The Scout Report -- Volume 9, Number 30

August 1, 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 Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology
The fifteenth issue of the second volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Intelligent Transportation Systems.
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Research and Education

Historical Research in Europe: A Guide to Archives and Libraries
Long known for their fine online digital projects and initiatives, the University of Wisconsin Digital Content Group has developed this Web site to assist researchers seeking to use European libraries and archives. With a focus on Western Europe, the prime function of the interactive database is "to unite both Web-based and printed resources which provide information about European libraries and archives." The project itself is supported by a grant from the US Department of Education and the University of Wisconsin General Library System. The database can be searched by keyword or subject headings, which include Science, Audio-Video, Church Archives, and Foreign Relations. Within these subjects, individual records are returned that include the title, subject, creator, and in many cases, an URL. Without a doubt, this database will be a great research tool for those persons traveling to Europe to perform research in a host of disciplinary traditions. [KMG]
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Washington State Library: Digital Best Practices
In recent years, more attention has been paid to the planning and creation of online digital projects. This type of information is perhaps more helpful now that ever; particularly given recent budget cutbacks and belt-tightening throughout a broad range of institutions, such as public libraries, universities, and colleges. With that in mind, the Washington State Library has assembled this site devoted to Digital Best Practices. Users can begin by working their way through a scenario that will help delineate and define a community-based collaborative digital project, or by browsing through a list of topics. The topics covered within the site include project management, technology, funding, and collection preparation. Additionally, users can read about the experiences of five libraries in Washington state as they set out to test digital methods and procedures. [KMG]
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Two on Electronic Voting
Study: E-Voting Flaws Risk Ballot Fraud
Analysis of an Electronic Voting System [pdf]
A July 25, 2003 news article from CNN makes note of a potential flaw in a kind of electronic voting machine used in several U.S. states. The flaw was discovered and publicized by researchers from Johns Hopkins and Rice Universities, and it purportedly can make the machine vulnerable to security breaches that would allow a single individual to cast multiple votes. The conclusions of the researchers are outlined in a 24-page study. After providing an overview of the voting system in question, which requires users to insert a smart card to cast a vote, the report suggests that homemade smart cards could be used to gain an unacceptable level of access. Examples of violations include, as was mentioned above, the ability to submit multiple ballots, as well as "viewing partial results and terminating the election early." This site is also reviewed in the August 1, 2003 NSDL MET Report. [CL]
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Smithsonian Education [pdf. Macromedia Flash Reader, RealOne Player]
The diverse buildings that front directly onto the Mall in Washington, D.C. comprise the Smithsonian Institution, one of the world's most celebrated museums. It is with little surprise that this Web site is such an excellent source of information about the educational delights offered by this august American institution. The site is divided simply into three main categories: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section contains hundreds of lesson plans for a variety of age groups -- all dealing with a number of topics, such as language arts, science, and history. Equally helpful is the customized search engine that allows educators to look for educational resources (some of which are designed to be in situ with different exhibits) by document type, keyword, subject, and grade. The Families section is specifically designed to function as a guide to visiting the Smithsonian museums, and features information about special presentations and other local sites. Finally, the Students section allows students the opportunity to go behind the scenes in the interactive feature "Secrets of the Smithsonian" and to learn about the art and science of collecting as embodied by the special collections (and collectors) profiled in the section titled "Amazing Collections." [KMG]
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Speech Accent Archive [QuickTime Player]
Developed by a team of researchers at George Mason University, this rather fascinating site contains speech samples of 259 individuals from different language backgrounds reading the same paragraph. Some of the languages included on the site include Portuguese, Sardinian, Polish, and Urdu. Clicking on any one of the languages will take users to an individualized page that contains a sound bar, some basic demographic information, a phonetic transcription of the sample reading, and a link to the speaker's phonological generalizations. In many cases, there will be examples of several different speakers for each linguistic tradition from different regions. The site avoids excessive technical jargon and provides basic descriptions of such linguistic phenomena ranging from vowel raising, consonant deletion, and voicing change. Finally, the site provides information on how to make an effective voice recording and links to additional resources. [KMG]
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America's Most Literate Cities [pdf]
The last several decades have seen an exponential growth in studies and reports devoted to the question of "quality of life" issues surrounding different regions and metropolitan areas around the United States. This recent study, authored by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Jack Miller, looks at the relative literacy rankings of America's 64 largest cities. Drawing on U.S. Census data, newspaper circulation rates, library resources, and other public documents, Miller has determined (based on the criteria outlined in the report) that Minneapolis is America's most literate city, followed by Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Along with viewing overall city literacy rankings, visitors can look at categorical rankings, such as educational attainment, newspaper circulation, and number of retail booksellers. In addition, the site also contains a full-text version of the 11-page paper that details the methodology and findings of Chancellor Miller's research. [KMG]
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Art of the First World War
While many of the literary accomplishments that arose out of the trauma and desolation wrought by the experiences of World War I remain at the forefront of literary and philosophical explorations, the paintings from this period are at times overlooked. This thoughtful exhibit, supported by UNESCO (working in tandem with partner museums throughout Europe) brings to the Web approximately 110 paintings from 54 painters. The exhibit begins with an introductory essay by art historian and exhibition curator Philippe Dagen. Visitors can elect to continue through the exhibit thematically through areas devoted to the declaration of war, the use of artillery, the battlefield, and suffering. Some of the works profiled here including William Roberts' "The First German Gas Attack at Ypres" (which gives dramatic representation to the use of toxic gases by the German artillery) and Felix Vallotton's "Le plateau de Bolante", which depicts the war-swept landscape of the Artois region of France. [KMG]
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General Interest

Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden [QuickTime]
Britain has at times been referred to as "a nation of gardeners," so the Web browsing public should not be taken unawares to read that the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden in London has developed a Web site that is both pleasing to the eye and rather informative as well. For those planning a visit to London, there is information about the hours and operation of the garden itself, along with details about the various scientific work conducted there on a regular basis. The Habitats section offers a brief overview (along with some nice photos) of each of the major regions represented in the Garden's grounds. Those covered here include the chalk downland, lowland heath, oak woodland, and that most British of environments, the hedgerow. Perhaps the most entertaining section of the site is the interactive area, where visitors can listen to bats flying over the garden, peruse a gallery of lovely images, and examine a pictorial record of the garden during the year 2000. [KMG]
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Vatican Museums
With some of the most exquisite frescoes in Europe, the Vatican created this Web site that highlights some of their remarkable holdings, many of which are situated within the various rooms of the Apostolic Palace. As many travelers may be unable to wait in the seemingly endless lines that are a hallmark of visiting the Vatican, the site offers a nice overview of some of the works that have been commissioned by different popes over the past five hundred years. In the "Vatican Museums Online" section, visitors can browse through the various rooms, including the Sistine Chapel, the Ethnological Missionary Museum, and the Gregorian Egyptian Museum. Visitors may also take a virtual tour of each room, aided by a Java interface that includes a zoom and scroll feature. Additionally, a highlights section features 30 works of great importance within the Vatican, among them the works of Raphael, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. [KMG]
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Two on Poet Robert Lowell
Academy of American Poets: Robert Lowell Robert Lowell, "The Voice of the Poet" [RealOne Player]
Born into one of Boston's most prominent families (and growing up to detest it), Robert Lowell was perhaps the most important poet writing in English during the second half of the twentieth century. After leaving Harvard to study at Kenyon College, Lowell went on to study at Louisiana State University under the novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren. Lowell's second book, Lord Weary's Castle, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1946, and remained in the eye of the public until his death at age 60 in 1977. At this first site (provided by the Academy of American Poets), visitors can read about Lowell's life and read some of his finest poems, including For the Union Dead, Man and Wife, and The Drunken Fisherman. The second site (provided by affords visitors the opportunity to listen to Lowell read two of his own works, Skunk Hour and Dunbarton. Overall, these sites work well as a nice introduction to one of the 20th century's most gifted poets. [KMG]
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The Gutenberg Bible at the Ransom Center
Widely understood to be one of the single most important inventions in human history, the development of movable type by Johann Gutenberg in the 15th century made it possible to produce a large number of copies of a single work in a relatively short period of time. Utilizing their own copy (one of 48 remaining around the world) of Gutenberg's Bible, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin has created this informative site about both this amazing book and the printing process used to create this work. Most visitors will want to start by viewing selected passages from this remarkable book available here, among them excerpts from Genesis and the 23rd Psalm. One particularly engaging feature is the "Anatomy of a Page" section where visitors can learn about the different parts of the pages in the Gutenberg Bible, including the abbreviations made by the scribes, the illuminations, and rubrics added by the scribes indicating the conclusion of a given book within the Bible. [KMG]
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Corporate Crime Reporter [pdf]
Published since 1986, the Corporate Crime Reporter is a legal newsletter that highlights recent news items about ongoing corporate crime prosecutions, along with featuring interviews with prominent attorneys who work in this rather intriguing field of law practice. The interview section is quite interesting as users can read long-form interviews with major players such as Dan Webb (who was a prosecutor in the Iran-Contra Affair) and Neil Getnick, who prosecuted the Bayer corporation after it was suspected they bilked Medicaid out of approximately $100 million. Visitors can also view various related documents, such as the indictment of Martha Stewart and a Justice Department memo regarding the federal prosecution of business organizations. The site is rounded out by several reports on the top 10 white-collar crime defense lawyers and the top 100 corporate criminals of the 1990s. Overall, the site will be of great interest to legal professionals, or those who are interested in learning more about the complex world of corporate crime in the United States. [KMG]
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Luciferous Logolepsy
Developed by Alan M. Taylor, a Web site developer based out of Seattle, Washington, the Luciferous Logolepsy is a collection of over 9,000 obscure English words. The name of the project is (not surprisingly) based on two obscure words: Luciferous, which means illuminating and logolepsy, which means an obsession with words. As Taylor himself notes, "For the purposes of this project, words are included that may stretch any basic definitions. Particular attention has been paid to archaic words, as they tend to be more evocative." Visitors may elect to browse through this collection alphabetically, or through the search engine provided online. Web crawlers with an unquenchable desire to know the meanings of such words as quantulum, quartan, raceme, or wanion, will not be disappointed by this fun site. [KMG]
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Network Tools

NewsMac 2.3
As Marshall McLuhan once said, "News, far more than art, is artifact." With that aphorism in mind, users looking to consolidate their preferred "artifact" sources online, will find that NewsMac 2.3 is a handy program to have on their computer. Essentially, NewsMac "brings together all your favorite news web sites" and lets users view the current headlines. This latest version of NewsMac also allows users to copy channel headlines as text or HTML, along with support for displaying non-Roman characters (such as Japanese) in headlines. NewsMac 2.3 is compatible with all systems running Mac OS 10.2 and higher. [KMG]
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Cosmo Popup Blocker 2.3
To say that there are numerous popup ad blockers available would be something of an understatement. This latest version of Cosmo Popup Blocker is notable for its easy usability, and will be of interest to anyone looking for such an application. Compatible with Internet Explorer, Cosmo Popup Blocker features several helpful options, such as an auditory reminder when an ad is blocked, and the ability to customize which domain names are blocked in their entirety. Cosmo Popup Blocker is compatible with all systems running Windows 95 and higher. [KMG]
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In The News

Amtrak to Face Steep Budget Cuts and Potential Restructuring
White House to Offer Amtrak Overhaul Plan,1282,-2960006,00.html
Amtrak Proposal by 4 Senators Breaks with Bush Plan
Local Transportation Officials Balk at Plan Shifting Amtrak Costs to the States
Bush Reform Plan is Right for Amtrak
Congress vs. Trains
National Association of Railroad Passengers
On Monday, a plan devised by President Bush to restructure Amtrak (the national passenger-train service) was delivered to Congress. Predicated on the idea that Amtrak can compete in a competitive marketplace (despite the fact that the for-profit federally subsidized corporation has never turned a profit), the plan states that over the next six years Amtrak will become three companies, the federal government will no longer pay for operating costs, and that individual states would have to form multistate compacts to invest in and run passenger railroads. Quickly after this proposed plan was announced, swift resistance emerged from a coalition of four Republican senators who warned that maintaining an effective inter-city passenger railroad system would be near impossible under this proposed plan. Led by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Kansas), proposed legislation was discussed this Wednesday that would infuse close to $60 billion into Amtrak over the next six years. The fate of both of these plans remains to be seen, but support for Amtrak has traditionally been much stronger in the Senate than in the House of Representatives.

The first link will take visitors to a recent news story that outlines the basic points of President Bushs proposed plan to restructure Amtrak from the online edition of the Guardian. The second link leads to a piece about the legislation proposed by the coalition of four Republican senators from The third link leads to a news article from Thursdays Kansas City Star that discusses the potential problems involved with shifting the various costs associated with Amtrak to the states in a time of great fiscal austerity and state budget crises. The fourth link leads to a trenchant editorial from the Port Huron (Michigan) Times Herald that applauds Bushs reform plan for Amtrak, noting that "At least Bush knows a money pit when he sees one." The fifth link leads to an editorial piece from the Capital Times daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin that is critical of the House appropriations subcommittee decision to cut Amtrak's budget even further, concluding that "it appears that the conservative extremists in Washington are ready to repeal the accomplishments even of their own political predecessors." Finally, the last link is to the homepage of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, a group that lobbies on behalf of the expansion of rail service across the United States. [KMG]
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From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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