The Scout Report -- Volume 9, Number 46

November 21, 2003

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

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 twenty-third issue of the second volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Computer Graphics & Digital Animation.

Research and Education

Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center [pdf]

While the mention of Los Angeles to some may conjure up images of the wealth and glamour of such locales as Westwood and other prestigious communities, there is also a great deal of poverty within the broader urban and exurban region. Located at the Weingart Center (the largest homeless service organization in Los Angeles), the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty is a research and policy organization that investigates issues surrounding both homelessness and poverty and disseminates much of its findings via this website. Here visitors may learn about the intitute's programs (both in terms of outreach and publications) and view an extensive list of recommended links that are selected by the institute's staff. Interested persons may also elect to sign up for weekly email updates from the Institute or email queries to staff members. As with most research centers and institutes, the publication series is particularly well-developed, and includes such recent pdf-formatted documents as The Puzzle of the L.A. Economy, Poverty in Los Angeles, and Who is Homeless in L.A. [KMG]

2003 Brown Center Report on American Education [pdf]

Released in October 2003, this detailed and helpful report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution offers a broad overview of the current state of American education from kindergarten through 12th grade. Authored by Tom Loveless, the director of the Brown Center, the report notes that overall student achievement across the United States was largely a mixed affair, as was charter school performance. Among other things, the report notes that between 1990 and 2002 students in the fourth and eighth grades made gains in both reading and math, but that twelfth grade reading scores declined. The report also notes that while rural schools are generally the lowest funded schools in the United States they tend to perform better as a whole than their urban and suburban counterparts. As noted, the report also contains a section on charter schools, including research that suggest that the academic achievement levels of these institutions continues to remain below average, and that many of them are failing education standards set outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act. [KMG]

The Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network

While earthquakes in the state of California may garner most of the attention of the major media, the Pacific Northwest continues to be a region of intense seismic activity. Based at the University of Washington (within the Department of Earth and Space Sciences), and funded by the USGS and several other organizations, the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network provides a host of detailed materials about ongoing and historic activity and hazards. From the homepage, visitors may traverse on over to sections that detail the latest seismic activity in the region, or peruse a list of recent notable quakes, complete with detailed information on their duration, magnitude, and respective epicenters. Interesting historical seismic information may be gleaned through a perusal of the Volcanoes area of the site that allows visitors to look at data for the major volcanoes in the area, including Mount Adams, Mount Baker, Mount Hood, and Mount St. Helens. [KMG]

Yale Divinity School: AdHoc Image and Text Database on the History of Christianity

Designed as part of the Yale Divinity Digital Image and Text Library, the AdHoc Image and Text Database is a web-searchable database that contains electronic images and texts related to the history of Christianity. Visitors may begin looking for relevant materials by a keyword search, or decide to peruse a list of categories for browsing. The categories available include listings organized by geographical area, historical area, object type, or topic. These four divisions include topics such as Religious Doctrines and Practices, Missions and World Christianity and People. Some of the materials here are restricted to the Yale community solely, but many of the images (and a few of the texts) are available for the general public. Quite a number of the visual materials here are quite fascinating, such as a 1879 map of Calcutta that shows the location of churches, schools, and government offices and another map that shows the location of Protestant mission stations in China. [KMG]

MediaResource: Linking Journalists and Scientists

Given the importance of communicating complex scientific ideas, theories, and advances to a sometimes indifferent public, the services provided the Media Resource Service will be quite useful to journalists. Since 1980, the non-profit Media Resource Service is not only a valuable data bank, it is also a database of 30,000 scientists, engineers, physicians, and policy-makers who have agreed to provide information on short notice to print and broadcast journalists. This service is provided by Sigma Xi, an interdisciplinary, non-profit honor society, that represents all of science and engineering. Utilizing this website, journalists can submit their requests for assistance, along with perusing the Science in the News area which culls together the top science news stories on a weekly basis. Equally helpful is the SciStacks area, which contains links to other resources in biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering, and other related fields that will be of assistance to journalists. [KMG]

The Aware Home [pdf]

The Aware Home Research Initiative (AHRI) is a project at the Georgia Institute of Technology that seeks to "create a home environment that is aware of its occupants' whereabouts and activities." One of the main focuses of AHRI is the design of specialized technologies to assist older adults or help keep them in closer contact with relatives. This site describes the motivation for the initiative and outlines the goals of intelligent, context-aware systems. A large collection of research papers is presented, highlighting AHRI insights into privacy issues, design challenges, and software engineering for such technology. [CL] This site is also reviewed in the November 21, 2003 NSDL MET Report.

Posner Family Collection in Electronic Format

Designed to showcase the outstanding collections of the late Henry Posner, Sr., this digital archive contains close to 622 titles from the landmark titles of the history of Western science. Housed and developed at Carnegie Mellon University, the availability of these works is the result of Mr. Posner's intense passion for the printed word, which began in 1924 and continued unabated until 1972. Visitors looking through the collection may search by title, subject, publication date, or author, if so inclined. The archive may also be browsed extensively, again by author, title, or call number. Some of the works here include An essay on the principle of population by Thomas Malthus, Opticks by Sir Isaac Newton, and Descartes' Discourse on Method . This fine collection is rounded out by several short pieces on Mr. Posner, his collecting preferences, and the importance of the collection as a whole. [KMG]

Arthritis Foundation [pdf] {last reviewed on November 4, 1994}

With over 70 million Americans coping with the effects of arthritis, the mission of the Arthritis Foundation is quite timely and one that will most likely be of interest to those persons dealing with arthritis or those hoping to assist a friend or family member with this condition. Last reviewed on November 4, 1994, the website of the Arthritis Foundation contains a number of invaluable resources, including the online edition of Arthritis Today magazine, a place for visitors to ask questions about arthritis, and a search engine that allows visitors to learn about related programs and events in their region. Visitors can also look through the latest arthritis drug guide developed by the Foundation that will assist those living with arthritis in selecting an appropriate treatment or therapy. Additionally, visitors may also want to look at the research section of the site, as it contains extensive materials on the work sponsored by the Foundation and materials for those seeking grants to perform arthritis research. [KMG]

General Interest

The Parents' Choice Foundation

Parents of young people today may find it difficult to sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff when it comes to locating and evaluating quality educational activities and entertainment for their children. Fortunately there is the Parents' Choice Foundation, which (since 1978) has served as a non-partisan evaluator of children's books, videos, toys, audio products, computer software, television, and magazines. Each year, the foundation releases lists of its recommended products, based on the opinions of teachers, parents, and, appropriately, young people themselves. The criteria for selection is quite rigorous, as the judges are looking for products that honor universal human values, teach with flair, stimulate imagination, inspire creativity, and above all do not "extol violence." On the website, visitors can examine lists of these products dating back to 1995, read about the current award winners, and examine themed reading lists, such as those dealing with science fiction and those designed especially with compel young boys to develop a love of reading. [KMG]

The British Museum: Ancient India [Macromedia Flash Reader]

The Ancient India Web site from the British Museum is designed especially for middle schoolers and teachers, but all ages will enjoy exploring. There are six chapters: Buddha, Geography, Hinduism, Indus Valley, Time, and Writing; each with divisions entitled Story, Explore, and Challenge. Story in the Buddha chapter is the life of the Buddha; Explore under Hinduism features trading card-sized images of 16 Hindu gods and short descriptions; and the Geography Challenge is to plan a pilgrimage to see holy sites of the Buddha's life, traveling on foot. Other fun sections include the Writing section challenge, where students decipher ancient Indian writing, and the interactive timelines in the Time chapter. Throughout the site, clicking linked words in the text pops open a glossary with definitions of difficult terms. [DS]


Greenwood's Map of London 1827

Developed by Mark Annand, this rather compelling fully interactive online version of Greenwood's Map of London from 1827 is a real treat for persons interested in the history of cartography or for those with any interest in the city of London and its urban form. Interestingly enough, the map captures London in a historical moment right before its growth would become exponential over the coming decades as it grew into one of the world's great cities. Visitors can click on a large version of the map, then continue on into the various precincts of London with great detail and resolution. Visitors the site may also want to consult a list of place names also featured on the site, which will allow them to move quickly to any number of places. From the list, visitors may go immediately to the map panel containing Covent Garden, Marylebone, Vauxhall, and the British Museum. [KMG]

American Radio Works [RealOnePlayer]

Radio documentaries have been around almost since the beginning of regularly scheduled radio programming, but not all are created equal (or with great aplomb), and the American Radio Works is certainly one of the finer documentary production units in the field. Based at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul, Minnesota, Radio Works' primary themes include public affairs documentaries on major social and economic issues, investigative reporting, and the Living History series, which seeks to document the 20th century American experience "through the lives of those who witnessed it." The web-browsing public will be glad to know that all of the radio projects are available online here, and can be listened to in their entirety. Visitors can listen to close to 40 of their productions, including their most recent production which deals with the extensive phone conversations recorded by Presidents Johnson, Kennedy, and Nixon during their terms in the White House [KMG]

The Poetry Society of America

With a lyre serving as their organization's totem, the Poetry Society of America has served the poetry community of the United States for over seventy years. The Society may be best known for its annual awards, which include the prestigious Frost Award, the Cecil Hemly Memorial Award, and the Shelley Memorial Award. Aspiring poets can read about the entry guidelines for these awards, along with being able to peruse a list of previous recipients of both the Frost Award and Shelley Memorial Award, including such literary luminaries as Conrad Aiken, Kenneth Rexroth, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks and Wallace Stevens. Even more compelling is the inclusion of works by the most recent recipients, whose august number includes Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Also on the website are lists of helpful outside poetry-related websites, a calendar of upcoming events sponsored by the Society, and a direct link to the Favorite Poem Project, which was begun by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. [KMG]

Security on Campus

Created in the aftermath of an unfortunate and tragic death of a young woman on an university campus in 1986, the mission of the Security on Campus organization is "to educate prospective students, parents and the campus community about the prevalence of crime on our nation's college and university campuses." From their homepage, individuals can obtain information about crime statistics on over 6000 colleges and universities in the United States, read the latest news from around the country regarding campus safety issues, and view clips from the educational videos produced by the organization. The website is well organized, containing sections of materials especially designed to assist parents, students, lawyers, reporters, and institutions. Finally, visitors may also elect to receive email updates from the Security on Campus organization. [KMG]

Network Tools

Instant Translator 1.0.2 [Windows Operating System]

This handy little application allows users to translate text directly from their toolbars into (and from) a number of languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Korean, and Chinese. New languages are added regularly to the application, and this latest version also fixes bugs present in the previous version. Instant Translator 1.0.2 is compatible with all systems running Windows 98 and higher. [KMG]

SnapNDrag 1.2.7 [Macintosh Operating System]

SnapnDrag allows users to easily engage in capturing screens utilizing a rather simple and user-friendly interface mechanism. For example, to email screenshots, users can merely drag the screenshots off the application and drop it into their own email application. The application is available in a number of languages, including German, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and English. SnapNDrag is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X 10.2 or higher. [KMG]

In The News

JFK Assassination: A Perennial Debate and Controversy

LBJ Family, Former Staffers Enraged by Film
JFK: A Presidency Revealed [QuickTime]
Company to do Computer Re-creation of Kennedy Assassination
American Experience: The Kennedys
Solving the Great American Murder Mystery: A National Symposium on the 40th Anniversary of the JFK Assassination
The Capital Times: JFK's Personal Touch Won Wisconsin

This Saturday will mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, whose passing some say marked the end of a period of American innocence, and left many to this day wondering who was ultimately responsible for his death. Many Americans have vivid memories of what they were doing when he was killed, in the same way that many today remember where they were on September 11, 2001. Controversy continues to surround the death of John F. Kennedy, with a voluminous body of speculative research (and some pseudo-research) casting blame on an almost endless parade of supposed culprits and conspirators. These controversies flared anew this week as a recent television documentary that aired on the History Channel claimed that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and members of his staff were responsible for President Kennedy's demise in 1963. Several persons, including Tom Johnson (a former Johnson staff member) and Jack Valenti (also a former Johnson staff member and head of the Motion Picture Association of America), issued a joint statement this week in response to the documentary, stating: "Sadly, President Johnson and the staff members who are wrongly smeared by the conspiracy theorists are no longer alive to defend themselves. In televising this production, The History Channel has distorted history beyond recognition." [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a news piece from the Washington Times about the controversial documentary that recently aired on the History Channel this past week. The second link leads to the website of this recent documentary, and includes several clips from the film along with other background materials. The third link leads to an interesting news story from USA Today that talks about a new computerized recreation of President Kennedy's assassination that was used in a recent television series on Court TV. The fourth link leads to the homepage of "The Kennedys," a recent documentary on PBS, released as part of the American Experience series. Here visitors can view an interactive Kennedy family tree, read an interview with JFK historian Robert Dallek, and browse a gallery of Kennedy family photographs. The fifth link leads to the homepage designed to provide information about an upcoming national symposium about the JFK assassination to be held at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The last and final link leads to an editorial by John Nichols of the Capital Times (Madison, WI) who remembers the special attention that Kennedy paid to the Dairy State on his arduous campaign trail, noting that " may be that John Kennedy will always remain the president this state knew best."

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