Saturday, March 7, 2020

Postblogging Technology, December 1949, I: Down Canberra Way

R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

I am glad that this finds  you home in the heights above Quilchena Park, for you are venerable and past the day when you must be forged in the furnaces of academe into a LAWYER. 

Ahem. Sorry, that was a bit of a reach, but the Christmas issue of Fortune is a bit slight, to make room for the giant gift catalogue in the middle, but there's lots of nice Hudson Valley-related paintings reproduced in the middle under the title, "Painters of Industry," and the one of workers pulling a cannon out of a furnace is credibly "technological." 

Also, I am being FORGED right now by Contracts review. I think I am getting this! Your son continues to prepare to Occupy Taiwan, although he also has a very hush-hush job testing something he describes as "the cancer of the skies," which might have something to do with beating radar?

Mrs. C. sends her thanks for your kind gift.

Yours Sincerely,

A Brief Precis of Aviation Week

On the 5th, Industry Observer reports that TWA will be flying the DC-4 on Atlantic coach routes this summer with 60 seats, Convair is giving up on its 240 sales tour in Latin America, the Air Force and Navy are standardising cockpit lights, Canadair will not license produce the C-119, and some university Air Force research contracts include titanium alloy research at Notre Dame, high altitude oxygen research at Rochester, and jet nozzles at Michigan. 

A leading technical article tells us that the Allison T-40 turboprop "Challenges British Lead." The article isn't a technical profile, but rather a long discussion of the problems that Allison has encountered and gloriously overcome. Just for perspective, it still hasn't run in the air. 

A brief article tells us that Convair is redesigning their XC-99 to compete with the big Douglas engines, while the Navy confirms that the Skyrocket is really, really fast, so I guess the full-court publicity campaign isn't just a coincidence! And speaking of which, Piasecki's latest helicopter is quite big and all metal and might be useful for passenger transport services. 
From Britain, news of the Bristol 175

Aeronautical Engineering has an article about designing smooth wings for high speed. 

James McGraw, Junior has a line editorial insert in this issue. It is "The Labour Union Monopoly Bites ALL Workers," which is what you'd expect. What I am wondering about is Junior's drift rightwards since 1943. Does this reflect his views, or is Daddy's Son just putting his name to letters that someone else writes? Editorial: "Creeping, Advancing Bureaucracy." We get it! We get it! Show us the Commie so we can stone him and just stop lecturing us! 

Flight, 1 December 1949


"The Iron is Hot" What's hot? The Viscount and Comet are so hot they SIZZLE

The props are going to fail a lot. 
Neener-neener, America. Etc. Etc. Etc. some more. Etc. Oops. the bottom of the page just hit Flight in the face. Maybe next week Flight will say something new in this space, but don't count on it. 

"Collecting a Stratocruiser" Caledonia was handed over way back in November, as we heard then, but it stopped at Filton for trials, so now we can greet it again as it arrives in London . . . next week. When they'll run this article again? And again when they actually enter service? I know I'm looking forward to it! Sixty Stratocruisers have been delivered, and BOAC got them last, which upsets BOAC and Flight, but Pan Am paid Boeing seven million bucks before its first Stratocruiser was delivered, and that gave it first call. It currently flies at an all up weight of 143,000lbs and has a top speed of 340mph thanks to its giant Pratt and Whitneys, which are easily the largest engines in civilian service, and the first with turbosuperchargers, although the same engines are going into the Super Constellations. Flight doesn't say that, but it does tell a murky story about how Hamilton propellers were substituted for Curtiss, mainly for standardisation; but with the recent troubles with the big propellers, you wonder if there's more to the story. BOAC will end up paying about  £12 million for the Stratocruisers, all in, including the ones optioned from the Swedes. 

Can't touch this. 
"Getting to Know the Canberra" Flight promises that a detailed technical article on the Canberra is coming, based on its recent visit down to English Electric, which also provided the material for this article, which is just a bit of fluff about the super-bomber with the top secret engines. Ted Petter evidently has a standard talk about why the wings are straight: They have a lighter wing loading, low aspect ratio, smooth structure and modest thickness/chord ratio giving good performance at Mach levels achieved from any engine likely to be available during their service life, under military load. Speech given, Rollie Beaumont took off in the cerulean blue-painted lead Canberra (the rest of t hem will be gray on top, black on the bottom) and then turned some tight circles and generally showed off the manoeuvrability that goes with the wing plan. 

"From the Outside In" Fairey Aviation wants everyone to know that it has a new construction method where it starts with the outside fuselage and builds the internal structure to fit in it, which maintains aerodynamic profile better. Well, not literally. Actually, they build to the template of the outer profile, which is generated from the formers and templates, which is the opposite of outside in? As I read it? But the skin is a drill template for the rivets, and Flight gets to say "datum." Flight loves saying "datum"!

Here and There

The Chislea Super Ace, now the Chislea Skyjeep, is in the news again, because being bankrupt and having no customers and also no engine (more or less) is not going to keep this small plane down! As we're reminded, the Skyjeep gets rid of all the innovations that no-one liked, so it is just like any other small plane, which is quite the selling point!
It is reported that Australia is going to build a twin-jet fighter similar to the XF-90. Fokker has denied the Aviation Week report that it is cancelling all development due to Dutch government budget cuts. The Douglas C-124 and Convair XP5Y-1 have both flown. A Canadian Vampire got up to 47,000ft, which is a Canadian record. The US Navy is putting Flight Instrument stall warners in the Panthers, somewhat reducing the risk of jet accidents on aircraft carriers, although not to the same extent, Reggie reminds us, as not putting jets on carriers in the first place. Because it's dumb, that's why! 

"The Prestwick Inquiry" So the Prestwick accident last year was hugely embarrassing, because with Parmentier at the yoke, you have to have an airtight case before you can blame the pilot, and what with the plane flying into a power line you also can't blame mechanical failure. That leaves either KLM's charts being wrong, or the flight control crew at Prestwick feeding Parmentier bad met information, making him think he was higher than he was. The Court of Inquiry went with the latter, and Lord Pakenham decided to write a letter to the press saying that he disagreed, and that he had to speak up because civil servants can't. Now Parliament is all in a tizzy about the Minister breaching the etiquette of talking about air accident investigations, even if it has to make up what the etiquette is going to be on the spot. I'm told Pakenham isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but the fuss seems to me mostly about getting ready for the election. 

C. B. Bailey-Watson, "Torch in the Sky" Miss(?) Bailey-Watson has been released from the aeronautical engineering dungeon, unshackled from her drawing board, and sent down to the Empire Test Pilots School for a bit of a rest break from bevelled shaft torquemeters.  Considering how often British test pilots crash, this seems like great and important work, and Bailey-Watson gives us a short biography of the instructors, a syllabus, and a discussion of the School's fleet. 

"Avro Orenda: Canada's Second Turbojet Shows Great Promise" The Orenda is a nine-stage axial turbojet with Lucas fuel system, Rotax starter and ignition system. one compressor stage of stainless steel and the remainder of aluminum. It is giving something like 6000lbs thrust right now, but is somewhat heavier than the Avon. It has been getting through trials very quickly, and will go into the Canadian version of the F-86. And speaking of worthy Canadian initiatives, the next article is about the DH Chipmunk, which, as you probably already know, has been selected as the new RAFVR trainer, insert hat here. 

Civil Aviation News

Jardine, Matheson aren't going to let Chennault have all the business, and have bought Hong Kong Airways from BOAC.  The IATA is allowing excursion fares on the Atlantic routes this summer. American has studied "coach" services and has concluded that they are going to be profitable. Its first coast-to-coast coach service will feature 70 passengers crammed into DC-4s at a fare of $110, replacing the -4s with -6s in April. (Aviation Week says 60.) The British won't be doing the same, but only because they don't have suitable aircraft yet. Marconi is very pleased with its latest aircraft radio test suite, the OA. 216, which comes in a handy steel cabinet and includes all the instruments you need to test a radio, compatible with all major manufacturers although best with Marconi. Speaking of, they also have a nice new radio set for control towers, with remote feeds for antenna for VHF and HF/DF, and a neat arrangement for automatically reporting bearings. Flight next introduces a table showing the British airlines' operating statistics for the last reporting month, instead of stringing them out in a paragraph. Canadian Pacific is adding a Hawaii-only leg to its trans-Pacific route, which really isn't a leg, I don't think.  BOAC is selling the 11 Plymouth flying boats it bought for the Far Eastern routes back in 1947, at the best possible price. Flight doesn't breathe a word. Has it given up on the flying boat? The Finns are the latest to say that they might be interested in the Avro Jetliner at the right price. Look! I'm interested in the 102 at the right price! Give me a million dollars and a Jetliner, and I'll take both!

A Canadian Pacific Dakota for the Quebec route up to Val d'Or and Noranda is the first airliner in service with cross-wind landing gear. The British Gliding Association is just now getting around to giving out its awards for 1948, as the people in charge of the paperwork keep crashing and dying. (I made the last bit up. But it wouldn't surprise me! Those people are CRAZY!)

"The England-New Zealand Race" I'd make a sheep joke, but they weren't funny back when Auntie Grace was doing them, and they won't be funny now. Anyway, a bunch of New Zealanders have come to Britain to promote that air race they're going to do in '53. It's a bit anticlimactic, since there's no way anyone is beating the Comet, but it does get New Zealand into the news for something besides having its arm twisted into buying Short flying boats. 
Flight went to Frederick Handley-Page's party. It was hilarious, in a heavy-handed way. 

"For Hire or Reward" That British private pilot who set up his own air taxi service and got hauled before the courts for it has now had his ashes hauled, as I think they might say in Jolly Old England. My point is that the judge found that that was what a commercial pilot license was for, which no-one should need to point out, but Flight's correspondent thinks is a big deal. 

Filling out the page is news of the Fiat G. 46, which shows that Italy is "waking up[!]" and reviews Joseph Lawrence's The Observer's Book of Aircraft. It is, Flight thinks, hilariously inept, and since Lawrence didn't have the good sense to write inane letters to the Correspondence page for months before publishing, Flight doesn't need to be nice. 

"Scandia Progress" Remember the Saab DC-3 replacement? The first production model of the 90A-2 has flown. Flight reports that it has "significantly improved performance" thanks to a longer nosewheel and a spring tab. It also has a Hamilton reversible-pitch airscrew, no word on whether the reversing gear has been stopped. SAAB emphasises that it is a very American plane, in case someone in America wants to produce it under license, which is good, because the had to cut the cockpit crew from three to two, so now it can't fly anywhere but the States. 

"Automatic Ambassador" Someone points out that the recent article about flying the Ambassador proves just how nice the Smith's Electric Pilot autopilot is, and that it even landed the plane automatically, although this was an accidental outcome, since the slowing engine reduced the speed of the electrical generator which educed current through the autopilot, which reduced backward pressure on the control column which allowed the nosewheel to ground. Which sounds like a criticism in disguise to me, since I prefer not to fly with an autopilot that can't hold a steady course when the engine slows! Also fitting in at the bottom of the page is the Aeronautical Engineer's Association's decision to fight BOAC's decision to make 58% of BSAA's aircraft inspection staff  redundant. 


Low flying over fruit orchards in bad weather?
What could go wrong?
A. Thompson writes that the Canberra sounds like a wonderful plane, but he wishes it had been named the Churchill. Please! BALPA writes to basically make the case for unions against Flight, which  recently had some blithering on about how the poor chartered airlines can't afford to pay their pilots at the BOAC rate. GROUND ENGINEER was struck by the article about British fruit growers who are trying to buy helicopter rotors to fan warm air by their trees, and connects it with that story from America about low-flying planes "stirring up the air" over Californian orchards, and concludes that what is really needed is a jet turbine.

The Economist, 3 December 1949


"Gloom or Obstinacy?" Sir Stafford managed to push through the devaluation and followed it with  £250 million in budget cuts to "reinforce the budget surplus" and maintain disinflation. As he himself points out, he is practically the only finance minister in the world who has a surplus to "reinforce," and so, he asks, why did the stock market fall, and why does the press keep complaining about him? The Economist starts by dismissing the ridiculous idea that the business press is conservative and would like to see the Tories win the next election. Such mundane matters don't concern the Serious press, and, anyway, it  never said that, and will never say that. ("We are Liberals and support the Liberal Party, but you shouldn't, because if you vote for them, Labour will get in, so vote for some other party. Wink wink.") Well, clearly disinflation is clearly the right idea. Look at America, where they're inflating and the economy is hardly booming at all! So it must be that the markets have determined that either Labour isn't going to do all the things that need to be done, whatever they are, or that it is going to stop disinflating any minute now. Either way, it's going to be the Government's fault, which is why you have to sell all your stocks now.

"Africa at the Assembly" South Africa wants to annex Southwest Africa, which the League of Nations gave it as a Mandate after WWI. The Assembly points out that they're supposed to govern the Mandate in its own best interest and not as a colony, and as Southwest Africa has hardly any white people, and South Africa's official policy is "White Supremacy Forever," troubling questions are raised. The Assembly would like to clear these up by talking to some actual Southwest Africans, or at least their "extremely unofficial representative, the Reverend Michael Scott." The British government has helpfully suggested that the Assembly should sod off, because Britain is doing as much as it can to promote self government and autonomy. While The Economist agrees that there is no excuse to invite assorted troublemakers in to have a look around, it is just a tiny bit suspicious to say that "We're doing our best, but you can't come see." As a sensible compromise, The Economist suggests that Britain be allowed to say who is on the inspecting committee (no Communists!) Also, the fact that South Africa and Britain are different seems to have slid out of the paragraph like a tomato out of a hamburger right into Mrs. Ferguson's lap, so much for my tip.

"The Hairdressing Trade" There are too many hairdressers in Britain because there is no licensing, and as a result prices are low but so, too, are wages, and some of those perms they do are pretty bad. Now the British have brought in a Wages Order to maintain the wages and limit the number of (seven-year!) apprentices a shop can take on, so wages  and prices will go up, the number of shops will go down, and probably there will be a boom in hats. Three pages for this!

"Australia in the World" Australia is having an election, and since it has no hapless middle-of-the-road liberal party (as distinct from the Liberals), The Economist can't play its usual game of not endorsing the party that it supports. It settles for broadly implying that Australia would be better off kicking out Labour, then broadly instructs it that it has no choice but to support The Empire, that's that for that. Oh, except for the election in New Zealand, where they threw out Labour last week, jolly good show all around. Not that The Economist has anything so crass as an opinion. But if it did . . . Also, the Nigerians are having anti-British riots which can best be explained by the fact that Nigerians are Nigerians and also by trade unions getting mixed up in places where they don't belong, like mines. Not unrelated, the press is full of the AFL trying to form a new congress of world trade unions independent of the old World Federation of Trade Unions, which it deems to be too pink. (While at same, the leadership of the eastern European Communist parties have turned out to support peace and oppose Tito.) Also, The Economist spends a paragraph explaining why the British Communist Party is irrelevant, and another few on why Herbert Morrison is evil and shrill for suggesting that Liberal voters should vote Labour.


"Parliament and the Future" Blah blah Parliament Bill.

"Bad Manners at Bonn" Schumacher called Adenauer the "Chancellor of the Allies" for not doing enough to stop dismantling, resulting in his being banned from the Federal Assembly for twenty sessions, which isn't enough, so the Nazis are probably coming back next week. Continuing the same, the East German leadership is letting former Wehrmacht officers organise a 40,000 strong military police force of "politically reliable" men with armed "emergency squads" that will turn into an army the moment our back is turned. Communist Nazis are the worst!

"Reforming the Information Services" After looking at the effectiveness of the various Government information services, Herbert Morrison thinks he can cut £700,000 from a £5.5 million budget and leave it none the worse. This, as usual, raises questions, although for a change not troubling ones.

"Meat Elasticities" The Ministry of Food is looking into how food subsidies apply to meat, and without descending into anything so crass as actually reading the Note, I can tell you that The Economist is predictably upset about the way that it is being done, no surprise, and has a constructive suggestion, which is. More "direct research among consumers: is suggested. And a "very large battery of calculating machinery," to figure out what happens if housewives substitute pork chops for veal cutlets.

"Soft Words on Hard Water" The Select Committee on Water Supplies has declined to call for a major campaign against hard water in municipal supplies, as the only pressing issue is that hard water wastes soap. The Economist is pleased by this, and rewards it by making a relentlessly sarcastic attack on the report. Which isn't how you encourage people, The Economist. I never thought I would be one to deliver the word to the wise, but here we are, and what a world it is.

"Arabs and the Clapp Report" Speaking of sarcasm. And, yes, you may blame your cousin for acquainting me with such language. Ahem. Mr. Clapp is upset that there are more people on the UN's food distribution rolls than there are refugees out of Palestine, and the Arab governments are upset with the UN for being so chintzy at a time like this. The Economist accepts that some food should be given to the regular Arab poor, just so long as the Uno isn't allowed to go hog wild hiring staff. Further on a vaguely related point, Pakistan is hosting a conference on economics in Islam. The Economist goes out on a limb and recommends "careful and tactful[  . .]" watchfulness. In also somewhat related news, there's a bit of a queue forming for membership in the General Assembly. Currently the only way in is by majority vote on the Security Council, but maybe the International Court should let them in, too, in case someone gets political. Britain may be above such things, as note the way that it graciously allowed Israel in because the rest of the Council said it could join, but you know those Russians and Americans and never mind the French. Also speaking of, Portugal has a new parliament. Dr. Salazar picked the membership so it would be less difficult, but maybe it is still being too difficult and now he's going to have an even more picked second house.

"Honour and Office" Last week The Economist got upset at the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations for an ethical lapse. Since it involved his being a director of a company, and not something serious like writing a letter to the newspapers or making a casual comment to the business press half-an-hour before presenting a budget, The Economist didn't call for his resignation, and now that it turns out that he didn't remember being the director of that company, The Economist wants everyone  to know that Patrick Gordon-Walker is  a fine, upstanding individual of whom nothing ill can be said.

From The Economist of 1849 From a correspondent lately in the Ionian Islands, The Economist is pleased to report that the recent rebellion against the Lord High Commissioner was an ungrateful "vile" affair, and that the Lord High Commissioner is sensibly alive to the needs of the country, is hastening to heal the wounds of violence, and is promoting an increase of health and vigour by a new and liberal regime. While his conduct in suppressing the rebellion was severe, it did not overstep the bounds of justice, and his enlarged and liberal policy of prosperity to all will follow soon.

That's just embarrassing.


P. G. Powesland thinks that there's some clever connection to be made between Soviet propaganda, Point Four dollar aid, mass education and the laziness of backward people. I only  have an undergraduate degree, so I don't follow. C. W. M. Gell writes from Transvaal that Pakistan is right about Kashmir and India wrong. Mauong Kyan Thet writes from London that in the matter of the Karens, the Burmese are right, and the Karen are stupid and wrong, and should be grateful that U Maoung is willing to employ one as a nanny. Chas J. Mills writes from Welling, Kent, that the recent downward drift in private savings shows that the National Savings movement isn't propagandising hard enough, while Albert Burns thinks that, while bad, it might have something to do with all those homes being built. Andrew Davidson of Edinburgh is shocked that politicians don't tell the whole truth sometimes. Diana Mansergh explains that British biscuits would sell better in Canada if they came in proper packages. Donald M. O'Connor writes from Cornwall to explain how doctors' fees are established by region under National Health, the drift of it being that he isn't being paid enough.


Hjalmar Schacht, who, it turns out, is not only still alive, but writing books, has Mehr Geld, mehr Kapital, mehr Arbeit out. He calls for a large American interest-free loan that will provide the "more gold," leading to the "more capital," leading to the "more labour," that is, lower unemployment. He explains why it won't be inflationary. The Economist thinks it would be, and also that it is a political fantasy. But at least it fills a column! Margaret Digby's biography of Horace Plunkett is a long-awaited contribution to Horace Plunkett studies that successfully establishes that he is one of the great men of history whose name is on everyone's lips . . . I interrupt this facetious aside in progress to say that I am now informed that I am too old for bathroom jokes. Bronislaw Kusnierz's Stalin and the Poles: An Indictment of the Soviet Leaders takes a balanced but, in the end, somewhat critical view of the bloodstained cannibalistic communist ogres of the Kremlin. J. P. T. Bury's France (1814--1940) is a scholarly and careful history of France by an eminent scholar. If you're wondering what it's doing here, it turns out that at the end it quotes some random person who said a funny thing about French socialism. George Wythe is the lead author of a study of Brazil by the Twentieth Century Fund. The Economist finds it boring, so it picks out some facts. Did you know that half of Brazil's population is under 19, compared with a third in the United States, and that the Brazilian government picked up Ford's rubber plantation for a quarter million after Ford ploughed $15 million into it? Brazil --always the country of tomorrow! Pearce Davis' The Development of the American Glass Industry is the latest Harvard Economic Study, and an exhaustive history of the American glass industry in its four different sectors. The main conclusion that The Economist draws is that tariffs are bad, even if they are justified to start with.

American Survey

"Exploring the Economy"  So what exactly is going on over in our hell-continent of no disinflation and budget deficits? Congress and the Administration have recently commissioned some studies that will be considered by a House Committee. It would be crass to draw any conclusions, so no-one does.

"Diesels on Rails" The Economist notices that the American railroads have gone to diesel, and toys with blaming John L. Lewis or explaining his troubles on it before going on to take a stab at explaining it. American (steam) locomotives need to be strong and sturdy, British locomotives have to be fast and light. That left diesels to take up passenger work, from which they moved into freight during the war years because income tax laws allowed generous amortisation of investments and there was a lot of money available for it.  The Navy took up the existing supply of new motors during the war, which allowed GM to get into it, and now they're everywhere, and will quickly replace coal as the associated investment in bunkerage and water tanks is run down. There's also a Note on declining passenger traffic, which has attracted the attention of the ICC, which thinks that subsidies might be in order, given that the railways don't get an air mail subsidy.

American Notes

"Resignation of a Pioneer"  David Lilienthal has resigned as head of the Atomic Energy Commission because he doesn't want to face the Senate, and Hickenlooper, in another confirmation hearing due next year. The Economist supposes that the bad blood between Lilienthal and the Senate is due to his "intellectual arrogance," and carefully avoids anything so crass as religion before pivoting to Clark Clifford's resignation, which is much more generally regretted, especially as he is seen as the architect of the Fair Deal campaign that won in '48, while Krug was a traitor who "resigned himself to a Dewey victory" and therefore is well rid of. Speaking of Fair Deals, The Economist is dubious about bond-financed state spending initiatives, and tries to pretend that James Roosevelt's latest bid for election (down here in sunny California) is anything but silly.

"Kaiser's Fairy Godmother" The Economist takes us back ten bloody years to Uncle Henry winning the contract to supply cement to the Shasta Dam in spite of not owning a cement plant. His success led to his winning those magnesium, steel, aviation and shipyard contracts and Kaiser-Frazer, which occasions the note by its recent admission that it lost a cool $8 million in the first half of '49. This has finally led to the RFC breaking up with Uncle Henry, who now owes only the $96 million on account of the Fontana steel plant that still accounts for 20% of the RFC's loan to business, and now a $44 million loan to Kaiser-Frazer that is somehow supposed to get the RFC clear of Kaiser-Frazer by putting it on its feet or something. This is ugly, since Uncle Henry took Willow Run off the government's hands after it strong-armed Ford into building it, much the same way that he got into Fleetwing, and for that matter started making steel on the West Coast at least in part to take the Harriman interest at Eagle Mountain in hand, not that we talk about that any more than we talk about bodies in the Hoover dam.

The World Overseas

"Ruhr Steel and the Future" Now that the Thyssen plants aren't going to be dismantled, it is time to talk about German steel. Second behind the United States (although a long way behind at 22 million tons) before the war, the Germans are now capped at 11 million tons, but could easily make more. German "propagandists" are asking for 16 million tons to rebuild a ruined and out-of-date Germany, but currently German steel is being held back by lack of domestic orders, due to lack of capital, so the suspicion is that if allowed to produce their target, the Germans would invade world markets and all would be wrack and ruin. The Germans hope for American investment to capitalise the steel industry, but the Americans are worried about more nationalisation, which would be bad, while meanwhile some more, the Americans and the British are united in their hostility to "artificially cheap" German coal. It sounds as though 1952 is the year that the world economic system collapses due to surplus commodities and the Nazis come back. it was a nice seven years!

A very long note is provoked by the recent riots, occasioning the situation in Nigeria, which is a very large country, in spite of looking very small in very largescale maps. The Economist is ecstatic that there is so much room for political crises and troubling clouds on the horizon in a part of the world that it scarcely took seriously before. (North versus South political and sectarian conflict is imminent!) And then speaking of political crises and troubling clouds, what about Argentina? At this point we reluctantly turn to the constitutional changes in Canada, where the only excitement to be found is the fact that the Premier of Quebec is fighting them. Unfortunately, the current Prime Minister is also from Quebec, so it comes out in the wash.

The Business World

"Rail Charges and Efficiency" British rail receipts are down, as traffic is down, and it seems impossible to raise rates enough to cover it. The Rail Commission says, in effect, there is no answer, which upsets The Economist, because that's its line. It suggests "efficiency" instead.

"The Sterling Balances" If I get the drift of the article right, The Economist is spitballing the idea that the big external sterling holders (from India and Egypt to Uruguay and Sweden) might take an effective write-down if they could get the money in dollars. Worth a try, spare some change, guvnor, The Economist says, poking a palm in the direction of the US Treasury.

Business Notes

"Master of the Market" Sir Stafford managed to stop the stock market slide, but The Economist is, of course, unconvinced.

"Political Economy" C. F. Carter and R. C. Tress' recent Bulletin of the London and Cambrdidge Economic Service chanced to suggest that things are looking rosy for 1950 thanks to the  Government's fine handling of the economy. The Economist is provoked into a closer reading and discerns an admission that it will all come tumbling down when Marshall aid ends. Speaking of disasters in the making, the Shipbuilding and Engineering Trade Unions have asked for a pound a week, which will be the death of us all on the meagre and absurd grounds that productivity is up from 100 in 1946 to 133 in 1949, which is insane because when The Economist said that increases in productivity were the only basis for making wage claims, it didn't mean it like that.

"The Cost of Making Films" The working party on the film industry has failed to conclude that the British industry is doomed. Notwithstanding some wholesome criticism of the unions, it also declines to tell those silly film-makers how to do their job. The Economist accordingly steps into the breach, explaining that if it weren't for all those finicky retakes, the industry would be able to shovel far more films out the door and everything would be different and maybe the industry would actually deserve state support! The Rank Organisation's proposals get a separate Note. 

"British Underground Gasification Trials" The Ministry of Fuel and Power is going to follow up on those American experiments by firing a coal seam at the opencast site at Chesterfield to see whether it is practical to draw off coal gas on a profitable scale.  The Russians are said to do this on a great scale, and some Belgian experts think that this natural coal gas could be a sixth of the price of producer gas at a great saving in labour and increase in coal use efficiency. On the other hand, the American and Italian trials show that it is impossible to control the quantity of gas and get a reliable supply so far, and there are "risks of subsidence!" Or, in other words, of the green and pleasant land slumping into a lake of fire, which would be bad.

Also, Pilkington Glass has a plant in Canada that is doing well and may lead to further investment, and Bleaching Trade Reorganisation has been formed to buy up old bleaching plant, immobilise surplus capacity and rationalise the business, as there is simply too much plant to be worked by the available labour force. Latest word of the Anglo-American Productivity Council is that its simplification team will visit small towns and spread the gospel of simplification and standardisation against the resistance of various industries that point out that they already have standardisation thanks to the British Standards Association, which is a large part of the reason they have so many lines of trade. The Federation of British Industries, which likes standardisation and simplification, slaps itself n the forehead and says, "We never thought of that." But since they're both good, surely there's a way to work this out!

"Grey Cloth Imports and Production" Remember that the British stopped Japanese grey cloth imports in July to prevent a dollar settlement? Ever since, the British industry  has had a shortage of grey cloth for finishing and there has been a follow on effect on exports to Canada, so the Cotton Manufacturing Commission has come up with some recommendations that are probably too boring for even The Economist to print, and things are all better!

"Rayon Staple Output Expands" By fifty percent, by my count!

Finance Notes leads off with renewed concern over something called the "Macmillan gap," which has to do with "the gap between savings and taxes" or something like that, anyway the long and short of it is maybe the decline in investment due to high taxes that all the rich people are disinterestedly worried about for the good of the nation. Just look at countries where the rich people aren't so public spirited, like Latin America, where there is inflation now.

Under Commodity news, the tin situation seems fine, the terms of trade haven't turned disastrous since devaluation, American oil companies continue to be upset that they can't export as much to the rest of the world for lack of dollars, with some even suggesting that they take sterling in payment, but where would they spend it? And there is a pepper shortage due to low production in Southeast Asia and high consumption in India, leading the industry to expand. The Economist looks forward to the gigantic surplus of 1955 and the "usual voices . . . [being] heard demanding an international scheme to control the supply." I don't know what it's worried about, as we're due for WWII the Second by 1952. (WWIII is supposed to wait until 1957!)

Flight, 8 December 1949


"Aids" Flight vaguely alludes to how the recent poor weather has led to some accidents somewhere perhaps involving some loss of life and jet planes crashing. Which, given Flight, presumably translates into a loss rate comparable to the Battle of Britain. Some have, consequently, recently said that perhaps their airfield should have GCA. Since this is not something that the Air Force is going to do, Flight must manfully contradict the pilots. All the GCAs in Britain are American Lend-Lease, it points out, and all are allocated. New ones cost £100,000, so the Air Force won't spring for that, and the world will have to wait for the newer and better British equipment that will be available in a few months, Precision Approach Radard and Airfield Control (or Surveillance) Radar, which together make up a GCA installation. Experts have suggested reusing some wartime H2S, which would be better than nothing, or else the usual hapless arrays of flares. 

Moving on from how this is not the RAF's fault, Flight speculates that it is industry's fault. It does seem as though there are no good, new radar equipments around, before moving on to point out that, enough about pilot safety, what about the national defence? Without radars to direct the fighters, aren't the British DOOMED?  Good point!
"England-Australia Anniversary: An Epic of Thirty Years Ago"  Way back in 1919, four Australian airmen flew a Vickers Vimy with two Rolls Royce engines. It took them thirty-five days, with the usual variety of excitement. (Bed bugs in Crete, rain in Egypt, head winds in Baghdad, colourful native headgear in Siam, and finally winning the £10,000 prize set by a Sydney paper with fifty hours to spare, winning knighthoods for the pilot and navigator and Bars to the Air Force Medal for their two flight mechanics.  

In the course of a whole page of afterthought news, which I don't think I've seen in Flight before, as they usually just run some pictures, we learn that Boscombe Down's Christmas party was very "traditional," that L. W. Rosenthal of Saunders-Roe gave a talk on "Weight Control to the RAeS that we'll hear about in Flight in more detail soon, I hope, that Air Chief Marshal Garrod is the new chairman of the Air League of the British Empire pip pip cheerio, that the industry has exported a record £28 million this year, and that the Pathfinder's Reunion Ball was a smashing success.

Geoffrey Dorman, "Land-and-Water Air Base" Flight's dumbest correspondent (since B. J. Hurren got a real job), is going to tell us all about Fuad I Airport in Alexandria, which is next to a lake, which the Egyptians have reamed out into a proper flying boat landing area, which Dorman briefly discusses before moving on to the rest of Africa before moving back to the "land section," which BOAC doesn't use, and which therefore he knows nothing about.  "When flying-boats become more widely used --and if popular opinion has any bearing they will be-- then similar airports should be seen all over the world." And that is why no-one is going to take the "Dumbest Man in Flight" laurels away from Our Geoff. 

Here and There

The Avro Jetliner will be available at $700,000 Canadian the pop, if someone would just be so kind as to order fifty of them. It is claimed that a Skyrocket beat the speed of sound in level flight at an altitude of only fifty feet, which would have translated into somewhere between 760 and 800mph. A good thing Muroc is so flat, I say. Flight is proud to have predicted a gas turbine locomotive by Brown Boveri. Hmm. Want to see me predict things that will happen in 1939? Because I can! The actual news is that British Railways is buying one to give it a spin. It's the usual Brown-Boveri configuration, with an axial compressor delivering air through a heat exchanger to a combustion chamber. British Rail is also buying a more conventional axial compressor type with the regular multiple combustion chambers from  Metrovick. Hawker is buying the Squires Gate factory at Blackpool from the Ministry of Supply to free up space at Langley, which is cramped by being next to London Airport. MATS is now going to fly all American sick and wounded Service personnel from Germany to Amrica on C-121s, allowing the navy to retire two hospital ships that previously provided for about 300 patients a month. Italy is going to get Vampires, as we've heard a million times already. The USAF is sending two F-84s to Tarrant Rushton to, it is reported in the American press, try out British-style flight refuelling.  

Civil Aviation News

BOAC has finally moved out of La Guardia and into Idlewild. This will make connections with American domestic services flying out of La Guardia a bit tricky, and people are looking into the possibilities of a helicopter shuttle. Australian flight safety statistics show that Australia has aviation accidents, but, then again, not many. Up at Prestwick, Prestwick people are arguing about the future, but at least everyone can agree that everything bad is the Ministry's fault. (Air? Civil Aviation? Supply? All of them? The possibilities are limitless!

Speaking of British industrial reserves of whining, how about those charter airlines? Australia is so jealous of all this whining that the Australian private airlines shoulder their way into the bottom of the page to complain about Australian things. Avro Canada suggests that Trans-Canada will be flying Jetliners into Bermuda, because it is even better than anyone imagined it could be. Although on the other hand the Ministry of Civil Aviation is talking up the Viscount for the same services, and someone is even holding out the Hermes, perhaps the V and VI, which will surely be following along after the IV lickety-split.

The Americans are talking about how they are going to reorganise airports for jet transport, while now both Martin and Convair are talking about putting the Allison T-38 turboprop into their DC-3 replacements that are being replaced by DC-3s, just as soon as the Air Force tells them just what the T-38 can do, as see Aviation Week. Flying is fairly safe in America, accidents notwithstanding. 

"Collecting a Stratocruiser, Part II" This isn't technically the same story again, since it is a Part II. It's all about training, with a great deal about the Dehmel synthetic trainer. There's also a nice map of Canada, because sometimes the Stratoliners might fly over it on their way from Seattle to Britain.

"Skyrocket: Douglas's Missile-Like Research Aircraft" Ten percent off on your next DC-6 if you run these pictures, I guess?

"Misleading Edge" Way back last October, Flight ran an air-to-air picture of a de Havilland Vampire that showed an optical illusion. After an exhaustive fourteen month investigation, Flight is pleased to report that it was, in fact, an optical illusion and not the laws of nature changing for just that second. Okay, I'm being completely unfair. They also rerun the picture.

"Aerodynamic Cleanness: Precis of a Lecture given to the Royal Aeronautical Society by E. J. Richards" Richards went to the Society to present Vickers' calculations for the projected VC4 four-turbojet airliner, which are actually pretty interesting, if dry. Replacing countersunk wing rivets with snap heads would have cost 220 miles in range! This is a specific result for a given cruising altitude, so you can't just apply it to any old airliner, but it is a good example of what designers have to keep in mind, along with wing profile, cooling arrangements, the little gaps between the wing and high lift devices, bumps for power controls, and so on. As usual, the all-wing or tailless design comes into the discussion, since the aerodynamicists can't wait for someone to make them work. Boundary layer suction has a bright future, and so does good paint, since mud and insect spots can have a huge effect on drag.

"The Prestwick Controversy" Lord Pakenham apologises to Parliament for expressing his opinions one way, when he should have expressed them the other way. The Loyal Opposition continues to be most vexed and wroth, and is deeply concerned about future aircraft accident investigations, which will be entirely compromised if the Minister retains the ability to write letters to the newspaper or say things in Parliament.

"The Austaircar" That's it. Someone must have pulled an article from Flight about something. Radar, maybe? Here's a half page article about someone who has done up a roadster Auster, followed by outtakes and rejected photographs from last week's bit about Fairey's new jigging system.


If Geoff Dorman has been promoted to "dumbest writer at Flight," does that mean there's an opening for "dumbest correspondent?" Will there be a pageant? Let's find out! J. Talbot thinks that "afterburning" is a better word for it than "reheat." He's out of the running! Lord Rivendale writes for money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Ditto. W. N. Cumming of GAPAN sticks up for pilots in accident inquiries. J. W. Massey, test engineer at Beech, writes to correct mistaken attribution of the development of the Beech Twin-Quad power plant. Well, that's pretty much a washout, but there's always next week.

The Economist, 10 December 1949


"The Dilemma of Defence" Britain is spending £800 million on defence right now, which is a lot, and what with the foreign and defence ministers of the Atlantic Pact currently meeting to finish the talking phase that precedes the spending phase, it is a good time to contemplate spending even more. And by contemplate I mean spin in circles for three pages before the conclusion to every Leader: The Government doesn't know what it is doing and that the welfare state costs too much.

"Food Policy for Europe" Since the dollar imbalance is largely due to importing American food, it seems reasonable to invest in European agriculture, as the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation now recommends. The FAO thinks that a forty percent increase in Europe's 25 million hectares of cultivated land is possible, with a 40% increased yield in grain and fodder per hectare. This would lead to a $4000 million increase in the value of the agricultural sector, and do a great deal to improve Europe's situation vis a vis the dollar. Since The Economist hates this idea with a  passion but can't say so forthrightly, the article spins in place for several pages contemplating how it could all go wrong. In conclusion, the Government doesn't know what it is doing, (neither does France) although somehow, impossibly, the welfare state doesn't get a ding in this one.

Xinjiang and Tibet have national boundaries, but Taiwan
doesn't even get a label. 
"China Looks South" Now that the Communists have conquered China they're probably going to expand southward and take over Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, Indo-China and the Philippines. Have we missed anyone? India! Japan? It's not in the south, but by the time the second page rolls around, The Economist is tired of a single direction and has promoted Chinese Communist imperialism into the restoration of the old imperial system, which included Japan. (It says here.) Of course, it also included huge chunks of Manchuria and Siberia, but since it is a world communist conspiracy, the Russians don't have to worry about that. You know who does have to worry? All the hosts of overseas Chinese communities, now threatened by opium-maddened warriors of the Si-Fang --Wait, wrong Yellow Peril. By Marx-maddened communists. Also Tibet, now officially on the "To Be Liberated" list. The Economist helpfully suggests that Britain and the United States recognise Tibetan independence if India goes first.

"Coming Down to Earth"  A random anonymous has thoughts about the election. It seems like an odd thing to spend column space on, but he is the only person The Economist knows who will admit to voting Labour in 1945 and being at least open to voting Labour in 1950. (Only he isn't.) So it's either meet another pinko, or given him five more columns.

Notes of the Week

 "Impossible Persuasion" Herbert Morrison is upset that assorted business associations are swinging behind the Conservative Central Office and waging a pr campaign against Labour, since it seems to be against the spirit of election law. Neener neener says The Economist.

"Does Uniscan Mean Business?" In case you missed it (I sure did), the previous Note facetiously discusses all the new regional nicknames that have showed up in Europe since "Benelux" set the fashion. "Uniscan" is a union of the three Scandinavian countries. (Iceland and Finland are on their own) that might exist after talks currently under way in London arrive at some conclusion. Which would be hard since no-one knows what the starting point would be. Scandinavia joining Imperial Preference? Not likely. A Scandinavia-wide payments scheme? Possibly, but big deal. Sweden clearing its sterling balance with a deal to buy coal at the British domestic price? That's what Sweden wants, but no way! The other "nickname," Fritalux (France and Italy plus Benelux) is "faltering," because Benelux wants to invite Germany; the French don't want to lower tariffs, and an international clearing bank doesn't seem worth the fuss.

"A Halt to African Federation" For some reason, the Africans of Northern Rhodesia aren't keen on joining a government built on white supremacy. The Economist suggests a compromise: the Central African Federation should agree to be about Less White Supremacy so that it can be a "bulwark against the northern expansion" of South Africa's More White Supremacy. This doesn't seem like a good deal, but The Economist is really keen on the proposed rail connections to the Indian Ocean, and sometimes you have to beak an egg to make an omelette. The Economist also has reservations about de Gaspieri's land reform in Calabria, since it might be expensive, but no reservations at all about the ongoing purge in Bulgaria.

"German Defence Under Debate" Schumacher and Adenauer have kissed and made up, Germans can move on to being bitterly divided over defence. Adenauer wants a German contingent in a European army, but one Free Democrat deputy wants a "people's army." It's not clear to me why this should doom the chances for a "statesmanlike settlement." Maybe the Socialists are against a new Wehrmacht? Probably, I guess, but someone should say so!

"Transforming the COI" That's the Central Office of Information, which, it turns out, Conservative backbenchers hate. The Economist doesn't hate it so much as it pities its pathetic inability to do good press. The Economist helpfully suggests that the COI be improved by handing it over to Fleet Street, which knows how to do fearless and honest press. In other recent developments, The Economist finds some kind of excuse to support the death penalty and for not supporting expanding the universities in spite of the number of students going unplaced. (They might have got in at another university, so who really knows how many students couldn't get a place? Just as soon as those statistics are known, The Economist will switch to supporting more money for universities, lickety-split.)  The Economist is also lukewarm on the Portsmouth redevelopment scheme, excoriates the General Assembly for planning to disband the International Refugee Organisation without a replacement, and notes without excessive comment that the Assembly has voted for an international Jerusalem, which the Israeli and Jordanian forces on the ground will continue to ignore.


The Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-40 gets a review. Plot drags in places, but lots of interesting bits. F. E. Dessauer's Stability is about . . . something? The reviewer really liked it, but doesn't do a very good job of explaining. John Clapham's A Concise Economic History of Britain From the Earliest Times to 1750  is a very thorough and scholarly synthesis of the literature, but the review reads like one of those reviews that is handed off to someone who has the same book in manuscript, so you get lots of nitpicking. Igor Markevich and W. Hilton are two foreigners who will explain Italy to us. (Made in Italy, The Italian Left.) They're both good, but The Economist enjoyed Markevich more.

American Survey

"Atomic Politics" Lilienthal has resigned, Hickenlooper is gloating, fellow Iowan W. W. Waymack has scolded him publicly, Hickenlooper is running hard for re-election in 1950, will this  help or hinder? Oh, and in between denouncing assorted security risks, Senator Johnson took time out on television to blither on about an "atom bomb of 1000 times the force of the Hiroshima model." I am going to fly this one by James and see what the Senator could be on about, in the mean time it makes the Senate committee look even more ridiculous. Meanwhile, National Research Council fellows will now not only have to sign a loyalty oath, but will have to have background checks by the FBI before they can get that sweet Federal cash. Lilienthal suggested that it was all a bit ridiculous, but, as Senator O'Mahoney told him, he is just being unrealistic.

"Vanishing Sheep" Not only is the wool price supported in America as long as the clip is below 360 million pounds, but now the ICC is giving wool shippers a break, in spite of which the sheep trade keeps shrinking. It is generally agreed that the country needs to import some shepherds, but as long as McCarran fights the DP Bill, the Senate will keep his "More Basque Shepherds for Me" bill bottled up. Consequentially, the number of sheep on American farms and ranches has shrunk from a 1942 record of 49 million head to a current 28 million as ranchers keep getting out of the business. One reason is that American wool is produced well west of the Mississippi and then shipped --uncleaned!-- 2000 miles east for processing, and who can afford that? The ICC refuses to give cleaned wool the same rate break as dirty on the grounds that there isn't enough to matter, or, as the western ranchers say, because if they take their wool away from Eastern manufacturers, support for tariffs collapses.

American Notes

"Pensions for All?" The Economist reviews the current state of play on pensions. Bell Telephone has joined coal and steel and Ford in offering or increasing a pension, Senator Taft says everyone should have a pension, but has estimated the cost of a national pension at $12 billion and doesn't think it is affordable, and the Administration takes the first part seriously and not the second, and moves to increase Social Security payments. The advantage of doing it that way is that it would substantially cut industry pension outlays, I guess since they top up Social Security. If the Feds don't move, some of the states, notably New York, might.

"Butter in the ECA's Mouth" The ECA is eager to increase European exports to America, and with devaluation, Danish butter came in at three cents a pound less than the domestic price, occasioning an offer of 4.4 million pounds, which domestic importers promptly snapped up, only to have the  Commodity Credit Corporation refuse an import license on the grounds that it is already holding 100 million lbs of surplus butter which it cannot sell at 62 cents a pound against competition from margarine.

"Whose Credit Policy?" Marriner Eccles thinks that cheap money is producing inflation and wants interest rates raised. Secretary Snyder wants a balanced budget, which would be impossible at higher rates since interest on the Federal debt is already 13% of the budget. Various people have ingenious schemes to paper over the differences, but, for the moment, it looks like cheap money is here to stay.

"New York Runs Dry" New York is experiencing a severe water shortage due to the heat and drought last summer and the steady increase in the city's population. New reservoirs along the Delaware will add 540 million gallons of water a day to the city's supply by 1956,  which, because this is the American side, doesn't lead to a glooomy "but . . " It does, however, expand on the point by pointing out that many, many cities, even in the wet east, but more so in California, are short of water. Although no-one really knows how much water is actually available, and the US Geological Survey is just starting to find out. A Shorter Note notices that employment is at 59,500,000, which is about as high as at any point this year, and that unemployment, at 3.49 million, is well under July's 4 million. At that time there were 35 areas in 14 states with more than 12% unemployment, and more than $80 million in federal procurement and construction contracts and loans were spent in those areas, which we can all agree probably didn't achieve very much. Another note notices that the New York State Supreme Court has struck down the Feinberg Law, under which teachers could be dismissed for belonging to a subversive organisation, on the grounds that it is extra-judicial, a bill of attainder, and guilt by association. Everyone agrees that that's a problem, but how are you going to protect the precious schoolchildren of the State from Communist influence without it?

The World Overseas

"Europe's Lagging Dollar Exports" America may have tripled its imports since 1939, but the Marshall area has only doubled its exports to the States, providing it with only one seventh of its total imports. The biggest weaknesses are in food, as European wine and cheese and "vegetables and vegetable preparations" have lagged, followed by textiles (wool has held up, while synthetic fibres had a good run before the recession), and wood pulp and newsprint, and diamonds. However, metals and metal manufactures have shot up to five times their prewar value and captured almost a quarter of an enlarged American market.

So the story is that European manufactured goods are making solid gains, but can't make up for losses in commodity and textile exports. It's odd that these sorts of facts don't come up more in the investigations of the Anglo-American Council on Productivity, but I guess the answer is that European labour is so much cheaper than American that it doesn't need to be productive to win market share.

"Nazi Groups in Western Germany" As established last week, the Nazis will be back in '52. In the meantime, The Economist gives us the rundown on the various German soreheads who have popped up out of the woodwork since the Americans relaxed restrictions on political speech.  Some guy named August Haussleiter is the next Fuehrer. You heard it  here first!

Australian Election Issues" The Economist's Australian Correspondent seems to think that Labour is throwing the election by  running on its record instead of all the exciting things it is going to do next.

"Mr. Nehru Discovers America" Nehru's visit to America went well, even though India doesn't want to get into the anti-Communist swing of things and would rather like a million tons of wheat.

"Civil Aviation in Hong Kong" The Economist catches us up with what we already know from Flight, with one major addition: The city needs another air port. No argument from me, but where?

The Business World

"Conversion and Monetary Policy" Two very long pages on a bond issue/settlement thing that is "neutral in monetary policy." Bleeah.

"Future for Films" Last week The Economist promised to tell the industry how to do its business. I, babe in the woods that I am, fancied that it would tell it how to make movies. And The Economist does get there in the end, suggesting in the last paragraph that it should stop making boring movies. But before that there's a couple of pages about organising cinema chains and rules about what movies can be shown where.

Business Notes

"Dollar Incentives" The Board of Trade is going to give every company that exports to the dollar zone a gold star to put up on the pantry door. Or some money. That might be better, come to think of it. Or so some say. The Board denies any such thing, which wouldn't make for much of a Note, so we're off to chase our tail for a few paragraphs instead.

"Development Councils and the Law" Local development is almost as exciting as the dilemmas of South African banking, which follow.

"Higher Rail Rates" Well, there's your answer about how the deficit is going to be settled. The Transport Commission sternly rejected the idea that the losses could be made up with more efficiency, and was eerily silent about the possibility of higher rates for "C" class trucks to balance rail and road.

"Coal Output and Finance" It now appears that the British coal cut for the year will hit the National Coal Board's 220 million ton target. After taking a moment to apologise for being so wrong for so long (JUST KIDDING!), The Economist moves on to consider the possibility that there is room for the price of coal to fall. The prospect is so bleak that it seizes on a passage in the report that suggests that workman's compensation payments may be higher than expected. Also discouragingly encouraging is the recovery in the freight market, so it is some small consolation that the supply of "free sterling" on the secondary market is falling, which may lead to a crisis soon.

"Employment in Ship Repairing" The ship repairing business on the Tyne, Clyde and Mersey grew "abnormally" during the war, and continued high for four years as the backlog was polished off.  The trade unions are suggesting that 75,000 men are out of a job, with 75,000 to follow, which is a bit much when the repair industry never employed more than 80,000 at the wartime peak, but there are men who need to find alternative employment. The shipbuilders still have a two year backlog, but who knows after that. In conclusion, this is the wrong time for the unions to be looking for an extra pound a week.

"Progress with Atomic Energy" After Senator Johnson's little slip, a boring old atomic pile doesn't seem like quite a big deal, but Harwell has a new cyclotron, there is going to be a third atomic plant of some kind at Chester, the Sellafield site, which will produce (enriched) uranium and plutonium for atomic weapon and other uses will be open soon, and there you go, progress. Of a kind. No British super bomb? Is this even a real country?

Various trade talks and trade visits, including an Anglo-American delegation dropping in on the Japanese textiles industry, occur. Commodity prices are up, and The Economist is quite pleased that one Professor Allen says that retail prices might be up 3% by the spring, which "will certainly confound the official optimists." Confound their knavish tricks, someone said! The price of wool might be peaking, the Ministry of Supply is buying a job lot of copper at a good price, which doesn't make sense since everyone knows that free enterprise is better. The Colonial Office hopes that everyone will buy more West Indies sugar before something horrid happens there, Canada is to buy a million tons of British steel since it just so darn cheap compared with American, mainly for oil equipment for the new fields in Alberta and Manitoba and pipelines to the Lake and Vancouver. South Africa is curtailing auto imports to pressure manufacturers into building assembly plants there, Canada is a good market for farm machinery if the distribution can be licked, although opening up Canadian factories would probably work better. British ship ownership is steadily recovering. (That's actually from the Christmas issue, but I thought you'd want to know.)

Business Roundup

Congress has adjourned, the steel strike is over, the coal strike is also over for now, with the UMW in bad trouble due to the steady fall in the coal market, the price of gold isn't going up, Detroit broke the 1929 record with 5,359,000 units, temperatures in Indiana hit 24 degrees Fahrenheit with coal bins empty due to the strike, although elsewhere stockpiles saw industry through the strike. But who cares, because there's football! The steel strike probably scuttled the coal strike, but didn't shut down industry before Cyrus Ching found a settlement. There is boom news from furniture to carpets (thanks to devalued wool imports), plumbing, shoes, home appliances and construction.  The one thing that didn't look rosy was the Federal deficit, likely to hit $5.5 billion on the strength, Fortune says, of domestic spending, not defence or foreign aid. President Truman asked for a tax increase, Edwin Nourse complained about "deficits as a way of life," and resigned.

One way of showing that devaluation is working is that gold finally began to leave the US instead of arriving,some $200 million leaving the country in part as a hedge against a rumoured dollar devaluation. American exporters took unexpected losses, which is a sign of a levelling balance of trade, especially in Canada, where devaluation was unexpected, and Argentina, where large dollar funds are blocked. Healthier European exports mean that the ECA will cost  a billion dollars less than budgeted next year. Sumner Schlichter predicts a GNP of $456 billion in 1980 versus $247 billion in 1948, a population of 175 million, and a thirty hour week. Meanwhile, 150 million Americans will ring in the New Year, guaranteeing demand for houses and things to put in houses for years to come. Also, cars. Also, the big Veterans life insurance repayment next January will be a further boost to the economy. Coach rates for air travel are probably also a boost, not that you'd know it from the airlines' campaign against the non-skeds, now mostly won.

It truly is an age of wonders. We even have a cure for the common cold. Well, not a cure, as antihistamines, as the new drugs are called, only eliminate the "allergic symptoms of head colds," which is to say, runny noses. Nepera Chemical and Schering, small fry in the drug world, beat everyone else to the market with Anahist and Inhiston because they ignored the doctors who thought that an anti-allergy drug couldn't possibly work on colds, leaving big companies like Merck scrambling in their wake.
Gin rummy is big, the Du Pont/Olin connection gets a more reserved airing, the Supreme Court says the SEC can go after Cyrus Eaton, after all, CBS is going to air fifteen minutes of UN coverage a week, Koldweld Corporation has imported GEC's heatless welding process

Fortune's Wheel

Everyone liked Russell Davenport's article last  month except one guy from Philadelphia, and he's dumb. January's issue is going to have sixteen pages of colour photographs of France to remind everyone just how much they want to go to France. It's so French it tastes cheesy! Leo Lionni is Fortune's new art director, replacing some guy, we forget who, who is going to be spending more time with his family, because, frankly, they're nasty and they deserve each other. Fortune said a bad and wrong thing about the Ogden Corporation, which is owned by, and in turn owns, another company that Floyd Odlum owns, and is, in turn, owned by. The point is that Floyd has powerful friends and a lot of money and we're not going to cross him unless we have our ducks in a row, which we don't. Sorry, Floyd. Those responsible have been thrown to the wolves to lighten the sled for the rest of us. Fortune also made a mistake in its story about the Census Bureau, and apologises some more.

Fortune's gift catalogue starts on this page, and goes on for about thirty more.

It seems like they're mostly whiskey ads, but whiskey isn't "technology" any more. 
For example, French rent control is bad. 
 "The US Tariff" What with the ECA and all, foreigners keep trying to export stuff to America, so the tariff is probably going to be a big story in 1950, and maybe it is time to try explaining it again. This takes a lot of words, because the tariff is very complicated, because if you could explain it, it would sound sort of fishy. But we don't need to hear about it here!

"Who's Against the Hoover Plan?" Besides everyone who has ever known the man? No, that's not true, there are people who know Hoover and support his plan. But that just makes me think they're getting a kickback. Or a tax break. Six of one, half dozen of the other!

"How Government Corrupts" Has Fortune ever explained to you why the welfare state is bad? It has? But not in the last month? Well, time for a refresher! Also see, "The Tobacco Road to Serfdom," "Wages Should be Flexible," and The Communists Who Became Capitalists," which is about a town in Iowa that was socialist for a while, and it didn't work out.

"Private Industry in India" There should be more of it.

"Natural Gas: Whoosh!" Fortune touched on this at length a bit earlier while gloating over the ignominious end of the coal strike. The industry has been growing like Topsy ever since Fortune dropped by for a look see four years ago. It has 13.5 million customers now, and pipelines are spreading out in all directions. The pipeline plays are all well-invested, huge plays, which almost makes building pipelines a more profitable business than selling gas. Which is ironically true because natural gas is on its way to being the cheapest fuel in many markets, and with vast amounts still being flared off, there's every opportunity to growth further. Fortune being Fortune, the  main drift of the article is investing advice for people wanting to buy into these pipeline plays.

"Big Money in Boston" The Massachusetts Investors Trust is very quiet, but is one of the biggest retail investors in America today.

"The Great A and P Muddle" The A&P must have hired every public relations man in America, because you can't turn around for heated arguments about how the SEC's antitrust suit is just plain wrong. If you were wondering, it's one of those "vertical integration" things, where the company owns its own suppliers (in this case, bakeries and so on), and uses them to maybe achieve lower prices than the competition. If you weren't wondering, and you probably weren't, that is more than I should have said about it. Especially since you're not going to run into the SEC's criticisms in the article, which are mainly that once you've got a bakery, you can lean on the independent bakeries to sell to you exclusively or at a lower price.

"Take Utica, For Instance" Utica is a quaint little town in upstate New York with factories. It always makes me think of ancient cities. Is it because it is near Troy and Illium, or am I half-remembering some lecture about some boring Classical author. Answer: It is! It's a Phoenician city near Carthage, so I'm sure it shows up in the boring bits of Polybius with no elephants. And that's more useful information you'll get than if I talked about the article. (Uitca businessmen meet at a club to drum up Community Chest donations!)

"Statistical Quality Control: Is Among the Sharpest Management Tools Developed in Half a Century" I don't know which crabbed and cruel editor relegated this article to way in the back after the fluff, but that's where it is. On the other hand, this is so painfully obvious (you can't test all of the pieces, so you just test a representative sample; and if you can find a mathematician to tell you that a very small number of tests is a representative sample, you save some money) that it's like telling the editor to defend the publisher's boyfriend's latest piffle over in Fortune's Wheel. Favours all around. Er, and if you want to know how I came to know about the English vice, ask your cousin, because I'm just a babe in the woods.

Although that's probably unkind, since E. J. Gumbel, the famous anti-Nazi, has propounded some more substantial scientific work that might have more value than "Science says I can fire my factory inspectors."

And that's it for Fortune this month! Remember, buy people really expensive presents, or they won't know how rich you are! Mail order food is always a great choice, and so is Scottish booze that tastes like cigarette ash!

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