I HAVE SLIPPED THE SURLY BONDS OF EARTH

Volume 4, Number 30

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Seattle, Washington

Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

HIGH FLIGHT 

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

 Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed
11 December 1941

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Thursday morning early, I watched the space shuttle Atlantis return to earth.  This was the final voyage for these brave young men and women and this particular flying machine.  There will be no more government funded shuttle flights.  No more of my tax money will be spent to “go where no man has been before.” 

I’m a science writer and I have a life-long love affair with both flight and sail.  I have an almost insatiable curiosity and a passion for discovery.  If there are no National Geographics in Heaven, for instance, I’m going to Hell for my reading material.  I’m also practical and I understand that during a Recession, when so many are not getting the basics of survival, programs have to be cut.  It is more cost effective to send robotic probes out into the universe.  Some of that money, I know, will go to help feed those who do not have enough. 

NASA’s Space Shuttle program was food for the soul ofAmerica.  It inspired millions who, like their Cro Magnon ancestors, looked into the starry night sky and wondered what it must be like to soar among those endless fields of twinkling lights.  When Atlantis or one of her sisters took flight, our hearts and minds went with her.

We were there too.  And for one brief “shining hour,” we too reached out and touched the face of God. 

IN OTHER NEWS 

We join the people of Norway in mourning the murder, Friday, of at least 87 of her people.  A single gunman bombed first the government center in Oslo, fatally wounding seven.  Then he made his way to an island youth summer camp and methodically shot and killed 80 children and staffers.  Authorities have a suspect in custody whom they describe as a right wing extremist.  Local Muslim groups have denied any involvement and it is believed the killer acted alone. 

Given the diverse nature of our readership, there are some issues we’ve been reluctant to discuss, but that we’ve still been watching.  It is now very likely that American women will soon have a much broader menu of insured contraceptive options.  Yes, for more on this one, please go here

One percent of children in the US (about one in every 150) is autistic.  If you’re fortunate not to have a youngster with this condition in your family, chances are that you know someone who does.  While it has long been believed that genes are the prime determinate, a new study out strongly suggests that environmental factors may also play a leading role.  Specially, researchers contend, the health of a woman during pregnancy and her general lifestyle could make a big difference.  Yes, for more, please go here.

Well, this does not come as real comforting news.  In the wake of that Exxon spill of 1,000 gallons of crude oil into the YellowstoneRiver, it has since been learned that US regulatory officials are not sure exactly how many pipelines and other transmission modes might be crossing rivers but they estimate at least 35,000.  And if they don’t know how many for sure, they also don’t know where they all are.  I expect a little more than this for my tax dollars.  Get it together, people.

OH CANADA 

Canada’s provincial energy ministers ~ British Columbia and Ontario excepted ~ have united behind a national energy plan which promises to make them, in the words of one global observer, an “international energy superpower.”  The ministers unanimously agreed that it was time to expand their markets.  At present, Canada sells 97% of her energy exports to the US.  Plans are to increase production and begin selling to other nations such as China and India. 

The Canadian government has also announced a sweeping and state of the art environmental monitoring program of private energy producers and their sites. What may perhaps be unique about this one is that the $50-million a year cost is being paid by the industry itself.  Greenpeace has said that such a program should have been in place decades about and energy industry representatives are not exactly doing cartwheels either.  It’s a classic Canadian compromise and for more, please go here

GOOD EXAMPLES 

We don’t necessarily encourage you to try this in your own yard without supervision but residents in an Oakland, California neighborhood are removing lead from the soil of its yards not by the traditional method of hauling it away but by breaking it up and mixing in fish bone meal.  According to experts, it really works and at $18.00 a square foot, at about half the cost of the former method. 

Ride sharing in Seattleis about to become much easier, thanks to the Internet, some visionary business thinking and appropriate application of new technology.  And since this is one that can be done almost anywhere else, yes, for more, please go here

Well, in what we found to be a totally ingenuous ~ if not altogether classically scientific ~ experiment, it has been determined that the most honest city among the 12 largest in America is Chicago, followed by Boston, Seattle and Dallas (tie for third), Atlanta and Philadelphia (tie for fourth), and then Cincinnati, San Francisco, Miami, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here. 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 

More than 10,000 students from 91 countries participated in Google’s first international science fair and American girls took top honors in all three age groups.  This is one of the feel good stories of the new century and told at the source far better than I could here.  Yes, for more on this one, please go here

Now that space exploration appears headed for the commercial sector in a big time way, it could get even more exciting than when the government was a major subsidizer.  Google has put up a $30-million prize for the first team to return a human being to the moon and a company in California’s Silicon Valleyis starting early negotiations for the lunar package delivery concession.  I found this story totally fascinating so yep, for more, please go here. 

HEALTH NEWS 

There are, as most of you know, two ages for a human being.  The first is the sum of the years they’ve lived.  The second measures how they have lived.  The healthier one has done that, the younger one actually is and the longer, therefore, one can expect to live.  RealAge recently conducted a survey of people in 50 American cities and Salt Lake City turns out to have the youngest population in the US.  To see where the other 49 ranked, please go here

ON THE CANCER FRONT 

Each year, for the last five years, cancer transplant survivors from all over America have gathered in Seattle for a reunion.  The stories they share speak of courage, of strength, compassion and an unshakeable faith in the rest of us to do everything we can to make sure that some day, like we’ve done with polio, German measles, tuberculosis and smallpox, no child, woman or man need die of this malevolency again.   

RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS:
 
Cancer:  What You Need to Know
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Cancer Research Journal
National Cancer Institute (American)
Fighting Breast Cancer: Breast Cancer Survivor Stories
Science Daily:  Health & Medicine News
 

DEFINITELY SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT 

In previous editions, we’ve commented on the apparent decline in Internet manners over the 17 years or so we’ve been on the Net.  I personally wondered if it was just me or if others felt the same way.  This article, by New York Times writer Henry Alford, entitled “Anyone there?  When Your Email Goes Unanswered” strongly suggest that nope, I’m not the only one, not by far. 

NORTHSTAR FAVORITES 

Celtic Woman is The Northstar Journal’s favourite musical performance group.  When it is inspiration in a song we seek, they invariably provide it and they look as good as they sound.  The production values of their performances, whether at the Helix in Dublin or on a television stage in Adelaide, are flawless.  Perhaps most endearing for me is that these Irish ladies are totally ingenuous, and totally free of pretense or posturing.  They have a global following and for a sampling of why, please go here. 

(The) Clearwater Marine Aquarium inFlorida is the home of Winter, the rescued dolphin who was fitted with a prosthetic fluke and continues to amaze marine lovers the world over by her recovery.  The CMA is in the marine mammal rescue business for real, both as a public amusement site at which they also take care of a variety of species, and on the web as well.  Their videos and other information also make for a nice “educational” experience to share with others. 

Finding Rootedness is perhaps the most empowering blog we have yet come across for those of us who value positive and empowering alternatives.  This one is for the window pushers among us.  It offers not only solid alternatives to the chaos but news of where these options are being successfully implemented. 

Irish Newsletter is an outstanding pocket source of Irish life, politics and times.  Particularly well written are their news snaps (shorts) which ~ according to friends of mine inErin ~ literally tell it like it is.  While theRepublic ofIreland’s population is only about 4.5-million, there are an estimated 80 million people of Irish descent worldwide and email version of this reached 50,000 of them.  

Sightline Daily is the bestPacific Northwest source of environmentally friendly news we’ve encountered yet.  They draw from newspapers and National Public Radio sources in Alaska, Alberta, British  Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State. 

Words Matter: How Media Can Build Civility or Destroy It is a “Should Read” for any of us involved in the communication of the written word. 

Yes magazine is the online Life and Look of the Internet combined and their present series “What Happy Families Know is both insightful and inspirational.

 SEATTLE SCENES

Looking west at our other mountains, the Olympics, still snowy in July. Photo by MSM

 FOR SEATTLEREADERS ESPECIALLY 

I can’t say this comes as bad news considering how often we’ve had the opportunity to tell people Seattleis NOT the rainiest city in America.  (We’re 41st).  Check this out.  Move over Seattle, Chicago aims to take “Rain City” title 

SEATTLE FACTS
Population:                   612.000
GreaterSeattleArea      3,707,400
Area:                            84 sq mi/217 sq km
Density:                        7,286 people per sq mi/2,821 per sq km
Annual Rainfall:             36.2 inches/92 cm, ranking it 41st in rainy US cities
 
More Seattle Facts & Figures
Upcoming Events
Seattle/Lake Washington Eagle Camera 

AVAILABLE FROM NORTHSTAR

Rusty Miller – Writer/Editor For Hire for everything from business letters to data entry to editing and proofing, to speech writing and special projects, you’ll find it here at negotiable rates.  I don’t consider any request too small and I don’t take on any that are too large.  For a full list of services and more information, please go here

The Northstar Gallery features photography ofSeattle available as postcards, computer wallpaper and workspace art. 

The Northstar General Store is a truly unique online shopping experience and reflects what you, the readers, have said interests you the most.  Whether it’s a specialty food item for that proverbial someone who has everything else or just to browse with some discretionary capital to spend on a whim, you’ll find everything from quality camping gear to interesting CDs, DVDs and books to totally fun and otherwise useless toys, women and men’s apparel and a wide variety of other items and wares you simply will not find under a single roof anywhere else on the Net.  And by shopping here, you help us pay our bills.  To enter and check it out, please click the picture of the store above. 

Wrath of the Testament, an exciting seagoing saga of war and rebellion, is now available for $3.99 at amazon.com. 

SPONSORSHIPS

The Northstar Journal is now accepting sponsorships from individuals, organizations, causes, etc. in which we believe.  Sponsorships begin at $5.00 a week for a simple small logo and link to the source.  Ads more elaborate than that are negotiated and charged on an individual basis.  For more details, email us at minstrel312@aol.com or click on the graphic above. 

CRITTER STUFF 

Well, my not exactly favorite creatures are back in the news.  We shared with you before how popular goats are becoming as invasive species control agents and generally to keep the tall grass and weeds down.  More and more towns in the Pacific Northwestand British Columbiaare allowing them within the city limits.  Now there’s actually a business in Boise, Idaho which rents goats out as weed whackers.  Much closer to home, right across the Sound from Seattle, on Bainbridge Island, 200 goats were turned loose in Blakely Harbor Park to fight the English ivy which is invading the Northwest.  For a related story, Researchers publish illustrated field guide to Pacific coast forest nonnative invasive plants 

Definitely under the heading “all creatures great and small,” there is a species of tiny hare out here in the Northwest called the pygmy rabbit.  Native specifically to the Columbia River Basin, they were believed hunted and trapped nearly to extinction in 2002.  Recently, three baby bunnies, all of which you could hold in one hand, and their mom were spotted in the wilds.  For understandable reasons, the exact location is not being disclosed.  Because the survival of any endangered species implies the survival on that which it needs and predicates the survival of species which depend on it for food, pollination etc., naturalists here are jubilant. 

Recommended Related Links:
Oceana:  The National Geographic of the World’s Oceans
How to Behave Around Bears
Seattle/Lake Washington Eagle Camera
National Wildlife Magazine
Go Northwest:  Northwest Wildlife Websites
BBC’s wildlife finder
National Geographic Daily News – Animals
Retrieverman’s Weblog: – Engaging articles on domestic & wildlife in the American South
Bugguide.net – More than most of us ever wanted to know about these critters
The National Park Service’s endangered species database
Center for Biological Diversity — profiles for a wide range of rare flora and fauna
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List - a comprehensive database for rarities around the planet 
 

YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP 

This one is straight out of the movie Jaws except it is not fiction.  Six scientists from Oceans Research was working off Seal Island, near Mossel Bay, on South Africa’s Cape coast were chumming for sharks when a 10-foot great white leaped out of the water and into the vessel, breaking fuel lines and disabling the craft.  Other boats in the area came to assistance and were finally able to get vessel and its shark to port, where the creature, still alive, was released and eventually returned, unharmed, to open waters.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here

Well, that’s about it for this week.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute to the next, please go here.  

Take care, stay well and God Bless

 

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