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Volume 5, No. 22
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Hi again from the shores of the Salish Sea. As I write now, funerals are being held for the five people who died after being shot by an estranged gunman in two locations here inSeattle. The site of the first shooting is very familiar. In the vernacular, it’s one of my “hang outs”. I didn’t know the Café Racer victims or the shooter. The fifth victim, shot several miles away in downtownSeattle by the shooter as he hijacked her car, was also a stranger to me. But the individual who threw two stools at the gunman, thus allowing three other patrons to escape, has been a friend of mine for many years.
I’ve had a chance to review the media coverage of this. I have not talked with my friend about this except to call and tell him that if I’d had a few more like him with me inVietnam, a few more of us would have made it home. He’s a quiet, softspoken man who burns easily in the floodlights of public attention, so to know that I am proud of him is enough.
This was the act of a single individual known by many to have profound anger management issues. He was a regular at this coffee house-style café known even in a laid-back university community for being an extremely relaxing place to hang out. It is one of the last places in this city of over 600,000 where one would expect this to occur. The shooter had been asked several times in the immediate past to leave the premises for being rude to other patrons but there was nothing to suggest that this was the cause of his quietly systematic execution of four people with two .45 caliber pistols, both of which he purchased legally and for which he had concealed weapons permits. Nor was it cited for the matter of fact way he shot his fifth victim in the head while stealing her motor vehicle.
I don’t believe there was any way this could have been prevented. It is not easy inWashingtonState~ nor, I know, in many other places ~ to compel someone to undergo a mental health evaluation. Perhaps this needs to change. The Seattle Police Department said this happened because too many people have guns. Under recent investigation themselves for undue use of force, as far as I’m concerned, the SPD is not in any position to make such a sweeping generalization about a single ~ albeit profoundly tragic ~ act of violence involving firearms.
This hit the community hard because ~ like Canadians ~ we here are somehow all connected. We will bury our dead and we will mourn them. Some of us will heal more quickly than some others and in that, we are certainly not unique. I know that for those directly involved, including my friend, the quiet hero, life has changed forever. I know from personal experience how that can haunt a person.
We are a durable community and crime is not taking over our town. We remain one of the most scenic and healthy places in the world to live. Seattle’s economy is doing better than most of the rest ofNorth Americaand the long-range forecast calls for a textbook splendid summer.
No place in the world is entirely safe from acts of spontaneous violence or from evil. I understand even the Garden of Eden had a serpent. I’m glad that snake was not also armed and dangerous.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Trust for PublicLandrated 40 American cities by their “park friendliness.” Which have the most public access and which have the least. The answers might surprise you.
Net gains of from .5 percent to 2 percent are possible through more renewable and efficient energy use, according to the United Nations International Labor Organization and Environment Program. For more details on its recently released report, please go here.
Americans still very much support a “green agenda,” according to results of a poll taken by the Yale Project On Climate Change Communication. For highlights of that study and how it was conducted, please go here.
ION Special: We join much of the world in celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne. The British are calling it her Diamond Jubilee. For some quick facts on Her Royal Majesty, please go here.
Just a reminder to our readers in Vancouver. June 17 is Car Free Day.
Because we’re living longer and better, semi-retirement may be a predominate lifestyle for many Canadians, according to University of Toronto economics professor David K. Foot, co-author of the “Boom Bust & Echo” series of books about the impact of demographics on Canadian society. Aslo see Canada Census: Population Aging Quickly, But Toddlers On Rise
Like their American cousins, Canadian kids are spending entirely too much time behind computer screens and not enough exercising to reach the nation’s youth fitness goals. The Canadian Press reports.
They were total strangers but that did not stop compassion from saving the life of a British Columbia man when the mayor of a small town in America’s Washington State donated his kidney to the Canadian. Global BC reports.
A 50-year-old mother of 15 last month became the first female village chief in the history of Afghanistan. Check it out here.
Seattle’s economy has been rated third highest in the nation. Seattlepi.com reports.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE & EXPLORATION
Here are eight astronomical mysteries which continue to baffle scientists.
For a truly fascinating look at the very near future and a world in many ways far different than the one to which you awoke this morning, please read 32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow.
HEALTH AND LIFESTYLERESOURCE 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
There are a new set of cancer drugs being developed now which will ease the pain of chemotherapy, minimize collateral damage and deliver a bigger bang for the buck by enlisting the patient’s own immune system in the fight. Yep, for more on this one, please go here.
We join the rest of my state in wishing our governor’s husband a speedy recovery after undergoing successful surgery for colon cancer. Mike’s prognosis is good and thanks in great part to early detection. Governor Chris is a breast cancer survivor herself. For more on this, please go here.RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS: Cancer: What You Need to Know American Cancer Society Canadian Cancer Society
Despite the “new colonizers” philosophy rampant in science fiction almost since the inception of the genre, SETI’s Jill Tarter does not believe that extraterrestrials will come to Earth to do what Europeans did to the natives of Western Hemisphere. To understand her reasoning, please go here.
FROM YOU GUYS
Now that summer is approaching, I should have been prepared for this one. Robert R. Montgomery is credited with taking out the first patent for a “fly destruction device,” according to the New York Times in an article asking, “Who Made That Fly Swatter?”
BEST NET VIDEOS 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.
Despite the fact that I recognize their virtues, I have never been a real fan of zoos because I absolutely cannot stand seeing creatures in cages. With the increasing proliferation of nature preserves both on land and in the sea, the future of zoos stands to change dramatically. The New York Times video reports.
Very few people have ever encountered a wolverine in the wild. They have a reputation for unparalleled ferocity, a profound passion for solitude and an elusiveness that has defied naturalists and other critter sleuths since the cave person days. The tame ones that JoAnne Tompkins encountered when she visited a wildlife refuge and went Dancing With Wolverines did not, of course, live up to any of that.RELATED LINKS: Living With Wildlife BBC’s wildlife finder National Geographic Daily News – Animals
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
It’s not very often that celebrities wind up in this column, which is often Northstar’s final comment on the state of the species and the rest of the planet. In this case, we’re featuring two for whom I have profound and enduring respect. British Columbia’s premier (governor), Christy Clark, is a Northstar role model and so, as far as a guy pal, is Sir Richard Branson. But when the latter invites the former to go kite surfing in the buff, I’m going like, “Whoa here, guys.” This time I also got cultural whiplash. But upon further reflection (and a pint of Guinness to get over the flipping shock), I’d vouchsafe that if Premier Clark accepts Sir Branson’s invitation, we are witnessing the dawn of a delightful new era of candor and self-effacing humor on the part of the influential which dignifies our species rather than so sincerely embarrassing it.
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.