The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 50

December 19, 2008

A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.

A Note to our Readers

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

A Note to our Readers

Scout Holiday Publishing Schedule

The Scout Report will be on vacation December 26th and January 2nd. We will return with the January 9th, 2009 report. [CMH]

Best Holiday wishes and see you next year,

Chanda Halderman
Managing Editor

Research and Education

MIT OpenCourseWare: Introduction to Geology [pdf]

If you are having difficulty remembering the details of the Earth's geological structure or the nature of major minerals and rock types, you can consult this excellent introductory course offered as part of MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative. The materials are drawn from Professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton's Spring 2008 "Introduction to Geology" course, and they include a syllabus, a course calendar, readings, lecture notes, and assignments. The course is designed for undergraduates, though anyone can benefit from examining the materials. Visitors can make their way through lecture notes that cover metamorphic rocks, rock deformation, earthquakes, and the formation of continents. The site also contains some great handouts which cover time scales, New England geology, and oxygen isotopes. Finally, visitors can also send feedback about the course. [KMG]

Changing the Game: The Federal Role in Supporting 21st Century Educational Innovation [pdf]

The Brookings Institution has had a long-standing interest in the American system of education, and this thoughtful 73-page report takes a close look at how the federal government might best intervene in this particular area of American society. The report was released in October 2008, and it was authored by Sara Mead and Andrew J. Rotherham. In their report, the authors suggest that the federal government should create a new federal Office of Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Department of Education. The general premise behind such a policy idea is that such an office would "expand the boundaries of public education by scaling up successful education entrepreneurs, seeding transformative educational innovations, and building a stronger culture to support these activities throughout the public sector." The report contains eight chapters, an executive summary, and a set of conclusions. [KMG]

Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass [Macromedia Flash Player]

Talk about eye candy, this site has got it in spades! A retrospective of 35+ years of work of Lino Tagliapietra, an Italian glass artist, is showcased in a beautifully designed, easy to use website that is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum online exhibitions. The homepage has a short introduction to the artist, who had an usual career trajectory as he started working in glass factories in Murano, Italy as a child and then eventually became a designer and craftsman for the glass industry. Tagliapietra finally ended up an independent artist and a teacher at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. To view his works, the visitor has several options. The default method is the slideshow, which can be stopped just by clicking on the pause symbol in the right hand corner of the slideshow screen. To select a piece to view, simply roll over it to see a slightly larger image, and if intrigued, click on the thumbnail to see the piece in all its glory. To read a few details about the piece, such as date and technique used, just roll the mouse anywhere over the image and the details will drop down. If visitors wish to navigate within the lineup of thumbnails, they can just click on the "+" or "-" at the bottom of the slideshow screen. Visitors should not miss slide 14 (numbers appear in the top left of the slide when the image is rolled over), which is of the work entitled Endeavor, 1998-2003. This piece is an installation of 35 multi-colored "boats," suspended from the ceiling, and hovering above the floor. Another can't-miss-piece is the elegant and spare Dinosaur (slide 24) from 2007, which is made of colorless glass and has an asymmetry to it that is almost unsettling. Slides 22 and 23 are reminiscent of architectural blueprints rendered in color, or what it must feel like to be a mouse in a sunlit church, filled with simple stained-glass windows. [KMG]

Exploring the Environment: Modules & Activities [pdf]

The "Classroom of the Future" and "Exploring the Environment" are a collaboration between NASA and Jesuit Wheeling University, and they are responsible for this fine website that offers teachers unique ways to teach students about weather systems. The activities are for grades 5-12, and each activity indicates the applicable grade level, though most lean toward the upper grades. The homepage has a jigsaw puzzle graphic with pieces interlocking that compromise the topics, their grade ranges, whether they are an activity or lesson, and whether they are "Basic", "Comprehensive" or "Advanced". The two "Activities" available "Strangers in Paradise" and "Mars Landing" are located on the homepage at the top of the jigsaw puzzle graphic. Both are for grades 7-12, and each emphasizes working with digital images, such as enhancing, saving, manipulating, etc. Detailed instructions are provided, along with a bit of humor in each scenario. Each of the lessons involves a situation that students must solve. Some of the lessons include "Florida Everglades", "Water Quality", and "Tropical Poison". There is also a "Glossary" provided in a link at the bottom of the page, specific to each lesson. [KMG]

Virginia Historical Society: Heads and Tales

The Virginia Historical Society (VHS) has a collection of almost 1000 portraits and has chosen a unique way to get visitors better acquainted with five of them through this online exhibit. The VHS chose five people with "compelling personal stories" and provided an oil-paint portrait of each held by the Historical Society. In addition to several paragraphs which detail their lives, components of the portraits are analyzed to tell more of the story. To read the stories of each of the people in the portraits, click on the "Inventory" tab at the top of the page, or click on "Learn More" under the brief description of what's contained in the Inventory, in the middle of the page. At the top of the description of the person's life is a thumbnail of a portion of the portrait, so make sure to click on the "+" in the lower left hand corner of the thumbnail, or "Click to Enlarge" underneath the thumbnail to see the entire portrait. At the end of the description of the person in the portrait, there is often a question posed that the visitor may have been thinking about while reading about the person. Luckily, the Historical Society provides an answer to the question. To see details of the portraits that are explained further, click on "View Details of Paintings" at the top of the description in the "Inventory" section of the site, or if on the homepage, click on the "Gallery" tab at the top of the page. Simply click on the thumbnails that say "Click to Enlarge", to get to the explanation of the detail. Visitors shouldn't miss the portrait of robber baron Thomas Fortune Ryan by Spanish artist Joachin Sorolla, with its rich texture, depth and sunlit glow. The detail focuses on is the Rodin statue on Ryan's desk, a favorite artist of Ryan's. The written explanation includes details about Ryan's patronage of the arts after his robber baron days were over. [KMG]

Mumbai: A Battle in the War for Pakistan

The Council on Foreign Relations publishes a wide variety of publications, and their "Expert Briefs" series is quite exceptional. Given the recent unrest in Mumbai, visitors with an interest in South Asian affairs and world affairs in general will find this brief particularly compelling. Authored by Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, this expert brief was released in December 2008. The piece looks at the political economy and relationship between India and Pakistan, along with offering some commentary on combating terrorism in the region. Additionally, visitors can view the "Related Materials" immediately to the right of the brief. Here they will find additional commentary on the subject from other persons associated with the Council. Finally, there's also a link here which allows interested parties to send the brief to friends and associates. [KMG]

Wisconsin Goes To War: Our Civil War Experience

During the Civil War, over 12,000 men from Wisconsin were killed. Their stories, along with the stories of other Wisconsin residents, is told through first person narrative accounts which form part of this important digital collection created by the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections group. These documents were originally selected for digitization for use by Civil War history courses taught at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The first phase of the collection consists of over 630 pages of materials from the years 1861 to 1866, and when the entire project is complete visitors will be able to search through approximately 2,600 pages of materials. Visitors may wish to start their journey by looking at some of the 42 sub collections here, which include the diary of William Ault who served in the 14th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment and the papers of the Ladies' Union League, which handled claims for money for Wisconsin soldiers and their families. [KMG]

Migration Policy Institute: State Legislation Database [pdf]

The Migration Policy Institute has worked on a number of resources for scholars and journalists, and this latest addition to their site is another worthy venture in this vein. The State Legislation Database is a free, searchable data tool designed "to generate information about all immigration-related bills and resolutions introduced in state legislatures." The information is classified by state, region, subject area, legislative type, and bill status, and visitors can search through all of the data via their specialized search engine. This particular project is a joint project of the Migration Policy Institute and a research team at the New York University School of Law. Currently, the database contains data from 2001 to 2007, and they are planning on adding additional legislation in the future. More casual visitors can also just take a quick look at some brief tables, which feature state immigration legislature by type, bill status, and subject area. [KMG]

General Interest

The Roger Reynolds Collection [Real Player]

Trained as a musician and an engineer at the University of Michigan, composer Roger Reynolds has been one of the major voices in contemporary music during the past half-century. In 1998, the Library of Congress established the Roger Reynolds Collection, and this site offers a tour through his works and life. Visitors to the site can look over a list of his works, which include theatrical productions, digital signal processing, video installations, and real-time computer spatialization. Moving down the site's homepage, visitors can browse the collection by format, search by keyword, and also take a look at two special presentations: "The Genealogy of Transfigured Wind" and "An Interview with Roger Reynolds". "The Genealogy of Transfigured Wind" affords visitors a series of illustrated histories and diagrams that provide substantial insight into how Reynolds created the series of compositions "Transfigured Wind". [KMG]

Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian

Over half a century since his death, Edward S. Curtis's photographs of Native Americans remain tremendously popular, and in some quarters, quite controversial. One of his most notable projects was his limited edition volume, "The North American Indian". Produced with the financial assistance of J.P. Morgan, this limited edition publication contained over 2000 photogravure plates and narrative descriptions. Curtis's intent was to document "the old time Indian, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners." The American Memory Project at the Library of Congress has done a tremendous job of digitizing this massive volume, and they have placed it online here for the general public. Visitors can search the volume by keyword, or browse its contents by subject, American Indian tribe, or geographic location. The site is rounded out by a special essay presentation titled "Edward S. Curtis in Context" which gives visitors a nice profile of Curtis, his legacy, and his contributions to ethnography. [KMG]

The Great Issues Forum [Real Player, iTunes, Macromedia Flash Player]

Big ideas are important, and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY) has created the Great Issues Forum in order to "explore critical issues of our time through a single thematic lens." The program was started in 2007, and the initiative includes free public conversations, online seminars, and a number of other features designed to bring these conversations to people around the globe. Visitors can get a sense of these conversations by clicking on the "Online Audio/Video Archive" to view past sessions. These sessions have included discussion on political power, economic power, and the African-American church and American politics. After checking one (or more) of these sessions out, visitors should then click on over to the "Seminars" area. Here they can read and comment on online discussions about subjects such as global natural resource conflicts and depictions of power in cinema. Along the way, visitors can also view participants' bios, and also learn about the upcoming seminar topics and public presentations and forums. [KMG]

Two on W.H. Auden

The Auden Society
Poets: W.H. Auden

After his death in 1973, W.H. Auden was feted in many quarters, and his reputation as one of the most important poets of the 20th century remains secure. The first link will take users to the homepage of the W.H. Auden Society, which works to preserve his legacy and to inform curious readers about his work in general. The helpful materials on this site are contained with seven sections, which include "Books", "Poems", "Recordings", and "News". The "Books" area contains a complete list of Auden's works, along with his plays and libretti. "News" contains information about news stories recently done on Auden, and the "Criticism" area contains a rather thorough listing of introductory studies on Auden, biographies, and concordances. The second link leads to brief, yet delightful collection of Auden's works offered by the Academy of American Poets. The site starts off with a brief biography of Auden, and continues on with the text of eleven poems by the master himself. The real treat is that visitors can also listen to Auden read three of his own works, such as "First Things First" and "On the Circuit". [KMG]

Teaching Tolerance Magazine

The Teaching Tolerance magazine, which is put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center to accompany its free Teaching Tolerance educational program, is available online via the website dedicated to the Teaching Tolerance program. The magazine is loaded with wonderful information and creative ways to teach tolerance. Visitors should click "Go" next to the great article entitled "I Didn't Know There Were Cities in Africa!" which is on right side of the page. At the end of the article is a resource list of all the materials mentioned in the article. To search issues of the magazine by grade level, tolerance topic, and academic subject, simply click on any of the links to articles on the right side of the page, or the "Perspectives", "Grant Spotlight", or "Teaching Tools" links on the left side of the page. These will take the visitor to the aforementioned search function, which will appear in the lower left corner of the page. Clicking on "Advanced Find", right below the search function, allows the visitor to also choose the type of content, including classroom activity, lesson plan, parent guide and magazine article, for which they are searching.
If the thoughtful content and depth with which the Southern Poverty Law Center supports their Teaching Tolerance program isn't enough to convince visitors that it's a superb program, check out this quote from their "About Us" section: "Scientific surveys demonstrate that our programs help students learn respect for differences and bolster teacher practice." [KMG]

Turner Prize 2008 [Real Player, Macromedia Flash Player]

The Tate Museum's website has a well organized section on the Turner Prize, the prize awarded to artists under 50 years old who were born, or are living or working in Britain. The artist must also have had an outstanding exhibition in the year prior to the awarding of the Prize. Visitors can roll their mouse over "The Prize" to see links to some general information, such as "What is the Turner Prize?", "Turner Prize Q&A", and "The Jury". Within the "What is the Turner Prize?" section there is a link to a fantastic history of the Turner Prize, including posters from past Prize years, invitations to the announcement reception, and links to many works by the shortlisted artists. Back on the homepage of the Turner Prize section, rolling over "The Debate" will take the visitor to the categories of "Think", "Report", and "Reveal". Particularly interesting are the "Think" and "Reveal" links. [KMG]

EXPLO.TV [Real Player, iTunes]

Even though EXPLO.TV sounds like an edgy punk website, it's actually the video component of the Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception in San Francisco. This website has some excellent ways to learn about science--such as webcasts, podcasts, and video clips. At the top of the page visitors will find several ways to browse: "Presentation Type", "Program Type", or "Category". Within the categories section visitors will find: "Everyday Science", "History of Science", and "Popular Science in Action". "Upcoming Webcasts" is another feature on the homepage, and there are a number of fine webcasts here. Because the webcasts are produced in San Francisco, people who live in the area can go to the live audio or video broadcast. They just need to click on the link "Attend the Live Event" to learn how. Visitors can also subscribe to a monthly e-newsletter that keeps them updated on the happenings and special events at the Exploratorium. [KMG]

Hood Museum of Art

In 2007 Dartmouth's Hood Museum of Art began a series of exhibitions highlighting their permanent collections with their inaugural collection "American Art at Dartmouth". Excerpts from that show, along with more from their second and current collection "European Art at Dartmouth", are now viewable online. Examples from the American Art show include John Singleton Copley's portrait in pastels of Governor John Wentworth, from 1769, and an Art Nouveau vase from 1901, while some European highlights are Kandinsky's Circling, from 1924, an Albrecht Durer woodcut from 1510, and Jan Davidsz de Heem, Still-Life with Grapes, ca. 1660s. In addition, the Museum's website features video and audio, such as panoramas of exhibition galleries, lectures and gallery talks, and several short videos including "The Hood Museum of Art at Twenty" and "The Construction of the Museum". [DS]

Network Tools

Google Chrome 1.0

Google recently released their first full version of the web browser Chrome, and by most accounts, it's a valuable addition in this particular area of applications. Visitors will note that the focus here is on the pages that people are viewing, rather than the sometimes cumbersome applications and tools that are gathered around the borders. Chrome doesn't really offer many plug-ins, but it does have detachable tabs which can be rearranged as users see fit. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

TrailRunner 1.8

Everyone's looking for an improved running or walking path, and TrailRunner can help you do just that. TrailRunner 1.8 is essentially a route planning application designed for sports like running, biking, and inline skating. Visitors can create interactive maps, review alternate routes, and export the directions onto their iPod. This version is compatible with Mac OS X 10.3. [KMG]

In The News

Retired Space Shuttles for sale, shipping not included

For sale: used space shuttles. Asking price: $42 million apiece

Request for information on space shuttle orbiter and space shuttle main engine placement

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Phase Two The Flight Continues

Shuttle and Station Video Podcasts

Buran the Soviet 'space shuttle'

How Space Shuttles work

Paper Toys: Space Shuttle

As the 2010 retirement of the space shuttles Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor draws near, NASA this week released proposed post retirement plans for several of the space shuttles. The initial release was designed to gauge interest from potential buyers who would be willing and able to put the retired ships on display. Intended for schools, science museums, and other organizations that might be interested in showcasing one of the three remaining shuttles, the proposal contains what would be a prohibitive price for most organizations. NASA estimates that it will cost around $42 million dollars to get the shuttle ready for it's final destination. It is important to note that the $42 million will only get the shuttle to the closest major airport, shipping fees beyond that will cost extra, most likely a lot extra, as the space shuttle "will not be disassembled for transportation or storage." One of the shuttles appears destined for the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, but the other two are up for grabs. If $42 million is too much for some, NASA is also offering some of the main shuttle engines for the bargain prices of $400,000 and $800,000, and no, this doesn't include shipping. [CMH]

The first link will lead visitors to a piece from Scientific American on the proposal to sell the retiring shuttles. The second link leads to the actual NASA proposal should you, or someone you know, be interested. The third link leads to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and a discussion of its new wing which is designed to collect and preserve the United States' aviation and space history. The fourth link leads to an interesting collection of NASA podcasts about the space shuttles and space station. The fifth link leads to an intriguing article from BBC on the lesser-known Soviet space shuttle. The sixth link leads visitors to an informative set of articles on how the space shuttles actually work. Last, for those who can't afford the $42 million or just don't have the space, this link will take them to a printable space shuttle paper toy that they can construct for the cost of a piece of paper and some printer ink. [CMH]

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