decus, integritas, probitas

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Volume 5, No. 5

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish SeaLast week, we shared a story about the United States Navy considering using dolphins as weapons to fight terrorism.  In what appears to be a totally unrelated development, the agency responsible for protecting “American” marine mammals is being sued for giving the Navy permission to test sonar along the West Coast

Post mortem examinations of whales washed ashore have revealed that such exercises seriously damage their sensitive hearing.  Hearing is as important to these creatures in their environment as sight is to us in ours.  Compromise their own “sonar” and like any disabled creature in its natural environment, eventually it will die, as these creatures are dying now and painfully.

Since the dawn of time, our species has domesticated other life forms and used them to enhance its existence.  We’ve done that with plants as well as birds, mammals and fish.  For almost as long, we have used some of them as weapons of war.  We’ve not had much luck doing that with other primates and it would be wrong to assume that we’re going to get away with it with several species who are very likely higher on the evolutionary scale than we are.

Considering what we have done to these creatures, they have been remarkably patient with us.  They have been waiting a long time for us to become intelligent enough to communicate with them.  Despite being hunted nearly to extinction, exploited for amusement, subjected to medical experimentation and made a menu item, they yet stand ready to join us in helping us repair the planet and in teaching us the other “mysteries” of a world as familiar to them and to the other life forms who share it as our own bodies should be to us.

I suggest that as an example of compassion, grace and love of us as a species, we need no deities or offspring of same to inspire the same in us.  We have sent these creatures toCalvarysince before Moses was a wee sailor in a small reed boat.  We have been forgiven more times by them than we have any Heaven-sent saviour in human form.

What do you think will truly happen if any nation attempts to use these creatures to perpetuate the bloody confusions we inflict upon one another in the name of one true god, one true government, economic, ethnicity, gender preference or political ideology?

I suspect the word will go out and the seas will no longer be safe for us.  I suspect, as well, that then we truly will be alone, not just on the planet, but in the universe.  It was not us the Deity truly appointed to watch over this planet.

It was them.


If you’re still a global warming denier or know someone who is, check out this dramatic 26-second NASA video on how much the climate has changed since 1880.  This literally sent chills through me.

According to the latest government reports, the American economy is holding its own and making very modest progress.  This does not come as a surprise.  This Recession was at least five decades in the making.  To seriously believe that one administration alone was responsible is to be as historically ignorant as those who believe that one administration’s policies are going to rescue us.  We got into this together and we’re going to get out of it together.  I’m sorry, but in Northstar’s House, that is NOT rocket science.

We reported earlier this month that CountyDonegal, in the northwest of the Republicof Ireland, has seen wave of winter tourism thanks to the Aurora Borealis in its skies.  Mother Nature added a bit more thrill to the celestial pageantry last week with a small earthquake.  For more and a fantastic video on the Northern Lights under discussion, please go here.


We’ve been talking about the aurora borealis aka “northern lights” for several editions now and not without reason.  Winter in the north can be long, icy, cold, lonely and, at times, very risky.  Despite the technological advances which bring the world to the most inaccessible of places, these natural light shows remain the most enduring form of entertainment.  Ireland’s experiencing that now and if you happen to be passing through Yellowknife, Northern Territories, you can too.  If by chance, you’re not headed in that direction, you can share the experiences and some cool video with someone who has.

Our congratulations to Canada’s women’s soccer team for qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.  Nice going, ladies, and as if there was every any doubt, eh?

As the European Union continues to struggle for financial survival, employment in member nations remains problematic at best.  Wave after wave of the best and the brightest are leaving for other places and one of them welcoming these immigrants with open arms is, of course, Canada.  The National reports.


We join much of the known world in expressing our admiration of Seal Team 6 as they demonstrated once again why it’s not a good idea to mess with a big bird that carries both the laurel branch and lighting bolts in its talons.  We’re glad that Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted are safe at home with their families. America appears to be getting almost as good at rescuing those of their citizens who insist on putting themselves into situations where such an option might be necessary as said citizens are t putting themselves in Harm’s Way to begin with.  We have the profoundest respect for the International Aid Community but occasionally we wonder about the wisdom of some of its deployment decisions.  Sending an American toSomalia seems just a little like putting a tree hugger to work in a sawmill.  It defies logic.  At least on the planet I live on.

Greening old buildings and re-using them is less expensive and more immediately climate-change impacting than building new, state of the art, environmentally-appropriate structures, according to a study released this month by Preservation Green Lab.  The group examined seven building types in four cities and used a thorough set of factors in their cost analyses.  I was really impressed with this.  For more, please go here.

Seattle resident and bicycling enthusiast Christine Grant was awarded a fellowship to spend six months in the world’s most bike friendly cities to experience life on two wheels.  Her report is stunning.


One fuel of the near future which is less expensive to produce than ethanol made from either corn or sugarcane could be a gas tank reality by the end of this decade.  Welcome the lowly seaweed onto the Alternative Energy Stage.  I especially appreciated this one because seaweed is also extremely nutritious, tastes great and has been a dietary mainstay for a lot of cultures for a very long time.  For many coastal communities around the world, sustainable commercial aquaculture would generate local jobs and spending and would also be providing both nutrition and safe energy to a world rather desperately in need of both.

An Irish biochemist has discovered that two byproducts of whiskey can be converted to biofuel, which can be used as gasoline.  BothScotland andIreland have an abundance of whiskey andIreland, at least, needs a new industry to bolster its sagging economy.

Thousands of people in Irelandthis week got an unexpected celestial treat more familiar to those closer to the Arctic.  The Northern Lights aka Aurora Borealis made a grand display across the skies of CountyDonegal.  For more (including an outstanding video), please go here.


Love handles and “a round little belly that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly” notwithstanding, belly fat not only makes a person slow down and sag on the outside, it’s actually punishing that person by providing the body with the raw material to produce things that are not healthy for it.  Thank God and a good gene pool that I don’t have this particular concern but ~ and as I’m sure you do ~ I know people who are.  After reading this article entitled Top 10 Things to Know About Belly Fat, I’m seriously considering an Adopt A Chubby Person campaign.  In Seattle, they do that with potholes the city or county can’t afford to pay to have filled.  And stretches of street or highway they can’t pay to de-litter.  School kids adopt stretches of creek.  It seems to me saving the life of a chubby person by nagging them into good health is probably just as important.  If you want to weigh in on this, I’ll be delighted to publish the results. and in the subject line:  Adopt A Chubby Person.

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


The fight against children’s cancer received a generous infusion this month with a $5-million grant to Seattle Children’s Center for Childhood Cancer Research.  Our thanks, as well, to the Ben Towne Foundation.  Nothing so inspires others as a good example.  For more, by all means, 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


Assuming for a moment that “corporate greed” is the real enemy and not the material passion of the consuming public, is our only real recourse now to Occupy major centers of commerce and government?  Not according to this article from YES! magazine entitled Corporate Rule Is Not Inevitable:  7 signs the corporatocracy is losing its legitimacy … and 7 populist tools to help shut it down.



Coronal aurora over Fairbanks, Alaska (January 22, 2012)

26-second NASA video on how much the climate has changed since 1880


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 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.

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 and Alaska. 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.


Some cats really should not fly.  That was the conclusion reached by quite a few people at Halifax International Airport after Ripples the Cat escaped from his carrier and ended up in the cockpit behind the instrument panel.  The flight toToronto was delayed for about four hours while the feline conducted an inspection of the circuitry and eventually assured itself the aircraft was, in fact, a Transport Canada-approved mode of aerial conveyance.

Seattle certainly gets some interesting visitors.  Check out this rare Ribbon seal which made its way south from the Arctic and clear into the Puget Sound to check our emerald city out.  We knew that Ivar’s had an international reputation for supreme marine cuisine but I doubt even if the Old Fisherman himself realized just how far some creatures will come for a good order of fish and chips.

A migratory young Oregongray wolf we’ve been following is rapidly achieving international recognition and certainly thousands of fans along the route of its lone sojourn south into California, where it is believed to be the first of its kind there in over 88 years.  We have to congratulate OR7 on a couple of things.  First, his timing.  It’s an election year.  Second, as one writer expressed it, Californiais a place where a lot of people have a lot of opinions about a lot of things.  For more details on this one, 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


Some of the weirdest stuff we publish in this magazine continues to come from my father’s native land.  It appears that a Dublin employment assistance office has found it necessary to formally ban pajamas as appropriate attire for job seekers conducting business.  Okay, that’s weird.  The fact that this policy is now apparently the subject of international interest is a step or two beyond weird.  What I did not realize was that inDublin’s inner city, apparently pajamas (pyjamas to them) are like running pants inSeattle.  I find myself now wondering how I would react if those were banned from government offices here.  I suspect the same way I am now.  I wasn’t aware people conducted business in either running pants or pajamas.

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.  And if you’d like to receive a graphically enhanced version of The Northstar Journal delivered to your email address, please go here with 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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