The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 32

August 11, 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

With a longtime presence on the web, Professor Jim Swan of the University of New Mexico has created a fine set of online anatomy and physiology resources that he uses in his courses on a regular basis. Students of the human body will also want to avail themselves of these materials, which include sets of pathology images and slides that cover such conditions as coronary artery thrombosis, atherosclerosis, and so on. One rather handy section includes weblab modules that introduce acolytes to the world of the heart, the lungs, and the digestive system through slides and interactive photos. The site is rounded out by the "Virtual Microscope" area, which includes detailed slides and explanations of cartilage, bone, blood, and muscular tissue. [KMG]


Under the motto, "Show me how, now!" Algebasics is a fine online mathematics instructional resource that takes young and old alike through the basics of algebra. The breadth of the material is divided into sixteen sections, which begin with, well, "the basics", and proceed all the way to a section on applying algebra to real-world situations. Each section asks users to solve a number of problems so that they will gain mastery of each concept. The interface deployed here is quite user-friendly, as each problem is narrated so that users will better understand the process needed to complete each problem successfully. Overall, it's a well-designed introduction to this area of the mathematical universe, and one that is very easy to use. [KMG]

Physics Flash Animations [Macromedia Flash Player]

How does one exactly illustrate the principle of chaos? Well, fortunately for budding physicists and other interested parties, a very nice animation demonstrating chaos (and other such processes and phenomena) are made available at this website. Created by David M. Harrison of the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, the site contains Flash animations that illustrate principles in such categories as optics, sound waves, vectors, and relativity. Visitors are welcome to click on each category, or to scroll down to the specific processes such as the Lorenz Attractor or such principles from classical mechanics as displacement and distance. It is worth noting that the animations are also available in Catalan and Spanish. [KMG]

National Agricultural Library [pdf]

There are regular online agricultural libraries, and then there is the National Agricultural Library (NAL), with more working papers, fact sheets, and farm updates than ears of corn in a corncrib. This digital library, produced by the United States Department of Agriculture will be quite a boon to agriculture scholars, extension agents, and farmers alike. Designed to assist those who are unable to make a personal visit, the Library's website allows users to browse documents by subject (such as marketing and trade or livestock) and also ask actual librarians questions, via the site. Visitors will definitely want to look at the NAL Special Collections area, which features a number of rare agricultural books and guides, and the very nice pomological watercolor collection, which features images of apples, grapes, and pears. [KMG]

Shaping Livable Cities [pdf]

Thinking about policy solutions for urban regions is a great deal easier than actually putting them into action, and that is why this latest report from The International Development Research Centre in Canada is most welcome. This recently released 36-page report starts off with this important sentence: "They [cities] are engines of economic growth and cultural prosperity, but they are also centres of pollution and poverty." Divided into three substantive chapters, the report provides specific case studies of various urban innovations, such as Beijing's urban agriculture initiatives and a program designed to integrate agriculture into municipal planning in Kampala, Uganda. Other studies draw on experiences in Vancouver, Hyderabad, and Managua. Overall, the report is well written and may be of great interest to persons in the fields of international development as well as scholars interested in evaluating such programs. [KMG]

Center for Public Integrity [pdf]

Since the rise of investigative journalism in the 20th century, teams of journalists have brought the general public some of the most important stories surrounding the government and its activities. Not surprisingly, a number of organizations and centers have sprung up in order to support such efforts on a full-time and sustained basis in the past few decades. One of the best is The Center for Public Integrity, which is "committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world." There is some engaging and helpful material here, especially when one considers just their "Featured Projects" by themselves. Here visitors can look at data on state-by-state investigations into legislators' private financial interests and also look at one of their most recent reports titled "Power Trips", which looks at which lawmakers take free trips from private interests and lobbyists. Additionally, users can enter their "News Room" section to learn about their latest work. [KMG]

Speaking of Faith [Real Player, Windows Media Player]

Started in 2001, the Speaking of Faith radio program (produced by American Public Media) is hosted by Krista Tippett. The program got off to an auspicious start, as some of its earliest programs were immediate critical successes, both with reviewers and members of the general public. The program distinguishes itself by drawing on a first-person approach that allows people from different faiths to speak to their own personal beliefs, rather than on making grand pronouncements such as "The Bible says..." or "Muslims insist..." and so on. Visitors will be delighted to learn that they can listen to the most recent show (or download a podcast), and look over the archive of previous shows, which date back to 2001. Users may also want to read "Kristas Journal", which is a weekly online column that provides additional perspective and commentary on each broadcast. Also, visitors can elect to receive a weekly e-mail newsletter. [KMG]

Getting Results [pdf, ppt]

Educators have argued politely (and not so politely) about the most effective pedagogical methods for decades, and at times, they have even been able to agree on certain approaches. One recently created resource designed specifically for community college educators is the Getting Results website. Created as part of partnership between the National Science Foundation and WGBH, this self-contained professional development course is designed to "challenge previous thinking about teaching and learning and give you the basic tools for effective classroom practices." Users of this fine resource can work independently, or also elect to team up with groups of colleagues. Enhanced with online videos and worksheets, the course contains six modules, including "Moving Beyond the Classroom" and "Teaching with Technology". With an easy-to-use interface and non-intrusive graphics, this site is a most welcome addition to currently available online resources for community college educators. [KMG]

General Interest

Oil Safari,0,7894741.htmlstory?coll=chi-homepagepromo440-fea

More and more the world is coming to face a number of inconvenient truths, and one rather vexing problem continues to be the supply of oil. A number of scholars, pundits, and other such types have taken on this question, and most recently, Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Salopek took an investigative look into this issue. Working with his newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, Salopek traces a gallon of gasoline from its origins all the way back to a gas station in suburban Chicago. This website contains the full story in its print form, along with a marvelous documentary that features Salopek talking with a variety of key persons during his journey. Visitors can look through multimedia features for each stop on his exploration as they see fit through an interactive map, which includes stops in Nigeria, the Gulf Coast, Venezuela, and of course, South Elgin, Illinois. Finally, the site also has a ticker that counts the barrels of oil used in the US since the time the visitor first entered the site, but this device is definitely not for the faint of heart. [KMG]

Letters to Sala: A Young Woman's Life in Nazi Labor Camps

For those who survived the Holocaust, talking about that time can be a difficult, and, sometimes, impossible endeavor. In the early 1990s, Sala Grancraz Kirschner was preparing for a major surgery, and she decided the time was right to tell her daughter about her experiences. She gave her a red cardboard box that contains a wide range of letters written in Polish, German, and Yiddish that chronicled her experiences in seven different Nazi forced labor camps. Over a decade later, the New York Public Library created this website in order to complement an in situ exhibit at their main branch. Visitors to this site can learn about Sala's life before the war, her time at Geppersdorf (a labor camp in Germany), and the Nazi postal system. With detailed essays, interspersed with her letters and other primary documents, the site is a wonderful testimony both to her perspicacity and a fine way to learn a bit more about the experiences of a unique individual. [KMG]

Mapping History

Queen's tantrums? Children's puzzles? Those might not be the first things to come to mind when thinking about maps, but when one is considering the British Librarys online Mapping History exhibit, both those curious subjects and others are definitely present. Given that the Library has thousands of maps spanning the known world, this collection helps remind users "there is often more to a map than meets the eye." The collection is divided into four areas, including "Worlds at war" and "Wealth and poverty". Each section contains four to seven maps along with a brief essay that explains the importance of each document. Perhaps the most delightful section is titled "Deception, lies, and made-up lands". Here visitors can wander across a Chinese map of the world from 1644 and a map of Wellington in New Zealand from 1840 that gives the city an orderly appearance that bore only a partial resemblance to actual conditions on the ground. [KMG]

John Muir National Historic Site

John Muir was a man who liked to wander, but with a purpose. His affinity for the natural world in all of its manifestations was omnipresent in his writings as well as in his efforts to assure that future generations would be able to see some of the landscapes that he surveyed in the 19th century. While Muir spent some of his formative years in Wisconsin, after leaving the University of Wisconsin, he journeyed west, and for the remainder of his life he lived with his family in Martinez, California. Muir did not build the home himself, but he and his family took up residence in 1890, and many decades after his death, the John Muir Historic Site was created to preserve this unique place. Recently, the National Park Service created this website to pay homage to the man and his legacy, and in doing so, they have also crafted a site that can also be used to educate young and old alike about Muir's work. Within the various sections, users can learn about Muir's family through slide shows of historic images, and also about his writings. [KMG]

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator was founded in 2001 with a rather simple, yet valuable premise in mind: "People are amazingly generous and helping others but are not always sure how to go about it." In order to aid individuals and organizations, Charity Navigator evaluates various charities and non-profits on a variety of metrics so that potential contributors can make informed decisions. One of the highlights of their website is their database, which allows users to search over 5,000 charity ratings, or just browse by category or geographic region. One should not overlook their special reports, which include such timely (and potentially tragic) works as "Hurricane Katrina One Year Later: Where Did the Money Go?" The site also has a great selection of "Top 10 Lists", which includes such lists as "10 Charities Worth Watching" and "10 Highly Paid CEO's Low-Rated Charities". The site is rounded out by an impressive list of articles written by staff members at Charity Navigator, and links to other relevant articles on charities generated by other news sources. [KMG]

Kheel Center Labor Photos

Cornell University's Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives holds approximately 350,000 images that document labor and management history in the 20th century. Pictures from one of the Center's major collections, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) Photographs (1885-1985), are now searchable at the Kheel Center Web site, with plans for more images to be added on a continual basis. The Garment Workers collection is particularly rich in images of workers at home, in garment shops, and at strikes, pickets, and demonstrations. A search on "sewing" will retrieve about 70 images of workers in garment shops, guiding fabric through sewing machines, and teaching each other. There are many depictions of labor leaders, meetings and conventions as well. There is also a series of 40 or more photographs on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the tragedy that lead to the formation of the ILGWU. [DS]


Some say that the binding relationships between individuals are the fabric of human society, where others are more interested in, well, actual fabric. For those who are interested in the wide world of fabric and related topics, the FabricLink website is a fine place to learn about various fabrics, their care, fabric products, and the latest in fabric industry news and innovation. First-time visitors will want to wind their way over to the Consumer Guide section straight away. Here they will find the fabric care center, which provides helpful stain removal hints, and information about those sometimes cryptic care symbols on various items of apparel. The home furnishings area contains a number of reference guides, and a whole section dedicated to "Yarn Facts". [KMG]

Resources for Writers: George Mason University [pdf]

Writing centers at colleges and universities have been around for decades, and most of them have placed some resources for their students online. George Mason University's writing resource center has had an online presence for years, and it is one that college students and persons generally interested in improving their writing will want to look at. The site includes a number of specialized writing guides dealing with issues of style, grammar, and writing for specific disciplines, such as psychology, biology, and management. Their virtual reference library is notable for its collection of well-organized links to other online sites, such as Webster's Online Dictionary. The site is less overwhelming than some like-minded sites, and is a good fit for students looking to get some basic assistance with writing college-level papers. [KMG]

Network Tools


As more and more electronic devices (such as cell phones and the like) have the ability to captures images and short video clips, there are a number of new applications designed to transfer media to the Internet. Motionbox is one such application, and users can use it to place their own videos online and perform basic edits and such. Visitors can upload their videos, and also look at what other users have placed online for the inquisitive public. Motionbox is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

Registry Mechanic 5.2

Registry Mechanic works with computers running Windows to scan, clean, and repair registry problems with relatively little fuss or needless stress. Utilizing this application will help users find missing help files, broken shortcuts, fonts, and configuration files. Additionally, visitors can opt to use a "Quick Scan" or a more comprehensive "Deep Scan". This version is just a free trial and it is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Debate Over Origins of Ice Cream Sundae Heating Up

Dessert war: Towns clash over origin of sundae

The Ice Cream Sundae's Birthplace? Thats the 64,000-Calorie Question

NPR: Ice Cream Sundaes from Coast to Coast [Real Player, pdf]

Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Home of the Ice Cream Sundae

The Official Website of the Ice Cream Sundae

Ice Cream Recipes

The origins of quotidian items tend to be well documented, and even the fiercest debates often are resolved after a bit of historical research. When it comes to food items and other such concoctions, well, that's a horse of a different color. One such debate that continues to rage on regards the original provenance of the ice cream sundae, a summer treat that's hard to beat. The stakes are high, and the two primary players in this saga are the local chambers of commerce in the cities of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and that most bucolic college town, Ithaca, New York. Two Rivers, located on the way to ever-pleasant Door County, claims that one Ed Berner made the first ice cream sundae in 1881 in his soda fountain emporium in the heart of that fair city. As the story goes, a gentleman named George Hallauer, asked Berner to put some chocolate sauce on a dish of ice cream, and voila: the birth of a delicious sweet treat. In recent weeks, various town boosters and spirited denizens of Ithaca have countered with a newspaper ad for a "Cherry Sunday", published in the Ithaca Daily Journal from April 5, 1892. Further ammunition for Ithaca's claim has been provided by Michael Turback (an author and Ithacan) who has stated "The sundae really became a sundae when the name Sunday was attached to the dish. And the cherry on top. Those two essential parts of the story originated in Ithaca." While this tte--tte has remained relatively amicable so far, other commentators fear that other soda fountain staples may soon face the same scrutiny. [KMG]

The first link leads to news coverage of the ice cream sundae debate offered by the venerable New Orleans Times-Picayune. The second link provides some more details on the whole business as presented by The New York Times, which surveyed everyone from the mayor of Ithaca to Two Rivers resident Jerry Schubring, who notes, "Everyone knows Two Rivers invented it. That's why we're all so fat here. We eat a lot of them." Visitors on the look out for the best ice cream sundaes in the US should appreciate the third link, which includes a National Public Radio feature on various regional variations on this popular dish. The fourth link leads to the official Two Rivers homepage, complete with details on their claim to ice cream sundae fame, along with a city proclamation that makes the bold claim that their city is in fact the "coolest city in America's dairyland." The fifth site is maintained by the aforementioned Michael Turback, and contains some information on his own work, along with a canonical drawing of a sundae that preserves that most precious maraschino cherry on top of it all. The sixth and final link leads to the Ice Cream Recipes website, which offers a wide selection of recipes for inventive ice creams, and includes a number of unusual permutations, such as a brown bread ice cream recipe. [KMG]

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