decus, integritas, probitas

Winner of Two Hersh Best Read On The Net Awards

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

Volume 4, No. 49

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Lolita and Friend


Hi again, from the shores of the Salish SeaWell, if the American government sides with animal rights activists, a Northwest orca named Lolita will be coming home, some 40 years after she was kidnapped and forced for the next four decades to perform in aFlorida marine park.  Those seeking Lolita’s freedom are evoking the Endangered Species Act and legal experts say the outcome of this could have long range implications for other facilities holding animals prisoner for human entertainment, study and experimentation.

I’ll state it flat out.  I am not fond of cages.  I’ve lived in several of them ranging in size from a post-World War II Navy destroyer for 42 days at a sea at a time to the more typical cubicles of the late 20th Century workplaces.  I understand and appreciate the need and value of aquariums, zoos and fenced wildlife preserves, land and marine.

I do believe, however, that just as medical technology has evolved now almost entirely beyond the need to use laboratory animals, I think the same thing is true for the imprisonment of fauna in general.  We’ve got cameras in satellites now that can literally count the change in your pocket and three generations of dedicated naturalists packing the most sophisticated multi-media equipment in the history of life on this planet as we know it.  And we are setting aside tracks of restored or pristine environment to save critically endangered species from extinction.  We have, in fact, become a very “critter conscious” society. 

I think, then, that it is time to free all the Lolitas (and Willys) and study them in their own environment, where they can look back at us and interact with us on their home turf.


More and more people are living to be 100 or more.  How do they do it?  Is it an austere diet, a vigorous exercise regimen, a totally gung ho passion for life?  It can certainly be all of the above but a new study points to other factors that I found extremely personally empowering.  Yep, for more, please go here.

Despite appearances to the contrary, it appears America is actually nudging its way out of this recession.  According to the latest reports, unemployment in the United States has dropped to 8.6 percent.  That is the lowest it has been in two and a half years.

Well, tabloid journalism ~ the “yellow journalism” of the last two centuries ~ officially sank to a much lower place on the evolutionary scale when one of Rupert Murdoch’s veteran busybodies admitted that yes, he and his colleagues did hack/tap into private phones.  He also considers that perfectly acceptable.  We do not and we are calling for a boycott of all Rupert Murdoch publications and those who advertising in them.


First Nation tribes in Western Canada are once again preparing to sacrifice all to prevent another invasion of their land.  This story says it far better than any preview I could write.

Vancouver, internationally recognised as one of the most environmentally appropriate cities in the world, signaled their intention to continue down the emerald brick road.  Its citizens overwhelmingly re-elected Mayor Gregor Robertson and his “green team.”  For a real window on how the constructive political process works when give a chance, please go here.

It looks like a First Nation band in British Columbia’s interior has stopped a mining operation in its tracks.  The provincial supreme court ruled last week that the Tsilhqot’in “will suffer greater harm than Taseko (Mining Company) if the exploration and trail building work for the proposed New Prosperity mine continues.”


Here’s an interesting example of green entrepreneurialship and it comes from Minneapolis –St. Paul, the city Bicycling magazine named the most bike friendly in America.  On the Twin Cities’ popular pedaling route, there’s a repair station with a big vending machine dispensing repair materials, energy drinks and other things that descendants of Vikings need or enjoy when they decide to go for a spin on a clear (sub zero) winter day in Minnesota.

In one of the most enlightened wildlife preservation moves we’ve seen in a long time, the Washington State Fish & wildlife Department has implemented a plan to manage the nearly extinct gray wolf.  The goal is to get this creature off the endangered species list but not letting the population become so large that it poses a threat to livestock owners.  This plan also effectively places the responsibility for protecting this particular member of the animal kingdom with Olympia and not Washington,DC.

All of us pretty much know that the Santa whose knee we sit on at the department store isn’t really the St. Nick who reads our letters or slides down our chimneys.  Santa’s a tough act to follow, as they say in show biz.  But there’s a school out there which trains these life-sized Santa’s helpers and we thought you might enjoy this video of same.


Ever wonder what it might have been like to live in, oh, say the summer of 1939 in a place like, perhaps, Poland or France?  Imagine having Twitter back then too and what you might have read as events of history unfolded.  Someone has recreated that experience for you.  In my opinion, it is awesome.

There’s been a lot of criticism of Japan’s preparedness for the earthquake and tsunami which together caused compromised the integrity of a major nuclear energy generation facility.  The reality is that it could have been much worse.  Japan has an early warning detection system so sophisticated that ~ in a rather ironic twist ~ the American technical community is importing it and improving on it.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here.

I really love it when science and art merge.  And to me, some of the most striking images are those from the Hubble telescope.  These orbiting explorers do not send back images as we know them, but data that is rendered into images by a new kind of digital da Vinci or Degas.  Premier among them is Michael Benson.  For a slide show of his work, yep, go here.


Most of us ~ including this writer ~ could probably be in better shape, especially if we’re going to be battling extreme weather this winter.  To find out what kind of condition you’re in for your age and what you can do about it, please go here.

As most of us know, the holiday season can be really tough on relationships sometimes.  For help in dealing with that, please go here.

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


We talk a lot about breast cancer in this feature and it is usually with a feminine orientation.  It is easy, I think, not remember that men are also vulnerable.  So we don’t forget in the future, here is one man’s story.

A very wise woman who had seen much in her life once wrote in her journal, “Always remember that miracles are mundane in the cosmos and usually only wondrous to human beings.”  I think this story of a Welsh boy’s survival of a rare form of cancer and the alternative therapy credited for prolonging his life would certainly fit my mother’s definition of that one.

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


Were the explanations for our origins as a species ~ in the form of creation theory and evolution ~ spread into our civilizations by the operatives of manipulative extraterrestrials?  Who are we really and from what planet did we actually come?  For some provocative possible answers to these burning questions, yep, please go here.


BEST OF NET VIDEO THIS WEEK has to be a Canadian musician’s supercharged version of that Christmas classic, The Little Drummer Boy.  Sean Quiqley is no Robert Goulet but when you watch him in thick snow banging on a full set of drums, if nothing else, you cannot help but admire the heart of this son of Winnipeg.NORTHSTAR EDITOR’S NET VIDEO FAVORITES

Animal Tracks is msnbc.com’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 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.

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.

Safercar.gov 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.

USA.gov 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 of Seattle 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 minstrel312@aol.com.

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

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.


When we hear the term “combat veteran,” I don’t think most of us come up with a four-footed image.  But dogs have been serving in wars since the dawn of recorded history.  It is estimated that five percent of them who have done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have post traumatic stress syndrome.  For more on this one, please go here.

I am no fan of sharks but I do not like them slaughtered and I particularly never expect to see their fins in my soup.  Apparently, I am not the only one.  The taking of these primordial sea creatures in now banned in California.  Nice going, Jerry and company.

Animal Tracks is msnbc.com’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


Despite the fact that they are smoking and drinking more, the Irish are living ten years longer than now than they were in 1960.  There is sooo much that could be said about this, most of it far better than I could.  So for more, check it out 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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