August 9, 2009

Favorites of the week August 4-August 9, 1930

No Journal was published Sunday, August 10, 1930. Once again, a collection of my favorite items of the week. These aren't a representative selection but just the ones that made me smile or take notice.

August 9:

[Note: There was a long and mystifying campaign by the Smithsonian to credit Langley with first airplane capable of heavier-than-air flight over the Wright brothers.] Entertaining description of S. Langley aircraft attempt at flight by Joe Cannon [I assume a Republican]: “It starts off with a mighty whang ... it bobs about hysterically, it whets you into expecting a lot, seems right on the edge of soaring into the empyrean; it puffs and blares - and bunks. It ought to hobble over here to the capitol and sign up with the Democratic Party.”

[Note: Sheer genius dept. #1] Sanitary single-use lipsticks now available, coming in a small matchbook-like container.

[Note: Sheer genius dept. #2] Reports that leading cigarette companies will introduce “matchless” cigarettes, to be lit by striking on side of box.

August 8:

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Editorial: Germany, Britain, and the US are finding that “rationalization” (automation) “sets much labor free - free, that is, to hunt a job.” While some economists believe rationalization is in the long run good for labor, in the short run it creates overcapacity, reduced requirement for workers, and the need to keep volume production going because of high capital investment and overhead. However, this has been going on for a long time (Francis Walker described the problem 50 years ago), so history suggests the problem will work itself out.

[Note: Hopefully not soon to be strangely familiar dept.] Miami joins 45 other Florida municipalities in default on bonds, including St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Sarasota. Florida credit has declined so far that no municipal bonds have active markets. Problems include real estate bust starting in 1925, subsequent hurricanes, Mediterranean fruit fly invasion of 1929, and bank failures over past 2 years.

August 7:

[Note: Always keep your eye on the freight car loadings.] Decline of 16.6% in freight car loadings for week ended July 26 was largest so far in 1930.

August 6:

[Note: Sorry for the spoiler, but I think this guy might be planning to run for something.] NY Gov. Roosevelt adopts "dripping wet" (anti-Prohibition) plank for reelection campaign, following conference with 4-time former Gov. Al E. Smith [Dem. Pres. candidate in 1928, first major-party Roman Catholic candidate].

Editorial: Gov. Roosevelt's relatively friendly response to rate reduction offer by NY City electric companies is a welcome change from his “near-socialist attitude of last winter” when he clashed with the telephone company and the Republican legislature over requested higher rates.

[Note: Check out the newsreel of this - a strange and remarkable plane.] Dornier DO-X flying boat, the world's largest plane [157' wingspan, 134' long, 33' high, 12 engines, over 100 passengers, roughly same size as Boeing 707, see newsreel on webpage right], has made first flight on Lake Constance.

Fidelity & Casualty of NY reports on 4,400 claims filed for accident insurance. Number of accident cases: 807 playing baseball, 562 swimming and bathing, 287 wrestling and "friendly scuffling," 269 bowling, 231 skating, 211 tennis, 194 fireworks, 177 hunting, 164 golf, 89 playing with children, 3 ping-pong.

[Note: Movies were much more interesting then dept.] Common Clay, a Fox picture, starring Constance Bennett and Lew Ayres. A poor girl, Ellen Neal, is “arrested in a vice raid and lectured by the judge on the folly of attempting to gain happiness by irregular means.” She tries to go straight by becoming a maid in the wealthy Fullerton household; however, the butler and then the family son try to seduce her. The son, Hugh, eventually succeeds. Two years later she is with child and suing the family. At trial it's revealed that Ellen's birth mother committed suicide and the women Ellen thought was her mother secretly adopted her. The Fullerton's lawyer realizes he is Ellen's father and asks Hugh to marry her. Hugh's father is initially furiously opposed but eventually Hugh “sees the light and takes Ellen in his arms.”

August 5:

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] Chairman G. Woodruff of Nat'l Bank of the Republic in article "Green Lights Ahead" predicts second-half recovery in business. "The red lights, through which our people last year drove, have changed. The curbstone admonitions of the minions of the economic law near an end."

[Note: Just like TIVO, except works only with radio, costs about $4000 in current dollars, and has 70-second capacity.] RCA-Victor exhibiting new radio models to retail for $110 to $285. More expensive models will come with recorder able to permanently record radio programs.

[Note: I swear I saw this in a James Bond movie.] Navy awards contract to Loening Aeronautics of New York for seaplane with folding wings to be used on submarines. Contract price is $49,500.

August 4:

[Note: Strangely familiar dept.] President Hoover calls for White House conference and commission to study ways of improving credit situation for homebuilding and financing.

[Note: Hmm ... they seem to have done OK.] Companies aggressively spending on advertising include American Tobacco, R.J. Reynolds, Coca Cola, National Biscuit, Procter & Gamble, Wrigley.

[Note: Kind of scary that this guy was the most pessimistic one around.] Dr. L. Edie, economist for Investment Research Corp. of Detroit, disagrees with consensus among economists, predicts only mild recovery in fall followed by renewed slump in winter and full recovery not until Spring 1931. Cautions against “wish thinking.” Predicts long-term uptrend in market although interrupted by “radical and sharp” fluctuations. Anticipates reduction in P/E's; stocks selling for 20 times earnings may be reduced to 16-17, “and possibly lower.”

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