decus, integritas, probitas

Winner of Two Hersh Best Read On The Net Awards

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

Volume 5  No. 7

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor


Getrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  This week, much of the known world celebrates romantic love.  Of all the different forms of affection one of us can feel for another, this is one we exalt on February 14.

This also comes at a time when it appears Washington will become the seventh state to legalize same sex marriage.  I’ve been reluctant to discuss this issue in The Northstar Journal and I’m not particularly proud of that.  It’s perhaps one of the most controversial subjects inAmerica and I’ve been afraid that if we took a stand on this, we would lose readers and attract the kind of trouble proponents of unpopular causes know only too well.

There is a “young person” in my life whom I haven’t seen in a long time because of one of those misunderstandings that cuts too deep to ever truly heal.  She was the light of my particular life and I admired her a great deal.  She had a fine hand with words.  She was a good student and she served with distinction as a medic during Operation Desert Storm. 

She also preferred her own gender romantically and was incredibly lonely until she found someone she could love and be loved by in return.  They’re living in a state which does not permit same sex marriage and does not appear to be evolving in that direction.  In avoiding the issue, I haven’t exactly done her any favors either.

What it really took to change my mind and state that the Northstar Journal supports same sex marriages was a short but dynamic speech by a Washington State representative who, as the expression goes, “broke ranks” with her party to come out in support of same sex marriage.  She comes fromWalla Walla, which is onion country, and not a major metropolitan area where gender-preference diversity is generally more tolerated.

She is not a lesbian but a widow who was married for a long time to the love of her life.  They have two sons and a daughter who was literally the light of her father’s eyes.  Maureen Walsh’s daughter is a lesbian who has found a same sex partner and would very much like to live with her as a married couple in the state her mother serves.

Representative Walsh pointed out that this is an issue of equality, not of politics or culture.  It is the denial of rights to some that are enjoyed by most others in society.  It is as well, symbolic of the idea that there is only one way to love; and that only certain of us have the right to have that love legalized. 

Maureen Walsh reminds me of another woman who knew something of championing unpopular causes.  She served as the 25th Chief Supreme Court Justice of the State of California and her name is Rose Elizabeth Bird.  Justice Bird once wrote me that it is easy to be popular.  It is not easy to be just.

I admire the stand Maureen Walsh has taken.  I am sorry The Northstar Journal did not take it sooner.


Art work dating back more than 42,000 years was discovered in Spain recently.  It was also not produced by homo sapiens and the implications of this are stunning.

The European Space Agency’s four stage, 98 foot tall Vega rocket is expected to lift off from French Guiana on Monday for her maiden voyage.  She’s a modest launch vehicle in terms of payload but she was designed for a mid-tonnage satellite market and to take some of the pressure off the Russian Space Agency now that the American government has cancelled its Shuttle Program.

Well, this might be one reason there weren’t too many obvious signs of Christmas in Seattle.  Out of 15 cities surveyed, we ranked last in terms of wage and salary growth in the private sector.  For more on this and to see how other major American metropoli are doing, please go here.


A Canadian national trait and one which has served the nation well has produced some perhaps not surprising results.  The Maple Leaf’s encouragement of both diversity and assimilation within context have apparently made her a “nation of immigrants.”  In the States, population growth is driven by the birth rate.  In Canada, immigration is now the number one factor.

Well, here’s a piece of incredibly good timing.  At about the same time that orcas and other marine mammals are coming under the stewardship of the Canadian government, it appears that one of the things Ottawa will be doing is protecting these creatures from its own Navy

Check out this slide show of the fastest growing cities in British Columbia.  The visuals on this one are stunning.


In an attempt to do its part to help Ireland, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is actively recruiting 300 skilled workers from that troubled nation.  Government officials will be attending two job fairs, one inDublin and the other in Cork.

We in Seattle welcome one of our own home.  After what the press is calling “an historic mission,” the Coast Guard ice breaker Healy has returned.  She was deployed for eight months, seven of that on four separate science missions in theBeaufort Sea and theArctic Ocean.  She made international headlines, however, by breaking through 800 miles of ice so a Russian tanker could deliver fuel toNome.

Meet Gregor Robertson, a Canadian mayor making a difference and more than a little history in the process.


Well, here’s an interesting mix of good and bad news.  The good news is that the polar ice caps are apparently not shrinking as fast as previously measured.  The bad news is that the planet’s glaciers are dying faster.  Since that water ends up in an ocean, what this means is that the planet’s fresh water supply is depleting at a more rapid rate too.

There is a new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge under construction which is designed to last 150 years and to withstand a major earthquake in this century.  This story has some outstanding visuals and a good non-technical look at how this feat of engineering is coming together.

The idea of wearing clothing that can also recharge things like cell phones, laptop computers and other apparent necessities of daily living seems a little weird to me.  But then I live in a place where it rains a lot.  I also have memories of electric winter underwear and sox and how I got an impromptu Afro hairstyling when the sox got wet and short-circuited the longjohns.  I’ll allow as how technology just may have “come a far piece” since then.  I’m still not wearing an electric shirt in the rain, though.


Here are nine easy ways to stress less.

Do you want to live for a long time?  (I do.  It’s my way of getting even with my critics.)  Try adding these three delicious foods to your diet.

Having trouble with memory loss?  Step on the scale.  If you’re outside the range of your Body Mass Index, chances are cholesterol is clogging your arteries and preventing your brain from functioning normally.  This, in turn, can make you vulnerable for other conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s and brain cancer.  For more on this one, please go here.

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


Here are nine easy ways to prevent cancer.

Sometimes it takes not one but two miracles to make us truly appreciate the complexity, the subtlety and the stunning capriciousness of life.  If anyone can speak to that, it is a double brain tumor survivor the disease transformed into a stunning painter of sunrises.  Gentle readers, meet Debbie Wagner.

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


I think it’s healthy to sometimes publish something with which one does not totally agree but which has merit nonetheless.  I also believe in the quote attributed to fifth century Greek philosopher Socrates.  “An unexamined life is not worth living.”  Why The Planet Doesn’t Care About Your Eco-Friendly Lifestyle falls under both categories.  It contends that the little things we do like recycling, paying more for environmentally friendly goods and services and being enthusiastic about living a “greener” and healthier lifestyle are not enough.  We must all hear the Clarion Call of an Imminent Apocalypse and dedicate our very existence to saving the planet while we still have time.  We must become global legions for the green.  Etc.  Sigh.  In the first place, that’s way too dramatic and a lot more exercise than is healthy for a rational human being.  Second, I have engaged in precision drill on military parade grounds and marched behind horses in over 100 parades.  What I remember most is sore feet and stepping on something soft, squishy and pungently equine.  These are not fond memories.  In the third place, any parent who has ever tried to explain laundry to a child or as several mayours have learned during municipal garbage strikes, every sock in the hamper and every bag in the can is significant given how fast the alternative can overwhelm.  Fourth, at a time when so many people feel that their government and other institutions are letting them down, guilt tripping does NOT help.  Sometimes people need to feel comfortable with the changes they have made before they are ready to make some others.  It’s the momentum that is important.  It’s the acknowledgement and the encouragement, each day if necessary but surely often, of those “little things” that will return this planet to a pre-Industrial Age state of grace without taking human civilization down first.



Republican state representative breaks ranks to support Washington same sex marriage.

Friends Are Quiet Angels is appropriate not only for Valentine’s Day but for every day of the year.


Animal Tracks is msnbc.com’s Critter Stuff.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordial.  This is a great stress buster for me and a profound pick-me-up if I’m having a “poor me” day.

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.


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.

Safercar.gov is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (HTSA) website.  It contains a wealth of safety and reliability information on motor vehicles.  You can also, as have we, subscribe to an email newsletter which informs its subscribers of all vehicle recalls and the reason for them.

Sightline Daily is the bestPacific Northwest source of environmentally friendly news we’ve encountered yet.  They draw from newspapers and National Public Radio sources throughout the American west, northwest,Western Canada andAlaska.

USA.gov has a comprehensive email directory of American federal and state elected officials and government agencies.  You fill in two or three blanks, hit Enter and you’ve got what you need to offer support or air a grievance.

Yes magazine is the editorial hammer of the Green Movement and the most deeply rooted, informative, insightful and magazine on the Net.


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 minstrel312@aol.com.

Wrath of the Testament, an exciting seagoing saga of war and rebellion, is now available for $3.99 at amazon.com.

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.


Help name the Seattle Aquarium’s newest and cutest resident.  On the “awww” scale, she’s an eleven.

On the other end of that same scale ~ albeit with appropriate respect for all creatures great, small and bad smelling ~ I am glad I am never likely to encounter “Lophiomys imhausi, a creature so large, flamboyantly furred and thickly helmeted it hardly seems a member of the international rat consortium. Yet it is indeed a rat, a deadly dirty rat, its superspecialized pelt permeated with potent toxins harvested from trees.”

Orcas and other marine mammals who live in Canadian waters now fall under the protection of the government.  The federal Court of Appeals so ruled recently.   For more on this precedent-setting decision and how it is expected to impact fishing and other related industries, please go here.

Animal Tracks is msnbc.com’s Critter Stuff.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordial.
Oceana:  The National Geographic of the World’s Oceans
How to Behave Around Bears
Seattle/Lake Washington Eagle Camera
National Wildlife Magazine
Go Northwest:  Northwest Wildlife Websites
BBC’s wildlife finder
National Geographic Daily News – Animals


On a teeming planet in perpetual motion around itself and its sun, there are billions of Kodak MomentsThis week’s most watched YouTube video was 56 seconds of an infant chomping down on his toddler sibling’s finger.  It comes to me as some relief to know we are not taking ourselves that seriously.  At other times, I am seriously worried about our priorities as a species.

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 and/or to receive a graphically enhanced edition delivered directly to your email box, 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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