Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Postblogging Technology, March 1944, I: Pulling In the Horns

My Dearest Reggie:

It has been so good for all of us to hear from you. Your gifts were much appreciated. I cannot imagine where you obtained the measurements for the nursery suite,  but it is perfect! (No, strike that, I am sure you were informed through Wong Lee.) I cannot believe your choice of a theme in the decoration, however. Wait until "Miss V. C." sees it!

I do not speak lightly, either. I was in Chicago, last week, and had occasion to visit with the "N.C.s" and was subjected to a most unpleasant dressing down, made all the more difficult by the fact that I was of necessity seeing some unsavory types. You will have heard by now that I am proposing to go to war in the guise of the civilian master of an Australian naval auxiliary, with Sparrow in the guise of a landing craft tender. (Perhaps I repeat myself? I should really check, but am too lazy.) 

What has this to do with Chicago? Well, Grandfather would never adventure so without providing for contingencies. Following his old precedent, I took the precaution of placing men within the American Fleet. Under the (racial) circumstances, I chose not to be a slave to tradition, although there was an irresistible opportunity to place a wily old dacoit in the kitchen staff of the New Jersey battleship. Instead, I bought retainers from those "men of respect" with whom I have had to dally in the course of certain relations with our friend. An acquaintance of a friend --but, again, you surely know the story. 

I have always rather liked some aspects of this. It makes me feel quite the benevolent squire when I  relieve the fears of men who have fallen into gangsters' hands. A cynic would add that it wins an extra measure of loyalty. (Unless they have seen those recent Hollywood productions where the suave, rich man is more to be feared than the gangsters who bring you to him.)

Unfortunately, the human material is imperfect. At least they are not truculent tinderboxes, like the run-of-the-mill hoodlum, but they are naive, and I should like to groom them more before placing much reliance on them. Hopefully, I shall not have to do so, and will instead activate the connection in distant years to come for less dangerous matters. For it is hardly clear which way they will jump when they are asked to do things that appear . .  . unpatriotic, and I am not sure I want men who would not scruple so. At least in this employment. Certainly I cannot frankly tell them that, as Grandfather said, he gave up masterminding the  fall of Western Civilization  in the moment he saw the casualty returns for the first day of the Somme, on the grounds that, in the face of the fine job that Western Civilisation was doing of bringing itself down, the family's proper role lay in cushioning the fall for its members.

As to your charge, I sat Mr. Murphy down and we have gone over the finances of the proposed sub-division. I honestly had not considered building on the roadside land. It is rather farther from town than the land I planned on giving over, and Michael has high hopes of restoring its former fertility if we can only control manure runoff in the creek. Still, your wishes are my command, and I was rather impressed with Mr. Murphy's bank statement. 

In retrospect, I should not have been, considering how much overtime he (and his wife, before her confinement) have worked in the last two years. Knowing what he can afford gives me -or us-- something of a guideline for the size of the lots, as well. Now I wonder whether I was too hasty in planning to dispose of the lower land as residential properties. Americans do not like to rent out their houses, and for reasons I will explain below, I am becoming increasingly more anxious about maintaining our rental revenues. Perhaps there is a future in commercial real estate development just outside the city, or in more-easily managed situations, as in a case that I am contemplating now in  Vancouver

As for the Murphys, I am confident that they will be very nice  houses. You can tell that to the person who inspired the request. (Oh, yes, I know the influence at work!) 

This brings me to the final matter about which you were most anxious, Reggie. Your son's trip to Sacramento went well, and there was no scandal. Rather to the contrary, the Lincoln by all accounts ran smoothly and the trip was almost boring. In fact, your son is frustrated, since Lieutenant A.'s ancient roadster broke down, leading to what was by all accounts quite an adventure. Yet, for some reason, the girls appear more taken with Lieutenant A., who comes across the scrappy and resourceful young man, while your son is written off as a spoiled boy, and any protest to the effect that he rebuilt the car with his own hands is deemed "conceited." I try to nod wisely and offer gruff, manly advice about the wisdom of saying less and doing more, but the boy misses his father.

On a more serious matter, a most unexpected turn of events. A bundle of Doctor McLoughlin's papers were indeed in the archives at Sacramento, in papers from the dissolved Indian Affairs agency of Yerba Buena. The largest piece is a bundle of copybooks for letters having to do with the Doctor's official dealings, but Lieutenant A intervened to arrange for a photographic copy of the whole, and I have seen some brief extracts that indicate that there are also copies from the Doctor's patent book and the Company's Yerba Buena indentures. The former have some potential for leveraging difficult land transactions, as you and I and "Cousin H. C." know from using our copies.

The latter are more tricky. Some of the issued indentures are still about, and Wong Lee recalls using them to secure birth certificates for some followers in 1919. The indentures originally simply "invented" acceptable identities for  men of our old crews who wanted to engage to work in the country with all the cynicism of the age. "T'ang Way Kwok, also know as Joseph Maria Gomez," you know the drill. The relevance to the old bureau was, obviously, that some of the new identities were Mexican Californian Indian. The problem in sorting it out is that the indenture books are certainly not organised by the race or religion of the lascars, much less the pretended race! I will not be easy in mind knowing that this document has been sitting in the state archives for seventy years until I have seen the full, developed roll.

Never mind. It matters very little to me that "Miss V.C." has discovered a real lead. I very much doubt that she has the sophistication to use it, and it is absurd to think that she needs it. "Lieutenant A," and the Engineer, are another matter.  Did he suspect the fasicle's existence? How else put the Lieutenant on its trail? This is a mystery, and so is his purpose.

Ah, well. We shall deal with it. Somehow. And I shall endeavour to calm myself by continuing my newsletters.

Flight,  2 March 1944


The Prime Minister made a statement about air power. He deems the Battle of the Atlantic to be over, and that the success of the invasion depends on the success of the air offensive. The paper finds this to be mysterious. Which seems a little coy, given that the paper must have some insight into the empyrean realms of the planners. Perhaps it is coyness with a purpose? I will admit that I am drawing inference from very little here, Reggie. Just anticipating the inevitable fixing-of-the-blame if the invasion fails, or the claiming-of-the-success if it does. The paper also supposes that the German air force is being shifted westwards. The paper is also pleased that the “Double-way attack,” that is, by night and day bombers, has had the effect of reducing German fighter production, as this will relieve the attacking bombers.

War in the Air

The Russians have won a battle, but, regrettably, no-one has praised the Red Air Force. The recent Allied offensive by Bomber Command, 8th and 15th Air Forces gets its due.  More details of the attacks are given. The recent German bomber offensive against London is noted, and the way that the Germans are “imitating” us by using chaff to fool radiolocation is noted. Interestingly, a picture of a “Ju53 magnetic minesweeper” illustrates the page. You no doubt know all about this, but except for some notice in the press a while back, the idea of a plane flying over magnetic mines with a massive hoop to detonate them by flux is –is novel the right word? “Bizarre” might be more accurate. Does it work? 

The recent raid on the Ladronnes is noticed. Guam, Saipan and Tinian are within some crucial range of Tokyo. Is this where the “Island hopping” is going next? It would explain a great deal of veiled reference and hints regarding the B-29 without requiring an outlandish China-based campaign supported via the Himalaya air route! Now where is the Japanese battlefleet? The German, by the way, in the form of Gneisnau, now written off in its watery grave at Gdynia, is in sad shape.

“The Prime Minister’s Review” The Prime Minister is retreating from 1944 as a firm date for the end of the war. It remains hard to believe that Mr. Janeway will prove right, however.  Apart from that, I prefer the paper’s summary, as it is …summary.

Short items: Mr. Woodford pleads for the greater use of electric auxiliaries on aircraft in a paper given to the IEE. At the beginning of the war, we had planes with two 500w generators, while the Germans used two of the same size giving 1500. Now we have 3000w generators coming into service. How much power do the planes You work with require for their special business? Bill and David are very much concerned with power supply, although mainly from the point of view of cooling overheated elements in very complicated assemblages. It does not help that we now propose to do the final assembly in the Pacific! Somewhere. Australia? Borneo? Manila? Guam? Fujian?

Children say the most commercially lucrative things

A brief précis of the Mosquito, with extracts of its wonderful performance. Sir Stafford Cripps praises the Air Inspectorate Division. I will second that. We inspectors of factories truly are unsung heroes and all of that, sorting out problems, seeing through smokescreens, walking weary, weary miles through Willow Run. Which really is quite big, you know.

Here and There

Two new Essex-class are launched, including the cheekily (or, depending on one’s readiness to be offended) sacrilegiously named Shangri-La are launched. The paper informs us that those in the know will be interested to hear that Mr. Bloss is reinstated as head of airframe production at the Fighter Aircraft Production office. The rest of us can just relax in the knowledge that more privileged others, have our best interests at heart. Air Chief Marshal Harris is decorated by Moscow for blowing up Germans. A Commonwealth  “Radio in Aircraft” conference is opening in London soon. The new air service to Stockholm is suspended for various reasons. It is said that experience has greatly improved productivity in the American industry. Charles Wright of the War Production Board (shh, Reggie, we are not supposed to notice when an American of great moment in the aviation industry has the name “Wright”) notes that whereas an American fighter might once have taken 157,000 man hours to produce, by the time that the 1000th plane is off the assembly line, it is down to 7800. Which has the stink of burning statistics to me, as torches are applied to feet (if numbers have feet) until they yield what Mr. Wright wishes them to yield. Still impressive.

“Synthetic Blackout” Night flying training is made easier by new darkened goggles. But they are darkened in a new way. Do you know what the new Exactor remote control needs? More publicity, Reggie! Here it is.

H. R. L. Smith, “Safety in the Air” After the war, planes should be safer. Here are worthy initiatives towards that end, of the coordinating-planning-organising-cooperating variety.

Wallace Barr, Cellon salesman, has died.

Behind the Lines

News of Japan’s Donryu bomber and the German He177. A new device that makes it possible for pilots to bail out safely at 50,000 feet has passed development in Germany. I suspect that it is this that frees the aircraft already noted for its upcoming flight. The markings of the Hungarian air force are noted, in case our planes run into any of the several dozen of their planes still flying.

Aircraft Recognition notes the Bristol Beaufort and Grumman Avenger, observing that the easiest way to tell them is that they are being followed by a plane carrying a museum acquisitions agent.  Well, less the Avenger, but only because we have done such a fine job of building carriers from which practically no other American plane can fly! (Not that I expect complaints from Japanese infantry or submarines on the grounds that they are offended by being bombed by old planes, as opposed to one taking the name of the Pure Land in vain…) The Boy’s Own discussion of jets that so impressed “Mrs. J. C.” continues in the Correspondence pages.

The Economist, 4 March 1944


By-election omen-reading again! The paper thinks that the success of the independent candidate, which seems to foreshadow gains on the Left and the return of party politics,might actually be an illusion. Even if it is not, we shouldn’t return to party government until after the war is over, which will be after the election. In short, the electorate, although as treasonous as any  lot of stirkers and coal miners, is stuck with the Prime Minister through 1948 or so. The paper also thinks something about postwar Germany, which seems to boil down to it not going away. 

The paper thinks that the future for South Wales is coal. Or buggy whips? Buggy whips might be better. Just in case you haven’t had the time to immerse yourself in these things, I will explain that the paper is thinking in terms of post war coal exports and oil-from-coal. Which astonishes me yet again. Surely a business paper can understand that  coal’s problems start with its inability to compete with oil pumped from the ground, for the moment only as fuel for transportation, but, in the long run, perhaps anywhere. This has had the effect of driving down wages, which has had the effect of cutting off the supply of new coal miners and investment capital, which has led to falling productivity, which has led to… I can understand why the paper would pretend not to understand this. The only solution is an increase in the price of coal, which would be against the interest of everyone save the coal-owners, and possibly even they, considering that they would not see the increased revenues. But to deny this not only cynically, but to make predictions on the pretense of it not being true?

What is worse, or perhaps better, even if we break out of this cycle of diminishing returns, how sure are we that there is no oil in England? Of course there actually is, and that it has been found at all intimates that geologists are right to suspect that there is more to be found by better drilling. What for coal, then? I am not saying that we should drop money into oil exploration on the three-cornered isle. In case the Earl asks, I think northern Canada to be a better bet, but I am asking about the future prospects of coal owning.

The paper has thoughts about Army Education. Skipping lightly over matters tedious such as vocational training, admittedly important to such as might eventually have vocations, as opposed to money, it moves on to “Citizenship training,” which does not sound sinister to me at all. Citizenship training (unlike “worthy” vocational training?) is a way of relieving boredom. Funny that the paper should say that.

I know, I know, Reggie. An unapologetic rentier like me has no business putting on the airs of a man of the people. It is just that I have had occasion to think like a pirate of late, and I cannot help but look to the coal situation in the light of old Coxinga. When the K’ang-Hsi Emperor quelled the pirates, he did not do so by conquering them in battle, but by making sure to build something that made us willing to be quelled. We may look back to that golden age as the descendants of captains of pirates rather than as descendants of pirates, but there was something for our followers, too.

Notes of the Week

Finns are abandoning ship some more. Poles and Anglo-Catholics are excitable. The Secretary of State for Air wants us to know that he’s very airminded. That is “Archibald Sinclair.” Accept no substitute (ballot, that is.) We bombed Monte Cassino, which is near Rome. We must therefore also bomb Rome before we can take it. Unless we don’t. The paper has proposals on how we can not bomb Rome that sound extraordinarily unworkable. Perhaps we could leave it to the Italians, who have hitherto done a fine job of arranging for their cities to not be levelled in conquest? Latins are excitable. There are to be further limits on civilian coal (“and coalite,” which is just like coal except that it doesn’t actually burn) consumption. For March, the restriction is to 4 cwts in London, 5 in the north. Which is actually not a change, the paper adds, going on to observe that the actual substance of the new restrictions is on coke, to 10cwts of fuel apart from coallite. This is not a ration. It is a maximum. Even the paper pauses to note that the implications for the poor are daunting. “There are working class flats in London which have had no more than 1 cwt of coal since Christmas, and rural dwellers have been very badly off.” If we had just  rationed fuel back in 1942, we might be warm today. Right now. The paper’s lapse from bloodlessness suggests that the paper is cold. Now that’s a crisis.

The paper has opinions about things that the TUC has said about control of labour and nationalisation. It seems that the paper and the TUC are joined in thinking that people and capital need more control in their lives. This is how captains go from commanding ships to longboats, gentlemen. On the other hand, the paper notices the need for state intervention in the old age home business. And again a step backwards as the Government contemplates various means of constraining cost-of-living increases in pensions. Do old people vote Conservative? Why, I believe they do! Never mind, as I am sure that office is beginning to pall on the "Baldwinites."

The paper notices that Professors Pigou and Macgregor are retiring simultaneously, leaving both of the Oxbridge Chairs of Political Economy open in the same year. Cambridge will be filled from London,  leaving it vacant, while the Glasgow chair is also open. There are others, too, and the prospect of more. Perhaps there has developed an excess of demand over supply of Olympian, white-headed Thinkers Upon Matters Economical? Such are the concerns that trouble the paper’s sleep, at least to the extent that it sleeps, in its cold, cold rooms. If only we were Ireland, with its troubling excess of unemployed college graduates. 

American Survey

Our Correspondent in California talks about “Water in a Dry Land.” The western half of America or so  uses irrigation! Irrigation requires irrigation works! (Insert Scripture quote, there being a commandment to irrigate in one of those books that begins with an “R.” Or am I confusing the sermon with injunctions about eating shellfish? I am showing my pagan upbringing, dear Reggie.) 

In any case, the irrigation works are now extending to mighty dams of the kind built by “Cousin H.C.,” and thus, after a page or more, the point. Harold Ickes thinks that once the Grand Coulee is complete, some of the 1.2 million acres to be irrigated will provide a home for returning veterans. There will be no more such great dams, but incremental work, for example, on the 528,000 undeveloped acres in the Mississippi-Missouri basin might yield yet more well-watered land, allowing the basin to accommodate another half-million people, per the Bureau of Reclamation.

I lied earlier about coming to the point with Mr. Ickes’s statement, Reggie. Another page and a half gone and we arrive at a discussion of water rights in the West, which often belong to the oldest landowner. OCC seems to reflect the views of the newer beneficial owner, and gestures to conflict between the Bureau of Reclamation versus Army Corps of Engineers. Perhaps he thinks that the Army will swoop in and save the new breed of agricultural entrepreneur? I think we can agree that that is optimistic, Reggie. It is our water, and our water it will remain. Water shortages are a fact of life in California, and if you want to avoid being hurt by them, you should arrange to have wealthier and more timely grandparents. Or find another business. Or cultivate politicians.

And the Earl wonders why I do not simply break with the Engineer if I dislike him so much.

“Uncertainties About Labour” Are strikes adversely affecting American war production? The paper has asked before, and the answer is still “no,” and the reason we hear the contrary is because trade associations want lower wages, and unions want higher wages, and can’t we all negotiate it and get along?  And the answer is no, because of politics.

American Notes

“Congress versus President” Congress offered $2 billion the President asked for $10 billion, “economic realists” wanted even  more. Congress passed, the President vetoed, which was an outrageous breach with precedent, all were shocked and appalled, etc. Congress re-passed with a veto-proof majority, requiring numerous Democrats to vote against the President, and Senator Barkley resigned as Majority Leader in the Senate. Surely this seismic event will echo down the pages of American history. Although since Senator Barkley has since been re-elected to his position and paid a social visit to the President, it will be a subtle and subdued echoing. One is almost inclined to be cynical, given that the main damage done is to Mr. Wilkie, the “economic realist.”

Eleven states have now provided for soldiers’ ballots. Selective Service will be taking another 240,000, including many farm workers. Farm organisations protest.

The World Overseas

A page-and-a-half on the Italian Fascist Government’s new economic legislation. The Pitcairn Island Local Government Committee on Cats and Dogs issues an  interim report: there are no cats or dogs on the island. Inquiries continue.

“Empire Wool Problems” A huge surplus of wool has built up during the period of production control. Something Must Be Done! Specifically, something that in no way affects our rents. Unless it leads to increased profits at the point when we renegotiate them. Because that would be fine.

Letters to the Editor is back.
Correspondents argue about just how many old houses there in Britain right now, an issue pertaining to how many new ones must needs be built after the war. Later this afternoon, the Emperor gives a violin recital in the Forum.

A representative of the mining association of Great Britain thinks that coal miners are being compensated quite competitively, and (by implication) the critical shortage of coal miners must be one of those odd things that happens once in a while, of no import and signifying nothing. The representative has now to speed across the Atlantic to address the Bituminous Mining Association of America.

The Business World

“Relics of Dear Money” The paper notes that the impression that cheap money has won out is somewhat deceptive. It points out that hire-purchase schemes often have effective interest rates ranging up from 7 to 30%, and cites the example of a life insurance policy offered by a well known firm in which an annual premium of £80 is broken down into two semi-annual payments of £41, which seems at first glance reasonable but (flourish of slide-rule!) isn’t, actually. Apart from these near-confidence games, it is more concretely noted that the notional idea that the “traffic will bear 5%” is not well corroborated by the actual market for securities, where colossal firms have been able to demand 2.5%. Drilling down, the accepted mortgage rate of 5% is perhaps not surprisingly in this light settling down to %4.5. Consider the implications for housing  of a further reduction, to, say, 3.5%!

I really ought to use a bigger brush for that last para. The paper seems to consider returns well under the increase in the cost of living to be normal, as opposed to something to be up in arms about. I imagine that this is because the paper thinks that the trend can be stuffed back into the bottle by being sufficiently harsh to farmers and coal miners. Will I sound like a broken record if I stress again that it will not, and that our main hopes are rents and dividends on growth stocks? (And capital gains on real estate, if it somehow manages to avoid the drag that population stagnation might be intuitively expected to impose.)

Recorded music used to be awful, but now it is quite good. Samson cars are like that. When they're available again, they'll be quite good, whereas before --Wait a minute. How much did we pay for this advertisement, again?

Business Notes

A worthy Canadian initiative in regards industrial banking; equities have been “blitzed” on the market by the resumption in bombing. Industries might in the future be compelled, as opposed to bribed, to relocate to distressed areas. Expenditure on advertising has fallen in the war years in some industries and increased in others. There are tea leaves here to be read, the paper says, although given that toiletries, for example, have decreased while boots and shoes have increased, it will be subtle mind indeed that discovers them. The Indian Budget may not do enough to contain inflation, the main reliance being on gold sales to mop up surplus spending power. (Rich) Indians, then, are to be trusted to save the money that the government is spending, whereas (working) Americans are just waiting for the slightest pay-increase to go on the tear to end all tears. Speaking of, retail sails in Britain have disappointed. Home heating could have improved efficiency. Nice canteens and improved houses for miners will save the day. People would eat more herring if it were more appetising. Accordingly, the Herring Industry Association thinks that there should be subsidised loans for fishermen. Canada is a place where you can invest. East African is to have money, now, although  actual East Africans continue to prefer Maria Theresa thalers. East Africans are not  fools.

Flight, 9 March 1944


The old “Air Defence of Great Britain” command title has been recreated, because “Fighter Command” is out of style. The paper approves, because it always does. The Americans have attacked Berlin in daylight, and even sent fighter sweeps over it. I notice that the paper avoids explicitly saying that bombers are escorted to Berlin. As during the Battle of Britain, having fighters actually escort the bombers is more difficult, as fighters achieve a higher cruising speed than bombers.

War in the Air

The Arakan Offensive is over. ‘Twas a glorious victory, and air supply of the troops was important. The counterattacks at Anzio continue. Aeroplanes were involved! As well as the German siege artillery, which rather leaves me thinking that we were foolish to give those big tubes targets. I hope things develop well, but I feel a certain sense of foreboding, for I remember the terrible work they did in the last war. The Australians are to make Lancasters, as Canada is going to do. Quite a stride for Australian engineering, I should think. The Governor of Bengal has made a tour of the famine areas. Aeroplanes were involved! Two members of the Parnall board have resigned. Is this a secret scandal? Do you know, Reggie? Many aeroplanes have been sent to Russia. India wants air services. Also South Africa. Showing their endearing loyalty, the natives of Southern Rhodesia have chipped in for a plane in the Spitfire fund. The US Army has discovered the source of the Orinoco river. Aeroplanes were involved.

“Convoy Cover” An RAAF Spitfire squadron somewhere in Libya has flown protecting flights over merchant convoys at some point in the war. Vokes oil filters were involved. And aeroplanes. And Australians. Won’t someone please send us some real news, the paper cries.

Behind the Lines

Japan is now producing 1200 aircraft/month. German radio, quoted by Reuters, blames diversionary tactics for Allied bombers getting through. The Deutsches Allgemeine Zeitung criticises the high command. I hope that certain air marshals’ affairs are in order for retirement, and papers readied for the courts-martial! Speaking on Paris Radio, Jean Herold Paquis tells the French that Axis victory will be won  on the ground, not the air.

“New Rolls-Royce Engine”

The paper is now permitted to tell of the Rolls-RoyceGriffon, which is like the Merlin, only larger. It is based on the old record-breaking “R” engine, has 36.7 litres displacement, and runs at 3200rpm. It does not, however, have two-stage superchargers yet. The day of the high-altitude day-bombing “Liverpool,” or whatever Avro calls it, is still a ways off.

“Indicator” talks about dealing with the inevitable unreliability of the modern aircraft, of the relative roles of science and ingenuity in sorting out the snags, and of test rigs and regular maintenance. Cabbages and kings are left for his dotage, which cannot be far away, given that he seems to share our vintage.

“Radio in the RAF” The RAF uses radios. They’re little boxes with wires sticking out. You talk to them, and they talk back. At least until the gentlemen come to take you to the rest home. Tongue in cheek justified by the paucity of actual in formation in the article.

“Studies in Aircraft Recognition” Covers the Douglas Boston, Martin Maryland, Pe-2 and Ju-88.

“Boundary Layer Control” Do you like very complicated mathematical papers in the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society? If so, you have already read this. Now read it again, but without tedious math. Do you not? Well, lick a finger and  move on, as there are more pictures of planes, over.  


Not all of the letters in this number are from eager boys. There is at least one from a cranky old man, and, oddly enough, one from an electronic engineer, the chief designer of R. K. Dundas, who has either time on his hands, which would be unfortunate, or a bee in his bonnet, which I can at least understand. It’s about broadcast power, if you are interested.

“The Air Estimates”

The paper found Sinclair’s speech so wonderful that it will vote for him twice! Berlin has been almost destroyed some more.

The Economist, 11 March 1944


“The King’s Shilling” The Welsh miners’ strike raises the question of whether Service wages can be increased to the industrial average or, even more exorbitantly, to the American pay scale. The Government says, “no,” because of the delicate balance of prices and wages. The paper thinks that, on balance, the Government is right, but that when Sir John Grigg speaks of “inflation on the wildest scale,” he overplays the Government’s rhetorical hand and damages his own argument. In any case, the paper lays out its own, more modest proposal for a pay increase.

“Presidential Progress Report” The paper is inclined to complain that American Presidential elections go on too long. Do not look to me for a scholarly citation, here, Reggie. They all say that, every time. Has it, perhaps, occurred to them that this sort of thing just encourages it? The paper, in any case, is offended that Americans are offended that the paper is offended. Or something. The paper hopes that we can all move on and elect Mr. Wilkie and be done with it. The paper is a very silly paper.
“America in the Middle East” America is not in the Middle East, silly paper! It is in the Western Hemisphere. Oh, never mind, Reggie. Oil.
“What is a Great Power?” Large, rich, populous countries. Now with illustrations, using cleverly distorted maps to show that with these conditions applying, China is not really a great power, but that we pretend that it is one, and Britain is only a great power if the Commonwealth wills it, which it should, and that Japan might not be a great power in the future.

Notes of the Week

Finland is still abandoning ship. Russia and Poland. Turkey is still neutral and will therefore be given fewer guns with which not to fight in the future. Something about parliament and ministerial powers? Coal miners are awful for striking when there is a coal shortage, just because they are not being paid enough. They should wait until there is enough coal to strike. It’s only fair. Argentinians are excitable. It is noted that there is an urgent housing crisis. As it took five years to build 300,000 houses after the last war, we all hope for better performance this time around. The “fifteen year plan for the reconstruction of India” presented by Indian industrialists is hopeless naïve. The paper explains, slowly and carefully, using short words and soothing gestures to calm the agitated babus.

Yugoslavs are excited. There is to be a Royal Commission on Population. The paper is hopeful, but “population trends move slowly, and Royal Commissions sometimes move more slowly yet.” Mr. Lyttleton is very impressed by the extent of war production in 1944. But we are winding down, and in such a way as to fit work to sometimes immobile labour, and thus all the more reason to explain these things to a populace whose reserve of good will, the paper intimates, might be drawing down at the end of five long years of war.  Flemings, Walloons, Hollanders and Luxembourgeois (is that right?) are excitable.

American Survey
“Watch Texas” Our Correspondent in California, who last week passed gas on the subject of irrigation, now notices where there is plenty of gas. Everyone should invest in Texas. Or the Northwest, because of the Grand Coulee dam. Or, at a last resort, in California, which has only Henry Kaiser. By Jove, Reggie, I think we pay this man! Remind me to pay him less.(If he turns out to be Mr. Janeway in disguise, I shall not be firing only Mr. Janeway!)

Although given the way that "Cousin H.C." perks up when we discuss November, he might overrule me. The eyes roll.

American Notes

“War Production Report” America has produced vast quantities of war materials, Congress says. To do it has let many war contracts. It has rather lost count, which makes it hard to say just what will happen when they are all wound up. Congress promises to look into this and get back to us. One industry that has overbuilt is the machine tool business. “Its only real hope lies in the rapid development of new materials and processes in post-war industry, which would quickly put all tools made during the war out of the market.” As we shall see, American Notes is reading Fortune.

“Planning War Economy” Perhaps Americans have woken to the virtues of free trade. The paper hopes so.

The World Overseas

(Vichy) Latins are excitable. Holland has been cruelly exploited by Germany, and the spectre of famine looms due to the shift of available acreage to industrial crops and a shortage of farm machinery and fuel. Our Dublin Correspondent notes that a shipyard has opened up in Dublin to support a proposed Irish merchant marine that can exist if only the Government will subsidise it. OCD has very clear ideas on what impecunious causes are suited to government money, and which are not. If OCD thinks that Dublin will defeat the Pearl on the postwar seas, OCD is due for a great disappointment.

The Business World

“Is There Enough Oil?” The United States, the paper says, “[I]s suffering from one of its periodic scares of impending oil shortage.” Dr. Egloff, of the United Oil Products Company, points out that Mr. Harold Icke’s recent forecast that the world might run out of oil in as few as thirteen years is based on proven oil reserves only, and we might well find more. The paper rather agrees with Dr. Egloff over Mr. Ickes. It does occur, the mind having turned to the old Doctor, to contemplate his comments when Beaver arrived on the coast, that it is all very well to have a cheaper means of conveyance. One must needs find the fuel, first! The costs of oil exploration must be carried by the price of oil for consumers.

Business Notes

Railways and electrical generation and distribution need Plans! The Bank of International Settlements has published a pamphlet on exchange restrictions that the paper quite likes. The interest rate on bank loans to industry is likely to fall in the future. Equities and real estate, not bonds, part the second. 

It is supposed that if we try to sell goods in the United States harder, it will happen that we will sell more goods in the United States in proportion to how hard, and how effectively, we try. Sir Stafford Cripps thinks that there should be more cooperation between management and labour. The actual increase in wages from October 1938 to July 1943 is 76%, as opposed to the 65% calculated from wage rate increases, the excess being carried by overtime, which will disappear after the war, so that the estimate of increased purchasing power weighing on “inflation” may be overstated with respect to the postwar period. This will certainly quell demands for wage restraint, as there are certainly no signs of pent-up frustration at the poor state of various goods and services that will lead to demand for more money so as to spend on more things.

Flight, 16 March 1944


“The Air and the Sea” The First Lord introduced the Naval Estimates in the House this week. Aeroplanes were involved! On a more serious note, unlike the Prime Minister or the Air Secretary’s speech, this one actually had some interestingly concrete things to say, noting that in 1941, submarines sank only 1 of 181 ships sailing, 1 of 233 in 1942, and “in the second half of 1943” only 1 in a thousand. That leaves out six months there, which I seem to recall were quite bad for submarine sinkings. But what do I know? I am  only a shipowner. Presumably, all will turn out, at least in the Admiralty’s telling, to have all been the Air Force’s fault.

“Another Point of View” Admiral Nimitz promises to pound Japan with landplanes based on the China coast. So much for my premature speculations about the Ladrones! The paper thinks that such bases are unlikely before the naval war is won. So if there is to be “strategic” bombing of Japan, it will be from aircraft carriers.

The Statement of the Ministry of Aircraft Supply claims the production of 99,000 aircraft through the end of 1943. We Americans are beating the world! (Pirates side with the victor.)

War in the Air

Continuing night and day attacks on Germany must be pushing the Germans to their limit. Tactical aircraft are wandering over the Atlantic shore, looking for someone to fight. Oddly, the Germans decline to come up to be shot down.

Here and There

Canada now has 12,000 trainers in service. American Aviation “takes it on itself” to reveal the existence of the Hawker Tempest and Vickers Windsor, which were seen by Wellwood E. Beall of Boing on his visit to England. Captain Roy Brown has died. Canadian Pacific Airlines is growing rapidly. Scale models of a Hampden and a Halifax II were presented to Frederick Handley-Page in a fete in his honour. They were delivered a little late and were far heavier than they looked. Even Maori can now be fighter pilots, at least in the RNZAF. Charles Wilson’s statement about the 8760 aircraft built in February is noticed. Canada has taken over the Alaska air route.

Ads: “Look out for Hydulignum!” Why? Is it falling from the sky? Have all of Britain’s advertising writers found war employment?

“Coastal Comamnd Station” Exists. Some nice pictures of depth charges blowing up fish, and perhaps occasionally German submarines. There is a nice discussion of the Command’s Consolidated B-24s, which fly quite long missions (sometimes more than 16 hours!), which would be quite impossible without the Minneapolis-Honeywell autopilot. I notice that while the Liberator itself is said to be a miserable flying experience in bad weather under autopilot (your eldest pulls out his maths and gives his well-worn talk about the inadequacies of the Sperry design), no ill is spoken of the Honeywell device itself. A pilot tells us that he once flew for 14 hours on seven different courses without disengaging the autopilot! Operational losses happen, and the maintenance burden of these long flights is, of course, colossal, but the autopilot –but I repeat myself.

“Indicator” talks about “Mathematical myopia.” Basically, he does a great deal of war ferry flying, and is sick and tired of ground people telling him that he’s the problem. And so I expect to say, on the day that they take my car license away. Though he does have more useful things to say than some doddering old man.

“Aircraft Recognition” has caught up with the A-36, P-40, and Westland Whirlwind. In case you were wondering what those planes you saw six months ago were.

Behind the Lines

Germany is  using new planes, and 500kg bombs in its attacks on London. Says the Hungarian press. Coercing and starving coal miners turns out to be bad industrial relations. Inform The Economist! A Swedish correspondent writes that Germany has become a land of the submerged. Those who have good reason to wish to disappear, including not only deserters and criminals, but also particular, politically compromised men, need only have their relatives go the police and tell them that they were lost in an air-raid, and then reappear in another city with a claim that their papers have been destroyed in another air raid. Presumably the ones with money in Sweden can talk to Swedish correspondents…
In any case, I send this along to Fat Chow.

Germany has a labour shortage on the one hand, and improved ground control of fighters, on the other. The Germans suspect that the Allies have secret airfields in France with which to move agents in and out.

“Growth of US Air Power,”  Has been covered. Interestingly, in the light of those who talk about American manufacturing’s genius for standardisation, it turns out that 67 different aircraft were being made in the united states in 1943.

An ad praises aids to cleanliness offered by one firm that promises to address “industrial dermatitis.” Gloves are apt to work better, but I can appreciate the difficulty of providing them in adequate quantities.

A long article about the “MacLaren Undercarriage,” which seems rather gimmicky to me.

Correspondence Continues last week’s theme of a battle of old versus young, this time with a pilot explaining why fast fighters beat slow but manoeuvrable trainers, and a scolding coming out of the receding “airplane rating” episode. It looks like some people have more time on their hands as February turns into March. Has there been a relenting in some aspect of the war effort of which we are not yet informed, Reggie?

Short bits: the paper wonders about how the plywood of the Mosquito will stand up to the tropics, now that they are in use against Japan. And it turns out that a disposable fuel tank can be turned into a nice coracle. 

The Economist, 18 March 1944


“Irish Neutrality” The Irish have been very naughty. In the interest of good relations, the paper prints, with only the slightest hint of irony, the old “Home Rule means Rome Rule” slogan. That should help make Dublin more amenable to Allied (London) demands!

“According to Plan” Mr. Willoughby presents the Governmentn plan to build 300,000 houses within two years after the war. The paper has pages of useful criticism. “Verdict on Munich” It is time for history to judge the Munich agreement. It was bad, it turns out, Reggie. If Britain was not ready to fight in 1938, surely it was not ready to fight in 1939. It is difficult to understand why we have all chosen to forget just how much money was spent on armaments in 1938 and 1939. Unless some people want to forget. Like the paper.

Notes of the Week

“The Russian Offensive” is succeeding. Roumania is still abandoning ship. Anglo-Catholics and others are excited (over schooling.) For example, now that we have no teachers, it is contemplated not firing woman teachers on grounds of their getting married. The paper is upset that Mr. Hudson is retreating from free trade in agriculture. (Italian) Latins are excitable. National Health and Full Employment are on the agenda of ministers and Fabians. There is fighting in the Far East, with attacks on Truk, the Japanese attacking in the Chin Hills, and the Allies advancing in the Chindwin. A more detailed map than the one provided would go far to suggest the balance of importance between the two offensives! Guam is sufficiently close to Tokyo that something censored something. Infant mortality is exacerbated by poverty due to mothers working longer than they should, but perhaps not to the extent rather emotionally claimed by the female(!) Dr. Summerskill. 

Ladies are illogical. For example, these two find a giant, rotating filing cabinet to be amusing for some reason. it's a good thing that they're so well dressed, or someone would get upset.

It is announced that the total killed and wounded in Britain in air raids to date is 113,219.

American Survey

“Contract Renegotiation” Our correspondent in Massachusetts notices that renegotiation might prove to be scandal fodder due to the highly varied ways in which the excess profits tax might  be applied in individual cases. I am certain that when the boys (and girls) come marching home, Americans will want nothing more than a long-drawn out autopsy of individual cases. What could possibly distract them?

American Notes

“Kingpin of Victory” is Lend-Lease. “Army Casualties,” killed and wounded, are 95,795 to this point. Mr. Wilkie has carried the New Hampshire Republican primary, but the latest Gallup poll suggests that this is highly unrepresentative of Republican primary voters as a whole.

The World Overseas

Even more pages about the Pucheu trial. Canada has…Wake up, Reggie! Portugal is having Social Reform! Expect Finland and Rumania to have finished surrendering, first.

Now follows the massive annual “World Commercial Review” insert, which, the Earl may rest assure, I have considered in much greater detail than my flippancy here would suggest. I just find little use for it in my summary report. Which is to say, and is this not the way of mankind, that I find nothing in it to shift my thoughts on where to invest those moneys at my discretion.

The Railways need a Plan! Mining wages should increase, but only in proportion to increasing productivity, the paper thinks. I suppose I do not need to bang my drum again, Reggie. If you cannot attract labour under current conditions, you must abandon those conditions, not double down on them, unless you are prepared to do without coal.

Business Notes 
Civil Aviation is …advancing. America is richer, and spent a smaller proportion of its national income on the war effort than Commonwealth countries, and especially the U.K. Credit has contracted in the UK, as usual, seasonally adjusted. English resistance to technological progress threatens its place as shipbuilder to the world.

Aviation, March 194
Down the Years in  AVIATION’S Log

Some things never change. The entry for 1919 has “engineers prophecy that 200mph flight will soon be realized commercially,” while the 1934 entry tells us that airline speeds average 150mph. Remember the outrage when skeptics said that the DC-2 entered into the MacRobertson Race wouldn’t average 200mph? Neither did the De Havilland number, of course, but it came closer, because it was a racing plane! Other things change much faster. The 1929 remembrance is of "Lady Mary Heath" receiving the first aviation mechanic’s license held by a woman. Really quite unnecessarily tawdry of the paper. In 1934 the Air Ministry diligently set aside 13 “practice areas” for “cloud flying,” presumably to save civilian pilots from certain death in mid-air collisions with service planes coming hurtling out of the nearest strato-cumulus.

Line Editorial Junior is on about the disposal of Government inventory, an estimated $60 billion of goods, including $2 billion “marketable or usable for civilian purposes.” Either the ‘or’ here has some other than the obvious meaning, or Junior privately shares the general opinion of the marketing business. . . From there, though, the editorial descends into that most dreaded and boring of copy –specifics, mounting rapidly into such dizzying array of specificities that one must conclude upon the need for organisation, planning, and specialised government agencies.


Leslie E. Neville thinks that “Industry Must Lead in Re-Locating Workers.” In the future, American employees have a right to expect not to be put out of work by their own efforts. If industry does not take the lead in relocating workers to places where their labour is in demand, the government will, and who wants that? LaMotte T. Cohu, board chairman and general manager of Northrop Aircraft, has developed a system, which we can all study, and which is further discussed in a worthy article, beginning page over.

“Northrop’s Plan for Postwar Employee Re-Location”
Not to hold you in suspense any longer, Reggie, but the manufacturers of the P-61 have a system, and that system is of a piece with their work. It turns out to be that every employee has a punch-card on which every piece of information of any value about his employment, such as his skills, address, age, seniority and family status are recorded, allowing, when Northrop or some other firm has a requirement, for a massive card-sorting machine to spit out the exact card (and thus name) of a man required for, say, a 45-year-old refrigeration and air-conditioning repair/hydraulics installer/WWI veteran in suitable circumstances for a married man with two dependents and a seniority date of 7-9-42. (There is a sad story of the Depression hidden behind these numbers, but I do not need to tell you. I remember those heart-rending letters about thin and anxious men, desperate for the work you couldn't give them.)

And, so, it turns out that advanced machinery is the solution to this postwar problem. I endorse this conclusion! It is also good news for the county, if those plans for an IBM punch-card plant goes through, the firm might even take some small share of the "giant sorting machine" business. 

Earle M. Scott, “Scott’s Plan for Reconverting Small War Plants"

The “President of progressive Scott Aviation Company” says we can hardly just lay off staff on notice of contract cancellation with two week’s pay and a wave in the direction of unemployment insurance and ‘Uncle Sam.’ No, the kind of employee we want to retain does not want charity. "He has saved, bought war bonds, paid off old debts, and, perhaps, invested in  a home. He is in the best financial condition he has been in years; but, as much as they look forward to, and pray for, victory, they look to the future with misgivings. They are not afraid of the postwar years –they have heard far too many optimistic reports about the coming golden age. But they are worried about the conversion period.”( I believe the failure of agreement is original to the article, but perhaps I copied it wrong, and owe Progressive Mr. Scott an apology.)

So how to ease these employees through the conversion period and keep them around? Termination pay. It need not be high, in fact, shouldn’t be, so as to keep “inflationary pressures” down. Nor should it be a lump sum on release; but rather semi-monthly payments, beginning with the two weeks’ pay on release. Money for this should be held in a reserve, “untaxed, unrenegotiated, and allowed as a cost.”

Scott has the good sense to let a paragraph intrude before he follows this up with the observation that “no government subsidy” is involved. So, to summarise, Scott Aviation has provided for $10/week for 9 weeks, on the understanding that this will be a supplement to the New York State Unemployment Insurance Benefit of $18/week, starting two weeks after unemployment begins and extending for 16 weeks, or perhaps more in the case of some firms. In Scott’s case, 60% of employees will be released, while 40% are kept on at reduced hours.
So, in some, the plan requires that UI payments do not garnishee payments made out of a special corporate income tax-free reserve deductible from the excess profits tax. But no government handouts are required.

John Foster, Jr, (associate editor), “How a Myriad Ideas put More Planes Aloft Quicker,” East coast aircraft production manpower efficiency is up 80% over two years, each man turning out 77lbs/month of airframe today compared with 42.6lbs then. Many of the savings have been in engineering departments. As recently as 1940, these were staffed with relatively limited numbers of men of considerable experience and versatility who could handle perhaps two models in limited production. Today, although employment is past its peak, the departments are vastly expanded, at the expense of originally hiring new employees with no previous aircraft experience, which meant that “old line” engineers had not only to do their own work, but to train newcomers, many of whom had no engineering experience at  all, a fact especially true of women workers. One company’s engineering department employs 33% women now, compared with 7% just 16 months ago. Whereas there were then no women at all in the drawing department, today there are 26. Fashion designers and cartoonists have been successfully trained to do technical illustrating. Thereafter, it was a matter of organising and in many cases reorganising the flood of newcomers and salting them with experience while streamlining processes and accommodating such special needs as needed to be accommodated.

See how manpower can be better utilised by simple expedients such as factory day cares. We shall talk less about the poor shipyard executives who might have offices above stairs.

R. W. Feeny, “Analytic Geometry for Speedier Wing Lofting,” discusses the use of mathematics more complicated than simple algebra and trigonometry to improve, well, wing lofting. From the look of it, it involves an engineer’s worst nightmare –the substitution of arithmetic for drawing.

Lynn S. Metcalfe, “Slide-Films Promote Employee-Relations Training” through the wonders of modern technology, various training sessions can be made more productive by turning tedious presentations into fantastic slide-shows!

Lt. Comdr Harry J. Marx, USNR, “Prime Axiom in Hydraulics is Banish Dirt.” The worthy papers of Mr. Volkes in Flight on the subject of filtration now have their trans-Atlantic counterpart. I distrust Commander Marx. He is the first author in this number photographed holding his pipe, instead of clenching it in his teeth in a manly fashion. 

James J. Heatley, “Fuel-Weight Measures for Better Flight Performance” The old rule of thumb of 6 lbs/US gallon is not terribly accurate across the range of temperatures found in flying. We need weight in pounds to estimate endurance, but we get volume in gallons from filling the tanks. We need to know how much fuel we have (rather important for calculating lift off weight, you would think?). Here is how to compute it, with graphs.

P. H. Moyer, “X-Rays Now Gage Propeller Blade Thicknesses” The precision required in machining hollow steel propellers is so precise that it was thought worthwhile to measure it with industrial x-ray machinery. This is quite the bit of photography, as is here explained.

Side Slips

“Once more a great shipbuilder has shown aircrafters “how to produce.” But, once more, unfortunately, the ‘production ‘ is in newspaper headlines only.” Side Slips, I remind everyone, is the funny and irreverent take on the aviation news. 

Hilarious! And putti are never inappropriate.
I believe we know which cousin-in-law the paper means! It rather rudely points out that promises of production of first the Mars and now the Hughes plane have gone unfilled. With Navy fighter planes still sorely needed, it is time to “let the shipubuilder stick to his ways.” If that is some snide reference to the Buffalo plant, it is only producing what the Navy thought it needed. Cousin “H.C.’s” enthusiasms for giant flying boats will get no defence from me, though, Martin seems scarcely less to blame than our organisation! As for Hughes, quite frankly, an odder man you will never meet, Reggie. Unless your little club in Vancouver matches the London scene, mind you, in which case he’s a sadly familiar type. There is a reason that this new breed of “psychiatrists” think that they can diagnose diseases of the mind by their symptoms.

Aviation News
“January Plane Production was 8,789, Poundage 90.3 million; Trends Forecast” We are, apparently, pushing the production targets! The target is 113,000, and we are on track to build 100,000! January production was 8,789, the same amount as November’s figure, and only 13 short of December’s. Meanwhile, the projected monthly rate is levelling off, and will  never reach the projected 10,000/month. It may, indeed, even decline in the future. The WPB is concerned that this will demoralise the public, which is why it is sternly admonishing the public not to be demoralised, for various reasons including that military types production is up, poundage is up, and we are now building BC-29s and “other types.”
Speaking of other types, Russia has agreed to haul off some of the junk fouling our factories –I mean, Douglas is sending 2000 A-20s to Russia!

America at WarAviation’s Communique No. 27 Tojo has told the Japanese people that airpower is key, and Japan has the edge. But he is wrong! American (and there are some other Allies, the paper thinks?) production facilities are superior, and the “Jap has to copy.” I thought this kind of arrogance led to Pearl Harbour? Or am I remembering more than I am supposed to, again? We are going to invade Europe. Air power will not eliminate the need for ground forces, but it will make their job “easy to the point of negligibility,” as in the landings below Rome, where the Germans didn’t even resist! Perhaps this communique was prepared somewhat in advance of publication? “Curtiss-Wright’s Back Up Our Battleskies initiative" has been a rousing success. More workers are coming to work! That is, the rate of absenteeism has fallen from 3.34% to 1.1%. Suggestion boxes were stuffed! Scrap was reduced 37%!

Spot Checking

The Martin Mars transport aircraft, recently converted from a patrol bomber, just completed its first 4700 mile trip to Honolulu in 27 hours, 26 minutes. This would be considered damning with faint praise, I think. The Senate, meanwhile, asks why, if the Navy does not want the “Kaiser-Hughes wooden flying boat,” it has agreed to buy 20 of the Martin machines.

The Washington Windsock

Blaine Stubblefield reports that some airfields will be declared war surplus. Will “aircrafters” hit the postwar market with a “modernique” automobile while Detroit is still in the process of resuming 1942 models? No decision, Mr. Stubblefield says, combining equal measures of industrial insight and prose style. The Zero still outmaneouvres Allied fighters, but we lick ‘em, anyway, showing how much that’s good for. The Truman committee sure was silly, criticising great aircraft like the SB2C, B-26 and JRM-1! “New warplanes are all the rage, but if you look the lists over, you will see that all service planes were either in service or completely engineered before Pearl Harbor. The flying boat versus landplane debate may be moot, as people may turn out to prefer 50-seaters to giant, multistory airliners, giving frequency of service the nod. Stubblefield reports that people who have seen the Kaiser-Hughes flying boat are impressed with the carpentry, and that officialdom is burning with curiosity over how it turns out. Postwar airline success will be constrained by price-per-mile.

More Aviation News

 Minneapolis-Honeywell has a new film out explaining how its autopilot works. The AAF have 2.3 million personnel, including 100,000 pilots, 20,000 bombardiers, 19,000 aviators, 107,000 air gunners, 556,000 ground crew, 29,000 training planes. In Canada, more than a million lbs of airmail has flown out of Vancouver, and Boeing-Chilliwack has added a night shift. Wasn’t Chilliwack essentially a trading post and a tavern the last time I saw it, on that fishing trip with you, Reggie? And wasn’t that only ten years ago?

Aviation Manufacturing

A joint government-industry committee has been struck to manage contract renegotiation and conversion in southern California. Northrop thinks that its newest plane, the P-61, has not got enough publicity, even though it has “fairly long range and effective speed and climb characteristics.” Even Northrop seems to be suggesting that its various “control” devices and instrumentation are more worthy of comment. Too much stuff driven by too much engines to get too much firepower equals a flying barn door, I imagine.

“Manufacturer’s Report” is the usual miscellany of random statistics, in which Douglas stands out as actually attaching financially useful information. It has delivered on a billion dollars’ worth of contracts.
“Coast ‘Quits’ Down; ‘Pools’ Save Man-Hours” Less labour poaching cuts turnover on the West Coast. Don't look at us, Reggie.

Aviation Abroad

The Nazis have new glider-bombs, rocket planes. China is being supplied by C-47 transports flying over the Himalayas, the paper tells us. News! Total air tonnage, we are told, exceeds that once carried on the Burma road. But how much of it is consumed turning the planes around?

Fortune, March 1944

Business at War

“Spam and the Future” Today’s article is about a meat-canning company with the army on its feet and the world in its sights. It turns out that Spiced Ham and Pork is something that people will eat, albeit under protest, unlike canned mutton. That is, when prepared the way that Hormel does it. The Army Quartermaster’s specification renders it inedible, and Servicemen complain. A Dr. White is quoted as saying that Servicemen are giving Hormel priceless publicity by griping. You can’t buy better advertising? Dr. White says?  Is Dr. White related to Mr. Janeway? Another firm is Triumph, of Elkton, Maryland, which is a massive, brand-new munitions plant complex that became notorious when its operators were arrested for various fraud and corruption charges back in 1942 While on bail pending appeal and barred from participating in the management of the company, Mssrs. Kann and Decker have done quite nicely out of their shares, and the court-appoointed war manager Benjamin Franklin  Pepper is now in charge of conversion to peacetime production of whatever they might be able to produce, barring a race riot levelling the place ‘”when white and Negro relations ignite.”

The Farm Column

Ladd Haystead thinks that rural electrification has been a blessing, as has crop diversification, pointing to Upshur County, Texas. But, as always, there are storm clouds on the horizon. Perhaps the local co-op has borrowed too much money? Could be! More is possible Bell Laboratory is experimenting with telephone-without-telephone wires, with the signal carried by powerlines and house wiring, as well as with electrical “diathermal” cooking and various other gadgets that might allow farmers to consumer even more electricity with advantage. He also supposes that city farming might make a comeback, pointing to people doing farming-type things inBrooklyn.  There might be 100,000 “city farmers,” Haystead supposes. Trees are a good crop. The president has them on 400 of his 1400 acres at Hyde Park. Without reforestation of lots such as these, America would run out of timber eventually!

Trials and Errors

Mr. Janeway is in New York City, or was, back in January, when he wrote this. Mr Janeway supposes that the American consumer is becoming jaded, because he has all the things he needs. Therefore, manufacturers resort to “billboard  engineering,” persuading people to buy things through ever more effective advertising and pointless improvements, for example, in the “streamlined, chrome-plated, high-speed family automobile,” which American families demand in spite of congestion and designs that make engines and tires inaccessible, so that special tools are required for elementary repairs. Advertising is awful, and so are American consumers and American manufacturers! It will all come to a bad end!

This brings us to the point that Mr. Janeway is making, that in the future we will be dependent on exports, and of course foreign consumers, such as those in China and Brazil, to pick woo examples of foreign lands where people are poor and benighted, will not want chrome plating and special tools, and so America’s competitors will get all of the business, as we have “gadgeted ourselves” out of the market. 

Mr. Janeway helpfully explains the relevance of this discussion of chrome automobiles to the subject at hand, which is the machine tool industry. Our machine tools are too complicated and break down too often, with their multiple settings and speeds and the like that no-one ever uses. Give Mr. Janeway a good old fashioned lathe, any day!  

Other things the hapless Chinese need: small steel plants integrated with crane factories. (Just for example, the point being that the poor Chinese will not need large steel mills, but might want geegaw factories alongside.) They might also want synthetic oil made of Chinese coal, or instructions on how to farm, irrigate, and protect against flooding, at which they are notoriously bad. And how about this idea? China could procure Chilean copper, if Brazil vacated the market by taking up the manufacture of aluminum out of native bauxite? 

According to my inquiries, Mr. Janeway is 30, and not 17, as you might suppose. 

The Fortune Survey Is on the future organisation of the United Nations. When I opened this number to a letters page where a Wisconsin forester was writing to cancel his subscription because the paper was using too much paper, I was inclined to think that the world had found one forester of the kind of whinging precision that I more usually associate with indoor labour. I wish now to retract my interior criticisms.

Oh, and I retract again, as, page over, it turns out that they asked other questions. Who should be President? Roosevelt, it turns out, though per Republicans, it ought to be Dewey, and a hardy Corporal’s Guard of 8% of Republicans think that it should be MacArthur, leaving me appalled anew that the General allows his name to be floated in this way. If has no capacity for embarrassment, should he really be directing the war effort in a major theatre? Although the presence of young Mountbatten in another… 

The major postwar political issue, by the way, is to be unemployment, as we gaze into the crystal ball to predict future opinions about things to be done even further into the future.

Today’s big “The Job Before Us” feature is about the invasion. The greatest battle is still before us, and the bloody fiasco at Dieppe shows just how thoroughly it can go wrong. A feature on “Invasion Tactics” shows the obstacles to be  overcome.

I am struck by the detail of air attacks on enemy radiolocation stations. It gives me a better sense of what the planes that you service are doing, and of what Bill and David and their subcontractors are accomplishing down on the water, and what we might be able to do --will be able to do-- for our friend after the war. and, of course, there are all those details about the sanguinary exercise that is to be the invasion.

“Retreat from the Pentagon”

Despite the title, this is about reconversion, and the costs to industry. It is also forecasting a deflationary gap when American consumers can no longer finance purchases out of the current income that they lose when they leave war work. I suppose that all of the talk of a "postwar depression" necessarily implies a movement from price inflation to price deflation, as after the last war. I know that I talked confidently a moment ago about price inflation in the context of the postwar bust, and now I find myself disagreeing with Fortune, but I think I will point, again, to the coal miners and stick to my guns. Short of reintroducing slavery, you cannot raise production and restore employment in an industry that labour is abandoning without increasing wages, or pushing unemployment to such heights that people will welcome the chance to work in the mines. And considering how high unemployment got in the Distressed Areas in the 1930s...

Well, that thought is enough to put me off my lunch.
“One War Boom is Over”

The machine tools boom is over. The paper proposes that we should be concerned, since manufacturing busts follow machine tool busts.

This is, however, a company profile-type story, and we do not want to be upsetting the shareholders. Monarch Industries, specifically, hopes that another boom has just begun. Clearly it will not be in machine tools, for prospects for demand are poor. 700,000 of the US’s 1.75 million machine tools were made in the last 3 years. It is going to be very difficult for current models of machine tools to sell. Fortunately, Monarch is in good shape financially thanks to putting money away during the war years. It has learned a great deal about making various kinds of non-machine tools as a result of war contracts. The boom it hopes for is (mostly) in non machine tool areas. 

Other possibilities include the miraculous entry of entirely new machine tools onto the market, and a return to the Depression-era cliché about dumping current production into the ocean in order to create new markets, which is hardly serious, although it at least ties in with Mr. Janeway’s column in a way that makes Mr. Luce look less of an idiot for paying him.
Guided by nothing more than my unshakeable dislike for Mr. Janeway’s oracular act, I plump for the miraculous new machine tools, which will be even more complicated “universal” tools with even more speeds and settings. That said, instinctive dislike will not guide my investment decisions, obviously, and I will stick with electrical engineering, preferably close to home.

The Bituminous Coal Institute answers a common question: can the children of coal miners be educated? The Institute is happy to answer that, yes, they can. State and federal standards require that they permit coal miners’ children be educated, and the Institute hardly begrudges them that more than a little! Indeed,  coal miners’ children are even free to go on to university and community college, if they can pay for it! 

These really are appalling ads, and not appalling in the sense of the ill-judged British ones I sniped at earlier. The Institute seems unaware of just how callous it comes off as being here. Miners will always be captive to their employers so long as they value their jobs more than the dubious prospects of the freedom of the water margin, but it is unbecoming of the industry to gloat over it. 

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