The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 32

August 15, 2008

A Publication of Internet Scout
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

Nieman Watchdog

The Nieman Watchdog Journalism Project at Harvard University is concerned with helping "the press ask penetrating questions, critical questions, questions that matter, questions not yet asked about today's news." It's a very laudable mission, and for anyone concerned with these matters, their website will be one worth returning to numerous times. Along the top of the homepage, visitors can investigate sections that include "Ask This", "Showcase", "Commentary", and "Discussions". In the "Showcase" area, visitors can learn about their online tools for journalists (such as "The History Commons"), take a look at recent Nieman reports, and read some self-reflective works on the future of investigative reporting. "Ask This" raises a number of timely questions, including tax reform, debt problems, and nuclear weapons. Lastly, the "Blog" area offers up expert opinion and editorial pieces from Nieman staffers and affiliates, and the pieces here address everything from civil liberties to the world of talk-show hosts. [KMG]

Bulgakov's Master and Margarita

Written by Mikhail Bulgakov, "The Master and Margarita" is a Russian novel that blends magical realism with social satire in a spot-on effort that effectively skewers the bizarre bureaucracy and social order of the Soviet Union. The book features characters that include a talking black cat, a young poet, and a cast of others that poke in and out of the narrative. Upon reading this novel, some might wish for a website that provides a road map of sorts to all the activities and places in the book, and they would then be glad to learn that such a site exists. Created by Professor Kevin Moss at Middlebury College, this site provides illustrations from various editions of the novel, detailed maps depicting places discussed and mentioned in the novel, and a guide to the characters. Overall, the site is delightful, and one that serves as a nice adjunct to the actual work itself. [KMG]

Math DL: Loci [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

Following in a long line of excellent online publications from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the Loci brings together a wide range of educational resources, interesting pieces of math history, and other ephemera for general consumption. On the homepage, visitors will find access to the "Convergence" site, which provides a range of teaching modules and activities for students. Also, users can avail themselves of the Loci-specific resources, which include such gems as "The Beauty of Parametric Curves". The site's homepage also includes "Featured Items" culled from the MAA's separate publications. Recent teaching materials featured here have included "The Most Marvelous Theorem in Mathematics", "Mountains of Fractals", and "How to Gamble If You Must". Finally, visitors can search all of Loci's vast resources via a search engine that sits on the upper left-hand corner of the page. [KMG]

Clifford Glenwood Shull Collection [pdf]

In 1994, Clifford Glenwood Shull was awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physics. His career as a scientist started six decades prior at what was then the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Shull was known as the "Father of Neutron Scattering" and primarily known for his work on the neutron diffraction technique which was used to study condensed matter. This particular digital collection created by the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries allows interested parties to explore Shull's papers, correspondence, teaching materials, and other items related to his work. After reading a brief biography of Shull, visitors can click on through to the "Contents" area to get a better sense of the offerings available within the collection. In the "Access" area visitors can browse through the document series, which cover his time at MIT, the Oak Ridge Laboratory, and New York University. [KMG]

NSF and the Birth of the Internet [Macromedia Flash Player]

The birth of the Internet is the subject of this utterly engaging and well-thought out special report created by the National Science Foundation. After a brief introduction, visitors can browse through a multimedia site that includes video clips of early pioneers talking about their work on this endeavor, along with maps of Internet growth from the 1960s to the 1990s and documents such as the Lax Report. Interestingly enough the Lax Report, issued in 1982, was influential in the creation of the National Science Foundation's supercomputing centers. The materials are divided up by decade (1960s through the 2000s) and visitors can click on each section to learn about the advances and challenges faced by persons working in this field. Along the way, a small section in the bottom right-hand corner of the site keeps a running total of the baud rate and the Internet users in each decade. Of course, visitors will not want to miss the section dedicated to Mosaic, which was the browser developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in the early 1990s. [KMG]

Forensic Chemistry Lab Manual [pdf]

Any aspect of forensic science can be quite tricky, and educators will be delighted to learn about this helpful educational resource designed just for them. Created by Professor Robert Thompson of Oberlin College this online forensic chemistry lab manual is designed to help chemistry faculty in developing forensic chemistry project laboratories for both undergraduate and graduate courses. In this manual, visitors will find sample preparations, procedural details, instructions for students, and typical results in a variety of formats. Along the left-hand side of the homepage, visitors can look through the forensic chemistry analyses, which include explosives, fabric, glass, and arson. The site is rounded out by a selection of "Stories", which are meant to provide the background for chemical analyses of crime scene samples. [KMG]


For anyone looking for a vast cornucopia of economic statistics culled from all over the world, they need look no further than the EconStats website. The homepage is a bit visually cluttered, but one couldn't ask for better and more complete data, as visitors can quickly access a wide range of economic data from the United States, such as information about inflation, unemployment levels, productivity, new factory orders, and the price of crude oil. The homepage also contains links to economic data from Canada, Britain, Germany, the European Union, France, Italy, Russia, and China. On the right-hand side of the page, visitors can click through to interest rates for dozens of countries, check in on various stock markets, and look up commodity and futures prices. Those individuals looking for quick help with pressing questions can post queries to the "Econ Chat" section of the homepage. [KMG]

Great Social Theorists

It's pretty hard to argue with Professor Frank W. Elwell's list of great social theorists, as he brings together Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and other intellectual heavyweights on this site. The purpose of bringing together these luminaries and their writings is "to promote greater understanding of classical macro-social theory." A rather laudable cause indeed, and Professor Elwell has devoted sections to each of these authors, and several others, including Auguste Comte and W.E.B. Dubois. In each section, visitors can read selections from their major works and also click through to other relevant online resources. Finally, visitors can also learn about Professor Elwell's own scholarly endeavors, including his book "Macrosociology: Four Modern Theorists". [KMG]

General Interest

International Olympic Committee [Macromedia Flash Player, Quick Time, pdf]

Since the birth of the modern Olympics in 1896, those with a passion for information about these contests have sought out materials on the Games via a multitude of sources. For those who are so inclined, this website is a uniformly excellent way to learn about the activities of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games. On their homepage, visitors can check out a complete list of all the Olympic medal winters since 1896, read up on all the Olympic records, and also download their latest podcasts and vodcasts. Moving on, the left-hand side of the homepage features six sections, including "Sports", "Athletes", "News", and "Olympic Museum". Visitors might want to start by clicking on "The Movement" area. Here they can learn about the role that the International Olympic Committee plays in bringing together partners and other agencies to disseminate the Olympic spirit around the globe. Also, visitors should not miss the "Olympic Personal Trainer" area of the site. Within this area, users can listen to Olympic athletes talk about their own training experiences, and even submit questions. [KMG]

Museum of Biblical Art [Macromedia Flash Player]

From triptychs to mixed media, the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York seeks to "re-contextualize Judeo-Christian images for the American public, presenting them in a way that sheds light on their original function and continued relevance." They do so with curiosity and intelligence, and their website functions as a nice complement to their brick and mortar presence in Midtown Manhattan. New visitors to the site may wish to begin by clicking through the "Exhibitions" area. Here they will find digital selections from exhibitions that profile the work of Albrecht Drer and contemporary Christian artists. Further along, the "Programs & Education" area includes information on upcoming lectures and resources that include downloadable lectures on "What is Biblical Art?" and "Biblical Literacy in America". Additionally, this same section also includes thematic essays by art curators and religious scholars on the subject of biblically themed art. Overall, the site is quite user-friendly, and it may serve as a form of digital inspiration for a future visit to the Museum. [KMG]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: His Life, All His Works and More

Sometimes a spiritualist, and always a writer and a true Englishman, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tales of detection and fantasy have delighted readers for well over a century. Lovers of his work will enjoy this site, and they can feel free to browse through a number of the Sherlock Holmes tales here along with the complete full novels. Those who are less acquainted with Doyle's life and times may wish to start by reading the "About Sir Conan Doyle" area. Here they will find an extended biographical essay on Doyle and a list of his works. Then visitors will want to browse through his stories at their leisure. Visitors who are unfamiliar with the tales of Holmes may wish to start by reading "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" and "A Scandal in Bohemia". [KMG]

NOVA: Lord of the Ants [Quick Time]

As a young man growing up in Depression-era Alabama, E.O.Wilson spent a great time outdoors observing everything from butterflies to ants. His fascination with ants grew into a lifelong passion, and amidst his many accomplishments in later life, he would win a Pulitzer Prize for his 1991 work "The Ants". Today Wilson continues to be well-known as a strong advocate for the protection of the environment and his work in the field of sociobiology. Wilson was recently profiled in an episode of the popular PBS program "NOVA, and this site allows visitors to watch the program in its entirety and to learn more about Wilson's work and life. Visitors can dive right in and watch the whole program online, and afterwards they can read an excerpt from his autobiography, play an interactive matching game with ants, and read a transcript of an interview with Wilson about the concept of "biophilia". Essentially, biophilia refers to humans' innate tendency to focus on living things, as opposed to the inanimate. Some aspects of Wilson's work remain controversial, but this site offers a broad and engaging portrait of a man whose intellectual curiosity and holistic approach to examining the world continues to inspire others. [KMG]

The Wellcome Library: Turning The Pages [Shockwave]

Located in London, the Wellcome Library contains over 750,000 books and journals related to medicine and medical history. For those who can't make a trip to London to consult their collections in person, this rather impressive online "Turning the Pages" collection serves as a compelling introduction to their holdings. Based on the technology utilized by the British Library's own "Turning the Pages" online offerings, this collection contains selected pages from three visually and historically important texts. They include excerpts from the "Wellcome Apocalypse", the "Nujum al'Ulum"(Stars of Sciences), and Robert Willan's 1808 work "On Cutaneous Diseases". For each selection, visitors can zoom in and out on various sections, listen to audio narration that explains each work, and also learn about the provenance and history of each volume. [KMG]

Irish Museum of Modern Art [Macromedia Flash Player]

Some might think of Irish art as being comprised of fey landscapes and more traditional types of artistic expression. However, the Irish Museum of Modern Art incorporates all aspects of the Irish experience (and other experience as well) in the service of maintaining an institution that is "excellent, innovative and inclusive." The Museum was established in 1990 and is housed in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham building, which was built at the end of the 17th century. The sections of the site include "Exhibitions", "Collections", "Education and Community", and "Events Calendar". In the "Exhibitions" area, visitors can learn about their current, forthcoming, and past exhibitions through press releases and selected images. The "Collections" area lets visitors search through the permanent collection held by the Museum, and they can also learn more about the provocative Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection. The site also includes information about visiting the museum in Dublin and visitors can also send along a virtual postcard here as well. [KMG]

SFMOMA: Lee Miller [Adobe Flash Player]

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents this online feature on the remarkable life of Lee Miller. Miller was a successful fashion model in the 1920s, featured on the covers of fashion magazines such as Vogue. From 1929 to 1932, she lived in Paris with Surrealist artist Man Ray, becoming his photographic assistant, lover, model, and muse. She began taking photographs herself at this time, as well as printing Man Ray's negatives. During World War II, Miller was the official war photographer for Vogue. With American photographer David Scherman, Miller photographed the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. After the War, Miller settled in rural England at Farley Farm House in Chiddingly, Sussex, with her second husband, Roland Penrose. She ended her artistic and photographic careers, but Farley Farm became a haven for visiting artists. On the website, documentation of these eras of Miller's life includes an interview with her son, Antony Penrose, who knew nothing of his mother's photography until after her death. He has now turned Farley Farm into the Lee Miller Archive. There is also a short video biography by art historian Whitney Chadwick; audio of Lee Miller interviewed on CBS radio in 1946; and zoom-enabled images of some of Miller's best-known pictures. [DS]

Network Tools

PicLens 1.8

It's probably impossible to create a true 3D experience in terms of web-browsing, but PicLens 1.8 comes quite close. This application can be used with a variety of browsers to bring online photos and videos into sharp relief. Essentially, PicLens displays video and photos as a movable "wall" of sorts on the monitor. To some, it might seem like a bit much, but it's still worth a try. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP or Vista. [KMG]

StudyMinder Lite 2.6

School is just around the corner and StudyMinder Lite 2.6 may be just the ticket for young scholars everywhere. With StudyMinder, users can stay on top of assignment due dates, homework notes, and the application can even remind users of the total time that will need to prepare for school each day. This version of StudyMinder is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

First female champion hog caller crowned at the Illinois State Fair

It takes style to call hogs and hubbies

Hogs called via cell phone at state fair

Meet the Illinois State Fair hog-calling champion,hog081208.article

Iowa Public Television: Hog Calling [Windows Media Player]

Calling the Hogs: Arkansas Alumni Association

The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge!

Over the past week, much of the world has been focused on the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Summer Olympics in Beijing. However, in downstate Illinois, amidst rich farm country, another type of champion was crowned a champion hog-caller. There is something different about this year's champion, she's Doris Probst the first female champion hog-caller. Probst learned her craft while growing up in Effingham, Illinois on a hog farm. The venue was the 2008 Illinois State Fair, and Probst put on a performance that was part pure entertainment and part truly astonishing mlange of vocalizations that mimicked both a piglet and a full-grown pig. There are many state fair sponsored hog calling contests still to go in the 2008 season, and such stalwarts as Bob Wood (the 1999 World Championship Hog Caller) and Littlefield, Texas's own Roxanne Ward have yet to enter the fray this summer. Despite the fact that Probst was the first woman to win the title at the Illinois State Fair, she remained humble, commenting, "If I had known how good these people were going to be, I wouldn't have come up here." [KMG]

The first link will lead users to a piece from the Monday edition of the Springfield (IL) State Journal Register on the recent triumphs of Doris Probst. The second link leads to an intriguing piece from the Bloomington Pentagraph about the hog-calling efforts made by the third place winner in the Illinois State Fair, who saw fit to call his pigs via cell phone. Moving on, the third link leads to a short video clip of Probst in action, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times. The fourth link whisks users away to video of young children performing their own hog calls at the Iowa State Fair. The fifth link is quite a bit of fun, as visitors will get the chance to learn (and perhaps attempt) the "Calling of the Hogs", University of Arkansas style. Finally, the last link leads to Brett Mizelle's weblog "The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge!" As might be expected, the weblog covers all things porcine, including rescuing pigs in a post-flood environment and the British Pig Association. [KMG]

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