The View From American Samoa

Want to know what it’s like to live in American Samoa?  In the process, want to get some sense of where American Samoa is, who lives there, and what kind of wildlife you might find there?

My friend Sara lives there with her husband.  They are both lawyers who work for the Attorney General’s office on American Samoa, and they publish a blog, 14 South, 170 West, that recounts their adventures in their new home.  It’s a lively read that gives a good sense of what it’s like to be an American living far from home.

For the record, American Samoa is pretty darned far away.  It consists of several islands just a bit north and well east of Australia, and 2,600 miles west of Hawaii.  It became a territory of the United States in 1900 and played a central role as a staging area for Pacific operations during World War II.  More recently, the island has become well known for producing NFL football players.  Sara and her husband have lots to write about!

45 Glorious Years Of Star Trek

45 years ago — on September 8, 1966 — Star Trek first beamed across the airwaves of American television sets.

On that day, viewers first began to know Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Lieutenant Uhura, and the other regular members of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley became well-known faces and names.  Equally important, fans were introduced to the inspiring concept of the United Federation of Planets, with its concepts of brotherhood, and science, and peaceful exploration and coexistence with alien races.  The series offered the promise that better days lay ahead, when the human race could move beyond the racial division, strife, and savagery of the 20th century and realize its true potential.

Has any TV show been more influential to our society than Star Trek?  Not only did it captivate legions of devoted fans, it created a durable franchise that spawned multiple TV shows and movies that populated various points in the back story and front story of the original series.  It also introduced a host of sayings and gestures — “Live long and prosper,” the Vulcan split-fingered greeting, “Beam me up, Scotty,” and the Vulcan neck pinch, among others — that became, and remain, deeply engrained in popular culture.  The show’s vision of future vessels and devices also influenced design of military vessels and technological concepts.

For all of its influence and inspiration, Star Trek was, at bottom, a pretty darned good TV show.  (OK, some of the episodes stunk, but the good shows were really good.)  When 4:30 came on a weekday afternoon on the Ohio State University campus in the late 1970s, you’d find countless students — me and Flameface included — gathered around their TV sets, cold beers in hand, ready to watch once more the familiar, classic exploits of Kirk, Spock, and Bones and revel in being part of their world.

The Toledo Test

Tomorrow the Toledo Rockets land in Ohio Stadium for a noon game.  They are expected to give the Buckeyes a much tougher test than did the Akron Zips.

Toledo has a strong record of knocking off teams from the power conferences.  Big Ten fans will remember that Toledo has beaten Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, and Purdue in recent years, and the Rockets also have toppled Colorado, Kansas, and Cincinnati.  The Rockets have a quick, multi-faceted offense that can put points on the board.  Their quarterbacks, Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens, both provide a pass or run option.  They have a solid running back in Adonis Thomas, and a corps of receivers led by Eric Page, who caught 99 passes last year — 99! — and Bernard Reedy, who had two touchdown catches last week.  Tomorrow’s game will be a challenge for the Buckeyes’ defense.

Toledo’s defense features several good players, but it is hard to know how good the Rockets are on the defensive side of the ball.  Toledo gave up 22 points last week when they pounded New Hampshire, 58-22, but two of the opponent’s scores came when the game was out of reach.  The Buckeyes offensive unit no doubt will present much tougher matchups and more physical play.  On the other hand, many of the Ohio State offensive players are young and inexperienced, and haven’t yet been asked to come through at crunch time.  If Toledo could get a lead, the game could be very interesting.

Tomorrow Ohio State will need to focus on the job at hand and avoid looking ahead to next week’s road test against the Miami Hurricanes.  Of course, Toledo also will need to avoid looking ahead — next week they play Boise State, ranked no. 4 in the country.