Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Holiday End of Year Bloggers Bash

So, it strikes me that we should have a bloggers bash sometime before the year closes out. I stepped aside from doing these for other, better, organisers to come forward. Doesn't look like a bash is going happen otherwise, so I'll get the ball rolling.

Somewhere in the next two, three weeks. Still in the Midtown area? Weekday or weekend? Bar, restaurant, cafe, library public room?

Just my thoughts: Dish was pretty nice, if noisy. I have rethought my displeasure with Cafe Francisco, so that's cool too. Weekday around 6 or 7PM seems to work. Weekends will be filling up with holiday parties, but they do allow for late night hilarity.

On the other hand: We've never had one out in the 'burbs. Is it their turn now? Any good wi-fied spaces out there? Or is the Midtown vibe more conducive to bashing?

Start with the suggestions so we can begin to narrow things down. If you have a blog or website, please consider spreading the word. As always, the more the merrier.

Ho ho ho.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Looking for Good Blogs?

Blogging is still a new experience for many. You find one you might like, but then there are literally hundreds of thousands more still to sample. Where to start? Where to go?

Well, Jon Henke has assembled a pair of lists of the top tier political blogs, left and right. You can find the Right Wing blogs list here and a companion list of Left Wing blogs here. His descriptions are mostly fair and pretty accurate and should give any newcomer a lot of new reading.
Insert Boilerplate Here

Just a note, as I do on Tuesday nights: No posting until late Wednesday, if at all. Wednesday is Busy Day, or Away From The Keyboard Day. I will be off in a distant part of the galaxy serving with the Emperor of Man's Space Marines, killing Orks, Eldar and heretics.

Be good until later!
This Modern World Detourned

The Memphis Flyer runs the not-funny This Modern World strip. I saw this a couple of weeks ago and, with recent events, I was moved to detourn it into this:

What is detourning? If you aren't familar with situationist expression, you can read this seminal text to learn more. Basically, it's living life at every moment as though you are in the center of a giant party / parade / personal television show / spectacle. Imagine if the whole MTV network was about you. That's situationist. In fact, MTV is, or was back when it was freeflowing, the almost perfect expression of situationist thinking!
Lite Brite Request

If anyone in the reading audience here has an old copy of the game Lite Brite they would like to donate to me, please let me know. I'm really only interested in the little colored pegs you stuck into the light board. I'd like to adapt some of those pegs for army units and building models for the tabletop wargame I play.

If your kids are grown and gone, or you have an old one (it doesn't have to work as long as the colored pegs are there) sitting in the closet gathering dust, and you wouldn't mind giving it away, please email me at the address on the top left. Thanks!

I've mentioned that I play Epic:Armageddon, a table-top wargame using small figures to stand in for army units. It's part of a very broad category of games that try to recreate the experience of war. These range from highly abstract games like go and chess, to the old "hex and counter" games like PanzerBlitz and Squad Leader, to figures on tables games like Epic, to modern computer games like Call to Duty. There are even role-playing and card games that try to capture the strategy and conflict of war.

I got started with "hex and counter" games back around high school. These are games where a map or board of some terrain or actual location are overlaid with a grid of hexes. The players have small cardstock squares to stand in for the units they will play. Games came with a booklet of rules, sometimes small and sometimes as long as a novel. Charts and tables covered conflict resolution, the actual working out of fighting between units. But in my late twenties I fell away from it all.

Thanks to Mark, I got back into all this at the start of the year. We now regularly play Epic, and I've gotten a renewed interest in the old wargames. But I've also gotten into the newer, so-called "German" games, which aren't about conflict or war, but are much friendlier and more social. The games are much smarter and more adult than the usual boxed game like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, while keeping the friendly, social, "let's play a game" atmosphere.

All of this is to set the stage for this article about "hex and counter" wargaming. It's a bit more pessimistic than I think is called for, but it's a good overview of the old board games.

True, kids today are into the computerised versions, which allow for first-person, immersive, play with realistic graphics standing in for the imagination the old board games required. I think there's room for a hybrid game style that hasn't appeared yet. It may even already be out there; I don't know, as I don't play console or PC games. All I know is Civilisation and Age of Empires. I know that Sid Meier had a PC version of the Battle of Gettysburg, where you directed units across a field and the computer handled the conflict resolution.

Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with old-style wargaming, this article is a good overview.
Thought for the Day

Today's thought comes via The Tick:
Evil is just plain bad! You don't cotton to it. You gotta smack it in the nose with the rolled-up newspapaer of justice! Bad dog! Bad dog!
Bonus thoughts!
But time's a-wasting and evil's out there making hand-crafted mischief for the swap meet of villainy. And you can't strike a good deal with evil. No matter how much you haggle! We don't need to look for a bargain; goodness is cheap because it's free, and free is as cheap as it gets.
And this:
Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once! Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope! And you've got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception!
Pithy final observation:
Gravity is a harsh mistress.
So much, much more here and here.

I leave you with this:
You just toasted the best BLT joint in the tristate area; prepare to pick up the tab!
Does This Sound Familiar?

Britain's Conservative Party (also called the Tories) elected a new leader, David Cameron. He will be going up against Gordon Brown, who is replacing Tony Blair as the leader of the Labour Party. Blair has said he is stepping down in May.

Cameron says the party must revive itself with "modern compassionate Conservatism." But don't let that fool you, as he listed his immediate, broad platform:
...creating a full-bodied economic policy which went beyond just tax; giving freedom to those on the frontline in public services; national and international security; and ensuring social justice by strengthening the voluntary sector.
Sounds vaguely Bush-like, doesn't it. You have to wonder just how much he's modelling himself after the American President. On the other hand, it's important to remember that other Anglo-sphere conservative parties aren't nearly as far to the right as the American Republican Party. Most accept openly the idea of the social welfare system and an intrusive government.

On the gripping hand (ie. the third hand, for those of you who aren't Larry Niven fans), America doesn't have the same kind of far-far-right, nationalist parties like England, France and Germany, the true neo-Nazi parties.

Most election watchers in England still favor Labour to win handily, but it will be fun and informative to see how well Cameron does in the next six months.

Monday, December 05, 2005

That Was Unpleasant

I'm not sure how it was for others, but I haven't been able to access Blogspot or Blogger all evening. Not until just now. No more posts for you tonight, I'm afraid.
Rock -- Hillary Clinton -- Hard Place

Speaking at a college / high school function to an audience of 4000 in one of her hometowns, Hillary Clinton was heckled by anti-war protesters! Video here.

Two or three years ago she was the Great White Hope for many Democrats. She carefully triangulated herself into a position of carefully confronting the administration while also being seen as "pro military." Now she finds the sands have too-quickly shifted under her feet, thanks to the MoveOn / anti-America / hard Left crowd, and she's suddenly too conservative.

She is facing demands to drink the koolaid of the anti-war Left in their Internet putsch to take over the direction and platform of the Democratic Party. Can she maneuver out of it? Will she suddenly find herself, like Joe Lieberman and Harold Ford, on the wrong side of party momentum? Or will she reposition herself again?

I'm guessing she thought the Kerry campaign was too left for most of America and would fail, setting her up to move the party a bit centerward, ala husband Bill, with her at the head. Instead, there is tremendous energy to continue the agenda-less leftward trajectory of the party, to even more vigorously pursue the "anti-Bush in every way" approach that keeps narrowing with every new iteration.

Just out of curiousity, can any of the Democrats or progressives who read this blog give me a short list of the actions they propose to take if elected back into power in Washington? Difficulty: it must be a series of positive actions. You shouldn't use "no more of..." or "not...." It has to be real steps from the Democratic principles you espouse.

Have fun!
Definition of the Day

From a discussion of spyware and malware, comes a definition:
What is it with blog pages that link to another blog, which links to another blog, and so on?

This is the principle of the "Möbius blog ring", whereby the information is wholly one-sided and is repeated so often that it is taken for fact by anoyone reading it. As the reader moves from link to link, their indoctrination in the rhetoric increases, with the theoretical maximum value being reached when they return to the original "source" blog. Once a "Möbius blog ring" is entered, the ability of the reader to avoid reading the next blog in the series decreases proportionately.

The "Möbius blog ring" is also known as "Internet journalism".
[NOTE: Cleaned up and altered just a bit from the original.]
Get Your Gun

I'm sorry not to get to this sooner. It's been in my bookmarks for a while, just waiting. Thanks to Nashville Files for pointing this out.

NewsChannel3's Andy Wise recently did a series of reports called Get Your Gun, about obtaining a gun permit, taking classes on gun use and safety, and choosing the right weapon. I haven't seen it (see below) but others have commented positively on the attitude and point of view Wise takes. Here's his preface:
My experiences inspired me to produce the series you can watch below. We call it "Get Your Gun" because we wanted to reach those of you who are considering for the first time -- like me -- to arm yourself. Through our production of this series, I have developed an enormous respect for firearms, the experts who use them and our Second Amendment right as Americans to bear them. I am convinced that if more of us had a healthy respect for guns; if more of us as citizens knew HOW to use them, WHEN to use them, WHERE to secure them; and if more law-abiding citizens properly CARRIED the appropriate handgun, crime would not be as much of a problem.
That's a far cry from the report I once saw on Fox13 where Allyson Finch waved a 45 on camera, with her finger on the trigger, even pointing it into her own chest.

Kudos to Andy Wise for this. I hope it gets more exposure.

I'd like to watch these clips, but I apparently don't have the right media player for NewsChannel3's tech guys. That's odd, since I have the most recent Firefox browser and put in the latest updated Windows Media Player, but there you are. It's not my job to have the right equipment, but their job to broadcast in the most available formats. Too bad for NewsChannel3.

It's part of the reason I don't link to WREG/3's website that much. If they won't serve the public, but expect the public to adapt to them, then they aren't in the customer service business. With all the media options these days, I don't give them a second thought.
The Neighborhood is About to Get a Lot Larger

An interesting scholarly essay that argues that English is about to become the de facto official language of India:
There is something exciting in being surprised by a turn of events, and proved wrong. I spent a quarter of a century agitating for India to do like Japan, China and Korea, for the government to take the initiative in integrating the elite with the non-elite by having school education only in local languages. And restoring to Indian languages the top end of their functional range, now occupied by English. But it didn’t happen. The elite simply won’t give up English.

So now, the non-elite has taken charge of the situation by laying claim to the language associated in India with a middle class existence. They are ready to turn India into a vast English-speaking country, where we, the elite will have to scramble to keep our footing. Where interesting things are going to happen.
As I said, it's a bit scholarly and assumes a familiarity with India readers may not have, but the idea that within a generation or so the Anglosphere will grow by about a billion people, with a different but common culture to mark them out, is exciting.

We're seeing the leading edge in the telecommunications market, where call centers can be staffed by moderately competent English speakers at a fraction of American wages (but that are still generous wages in India), and in computer software.

Look at how Japan and Japanese are slowly infiltrating American culture, and the Japanese have little interest in learning American English, preferring to adapt our words into their language. Apaato for apartments, konbini for convenience stores. Still, the Japanese culture, via anime and technological innovation, enters American culture. But a nation of a billion speaking native English and trying to enter the Anglo market will have a much larger influence on our culture.

Will it come to displace African-American or Hispanic cultural influences, where those culture are contiguous or interpenetrating to ours? It should be interesting to watch.

And the other upside is that all those Bollywood extravaganzas won't need subtitles any more! The Indian cinema dance style is already being seen in music videos here. Can't wait to see if the musical style -- pulsing, rhythmic and lyrical -- makes it, too.

India seems to be trying an incredible experiment. Rather than going through the Industrial Age to get to the Information Age, as China is doing right now, they seem to be trying to leap directly into the Information Age. Ubiquitous English speaking is a part of that formula. Rather than trying to build an industrial infrastructure, only to then disassemble it to become Info-centric, the Indians seem content to import their industrial needs (as Info Age countries learn to do) and immediately start in on building the information infrastructure they need.

It will be interesting to watch India and China compete. Each wants to be the regional superpower in that corner of the world. China seems content to merely protect itself by being on par with the world. They still view China as the Middle Kingdom, the center of the world, just as Americans view America as the center of the world. Their ambitions, though, don't seem to be bending the world to their desires but to being strong enough to keep the barbarians out of their world, or on its fringes.

The Hong Kong model, of assimilation into the world of the Anglosphere, of being uber-capitalists and business leaders world-wide, isn't going to be adopted, but subsumed into the larger Chinese autocratic system. The New China will not really resemble go-go Hong Kong, but Europe without the social safety system. Heavily regulated with strong governmental controls.

India, though, seems to be seeking assimilation into the Anglosphere. They seem to want to become on a par with America or Australia, freely interacting with other English-speaking nations as a business equal.

The next twenty years will be fascinating to watch.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Another Spin in the Death Spiral

Peg Phillip mentioned it on her blog this week, but today Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck made it official. More reader-created content is coming to the daily.

Note that I didn't call it "citizen journalism." That's because it's not what is going to happen. CJ is when readers and members of the community are given pretty free reign to write and contribute to the paper. What the CA is proposing is just more of what they've been doing. Let's go through the Peck-itorial and see what I'm talking about.
Walking out of Malco's Studio on the Square a few nights ago I overheard a teenager say this about Johnny Cash:

''No, I think he was a real person. I think my grandmother listened to him!'' she exclaimed to a skeptical movie mate who wasn't quite sure if The Man in Black was real, or when he allegedly was so famous.

I wanted to stop and say: He was real! His story is real! The life lessons of ''Walk the Line'' are more profound than Harry Potter!

A tug on the sleeve saved me from myself. And Potter fans, rest easy. I liked ''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,'' too.
Notice his position in this little tale. The ignorant public. His authoritative knowledge. The desire to straighten someone out. He wanted to give an opinion while he was at it, one which set one thing above another. Remember this.

He goes on to talk about reviewers at the paper.
That's reviewing.

John Beifuss doesn't ask my permission to opine about movies as he sees them.

Nor do our food writers, or music reviewers, or dance critics.
He's talking reviewers, not reporters here. Remember that, too. This is all about opinion, not fact-based reporting.

Now, why the local daily for a mid-sized Southern community has a dance reviewer or a classical music reviewer or a theater critic is a mystery to me. It's something to do with high and low culture. The number of people who attend all the city's dance recitals, classical music performances and theater shows in any given week is likely a lot smaller than the number of people who bowl, but they are also more likely to buy a newspaper, so I guess they must be served.

On the other hand, the CA did boot Frederic Koeppel. He was an absolute and ossified elitist whose arthritic view of culture poisoned the "arts" pages for years. Koeppel was like an avatar for some lost, dead view of the "cultural elite." The paper is still bad about reviewing only fiction books that maybe will sell a couple of dozen copies, maybe (so is the Memphis Flyer; witness their recent books issue), rather than more popular titles, or even non-fiction not related to fiction.

Ah... I digress. Back to the topic at hand.

Peck goes on about reviewing, and differing opinions before landing on the First Amendment.
Opinion, in fact, underscores what the First Amendment is all about.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison weren't thinking about reviewing ''Walk the Line'' when they wrote that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, but these Founding Fathers most assuredly were defending the right of people with different opinions to speak out without fear of retribution.
Well... the Founding Fathers were more concerned with political and religious speech, which were often the same thing in England at that time. America was filling up with religious dissidents from England and Europe. Dissenting from the Crown could land you in jail, find you stripped of your property and possessions, banished or even killed. Trying to argue with a government that was inclined to imprison and execute dissenters, and could easily do it, led to a desire to rein in that power for any government.
If anything, newspapers and other media need to generate more discussion, open up more space and time for dissenting and opposing views.

Letters to the editor are one way of doing that. Online reader feedback is another.
Notice no mention of the paper's web forum (where employees of the paper do not participate) or their blogs. (Or is that how Peck sees the website? As a big talkback?) Notice who controls this discussion -- the paper's editors, who decide which letters to run or whether and how to answer "online reader feedback," whatever that is.
The growth in citizen-driven reviews of everything from cars to movies to men worth dating suggests that the power of citizen opinion is becoming stronger with introduction and access to more and more digital tools that allow people to link up and share ideas. If legacy media don't make room for more voices, more citizen opinion, more of a conversation about the events of the day, New Media will simply work around those barriers and create forums for opinion in other venues.
I'm not at all clear what "citizen-driven reviews" means. Is that some shorthand for "the Web?" Or "blogs?" It seems that way when he later uses terms like "legacy media" and "New Media."

The "power of citizen opinion" has always been strong, it's just that papers in the last few decades have been able to suppress and redirect it. The 'Net has already shattered the Mainstream Media's control of the national (and regional and local) debate. They were the "barriers" Peck writes about.

But again, notice that for Peck this is all about opinion, not fact. He's been very careful to only talk about people's opinions, not on people doing their own reporting, or criticising the reporting done by the "legacy media." Can you see where this is headed yet?
At the newspaper we are looking for ways to make it easier for diverse opinions to be shared among our readers and online users. In 2006 we're going to look for ways to gather more opinions, more commentary, more shared expertise online and in print.
The paper already does this in their "Appeal" sections, where a lot of the content is written by members of the community.

It's a mixed success. The "talk of the coffeeshop" columnists were as prone to use their columns to promote their own pet causes as to report what their customers were saying. Businesses frequently turned in press releases which went directly to print. (I'm told this also happens frequently in the Business section.)

What all this lacks is fact-based reporting of events or actions or conditions in Memphis many neighborhoods. Not stories about local neighborhood association meetings or the latest hoity-toity parties, but stories about rip-off businesses or bad landlords or street conditions or the neighborhood-busting activities of large businesses.

But notice that it's opinion and commentary. He finally mentions "shared expertise" but that brings me to my point. Who will decide whom to ask? Who will choose what to print? If something really cool comes over the transom or into the email Inbox, does it see print?

That's what is going to happen. It's not so much that the CA wants more discussion as that they want more content. And they want to stay firmly in control of what sees print. How often have you seen the paper print guest editorials, along with stories, about a topic, but the number of editorials that agree with the paper's position is larger than the number that disagree? Where are the guest columns that take to task those writers or the CA's reporters and editors?
'm confident our own reviewers will continue to be authoritative and informed voices. Their ideas, their perspectives will need to be tested against all comers.

I think that's the way it should be.

In our nation, the competition of ideas, not the monolithic imposition of one institution's view over all others, allows us the opportunity to be the most informed, persuasive and creative society on Earth.
Apparently, the "competition of ideas" doesn't extend to analysis of the stories they create or publish, nor to independent reporting from the community.

Peck is on a fool's errand, trying to open the doors to the milling crowds outside while keeping guard on who comes through into his precious paper. The reporting and editorial stuff will stay firmly in the hands of the elite, those trained professionals who undergo thorough training in reporting and writing, who have expertise in the subjects they cover, are rigorously overseen, and can maintain the high standards of "fair, objective and neutral."


I predict the result will be more of the fluffstuff that's been creeping into the paper. More "commentary" will replace hard reporting. More "experts," chosen by the CA on the basis of their idea of who is best to speak on these things, will appear. For all his talk in the column of dissenters, you won't be seeing the outsiders and dissenters of Memphis appearing more frequently. It will be more by more of the usual suspects in the Memphis civic and poltical bureaucracy.

Rather than investigating and dissecting these people, which is the paper's job, or giving room to those who will do that, the CA will be giving them an expanded forum. Filling up their pages with the inanity of daily trivia, rather than telling us what we cannot learn without someone powerful doing the asking.
I Suppose Some Thanks Are In Order

I didn't mention it at the time, but I was rewarded twice in the Memphis Flyer's annual Best of Memphis ad magnet. For the second time, Jackson Baker highlighted Half-Bakered (along with Fishkite, Smart City Memphis and his colleague The Pesky Fly). It's the second time he's done it, though this year he seems to be a bit less back-handed in his compliments. I'll take "industriously quirky" any day but you have to admit the following is carefully couching his barbs:
His misreadings are as frequent as his right guesses -- something true of any wild swinger and an explanation of sorts for the name of this blog (don't ask). A bonus: He does long takes on the local media -- interesting even when they are misguided.
Misreader, misguider, wild swinger, guesser. OOOOOOOOOOoooooo-kay then. Thank you!

Anyway, they had a reader's poll question on best local blogger and Half-Bakered tied with Rachel Hurley's two sites, Rachel and the City and Scenestars. I'm fine with this. Rachel's blog is definitely more fun reading than here.

I take these things with a grain of salt. I mean, look at what else got voted on in the reader's poll. Best department store? Best mall? Best bank? Jeez. And look at the winners, too. The writers and editors of the paper may fancy themselves exemplars of the Left, mainstream progressives or whatever, but their readers are decidedly bourgeouis, the very folks they ought to be mocking. But no, they pander to them instead, and their self-delusions, while profiting handsomely.

I'm not being mean. They are who they are more honestly (comparatively speaking) than the folks at the Commercial Appeal. It's why I don't criticise them so much. They don't make pretensions of being objective and neutral as the daily does. I certainly don't agree with a lot of what they publish, but it doesn't require deeper examination for ulterior motives, either. Jackson Baker excepted, of course.

After all, even Editor in Chief Bruce Van Wyngarden admits to reading this blog. Can't hardly dislike that guy, now can I?

Anyway, I was surprised to learn I won the reader's poll. H-B is a pretty acquired taste, after all. I'm relentlessy negative and critical, lacking in humor, and I regularly disappear for varying lengths of time. I don't comment on every topic of the day. I don't cover nightlife -- having no social life -- like a dozen other blogs do. On the other hand, I'd imagine that only a very few of the Flyer's readers even know what blogs are, much less read them.

I am one of the very few Memphis blogs that critically comments on local politics, though we have plenty of other political blogs. Smart City is much more in-depth; Thaddeus is more scandalous. But I guess my willingness to ask about the rumors of Herenton's crack addiction or call Carol Chumney a watery-eyed grind or call corruption what it is carry some interest.

The sad reason I don't worry so much about these kinds of things is that I've learned they don't mean much to this blog. I watched the traffic meter after the print edition of the Best of Memphis poll came out. I think the weekly total of visitors coming from the Flyer's site was less than fifty. I can't quantify search engine hits for "halfbakered" but they didn't noticeably spike either.

Fifty out of the "500,000" readers the Flyer claims, is one-hundredth of one percent. Negligible at best. So, while the esteem, such as it is, of paid professional writers means something, winning the "readers" poll only means the local media has done a terrible job of alerting Memphis to the other possibilities out there.

And why am I not surprised by that?
Picking Bales

Brock over at Dark Bilious Vapors does a fact checking on a Commercial Appeal story about the cotton industry.

I should add that you ought to have DBV on your daily blogroll. They are way over on the koolaid drinking Left, but are decent people nonetheless. They often link to worthwhile reading, and can sometimes be pretty funny. If the acid boildermakers of The Pesky Fly are a bit much but you still want to know what's going on over in Loonystan, then the acid wine coolers at DBV might be your drink order.

And yes, Len, that was a compliment!

Oh no, please save us from another TNG Trek film. The article says that Captain Picard -- er, Patrick Stewart, has had meeting about playing Picard once again.

I have no problems with Stewart's performance as Picard, but it's time to let the corpse of Trek cool a bit. Braga's gone now from involvement with the franchise; Berman may be next. The next film is purportedly going to feature an all-new, younger cast in a story set before the first (TOS) series. They should let the series go fallow after that.

In their latest Trek podcast, Lene and JK point out that when you look at the landscape of Trek today, it's the fans who are carrying the legacy, not the studio. Fanfiction continues to tell the stories of Trek and fan films are the only new "movies" being made at the moment.

But they also point to something that I think is the way of the future, albeit a limited one, for the franchise. They mention that TOS was the originator and that every series and film and novel since has merely been elaborating the original idea or exploring variations and nooks of the universe. I think they've hit it. That's why the fandom is still so vibrant, because they can go where the franchise won't -- into darker stories, wildly imaginative variants, love stories, grand action, back stories. The studio has placed so many limits on what Star Trek "can't" do, or what it has to do, that they can't tell a lot of those stories any more.

The way for Star Trek, unfortunately, is "forward into the past." They need to go to a format -- movies of the week, miniseries, direct to DVD, web downloads -- that allows stand-alone stories. Then they need to open the franchise to writers, directors and actors who have stories they want to tell. Let there be a "David Lynch Star Trek," tell the story of Spock's childhood, tell an all-Klingon story full of violence and drama, revisit the "Mirror, Mirror" universe. It's a chance for people to add yet more texture to the legacy. It's an opportunity to play with the assumptions and conventions of Star Trek.

The possibilities are enormous, but ultimately limited. The galaxy is vast, yes, but still a finite place. Even in Star Trek. I think the "ship and crew" thing is played out, at least as the franchise is handling it. Science has opened up whole new possibilities that the original series, and early TNG, have now locked out. Star Trek is no longer a likely future, just a quaint idea of what could have been, like Fifties' sci-fi with its needle-shaped rockets, BEMs, evil scientists and room-sized banks of computers.

Part of the problem is that science has out-stripped the imaginations of most Hollywood writers. The world a mere fifty years from now is not imaginable today, as the world of 1950 was to writers like H.G. Wells. Even professional science fiction writers today have a hard time trying to create a possible future farther than a mere twenty years down the road. Opening Star Trek to people who can create really outlandish stories ideas is good, but the franchise is locked into a vision that precludes most of them.

Star Trek needs to go away. Possibly forever. It's Final Frontier optimism speaks for itself. It's time for another view to come along. It's likely going to be dystopian right now, as that seems to be the cultural zeitgeist, but sooner or later the pendulum swings back. Another generation will find a way to speak to the future. Don't block them with old ideas taking away the production money.
Headlines You Don't Expect

"Vandals Burn Swedish Christmas Goat, Again."

Link via the NSFW Fark.

INSTANT UPDATE: More Fark goodness! Missed the movie Serenity? No problem. Now you can see the condensed version, with puppets!