The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 30

July 30, 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 sixteenth issue of the third volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Energy Efficiency.

Research and Education

Ancestry 2000 [pdf]

As notions about ethnicity and ancestry have changed over the past, various government institutions have become more sensitive and more sophisticated in their efforts to collect data in this area. During the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau modified its questionnaire to allow individuals the ability to give one or two attributions of their "ancestry or ethnic origin." This 12-page Census 2000 brief, authored by Angela Brittingham and G. Patricia de la Cruz, offers some insights into the various trends throughout the United States afforded by the responses to this particular Census question. Through insightful and concise prose, the report contains some noteworthy findings, include the statistic that nearly one of six people reported their ancestry as German and that more than four out of five people specified at least one ancestry. Reflecting national trends, the report noted that the largest ancestry for seven of the nation's ten largest cities was Mexican. [KMG]

Modern Language Association Language map

Drawing on information from the United States Census 2000 long form, the Modern Language Association has crated this important interactive map that allows users to see where the speakers of thirty-seven languages reside throughout the country. The map allows visitors the option to toggle certain themes (such as rivers, lakes, and highways) and to look through the numbers of speakers by zip code, town, city, or county. Visitors can also look at data at the state level, and they can also print out their own customized maps as well. Users of the site can also generate interactive maps for two languages in the same state, or compare the concentration of the same language in two states. If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, visitors can also take an online tour of the site's features. This site will be of great interest both to linguists and to those interested in learning about the spatial distribution of the languages spoken across the United States. [KMG]

Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America

Alexander Hamilton was not only a member of the First Continental Congress but was also a co-author of the Federalist Papers and a vital force behind the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. To honor Hamilton the New York Historical Society has created a special museum exhibit that is due to open in September 2004 at its building in New York City. The actual exhibit is complemented nicely by this online exhibit that offers a timeline of events during (and after) his life, the Hamilton Log which offers highlights from his writings, and a biographical gallery of his peers, such as DeWitt Clinton and Robert Morris. The site is rounded out by a twenty-question quiz that tests visitor's knowledge of Alexander Hamilton and his various accomplishments.

XV International Aids Conference [RealOnePlayer, pdf]

While this year's International Aids Conference is now finished, the website created to disseminate the discussions, keynote addresses, and reports remains a valuable online resource for those persons interested in this ever-important public health issue. Perhaps one of the most important areas of the site is the webcast area, which contains archived broadcasts of a number of the sessions held at the conference, provided courtesy of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Here visitors can view videos and transcripts from each of the six days of the conference, including a daily conference update and official conference press briefings. As might be expected, the site contains a number of relevant publications for consideration, such as Children on the Brink 2004, which presents the latest statistics on children under 18 who have been orphaned by AIDS and other causes. The site also contains authoritative information on the various research presented at the conference, along with a complete conference program and abstract database. [KMG]

Into the Blogsphere

Various professors, independent scholars, and technology gurus have developed a keen interest in the use of weblogs as pedagogical tools and as virtual communities. The Department of Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota has gone one interesting step further in this arena by creating the Into the Blogosphere website. On the site, visitors can read, critique and comment on essays that analyze and critique situated cases drawn from weblogs and weblog communities. Some of these pieces available for general consideration include the titles Culture Clash: Journalism and the Communal Ethos of the Blogosphere, The Labyrinth Unbound: Weblogs as Literature, and Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom. Along with browsing through the table of contents, visitors can also look through the works divided into categories, such as genre, gender, identity, and virtual design. [KMG]

Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center (ISRC) [pdf]

Sandia National Laboratory's Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center (ISRC) responds to "challenges impacting national security and US economic competitiveness." Research areas include: Economic competitiveness, engineered collectives, high consequence systems integration, intelligent systems modeling & simulation, and robotic vehicles. In other words, their technologies can be used for automated biomedical devices, mechatronic technology for oil and gas pipeline inspection, landmine detection and removal, and shipbuilding. The website includes descriptions and pictures of their robot vehicles, robot modeling and simulation projects, as well as other software and hardware technologies they have developed. Various publications and information on the facilities are also posted online. [VF] This site is also reviewed in the July 30 NSDL MET Report.

Children's Books Online

The Children's Book Online website has been online for eight years, and during that time it has grown immensely (largely due to the efforts of numerous volunteers from around the world and the able direction of its president, Guy Chocensky). The site contains full versions of dozens of classic children's books, including David Copperfield, Grampa in Oz, and Peter Rabbit. What is equally compelling is that a number of the books are available in a number of different languages, including Polish, Italian, German, Romanian, French, and Russian. Visitors will want to also join their electronic mailing list to be informed when new titles are added to the site, and to sign their online guestbook. The site also contains a few rarities that may be unfamiliar to contemporary readers, including The Bashful Earthquake by Oliver Herford (first published in 1898) and the lovely work, The Marquis of Carabas, painted by Edmund Evans. [KMG]

General Interest

The History of Sanitary Sewers

Though they may be most closely associated with the dramatic appearance of large creatures (such as alligators or raccoons), sanitary sewers are one of the most important pieces of infrastructure across the built-up areas of the world. For the past decade, Jon Schladweiler has collected copious amounts of material related to the history of sewage conveyance systems. Along with his various traveling exhibits and lectures, he has seen fit to create this rather intriguing website which contains articles, timelines, and visual materials that relate the history of the development of sewage systems over the past few millennia. The articles section is a good place to start, as it has dozens of historical articles that address the design of sewers, their various components (such as pipes and manholes), their construction, and even divides the articles up by locale and historical era. The photograph section is also well-developed, and contains a good section with photographs of public baths and latrines from antiquity. Finally, the site has a Miscellaneous area that pays homage to prose and poetry that have seen fit to describe sewers and their related pieces of infrastructure. Here visitors may read pieces by Robert Frost, Ben Johnson, and the Song of the Sewer from The Honeymooners. [KMG]

Humors Edge: Cartoons by Ann Telnaes

Nearly as old as news itself is the political cartoon. It's the page readers flip to for a more succinct, and even more accurate, depiction of the dramas and news of the day. Of all of the cartoonists out there, one of the most talented and influential is Ann Telnaes. Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize (the second woman in history to do so for Political Cartooning), Telnaes recently donated 81 original drawings to the Library of Congress. At this site, visitors can view the collection as well as see the cartoons that earned the Pulitzer. [JPM]

Historical Maps Online

Digitized map collections abound online these days, and the Historical Maps Online collection from the University of Illinois Library is one of the better ones available for researchers and the inquisitive public. Part of a collaborative effort between the University of Illinois Library and the University of Illinois Press, the online material includes hundreds of digitized maps, which may be examined in minute detail with an effective zoom feature. Visitors may browse the maps by preset topics (such as Wisconsin, Indians of North America, Kansas), or browse through the special section containing topographic maps of Illinois. While the general intent of the project was to electronically present images of maps that chart the past 400 years of historical development in Illinois, there are also a few real unusual gems here. One such map is the little-known caricature map of Chicago from 1931 titled "A Map of Chicago's gangland from authentic sources: designed to inculcate the most important principles of piety and virtue in young persons, and graphically portray the evils and sin of large cities." [KMG]

American Family: Journey of Dreams [Macromedia Flash Reader, Real One Player]

The term "family" is one that continues to be highly debated, both in terms of its societal importance and in terms of its shifting definition across generations. Exploring one family's experience in the United States is the remarkable PBS program American Family, which profiles a multigenerational family living in Los Angeles. This well-designed site allows visitors to learn about the series and its cast, along with providing information about each episode. Perhaps the most compelling part of the site focuses on the family itself. Here visitors may read the journal of one family member, browse an interactive feature about the history of their community (which happens to be East L.A.), and a selection of essays on What it Means to be Latino? Individuals will also want to look at the Your Families area which includes sections that allow users to create family scrapbooks and information on the so-called generation gap. The site concludes with a helpful resource area that includes links to other topical online materials and several teacher guides for those educators hoping to use the program in the classroom. [KMG]

UTOPIA [QuickTime, pdf]

Universities and colleges continue to seek new ways to bring their vast stores of knowledge and information to the general public, and some of these efforts manifest themselves in the form of sophisticated websites. One of the more ambitious projects of late is the UTOPIA website developed by the University of Texas at Austin. As their mission statement notes in regards to UTOPA, it is "an ambitious new initiative to open the University's doors of knowledge, research, and information to the public." While some of the material on the site is specific to regional interests in and around Texas, much of the material (organized around topics such as arts, business, technology) will be of broad interest. Educators will appreciate the online collection of pedagogical tools and resources for grades K-12 and there is another section dedicated to staff picks, where staff members select some of their favorite online sites, such as an interactive Gone with the Wind Exhibit. Overall, the site is quite compelling, and may serve as a model for other institutions of higher education who may be seeking to create a similar online clearinghouse. [KMG]

Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics [RealOnePlayer, pdf]

With all the discussion about stem cell research and cloning, the time is right to take a look at the work being done at the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University. Situated within the university's School of Medicine, the Center is "dedicated to interdisciplinary research and education in biomedical ethics, and provides clinical and research ethics consultation." Information provided by the site includes briefings on the center's various seminars, the annual report, and an in-house bioethics newsletter. Scholars and other interested parties may also appreciate the research area of the site, which contains material on current priority research areas along with information about the various scientists and students working in each area. Finally, the site also contains information about job opportunities with the Center and a links page. [KMG]

Network Tools

Butler 4.0b15

There are a number of time-saving applications out there for computer users, and this latest addition of the Butler program may be one that is worth a look. Butler has a number of functions, including a bookmark manager, a web search utility (with the use of hot keys or from the menu bar), and as a pasteboard extension. This version of Butler is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X 10.2. [KMG]

NewsMac 3.1

Despite the presence of thousands of websites devoted to news, it is still difficult to sort out the proverbial wheat from the chaff, especially if one has very specific requirements. One such application that may help rectify this condition is NewsMac 3.1. This versatile RSS news aggregator allows users to view news headlines and story descriptions originating from over 120 built-in news feeds. Some of the features of the program include the ability to highlight keywords, the Feed Finder which lets users find new feeds quickly, and the ability to sync news stories to PDA units. This version of NewsMac is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X 10.3 [KMG]

In The News

Public School Cafeterias Enter the Atkins Debate

School Cafeterias Resist Low-carb
Beyond Mystery Meat
American School Food Service Association
Teenagers Today: Low-carb Diets
Center for Disease Control: Obesity Trends [pdf] Book Excerpt: "Flip the Switch"

The Atkins diet -- predicated on substantially lowering one's intake of carbohydrates -- has finally reached the common, garden-variety, public school cafeteria. Typically, school cafeteria menus have been resilient to various nutritional fads, despite the pleading of various interest groups. School lunch menus themselves are the result of recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which still (at least for the time being) recommends six to 11 servings of breads and grains, a total which some low-carb diets (such as the Atkins version) might frown on. The issue came to a head this week as the annual American School Food Service Association conference convened in Indianapolis. Some dietitians, such as Dayle Hayes of Billings, Montana, warned against putting young people on low-carb diets. Hayes noted (as have other researchers and nutritionists) that the real culprit involved in the rise of obesity within American society is huge portions and a general lack of exercise. As conference attendees perused the various options provided at the annual conference, many of them noted that healthier foods were becoming a mainstay, such as fresh fruit, raisins, turkey and yogurt.

The first link will take visitors to a well-written piece from that discusses the effects (or lack thereof) that the Atkins diet has had to date on traditional lunch room menus and offerings. The second link leads to an eye-witness report on the annual conference proceedings from Sara Scavongelli of the Indianapolis Star, reporting from the Indiana Convention Center. The next link takes visitors to the homepage of the American School Food Service Association, where readers may peruse a series of news briefings on association activities, learn about advocacy programs for child nutrition, and other relevant topics. The fourth link leads to an insightful piece by Kelly Burgess, written for the site, Teenagers Today, that talks about the pitfalls of low-carb diets for young people. The fifth link leads to the Center for Disease Control's site on obesity trends throughout the United States. The site features a number of helpful reports and summaries, including one on the prevalence of overweight children and adolescents in the U.S. The final link leads to a valuable book excerpt from a recent work by Jim Karas on the psychological nature and aspects of weight loss, provided by ABC [KMG]

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