Monthly Archives: August 2016

TEC: Chapter 39: Levi’s Turn

Levi hangs up with Murphy, and then realizes that OOPSIE DAISY he forgot something:

The letters “RDD” on the dollar bill.

“Oh, David!  We got so caught up in the bridge scenario that we didn’t pursue it.  ‘RDD.’  I wonder if they’re a person’s initials?”

“I only I had somebody on speed dial that I could call right back with this question!”

David pretty quickly shoots down the initials idea, since “Lenni Lenape” wasn’t a person, so obviously these letters couldn’t be a name, either.  Because that’s how it works.

But in less than half a page, Levi hits upon the obviously-correct answer (because the book tells us so): RDD stands for radiological dispersion device–a dirty bomb.

And now that Murphy has presumably rolled over and fallen back to sleep, it’s Levi’s turn to show off his vast knowledge of Wikipedia to an underling.  And he can do that because…

“Levi, I’ve been with Mossad for years and I still don’t understand how a dirty bomb is different from a regular nuclear weapon.”

Well, David, you’ve also been with Mossad for years but couldn’t even fool one man in a small grocery store for thirty seconds.  So…that actually explains a lot.

Though really, it is pretty stupid for two spies to sit around in a cantina and explain Wikipedia basics of bombs to each other.  Yet another reason why keeping Isis in the dark was a bad idea–when it comes to warcraft, she’s a perfect fish-out-of-water character for Levi to explain bombs to.

But first, Levi explains what a nuclear weapon is to this trained Mossad agent:

“A thermonuclear device, like an atom bomb, does tremendous damage.  When it explodes it destroys buildings, equipment, and people with a massive fireball…”

Shucks, I’m sure David never had occasion to learn that in Mossad school!

Then Levi spends half a page explaining neutron bombs.

At this point, David actually gets a bit impatient because Levi is NOT ANSWERING HIS DAMN QUESTION ABOUT DIRTY BOMBS.

“Well, I have to lay a foundation so that you’ll understand.”

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WHAT???

Oh, sorry, your pointless Wikitalk is boring the shit out of me.

“One more caveat before I jump to the dirty bomb.  Have you heard about ‘red mercury’?”

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I HAVE!!!!

That’s that stuff that sent Spock to the alternate dimension, right?

“Not exactly.”

Oh.

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“…red mercury is a more efficient and cheaper way to make a neutron bomb.  It doubles the nuclear yield, with a great reduction in the weight.”

ACTUALLY…

Yanno, I rag on Wikipedia, because it’s clearly the authors’ only source for research, but Wikipedia taught me something today.

RED MERCURY IS FAKE!!!

Red mercury is a hoax substance of uncertain composition purportedly used in the creation of nuclear bombs, as well as a variety of unrelated weapons systems. In reality, no such substance exists.

It amuses me that Phillips is using this whole stupid chapter to expound on something that doesn’t exist.

Actually, that’s a pretty good summary of the Babylon Rising series as a whole!

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FINALLY, gorammit, Levi gets around to explaining dirty bombs.  If you care, read Wikipedia.  I can guarantee you that David did:

“So dirty bombs are more like weapons of mass disruption than mass destruction,” David concluded.

How witty of you, David!

It is not a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD), but rather, as researcher Peter Probst calls it, a “weapon of mass disruption” (Hughes, 2002).

Hmmm…

“If you ask me, that’s what the terrorists are going to use–a dirty bomb!” Abrams said seriously.

I’m glad Phillips informed us that Levi is speaking seriously, because otherwise, I would have assumed he was joking, possibly while wearing a big red clown nose.

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TEC: Chapter 38: Michael Murphy, Symbologist

Levi and David have triumphantly escaped to Mexico.

“Wait till [the first responders] go in the shed and find the Arabs and the RPGs.  That will cause a stir in quiet old Presidio.”  David grinned.

“Haha, I blew my entire mission and turned this whole situation into national news!  It’s FUNNY!”

Naturally, when Levi and David sit down in a little cantina to examine the mysterious box, the first Mexican they meet is the owner, who shakes them down for a fee to sit there, seeing as how they’re “wet Americans.”  Why this Mexican man thinks these two Israeli men are American is anyone’s guess.

All that’s in the box, turns out, are stacks of $20 bills and one little $1 bill, lovingly sealed in a plastic baggie.  It features extra “markings,” and Levi knows just the guy who can interpret this piece of terrorism evidence.

ROBERT LANGDON, WORLD-RENOWNED SYMBOLOGIST!!!

Nope, it’s Murphy, of course.  Because his (alleged) expertise in Biblical archeology has given him perfect knowledge of modern terrorist codes.

Since LaHaye and Phillips don’t, I’m going to supply a picture of a bill so you can follow along at home.

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“Inside of the [right side] seal is a shield.  At the top of the shield is a set of scales, and at the bottom is a key.  Someone has circled the key in pen.  In the open space next to the seal, someone has drawn a crescent moon pointing downward.  There are what look like three talons coming off the points of the crescent moon.  And below the moon are two pyramids forming a six-pointed star.  It is exactly the same as the tattoo on the Arab who fell into the alley.”

Hey, remember when Irish-American Murphy had to remind Israeli Jew Levi Abrams on what a Star of David looks like?  Good times.

“It sounds like Talon is again involved in this.”

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Continuing!

“Below the green seal are three letters–RDD.”

“[On the left side of the bill] is someone’s name: Lenni Lenape.”

Murphy IMMEDIATELY (and I mean that, like in one page), figures out this terrorist code:

“The key is circled.  It probably means that this dollar bill is the key or carrier of a coded message.  The name of the person is another clue.”

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Boy, sure is a good thing Levi called Murphy instead of ACTUAL spies and code experts in the Mossad!

And surely the Mossad could never boast Michael Murphy’s extensive experience with Wikipedia:

“Lenni Lenape is the name of a tribe of American Indians.  They lived in the wooded areas around Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.  …  The Lenni Lenape Indians had a large encampment on top of the New Jersey Palisades.  It overlooked the Hudson River.”

“The site of the original Lenni Lenape encampment is now called Fort Lee.  It is from Fort Lee on top of the Palisades that you begin to cross the George Washington Bridge.  You travel on highway I-95 from New Jersey to Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan.”

“That’s it!  That’s it, Michael.  The George Washington Bridge!  It must be their target!”

Um, yeah.  I guess that must be it.

REALLY?????

I mean honestly, Talon or some higher-up in Talon’s terrorist organization wrote the words “Lenni Lenape” on a $1 bill and it was just assumed that the Arab recipients of the bill would understand that those words meant “bomb the George Washington Bridge”???

First of all, like I said, how would the Arab terrorists be expected to know about Native American tribes and exactly where they used to be settled?  And second of all, why bother with all the smoke and mirrors?  If somebody saw a $1 bill that just so happened to have the words “GW Bridge” scribbled on it, I doubt their first assumption would be “this must be a code to a terrorist plot!”

And the most important question I can think of is: why does this “key” bill still even exist?  Once the Moar Arabs received it and got their target, wouldn’t they promptly burn up the bill?  It doesn’t exactly contain a lot of information: just confirmation that it’s for the Talon Terrorist Cell, and the clue to the target.

But no, the Moar Arabs sealed it in a baggie and put it in a relatively obvious hiding space.  Why, so it was there for reference in case they ever forgot who they worked for and where they were going to put the bomb?

And you know what’s really sad?  This basically makes this Talon Cell the most incompetent terrorists ever, and they STILL figured out David was a spy within thirty seconds of seeing him.

But never mind all that!  The important thing here is that Murphy is RIGHT!  And he has emotions and stuff about the George Washington Bridge being bombed:

“That would be a terrible target for us!”

“As opposed to all the good targets they could have chosen!”

And Murphy knows it’s a terrible target because Wikipedia told him so:

“Three hundred thousand vehicles cross the span a day.  It’s the only fourteen-lane suspension bridge ever built, and it’s the thirteenth longest main suspension bridge in the world.  It’s a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.”

Remember, everyone, Phillips would have us believe that Murphy pulled these factoids right out of his ass.  In the middle of the night.

YOU KNOW, THERE ARE OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAT YOU CAN READ BESIDES WIKIPEDIA, MURPHY!

Grrr…

TEC: Chapter 37: Exotic Locations

Well, we’re finally getting away from the Moar Arabs chasing Murphy and Isis, and getting to the Moar Arabs invading Presidio, Texas.

We open with a paragraph about how hard it is to get to Presidio–a 4-hour drive from the nearest airport of any size.  Looking at Presidio’s own website, seems Phillips did his proper research here–it really is a town that’s kinda in the middle of nowhere.  It is also a town, according to Phillips’ favorite research site, that has a population that is well over 90% Hispanic/Latino.  And this is a population of only 4,000-5,000 to begin with.  In other words, about the size of a smallish college or university like Dartmouth or Brandeis or something.  In other other words, a difficult place to blend in, disappear, and never be seen if you happen to be a Moar Arab…or, for that matter, an Israeli Mossad agent.

Levi stops in town to ask for direction, making sure he is conspicuous from the moment of his arrival.  Then he finds his fellow agent David, who has been staked out in a run-down motel for 20 days now, keeping watch over four Arabs who have moved into a shed down by the river…

…but, much like Levi, make themselves as much of a spectacle as possible by using high-end cell phones and flashing huge wads of cash to buy used vans.

This assignment, btw, David refers to as “boring.”

But it’s okay now, because Levi has “been given the green light to put the pressure on.”  Which vague direction they take to mean they get to grab one of the Moar Arabs and interrogate him.  So they follow him to a tiny grocery store…

Inside the small store, David quickly spotted the Arab at the far end of one of the aisles.  David picked up a box of cereal and pretended to read the label.  After a moment he glanced up only to see the Arab staring at him.  Although their eyes met only briefly, David could sense that the man was uncomfortable.

Oh no!  He might have made me!  David turned and walked away, attempting to look as if he was completely uninterested.

WORST.  SECRET.  AGENT.  EVER.

So, why didn’t they just wait for the guy outside and then snatch him?  What was achieved by going into the store in the first place?

Anyway, the Moar Arab makes a run for it, and David chases him like an idiot.  Yeah, good job AGAIN at keeping a low profile, jerk.  They go on a high-speed chase through the town, which sounds kinda silly in a town of 4,500 with one main drag.  It all ends in tears when the Moar Arab tries and fails to beat a train at a crossing.  So Levi and David bugger off back to the Moar Arab shack in case Train Guy alerted his compadres.

When they get to the shack, turns out Train Guy did alert his compadres, who are packing to leave.  Holy crap are Levi and David worse than useless at this spy thing!

Upon seeing the besets secret agents in the world, one of the Moar Arabs breaks out his “rocket-propelled grenade launcher“…

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…and proceed to blow up Levi’s rental car.  Fortunately unfortunately, Levi and David have already exited.  So a small arms firefight ensues, and eventually Levi and David decide to “crawl around and approach them from the rear.”  This maneuver takes them seven minutes.

As they took up their positions, they heard a motor start: the van!

“Aw, shucks, Dave, I never anticipated they would try to make a break for it during the SEVEN MINUTE break we gave them!”

And then they hear sirens in the distance.  ‘Cause exploding a whole rental car caught the attention of the police, go figure.  So they have but a few seconds to search the shack.  Inside they find only some weapons and two dead Moar Arabs, because (again, go figure), the live Moar Arabs took everything important when they left.

Then Levi goes to check the outhouse:

The odor was repellent.

I hate these things, he thought with distaste.

Yeah, how unusual, because most people love the smell of outhouses.  Kinda like most people love waiting in TSA lines at the airport.

But Levi muscles through the odors, and finds a metal box.  So Levi and David take it with them as they swim across the Rio Grande to Mexico to evade the Presidio police.

As you would.

TEC: Chapter 36: Parties Suck

Hey, everyone, remember the Babylon scenes?  I bet you forgot the writing on the wall was even part of this story.

Okay, maaaaaybe I’ve been a bit slow on the updates because of my busy summer, but STILL…this is taking forever to get to the writing.

And it has actually been twelve chapters since our last flashback, and that was to Daniel in the lions’ den, not the writing on the wall.

But now we are back in Babylon, 539 BC, and King Belshazzar is throwing a party.  Phillips makes sure we know it’s an eeeevil party, with wine and stuff.

Mmmm…wine…

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And Belshazzar has this BITCHIN’ idea to use the gold and silver goblets in the treasury that were “taken from the temple in Jerusalem.”

And so IMMEDIATELY after the toasts with these goblet begin, the writing on the wall happens.  Which frankly just makes God seem like a big whiny baby, who’s fine with just about anything so long as people don’t touch his stuff.

Naturally, everybody freaks out, and Belshazzar’s mommy is the only one with any sense, calling for Daniel to interpret the writing.

End chapter.  That was riveting.