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. 9

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Well, one of the young people in my life has decided that Wikipedia and the idea that anyone can contribute to it, regardless of credentials, annotation and source verification or any of the other protocols associated with solid scholarship is a threat to civilization as she knows it.  She also fears that this form of “information dissemination” will spawn a massive outflow of faux knowledge designed not to educate the ignorant but to entertain the gullible.

As precedent, she cites history according to Tom Smothers of the Smothers Brothers folk comedy team and Mr. Peabody and Sherman on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, both of which she has experienced thanks to Retro TV.  She is also very proactive when it comes to dealing with her aversions.  If this “child” had been with Alexander, that Great Greek would not have wept because there were no more worlds to conquer.  He’d have been too busy taking advice from this child on how to conquer them twice.

She was in a chatroom the other day when the subject turned to small dogs.  One woman remarked that her micro Doberman was terrified of thunder and had to sleep with her on stormy nights.  Krista (not her real name, for obvious reasons) told the room that the dog’s fear was rooted in the primordial.  She said that according to the latest research, it has been established that predatory dinosaurs attacked during storms because the noise of the thunder, etc., masked their approach.  Several people said they didn’t know that but that when they thought about it, it made sense.  They thanked Krista for sharing that and she told them they were very welcome.

Another time, the topic was urban farming and the fact that more and more communities are allowing people to keep poultry within the city limits.  Krista said that inSeattle, because of Boeing, Microsoft and all the military, the problem with poultry in the city was roosters.  She said the noise ~ on frequencies only a male chicken can hear ~ is nonstop.  So it disorients roosters.  It also makes insomniacs out of many of them and that, of course, foreshortens their life.  She said that researchers at theUniversityofWashington’sSchoolofPoultry, in conjunction with Starbucks Coffee, had come up with a cure for rooster insomnia.  They put decaff in the poultry water supply.  At first, they overdid it and the roosters slept untilnoon.  But thanks to the dedication of scientists, volunteers and poultry lovers all over the world, they got the amount right and nowSeattleroosters have body clocks which are in synch with the sun and the moon.

And finally, when the discussion turned to the industrialization of the poultry industry and the merits of humanely raised chickens as opposed to those sentenced to a sterile coffin for life, Krista pointed out that in Seattle, the only chickens which end up as fryers or in salads are suicidal chickens.  She explained that these are chickens which have simply seen too much in life and have grown weary of existence on this plane.  So, instead of having to take their own lives, suicidal chickens are fed until they are profoundly sleepy and simply wake up in Chicken Heaven.  She said that you can tell if the meat you’re eating comes from a suicidal chicken because the government now requires a small stamp from the SPCC (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Chickens, of course) to insure product integrity.

In this one particular chatroom, Krista is gaining quite a reputation for the breadth and scope of her knowledge.  She says what scares her most about this all is that a lot of the people who believe her also vote. 

And procreate.


A solar storm the size of the one which struck the planet in 1859 and collapsed Europe’s entire telegraphic network is due to tsunami over the earth in 2013.  For an excellent explanation, analysis, historical perspective and risk assessment, yep, go here.

For those interested in making the world a better place, there is now $100-million in grant money available.  For more and a link to an easy, two-page application, please go here.  Yep, we can thank Bill and Melinda Gates for this one.

Well, just about the time we think we’ve only got climate change, the economy and the ongoing clash of political titans to contend with, now there’s a big asteroid headed our way that could be real trouble in 2040.  I’ll still be here then so this is NOT good news.


Slavery in Canada?  Once, yes, and yet another reason not to relegate the study of black history to one month of the year.  The Tyee’s Fiona Tinwei Lam, reminds us of why, as Canadians, we must learn of these things and never forget them.  This is historical reportage at its best.

There are 80,000 construction jobs waiting for the Irish in Canada, a recent delegation said when they toured that economically troubled nation.  The British Columbia Construction Association is tour job fairs in Irelandthis spring in an active recruitment effort.  For more on this and the state of the Irish economy, please go here.

Five years ago, British Columbia adopted a plan to dramatically reduce carbon emission levels by one third from what they were in 2007.  The province set a deadline of 2020 to get it done.  Their Carbon Action Plan (CAP) inspired a similar initiative in California.  Los Angeles Times writer Chris Wood and three reporters analyzed both to determine why the CAP has been better received and why, even as it gains momentum, it is drawing more attention from those of the international community opting to assume their portion of responsibility for what is, of course and in fact, a global problem.  I found this absolutely fascinating and extremely educational, so yes, for more, please go here.


We are solidly behind the buy locally concept and with the proliferation of community gardens, Farmers Markets and small farms within the greater Puget Sound, Seattle is a working example of the viability of the concept.  We’re in friendly competition with San Francisco, Portlandand Vancouverfor the “greenest city”.  It looks like the Canadians might have gotten a bit ahead of us.  Last week, the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia launched an international competition to design a 1,200-square-foot, four-person home made from materials manufactured or recycled within 100 miles of Vancouver.  Yep, for more, please go here.

Here’s one from the most bicycle friendly community in America.  It should catch on in other places as well.  It’s a bicycle driven coffee roaster.  Check it out here.

Aside from their obvious “green” allure, how practical and carbon-reducing are this generation of electric vehicles?  The answers might surprise you.


Thanks to Retro TV, most of us are familiar with Rosey, the robotic maid, from the hit animated futuristic American television series The Jetsons  Well, guess what?  Probably much sooner than any of us are truly prepared for, many of us are going to be hearing Rosie’s dulcet tones.  And we have to thank for this, a rather modest but ambitious company located just outside Boston, Massachusetts.  For more on this one, yep, go here.

The Jetsons seem to be a pervasive subtext in this column this week.  The Museumof Modern Arthas an exhibition on now depicting what our cities and suburbs will look like even within the lifetimes of most of you reading this now.  For more and some absolutely stunning visuals, please go here.

For those of you still skeptical of miracles, how would you have liked to have been on hand when scientists recently revived the seed of an Arctic wildflower that had been sleeping in the stomach of a squirrel for 32,000 years?  Check out this totally Kodak moment.


Sleeping pill users could be dramatically reducing their lifespan, according to an American study recently released in theUnited States and widely published in theUnited Kingdom.

There’s a particular challenge to parenting that bears some resemblance to the legend of Sisyphus, who was doomed for eternity to roll the same boulder to the top of a mountain.  I’m talking about the ongoing campaign to get our kids to eat vegetables and other things that are good for them.  My wife, GRHS, used to hide stuff in the potato sandwiches she made for my brown bag lunches.  Here’s a scheme (plan, tactic) that apparently worked with 80 percent of those unsuspecting human offspring on which it was tried.

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


One of the challenges facing women breast cancer survivors who enjoy staying fit is finding a sports bra that works as well in the gym as it does paddling a kayak or skydiving.  A woman in Oregonmight just have designed that very bra.  Yep, check it out here and see what you think.

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


We like the idea that the Gates Foundation is offering $100-million in grants to finance a sustainable future.  Even more encouraging is that the current American presidential administration is doing so, as well, and many of the agencies under its jurisdiction.  New York Times writer Tina Rosenberg explores why this is a good idea and why it has been for the several hundred years nations have been doing it.



Meet The Jetsons and Enjoy Full Length Episodes From The Television Series

Mr. Peabody’s Improbable History – Ponce de Leon

Watch Andrew Trites, UBC marine mammalogist, discussing his sea lion research.


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 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.

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

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.

Backcountry Gallery is a free source of some of the best computer wallpaper and screensavers on the Net.  They come with calendars and without and are affiliated with Worldstar.com, an outstanding site for computer information and related newsletters.

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 and Alaska.

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.


As we reported earlier, the Seattle Aquarium has been soliciting the community for a name for its newest edition, a girl sea otter born in January.  Well, Monday, the Aquarium announced its selection.  For more and some real cute photos, yep, go here.

One of the smallest creatures in the world has the longest migration path.  We call humans who come down from northern climes to winter in the tropics, “snowbirds.”  I think that title probably really belongs to the wheatear, a small bird born and raised in the Canadian Arctic, which spends the colder months of the year in sub Saharan Africa.

An increase in the vole population in Scotland has been a boon to barn owls, particularly in Loch Lomond National Park, where their numbers were in serious decline.  This is BBC animal reportage at its best.

In what wildlife experts are calling “a stunning reversal” in downward spiraling salmon populations in the Northwest, an estimated 1.6-million Chinook will be making the fall run up Oregon’s Klamath Riverthis year.  Yep, for more on this one, 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


Well, this really, really, REALLY stretches my affection for all creatures great and small.  You guys want to see a picture of a clam that will put you off shellfish for the next, like, eight million years?  And that WashingtonStatehas decided to protect?  Okay, go here but do NOT ever say we didn’t warn you.

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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