The Scout Report -- Volume 11, Number 31

August 5, 2005

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

Research and Education

Electronic Tools and Ancient Near Eastern Archives [pdf]

A number of interesting digital projects have recently been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and the Electronic Tools and Ancient Near Eastern Archives (ETANA) is one such project. With the support and primary documents of a number of important institutions, such as the Society of Biblical Literature and Case Western Reserve University, the mission of ETANA is to "develop and maintain a comprehensive Internet site for the student of the ancient Near East." While the project is still in development, the site's creators have added numerous helpful resources so far to the archive, including the ETANA Core Texts. In this section, visitors can view digitized texts related to scholarship on the ancient Near East, such as James Breasted's monumental work, "Ancient Records of Egypt", along with 171 other key documents. Visitors will also want to take a look at ABZU, which is another database collection that contains items relevant to the study of the ancient Near East that are available online. [KMG]


Older persons have had many different websites aimed at their own special interests for years, but the SeniorNet site may prove to be one of the more interesting ones out there. As the homepage declares, the site is intended to "Bring Wisdom to the Information Age", and this it does quite well. Visitors can peruse one of the main headings located on the top of the homepage, and the choices range from Technology to Volunteering. Within each of these sections, visitors can read brief articles about such topics as Alzheimer's disease, reading for pleasure, and the benefits of volunteering. Visitors can also join one of the many lively moderated discussion boards. Some of the topics covered by such forums include current events, literature, pets, and finances. [KMG]

Establishing Law and Order After Conflict [pdf]

Released in July 2005, this compelling 293-page report from the RAND Corporation examines the recent attempts of the US government to build (and rebuild) nations around the world. The report looks at such recent efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with like-minded efforts in Panama, El Salvador, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and East Timor. The report utilizes data on current and past levels of political violence, crime rates, and public opinion polls to perform its analysis, and recommends that the United States devote as much attention to planning post-conflict internal security as to planning the combat phase of nation-building operations. The report also notes that there are several crucial elements to establishing security, including creating a well-trained troop and police force in order to defeat and deter insurgents. [KMG]

National Mental Health Information Center [pdf]

The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) within the National Mental Health Information Center was established in 1992 and "leads Federal efforts to treat mental illnesses by promoting mental health and by preventing the development or worsening of mental illness when possible". To that end, the agency has created this website to provide information about its ongoing programs, along with offering information for the public who may be curious or concerned about these issues. Practitioners and the public will appreciate the well-organized Publications area which is organized thematically and includes topics such as preventions, disaster, and the elderly. The site also has a complete listing of related activities, such as the youth violence prevention initiative and the Center of Women, Violence and Trauma. [KMG]


In keeping with its interest in wildlife conservation, the World Wildlife Fund has created the WildFinder database, which allows users to find out where various species live around the world. The information in the database is based on the Fund's 825 terrestrial ecoregions and currently includes information for four large taxa, or groups of species: birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. The appeal of such a database is rather broad, and extends to groups such as teachers, conservationists, and the general public. Visitors can begin by searching by country, US ZIP code, or city. They can also use the various interactive tools (such as the pan or zoom features) to take a closer look at any given area. Users of the site's database can also search by species name and also view a map gallery that contains some pre-selected themes, such as the richness of mammal species or reptiles species as distributed across the world. [KMG]

MSN Virtual Earth

Geographers, urban planners, and those with a penchant for the spatial always enjoy knowing as much as they can about a given locale, and they especially enjoy knowing about spatial relationships in a given locale. For those aforementioned persons, MSN's Virtual Earth website will be one that is quite worthy of numerous visits. Drawing on detailed aerial photographs of the United States, visitors can look at photographs of their home, their business, or a local sports stadium. Visitors can also type in city names, and zoom in on various features at their leisure. A real treat is offered by the tabs feature, which allows visitors to look for local businesses, such as book stores and pharmacies in any given locale. A "scratch pad" also keeps track of recently visited destinations as well. All in all, this site can be both quite helpful and, at times, somewhat addictive. [KMG]

General Interest

The Metropolitan Opera [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Metropolitan Opera (or the "Met", as it is known to many) is perhaps the most well-known and beloved opera company in the United States, and possibly, the world. The website is a mirror onto the world of the Met's numerous opera productions, its history, and the overall portrait of this delightful melding of words, emotions, and song. Visitors will want to start by perusing the "Discover Opera" section of the site, where they can read plot synopses of Met productions and also look through a entertaining interactive exhibit that covers the Met's history from 1883 to 2004. Here they will learn when the production of Salome offended polite New York society, and continue on to learn about the tenure of Rudolf Bing. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the site is the Met Opera Database, which give users access to information on every single performance at the Met since 1883, complete with statistics, photos, and set designs. [KMG]

Route 66 University

Millions of people learned about Route 66 and how it wound from Chicago to L.A. courtesy of Nat Cole, others from its namesake 1960s television series, and now interested parties can learn online about that fabled stretch of road on this Route 66 University website. Neophytes may want to begin by perusing the section dedicated to maps of the route, allowing them to visualize how it winds through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and other states. The site's main page also contains sections that provide electronic postcards, an events calendar, and the "Campus Rag," which provides timely information about the history of this road. The essays and articles here are a true delight, as they range from reminiscences of Route 66 from novelist Michael Lund to a 1996 interview with Roy Rogers. Another section of the site that is worth taking a look at is called "I Remember," and features first-hand memories of life along Route 66. [KMG]

Patent Room

The US Patent and Trademark Office has been in existence since 1790, when it granted the first patent to one Samuel Hopkins of Philadelphia for "making pot and pearl ashes", which was a cleaning formula used in soapmaking. Over the past 215 years, millions of patents have been issued, and this creative site provides the original images from some of the original patent applications. Intended as a showplace for interesting examples of industrial design, the site brings together patents from the 1920s to the 1950s. The patents can be browsed by type as well, including architectural renderings, illustrations of proposed cars, toys, and numerous others. It is quite interesting to wander through this site and imagine what Jerome Watt might have been thinking in 1932 when he patented a building design that looks suspiciously like some type of irate porcine Pilgrim. Finally, visitors may also leave comments on each patent, if they are so inclined. [KMG]

Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project

The world of good cooking is one that many persons find relaxing, both in the act of creating great dishes and also enjoying them with family and friends. This online collection from the Michigan State University Libraries and the Michigan State University Museum pays homage to that tradition by presenting some of the most important and influential cookbooks from the late 18th to the early 20th century. Visitors can peruse the cookbooks in alphabetical order, or they may look at them chronologically or by theme, such as children's cookery or military cooking. There are a number of true classics here, including the work of Fannie Farmer in her most celebrated "The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book" and some lesser-known gems, such as the stoic "Manual for Army Cooks" from 1896. [KMG]

Independent Media Institute

The Independent Media Institute works to "empower people with independent journalism, information and media tools to change the world." To that end, the organization oversees four related projects, including and WireTap. Visitors may want to start by browsing through the AlterNet site, as it contains compelling Web-based journalism coverage of a wide variety of newsworthy events, organized through what is termed the "infomediary." The site notes that its role is to serve as a way to sort through the masses of information made available on the internet in a timely manner. Visitors to AlterNet can also peruse the homepage, which contains a number of interesting blogs and opinion pieces. WireTap is also worth a look, as it serves as a place for young people to voice their opinions on a host of topics, including online gambling and the future of higher education. [KMG]

The Newberry Library

Located on Chicago's Near North Side, the Newberry Library is a privately endowed research library that is open to the public, and concentrates on history and the humanities. Since its inception in 1887, the Newberry has continued to engage in outreach projects with the community of scholars and the general public through its fellowships, lecture series, and other such programs. Visitors to the site will enjoy reading about these different programs and they may also want to peruse the online catalog before visiting the Newberry to do research. Users can also view a list (and some photos) of new acquisitions, such as the Civil War diary of Union soldier Andrew McKay and a bound Swiss volume on calligraphy from 1551. [KMG]

Network Tools

Brim 1.0.1

For persons interested in trying out a new application suite, Brim 1.0.1 is definitely worth a look. With Brim, users can manage their personal items (such as bookmarks and contacts) online. The application is based on plug-ins, which users can elect to delete, add, or upgrade, as they so desire. The application is also available in a number of languages and users can also view the application's complete documentation at this site. The application is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

Opera 8.02

New Web browsers are released quite frequently, and certainly this new version of Opera will complement users' existing set of tools to search the Internet. As with previous versions, Opera 8.02 allows users to customize the look and content of the browser quickly and also features integrated searches and pop-up blocking. The "Fast Forward" and "Rewind" buttons are quite nice as they allow users the ability to move quickly through their previously browsed websites. This version of Opera is compatible with Windows 95 or newer. [KMG]

In The News

Bush Signs CAFTA into law

Central American Trade Deal Is Signed by Bush,1,6936826.story?coll=la-headlines-nation
CAFTA Signed Into Law
CAFTA passage sparks job fears
Cafta and union split mean hard times for workers
Central American Free Trade Agreement Gateway [pdf, RealPlayer]
Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on CAFTA Passage in House

This past Tuesday, President Bush signed into law the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), but only after a rather protracted period of difficult and contentious debate in Congress. After signing the bill, Bush remarked that the agreement would defend against forces that oppose democracy, seek to limit economic freedom and want to drive a wedge between the United States and the rest of the Americas." Essentially, CAFTA eliminates a number of tariffs and opens up the region to goods and services originating in the United States. A number of critics emerged during the process of approving CAFTA, including those in organized labor and other industries, many of whom claimed that the agreement would result in fewer jobs in the sugar and textile industries. As CAFTA only squeaked by in the House during the approval process, a number of commentators have suggested that this does not bode well for other free trade agreements with Thailand and Bahrain that have been under development as of late.

The first link leads to a Los Angeles Times piece that provides coverage of the recent passage of CAFTA into law. The second link leads to an online article from this Wednesdays San Francisco Chronicle about CAFTA, along with some informed commentary from Jon Haverman, a research fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California. The third link will lead visitors to a helpful news article from the Detroit News which discusses the potential effects that the passage of CAFTA may have on various labor groups. The fourth link leads to a Financial Times article (requiring a free trial subscription) that looks at the broader transformation of organized labor, with specific reference to CAFTA. The fifth link leads to a very helpful page maintained by the International Trade Administration within the US Department of Commerce where users can read official factsheets and press releases about CAFTA. The sixth and final link leads to a statement issued by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on the passage of CAFTA by the House of Representatives. [KMG]

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From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005.

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Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2005. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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

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