The Scout Report -- Volume 8, Number 39

October 4, 2002

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In This Issue:

NSDL Scout Reports

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News


NSDL Scout Reports

NSDL Scout Reports for the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences
The nineteenth issues of the first volumes of the Life Sciences Report and Physical Sciences Report are available. The Topic in Depth section of Life Sciences Report annotates sites on restoration ecology. The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about the speed of light.

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Research and Education

The Effectiveness of "Teach for America" and Other Under-certified Teachers on Student Academic Achievement: A Case of Harmful Public Policy
Retrieved from the Education Policy Analysis Archives, this paper, authored by Ildiko Laczko-Kerr and Professor David Berliner of Arizona State University, offers a critical analytical examination of the academic achievements of students instructed by under-certified primary school teachers (including those participating in the Teach For America program). The study compares the performance on a common standardized test, utilizing data from the state of Arizona and comparing the classrooms of under-certified teachers with those of certified teachers. Professor Berliner and Laczko-Kerr conclude that: "Present policies allowing under-certified teachers, including those from the TFA program, to work with our most difficult to teach children appear harmful." Overall, this work will be of great interest to policy makers and practitioners alike. [KMG]
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Philanthropy Journal
The Philanthropy Journal is an online publication that helps individuals and organizations keep abreast of news and developments across the greater philanthropic community. Published by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, the online newsletter contains different information about innovations, trends, and people working in the field of philanthropy. As the Fletcher Foundation is headquartered in North Carolina, special attention is paid to developments in the state. In addition to the news content of the site, there is also a announcements section and a career section, which allow users to look for and post job openings in the non-profit sector. Most helpful is an option that allows visitors to sign up to receive the weekly newsletter via email. [KMG]
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History of the Workhouse
Part social history, part public documentary, Peter Higginbotham has created a Web site devoted to the workhouse, a feature of the English landscape for over two hundred years that provided employment for the destitute in return for board and lodging. Through a series of primary documents, including the Poor Laws of the 19th century, Mr. Higginbotham offers a descriptive and nuanced perspective on the treatment of England's impoverished and destitute. Interactive maps of Britain and Ireland provide users with the ability to look for the locations of different workhouses and to find out additional information, such as their dates of operation and their exact street address. Finally, an audio archive provides reminiscence from Laurie Liddiard, who served as a workhouse clerk in the late 1920s. [KMG]
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Sprawl City
Created by environmental authors Leon Kolankiewicz and Roy Beck, Sprawl City is a site dedicated to informing and assisting the general public about the issues of sprawl and rural land lost in the United States. With oversight from a variety of academic and practicing planners, the site contains a host of information about the growing rate of sprawl among urbanized and urbanizing areas across the country. Most helpful are a series of studies by Kolankiewicz and Beck investigating sprawl in several different states and regions, including California, Florida, Minnesota, and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Along with all of their reports and studies, a section of definitions offers a more concrete explanation of how "sprawl" and other terms are technically defined. [KMG]
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Welfare Reform and New York City's Low-Income Population [.pdf]
In this recent paper from the Institute for Poverty Research's Working Papers series, Howard Chernick and Cordelia Reimers examine the Current Population Survey in 1994-1995 and 1997-1999 to see if there was a discernible drop in households receiving public assistance in New York City. While they found that the proportion of households receiving at least one public assistance benefit remained the same over the period, the decline in the number of Hispanic households receiving public assistance was greater than among African-Americans. Importantly, the paper also addresses the differing family structures and educational attainment levels that may account for some of this change. [KMG]
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University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology
Limnology (the study of lakes) in North America was developed at the University of Wisconsin by E.A. Birge and Chancey Juday, so it is not surprising that the Center for Limnology Web site contains a wealth of information about their activities and research projects. The site includes a virtual tour of the Center's main research facility on Lake Mendota in Madison and their research center on Trout Lake in north central Wisconsin. More importantly, a page dedicated to research contains valuable information about ongoing research on lake ecology, bioenergetics, and an online system for identifying Wisconsin fishes. An events calendar and employment listing area round out the site. [KMG]
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Center for Rural Affairs
As their mission statement states, the Center for Rural Affairs is "committed to building communities that stand for social justice, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship." One of the highlights of the Center's site is their monthly newsletter that offers a range of pertinent news stories dealing with national events affecting rural America. For persons in rural areas, the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project section will be most helpful, offering numerous outreach programs, such as a Women's Business Center, information on small business loans, and a newsletter. Also of interest is an area that highlights legislative actions and current bills affecting rural areas (most notably, legislation related to agriculture and farming). [KMG]
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Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 [.pdf]
Prepared by Patrick A. Langan and David J. Levin of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, this 16-page report examines the rate of recidivism among a cohort of 272,111 former inmates for three years after their release in 1994. This particular cohort represents two-thirds of all prisoners released in the United States that year. The data analyzed in this report reveals that released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers, burglars, larcenists, and motor vehicle thieves. Other data from the study shows that within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape. Additional material in the report includes a comparison of recidivism rates in prisoners released in 1983 and 1994, and a detailed explication of the methods utilized in the study. [KMG]
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General Interest

National Transportation Statistics 2001 [.pdf]
Released in July 2002, this 431-page document prepared by the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics contains almost every piece of aggregate data on transportation imaginable. While going through the entire document may be a challenge, the report is divided into more readily digestible sections such as Transportation System, Transportation Safety, and Transportation and the Economy. The majority of the report consists of tables and charts that summarize a variety of transportation statistics, such as Retail New Passenger Car Sales, Principal Means of Transportation to Work, and Railroad Passenger Safety Data. This exhaustive survey of the United States transportation system will be most helpful to those doing research in the field of transportation policy or those just looking for useful statistics. [KMG]
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Our Documents
Beginning with the Lee Resolution of June 7th, 1776, and concluding with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Our Documents is a online repository of primary documents that "reflect our diversity and our unity, our past and our future, and mostly our commitment as a nation to continue to strive to 'form a more perfect union'". Cosponsored by the National Archives and Records Administration, the USA Freedom Corps, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, this site currently contains 11 primary documents, including full-page scans of each document, along with transcriptions. Three new documents will be added each week, for a total of 100 documents. Educators will find a variety of classroom resource tools on the site for using the documents, and several interesting national and state-wide competitions for students to enter. [KMG]
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Official Salvador Dali Museum Web Site
Dedicated to the man who once remarked that "The difference between me and the surrealists is that I am Surrealism," the Salvador Dali Museum site contains a host of visual and written material on the artist and his storied life. The site contains such practical information as the hours of the museum, membership material, and a calendar of upcoming events such as lectures on Dali, recitals, and other performances at the Museum. However, the heart of the site is a visual introduction to the work of Dali, titled The Collection, which offers an overview of his different artistic periods and a biographical sketch. The paintings featured online include "Eggs on a Plate without a Plate" and "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory." This site will be a must-see for Dali enthusiasts or those with a penchant for Surrealism. [KMG]
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Richard Avedon: Portraits{36C7411F-EEF8-11D5-9414-00902786BF44}
Specializing in the art of portraiture, Richard Avedon is one of the 20th century's most celebrated photographers, and this online exhibit from the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcases some of his work from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Highlights in the online exhibit includes portrait photography of Marian Anderson, Marilyn Monroe, and Andy Warhol. One of the compelling features of this online exhibit are the audio clips of Avedon's commentary on several of the photographs. For those looking for more information about Avedon and his work, there is an essay on the site by the exhibit's curators, Mary Morris Hambourg and Mia Fineman, titled "Avedon's Endgame." [KMG]
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Reclaiming the Everglades: South Florida's Natural History, 1884-1934
Reclaiming the Everglades, a 1997-98 Library of Congress (LC)/Ameritech award winner, is now online in LC's American Memory. University of Miami, Florida International University and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida contributed a wide range of materials selected from 16 collections for the digitizing project. These collections include the University of Miami's Marjory Stoneman papers, documenting Stoneman's career as a journalist, environmental activist, and founder of Everglades National Park; Historical Museum of Southern Florida's ephemera collection; and five complete publications from Florida International University, including the 1913 children's book, Boy Scouts in the Everglades, and engineering reports. Users can search by keyword, or browse name, title or subject indexes. There are also browseable lists of Everglades Timelines and Everglades Biographies. Visitors accustomed to American Memory's search interface should be aware that requesting a larger view of an image or the full text of a document takes you to the version of the collection hosted at Florida International University. This arrangement actually retrieves more related materials, but the search interface is different unless you resort to the browser back button to return to American Memory. [DS]
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Education Index
The Education Index Web site provides a guide to "the most useful education-related sites on the Web." The links can be browsed by subject such as astronomy, chemistry, geology, and physics (among many others), or by lifestage, from prenatal and infant all the way to college and continuing education. Although the sites described do not have a date of review or rating system, users should still find the resource worthwhile. This site is also reviewed in the October 4, 2002 NSDL Physical Science Report. [JAB]
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InfoNatura: Birds and Mammals of Latin America
InfoNatura is provided by NatureServe, "a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and providing information about the world's plants, animals, and ecological communities." This Web site is a comprehensive source for conservation, distribution, and taxonomic information on over 5000 bird and mammal species in 44 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Taxonomic treatment of all species in the database "reflects standard references, and most species have been assigned a global conservation status rank." InfoNatura is updated three times a year to include "new data from refined geographic surveys, the latest taxonomic treatments, and any new conservation status assessments." Future versions of the database will include amphibian and reptile data. In addition to searching the database, users can click on Data Sources and Management to learn where InfoNatura data come from. This site is also reviewed in the October 4, 2002 NSDL Life Sciences Report. [RS]
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Network Tools

Web Ferret 5.0
The newest version of this popular software is designed to assist users in finding the information they need by utilizing several search engines. Helpful features include the ability to query a number of different search engines, along with the ability to validate selected results, save search histories, and filter out pornography and inappropriate language. Within this version of Web Ferret there are also several new additions, such as uninstaller, an interface that eliminates banner advertising, and a new toolbar that is integrated into Internet Explorer. Web Ferret 5.0 is compatible with the Windows 98, NT, 2000, Me, and XP operating systems. [KMG]
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POP Peeper 2.0
Supported by all Windows operating systems, POP Peeper 2.0 is a small utility that resides in your Windows task bar and informs users when they have new email from any of their POP3, MSN, Yahoo, or Hotmail accounts. Additionally, the POP Peeper supports HTML email. Finally, the utility allows users to be notified of new email from any of these accounts with a visual or audial reminder. The POP Peeper Web site also has a handy FAQ section that addresses problems or questions users might have. [KMG]
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In The News

British Research Leads to World's Funniest Joke
The World's Funniest Joke-Official
The British Association for the Advancement of Science
Dr. Richard Wiseman
Philosophical Humor
The New York Friars Club
Under the direction of Dr. Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire with assistance from the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's funniest joke was revealed on October 3, 2002. The study, which asked Internet users to submit their favorite jokes and rate the jokes of other contributors, amassed over 40,000 jokes and an amazing 2 million comments. The study also revealed some interesting results, such as regional preferences for certain types of jokes. For example, Americans and Canadians apparently prefer jokes that make others look foolish, whereas persons from the UK and Ireland enjoyed jokes that involved word play.

The first link leads to a new story highlighting some of the study's research findings (including the world's funniest joke). The second link will take users to the Web site of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which helped sponsor the research. The third site is a link to LaughLab, the site where the research was conducted, which also contains a variety of information about different data collected during the study. The fourth link leads to Dr. Richard Wiseman's site, the lead researcher on the project. The fifth site is maintained by Professor David Chalmers of the University of Arizona and is devoted to philosophical humor. The sixth and final site leads to that bastion of New York humor, the Friars Club, which features a collection of jokes and a complete listing of Friars Clubs legendary roasts. [KMG]
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Correction: Arizona State Museum
Last week's annotation about the Arizona State Museum was incorrect. The museum is at the University of Arizona, not Arizona State University.

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