decus, integritas, probitas

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Now reaching informed readers in America, Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Russia & Australia

Volume 4, No. 46

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor


Hi again, from the shores of the Salish SeaWell, this has not been a good week for Natalie Wood or Robert Wagner fans.  These headlines are certainly not indicative of so much else that is going on in the world and certainly in each of our countries and smaller communities.  But I think this kind of news makes the headlines for several reasons.

It gives us something else to think about when most of the rest of that same world doesn’t seem to be doing so good?  For those of us who admired Ms. Woods, it gives us a perfect opportunity to review the life of a very special human being and one who did as much as anyone during that period, from that little girl in Miracle on 34th Street to Marjorie Morningstar to Maria in Westside Story to portray the ethnic diversity of America in an unforgettable light.  It means something to me personally that she was born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko  

Whether it turns out that she was pushed off that boat and Wagner gets to spend the rest of his life preaching the virtues of prison celibacy to new boyfriends or whether this turns out to be another dog and pony show for those addicted to this kind of drama, takes nothing away from the fact that for awhile ~ however brief a span ~ an exceptional human being graced us with her heart and with her talent.

I would suggest that sometimes ~  from Ottawato Washington, DC, to Dublin, London, Olso, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Tokyoand Canberra~ we could all benefit by the example of one who transcended all those flags this modest publication reaches and stood simply as one of the best this planet has produced in some while.

Thank you, Ms Zakharenko.


One of the most controversial and troubled places on Planet Earth is finally getting a little relief, thanks to rain and the aid sent by the International Community.  Anyone who truly cares aboutSomalia will enjoy this bit of good news.  What impact it will have on the lucrative piracy industry remains moot at this point but it is amazing, sometimes, how the mindsets of people change when they are not starving to death.

More people than ever are dying in natural disasters but according to a new report released by United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming has far less to do with it than socioeconomic conditions.  Among these is the rather obvious fact that populations in particularly high impact areas are growing rapidly and far faster than even a disaster-resistant infrastructure can handle.

When a campus policeman at the University of California, Davis took pepper spray to Occupy protestors who had locked arm in arm while resisting eviction, he set off a firestorm of protest which is sweeping the planet.  Our thanks toAustralia’s Sky News for this one.


Vancouver has decided to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.  Her citizens are making that more than simply a great attitude and what they are doing can be emulated by any community with an ecological conscience.

The Occupy Vancouver movement, which began on Oct. 15, has lost most of the support of the citizens of this British Columbia community.  Local issues are again center stage.  A new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll reports that only 29% of Vancouver residents view the protest favourably, while 64% do not.  

In Victoria, Occupy protestors are leaving quietly, while in other provinces, they face the same national eviction order that rolled out of Ottawa last week.


In one Oregon county, residents are not only reaping the harvest of wind power but are being paid around $500 a year to use it

Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are leading the rest of America in preserving storm runoff and re-channeling it from the sewer system (and hence into other waterways as pollution) to living plants on eco roofs, highway and road medians, parks and people’s yards. 

Pacific Northwest farmers are among the most ardent supporters of the local food movement, according to a study recently released by the American Department of Agriculture.  In addition to farmers markets and local mom and pop groceries, they also sell to schools, restaurants and chain markets.  It’s an exportable example and I am, quite frankly, proud that it is happening where I live.  I like being able to shop at an outdoor weekend market five blocks from where I live, pay competitive prices and know that what I’m going to be eating hasn’t been “prepared for shipment” halfway around Gaia.


Scientists have finally determined the cause and date of the most massive extinction of species in the geological history of the planet.  It occurred approximately 200-million years ago and took out 95 per cent of life in the oceans and 70 per cent of life on land more than 200 million years ago.

Scientists at the University of California, Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have created what they claim is the lightest synthetic material in the world.  In a report published in the latest edition of Science, this stuff weighs 100 times less than Styrofoam.

The Chinese have moved one step closer to having a manned space station of their own.  A robot capsule successfully returned to earth after docking with the mini spacelab, Tiangong-1.


Remember the Alien movies?  Did you know the creature itself was inspired by something that actually lives on earth and in the ocean?  And behaves exactly the same way.  The good news is that it is only seven inches/two centimeters long.  But when a bunch of them wash up on an Irish beach ~ a totally unprecedented event ~ those who depend on the local fish population get very worried.  I found this one a little queasy for the photos of this miniature shrimp.  I am not an Alien fan either.  And even though my astrological sign is Pisces and I totally love all things marine, this story made me very glad I am not a fish.


According to the US Center For Disease Control and Prevention, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) afflicts an estimated 1% of the global population.  Some 1.5-million American adults are among them.  Despite this remarkable prevalence rate, most of us don’t really know what the disease is or how it manifests.  For instance, just having joint pain does not mean it is arthritis.  So, here are some myths and some facts about RA.

Part of good health for many of us is surviving the adolescence of our offspring.  I think one of the top stressors for fathers with daughters ~ and right up there with the first non-chaperoned date ~ has to be the whole teenage driving experience.  I have seen that one bring former Green Berets/Special Ops veterans to their knees in prayer.  Here’s a way to maximize the enjoyment of the Motor Years, or at least to survive them without occasionally going into cardiac arrest.

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


Although it involves the treatment of cancer and will probably be viewed as a decisive victory, this therapy will not be available for some time yet.  An oncologist source of ours explained it’s a little like turning ordinary citizen skin cells into cancer fighting soldiers.  The phrase this article uses is “harnessing the power of the immune system.”

Just a reminder from the Centers For Disease Control that breast cancer is the most common form of this disease in women and the second deadliest.  The CDC stresses the need for early detection.  A mammogram can spot the disease a good three years before it manifests itself as anything the afflicted can feel.  Yep, for more, please go here.

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


I’ve been musing on whether the extreme behaviour I sometimes see behind good intentions doesn’t really compromise the desire result.  My last relationship, for instance, tried to convert me to vegetarianism or so I thought at the time.  I lost 15 lbs the first two weeks on a totally meatless menu and anyone who knows me or has seen my photos knows that’s like sending a willow tree to the Y for a workout.  Totally unnecessary.  In Siobhan’s defence, she wasn’t proselytizing.  She just wanted me to dramatically cut down on the red meat in my diet.  I was, I confess, a Big Mac fanatic.  I told God and everyone else who would listen that if there were no hamburgers in Heaven, I was going to Hell for a decent meal.

I’m also thinking about some friends of mine who are, in my opinion, Eco-NAZIs.  They’re the type who spend all this money on all these energy saving/water conservation/chemical-free stuff and recycle with a devotion to detail often shared by the anally retentive.  If you’re not totally with the program, you’re part of the solution and God help you if you eat supper with them and in the process of cleaning up after, toss a tin into the wrong bin.  I’m as strong a supporter of green as anyone else and I’ve got almost as much time in grade supporting it as Ernest Callenbach.  But I’m also a profound believer that stress compromises the quality of life on this planet just as much as a belching smokestack and when you’ve got a bunch of people sanctimoniously ramming a preservation doctrine down the collective throats of the constituency, you’ve got the prescription for a dramatic backlash.  The Green Movement didn’t get where it is now by these tactics and they are inappropriate in a society which still guarantees the rights of all of us to make our own decisions in these regards.

And finally, here’s to the Occupy protestors around the globe but particularly inNorth America, where I live.  One of the local organizers told me last week that he felt they had gone far enough and that he agrees with the growing sentiment that when protesting the practices of Wall Street starts costing the victims of said institutions money, it’s time to explore other ways to achieve the same results.  I think he made a very sage observation and I hope more of his political peers feel the same.


Anyone who shops with a knapsack or backpack and has still been offered a choice of paper or plastic is going to love it if the Seattle City Council bans the latter.  My only problem with that will be finding something else to line my wastebasket with.  One of the young people in my life who is a borderline Ecoholic, buys pillow cases at garage sales and thrift stores and uses those.  She says that even when washing them is taken into consideration, the energy used to produce and maintain them is still less than the mining, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, unpacking and preparing for use of the plastic alternatives.  I ran the math and I agree with her.

Upcoming Seattle Events


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

Seattle/Lake Washington Eagle Camera



Check out an erupting volcano in the Congo which is attracting tourists.

This may not be the best of the net but it is certainly one of the silliest.


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

Baby pandas soak up sun for the first time

FREE VIDEO is for those of us who in whom the Inner Child is still alive and well.  It’s a joyful romp with totally ingenuous music and outstanding video footage, including scenes of trolley cars inSan Francisco.  This one gets fives stars from us. 

NASA Probe To Explore Jupiter is 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 forAmerica 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 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.

IrishCentral is absolutely the best commercial source of news, entertainment, politics and all things Irish and hyphenated Irish.

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.

(The) Legacy Project was originally designed as a course teaching students to make appropriate life choices personal and particular to them.  Its exercises have kids answering such questions as what they would like to learn, how would they like to make a living and what they can I do for their community.  What I found remarkable about these exercise is that so many adults these days are addressing these issues as well in order to survive hard times and stabilize in spite of them.

Liberty’s Kids is an animated half-hour series on America’s War of Independence.  It features a regular cast, including the voice of Walter Cronkite as Benjamin Franklin, and top Hollywood actors and actresses in guest roles.  What also works so well for younger audiences is the theme song, which is American Revolution rap.  To watch an episode online, please go here. 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 bestPacific 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 andAlaska. 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.


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.

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

Sponsorship ads are another way 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

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.


In what must be one of the most dramatic displays of compassion, understanding and correcting of course in the history of human beings, the days when chimpanzees and other primates are used as lab animals is quickly coming to a close.  The scientific, animal protection, legal and government communities are uniting to end the inhumane treatment of these creatures.  Nice going guys and no offense, but what took you so long?

Here’s an outstanding informational resource for the cat lovers among us.

Okay, here’s a question for all you critter lovers.  Would you pay £1,000 ($1,575.86 US) to cure an anorexic rabbit?

Here’s one that totally weirded me out and it’s not because I’m afraid of snakes.  I grew up around a lot of them, rattlesnakes especially, which is probably why I’m so quick to spot them in human form.  But I didn’t hang out with them.  They are among God’s creatures so I do not dispute their existence.  I especially don’t want to make a pet of pythons or boa constrictors because I had this uncle who was built like a Russian bear and if he liked you, you could generally count on sore ribs if he got you in a hug.  So when a reader sends me a story asking me a super athlete and a python have in common, I am hoping totally nothing at all.  I also believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Beaver (In Canada, we have Easter Beavers).  Pythons and human athletes do have something in common.  I’m warning you, if you really don’t like snakes, DO NOT GO HERE.

Animal Tracks is’s Critter Stuff.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordial.
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


Irelandis apparently a very good tourist destination for those who like seeing Jesus, the Virgin Mary and other religious people in nature and on things human made.  For the top ten most memorable sightings, yep, 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.  For a quick way to respond to what you’ve experienced here, yep, go here.

To have the graphically enhanced version of The Northstar Journal delivered right to your email box, please go to and note Sub Req in the subject line.

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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