Volume 4, Number 33
Sunday, August 21, 2011
And in loving memory of Shannon Patricia Goddard Mills
Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea. It’s a mixed bag this week for us, as I’m sure it’s been for you. So starting out close to home, we’d like to welcome back to the masthead my best friend and surrogate brother of some 32 years, Dennis William Steussy. He’s a family man from a farm in Minnesota and he was “second in command” when this publication, as a monthly, won the Hersch Award for best read on the Net, two years running.
He’s also the co-founder and partner in Northstar Communications, the parent company which produces the Northstar Journal. He is also the editor of my novel, Wrath of the Testament, which is available as a kindle book on amazon.com. He’s a career educator and very active in both his church and his community. He’s also the father of two adult children and has been happily married for about 25 years now. With Denny back on board, we’re going to launch some new features and continue to evolve into the reader-driven publication you folks have let us know you want.
And it has been an undeniably hard summer for Americans. It’s been an iconoclastic decade, for that matter. My infamous Grandpa Seamus used to say that the only real problem he saw with sacred cows was that in hard times, a lot of them wound up on the menu. Americans have watched as their exalted financial institution betrayed them and then lied about it. They listened to British Petroleum temporize an oil spill of catastrophic proportions. After Katrina, they waited as an unresponsive and bumbling federal government apologized for criminal ineptitude, even as the death toll continued to rise. Most recently, of course, they had front row seats as their elected officials played power games with fundamental quality of life issues.
Americans have an amazing capacity for suffering profound foolishness, their own included. They also do not go gently into anyone’s good night and their patience in these regards is not infinite. They vent and blare and make a great show of letting off steam. But then there is the chilling calm which follows, when they become incredibly polite and circumspect because decisions have been made and change put into motion.
I’m hearing the first resonant strains of that silence now. And I like it.
IN OTHER NEWS
Well, a city which suffered a major earthquake a decade ago has decided to replace part of its viaduct with a tunnel. This will make the fourth subterranean arterial under Seattle. For more on perhaps the dumbest idea since handles on a hula hoop, please go here.
Discrimination is apparently alive and well in the scientific community. Black researchers applying for grants to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is two-thirds more likely to be turned down than a white counterpart, according to a report published this week in Science Magazine. The NIH commissioned the study and has promised to act on its findings.
Global warming may still be the target of skepticism by members of the Flat Earth Society but for some 2,000 species of flora and fauna, it is a reality from which they are literally fleeing and they’re moving north away from the equator at an average rate of 15 feet a day. See related: Walrus herds gather on Alaska’s northwest shore
Vancouver will very likely experience major flooding by the year 2100, according to a report recently released by the British Columbia provincial government. Like most coastal communities, this city has building codes regarding construction in areas known to flood. These are based on current sea levels though. Thanks to global warming, the ocean is expected to rise about a meter or a little over three feet.
The University of Washington is apparently the nation’s “coolest school,” according to Sierra magazine. The environmental protection publication surveyed 118 US colleges and ranked them by their green efforts, sustainable initiatives and environmental education programs. The top 20 included: 2. Green Mountain College (Poultney, Vt.); 3. University of California, San Diego; 4. Warren Wilson College (Asheville, N.C.); 5. Stanford University; 6. University of California, Irvine; 7. University of California, Santa Cruz; 8. University of California, Davis; 9. Evergreen State College; 10. Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.); 11. University of New Hampshire; 12. Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.); 13. Colby College (Waterville, Maine); 14. Western Washington University (Bellingham); 15. University of California, Los Angeles; 16. University of Connecticut; 17. Clark University (Worcester, Mass.); 18. Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.); 19. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine); 20. University of Maryland
Romance and minor league baseball are both alive well in America. Take a half-minute break to check this out.
Well, here’s one which has infinitely exportable possibilities. Officials at a prison in Nebraska decided to adopt a couple of cats they learned about from inmates volunteering at the local animal shelter. The felines are apparently having a real civilizing effect of the incarcerated human population. While we do not believe that penal institutions should be fun places to live and hang out, we have long believed that they need not be a breeding ground for the very crimes they are designed to punish and discourage. So, go Sarge and Nemo.
Texas is experiencing the lowest rate of violent crime in 30 years. Because of that and a more enlightened attitude toward incarceration in general, the Lone Star State is actually shutting down prisons. We found this slide show really interesting.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE & EXPLORATION
Portland, Oregon has moved one step closer to the New Age of the Electric Auto. There’s a street now dubbed “Electric Avenue: which has seven charging stations. They’re free as long as the regular parking meter is fed. One of them can charge a car in a half hour; the others in four to six. These stations will also be collecting data on peak usage and parallel studies will be conducted to see where those vehicle owners go and what they do while they’re cars are being juiced up.
Even as America’s space shuttle program ended, there’s a government agency which is funding research into interstellar travel. On November 11, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will award a half million dollars to the best business plan for developing a spacecraft which can reach the stars. This was really interesting and had an outstanding artist’s rendering. See related story: Nuclear Space Rockets and the Most Fascinating NASA Man You’ve Never Heard Of
How close are we to a totally bionic human being? Much closer than most of us realize.
It’s called “the culture of honor.” It originated with the Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland and reached America in the 1700s. It’s the belief that a man’s reputation and honor is the most important thing he possesses and it must be defended at all costs. There is no forgiving an insult, however slight. It must be met with a response in kind. Ideally, it must be avenged tenfold. Places in America where this culture of honor flourishes include South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. Not surprisingly, it is killing a significant share of those who subscribe to it. It has victimized our species since Cain slew Abel. Yep, for more on this one, please go here.
With summer’s end in sight, parents will soon be packing school lunches for their kids and trying to make them nutritious without using terms like “healthy” or “good few you.” Here’s five ways to fool your kids or grandkids into good eating habits.
ON THE CANCER FRONT
A new drug for fighting the most lethal form of cancer and just been approved by the FDA. This is of particular interest to those suffering from melanoma aka skin cancer.
The results of a ten year study have also proven that the caffeine in coffee is also good for protecting the skin from the ultraviolet light spectrum that causes skin cancer. Yep, for more on this one, please go here.
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
The one nice thing about solar power is that it doesn’t leave any residue so toxic it could destroy all life on this planet. Not the case when we smash our little buddy, the atom. Where to store the waste from the Fission Community has long been a problem and the Hanford nuclear reservation, in Washington State, has been one of the sites where this radiant poison is stored until we figure out what we really want to do with it. Now, the federal government has decided to encase it in glass and bury it so keep it will probably take the next humanoid species about 40,000 years to find it. Scientists are trying to determine how long glass will stand up to this. Until recently, the longest running test was 25 years. Now, however, thanks to a 1,800 year old Roman shipwreck in the Adriatic Sea between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula, they have glass which has slept in corrosive saltwater for almost a millennium. So they’re studying these sample to try to see if glass similar in composition would work. Note, those old Roman glass jars were carrying olive oil, wine and other liquids, not spent nuclear piles. But I guess risking the futures of generations unseen and unborn by utilizing something which seems to me a glorious page from the Quack Scientist’s Handbook is better than investing the $12.2-billion the Department of Energy is spending on this vitrification plant at Hanford in solar, wind and other benevolent alternatives.
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 in Florida 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.
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 in Erin ~ literally tell it like it is. While the Republic of Ireland’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 best 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.
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
How would you like to help the Space Needle celebrate its 50th birthday next year and maybe win a trip into space worth $110,000? Yep, for more, go here.
SEATTLE FACTS Population: 612.000 Greater Seattle Area 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
Any media professionals interested in relocating to the Greater Seattle area? Microsoft is looking for a good PR person. For details, http://bit.ly/ostsPs
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 of Seattle 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.
Sponsorship ads are another way The Northstar Journal generates operating capital. These begin at $5.00 a week for a simple small logo and web page link. Ads more elaborate than that are negotiated and charged on an individual basis. For more details, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever met a mountain lion in the wild? If you’d like to read the story of a man who has ‘survived’ several encounters with them and has come to love them, yep, go here.
Now here’s one of our ideas of a perfect partnership, especially if you’re as fond of Oregon wines as I am. And as fond of helping wounded creatures get another shot at life. We’re talking barn owls protecting vineyards and yep, for more on this one, please go here.
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
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
This story surfaced recently in Russia and we can understand why it came to light almost three months after it happened. It probably doesn’t say much for airport security when someone can smuggle a bee hive on board a commercial flight. Journalists covering the event lauded the extraordinary heroism of the crew who apparently did not panic when the bees got loose. The flight landed without incident and the bees were not sent to a gulag.
Take care, stay well and God Bless