The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 44

November 7, 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

ActionBioscience: Issues in Biotechnology

Created by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), the ActionBioscience website is designed to promote bioscience literacy through a host of educational activities, worksheets, interactive features, and online demonstrations and visualizations. This particular part of the site looks at issues in biotechnology through a range of articles and activities that can be used in classrooms or for personal edification. This section contains over two dozen of these activities, arranged into thematic sections including technology and ethics, cloning, and medical biotechnology. Each article contains a brief introduction, a set of related external links, and a set of references for future use. Some of the pieces that shouldn't be missed are "Agricultural Bioterrorism" by Radford G. Davis and "Designer Babies: Ethical Considerations" by Nicholas Agar. [KMG]

Freedom House [pdf]

Founded in 1941, Freedom House was organized by prominent Americans who were concerned with mounting threats to peace and democracy. Today, as in previous decades, their mission includes promoting "the growth of freedom by encouraging U.S. policymakers, international institutions, and the governments of established democracies to adopt policies that advance human rights and democracy around the world." First-time visitors may wish to begin by looking to the right-hand side of the homepage to the "Around the World" section. Here visitors can learn about the work that the Freedom House organization is doing in other parts of the world, and more importantly, they can read their in-house reports on democratic movements in different countries. Moving along, the left-hand side of the page includes links to their other publications, which include the "Nations In Transit" series. This particular series takes a long view on political reform in the former Communist states of Europe and Eurasia. To really get a full appreciation of the site's contents and scope requires several visits, but it should have no problem holding the attention of public policy types and scholars. [KMG]

Audiovisual Library of International Law [pdf]

The United Nations' Audiovisual Library of International Law was first proposed in 1997, and in recent years it has grown by leaps and bounds. It is a unique multimedia resource that provides "high quality international law training and research materials to an unlimited number of recipients on a global level." The Library consists of a "Historic Archives" section, along with a "Lecture Series" section, and an online research library with links to treaties, jurisprudence, publications, and research guides. In the "Historic Archives" section, visitors will find a drop-down menu with links to topics such as disarmament, human rights, and the laws of outer space. The "Lecture Series" section includes dozens of lectures organized by subject matter headings ranging from the Arctic to the United Nations. Subject experts deliver the video lectures and it's easy to see how these talks could be used to complement classroom lectures and discussions. Finally, the research library is a great tool for those seeking to explore various facets of United Nations treaties and other aspects of international jurisprudence. As a bonus, the site starts off with Orson Welles reading the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations. [KMG]

International Migration and Human Rights [pdf]

The Global Migration Group (GMG) is an inter-agency group that is dedicated to encouraging the "adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better coordinated approaches to the issue of international migration." Their number includes representatives from UNICEF, the World Bank and various regional commissions from the United Nations. In October 2008, they released this 144-page report in order to commemorate and reflect on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The report is divided into seven sections, including those dealing with the legal framework of migration, globalization and migration trends, migration data, and a concluding chapter which discusses some of the most pressing issues facing different migrant groups around the world. The report also includes three very useful appendices which deal with the policy instruments used in regards to human migration and the adoption of key United Nations legal instruments involved with international migration. [KMG]

Land Banking as Metropolitan Policy [pdf]

As the United States continues to grapple with a financial crisis, many scholars and policy pundits are looking at ways to improve the lot of American cities. One recently proposed idea is land banking, which is "the process or policy by which local governments acquire surplus properties and convert them to productive use or hold them for long term strategic public purposes." In this 39-page paper released in October 2008, Frank S. Alexander of The Brookings Institution offers a lucid and compelling exploration of how land banking might be used at the federal level in order to support the millions of properties that are currently in the process of foreclosure, or those which are already vacant and abandoned. The report contains an executive summary and nine chapters (including a conclusion) which discuss the ways in which such a policy might be implemented over the short and long term. [KMG]

The Big Bang [pdf]

Microwaves, cosmology, and the Big Bang are just some of the topics covered by this well-thought out set of educational materials created by the dedicated staff at the Open University's OpenLearn program. This particular educational unit includes eight primary sections, including "Distances of galaxies", "Introducing cosmology", and "The primordial nuclear abundances". Visitors can log in to keep track of their progress within each unit, and they can also offer their own review of the materials offered on the site. Each section comes complete with graphs, photographs, artistic renderings, and illustrations that complement the written text quite nicely. Interested parties can also choose to view the materials in different formats, including as an RSS feed, print-ready documents, and so on. Overall, the site offers great insight into the world of the Big Bang for a more casual audience. [KMG]

EDUCAUSE Quarterly [pdf]

EDUCAUSE is an online education quarterly journal for those involved in information technology services in university and college settings. The journal can be received by members in print or online, until 2009, when it will only be available online. On the right hand side of the page are links to recent comments made by members about the journal's articles and features, allowing a visitor to be privy to the current practices and daunting problems that information technology staff are grappling with on university campuses. By clicking on "Browse Archives" at the top of the page, visitors will be directed to the complete past issues of EDUCAUSE from 2000 to the present. Clicking on "Contribute" at the top of the page, visitors can read the guidelines for contributions, including what to avoid writing about, as well as suggestions for what to address to help their chances for acceptance. Visitors shouldn't miss reading the current issue of EDUCAUSE, which is available for free on their homepage. [KMG]

Microbial Life-Educational Resources [pdf]

The Marine Biology Laboratory of Woods Hole, Massachusetts and Montana State University are the collaborators on this easily navigable website of educational resources about microbial life. The goal of the site is to provide expert information about microorganisms for K-12 classrooms, university educators, and the general public. They effectively accomplish their goal here, with a host of resources, in formats appropriate for different knowledge levels, in a well-organized manner. For all of the topics covered, three levels of information are provided. Resources such as newspapers, websites, and magazine articles are provided for general learners; journal articles and academic reviews are provided for advanced learners; and activities, assignments, and readings are provided for educators. Interestingly, one of the activities found in the "Teaching Methods" tab on the left side of the homepage, is how to use the Socratic Method with students, with question suggestions, rules of participation, and what to expect from the students. An interesting part of the website is its focus on the microorganisms that live in extreme environments. Visitors can learn about the many types of extremes environments, the extremophiles, and how to teach about extreme environments in K-12 classrooms, by clicking on the "Extreme Environments" tab on the left side of the homepage. The photos of the extreme environments resemble abstract art with their close ups of the microorganisms in their environment. By clicking on the "Online Resources" tab on the left hand side of the homepage, visitors will be taken to a virtual index of their resources, where they can also narrow their view by resource type, subject, environment type, and grade-level. Each category that can be used to narrow results also shows how many entries are available for that category. [KMG]

General Interest

Portable Radio [iTunes]

The Portable Radio website, a local podcasting project, is the brainchild of artist Russell Martin and art market specialist Sarah Thelwall. The goal of the project is to create an online audio map of the visual arts in the UK by recording dialogues by artists, writers, members of the public, and curators of ten select communities. Clicking on the "Partners" tab on the homepage will lead the visitor to the list of the partners who are participating in the dialogues, their location around the UK, and a link to the website of the partner. Clicking on the "Audio" tab on the homepage will take visitors to the podcasts for the three communities that have been completed: "University College Falmouth," "Workplace Gallery, Gateshead", and "Whitstable Biennale, Kent." Additionally in the "Audio" tab, visitors can click on "Subscribe to the Portable Radio Podcast" to receive each new episode as it is released. To learn more about Martin and Thelwall's other artistic endeavors and to listen to interviews with them, click on the "Organisers" tab and then click on any of the underlined words to get to the links. Especially interesting is the link to the "Speakeasy" website, which discusses the formation of a group of artists whose discussions center "in and around contemporary art" and critiquing fellow artists' works. The site also gives guidance in starting one's own "speakeasy." [KMG]

University of South Carolina School of Music: Sheet Music Collection

The University of South Carolina Music Library has an extensive collection of over 10,000 pieces of popular, sacred, and classical sheet music that can be easily searched, due to the digital sheet music project on the School of Music website. Additionally, the cover and page images are available for those pieces in the public domain. The top 5 searches are listed on the homepage, and the titles are clickable, so visitors can see the pieces everyone else wants to see as well. Visitors can also search the library's collection using the "Quick Search" box in the middle of the homepage, or they can click on "Advanced Search" to be linked to the page that allows searching by a multitude of categories. Visitors can search by such criteria as composer, arranger, publisher, donor name, and of course, title. Once they pull up a record, visitors will see the usual details about the music, like publisher, date, composer, and the library call number. Under the Notes section of the record visitors can view the first line of text and the first line of the refrain. If the music is in the public domain, they will also see a clickable image of the front and back covers, as well as the pages in between. Visitors can choose "View Book Format" or "View Printable Format" to view them. If they choose book form, each page of the sheet music will be a thumbnail that visitors can click to explore larger, easily readable and navigable images. [KMG]

The Opper Project [pdf]

Much can be learned through close examination of editorial cartoons, and this fine online collection created by The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library will be a welcome find for educators and students alike. The Opper Project is named after Ohioan Frederick Burr Opper, who was one of the most well-known early American-born cartoonists. First-time visitors may wish to start out by reading the biography of Opper presented here, and then continue on by looking over the "Editorial Cartoons: An Introduction" section. Educators will want to look through the lesson plans, which use various historical editorial cartoons to illuminate topics such as the League of Nations, Reconstruction, the Great Depression, and immigration. The site is very user friendly, and visitors shouldn't miss the special worksheets that explore caricatures and common editorial symbols. [KMG]

Georgia Official and Statistical Register

The Digital Library of Georgia has distinguished itself by creating a far ranging set of important digital collections, and The Georgia Official and Statistical Register is quite a pippin. Published between 1923 and 1990 by the Georgia Archives, the Register covered Georgia's executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Within its pages, visitors can read biographical sketches of elected officials, learn about the regents of the university system, peruse election returns, and also learn about the state flag, the state song, and legal holidays. Visitors to the homepage can browse each volume, perform a full-text search, and even just look at the "From the collection" box, which contains a rotating selection of images and text from various editions of the Register. [KMG]

American Experience: The Crash of 1929

The Roaring 20s diminished to a soft purr as the stock market crashed in the fall of 1929. It's a historical event that has fascinated everyone from financial historians to those who are generally interested in the peaks and valleys of American history. The PBS program "American Experience" created this online site to complement their recent documentary exploring the stock market crash of 1929. Visitors to the site can watch a preview of the program and then make their way through the "Special Features", "Timeline", and "Gallery" sections. In the "Special Features" area visitors can take part in an online poll, read first-hand memories of the crash, watch the rise and fall of RCA stock, and read excerpts from newspaper headlines of the period. Moving on, the "Timeline" area offers a broad portrait of Wall Street from 1653 to the early 21st century. Finally, the "Gallery" offers some historic images of the 1920s, including those of Babe Ruth, Louis Armstrong, and a certain well-known horseless carriage. [KMG]

Asia Society: Podcasts [iTunes]

Based in New York, the Asia Society has longed distinguished itself through its many public outreach activities, particularly its conferences, lecture series, and educational outreach efforts. Their website is a part of such efforts, and their recently launched podcasts series continues in this enjoyable vein. As the site notes, the podcasts will bring visitors programming related to Asian arts, culture, policy, business, and education. The podcasts began in September 2008, and currently include conversations regarding Asia's interests in U.S. elections, nuclear disarmament in North Korea, the credit crunch throughout Asia, and the Cultural Revolution. Visitors can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or RSS feed, and the site will certainly be worth checking in on more than one occasion. [KMG]

Boston By Design [Real Player]

Radio station WBUR in Boston is well known for producing such radio programs as "Car Talk", and they have recently developed the "Boston By Design" program to explore issues surrounding urban development and design in the city. Funding for the program was provided by The Boston Foundation, and the series is thematically divided into four parts: "The Greenway", "Song of the City", "Edge of Urbanism", and "Future Footprints". Each theme explores a different part of Boston's recent (and past) urban development, and visitors can learn more by clicking on the "About the Series" tab. The homepage also includes a series of clickable images that offer thumbnail sketches of the areas profiled in the radio series, such as the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, Washington Street, and the South End. The site is rounded out by a "Links & Resources" area that contains links to bibliographies and various architectural sites. [KMG]

Network Tools

AirRadar 1.1.1

If you are out and about and looking for a wireless network for your computer, you may want to take advantage of the AirRadar application. The application will list all open and closed networks in range, type of encryption, and channel. Advanced users will also appreciate the fact that the application can also track noise and signal strengths in a graph format. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5. [KMG]

Orbit Downloader 2.7.8

With an eye towards enhanced downloading of files from social networking sites, Orbit Downloader is well worth a look. The application uses a fairly basic interface, and it's easy to use, as visitors can just right-click a video or photo and select the "Download" function from their menu to complete the action. Another useful feature is the one-click button that allows users to download multiple files from any given site. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista. [KMG]

In The News

Cities weigh costs and benefits of new stadiums

Tax Breaks for New York Stadiums Are Questioned [Free registration may be required]

RU jumped the gun on stadium expansion

Sabernomics: Sports Stadiums and Economic Development: A Summary of the Economics Literature

Interview with Andrew Zimbalist, Sports Economist

The secret benefits of fandom

The Stadium Gambit and Local Economic Development [pdf]

World Stadiums

When the emperor Vespasian began building the Coliseum in 70 CE, he didn't need any tax breaks or other incentives to get started on the work. Almost two millennia later, a number of economists, policy wonks, and citizens groups are calling into question the costs associated with building large stadiums for sports teams. During these difficult financial times, many people are calling into question the notion that these very large and expensive facilities serve as engines for local economic development. Typically, major sports teams have made thinly veiled (or not-so-thinly veiled) motions to depart from their home city, and cities have responded by offering various tax breaks, stadium financing assistance, and other incentives. New York is struggling with this issue right now, as the New York Times reported that the public costs involved with the new stadiums for the New York Yankees and the New York Mets have risen from $281 million to $485 million in the past three years. These monies were dedicated for related infrastructure costs (such as garages and transportation improvements), and they do not include an estimated $480 million in city, state, and federal tax breaks. Of course, this situation is not unique to New York, as other cities, including Seattle and Chicago, have grappled with this dilemma multiple times over the past several decades. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a piece on the subject of funding for the two stadiums in New York from this Tuesday's New York Times. The second link leads to a recent piece from by Jay Jefferson Cooke about the controversy surrounding Rutgers University's expansion of their football stadium. Moving on, the third link will whisk users away to a brief review of the academic literature on the economic impact of sports stadiums by Professor Dennis Coates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The fourth link leads to a great interview with sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, offered courtesy of The Biz of Baseball site. The fifth link will take users to an intriguing piece from the Boston Globe on the potential side benefits of supporting a winning sports team. The sixth link leads to a compelling piece of commentary on the subject of stadiums and local economic development offered as part of The Cato Institute's policy paper series. Finally, the last link leads to the World Stadiums site, which can be used as a reference guide to the thousands of stadiums across the globe. [KMG]

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