Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thoughts on the "Occupy" Movement

            You know what is funny about life?  No matter how much money one has you cannot buy something that does not exist.  Did I mean funny?  I meant obvious.

            In the last few months the 99% Occupy movement has taken to the streets in numerous major cities and state capitals.  The ultimate ideology, demographics, and really anything about the movement beyond its presence is a bit up in the air.  The general idea that motivates them is this, "Too much is in the hands of too few".  For the most part this is correct, but in many ways it isn't.

If you can find more than two signs that say the same thing...
             No matter what rung of Western civilization you happen to cling to over the abyss of death, fact is, you got it pretty sweet.  Think about this, the richest person/family in the world right, CarlosSlim now has about 70 Billion dollars according to wikipedia.  that is a lot, no human being could ever spend that much in any meaningful fashion, they would have to burn it Joker style to get rid of it.

It's not about the money, it's about the funny.
             Now that being said, I took a look at J.D. Rockefeller who held a vast financial empire during the Great Depression, and then looked at how inflation would affect it.  Again, just with wikipedia, JD would have the modern equivalent of 660 billion dollars.  More than the top 10 billionaires of today combine.  Hold that amount in your mind and then realize, that JD, couldn't buy cake mix, because it hadn't been invented yet.  He could not have bought a microwave oven for a billion dollars.  JD could not send an email, could not call a mobile phone, he could not look up his own value on wikipedia, none of that existed.

He also could not afford a decent hair cut.
             While a lot of what exists is in the hands of a very few people, and that is not really right, a lot of things exist that have never existed, and that make all the money of yester-years meaningless.  And this trend will continue, the disparities we see today will seem silly in the future when 20 years from now everyone lives to be 200 and can take for granted information in its entirety.

            And this is why the 99% don't have a real list of demands, because I don't know what the disparities are.  What do the rich have that I need?  What do they have that I should have for a reasonable price?  What opportunities are being denied to me that I need?  I have no idea, I'm kind of happy with things in that regard.

            If I had to come up with something, to be a banner cry to what is really wrong that needs fixing, it would not be the distribution of wealth (yeah I would like a mansion, but I would settle for not having to worry about essentials and the ability to project that security to my theoretical future offspring).  I would like to change the way my society looks at jobs in general.  People are defined far too much by their jobs, because the pursuit of money causes them to spend as much time as possible in the job.  I would prefer a world in which people are allowed to define themselves by a myriad of interests and are given the time to go after those interests, to spend time with their families, and to maybe read a good book and watch a good movie.

Or play a decent video game.

            So here are my suggestions:
            The work week should be defined as 30 hours, you then earn time and a quarter for hours 31-40, time and a half for 40-50, and double time for work beyond that.  This would compel companies to higher more workers and to break up the jobs being done into more shifts, but still allow a flexible amount of time for certain key employees to work longer for the purposes of training.  Truth is, people should work less over all because that means fewer stress and fatigue related mistakes, and it grants more time for exercise and additional training outside the work environment.

            I think that health insurance should be required for everyone, and treatment never refused to anyone who needs it.  Communicable diseases are a threat to everyone, not just the people who cannot afford treatment, and having improper and uneven care creates new diseases that cannot be effectively combated.

            I think that the minimum wage should be raised every year to match inflation or 4%, whichever is higher.  Wages have been frozen for far too long and are outpaced and marginalized by inflation, if we are going to have a minimum wage in the United States it has to be functional, up to date, and of a value that makes a difference in the lives of those working for it.

            I think that everyone should pay taxes, regardless of how much or how little you earn.  You are a citizen, you use the services, you must contribute, and the amount paid should be a uniform percentage of wages (the exact number is up for debate).  Uneven applications of payroll taxes create loopholes that are utilized only by those who have the money and time to seek them out, not by the typical person, by making everything uniform, there are no loopholes to exploit.

And if there is one thing the wealthy know how to do, it is exploit holes.

            I believe there should be a minimum amount of vacation given to all workers, you earn vacation time just like you earn a wage, regardless if you are part time or full time (this amount should insure 4 week long vacations a year minimum for a full 30 hour work week).  People need more rest, and we have a workforce capable of doing so much in such a short period of time that we can afford to have people take time off to actually see the country they are building.
Yes... more time to see... the countryside.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: "X-Men: First Class"

            I just got back from watching "X-Men: First Class", and it was really, really good.  Thing is, the original three movies were mostly Wolverine movies with the X-Men as a supporting cast, this movie doesn't have that as an issue, it is really its own thing.

Fuck off.
             In a Wolverine movie the focus is on the mysterious past, controlling his violence to fight for a good cause, not just a cause, it is more of a personal story that relates to Wolverine, which is fine, he is a really cool character and appeals to that side of people who are tired of suppressing anger and want to knife a bitch, and since he remembers very little of his past he is in many ways a blank slate on which the audience can project, and he can serve as the audience mouth piece for questions like: what is a mutant, who is Cyclops, where are the bad guys?  This movie does not have Wolverine as a protagonist, mostly because the character had been fully explored by "X-2", with "X-3" and "Origins" being unable to offer anything more to the character (seriously now, they could have not had him in the third movie, and it would have been better for it, and his own movie did nothing but over explain everything we learned in 2, so why bother?)

Oh... Yeah... That...
            This movie, so freed from Wolverine gets to actually talk about the pathos and message of the X-Men.  This movie has actual debate and conversation between Magneto and Prof X over the role of mutants in society, how minorities are treated, and why there is a conflict between the characters.  The actors playing Charles and Eric are awesome in their roles, and the first third of the movie where they are established, and the last third when their conflict comes to a head is dynamite (the middle third is about the side characters more and I'll get to that).

Hey look, they are playing chess, just like they do in the first three movies.
            Nothing was wrong with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen's performances in the first three, they played the supporting roles they were given very well, but they were not the main characters, in "First Class" they are and the full depths of who they are and why they fight can be explored.  It goes a long way to show why things are the way they are for the other movies.

            I mentioned that the middle third of the movie is about the supporting cast, sadly most don't get enough development, so little than when one of the team dies, I sort of shrugged, when another changes sides, I shrugged.  but I will give it this: they told the entire story of "X3" is about 15 minutes with more emotional impact and intelligence than that movie did.  The idea of a cure, the reasons why someone would want it, and violent self hatred which drives the creation of such a thing.  I don't think there are any weak actors, just smaller roles, and those that get the lime light do a lot with it.

            I found some of the characters to be interesting departures from the comic, the main big bad, Sebastian Shaw seems to actually be both that character, and the character of Mister Sinister, as he has a lot of mad scientist vibes; I really like the way they portrayed his powers, it is weird and awesome, whatever artist came up with that deserves a cupcake party.

This movie has it all.  And Kevin Bacon.
            The only complaint I have with this movie is the subtext... There isn't any.  While the idea of mutation = Homosexuality had been hinted at cleverly in "X-2", this movie flat out has the words, "They didn't ask, so I didn't tell".  Not to mention the phrase, "If you aren't with me, then that means you are against me."  I get it!  You really do not have to hit me across the face with it.  (Whisper: it is more clever when you let the audience figure it out for themselves, yeah they might get it wrong, but if they come to the realization themselves, they are more likely to agree with you, rather than complain about being preached at.)

            Overall, I would say it is a 4 out of 5 star movie.  The very strong ending means that a "Second Class" is likely, and I do hope the good guys get some girl members, the bad guy ranks are 3 of 7 in that regard, and the only good female get mind wiped at the end to keep the government from attacking, which is a shame cause she was awesome.  This might not seem like an issue, but X-men is regarded highly for its diversity of heroes and if all the good guys are white men by the end of the movie, and the bad guys have a good mix, it makes them a hell of a lot more sympathetic.

The setting is also good, like "Mad Men" meets "X-Men", Mad-X-Men.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pictures: The Weekend Near Izmir pt1

In an area near Izmir, the most secular city in Turkey we got to visit some ruins, museums, and other relics of eras in which the power of the world was located firmly in Constantinople.

 These first 5 are all from the same area.  An old ruin used as a market an burial ground for the surrounding area.  It had an underground water supply.  Which is nifty.

This was a museum of Turkish culture, it was vastly smaller than most places we went to, and is the most forgettable.  Most of what was inside was just manikins posing in scenes from the day to day lives of the common people who lived in the area of Turkey in centuries past.

The rest of the pictures are from a much larger museum which had a huge number of statues.

A partially reconstructed floor mural.  I took this from about 20ft above it.

One of my classmates provides a helpful source of scale for this torso.

Map of Ancient Turkey.

This is a creepy statue of the Roman goddess of fertility, it was supposed to hang over a bed to help lovers conceive.  By modern standards this is not the best way to set the mood.
Bronze statue of a nude runner.  If this was life size then people in ancient times were shorter even more than I typically picture.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Halloween Costumes 2011

            I have been considering what to be for Halloween.  And have come down to about 4 options.  Each has some cost though, trying to spend as little as possible while getting a complete look will be challenging.

Halloween is cool.
             Possibility 1: Matt Smith's portrayal of the Doctor from "Doctor Who".  No TaRDiS necessary to pull this off really, and I already have the boots, but damned if his nerdy get up doesn't require some pick up.  Bowtie, red fine stripped shirt, tweed jacket with elbow patches, and black slacks with suspenders.  All of that and his flashlight sized Sonic Screwdriver, which is a bit pricey in my opinion, though it is a fun little prop if I want to cos-play as the character at a convention at some point.

Maybe the hair would be a concern too.
             Possibility 2: Superman from the New 52's "Action Comics #1".  This is Superman as he was at the beginning of his crime fighting, when his costume was a Superman shirt, jeans, boots and a cape.  Biggest problem here is the cape, which while cheap has no function beyond this costume.  I will never again wear a bright red cape.  So the last son of Krypton is cheaper than the last son of Gallifrey, but I think they are both out.

In like Flynn.
             Possibility 3: Robin Hood.  This mostly comes down to my ability to cut my goatee into a Robin Hood look, and wear some green along with it.  I will need a hat, and I think I will not go for tights, instead going for more of a green shirt, outdoor pants, and a toy bow and arrow kind of thing.  Since there is no medieval fair in this area before Halloween this one would be hard to do convincingly.

dum dum dum dum dum dum dum FLASH!  And yes, this is the only picture aside from those on IMDB, which I can't copy paste and then link to.

            Possibility 4: Flash Gordon.  This is actually the front runner because it has several advantages.  The most expensive part of the costume is the single T-Shirt, which I would but and wear anyway, and having to bleach the shit of my hair.  And yes, I will bleach the shit out of my hair because I actually considered doing that earlier this year just to see how it would look. And it is apparently easy to accomplish.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Starting in Istanbul

So after making a beeline out of London Heathrow airport after I got no wake up call, and also got no shuttle so I had to make due with a cab that cost me 40 pounds.  Well I got to see mountains from an airplane window for the first time in my life.  More details on this all can be found here.

Well, after about 4 hours that is about the time I got to Istanbul.  This was a chaotic bit as I mostly just paced back and forth through the pick up terminal looking for people whom I did not at the time know, and most got exhausted because it was at this moment my suitcase pulling handle (the handle that lets you pull the thing using the wheels) that broke and I am too tall to just use the handle on top.  Either way I was found, and I got to ride for an hour to Koc (pronounced Coach) University.  here was the bus ride.

I stupidly did not take numerous pictures of Koc, because I am occasionally stupid.  But if I had to describe it I would say that it was a lot like my undergrad college, Florida Gulf Coast University if it were built on a mountain top rather than by a big artificial lake.  The first lunch we all ended up on, some 24 students, one tour manager, Prof Smith and his wife, and Prof Hale.  Was a cliff side cafe.
The place had good food and atmosphere and was a good starting point for time spent in Istanbul and the surrounding Burroughs.  And that was a bit of the start.

Intro to Comics: Thor (Upgrade)

(This was originally a Facebook note, I am reprinting it here with some more about the movie, as the movie had not been out at that point.  Hence: Upgrade.)
            Here is a character you'll end up seeing soon as I just saw the movie and it was pretty good, the character is The Mighty Thor.  Created by Jack Kirby who seemed to be very much obsessed with the idea of god societies, having created "The New Gods" and "TheEternals" he and Stan Lee created Thor as a cast out member of the Asgardian race of gods that existed in a world parallel to our own and had interacted with us in past centuries being the inspiration for Norse myth.  In spite of claiming to be superior to humans, who being mortal could not hope to attain the levels of wisdom and might that the Asgardians had, the truth of the matter is the Asgardians were an aloof and stagnant society who had not done anything other than internal warmongering for hundreds of years.  Seriously, they had no need of technology to supply them, or devices to fly so they just chilled in a castle all the time when they weren't out killing trolls and giants.  The movie makes it seem less stagnate and more just committed to peace regardless of their warrior culture.

But then, what would be the point of a summer cottage if you don't spend your time there?

            Thor being a forward thinking member of the society was cast out by Lord Odin and was forced to live as a mortal man, the doctor known as Donald Blake.  Unaware of his banishment Blake wandered on his spare time unaware of what he had lost until he found a walking stick balanced on its point in a cave, upon taking it he recalled his origin and struck the stick to the ground, transforming into Thor Son of Asgard, and the stick transforming into Mjolnir, hammer of the gods.  Kind of Freudian if you look at it long enough.

Tony, don't get on my ass, because you are starting to look very nail like.

            Thor, via his hammer can control the weather and conjure lightning, it also allows him to fly, and when thrown can kill or terribly wound anyone in the Marvel universe, it is an omega level weapon and can only be yielded by a select few.  You see while Thor is super strong and nearly unkillable due to his divine heritage, it is his strength of will and great personal virtue that allows him to hold Mjolnir whose weight is infinite to those of poor character.  Only a handful have been able to hold it in the past, though Captain America is a notable person who has been able to lift it.  Others have also carried it, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Superman have all done so in crossovers, showing how many more pure and just hearted beings per capita are in DC comics as opposed to Marvel.  I actually wonder what goes into the decision making process for who gets to pick it up, does Mjolnir work like the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter?  Regardless, in the film Thor himself falls short of holding it for a good portion of the movie (Spoilers: the title character of the movie undergoes a character arc that allows him to save the day).

            Thor's banishment was lifted after a time, and when Odin perished stopping Surtur, the fire giant that heralded the Apocalypse, Thor was made Lord of Asgard... It went to his head.  He took Asgard and transported the city to Earth, floating over New York, he then gave out medicine and became the target of worship throughout the United States, eventually coming under fire by the government, and deciding to conquer the Earth.  He succeeded killing legions of superheroes and ruled for decades till his son (Magni god of strength) overthrew him and utilized Asgardian magic to hit the reset button returning Thor to the moment when he decided to conquer the Earth, and allowing him to take a different path.  Thor instead returned Asgard to its home dimension, and set to undertaking a series of trials that would grant him Odin's insight.  Turns out Odin had not made Thor into Donald Blake to banish him, but instead to grant him a connection to mortality, wisdom and insight Odin himself lacked, the wisdom that comes with a life lived according to the laws of death and mortality.  That insight allowed Thor to use his knowledge to bring about Ragnorak, the Twilight of the Gods, in which he destroyed the home dimension of the Asgardians... And vanished.  This was done specifically because he viewed the Asgard culture as stagnating, held down by still higher gods who were feeding off the power of Asgard.  Destroying the universe to burn off cosmic leeches.

Also, Thor-Frog exists.  Yeah.

            Thor was not around for several big events in the Marvel Universe, Avengers Disassembled, where the Scarlet Witch killed people wholesale; or Civil War in which Iron Man tried to deputize the Heroes of Marvel, and Captain America thought that was a violation of civil liberties (the right to be a vigilante I guess); but Thor returned from the void of death when his wayward soul found Donald Blake on Earth and so Blake became Thor once more.  He then sought out the other gods trapped in human bodies on Earth.  Which was either a rip off of a Grant Morrison story, who had Kirby's DC creations the New Gods (space gods who often interact with and occasionally fight Superman), well the New Gods died and were reborn on Earth in the bodies of living people who slowly turned into the gods, so maybe it was a salute...

And this is his brother Loki possessing the body of Thor's wife.  Nothing weird about that.

            Thor's quest has recently come to an end, and he has taken this time to rejoin The Avengers along with Iron Man and Captain America.  Seeing how the world fell apart without these heroes at the helm of it all.  And he is awesome!  In just a short time they have had a story where he single handedly stopped an alien invasion from a parallel time line, kamikazed himself through the skull of the space god Galactus (lot of space gods, the universe is a big place), and has fought alongside the king of Atlantis and the Red Hulk against a guy hell bent on collecting the bedrock stones of the universe and remarking all creation in his own image.

Logic is relative.  Especially with the Hulk.
            Some of Thor's greatest foes include his step brother Loki, who is a god of trickery and illusion; the Egyptian god of evil Set, along with a large number of evil Egyptian creatures; the Troll King Ulik, and his trolls; the dark elves; Thor's own hubris; the Wrecking Crew, who are a bunch of super strong thugs from earth who were granted there powers by Loki; the Absorbing man and his wife Titanna, Absorbing man got his powers from Loki and Titanna got hers from Doctor Doom; and just like everyone else in Marvel comics Thor has fought Doctor Doom.  His allies include The Avengers, a gathering of the worlds mightiest heroes (of which Thor is the mightiest); the Warriors Three, who are Asgard Special Forces, Fendral, Volstag and Hogan; his brother Baulder (who wasn't in the movie); and his wife Sif (who was his platonic work girlfriend in the movie).
The Warriors Three.  No chin up requirement for entry in the Asgard Special Forces.

            Thor is a very mythic character, and is arguably the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe aside from the Hulk (who when mad enough can crack the world with his footfalls), and the Silver Surfer (who has the power to manipulate energy across entire continents), but really I've only recently really figured out what to think of Thor overall.  He works better when he touches on but isn't confined to Earth in the Marvel Universe, when he is allowed to do his own thing in alternate worlds populated by pantheons and cross dimensional demons and giants, and only occasionally running into masked crusaders and mutants, and guys in power armor in books like "The Avengers".  I am glad that the Thor movie is good, as I have very much like the character.

            If I could be a super hero, I would want Thor's powers because he has the capacity to use his weather and other less clearly defined healing abilities (didn't list because they seem to only work when the story needs them to) to exert a positive change in the world beyond punching evildoers... He never uses them as such without losing his gourd and taking over the world, but I'm confident that is Marvel holding the status Quo over writers heads (after all superheroes are metaphors for ideas present in out current lives fighting it out, not science fiction which takes an idea like gods in the real world and rides it out to logical conclusions).

            Oh, and the guy who is playing him in the movie, was the guy who played Captain Kirk's dad at the beginning of JJ Abram's "Star Trek" movie, the guy who kamikazes his ship into Nero's to save the fleeing escape pods.  Yeah, he does look the part.  And Anthony Hopkins is Odin, and he doesn't phone in the performance like he did with "The Wolf Man", he seems to actually give a shit when things happen and conveys as such through emotion... you know acting, like when he gives a shit.

Seen here. Giving a shit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Some Actors Who Should Make a "Star Trek" pt2

I started writing a little thought exercise the other day on "Star Trek" and how I think they should make a new series with a cast that has a lot of popularity in the genre and set things in a new future with a changed political environment with a new catastrophe requiring the Federation to wake up out of a peace time haze and start fighting evil and exploring the galaxy again. I then geeked out and made a list of potential cast members. Here is the other half of the list.

6) Communications: This role is criminally underused because the universal translator makes most of the translation issue of alien languages kind of pointless, and while the importance of reports being properly sent to Star Fleet Command might be critical in helping to justify the sometimes suicidal, brutal, questionable, or desperate actions of the Captain and Crew, it rarely makes for compelling action. To rectify this I think Communications should have additional roles for narrative purposes to escape being a glorified switchboard operator like Uhura in the original series, or completely useless and ineffectual like Hoshi Sato in "Enterprise". To that end I think this should be a role of the New Guy/Transfer, a character that is brought in so the people who have been on the ship or station have to introduce themselves and explain things to, it makes sense for a character that has the role of Communications should be the person who communicates the questions of the audience.

So here is a bit of a story set up, a new ensign first class is getting transferred to the ship to work in Communications and Cryptology (cracking enemy codes, operating software, and hacking those systems). Since the job often requires the person to be at an enemy terminal to work their systems she could go on away missions too with a logical reason to be there. So what actress could pull off being inquisitive, but not to the point of being annoying, and at the same time competent enough to justify not losing their shit in a situation like an away mission that gets attacked by a new alien threat? Jaimie Alexander, who played the warrior woman super heroine Sif in this summer's "Thor" movie. I think she has a lot of dignity and could do a really good job of knowing what she's doing, and enough presence that asking a question everybody already knows the answer to would not make her look stupid.

Plus: She is gorgeous.

7) Security: The bad ass member of the crew who is supposed to be able to contain boarding parties, kill things with impunity on away missions, and always be the one who wants to explore military options in case they have to shoot things until they are dead. Tasha Yar on "The Next Generation" was the greatest waste of a character ever in this role, as she was both terrible at her job and was killed off before her character origins could be explored (she was the only member of the crew who did not grow up in the privileged parts of the Federation and instead grew up in a crime infested dystopia). I actually think the character of Tasha Yar should be taken almost without alteration into this new era, by which I mean the security chief of the show should have a similiar upbringing and attitude, but be given the time to really develop and be explored. Have her grow up on a planet that was scorched during the Dominion war, or by the Borg, she is jaded and sharp, and very willing to beat the living hell out of people (now that I think about this the character would be similar to Major Kira on "Deep Space 9").

There are aspects of other security people that could be added, Odo on "DS9" was the defector from the series main antagonist and was handy for a conflicted character to appear, Tuvok was one of the best characters on "Voyager" useful for suspicion and for questioning the motives and abilities of crew who were not Star Fleet, and Malcolm Reed on "Enterprise" was the only competent member of the crew, having invented the force field. So the character should also have the ability to be suspicious, without being alienating, and have the ability to create new weapons and tactics to take advantage of situations as they develop.

So what actress can play a character that has seen war, grown up in the aftermath of it, but comes off as prepared, competent, and able to think on their feet, while not sacrificing a healthy detective like inquisitive ability and the willingness to kick someone's teeth out? Lena Headey, who played Sarah Connor on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". You know, the woman who has seen horrific violence fighting killer robots, been locked in an asylum and called paranoid, has had to hide and flee while caring for her son, all the while creating stores of weapons and training so her son can lead an apocalyptic war somewhere down the line. Kind of a perfect resume for a Security Officer.

Plus: She is gorgeous.

8) Engineering: in a show about future tech this position is actually very key in doing two things, exploring technology, and saving the day constantly. Scotty saved the ship through knowledge and jerry rigging as often as the rest of the crew did through action scenes; Geordi and Data displayed technology with Geordi's visor, and embodied technology literally by being a living machine, and numerous episodes of "The Next Generation" amounted to Geordi and Data telling Picard what was happening, telling him what they needed to do to save the day, and then Picard telling them to do it, the rest of the crew being at best hangers on; O'Brien on "DS9" was a more well rounded character but was constantly seen and talked about, as being the over stressed miracle worker repairing the weird mix of systems on the alien space station the show was set on; Torres did little on "Voyager" and even less when Seven of Nine showed up and started stealing scene time by the basketful as the engineering cyborg who was the best character on the show and one of the best in the franchise.

This is a character position that I think should do something really interesting. See at the end of "Star Trek: Nemisis" Data was destroyed and his memories were programmed onto a prototype android made by the same scientist, I would like this idea to be explored. Imagine that Data's memories manifested in the new body and he decided that he needed to ensure androids as a life form should exist beyond himself. Data and Geordi working with Dr. Lewis Zimmerman (creator of the Doctor Medical Hologram on "Voyager") to create a small race of sentient androids that have limited life spans but have the drive and skill to create more androids to form families should they desire. The engineer on this hypothetical series will be one of this new android race with gold skin and working in Star Fleet. There are still only a couple hundred androids in the galaxy. I also like the idea of them having a lot of Data and Geordi's nerdy joke humor, with quips and timing that was learned by that initial partnership. Who do I think can play a very straight-faced snarky genius who is part of a minority micro-society? Kieran Culkin, who played the cool-gay-roommate, Wallace in "Scott Pilgrim versus the World". He is able to deliver lines with incredible timing and is very likable in spite of being kind of a dick/know-it-all through that whole movie.

Ladies. This doing anything for you?

9) First Officer: This role has varied between iterations wildly, Spock was a major contrast to Kirk, as was Riker to Picard, but contrast Riker and Spock. One is a would be ladies man, ace pilot who has been reprimanded for disregarding authority (and was played by the show's best director), Spock (also played by an excellent director) was cool and collected but lacked spontaneity, instead focusing on rationalism as much as possible (apparently the phrase, never underestimate your opponents stupidity exists on Vulcan, as Spock was frequently undone by someone not acting in their absolute best interests). Major Kira on "DS9" served as the hot headed local, Chakotay was a racist stereotype of American Indians and pathetically underused as being a guerilla fighter. And... I'm going to be honest I have no idea who was supposed to be the first officer on "Enterprise", was it T'Pol? So I guess being a bitch is also a role?

So really this character can be anything. So let's make it someone who has a set of moral ideals, he believes in the Federation, but is also very much about wanting to fix those flaws he sees in it through working in the system. He has to be politically capable, has to prove he is a strong leader who can handle a crisis, and he has to live long enough to get elected to office, so he will be a character than wants to pull the diplomacy lever with great frequency. He'll occasionally speak in confidence about how he thinks the Federation has lost its way, and will brush against authority when he thinks it will score him political points (you should be able to see him calculating whether or not to save the day, wondering whether the risks are really worth what he is doing).

To that end I think you need a character that you can never tell if his motivations are pure, or motivated by a mix of ego and historical aspiration, but can occasionally see him burn bridges and squander capital for a greater good, so you see a hero who is running a marathon, looking at the long term, sacrificing the relatively little things that happen in the course of typical duty. Who can walk this line? Adrian Pasdar, or as he probably best known, Congressman Nathan Petrelli from "Heroes". Even when that show was spiraling out of control this actor played his part to a tee, he was constantly having to balance politics and moral right, the big picture with ends and means. And he did it well. I would like to see a season final like "Best of Both Worlds" in which the first officer has to write off the Captain as lost and fire the big gun, but to have the entire crew look at him like he did it just so he could be Captain.

Ladies. Anything?

10) Captain: The central protagonist of the show around which the largest moral decisions will revolve. Quite simply by picking this character you pick the arc of the show. With Kirk it was the triumph of the human spirit. With Picard it was trying to be the best of humanity. Sisko was deciding what moral concessions to make when trying to save the Federation. Janeway was trying to hold to Star Fleet principles while being lost in enemy territory. Archer was about the shaping of Federation principles for the first time, they had to show the thought processes that led to the various policies fans had come to associate with the show ("Enterprise" failed).

Now, the way I see this hypothetical show working is a tone of waking up. That the Federation has become docile, and lost the exploratory core of itself. You need a Captain that wants to break free of the day to day patrol and see what is beyond what is currently known. But at the same time a Captain that can defend her actions and decisions against the forces of complacency that have taken hold in the Federation. So who is good at exploring, and breaking free of the leash of a leadership that is sitting too cushy? Amanda Tapping, who played Samantha Carter on "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis". In the "Stargate" universe she was a super scientist and accomplished Air Force officer who was really only held back by the fluctuating corrupt or bureaucratic government oversight that would kneecap world saving every season. She is arguably a Science Fiction icon at this point having been a central character for more than a decade. She is a great choice for being the legitimately well meaning explorer who is tired of being weighed down by very complacent commanders. The Show's new moral core is that Exploration is what makes Humanity and the Federation great, and that should not be sacrificed by complacency.

Plus: She is gorgeous.