The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 11

March 19, 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 sixth issues of the third volumes of the Life Sciences Report and Physical Sciences Report are available. The Topic in Depth section of the Life Sciences Report annotates sites on Migration. The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about Photoelectrochemistry.

Research and Education

The Middle East Institute at Columbia University [pdf]

Founded in 1954, the Middle East Institute of Columbia University has offered a multidisciplinary approach to studying the Middle East, with a particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th century. Currently under the direction of Professor Rashid Khalidi, the Institute sponsors a number of conferences and talks each year, and also functions as a clearinghouse for information on the region. Alongside detailed information about various public programs for scholars and the general public, the institute's site also provides some helpful educational materials, such as a Research Projects section. Here visitors can download materials on educational outreach for Muslim sensitivity, and peruse other documents on researching Middle East topics on the Internet. The e-Resources section is also worth a look, as it contains a number of archived lectures on very topical themes, including Iran and Israeli and Palestinian nationalism. [KMG]

Math Cats

It is at times very difficult to get children excited about math, but Math Cats (designed by Wendy Patti, a teacher) is an online archive of fun and informative activities that will help young people learn about a number of math topics, including geometry, arithmetic, and other topics. As one might expect, much of this is achieved by a number of virtual cats who explain various features of the site, and the different math concepts that are explored within. The site is divided up into a number of sections, including one that is particularly well-thought out, MicroWorlds. Here visitors may download a number of interactive projects, such as Coin Flipper (a way to learn about probability) and Multiply It, which allows users to learn about multiplication. The Math Crafts section is also quite ingenious, providing plans for different fun projects, such as the Number City and a Polygon Airport. Finally, visitors may sign up to receive an electronic newsletter and learn about the various accolades that the site has received. [KMG]

My Chicago

It's hard to get a handle on the Second City at times, even for long-time residents, and particularly for young people who may be overwhelmed by the city's history. Assisting with that process of developing historical knowledge and acumen is this new site from the Chicago Historical Society (with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities). Designed for young people ages 6 to 12, the site uses the city flag (and its symbols and design) to facilitate an introduction to the city's past. The Games section is where it all begins, as students can use an interactive flag of the city to learn what its symbols represent, play artefact detective with objects from before and after the Great Fire of 1871, and learn about the World's Fair of 1893 while completing a puzzle. Students and teachers alike can download one of ten activity handouts, along with completing a brief survey about the site and it usefulness. [KMG]

Wonderful World of Weather [Microsoft Word]

Created by the Stevens Institute of Technology, the Wonderful World of Weather is a standard-based real time data module for elementary students to explore weather phenomena locally and globally. Teachers can find many fun classroom activities divided into three sections: introductory activities, real time data activities, and language arts activities related to weather. The website features an abundance of links to real time weather data. Students can learn how to have their work published on the website. Users can find additional materials about children's books related to weather, guidelines for data collection, and curriculum standards. [RME] This site is also reviewed in the March 19, 2004 NSDL Physical Sciences Report.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) [pdf]

The landscape of higher education (and, in particular, its funding schemes) in Britain is quite complex. And given recent developments it is likely to become even more variegated in the coming years. One way to stay abreast of these important developments is through consulting the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) website, which is the agency responsible for making decisions about how much funding each higher education institution will receive from the United Kingdom's central government. Visitors to the site will want to peruse the six primary sections, which are dedicated to the council's main activities, including research, finance, good practice, widening participation, and learning and teaching. As with many organizations, the publication section is quite strong, as it features literally hundreds of documents (dating back to 1994) that deal with various aspects of higher education throughout Britain, including the financial performance of higher education, best practice models, and information on the research and assessment exercise for British universities and colleges.

Frontline: World [RealOne Player, pdf]

The PBS television news program, Frontline, has been applauded over the years for its fine coverage of important national and international topics that demand intensive research and a commitment to investigative journalism. This relatively recent addition to the program, Frontline: World aims "to not only help fill the void in current international news coverage but also to engage the American public in global stories that resonate in their own lives." Each episode of Frontline: World contains two or three short stories, told by an eclectic group of video journalists and reporters who are working in various countries, such as Sierra Leone, Bhutan, and Bolivia. On the site, visitors can watch the programs in their entirety, browsing through a list of programs organized by location, date, place or theme. Visitors can also take part in lively online discussion forums, which are provided as a place for viewers to debate and discuss some of the complex problems and issues raised by these short features. The site also includes an area for educators that features helpful educational materials, and a place where they may sign up to receive email updates about new materials and upcoming programs in the series. [KMG]

Seattle Community Colleges Television [Windows Media Player, pdf]

Perhaps some users of the Scout Report are thinking to themselves, "I wonder where on the internet I might be able to watch a course on anthropology, listen and watch artists from the Northwest talk about their work, then watch an in-depth conversation with entrepreneurs and business leaders." Well, the waiting is over, as the Seattle Central Community College has created the SCCtv website, broadcasting academic and vocational telecourses over the web 24 hours a day at no charge. Visitors can view these programs at their discretion, browse a calendar of programming (which can also be downloaded for easy reference), and take a brief look at the archived programs. Some of the archived thematic collections are quite nice, including the Entrepreneurs & Innovators area, which features interviews with executives from creative and successful businesses in the Pacific Northwest. Late night web-browsers may also want to take a look at Movie Marvels, where Professor Fred Fridays plays host to a different campy horror movie every Friday at 9 p.m., PST. [KMG]

Raintree: Tropical Plant Database

Hosted by Raintree, the Tropical Plant Database is authored and maintained by Board Certified Naturopath, Ms. Leslie Taylor to provide accurate information about rainforest plants and to help promote rainforest conservation. Including over 300 pages of documentation on rainforest plants and very well-organized, the Tropical Plant Database lists plants by Common name, Botanical name, Ethnic uses, and Action/disorder. The Database File for each plant includes an illustration and information about family, genus, species, common names, plant description, and more. Visitors can link to great illustrations and photos as well as web resources for each plant including Medline Abstracts, W3 TROPICOS Database, Ethnobotany Database, and Phtyochem Database among others. Plant Database File pages include references as well. This site is also reviewed in the March 19, 2004 NSDL Life Sciences Report. [NL]

General Interest

Serco TransArctic Expedition [Macromedia Flash Reader]

In our time, it would seem that all of the boundaries of exploration have been pushed to the limits here on terra firma. With the notable exception of the world's oceans, every mountain peak has been successfully conquered, every inhospitable landscape traversed and so on. Stepping into the grand tradition of exploration is Ben Saunders, a long distance skier from Devon, England, who is currently seeking to become the first person to ski solo more than 1200 miles across the Arctic from Siberia to Canada via the geographic North Pole. On the website dedicated to his expedition, visitors can learn more about his previous expeditions, view a map of his route, and view statistics on his progress on a daily basis. Of course, visitors will also want to read his daily dispatches, and perhaps send along a word of encouragement via email. [KMG]

American Women's History: A Research Guide

Greatly revised and expanded since its last Scout Report mention, (March 13, 1999) Ken Middleton's American Women's History: A Research Guide includes over 2100 citations to print and Internet sources and hundreds of links to digitized primary sources, as well as frequent updates and link checking to ensure the currency of cited resources. The Research Guide now consists of 4 main sections: an index to resources by subject, an index to resources by state, and two Tools sections offering guidance on finding primary sources (e.g. archival, manuscript, and museum collections, historical newspapers and periodicals), as well as secondary sources (e.g. books, articles, theses and dissertations). Some print resources listed under Marriage are bibliographies and historical overviews; examples of online materials are digital photo databases at the Los Angeles and Denver Public Libraries, that include images of weddings and marriage. Shortcuts to popular, quickly available, online resources are provided from the home page. [DS]

Droplet-Microscopy of the Protozoa

The world of the protozoa is one that is still not wholly understood, and certainly not by the average person. Of course one thing that can be immediately appreciated is the many interesting nuances amongst their number (something that is not lost on the creator of this site, one Piotr Rotkiewicz, who holds a PhD in chemistry). The site itself contains 184 pictures (drawn from 84 genera) of various protozoa, ranging from the well-known paramecium to the marine spiroloculina. All of the images have been taken by a number of different microscopes, and visitors to the site are also provided with some detailed information about these devices. The site has a nice collage that brings together images of protozoa from 45 different genera that gives users some sense of the relative size of each organism. The site is rounded out by an extensive set of outside links to other relevant websites, and a list of suggested readings. [KMG]

NPR: Justice Blackmun's Papers [RealOnePlayer

Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun was born in the small town of Nashville, Illinois, grew up around St. Paul, and later graduated from Harvard University. Blackmun was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Richard Nixon in 1970, and spent 24 years on the court, rendering important opinions on Roe v. Wade and other influential decisions. Blackmun passed away in 1999, and recently, NPR's Nina Totenberg was granted access to his papers, which are housed at the Library of Congress. Drawing on revelations in these papers and various interviews, this site offers a number of recent radio programs from NPR that hone in on various aspects of Justice Blackmun's time on the court and his various opinions on different cases. A couple of the more recent programs made available here deal with the humor of various fellow judges and the deliberations over the constitutionality of prayer at public school graduations. There are also a number of nice video clips, including one of Blackmun giving a tour of his Supreme Court chambers and another featuring him speaking about Roe v. Wade. [KMG]

Carriers' Addresses

Along with the plaintive cries of greengrocers, fishmongers, and small waifs calling out "Shine your shoes guv'nor?" in the late 19th century, one might also see a variety of newspaper boys out delivering the paper and hawking it on the streets by means of colorful language and lurid descriptions. One form of expression by these carriers was their annual addresses, which were printed pieces distributed to their customers on New Year's Day in order to solicit a small tip for their faithful service throughout the year. The good people at the Center for Digital Initiatives at Brown University Library have placed a fine collection of these broadsheets online for the general public, dating from 1772 to 1912, and originating from such papers as the Albany Argus and the Peoria Journal. Visitors may search or browse this delightful collection, and read an introductory essay on these addresses, which includes a notable excerpt from one address about the carriers themselves that reads: "Bedouins of the street they are, tenting anywhere. Pitching camp upon the cobblestones, Braving rain and snow and sleet and winter's chilly wind; Lighting fires to warm their frozen bones." [KMG]

Comm-Org: The On-Line Conference on Community Organizing and Development

With origins in a 1994 online seminar on the history of community organizing led at the University of Illinois at Chicago, COMM-ORG has grown into a fine resource for persons interested in the current field (and history) of community organizing, both in the United States, and with an international perspective. COMM-ORG is currently under the direction of Randy Stoecker at the University of Toledo, and brings together a host of materials related to the field of community organizing, including a moderated listserv, various syllabi from courses about community organizing, and a collection of papers about this broad theme. The COMM-ORG Discussion listserv area allows visitors to view archives of the many interesting electronic listserv topics, and to join up to become a member of the listserv. The papers section is also worth a look, as it contains approximately 80 papers dating back to 1995 on the various subfields of community organizing, such as faith-based movements and social justice. [KMG]

Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project

With project headquarters at the University of Tennessee Libraries, the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project is designed to serve as both a physical and digital collection of resources for researchers studying the Smokies and their surrounding communities. From the homepage, visitors can view a selection of finding aids (if they are planning to conduct research), browse through the Project's newsletters dating back to 2002, and look through a list of other organizations (with hyperlinks to their respective homepages, where available). Currently, there are two nice digital collections available here, both of which are worth more than just a glance. The first is a digitized collection of 898 photographs taken by the late Albert "Dutch" Roth. Roth was an amateur photographer who spent six decades photographing the Great Smoky Mountains' Greenbrier and Mount Le Conte sections. Here visitors can peruse these images by subject heading and a variety of other fields; in doing so, visitors will get a real feel for the landscape of the region. The second digital collection is of the flora of Tennessee, and allows visitors to search through images of native and introduced flora throughout the state by plant name, family and genus.

Network Tools

TECOAS 0.9 [Macintosh Operating System, Windows Operating System]

More and more persons are telecommuting everyday, and an increasing number may find it necessary to browse or comment on any number of documents interactively. This version of TECOAS provides such an opportunity to interactively browse and discuss a document, and is intended to both help with the co-authoring of papers and to provide a format in which small seminar groups can discuss various works. The website for the application also includes a helpful user's manual. TECOAS 0.9 is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X or Windows 95 and above. [KMG]

NewsMac 3.0 [Macintosh Operating System]

It's hard to slog through the mass of websites dedicated to websites, especially with limited time. One such application designed to aid users in this process is News Mac 3.0, which is a news aggregator that contains over 120 built-in news feeds, effectively giving users both headlines and story descriptions for quick perusal. Additionally, users can add any news website or weblog (provided that they offer an RSS feed), and create customized categories of news as well. Finally, visitors can synchronize these news feeds with their PDA's, including the iPod. NewsMac 3.0 is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X 10.2 and higher. [KMG]

In The News

Cholesterol and Heart Disease

New York Times: Scientists Begin to Question Benefit of 'Good' Cholesterol
NPR All Things Considered: Benefits of Lower Cholesterol [Windows Media Player, RealOne Player]
CBS News: Children and Heart Disease
NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: High Blood Cholesterol
University of Maryland Medicine: Trans Fats 101
ACSM's Active Aging Partnership and the Strategic Health Initiative on Aging
WPR Zorba Paster On Your Health: Zorba's Heart Healthy Recipes

Hardly limited to being in the news this week, cholesterol and the role it plays in heart disease has emerged again. Science, while seeking to describe and dissect the pros and cons of LDL and HDL, has yet to produce a truly definitive answer to the many uncertainties regarding cholesterol. Yet, in the midst of this seemingly uncertain topic, research has provided a whole host of recommendations and definitive lifestyle changes that do lead to lower blood cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease, and, the true goal, better overall wellness. The sites selected here not only introduce recent media coverage of the topic but this In the News issue pulls back and offers sites with good general information and suggestions about cholesterol and trans fats as well as offering some heart healthy recipes and exercise ideas.

The first link leads to a recent New York Times article by Gina Kolata which offers a look at new research into the true benefits of "good cholesterol" or HDL. The article cites two recent studies that question how much HDL is good and whether, indeed, it is always a good thing. (Remember: Most NY Times articles are free to registered users, which is also free, but you may be asked to sign up if you haven't yet done so). The second link leads to a recent NPR feature by Richard Knox which examines how a significant lowering of cholesterol affects those with risk of heart disease. Third, traditionally a disease of adults, high cholesterol and heart disease often begins with eating and exercise habits adopted as a child. In fact, heart disease problems can even manifest themselves then, too. This CBS story on Children and Heart Disease offers a brief look at the topic. The fourth site from the NIH Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is a great primer to the topic of high blood cholesterol, breaking down the language it offers information about causes, symptoms, and treatments. The fifth site, from University of Maryland, says it all with it's title: Trans Fats 101. The site offers a great introduction to the issue of trans fats and their relationship to cholesterol. A great addition to the site is the page on daily menu ideas. While not detailed, it offers good ideas. Also providing helpful ideas is the sixth site from the American College of Sports Medicine. This great site offers detailed information about active aging and how to bring fitness into your everyday life. Finally, if you're looking for tangible eating advice, check out Dr. Zorba Paster's Hearth Healthy Recipes. Zorba, a family physician in Madison, Wisconsin, blends knowledge of eastern and western medicine as part of a weekly call-in show on Wisconsin Public Radio and syndicated nationally. Each week, several recipes are offered -- some of which are catalogued at this site. Included currently are minted turkey meatballs with pine nuts and winter harvest pork tenderloin. [JPM]

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