Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Great Siege, I: Attlee Was Right


I added "The Great Siege" tag early in the life of this blog to organise the idea that Germany's strategic campaign against the British Empire was effectively a siege of Great Britain with consequences extending well beyond the end of the war. One could say, I thought to myself in 2013, that it was ultimately a success, inasmuch as the British Empire no longer exists. That is because, by situating the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic into an overarching effort including mining and, most easily missed, the V-weapon campaign, one could extend the long range consequences of the campaign well beyond the end of the war, and, in particular, say that the attrition of British housing stocks during the war was an important factor in What Came Next.

Well, this is a travel installment, with me currently struggling to touchtype with reasonable speed on a very nice ASUS laptop with a keyboard that is just too small for my fat fingers, which doesn't encourage me to be loquacious, but which on the other hand leaves me thirsty to share pointless vaction pictures and experiences. 
The overall idea with which I started this tag was, I now see, hopelessly naive, which is why I have decided that the right time to call an end to the Great Siege is with The Economist's disgraceful surrender to permanent deficit financing of the British economy with the 1953 budget introduced by RAB Butler for the Churchill government, because what's more important, "economy" or higher interest rates, lower taxes, and a tacit turn away from  full employment? Without either agreeing or disagreeing with the  traditional Liberal "peace, retrenchment, and reform," so blatantly giving the game away is the 1953 equivalent of the French "rearming in 1938" to the tune of "What about the rentier?" It's capitulation, is what it is. Here's the keys to the city, Herr Grossadmiral, on the sole condition that you let us march out with our consols shouldered. 

The town of Keremeos lies on the junction of the Similkameen River with Keremeos Creek on Highway 3 and Highway 5C in the south centre of the province, in one of two regions that loves to attach itself to the Okanagan Valley as an extension of BC's "summerland," to borrow the actual name of an Okanagan Valley town between Penticton and Peachland, across the lake from Naramata. Keremeos, like the rest of the "Similkameen" part of the "Okanagan-Similkameen," has no lake suitable for summer fun. It is a farming and crossroads town in the midst of endless orchards and vegetable farms with a good run to Vancouver since the Hope-Princeton opened in 1953, although the housing stock you see in these pictures is earlier than that, dating to a previous era of prosperity based on loading fruit cars onto an extension of the Great Northern Railway. The town has a population of a bit over 1700, which explains why the drugstore in town is open 12--4 on Sundays. 

A walking tour of the town might seem very familiar if you have seen Beaverdell, Greenwood, Olalla, Hedley, or similar towns laid out before WWII which have since not enjoyed very much growth. It is a four--to-six blocks by four block street grid, readily walkable, with a solid downtown area with enough vacant space for more businesses if you're in the mood to move and invest, and enough room for far more houses than are there,  overwhelmed by the size of their lots, and even a few apartment buildings, mostly comically undersized, as if the builder lacked a certain conviction. Around this core area is an area of new building from the postwar era, where such new houses  as have been built over the subsequent eighty years are located, abstracted from the town core in every case, and in that of Keremeos, dramatically overlooking it from an Okanagan bench --meaning that although they are very close to the city physically, you have to drive down to a draw that gives access to the Upper Bench of the Keremeos in the far northeast corner of the town. 

Now let's talk about one reason that Clement Attlee was right. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

A Technological But Also Economic and Engaged Appendix to Postblogging Technology, May 1953, II: The Bee Problem


I hope there's some of the bee scenes I remember from my slightly traumatised junior high viewing of this documentary based on Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive, because the "problem" here is the old saw about how science doesn't know how bees fly. The joke being that of course science knows how bees can fly. The airliner business, on the other hand . . . ? See? I knew there was a reason to read Fortune! 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Postblogging Technology, May 1953, I: Happy Times Are Here Again

The Hon. A.
,_. Hall,

Dear Cousin:

I write in some hurry as Ronnie is gathering her things so that her husband can do his part in the delivery, a solid twenty minutes depending on the traffic on King Edward. Was that funny? Not? I can't tell. I'm a ball of nerves. It was so much easier off being a dashing aviator when Jim-Jim was born. I try to distract myself by thinking about other things, but I keep being dragged down to the fact that the Commerce Secretary tried to fire the chief of the National Bureau of Standards at the behest of a mail order con artist, and the Administration and its supporters at the newspapers are lining up behind him. This, this is why McCarthy is winning. It sometimes seems like I should seriously consider not going back to the States after my furlough. Or maybe that's "transferrence," or "displacement" in the new psychiatric jargon. I'm scared, cousin!

Your Cousin,
The Dash(ing) Pilot

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Postblogging Technology, April 1952, II: Tired: Korea; Wired: Viet Nam

The Hon. A.,
_. Hall,

Dear Cousin:

As Ronnie and I find ourselves together in Shaughnessy with my parents this month, niehter of us has reason to write one of these letters to him. But I do know that you have expressed your appreciation of them, and so I take the liberty --oh, gosh, you know that I don't talk like this, and, anyway, I know that it is you, P., and not your uncle, who is actually reading this. So I'm going to stop talking like I am writing to a peer of the realm and instead talk to you! Fair deal? Great! Do I sound a bit distracted and nervous! You know why! I found as I wrote that I was able to settle my nerves, but now that I'm doing the cover note I feel like that stewardess who was thrown free of the Miami Airlines DC-3 crash down in Washington State two weeks ago, which I am still digesting, since I have an inside account of the flight that makes me just sick to my stomach that they put our boys on those planes. 

Your Cousin,
The Dash(ing) Pilot

Sunday, August 6, 2023

A Technological Appendix to Postblogging Technology, April 1953, II: Cutlass to the NBS!


It will not have escaped the attention of the alert reader that this is a technological appendix to a postblogging installment which hasn't posted yet. Why? A difficult work schedule and my own stubborn refusal to face the reality that I wasn't reasonably going to finish the installment before Tuesday. 

Fortunately, we have a science-policy-politics story this week which deserves its prominence at every level, the "AD-X2 controversy," and another story, slowly rolling on to its 1958 denouement, the Chance-Vought F7U Cutlass, announced this month in an attack variant that Chance Vought expects to produce after completing its contract for 90 of the air superiority type. 

Our historical memory of the Eisenhower Administration has over the years veered between a roseate nostalgia for the President of interstates and Brown Vs. Board of Education and an increasing disquiet as the damage done by the Guatemalan and Iranian coups keeps on compounding. There is, therefore, something revelatory about descending from our 20,000ft historical view into the trenches to find incoming Commerce Secretary Sinclair Weeks receiving a well-deserved bayoneting from Drew Pearson and the 400 employees of the National Bureau of Standards who threatened this week to quit if their boss, Allen V. Astin, were fired.