Saturday, February 29, 2020

Postblogging Technology, November 1949, II: Atom Bombs, Radars and GREEN MACE

In November of 1949 we saw a bit of an "AA" renaissance. Wartime AA chief, Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Pile (Bart)'s book-length version of his war's end communique, Ack-Ack; and American technocrat Vannevar Bush's Modern Arms and Free Men manage to make it into the back pages (sort of) of the periodicals we follow.

Our apologies to whatever second-rate archaeological dreck or wartime reminiscence that Time and Flight, respectively, would otherwise have covered. Thanks to that forebearance, we know that Pile was robustly enthusiastic about AA in the new nuclear age, whilst Vannevar Bush thought that it was actually now possible to defend against the nuclear terror weapon. While we're a long way from the Reagan-era high flowering of Star Wars, that day is perhaps peeping over the horizon. 

So it seems like a good week to stop and contemplate ABM, a sort of recurrent fever or  species of social contagion, not entirely unlike other moral and other panics that periodically infect us. 

This isn't to say that such things are entirely futile. Runaway cold virii sell a lot of garlic, ginger and onions, the green grocer knows, and vast schemes of antiballistic defence may produce electronic (and other) spin-offs.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Postblogging Technology, November 1949, II:

R_. C_.,
The Alexander Young Hotel,

Dear Father:

Hopefully this reaches you before you leave Hawaii. Not that it is terribly critical. We welcomed Mrs. C. and Fat Chow's plane last Friday, and reclaimed their children from the Wongs. Heartwarming. I don't even mind being the only driver, on account of  the Wong's old Ford needing a new everything and Reggie's Jeep not being exactly suitable for toddlers. It's almost enough to make me think that James has a point about "practical" cars. 

On second thought, pish-posh. Dinner at the Tang Garden which has moved to the old Perfumed Garden's space across the street from the Benevolent Association, now that they've moved uptown. This meant that Wong Lee felt that he could join us. (Why, yes, I did get that lecture about being more careful myself. So glad you thought to ask!)

Sorry. But I've been hearing a lot of that kind of thing this "Horror Week," which, right now, I am putting behind me as we plan a Thanksgiving fit for our conquering heroes. I don't know. Does creating an American pipeline for Tibetan gold count as "conquering?" Well,, I don't care. As criminal enterprises go, it's a lot better than some of the business we could be involved in! 

Yours Sincerely,

Saturday, February 15, 2020

A Technological, Agricultural, Financial and Entertainment Appendix to Postblogging Technology, November 1949, I: Ranking Postwar Economic Policy

So. Oscars night. I'm pretty much a third-person spectator, since I haven't seen any of the nominated movies. I was prepared in advance for a travesty, as 1917 beat Parasite for Best Picture. Needless to say, it didn't happen that way, but the argument for 1917 in advance --that it was British/-- rang a little bit off when I was simultaneously reading the wall-to-wall coverage of the Rank Organisation's disastrous 1949. The dolorous refrain of "the government has no place in business" resonates to the Newsweek reader, at least, with its marquee economic educator/analyst carrying on a rotomontade on the gold standard. We'll get a tiny taste of Henry Hazlitt's ongoing goldbuggery  next week, but it won't really do his literally months-long freak out justice. 

The common theme here, which gets to food and turbojets to round out the post, is that, after 70 years, this stuff hasn't aged very well. Perhaps and this is just me spitballing here, maybe, just maybe, government does have a place in the boardrooms of the nation?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Postblogging Technology, November 1949, I: After the Atomic Monopoly

R_. C_.,
79 Av de Harmonia,

Dear Father:

I'm so glad that you were able to come to an arrangement with the Incarnate Deity and General Chennault, who probably thinks he is, too. Incarnate enlightened teacher. Whatever. I'm also glad to hear that all that gold they have up there in Tibet won't have to just reach the world through Pakistan anymore. And needless to say, the dacoits are going to very pleased with their red envelopes this year! 

Now, as for the matter of keeping Chennault and the Soongs apart, I can offer you no guarantees that will last even as long as it takes you to cruise all leisurely across the Pacific. Are you sure you can't fly? I understand that the air palls after the trip from Shigatse to Kai Tak. I can only imagine! But if Mrs. C. can fly, can't you? 

However you choose to make the crossing, we'll greet you warmly and show you the sights of our Bohemian city. Or, you know, tag along with your expense account. Reggie may not be a student anymore, but he is still a subaltern!