Now in its sixth year serving discriminating readers in Australia, North America, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Western Europe

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Volume 5, No. 34

Editor:  Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller

Seattle, Washington


Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  This weekend is Labor Day in America and it marks the official end of summer.  For the mercantile establishment, it also heralds in the holiday season and for the entertainment media, a new Fall programming lineup.

This year, Labor Day straddles two national political conventions and included the aftermath of what could have well been the meteorological coup de grace for New Orleans.  We’re certainly glad the Big Easy didn’t drown out and we applaud the preparedness efforts that also went into preventing that.

I find myself wishing that we were able to exercise as much control over who governs America for the next four years.  Despite being a fan of his for many years, I was not impressed with Clint Eastwood’s contribution to the Republican National Convention but I’m a bit relieved that the candidates themselves were mildly embarrassed by it too.

My hope is that the Democratic National Convention relies more on tradition than on theatrics.  At this point in time, I don’t think any American needs advice from the theatrical community and none of us, certainly, any more of the dog and pony show mentality which seems to have characterized the behavior of both parties this election season.

The infamous “Grandpa Seamus” occasionally quoted in this column was fond of pointing out that sometimes, whether it was the trumpeting of the elephant or the braying of the jackass, neither made a whole lot of sense to him and neither was real conducive to rational thinking in the first place.

I could not agree with him more.


Experts looking to the future have predicted which nations will be the richest on the planet by 2050.  Their forecast just might surprise you.

If you’re a walnut farmer with trade connections in China, you’re probably becoming very wealthy, very fast.  A single pair of them is going for about $31,000.  

Check out the nine biggest personal computer myths heard all the time.

No ice in Barrow, Alaska: Arctic ice shrinks to record low
Plains Weather Cools Down, Yet Drought Continues To Worsen
After the Drought: Will Climate Reporting Take Off?


Intent on maintaining its status as one of the most environmentally appropriate cities on the planet, Vancouver’s city planners are developing and implementing a master plan to guarantee not only the survival of their urban forests but their perpetuation, as well.

We didn’t even know the race was on but apparently, Canada stands to become a “cashless” country sooner than its southern neighbor.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here.

If you enjoy making furniture and you need some extra cash, you should check out the small condo furniture boom resulting from Canada’s national drive to provide smaller and more affordable housing to all of its citizens.


If you want to see sheer “guts and go for it” in action, check out the five most inspiring wounded veterans competing in Paralympics 2012.

Here’s to some convicts in a women’s prison who are helping to save an endangered species.

Seattle is creating the nation’s first roof top community garden.  At a time when the locally grown and neighborhood urban farming movements both are flourishing in this city, we expect this trend will go regionally and then nationally viral, to be benefit of all concerned.


Here’s another tech application with an Orwellian spin.  Now it’s apparently possible to analyze one’s Facebook page for a wealth of information about the people on it, the people visiting it and on your own Internet habits.  What I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around is the necessity of all that information in the first place.

This has to be going over big in Quebec.  Apparently restaurants in neighboring Burlington, Vermont are adding a hidden tip to the bill of anyone with a French accent. 

Here are top ten excuses we use ‘not’ to exercise.  And by the way?  We’re not buying any of them.


Hi Rusty,

I’m now working and going to school, so I missed your earlier story on obesity. But you hit a familiar theme. About 4 or 5 years ago, I had a buddy who was very dear to me and very overweight. A mutual friend called me one day and said to please tell him to drop some weight because “people his size don’t last long.”  I didn’t feel like I could do it, and he was an otherwise smart man & should have known what he was doing. Plus, he smoked.  It turned out that he had some serious health issues (cardiac & intestinal) over the next two years, and finally a bout of pneumonia just did him in at age 57. I wish I could have done something to save him, but I don’t think I was in a position to do so. If you have loved ones that you think you can influence, do it, because obese people really don’t last long. I look at some of the people out there walking around and I just want to scream at them “do you know what the hell you’re doing to yourself?”  Sometimes it’s as simple as just cutting out soft drinks and desserts, like what I did (although I was never dangerously obese).  I say go for it.  P.S. If you read, you will see that sugar intake feeds cancer, and diet can regulate it, so there is some correlation.                        SN withheld at writer’s request.


Well, we knew this was coming eventually and we’re glad to see it.  There is now apparently a bicycle frame being made that glows in the dark.  That should make bike commuting safer for those who work swing and graveyard, eh?

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has been busy.  It has discovered 41 ‘new” alien planets.  It’s been busy since its March 2009 launch, discovering some 2,300 “potential alien worlds”.

According to new DNA evidence discovered in some very old fossil remains, homo sapiens (us) were once genetically connected to a species of human beings besides Neanderthals.  They were called Denisovans and apparently that’s where the brown-eyed folks among us come from.



Ear, Nose, & Throat Reminders:

I present some things we should be doing on a regular basis for ear, nose and throat health.  It is roughly laid out from preparing for bedtime through getting out the door in the morning.  These reminders, when followed, will greatly aid in colds, diseases, and flu rejection.

  • Be sure to wash your hands before handling any food you ingest, either during a meal or in its preparation.  You will also want to wash after too many handshakes, doorknobs, and other surfaces, containing contaminants.
  • Make sure you always wash your hands before rubbing your eyes to remove sleepers, stray eyelashes, or any foreign objects.
  • Floss when you have eaten things sticking in your teeth, allowing gums to breath and be happier.
  • Brush your teeth each night before sleeping to remove the day’s buildup of plaque and tartar.
  • Take at least four to seven swallows of water before retiring to assist in shutting down the digestive system for the night.
  • When showering and you have occasionally been having particularly gritty feeling eyes, cup one hand to direct the water stream into your corresponding open eye to rinse it out and repeat for the other eye.
  • You must decide whether, after the shower, you want to, let’s say no more than twice a month, attempt earwax removal.
    • ENT doctors tell us to resist using a Q-tip, dry or oiled, to get at this wax buildup.  You’ll have to decide whether you can wait until you get a six-month wax suction appointment as opposed to, as they tout, risking damage to your eardrum.
  • Upon waking in the morning, go to the sink and scrape your tongue, before you do much swallowing – see above link about benefits.
  • Before you get out the door, now would be a good time to decide whether your nose is ‘wet’ enough to blow.  This keeps the night’s wetness from becoming the day’s dry buildup later.
  • Optionally to go one step further, prepare a gargle of a capful of lemon juice and one of apple cider vinegarin about 8 ounces of the best house water.
    • Heat water in microwave at least to lukewarm, or hotter if you can stand it.  Spoon stir to even water heat, then gargle a mouthful for as long as you have air to sustain it, spiting it in sink.  (I drink the rest as a throat aid and a warming digestive kick start for the day.)
  • During the day, and when indoors, especially around other people or walking behind them into their airstream, be sure to breath through your nose, NOT your mouth.  This way, you can have a good chance of properly filtering any airborne germs.

Van Byington is a naturopathic health counselor and nutritionist who lives in Tacoma, Washington.  To contact him directly, email him at


Despite urban myths to the contrary, it’s just as possible to become addicted to marijuana as it is alcohol if cannabis is abused.  This is particularly true of those who acquire the dependency as adolescents.  To see the results of a 20 year study of teenage addiction to pot, please go here.

Using caffeinated beverages or those “energy drinks” to wake up and keep going can sometimes turn into a dangerous and self-defeating addiction.  Here are 16 foods which can provide the same benefits and at considerably less risk.

Here’s yet another reason for shedding those extra pounds.  Apparently, in people over 50, obesity accelerates memory loss.



This column is dedicated to Shannon Patricia Goddard Mills, who died of cervical cancer in 2001, at the age of 38.

Since no one knows for sure how long they’re going to live, even for those with potentially terminal diseases, each day is a victory of survival.  One teenager who will not recover from cancer probably knows more about how to live than most human beings we’ve ever encountered.  Alice Pyne, you rock, girl.

Cancer:  What You Need to Know
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society


Here’s a contemporary portrait of America which is definitely not flattering.  The good news is that the problems this article cites were created by human beings and therefore can be solved by them.  Sometimes I think that now, more than at perhaps any time in our history, Americans need to cut the bull manure and get back to doing what we do best, being Americans.



Cats In Unexpected Places

The Back Country gallery website has some of the finest nature wallpaper I’ve seen in nearly 20 years on the Net.

Here, I think, is every sport fisherman’s dream.  Check out this video of fighting a 500 lb. black marlin.


Animal Tracks is’s Critter Stuff.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordial. 
National Geographic Kids Page is a great way to spend time with the young people in your life.
National Geographic Video Page is the online heart of the magazine itself and its offerings are stellar.
Foundation For A Better Life’s short video vignettes rival the best of Hallmark, Folgers and Campbell Soup.  Three I’d recommend right off are Concert, The Class Room and Spirit of America.


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.
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.


Meet Natasha, the lady Albert Einstein of chimpanzees.

And then there’s the bird which uses bread to catch fish.

Here are 13 animals who are secretly Batman

Living With Wildlife
BBC’s wildlife finder
National Geographic Daily News – Animals


How would you like it if, when you were watching TV, the television listened back?  And each time it heard a noise it could associate with a product or service, it flashed an ad across the screen?  This Orwellian 1984 vision looks like it’s on its way.  My hunch is that it’s going to fail abysmally because I don’t think any of the several billion of us on this planet are that passive and that easily manipulated.  I also don’t think it is a real good idea to insult the intelligence of millions and millions of people.  Yep, for more on this one, go here.

   Well, that’s it for this week.  The Northstar Journal is one hundred percent supported by readers like you.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute ~ however modestly ~ to the next, please go here and with our thanks.



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


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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