The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 36

September 12, 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

The Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System Online

This utterly fascinating digital project from Harvard University consists primarily of summary transcripts of 705 interviews conducted with refugees from the USSR during the early years of the Cold War. First-time visitors to the site should read over the introduction to the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System (HPSSS) and then dive right into the documents. Those who wish to locate certain topical information quickly will want to click on the "Finding Aids" area right away, and it will also be helpful to click on the "Working with the HPSSS Online" area. In terms of orientation, most of the A-Schedule interviews consist of personal life histories and the B-Schedule interviews consist of special topic interviews on subjects such as family, government, stratification, nationalities, and partisan movements. [KMG]

The American Scholar

The American Scholar is published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and since 1932 they have published compelling and thoughtful essays, articles, poetry, and other pieces. The creation of this publication was actually inspired by Emerson's famous speech "The American Scholar", which was delivered to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard in 1837. They recently revamped their website, and now visitors have access to many of the original articles from past and current editions of the publication. Recent articles of note include Charles Johnson's "The End of the Black American Narrative" and William Deresiewicz's "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education". Visitors can also take in items from past issues that include Melvin Bukiet's well-timed criticism "Brooklyn Books of Wonder" and their award-winning feature, "Genome Tome". [KMG]

Institute for Public Policy Research: Podcasts [iTunes]

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPRR) is just the type of organization to stay abreast of all the latest policy happenings and transformations across the globe, and for those that enjoy this spirit of inquiry, their podcasts will be most appreciated. Currently, the site contains over two dozen podcasts, and visitors are welcome to download them or just listen to them via this site. Some of the topics covered here include managed migration, the role of business in British society, and the global economy. Visitors who are looking for a specific podcast to start their journey might do well to listen to Margaret Hodge speak on the question of "Should cultural institutions promote shared values and a common national identity?" [KMG]

U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [pdf]

For some, the thought of geothermal energy might bring up the nation of Iceland, which has successfully harnessed this form of energy for many years. The United States Department of Energy's Geothermal Technologies Program is interested in such technologies as well, and their splendid site will be of great use to scientists, policy types, and others. The first thing new visitors will want to do is click on the Flash-enabled "Enhanced Geothermal Systems" animation, which describes their use and potential. After that, visitors can move on to the "Selected Topics" area, which includes a bit of information about U.S. geothermal history, photos of geothermal energy technology, and information on geothermal power plants and their operation. Visitors will also want to take a look at a few of the "Features" here, which include a report on the future of geothermal energy from MIT. [KMG]

The Cities Alliance [pdf]

Sponsored by the World Bank and other organizations, the Cities Alliance is "a global coalition of cities and their development partners committed to scaling up successful approaches to poverty reduction." The "News" area is front and center on their homepage and it provides a fine overview of their work, which ranges from concerted efforts to upgrade slums in the developing world, developing strategies to help cities with their financial situation, and also working on cohesive and comprehensive development strategies. Visitors can click on the right-hand side of the page to learn more about each of these thematic areas in the "Cities Alliance Activities" section. Moving on, the "Publications" area with its annual reports, fact sheets, and archived e-newsletters is a place worth visiting as well. The site is rounded out by the "City Development Strategies" area, which offers a rigorous explanation of the ways in which cities can assess their existing strengths and what the key aspects of a meaningful development strategy might be. [KMG]

The Biology Project: The Chemistry of Amino Acids

The Biology Project at the University of Arizona doesn't shy away from the big (or little) questions of life and science, and this helpful educational resource will be another educational arrow in the quiver of science educators from Seattle to Tashkent. The site provides a basic introduction to amino acids, offering a brief description of their role as the "building blocks" of protein. After reading the introduction, students can learn about the structure of amino acids, and then take on a few exercises in the "Test yourself" section of the site. Of course, that's not all, as visitors can also learn about each amino acid separately, and there's even a handy legend that makes learning that much easier. [KMG]

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies [pdf] (Last reviewed on November 30, 1999)

Founded in 1970, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is considered one of the premier think tanks focusing primarily on a broad range of public policy issues of concern to African Americans and other communities of color. Since their founding, the Center has expanded their work to include a wide range of research projects, and visitors will be delighted to know that their website features their findings. Visitors can get started by looking at the "Recent Publications" area on the right-hand side of the homepage. Here they will find items like the Center's Annual Report and documents like "Environmental Justice Through the Eye of Hurricane Katrina" and "Blacks and the 2008 Democratic National Convention". Their weblog is quite lively and contains conversations and comments on black elected officials across the country and their own Health Policy Institute. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive email updates from the Center. [KMG]

Atta texana: An Underground View of an Ant Colony [Quick Time, pdf]

You may have had one of those old-time ant colonies growing up as a child, but did you ever think about becoming immersed in an actual ant-colony? That could be the stuff of a bad 1950s horror film, but it's actually part of the engrossing research going on at the Vizlab, which is based at Texas A &M University. Essentially Carol LaFayette and an interdisciplinary team of collaborators have created a 3D model that effectively acts as an immersive system, allowing interested parties a very unique view into the lives of atta texana, which happen to be a species of leafcutting ants. First-time visitors should go ahead and take a look at the "Slide show" section and then take a look at both the tunnel animation and the immersive system video. Additionally, the site includes an article on the project and a link to LaFayette's homepage. [KMG]

General Interest

Tate Modern: Mark Rothko [iTunes, Macromedia Flash Player]

During his productive life, Mark Rothko worked across a variety of media, but he is perhaps best known for his iconic paintings, which usually feature bold rectangles that are executed in deep reds, oranges, maroons, and browns. The Tate Modern recently decided to mount an impressive exhibition of Rothko's work, and visitors who can't make it across the pond to Britain will want to spend some quality time on this site. Visitors can read a brief introduction to the exhibit, and then click on the "Resources & Links" area to view paintings from the collection, listen to podcasts from Tate curators, and also read about previous Rothko exhibits at the Tate, such as the Seagram Mural installation that took place from 1988 to 1989. Moving on, visitors shouldn't miss the interview with Achim Borchardt-Hume, who is the curator for this particular show. [KMG]

Metropolitan Police Service: Crime Mapping [Macromedia Flash Player]

Over the past several years, more and more big-city police departments have been able to join crime data with sophisticated geographic-information systems to offer a more detailed portrait of crime patterns for the general public's edification. Recently, the Metropolitan Police of London decided to engage in just such an initiative, and this website contains the helpful results of their concentrated labor. The site is graphics-intensive, but it remains easy to use. Users can use the "Find your area" to browse around by postcode or even select different boroughs from a drop down list. Visitors can zoom in and out as they see fit, and they will also want to consult the detailed key which offers some relative perspective on the various levels of crime throughout the different areas of the city. Overall, it's a very fine resource for aspiring criminologists, students of human behavior, and those who are just interested in London. [KMG]

Fashion Plate Collection

There are fashion plates, and then there are the exquisite fashion plates that constitute the University of Washington Libraries digitized collection. The plates were first collected by long-time home economics professor Blanche Payne, who taught at the University from 1927 to 1966. The plates come from leading French, American, and British fashion journals of the 19th and early 20th century and they document many stylistic periods, such as the Empire, Romantic, Victorian, and Edwardian. Visitors will want to start by reading an essay on the collection, and then they should feel welcome to browse the collection of over 400 plates at their leisure, or to browse the collection by subject. One fascinating aspect of the site is an extended excerpt from the 1913 book "Dame fashion" which comments on the history and transformation of various fashions during the 19th century. [KMG]

National Geographic Magazine: Photosynth [Photosynth]

It would be pretty great to fly close by over the ponderous 16th century castle of El Morro in San Juan, but it could be a pricey proposition, and you might garner some unwanted attention from Puerto Rican officials. Well, there is another option, and that is to take in El Morro (and many other world landmarks) via the National Geographic Magazine's Photosynth website. The site draws on technology developed by Microsoft, and essentially takes a large collection of photos, analyzes them for similarities, and stitches them together to create a rather fine immersive experience. Visitors are also welcome to submit their own photos for inclusion in this project, and landmarks currently under construction include Petra, the Sydney Opera House, and Seattle's Space Needle. Also, visitors will need to download the free Photosynth software to take full advantage of the site. [KMG]

Profiles in Science: The Paul Berg Papers

Nobel Prize-recipient Paul Berg has made major contributions to the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology for fifty years. This Profiles in Science feature from the National Library of Health contains biographical information on Berg, along with correspondence, laboratory notebooks, portraits, legislative records, reports, and articles related to his work and times. Visitors can start their visit within the site by reading his extended biography, which is divided chronologically into areas like "Protein Synthesis, Tumor Viruses, and Recombinant DNA, 1959-1975". The documents themselves offer a variety of insights into Berg's career, his interactions with other scholars, and the milieu of this type of scientific research over the second half of the twentieth century. [KMG]

MIT OpenCourseWare: Development of Inventions and Creative Ideas [pdf]

Many a great invention has come out of MIT, and it's nice to know that their OpenCourseWare initiative provides materials from a class titled "Development of Inventions and Creative Ideas" taught by Professor Robert Rines and Dr. Dedric Carter. The course "examines the role of the engineer as patent expert and as technical witness in court and patent interference and related proceedings." That's far from all, however, as the course also delves into "American systems of incentives to creativity" and "various manners of transplanting inventions into business operations." Interested parties can breeze through the syllabus, look over a selection of readings, take a look into the assignments, and a bit of information on the course pedagogy. [KMG]

Ceramics Monthly

If you've ever thrown some clay around or experimented with different glazes (and even if you haven't), you'll want to turn the electronic pages of Ceramics Monthly. Published ten times a year, the magazine focuses on all things ceramics, and visitors to their site can read selected articles about exhibitions, installations, ceramics techniques, and those ceramicists who are making their mark in the field. Those already in the ceramics field will also want to make note of the "Call to Entries" area of the site and the "New Books" section. The site is rounded out by a link to the "Ceramic Arts Daily" site, where visitors can browse ceramics features, look through a glossary of terms, and view great videos of potters making pitchers, squared-off mugs, and vases. [KMG]

Benin-Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria [Quick Time, Adobe

Flash Player]

The royal arts of the Benin Kingdom of south-central Nigeria focus on the centrality of the "Oba", or divine king, and this exhibit, organized by museums in Austria, Africa, Germany, the U.S., and France, traces the history of Benin's royal arts from the early 13th century to the mid-twentieth. On the exhibition's website there are ten themes to explore including "The Warrior Obas", "The Oba's Palace", and "Rituals at Court", and each theme is illustrated with selected objects. For example, an Ife, a foot-high, brass head of a man illustrates the "Mythic Origins" theme, dating from the 12th/15th century. Click on the theme "Oba Ewuare and the Portuguese" to see Oba's Fly Wisk (Ugbudian Ivie), 18th/19th century, an object that, despite its practical sounding name, is purely a luxury item, made of lovely red coral and agate, and weighing approximately five and a half pounds - far too heavy to swat a fly. Interactive and historical maps round out the experience and there are also several videos showing a 21st century artist at work and the Igue Festival, Benin City, 2002-2003. [DS]

Network Tools

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0.169

Those who wish for an antivirus program that is both versatile and reliable should definitely consider this latest iteration of the AVG Anti-Virus program. With this program, visitors can be assured that AVG will look for new virus definitions on a daily basis and that it will also create an effective rescue disk in case a dire situation emerges. This trial version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. [KMG]

Lockdown 1.0.6

Putting one's computer on lockdown isn't a bad idea, and this handy little application can help users do just that. Essentially, the application sets off an alarm if someone attempts to use your Mac, and prevents the system from being muted or put to sleep. Users can also customize its detection feature by activating the computer's motion or keyboard sensors. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.5. [KMG]

In The News

In an effort to return Edgar Allan Poe to the City of Brotherly Love, scholar and pundit issues a challenge

Baltimore Has Poe: Philadelphia Wants Him [Free registration may be required]

The Bibliothecary: Ed & Edgar

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site [pdf]

Edgar Allan Poe

Scholar, Athlete, and Artist: Edgar Allan Poe at University of Virginia

During his 40 years on earth, Edgar Allan Poe lived what might be termed a productive and peripatetic existence. He was born in Boston, raised in Richmond, spent time studying at Mr. Jefferson's University of Virginia, returned to Richmond, left again for Boston, moved in with his aunt in Baltimore, returned again to Richmond, spent time in Philadelphia and New York City, and then made a fateful trip back to Baltimore where he died. Poe was arguably the first American writer to become an international celebrity, and his legacy remains undiminished in the over 150 years that have passed since he breathed his last. Given all that, it's not surprising that there is a minor tempest in a teapot currently brewing over his last resting place. Poe is buried in Baltimore, but Edward Pettit, a Philadelphian and Poe scholar, would like to see him repatriated to the City of Brotherly Love. Pettit has been calling for Philadelphians to join him in his cause, and his hope is that Poe's body can be moved before the bicentennial of his birth in January 2009. Pettit is quick to point out that Poe wrote many of his most loved works in Philadelphia, including "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Tell-Tale Heart". In response, Jeff Jerome, the curator of the Poe House in Baltimore remarked, "Philadelphia can keep its broken bell and its cheese steak, but Poe's body isn't going anywhere." The matter may be resolved in a gentlemanly manner come early January, when Mr. Pettit is scheduled to debate a debater-to-be-named later regarding this dispute at the Philadelphia Free Library. [KMG]

The first link will lead visitors to a piece from the New York Times which offers up some rather compelling details about this ongoing debate between the City of Brotherly Love and Charm City. The second link will lead visitors to the "Ed & Edgar" section of Edward Pettit's website. Here visitors can learn about Pettit's interactions with all things Poe, and his ongoing struggle to restore Poe's Philadelphia legacy. Moving on, the third link leads to the homepage of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. Their site is quite nice, and visitors can learn about Poe's time in Baltimore, his gravesite at the Westminster Burying Ground, and also look over information on joining their ranks. The fourth site will whisk users away to the website of the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia. It's a great place to learn about Poe's time in Philadelphia, and visitors can use the site to plan a visit. The fifth link will take users to an excellent site created by the University of Virginia, which contains a number of letters written to and from Poe while he was a student in Charlottesville, along with many of his tales of horror, intrigue, and general suspense. The final link leads to a nice essay by Scott D. Peterson about Poe's time at the University of Virginia, where he managed to rack up a sizeable amount of debt, write some poems, and also gamble a bit of money away. [KMG]

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