decus, integritas, probitas

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

Vol. 5, No. 3

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  I’m thinking about the holiday Americans are celebrating on Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King Day.  Because I grew up in an extremely bigoted home environment, part of my particular adolescent rebellion was against this peculiar notion of my old man’s that a white son of a white cop should not hang out with other colors of the rainbow, as it were.  That never really made sense to me because if God didn’t love the other colors of the rainbow, how come there were so many of them, from birds, to fish, to squirrels and, oh by the way, human beings?  My father was not up to that particular line of philosophical inquiry and it was not encouraged at home.

It took root in my life nonetheless because this was the Sixties and a lot of people thought bigotry was just as stupid as I did.  And the human rainbow, much of it after centuries of suffering in silence, were making a lot of noise behind it.  It wasn’t just people of African or African-Caribbean heritage.  There were lots of people speaking out, including Hispanics, Native Americans, women, mothers whose sons were killed by friendly fire in Vietnam, people who didn’t want Americans in Vietnam, Americans who had been to Vietnam and didn’t want Americans in Vietnam, and a first generation of tree-huggers that was in so few short years to become the vanguard the Green Movement.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice was for me personally, the most resonant.  I think that’s because when he was talking about freedom, it didn’t sound like he intended it just for blacks.  When he spoke of human rights, he was citing the American Constitution and that document, as it has been at least spiritually interpreted, says we’re all entitled to those freedoms, regardless of where we are in the spectrum of the rainbow.  My experience in the military brought me into close and extended living with more of the rainbow than my father had ever let me even meet.  I began to understand why true prosperity was not possible as long as it was denied one group and while other groups were paying disproportionately for it.  When I heard Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech, I also started realizing that “true prosperity” was not a destination or even a financial plateau.  It was a state of mind.

But I think the first time it all really hit home for me emotionally/spiritually was the first time all of my new military friends and I worked together to help kill people none of us had ever met and had no reason to even dislike, much less hate.  Certainly our options truly were limited to doing what we were told or being shot or imprisoned for life.  Nobody I knew enjoyed that drawing of first blood.  But over the weeks and months in the killing fields, I watched that dubious rite rewarded.  The better killer one became, the less the rainbow mattered.  And the easier it became to follow orders.

Even though he had never been a soldier, Dr. King understood the real horror of war.  For some, it is a seductive mistress.  And for some among these, the passion of that armed and armored Amazon’s loins is more addictive than those of the sweetest woman ever to mate with a true warrior and sire a gentle nation.

There was no room for the Goddess of War in Dr. King’s rainbow.  There is none in mine for her either.


I love it when stereotypes get busted and one of the oldest ~ it’s been around since square wheels ~ is that of the “woman driver.”  According to a recently released study, the fair gender actually has bragging rights on that slander.  And I’m anticipating a backlash that will certainly include the reluctance of men to ask directions when they’re lost, GPS notwithstanding.

In response to the most positive social developments in Myanmar (fka Burma) in decades, the United States is moving toward full diplomatic and trade recognition.  The Asian nation’s government was taken over by the military in 1962 and run as a harsh dictatorship with no tolerance for democracy. Myanmar is now being run by civilians again and is moving quickly toward the restoration of democracy in that ancient and noble nation.

The United States this week became the first nation in the world to put catch limits on every species of fish it manages.  This management policy is the result of efforts started by the George W. Bush administration and finished by the present tenants of the White House.  In a world of universal values but elusive symbols of same, it’s nice to see that a love of fish ~ in one form or another ~ crosses party lines.


Vancouver continues ~ and apparently successfully ~ to encourage non-automobile transportation in its downtown.  Their goal is to have half the traffic they have now, this in a city where only 60 percent of the visits downtown are by private transportation.  To see how they’re doing this and why it’s working for them, please do here.

The same snowstorm which is now blanketing the Salish Sea/Puget Sound first hit Vancouver and the southern BC coast on Friday.

An American geologist whose time-lapse photography of glaciers around the world proves that they are melting at a rate much faster than believed now wants to monitor on in British Columbia.  For some dramatic proof that global warming is real, please go here.


Thanks to its state’s national guard, a snowbound town in Alaska accessible only by sea or air, is surviving.  This one has Movie of the Week all over it.

One of the problems with bicycle ownership and use is what to do with the machine when it’s not being used.  Several public bicycle programs have virtually eliminated that problem and one of the best examples is in a city in China.  It is one of four examples cited in this article on great bicycling ideas.  Another one is a school bus in Holland that is steered by an adult and pedaled by the students themselves.

If you think the Twenty-Somethings of this world are not making a real difference, think again.


The scientist who led the team which built the computer which defeated human competitors on the American game show Jeopardy talks about the thrill and deep satisfaction of being among those so busy doing it that he didn’t hear anyone tell him it could not be done.

Five amateur divers confirmed a British admiralty report of a sunken WW I German U-boat off the Cork Coast of southeastern Ireland, across the Celtic Sea from Wales.  The submarine, which went down with all hands, was laying mines at the time.  The exact cause of its sinking has never been determined.  Efforts are being made to have the vessel declared an Irish historical monument and the diving world is treating it as the grave of 27 sailors with whom they share the fraternity of the sea.  The team which made the discovery laid down a small plaque near the submarine’s propeller and are making efforts to contact relatives of the entombed U-boaters.

If you’re looking to upgrade the energy efficiency of your home but are reluctant because of the cost and work involved, you just might want to read this article about a Seattle woman who had the same concerns.  She found out that technological evolution has really changed both how this is done now and the cost. 


Thinking of donating your body to science?  It just might be a good idea to see if science wants it, first.

In our never-ending battle for truth, justice and keeping some of you on the health hit parade long enough to see your great-grandchildren get their drivers licenses, here are 11 foods that will help shed extra weight and keep you from dying of obesity and its related conditions and diseases.  Let’s make it a happy New Year by sticking around for the next one, okay?

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


It has been suggested to us very recently that the Cancer Front is not just about new and promising treatment but about what it is like to suffer from this disease and how that suffering impacts the lives of so many others not systemically afflicted.  This story, from the Mail Online in the UK~ ‘I feel like Zac’s country has let him down’: Cancer boy, 7, forced to travel to Germany for lifesaving operation ~ does, we believe, exactly that.  Thank you, Jenny and Jon, in Oxfordshire, England.

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


Is the world really going to end this year?  No, not THE world.  But “a world” is ending before our very eyes and perhaps that is not such a bad thing.



Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembered is National Geographic’s video tribute to him.  I definitely recommend watching this one with other people.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech video is as dramatic as it is profound.


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

The Foundation For A Better Life produces 15 – 90 second inspirational videos equally ~ if not surpassing ~ the video vignettes produced by Hallmark, Folgers Coffee and Campbell Soup.  These are human stories, sans preaching, and to me, their appeal is universal.  Three I’d recommend right off the top are Concert, The Class Room and Spirit of America.

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 life-sized human statues is nothing short of incredible.

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).

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.


The Scottish government last year conducted an extensive marine survey of a stretch of its coastal ocean to see how healthy it actually was.  They also captured some fantastic images of the marine flora and fauna found there.  This presentation is not just a treat for the eye but also very instructional and one you can experience with your kids and grandkids.

Among all God’s creatures great and small, this little dude is almost nano-sized and is, in fact, the smallest creature with a spine.  How tiny are we talking here?  Four of them could sit on comfortably on an American dime?  What are they?  Ah, wouldn’t you know it?  For that answer, you need to go here.

Six Chinese panda bears born in captivity are now being acclimated to the wild in a controlled environment.  As they demonstrate their ability to survive in the wild, they will be released to same.  Yep, totally cool and this comes with a video and a narrator with an English accent.  Our thanks to BBC News China for this one.

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


I am not a fan of extreme sports and have not been ever since I was cured of a combat-associated death wish.  At risk behaviour may compensate for an adrenalin rush deficit (boring life) but it can sure complicate life.  Consider this video of a 22-year-old Australian bungee jumper whose cord snapped, plunging her into a river filled with crocodiles gathered around like hungry ranch hands answering a dinner bell.

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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