Afghanistan in 1967 in Photos

I ran across this online:

A pretty stark difference, hmm?


EoA: Some Revelations

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 323-326 (Chapter Fifty-Five)

This part of the chapter deals with the Vice-President Jessica Tulrude. I’m getting this out a day early as my schedule’s kinda weird this week and I want to leave room for a possible Thursday update to touch base with John Gallagher and Rocky Bridger, who we haven’t seen in some time, in book time.

Madam Vice President is going over stuff with her chief of staff, Lana Orvilla. Ms. Orvilla seems a mite agitated, and brings up the fact that the Senators caved to Josh over the subpoena thing. Tulrude, we remember, had a deal where she’d nominate Straworth to Chief Justice if he’d go after Josh Jordan.

Deal’s off now.

“Well,” Lana tried to suggest, “doesn’t this back-tracking by the senators hurt them much more than you…I mean–“

“Are you crazy?” Tulrude shrieked. “I’ve been the one telling the president to say that we don’t need exotic defense weapons systems. My language exactly. That’s the official White House position that’s been given to the media. We’re promoting defense budget cuts, remember? We are also concerned about international criticism over our nuking those North Korean ships with their own missiles. About the potential for civilian casualties if we use this RTS again in the future. We’ve taken sides in this political catfight. We took sides against RTS. Against Joshua Jordan’s defiance of Congress. Remember, Lana, I’m running for president soon. You keep forgetting that.”

As you can see, the book wastes no time resuming its portrayal of Tulrude as one of those nasty shrieking harpies. Orvilla, however, seems too agitated for just a rumination over the political consequences of the subpoena thing.

Remember way back when we saw Ivan Teretsky reveal that he’d gotten a frantic phone call? Three guesses who made it, and the first two don’t count:

“On the day of the attack on New York City,” Lana began, “when we first found out that the missiles were coming. You had enough confidence in me to include me in your briefing with the Pentagon. Things were scary that day. I have to admit I was pretty frightened–“

“This isn’t a rerun of the Oprah show, Lana. Where’s this going?”

“I have a brother…don’t know if I ever told you this. He works in New York. Manhattan. He’s a tech engineer for a radio program.”


“So I was worried about my brother, Ted, who works for the Ivan Teretsky radio show in New York. The radio host’s nickname is Ivan the Terrible…”

Now Jessica Tulrude was starting to put the pieces together. She stared at her chief of staff with a horrified look, now allowing her to finish her awful confession.


“You gave classified information to a talk-show host! Do you realize that? And what’s worse, the reason you tried to call your brother was because you heard me say that RTS is our only hope but I didn’t think it was going to work. That means that I knew that RTS was going to be used. That means that they can prove that the White House authorized RTS, you idiot! If someone traces that call from you to this radio guy, it’s going to reach back to me. It’s going to destroy me politically!”

Poor Lana. She’s probably going to get chucked under the bus for this, all because Parshall had Tulrude trying to deny that she’d ever actually 100% gone against authorizing the RTS-RGS:

“I was worried about him, that’s all. In the private meeting with White House staff after the two-minute Pentagon briefing, you said basically…’The Pentagon’s going to green-light this RTS weapon and use it against the North Koreans. I don’t think it’ll work, but what choice do we have?’…”

“I never said that.”

“Madam Vice President, you did say that, almost word for word–“

“Well, even if I really did say that, I didn’t say it–if you know what I mean. Lana, in our letter to Senator Straworth’s committee, we said that the White House did not authorize the use of RTS, nor did we know it was going to be used. We can’t now say, oh, gee, sorry we lied, just kidding–“

Yeah. I’d say y’all’s goose is cooked, Madam VP and underlings.

That said, this is entirely too absurd. Why would the White House both authorize use of this experimental missile redirection system and then not want to document it? An unprovoked nuclear attack, by any of the laws of war, would put the US entirely in the clear regarding any and all acts of self-defence. There is no way the Corland Administration would have been seen as doing anything but acting in the best interests of the USA in keeping New York from being nuked.

Even if they want to trade the RTS system for mucho dinero down the road, any non-bizarro reading of the powers of the US government would indicate that given that it was produced by a contractor under the aegis of the US military under Pentagon procurement rules, the government pretty well already owns it, free and clear, and can do as it likes with it.

That’s not the only revelation, though! Remember those weird problems Corland had?

Orvilla stammered a little and said, “But…but the president was responsible for making the decision, wasn’t he? Not you–“

“The president had just suffered another one of his blackouts, you imbecile. Don’t you remember? Are you brain-dead?”

Ah-HA! So that’s why Tulrude was so confident Corland wouldn’t run again and that she could take his place. The man is medically unfit to be President and it’s being hushed up for some reason. In-teresting.

“No. You never did [say he was having blackouts]. You’ve told me he was ‘indisposed.’ ‘Unavailable.’ ‘Dealing with personal issues.’ On that day when the missiles were coming you simply told me to ‘shut up’ when I asked why the president wasn’t in those meetings.”

Jessica Tulrude studied her chief of staff closely. She felt a very personal sense of rage wash over her as she entertained her political dilemma. Just one more dangerous person I will now need to control.

Well, we already know she’s one of those go-getters, but the sheer venality and base attitudes Tulrude has been exhibiting is obviously intended as a sideswipe against Democratic Administrations, suggesting that if only Pack McHenry and his band of American faithful could put their intended (obvs, Republican) President in power, all would be the bee’s knees!

Incidentally, I think the next two books are using this as their jump-off point because in either “Thunder of Heaven” or “Brink of Chaos”, the blurb actually mentions that Josh Jordan is trying to agitate to get a preferred person into the Presidential office and of course big meanies don’t want that person to become President.

*sigh*, LaHaye and Parshall. Ax-grinding is not very fun when you’re doing it so openly.

EoA: Cal Jordan’s Peril

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 320-322 (Chapter Fifty-Four)

Further notes: I’ve reset the comment nesting level to 4; that’s a purely technical thing that has to do with the fact that this theme can’t accommodate deeper nesting. 🙂 Also I turned off that annoying “infinite scrolly entries” thing.

As promised, EoA on Sunday. Let’s roll.

As the topic suggests, Cal Jordan is in trouble! For those of you who suggested way back that Cal Jordan was Zimler’s target, give yourself a big ol’ high five!

In a different time zone, in a very different part of the world, Cal Jordan was in his dorm room at Liberty University, changing into his gym trunks and a T-shirt. He was glad, now that he’d thought about it, that he was going to play some basketball with his buddies to get his mind off things.

I bet Karen Hester liked him in that outfit 😛

However, this next paragraph?

And he was also glad he had heard from his dad. Who knows, maybe he and I will start connecting. Maybe things are going to be better between us.

Um, o-kay, Cal, don’t soft-soap it here. Your dad was bullying you! You can see why I regret that Cal Jordan is, step by step, becoming Stepfordized into a pale shell of his former self. Everyone, please, a moment of silence for PodPerson!Cal.

Right, moving on.

His dorm room’s lights go out and some maintenance guy comes in.

“Sorry to bother,” the maintenance man said. “We’re cutting the power to some of the rooms. These old fluorescent lights in the ceiling have to be replaced one by one. It’s your turn.”

“Lucky me,” Cal said, then added, “hope this doesn’t take long. I’m supposed to shoot buckets in a few minutes with some friends.”

The maintenance man gave a look that lacked full understanding at something in Cal’s answer, but he flashed a quick smile anyway. Then he rolled a large covered utility cart into the dorm room. A few students wandered past the open door, looking in with some curiosity, before the man closed the door behind him.

Yeah, that’s Atta Zimler, all right. As established, that’s his typical M.O.: sucker his victim by pretending to be someone doing something routine, which usually works even if you don’t quite know all the subtleties of the profession or the culture.

Just like Yergi Banica, who, to be fair, had good reason to be paranoid when he let his guard down, Cal’s going to find it’s lights-out in a very different way:

“Could you just help me for just a second?”


“I just need you to catch that big lighting fixture when I hand it down. Won’t take too long. If you look up there at the fixture in the ceiling, you’ll see where the bulb fits in at both ends. Just be careful not to dislodge the long light bulb when I hand it down to you. The bulb could break. It has some toxic contents inside.”

“Doesn’t sound too hard,” Cal said.

Then Cal took a step into the center of the room and craned his neck to look up at the light fixture.

“I think I see what you are talking about,” Cal said as he was studying it.

Right behind him, dressed in the grey maintenance jumpsuit, Atta Zimler was smiling.

He stepped up closer to Cal Jordan, and as he did, he had a satisfying thought.

This is almost too easy.


What will happen next? Well, if Zimler’s at all smart, he won’t kill Cal, because that would prevent him from getting anything out of Josh. But Zimler’s such a loose cannon, who knows what will happen next? We’ll see in a few pages. Next up, VP Tulrude.

EoA: Caesar Demas, Master Villain

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 318-320 (Chapter Fifty-Four)

Hi everyone! Now that LaHaye and Parshall apparently have gotten the third book out of the End Series, I need to step up my pace! 🙂 In deference to the Slackti-schedule I’ll try to have one EoA on Sunday and one on Wednesday or Thursday. That should cover a chapter a week, if not two, and get us to the end of the book in about a couple of months, if not sooner. Then I’ll try to do my End Series on Sundays and my Christ Clone vs Left Behind and/or other miscellaneous things on Wednesdays/Thursdays.

So, hold me to it, folks. 😀

So like I said, we’re meeting back with Caesar Demas. This chapter is divided roughly in half between Demas and Cal, so I’ll do Demas’s part first and do Cal’s separately.

At his country villa north of Rome, just off of the Via Salaria, Caesar Demas was about to get down to business with his guest from the Middle East. He’d already given him a short tour of his four-thousand-square-meter gardens, the mahogany-lined fifty-stall horse stables, and the restored ancient Roman road that made up part of his three-kilometer-long gated driveway. Now he and his visitor were seated in the gold room, so named for the dark wheat-colored walls, with the stunning view of the rolling hills of his estate. Demas was seated in one brown leather chair, his guest in the matching chair next to him.

Appropriate Bondesque villain palatial residence is appropriate. 😛

I actually mainlined the James Bond series a while back; I’ve been reluctant to watch “American classics” generally, but seeing as how they form the basis for so many cultural touchstones and tropes in Canadian and US culture (at minimum), I gave in and watched.

I wasn’t sorry 🙂

So, who’s the mystery visitor?

We’ll find out, but before that we find out Demas has the urbane evil villain thing down cold:

Now that refreshments had been served, Demas motioned for the servants to leave the room. But before exiting, the head butler bent down next to Demas’ ear and whispered, “Excuse me, sir, but Mrs. Demas is wondering whether you will be able to address the matter of the vineyards today. Your chief of operations in your Tuscany property resigned a week ago. Your wife is worried that there is no one to oversee all of the vineyard work.”

Demas turned to the butler and gave him a withering look.

“Do not–I repeat–do not bother me with those trifles. Do you understand?”


When the butler bent down next to Demas again, his master whispered in the butler’s ear, “Remember that I want her to be accompanied at all times. I don’t want her left on her own. Understood? And please have her escort, who will be helping her with her wheelchair, send me instant messages regularly. I want to know all of her whereabouts and everything about her activities.”

I kind of feel sorry for his wife. She has shades of Hattie Durham’s fate with Nicolae here – being relegated to minor pet projects that do not interfere with the main goals of the would-be mover and shaker of world events.

Turns out that Mystery Guy is from Iran!

The delegate from the Republic of Iran smiled appreciatively now that they were finally going to address the reason for his visit. With his hand he gave a quick stroke to his closely cropped beard and straightened his white silk waistcoat.

“I had expected Hamad Katchi to be part of this discussion. We had dealt with him previously on this.”

Demas said, “Unfortunately, we have many enemies.” Then he folded his hands, took on a sad, reflective expression, and added, “I fear Mr. Katchi may have fallen prey to some of them. He’s disappeared. We haven’t been able to locate him. I am so concerned that they may have liquidated him.”

That bolded part?

I died laughing at the double meaning of it that we’re privy to as the audience. 😀

The whole thing is such a classic of the villain genre – the total crocodile tears, the oblique references, the non-informative content of the regrets being given. Parshall works it pretty deftly here and it makes me wonder if LaHaye only exerted editorial control over the stuff that was his real hobby-horse.

The dun-dun-DUN ramps up as the dialog proceeds!

“We will have possession [of the RTS-RGS specifications and documents] in the next forty-eight hours. Delivery after that will follow with all possible haste.”

“Will technical assistance be guaranteed?” the Iranian asked.

“That’s part of the package. We have some physicists and weapons designers who are prepared to help you integrate the RTS into your existing weapons systems.”

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Demas pinky swear to the Russians originally and then decide to double-cross them even after they said they’d up the price they’d pay for it? I can only imagine the trouble he’s going to get into if the FSB gets orders from on high to start sending umbrella-carrying assasins.

“The matter of exclusivity has been of great concern to our president,” the Iranian said. “We do not want the RTS to turn into a kind of global discount item available to any banana-republic or no-name island.”

“Of course not,” Demas said, offering to refill his guest’s teacup.

Oh look he’s doing it again. You know, Mr. Demas, you can only double-deal so many times here.

Demas continued explaining. “To reiterate. The RTS technology will only be available to cooperating nations or international unions that are members of our soon-to-be-established League of Ten.”

Well well well WELL WELL.


[3] And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads.

[1] And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads.

(Taken from the Revised Standard Version, bold added by me)

So now we know what role Demas will play. He will either become the Antichrist, or he will be one of the Antichrist’s principal backers. Hmmmmm. Makes me wonder if he will suffer the same fate as Jonathan Stonagal in Left Behind. I just hope the Antichrist in this series isn’t some anviliciously named guy that had two sperm-donor daddies.

And what will this League of Ten (how ominous!) do?

Then he remembered something else and added, “And remember that another benefit is that your nation, and others in our League, will have the benefit of the anti-RTS avoidance technology we expect to develop as soon as our scientists analyze the RTS operating principals. (sic) So, you will not only have the benefit of returning incoming missiles to their point of origin, but your nation–and those inside our ten–will also be able to send your missiles into nonmember states, like the United States or their allies…and the wonderful thing is that you’ll be able to bypass their RTS system.”

And now we know why this book even has the stupid-assed conflict between Joshua Jordan and the US government in the first place, with his ridiculous-sounding foreshadowy statements in front of the Congressional committee meeting. LaHaye and Parshall were setting up for this! It would even work if it weren’t for the fact that so many aspects of the conflict are so artificially constructed in the first place.

Finally, for some lulz?

Caesar Demas smiled back. Then he had a private thought. So glad I chose Atta Zimler for this. Truly reliable men are hard to find.

Bwahahaha omfg no, just NO. Zimler is a huge loose cannon, you dumbass! I can only hope Zimler ends up biting the hand that feeds him, because this confidence of Demas’s is sorely, sorely, misplaced. Also, Bond villains sometimes get double-crossed by their own minions, such as in Moonraker, where Bond cleverly points out that the tall giant, Jaws, would be considered by the villain Drax to be a genetic misfit, along with his (IMV, cute) girlfriend (Jaws is also visible in some of the images).

Jaws takes exception to this and starts wrecking shit, which helps Bond successfully triumph against Drax.

Something similar must needs happen at some point in this series, but hopefully it won’t be as poorly constructed as the Buck Williams witnessing Nicolae bump off Stonagal and Todd-Cothran scene written by Jerry Jenkins.

Parshall has, rather well I must admit, planted the seeds for the events of Revelation to kick off, in what fashion is not yet quite known though. And the set-up works better than starting at the Rapture and then trying to ret-con in various alleged precipitating events also claimed to be prophesied in the Bible.

Next time we meet back with Cal Jordan.

EoA: Backlash

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 315-317 (Chapter Fifty-Three)

Let’s resume now, with a look at Senator Straworth’s perspective, then the Jordans.

First off, please observe how patently ridiculous this is, even in the era of Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and so on:

By five minutes before 5:00 that afternoon, the Capitol Hill telephone switchboard in Congress became so overloaded from the outraged calls of citizens that it was rendered inoperable. At 5:25, Senator Straworth was called into an emergency caucus with his party members.

Well then.

So in just half an hour, the Allfone-equipped contingent of the US population acted with one voice demanding that the evil perfidious Congress stop hounding one Joshua Jordan, who, let us remember, has already had the props kicked out from under his insistence that he and he alone gets to own the super secret laser redirection system RTS-RGS.

There’s no denying that in modern ‘net culture the pace of information flow and response is faster than it was twenty or thirty years ago, but I still find it really implausible that in half an hour enough of a response was generated to get Congress’s attention.

A half a day, maybe. A day, certainly.

Especially if the bigwigs in the Democratic Party are taking a wait-and-see attitude to see if this AmeriNews thing is a flash in the pan or the real deal.

Senate Majority Leader Russell Beyers spoke for them all: “Straworth, you’ve got a cyclone by the tail here,” he said. “This subpoena issue involving Joshua Jordan is now threatening every one of us in the party. You need to withdraw that subpoena–and now. Make this all go away.”

Senator Straworth puffed his chest and refused, yelling so hard that spittle flew out of his mouth. “I’m not afraid of a political tornado.”

Oh, honestly, Parshall. Straw-man this guy some more, would you?

“I come from Oklahoma,” the majority leader intoned calmly. “You don’t. We know a little about the power of a tornado. It can suck a man clean off the surface of the earth.” Then he added, “And if that doesn’t remove you, your fellow senators will.”

By 5:30, Senator Straworth had ordered the official withdrawal of the subpoena that had been issued against Joshua Jordan, retroactively. And advised the clerk in Judge Jenkins’ court accordingly.

Well, that’s that. Byebye, subpoena and hello, paeans to Joshua Jordan’s derring-do feats of Davidic proportions against the Governmental Goliath!

(additional nitpick: I don’t like Parshall’s tacking on of the last “And…” sentence like that instead of making the text flow more smoothly.)

And with that, we switch now to the Jordans and their Roundtable cabal.

Joshua, Abigail, and all the members of the Roundtable had been patched into a conference call to receive the news.

Jubilation rang out. Phil Rankowitz was so overjoyed he could hardly speak. Even Alvin Leander was laughing, saying he was still in disbelief that they pulled it off.

It’s not hard to “pull it off”, Mr. Leander, when the author set the whole thing up so your buddy Josh would get what he wanted in the first place!

We find that Harry Smythe is trying to ask Judge Jenkins to formally quash her order requiring the arrest of Joshua Jordan for failure to present his documentation per the Congressional subpoena. But as far as Joshmeister is concerned, that’s small potatoes.

“Harry’ll do the right thing,” Joshua said with an air of confidence. “I’m not worried. I think the victory’s been won, darling. And I owe it all to you. Your strategy was absolutely brilliant.”

[Abigail said,] “I give God the credit, Josh, honey. He does the miracles. Even when we’ve quit looking for them.”

I would say in this instance it’s more like “I give the author the credit, Josh, honey.” 😛

So! With that, we finally are at the end of Chapter 53 and next time, we meet back with Caesar Demas.

And Cal Jordan.