decus, integritas, probitas

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Volume 5, No. 6

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Election years are not fun for me.  However, 2012 isn’t going to be nearly as difficult as others in the past have been.  For one thing, I’m not being paid by someone else to do this.

I’m also no longer sure it  really matters anymore who’s in charge.  As I look back, neither party alone caused the Recession.  Al Gore did not invent global warming.  The Republicans alone are not responsible for whatever it is we hoped to accomplish or feel we did achieve by military intervention inIraqandAfghanistan.  President Barack Obama’s administration cannot claim credit for taking down any high profile terrorist because the pursuit of them began when the current president was a first termUSsenator fromIllinois.

Those we elect ~ and whose salaries we pay ~ can no more function without our input than any employee can without direction from those who sign his or her time card.  Despite the ease with which this can be done, many of us would apparently rather whine and declaim amongst one another than to email or telephone those we’ve chosen to run the government for them.

One of the salutary effects an increasingly dysfunction government is that we are turning closer to home for things for which we’ve traditionally depended on Washington, DC.  We are finding that one solution does not work for all so we’re coming up with those which work for our communities.  As we’ve reported before, economic recovery is not uniform in America.  Why should we expect it to be when not every city or town in this nation was impacted the same way or to the same degree?

We’re finding out that nobody’s going to save us from ourselves.  We’re not going to equably redistribute the wealth of the nation.  Whoever earns it is entitled to it and when you have enough of it to hire a security staff bigger than the armies of some European countries, nobody’s going to take it away from you and certainly not a collection of white collar politicians living from election to election.

When our ancestors first got here, they beheld a civilization that had been doing pretty well sinceRomulusand Remus were pups.  So naturally, they figured to improve on it and in the process, managed to take the land away from its rightful owners, slaughter or quarantine most of them, cut down all the trees, dam up some rivers, use the land until it couldn’t produce anymore, then move further west until they reached the Pacific and, like Alexander, wept because there were no more worlds to conquer.

A dubious heritage but certainly the legacy of rugged individuals who didn’t need a strong federal government or really even much law west of the Pecos, to make this mighty nation what it is today.

If we screwed things up pretty much without the help ofWashington,DC, it probably stands to reason we’re going to correct for course without much real help from them either.


The American economy is continuing a slow and not always steady recovery, according to the federal jobs report for January.  Gains in job creation and a decline in unemployment continued for the second straight month.

When I read that the speaker of the house of a Midwestern state in an email referred to American First Lady Michelle Obama as ‘Mrs YoMama,’ I didn’t know who to feel sorrier for, the people of Kansas or the parents who sired this elected moron.  After I read about how he invoked Psalm 109 and called for the death of America’s chief executive, I’m truly not certain Mike O’Neal can claim two human parents.  My problem is that I cannot think of a life form which deserves the slander of that role.  Here’s this turkey’s email address if you’d like to let him know what YOU think.  Give ‘em Hell, Harriet. 

Eastern Europeand Russiaare in the throes of one of the coldest winters in recent history.  Temperatures have plunged to well below freezing, with snow drifts as deep as a tall person.  So far, 110 have perished from the extreme weather.  For more details and some stark imagery, please go here.

February 1 marks the start of Celtic Spring and it could be a better one than troubled Irelandhas seen since the Recession began.  A vast deposit of natural gas estimated large enough to take care of the nation’s energy needs for 12 years, has been discovered north of Leitrim.


Take a look at who is breaking hearts at the Toronto Zoo these days.

Well, this was kind of cool, I thought.  There was a 5.7 earthquake off Vancouver Island, at a depth of about 12.8 km/7.9 miles.  Apparently the seismic event went all but unnoticed, for the most part.  I thought the comments on this story were hilarious.  And sooo True North.

They advertise themselves as healthy, preservative free, made from all natural ingredients.  But are they really?  CBC News Canada reports on 10 misleading food product labels.


When two of the people I admire most in this world get together on television, it’s generally a romp.  This time was no exception.

A project which could bring cheap electricity to thousands of homes along the AmericanAtlanticCoastis a major step closer to reality this week.  NRDC’s Kit Kennedy reports.

If you’re really interested in the spirit, ingenuity and talent fueling the Green Movement, we suggest you might want to follow this year’s International Cities Summit, hosted by Vancouver, and make plans for following the next.  This is definitely exportable.


It’s hard to believe there might be even a tribe of people who have had virtually no contact with the rest of society since the Stone Age.  One has been discovered and photographed in Peru.

Scientists have recently discovered a way to change the skin cells of mice into mice brain cells.  Since so much of what starts with experiments on these tiny creatures ends up helping human beings, researchers are hopeful that this will end the stem cell controversy.  A patient’s own cells could be programmed to change into whatever was needed, essentially enabling the patient to heal themselves, as it were.

We have the technology to bring light, heat and power to every domicile on the planet.  What has stopped us from doing that?  Now that we are, in fact, bringing life-saving/life-enhancing technology to the biggest (and poorest) segment of the human population, how do we keep that momentum going?  New York Times writer Tina Rosenberg definitely has some visionary (and to me very practical and imminently do-able) ideas.


Here’s a list of the 25 healthiest cities in America.

Here’s a list of the 25 unhealthiest cities in America

Irish women are the most fertile in Europe, a new study reveals.

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


Here’s a first person experience from a New Hampstead, England housewife about a new therapy which beat back a very aggressive cancer.  It appears a lot less stressful, invasive or reactive than most protocols and it just may be working.  She has been ‘free’ now for two years.

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


There is an expression in my family which has survived for many generations.  It translates, “when the Devil is wearing mink”.  Americans have an equivalent.  “It will be a cold day in Hell when…”  One of the young people in my life has decided they want to devote a portion of their body to promoting individuals and causes in which they believe.  We are not talking Greenpeace t-shirts and we are not talking cute decals that wash off in a good rain.  We are not talking Sixties retro Day-Glo, sports apparel or a blouse made from a national flag.  We are talking tattoos.  We are talking about art that involves a medical procedure to remove.  We are talking about a passionate young canvas who loves a full pizza so much she needs to date brothers to help her carry it to the table when she is in a mood for deep dish.  “Yeah, right.  When the Devil is wearing mink.”

I am meeting with some resistance.  She wants to convince the young man with whom she is currently involved that despite the reputation of a romantic mayfly, she really is serious this time.  I ask her where on her anatomical canvas she intends to pin that list.  She feels that in a previous life, she was a dolphin.  So she wants one of those.  She has the predatory instincts of a killer whale but about this, I remain silent, for fear of engaging said instincts.  That does not mitigate the fact, however, that making this right will involve some major derma erasure, as it were.  She is also passionately liberal but still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Beaver.  I point out to her that people tend to become more conservative as they grow older.  She points out to me that I am the only person she knows from our nation of birth who still ends half his sentences with the “eh?” word.  I tell her I do not see the connection.  She replies that this is because I do not understand the true cosmic significance of tattoos. 

I point out that this is beginning to sound a lot like a conversation we had about her wanting a training bra at the age of ten, simply because her older sister got one.  She asks me how come if I can remember things that far back, I have to make a list if we need more than four things from the grocery.  I tell her I do not see the connection.  She replies that this is because obviously I do not understand the true cosmic significance of training bras either.

I observe that sometimes it is not easy being quasi responsible for an individual with an IQ of 8-million.  She points out that if more men really talked to the women with whom they intend to make passionate (and unprotected) love, fewer geniuses would grow up feeling as though they had been deprived of one human parent.

It’s going to be real interesting to see what that first tat looks like.



Is she real or cybernetic?  Only her creator knows for sure but this little songbird will absolutely steal your heart.

Ellen DeGeneres challenges Michelle Obama to a pushup contest.


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 inspiratoinal 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 lifesized 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.


NEW  Amnesty International has a long, honorable and effective history at championing the rights of human beings all over the world.  The Northstar Journal is proud to carry this link to their activities, gatherings and fundraisers in your area.

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 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.


The Burmese python has apparently taken over vast tracts of the Florida Everglades as its top predator, often displacing even the alligator in that role.  Biologists believe this invasive species once very popular as an exotic pet accounts for the chilling drop in sightings of local mammalian fauna, either alive or as road kill.  Wildlife experts are working on legal and physical means of containing this huge water snake with a voracious appetite.  They hope that what they learn can be used to prevent other invasive species from taking over.  I can see a lot of visiting in-law jokes coming out of this one.

It’s been referred to as the “cockroach of the seas” and normally, this small crustacean, which is a distant cousin of a shrimp, rarely grows larger than seven tenths of an inch/2-3 cm.  One has been discovered about four miles deep in the Kermadec Trench off New Zealand that is 13 inches/34 cm long.  What I wonder about now is that if things on the planet are in scale and there are foot-long bugs crawling around at the bottom of the oceans of the world, how big are the things that are eating them?  And so on up the food chain.  And what happens if we send a human into a submarine trench to photograph them and that photograph gets devoured?  What happens if something in that food chain decides that human beings taste better than sea cockroaches?  I think that the Creator put them where they are and us where we are for a good reason.  We do not belong on each other’s menus.

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


Twin sisters born in Indonesia, separated at birth and adopted by families from another country found one another after almost 30 years.  The two of them were living 25 miles from one another inCanada, where both were school teachers.  They had even been married within a year of one another and played the same song at the wedding.  If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye and make you believe ~ even for a few moments ~ in miracles, you’ve got more bionic parts than are healthy.

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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