I’ve recently begun to reread the Brotherhood of War series by W. E. B. Griffin. It’s still as compelling this Nth time around as the very first time when it was begun years ago.

There are nine volumes which cover the period from the end of World War II through the Viet Nam conflict. They center around four soldiers who began their career as lieutenants through the promotion of some of them to general.

There is a fair amount of action but the series is most notable for the secret conflicts between the various services and within some of them, for public attention, private influence, and budget. It is surprisingly compelling stuff.

You can probably check out the individual books from your library, but can also download ebook versions. I suggest you start with The Lieutenants. To read the first few chapters click the image.

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AGENT CARTER Comic-Con panel

The first season of Marvel’s Agent Carter is available for streaming through Amazon Instant Video and on September 18 will be available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Click the image to read text excerpts from the Comic-Con panel with Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell and the producers and writers of the TV show. Among other reveals is why they moved the second season to L. A. And when it premieres: in January of 2016 as a mid-season replacement for Agents of SHIELD.

For even more info you can watch a YouTube video of the Comic-Con panel.

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SUPER TUCANO anti-covert-warfare plane

Many people love the jet fighter. It’s fast, powerful, deadly, and as lovely as a dagger with its severe streamlining. It’s flown by pilots trained to duel with enemy pilots like knights of old, a romantic image.

It’s also super expensive. The fifth generation F-22 Raptor costs $150 million just to fly it away from its makers. To keep it flying can cost as much as the aircraft itself. It takes at least ten hours of work on the ground for every hour it spends in the air, and sometimes twice that.

The fighter’s purpose is to control the air over ground being fought over. Future ground forces, however, increasingly are terrorists or insurgents who are well able to hide from their enemies. They have no need for aircraft to protect them from advanced aerial enemies. Covert small-scale warfare is replacing overt large-scale warfare.   Fighters are increasingly obsolete.

This makes the main need for future military forces to have aircraft for ground attack and near-ground reconnaissance. Such as the A-10 “Warthog” and such much-lower-cost cousins as the A-29 Super Tucano. This single-engine turbo-prop aircraft is cheap but good: highly effective against small stealthy ground forces.

For more detail click Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano.

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MICRO-UAV comes to the military

Nano- and micro-UAVs are another thing for terrorists to worry about. (And of course civilians worried about privacy.)

One of the latest small UAVs is the PD-100 Black Hornet made by Prox Dynamics. A “nano helicopter” which fits in the hand of a child, it has an average 20-minute flight time, a camera (which can be infrared), video transmitter, GPS – and a price tag of not-quite $200,000.

An older and widely used “micro” UAV is the RQ-11 Raven made by AeroEnvironment. The size of a typical model airplane, it is launched by hand.

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ARGENTINE TANGO in L. A. – see Chicho & Juana perform

Art forms come and go and come again, each time keeping some essential character but undergoing some radical changes as well.  Thus it is with the Argentine tango.

The latest change in tango began in 1983 in France when a touring show called Tango Argentino sold out many times and excited dancers to imitate what they’d seen on stage. The show traveled to New York to the same effect. Then a year later it toured North America and Europe.  Other tango shows followed, especially the shows Tango Pasion, Tango X 2 and Forever Tango (review) (available on DVD).

By the late ’90s a second generation of Argentine tango dancers experimented with and modified the classical form as seen on stage and in Argentine “milongas” (tango dance parties). It eventually came to be called Tango Nuevo.

On July 5th in Los Angeles one of the iconic Nuevo couples (Chicho & Juana) can be seen performing at Milonga LAX just south of the LA International airport. They will be around for three weeks, teaching and occasionally performing. Then they will travel elsewhere. Perhaps you’ll see them where you live or nearby.

Or you can see them here.

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THE CRAFT teen witch movie – recommended

I just read that Sony is going to remake “The Craft” about teen witches who get in over their head with real magic. So I had to revisit it, if for no other reason than to see Robin Tunney in one of her first big roles.

It holds up surprisingly well. I got hooked into it all over again. Available on Hulu and Netflix, but I preferred to stream it from Amazon Instant Video.

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New book by TEMERAIRE author

I just finished the latest book by Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire Napolonic War series which includes dragons as the air force of the warring nations.

Uprooted is a change of pace, told from the viewpoint of a talented girl who is picked by a sorcerer to become a sorceress and help him fight an evil spirit which has infected a forest. The writing is vivid and convincing, the people do not appear to be puppets but people who create their stories.

Click the image to read the first few chapters.

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Beware the IZOMBIE finale

The season finale of iZombie promises to have a cliffhanger – or maybe more. You may want to do what I will: save it till the season 2 premiere and watch both episodes at once.

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LUCIFER on Fox this fall

I’ve put the Fox TV show Lucifer on my watchlist so I’ll be reminded automatically when it comes on the air this fall. It’s roughly based on the Neil Gaiman DC comic Sandman. If we can believe the trailer (big IF!) it will be lots of fun.

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Hailee Steinfeld’s BARELY LETHAL available Friday

UPDATE:To find showtimes closest to you enter your zip code in Fandango.

Teen special ops agent fakes her death and tries to live life as an ordinary girl. The process isn’t easy – especially when her old life catches up to her.

Opens Friday the 29th of May in theaters and DirecTV and Amazon Instant Video.

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