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Sunday, December 30, 2012
Volume 6, No. 1
MY PHONE’S NAME IS FRED
Hi again from the shores of the Salish Sea. I was at a very impressionable age when I saw the science fiction film classic Space Odyssey 2001. That’s the one where a sentient computer suffers some kind of emotional crisis, takes over a spacecraft bound for one of Jupiter’s moons and tries to kill its two crewmen.
Ever since then, I have been extremely skeptical of any artificial intelligence which thinks too much like a human being. Apparently Smart Phones have become the neighborhood busybodies of the 21st Century.
I have a cell phone but it is not an academically brilliant one. If my personal communication device was a human being, it would be intelligent enough to drive a cab. It would not be able to explain how a taxi is made or even how it really works.
“Hey, you put gas in the flipping thing, turn the key, press the pedal and the thing just goes, yanno?”
My cell phone doesn’t have a camera that can identify the time and place of every photo I take and let a bunch of people I’ve never met know how I’ve been spending my day. The seventh cousin of two tin cans and some string I have does not keep track of where I am and send the information out to nearby businesses so they can send my phone ads about cool stuff they have on sale.
My little gadget bears no resemblance to those electronic tags they put on exotic endangered species to track where they go when they don’t want human beings watching them.
It’s not at all like those homing devices they used in all those cool James Bond movies or the ones American actor James Garner sometimes employed when he was between movies and working as a private investigator in Southern California.
I never get the feeling that I’m carrying around this small Big Brother in my pocket that one day may rat me out to the Cyber Police for failing to pick up my email before lunch or not texting my aging cousin Duke to thank him for letting me and 819 other Twitterers know how much he enjoyed the softboiled eggs and fish sticks he had for breakfast.
Oh, and its name is not HAL 9000, like that pathological computer in Space Odyssey. Its name is Fred. Fred the Phone. Not a rocket scientist for sure. But smart enough to make the taxi go.
IN OTHER NEWS
As more women of a younger age enter the political arena of their nations, domestic issues facing working females the world over will be taking more of a center stage. Canada’s already dealing with this, as cbc.ca reports. See also: Nova Scotia Apologizes To Breastfeeding Working Mom
What’s the busiest stretch of highway in the world? The answer just might surprise you.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Seaside Haven recalls its trial by fire.
WORLD NEWS SHORTS
India: New Delhi Gang Rape Sponsors Mass Demonstration In Nation’s Capital, India Rape Victim In Singapore For Treatment, India Teen Commits Suicide After Police Pressure Her To Drop Gang Rape Case, Indian Gang Rape Victim Dies; Protesters Defy Lock-Down
Ireland: Carbon Taxes Pay Off
Russia: Russian Prosecutor Seeks Acquittal in Magnitsky’s Death, Russian Official Says Adoption Ban Violates Treaties, Foreign Automakers See Potential in Russian Market, Anatoly Shesteryuk, Former Russian Official, Arrested, Vladimir Putin Signs Bill Banning Americans From Adopting Russian Children
South Africa: World Watches Mandela’s Struggle
CLIMATE CHANGE SHORTS
One of the most powerful First Nation leaders in all of Canada may end up giving her life to improved relations among indigenous peoples, the national and provincial governments, and the Crown. For more on this one, please go here.
HuffPost Life Canada has published its new compendium of the nation’s best restaurants. In a country which is only slightly less list-crazed than America, what makes this one stand out is the way it was put together. If you live in the land where mush is not just breakfast, see if yours is on here. If you’re planning on visiting Canada anytime soon, this might interest you as well.
If you’re from Quebec and need to feel just a bit more in touch with the rest of the country or you’re intending to immigrate and really want to learn how Canadians think and feel, we recommend taking a look at Canada’s Best Books of 2012 and putting a couple three on your own reading list for 2013.
It’s a story that should have been told over a half century before because it’s about a million women who helped win the Second World War. This is one of the most outstanding video tributes we have seen in a very long time.
Not that I have any great love of sharks, I just don’t believe in bothering them in their natural element. So I don’t think fishing for them from a blimp is a real good idea. I also don’t like the precedence it sets or any ideas it may give impressionable but brave children.
A newspaper in New York undertook ~ using the Freedom of Information Act ~ to publish the names of gun owners in a portion of its readership area. It will be interesting to see if there is a follow-up study to see if there was a subsequent rise in burglaries in those neighborhoods and if firearms were targeted. There are few things more personally embarrassing to me than seeing another member of the Fourth Estate exercise freedom of the press so irresponsibly.
Not surprising, a new study has confirmed a very symbiotic relationship between the firearms manufacturing industry and those who design and make virtual weapons of considerable destruction. Most of it’s just hand and eye coordination and getting used to the noise. All other considerations aside, it’s darn good marketing strategy. And it’s obviously working.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE AND EXPLORATION
I am not a believer in extremes, per se, and especially in outdoor stuff. If our species had had to depend on my spirit of adventure or curiosity to evolve, there far fewer of us. We probably would still be in Africa. And we would undoubtedly be living a lot less knowledgeably about the rest of the life forms on the planet than we are now. That having been said, I am ~ paradoxically, perhaps ~ a great fan and supporter of exploration. Go to all the weird places humans have never been before and were not born to live in. Take lots of cool videos. Become national heroes. Just please, do not even suggest I’d like to go with you. I’ll leave that to Roald Amudsen and his brother Leon, who almost froze to death impetuously trying to ski across a real rugged stretch of their own country before the younger Norwegian brother made it to the South Pole and back.
In the jungles of the Yuccatan Peninsula, Mexican archaeologists discovered an entire Mayan temple complex deep in underground caves partially submerged. What they found among the artifacts strongly points to some Mayan gods being sentient beings of exterrestrial origin.
NASA has developed a new space suit and it bears a striking resemblance to one Hollywood debuted first. Yep, think Buzz Lightyear on this one. And to see it, please go here.
THE GREEN AGENDA
I have a confession to make. As much as I believe in it, I have never personally been able to get into yoga. I’ve always felt bad about that and secretly ashamed. Now, however, I am now liberated in this regard. Recent studies point out that yoga may be a “gal” thing and that it’s actually not good for members of my gender.
I love it when something I enjoy doing turns out to be healthy for me. In this case, it’s shopping at the Dollar Store. It turns out there’s lots of cool, health enhancing stuff those places provide.
Do mixed relationships work? A green woman tried a date with a real handsome climate denier. Here is her report.
Are we, as a society, more concerned about the “temple” as it were, than the soul which dwells within? New York Times Op Ed columnist Frank Bruni seems to think we might be.
ON THE CANCER FRONTRESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS: Cancer: What You Need to Know American Cancer Society Canadian Cancer Society
BEST OF THIS WEEK’S NET MEDIA
A reminder to locals and those visiting this week that if you haven’t seen the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, you’ve got until Jan. 6th to do that. For more information, please go here.
And from these same people, they’re getting up a day boat trip down the SkagitRiver to see the largest gathering of American bald eagles in the Lower 48. For fans of these magnificent creatures, this is almost a spiritual experience and the PSC’s excursion includes lots of salmon and other good stuff to eat. For more information and to make reservations, go here, call (206) 443-3642 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgSeattle Weather Map of Seattle Seattle City Cams More Seattle Facts & Figures Komo 4 News (ABC) King 5 News (NBC) Seattle Times
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
We occasionally run photos of some of the non-human neighbors we have here on the shores of the SalishSea and not the least among these, the local squirrel population. We are delighted with the success of any creature which is cool and when one of these little dudes wound up becoming a spokesperson for an American anti-acid product, we of course, could not resist sharing it with you.
And on the other hand, something I would never in eight million lifetimes dream of doing because there is nothing important enough for me personally to learn by doing it to justify doing it in the first place, apparently the tagging of great white sharks is yielding some beneficial results.
Would that we could all blend in so well. Do me a favour? Check out Art Wolfe’s Creatures Who Camouflage slide show. Note how many of them you actually see? Even with four eyes, I found like three?
SHORTSLiving With Wildlife BBC’s wildlife finder National Geographic Daily News – Animals
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
And then there was Peter the Pheasant, who bonded with humans in truck and followed them with a dedication that certainly defied all available understanding. But certainly not the compassion, the patience and the ultimate acceptance of all involved. This truly is a keeper.
In the tradition of the Fourth Estate ~ however herein rendered with some tongue in cheek ~ we’d like to make our own predictions for the coming year. And with the caveat that we’ll review them next December, assuming we’re all still here, of course.
Triggered by recent discoveries in Yucatan Peninsula underwater caves, it will be positively determined that not only has Earth been visited by extraterrestrials, it has in fact for eons been a popular port call. It will also most certainly put a new spin on the term “blue blood”. I’m not so sure after that whether it’s going to matter where on earth your parents came from as THAT they came from earth.
This next year will see the blossoming of the 21st Century “small is beautiful” movement. It will become cool again to be a minimalist. It will not be a matter of how much one has, but how well one manages what one does have. That alone will free up a lot of time and energy to deal with problems on a more human level.
At the same time, we’ll see more of a return to multi-generational living, both generic and intentional. Age will be seen as a resource and not a liability. And it will happen more quickly in urban areas than in the agricultural settings in which it is a timeless tradition.
Barter and trade will flourish as never before. This resurgence of a perennial sub-economy will go largely unnoticed by a Congress still far too concerned about being re-elected than in doing the job they were elected to do in the first place.
A growing number of Americans will decide in 2013 that they are a lot better off turning to their own communities than they are counting on anything constructive coming from the castles on the banks of the Potomac.
This will have a perhaps positive effect on the field of politics in general but at least on the national level. For those to whom public office is a power acquisition and control device, once constituencies ask one more time, are given a song and dance script to read, shrug, say thank you very much and turn to their own local resources, there won’t be a lot in politics to attract the meglomanically inclined.
I predict that 2013 is going to be the year Americans go back to governing themselves and electing those to do for them only what they honestly and earnestly cannot do for themselves.
Bear in mind that I also still believe in Santa Claus, St. Patrick and the Easter Beaver. But if any of this actually comes to pass, please also remember where you heard it first, then, eh?
Happy New Year, gang. Take care, stay well and Godspeed.
A FINAL WORLD
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