The Scout Report -- Volume 11, Number 45

November 11, 2005

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

NSDL Scout Reports

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

NSDL Scout Reports

Research and Education

The Chymistry of Isaac Newton

To merely say that Isaac Newton was a good scientist and brilliant thinker would be a bit like saying that Rachmaninovs manipulation of the pianoforte was merely pleasing. Newtons legacy in the annals of science is the mark of a genius, and there are literally hundreds of his manuscripts that have not yet fully been interpreted, described, or annotated. With support from the National Science Foundation, Indiana Universitys Digital Library program has produced this fine website which will eventually contain a complete scholarly online edition of Newtons alchemical manuscripts, along with new research on Newtons chymistry. This chymistry was the term used in 17th century England to describe the science of alchemy. So far, approximately 250 pages of these laboratory notebooks are available online, with another 1500 scheduled for digitization in the future. The site contains a number of reference tools, such as a symbol guide, and an introductory essay. [KMG]

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of South Carolina

As with many interesting products of material culture, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps found themselves a new life as generations of historians, architects, and planners have rediscovered them over the years. The maps were originally created for insurance underwriters in the middle of the nineteenth century, and by World War II, the company had surveyed over 13,000 towns in the United States. This particular collection comes from the Digital Collections division of the University of South Carolina Libraries and includes some 580 maps of various cities in the state. Using the search engine, visitors can look for maps by city, year of publication, or county. One particular interesting wrinkle of the collection is that there are 232 previously unpublished maps included in this digital collection. [KMG]

Roll Back Malaria Partnership [pdf]

With all the attention paid to a wide range of diseases that affect various populations around the world, some may still be surprised to learn that relatively little money is spent researching malaria. Bill Gates recently gave $258 million to help research this disease, and in doing so, his efforts will complement the fine work being done through the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), which is an initiative of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the World Bank. The site is divided into four primary areas, including a publications section and information about events sponsored by the initiative. Visitors unfamiliar with the disease may want to peruse the FAQ section, as it answers some basic queries, such as How is it transmitted? and How can Malaria be controlled?. One key document that has recently been released to the site is the Roll Back Malaria Global Strategic Plan, which is available in English and French. Finally, the site also has an audio and video archive which includes a number of public service announcements and video clips that detail some of the RBMs primary activities. [KMG]

Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies [pdf]

Many states have official historical journals that publish important works that explore the nooks and crannies of their respective locales. One such journal is Pennsylvania History, which serves as the official journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Association (PHA). The journal does not limit itself to exploring the Commonwealths history; it also features articles that focus on the broader region. Recently, the Pennsylvania State University Libraries and Press cooperated with the PHA to bring back issues of the journal online. Here visitors can browse through the journals from the year 1934 (the first year of publication) all the way to the year 2000. Some of the selections offered here include articles on the Pennsylvania anthracite industry and social life in Philadelphia during the American Revolution. It should be noted that there are some years that are not available on the archive, including between 1964 and 1970. The site is still quite interesting, and will be of use to scholars with an interest in the region or those seeking eminently readable material on the Keystone State and environs. [KMG]

Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma [pdf]

With a substantial donation from William Dart of Mason, Michigan, the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma started its work at Michigan State University, and has grown significantly over the past decade and a half. Currently located at the University of Washington, the Center is a global network of journalists, journalism educators and health professionals dedicated to improving media coverage of trauma, conflict and tragedy. On their site, visitors can learn about fellowship opportunities, read fact sheets about trauma research, and peruse their in-house blog. Journalists will appreciate the Quick Tips section on the homepage, as it covers a broad range of subjects, such as how to cover disasters, murder, suicide, and domestic violence in a sensitive manner. The site also has a rather impressive series of case studies on reporting on such events as the Columbine massacre and the genocide in Rwanda. [KMG]

National Low Income Housing Coalition [pdf]

Amid the successes of new residential housing developments throughout the United States, there are many policy analysts and community activists who remain concern about the general lack of affordable housing in some parts of the country. One such group is the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which is primarily focused on the creation and maintenance of housing for persons in the lowest income brackets. The site itself is quite rich in materials, including the Advocates Guide which contains short chapters describing more than 60 housing-related programs, proposals, and issues. Another very useful set of documents are the Out of Reach annual reports, which offer statistical data and summaries of the affordability (or lack of affordability) of housing options in different regions of the country. [KMG]

General Interest

Red Color-News Soldier

The world is a richer place for the efforts of those who have sought to document the various social and cultural transformations that have taken place around the globe during the twentieth century. One must only think of A.J. Lieblings dispatches from Europe during the World War II or Robert Capas images of the Spanish Civil War to be reminded of the importance of such materials. This website pays homage to the work of another such dedicated individual, Li Zhengsheng, who took it upon himself to document the Cultural Revolution in China through photographs. This fine online exhibit includes some of the thousands of images Zhengsheng took from 1964 to 1976. The contents are divided into five chronological sections, such as Revolution is Not a Dinner Party. Within each section, visitors can view a number of images, including photographs of peasant women at work on an irrigation project and a gathering of Communist party officials who met to mourn the death of Chairman Mao. [KMG]

Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

[Real Player]

Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia, a new addition to Library of Congress' American Memory, features digital versions of sound recordings and photographs collected during the American Folklife Center's Coal River Folklife Project, 1992 1999. This project documented traditional uses of the mountains and their resources in Southern West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley. Visitors to the site will find extensive information on area residents ways of utilizing local plants and animals, such as harvesting ginseng, gathering butternuts and walnuts, and hunting squirrels. In addition, a series of illustrated essays provide detailed portraits of mountain culture and activities, including ramp (wild leeks) suppers, and the importance of ginseng. There is also a clickable diagram of the "Seasonal Round of Activities on Coal River"; selecting any activity or time period shown - e.g. "drying", or "October" - executes a search of the collection on that topic. [DS]

Frontline: The Torture Question [Real Player, pdf, Windows Media Player]

Experts and pundits continue to debate the myriad of strategies deployed by the United States in the effort to combat terrorism around the world and internally. The Frontline program on PBS has created this website to complement a special edition of their show. This show focused on the question of whether torture is a viable way to obtain effective results in combating terrorism. Visitors can dive right in by watching the program in its entirety, or they may also wish to visit one of the sections providing supplementary information. One particularly compelling area is the section that provides information on how the current administration of President George W. Bush has created a protocol for conducting such investigations. Another very useful section is titled Behind the Wire and offers visitors an inside look into the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Perhaps the most moving and intense portion of the site is the discussion section, where visitors can leave feedback and read the impassioned opinions of others who have seen the program. [KMG]

Black Europeans

The British Library has been producing quality online features for close to a decade now, and this latest offering is worth a close look. This particular feature offers some insights and commentary on five prominent black Europeans. It may even come as a surprise to some visitors that several of the individuals profiled were black, such as Alexandre Dumas, the celebrated author of The Three Musketeers. These profiles are supplemented with essays by Dr. Mike Phillips, a writer, scholar, and journalist. The essays are accompanied by a series of images, including engravings, portraits, and illustrations. Visitors may also want to view and print out extended versions of Phillips essays, which are available here in the pdf format. [KMG]

The National Organization on Disability [pdf]

Founded in 1982, the mission of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) is to expand the participation and contribution of Americas 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. From their homepage, visitors can delve into a number of their resources, such as summaries of the organizations own advocacy work that deals with such themes as community involvement, economic participation, and creating an environment that is supportive for those with a broad range of disabilities. The site also contains important information for community leaders, such as summaries of projects developed by the NOD and its partners on topics such as making religious facilities more accessible. The site is rounded out by a section designed for the media that the general user will appreciate as well, as it contains a number of basic reports and surveys on disabled persons and general press releases. [KMG]

Boys & Girls Clubs of America [pdf]

The social reform and welfare movement in the United States may be most commonly associated with such persons as Jane Addams, but years before her pioneering work on Chicagos West Side, the Boys & Girls Club of America organization was started in Hartford, Connecticut. Over the past century and a half, the organization has provided a host of services to young people in order to help them realize their full potential. Their website contains information about Club locations around the country, as well as the various programs offered by the Club, including those that teach about career options and leadership. Visitors can also read the Clubs in-house publication, Connections, which contains stories about the activities that take place across the organization and at specific locations. Finally, visitors will also want to read up on the National Youth of the Year program, which is administered by the organization and awarded annually to a young person by the President of the United States. [KMG]

Network Tools

Mediabee 1.27

With soccer games, play dates, and a cornucopia of other such events, keeping track of the modern familys calendar can be an almost Sisyphean task. Fortunately, there is the application Mediabee, which can help users manage these complex matters through a series of interactive calendars, to do lists, and the ability to add photos and other images to create a more delightful and pleasant experience. The interface for the application is quite easy to use and visually appealing, and visitors will appreciate the helpful suggestions contained on the website dedicated to the application. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 2000 or XP. [KMG]

Slim Browser 4.06

While there are many tabbed browsers floating around the Internet for general consumption, Slim Browser is definitely one of the better ones out there. They have recently released a new version of this browser, and it has a number of new features that are worth noting. For starters, users now have the ability to display local weather conditions in their status bar and they can also save memorized zoom levels for web pages. First-time users will benefit from such existing features as a built-in web form spell checker and a universal URL filter. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Amtraks Woes Continue

Amtrak Fires David Gunn as Railroads Chief Executive

Amtraks Board Derails Its President

GAO: Amtrak Management: Systemic Problems Require Actions to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness and Accountability [pdf]


Amtrak Unlimited

Amtraks Beginnings

This past Wednesday, Amtraks board of directors fired President David Gunn, citing his inability to effectively restructure the company into a group of separate companies serving discrete regions of the US. This development struck some as merely adding to Amtraks mounting problems, many of which have seemed to exist since the companys inception. Amtrak was chartered by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970. Representative John Mica remarked that Gunn was fired because he took exception to the proposal offered by Amtraks oversight board that authorized splitting off the Northeast Corridor. Gunn had certainly made some improvements during his three year tenure, such as working to normalize relations with the big freight railroads (such as Norfolk Southern), that own the tracks that Amtrak runs its passenger trains on. Others commenting on the recent news were less sanguine, such as Senator Charles Schumer, who remarked that Dunns ouster was a crushing blow to Amtraks hopes for success and reform. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a news article from released this Wednesday which deals with the dismissal of Gunn from his post. The second will link to a similarly minded article from The third link leads to the full-text document produced by the Government Accounting Office, which addresses the systemic problems faced by Amtrak. The fourth link will take users to the homepage of Amtrak, where they can learn about the corporation and the places it serves around the country. The fifth link is a fun unofficial site about Amtrak that includes a number of photos of the interiors of various Amtrak trains, along with some detailed information about what to expect when riding the rails. The sixth and final link leads to a fine article by John Kelly about the early history of Amtrak. [KMG]

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