ahead with its policy of apartheid by a simple majority. The Economist warns that not only are the Nationalists blind to the disastrous consequences of anti-native legislation, they are also blind to future economic troubles.

From The Economist of 1849 Comes a story covering the celebrations of the end of the Corn Law.

Shorter notes cover the success of various private schools in obtaining university scholarships for their graduates, the success of the French 5% bond issue, some embarrassment inflicted on the Labour Party for using a file picture of a baby in a pram for a publicity photo that turns out to be the young Duke of Kent, Premier Tsaldaris denying that his government is leaning towards accepting the latest Communist peace offer, and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England's pamphlet urging local governments to get rid of roadside billboards, which is, naturally, a political issue since some of them have Ministry advertisements, which means that socialism and central planning are bad. Because there are too many billboards, you see.


T. H. Minshall is upset that ownership of the Ruhr is to be left to German democracy, because the Nazis will be back next week. Instead, they should be left under the control of an international board of representatives of all the western European powers, as this stop the Nazis and also coordinate management through coalfields that are currently divided by national boundaries. G. B. Gray thinks that unions should be smaller because when they are large, it is like imperialism. Heinz Nordhoff, of Volkswagen, is upset at the British being upset about Volkswagen exports, as they are only 2% of British exports. Ira Greenberg is upset that The Economist has described Cherrut as "almost fascist" and "anti-Russian." The Economist sticks to its guns. F.[sic] Louwers thinks that the spike un unemployment in Belgium is "structural," due to war investment causing excess capacity in all countries and cutting into Belgian exports. He confidently predicts an imminent general crisis of unemployment due to the end of colonialism. "Prospects for Europe do look gloomy now."

Peter Quennell has brought out an edition of Mayhew's London, which is a collection of Mayhew's essays on "London Labour and the London Poor," which describes how London really was as awful as Dickens says, but also not bad at all, because although the people were poor, suffering, degraded and oppressed by crime and exploitation, they were happy and independent. Michael Padev's Dimitrov Wastes No Bullets is about how Bulgarian Communists are awful. J. P. Mayer's British Cinemas and their Audiences is the result of a questionnaire the author distributed via a cinema magazine. I'm not sure what the point is, apart from some people being strange, and other people liking movies.

American Survey

"The Fourth Point" The Fourth Point in Truman's inaugural address was a "bold new programme for making the benfits of our scientitic advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of under-developed areas."  By that he means "the Orient," and such-like places (because actual Orientals love to be compared with Africans) not, say, Mississippi, and so the Administration is looking for ways of accomplishing this. The attempt to get American investors aligned with the ECA hasn't worked out very well, with the Cabot Company's carbon black factory in the United Kingdom the only taker on guaranteed loans so far. A better level of success is needed if this is to have any effect on, say, Liberia. The Administration seems to be leaning in the direction of promoting economic freedom, but the cynics are skeptical that "ruling cliques" want to see prosperity spread around at all in places like Latin America. Only in Southeast Asia, where actual Communism is actually pressing, do they see much room for bold moves, which will presumably be "inter-government, since political danger and private investment are reluctant bedfellows."

American Notes

"The New Labour Bill" The Administration will not press for the simple repeal of Taft-Hartley, but instead try to steer a package of amendments through Congress. Some people think that the package will fail, leaving Taft-Hartley the law of the land, although others are impressed by just how extensive the amendments are.

"Laying the Republican Ghost" The RNC met last week in Omaha, safe from the liberal temptations that infect Washington, New York and California, to lay the ghost of Tom Dewey, appoint a new chair, and lay to rest the quarrel between "the Old Guard" and the liberals,  hopefully by 1950, when there are a dozen defeatable Democratic Senators up for re-election.

From the LA Times
"Cold War in the West" The President has called out the Army and Air Force to air lift feed to cattle and clear snow off the tracks so that the intercontinental trains that have been sidelined for as many as six days can be freed up and the passengers fed(!) The snow in Los Angeles gets international coverage, and the damage to the citrus crop (no marmalade for "Robbie Burns Day" this year, it looks like!) This is bad news for the California crop in its competition with Florida for the eastern market. Sixty thousand acres have been added there in recent years, buoyed up by frozen concentrate.

"Protected Market for Shipping"  The attempt to free the recovery programme from the onerous American shipping requirements has produced a backlash, as Congress has produced the Bland Bill, which would go much further than the original Foreign Assistance Act in requiring that half of all foreign aid go in American bottoms. Congress is reluctant, but looks like it will be steamrollered by an alliance of unions and owners. In happier news, at least as The Economist sees things, the Truman Administration is moving forward with relaxing trade restrictions, a happy change from the Eightieth Congress' throat-clearing about protection. Shorter notes mention that Walter Gieseking and Wilhelm Furtwaenger have had to cut their American tours short over protests about their Nazi past, that the cost of living clause in the new GM contract means that members will actually take a 1 to 2 cent an hour pay cut due to recent decline in the cost of living, thanks to their unusual cost-of-living clause, which will test the popularity of this new contract.

(Furtwaenger's Wikipedia biography contains a book-length discussion establishing that he was a very anti-Nazi Nazi.)

The World Overseas

"Taxation Under the Communists" Communists tax businesses heavily while favouring small farmers.

"Portrait of Nehru" Prime Minister Nehru is hosting a conference on Indonesia, so it is time to have a pocket picture of Nehru. He comes from a rich family, is very handsome, is unwaveringly loyal to his wife (not what I've heard!), and comes across a very nice person by the end of the article. I don't want to be cynical, but who placed this article?

"Tito under Blockade" The Cominterm is blockading Jugoslavia, which is inconvenient, since it doesn't actually trade very much with them, so perhaps Tito isn't that worried.

The Business World

"Defects and Remedies" This is the second in a series of articles about the problem of inter-European payments, over which I will draw a discrete veil of silence, as I know nothing about the subject, and have lost all faith in The Economist as a news source beyond all of those handy charts and graphs.

"Shipping After Decontrol" The Ministry of Transport will release all deep sea transport from scheduled freight rates at the beginning of December. British shipping interests are pleased, since guaranteed prosperity for shipowners has coincided with shipping shortages. Liners and tankers will be controlled a bit longer. As tonnage increases faster than freight, chances are that freight rates will decline, while costs are rising. This puts pressure on earnings, and, in particular, on older and less efficient ships. The Economist ends on the usual cheery note that the return of free competition will send the less efficient operators to the wall (which turns out to be a firing squad metaphor, which is terrible!!!), paving the way to full technical efficiency. Well, actually administrative, as for a change The Economist doesn't try to tell marine engineers what to do. Did you know that, last week, for the first time in ten years, there was an afternoon session of the Baltic Exchange? Really! So exciting!

Business Notes

"Britain's Payments Gap Closed?" That's what the statistics seem to say. The Economist is suspicious, but has to allow that things have improved.

Long notes cover financial matters, talk that the chemical industry will be next for nationalisation, problems with the automakers over the Steel Bill, which, since they do make some steel, might be premature ahead of some future nationalisation of the auto industry, which very thought has people up in arms. Negotiations in Buenos Aires have broken down, meaning that there may be no Argentinian meat this year, which, hardships aside, would be all to the good, as it would "permanently deflate Argentina's bargaining power." Argentina, The Economist says, should bloody well buy British goods if it wants to sell Britain meat. This leads into a bit about Argentina's own current economic problem, which has to do with not having the exchange to pay for American imports, leading to a rapid increase in Argentinian short term debt held with American banks.

There follows some financial news, and then a report on the valuations on which compensation was paid for collieries under nationalisation, the international wheat conference, which is continuing in Washington, and talks with the Americans over tobacco. The United States is eager to increase its exports of both, with the difference that increased wheat exports will come off the Canadian quota, whereas Britain can absorb more tobacco. Britain is also importing more oil, as global supplies increase and prices fall, and competition is returning to the home market with more brands and grades available. There's three notes on cloth and clothing --more available, off the ration, as you've heard.

Shorter notes mentions that while the auto industry is only operating at two-thirds capacity thanks to a one-third increase in capacity since the war, it has still exported 365,00 vehicles, more than even the United States, and earned £146 million.

Flight, 10 February 1949


"Short-Range Jet Airliners" Frank Whittle as been doing a tour rhyming off the numbers showing that short range pure jet airliners are a great idea at a time when BEA is still set on buying the Ambassador instead of the Viscount due to the ongoing problem of fuel consumption while "stacking." He argues that the rapid advance of air control techniques is addressing the problem, and that with the Avro Jetliner nearing its first test flight and the Nene-Viking and Tudor VIII in the air, there is a real chance of Britannia ruling the air, etc, etc. I'm getting a bit frustrated with the way that Flight keeps bringing the two jet testbeds up. We know that they're not going to be airliners, and that the first British jet airliner will be the DH 106, which is also close to its first test flight. As for actually establishing what and where Israel is, Ben-Gurion calls Jerusalem "as much a part of Israel as Haifa or Tel Aviv." That's a double sting, since the Uno would still have Jerusalem internationalised, and, in practice, more than half of it is in the new nation of Trans-Jordan; but, more importantly, Haifa, like Lydda, is supposed to be a "free port," so by comparing it to Tel Aviv, we get a sense that even Ben-Gurion won't honour the "free port" arrangement. The British refinery staff have returned to Haifa, but can they really persuade the Arabs to allow oil to flow through the pipeline again? The talks in Rhodes may well founder over the Negeb, which the Israelis see as a frontier of land for development, but which Trans-Jordan sees as a potential place for a port, and which Egypt sees as theirs. 

"Exit Miranda" Miranda is an Argentinian politician who was the head of the country's National Economic Council for a very short length of time. He is taking the blame for the failures of the postwar economic policy, which led to an "alarming state of inflation, external indebtedness and internal confusion." The Economist prescribes "limiting capital investment to a level which Argentina can honestly afford."

"Sweet Reasonableness" The civil aviation debate in the Lords was very boring. The next leader, about the Royal Aeronautical Society getting a Royal Charter, sees that and raises by a crown.

"Jet Liners for Short Range: Analysis of Operating Economy: Precis of a (Plagiarised) Paper Given to the Aero Club de France by Frank Whittle" To be fair, the very long summary adds some things that aren't in Masefield's paper, mainly having to do with Whittle's very optimistic assessment of the cost and efficiency of turbojets versus prop planes, and also some details about "progress in ground control" that also seem optimistic. For example,Whittle says that LaGuardia eliminated weather delays and cancellations last year. Even if that's true, it is because it was a very mild winter, and Chicago's problems are very different from Europe's. On the other hand, we don't have very long to wait before the Avro and De Havilland planes prove or disprove the case!

In shorter news, the Cirrus Bombardier has flown its endlessly predicted first test flight.

Here and There
The "Clunk;" aka "The Lead Sled"

It is reported that the B-36 will get four turbojets to boost its existing 6 piston engines. I suppose this would be like the gigantic clusters of tiny little engines that they were putting on all the prototype medium bombers, and also now the B-47. Dowty (Canada) is transferring its factory in Canada from Montreal to Toronto. It will make undercarriages for the C-100 and C-102. Brigadier General David Sarnoff is in Britain to give "independent and impartial" testimony on the nationalisation of Cable and Wireless Company. Buried down here is the news that the C-102 is to be a two-seat all-weather fighter with two Avon engines. Canada will license build the F-86, perhaps with Avons.

"Royal Air Force College: wide Syllabus for Officer-Training To-Day" Cranwell teaches rugby, "the airman's point of view," flying, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, radar, contemporary history, history of warfare, modern languages and "etc.,"  (The "etc." part is important, because a certain lad from the Institute tells me that without maths, maths, more maths, maths all the time, teaching "aerodynamics" and "thermodynamics" is like smelling music. I think I detect a bit of the Institute attitude, but I'm told that my fiance(!!!) is not wrong. Cranwell also fights a long and losing war against modern-society's disdain for a properly-placed hyphen.

A short note at the bottom was appended when the editor ran out of time to blue-pencil the rest of the article, which is to appear next week. Fortunately, there's a bit just sitting around about how some test pilot took the new Prentice up at night and it was a jolly good show all around. How curious that such a bit of writing was just lying around the office. Tip of the hat to the lads at Percival!

"Civil Aviation in the Lords" Argle! Bargle! Blah-blah!  Civil Aviation, it turns out costs Too Much, and Something Must Be Done. This aticle, too, ends at mid page and needs filling out, with a mention of flying clubs being mentioned in the Commons, a note reminding everyone that the lastest Notice to Airmen notes what kind of notices may be noted on the Aeronautical Telecommunication Service, which might be a new thing to relay important messages (no fripperies!) from the twoer to ground crew, hotels, busses and passengers. There's also quite a long bit on the latest developments in planning the Festival of Britain. While I don't see anything particularly worth mentioning in the body, I am absolutely tickled pink to be reminded that there is going to be a super-duper (can you believe there's a character for that?) party in Britain in 1951, and everyone is invited!

"Antarctic Air Survey" the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey is wrapping up another season in Graham Land. They brought along an Auster, while some nearby American icebreakers contributed a helicopter. A Chilean expedition is on its way to turn the British hutments into a permanent survey base. It turns out that Graham Land is the most northerly and pleasant part of Antarctica, although the competition is not fierce, and the judges debated issuing a participation award only.

"Power for Helicopters: The Alvis Leonides 23. HM for the Bristol 171: Requirements and Variants" I think we've heard about the Leonides before. It's just a bog standard low power single-row radial engine, although the fact that it runs when laid on its side, and has a power shaft to run the rotor is interesting. Flight has quite a nice sketch of the Leonides, if you need one, and one of the clutching arrangements, which I don't think is novel apart from clutching a very powerful engine considering the weight of the clutch, so perhaps we will see Alvis building a very big truck or some such with vry good power range on the strength of all this progress in the world of clutches.

The Alvis Saladin. By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK - SaladinUploaded by oxyman, CC BY 2.0,

Civil Aviation News

Pan American is extending its "tourist" or "coach" ticket service down the coast of Latin America as far as Buenos Aires. The New York Constellation-Cessna collision gets coverage. International Aeradio reminds everyone that it has an emergency electrical supply service for airfields. Let main supply go down, and a generator will, hopefullly, kick in automatically, not like the fiasco with the power lines to campus down last week. A Skyways DC-6 crashed at Castle Benito this week, killing the pilot, Captain Kitley, but none of the passengers were hurt. It probably collided with some tree tops in heavy rain. Air France is expected to pay its way next year. Various services are expanding and improving, or not.

"Sidelights on the Air Ambulance" Flight went down to Brize Norton to see a wartime DH Tiger Moth conversion and one of those new Hoverflies with the sidecar.

"A Dual Disaster: Two Brilliant Test Pilots Killed" Mr. R., Lindsay Neale and K. P. H. Tisshaw were killed last week in an accident in the prototype Balliol T.2, in other words the Merlin powered one, not the Mamba one that Malcolm Smith was flying the other week. Both men leave widows and young children and were obviously well liked.

"Giant's Ancillaries: Ground Equipment for the Brabazon: Slinging Gear, Servicing Platforms and Trolleys" Giant ancillaries for giants!  It''s construction stands. Four pages of construction stands. Admittedly, some are on wheels, so they're closer to transporter stands, but still. This one also doesn't go down to the bottom of the page, allowing Flight to fit in a story to tell us that the Swiss will be making Vampires under license. Again.

Correspondence this week attracts letters from J. E. T. Tydyne on how jet propulsion works, "Je Suis, J'y Reste," on the morale of the RAF. (It's low, I think. Unless it's high. Also, hats. Literally.) R. C. O. Lovelock, "Allakeefik," j. Bower and G. M. Brett also have opinions that make me think that the RAF's problem is that it has too many silly people with silly opinions.

The Economist, 12 February 1949


"Purse with Strings" Prices and wages are too high and are increasing too much!

"Meat, Maize and Miranda" So the story as I understand it, is that Argentina has historically been a primary producer of meat and grain. The farms earn lots of foreign exchange in years of high prices. In years of low prices, Argentina suffers. Plenty of countries have been in this situation, and the solution seems to be developing a manufacturing economy. Factories producing things for Argentinians will provide the jobs that the farms do not. To this end, President Peron, with the help of Miguel Miranda, introduced a five year plan to industrialise the country back in 1949. However, that didn't seem long enough, and Peron's presidential term would come to an end in 1949, and the constitution forbids him from running for another term. Well, you know how that turned out! The problem is that, far from shepherding the Five Year Plan through to glorious success, Peron faces an extremely adverse balance of trade. Argentina's gold reserves have fallen from a billion dollars to less than 200 million by last summer. To alleviate the problem, the government introduced import controls and exchange regulations last August, in spite of which the Argentinian Central Bank's gold holdings continued to fall, to $131 million by the end of December. The gold had been spent largely to fund Miranda's industrialisation plan, but heavy imports of capital goods, balanced by lower imports of consumer goods, and excessively high prices for exports. Miranda was gambling on a continued grain shortage, a third world war at an early date, and a free supply of dollars. (In other words, he reads The Economist!) None of that has come to pass, and he is gone, a scapegoat for the failures of the regime.

It turns out that the emergence of the Argentinian monoply is something of a
mystery in the agricultural history of economics, not that that's stopped
people from pronouncing on What's Wrong With Argentina.  Source.
Now, it is to be hoped that if Argentina proves to Washington that it is on the right track, it will get access to some dollars via something called "offshore purchasing" in the United States, at the expense also of extending the Five Year Plan to 10. It is also suggested that it must charge more reasonable prices for its exports. That is not happening, and it is why Britain is bargaining hard on meat and linseed oil, a (former) near Argentinian monopoly.

Pert the article, the crofter counties are now organised as the
Highlands county, with a 2011 population of  200,000
"Progress in the Highlands" The seven crofter counties (Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, Argyll and Inverness) comprise 47% of Scotland's area and contain only 300,000 people, 96,000 less than in 1841. This decline is seen as the result of land clearances by the land lords, but has continued in spite of 1886 and 1911 legislation that protected the crofters' security of tenure. After taking a short wander through structures of government, which apparently need Reform, The Economist notes that, except for some areas with large tenant farmers, the Highlands are mainly occupied by small tenant farmers who need part time work. We then wander off to the development of hydroelectric power, which doesn't seem like it provides many actual jobs, but might begin to do so if factories were attracted to the cheap electrical power. But that doesn't seem like it would go very far, so the revival must turn on agriculture, forestry and the fishery, and traditional minor occupations like weaving, knitting, looming and "working at the hotel in the summer." A quick freeze plant might help the fishery; more afforestation will improve forestry; and the Hill Farming Act of 1946 is intended to help rehabilitate the  hill farms. Right now, the lack of winter keep is the main obstacle, and afforestation will help with that. "It is possible to feel cautious optimism for the Highland economy."

Notes of the Week

Mr. Hoffman put "three demands" before the Sixteen Nations this week that must be achieved by the end of the ERA: more unity, stabilisation of currencies and low inflation, more exports, full technical efficiency, an end to the current accounts deficit with the hard currency countries. The Economist fancies that it will be much easier to achieve all of this is if there is some argle-bargle organisational REFORM!

"The Cardinals 'Trial'" A Hungarian court found Cardinal Mindszenthy guilty of being a terrible person, which means that religious liberty is over in Hungary, which I thought we already knew, because of communism and all.  Maybe The Economist is hedging because it hates cardinals even more than it hates communism. According to the next note, communism and Catholicism are locked in a struggle to the death that doesn't prevent them from accommodating each other, which makes Cardinal Mindszenthy, who is actually doing the "struggling" part, a bit of an embarrassment to the Vatican.

"National Extravagance" Food subsidies and hospital expenditures are up. Where will it all end? In the poorhouse, that's where! Doctor's pay is up, also, but that's fine, because they take The Economist. 

"Housing --Two Year's Review" 834,000 new homes have been built since the war, and 3 million people have moved into them. The housing problem isn't solved, but it is less pressing. Only 156,000 were temporary homes, so let's draw the curtains on that one and not ask ourselves embarrassing questions about who advocated what. Output is now running at 240,000 new homes a year, whihc, like everything else under the sun, is more than the country can afford, and should be reduced, although one has to admit that the completion rate and productivity is going up and the labour force is going down, so let's draw a curtain on that and not ask ourselves embarrassing questions about who predicted what.

"RSVP to Rhodes" Dr. Ralph Bunche seems to be making progress in trying to convene the countries of the Arab League at the Rhodes talk, which will represent a de facto recognition of Israel's sovereignty and bring this whole Middle East thing to an end. Meanwhile, Israel's Constituent Assembly is meeting, and Egypt is getting ready to do something about the rump Palestinian government in Gaza that is so embarrassing it. The prospects of peace are bright. Unless, that is,t he Israelis suddenly grab even more territory.
"Confusion in China" President Li is still negotiating with the Communists over the "surrender" of the "war criminals." The cabinet still refuses to return to Nanking from Canton, lest they be surrendered. General Chiang is still hovering around Chungking with his personal guard, who will shoot anyone who tries to surrender him. The Economist thinks that the Koumintang leadership should be allowed to quietly skedaddle.

"Tightening the Counter Blockade" The Counter-Blokade is the one that the British and Americans imposed on the border between the eastern and western zones of Germany. It is keeping out eastern agricultural goods and keeping coal and textile machinery in. This seems to be seriously damaging the Soviet position in the east, where the population is back on a 2000 calorie diet and the Two Year Plan is in danger. But the blockade is not air tight, so some factories that should be shut down, are still operating, perhaps with goods smuggled in from France and the Benelux countries, which is why the British and Americans are now moving to clamp down on internal traffic in Bizonia that might somehow end up in the east.

A short note mentions that Sir Cyril Radcliffe will be the Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry into the Charter of the BBC, which will sort out television. A boring note explains that Canada has a constitutional problem, which seems to involve SNORE. Cyprus' constitutional problem is that it is being run by the British, who have now to find a new governor to replace the departing Lord Winster, who will have to deal with the fact that numerous Greek Cypriots want to be part of Greece, and, presumably, the Turkish Cypriots don't. The Economist continues to allow that all the Cypriots that The Economist talks to (The Economist is a magazine of the world, and has many friends of the most unimpeachable integrity in many parts of this great globe of ours) have a high opinion of certain previous officials, whom The Economist could name, but won't, because that wouldn't be helpful. The important point is that socialist buffoons like Creech Jones and Clement Attlee will appoint the next governor, and if they knew what The Economist knows, they would appoint a fine governor; but they don't, so they won't.

"Two to Rule the Waves" The recent cuts by the United States Navy, which will put three large aircraft carriers in reserve along with some light cruisers and 57 non-combatants, cut numbers born from 371,000 to 350,000, and close eight naval air stations in the Pacific, while adding 30 major combatants, is good economy. It also shows how far the USN is shifting from a Pacific to an Atlantic footing. All this is as well, except that it is not being done in coordination with the Royal Navy, so that both countries are maintaining a nucleus of aircraft carriers and cruisers, but, also, between them, enough escorts to deal with about twice as many submarines as "any potential enemy" is known to have.

"Boarding House Wages" The Catering Board has a new schedule of wages out. The Economist, on a bet from Fortune, I think, manages to find a way that applying these to boarding houses will cause the downfall of Britain. But that only wets the whistle, as it were, so it's off to complain about the "Closed Shop for Hairdressers?" Or, as it is known in other places, needing a license before you can set up shop cutting hair. The Economist supposes it is a terrible idea because some salons are very messy. And since licensing isn't working now, that's obviously a reason to get rid of it. As if that weren't enough, "Hairdressing is not a profession; it is a trade, to which the interests of the public demand unrestricted entry." The sooner that just anyone can set up as a hair dresser and offer unregulated hairdos at the lowest price on the street, the better!!! What could go wrong?!? "It is cheap haircuts rather than bad haircuts"! Lice, like Sweeney Todd, are mere fables.

Shorter Notes is torn between the advantages of trading with eastern Europe and the disadvantages of bolstering communism; is pleased that everything is going swimmingly in Trieste; is upset that a White Paper on the East African groundnut scheme won't be issued ahead of the debate; is pleased that German iron and steel production continues to rise, and quickly; notes that according to the official returns, the Berlin airlift has cost only £4 million so far, is completely sustainable, and will be sustained as long as the Russians continue to blockade the city; and looks forward to a manly and virile debate over blood sports.

From The Economist of 1849  spends its entire, precious, monthly paragraph on the burning question of limiting boring parliamentary speeches.


Lawrence Scott writes to say that The Guardian is doing fine. G. A. Kirke thinks that the Nazis will be back in Germany Tuesday next because the British didn't scold them hard enough last year, and consequently the French did instead, and you know those French, with their garlic and their not-shaving-their-armpits. R. Gavin writes to explain the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago so as to show that it is as democratic as it can be, under the circumstances. S. Burdett-Coutis[sic], which is a real name, writes to explain why it will be necessary to raise farm prices. G. M. Moore contributes a poem on the subject of communism being awful. It wouldn't run in Time, because it has too many classical allusions.

American Survey 

"The Stranded Republicans" The RNC annual meeting in Omaha is over, and the GOP is not looking good. Hugh Scott, Dewey's man, unexpectedly retained the chair by 54 votes to 50, but at the expense of publicly repudiating Dewey, who says he doesn't mind, as he is done with national politics. That does not, however, satisfy everyone else who backed Scott, who want to see the party liberalise, only not  as much as the Democrats. Governor Peterson of Nebraska, one of these, even got up on stage to point out that since some Republicans were trying to prove that Roosevelt bombed Pearl Harbour, the Old Guard is always going to be seen as Isolationist, as well as being opposed to all kinds of social reform, public spending, or employee interests at all, so that's not a good look for the GOP, which should try to give the American people what they want. That so shocked the convention that Senator Wherry was forced to call a "real Republican," Senator Capehart, to the floor, to give a talk about how Dewey was responsible for everything that had goner wrong in the party in the last four years except the part where some people suggested that Roosevelt bombed Pearl Harbour, which doesn't matter, because it almost didn't happen. This has naturally led some to suggest that the Old Guard needs to redouble its efforts, since no doubt Dewey will try for a third term on a firm platform of the Japanese being the ones that bombed Hawaii. Which no-one is saying they didn't, but . . . As for Dewey, he regrets having to campaign to the left, but the Eightieth Congress left him no choice, and the party embarrassed him by nominating drunkards and inveterate liars. As Dewey points out, the Republicans really do have high-minded, patriotic members who honestly oppose farm price support, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, slum clearances and "other such programmes." These planks really did get into the platform, and it is for the Republican Party to deal with that. Which apparently it is going to do by ignoring Mr. Dewey, as since when is five consecutive defeats in the presidential election a reason to change anything?

"TVA in the West" President Truman has his people preparing legislation to establish a Columbia Valley Authority, and one of the most controversial matters before the 81st Congress is founding more TVA-like authorities, which scandalises Republicans, because, at the end of the day, they prefer that rivers run untamed through vast flood plains, lest otherwise the dams that control them be used to generate public electricity. (Contractors and farmers are also worried about these authorities, to the point where politicians are afraid to back them because they are losing issues politically, but farmers and contractors aren't as much fun to abuse.) It is thought, however, that the rest of the party could be reconciled if "Authority" were only changed to "Administration," as "Administrations" are less like angry fathers insisting that you move out of residence and back home, because you are not going to class. Not that!
A little more detail of  what's at stake in what eventually became the "Pick-Sloan Plan" of the Bureau of Reclamation. Source. It falls far short of the MVA proposal. Yay freedom!

American Notes

"Recovery's Second Year" Paul Hoffman is asking for $4.28 billion for this year, and relief from the original requirement that 20% of it be in loans, on the grounds that even the first year's loans have strained Europe's future earning capacity. Military aid for Greece, Turkey and China is not included. He is also fielding criticisms that not enough has been spent on strategic materials stockpiles and for his policy on dismantling German industry. (There's a policy?) To show that his critics are too critical, Hoffman is letting excess criticism flow towards Europe in the form of the Six Points of Full Technical Efficiency, which I have already mentioned. The Economist is warm to the Six Points, but has no time for the Senate's criticisms, although it waits for a separate note to mention the particuarly egregious proposal to withhold recovery aid to Holland until it gets the H--l out of Indonesia. Also, with cutbacks, unemployment rising and surplus stocks building up, as see below, the Senate has discovered the threat of European competition,

"Wall Street is Worried" Uncle George had something arresting to say at breakfast yesterday. "There's always a business depression after the President is elected." Well, no, it turns out, there isn't, it's just Uncle George, but that doesn't mean that he's not got a bit of a point, and 1948 is shaping up to be one, Ronnie says, on the basis of her tips. Wall Street is worrying about stocks and the London market being down, rather than the important things like a dime instead of a quarter on a cup of coffee and a slice, but that doesn't make them wrong to be worried. Also, commodities are in general decline, (which also deserves a separate note), but The Economist is pleased about that, and thinks that if the Federal government returns to "deficit financing," the damage will be limited, even if "industrial output, employment and incomes" are lower in 1949 than in 1948.

"Mr. Acheson's First Hurdle" Is that the Senate is being goaded on by the Hearst Press. Perversely, because he is a Democratic Secretary of State, it is to go in with the latest Russian peace offering, which has been welcomed by Senator Vinson. Peace is preferable to an Atlantic Pact that includes Germany and the Scandinavian powers, as this would be provocative, allows official secrets to be shared with the French, what with their very long loaves of bread and strange-smelling cigarettes, and which does not do enough to ensure that those notoriously pacifistic Europeans will really fight if it comes to it. The Hearst Press hates Russia, hates communism, and hates American internationalism, just like Russian communists. And this is why Ronnie wouldn't be reading the politics pages if she didn't have to. Actually, I don't know how true that is, because the older I get, the more time I spend reading about Republicans and Tories and yelling at the newspaper.

The World Overseas

"The Czech People's Democracy" Czecho-chzecky-Slo-Slovakia argle bargle blah! Everybody hates the Communists but can't say so, although they are resisting by such means as absenteeism. (So it's the opposite of Spain, where everyone says they hate Franco, and no-one does anything about it.)

"Slow Progress in Malaya" The Economist prods the Army in the ribs and asks it what's taking so long. Planters and tin-miners are living under great nervous strain, the number of bandits killed per month is not increasing, and "many" say that the situation is deteriorating. Why, the Strait Times is calling for more troops! Above and beyond the 50,000 special constables and auxiliary police who have been raised to guard the estates and mines, that is. It is thought that the Communists have given up on their dream of seizing a "liberated area" along the Siamese border, because the Siamese won't stand for it. The real problem is the squatter settlements outside the main towns where a half million Chinese migrants are living. They "serve as a useful souirce of food and as a reservoir of casual labour, but they have also been the terrorists' main source of recruits and supplies." The Economist thinks that these settlements should be dispersed and the inhabitants put in "prepared camps," where they can be vetted, and "undesireables" sent back to China. Speaking of which, it turns out that the camps aren't receiving any able-bodied young men, which, The Economist intimates, is because they have all gone off to the jungle to be Communists, although I wonder where the casual labour and food is coming from, then.

"World Economic Changes --1948" The United Nations Economic Affairs Department has issued this optimistic report, which concludes that inflationary pressures are not likely to increase in 1949, that the food supply is improving, with world grain production up 10% over prewar, with particular improvements in Europe and the USSR. Claims for grain imports are now likely to be judged on "general economic rehabilitation" rather than "hunger and need," and will be focussed on coarse grains for feed rather than bread grains. However, much of this recovery is due to favourable weather. The prospects for 1949 are less bright, because increased supplies of farm machinery and fertilisers are required. Also, there is a specific problem for the United States. In 1947, the United States supplied 44% of the world's grain exports, compared with 2% in 1934--8. That is good for American farmers, but the question is whether the food deficit countries won't recover to where they were in Thirties.

In industrial production, the report says that world production, excluding the States, was 109% of 1937 and 18% above 1947. World supplies of commodities were adequate, but distribution was constrained by currency restrictions. Coal, oil and electricity production was up 125% over prewar, but coal production is rising much more slowly than oil and electricity. Steel remains short. There is a crying need for more foreign trade to distribute commodities and also energy products and steel. World exports are already at 90% of 1937 levels, excluding Japan and Germany, but more is needed and exchange problems are very complicated and hard to fix.

The Business World

"Banks and Industry" Some people, especially Ministers, say that when industry depends on bank loans for capital investment, this is inflationary, and we're all trying to be deflationary. That's true, The Economist admits, but in fact various statistics show that industry isn't depending on banks enough, and, as a result, the inflationary effects are very much overestimated.  The real cause of inflation is that the country's resources are being spread over too many areas, and "there are very few industrial activities that come into that reckoning." If it were to be checked, it would be by higher interest rates, which the Government does not want for other reasons.

Legendary, but not quite what's meant according to box office.
  By Source (WP:NFCC#4),
Fair use,
"Subsidy for Film Production?" 4700 cinemas in Britain receive 30 million visits a year and earn £108 million. The Entertainment Tax takes  £38 million of that, and with distributors and cinema earnings taken out, producers receive £25 million, of which £8 million goes to British producing companies to fund more British films. Since 45% of exhibiting time is restricted to British films by quota, it is clear that American films make more money. For the British Film Producers' Association to produce 90 first-feature films a year, they have to hold their budgets to £90,000, which doesn't seem possible. The only place where, it seems, more money can come out of the system is the Entertainment Tax. Reducing the Entertainment Tax rate would have many more effects than helping British films. In particular, it would help American films. Looking back, The Economist concludes, it's all due to Dalton's 75% duty on American films, which was imposed to save dollars, but occasioned much resentment in America and led to Americans not going to British films.  The Economist whines that France gets away with "discrimination" to help its domestic film industry in the form of dubbing licenses, and so does Holland, and it doesn't even have a domestic industry. It's all about the dollars.  So what's the problem? Obviously that films can't be made for £90,000, which is due to the extravagance of the film industry. In short, people are being paid too much. I have an alternate theory, which is that penny-pinching is killing the British film, but what do I know? I only go to the movies, where you can tell a British film by the five minutes of rolling credits at the front over a stock still and instrumental music by some long-dead composer whose widow will let you have it for the price of afternoon tea out at the hotel.

The Daily Telly says that this is the worst British movie ever made. 

Business Notes

First time someone has underlined an article in a while. 
We are worried about the markets, about inflation, which may be due to monetary policy as well as an over-stretched economy, and about a South African devaluation to help the gold industry. South Africa says for its part that it is not going to devalue, but that it does look to the IMF to make the rest of the world devalue with respect to gold. That seems a bit like mounting the high horse, but as long as South Africa can enter into an arrangement to sell 100,000 ounces of gold at $38.20 per ounce (10% over the parity price) over eight weeks, it has some pull. the gold is 22 carat and being sold as sheets, which makes it "industrial," rather than monetary, so technically South Africa isn't breaking the rules, but The Economist is stretching good credit when it says that this is an "experiment." It's not. It's an outright challenge to the price of gold under the Bretton Woods system. The IMF allowed such a sale between Britain and the United States in 1947, which devolved into a major exhange above the Bretton Woods price, but that was different, because it was important countries and not South Africa. The Economist looks forward to the IMF taking prompt action.

Notes celebrating the continuing decline in the trade deficit, the latest four exceptions to the Steel Bill, the Cotton Board's "Redeployment" of work, and the various trade talks now in the works. (Holland, Switzerland and Ceylon.)

Colliery-working Austerity.
By Hugh Llewelyn - Flickr: Bagnall 2758,
CC BY-SA 2.0,
"Coalfield Development in South Wales and Somerset" The National Coal Board has announced three major development projects in the southwest. The biggest will work the low-volatile steam coal deposits in the Little Rhondda and Dare valleys, which are likely to give a million tons a year for a century, a new colliery on the site of the old Mardy 3 and 4 pits, which were closed down when the French market disappeared, which will be an ambitious horizontal working with locomotives hauling coal out of the seams. It will use the labour from the current Bwllfa No. 2 and Ferndale, which will be closed, freeing up 2800 men. Employment in some isolated valleys will be maintained, but The Economist is worried about costs. Finally, the Cefn Coed anthracite colliery in the Dulais valley will be reorganised at a cost of £400,000 to increase production from 160,000 to 250,000 tons per year and expand horizontal working, with output per manshift expected to rise from 19 to 24.6 hundredweights, because why use a measurement an engineer would know? Meanwhile, the NCB has closed more than 20 pits in the region, so you can see why it is worried about employment.

"Wages in 1948" The Ministry says taht there have been considerable wage advances in spite of the stabilisation policy, £1,890,000 for 7.76 million workers, slightly more than in 1947 in spite of the reduction in working hours that year.  A series of financial notes follow, of which I note one about the various disappointments suffered by holders of foreign bonds. Only Chile is willing to pay a good rate of interest, and that only on a "rising scale," whatever that means. Bulgaria isn't paying at all, and Italy only "recognises" its foreign obligations. There's also yet another note about the rise of wholesale prices and how it might relent if American demand for commodities declines.

Shorter Notes is confined to a bit reminding us that cuts in the price of oil and gas products continue to occur.

 Business Roundup

Fortune was not impressed by the Inaugural Address or the budget. It was impressed by a rise in unemployment from 1.6 million to 1.8 million in November 1948 compared with the November of 1947, a further increase of 100,000 in December, and 340,000 new applications for unemployment insurance in December, 415,000 in January. Clearly this means that unemployment will hit 4 million by the spring say some economists. Layoffs are continuing and overtime has disappeared, with hours below 40 in some industries. Kaiser-Frazer has cut production from 4000 to 2000 vehicles a year and laid off 3500 men. The armed forces have announced that they won't need any draftees through March due to the rise in voluntary enlistments. Prices are falling, and the amount of scrap is rising, showing that new production is finally crowding out old. This is Fortune's preferred indicator of a downturn, it seems. Spending on housing is up, but not actual construction, notwithstanding the sudden discovery that the country has 3.5 million more homes than it thought it had, due to statistical error. The boom is therefore continuing, but who knows for how long. How did the President come by his particularly egregious idea that business profits are too high and justify some kind of tax increase? Fortune dropped by the Flanders Committee hearing, where it was very impressed by Joseph Schumpeter arguing that capitalists are unfairly maligned, but then was disgusted by assorted union representatives who think that profits taxes would be a good cure for inflation. Fortune takes a whole page to explain why profits are not too high, mainly due to inflation. Aargh!

 Industrial and Corporate News of the Month

Du Pont is going to split its stock four ways on 1 January, bringing the stock price down to 180, so, really, it's entirely a favour to the small investor. One thing on everyone's mind is du Pont's 10 million GM shares, which the Justice Department is asking it to get rid of, somehow. If it did, however, du Pont would owe $240 million on $600 million in stock if it is treated as a capital gains, probably even more if it is treated as stockholder income. Du Pont is looking for some kind of deal with the Treasury, which Treasury doesn't seem inclined to cut, even though it is the government making du Pont sell, which, Fortune concludes, in a move worthy of The Economist, proves that the Government is "riding off in both directions."

Speaking of people who are bad, Coca-Cola is fighting with its bottlers because the company won't raise prices at retail even though it is raising the price for syrup. Coke thinks that the problem is easily solved if the bottlers just achieve full technical efficiency. I think Fortune thinks that the bottlers are bad? Fortune also approves of the cost-cutters who just bought the Atlantic, Gulf and West Indies, the shipping concern, and some proposals that the NYSE promote stocks and bonds harder amongst low income earners.

"Case for Steam" The Baldwin Locomotive Works makes diesel electrics, but believes that steam is here to stay, and is pleased to announce that it has a big new contract from India for 140 steam locomotives, and has a $100 million backlog in steam.

Remember Google Glass?
New Products announces that nylon is now being used in wheel bearings for baby carriage wheels because it is light and needs no lubrication. It is also being used in other products such as electric razor and food mixers as well as other high speed parts in light machinery such as textile looms. Also, a retailer in Detroit has added a gadget that allows  after-hour shoppers to order a product they see in a window. The shopper just drops a quarter in a coin box and speaks into a microphone attached to the window. The message is recorded, and the product delivered next day. Remington Rand's Vericon and the National Bureau of Standard's atomic clock get mentioned again, and we are told about Charles Percy, the 29-year-old wonder boy who is now president of Bell and Howell. The Elco Division of Electric Boats has suspended yacht production in favour of eighteen-foot automatic bowling alleys[?]. Pacific American Fisheries is working on salmon-skin shoes and handbags, having developed a method of tanning and dyeing the skin. Tide Water Associated Oil has given up trying to get approval to buy $43 million worth of California oil properties from Mrs. Carrie Estelle Doherty, after J. Paul Getty, owner of 30% of Tide Water stock, blocked the deal. Waltham Watch, which I think just got a publicity piece in Fortune lately, has filed for bankruptcy. Howard Hughes has cancelled a deal to sell Hughes Tool to Dillon Read, because the offered price of $45 million was too low. Peter Rathvon, ex-owner of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, is putting his money into an investment management corporation to carry his name. Malcolm Forbes' American Heritage giant magazine gets some publicity.
A Rathvon Production

Fortune's Wheel

Fortune's correspondents were in Caracas for the coup. "We were very scared for a while," said Robert Burlingham. "It was new to us." Eugene Rostow liked the article about the steel industry.


Fortune introduces a series of tax advice columns, written as imaginary letters. What a hackneyed literary device! a little later, there's an article discussing "How to Tell Where You Break Even," which explains gross and net profits and depreciation and all of those things. See, this is why you get out of canning mutton and into speculating on the future price of wool! The only depreciation is what your daughter does when you try to plan her life. 

"ECA Can't Do Everything" That's what is says here. European countries were on a downhill slide before the war, and will face declining standards of living after it, due to their trade balances. Fortune prescribes fiscal rectitude, balanced budgets, sound, convertible currency, unity and maybe less of that "planning" it has heard so much about. 

"The New Haberdashery" Is a cartoon of President Truman in farmer's overalls, the point being that . . he has dressed up the New Deal?

"This is No Time to Raise Taxes" Fortune has no problem finding some experts who say that it is never the time to raise taxes.  
John Hay Whitney. Yes, those Hays.

"Nationalisation in the Philippines" American business is against.

"Venture Capital"After a wandering introduction about the importance of venture capital and its profitability under the American capital gains taxation regime, Fortune gets down to specifics. American Research and Development Corporation is a great investment that is backed by Paine, Webber and a man with the last name "Coolidge," that we are not invited to think is not related to the former President. ARD only has $300,000 capital, so if you like all of its bold new ventures in venture capital and put money in, you will make all the profit. Some things ARD is backing: a new kind of helicopter, an infrared coffee roaster, radar and guided missiles. None of it has made any money yet, but soon, soon! 

Another venture capitalist is New York-based Jock Whitney's New York-based firm has a $10 million capital and has backed Technicolour and Selznick International.   I don't know about the business, but it is pretty clear that Jock Whitney is a handsome man and a great dresser, so I know Henry Luce is going to be thinking about putting in his interest! (Tip of the hat to Uncle George!) Other venture capital efforts that don't wear nice suits for Fortune photographs are a Rockefeller enterprise, Payson and Trask, and H. E. Talbott and Company. 

"There's Business in India" There is!

It's not too late to get in on the ground floor!

 "Maracaibo to the Sea;" and "Creole Petroleum: Business Embassy: Good Citizenship in Venezuela Pays Off for the World's No. 1 Oil Producer: The Company-Government Partnership is Fifty-Fifty, From Profit Sharing to Mosquito Chasing: A New Case Study in U.S. Capital Abroad" This is two articles, or, maybe one article and a slender pictorial, with far fewer, and less impressive, photographs than the feature on the ERA. 

Great pictorial. Can't really do it justice.
Creole Petroleum's 145 mile pipeline from the Venezuelan oil fields on Lake Maracaibo to the sea and a proposed refinery on the Paraguana Peninsula are "one of the most dramatic events in the adventurous history of oil-pipeline construction." That's because they had to lay fifteen miles of pipeline in the Gulf of Coro, which has winds and tides. I'm not sure what the big deal is, and neither is Fortune, which rushes to add that the technological story here is that Creole is  using a new kind of insulation on the pipes that will extend their life from a present four years to twenty. On the bright side, you can enjoy a few photographs before you turn the page and are boggled by the sub-title (not intended as a sub-title, but that's what it technically is) What makes it even more appalling is that this long article on Creole's good citizenship was written by two journalists who share a story about being pinned down by Army machine gun fire during the coup a few pages earlier, in Fortune's Wheel. 

Creole's creed is that "The oil in the soil of Venezuela belongs to Venezuela and, presently, is its greatest natural resource." However, Venezuela only gets the money if it lets Creole pump the oil and sell it. Partnership!

"The Dynamic Men of Dallas" There are businessmen in Dallas, Texas. I know! It floored me, too! They all want to get their pictures in Fortune and they all have nice suits. 

"The Management of Men: Management and Labour are Slowly Learning the Price of Good Industrial Relations is Emotional Re-Education" You can study industrial relations in business school, now.  

"Cosmic Rays" I'm not sure what happened to Fortune's editorial this month. The "New Products" section was written out of Newsweek, which, if you're going to plagiarise, is not the place, I would have said before getting to the story lifted from Radio Digest! Yes, the art is glossier, but really now. Two years ago, I think we thought that cosmic rays were going to be important in the atom race. That hope or fear is now resolved, no-one will say just why, and the focus has turned instead to understand what they tell us about the universe. Perhaps, as we detect new and more powerful particles, they will reveal new and useful "powers."

"How America Can Avoid Socialism" American businessmen are much more community-minded than European, Fortune tells us, and that is why America can avoid socialism, which was much more necessary in Europe, where there are monopolies and aristocracies and social class and tax evasion and too much government. America learned its lesson in the Gilded Age, what with the trust-busters and all, and will make America a nice place on the voluntary principle. 

"New Textile Machines Are Ahead: But Their Slow Appearance Emphasises the Soundness of the Industry's Basic Technology" This is another pictorial article, with diagrams and texts to explain the gradual improvement in weaving machinery since John Kay's original flying shuttle.  It's interesting, even if the whole point of the article is that we shouldn't be investing in this industry, because it is not likely to come back on Uncle George's beloved engineering industry, because new technology only emerges slowly, as they say. 

Ronnie regrets this, and,years later, Grace will find that she has actually clipped these images. They won't go into the bound edition of the letters, either, as there's no way to reproduce them satisfactorily with early Nineties home printing technology; but here they are, now. 

 "Two-Company Venture in Textile Research" Worsted is a very small sector of American textile industry. Wool accounts for only one-tenth of US fibre production, and only two-thirds went into worsted. Worsted is mainly made out of wool top, a low-cost strand of weak,  untwisted wool weighing about half an ounce per yard. About a pound of top goes into a yard of finished thirteen-ounce men's suit fabric, which will sell to the chain clothier at $4.25 to $4.50 a yard, whereas even with the war, the price of wool top doesn't exceed $2.50/yard. This is far less than the difference in cotton, where 8 to 10 cents of cotton becomes 35 to 40 cents a yard of cotton fabric, but the price of wool fluctuates much more than cotton, discouraging experimentation, which is why they stuck with their old Bradford and French machinery while labour costs crept up and obsolescence loomed. More than half of modern American worsted machinery is more than thirty years old. The arrival of rayone stimulated some experiments, which gets us to Bachmann Uxbridge, founded by a merger in 1948 and run by Harold J. Walter, who married into the business. With machine tool makers seeing a decline in business, he had no difficulty persuading Warner and Swasey to design the Warner and Swasey Pin Drafter, introduced early in 1947, and since that was a success, he next got into dye treatments (to be covered in a later issue), which led to the Bachmann Uxbridge hot-air slasher-drying unit, which is in this one. Not content to make worsted, Walter started making the dryer, which is now bringing in a half million a year. The pin drafter did not do so well, and thus Walter was led to a new loom. Looms, which are a solid, long-term investment installed in banks of thirty to a hundred tended by a single operative(!), are a bad business to get into, and have seen many an inventor come and go while the old dependables like the Draper company soldier on, but Walter's new batteries of Sulzer-made machines will change all that. Or may, considering that Walter's looms cost $9000 compared with $2500 for existing ones.

The Law and Labour features continue to be not very interesting.

Books and Ideas

 Harwood F. Merrill's The Responsibilities of Business Leadership gets a full page review. It explains that the business leader's responsibility is to society, not the stockholder. John Dos Passos, as a great novelist, deserves more attention for his latest, a novel of the New Deal called The Grand Design. Fortune, or, actually, John Kenneth Galbraith, didn't like it, for pretty much the reasons you'd expect. (Dos Passos has become a bit of a crank, although Galbraith is too polite to say so). But respect is respect. Andrei Vishinski has a book out, The Law of the Soviet State, which "presages the eventual fall of the Soviet Union" by revealing just how little high Soviet officials know about, really, anything, but especially America. "What Price Comfort" is an article by George Lawton that ran in the New York Times Magazine. It rehearses modern medical science to show that women are hardier and healthier than men. (I'm told that this is scientifically true, because we're the ones that have to have babies; but that you men are stronger, because you're the ones that have to hunt so that we can feed the little ones Gerber's Strained Mammoth and Peas.) What Lawton does with this information is appalling. Women should look after men more; and "both sexes would benefit if women went to work either at home or in business."

Because, as you know, as it stands women just sit on the settee and eat bon bons while listening to soap operas, hoping that some day their husband will earn enough money that they can watch soap operas on the television. (When they arrive, which we, as a sex, demand! Right after our first demand, husbands who look like Sinatra and dance like Kelly, is met.)

(Two, three strikes, you're out!)

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