decus, integritas, probitas

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Volume 5, No. 01

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  I hope, of course, that all of you had a good new year.  Mine arrived on the wings of a 24-hour flu bug so I couldn’t enjoy the festivities in the traditional fashion.  I’m fine now and it was a milder form, I suspect, than many experience.  Mostly what it did was slow me down and make me reflective.  Yep, sometimes that’s what it takes to do that.

Last week, I said I don’t believe in predictions.  In this week’s Northstar Forum, we’re looking at 12 events of 2011 which are trending into this new year.  I pretty much agree with the impacts and the results.  I have a wish list of what I hope happens in 2012 and it’s not a whole lot different than the letter I wrote Santa except I left off the size-specific stuff.

In a national election year, I hope that we chill out and start being nicer to one another again.  There seems to be this virulent strain of anger fueling both the escalating trashing in the political arena and the nastiness I’m seeing on the Internet again.  I recognize it because I’ve seen it before.  It is the behavior of trapped creatures and of some men when the noose is being drawn tight.  It is the blind striking out just to end the pain.  It is the desperation which justifies random shopping mall shootings and the systematic genocide of Native Americans, Irish, Armenians and Jews.  Nations have been known to die from it.  More than one species has been made extinct by it.

I hope, instead, that even more of us will look for the positive and life-affirming because it is out there.  The more it is valued, the more it will grow.  The world ~ our species ~ is filled with exceptional people and when these are praised and rewarded, they are emulated and their ranks swell.  I believe it’s possible for a society and a nation to have such a cool citizenship that those who either cannot or choose not to “Go for the Gold,” simply and of their own volition, have little or no influence.  Despite our pledges and precedents for pluralism, we have always been aristocratically inclined.  I’d like to see us try an Aristocracy of the Aware and Actualized.

I hope this year marks a return to a gentler way.


Apparently, the Dragon is launching itself towards the stars in earnest.  Chinalast week announced an ambitious  five-year plan for space exploration which could well place that in the lead for 21st Century space race.  For more on this one, please go here.

I am not real proud to report that apparently, in the state of Washington, women are paid about 76% of what men get for doing the same job.  I honestly thought we’d come a lot farther than that.

Nearly 11,000 Americans a year die from chemicals released into the air from coal processing.  Thousands more are sickened and hospitalized by them.  After some 20 years of research, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided enough is enough.  For more, please go here.


In international circles and in unrevised history, Canadais legendary for not only tolerating diversity but embracing it, both at home and abroad.  Maple Leaf pundits have quietly suggested for decades that these traits were acquired in order to live peaceably with the United States.  To me, this story of how some people in Vancouver rescued a skunk with a plastic lid wedged around its neck is an allegory of the most profound nature.

I would not do this in a million years because I would turn into the largest blue popsicle in the world.  But I admire human polar bears, especially when they do it for a good cause.

Canadian researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have come up with a nutrition “cocktail” that is extending the lives of laboratory mice.  They are very optimistic that it or a variation of it will work for human beings.  Canadians have been leaders in the field of aging research and this story is another example of why.


We offer this one with a couple of I think understandable reservations.  There’s a woman in Seattle ~ in a neighborhood not far from here, as a matter of fact ~ who is really into living off what grows locally and she is not a vegetarian.  That’s how Eastern gray squirrel wound up on her menu.  I’m well aware that lots of the world eats rodents.  So do a lot of other creatures without a human’s dietary options.  I also know that, within most of the city limits, squirrels have no natural predators.  If this woman’s example is emulated, that could conceivably unbalance several ecosystems.  On the other hand, it could bring steady protein within reach of the homeless and other hungry.  Have I tried it?  No, I have not.  Will I ever try it?  The day the Devil shows up in Hades wearing mink boxer sorts is the day I will have tried fricasseed Eastern gray squirrel.

When it comes to saving lives, compassion sometimes knows no flag.  This was never more apparent than when an Australian warship answered the distress call from an Iranian vessel out of fuel and food in the Gulf of Aden off the Yemen Coast.

Thanks to ten people in Utah who decided they could make a difference, three children who might otherwise have drown in an icy river are alive today.  In my opinion, it doesn’t come much better than this.


We’re looking forward to the seventh annual Pogie Awards.  This year’s nominees include a 16 gigabyte USB flash drive that retails for $25 and SoundRacer, which plugs into a vehicle’s cigarette lighter and uses its sound system to make the rig sound like a race car.  This is a best gadget or gimmick ceremony and the list of nominees is a trip.

Some discoveries in science are predicable products of dedication, discipline and adequate funding.  Others happen seemingly by accident and still others are totally unpredictable.  To find out what one veteran science writer thinks we’re in for this year, please go here.

With the development of the self-healing computer chip, a whole new era of reliability, performance and product longevity appears to be dawning.  For more, please go here.


Here’s one that somehow does not surprise us.  Happy people have healthier hearts and live longer.  For more information and a program to tweak your own happiness level, please go here.

Apparently there are psychological reasons to believe that the Democrats and the Republicans in Americaand opposition forces in other nations will stop the name calling and other nastiness in favor of mediation, accommodation and cooperation.  It seems like if we ~ as a species ~ fight long enough and survive, something in our minds kick it to suggest that the time might be better spent.  For a clearer explanation of how this works, please go here.

Here’s a recipe for a tasty Italian style salad that is easy to make, doesn’t take very long to prepare, is good for you, but best of all ~ at least for me ~ it does not TASTE like something that is suppose to be good for me.

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


A national fly-fishing group headquarter in Manchester, Vermont has brought a unique outdoor experience ~ in 42 states to 556 women breast cancer patients and plans to extend this free “therapy” to all 50 states.  This is an exportable so 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


According to some political and historical analysts, 2011 saw 12 events which are trending into the new year.  They range from Americans rediscovering their political self-respect to the USending its combat mission in Iraq.  Significant, each, they have set into motion developments which are growing, some in good ways; some in bad, all dramatically.  For an excellent presentation of these, please go here.



National Geographics Photos of the Week are of a newly discovered tiny galaxy.

National Geographic’s Video Page is the diversion the doctor ordered If you’re looking for a video experience that will definitely take you out of wherever you are and you don’t mind your reality coming at you in relatively short bursts (about long enough to keep a fussing child occupied).


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.

This National Geographic slideshow of an underwater park comprised of lifesized human statues is nothing short of incredible.

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

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.

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.

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. 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.


Scientists in Australiahave discovered something which is astounding all those who study ocean life.  A hybrid of two shark species has apparently been reproducing for about five generations now and are now showing up in multiple locations on the southeastern Australian/Pacific Ocean Coast.  I found this totally fascinating, so for more, please go here.

There is dignity in aging, especially in the animal kingdom, as these portraits by artist Isa Leshko so dramatically display.

Here’s something you and your family and friends can do together during those long hours when you’re winter bound.  Attract wildlife to your landscape by providing shelter and food with these basic construction projects, complete with diagrams and instructions

That lone Oregon lobo known as OR7, who has immigrated hundreds of miles from his home in the northeastern part of that state, has been seen entering California.  For what scientists think is motivating this unusual behavior and for an excellent video on grey wolves, please 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


Objectum sexuality is the term for human love of an object.  I know and no, I did NOT go hunting for this.  I saw an episode of Boston Legal on which it was portrayed.  I’ve since stopped using the L word when it comes to things like computers, futons, plants or anything with which I would not have normal human sexual congress.  I’ve never experienced it but apparently it is also not restricted to the human species.  There’s a crocodile in Australian that kidnapped a power mower and dragged it into the bottom of a pool, where the big reptile is guarding it with a lover’s vigilance.  I really sort of wish I could have made this one up.  It would have implied an imagination worthy of the New York Times bestseller list.

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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