The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 34

August 29, 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

Physclips [Macromedia Flash Player]

It's certainly not impossible to learn about Newton's laws, momentum and other key principles of physics without multimedia learning activities, but it's a bit more fun to have such resources on hand. With funding from The Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Professor Joe Wolfe of The University of New South Wales has created this rather remarkable set of physics teaching resources. Visitors can make their way through these "physclips" by clicking on sections that include "Centre of Mass", "Circular Motion", "Gravity", and eight others. Each section includes learning modules with video clips that demonstrate different principles, along with links to other relevant background materials. The organization of the entire site is quite impressive, and visitors can also download each video clip for use in their own classroom. [KMG]

The Atlas of Early Printing [Macromedia Flash Player]

There are not many events as important in the history of Western civilization as the invention and widespread adoption of printing techniques. This site from The University of Iowa Libraries will enchant even those who haven't thought about Gutenberg and his ilk since their Western Civ class in junior high. The Atlas of Early Printing is designed primarily to be used as a tool for teaching the early history of printing in Europe and visitors can use the interactive map to learn more about this process. The interactive map of Europe allows users to turn on and off different layers on the map that document the spread of printing, paper mills, fairs, and trade routes in order to get a better sense of how this technology gradually spread. Visitors can also click on each map element to learn a bit more, and in the case of each city, visitors can learn about the first recorded work printed there. Overall, this resource will be invaluable to educators, and even those with a passing interest in this area of human endeavor may find themselves making numerous return visits to the site. [KMG]

Council on Foreign Relations: Daily Analysis [pdf]

The Council on Foreign Relations produces an impressive array of background papers, online debates, op-ed pieces, and articles every year. International relations gurus, policy pundits, and members of the public benefit widely from these works, and those persons who haven't looked over the Council's "Daily Analysis" yet, may wish to do so now. Here visitors can read analytical briefs written by staff members on issues of the day, complete with links to "the news, analysis, commentary, and primary source materials that put the facts in context." The briefs are arranged chronologically, and recent pieces include "Is Brain Drain Good For Africa?", "China's Olympic Moment", and "Picking Presidents and Foreign Policy". These briefs are a great way to get acquainted with important news developments from around the world, and it's easy to see how educators might want to draw on the site as a resource for political science or international relations courses. [KMG]

Hispanics and Health Care in the United States: Access, Information, and Knowledge [pdf]

There is a growing health care crisis in the United States and some groups are particularly vulnerable. This August 2008 report from the Pew Hispanic Center looks into the challenges faced by Hispanics in terms of their access and information about health care, and their findings will be of great use to public health researchers, journalists, and others. The 81-page report was written by Gretchen Livingston, Susan Minushkin, and D'Vera Cohn, and their work was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report is divided into four chapters, an executive summary, and two appendices. Chapters in the report include "How Much Do Hispanics Know About Diabetes?" and "Sources of Information on Health and Health Care". A number of the findings are a bit troubling, including the fact that more than one-fourth of Hispanic adults in the United States lack a regular health care provider. [KMG]

Europe's Role in Nation-Building: From the Balkans to the Congo [pdf]

When most people think of international peacekeeping work, they might immediately think of organizations like the United Nations or NATO. What they might not know is that in recent years the European Union (EU) has become a very active participant in operations in countries such as Sierra Leone and Cte d'Ivoire. These efforts haven't escaped the attention of policy analysts and scholars at the RAND organization, and this report released in July 2008 takes a close look at this phenomenon. The 344-page report is divided into ten chapters, which include case studies of EU activities in Macedonia, the Solomon Islands, and a chapter of conclusions and final remarks. Additionally, the report also contains a detailed chapter of comparative analysis that looks into thematic areas such as the civilian police force in each country, the return of refugees post-conflict, and international combat-related deaths. [KMG]

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence [pdf]

Created as part of an interdisciplinary international effort to take a critical look at the phenomenon of mass violence, the Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence is supported by a number of organizations, including The Center for International Research and Studies and The Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. The primary purpose of the Encyclopedia Project is "to create a regularly updated electronic database focusing on massacres and genocides of the 20th century." First-time visitors can use the interactive map of the world on the homepage to begin their exploration of the site. Within each region of the world (and by extension, each individual country), visitors can read chronological indexes, case studies, and take a look at scholarly reviews of works related to each region or country's genocides or massacres. Visitors should not miss the "Latest contributions" area, which includes the latest works from the Project. Recently featured items here have included an evaluation of The Boxer Uprising and the Burundi Killings of 1972. Overall, it's a very ambitious project, and one that scholars and members of the general public will want to check up on from time to time. [KMG]

Michigan Discussions in Anthropology

Started in 1971, the Michigan Discussions in Anthropology journal brings together scholarly works from all four subfields within anthropology: archaeology, biological anthropology, ethnology, and linguistic anthropology. The journal was originally meant as a forum for students and faculty within the anthropology department at Michigan, and although their work now reaches many persons around the world, it continues to serve this initial purpose. On this site, interested parties can peruse the latest edition of the journal, look over all of the past issues, and also search the entire contents by keyword or phrase. In the latest issue, visitors can read "'Older Americans' and Alzheimer's Disease: Citizenship and Subjectivity in Contested Time" or "Bringing Body to Bear in the Andes: Ethnicity, Gender, and Health in Highland Ecuador" among others. [KMG]

General Interest

MoMA: Kirchner and the Berlin Street [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

Upon arriving in fin-de-siecle Berlin, the German artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner began to create a series of paintings that would later be called the "Street Scenes". His depictions of this cosmopolitan metropolis included representations of prostitutes, cityscapes, and other urban sights and activities. Along with an in situ exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) created this lively online exhibit to complement their traditional manner of display. Visitors can stroll through Kirchner's work here, offered up in areas titled "Setting the Stage", "Cities, Nudes, and Dancers", and "Street Scenes". During their travels through the exhibition visitors will find high-quality digitized versions of Kirchner's works, accompanied by brief essays. As part of their meanderings, visitors would do well to make sure and look closely at the 1913 woodcut "Somersaulting Acrobatic Dancers" and his 1914 oil painting, "Potsdamer Platz". [KMG]

The Erie Railroad Glass Plate Negative Collection

Throughout the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, the railroad reigned supreme over the American transportation landscape. This intriguing digital collection from Syracuse University Digital Projects brings together over 700 images from The Erie Railroad Company collection of glass plate negatives in a way that will delight railroad enthusiasts. Visitors can look at shots of individual train stations, mile posts, new track construction, and social organizations such as the East Buffalo Car Shop Basketball Team. The collection serves as a very fine source of information for those with a penchant for early 20th century industrial landscapes, railroad construction, and the lives of railroad workers. It is worth noting that visitors can also browse the collection by Library of Congress subject headings, or they may also wish to search these materials by entering various keywords. [KMG]

50th Anniversary of NASA [Macromedia Flash Player]

After 50 years, NASA has a great deal to celebrate, and this site offers a rich multimedia journey through their first half-century. Things get started with an introduction by a rather friendly robot who gives a brief explanation of how to navigate the site. After that, visitors are treated to a few tunes from the 1950s (such as "Tutti Frutti") and they can click on the headquarters building to watch clips from early NASA films and then move on to "meet" T. Keith Glennan, NASA's first administrator. And that's just the 1950s, visitors can similarly move through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, accompanied by music, archival video clips, and so on. It should be noted that the site is graphics-intensive, and visitors will benefit from viewing the site on a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. [KMG]

Wisconsin Decorative Arts

Finns, Germans, Italians, and countless other groups have contributed mightily to the decorative arts traditions within the Badger State, and this lovely online database pays homage to those works, while also offering scholars and others access to this important collection. Inspired by the fieldwork undertaken by the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in the 1970s and 1980s, this project brings together decorative arts objects made or used in 19th and early 20th century Wisconsin. The objects were culled from institutions across the state, and currently the database contains well over 600 items. There's quite a range of items here, including an altar cloth with crocheted lace, a collage of memorabilia from a wedding in Peshtigo, and a dining suite manufactured by the Northern Furniture Company in Sheboygan. Students of material culture will welcome this site with open arms, and lovers of Wisconsin history will no doubt do the same. [KMG]

The Maine Music Box [Quick Time, Real Player]

Created through a collaboration between the University of Maine's Fogler Library and other Maine libraries, The Maine Music Box contains hundreds of digitized sheet music scores from five major collections. First-time visitors to the site will want to click on the "About Maine Music Box" project as a way of getting started. Here they can check out the "User Information" area, which contains helpful tips on viewing the music and how to best browse the entire database. Additionally, those with a penchant for technical details and information science in general can also learn in copious detail how the database was created for this project. From there, visitors can move straight away into the main collection. Visitors can browse the collection by music subject, sheet music cover art, or just type in their own keywords. One of the best ways to look over the collection is to browse around in such areas as "Instructional Violin", "Maine Collection" and "Parlor Salon Collection". It's also worth remarking that this site may inspire a sing-a-long, a campfire get-together, or a miniature Chautauqua. [KMG]

Latin American Network Information Center

Started in 1992 and affiliated with the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, the Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC) is designed to "facilitate access to Internet-based information to, from, or on Latin America." Their site was redesigned in the spring of 2008, and currently their various directories contain over 12,000 unique URLs for use by the general public. These links can be browsed by subject headings or by country, and visitors can look into more discrete topical headings like "food", "political science", and "social work". Along with these high-quality links, visitors can then click on over to their "Digital Initiatives" area. Here they will find digital collections that cover documents from the New Mexican Revolution and the full-text Fidel Castro Speech database. Visitors will also appreciate that many of the site's resources are available in Spanish and Portuguese. [KMG]

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team [pdf]

Established in 2003, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) represents a substantial partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the public and private sectors. The primary goal of US-CERT is "to protect the nation's Internet infrastructure." To achieve this goal, the organization analyzes and reduces cyber threats and vulnerabilities, disseminates cyber threat warning information, and also coordinates incident response activities. The material on their site is divided into three primary sections: "Security Publications", "Alerts and Tips", and "Related Resources". More casual users may wish to start by clicking over to the "Alert and Tips" area to read up on current security issues, vulnerabilities, and exploits. Helpful tools and documents can be found in the "Security Publications" area which includes fact sheets on securing computers, recovering from an attack, and general Internet security. Additionally, visitors can sign up to receive electronic newsletters from US-CERT and they may also wish to sign up for their RSS feeds. [KMG]

Zaida Ben-Yusuf: New York Portrait Photographer [Macromedia Flash Player]

Zaida Ben-Yusuf may be one of the most interesting photographers of the early 20th century, yet many people may have not encountered her work. Born in London, Ben-Yusuf moved to New York in 1895 where she opened her own studio two years later. This online exhibit from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., brings her work to life through an interactive gallery, along with a detailed chronology and additional information about the exhibit. The "Gallery" section is divided up thematically into smaller areas that include "The New York Stage", "The Old Guard", and "New York as Crossroads". Each area starts off with a brief introduction and then visitors can view portraits of personages like author William Dean Howell, sculptor Daniel Chester French, and Edith Wharton. Visitors will no doubt want to explore the entire site as Ben-Yusuf seems to have a unique gift for portraiture and her work will certainly resonate with contemporary viewers. [KMG]

Network Tools

Orbit Downloader 2.7.4

Accelerated downloads can make everyone's life a little easier, so users will definitely want to check out this latest version of Orbit Downloader. The interface is pretty much the same as in previous versions, but this latest version makes downloading multiple files much more simple and it is particularly invaluable when downloading materials from social media sites. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista. [KMG]

Opera 9.52

Opera has always had reliable and interesting bells and whistles, and this version has a few more that are worthy of attention. The new features here include "Quick Find", which remembers not only both the title and addresses of relevant sites, but the actual content as well. Also, this version contains a redesigned address bar drop-down menu. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4, or 10.5. [KMG]

In The News

Amidst housing market problems, municipalities seek to stem urban decay and affordable housing remains out of reach for many

Communities Become Home Buyers to Fight Decay

Housing Rebound Unlikely Before 2009

FEMA spends almost $3B on emergency housing

Advocates assail suburbs for fighting housing rules

ACORN Housing Corporation [pdf]

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [pdf]

Economists and real estate experts reported this week that U.S. housing prices declined for a fourth straight month, and this news was most unwelcome to those still facing foreclosure on their homes and those who live in large urban areas hit hardest by the housing crisis. The New York Times reported this week that a number of cities (such as Boston and San Diego) are now utilizing both private funds and taxpayer money to buy foreclosed properties in economically isolated and depressed neighborhoods in order to prevent these areas from sliding into urban decay. Not surprisingly, the sale of foreclosed homes to municipalities, along with private investors and others, led to a 3.1 percent increase in home sales during the month of July. Municipalities believe that buying up these properties and rehabilitating them will breathe new life into neighborhoods riddled with foreclosed property and the consequences of urban decay are not lost on municipal leaders, as Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino commented, "Our job as the city government is to restore these neighborhoods. We can't let this cancer continue." Despite the continued decline in housing prices, affordable housing for low and middle-income families remains out of reach in a number of large cities across the United States, including Boston, Seattle, and New York. On a final note, it appears that there will be another type of housing crisis across the Gulf Coast in the coming months, as FEMA prepares to eliminate housing subsidies for thousands of persons displaced by Hurricane Katrina on March 1st. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a New York Times article from this past Monday that offers insight into the efforts of municipalities to purchase foreclosed properties in order to combat neighborhood deterioration. The second link leads to a piece of reporting from Bloomberg's Alison Vekshin that indicates that the housing market will most likely not rebound until the middle of 2009. Moving on, the third link leads to an USA Today article from this Tuesday that reports on FEMA's spending on emergency housing throughout the Gulf Coast region. The fourth link leads to a trenchant piece from this Tuesday's Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ) about the efforts made by wealthier suburbs across New Jersey to keep affordable housing from being built in their communities. The fifth link leads to the homepage of the ACORN Housing Corporation, which works to build affordable housing across the United States. Finally, the last link leads to the homepage of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) thematic policy program dedicated to creating and supporting new affordable housing developments. [KMG]

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