decus, integritas, probitas
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Volume 4, No. 52
Monday, December 26, 2011
Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea. Well, it’s the time of the year when lots of magazines and newspapers, bloggers and talking heads and corporate chief executives do two things I avoid like an itch in my longjohns.
The first is presenting the year in review. One individual or a small cabal of them decides what we should all remember. Excuse me? Whose life are we living here? Lots of my Hallmark Moments would not make page zed in the Seattle Times but they were big bold headlines for me. There were also a lot of events and individuals which made the world media stage that I would just as soon had not happened and/or were never born, including the acts of terrorism for which kids who played with model airplanes as kids now get to seek retribution with flying, remote-controlled cybernetic assassins. Where’s the Folgers in my cup behind that stuff?
The other venerable and enduring media tradition is forecasting the year to come. Ooookay. And with the same accuracy of meteorologists in the midst of global warming. Look at the basic assumption around “seeing” into the future. It means that events which have yet to transpire have already been scripted. Somewhere, they’ve already happened and all we need to do is find out where they were recorded for posterity. Then read, take notes and report.
That is the stuff of profound science fiction. Have you ever noticed how quickly one of those alternate reality scenarios can get complicated? Think about it. Consider the individual in this world you absolutely cannot stand. Think about an infinite number of those individuals coming back from the past or dropping in from the future because time travel has become all the rage of the noveau not starving.
I believe instead that we’re pretty much making it up as we go along. Healthy people remember stuff that improves their chances of getting through the Minefield of Life without losing a vital body part. Unhealthy people forget everything each time they wander through the minefield and most of their lives are spent repairing the damage of what many would consider an attitudinally self-inflicted wound. Darwinasserts that survival belongs to the adaptable.
I believe the future belongs to those with the strength of character to lead meaningful lives. I haven’t met a single human being ~ ever ~ who was not capable of doing that. It has always been a matter of personal choice.
IN OTHER NEWS
The controversy surrounding climate change is seriously hampering the scientific community’s ability to study it and make recommendations. To see why it is NOT a good idea to use global warming as a political football, please go here.
A mass of flotsam twice the size of Texas is moving east across the Pacific Ocean and some of it has made landfall on the coasts of Alaska and British Columbia. This is debris generated by the tsunami was struckJapan this past March 11.
Much of the North American continent rests on permafrost, which is usually frozen most of the year around. Much of it has decaying planet matter in it and when permafrost thaws, bubbles of methane gas burst from the water. This bubbling brew has scientists alarmed because more permafrost is thawing and not refreezing, with the resulting greenhouse gases caught in a highly toxic chemical Catch 22. To see why they’re concerned and perhaps why we should be too, please go here.
Vancouver’s green team continues its campaign to make their city the greenest in the world. Their next target is diesel emissions.
I think only in the Maritimes could a hurricane battered lady pelican charm the socks off most of the sentient population of an entire nation.
In a dramatic rescue in high winds and blizzard conditions, a Vancouver man was saved from freezing to death on a mountain on Vancouver Island.
24/7 Wall Streetjust came out with their list of the ten best cities in which to live without a car. To see how they arrived at this list and to see if your community made it, yep, please go here.
The Seattle City Council this month banned one-use plastic bags from the retail sector. It seems that for decades now, shreds of these ubiquitous sacks have been showing up in ever echo system from the Salish Sea to thePacific Ocean.
Each winter, hundreds of whales from the North Pacific migrate south to the warmer waters of Baja California. Occasionally one of them gets stranded. And occasionally, local humans and visiting tourists rescue them, as this video clearly shows.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE & EXPLORATION
What’s next in the world of cybernetics? How about wearable computers?
Scientists believe that all lunged life evolved from a species of fish which evolved limbs and learned to walk on land. This was thought to have occurred around 375 million years ago but fossil footprints found in Polandrecently suggest it more likely occurred 20 million years earlier. I found this totally fascinating.
Alzheimer’s strikes hundreds of thousands each year and has become symbolic of the end of the road. The good news is that apparently half the cases of that memory and personality robbing condition can be prevented.
If we saw a loved one either about to do something incredibly self-destructive or engaged in same, most of us would not hesitate to intercede. Obesity is epidemic in most nations, including the nine this magazine reaches. Why is it so hard for us to tell someone that unless they lose the extra weight, they’re going to die sooner than they should, of multiple causes none of which feels good, and that in the process, they will cost their families and communities thousands of dollars? Perhaps just as relevant a question? Why do grossly fat people put us through that in the first place? Don’t they love us enough to assume personal responsibility for their health and well being?RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS: Center For Disease Control Disease FAQs Index Tips and Tools For Staying Young Weight Watchers: Calculate Your Body Mass Index
ON THE CANCER FRONT
Here’s a good reason for brushing after every meal besides browning your dentist off by not giving them enough business. Brushing after every meal prevents lung cancer.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
The American government has requested of a scientific journal that they not publish details of the experiences which produced a synthetic avian flu virus. The publication has provisionally agreed, as long as scientists engaged in legitimate research can have access to the data. The unprecedented federal intervention is allegedly motivated by concerns that terrorists would be able to manufacture the virus. This reminds me a little of attempts to make it difficult to buy firearms associated with acts of human aggression. There’s a weapons black market that has been running globally since the Neanderthals tried to regulate the size of bear-bopping clubs. If the lethally obnoxious want that synthetic bird flu virus, they will obtain it. Meanwhile, those uncredentialed independent researchers who may have the talent to develop antidotes and vaccines will now be forced to enter one of the biggest bureaucratic labyrinths since the invention of the maze. We sincerely hope this American example is not emulated.
TAKE A BREAK ON NORTHSTAR
BEST OF NET VIDEO THIS WEEK
A baby polar bear whose mother could not produce enough milk to feed it is being cared for at a wildlife refuge in Denmark. If you’re allergic to cute, avoid this one at all costs.
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.
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.
GAMES & PUZZLES
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.
HOSTILE FEELINGS RELEASE GAME
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.
Irish Central 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.
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 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 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.
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The death of one of the smallest creatures in creation is helping marine biologists much better assess the toxicity of a total environment, rather than just the water. This bacterium lives in the silt at the bottom of a bay and like a great many creatures, it lights up as it eats. Conversely, it fades when it dies. So by measuring the luminescence of a particular colony of these guys, scientists are better able to determine the persistence of some lethal chemicals in the bay bottom that the currents and tides might temporarily wash away.
The American National Institute of Health has said it will stop funding any research which uses chimpanzees as lab animals. The Institute has decided that the creatures are too closely related to human beings to conscience what many animal rights activists have considered torture in the name of science.RELATED LINKS: 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
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
Apparently if you’re a rock musician, there’s an age to avoid at all costs. At least five have died at 27. Or at least that’s the myth that has permeated the rock culture for decades now. Is it true, though?
Take care, stay well and God Bless.