Archive for September, 2020

A World Ruled From the Air

Three 1920 predictions by the British Air Ministry’s Cuthbert Hicks about the future speed, carrying capacity, and military influence of aircraft — two predictions proved wild underestimates, while a third proved a wild overestimate.

At the moment the fastest officially recognized speed attained by aircraft is one hundred and eighty-seven miles an hour — three miles every minute. What it will be in ten years’ time no one can say, but, remembering that ten years ago the record speed was barely fifty miles an hour, I do not feel that it would be extravagant to prophesy a three-hundred-mile-an-hour rate in 1930. In other words, aircraft could reach from Europe in ten hours.

This prediction proved an underestimate. A 300 mile per hour flight airspeed was surpassed in 1928, and by 1930 the record stood at 357.7 miles per hour. The modern-day record: 2,193.16 miles per hour.

It is well to remember, also, that there are machines being built today that will carry one hundred men or their equivalent in weight or bombs. Perhaps in ten years’ time it will be possible to carry two hundred and fifty men or their terrible equipment. Why not?

The prediction was that in 1930 planes could carry approximately 50,000 pounds. That was a considerable underestimate as well. 1929’s Dornier Do X aircraft had a maximum takeoff weight of 123,460 pounds.

The time is coming when aircraft will be so perfected that land and sea forces will cease either to be useful or necessary, for a squadron of aircraft will have more value than an army division or a navy squadron… So I repeat that aerial supremacy will rule the world; and when that supremacy is temporarily in the hands of an unscrupulous nation, then flying will be a curse. For an invincible air fleet will be able to force its will upon any country, however large, with ease.

Land and sea forces hardly ceased to be useful or necessary. Today, the U.S. Air Force has fewer active duty members than the Army, or about the same number as the Navy. And although some nations certainly maintain greater air power than others, no one single country gained true “aerial supremacy” or “an invincible air fleet.”

 

A World Ruled From the Air (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 3, 1920

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Written by Jesse

September 30th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

The Anonymous Roosevelt

As an ex-president, Theodore Roosevelt wrote an anonymous monthly column for one of America’s biggest magazines, Ladies’ Home Journal, under the recurring column title “Men.”

His authorship wasn’t revealed until 1920, after Roosevelt’s death, by the 30-year editor of Ladies’ Home Journal Edward Bok in his autobiography The Americanization of Edward Bok: The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After. The next year, the book would win the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

As this book excerpt which ran in the New York Times Magazine told:

It was natural that the appearance of a department devoted to men in a woman’s magazine should attract immediate attention. The department took up the various interests of a man’s life, such as real efficiency; his duties as an employer and his usefulness to his employes [sic]; the employe’s attitude toward his employer; the relations of men and women; a father’s relation to his sons and daughters; a man’s duty to his community; the public school system; a man’s relation to his church, and kindred topics.

Reader speculation regarding the author’s identity centered on either popular minister Lyman Abbott or former 40-year Harvard President Charles William Eliot. According to Bok, “In not a single instance was his [Roosevelt’s] name connected.”

Roosevelt once said of Bok, “[He] is the only man I ever heard of who changed, for the better, the architecture of an entire nation.”

Now if only we could find out who wrote the anonymous New York Times op-ed “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

 

The Anonymous Roosevelt (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 26, 1920

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Written by Jesse

September 23rd, 2020 at 10:21 am

Posted in Journalism,Politics

Party Allegiance as Good Citizenship

In 1920, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Robert von Moschzisker argued that America had become too big to govern effectively without political parties.

To my mind, the maintenance of the present system and the development of party fealty are matters of prime importance at this time in America. How, with our vast electorate, scattered over a wide domain, can any issue of general interest be determined other than by a systematic method of educating, and registering the will of, the people? If democratic government, by majority rule under constitutional restrictions, is accepted as right, then it is almost incomprehensible how the scheme can be carried out in any really big and intelligent way other than through party sponsorships. If we abandon that system, and divide into political groups according to special interests, or our liking for or antipathy to candidates, on our acceptance or rejection of their personal views on minor issues, it will become practically impossible for a multitudinous people like ourselves intelligently to determine at the polls any issue which requires consideration by the whole electorate.

One wonders whether he would still agree in 2020. The political parties have become polarized and uncooperative at an unprecedented level, perhaps irreparably. (Not to mention untethered from reality — on both sides.) In 1998 almost every Republican voted to impeach Bill Clinton while almost every Democrat voted not to, then in 2019 almost every Democrat voted to impeach Donald Trump while literally every Republican voted not to. Political parties increasingly seem less a force for “good” and more a force for just “cohesion.”

Maybe the answer is to keep the party system, but just have more parties to choose from. A 2018 Gallup poll found 57 percent of respondents say a major third party is needed, including 72 percent of independents and a record high 54 percent of Democrats, though only 38 percent of Republicans.

Line graph. Independents are consistently the most likely partisan group to support a third major political party.

 

Party Allegiance as Good Citizenship (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 19, 1920

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Written by Jesse

September 18th, 2020 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Politics

The First Woman President

Weeks after women gained the right to vote, a satirical column predicted a future female president since “Millions of us men will be compelled to vote for her with the threat of losing our home-brewed meals if we don’t.”

In 1920, the country was still 12 years away from its first elected female senator, Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas, and a full 54 years away from its first elected female governor, Ella Grasso of Connecticut. With such concepts laughable at the time, this column suggested a female president “will commemorate the triumph of the soprano over the baritone.”

The column also suggests that a female president would care little for any policies beyond “women’s issues,” with the leader taking “the oath in which she will promise on her sacred impulses to love, honor, and obey the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the rest of the document if the plot suits her.”

After all:

Nothing is too fantastic or improbable for the mind of woman. This constitutes her grandeur. She is a poet. She waves facts aside with the same disdain that a male Congressman waves aside intellectual honesty.

What she feels constitutes the truth. Historical facts are of no more importance to her than last year’s hat bill. Justice is getting what she wants. Logic is a mere instrument to prove the invulnerability of her prejudices.

The author also implies that men would vote for the first female presidential nominee against their will because “Millions of us men will be compelled to vote for her with the threat of losing our home-brewed meals and other things if we don’t.” In fact, the opposite occurred. In 2016, when the first major-party female presidential nominee ran in the form of Hillary Clinton, the gender gap in candidate preference was the widest in the history of the polling dating back to 1972, at 24 percent. Men, clearly, didn’t care about the possibility of losing their home-brewed meals.

 

The First Woman President (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 5, 1920

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Written by Jesse

September 6th, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Future,Politics