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Volume 5, No. 16
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea Well, this past week, the Grand Dame of the American manned space program made her last “flight” and with it, the curtain may have fallen on a truly golden ear in humankind’s search for meaning beyond the confines of a rapidly shrinking and increasingly more toxic home planet.
I said that an era might “possibly” have ended because my journalist’s intuition tells me it has not. Manned spacecraft, stations and even orbiting hotels for those who want a truly “other worldly” experience are being planned and built in the private sector and by nations which have not lost contact with the humanity of manned aerospace flight and the positive impact it has on its citizens.
I was privileged to know one of the pioneers of the American aerospace program, a brilliant engineer who helped launch the first monkey into orbit. Despite the film Space Cowboys’ mischaracterization of the decision to send simians up before Homo sapiens, it was done for the same reason the Soviets used a dog. If either survived, so could a human being.
Russell Anderson League, Jr., a graduate of Texas A&M, pointed out to us that as sophisticated as computers and other instrumentation become, they cannot match the exquisite sensory recorders built into every human being. They can measure but they cannot feel. Russ knew that the heart plays a bigger role than we sometimes like to admit in the decisions we make. It’s not just about water on Mars. It’s about how we feel about colonizing the planet now that we know we can.
American citizens paid to send other American citizens into space. We remember the shuttles and we remember the men and women who flew them. When Challenger exploded, the national grief was not about the demise of a gallant machine. It was about the fatal sacrifices made by the heroic human beings who died with her.
That may have been lost on a presidential administration and a Congress deeply involved in restoring economic stability to this country. Now that this appears, however tentatively, to have happened, I sense the decision to terminate the shuttle program has come back to haunt Barack Obama and those who so advised him.
Regardless of who ascends to that big white building on the banks of the Potomac, I believe this rather egregious mistake will be corrected and that American spacecraft will again join those of the international community in reaching out to the stars for wisdom and most certainly, for understanding and companionship.
IN OTHER NEWS
Most Americans link recent weather extremes to global warming, according to a new poll released last week. What’s amazing and gratifying is the consensus is actually stronger among the lay community than the scientific. For more, please go here
The United Statesgovernment settled with 41 American Indian tribes for over one billion dollars in what appears to be a sincere attempt to compensate for mishandling of tribal monies and other historic grievances. The Associated Press reports.
How green are America’s cities and towns? The answers just might surprise you.
If Kinder Morgan Canada has its way, there will be five times as many oil tankers using Vancouver Harbour than there are now. If Canadian publisher Mel Hurtig, author and founder of the Council of Canadians, has HIS way, no there won’t either. For more on this one, please go here.
Celebrities in Canada have never been reluctant to become personally involved in causes about which they feel passionate. Here’s a list of 25 of them who are doing that now.
Canada’s oldest person, Cora Hansen, of Medicine Hat, Alberta, passed away last week at the age of 113. For more on this one and some tips for living as long as Cora did, please go here.
As Earth Day celebrates its 42nd anniversary, its first coordinator looks both back and to the future. For a truly engrossing portrait of a Green Renaissance Man and the evolution of green in America, we cordially invite you to go here.
We love it when good examples come young and from our own community. We’re very proud of the North Beach Elementary School Traffic Patrol for raising $1,077 to help feed the homeless and hungry in our city. For more, please go here.
Another American university now has its own “green fund,” thanks to a decision on the part of the student body to devote part of its fees to promoting environmental projects on campus. For details, please go here.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE & EXPLORATION
With the growing popularity of urban poultry, we thought it would be cool to learn how to build a chicken coop without either spending a fortune on materials or pursuing it with the dedication of a certain sitcom tool fanatic. This 18-minute video I found to be very instructional. Our thanks to survivalistboards.com for this one.
State of the art technology, compassion and patriotism are all coming together for an American veteran who lost his arms and legs in Afghanistan. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation are building him a “smart home.” For details, please go here.
Biotechnology is helping paralyzed people walk. For the wheelchair bound, even the limited mobility this provides during therapy is an exhilarating experience and what it portends for the future of the handicapped is profound. Seattle’s KING5 News reports.
HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE
As the international tourism season draws on, it might be worth noting that the salt content in fast foods varies from country to country. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, they tend to be higher in Canada and the United States than, say, in Australia or the United Kingdom. For more on this one, please go here.
Here’s another reason for exercising regularly. It’s good for your sex life. For five exercises to improve your libido fitness, yep, go here.
I’ve noticed one thing about Alpha personalities and people who are chronically angry, frustrated or depressed. They tend to be “glass half-empty” people and they are not generally a whole lot of fun to party with. Now, according to a Harvard University review, they are prime candidates for major cardiac incidents and they generally die younger than the national average from them. Yep, for the details on this one, please go here.RESOURCE LINKS: Center For Disease Control Disease FAQs Index Tips and Tools For Staying Young Weight Watchers: Calculate Your Body Mass Index
ON THE CANCER FRONT
A new generation of computers is joining the war on cancer and they are not messing around about it. Seattle KING5 News health reporter Mimi Jung has the details.RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS: Cancer: What You Need to Know American Cancer Society Canadian Cancer Society
Is becoming a vegetarian (vegan) necessarily the best choice for everyone? Nina Planck. the author of the Real Food series and The Farmer’s Market Cookbook, discusses.
BEST NET VIDEO THIS WEEK
TAKE A BREAK ON NORTHSTAR
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.
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.
Foundation For A Better Life produces 15 – 90 second inspirational videos equaling ~ if not surpassing ~ the video vignettes produced by Hallmark, Folgers Coffee and Campbell Soup. Three I’d recommend right off the top are Concert, The Class Room and Spirit of America.
National Geographic Kids Page: If you enjoy learning about the places, people and things which make life on this planet such a unique experience?
National Geographic 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).
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.
Word Games: Merriam Webster has a totally creative menu, including a daily vocabulary quiz where you can see how you rank with people your age, younger and older.
Well, here’s good news for wolves and those who love them. According to recent research, by feeding on elk, deer and other herbivores, the Lupus family keeps certain plant species from being over-grazed. Oregon Public Broadcasting’s earthFIX has more.
The good folks at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium remind our Florida Coast readers that May is the start of the sea turtle nesting season. For more on this one, please go here.
New DNA evidence now strong suggests that polar bears, once thought to have descended from brown bears about 150,000 years ago, actually share the same genetic ancestor and evolved over a half million years ago. For more and a totally cute pix of the bears under discussion, please go here.RELATED LINKS: Living With Wildlife BBC’s wildlife finder National Geographic Daily News – Animals
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
And then there was the Taliban bad guy who turned himself in for the one hundred dollar reward, which the Afghan government let him collect before it took him into custody. The only conclusion authorities have been able to conclude is that this particular terrorist was not the brightest star in the Eastern sky. Yep, check it out here.
Well, that’s about it for this week. As a final word, The Northstar Journal is supported by contributions from readers like yourselves so if you enjoyed what you read here and would like to toss a dollar or two in the pot, as it were, please go here.
Take care, stay well and God Bless.