The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 20

May 21, 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 Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology

The eleventh issue of the third volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Generating Electricity from Waste.

Research and Education

UNCHR: The UN Refugee Agency

Established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is mandated to "lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide." Since its inception it is estimated that the agency has helped over 50 million people with various types of assistance. At the site, visitors can learn about the current High Commissioner (who is currently Ruud Lubbers, a former Dutch prime minister), read his various speeches, learn about the Geneva Refugee Convention, and peruse current statistics on asylum seekers and refugees. The news section of the site is quite strong and includes archived and current press releases from the agency, briefing notes from agency spokespersons in Geneva, and material on agency employees in the field. Visitors can also keep abreast of current refugee emergency situations, such as those in Chad, Iraq, and Afghanistan. For those who may feel overwhelmed by the mass of information on the site, there is a Basic Facts area that offers a good overview of the agency's activities. [KMG]

Insights: National Museum of African Art

Drawing on its extensive collections, the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. has created this online exhibit to showcase the work of nine contemporary artists. This ensemble approach essentially reveals the nuances of the artistic process to visitors, and demonstrates the interplay of experimentation, continuity and change in each artist's subjects and materials. The artists here represent just a fragment of Africa's many cultural traditions, but their range of media is quite diverse, including film, fabrics, oils, and various sculpting materials. One artist whose work visitors will want to take a look at on the site is Iba N'Diaye, a Senegalese painter whose love of jazz informs much of his work, especially paintings such as Hommage Bessie Smith. Another such artist is the late Ezrom Legae, a South African sculptor and draughtsman who used his art to offer visual commentaries on the system of apartheid that was used to dominate blacks throughout his country until the 1990s. [KMG]

Telling Stories: Narratives of Nationhood [Macromedia Flash Reader]

How do nations tell their own stories? One way of doing this is by looking through the various images and representations created by a country's talented artists. Such an approach is adopted by the Confederation Centre Art gallery in its delightful attempt to tell the story of Canada's diverse and multicultural past. As the site's introduction notes, "The art that has come out of this ever-changing reality are all pieces of a broader dialogue, offering glimpses of the possibilities for many different identities." In total, the various thematic collections offered here contain over 4000 works of art, along with 400 lesson plans created by a team of educators. The thematic collections that are available to explore include such titles as "Questions of Canada: Politics of Culture and Community", "My Art: Personal Identities in Art", and "Canada's Many Voices." All of the materials presented here are also available in French.

Chicago Architects Oral History Project [pdf]

From the artistic statements of Louis Sullivan to the brutally Modern statements of Walter Netsch, architecture in Chicago is nothing if not eclectic. Given the important legacy of those architects practicing in and around Chicago, it is refreshing to note that the Art Institute of Chicago has been collecting the oral histories of these men and women since 1983. With substantial financial support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Illinois Humanities Council, the Art Institute of Chicago has placed complete transcripts for over fifty of these interviews online here for access by architectural historians and the general public. Here visitors will find the recollections of Stanley Tigerman, Harry Weese, Bertrand Goldberg, and Carter Manny. Visitors will also be glad to find that female architects are well-represented here, and include such individuals as Gertrude Lempp Kerbis and Natalie De Blois. [KMG]

HIV Stops with Me [QuickTime]

Featuring the life stories and narratives of HIV positive gay and bisexual men from six cities (including Boston and San Diego), the HIV Stops with Me site is part of a broad-based campaign which "aims to reduce the stigma associated with HIV and to acknowledge the powerful role that people who are positive have in ending the epidemic." The site features stories from men in the various cities (which soon will include Seattle and New York) speaking about their experiences, along with offering information about themselves and their lives. The site also contains information about a number of timely topics, such as HIV medications, condom use, and HIV management, and several dozen others. Several of the men involved with the site have also elected to write monthly columns, which are also available from the main page. Persons visiting the site should be aware that the site contains frank and honest discussions about sexual activity and related topics. [KMG] is "the home of the first Flash Mob Supercomputer and the official site for all things Flash Mob Computing." The project uses the Grid Computing approach, similar to SETI@Home, to make use of hundreds of idle home computers. What's distinct about FlashMob 1 is that it is "an ad-hoc supercomputer created on-the-fly using ordinary PC's interconnected via a well-organized LAN" (also described as a distributed memory machine) that is set up in a gym or warehouse temporarily. The website describes the project, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of this approach compared to the "Big iron" supercomputing, as well as providing downloads and a discussion forum. The group's two main goals are: to prove flashmob computing can work and "to make this web site a place where people can share ideas, tune software, and improve on our implementation in the tradition of Open Source." This site is also reviewed in the May 21 NSDL MET Report. [VF]

CBC: Halifax Explosion [Macromedia Flash Reader]

In the evening of December 6, 1917, a massive explosion rocked the harbor of the rapidly growing city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, located in eastern Canada. Caused by the collision of two ships (one of which was carrying a tremendous amount of explosive material), the explosion killed over 1500 people outright, and devastated the settlements around the area. Working with various historical groups, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has created this engrossing multimedia look into the events leading up to that dreadful incident, along with offering a broader historical perspective on the development of the city of Halifax and the aftermath of these tragic events. Starting from the main page, visitors will learn about Halifax's history, along with having the opportunity to view significant interactive features, such as maps of the area and recently-discovered archival footage of the city and its environs. The interactive features here are quite amazing, as visitors can view video clips of survivors' recollections, and watch footage of various commemoration activities associated with the explosion. [KMG]

General Interest

Healing Iraq

Mainstream coverage of the ongoing reconstruction and conflict in Iraq may at times leave much to be desired, particularly in terms of "man on the street" coverage. Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of weblogs that provide a vantage point into this situation, representing the many divergent opinions on this situation. One notable site is provided by Zeyad (whose surname is not offered for privacy reasons), a dentist living and working in Iraq. On the site, visitors can peruse his latest observations on the operations in Iraq, and post comments on each individual entry as well. The site also includes a photo blog, where visitors can view photographs of demonstrations and other activities. A desireable aspect of the site is that it also offers links to other Iraq-related weblogs, and information about new blogs of note. [KMG]

The Wordsworth Trust

The Wordsworth Trust won the 2003 Cumbria Tourist Board Award for Excellence as a small tourist attraction, and the trust's website is a good demonstration of its excellence. While not large, it is worth a visit for its neat design with well-organized material to browse. The Trust operates Dove Cottage and the adjacent Wordsworth Museum near the village of Town End, Grasmere, places in the English Lake District where Wordsworth lived and wrote between 1799 and 1808. At the site, visitors will find a guided tour of Dove Cottage, a guide to the Museum's permanent collections, and exhibitions at the 3 Degrees West Gallery. The trust also runs three annual events: International Wordsworth Summer Conference, Wordsworth Winter School and the Weekend Arts and Book Festival. Information, pictures and registration forms are provided. [DS]

Derelict London

Most major conurbations in the developed world pride themselves on continually updating their built environment, whether it is through urban renewal programs or through the process of creative destruction, which reinvents certain areas (such as the demolition of old factories for a new planned residential development). In this process, individuals may forget about these seemingly obsolete structures and locales. This is certainly not the case for one Paul Talling, a Londoner who has taken upon himself to document these derelict areas. The site is divided into sections that include waterways, pubs, vehicles, graffitti, toilets, and shops, and eighteen others. One rather curious section is devoted to a recently abandoned greyhound racing track located in southeast London, and is certainly worth a look. The section on hospitals is also quite nice, as it features some rather intriguing photographs of various obsolete hospitals, such as the infamous Hackney Hospital and the South London Hospital for Women. [KMG]

American Experience: Golden Gate Bridge

Completed in May 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered one of the world's greatest engineering feats, and an iconic structure on the order of the Taj Mahal, the Houses of Parliament, and the Sears Tower. Paying homage to the story of its construction and historical context is this companion site designed to complement the American Experience documentary on this magnificent structure. On the site, visitors can read a full transcript of the documentary, read a synopsis of the film, and peruse a list of further reading materials. As with many American Experience websites, the special features section is something to behold, as it contains a fun online poll dealing with the world's top suspension bridges, an interactive feature that lets users learn how engineers use math to design bridges, and a question and answer section with a noted historian on the nature of the big engineering projects that dotted the American landscape in the 1930s. [KMG]

Spalding Base Ball Guides, 1889-1939

Whether your favorite baseball team is at the top or the bottom of its division by this point in the season, sports fans (and cultural historians) alike will want to take a close look at this recent digital collection released from the American Memory project at the Library of Congress. The 35 Spalding Base Ball Guides available here were the brainchild of A.G. Spalding, the iconic baseball player, manager, and promoter who founded the well-known sporting-goods manufacturing business and the American Sports Publishing Company. While the Library of Congress holds over 1000 of these different sporting guides, those made available here deal with the sport of baseball and the little-known (at least today) game of indoor baseball. The interesting sport of indoor baseball was invented in 1887 by a group of young men waiting around for the telegraphed results of the Harvard-Yale football game on Thanksgiving Day. What is most interesting is that this game became what is known as softball, a sport that is probably played by more Americans than traditional baseball. The guides here can be searched by keywords, or by browsing the table of contents, and include such sections as How to Become a Base Runner and Indoor Baseball in Canada. [KMG]

American Museum of the Moving Image -- The Living Room Candidate: A History of Presidential Campaign Commercials, 1952-2000 [RealOne Player]

The power of television in determining the successful candidate for president of the United States over the past fifty years has been immense -- and something that every candidate is aware of, for better or for worse. This engaging online exhibit from the American Museum of the Moving Candidate offers television commercials for each presidential candidate from the years 1952 to 2000, along with an analysis of each major party, their advertising campaigns, and a map showing the results of each election. There are some real gems here including the advertisements from the fractious campaign of 1968, the powerful uses of various shock issues in the campaign of 1988, and Harry Belafonte speaking on behalf of John F. Kennedy in 1960. The site is rounded out by a selection of helpful educational materials, including a teacher's guide and a complete program guide to the presidential campaign television advertisements. [KMG]

Network Tools

GuruNet Kids 5.01 [Windows Operating System]

Developed to complement the basic version of GuruNet, this application operates as a built-in reference tool for young people who are using the web. As individuals are looking around the web, they merely have to use the alt key to deliver an explanation of a word or phrase. After doing so, a pop-up box appears on the screen, bringing the relevant information to the user. This particular application also includes over 100 dictionaries, encyclopedias and almanacs, which may be used in conjunction with the application. GuruNet Kids 5.01 is compatible with all systems running Windows 98 and above. [KMG]

Historical Event Markup and Linking Project

A hallmark of the Internet is the opportunity it affords scholars and researchers to present information in novel and interactive ways. One such application that operates in this vein is the Historical Event Markup and Linking Project. The Project allows users to coordinate and navigate through historical materials on the Internet by giving them the ability to create animated maps, interactive timelines or event tables that combine a number of web-based or static resources. The project's homepage contains sample ideas for general perusal, and a developer's guide for interested parties. [KMG]

In The News

Legendary Cello Found by Nurse Near Dumpster

Stolen Stradivarius Cello Almost Ended Up as CD Holder
The Return of a Rare Cello Leaves a Trail of Question Marks
PhysicsWeb: Science and the Stradivarius
Cool Weather May Be Stradivarius' Secret
Los Angeles Philharmonic Association: Peter Stumpf Cello by Antonio Stradivari, 1684 (General Kyd, ex-Leo Stern)

While sometimes lackadaisical young musicians may be prone to leaving their instrument on a school bus, it is not everyday that a $3.5 million cello, crafted by the revered artisan and craftsman Antonio Stradivari is absent-mindedly forgotten by the principal cellist (one Peter Stumpf) for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But this is precisely what happened when Mr. Stumpf forgot his cello outside his home on April 25. Not surprisingly, a young male bicyclist departed with the cello in tow, and the search went out immediately for the prized instrument, including the promise of a $50,000 reward for the safe return of the instrument. There seemed to be little hope until earlier this week, when a nurse, Melanie Stevens, noticed a news report on the lost instrument, and realized that it was in fact the same instrument she had found near a dumpster the previous week. She returned the instrument to Mr. Stumpf, who was understandably relieved, particularly when he learned that Stevens had asked her boyfriend to convert the instrument into a CD holder. As a result of its movement around the city of Los Angeles, the cello suffered some moderate damage, but as there was no crack in the rear sound post, the instrument should be ready to play in concert by October of this year. [KMG]

The first link leads to a piece from the San Diego Union-Tribune that details the recent recovery of this extremely valuable and beloved instrument. The second link will take visitors to an investigative piece from the Christian Science Monitor that takes on some of the unanswered questions that remain in the wake of the instrument's reappearance. The third link leads to an article written by Colin Gough on the unique tonal qualities of the rather revered violins created by Stradivari in the 17th century. The fourth link leads to a nice piece from CNN about the particular climatic conditions that may have led to the ideal wood that later became these prized instruments. The fifth link leads to a detailed profile of Mr. Stump, courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. The last link will take visitors to a page that details the provenance and technical specifications of the cello in question, known to experts as the General Kyd.

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The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published weekly by Internet Scout

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