The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 9

March 5, 2004

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 Reports for the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences

The fifth issues of the third volumes of the Life Sciences Report and Physical Sciences Report are available. The Topic in Depth section of Life Sciences Report annotates sites on Maple Syrup ('tis the season). The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Radiometric Dating.

Research and Education

Biological Diversity in Food and Agriculture

Across the world, debates about the potential dangers of genetically modified food and the importance of biological diversity continue to dominate a good deal of public discourse, particularly with regard to developing nations. This website, designed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, explores some of the many issues surrounding biodiversity in food and agriculture, with important sections devoted to genetic resources, ecosystems, and the socio-economic impacts upon this diversity. After reading the brief introduction, visitors may want to peruse the socio-economics section, as it outlines some of the many factors involved with this aspect of biological diversity, such as trade, gender, and ethics. Each one of these sections contains a number of related documents, such as "The role of women in the conservation of the genetic resources of maize" and "Genetically Modified Organisms, Consumers, Foods Safety, and the Environment." The website also contains the full text versions of important Food and Agriculture Organization documents dating back to 1993. [KMG]

Analysis of Alternative Financial Service Providers [pdf]

In many urban areas around the United States, certain neighborhoods have few, if any, traditional financial services available for local residents. This intriguing report, produced by the Urban Institute Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center (for the Fannie Mae Foundation), explores the alternative financial service providers (such as check-cashing outlets) that some 56 million adults throughout the country use on a regular basis. Authored by Noah Sawyer and Kenneth Temkin, this 34-page report looks specifically at the alternative financial service market in eight diverse demographic and regulatory environments, including Cook County in Illinois and Miami-Dade County in Florida. The report contains five major findings, including the observation that alternative providers tend to cluster in neighborhoods with a higher share of minority and low-income residents, and the more interesting discovery that neighborhoods often contain both traditional banks and alternative providers, which casts some doubts about existing hypotheses in the field. The report concludes with some questions and suggestions for future research. [KMG]

United Nations Environment Programme: 8th Special Session of the Governing Council [pdf]

In anticipation of the 8th Special Session of the Governing Council of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum, the United National Environment Programme has created this helpful website that brings together some of the important preliminary documents dealing with the proceedings of the March 2004 conference in South Korea. The documents here include working briefing documents, information documents, and papers dealing with the theme of the environmental dimension of water, sanitation, and human settlements. While some of these documents merely offer the provisional agenda for the conference, others are quite relevant to broader concerns, such as the "Overview of progress on international environment governance" and "Prevention and control of dust and sandstorms in the north-east Asia." Needless to say, many of the documents are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish. The site also contains a direct link to the conference website, which promises live webcasting of different proceedings as they take place on March 29, 30, and 31st 2004. [KMG]

SIMBAD Astronomical Database [Java]

"The SIMBAD astronomical database provides basic data, cross-identifications, and bibliography for astronomical objects outside the solar system." Created by the Centre de Donnes astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS) in France, the website contains over three million objects, eight and a half million identifiers, one hundred thousand bibliographical references, and four million citations of objects in papers. The data can be searched by object name, coordinates, filters, and by a list of objects. Researchers can find help by visiting the users guide and the regularly updated Dictionary of Nomenclature of Celestial Objects. [RME] This site is also reviewed in the March 5, 2004 NSDL Physical Sciences Report.

JURIST's Paper Chase

As one of the many services provided by JURIST (housed at the University of Pittsburgh's Law School), the Paper Chase provides up-to-date legal news for lawyers, legal scholars, law students, and those with a general curiosity about the law. The Paper Chase offers brief digests of current and ongoing legal issues, including strong coverage of international law and events in the U.S. Federal courts. The posts themselves are made by Professor Bernard Hibbitts and different law students, and are also notable in that each individual post may be sent via email or Instant Messenger to other interested parties. Visitors may also browse the archives of the Paper Chase, or elect to have the Paper Chase sent directly to their email address daily. [KMG]

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

Founded in 2002, the Knight Center for Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin was created as a professional training and outreach program for journalists throughout the Americas. During its first year of existence, the Center focused its work on Brazil and Mexico and on establishing a series of seminars and workshops to train journalists from these countries. Other work involves working toward the establishment of an annual forum that will assist various organizations dedicated to journalism training in Latin America. From the website, visitors can learn more about the Center's mission, read about recent stories about journalism in the Americas, and subscribe to a weekly e-newsletter. One particularly valuable resource on the site is the Journalism Studies Directory, which serves as a guide to Spanish and Portuguese language resources on the internet dealing with journalism throughout the Americas, such as associations, fellowships, and relevant digital databases. [KMG]

A History of Concession Development in Yellowstone National Park, 1872-1966 [pdf]

While millions of people visit Yellowstone National Park each year, very few of them will actually pay detailed attention to the various concessions offered around the area, unless of course they are unable to purchase various sundries or crucial items. In this wholly engaging 153-page work, author Mary Shivers Culpin (writing for the National Park Service's Yellowstone Center for Resources), takes readers on a trip through the many phases of concession provisioning and development within Yellowstone from 1872 to 1966. As she notes in the introduction to the work, "The main to develop a historic context in which to evaluate the significant resources associated with concession development in the park." In twelve well-honed chapters, Culpin explores the competitive concession period that characterized the early 20th century in the park to the problematic years during World War II. [KMG]

University of Hawaii: Impact of Alien Plants on Hawai'i's Native Biota

This website presents a report prepared by Dr. Clifford W. Smith of the University of Hawai'i regarding the Impact of Alien Plants on Hawai'i's Native Biota. This report includes sections on Terminology, Impact of Alien Plants on Hawaiian Ecosystems, Problem Alien Plants in Hawai'i by Island and Vegetation Zone, and more. The website also includes an Abstract of the report and an extensive list of Literature Cited. Notably, the report contains a link to Plant Pests of Hawaiian Native Ecosystems, a list of harmful alien plant species each linking to their own page containing photos and a brief description. This website also links -- via the Hawaiian Alien Plant Studies homepage -- to a site of photographs and text regarding the Biological Control of Miconia calvescens, and a site on the Biological Control of Guava, which is currently under construction. [NL] This site is also reviewed in the March 5, 2003 NSDL Life Sciences Report.

General Interest

National Geographic: Crittercam

What would it be like to be a harbor seal? Wouldn't it be fascinating to go on the prowl with lions? With assistance from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic, Crittercam makes it possible, both on television and on this fine website. The Crittercam device (which fits safely and securely on animals) was initially conceived by Greg Marshall, who got the idea after observing a remora clinging onto a shark off the coast of Belize, and thought that it might be possible to attach a camera in a similar fashion. From the main page, visitors can learn about the Crittercam itself, and watch a number of clips of seals, lions, hawksbill turtles, and humpback whales in their natural environments. Moving to the Previews area, visitors can watch streaming clips from the television program as well. Finally, visitors can also download a screen saver that features a pilot whale. [KMG]

The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk [RealOne Player]

This exhibition of works by Polish-born Jewish artist and activist Arthur Szyk from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum presents over 40 pieces by Szyk, dating from 1913 to 1949. There are book illustrations, pages from Passover haggadahs, and scenes from the biblical Book of Esther. Also of note are cartoons and caricatures from American newspapers and magazines including the New York Post, Chicago Sun, Time, and Look. The visual images are often accompanied by links to audio and video (for example, while looking at the Szyk drawing on the cover of a program for We Will Never Die, a pageant by Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht created as a memorial for the Jewish dead of Europe, visitors can listen to an 11-minute excerpt of the 1943 Hollywood Bowl performance, or watch a few minutes of historical film footage). Related articles and historical photographs appear throughout the exhibition, and curators' commentaries. It is easy to get a little lost in this wealth of material; clicking the link MORE Szyk will take you back to the artindex, thumbnails and links to all the art work in the show. [DS]

When one thinks of tessellations, one may frequently think of the somewhat surreal and at times claustrophobic renderings of the legendary M.C.Escher, whose designs decorate many a college student's living space. Designed to celebrate tessellations, this website is maintained by David Annal, who himself has created a number of compelling patterns using tessellations, and placed them on the site. Persons looking for some basic information about tessellations should take a look at the Tessellations section, which contains a brief description of this phenomenon, a biographical profile of M.C. Escher, and several recommended books on the subject. The Galleries area is worth a look, as it contains a number of Annal's own designs, such as Foreign Legion, a number of tessellations by Escher, and a few submitted by visitors to the site. The feature that is perhaps the most interesting for aspiring artists is an instructional section on how to make tessellations using a variety of methods and constructions. [KMG]

Collect Britain: English Accents and Dialects [RealOne Player]

Over the past few years, Collect Britain has been placing hundreds of thousands of documents, visual ephemera, sound recordings, and pieces of material culture online for the general web-browsing public. This latest addition is rather fascinating, as it documents the vast diversity of accents and dialects around England over the past half century. The audio clips made available here are drawn from the Survey of English Dialects (conducted between 1950 and 1961 and in 313 localities) and the Millennium Memory Bank, which drew on personal oral histories recorded by forty BBC local radio stations during 1998 and 1999. The webpage begins with a text introduction introducing visitors to the scope and methodology of the collection and also includes a few of the Curator's Picks, such as one man's recollection of sheep farming in Lancashire and the experience of baking bread in Yorkshire -- recorded in 1955. Each audio clip is complemented by complete information about the date each conversation was recorded, along with a phonology, lexis, and grammar that indicates the linguistics of each participants speech patterns and so on. [KMG]

University of Missouri in Brick and Mortar

All college graduates have fond memories of their school's campus, whether it be fine hours spent outside of a verdant green canvas in front of the Old Main, or spent in an august brick stadium watching various athletic endeavors. While some university and college websites offer brief tours of their grounds and buildings, the University of Missouri, through its nice University and Building and Infrastructure Archives, has created this delightful website that presents the "construction history of the UMC campus, one building at a time." The website presents the story of the built environment around the campus by featuring a host of documents (such as opening day programs, design plans, and other visual ephemera) for 43 of the campus's 200 or so buildings. Visitors can browse the campus through an interactive map, or choose structures from a drop-down menu, then move through to look at various documents by date. Visitors to the site will want to make sure to look at the excellent coverage of the campus's Memorial Union, which includes documents that detail the building's construction from 1923 to 1926. Overall, this is a lovely site and may serve as a potential template for institutions looking to embark on a similar project. [KMG]

The Bentley Collection of Snow Crystals

Truly living up to the title of America's First Cloud Physicist, Wilson Alwyn Bentley grew up on a small farm in Vermont, and had a love of knowledge instilled in him by his mother from a young age. As a boy he developed an intense passion for studying and observing water in its many forms. After spending a period of time drawing snowflakes, he began to take photographs through a microscope. Throughout his life, he published numerous articles about his work with ice crystals, and wrote emphatically about these formations, noting that "A careful study of this internal structure not only reveals new and far greater elegance of form that the simple outlines exhibit, but by means of these wonderfully delicate and exquisite figures much may be learned of the history of each crystal." As one might surmise, Bentley made thousands of glass lantern slides of dew, frost, and ice crystals, and part of this collection made its way to the University of Wisconsin. 1183 of these slides have been placed online in this fine archive, and visitors may browse them or search the archive by classification (based on each crystal's structure). Be prepared, by clicking the Find All button, all 1183 slides will begin to load at once, which may slow your browsing down just a bit. The site is rounded out by an extended biographical essay on Bentley and information about snow crystal classification. [KMG]

Two on Sherman Alexie

Native American Authors: Sherman Alexie
Modern American Poetry: Sherman Alexie

Emerging in the early 1990s as an important new literary voice, the poet and author Sherman Alexie has garnered critical acclaim for his work, much of which deals with the contemporary experience of being a Native American. Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington, and later discovered poetry in a writing workshop while in college at Washington State University. The first site presented here is part of the Internet Public Library, and contains a number of links to interviews with Alexie and reviews of his numerous works. The second site is provided by the Modern American Poetry project at the University of Illinois, and contains a number of links to commentaries on Alexie's work, his own reflections on what it means to be a Native American author, and growing up on "the rez." [KMG]

Network Tools

Opera 7.50 Beta 2 [Windows Operating System]

Opera has become a popular internet browser and email client as of late, and this latest edition offers a number of helpful additions and bug fixes to the previous editions. On this latest edition of Opera, users can use the Note feature to take down a note related to a particular webpage, send the note to others, or retain it for future reference. Of course, as with previous editions, users can customize Opera with a number of different skins. Opera 7.50 Beta 2 is compatible with all systems running Windows 98 and higher. [KMG]

JPluck 2.1.2

For those users who spend a lot of time with their hand-held PDA devices, Jpluck is worth a look. The application converts websites in their entirety for easy access and the ability to peruse and review information and documents when it is not possible to be close to a laptop or desktop computer. The site also contains a helpful FAQ section, and additional materials about the application. The application is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X and higher. [KMG]

In The News

Ongoing Lawsuit Pits University Mascot Versus Italian Television Character

Are Origins of Italian Star Found in Hills of Kentucky? [Free Registration Required]
Big Red in Rome
Berulsconi's Media Empire to Sue America,0,2212552.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines
Western Kentucky University: Big Red
Striscia la Notizia: Gabibbo [Windows Media Player]

If pressed, most people would have a difficult time drawing immediate connections between the caves and pleasant surroundings of south-central Kentucky and the sometimes chaotic world of Italian television. As of late, there is now a rather compelling connection between the two in the form of the Western Kentucky University mascot, Big Red, and a popular Italian television character, Gabibbo. The two creatures appear to bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, and the lawyers for Western Kentucky University (and the company that controls the Big Red trademark) have travelled to Italy to file suit against Mediaset, the Italian television company that produces the satirical television show "Striscia la Notizia" (which translates roughly as Stretching the News) on which Gabibbo has appeared since 1990. There is potentially quite a bit of money at stake, as Gabibbo has been a famous television character in Italy for more than a decade, and has had several chart-topping musical releases. In yet another strange turn of events for the case, this week Mediaset announced that it plans to countersue Steve Crossland (the head of the company that handles the Big Red trademark for Western Kentucky University) for defamation. Western Kentucky University may also have some potentially valuable evidence based on an interview given by Gabibbo's creator, Antonio Ricci, to the Italian magazine Novella 2000 in February 1991. In the interview Ricci noted that the idea for the lovable red giant "...began with a photo, just as happens with real adoptions. There was this mascot, his name was Big Red, who was the mascot of a basketball team in America. The team is Western Kentucky University." Regardless of this fact, it may be some time before the case is heard in Italian court, as a decision was made this Thursday to delay a preliminary hearing for one month.

The first link leads to a fine piece from the New York Times business section that gives some background to the context about this ongoing trademark legal battle. The second link will take visitors to a news item from the Bowling Green (Kentucky) Daily News that talks about the journey of Big Red (and his legal team) to Rome this past week. The third link will lead visitors to an article from Newsday that describes the countersuit filed by Mediaset against the legal representatives of Western Kentucky University. The fourth link will take visitors to the Big Red webpage offered by Western Kentucky University that talks about this furry creature's numerous accolades, including standout performances in the Battle of the Mascots contests sponsored by ESPN. The fifth link will take visitors to the webpage of the tuxedo shirt-clad Gabibbo, which includes links to his songs (under the link Le canzoni). Here visitors can listen to some of his well-known numbers, including such favorites as Sirenone and Formaggi Selvaggi. After reading about the fractious world of mascots, many readers will appreciate the final link, which leads to MascotNet. At the site (devoted to the extensive world of mascots and mascot management), visitors can learn about how to become a mascot, share information about helpful props for performances at community events and arenas, and helpful techniques for working with children and motivating a crowd. [KMG]

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