Frank was as good as his word (for a Verizon field manager, that's, like, amazing) and today I got my replacement air card. When I first installed it, it seemed to be a minor victory as the connection speed was super slow, but then I found that when I adjusted the settings on the card, I could traffic at broadband speeds. I don't know exactly how fast the connection is - it is no worse than the T-1 at work, but not as fast as some of the wireless networks I tap into - but the key thing is that it is a decent one and it is available anywhere where there is Verizon Wireless coverage. And I haven't given up the ability to tap into any of the other network sources.
Right now I'm on the train. How cool is that?
The revised edition of Battlestar Galactica is fantastic. I was surprised to see how many story ideas in the new show reflected those from the original, but it really is a case where they took all of the best elements from the original series and got rid of the more ponderous ones. The results are harrowing but no less interesting for all of that. The extremity of the situation is established and it creates a myriad of moral quandries for the characters, and that is where the program really excells. This is a completely character driven show, and the cast are all excellent.
Edward James Olmos presents a fascinating contrast to Lorne Greene's original take on Adama, being a complex man who does not always make the right decision. He is balanced on the show by President Roslin, played with great commitment by Mary McDonnell, who makes her character, forced into power in the most dire of circumstances, believable. Decisions need to be made, and they are not always easy ones to make. The presence of a competent civilian government is a big difference from the original show, and the occasional tensions between the two characters illustrate the relationship between civilian and military leadership. That is another element of the show that really works well. While Star Trek often took great pains to show how Starfleet was not very militaristic (leading to the question as to what, exactly, it was), the new Battlestar Galactica uses the military millieu of the titular ship to its advantage, both in terms of how the officers and enlisted interact as well as examining how a government uses the military. Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan) is an excellent example of how well wrought this aspect of the show is. He's a hardass, and he's very unpleasant, but the ship couldn't possibly run without him. Characters must deal with their rank as well as their position, which leads to additional conflict.
Starbuck. Yes, Starbuck is a woman now, and she, along with President Roslin, illustrates one of the main advantages of science fiction as a genre. Lieutenant Kara Thrace, callsign "Starbuck," is one of the most interesting characters on the show. Katee Sackhoff's character has many similarities to the character that Dirk Benedict played on the original, but she is much deeper, and the sex change only adds to her layers. Few genres allow for the exploration of a strong female character without having to deal with the oppression brought about by a patriarchal society. Contemporary or historical works must address this topic, and while it is one that bears examination, it also puts restraints on the type of stories that can be told. Neither Thrace nor Roslin have to deal much with issues regarding their genders, although their gender identities are crucial to who they are and what they do. This means that they are not defined in any way by men.
John Calicos' simply selfish Baltar has been replaced by John Callis' intense, complicated and often very funny Gaius Baltar. I was initially leary of where they were going with him, as the storyline reveals him to have a Cylon in his head, but they gracefully managed to avoid all of the pitfalls that could have led to. Instead, the character manages to even by sympathetic at times. He's still selfish, he's a sexist, he has no concern for anybody but himself (yet), but he's human (probably), and his actions, even when they're reprehensible, are understandable.
I really liked Bear McCreary's music from the Battlestar Galactica series, and I felt that Richard Gibbs (who scored the miniseries) and McCreary, evoked a technothriller than a space opera. This is an effect that is similar to what Christopher Gordon, Iva Davies and Richard Tognetti achieved with Master and Commander. The album for the season one is good, especially towards the end when the material from "By Kobol's Last Gleaming" is developed. It may yield material for a follow-up to The Farthest Reaches with its use of many idioms. Two caveats. The first is that I felt that the taiko drums used in the battle sequences, while effective, were a bit overused in the show, and on record. The second is that the album does not include the amazing cue that is heard in "Act of Contrition" for Starbuck's confession to Adama. But overall, a worthy effort, a great way to differentiate this series from the original, with it's rousing Stu Phillips score (which is paid hommage to in the pilot).