Home » Edge of Apocalypse » EoA: End-Running World Teleco

EoA: End-Running World Teleco

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 295-298 (Chapter Fifty-One)

Actually it looks like LaHaye and Parshall left out a section break because really this thing divides up better into three segments, so I’ll now tackle the middle one. 🙂

Everything’s go for launch over at MNE except for the lack of the feed to World Teleco:

Cloistered in his hotel suite Joshua wasn’t taking any calls other than those from the Roundtable. That day he had been in constant contact with Phil Rankowitz about the AmeriNews project. Phil had his entire wireless tech team ready to pull the switch on the national unveiling of their news service, sending it to half of the cell phones in America.

Ah, only half the cell phones. Everybody who isn’t cool enough to own an Allfone won’t get Josh Jordan’s personal version of events. (*snerk*)

The night before, and first thing again that morning, Phil’s media brokers had called the chief telecommunications engineer for the global telecom company, threatening, cajoling, pleading with him to connect the AmeriNews feed to the Allfones that were serviced by World Teleco, just as their contract had required.

“Look,” the engineer blew back, “I’ve been told this is a transaction in dispute. We’re not about to throw the on-switch just because you want it. My superiors say no, and I’ve got to follow orders. Sorry.”

As we can see, World Teleco is not at all eager to honor the terms of the contract thanks to those evil Democrats muzzling the brave revolutionaries led by Joshua Jordan and Patrick Henry Pack McHenry (I still can’t believe this didn’t occur to me at first until other commenters twigged me to it), both of whom are in absolutely zero danger of being put on trial for anything except purposely breaking the law when they weren’t even morally obligated to do so.

The American Revolution was fought over some very real grievances, among them the fact that the colonial residents had no say in the affairs of the home country, but the home country felt free to organize the affairs of the colonies to its liking. Thus, “no taxation without representation”; the residents of the colonies were fine with paying them, but wanted some say in how the monies were collected and spent. So much for the modern-day “Tea Party” being able to claim any spiritual descendancy from these people. They want all the representation they can get without any of the taxation.

Ditto Josh Jordan. While the Congressional inquiry was purposely written by Parshall to be a piece of partisan skullduggery, it would far more likely have been a relatively pro forma investigation; after all, you’re not going to go too hard on the guy who threw in an experimental system at the last minute with military authorization, and saved one of the biggest cities in the USA.

So he was never in any real danger from the US government, and his prima-donnaing just looks silly.

Insofar as Atta Zimler is concerned, he’s actually a really bad choice to send as an agent to get the RTS-RGS plans. You don’t send a loose cannon, a guy who loves to make a mess when he kills people, to conduct espionage. You send someone used to sneaking around in corners, an expert in computers and surveillance systems. Someone who could sneak into the Jordan Building after hours at night and purloin the plans to build one.

Purloining the prototype would be harder, but even just having technical data on how it redirects missiles with LASERS (imagine Dr. Evil putting air quotes around the word for more comedic effect) would give a huge advantage to, say, China or Russia if they wish to sidestep the RTS-RGS system.

Anyway, Abigail’s chatting with some lawyers. She wants to try and influence the FCC to use its authority to clear the airwaves for MNE’s trumpeting of Joshua’s Good Deeds.

“All of you have the affidavit,” she began, “of the witness to the conversation between Allen Fulsin and Bill Cheavers, the executive with World Teleco. He lays it all out in there.”

“I just have to ask,” said one of the lawyers, a middle-aged woman, “about this guy who signed the affidavit, where he got this stuff? How was he able to simply ‘overhear,’ as he vaguely describes it, this really startling conversation between Fulsin and Cheavers?”

“You can ask,” Abigail answered matter-of-factly, “but I won’t be answering. Now, let’s get to the overall strategy here. There are five commissioners who sit on the FCC. I’ll be taking the chairman, Jacob Daniels. I’ve assigned each one of you to one of the other commissioners. As you know, for some strange reason, President Corland, after he was elected, has dragged his heels in exercising his executive prerogative in appointing a new chairman of the FCC. I think Corland has simply had his hands full with a number of crises. I have a good professional relationship with Daniels, so I will approach him first. If I think he’s amenable to my argument, I will hit the Quick-Tweet–QT–function on my Allfone and instant-message you all with the Twitter ‘go’ sign to approach your respective commissioners.”

Twitter does not work that way, Parshall.

However, Abigail’s correct that given an ongoing stagflation crisis in the US economy, Corland would probably not regard telecommunications as a hugely high priority – especially if there were no burning Net Neutrality or communications-carrier issues that needed to be handled ASAP.

Parshall invents some rather plausible reasons why the FCC retains power which would effectively derail an antitrust investigation into World Teleco should they honor the contract with MNE:

“Very simple,” Abigail said. “You’ll remember when all the national news media–all the television networks and all the news-radio syndicates–were required to transfer over to the Internet for the delivery of their communications content. Arguments broke out about who would control it. Who would supervise it. The courts struck down all the legislative attempts to structure a federal oversight. Congress, worried about the economically distressed media and news industry, lifted the antitrust restrictions on those businesses. Internet-based media quickly became a monopoly that now rests in the hands of a few transnational corporations. But remember, the FCC still retains a very narrow, rarely used power over the Internet.”

“Right, only in cases of clear viewpoint discrimination by the telecom companies,” another attorney chimed in.

“Exactly,” Abigail said. “We all know that discrimination by the telecoms against ‘politically incorrect’ viewpoints over the web does happen. But no one has been able to prove it. Until now. This affidavit is the smoking gun that shows that World Teleco is committing a viewpoint-based act of illegal discrimination against our client and the AmeriNews project.”

I suspect that there is a “liberal media bias” thing lurking behind here, but I can’t really see it. Also, names: “Jacob” and “Daniel” are both names straight out of the Bible. I suspect this is Parshall foreshadowing that he will indeed grant the request to override World Teleco.

Anyway, Abigail is setting things up so once she convinces the FCC chairman, the other lawyers will try to meet with the other commissioners and help marshal legal arguments that will at least convince three of five members of the board to vote in favor of compelling World Teleco to transmit MNE’s stuff. We’ll revisit with her and the head honcho next time.

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10 thoughts on “EoA: End-Running World Teleco

  1. That question about the origins of the affidavit is a good one, and I’ll be disappointed if the FCC guys don’t see it as a big red flag. Showing up with the details of a private conversation between two other people who clearly intended said conversation to be private, and refusing to say how said details were acquired, is a pretty big indicator that either (a) they were acquired via illegal skulduggery, or (b) the whole thing’s a fake.

    • Depending on the nature of the proceedings, it might well be ruled out of consideration – if it’s genuine it was obtained illegally, and the person producing it has every reason to fake it. It’s not as though it were an actual recording…

  2. The best sort of secret agent, I often feel, is that one whom nobody knows about even fifty years later. “We’re pretty sure someone must have sold the plans to the Russians” is the perfect obituary.

    I think two things are being conflated here. One of them is a network neutrality sort of thing – like the way Comcast won’t allow its subscribers to watch Al-Jazeera. But having access to Joshy’s FoxNewsPlus channel isn’t the same thing as actually watching it. If I have a different provider and therefore have Al-Jazeera available, it doesn’t pop up while I’m doing something else – I have to switch to it explicitly. I’m not at all sure that L&P regard these as two different things; to them, there seems to be a big fuzzy “magic happens” in the flowchart between “get FoxNewsPlus carried by the network” and “our propaganda rots the brains of the masses”.

  3. “Cloistered in his hotel suite Joshua wasn’t taking any calls other than those from the Roundtable.”

    Ummm…isn’t Josh still in hiding? Would he be taking calls from anyone anyway?

    Although it is strange that he isn’t taking calls from…oh, I dunno…HIS LAWYER???

  4. And once again we see the bandying about of ‘politically incorrect’ as a codeword for ‘The truth THEY don’t want you to hear,’ or ‘The truth LIBRULS find icky!’

    No… no, Parshall. What you call ‘Policitally incorrect’ is simply douchebaggery and you’re just upset that people are calling you on it finally.

  5. Well, it seems pretty well known that the RTS system works with lasers, and works by redirecting missiles back to their point of origin. So the sollution would obviously be “Coat your missiles with mirrors” and “Use balistic missiles that can’t turn around”, possibly added with “Use those non-laser-based chips and motherboards from a few years ago that this laser can’t reprogram”. No further technical data needed. Well, for point one it might be useful to know what frequency the laser has, but that’s about it.

    • “How the fsck does the laser radiation get through the opaque missile body to the guidance chips?” (And other questions that we asked, back when Parshall made the mistake of actually explaining how this was meant to work.)

    • Yes, I find it hard to understand why Parshall made the system this way. The laser could blow up missiles. Or perhaps just fry the electronic circuitry. That’s all fine. But, perhaps inspired by LaHaye’s taste for violent revenge fantasies, he just had to make the laser reprogram the missile in flight and send it back to the point of origin. I know it’s been said before, but I just cannot get over the creative decision to
      A: Give the reader’s suspension of disbelief a blow to the kneecaps
      B: Introduce a host of exploitable vulnerabilities, that you don’t even need detailed information to use, just the fact that it reroutes missiles using lasers.
      C: Make the device utterly useless against ICBMs, and thus making the system only a minor upgrade to regular anti air missiles that could just as easily engage low flying cruise missiles if you spot them. (This in particular baffles me. Does anyone know if Parhsall even realized this? It seems incredibly stupid not to realize it on your own, or never finding it out with even a cursory bit of research. But then at no point does the book seem to acknowledge the sharply limited use of the RTS)
      D: Make Josh’s opponents completely justified in demanding the specs and the control, since they have only Josh’s word for it that the system is always 100% accurate in sending the missile to it’s exact origin, instead of say, Mexico city if there’s a slight fog cloud between the laser and the missile. And even if it is perfect, Josh’s unauthorized use of the missile defense system, even to save New York, actually is a potential liability, since an enemy of America could deliberately launch a missile from a place they don’t mind losing, just to blame the US for the attack. Essentially, right now Josh has full capability to nuke any place on the planet, as long as someone launches a missile from that location (or cleverly programs the missile to make it THINK that was the launchpoint. Again, easily exploitable once you realize how it works) without any oversight from either the president or the military, and Josh doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

      • I continue to agree with you.

        There might even be an interesting book in this – a naïf technical type comes up with the Wonderful Idea that will bounce missiles back along their trajectories. And uses it to save New York. And then gets really surprised when, as a person with the effective ability to nuke any missile launch site in the world, his employers and paymasters treat him as a major political liability…

        But then his enemies would have to be written as real people.

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