MY PHONE’S NAME IS FRED

THE NORTHSTAR JOURNAL

Proudly serving North America and the International Community since 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Volume 6, No. 1

Published by

Northstar Media Services

Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller – Editor

 Seattle, Washington

minstrel312@aol.com

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

AntarcticaWest Antarctic Warming Faster Than Thought, Study Finds

BoliviaCoca Licensing is Weapon in Bolivia’s Drug War

China:  China Takes Chilling Look at School Security, China Claims World’s Longest High-Speed Railroad, Signs of Changes Taking Hold in Electronics Factories in China

Egypt:  Egypt Constitution Passes With 63.8 Percent Of The Vote

FranceFrench Cultural Institutions Turn to Crowdfunding, French Panel Overturns 75% Tax on Rich Claiming it is Unfair

Gabon:  In Gabon, Lure of Ivory is Hard for Many to Resist

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

IrelandCarbon Taxes Pay Off

RussiaRussian 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 AfricaWorld Watches Mandela’s Struggle

SpainCar Factories Offer Hope for Spanish Industry and Workers

CLIMATE CHANGE SHORTS

Your 2012 climate change scorecard

SYRIA SHORTS

Syrian Resort Town Is Stronghold for Alawites

No Easy Route If Assad Opts to Go, or Stay

Syrian Rebels Say Strategic Town in North, Harem, Is Their

Syrian General in Charge of Stopping Defections Becomes a Defector

Syria Envoy Calls For Transitional Government

OH CANADA

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.

GOOD EXAMPLES

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.

Thanks to an alert Boston policeman, a woman who was drowning after accidentally falling into the Fort Point Channel, survived to enjoy a real good Christmas.

Another Bostonian has been tapped by Pope Benedict XVI to be the Vatican’s top sex abuse crimes prosecutor.

BAD EXAMPLES

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

Quiz: What’s Your Eco Personality Type?

Adbusters’ War Against Too Much of Everything

Tribal leaders speak out against coal terminal at hearing

California Manufacturers Weigh Costs of New Greenhouse Gas Rules

Lisa Jackson Resigns: EPA Administrator Stepping Down

Boom Turns To Bust For Some As Wind Industry Tax Credit Expires Again

HEALTH

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.

Check out these 20 healthy lifestyle trends for the New Year.

SHORTS

Good (and Bad) News About the HIV Epidemic

Health Tips For 2013: What The Experts Want Us To Resolve For The New Year

Yes we can — love sardines

LIFESTYLE

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.

Illinois may very well be one of the next states to approve same sex marriage, if some 260 its clergy have anything to say about it.

SHORTS

Nap Nanny Recall: Four Retailers To Recall 150,000-Plus Baby Recliners

Four Paths Toward a Better 2013 in Business – NYTimes.com

Not Having Sex: 11 Reasons You’re Too Tired For Sex

ON THE CANCER FRONT 

Cancer drugs: Smart new drugs shrank my tumours by half in just eight weeks |

Drugs Aim to Make Several Types of Cancer Self-Destruct

Is the Cure for Cancer Inside You?

Cancer Research 2012: The Top 10 Cancer Breakthroughs Of 2012

RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS:
Cancer:  What You Need to Know
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
 

BEST OF THIS WEEK’S NET MEDIA

Best Animal Videos Of 2012

Video: A stirring message to humanity, with a time-lapse of our planet from the International Space Station

 21 Heartwarming Moments From 2012 That Will Give You Hope For The Future

NORTHSTAR ENDORSEMENTS

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

BACK COUNTRY GALLERY:  BEST NATURE PHOTOS ON THE NET

BLACK SEA AGRO: AGRICULTURE IN THE BLACK SEA REGION

CREAM MAGAZINE & MILLENNIUM ART GALLERY

THE SEADOC SOCIETY: PEOPLE & SCIENCE HEALING THE SEA

SIERRA CLUB

SEATTLE SCENES

NEWS

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 travel@pacsci.org

THE TODAY FILE:  “Your guide to the latest news from Seattle and around the Northwest”

SEATTLE LINKS
Seattle 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?

SHORTS

Frost Flowers: Beauty in the Far North

Grumpy Cat Kitten Photos Revealed (PHOTOS)

Circus Elephant Ban Considered in Los Angeles

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 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.

NORTHSTAR PREDICTS

 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

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.   If you’d like to receive the graphically enhanced edition of the Northstar Journal by direct email, please so request at minstrel312@aol.com  Rusty 

Wrath of the Testament, an exciting seagoing saga of war and rebellion, is now available as a kindle book, for $3.99 at amazon.com.  For a preview, go here

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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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