Two brilliant creators:

“It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, stains become a warning. It is by will alone that                           I set my mind in motion.”

Two major creative forces in my life, one by an aural venue, the other by a visual venue.

Frank Zappa and Jack KirbyFrank Zappa and Jack Kirby.

Frank Zappa:

Jack Kirby:

Jack Kirby GalactusThose of you who know these names are especially hallowed.  I hadn’t know they’d ever met.  But their brilliance still shines on like crazy diamonds.

They have both passed on, but their radiant splendor blossoms.

BZ

 

Think the incandescent bulb is dead? Think again:

CFLFrom NewsMax.com:

‘Rough Service’ Loophole Skirts Ban on Incandescent Bulbs

by Greg Richter

Just as 100- and 75-watt incandescent light bulbs were banned from sale this year, their 60- and 40-watt counterparts will face the same fate on New Year’s Day.

But one manufacturer whose family has been making lights for generations has found a loophole: the “rough service” bulb.

Rough-service bulbs are essentially the same as any other incandescent bulb, but are built to be more sturdy for heavy-duty applications. Automobiles and subways are among users of rough-service bulbs, which are less susceptible to vibration because they typically have an extra wire to support the filament.

They can, however, be used in homes just like the regular bulbs that are being phased out.

Of course, in Fornicalia — the quintessential Left Coast — incandescent bulbs were banned on January 1st of 2012, to include the 100-watt bulb.  A maximum of 72 watts were allowed, including CFLs and LEDs.

On January 1st of 2014, other incandescent bulbs — including the staid and serviceable 75-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs — will now be illegal to build and sell in the United States of America.

With regard to the “rough service” bulb, however, Wikipedia writes:

Light bulbs outside of this range are exempt from the restrictions. Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, rough service bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, stage lighting, plant lights, candelabra lights under 60 watts, outdoor post lights less than 100 watts, nightlights and shatter resistant bulbs.[51]

Continuing, from NewsMax:

(Owner of the Light Bulk Store in New Jersey, Larry) Birmbaum’s Newcandescent.com website offers bulbs up to 300 watts, touting them as “the legal light bulb.”

The rough-service bulbs last about three times longer than regular bulbs. That’s not as long as LEDs, which have been gaining popularity as their price has dropped, but LEDs still cost three to four times as much.

Both incandescents and LEDs offer more safety than CFL bulbs, which made many people wary after the Environmental Protection Agency issued guidelines for safe cleanup of mercury if they break.

CFLs have also been linked to cancer, migraine headaches, and other health problems.

These are issues that I have already identified here and here and here and here.  I already possess clear documentation that CFLs do not inherently last longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

And certainly it should not shock you that I possess a rather large and extensive personal stock of ILLEGAL incandescent bulbs.  Remember: when incandescent bulbs are outlawed, only OUTLAWS will possess incandescent bulbs — especially 100 watt units.

Check out NewCandescent.com and be your own outlaw.

BZ

 

Unmasked: Area 51′s Biggest, Stealthiest Spy Drone Yet

Northrop-Grumman RQ-180From ForeignPolicy.com:

by Zach Rosenberg

The drone that spied on bin Laden and on Iran’s nukes was just the start. Meet its bigger, higher-flying, stealthier cousin, the Northrop Grumman RQ-180. It’s probably been flying for a few years now, but you weren’t supposed to know that; the existence of this secret project, based out of Area 51, was revealed Friday by Aviation Week.

The RQ-180 is likely flying from the secret Air Force test facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, widely known as Area 51. Its exact specifications, including such crucial details as the number of engines, is unknown, but Aviation Week suggests a wingspan of over 130 feet, based on hangar construction at Northrop’s Palmdale, California facility. The number of aircraft built is also unknown; however, a flight test program, relatively quick entry into service and open budget documents suggest a small fleet are flying routinely.

The aircraft’s performance is said to be similar to Northrop’s white-world entry, the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which can fly for days and cover thousands of miles. Hopefully the RQ-180 performs better; Global Hawk has received mixed marks on its evaluations, and the aircraft it was meant to replace, the venerable Lockheed U-2, will continue to fly for decades to come.

I wrote this past Sunday about the emergence of the Skunk Works-designed Lockheed-Martin SR72.

Conclusion?

Groom Lake, Area 51 and Wonderland are up and not just running, but sprinting.

Good news.

BZ

P.S.
The source Aviation Week & Space Technology article is here.  And with a wingspan of a possible 130 feet?  Payloads and weapons could consist of — anything.

 

 

Lockheed unveils SR-72 hypersonic Mach 6 scramjet spy plane

From the minds of Clarence “Kelly” Johnson and Ben Rich came the original Skunk Works, a Lockheed conceptual project initiated in 1943.

Skunk Works Logo“Many times a customer would come to the Skunk Works with a request and on a handshake the project would begin, no contracts in place, no official submittal process.”

The Skunk Works — still alive and thriving today — resulted in ground-breaking aircraft, such as:

This is an impressive list of airframes from the minds of people unconstrained in their thoughts and willing to push the technological envelope of the times, from every angle.

I proffer that the SR-71 was the most enthralling and technologically advanced aircraft of the entire 20th century and into the 21st.  It was an airframe designed, literally, by white male geeks in short-sleeved dry-cleaned white shirts and thin dark ties, wearing brown plastic framed thick glasses, pocket protectors and utilizing wooden slide rules.  Computers simply did not exist en masse.  They sat at cheap pine tables and produced pages and pages of blue drafts, with hand-lettered notes and ennui enabled by T-squares.

The SR-71 served with the USAF from 1964 to 1998, and a total of 32 aircraft were built.  12 were lost in accidents, but none were lost to enemy action.[3][4]

The SR-71 is an aircraft, completely analog, that was allowed to perish due to age and expense.  It was, arguably, the costliest aircraft to have ever existed in the USAF inventory.

Since its demise there has been much speculation as to its replacement.  Was it Aurora?  And what would an Aurora aircraft look like?  Would it even be manned, considering the ubiquitous nature of drones today?

And, further, why would you not want a replacement?  There exist times of crisis when moving geosynchronous satellites simply won’t do, for two very important reasons: 1) it is too slow, and 2) you can only move a satellite ____ times before you deplete its finite fuel capacity.  America had the capability to hustle an SR-71 from Kadena or Beale and be over a trouble spot in as little as an hour or two.

With all that in mind, however, it appears the successor to the incredible SR-71 has been “outed,” if you will, by an article from ExtremeTech.com.

It has been designated the SR-72.

by Sebastian Anthony

Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works has confirmed that it is developing the SR-72 spy plane. The successor to the SR-71 Blackbird, which was capable of Mach 3.5, the SR-72 will be a hypersonic unmanned aircraft capable of Mach 6, or just over 4,500 mph. At hypersonic speeds, the SR-72 will be able to traverse any continent in around an hour — meaning, if they’re strategically positioned around the world on aircraft carriers, the US military can strike or surveil any location on Earth in about an hour. It is also suspected that the SR-72′s hypersonic engine tech — some kind of hybrid scramjet — will find its way into the US military’s High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW), a missile that can theoretically strike anywhere on Earth in just a few minutes.

Lockheed SR-72The SR-72, despite the similar name, is a completely new plane. At the moment, the SR-72 is still only a concept, though Lockheed has now confirmed that the plane is in active development. An optionally piloted scale version of the plane with a single engine will be built in 2018, with test flights scheduled for 2023. If all goes to plan (funding hasn’t yet been secured by Lockheed Martin), a full-size SR-72 (about 100 feet long) will be built and tested by 2030. As it stands, the current plan is for the SR-72 to be unmanned. It will be a very, very large drone. It will probably be unarmed, too, and outfitted entirely for intelligence gathering, though it’s too early to say for sure.

While the SR-72 will undoubtedly be a paragon of stealth and fashioned from monolithic crystals of titanium wrapped in carbon fiber, its defining feature is its operational speed of Mach 6 — or 4,567 mph (7,350 kph). At this speed, the SR-72 can cross the Atlantic (or Europe or China or…) in about an hour — or circumnavigate the planet in six hours. At an operational altitude of around 80,000 feet (24,300 meters) and Mach 6, the SR-72 will be almost impossible to shoot down.

Groom Lake and Area 51: Wonderland all over again.

BZ

 

Vince Flynn’s last book postponed indefinitely?

Vince FlynnIt was with great sadness that I heard author Vince Flynn had died at the age of 47, of prostate cancer, June 19th of this year.

He passed away in a St. Paul, Minnesota hospital, surrounded with over thirty family members and friends.

“Flynn was diagnosed with stage three metastatic prostate cancer in November 2010. The fatigue from his radiation treatments eventually made it difficult to focus on writing for more than an hour or two, and in October 2011, he reluctantly postponed publication for several months of his 13th book, “Kill Shot,” which followed Rapp’s adventures as he pursued those responsible for the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.”

Flynn had written 14 books in all, with a 15th, “The Survivor,” slated to come out in hardback in November.

Perhaps like myself, many fans were expecting Flynn’s book to be published posthumously, as Tom Clancy’s last novel is now being released.

Author Tom Clancy passed away on October 2nd of this year.  His last novel, Command Authority, is available via Amazon and other stores, co-authored by one of my newest favorite spy writers, Mark Greaney, a major WordForce in and of himself.

But, now, there is a major fly in the ointment of Flynn’s final release.

From the StarTribune.com:

by Kristin Tillotson

Vince Flynn, the author of the best-selling Mitch Rapp political thrillers, was working on the 14th installment in the series, titled “The Survivor,” when he died of cancer in June. The book was to have been released in October.

His publisher, SImon & Schuster, has released a statement saying that the St. Paul native’s book is “postponed indefinitely” because it is “too soon to know” how much he had completed.

Ordinarily Vince’s editor, Emily Bestler, would have been in constant communication with him about the book, but during his last six months, Flynn’s health was the only priority, said Simon & Schuster spokesman David Brown: “We know Vince was working, we just don’t know yet what he was able to accomplish. It’s just a matter of waiting for an appropriate time to sit down with his family and discuss everything. Right now we’re still mourning the loss.”

The implication of the statement seems to be that if it is determined there is enough material to publish the book posthumously, another writer or editor may be called in to finish it. Otherwise, it will likely be cancelled.

The same holds true for a collaboration Flynn was working on with writer Brian Haig, the statement said, though that book is still available for pre-order.

Allow me to state the obvious, if I might.  Vince Flynn ate the lunch of many current spy and mystery authors today.

Daniel Silva is a current spy classic, as is Alex Berenson.  And you already know what I think of Mark Greaney.  Brad Thor provides interesting concepts but I find his writing somewhat clumsy.

With luck, “The Survivor” will be released.

BZ