The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 38

October 5, 2007

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


Most people know about EDUCAUSE and their work in promoting information technology across higher education, and the EDUCAUSE Live! series fits quite nicely into that mission. Each program in the series consists of an hour-long interactive web seminar, and visitors can interact directly with the host and guests. It is important to register early for each seminar, as they can be quite popular. On the site, visitors can sign up to learn about upcoming programs, and they can also read brief summaries of those events in the near future. In the "Archives" area, visitors can look watch previous programs, such as "Exploring Student Communication Services for the 21st Century" and "IT Governance: Establishing Who Decides". The archives date back to April 2003, and many of the presentations includes slides and other supplementary materials. [KMG]

Historical Activities for the Calculus Classroom [pdf]

Calculus may seem to be quite dismal to some, but it comes alive through the fine work of Gabriela R. Sanchis. Sanchis wrote this excellent piece on teaching calculus by drawing on the historical evolution of some of its key concepts. With support from the National Science Foundation, she also made sure to include several interactive Java applets which educators can use in the classroom. This piece is part of the Convergence math collection, offered by the Mathematical Association of America. These materials can be used in conjunction with other activities, and visitors may also use an embedded link to send the piece to a colleague. [KMG]

Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science

The National Academy Press has crafted hundreds of resources for science educators, and this online book will be most helpful for those seeking to incorporate discussions of evolution into their classroom. The book contains seven complete chapters and five appendices. The chapter titles include "Why Teach Evolution?", "Evolution and the Nature of Science", and "Major Themes in Evolution". Chapter Six is definitely worth a look as it includes eight separate activities designed to be used in the classroom. They include investigations into natural selection, looking at explanations of fossil footprints, and examining connections between population growth and biological evolution. [KMG]

Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research [pdf]

Established in 1998, the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER) is a non-profit organization "dedicated to education and research of the marine environment." From their headquarters in Oceanside, California, their team of scientists continues to work on a variety of studies on thresher sharks, roosterfish, and the giant sea bass. One rather nice highlight of the site is the "Field Notes" area. Here visitors can learn about some of their ongoing research projects, which have included work on the swimming muscle physiology of the common thresher shark and the fine-scale movements of roosterfish. Visitors can also click on the "Publications" section to read the results of some of their scientific endeavors over the years. [KMG]

Little Shop of Physics: Online Experiments (Last reviewed in the Scout Report on January 25, 2002)

Not to be confused with a certain Roger Corman movie that has a rather similar title, this site presents a wide range of very nice physics experiments, all of which can be done online. Dedicated staff members of the physics department at Colorado State University created the Little Shop of Physics site. The site includes the "Amazing Physics" area, which features experiments that will require common household items. There are a number of rather fun experiments offered up, and they include the "Two Ball Bounce", "Straw Flute", and "Vanishing Rods". Moving right along, "Computer Stuff" offers users a clutch of engaging and potentially mind-blowing experiments that require only a computer and just a touch of interest in physics. Teachers can convert physics neophytes with this site, and students who might be suspect of physics may become passionate converts after just a few visits. [KMG]

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center at UIUC [pdf]

Based at the Isaac Funk Family Library at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC) is a fine way to learn about the latest developments throughout the world of agricultural journalism. The ACDC was established by agricultural communications faculty members at UIUC and visitors can read their newsletter and also browse through their archive, which contains over 30,000 items. New visitors may wish to read the most recent edition of their newsletter, and then proceed to the more detailed search engine which is located within the "Search for a Document" section. No piece of agricultural journalism is overlooked here, as topics covered here range from the world of agricultural knowledge frameworks to analyses of pork, beef and poultry advertising. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive their RSS feeds as well. [KMG]

Whatcom Online Math Center

Located in lovely Bellingham, Washington, Whatcom Community College serves a diverse population from all across the state and beyond. Their math center has developed this rather nice collection of math links that include helpful test-taking hints, online exercises, and resources for teachers looking to find new ways of exploring everything from geometry to measurement. While the site doesn't have a search engine, visitors can browse through the links at their leisure. Some of the topics covered within this site include fractals, developmental math skills, pre-algebra, and applied math. After looking over these sites, visitors can also go to the "Teaching Math" section, which is designed specifically for teachers. [KMG]

Virtual Landscapes of Texas

Whether real or virtual, Texas has a great deal of landscape. The people at the library at the University of Texas at Austin know this quite well, and they have put together this delightful online archive of public domain documents that deal with various landscapes throughout the state. As the introductory essay on the site notes, "This suite of public domain documents was selected as a foundation to preserve and to widen access to early writings on the geology of Texas." Visitors can use the online search engine to look for specific materials, or they can peruse them via an alphabetical listing. All told, there are well over sixty full-text documents here, including geological study reports from the late 19th century, drought surveys, and extended treatises on the effectiveness of various road-building materials. [KMG]

General Interest

Experiencing the War: Stories from the Veterans History Project [Real Player]

The films of Ken Burns have covered the exuberance of jazz in the United States, the world of baseball, and most recently, the experiences of Americans during World War II. Working with the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, Burns and staff members created this companion website to the film series. The site includes letters, diaries, interviews, and memoirs that cover the period from the attack on Pearl Harbor to V-E and V-J Day. Visitors will find seven separate sections here, and will enjoy looking through the different materials at their leisure. Additionally, visitors can view stories by theme, and they can also search the Veterans Database. Finally, there is also a "Field Guide" to the actual film series which serves as a nice complement to the other materials. [KMG]

Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik

In October 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to successfully orbit the earth. With its distinctive "beep", it was a very real manifestation of the Soviet Union's growing influence in the realms of science and technology. In the United States, it spurred educators and others to create new and compelling ways to get young people interested and passionate about these fields. This fun and engaging online exhibit created by the National Museum of American History offers an overview of some of these new and emerging educational tools, which included textbooks, diagrams, hands-on activities, and even such seemingly common-place items as slide rules. These items (and much more) are contained within sections like "The Cold War and Sputnik", "Excitement", and "Curricula-Novelty and Diffusion". [KMG]

The "Mahdiyya" Qur'an

A number of institutions such as the British Library and the Library of Congress have made a sustained effort over the past few years to digitize important religious documents. These digitization projects are rather important to religious scholars and theologians, and many members of the web-browsing public will find them engaging and illuminating. The University of Leeds has been doing some of this work as well, and they recently digitized the important Mahdiyya copy of the Qur'an. Professor Roger Boyle was one of those responsible for this fine work, and visitors to the site can learn more about the document and the digitization process within the "About the manuscript" section offered here. Visitors can begin their journey through the work by clicking on "The data" section and browsing through the various pages. The site is rounded out by a nice selection of external links and a publication listing. [KMG]

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Center for Drug Evaluation and Research [pdf]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains a number of important and useful research centers, and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) is one that many Scout Report readers will want to know more about. As its name implies, the Center evaluates and researches new and experimental drugs before they are approved for use by the general population. Most people will want to start by looking over the "Drug Safety" area, which contains safety information for specific drugs and which also contains FDA drug safety podcasts. Additionally, the site offers access to the FDA Drug Safety Newsletter and the opportunity to learn about safe and approved generic drugs. Moving on, the site also contains thematic areas designed specifically with certain audiences in mind, including consumers, industry representatives, and healthcare professionals. Persons working in public health and related fields will also want to look at the CDER Calendar, which gives up-to-date information on upcoming conferences, workshops, and meetings. [KMG]

The Pentagon's Counterspies: The Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) [pdf]

In today's rather dynamic world, there are a variety of intelligence organizations that are quite keen on a variety of espionage and spying activities. Of course, there's also the world of counterintelligence, and this latest electronic briefing book from the very diligent staff of The National Security Archive at George Washington University is quite revealing. Compiled by Jeffrey Richelson, this collection of documents looks at the activities of The Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), which was established in 2002 by Department of Defense Directive 5105.67. Interestingly enough, the CIFA's authority was expanded in 2005 when it received mission tasking authority over the counterintelligence organization of such departments as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. All told, this electronic briefing book contains over eighteen documents, and persons with an interest in researching such matters will definitely want to take note. [KMG]

Butterflies and Moths of North America

Drawing on the expertise of lepidopterists and other such experts at Montana State University's Big Sky Institute and the National Biological Information Infrastructure program, this site is a database that provides easy-to-use information about over 2800 species of butterflies and moths. On the site, visitors will find dynamic distribution maps showing verified species occurrences, photographs of the adult and caterpillar (when available) and a cornucopia of species accounts. Users may wish to look over the "Taxonomic Groups" area if they just wish to browse around, or they can also perform a map search, or even just browse image thumbnails by family. Those who are new to the field may wish to look over the online glossary or external links, and those who are ready to lend assistance should check out the "Get Involved" area. [KMG]

International Finance Group [pdf]

As a part of the World Bank, the stated vision of the International Finance Group (IFC) is "that poor people have the opportunity to escape poverty and to improve their lives." To whit, the IFC works to promote open and competitive markets in developing countries, generate productive jobs and deliver basic services, among other things. First-time visitors will find that the layout of the site is visually stimulating and quite user-friendly. Visitors can look over some of the "Key Links" which include sections such as "How to Apply For Financing", and their "Sustainability Web Portal". A good way to get a sense of the IFC's projects is to look at the featured publications in the "Resources From IFC". Here visitors will find reports on addressing gender inequalities and creative effective business linkages in various developing countries. Finally, visitors can also use the embedded search engine to look for specific materials of interest and also take a look through the "What's New" area for recent additions to the site. [KMG]

Painted with Words: Vincent van Gogh's Letters to Emile Bernard [Adobe Flash Player]

Although there have been other Web-based presentations of van Gogh's letters that are more comprehensive (for example, van Gogh's Letters, Unabridged and Annotated, mentioned in the Sept. 24, 2004 Scout Report, this set of seven letters between van Gogh and his young colleague, Emile Bernard, presented by the Pierpont Morgan Library, is designed to allow the viewer to get the full visual impact of the letters themselves. Beginning with a thumbnail view of a handwritten letter, one can choose to translate the text, and read, for example, van Gogh critiquing several sonnets his young friend has sent, asking which Albrecht Durer drawing was a poem's inspiration, and concluding, "But all in all it's not as good as your painting yet. Never mind. It'll come, and you must certainly continue doing sonnets." It is also possible to zoom in on the many drawings that decorate the letters, such as Still life with coffee pot, on the back of a letter van Gogh sent to Bernard in June of 1888. Zooming in on another letter from March 18, 1888, decorated with a sketch of people walking on a footpath near a canal, reveals the color words that van Gogh has written on the picture, indicating that the water will be green, the shaded side of a bridge, purple, and the sky, yellow. [DS]

Network Tools

Avast Home Edition 4.7.103

It's important to stay on top of all those harmful viruses, Trojan horses, and other pests that threaten computers these days. The Home Edition of the Avast application can help concerned parties do just that. This edition contains multiple shields that will look over downloaded files, instant messages, emails, and a host of peer-to-peer networks. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]


It can be hard to keep Tom Wolfe and Thomas Wolfe straight at times, and if you are working on an academic paper that incorporates both of these august characters, you probably want to keep those research sources in good order. Thanks to Zotero, it is very easy to do just that. Zotero is a Firefox extension that helps users collect, manage, and cite their research sources. Zotero can automatically capture citation information from web pages, store PDF files, and also export these citations with relatively ease. This very helpful extension is compatible with computers running Firefox 2.0. [KMG]

In The News

Australia reduces intake of African refugees, upsetting advocacy groups and international organizations

Africans have 'trouble settling here',25197,22518444-12377,00.html

Immigration cuts shock refugee advocates

The rights of all refugees

Syria: UNHCR presses for "humanitarian visas" as Syria closes border to Iraqis

The UN Refugee Agency

The Refugee Law Reader [pdf]

Various ethnic conflicts, civil strife, and other ongoing disturbances across the globe have led to a massive increase in the number of refugees seeking safety and peace in recent years. From Darfur to Iraq, the situation of refugees has remained a tenuous one at best, and a number of nations have opened up their borders in order to provide some measure of assistance. This week, international refugee advocates were taken aback to learn that Australia had reduced its intake of African refugees, despite the continued strife across certain parts of that continent. Representatives speaking for the Australian government had remarked that there was significant 'anecdotal' evidence that indicated that certain groups of African refugees had been having trouble adjusting to life in their new home. The reaction from advocacy groups was swift, as Phong Nguyen, leader of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, commented, "It is simply inhumane for the Australian government to close the door on these peoples based on perceptions that some African refugees are not integrating into the Australian community." [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news article from this Tuesday's "The Australian" newspaper which talks about the decision to reduce the number of new African refugees into the country. The second link leads to a piece from ABC News which details the reaction of several advocacy groups to this decision. Moving on, the third link leads to a well-written opinion piece from this Wednesday's "The Age" newspaper on the rights of all refugees. The fourth link leads to a news release from the ReliefWeb site which gives a bit of information on a similar situation in Syria, which opted to close its borders temporarily due to the large numbers of Iraqi refugees seeking to enter the country. The fifth link leads to the homepage of The UN Refugee Agency. Here, visitors can learn about their advocacy work and also take a look at their "Major Operations" section, which includes their initiatives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Darfur. The final link will take interested parties to the online Refugee Law Reader, which was created by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. It is a fine way to learn more about international refugee law, and law students with a penchant for such matters will find it most useful. [KMG]

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