Sunday, August 4, 2019

Postblogging Technology, May 1949, I: Scuttled


Dear Father:

Well, here I am, back at the epitomiser's desk, substituting for Ronnie because she has to do real work, and I am now just a full-time Navy flyboy, trying out the gadgets on the P2V, including a dust trap that we're hoping to scoop the Air Force with, when Ivan drops his bomb this summer. (At least, we assume that it'll be this summer. It's cold for bomb dropping in Russia in the winter!)

I have been told not to drop any bombs of my own in this letter. I hope that I have been obedient to my instructions, but my blood is boiling over Taft-Hartley repeal. It doesn't help that the business press has been doing a victory lap over it! I've tried telling Ronnie that this is what we get for electing Truman over Wallace, but she has been quite cool to that and perhaps I am pushing my luck. It's hard to believe that business is riding so high in the saddle, and even more so that it is being supported by the Southern bloc. It used to be that you could count on the Klan to at least have no time for Big Business! But now, it turns out that if you're going to fight civil rights, and you have to jettison the Popular Cause to do it, it is okay, because there is a better and higher Popular Cause called, "Keeping the Negro Down." Only they don't say "Negro."

Well, perhaps I should keep myself to myself for as long as I wear Air Force blue, says Ronnie. Given the career I've lined up for myself, it's thirty years out a captain, unless Navy air goes land-based.

Uncle George says that this is fine, because, as much money as the family has made on land already, there will be new vistas in the 1970s. San Francisco will need commuter suburbs on a new scale by then, and why not the West Side? Our alfalfa lands, covered with houses filled with industrious white-collar workers commuting over the mountains by high speed trains? What a vision!

My own vision, meanwhile, consists of the Navy accepting that aircraft carriers are dangerous and impractical contraptions that don't accomplish anything that patrol aviation can't do better. Which is why, perhaps with the optimisim of youth, I am not ruling out a flag in my future.

Your Loving Son,

(Looking in the wrong direction, Reggie)

Aviation Week in May

Editorial covers the swingeing fight on the Joint Chiefs about whether the USS United States was ever authorised in the first place, and John L. Sullivan's decision to make his resignation about defending the Marine Corps rather than the carrier. Taking aim at Louis Johnson is so much fun that the next week we are treated to an attack on excessive Air Force secrecy, which is all his fault. Why should the Convair PY5 be "secret" when it is sitting out in the open at San Diego airport, or the Savage, when it is making test flights over LA? Both are navy planes, and this story is related to the cancellation of United States somehow. There's a nice summary of the Airlift effort by plane, and an obituary of Art Chester. The big science news is progress in afterburner research --it seems like they're the real thing, and NACA's annual report, which summarises what has been learned about high speed flying in the last year. (Among other things, but I think the ongoing, careful research into aileron shapes and inlet valves is more important than preliminary results of ramjet research. The gadget for the week is the SOFAR air-sea rescue bomb (the bomb produces sound waves that allow shore stations to triangulate on a downed crew). 

Some strange politics show up in the 9 May issue. Well, not strange in the case of a story about the British taxpayer "pondering the cost" of civil aviation. The British airport programme is expensive. But General Chennault's proposal to start a feeder airline in western China right now, of all times, is . . . strange. I don't know what else to say. He thinks that the Communists won't make it west, oreven to his port of entry, Canton. Given that he is proposing mines that haven't even been dug yet as clients, he is counting on the Communists being held up in the East for a long time. 

Interestingly, while Northwest and Pan-Am are continuing to operate in to and out of Shanghai and have no plans to stop until the Communists tell them to, which no-one expects them to do, Chennault's Civil Air Transport is a "dead duck" and no longer appears over Shanghai in daylight. 

Flight, 5 May 1949


"Paris --A French Triumph" Ronnie, who hates the "new" Flight editorial team almost as much as she hates The Economist, claims that this is hypocrisy or sour grapes or something. Last week and before, Flight was all on about how the French air show was going to be second rate and all, and probably wouldn't shave its armpits or stop eating garlic or what have you. This week, it is a "triumph." I don't know. I don't have an advanced degree in reading stuff, like certain girls I know who will sweep through law school and end up making far more money as patent lawyers than their engineer husbands, but it seems to me that there's a bit of condescension in this Leader. Like, the French are nearly as good as the British on a bad day, sort of thing. On the other hand, Flight is ont going to miss a chance to scold, so it takes on British industry for not having more exhibits at Paris, and the British airlines for being an hour slower from London to Paris than a "British built helicopter." Flight is upset that it took a full hour between when BEA passengers presented themselves at the Kensington Air Station and their takeoff from Northolt, and another hour between their arrival at le Bourget and their being dropped off at the Gare des Invalides in Paris. That's two hours on top of a 220 mile flight!

"Solent and Thames"  A Short Solent will land on the Thames this Sunday to show off the new flying boat, which means that Flight has a chance to remind us that flying boats are super, super keen, and that all of the everybody who says they aren't, are wrong, wrong, wrong! 

I'm not sure what happened to the French turboprop. 
"The Salon at a Glance: A Preliminary Appraisal of the Aircraft and Power Plants Now on View at the Paris Show"a number of European builders are game to show small planes, and the French have moved on models of the very sometimes very strange planes they want to build. Also, there is the Dassault Ouragan, of course, and helicopters in and out to show that there is actual flying going on, with the air show to follow next week. Some engines were shown, including some light engines to show that everyone's got them and no-one wants them. The French have the Atar turbojet and SOCEMA Ibis turboprop. 

Here and There

The Farnborough show will be held again this year from 7 September to the 11th, with the public admitted on the 10th and 11th. The Air Minister was forced to defend the accuracy of the Easter weekend weather forecasts in the Commons this week, because that is how parliamentary government works. Curtiss-Wright announced its rocket engine for the Bell X-2, the Typhoon turboprop that isn't going on the B-52, and the Turbo-Cyclone again. Recycling announcements  always makes me suspicious. Don' t you have anything new to say? And since the one project going forward is the P2V with the Turbocyclone, that is, my plane, I'm even more suspicious. Arsenal Football Club will fly to Rio on regular BSAA services over the weekend. It doesn't say why, but I guess they'll be playing soccer, and not real football. Captain Rickenbacker's Eastern Airlines wants to buy a four-engined jet, of which there are none likely from American builders soon. NPL is having an Open Day. Whatever happened to Open Days? They were everywhere last year! 

Way down in News in Brief, there's a bit about how the cancellation of United States is "believed to be responsible for the resignation of the Secretary of the Navy." Well! Now that's soft-pedalling! It makes me wonder about the bit above it, where Brooklands Aviation announces that they have "withdrawn their financial interest in the College of Aeronautical Engineering, of Wimbledon and Hanworth." 

"Helicopters Make History: Two British Types Fly to Paris"  I have no idea what the hstoric first is, but a Bristol 171 and a Sikorsky did fly from England to Paris, and they even carried a Distinguished Passenger or two, and landed on rooftops or whatnot to show that this is something that helicopters can do. Why, next they will deliver some letters to the roof of a post office building! Wouldn't that be something? It is, of course, the dawning of a bright new age when helicopters that can carry large numbers of passengers economically, carry large numbers of passengers economically. But, first, we need to build the helicopters, and possibly change the laws of nature so they can exist. 

A feature about the "Central Flying Establishment" seems to exist to put words around pictures of jet fighters. Lots of pilots from around the Commonwealth fly jet fighters (especially new ones), and work out all the kinks. 

Civil Aviation News

"Hill of the Rising Dawn" with this orthography.By kevin rothwell,
CC BY-SA 2.0,
British European Airways will have an internal network of commercial flights in Germany this summer, using Vikings, and including the first London-Munich connection since before the war. BOAC is introducing a Singapore-Rangoon flying boat service using Plymouths, which are yet another name for Sunderlands. The Chief Inspector of Accidents' report on the Isle of Man crashlast September that killed four in spite of being a truly ridiculous "milk run" carrying milk from Belfast to Liverpool on a basis of six flights a day. I cannot believe this story, but I guess I have to, because they really were loaded with 1124 gallons of Northern Irish milk bound for Liverpool when they clipped the summit of Cronk-ny-Iree-Laa Mountain under visual flying conditions on 28 September. The conclusion is that the mountain was the crunchy filling in a creamy cloud lining.All of the Uno's chartered Consuls (another name for Ansons) that were being used in Israel have now been returned to the dealers. South African Airways won't start Johannesburg-New York or Amsterdam routes any time soon because they can't afford to spend the money to compete with Pan Am and KLM, and missed their chance to buy 6 DC-6s from SAS. The "Super-Super DC#" will have a maximum takeoff weight of 29,500lbs, up 2700 from original, will be available in 23 and 40 seat cabin (double seating on both sides of a 13 1/4" aisle) arrangements, and will be able to carry 1704 gallons of fuel, up from 800, in new wing tanks. Power plants will be the Wright 1830 or Pratt and Whitney R-2000. Various pilots have flown "spectacular" numbers of sorties into Berlin, including Don Bennett, who has flown 250 in his own Tudor, Captain Parkinson, of the same company (Airflight) had made 180, Captain Nutton, of Westminster, has flown more than 170. In the five days ending Easter Monday, four BSAA Tudor Vs made 75 sorties, carrying 170,000 gallons of fuel into Berlin from Wunsdorf. 

In Brevities, J. V. Wood has returned to BEA from sick leave. KLM is receiving another two Constellations, bringing their fleet to twenty. Reuters says that the Western Division of B.O.A.C. earned more than £1,125,000 in dollars and nearly ,£2,000,000 sterling in 1948. Air travel during the Easter weekend beat all previous records. Air France is adding Dewotine 338s to its DC-3 fleet serving Corsica to meet increased demand.
"Lift and Drag: An Appraisal of High-Lift Devices and Their Uses: Precis of a Paper Given by R. R. Duddy to the R. Ae. S. at Portsmouth College on 21 April" Split flaps and the Handley Page type leading edge slats and trailing edge slotted flaps came out back in 1921 or so, and since, we've seen the Fowler flap and trailing-edge double-slotted flaps. Most of the discussion was quite technical, but the author concludes that there is no point in increasing the aspect ratio of a four-engined aircraft beyond 10, at least as far as takeoff distance goes. That was not my understanding! The last third of the discussion covers swept-wing aircraft, which have problems with the aerodynamics of high-lift devices, as with most things. Duddy has some suggestions for reducing the impact of flaps on tip stall and longitudinal stability, both of which are associated with swept-wing planes either shaking themselves apart or falling out of the sky, both of which are bad, in my expert opinion.
Back to the day when the Avon was still on the Secret List.

Robert Smith-Barry gets a top-of-page obituary as the inventor of the Gosport training system, even if he did vanish from the aviation world after the end of the war.

Appropriately autumnal lighting
"Air Day at Woodford" The Auxiliary Air Force turned out at Manchester to fly around in the rain and entertain some hundred thousand people with jets, a (grounded) Shackleton, some Tiger Moths, and a flypast by the Avon-Lancastrian that "hinted at the hefty push provided by these still-secret turbojets."

Major General Urquhart is raising money to pay for some kind of memorial item at the rebuilt Osterbeek Protestant Church at Arnhem, which was the 1st Airborne Division's base during the battle.

Putting two and two together: Correspondence's
resident idiot is the guy behind the Tribian, and
also the guy who invented the infallible "use
entry in Debretts to marry an Australian
heiress" strategy of achieving his personal
wealth goals. Warrender and Pamela Myer
divorced in 1986, "but remained close."  
"Aeronautical Pole-Squatting: Remarkable Effort by an American Light Aircraft: 1008 Hours in the Air"Sunkist Lady, a four-seat Aeronca Sedan powered by a 145hp Continental flat six, flew to Florida and back with some delays, with the refuelling crew accompanying them in another aircraft, the Sunkist Lady's Maid. The two pilots started out taking four hour shifts at the controls, but cut that to one hour shifts in the last week or so because the pilots were having trouble staying awake. There were two refuellings a day, accomplished by the time-honoured method of driving a Jeepster along underneath the plane and handing up some jerricans. Besides Sunkist Oranges and a Willys-Overland dealer, the flight was sponsored by the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce. In shorter news, Iceland Airways is now flying a DC-4 on the Reykjavik-Prestwick-London route, Air Service Training has upgraded its cinema "Astrodome" at Hamble. It seats 280 and is as well equipped as any public cinema. Simon Warrender, of Sponson Developments, will be flying a Percival Proctor various places in a 12,000 mile trip doing "market research" for the Sponson Tribian. I mentioned this to Ronnie at lunch and nearly lost her her job, when she broke out in the giggles at an afternoon show. Models can be so serious!


C. C. B. is upset about the fact that RAF gliding clubs have to pay for the motor spirits tax on their tows. (Tip of the hat to Ronnie!) J. W. Smith thinks that Dakotas should be sent aloft with Darts and Mambas, whilst Apollos, Viscounts and Ambassadors should fly with Double Mambas and Coupled Naiads, all in the name of testing them in flight. Christopher Blackburn is upset that the Stratoliner is being marketed as the world's first double-decker airliner, when in fact the first was the Sandringham, with later the Bermuda and Solent, which are all Sunderlands in disguise. Peter Wright thinks that air shows should be more fun. (In my experience, they are like baseball games, in that the key isn't so much more events as more beer.)

The Economist, 7 May 1949


"Rigidities" Remember when high American prices were bad for British exports, because it made commodities too expensive? Guess what? Falling American prices are bad for British exports, because they make the products uneconomical. Sir Stafford was asked in Rome whether he favoured devaluing the pound to make up for this, and he said he didn't, but, The Economist explains, Chancellors have to cross their fingers behind their back when they say these things. (Remember how Hugh Dalton was thrown to the wolves for forgetting finger crossing?) So that's all right, then. The point is, as the Empire's highest authority (The Trinidad Chamber of Commerce) points out, British radios are too expensive. Therefore the solution isn't devaluation. It's bashing the TUC for expecting pay raises. But since Cripps is "rigidly" attached to the idea that people deserve pay raises, we are to have devaluation instead, and then everything will be terrible.

"Unity and Recovery" The last time I checked these beige pages, Europe was doomed. Now it is not doomed. How is to become even less doomed? Profesor Hawtrey wrote a letter to the Times saying that a common European currency and customs union is just the ticket. The Economist invites everyone to laugh at him for his blithe optimism. It is not that he is wrong, just that he doesn't understand that this must only happen very, very, very, very slowly over a very long time and not be too quick because the turtle wins the race by virtue of being so slow. Slowly. Whew. This filling out pages by repeating yourself is hard, and makes me better appreciate why The Economist uses lsuch sentences.

"Test Case in Greece" It might seem as though Greece is steadily improving and that the civil war is being won, but in reality everything is terrible because we give them too much money and the army is malcontented and the government is weak. The Economist modestly proposes that British and American troops be deployed to guard the frontiers against Communist infiltrators so that the Greek troops can shoot all the Communists in the villages.

I bet we could defeat the Communist leadership by dropping atom bombs on all the hotels in Moscow, too.

"Electoral Illusions" This article is by A Correspondent who has made a special study of election statistics. It turns out that the election will be decided by the "floating voter" who hasn't made up his (or her) mind yet. Usually, they haven't made up their mind because they don't care about politics and will make it up for any old silly reason. The floating voter is probably in the "middle class," which is why the middle class will decide the election. However, because the middle class is only a minority, it can't decide the election by itself! And more upper class voters (31% of the population) like the Conservatives (40% more), while more voters of "the next two class stratas" (69%) like Labour, but only a bit (20%) more. Since fewer people like Labour than in 1945, it is likely that neither party will win a comfortable majority. In the end, it will come down to the party that fights the election harder.

Notes of the Week

"Dates with Vishinsky" The Blockade of Berlin was just beginning down its inevitable path to victory the last time I took up the epitomising, and The Economist was helpfully advising the government on the best way to surrender when I stopped. So it's interesting to see how The Economist treats the end of the Blockade with complete Soviet defeat. It is with a one line acknowledgement at the top of Notes of the Week  in a long note devoted to how abandoning the blockade is a great Russian victory, because it shows how reasonable they are. The Russians will probably have a diabolical plan for dividing Germany between two governments. Western governments must be prepared for a dramatic trial of strength!

"The Council of Europe" is the next step in European unification. The Economist hopes that it will consider giving Germany a seat on the Council, and that this will cause it to explode, because Britain and Scandinavia have more interests in common with America than with Europe, where a bunch of liberals are trying to form cartels to export successfully, which is the kind of thing that "those" who run the OEEC love.

"Ambiguous Embassy in China" The Economist being The Economist, we're not going to have a story about the Amethyst. Instead we're going to have a story about ongoing talks about having talks that might lead to Amethyst getting out of there, of which The Economist disapproves, because Communism is bad.

(British Pathe explains, because someone has to: On 20 April, HMS Amethyst was headed upriver to Nanjiang to relieve HMS Constant as Embassy guard ship when it steamed into the middle of the PLA's preparations for an assault crossing of the river. Shelling began at 8:31 and Amethyst was promptly grounded by a steering casualty, enduring further shelling, which ended at 11:00. Twenty-two men were killed, including the skipper, and  41 wounded. After evacuation to the Nationalist-controlled side, 60 unwounded men were left aboard Amethyst. Three atttempts to relieve Amethyst by various warships, none of them particularly heavily armoured, followed in the next week.)

"The End of Steel" The Economist still disapproves of the Iron and Steel Bill, which is now being "sent up to the Lords," which is yet another step in the Rube Goldberg contraption that is British democracy. The Economist disapproves, but not in a fire-breathing way, because it is hoping that the Lords will fiddle with the Bill. Doesn't that make it more likely that the Bill won't pass? Or am I confusing the British Rube Goldberg with the American, where a bit of fiddling can make Taft-Hartley repeal blow up in spite of it being the reason the President won the election! ("The election gives the President no mandate for socialism, or, for that matter, anything that Senator Taft can scuttle with a timely concession to his Honourable Colleague of the Invisible Empire.")

"Reactions to the Formula" India announced that it is going to remain in the Commonwealth and be a republic, and everyone waited for awhile to see if anyone would get really upset, such as for example Churchill, but no-one did, except General Smuts, who is old. Canada didn't get upset, but Australia and New Zealand did, a little bit, except that they like India, so they didn't.

"John Bull's Other Ireland" Speaking of, since Ireland said that it was actually independent and not part of the Commonwealth, it stands to reason that all the Irish working in Britain should get passports, but that would be very hard to do, so Parliament made a bill that Ireland isn't a foreign country or the same country either. It's just Ireland.

"No End in Indonesia" The embargo on Marshall Plan aid to the Dutch means that the end in Indonesia is barrelling closer, so The Economist puts its fingers in its ears and pretends it can't hear. It has letters from planters! They're very upset because the Indonesians are mean to them because they don't like being colonised! Oh, why don't the Indonesians just settle down and start to like being colonised? Maybe it is because the Dutch army hasn't shot enough of them to make them like the Dutch. Shoot more people, Dutch!

You see? This is why I read liberal papers!

"Theory in Germany --Practice in America" Dr. Schumacher wants to move money between German federal states to cover social welfare costs, but General Clay won't let him because of the American Constitution? But he is upholding an interpretation of the Constitution that the Supreme Court rejected in 1936? So he's wrong about what the German government can do because of the Supreme Court's opinion on a New Deal Act? What? Is there something in the water? (In all seriousness, the issue seems to be that Schumacher is aiming to add to the powers of the German central government that will be, which will, a little later, make it all Nazi.)

"Peron Shirks the Truth" Well, I sure hope President Peron isn't violating the US Constitution, because there would be Hell to pay! Hmm, no. It turns out that there is inflation in Argentina and Peron can't fix it.

General Modelski's life passed, for the most part, outside of
the public eye. It turns out that pre-Communist Poland hadpolitics?
Who would have thought?
"Trouble in Uganda" There were anti-Indian riots in Buganda, which is a province of Uganda, which is an inland colony in British East Africa. The Economist explains that the anti-resident foreigner campaign is perfectly reasonable and not at all ugly nativism, before moving on to explain that the riots were really caused by a small group of ungrateful agitators with communist ties. I'm left feeling like I don't know anything about Buganda or Uganda, but I do know a lot about this correspondent. And speaking of, there's a bizarre note below one about local government that I'm sparing you, and one about nurse training in which The Economist seems to endorse a global anti-Slav pogrom. (General Modelski, who is testifying before HUAC this week, said that the Polish government told its diplomatic corps that it was supposed to work to bring down the British Empire, and was to cultivate ties with Polish national communities abroad. Thus, Pan-Slavism has become anti-Communist and anti-British and is a deadly threat to the Empire.

By Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the
Open Parliament Licence v3.0, OPL 3.0,
"Training of Nurses" The Nurses Bill is going to reform the way that the British train nurses by making new nurses more like students and less like apprentices. They'll learn by going to more classes and emptying fewer bedpans. The Economist does that thing where it starts out agreeing and then concludes that this worthwhile improvement is regrettably impossible, since, what with the shortage of nurses and all, fewer bed pans will be emptied.

"A Cassandra on Housing" Oh, is The Economist ever firing on all cylinders this week! Miss Marian Bowley is "an acknowledged authority on housing," and is writing for International Labour Review, so you know that she isn't some kind of Tory, but she says that "It seems probably . . . that if no improvement in costs and productivity occurs, housing policy will break down under the burden of its own costs, as happened after the first World War." I wonder if she actually said, as The Economist says, that some way of reducing the cost of housing and the labour force in construction must be found before "some kind of violent upheaval occurs." If so, she really is The Economist's kind of expert, accurately and forthrightly predicting a counter(?)-revolution if the cost of houses rises above so many hundred pounds sterling, and no more. Needless to say, she thinks that modern housing is just too luxurious. I don't know if she's mentioned it, but Ronnie's theory is that the writers of The Economist are all landlords who can't get tenants for their stinking old slums.

"Getting to Work" Another social crisis that is  happening is the long times being spent getting too and from work in Britain nowadays. A Gallup poll shows that the average is three-quarters of an hour a day, while the average clerical worker loses almost an hour a day, and The Economist supposes that a suburb-living professional must spend more than two hours a day. This is, it says, an "enormous wastage of leisure." In this Note, the solution is alleviating the housing shortage. There is no estimate of how long travel times have to get before there is violent counter-revolution.


John Scott writes to defend the British consul in Shanghai. A. Gervase Smith thinks that George Bernard Shaw is naive when he says that the atom bomb won't be used in the next war.  Andrew F. McElvaine of Buenos Aires, and Albert E. Burns, of Bangor, agree that the Irish leaving the Commonwealth is terrible and should rule out any federal union between "Ulster and Eire." Montague Keen, of Fruit Trades Journal, thinks that the Government has no horticultural policy at all. The Economist and H. Houthaker, of Amsterdam, have a spat about the Australians selling wool to Dutch traders for sugar at below the authorised exchange rate, which leaks sterling into the dollar area. M. K. Dziewanowski has read Churchill's Boston speech in which he said that armies of Asiatic horse archers almost conquered Europe five hundred years ago but didn't, and therefore, I suppose, Communism somehow. M. K. Dziewanowski points out that Churchill's history is ludicrously wrong.

American Survey

"The Tide Against Isolation" Mid-western Isolationists are always on the rise in America, at least in The Economist. But now they aren't! Also, the New York office says that mostly, actually, they never were. "The ratification of the Atlantic Pact provides the latest test of its ability to overcome Senatorial reluctance and resist Russian blandishments."

"Puerto Rican Prospects" Since the lead article is very little more than a page-and-a-half sketch of twenty-five years of American isolationism and counter-isolationism, it seems the journalistic thing to do to have a story that is actually news. This one is about how Puerto Rico is struggling with the "typical Caribbean problems of overpopulation, poor soil, dependence on one crop, sugar, and lack of raw materials, against a background of poverty, illiteracy and dependence." The American tariff wall, we're told, is the lifeblood of the island, since it means they get more for their sugar. Added in are federal subsidies, which means that Puerto Rico is better off as a dependency of America than independent or a state. The Economist goes on to explain that Puerto Rico's first elected governor, "M. Munoz," is pro-business, anti-independentist, and has a wonderful new land reform scheme. As for overpopulation, the population has risen from one million to two, and will probably reach 3 in 1960, which is obviously too much, what with unemployment and all (because who can do antying about unemployment?). Thus, Puerto Ricans must either immediately adopt birth control, or emigrate en masse to America to work as labourers and domestics. The Economist blithely notes that, since Puerto Ricans are "slightly coloured," some Americans are prejudiced against them. Really!

American Notes

"Taft-Hartley Reprieved" The Economist explains how the Senate killed the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Bill. I would lay out the parliamentary manoeuvring in detail if I could just read this note through the blood-red curtain in my eyes.

"Against Deflation" The Federal Reserve has now fully reversed its efforts of the last three years to restrict the growth of the money supply, because "deflation is more imminent than inflation," and because we can now agree that the United States has been in a recession for the last several months. The banks are finding it increasingly  hard to find places to invest, so some easing on the credit side is a good idea before everyone piles into Treasury Bonds, which I think The Economist means to say will have bad knock-on effects, although I'm not clear what they are, and it doesn't explain.

"Politicians in the Sick Room" A very brief summary of the fight over the President's health insurance proposals. I think pretty much every paper on this side of the pond has done better, so I'll leave it at that. A second note on the same subject gets into a bit more into the details of the President's compulsory Federal health insurance, which would be financed by payroll taxes on a Social Security-type basis to yield $4.5 billion from employers and employees alike. Add in $1.5 billion from the Treasury, and there would be enough for a $6 billion annual payment to doctors and hospitals that choose to come into the scheme. The Taft scheme, favoured by the AMA and the Daughters of the Revolution, would hand over $1.5 billion to the states, which would implement their own programmes that presumably wouldn't be compulsory and so in no way socialistic.

Shorter Notes mentions Franklin Roosevelt, Junior's run for Congress, the CAB authorising four freight airlines from amongst the ranks of the non-skeds, and Secretary Johnson's attempts to extend the Army's effort to end segregation and discrimination to the other services. (And bolster it in the Army, which has 72,000 enlisted Negroes.) And the fall in the price of cocoa means a rise in the weigh of chocolate bars, although still not to the grand and mouth filling bars of my youth.

The World Overseas

"New Phase in Europe, I: Relief from Fear and Hope of Reform" Everything is better, but most people wouldn't be unhappy if Germany remained divided into pro-Western and pro-Eastern bits.

"An instructive failure" that regrettably failed to take Aboriginal
concerns or the environment into account. 
"More Meat from Australia" The Australians are to spend £1.5 million on hundreds of miles of new roads and bridges in the Northern Territories and also to improve "station properties," fences, and water supplies at an additional cost bringing the total capital investment to around £9 million. This is all in aid of greatly increasing Australia's beef export, and is justified by a British guarantee to take the entire Australian export surplus for the next ten years. There are currently only 70 artificial water reservoirs in the north, and the Northern Territories have only a tiny proportion of Australia's 14 million head of cattle, enough to produce 58,000 cattle for slaughter and another 78,000 "store" for feedlot fattening. This produces 31,000 tons of beef, and the road improvements, which are the first stage of the plan, will increase this by 10,000t, much of it by adding 50lb per cow, since they don't have to walk as far. The more visionary improvements will presumably increase the number of head produced. (Another note finally mentions that the Northern Territory has a million head, and this will increase to 2.5 million under the scheme.)

In aid of all of this, The Economist publishes one of its sketch maps showing vast stretches of little-known parts of the world, of the kind that always brings out the romantic in me. Now I want to go there! It also notes that since it will take up to ten years for the Australian scheme to bear fruit, and since Australian meat consumption is rising, this does not actually mean much more beef for Britain.

"Land for Italy's Peasants" Agrarian reform distributing land from large owners to Italian peasants has been going on for years, and the Gasperi government wants to continue it, as it is good for the peasants and good for the anti-communists, since small proprietors are thought to be reliable anti-socialist voters. It will need to be accompanied by financial assistance to improve the land, but that also seems possible at this moment.

The Business World

"Britain, Canada and Wheat" A blow-by-blow of the ongoing effort to extract semi-hard wheat from Canada instead of hard wheat from America, and Canada's reciprocal desire for at least semi-hard currency in payment, so that it can extract hard goods from America. This requires American cooperation, since the money will come from Marshall aid, and the Senate understandably has no time for any such notion of using American aid money to buy Canadian wheat over American. Somehow, buying Canadian wheat with "earned" dollars might be balanced by buying American cheese, dried egg and milk products with ECA dollars, or banking excess ECA funds, if the Americans allow it, which it won't. The Brits also can't drop the deal, since it is "inviolate." So it is not clear where the extra "earned dollars" are going to come from.

"Trends in Car Engine Designs" The Economist explains that fuel efficiency is quite important to an auto owner, so engines should aim for higher "thermal efficiency." It understands that a high compression ratio is good for that, but that it strains the engine, so that you want to "stiffen the engine block, [second] . . . shorten piston stroke . . . fatten . . the cylinder." V-opposed engines are coming back because of their higher resistance to stress compared with inline engines. "Some" engineers are also concerned with spark plug life. The Engineer concedes that the old horsepower tax inspired British engineers to reach for higher compressions, but that means higher octane ratings, and these have not always been available, especially with the wartime reduction of motor gas ratings to only 72 octane. No British builder has a 12 to 1 compression ratio like the new GM engine, as this requires 97 octane. This leaves British engineers bitter that they are working at 8 to 1 when the highest ratio achieved by the first generation of Cadillac high compression engines is 7.5-1. But the Cadillac has been designed to go up to 10-1 without any new engineering other than in the shape of the piston head. British industry, meanwhile, has to wait on higher octane fuels. (Which are produced in lower quantities from a given amount of crude oil, although the new cracking refineries might help with this.)

If higher compression ratios turn out to be economically unfeasible in British engines, it might be possible to improve efficiency in other ways, perhaps by looking at fuel induction or temperature control. Beyond that, there is the perennial hope for a diesel engine that is not "too rough" for the average owner, or perhaps a gas turbine engine, which might be a bit much, or a compound engine with an exhaust turbine. The Economist has read some interesting things about the "Centrax Power Unit." This is the first I've heard about that. I miss my library! So I asked Ronnie to call Miss Ch. for a quick literature search, and it turns out that they're a by-blow of the Whittle group that decided not to go into the National Gas Turbine Research Institute, and instead went into business on their own hook. They showed off a 150hp truck engine two years ago, but no word on that front since.

Business Notes

The Economist takes time out from financial news to visit the British Industries Trade Exhibition and worry about textile exports before plunging back into finances. There's an interesting discussion of the reforms on depreciation allowances in the Finance Bill, which does apply to  us, since overall, they increase the rate at which capital goods depreciate, which hopefully means faster turnover for engineering industry goods --although it could also mean higher costs in twelve years or so for manufacturers if they choose not to recapitalise on the faster schedule. After many, many notes about finances, of very little interest (except that early profit reports show increases, so it has been a good year for British industry, except Wolseley, which lost sales to recapitalisation, although it saw increased North American exports as a consolation), we arrive at "Re-equipment and Prices in the Cotton Industry," which title pretty much sums up the note, unless you are interested in the details of the way that the Board of Trade controls the way that the Cotton Board controls textile piece good exports. (It is giving up on explicit market group controls for the next four months in favour of exportations to sell more to Argentina, Belgium, the Belgian Congo, Persia and Switzerland.) It also turns out that opencast coal mining might not be as competitive with pit mining as was supposed, due to the poor quality of the coal, and the Ministry wants to reduce the amount of open-cast mining as quickly as possible, and confine it to the best sites.

Not strictly a Shorter Notei s a complaint that, if centralised buying of base metals isn't yielding lower prices, the Ministry of Supply should give it up in favour of re-opening the London Base Metals Exchange, which "was a useful dollar earner before the war." More money for London financial types, and of course, somehow (high base metal prices increases the cost of domestic goods and distorts exports by keeping "other elements of the cost of living artificially high") lower wages for everyone else. Actual Shorter Notes cover the failure of the Exchange Bank of India, a report that SS Magdalena is unsalvageable, and that the price that Anglo-Iranian is paying for Iranian heavy crude is set to fall again.

Flight, 12 May 1949


"The Impossible Achieved" Flight's reading of the end of the Berlin Blockade is that the Air Lift was great and the RAF was great.

"Model Achievements" Flight thinks that model aircraft builders don't get enough credit, and that the new whirling tower at Dayton might turn out to be a big deal.

"Remembering the Past" Last week, it was reported that a Short Solent would land on the Thames in London to celebrate the fact that there were airplanes in the old days. This week, it is reported that a Short Solent landed on the Thames, etc. In conclusion, everyone should think very hard about the Short Solent. Repeat three times. Or, if you are an airline executive, buy three times.

"Salon Studies" Flight's correspondent walked around the Grand Palais and took nice pictures. The Dassault Ouragan takes pride of place, but Sud-Ouest also has a fighter prototype, the Espadon, as well as a jet bomber and a naval fighter.  The French are also building a variety of high speed research planes. The Atar jet gets more attention. I'm told that it is based on the wartime BMW engine, but, as described, has all kinds of bells and whistles. For example, the German brainstorm of hollow turbine engines (for cooling) has been continued, the jet nozzle has variable area, and the engine is single-lever control, with temperature and speed maintained by control input via fuel flow and the contraption that controls the nozzle area.

Turbomeca, the supercharger company, has also branched out into turbojets, with another of the tiny auxiliary plants like the one that Boeing is working on.  Following the Palais walkaround, Flight has a blow-by-blow of the Royal Aeronautical Society Garden Party, thrown at White Waltham and hosted by Fairey Aviation.

Here and There

"Sixty-eight of the 214 Freighters built were destroyed or damaged
beyond economical repair in accidents.
At least 45 of these were fatal, resulting in the deaths of at least 385 
Adastra Airways has a contract to survey New South Wales' Darling River in connection with a plan to put weirs along the river.  Truculent Turtle is in Northolt to celebrate the anniversary of the USN's 1919 Atlantic crossing. The Gemini, powered by a pair of Gipsy Majors, originally a Miles project, is expected to receive a Certificate of Airworthiness soon. It has logged 15 hours a day, and is just the thing for everyone who wants a 280hp twin making 170mph.  Alan Cobham is back in action, refuelling Meteors in the air. He sees no reason that refuelling can't be done at 500mph if there were tankers that could make 500mph. Canadair has a contract to build Northrop Raiders. Follows a story covering Oswald Shorts' party in Rochester.

"The Freighter Accident" Bristol Aircraft's developmental Freighter, a Type 170, has crashed, killing seven senior Bristol executives and engineers. For this issue, only an obituary of the pilot, J. A. C. Northway, is available.

G. A. Tokaev, "Background of the Soviet Air Force" One sentence descriptions of major Soviet aircraft designers and aeronautical engineers is followed by brief descriptions of research institutions and pictures of students studying and of a La-9 on the ground. Colonel Tokaev wants us to know that in Russia, women can study aeronautical engineering. I would be more impressed if they hadn't screened the students for looks. Or maybe, in Russia, aerodynamicists just are that good looking. In America, Ronnie has nothing to worry about.

"Favonius," "The Asymptotic Bomber:Some Comments on US Air Policy and its Effect on Long-Range Bomber Designs" When Ronnie last checked in with the pseudonymous author, presumably an RAF man in California, he was still steaming over the cancellation of the YB-49 in favour of the B-36, and arguing from basic aerodynamics that the B-35 could never drop bombs as large as atom bombs on a place as far away as Moscow. Since when, the Air Force has put a neat package of jet engines way out on the wing of the B-36. "Favonius'" slide rule proves (PROVES!) that, at a takeoff weight of 216,000lbs, meaning 6000 gallons of fuel in auxiliary tanks in the bomb bay, at 5000 miles, the B-35 must bomb, at best, from "approximately" 39,000ft, on the assumption that the Wright R-4360-41 gives 2650hp at the supercharger critical height of 35,000ft, (and 3500hp at takeoff.) The "at best" part comes from a best case analysis of the drag coefficient. The gun turrets must be retracted (no interceptors around), and the boost gain from exhaust thrust must be optimistically higher than the cooling loss. 

"Favonius" is still steamed. The B-35 can't carry a parasitic fighter in this condition, and while American jet fighters can't intercept at 40,000ft due to the air falling off their wings, RAF fighters can. He says. Without even bothering with proof more convincing than that the Ghost Vampire can climb to 40,000ft in eight minutes. This is so much proving that "Favonius" has to rest by denouncing the Canadians for buying a license to build the F-86 instead of the Vampire.

Resting done, he turns to the B-36D, which is the version with four GE J-47s to boost  power in takeoff and at altitude. This gives 460mph at 35,000-40,000ft, albeit at the cost of a takeoff weight of 360,000lbs (Oh. My. God.), which would still be easy meat for British jet fighters, "Favonius" hand-waves, before resting by explaining that an atom bomb gives the explosive effect of 100 tons of dynamite for 30lbs of bomb, that each bomb costs about a million dollars, that America is making a bomb a week on the estimated working load of a million kilowatts producing two pounds of fissionable material, and that the current stockpile is between 100 and 200 bombs. 

I think that might actually be related to something, which is the argument about whether the Navy or the Air Force gets to drop bombs, which explains why the Air Force prefers the B-36 to aircraft carriers, if not B-49s, which is not something that needed explaining. So off we go to explain that it's all politics, that an influential Democrat in Washington is the "darkie in the woodpile." 
But at least we get a neat sketch of how aircraft all up weight increases asymptotically as range (fuel load) goes up.

The Economist, 14 May 1949


"Beware the Smile" A week has passed, and it is now necessary to acknowledge that the Forces of Good won the Battle of the Berlin Blockade, because we are good and nice and also have better planes and radios. The Economist is up to the task. "Nevertheless, this first clear victory in the cold war is being strangely misinterpreted in the western countries." Specifically, it's not really a victory, because Berlin is still vulnerable and the Russian retreat was only tactical; but we shouldn't treat it as an excuse to make concessions or anything like that, either. So it's not a victory, but we should treat it like one? Smiling, concessionary, friendly Russians are the worst kind!

"Food and People" The Economist read Food and People, by Aldous Huxley and Sir John Russell, and is not impressed. You know the story by now. The world's population is increasing faster than the food supply, which is anyways falling due to falling soil fertility. Food exporters are eating more food, and the rising populations of Asia are even more overpopulating, and Britain can't pay for food imports anyway because of balance of payments. The Economist points out that, in reality, the world's food supply might be at the lowest point it will ever be, due to the war, since food production has overall tended to increase. People are better fed than ever, even if far too many poor people aren't fed enough. The authors write of "doubling the world's food supply" and despair at the impossibility of it, but that is exactly what would happen if what is farmed now were all farmed to western standards. World population is not rising as quickly as it once was, and it is silly to think that China will call on the world's food supply if it cannot pay for it with exports. It's all very interesting, but it is also a cleverly concealed push back against the idea that Britain needs to grow more food, which idea continues to appall The Economist. 

"The Minor Authorities" British town councils and local councils and what-have-you are holding their elections this week. The Economist cares, and I do not!

Notes of the Week

The lead notes give the latest in the ongoing struggle to have a Council of Europe, celebrates the new German Constitution, and scolds Ireland for leaving the Commonwealth and for being upset that the British won't arrange for Ulster to be part of a federal Irish state.

A little more clarity on the strategic and historic importance of the Yangzi
crossing might have made the last year of the Civil War a great deal more
comprehensible to the white devils, but would have required research.
"Push for Shanghai" As of writing, Communist forces have cross the Yang-tse and are pushing into Fukien and Jiangsi provinces, while approaching the forts of Woosung from the south and the port of Shanghai. The Economist is pessimistic about the Nationalists holding out in Canton, and believes that there is a threat to Hong Kong.

"Mr. Strachey Hides the Truth" The truth is that the East African Patriotic-Englishmen-Can't-Call-Them-Peanuts Scheme is a disaster. Drought has blighted the crop, and the "spirits of the men on the spot." (No mention of the women, whose spirits were supposedly already blighted by the lack of domestic help.) Also "blighting" "spirits," were the "ruthless dismissals" of various men who amply deserved to be dismissed. The Economist says that that led to everyone else on the Scheme polishing up their resumes and sending letters to London. It doesn't say if some of those letters were to The Economist, allowing it to discover just what a disaster the Scheme is. Because the point is that Lytton Strachey, whom The Economist was laying into just last week over eggs, has "ceased to be a responsible minister," and is now  just a "press agent" for the Overseas Food Corporation, and should therefore resign or be fired.

Perhaps he can just disappear, the way that Lever Brothers did?

"Fresh Hope in Indonesia" If the Republicans volunteer to stop fighting, the Dutch promise to stop fighting, and this will, finally, end the long and dangerous dispute. Just as long as the Republicans keep up their end of the bargain to not fight for independence any more, which by all accounts isn't  the agreement they signed, which was only for a ceasefire. But in The Economist's ever hopeful eyes, a ceasefire is a surrender, and it will be the Republicans' fault if fighting starts again. (Actually, that's reasonable. What's not reasonable is expecting the Dutch to win!) This story then leads into something about how the Israelis are dragging out proposals to "internationalise" the "holy places," in the expectation that talking about talking will lead to nothing being done about the fact that the Israelis are in the drivers' seat.

"More Food From Canada" Since the ECA allocation of $70 million for wheat from Canada now can't be spent on wheat from Canada, the Ministry of Food has gone shopping to find other Canadian food Britain can buy instead. Canned salmon, apples and "fruitpulp" are the clear winners so far, but now there is talk about 100,000 tons of flour, which seems like cheating, and $10 million in timber, which isn't food, although maybe there are some Connecticut turnips mixed in, who could tell? The shopping list having been approved by C. D. Howe with the election in mind, the way is now clear for Canadian-British trade to eventually turn to things that Canada wants to sell, Britain wants to buy, and America doesn't mind someone else selling. Which sounds hard.

"Compromise on Italy's Colonies" Let's see, where were we. Italy wanted its colonies back, because it was only fair, seeing as how they stabbed Germany in the back in 1943 after stabbing the Allies in the back in 1940, and one right makes a wrong, or the other way around, I can't remember. The Americans wanted to give them back Abyssinia/Ethiopia (you choose), lest the spectacle of the dusky folk governing themselves discourage South Africans and Latin Americans and encourage the Negro. Russia wanted anyone but the imperialists to get the colonies, and was willing to consider Italy for the job as long as it got some battleships. The Arabs thought that anyone but Arabs ruling themselves still counted as imperialism. Meanwhile, Britain said, no, no battleships. A UN Trusteeship was mooted, which was what everyone expected in the beginning. At which Italy said that, fine, fine, trusteeship, we'll be the trustees! Then it was pointed out if that was not on, they could just give Eritrea to Ethiopia (we've decided what to call it!), and Somalia to whoever draws the short straw. That leaves Libya, which might be divided into three, between France, Britain with Italy getting Tripolitania, but not until 1955. The Latin American countries on the committee thought this a fine compromise, so it is where we are, although everyone is expecting the Italians to collapse in apoplexy over having to wait seven whole years to get their Trusteeship-not-a-colony back. Although, as The Economist points out, what all three colonies need is capital for development, and none of the Trustees have it.

"East-West Trade Riddle Again" Everyone agrees that there should be East-West trade. Everyone (in the West) agrees that Communism is awful and that selling them things is treason against the West. Therefore, if the Economic Commission for Europe can just find a way of trading with the eastern countries without selling them anything, everything will be fine. Fortunately, Gunner Myrdal is the head of the Commission, and he is smart and a socialist, so he will figure something out.

"Signs of Health" It is necessary for The Economist to acknowledge that housing is coming along. Where's a good place for that? Down at the bottom of Notes of the Week! Well, not quite at the bottom, since there are still to be Notes about how London County Council is answering critics of its latest council flats, which have too many stories and too many balconies; the British Institute of Management, which is hurt by the notion that American management is better; an outrageous House of Lords ruling that a bequeathal to a Carmelite convent isn't charity under an Elizabethan law, and a Ministry of Labour survey of retirement ages across industries. The Economist thinks that the survey could have been done better, but finds that four-fifths of women have retired by 55, and half of men in black-coat employment at 60, with 65 as the more usual average. The Economist notes that old age pensions start at 60 for women and 65 for men, and vaguely suggests that with a declining and aging work force, all of this is due for a searching reexamination. Also, it does a little dance of joy over the continuing shortage of candy in British shops two weeks after the end of rationing, which it deems to be due to price controls.

H. H. Liang, of Emmanuel College, writes to point out all of the reasons that Britain should remain faithful to the Koumintang to the bitter end and beyond. P. H. A. Keston thinks that devaluation in response to the American recession will just make the recession worse by cutting into American exports. G. A. Duncan, of Dublin, writes that the southern Irish have never been given a fair chance to vote against independence, which they surely would, if history teaches us anything.

I wonder if this is  the guy who used to write "From a Correspondent in Dublin." 
Artifex thinks that Miss Bowley has no idea what she is talking about. Properly formulated comparisons don't show an increase in costs, and while labour productivity is falling, it is falling across all British industries, and is probably due to the aging work force. (But what about full technical efficiency?)  Arthur Hopkins is upset that the press has stopped talking about the crisis in France, because the crisis  in France is definitely still crisis-ing, according to some Frenchmen he talked to. He blames it all on terrible Labour Party "blue-eyed orateurs," who don't realise that Communism is bad. Richard Feilden writes that any proposal to disestablish the Church of England would be seen around the world as "the repudiation of religion." Which would be bad, for some reason that the rest of his letter doesn't do a very good job of explaining. Richard Hobden thinks that there should be a Health scheme rebate for healthy living. Just the thing: A cheque from the Ministry for ice water baths and eating plates of cottage cheese and celery.


Interesting bit here about Fischer's involvement with
a rogue anti-communist ingelligence agency,
"The  Pond," from 1947 to 1955.
Israel has been around for two years, so it is time for a book about "the birth of Israel," or, in this case, Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann, First President of Israel. It's a good book, but far too mean to Britain. The latest volume of Harry Hopkins' White House Papers is a real page-turner. Says The Economist. Ruth Fischer's Stalin and German Communism: A Study of the Origins of the State Party is a Communist's explanation of why Communism is bad. (It's the Russians. And the German right, who conspired with the Russian communists against German communism.) Labour, by Sargant Florence, is a "realistic study" that argues for national labour allocation planning, since collective bargaining cannot distribute labour properly. Frederick Muller's Man and Plan in the Soviet Economy is dry but has good statistics.

The World Overseas

"Report on Europe" Since Europe is now well-fed, free of commodity shortages, with increasing production little inflation, and budget surpluses, it is time to look for new problems. These are deemed to be the low standard of living and balance of payments imbalance. This leads the ECE to carry out a searching examination of productivity and "internal financial conditions." Since the latter are fine, it remains to be shown that Europe, especially Germany, isn't exporting nearly enough to America. So unless Germany in particular restores its eastern European imports, Something must be Done. As long as North America is the world's largest food producer and exporter, Europeans must either export industrial goods in quantities to pay for it, or displace American industrial exports to Europe to bring the trade deficit under control. And this means competitive prices, which Europe is  not reaching. This leads one to industrial productivity, which has fallen from being one-third higher than America's in 1938 to 85% today. Setting all excuses aside, the Economic Commission for Europe calls for energetic efforts to achieve full technical efficiency.
No-one can figure out world food policy. This is why Corn Law
Repeal was a mistake. 

"State of Mind in Hongkong" According to The Economist, after a bit of trouble over buying gold with sterling bought with Hong Kong dollars (that is, you couldn't do it for awhile), Hongkong has settled into "calm or complacency," since the average Hong Konger doesn't think that the Chinese Communists are coming any time soon. Unlike official circles, who think that infiltrators are already on the march.

"New Phase in Europe, II: Search for New Exports" Well, if you can't earn dollars, maybe you can collect up all the dollars that other countries are earning, Part One Million and Eleven.  Also, German trade unionists are finding it hard to deal with the American military authorities, because their hostility to socialism means they won't talk about nationalism or the length of the work week. (You would think that one would rank a little higher than the other in the list of concerns, but no.)  Therefore the trade unionists might be about to make a deal with Moscow. Says everyone but anyone who actually wants this. Or maybe America can keep on loaning the rest of the world money so that it can go on exporting lots while importing little. Better than telling Midwestern farmers to pound sand!

American Survey

"Limiting the Recession" Now that there's a recession, everyone is talking about stopping it. The Federal Reserve is doing what it has always done, which is ease credit somehow. And the government is doing what it always does: toting up the numbers to show that it can't possibly spend enough money ($50 billion on a $40 billion budget) to replace the current deficiency in consumer spending and so shore up demand, which means that it is better not to try, because a budget deficit would just be leaving a burden to our great-great-great-grandchildren, etc. (If you keep this up long enough, you can move on to, "It's too late for public spending to have an effect.")

American Notes

"Spreading the Pact" It's not spreading like that patch of dead trees in the upper orchard. It's spreading in the sense that Senators Lodge and Vandenberg are remaining in Washington to conduct  hearings on the Pact while Dean Acheson takes John Foster Dulles to Paris as his date. The rest of the note blithers on about how various Senators have various objections to the Pact that just might scuttle it, even if they haven't over the last My-God-This-Goes-On-Many-Years. I guess if you're a  journalist, that means pretending to take Donnell and Watkins' grand standing seriously. My one regret is that some people are making the perfectly reasonable point that American arms given in aid could easily be used in colonial conflicts here and there. Call me crazy, but I can't see that as a Republican sticking point  when push comes to shove. Party of Lincoln my derriere!
Senator Arthur Vivian Watkins (1886--1973) wanted to end Indian status and foreign aid, but his hostility to Federal paternalism may a perfectly logical and consistent exception for his signature initiative, the Weber Basin Project. He was also the father-in-law of an Apostle of the Church of Latter Day Saints..Richard G. Scott  worked as a nuclear engineer in a private consultancy associated with Hyman Rickover while waiting his call to succeed Marion G. Romney on the Quorum of Twelve. God's will be praised.

McCloy's Wikipedia biography is a hoot. He was a
poor boy from a single parent household on the bad
streets of Philadelphia who  went to the Peddie School,
pledged Beta Theta Phi at Amherst, married a 1918
Smith graduate, attended Harvard Law, joined Cad-
walader, Wickersham and Taft straight out of WWI,
moved on to Cravath in 1924, and was earning $45,000
at 45 when he entered public service in 1940.
His father's son, I'd say.
"Whose Fourth Round?" The fourth round of contract negotiations of the postwar era is likely to see harder-fought strikes due to the recession, and to focus on retirement benefits given that Congress is unlikely to follow through on the President's promise to extend social security.

"General Clay and his Successor" General Clay's sudden replacement is thought to be linked to his frequent disagreements with the White House over little things like not starting WWIII and the rise of Dean Acheson, who has the power to put the State Department in charge of foreign policy.  (That's exaggeration: Actually, the main beef was over his attempts to prevent ECA money being used on anything tinged with "socialism." So as to stop the Fourth Reich, you know.) His successor is likely to be John McCloy.

"Common Sense on the Columbia" The CVA is going to be the Columbia Valley Authority rather than the Columbia Valley Administration, because Northwesterners aren't some backwoods Tennessee hillbillies and because it will respect local  senior water rights. I've tried not to comment, because I feel a bit of twinges at the edges of my politics when I think about our water rights.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade is proud of having been
on the list. The Blue Star Mothers of America doesn't
feel the need to make a big deal of it.

"Basing Points Again" Ever since the Supreme Court decided that basing points were what they looked like --restraint of trade-- the steel industry has been fighting for an official government policy of, "Looks like there's nothing we can do about it." The election took the wind out of their sales, but now that Congress has decided that the election didn't actually happen, steel is going back to fight for a modified "Let's study it some" policy. In shorter notes, Raymond Baldwin has outraged the GOP by resigning to join the Connecticut Supreme Court, which will allow a Democratic governor to appoint his successor and raise their majority in the Senate to seven. "At last concrete action" is being taken on the Hoover Commission. Because reorganising executive agencies is something Wall Street can get behind! The Attorney General has added 123 more groups to the list of subversive organisations that federal employees can't belong to, with even handedness shown by adding the National Blue Star Mothers of America on the "Fascist" side of the ledger and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to the "Communist" column.

The Business World

"Trends in Profits" Profits are up, which seems like good news, but isn't, because it will encourage "those" who think that they can be taxed to pay for this or that. The Economist therefore earnestly shows that they aren't nearly as high as all that by distinguishing "issued" from "effective" capital.  Once The Economist has recalculated the numbers, it turns out that profits are very reasonable and just what is needed to recapitalise industry, and, if anything, falling.

"Turning Point in Shipbuilding" Orders for new ships have fallen dramatically in the last month, with building licenses (later, The Economist takes time out to complain that licenses are still needed, and that they are still being issued by the Admiralty) were issued for 155,443t of shipping in the first quarter of 1949, compared with 1,646,896t in 1948. This seems dramatic, although someone then looked at the numbers and found that the year-versus-quarter  comparison actually is as misleading as it appears, and that 195,320t were licensed in the first quarter of 1948. So it is a fall, but not by more than half, as you'd think at first glance. Shipbuilding is still running at 1.2 million tons a year, and could probably go up to 1.8 million if there were full supplies of raw materials and labour. Whether there would be orders for all of that capacity is another question. Current production is dominated by large tanker orders, with specialised types coming in a little lower. Tramp ships are simply not being ordered, giving the lie to the idea of a suppressed demand for them. The Liberty ships sold off to owners during the peak of demand are filling the role, but since they are not economical to operate in a weaker market, it is likely that they will be replaced --eventually. As to who will do it, Britain's competitors are reviving, with Japan the latest to come back on the market, selling now to Norwegian owners as well as Japanese. As always, The Economist ends with a robust call to cut costs, for cheaper steel (somehow, and surely nationalisation won't help, etc), and layoffs in the yards, especially in the Northeast. Right after that, The Economist grandly announces that the worker must not be allowed to believe that increased productivity threatens his job.

Business Notes

"Amber for Exports" Exports fell £23 million from the record March total of £138 million, which makes it the lowest figure in six months. Harold Wilson says that it is now a trend, and that price competition is impossible. The Economist then moves on to complain that labour is just not co-operating with re-equipment and re-deployment (of labour, I think that means. You "re-deploy" labour by laying if off, I think.)

For a change, the Notes aren't on and on about financial news. They're on and on about socialism. The Minister of Supply chanced to say that bringing back the Metal Exchange isn't off the table, but isn't on it, either. Sterling prices for base metals tend to be higher than dollar prices, which is obviously due to centralised buying, so bringing back the Metal Exchange is just good sense, as long as no arbitrage between the London and New York markets is allowed, as is happening with wool. Next, the chairman of the Prudential denounced "Labour's" threat to nationalise insurance, since the profits of a nationalised industry would promptly be ploughed into the Darkest Africa Peanuts Plan and "cheap money." And then the ploughs would break.

"The ECA and the Oil Trade to Europe" When the ECA was formulated, its oil policy was one of keeping American oil in America due to the shortage. Now that the price is tending down, American producers are thawing to the idea of exports at the same time that pumping is being limited tn Texas to support prices. Americans are now concerned that Europeans are building their own refineries and looking to the Middle East for crude oil, rather than buying refinery products in America. Speaking to the National Petroleum Council in Washington, the ECA's expert, Walter Levy, had to calm the crowd. The ECA's sponsorship of European refinery construction, was alleviating the European dollar deficiency, not contributing to the exporters' problems, as without the ECA, Europe wouldn't be importing American oil at all. American companies should play their part in reducing the dollar drain by building refineries in Europe themselves. Middle Eastern crude oil exports would eventually achieve price parity with American. He did, however, concede that the ECA would gently scold the Europeans for building so many refineries.

British commercial banks are cross-eyed that the National Coal Board and local authorities are favouring co-operatives. Ex-coal owners are complaining about their nationalisation payouts again. The price of silver in Hongkong is now rising, although volume is low due to the lack of silver in the city and because the demand from China is for immediate delivery. Bombay is being protected from the surge by the Indian government's continuing ban on silver imports. Spain, which is not and was never Fascist, may get its own dollar loan to buy American capital equipment soon. The Economist is pleased that a new Anglo-Swedish monetary agreement removes the "gold point," the option to require settlement of the outstanding balance in gold. It hopes it spreads throughout Europe. The coal strike in Lancashire may be settled soon. South Africa is tightening restrictions on the import of assembled cars, which will obviously favour American firms that have set up final assembly plants there. New Zealand's agreement to take 50% more British cars isn't nearly consolation enough. The Board of Trade is thinking about a Wool Textiles Development Council , because the industry won't do it for itself. The Freight War is over, on terms that are very gloomy for coastal shipping owners. The Economist floats a "scrap and build" subsidy to replace the aging fleet. The Economist is appalled by proposals for increasing construction wages, and spends the better part of a page explaining that there are no clear trends in rubber and wool prices, but that they will be lower next year. I note that the "standard of living" has fallen dramatically in Malaya without cutting rubber prices. The Economist calls for the redoubling of efforts, while conceding that this won't be enough. Iron and steel production continues high.

So there you go. The news from the Dismal Science this month is that everything is dismal.

Fortune, May 1949

Business Notes
1949, illustrated. 

Is an editorial against farm price supports really a Note? I guess it is if it is covering the latest Department of Agriculture farm programme. Cuts in steel demand have led --I can't believe it-- to cuts in steel prices, but I shouldn't be too sarcastic, because Uncle Henry has led the auto industry in cutting prices in spite of record demand.  All of this is more evidence of that deflation everyone is talking about. Fortune talks about it a lot in the next two pages, weaving in anecdotes about everything from the St. Louis Federal Reserve saying that a storm isn't coming to Montgomery Ward's latest boardroom shenanigans because no-one can really say just how deep this recession is going to be, or how long it will last. Now that everyone is talking recession, it is off to the used car lot to see them filling up again, and over to the steel industry, which is once again talking about being over-, not underbuilt. It is hard to call that a sign of the recession, because even talking the recession seems to be bad, because it discourages the cash-hoarding consumer. At least public spending is up, with the federal government perhaps running a deficit in the second quarter. This leads to the question of just how much stimulative effect military spending actually has, when procurement is only a third of the budget. It also leads to the question of whether the government should be stimulating the economy. Snyder says that a balanced budget is the msot important thing of all, while Marriner Eccles seems to be scolding the farm programme and the Fourth Round, as the recession might be prolonged if "organised labour and agriculture . . . claim too much for themselves." Like The Economist, Fortune perceives threats to amazingly-high profits if "programmes" get out of hand. And you wouldn't want that!

Speaking of large profits burning holes in people's pockets, Notes heads south to Alabama to check in on the underground gasification trials. Having checked into that bit of utopian thinking, it is time for a progress check on the "Fabulous new conveyor-belt project that would run from Cleveland to the Ohio River and Youngstown." Railroads, unions, and mayors are all opposed.

Real news is so tiring! Fortunately, Notes can take a break by reading and reviewing Albert L. Hahn The Economics of Illusion, which shows that Keynesianism only works if wages (sorry, I mean, "costs") fall faster than prices. I assume the worst because isn't one of the most important "costs" is the things that are put into the thing that are sold for "prices"? Doesn't that mean that 1+1 can only equal 2 if 1 is less than 2? I'm only an engineer, so I don't really understand these things. This editorial thing is so much fun that Notes headed over to New York Supreme Court, which found certain things that unions and the state agricultural marketing board did were violations of the state anti-trust laws, while Florida's "fair trade" laws were found illegal down there. This is all helpfully headlined "By Order of the Court: Competition is Still Legal."

Rested up by some not-news that can be read from the New York Times and dressed up with a bit of rhetoric, it is off to the cutback in crude oil, which may be being pumped at less than demand levels. The ongoing discussions about airline profitability in Washington is news, even if quoting Eddie Rickenbacker is like picking the low-hanging fruit. Rickenbacker, whose Eastern Airline hardly flies anywhere, is sure that all of his competitors are in trouble because they are not very economical, which is partly bad management and partly the CAB's fault, and the CAB doesn't entirely disagree, as it can't decide how to do mail subsidies without removing the "astringent" (that's a good thing) effect of bankruptcy.

Speaking of planes, the Air Force's decision to go with the B-36 (Floyd Odlum's B-36, Fortune reminds us in its gossipy way) has cost Boeing, which saw its B-54 contracts cancelled to pay for 36 jet-assisted B-36s. Jets are the future, I limply segue to the Springs family of Lancaster, South Carolina, which has placed a contract for 14,000 new weaving looms at its Springs Cotton Mills, to be delivered at a rate of 100 per month over almost twelve years. Texas Gas Transmission has FPC approval for a 26", $74 million natural gas pipeline to extend from Texas to a junction with the Big Inch at Middletown, Ohio. US Plywood is contracting for 20% of the output of a hardwood plywood plant to be build by Cie. Francise de Gabon, about two million feet a month. Telecoin, the coin-operated washing machine maker, is getting into soft-drink vending machines and a $2000 television set with a two-sided screen and projector for use in theatres, clubs and bars. The National Munitions Control Board is thinking about putting newly arrived German scrap steel in a stockpile. Steelmen, who point out that the price of domestic scrap is $25 a ton, off $7 since the beginning of the year, are upset. Bethlehem Chile Iron Mines is going to sell its ore to the Chilean governments steel mill. The "Sanforising" patents expire 31 May, and Waltham Watch may be reopening. Other firms announce contracts to import squirrel skins from Russia and molasses from Cuba. 

Picture chosen to illustrate a storylet about British wool industry delegates being harangued over dinner about producing too many kinds of products, not having enough competition, and letting their unions resist productivity improvements. On the bright side, it seems to have built up labour-mamagement solidarity, as British union men and owners alike seem to have been ready to run amok through the hotel by the end. 
The Fortune Survey

This month's edition probes the consumer outlook. Consumers know that prices are down, which is good news, but they also report that their wages are down and there is an increase in the number of people who are having difficulty making ends meet.

Reggie got into very memorable trouble over that crack. He was still talking about
Ronnie's reaction fifty years later. "The wedding was off for a month!" On review,
a week seems closer to it. Flowers, candy, grovelling. All those Forties things.
I'm not going to say anything about the "Taxes" column. Ronnie is all giddy about being flush this summer, and has grandly announced that she doesn't need to take clippings of our pre-print copy. She will buy her own Fortunes at the newstand, thank you very much! At least as long as this feature continues. I know that she doesn't waste time epitomising it, but she actually does read. I saw her. Such a cute gal with her forehead wrinking and everything.

 Fortune's Wheel 

Eric Johnston's article about Britain, "How America Can Avoid Socialism," has drawn a response from Geoffrey Crowther. I feel a bit low agreeing with Crowther about anything, but he takes Johnston to the shed and tans him a shiny new hide more suited to polite company. Not to be outdone, Norman Thomas' letter about John Davenport's "Socialism by Default" is even more caustic.

All this piling on is a bit one sided, so we come to Eugene Holman's letter about the article about "Business Makes Its Case for Profits." Holman told the Flanders Committee that an increase in profits from $124 million in 1940 to $390 million in 1948 (not, as Fortune reports, from $145 million to $474 million, so the letter) wasn't enough. What, Fortune asked, was enough? Holman explains that no amount of profits are too much, because they are re-invested in the industry to meet consumer demand. Right, says Fortune, but Wall Street thinks that it has a place. If the double tax on dividends were abolished, wouldn't stockholders demand more of these profits? Wouldn't that money then come back to capital via Wall Street reinvestment? Fortune anticipates that the new Canadian tax laws will demonstrate this to be the case.

"Business is Still in Trouble" "Business . . . enjoys the most tentative and precarious kind of approval," and needs good public relations if America is not to go socialistic. Etc., etc. Fortune is in an editorialising mood this month, although this is also an article about the "public relations industry,"  as shown by the next article, which jumps on the Hoover Commission's recommendations to reduce bureaucracy and red tape and paperwork and all of that. And who better to tell us about it than Hoover himself? Moving on, Fotune treats us to a summary of the annual report of the Puget Sound Power and Light Company, which warns its shareholders that its back is against the wall, that it is fighting its last fight against the dark forces of a new TVA. Although the actual enemy is public utility districts, they are basically the same thing as the CVA.

Notice the Life credit. This is one of
Luce's pet causes. 
As Fortune observes, 80% of American electrical generating capacity is in private hands, and the industry has a $9 billion expansion plan, which seems to make the prospect of a "nationalised power industry" remote. After all, the Federal government only owns 46 hydro and 10 steam plants producing 5 million kilowatts. But! It is building 37 more hydro plants and has authorised 79 others, and this will increase federal capacity to 20 million kWh. Since Federal share has increased from 1% in 1930 to 5% in 1940 to 10% today, it is only reasonable to assume that it will increase to 100% in 1960, which can only happen through nationalisation. After all, the St. Lawrence Seaway will be built, after being held up for 50 years, and while PGE dominates northern California and is halfway through a $500 million expansion, the Shasta Dam doesn't belong to it, and might sell power at a "nonprofit" rate to "'public'" bodies . . . And so on. Fortune looks into the prices of power from Bonneville and concludes that "cheap power" is a myth. Public power is subsidised! It gets tax exemptions! The only logical reason for the federal government to be in hydro power at all, Fortune concludes, is that it needs to build dams for irrigation, navigation and flood-control. That's so obvious it ought to be in the Constitution, and it therefore follows that its role should be "strictly limited." Looks like the Supreme Court is going to have to hire some hydraulic engineers!

Now that it has been reconceived as strictly the magazine of business, it is only natural that Fortune review Death of a Salesman.  And to do another article about the party at the opening of the Shamrock Hotel in Houston. And one about "Good News from Italy," where the ECA has everyone optimistic, with building flourishing and Roman holidays for everyone. 

"California's Cotton Rush" Cotton isn't the next big thing in the Central Valley. I know that because I read Grapes of Wrath! However, it is a growing crop. Uncle George points out that crops go in waves in California: first it was cattle, then wheat, then fruit. Now it is cotton. Fortune is very optimistic about the industry's prospects, but Uncle George was vehement that the business won't last any longer than wheat, and that it would be a bad mistake to shift our land off hay to cotton. It's not that a hundred thousand acres of alfalfa makes sense, he points out. It's that we should only plough it out when we see the industry going in a sensible direction, and cotton takes too much nitrogen out of the land to be a sensible crop. The West Side growers who are hopeful for cotton are betting on anhydrous nitrogen added to irrigation water, but that's probably just their play for more water. "It's cattle country for a reason," Uncle George ends.

"The US Bar: One Out of Six American Lawyers Says He Grosses $20,000 a year or Over: In Any Case, Young Men Crowd Into the Field: But the Profession as a Whole is Troubled on Various Counts --Economic, Intellectual, Social" This is one of those articles where I treat a subheading as part of the title so I can write it all out, because the title  is most of what needs summarising. The article spends most of its time profiling the lawyers on an American Bar Association that is looking into, "The Lawyer and What Is Up With Him These Days." Specifically, the law is a big profession and not all lawyers make the big money. Many young men find that it's not all that it is cracked up to be, and since it can be quite stressful in the early years especially, some of them crack. The committee would like that to change, and thinks that the best way to do that is by putting gentle cautions in at the bottom of boring articles in Fortune. 

"House That Joyce Built" A company profile of Gidden Company, a diversified chemical company that does lead paint and weed killer and cattle feed and margarine and mayonnaise.  Wisely, in separate plants. It is particularly interested in soybeans, because soya has many potential uses. 

"It's Hot in Venezuela" Fortune goes to Venezuela and notices that actual Venezuelans who aren't colonels aren't too keen on America due to a lingering sense that, when Venezuelans object to the way that American oil companies run their country, measures are taken. Fortune shrugs its shoulders and points out that Venezuela has oil and needs capital, and that Venezuelans are too feckless to govern themselves, so, really, what are you going to do? When you get right down to it, it is basically Venezuelan communists' fault for provoking a response that was only coincidentally something that America might have wanted to see happen, allowing that the alternative was communism. Besides, these days, Latin American militarists are nationalists, and America doesn't like nationalism. Now that's an iron clad alibi to stand on when Shermans roll in the streets and B-25s make low passes overhead.

Fortune points out that Venezuela is a big and diverse country blessed with many kinds of natural resources. It had an economy before oil, and could have one after oil. Why it doesn't  have an economy that doesn't involve oil is one of life's mysteries, best explained by the mysterious excitability of the Latin peoples. 
"Louis Ridenour, "Mechanical Brains" A former Institute man speaks! ENIAC, he allows, is old news. What have mechanical brains done for us lately? Plenty! The USAF's Project SCOOP, the "Scientific Computation of Optimum Programmes," is an extension of Professor Wassily Leontif's effort to compute  nothing less than the way that "the industries of the country interact with one another in a measurable and predictable way." The USAF is funding it because it hopes to use SCOOP to target heavy bombers more effectively. Russian factories are a long way away, and we don't have that many atom bombs (even if the confident declaration of stockpiles of 100 or 200 bombs seem too confident to me. Our Neptunes can't drop the big, round bombs, so the Navy has gone to the Air Force to get more of the long thin ones we dropped on Hiroshima, and such evasion we have heard! Not that I'm against it, since my fiance has put her foot down on the score of me taking off from a carrier in a 70,000lb plane boosted by dozens of rockets. I don't  understand why when it's the ditching afterwards that's the dangerous part!) Anyway, SCOOP aside, there are as many orders for ENIACs as there are Russian dams to bomb. Which isn't to say that ENIACs, or, I guess, modified ENIACs, will be able to do what the Air Force or other customers want. The pioineer of the computer, Britain's Sir Charles Babbage, got lots of government money to build a mechanical brain, and died without either the money or the machine on hand. The modern ENIAC might go the same way.
Full page ad, opposite. 

Or not. These new computers are quite unlike the desk calculator. Both are "digital" machines, in that they work with numbers directly, in their digital form, but desk calculators are not automatic. Computers are. They can do their calculations without being directed by  a human operator. This seems a bit mysterious, but Ridenour explains. A desk calculator is operated by a man with a work sheet and a book of tables of mathematical functions beside it. A computer has both a "memory" to store intermediate results, and tables that it can "look up" in similar, but more permanent forms of "memory." Also, it has a "control organ" that determines the order and execution of the intermediate steps.

Ridenour goes on longer than I do, and with some profit, I think, since there's a great deal to explain in how a computer does what it does. "Mechanical brain" isn't very helpful, because there's no "brain" there. It is all me, and people like me, punching holes in IBM cards. (At least in the machines we get to use, which are no ENIACs, I have to say!) But then Ridenour goes a bit mystical, pointing out that ENIAC has 18,000 electronic "all or none" devices equivalent to the billions of neurons in the human cortex. It follows that,  unless you believe that "vitalism" fooferaw, we shall have mechanical brains that are brains just as soon as we can build a mechanical brain with a few billion circuits. That seems a faraway day considering what a machine of a billion vacuum tubes looks like, and the fact that even high quality phone switching equipment has a one-in-a-thousand failure rate, which is completely unacceptable in a machine that has to solve second-order differential equations, much less write a review of a hit Broadway play that some snide young man won't just snipe to death!

But solving second order differential equations would be more than enough to change our world. Von Neumnann (we're on last name basis!) has calculated that the wind tunnels planned for the Air Force's Air Engineering Development Centre will take the entire output of the Boulder Dam. Three-quarters of that could be saved if computers could do some of the work now being left to experiment. And since computers can do anything that existing business machines do, there is a potential that all of the desktop work of everything from calculators to card readers could be bundled up and done more efficiently by some kind of ENIAC, perhaps building on IBM's Selective Sequence Electronic Computer, which is more the kind of thing I'm used to than ENIAC, with its delayed mercury memory. For the future, IBM is rumoured to be working on a computer, while Raytheon has a contract, and Eckerly-Mauchly is working on an ambitious decimal-system machine, UNIVAC, and marketing a smaller machine, the BINAC.

Ridenour ends by summing up Wiener's Cybernetics and providing a convenient appendix explaining binary arithmetic, for those interested. (It's like regular arithmetic, only "two" is "ten." And, yes, a good abacus operator will ask, "What's the big deal," but that's the point!)

"Titanium: The New Metal" Titanium, once known mainly as a paint pigment, is coming into its own as a structural metal in aeronautics, halfway between steel and aluminum. It is very strong and heat resistant, although it is hard to manufacture, as it really prefers to be in its oxidised state; although metal titanium is so easily oxidised that it quickly acquires a thin coating of impermeable oxide that resists corrosion, especially seawater, which is good news for the flight deck navy.

"The Business of Titanium Metal" Du Pont and National Lead are both interested in making titanium alloys. National Lead has taken over the forty year-old Titanium Alloy Manufacturing Company, which I guess never amounted to anything more than a producer of an additive for "killing" steel. It was a German, Dr. Wilhelm Kroll, working at Siemens and Halske, who made the breakthrough, a magnesium-reduction process, but Dr. Kroll made the mistake of being Jewish, and now works for du Pont, which has a wartime research effort backing its tentative hope of being in production of mechanically useful titanium-chrome alloy pieces by 1952. 



  2. So it looks like we have a theory about a global Early Bronze Age social quickening. Interesting. Perhaps the other bookend of humanity's longest period of social stasis? And all down to bronze bling!