The Scout Report -- Volume 11, Number 33

August 19, 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

MindZone [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

As incidences of mental health problems among teenagers increase, it is important to make the general public aware of what resources are available to help these individuals (and those who care about them) with such issues. The MindZone site is sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands with support from the Annenberg Public Policy of the University of Pennsylvania. The site itself is divided into three separate sections: Cope, Care, and Deal. Within each section, users can take quizzes about mental health and learn about how to explore the feelings associated with depressions, suicide, and a number of other conditions. In the MindZone Machine area, users can learn about different anxiety orders and get answers to frequently asked questions. Finally, the site is rounded out by an Ask the Expert area, where visitors can find thoughtful responses to such queries as: "Do people with schizophrenia have multiple personalities?". [KMG]

Vertical Farm [pdf]

With the continued growth of the human population of the Earth, there is increasing concern with the planet's ability to provide sustenance for all of its inhabitants. This compelling website by Dickson Despommier and his colleagues at Columbia University provides a worthy alternative to other forms of agriculture: the vertical farm. As Dr. Despommier notes on the site, "..they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming." The site offers a great deal of information about these vertical farms, a detailed essay on the importance of such farms, a number of potential designs, and a discussion forum. Finally, there are a number of plans that indicate how this type of farm might be effectively created and sustained. [KMG]

Teachers Without Borders [pdf]

A number of concerned educational organizations have developed during the past few years, many of them with a special focus on early education in the developing world. As the Teachers Without Borders website states, "For us, education is a collaborative effort lasting a lifetime; our learning model is designed to connect global 'best practices' to those-at the local level--who can build their capacity and, in so doing, change their communities." On the site visitors can learn about their different teaching centers in such places as India, Jordan, Pakistan, South Africa, and a number of other countries. As might be expected, the site also provides a number of lesson plan resources culled from a host of different places, such as the BBC and a number of materials created by the Teachers Without Borders organization. [KMG]

Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre [pdf]

Organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago until early October, 2005. This Web feature cannot match the hundreds of Lautrec works on display at the Institute, but virtual visitors get a nice introduction to the main themes of the exhibition: Montmartre, Dance Halls, the Chat Noir and Cabarets, Caf-Concerts and Celebrity Culture, Maisons Closes, and the Circus, as well as digital images of roughly 30 items from the show. According to organizers, "The aim of the exhibition is to place Toulouse-Lautrec in a wider cultural context and to include for comparison and contrast a selection of works by his contemporaries...", hence the inclusion of works by other artists, such as Vincent van Gogh's Agostina Segatori at the Caf du Tambourin and period photographs of Lautrec and the dancer La Goulue. In addition, necessary information for those planning to see Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre in person is available at the site; how to purchase tickets, museum hours, etc. [DS]

C-SPAN: American Political Archive [RealPlayer]

Many people enjoy the wide array of programs offered by C-SPAN, and those with a penchant for American politics and related topics will enjoy this website immensely. The site contains a wide variety of unique audio programs culled from materials at the National Archives, presidential libraries, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress and other sources. One place to start is by listening to any one of the oral histories recorded by different members of Congress who served in World War II or Vietnam, such as former Senator Max Cleland or Representative Sam Johnson. Of course, visitors will want to peruse the archived programs, which include those on Indira Gandhi, Medal of Honor recipients, and stories from the Iraq War. Visitors will definitely want to take a look at a 1967 interview with former President Dwight Eisenhower in which he talks about his time at Columbia University and his memories of a wide range of prominent figures in American history, such as George Meany. [KMG]

Pew Partnership for Civic Change [pdf]

Established in 1992, the Pew Partnership for Civic Change is a research organization interested in providing consulting and program support to communities, governments, foundations and nonprofit agencies. Its work continues to be driven by three primary questions, including "What are the strategies that every community needs to be successful?" As might be expected, the organization's homepage features a number of its recent publications, such as the timely work Inventing Civic Solutions, which serves as a "how-to" guide on launching and sustaining successful community programs. The site also contains a link to the site, "Solutions for America," which features helpful resources for working professionals about creating viable economies, retaining (and creating) living-wage jobs, and thriving neighborhoods. The site is rounded out by a link to the blog "Smart Communities", which is regularly updated by the president of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, Suzanne Morse. [KMG]

General Interest

Canadian Pamphlets and Broadsides

Printed handbills and broadsides have been part of public culture and life for hundreds of years, and a number of institutions have seen fit to digitize their collections during the past few years. One such collection is the Canadian Pamphlets and Broadsides Collection at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. Currently, this online collection contains over 20,000 page images, and the documents offered here include the 1763 prospectus for the Quebec Gazette. Visitors will definitely be impressed with the wide variety of ephemeral documents here, as they range from items from different political campaigns to company reports. The search engine offered by the site is quite nice, and allows users to complete searches based on author, the language of document, and a number of other fields. Finally, there is a short section of technical information that provides details on how the database was created. [KMG]

Ohio State University WebGarden [pdf, QuickTime, Windows Media Player]

The large public state universities scattered around the United States continue to provide tremendously valuable outreach services through their numerous organizational units, and more and more of them offer their services via a panoply of websites. One such omnibus-style site is The Ohio State University's WebGarden. This site serves as a collection of fine online resources dedicated to providing information about the world of gardening, and about plants, more generally. The "PlantFacts" area is one worth taking a look at, as it contains several important digital collections, including an image database of high-quality plant images and a FAQ section which provides answers to over 800 gardening queries. Equally compelling is the Pocket Gardener, which is a selection of webpages that have been developed especially for both PocketPC and Palm PDA users. These web pages contain material on grasses, perennials, and vines, and five other important topics. [KMG]

UCLA LeRoy Neiman Center for the Study of American Society and Culture [pdf, QuickTime, Shockwave]

LeRoy Neiman's well-known paintings of such musical icons as Frank Sinatra and a host of other individuals are immediately identifiable. In 1998, Neiman and his wife, Janet, donated funds to created the UCLA LeRoy Neiman Center, which conducts "interdisciplinary research on emerging social and cultural trends in contemporary American society". This is a rather broad universe of topics, and the Center's website does it justice by presenting a nice set of resources about their work and some fine online features. Visitors to the site can peruse some of these features which include interactive maps by the noted photographer Camilo Vergara of the different "Skid Row" areas in Los Angeles and the New York subway system, from the inside out. Of course, there is also ample material on the Center's ongoing research projects, such as those on comparing the urban conditions in New York and Los Angeles. [KMG]


With its distinctive black-and-yellow cover, theater-goers from the Old Vic to San Diego's Old Globe know Playbill well. For those who find themselves away from the theater for a time, this website will prove to be a most efficacious way to catch up with all the latest theater news. Visitors to the site can peruse the latest theater news offered on the homepage, and peruse features such as profiles of the Great White Way's most notable chanteuses. Of course, there is also the Brief Encounter feature, which offers interviews with some of theater's talents, including Dan Fogler and director Mark Lamos. For those seeking employment in the theatrical arts and related positions, there is also a job listings area. Additionally, the site contains Broadway grosses and material on those plays and musicals scheduled to make the leap to the silver screen in the near (and not-so-near) future. [KMG]

RTE Radio 1 [RealPlayer]

In keeping with the broad landscape of honorable and respected public radio broadcasting, RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann) serves Ireland as its public broadcast network. Over the past few years, the organization has seen fit to develop a strong Web presence, and the Web-browsing public may now avail themselves of the programming via this site. Visitors can peruse a number of thematic sections dedicated to programming that includes shows that investigate religion, contemporary music, and special programs. Some of these specials include tributes to Dean Martin and songs about labor. One particular show that is worth listening to is "The State We Are In", which investigates issues of relevance to Ireland. The current set of programs looks at how Irish cities are planned and includes sessions with different persons in government and private industry. [KMG]

Coit Tower

Located on top of Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower was the result of a significant donation by Lillie Coit in the 1920s and the ingenuity of the New Deal program initiated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When Lillie Coit passed away in 1929, she left substantial donations to a number of institutions, including the city and county of San Francisco. Shortly after this gift, plans were made to create a memorial to Coit on Telegraph Hill in the form of a single elegant tower. Of course, when the structure was finished, it was largely unadorned on the inside. This situation was soon changed, as a number of artists employed under the auspices of the Public Works Art Project began to work on a number of lovely frescoes depicting scenes from California history. On this site, visitors can learn about the history of Coit Tower, and also view the remarkable works of art that are located within the structure. [KMG]

Network Tools

Spamfighter 3.8.7

Every one seems to agree that dealing with spam emails is a colossal waste of time, and can be particularly deleterious in the workplace. One of the more recent tools designed to fight spam is Spamfigher 3.8.7 which draws on reports from people who self-report spam mail to a database that effectively stops the offending message from reaching others. Currently, the program is available in a number of languages, including English, German, Norwegian, Dutch, and Italian. This version of Spamfighter is compatible with Windows 98 or newer. [KMG]

WiFi Hotspot Finder Widget 2.0

People seeking a wireless hotspot around the world will delight upon hearing about this rather nice tool. Using the site's search engine, visitors can locate free or paid hotspots near specific addresses, or within different states or cities around the world. Additionally, mobile Tiger users with a dashboard widget can find public wifi networks within radio range. This version of the Finder Widget is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4, and the hotspot directory offered here is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Opportunity for literary immortality arises online

Authors auction chance to name characters on eBay
Stephen King will kill you, if you can afford it
AuctionCause eBay
First Amendment Project [pdf]
Michael Chabon
Dave Eggerss short short stories,14414,1178980,00.html

What if Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights had been named Jimmy? Or can one imagine J.D. Salingers Fanny as, say, Sarah? Authors frequently spend long hours determining the appropriate names for their characters and readers often develop a close bond with these personas as they begin to develop throughout a novel or short story. In a very interesting twist, a number of contemporary authors are selling the right to have a character named by the highest bidder all for a very good cause. The characters will be featured in a forthcoming literary work, and the monies raised by this online auction will go directly to the First Amendment Project, a nonprofit group that promotes freedom of information and expression. Some of the authors participating in this project include Stephen King, Dave Eggers, Amy Tan, Michael Chabon and Nora Roberts. Of course, the authors have given some very specific requirements as to what may befall the character in each work. Ayelet Waldman notes that the name of the character in question will appear at least once in the next Mommy Track mystery, while Michael Chabon notes that the name will appear at least once in his next novel, but that he also reserves the right not to use the name if it is offensive, mischievous, ill-intentioned or inappropriate.

The first link will take users to a news story on this rather compelling auction as offered by the Houston Chronicle in this past Tuesdays online edition. The second link leads to quite an entertaining piece on the auction by C.A. Bridges, writing in the Dayton Beach News-Journal. Bridges even remarks that I want to be a Chuck Palahniuk character with an entirely new pathology, maybe something involving floss. The third link leads to the homepage of the auction, where visitors will want to check out each authors specific requirements for the character to-be-named. The fourth link leads to the homepage of the First Amendment Project. The fifth link will take interested parties to the rather engaging homepage of the noted author Michael Chabon. Here they can read some of Chabons latest work, and they would do well to read his delightful essay The Mysteries of Berkeley. The sixth and final link will take visitors to the short short stories by Dae Eggers composed for the Guardian Weekend magazine. [KMG]

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