The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 37

September 17, 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 nineteenth 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 Prairies. The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about Hurricanes.

Research and Education

Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive

The Columbia River basin area extends across seven states, and winds its way along the current border between Washington and Oregon, before heading into the eastern part of Washington state proper. During the past several centuries, the area has been home to a number of ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics, among others. In a collaborative effort, a number of local and regional institutions (including Washington State University and the Oregon Historical Society) came to share resources to create this digital archive that collects the records, images, remembrances, and artifacts of this particular region. The first part of the site introduces users to a map of the region, and provides information about the project's organization and its partners. The second section allows visitors to browse the database, where they will find various aspects of visual culture, including newspapers and photographs. The third section of the site provides tutorials and lesson plans. [KMG]

Encyclopedia Mythica

While the 2004 Athens Olympic Summer Games are now just a not-so-distant memory, the world's fascination with Greek mythology and the ancient world continues to reverberate with the public, scholars of antiquity, and other interested parties. To pique their interest, there is the lovely Encyclopedia Mythica which was founded and edited by Micha Lindemans. Here visitors can peruse areas devoted to mythology, folklore, bestiary, heroes, and take a look at some genealogy tables, which tend to be quite helpful. The featured items section is quite nice, as visitors can read the full text of a book on witchcraft, learn about the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, and read the 1898 edition of the Arabian Nights. The site has a number of other features, including a place for visitor feedback and a search feature. Rounding out the site are lists of feast days from the ancient world, along with a list of Roman deities and their Greek counterparts. [KMG]

Access to Social Services: The Changing Urban Geography of Poverty and Service Provision [pdf]

Access to social services, especially for the poor, continues to concern numerous public policy scholars and practitioners. This recent 19-page report from the Brookings Institution (authored by Scott Allard, a professor at Brown University) takes a closer look at this phenomenon by looking at the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Released in August 2004, the report notes that, on average, poor populations in urban centers have greater spatial access to social services than poor populations living in suburban areas. The report contains a number of additional findings, including the not-so surprising observation that the location of social service providers does not always match well to the changing demographics of cities. Allard concludes the work by noting that ".we should pay closer attention to how spatial trends in employment, population, and support services converge to shape demand and needs of low-income populations in our metropolitan areas." [KMG]

NOVA: The Elegant Universe [QuickTime, RealOne Player, Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

This NOVA website "introduces string theory and Albert Einstein's dream of unifying the forces that underlie all phenomena in the physical universe." Visitors can learn about the concept's possible role in unifying the four forces of nature. Students and educators can watch fascinating slide shows of physicists working with particle accelerators; interesting animations of resonance affects on cotton string; the three-hour mini-series, The Elegant Universe; and much more. The Teacher's Guide can help users take full advantage of the educational value of the materials. Anyone curious about the idea that the world can be made of numerous dimensions and made out of strings will enjoy this site. [RME] This site is also reviewed in the September 17, 2004 NSDL Physical Sciences Report.

Historical Directories

Sometime you may find yourself wondering one of the world's eternal questions: How many cutlers were in Sheffield during the 1850s? Well, you might not be actively seeking the answer to that particular query, but this incredibly extensive digital library created by the University of Leicester may help you solve other related historical questions. This digital library contains a host of local and trade directories for England and Wales from 1750 to 1919, many of which were previously only accessible by making a special trip to any number of local historical societies or archives. Curious visitors can search the directories through an interactive map of England and Wales in order to find the information that is most relevant to their interests. Currently, the project provides at least one directory for each segment from the interactive map from the 1850s, 1890s, and 1910s. Visitors can also search the entire digitized archive by keyword, location, and name. [KMG]

Race & Place: An African-American Community in the Jim Crow South: Charlottesville, VA [RealOnePlayer]

A number of compelling studies about the complex relationship between different ethnic groups and their lived experience in various environments have come to light over the past few decades, and several of them have found their way onto the Web as well. This rather noteworthy site, created through a collaborative effort by the Virginia Center for Digital History and the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African and Afro-American Studies, intends "to connect race with place" through offering this nice multimedia archive of digitized materials including oral histories, political broadsides, photographs, maps, and letters. The time and place that is profiled is Charlottesville, Virginia, from the late 1880s until the middle of the 20th century. The community that is profiled is the African-American community, which was effectively segregated through the use of the notorious "Jim Crow" laws. While visitors will want to take a look through the various documents over an extended visit, they should definitely take a look at the transcribed articles from two African-American owned newspapers from the period that offer insight into the life of the black community during the 1890s. [KMG]

NOAA Fisheries: Office of Protected Resources [pdf]

Created as a part of the NOAA Fisheries department, the Office of Protected Resources manages programs and policies that protect the marine life found within the waters surrounding the United States. Of great interest to most visitors will be the sections where they may learn about the endangered species themselves. Here visitors can learn about the various species, and read reports to Congress on the recovery activities that have been taken place under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Besides the numerous general information publications available on the site, there are a number of technical and scholarly reports presented, including environmental assessments on the effects of research on Stellar sea lions and scientific assessments of endangered population levels. The site is rounded out by a section that addresses the importance of coral reef and biodiversity conservation and features materials on the status of coral species and the various diseases which affect these species. [KMG]

Garlic Central

Can garlic help repel mosquitoes? Find out the answer to this question and more at Garlic Central, an all-about-garlic website created by aficionado Trevor Mendham. The site contains an introductory section--titled Garlic 101--and sections that address culinary uses, medicinal benefits, and cultivation. The site's Cooking section includes a collection of recipes; and information about storing, freezing, and crushing garlic. The site also features a brief how-to guide for planting, growing, and harvesting garlic. Garlic Central even hosts a virtual shopping mall that connects site visitors to a wide range of garlic-related websites peddling foodstuffs, kitchen implements, posters, books, and garden supplies. [NL] This site is also reviewed in the September 17, 2004 NSDL Life Sciences Report.

General Interest

P.O.V.: Every Mother's Son [RealOnePlayer]

The trauma of losing a child can be devastating, and when that child is lost as a result of violence, it can be even more heartbreaking. The Point of View series from PBS recently produced this powerful documentary (created by Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson) that explores the experiences of three women whose sons were the victims of police brutality in the late 1990s. On this site, visitors can learn more about the program, and delve into the extra features that make this site a real treat. First, visitors can peruse the special features, which include an overview of the concept of community policing, read interviews with law enforcement officials and other experts, and finally take an interactive quiz that allows visitors to pick various options in order to improve community safety. The site also includes an area where visitors can respond to the program, along with offering a "Behind the Lens" perspective on the filmmakers themselves. [KMG] [Macromedia Flash Reader]

In recent years, the efforts by various government agencies and not-for-profit foundations to get people to quit smoking has increased dramatically. Many organizations have turned to emerging forms of media, such as Internet-based productions, to get the word out about the individual experiences of those persons trying to quit the nicotine habit. In this rather informative outreach program, visitors can explore the life of one New York resident as he attempts to give up smoking. The program highlights the affect his decision has on his family, particularly his children. Visitors can browse through the video segments offered here, and skip around at their leisure. Overall, the site is an emotional and informative experience that may prove to be a helpful educational resource as well as providing a first-hand account of one individual's experience with giving up smoking. [KMG]

Nathaniel Hawthorne Bicentennial Exhibition [Macromedia Flash Reader]

Rightly regarded as one of the great figures of American letters, Nathaniel Hawthorne is best known for such works as The House of the Seven Gables, and of course one of America's oft-cited morality tales, The Scarlet Letter. He was part of a wide circle of other notable figures in 19th-century American literature that included Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Given his strong connection with New England and his birth in Salem, Massachusetts, it is not surprising that the acclaimed Peabody Museum in that same town has mounted a significant exhibit to commemorate the bicentennial of Hawthorne's birth in 1804. For those who cannot make it to Salem in the coming months, this online exhibit is a true delight. The site includes the complete digitized images of "The Spectator", which was a hand-copied newspaper produced by Hawthorne when he was 16. Clearly, those with a penchant for learning about the life of Hawthorne will want to make several trips to this site. [KMG]

Electronic Biologica Centrali-Americana

This electronic edition of the Biologica Centrali-American raises the bar, both in terms of its thoroughness and the collaborative efforts that helped create this quite compelling collection. The original 58 volumes of this remarkable work of natural history were created and composed during the 19th century in an effort to identify, categorize, and document the flora and fauna of Meso-America. As the project notes note on its site, "This will be a model for biodiversity informatics worldwide, to meet the global need for access to information for science, public policy, eco-tourism, and other uses." To create the project, a group of institutions were involved throughout the mark-up and design process, including the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the Natural History Museum in London, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Visitors will enjoy perusing the various volumes, with their excellent descriptions and elegant plates and illustrations. Additionally, there is ample documentation online here that offers other like-minded institutions information about how the project proceeded. [KMG]

Amnesty International: The Wire

Amnesty International is quite well-known for bringing attention to the plight of various marginalized groups and individuals across the globe, along with its significant advocacy and lobbying activities. Since May 2001, the organization has also placed its provocative monthly magazine, The Wire, online for access by the general public. The September 2004 issue features news pieces on the rights of women in the Solomon Islands, the plight of children in Honduras, and the organization's worldwide appeals made on the behalf of victims of human rights violations. Visitors to the site will want to look through archived issues from previous months, which may also serve as an educational resource for young people and those interested in human rights issues. The online version of the magazine is also available in Arabic and Spanish. [KMG]

Canadian Geographical Names [Last reviewed in the September 23, 1994 Scout Report]

It's been almost 10 years since the Scout Report first cast its roving eye onto the Canadian Geographical Names website, but it seemed right to take a second look at the site and report back to our dedicated readers. To begin, geographical names are officially vetted and authorized by the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC), which has been in existence since 1897. Visitors can then proceed to query their online database to find out more detailed information by searching the contents by name, point coordinates, and other fields. One of the highlights of the site is definitely the education section, which provides the detailed origins of Canada's geographical names, including its provinces, the various cities in the country, and of course, the various indigenous place names. Geographers, historians, and the generally curious will appreciate this site, especially the feature titled "The real story of how Toronto got its name". [KMG]

Network Tools

Movable Type 3.1

As visitors traverse the many weblogs that have proliferated across the Web during the past few years, they may find themselves thinking: "Hey, I can do better than that." Well, this latest edition of Movable Type may help them do just that, and rise to the occasion with aplomb. This latest version allows users to create weblogs rather simply through the use of their templates and also allows for the creation of either static page generation or dynamic pages. Additional new features in this edition of Movable Type include the ability to schedule posts to appear at any given time, which may be helpful for those who find themselves away from their home computer. Movable Type 3.1 is compatible with all systems running Windows 95 and above. [KMG]

JForum RC5

On a related note, there are also several applications to create some communal warmth and place for free and open discussion in the sometimes cold and distant world of the Web. For users who already have a weblog, the application JForum presents an easy way to create an online forum to discuss whatever's on your mind with fellow Web users. The application allows users the ability to create unlimited forums and categories, email notification, private messages, user rankings, and various moderation options. JForum RC5 is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Investments reap dividends for many universities, but access and quality of higher education across the United States continues to lag behind

Harvard fund soars 21.1 percent
Harvard Gazette: Harvard endowment posts positive return
Progress report card shows higher ed fails to keep up
State college system still strong
Fewer can afford college in state
Measuring Up: The National Report Card on Higher Education [pdf]

A number of noteworthy items related to the landscape of higher education found their way into major newspapers this week, including the announcement that Harvard University's endowment reported a 21.1 percent gain on its investments for the fiscal year 2004. This was the best performing year for Harvard's university fund since 2000, although the school also announced that the projected returns during the coming decade will be significantly lower than the past 10 years. Across the wide world of higher education throughout the United States, the news was not nearly as optimistic, at least in terms of access and affordability for those seeking higher education opportunities. A report issued this week from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education on the state of higher education across the country noted that only three states (California, Utah, and Minnesota) scored higher than a "D" in terms of providing affordable options for attending college. The report essentially grades affordability by comparing net college costs with the average family income in each state, and by this measure, the Center has concluded that college is becoming less affordable in most states. Commenting on the report, David Breneman (dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia) remarked that "For at least another five to eight years we're looking at a real denial of opportunity." In conclusion, it should also be noted that the report also notes that the nation's high schools have improved over the past decade.

The first link leads to an article on the spectacular performance by Harvard's endowment from this Wednesday's Boston Globe. The second link leads to a like-minded piece written by Alvin Powell of the Harvard News Office. The third link leads to a well-written piece in The Salt Lake Tribune that discusses the national affordable education report's comments on the state of Utah's higher education system. Visitors to the fourth link will find an article from The Sacramento Bee that discusses the generally fine performance of California's higher education system, but still offering the potential specter of increased tuition costs that may hinder efforts to increase accessibility and maintain affordability. The fifth link whisks visitors away to a piece from The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, which discusses the ramifications of this national report throughout the state of Wisconsin, a place long lauded for its extensive and much-studied system of higher education. Finally, the last link leads to the homepage of the recently released National Report Card on Higher Education. Here visitors can view individual state reports, peruse a broad overview of national trends, and also compare states in terms of their overall performance during the past few years. [KMG]

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