Raptor's first strike . . .

Before and after:

The F-22 is the most advanced operational air combat fighter in the world, but that doesn't mean it can't throw a bomb or two in its spare time. (The ISIS attacks are the first time the Raptor has been used in the attack role, according to DoD.)

The General's new edition

Regnery History has put out a new trade paper edition of Omar Bradley: General at War. The book is being paired up with some other important titles, and we're hoping for wide circulation - hello, Costco!

Thanks, everyone, for your continued interest.

The ISIS Tooth Fairy

Over the weekend, Turkey announced that it had pulled off the special op of the century, retrieving some four dozen hostages from ISIS without paying a ransom or engaging in an outright attack.


One of two things happened:

- either Turkish undercover agents managed to infiltrate ISIS and hoodwinked the captors into letting the hostages go, or

- the Turks did make a deal, just one that may not be technically called a ransom.

Take your pick.

There is one other possibility - and that is some other country (read America) engaged in a rescue mission and made it possible for the hostages to escape; the Turks then took the credit. But in that case, we'll surely hear about it sooner rather than later.

Just an everyday thing . . .

An engine failure is anything but an everyday thing - but you have to admire the absolutely "yeah, we're on it, no problem" tone of the pilot in this emergency announcement after a JetBlue airliner lost its engine. Pros were definitely at the helm.

It was certainly not routine, but definitely routinely handled - no injuries reported.

Next Dreamland . . .

Here's the tentative cover for the book we're working on, due out next year:

More high-tech fun is planned . . .
Turkey's role

One of the more under-reported aspects of the ISIS crisis has been the role of Turkey in facilitating the psychos' success. Not only is Turkey allowing black market sale of oil - a huge benefit to the terrorists, but the group actively recruits in Turkish cities without apparent fear of arrest.

Turkey is a member of NATO. Lying half in Europe and half in Asia, it has striven for acceptance by the West since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. But over the past decade its responses to backward-looking radical movements in the Middle East have greatly complicated not only its position vis a  vis the West but also perceptions of it.

Turkey's way is not necessarily Europe's or even America's; it has its own future to determine. But sleeping with rabid dogs is never a good idea; they tend eventually to bite.

It wasn't a bunch of rocks

Anatomy of a missile strike - from the report on MH 17, downed over Ukraine:

Damage observed on the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft appears to indicate that there were impacts from a large number of high-energy objects from outside the plane.
The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was not consistent with the damage that would be expected from any known failure mode of the aircraft, its engines or systems.
The fact that there were many pieces of aircraft structure distributed over a large area, indicated that the aircraft broke up in the air.

That's technical speak for "a missile hit the plane," which of course we already knew. Full report (pdf) here.

The machine writes

But can it think? Well, maybe. As if auto-correct weren't bad enough, soon we'll have auto-thought:

From Apple's website announcing Aple iOS 8:

iOS 8 predicts what you’ll likely say next. 
No matter whom you’re saying it to.
Now you can write entire sentences with a few taps. Because as you type, you’ll see choices of words or phrases you’d probably type next, based on your past conversations and writing style. iOS 8 takes into account the casual style you might use in Messages and the more formal language you probably use in Mail. It also adjusts based on the person you’re communicating with, because your choice of words is likely more laid back with your spouse than with your boss. Your conversation data is kept only on your device, so it’s always private.

And after auto-thought, can auto-act be far behind? How long will it be before machines successfully predict who* a person wants to murder, then carry out the killing?

Boom times for sci-fi writers, surely. Though reality appears to be catching up.

* Relaxed standard speaking English used to differentiate from uptight machine language, which would require formal objective case.

France "suspends" Russian amphib


PARIS – President Francois Hollande's office says France is suspending the delivery of a hulking warship to Russia amid security concerns about Moscow's actions in neighboring Ukraine.

But "suspends" is not the same as "cancels." France has already built two of the ships, and there are plans for its Russian "partner" to build others. Good vessels to launch invasions from, especially if you don't happen to live next door.

The class namesake, at its launch: