The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 2

January 13, 2006

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

Pluralism Project [pdf]

Like many academic projects, the Pluralism Project began as a small gathering of academicians interested in exploring a rapidly changing phenomenon of social life, in this case, the world of religion. Since its inception in 1991, the Pluralism Project (located at Harvard University) has engaged in a broad research agenda that includes providing educational resources to college educators and disseminating reports on the nature of religion in American cities. On their site, visitors can learn about their activities, and perhaps most interestingly, examine some of the online resources they have created. These resources include calendars of religious events, online slide shows (such as the one that profiles a Hare Krishna community in West Virginia) and bibliographies of key works dealing with various faiths, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive their monthly email newsletter. [KMG]

NASA: Satellite Tracking [Real Player, pdf]

While NASA has offered a number of fine sites about their research for the general public over the years, this particular site may be one of their best. With a minimum of fuss, visitors can use several of the online tracking applications offered here to locate hundreds of satellites and other such large objects in space. A good way to start a visit to this site is by taking a look at the J-Track 2.5 section, as it offers a quick way to find out the current location of the Space Station and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Additionally, visitors can also locate weather satellites using this application. The Live 3D Java Tracking Display here allows visitors to monitor close to 700 satellites that are in motion around the earth. Finally, visitors can also use a handy application offered here that allows them to determine which satellites might be seen from their location in the night sky. [KMG]

U.S. Congress Votes Database

While many people may eventually become aware of how their elected officials in the U.S. Congress voted on a particular bill or resolution, this database created by the Washington Post will allow them to find out rather quickly. Utilizing a variety of authoritative data sources (such as the web site of the Senate and the Library of Congresss THOMAS site), the database contains the results of every vote cast in the Congress since 1991. Visitors can look at vote results in a variety of different ways, such as particular Congress or a particular individual. Recently, they also added a selection of Votes by Type, such as those cast on impeachments, treaties, and vice-presidential tiebreakers. Additionally, the site contains a RSS feed of recent votes by each member of Congress. [KMG]

Katrina Index: Tracking Variables of Post-Katrina Reconstruction [pdf]

The Brookings Institution has released a number of reports on the efforts to rebuild the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina over the past few months, and a number of them have garnered significant attention by policymakers and other interested parties. This 47-page report authored by Bruce Katz, Matt Fellowes, and Mia Mabanta, gives a detailed data-oriented summary of the recent progress that has occurred. Some of their findings are not particularly encouraging, including the revelation that unemployment rates continue to rise throughout the affected region and that buying food is still rather difficult to do throughout the metropolitan area. The report does offer some positive news, such as the fact that the number of open bus routes in Orleans Parish has increased. Overall, this is a very well-researched paper that should prove valuable to anyone with an interest in the future reconstruction and sustainability of this area. [KMG]

Portraits by Carl Van Vechten

Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1880, Carl Van Vechten had a career in a host of artistic endeavors throughout his life, including his written works and his prodigious work in photography. After graduating from the University of Chicago, he became a staff writer with the Chicago American and he soon found himself asked to also provide photographs to accompany his copy. During this period, he also published his first book of essays and then later began photographing a number of landscapes and acquaintances. This particular collection from the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress brings together close to 1400 of his photographs for consideration by the web-browsing public, and it is definitely worth several visits. The casual visitor may want to begin looking through the photographs by browsing the occupational index listings, which include artists such as Georgia OKeefe, Truman Capote, Ossie Davis, and Ethel Waters. Finally, visitors may also want to look over a timeline and biographical sketch of Van Vechten, which also appear on the site. [KMG]

General Interest

Poetry Archive [Real Player]

Poetry is often seen by some as inaccessible, which is quite a shame, considering the beauty that can be contained within a single stanza, or in some cases, the mere elocution of one word. Hearing poetry read is a wondrous joy, and The Poetry Archive is a great way to enter this world. Established in 1999, The Poetry Archive contains readings by hundreds of poets, including a number of real historical gems from those who have passed away. The site also includes a Lucky Dip feature, which takes visitors to the work of a poet selected at random from their generous collection. The homepage contains links to a number of educational resources, including those for teachers seeking to utilize the contents of the site in their classroom and for those looking for a brief introduction to reading poetry. One recording that should not be missed is by the late John Betjeman, whose poem A Nip in the Air contains the words: Now if the harvest is over/And the world cold/Give me the bonus of laughter/As I lose hold. [KMG]

Fashion in Colors [Macromedia Flash Player]

Fashion in Colors creates a new way to explore the history of costume - by color. Historic garments are displayed along with fashions designed by over a dozen twentieth century designers, including Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Junya Watanabe. For example, the blue grouping includes an English brocaded taffeta dress from the mid-18th century; a late 19th century day dress dyed mauve, the first synthetic aniline dye color; a Balenciaga cocktail dress from 1959; and a pleated polyester organdy dress designed by Watanabe/Comme des Garcons in 2000. Yellow, red, black, multi-color and white all provide similar groupings. Visitors may also browse by designer, or take a virtual tour of the galleries by color. [DS]

Public Information Films [Real Player]

At the time of their creation, public information films created by the British government after World War II may have been seen as overly didactic and pedestrian in their approach to filmmaking. Fifty years on, they are most correctly seen as a fascinating way to gain some insight into this particular moment in British history. The National Archives has created this website which contains several dozen of these public information films that deal with such diverse subjects as public health, a trip on a London bus, and the Berlin airlift. Before delving into the films, visitors may wish to peruse a timeline of pertinent events during the years 1945 to 1951 and also read about the austere conditions around much of the United Kingdom during the period. [KMG]

Museum of Yo-Yo History

Perhaps no toy is as maligned as the yo-yo, despite its long and colorful history. The roots of the yo-yo can be traced back to antiquity, and there is even a Grecian urn in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that depicts that most well-known of yo-yo maneuvers: walking the dog. Visitors with a penchant for the yo-yo will appreciate the wide range of materials that can be found on the site, particularly the rather compelling online exhibit of highly valuable yo-yos, such as the 1984 Olympics No Jive model. For those who want to continue their exploration of the yo-yo, there is the Profiles & History area, which contains player and company profiles, along with historical photographs of yo-yos in action. [KMG]

Rice Bowl Journals

Over the past few years, a number of online journal communities have been created on the web to facilitate group dialogue around a variety of issues. As one might surmise from its title, the Rice Bowl Journals website is aimed at primarily serving the Asian online journal community. The diarists featured on the site can be examined by ethnicity and location, and visitors may also wish to browse the journals by category. Perhaps of equal interest are the online discussion forums, which allow visitors to offer commentary on current events, campus life, and the art of online journaling. The site is rounded out by a FAQ area and a place for visitors to leave feedback. [KMG]

Going Down The Crooked Road [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Crooked Road runs through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and has a storied place in the history of country music and Appalachian culture. This past summer, Ralph Berrier Jr. and Kyle Green of The Roanoke Times set out to document the music and musicians of the area, stopping in such small towns as Floyd, Ferrum, Galax, and Clintwood. Along the way, they documented their experiences through extensive reportage and photography, all of which is included on this nice multimedia feature. Visitors can view videos taken along their journey, learn about how a bluegrass tune is constructed, and listen to audio vignettes of each stop they made. The site also includes a fine recipe for a local favorite, Great Smoky Mountains grilled veggies, and number of podcasts for portable listening enjoyment. [KMG]

Network Tools

Newsplorer 1.0

There is a tremendous amount of news floating around the web, but some users may find it difficult to locate exactly what they may be looking for. This handy news reader application may be of great use to some users who find themselves vexed by this situation. Newsplorer 1.0 groups news sources by category, provides a popup windows displaying the latest news headlines, and also contains an offline browsing feature. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

SETI@home 5.2.1

What if a screensaver could be more than just a screensaver? While this may seem like an odd question to pose, a number of screensavers these days function as data analyzers for large-scale scientific endeavors. One of the best known of these screensavers is the SETI@home (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. When users install this screensaver, their computer will assist in the process of analyzing data about radio or lights signals emanating from close to 30,000 sun like stars that might possess intelligent life. This version of the screensaver is compatible with all computers running Windows 95 or newer and Mac OS X 10.3 or newer. [KMG]

In The News

College students return to New Orleans for new start

Colleges alive with the sound of students

Displaced Students Return to Louisiana for 2nd Try

Dillard U. Students Start School in Style

UNO contacting students for enrolment

No words to describe New Orleans

NPR: Spring and Students Thoughts Turn to Tuition [Real Player]

The clarion call of higher education is bringing students back to the Crescent City, despite the desperation felt by many of the citys longtime residents. This week, thousands of displaced students returned to a number of local institutions, including Dillard University, Xavier University, and the University of New Orleans. Many college students in New Orleans and environs sought academic as well as literal refuge at a host of welcoming institutions across the country for the fall term, and some vowed never to return. Conditions have varied greatly at area institutions, with some students returning to find makeshift classrooms and the ranks of faculty members decimated by cutbacks. Over 800 students at Dillard University found themselves the guests of the New Orleans Hilton Riverside, and became the recipients of fine food service and free cable television. The financial situation for many area institutions of higher education remains precarious, and a number of them are trying to entice students who enrolled elsewhere for the fall term to return. At the University of New Orleans, a number of professors and administrators are emailing students with the hope that they will reach 12,000 enrolled students for the spring semester. Regardless of how things turn out, a number of institutions have already announced that they will need to consolidate existing academic programs and engage in vigorous fundraising initiatives. [KMG]

The first link leads to a story that appeared in this Tuesdays New Orleans Times-Picayune that discusses the experiences of students returning to colleges and universities in New Orleans. The second link will take visitors to a nice article from the Washington Post that talks about the complex feelings and emotions that many of these students are working through as they return. The third link leads to a news story from the Houston Chronicle that profiles the new living (and learning) quarters of a number of Dillard University students. The fourth link leads to a news piece that talks about the attempts by various members of the University of New Orleans community to get students to return to the main campus. The fifth link leads to a first-hand narrative offered by Dawn Birk, a SUNY-New Paltz psychology student, who recently spent time working with the Red Cross on disaster relief efforts in New Orleans. The sixth and final link will take users to a splendid audio feature from NPR that talks about how and where college students might look to find the necessary funds to continue their studies. [KMG]

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