The Scout Report -- Volume 9, Number 5

February 7, 2003

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 third issues of the second volumes of the Life Sciences Report and Physical Sciences Report are available. The Topic in Depth section of Life Sciences Report annotates sites on the common cold. The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about historical maps.

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Research and Education

2002 Census of Governments [.pdf]
Administered by the United Census Bureau at five-year intervals since 1957, the Census of Governments is one of the most important sources of information about the varied types of governmental units across the entire country. Released in December 2002, this 105-page document contains the official counts of the number of state and local governments, along with tabulations of governments by state, type of government, size, and county location. Persons hoping to utilize data contained within the report will want to read the introduction to the report first, as it offers information about the nature of the tables and where to look for specific details, such as where to find data on public school systems, special district governments, and general-purpose governments. Those persons looking to document the change in the number of governmental units over the past five decades will want to look at the tables detailing the change in local governments by state from 1952 to 2002. Overall, this is an important resource for those individuals in the field of public policy or government. [KMG]
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War with Iraq: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives [.pdf]
Released as part of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Committee on International Security Studies Occasional Papers series, this 93-page report from December 2002 examines the political, military, and economic consequences of war with Iraq. The report is divided into three self-contained chapters, with each one exploring a different facet that illustrates the potential costs of war for the United States. In the first chapter, Carl Kaysen, John D. Steinbruner, and Martin B. Malin engage in an extended appraisal of the national security strategy behind the move toward a preventive war against Iraq. The second chapter finds Steven E. Miller considering a number of potentially detrimental military and strategic outcomes of war for the United States. The third chapter, John Nordhaus offers his economic cost estimations of war with Iraq by looking at scenarios that are both favorable and unfavorable to the United States. All in all, this paper is a thought-provoking and scholarly examination of a pressing topic that often receives only superficial consideration by the mainstream media. [KMG]
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Scottish Archive Network
Supported by funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Genealogical Society of Utah, and the National Archives of Scotland, the Scottish Archive Network has three primary aims. The first is to convert fifty of the primary Scottish archive catalogues into electronic format, the second is to make the wills and testaments of Scots from 1500 to 1875 available online, and the third is to "provide a host of other valuable online resources for anyone interested in the written history of Scotland." While the fifty primary Scottish catalogues are not all online yet, the Network Web site offers a good sample of the diverse printed historical records of the Scottish people. Visitors will want to make sure and look at some representative examples of Scottish wills from the past four hundred years, and then take a look at the Research Tools area, which contains helpful hints for deciphering Scottish handwriting and a glossary of terms used in the wills. Visitors hoping to trace their Scottish heritage will want to take a look at the Family History area, which will help them utilized the excellent genealogical resources provided by the Network. [KMG]
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Spain, The United States, and The American Frontier: Historias Paralelas
Partnering with The National Library of Spain, The Biblioteca Columbina y Capitular of Seville, the Library of Congress has developed this fine collection of primary and secondary historical documents that explore the complex and multifaceted history of Spanish expansion into North America from Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and across most of what is now the modern-day American Southwest all the way north to Alaska. The site contains digital versions of numerous texts, maps, manuscripts, and first-hand accounts composed by different individuals. Some of the highlights include "La Florida del Inca," which is an account of the Hernando de Soto expedition through Florida and the southeastern part of North America, along with the "Notes of a Military Reconnoissance from Fort Leavenworth to San Diego," published in 1848 as a special report to the United States Congress. Appropriately enough, many of the documents are available in both English and Spanish, and are searchable by page number. [KMG]
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Designed to serve as a clearinghouse of information about the Arab world, ArabNet is a valuable source of current news coverage, along with providing country profiles of almost every nation in the Middle East. The homepage features a Latest News section that provides hyperlinks to English-language articles offering coverage from many different media sources on topical stories within the Middle East. The country profiles will be helpful to persons seeking a brief overview of each nation, as they contain basic material on their history, geography, government, culture, government, and transportation. The site also contains brief essays on topic as diverse as The A-Z of Camels and The ABCs of Arabic Cuisine. The site also contains a search engine and the ability to sign up for email updates by entering one's email address. [KMG]
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Institute for the Study of Social Change [.pdf]
Founded in 1999 and located on the campus of the University College Dublin in Ireland, the Institute for the Study of Social Change conducts a wide range of research projects, along with housing the Irish Social Science Data Archive. Visitors seeking to learn more about the activities of the Institute will want to look at the sections that give detailed descriptions of their existing research projects (such as those on policy evaluation and political behavior). For those persons interested in learning more about their ongoing seminars, conferences, and policy briefings, a section titled Activities contains the particulars of these sessions, including registration information. The publications area of the site contains many working papers that deal with the topics of globalization, education, and economics. The site is effectively rounded out with information detailing funding and postdoctoral opportunities offered by the Institute that individuals and research teams may wish to examine closely. [KMG]
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Bug Bytes [.pdf, .wav]
Containing a catalog of recorded insect noises, this Web site is presented by Richard Mankin of the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, a division of the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. Organized by species and subject, this unusual library contains approximately 40 audio clips of such subtle insect noises as the wing vibrations of a butterfly and the sound of a termite feeding. Some background noise is unavoidable with recordings such as these, but the Web site includes a sample file for training the ear to distinguish insect noises from extraneous sounds. Bug Bytes is engaging enough to warrant a visit from both researchers and general visitors alike. This site is also reviewed in the February 7, 2003 NSDL Life Sciences Report. [RS]
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Tales from the Underground
Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry Web site offers a very interesting interactive activity called Tales from the Underground. Kids get to explore an interactive map of Chicago neighborhoods to view the results of soil samples that were taken to determine the amounts of various pollutants they contain. Students are then able to conduct their own experiments (with help from their teacher or parent) to learn about the health of soils where they live. The site contains a wealth of additional activities, downloads, and lessons that culminate in a unique learning experience that kids will enjoy. This site is also reviewed in the February 7, 2003 NSDL Physical Science Report. [JAB]
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General Interest

The Devil's Dictionary
First published in complete form in 1906, The Devil's Dictionary was written by Ambrose Bierce, a prominent man of letters and general curmudgeon, and an individual who is perhaps best remembered for both his short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," and The Devil's Dictionary. This complete version of The Devil's Dictionary was placed online by Mike Leung, and contains the famous entries that reflect Ambrose Bierce's command of the written word. One sample entry reads as follows: "Absurdity, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion." Another particularly amusing entry is Mr. Bierce's definition of "senate," which read as follows: "A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors." For those unfamiliar with the acerbic quality of Mr. Bierce's not so subtle wit, this site will serve as a nice introduction to his well-honed phrase-turning. [KMG]
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Picturing Business in America
From the National Portrait Gallery, this exhibition features hedcuts, small black and white portraits of business leaders that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal since 1979. The paper donated a collection of hedcuts to the Portrait Gallery in 2001. Although technically drawings, hedcuts are actually based on photographs; the Journal has four full-time and two part-time artists who create them. At first glance, the exhibition does not appear to show more than 10 or 15 examples. However, it is well worth following the advice given to "Click on individual hedcuts for additional information" to see side-by-side hedcuts of Martha Stewart's "look" in 1989 and 2000; Steve Jobs at 21 and 41; and bearded and clean-shaven Paul Allen, as well as the chance to read the biographies of the individuals portrayed. The Getting Inside section of the exhibition provides a step-by-step explanation of how the hedcuts are made, the pitfalls of interpreting photographs, and what the originals look like in comparison to the half-column size versions that appear in the printed newspaper. [DS]
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All Info-About Poetry
While there are many sites offering a diverse selection of poems and verse from the best-known names from previous historical eras, few Web sites offer more contemporary poems. Paula Bardell, a poet and fiction writer from Britain, has established this Web site as a means to disseminate the works (and discussions) of a varied group of contemporary poets from around the world. The homepage of the site contains two of its main features, In the Spotlight and the weekly newsletter written by Ms. Bardell. In the Spotlight contains short essays about the art of writing poetry, information about new poetry anthologies, and a selection of poems submitted to the site. From the main page, visitors can also read brief biographical sketches of numerous 20th century poets, such as Leopold Senghor, who was also the first president of Senegal. Finally, the site contains a built-in search engine and an A-Z index detailing the subjects covered by the site. [KMG]
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The House of the Seven Gables
In one of his most famous novels, Nathaniel Hawthorne begins by describing the power of what is perhaps the most storied home in 19th century literature: "The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also, of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within." Such is one man's impression of the House of the Seven Gables, the only surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England. Visitors to the site will find a host of invaluable material about the history and legacy of the House, along with information about the house where Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804, which is located just several blocks away. The site contains basic information about visiting the two homes, such as visiting hours, their location, and updates about upcoming and ongoing exhibits. Finally, the site also contains information about the Pioneer Village, which offers a recreation of a 17th century fishing village. [KMG]
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Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman
Designed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to complement their exhibit featuring the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, this site will be an excellent resource for educators and students hoping to view the drawings of one of the world's most acclaimed artists. As curator Carmen C. Bambach notes in her helpful and informative essay that serves as a prelude to the rest of the site, da Vinci "stands as a supreme icon in Western consciousness-the every embodiment of the universal Renaissance genius." Without a doubt, the highlights of the site are da Vinci's drawings. All of the drawings can be examined in close detail using a built-in zoom feature, effectively allowing users to examine da Vinci's incredible ability to capture the motion of charging horses and the expressive abilities of the human face. Additional highlights of the site include audio clips featuring commentary on different drawings in the collection, an authoritative bibliography of scholarly references, and an essay exploring the left-handedness of da Vinci. [KMG]
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Rave Reviews: Bestselling Fiction in America
This online exhibit, sponsored by the University of Virginia Library and drawing on the collection of Lillian Gary Taylor, celebrates "the fiction Americans actually read-fiction we admire, fiction we love, fiction we pretend to ignore." The exhibit begins with a brief discussion of the collection compiled by Ms. Taylor, whose library included 1800 first editions of popular American novels ranging from The Scarlet Letter to A Farewell to Arms. Different sections of the exhibit deal chronologically with the emergence of the notion of a "bestseller," and include many digital images of first-edition works and pages from important novels ranging from 1750 to 1950. One of the most engaging sections is Bestsellers: Beyond the Book, which examines the relationship between motion picture adaptations of popular novels such as Ben-Hur and Peyton Place. In general, the site offers a good introduction to the history of the American popular novel and its persistent appeal to a broad audience of readers. [KMG]
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Given the ubiquity of automobiles across the United States, it is not surprising to learn that the first drive-in movie theater was opened in Camden, New Jersey in 1933 by Richard Hollingshead. is a fitting tribute to a feature of the American landscape that fell on increasingly hard times beginning in the late 1960s but, in recent years, has witnessed a miniature renaissance. Created and maintained by the brother-sister team of Jennifer and Kipp Sherer, the site contains several thousands pieces of information about the history and evolution of the American drive-in movie theater. The first valuable feature of the site is the ability to search for drive-ins across the country by zip code, keywords, status (open or closed), and by geographical locale. Each entry contains detailed material about each drive-in, such as its automobile capacity, current status, address, and in many cases multiple photographs. A particularly entertaining section is the Drive-In Museum, which offers a short online exhibit on the life of Richard Hollingshead, along with a timeline of notable events in drive-in history. In all, the site is quite entertaining, and will be a welcome addition to those users interested in visiting a drive-in or with an affinity for cultural history. [KMG]
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Network Tools

InnerX Browser
This novel browser may be of interest to some users, as it includes several helpful features not integrated into other existing browsers. InnerX includes a spell checker and built-in language translators in several different languages. Utilizing a variety of different skins, InnerX also allows users to keep track of the weather by entering their local zip code. InnerX is fully compatible with all systems running Windows 95 and above. [KMG]
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Fresh Download 5.3
For those not already acquainted with Fresh Download, this latest version of the well-known download manager will be worth checking out. Some of the primary features of the program include the ability to pause and resume broken downloads; the ability to use four simultaneous connections; and integration into Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator. Additionally, users can schedule their downloads for low periods of Internet traffic. Finally, a FAQ section is also provided, as well as an email address where users can send questions about the program. Fresh Download 5.3 is compatible with all operating systems running Windows 95 and above. [KMG]
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In The News

Legendary Calaveras County Frog-Jumping Contest Will Continue
Decision Saves Frog-Jumping Competition From Croaking,1,3830946.story
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
Private History of the "Jumping Frog" Story
Animal Rights Group Declares Calaveras County Frog Contest Inhumane
Frogtown USA
Origami Jumping Frog
The much-storied annual Calaveras County Frog-Jumping Contest, inspired by Mark Twain's humorous short story, received good news yesterday when a careful review of the California Fish and Game Code revealed that "frogs to be used in frog-jumping contests" are exempted from general wildlife rules. The problem facing the contest was that most of the frogs used in the contest today are in fact eastern bullfrogs, as opposed to the native red-legged frog immortalized in Twain's story. The additional quandary was posed by the fact that it is illegal in the state of California to return a nonnative species (such as the eastern bullfrog) to the wild, and violators can face a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Local businesspeople were also concerned because the frog-jumping jubilee attracts some 40,000 tourists to the area east on San Francisco, and the loss of revenue would be potentially quite severe. After this recent discovery, it appears that the contest will go on as planned this May.

The first link leads to a story from the Los Angeles Times about the recent discovery that will allow the frog-jumping contest to proceed as planned this May. The second link will take visitors to the complete text of Mark Twain's story about the "celebrated jumping frog." The third link leads to Mark Twain's own personal recollection about the genesis and broad history of the now-famous story. The fourth link takes visitors to a news article from last year detailing protests by animal-rights groups about the way the frogs are treated at the contest. The fifth link leads to the official homepage of the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, where visitors will find information about visiting the fair and about how to register for the contest. The final link takes visitors to a site where they can learn how to make a jumping frog with origami, in lieu of the real thing. [KMG]
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