Monday, June 20, 2011
Vol. IV No. 25
Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea. I was very moved this past week when a top government official and combat veteran of the most exemplary kind returned to the scene of where he won the Medal of Honor and met the man who commanded the forces on the other side in that engagement. The two greeted one another not as old foes but as comrades in arms. When asked by a reporter if they had ever really been enemies, the American replied, “only on paper.”
That is so often the actual way of it. And it is both the tragic folly of war and the redemption of battlefield valor. It is not the first time such a tale has been told, and as long as war remains a valid option of international diplomacy, I reluctantly doubt that it will be the last.
What I saw on national television were two men of infinite talent, honor, sense of duty and other traits so valuable among human society in any age, who also had in common a period of time in their lives when they focused all of that on trying to kill each other and others like them. Despite being only “enemies on paper,” they did a very good job of it. So many are not here to speak for themselves now. I wonder, if these not so silent souls, could speak, if we would we listen now, anymore than we did back then?
I’ve known war too. So when this American colonel and this Vietnamese general hugged, I was reminded of something the daughter of a man I once opposed said to me quietly just days before I met her father, who turned out to be really cool and who totally loved Seattle.
“Soldiers do not make wars, Mish. They only fight them.”
Yes, Linh Mai, I know. And die in them, silent and with no voice save those of the survivors. And no audience except the national conscience to which men like retired US Army Colonel Jack Jacobs address themselves.
I do hope we are listening this time.
IN OTHER NEWS
International Business Machines aka IBM turned 100 last week. Though not the oldest of American-based corporations, it is certainly among the more successful. It holds a dazzling array of patents, employs some 427,000 worldwide and whose sales reached nearly $100-billion last year. For a fascinating history and overview of IBM, please go here. To see where IBM ranks with other American corporations, please go here. Related: Top performers navigate hard times with skill, emerge stronger
Homework, that ubiquitous compromiser of childhood pleasures, may soon be a pain of the past. As a mounting body of evidence suggests, it does not necessarily improve academic performance and it does cut into family and play time, two activities childhood experts rank right up there with eating, sleeping and yes, school. Many of our primary and secondary institutes of learning are modifying, reducing or eliminating homework entirely. For more on this one, please go here.
Hundreds of hospitals in the UShave been performing needless and dangerous CT scans, according to a review of Medicare claims. Radiology experts claim that two of those procedures a day is not healthy because it exposes the patient to unacceptably high levels of radiation. For more on this one, please go here. For a map of where these hospitals are, please go here.
We note that New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, accused of extra-marital and in several cases, unsolicited, sexting of women across the nation (including one in Washington state) has decided to resign. We’re not sure that having an out of control libido necessarily means an elected official cannot do their job well. What it does suggest, however, is that said elected official is out of touch with the constituency and the realities of the political workplace. When said behavior is discovered ~ and it invariably seems to be ~ the media has a field day; the voters become outraged; the political establishment kicks into a self-righteous (and occasionally hypocritical) mode; and a lot of time, energy and money is diverted from the process of government and focused on some pathetic jerk who so needs the sexual stimulation the Net provides that he is willing to risk his marriage, his career and his honor as an American Congressman in the process. Maybe it’s just me, but I can think of a lot better ways our tax dollars can be spent.
In the wake of the post Stanley Cup rioting in Vancouver last week, one Canadian created a Facebook page to post photos of the rioters, who the Vancouver police chief characterizes as criminals and anarchists, rather than rabid hockey fans. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police found out about the Fadebook page and urged the some 400 of their own Twitter followers. Some 100 people have already been arrested and Canadians fromVictoria toHalifax have expressed shame and outrage. One source of ours inWinnipeg said, “I could understand this happening in the States,South America, for sure. Maybe even in theUK andEurope. But this isCanada, you know? And we just don’t DO things like that here.”
In one of those “It could only happen in Canada” moments, romance on the battlefield got worldwide attention after a mixed Commonwealth couple (he’s Australian, she’s Canadian) got knocked down by riot police last week during the post Stanley Cup demonstrations which occurred in Vancouver earlier this month. It was not some weird passion which produced this inspiring photograph but something more endearing. Even though they’d only been dating like six months? When she fell first, he dropped down to cover her with his body. That kiss he gave her was to keep her from getting hysterical under circumstances that would have tested the calm of a combat veteran. I’m glad to see something like this going global. I’m glad the couple got a chance to explain so this one will be remembered in its true and accurate context. For the interview with them and more, please go here.
We love it when the government takes a creative approach. In this case, the cause was saving salmon and what the US Fish & Wildlife Service has done is “invent” Sammie Salmon, a young Chinook from the Winthrop Hatchery in northern Washingtonstate. Sammie posts updates on his outward bound migration and the adventures he has along the way. We’re totally enjoying this one and we hope its example is adopted elsewhere. This is a fantastic way of blending education with the natural tendency of healthy human beings to love other creatures almost as much as they claim to love themselves and one another. Our thanks to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Ecotrope for this one. For more, please go here.
We admire any individual or group who can calm public storms by waving the magic wand of truth at them. The Daily Caller is a blog which does exactly that, debunking poor research, misapplied statistics and exposing shoddy science by government, commercial and private advocacy groups. We’re posting this in Good Examples prior to adding it to Northstar Favorites next week. This week’s blog is on foods which have received unnecessarily bad press.
While Japanhas been criticized for not being better prepared for the March earthquake and tsunami which rocked that nation of islands, the country is, in fact, a lot better prepared for seismic events than its earthquake prone counterparts in the United Statesand places like San Franciscoand Seattle, which are along major fault zones. To see how Japan is doing things differently and better, please go here.
SURVIVING HARD TIMES
Sometimes surviving hard times is as simple as making sure the bears don’t raid the trash cans on the same morning you’ve got a job interview or an especially long day of work staring you in the face. Here’s how some people in a Microsoft Seattle suburb on the eastern shores of Lake Washington are dealing with this.
NATURE ADVENTURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & EXPLORATION
Electric eyeglasses still sound to me like something out of a mid-20th Century science fiction novel. But I’ve been doing more reading out them and I’m thinking they might be a good idea for some people. They’re essentially electric bifocals and a tiny discharge of current is used to switch the close-up part of them on and to adjust the focus. For more on this one, please go here.
Here’s one we thought was a little weird. Looks like the sun goes through an awake and sleep cycle too. It has apparently been in the former for the last 50 years, hence all the extra solar activity that produces, among other things, the Aurora Borealis, aka “the Northern Lights.” But now the sun is yawning and probably in another forty years or so, will go back to bed. Astronomers are urging those who really enjoy this particular cosmic show to catch it while they can. It is not likely any of us will be around when the sun wakes up again. For more on this one, please go here.
Sometimes good health is also a matter of being inspired by a good example. I’ve been for some years an admirer of Sir Richard Branson, an extremely successful British entrepreneur, adventurer and philanthropist. At 61, he’s trim, physically, well-grounded and likely to cross the 100-year mark running a marathon in a far flung country which once flew the Union Jack. He spoke frankly about his good health and lifestyle in a recent interview with The Mail Online. For more, then, please go here.
Here’s yet another reason for making sure you get six to eight hours sleep every 24. It keeps your brain younger while, we are assuming, still allowing you to retain the wisdom of the years you’ve earned. For more on this one, please go here.
Scientists have implanted prosthetic brain implants in laboratory rats which offer exciting possibilities in the treatment of such human conditions as dementia and Alzheimer’s. For more on this one, please go here.
ON THE CANCER FRONT
Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society ,596,670 Americans will be diagnosed with this disease.. Of those, about 571,950 ~ more than 1,500 a day ~ will die. For more on this one, please go here.
RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS: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
Well, it looks like top management at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have decided to grant their employees more latitude on investigative matters. Agents will no longer need “firm evidence” to investigate individuals and associations the FBI suspects might be involved in criminal activity, including terrorism. In this day and age of increasing fear or terrorism, this new “broadening of powers” takes on an Orwellian tone for me. On the one hand, if you’re not doing anything wrong, then I suppose you have nothing to worry about. On the other, when does disagreement with government policy become ~ in the government’s eyes ~ criminally unpatriotic and therefore, cause for investigation? There’s also a profound sense of déjà vu to this one as I remember reading about the blacklists of the McCarthy Era and the Draconian exercise of these powers by J. Edgar Hoover during the Vietnam War and Civil Rights era. This one really bears watching, I think.
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 WashingtonS tate.
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.
For SeattleReaders Especially
For those of you still looking for work in the Seattle area, you might want to contact The Boeing Company. In order to meet international demands for fheir 737, they plan to increase production at their Rention plan to 42 planes a month or two per workday. They’re going to need more people than they’ve got now to do that. For more on this one, please go here.
SEATTLE FACTSPopulation: 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
FROM YOU GUYS
GOT A MINUTE?
A man was taking it easy, lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds. He was identifying shapes when he decided to talk to God.
“God,” he said, “how long is a million years?”
God answered, “In my frame of reference, it’s about a minute.”
The man asked, “God, how much is a million dollars?”
God answered, “To me, it’s a penny.”
The man then asked, “God, can I have a penny?”
God answered, “In a minute.”
Thanks again, Sacred.
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.
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Apparently the police department of a city north of Seattle did something to really make a family of crows angry. From their nest at the edge of one of the Department’s parking lots, they’ve been dive-bombing and strafing (airborne pecking) officers going to and from their vehicles. One veteran cop described them as velociraptors. Anyone who has had any experience with them at all, including the experts who have studied them, will dispute that crows are extremely intelligent, work together for common goals, bear grudges and defend their territory. In many ways, they embody all of the vices of human behavior and few of the virtues. While they may make tolerable allies, they are pestilential enemies. State Fish and Wildlife officials are taking a typical stance on this. It’s up to the police department to adjust to the birds, not the other way around. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, folks. For more, including a video on this, yep, go here.
If there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that some of our non-human neighbors ~ who were here first ~ are taking back the ‘hood, as it were, you might want to check out these photos of bears doing exactly that.
Recommended Related Links: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
When an Oregonlaw enforcement officer named Byrd rescued a redtailed hawk chick, the symmetry was just too perfect to pass up. Yep, check it out here.
A FINAL WORD
I’m probably as big a fan of appropriate technology as anyone I know. I think, however, there’s a tendency on the part of people like me to depend on come inventions a little two much, like these ladies did on the GPS in their car and wound up going for a swim.
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