Winner of Two Hersh Best Read On The Net Awards

Volume 4, No. 41

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seattle, Washington

Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

St. Isidore of Seville, patron saint of the Internet

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Well, our condolences, of course, to all those who knew and loved Steve Jobs.  We agree with the tributes we have heard since.  We are reluctant, however, to canonize him without the passing of time.  It may be true that five hundred years from now, Steve will be recognized as one of the stellar individuals of human history.  I think that’s very likely.

But that’s not what I think about when I think about Steve Jobs.  I admire him for the personal example he set for a strata of society to which many apparently aspire but to which so few succeed.  He was a genius with a sense of perspective.  He was a visionary who shared his dreams with us in terms even the most cyber-challenged could understand.  He was a sensitive caring man to whom philanthropy was as much a need as a passion.  He was Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick of our time; the individual of the humblest of origins; a mutt with a transcendental pedigree.

Perhaps most of all, he was a reminder to me that being brilliant is not about power, arrogance or anti-social behavior.  It is about sharing, compassion, giving it back and playing it forward.

Thank you, Steve.  Nicely done, sire.


Healthy American men should no longer be given the P.S.A. blood test for prostate cancer, a government panel has decided.  The United States Preventive Services Task Force based its recommendations on the results of five clinical tests which determined that the PSA does not save lives, often leads to the use of unnecessary drugs, causes needless pain and sometimes results in impotence and incontinence.

Despite continued hard times in America, the crime rate has actually dropped over the last four years.  Forbes Magazine just released its list of the most dangerous cities in the States.  If you live in Detroit, Michigan; Memphis; Tennessee or Springfield, Illinois, this is not going to come as real good news.  To see how these ratings were calculated and to see where other communities ranked, please go here.  And for the flip side, here’s the link to the list of America’s safest cities.

We note that apparently Mexico is considering issuing “trial” marriage licenses, renewable after two years.  This is a country of some 112,000,000, about 83 percent of whom are Catholic.  It will be very interesting to see how the Vatican weighs in on this one.

A Canadian scientist who died three days before the announcement was made is this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine winner.  Dr. Ralph Steinmann succumbed to pancreatic cancer, one of the diseases his work in immunology was dedicated to fighting.  For a moving tribute to a quiet, gentle, humble, brilliant and dedicated human being, please go here.  Our thanks to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Montreal for this one.  For a complete list of this year’s Nobel Prize winners, please go here.


We would like to take this opportunity to wish Canada a Happy Thanksgiving.  Up in the “true north,” it is celebrated on the second Monday in October.  Since the colonial histories of our two nations differ to some striking degrees, for Canadians, it is not about Plymouth Rock.  It is about remembering those who came before us and the sacrifices they made so we could be here now.  It is like Remembrance Day and Canada Day in that it keeps founding visions of a free Canada, where all who pack the gear and see community as their own individual destiny, can live free and unafraid.  Here is how I feel about one very small part of this vast and very young nation. 

A Love Song
I crossed over today and watched the sun set on Boundary Bay.
Dusk came gently to White Rock;
children walking home from school in the gathering twilight,
housewives doing the odd bit of last minute supper shopping,
old men leaning on gnarled walking sticks,
Irish setters frolicking in forests
beneath flights of southbound geese.
The hills were a-twinkle with homecoming.
There is a tautness to this land and a gentleness to its people.
They have not forgotten notched timber, frozen flesh pump handles,
or the crispness of egg-gathering at dawn.
They are a red-faced and sturdy lot, a race which remembers sod and fen,
the Bogside and Derry, Dunkirk and Coventry,
and the banshee skirl of the Highlanders call to clan.
They are shipwrights and railroad workers, fishermen and provincial officials,
Mounties and merchants, Methodist and Moslems,
and they are as old as the Druids, the Celts, the Gaels,
the Angles, the Saxons, the Normans, the Britons,
the Vikings and the teeming refuse
of the five continents which once flew
the Union Jack.
Proud without the defiance which profanes and the conceit which conquers,
beside them, it is the land which is young,
and beneath the wisdom of their compassionate callouses,
it may remain so.
It is an inspirational land, theirs, and a rich one;
like America under Jesus,
and Eden under Abel.
If Mecca ever again assumes vestal form,
the pilgrimage will be made here.
© 1979, Merritt Scott Miller



Those of us who have lived in the rural areas of the Pacific Northwest (which, face it, is most of it) have the same respect for firefighters as those in big cities all over the world.  Within the ranks of these brave men and women are those who parachute into burning forests like commandoes behind enemy lines.  I have worked in close support of these exceptional individuals.  This story of one of them ~ retiring after 486 jumps ~ in some ways speaks to, of and for them all.

If you still do not believe that limitations are as much a matter of attitude as they are physical reality, ask yourself how a man paralyzed from the waist down might have been able to save two of the three men who were with him when his small fishing boat capsized in high seas off the coast of Kennebunkport, Maine.  Then go here to find out how he did it and why he does not consider himself a hero.

Three Americans are sharing this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.  They are the trio who discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, something roughly equivalent ~ as we understand it ~ to sailing to the edge of the earth and finding out there isn’t one.  Nice going, guys.  For a complete list of this year’s Nobel Prize winners, please go here.


Is it possible to build a small home for about the price of a laptop computer?  Has state of the art technology, environmental values and a growing “home for all” attitude brought affordable housing within the realm of the 1.3-billion people on this planet who live on about $456.25 a year?  Grist magazine’s Tim De Chant offers us a fascinating look at what the future might just hold.

Imagine for a moment, bicycle commuter paths and lanes that play music when used.  Apparently the technology is already in place to do that.  I live in a city where an estimated 24,000 people pedal to work and for recreation.  Even in a city which put the “L” in “laid back,” I cannot imagine all of us agreeing on what we’d like to hear as we zip along with our ear buds in or enjoying the cathedral stillness of some of our rain forested parks.  That’s probably the real reason the idea didn’t work in Portland, despite the popularity of The 59th Street Bridge Song, which may not be as well known to those who ask WHAT a Simon and Garfunkel is instead of who.

Climate change, which I guess is a new euphemism for global warming, is definitely having an impact on the wine industry, according to a recently released federal report.  Within 30 years, regions like California’s Napa Valley could be too warm for the limited temperature range grapes need to thrive.  The good news is that such non-traditional places as Southern England; Tasmania in Australia, New Zealand’s South Island, Canada’s Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Seattle’s Puget Sound and Oregon’s Willamette Valley could see dramatic growth.  I’m personally wondering how long it will be until we see a nice full-bodied Madera with the elegant title of Yukon Jacques.  


The American Center For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is reminding us that everyone over the age of six months should be getting a flu shot.  To find out where the vaccine is available in your community, please go here.

Good health is also about what one eats.  It can, as well, be about enjoying stuff that’s good for you, both in the creation/preparation and in the consumption.  Here’s an example of what we’re talking about.  How to build a better salad

We’ve said this often enough and occasionally provided what we’ve prescribed.  Readers Digest has been advocating for decades that “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”  Here’s more medical support for that contention.  Integrative Way: Laughter really is the best medicine

Food scares are nothing new in the history of the human species.  To the extent that they seem to have been with us forever, they are an ubiquitous aspect of our existence.  Does that mean we need to stress out or does it mean we simply need to take more caution?  Go here for our answer to that question.  Killer cantaloupe, scary sprouts, etc.  What to do?

Center For Disease Control Disease FAQs Index
Tips and Tools For Staying Young
Weight Watchers:  Calculate Your Body Mass Index


When it comes to the incidence of cancer among human females, it does appear that nature “discriminates”.  Minority populations often face increased risk of breast cancer

As if adolescence wasn’t tough enough already, imagine being young, very much alive and passionately desiring to stay that way…and then being diagnosed with a condition which could destroy that passion hour by hour, day by day.  Teens with cancer wrestle with unique challenges

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



What will we do if and when we either wean ourselves off fossil fuels our use them all up?  A Nobel laureate gives us a glimpse of that future and his predictions may surprise you.  Yep, please go here.



Baby pandas soak up sun for the first time

Will there ever be another like Steve Jobs?


Animal Tracks is Today Show’s CRITTER STUFF.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordially wild.  This is a great stress buster for me and a profound pick-me-up if I’m having a “poor me” day.

NASA Probe To Explore Jupiteris a National Geographic video whose production values I found outstanding.  This is one you might enjoy sharing with the family. 

OH AMERICA – Celtic Woman expresses my love for America far better than I have thus far ever been able. 

Winter, A Dolphin’s Tale is the Flipper of this generation and is the true story of a dolphin so snarled in commercial crab trap that her fluke had to be amputated in order to free her.  She was adopted by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she was fitted with a prosthetic.  The film, starring Kris Kristopherson and Morgan Freeman, is out now and I highly recommend it.


Daily Crossword:  This one from Universal has two levels.  It is extremely easy to use and it has some features like music and clues that we thought were pretty cool.

National Geographic Kids Page:  If you enjoy learning about the places, people and things which make life on this planet such a unique experience?

Vocabulary Quiz:  Take this 10-word daily test and see how you rank with people your age, younger and older.

 Word Games:  Merriam Webster has a totally creative menu.


Tank Hunter – This puts you behind the controls of a tank on a vast battlefield in which everything from small tanks to big ones to invisible ones is shooting at you.  Definitely the best game play of its type I have personally encountered.


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. is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (HTSA) website.  It contains a wealth of safety and reliability information on motor vehicles.  You can also, as have we, subscribe to an email newsletter which informs its subscribers of all vehicle recalls and the reason for them.

Sightline Daily is the best Pacific Northwest source of environmentally friendly news we’ve encountered yet.  They draw from newspapers and National Public Radio sources throughout the American west, northwest, Western Canada and Alaska. has a comprehensive email directory of American federal and state elected officials and government agencies.  You fill in two or three blanks, hit Enter and you’ve got what you need to offer support or air a grievance.

Yes magazine is the editorial hammer of the Green Movement and the most deeply rooted, informative, insightful and magazine on the Net.


And when the light turns green, cyclists, start your pedals. University District, Seattle, Washington Photo by Merritt Scott Miller

And when the light turns green, cyclists, start your pedals.  University District, Seattle, Washington  Photo by Merritt Scott Miller


As we acknowledged in a Northstar Journal Subscriber Special last week, we are glad that Amanda Knox is finally home.  We especially appreciated CBS affiliate KIRO 7’s decision to leave the whole family alone for awhile.  The other local media have apparently agreed to follow this example of responsible journalism.  Not only did that young woman enter a foreign penal system at the age of 20, she also became the center of global media attention.  She has endured a great deal in the last four years.  For so many of us who live here, Amanda Knox is a hometown girl who has been put through enough and deserves the chance to heal.  We are proud that at least Seattle appears to be giving her that chance.

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



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

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


Join us in celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week.

If we’re talking about survival of the most adaptable, especially around Halloween, this story about a century old bacteria unearthed in New York City should probably interest a few.  Not to kibosh the tradition, but yes, it was found in a time capsule.  Alive, after having been buried since 1897.  Our thanks to Ralph and Julie in the Bronx for this one.  And for the reminder that this is not necessarily weird in the Big Apple.

Here’s one we’re definitely going to follow.  Orcas aka “killer whales” live in saltwater.  So when three of them decide to cruise into a river in Alaska, they become the ‘real headlines’ of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.

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



There are some sports, the logic of which I do not understand, no matter who endorses it.  American novelist Ernest Hemmingway apparently thought that running ahead of a half ton of angry beefsteak with horns eight million feet long was a good way to get the blood pumping.  Pumping?  How about running?  As in blood running in the streets.  Well, I can’t remember who said it but I believe it.  Never underestimate how contagious a bad idea can be.  There’s a guy in the American Southwest who has imported this dubious test of Pamplonian manhood to the land of skydiving, bungee jumping, dancing with wolves and swimming with things big enough to eat them for lunch without indelicately burping.  If any of you are dumb enough to try this yourselves, please email us with your hospital room number so we can send flowers, some magazines, and a couple cases of common sense.

Well, that’s about it for this week.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute to the next, please go here.  For a quick way to respond to what you’ve experienced here, yep, go here.

Take care, stay well and God Bless.





About minstrel312

MERRITT SCOTT MILLER Bio Wrath of the Testament Author and Northstar Journal editor Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller is a former newspaper reporter who has published extensively in the Pacific Northwest and several times nationally. A U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, he began his career in the alternative media of the mid-Seventies. His own Sacramento-based monthly ~ Rapline ~ drew praise from Sacramento BEE metro columnist Herb Michelson in a column published that that newspaper; and from Berkeley Film Quarterly editor and author of the bestsellers Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging, Ernest Callenbach. A Northern California native with roots in British Columbia, Mr. Miller has written for several Northwest community newspapers, United Press International, the daily Portland Oregonian and for such Seattle publications as the Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Press and the University Herald. As an investigative reporter for the McMinnville, Oregon News-Register ~ and in conjunction with CBS News in New York, Washington, DC and Flagstaff, Arizona ~ Mr. Miller localized a story of alleged Contra gun-running by an international air freight company headquartered in that Willamette Valley community. During the 1987 Angel Complex Fire in southern Oregon, Mr. Miller worked as the lead dispatcher for the U.S. Forest Service and covered the disaster for National Public Radio and as a special writer for the Portland, Oregonian. His 1988 series on child abuse for a rural weekly earned him praise from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. In his career as a journalist, Mr. Miller has interviewed a Nobel peace laureate; an internationally renowned abstract artist; a popular folksinger and various Pacific Northwest elected officials, include a state treasurer and governor. An accomplished travel book writer, Mr. Miller has penned demographic and feature copy for the “Best Choices” series on Eastern Washington, British Columbia, Virginia, South Carolina and Atlanta. As either a contract or staff publicist, he has served a host of clients including the Olympia Music Festival, Umpqua Valley Community Hospital, the City of Canyonville, the Tiller Ranger District, The English School, the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, Yamhill County Assessor Kim Worrell and Workers of Oregon Development. His freelance publications include: United Press International, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Portland Oregonian, Forest World, American Trucking, Trucks, Oregon Adventures, Oregon Education, Old Oregon, The Entertainer, the Seattle Press, the San Juan Island Sounder, Northwest Passage, Northwest Connection, Seattle Source, Seattle Forum, the University of Colorado’s Writers Forum, Clouds, The long Beach Literary Journal and the Pacific Media Group. He has worked since the age of 13 and has been a hop harvester, professional musician, civil servant, forester, convenience market clerk, lumber mill worker, temporary word processor, technical writer and editor. He has also led a social services research and development team and has six years of radio and telephone communications experience. His interests include astronomy, aviation, camping, Canada, communications, conversation, cooking, dancing, economic development, education, environmentalism, exploration, film/DVDs, fine dining, government, green technology, health. History, human rights, International community, Internet media, law, literature, marine engineering & design, medicine, music, nature, networking, outdoors, pets, photography, romance, science, sexuality, technology, travel, water, wildlife His honors and awards include: Letter of Appreciation - Amnesty International; US Senator Patti Murray Letter of Appreciation for The Northstar Journal Blog; Editors Choice, International Library of Poetry; Congressman Edward Murray Letter of Appreciation; Congressman Frank Chopp Letter of Appreciation; Hersch Best Read on the Net Award for The Northstar Journal; President Bill Clinton Letter of Appreciation; Workers Of Oregon Development Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Police Department Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Mayor’s Office Certificate of Appreciation; California Supreme Court Justice Rose Bird Letter of Appreciation; Northwest Magazine Editorial Board Letter of Appreciation for Rain; Editorial Award, Society of Professional Journalists; Sacramento Bee Metro Column; Honor Roll: California State University Long Beach; Deans List: Long Beach City; Mr. Miller currently resides in Seattle, Washington, where he continues to edit and publish The Northstar Journal. He is working on two novels concurrently and a sequel to Wrath of the Testament.
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