Home » Edge of Apocalypse » EoA: Cal Jordan In His Natural Habitat

EoA: Cal Jordan In His Natural Habitat

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 225-228 (Chapter Thirty-Nine)

And so we meet back with our rather unusual young man of the Jordan family. Say hello to Cal, people!

*Distant chorus of hallos*

*Cal hesitantly waves back*

Excellent! 🙂

So our good buddy’s in the lecture hall at good ol’ Liberty U and he’s just gotten called on his distracton by a professor:

“Mr. Jordan, perhaps you could answer that question?”

Cal Jordan had been busy sketching a picture on his notepad. He looked up with embarrassment to find the entire class staring at him.

The question turns out to have been a pretty loaded question, since it’s about the powers of Congressional committees:

At the front of the class the professor frowned and tried again. “The question, Mr. Jordan, from one of your fellow classmates, was, Why should Congress have the power to force a private citizen to testify in a congressional hearing?”

For a moment, Cal’s brain froze.

The professor studied Cal and then expanded his question. “We are studying the powers of the Congress. Mr. Hitchney asked a salient question about the subpoena power of the Congress.”

Ok, hold up a sec. Why’s the prof picking Cal to answer this question when by rights Doctor whoever ought to be answering it? You know, this is another one of those situations where LaHaye and Parshall are artificially structuring the story to make points to their audience. The characters should drive the plot, not be shoved in where the plot is deemed convenient.

This isn’t a smal tutorial type session either – it’s in a big lecture hall where this sort of inter-student discussion isn’t really practical anyway. Skipping ahead, we see that the prof is trying to link into current events:

“Mr. Jordan,” the professor said, pressing in gently, “I thought you might have some thoughts on the subject considering the fact that your father, Joshua Jordan, is in the news on that exact issue.”

Mmkay, fair enough. Still kinda making me squint a bit. Also, who’s this Hitchney guy?

Cal turned around and looked ten rows back until he located the face of Jeff Hitchney, another student in the class. Hitchney, a tall blond sophomore had a twisted half-smile on his face. Cal now realized that the student had planted the question on purpose to embarrass him. Hitchney was the star pitcher on the college baseball team and was the leader of the school debate team. But there was one more thing. He had a keen interest in Cal’s girlfriend, Karen Hester. And Hitchney seemed intent on harassing Cal. After all, how could Karen have preferred Cal over him?

Even with this, it still feels a bit contrived. Also, it feels a bit like Parshall is trying for a frat-boy jock vs the intellectual set-up, but it doesn’t quite seem to get pulled off right. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that LaHaye and Parshall seem to be conceding that for at least certain values of intellectual, it’s permissible to want to study and know more about the world instead of rotely restudying the Bible for the nth time. Given the somewhat anti-intellectual strain that surfaces occasionally among the Christian political right, it’s worth noting that a potentially RTC intellectual type is at least somewhat positively portrayed, even if only because he has the last name Jordan.

But anyway, here’s one possible source of Cal’s insecurities: This Jeff fellow sounds like he’s a lot more like a chip off the old block than Cal himself is, and while he probably knows in his gut that Karen likes him for him, it doesn’t change his wondering about other men.

Following the professor’s question, moar insecurities, this time with respect to dear old dad:

Cal cringed. There it is again. Colonel Joshua Jordan. The man who single-handedly rescued New York City from the perils of incoming nuclear missiles. Wherever I go, I can’t escape my father.

(italics in the original)

It’s kind of interesting that Parshall has Cal thinking about his dad with his name and rank. It’s almost as though Cal sees his father as this distant, larger than life figure who overshadows him every step of the way. If LaHaye and Parshall intend this to be a statement about how we ought to regard God, I’ll pass.

So Cal notes that the power of Congress to subpoena witnesses is presumed to be for the good of the country generally. Hitchney gets a dig in about what Josh said (which is in direct opposition to the stated public interest), and Cal partly concedes the point while switching to a new angle of attack:

“Mr. Hitchney is correct that I am admitting the power of Congress to subpoena witnesses. But that’s not what my father’s case is about. What that case is about is the fact that Congress can’t force someone to give away trade secrets and business intelligence. Which is what they are trying to do. Plus…there’s something else involved too…”

Considering that the whole thing was sponsored under the aegis of the US military, Parshall putting those words in Cal’s mouth tells us that whatever he heard from LaHaye about military affairs, it’s not even worth a hill of beans for accuracy. Also, I note that no modern university I know of bothers maintaining the old traditions of an honorific before a student’s or even a TA’s name these days. Maybe Liberty U is special, but I’d need a confirm on that.

Cal continues:

Cal paused. He now was in the interesting dilemma of having to defend his father’s case. He wasn’t hot on that idea. Plus the things that his mom and his sister, Deborah, had shared with him about his father’s legal situation were strictly interfamily matters. Very private. But Cal had another overriding thought. On the other hand, there’s no way I’m letting Hitchney off the hook.

“Okay. Here’s the deal,” Cal replied. “My father invented this laser weapon…the RTS. Return-to-Sender thing. He never gave the government full ownership of the design. It was still in, like, an experimental phase. Then the North Koreans launched missiles at us. The government used my dad’s weapon to stop the missiles–“

We can see that part of Cal’s sudden earnestness is the ol’ mano a mano thing with Jeff Hitchney. But any reasonable son would defend his father, I would think, and Cal’s certainly stepping up to the job. The chapter segues into a debate that’s already been discussed on this blog, which is the question of the true ownership of the RTS-RGS, as well as to what extent we-the-people making up the government constitutes allowing a private citizen under military contract to stand on that ground when denying access to the technical documentation for the RTS-RGS.

In the book, we’re expected to take Josh Jordan’s (and by proxy, Cal’s) position that he’s entitled to withhold the documents and fail to appear before the committee.

The prof has a little chat with Cal after the dust clears:

Then the professor turned to Cal again. “Just wondering Mr. Jordan, what’s your major?”

“Art.”

“Well, if you ever get tired of art, you may want to think about pre-law. You raised some good points today. And you might give some thought to joining the debate team too.”

Considering that the whole thing was contrived to reiterate the points that Josh Jordan already made in an earlier chapter, just tranposing it to Cal vs the jerk who wants his girlfriend, I’m not sure the prof ought to be congratulating anyone yet.

GUYS GUYS GUYS GUYS

GUESS WHAT?!

CAL HAS AN ALLFONE

Oh my god. He’s been given the Seal of Cool by LaHaye and Parshall, how about that, eh?!

As the professor continued his lecture, Cal felt his Allfone vibrate. He had set the vibrate mode on Morse code. Home was coded to vibrate dots and dashes for the word family. But calls from his father’s office were set to vibrate out the code for SOS–the international distress signal. That was his own private joke.

This time it was the SOS. He wasn’t going to take it. At least not right now, when the eyes of half the class were still glued on him.

So I wonder, did Josh decide to spring for the Allfone after hearing Cal’s other phone got busted? Or did he just want to make sure his son hears the news when he and his Roundtable decide to bust in on the news networks? Must keep up appearances – can’t get Cal think he’s being cut out of too much.

(Sorry; I get remarkably cynical, it seems, about the interaction between Cal and his dad and the motivations behind Josh doing anything for Cal when the book has made it clear that Cal’s not considered part of the family in the same way as Deb is. And speaking of which, why is it Parshall never shows us Cal talking to his sis? The book there has Cal thinking about Deborah telling him things about the legal wrangling over the RTS-RGS, but we don’t see it at all in the book. Nice telling and no showing, Parshall buddy ol pal.)

Anyway, this ends the chapter from Cal’s side of things. The other half follows Josh Jordan up to when he calls the Calmeister and checks in to see how he’s doing. Catch you in the next writeup, folks. 🙂

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18 thoughts on “EoA: Cal Jordan In His Natural Habitat

  1. Of course Cal isn’t going to answer the phone. He’s in the middle of class; he should hang up (cancel the call? What’s the terminology for this with cell phones?) immediately so it doesn’t disrupt the class. Even vibrate usually makes a lot of noise.

  2. In my head, Cal has the Korean Allfone ripoff, which costs a quarter as much and doesn’t constantly report your location and all your communications to Allfone Central.

    I think that one of the reasons this setup sits wrong is that L&* are always emotionally on the jocks’ side: their protagonists succeed by being tough manly men whom everyone respects, not by being right.

    • “I think that one of the reasons this setup sits wrong is that L&* are always emotionally on the jocks’ side: their protagonists succeed by being tough manly men whom everyone respects, not by being right.”

      This was my thought exactly. I fear for the possible Stepfordization of Our Cal, just as I fear for Isis and Jae and Hattie and Chloe. I can just feel the contempt of LaHaye & Co. for a man who would rather paint than Fly Big Planes and/or Build Stuff That Shoots Other Stuff.

  3. So Colonel Jordan continues in the fine tradition of Captain Steele, huh?

    Also, it isn’t just a matter of showing some spreadsheets or blueprints. The problem is that Josh has a fully working and operational device that is sitting on U.S. soil and is capable of changing guidance systems. It has already been used to change the flightpath of two nuclear weapons. Could something in the utter bullshitty techincal procedure with ‘uploading’ the new coordinates go wrong? Could the New York missile have been rerouted to Washington instead? Or to Mexico City? What happens if another nation gets hit by a rerouted missile when all they see on their radar screens is that the missile came from within the US? What if a dictator launches a missile from a city full of rebels and lets the nuke seemingly comming from the US wipe it out to get rid of them and rally the rest of the nation for support? And how does it trigger? Could it reprogram US missiles too? Or planes on autopilot? Josh won’t say. And he won’t let anyone else have his toy. It’s his. HE decides when and where to use it, because the US goverment can’t be trusted to, and they’ll just have to take his word for it that it’ll do what he says, all the time.

    I know the F22 Raptor has been declared too sensitive a technology to export. What’s being argued here though is that the government shoudn’t get to make such decisions. If halfway through the development the Chinese offer more, Lockheed Martin should just be able to decide to sell it to them. But of course, this is RTC Bizarro world where the rich buisnessmen could never have anything else than America’s best interest at heart (never mind the outsourced production jobs), while the politicians will gladly sell their country to forgeiners for their own ‘profit’ (admittedly, they do sell it to the rich buisnessmen every 4 years, so that second part is less of a stretch) .

    • Yeah; In fact the book slides right past the potential implications with a one-sentence question on a TV news show about it, and never bothers to explore the potential ramifications in any real detail. This is all about Josh “Prima Donna” Jordan and him being an RTP (Real True Patriot), which is a laugh considering businesses who support Republicans aren’t doing it out of patriotism to the country, they’re doing it out of patriotism to the dollars they’ll continue to not get taxed out of.

  4. Ivan, as far as I can tell the Americans are now desperately keen to sell the F22 to anyone with hard cash – but not with the full software suite, and they’re being really surprised they aren’t finding buyers. (The Gripen, for example, is an inferior plane on paper, but punches well above its weight when they fly against each other – and is a whole lot cheaper, and doesn’t require you to deal with Americans, which is still political suicide in much of the world.)

    Which is to say, I have nothing to add to your actual points. 🙂

  5. Really? From what I heard the Israeli’s really wanted to buy them, mostly so they could still attack Iran even if they bought the new Russian anti air defenses, but it was always blocked because it wasn’t allowed to export. Though the price was still a problem. Especially since Israel is having a cross between the Arab protests and Occupy right now.

    But to use another analogy, do the writers want a company that manifactures nuklear missiles for the U.S. to have the right not to hand anything over to politicians, and just let them sit primed and ready to launch on U.S. soil while the awesome CEO decides if the government can be trusted with his toys?

    I’m reminded of this (http://xkcd.com/898/). Except that the suggestion here is that the engineer in question is totally justified in not even handing the documentation for the button over, and keeps it on his office desk.

    • I’m surprised at that, actually. The USA has usually been pretty free with military hardware in lieu of monetary aid to the Israeli government, so blocking the F-22 must mean it has some pretty serious hardware packed into it.

  6. “Home was coded to vibrate dots and dashes for the word family. ”
    That’s a heck of a lot of dots and dashes! Cal’s going to be standing there for at least 30 seconds while he ‘reads’ it. What’s wrong with simply using H for home? It’s just four repeating dots, instantly recognisable.

    • Hmm, let’s assume Cal is a Morse enthusiast, or he wouldn’t be using it at all. He can probably read it at 30-40 WPM. So that’s only 3-4 seconds… about as long as the standard “SMS” alert tone on modern phones.

      • And why is Cal into Morse Code anyway? I can’t imagine that LaHay & Pershall want to depict him as a geek – being a geek means you use your brains and explore the world of knowledge. RTCs don’t do that!
        Is it because of the military associations, I wonder? Knowing Morse is no longer a requirement for AF pilots, but it probably would have been in the authors’ days. So are they trying to set Cal up as a RTM (Real True Man) under that wussy liberal arts student exterior?

        • Heck, Morse Code got phased out in naval usage back in 1999. It used to be you needed it to pass a Morse Code test to get an amateur radio licence, as there were international regulations regarding parts of the HF bands requiring that knowledge. Now the regulations are gone, and really, Morse Code is only a hobbyist thing now. I don’t know of any country that still requires it to get a basic amateur radio licence.

        • Well. Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall may well have needed it, and so the Morse thing may be an anachronistic usage designed to make Cal more sympathetic in the eyes of their intended audience.

  7. Ivan, as far as I can tell the Americans are now desperately keen to sell the F22 to anyone with hard cash – but not with the full software suite, and they’re being really surprised they aren’t finding buyers. (The Gripen, for example, is an inferior plane on paper, but punches well above its weight when they fly against each other – and is a whole lot cheaper, and doesn’t require you to deal with Americans, which is still political suicide in much of the world.)

    Which is to say, I have nothing to add to your actual points.”
    Well, there’s apparently controversy about a possible sale but no there’s no definitive wish to sell. It wouldn’t take long to find a buyer, either – Japan, for one, apparently wants to buy.
    It’s not an unreasonable idea, though. Thrust vectoring and all is nice, but the E-war equipment is what makes the F-22.

    There are other fifth generation fighters, but none are quite comparable (even the F-35), at least on paper (the nations responsible haven’t exactly made them available for wargames.) The advantage the F-22 has over fourth generation fighters (and just about everything else has) is that it can easily see them before they see it… not any particular advantage in terms of pure performance.

    As for the Gripen, I find this the most amusing ad I’ve seen in a while:
    http://www.saabgroup.com/en/Air/Gripen-Fighter-System/?id=3&epslanguage=en

    The problem with the F-22, anyways, is that it’s a solution looking for a problem. It’s an unbeatable air-superiority fighter for the near future… but the probability of the US going up against an opponent that actually has a snowball’s chance of challenging our air dominance is virtually nil.

    On the other hand, apparently the US is now happily beginning research on a sixth-generation fighter…

    • That ad made me feel vaguely queasy.

      See, in some old corporate dystopian role-playing game settings — like R. Talsorian Games Cyberpunk or FASA/WizKids/Catalyst’s Shadowrun or, geez, RoboCop or Adam Warren’s take on Dirty Pair — the Ebil Multinational Defense Corporations run by amoral, bottom-line-focussed Type A personalities in well-tailored suits always put out ad copy that said things like, ‘Your polity needs quality defense. We provide it. The SUX-8000 Automated Weapons Platform will deliver high-yield ordnance with pinpoint accuracy and enhance the security of your inffrastructure.’

      Saab Gripen’s ad copy makes me uncomfortably reminded of that.

      Of course, defense contractors have been doing this sort of thing for ages anyway. Small arms manufacturers do it when marketing to civilians, sometimes with even less taste than Saab did in that ad. Heck, I’m sure a Spanish swordsmith at one point sent out letters saying ‘Nothing beats fine Toledo steel. And nobody forges fine Toledo steel swords like ! Get some for your army!’ It just rankles me and makes me feel uncomfortable. Advertisements have always had this kind of sleezy, slimy feel about them. This just adds in the horror of something used to kill lots of other people with.

      What next? Celebrity endorsements? “Hi, my name is Chuck Norris, and when I’m not being a washed-up has-been empty talking head, I use nothing but Locktheon-Thomartin’s SONIC AREA DENIAL weapon to keep the rich and powerful from being annoyed by the rabble! It really makes those librul hippies SAD!”

  8. Also.. ugh, I can see the Stockholm affecting the Fourth Jordan from here. He’s going to be railroaded into thinking his dad is really, honestly, the best dad ever, he just has his moments of anger when he has to let go, and the Fourth Jordan hasn’t always been that good a son, after all, it’s him, not his dad….

    UGH! I feel… I feel sick and soiled. I feel like I stuck my hand into a vat of sewage. The Fourth Jordan — Cal — and the Karen need to be rescued from this book. =P

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