The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 38

September 25, 2009

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 Asia Foundation: Constitutional Reform and Democracy in Thailand-A National Survey of the Thai People [pdf]

Released in September 2009, this 127-page report from the Asia Foundation is based on a nationwide opinion poll that was conducted in 26 provinces across Thailand. The intent of the poll was to gauge the national mood toward election reform, participation in politics, amending the constitution, and more. The results were rather interesting, and the report notes that the Thai electorate remains pessimistic about the overall direction of the country, and at the center of this pessimism is the current constitution. The team of researchers who performed this study went around the country to talk to a number of key participants throughout Thailand, including politicians, academics, and lawmakers. The report is divided into twelve chapters, including "Decentralization", "Democracy in Thailand", and "Political Interest and Efficacy". The report is rounded out with a complete survey methodology. [KMG]

The Economist: Markets and Data

The Economist has those with a sweet tooth for quantitative data and analysis well-covered on their Markets and Data website. The first place most visitors will want to visit is the "World Markets" area. Here they can get an overview of the latest stock market indices and commodity prices, and also look over company financial statements. After that, it's time to bite into the "Big Mac Index", which happens to be "the world's most accurate financial indicator to be based on a fast-food item." Also on the homepage, visitors can perform a currency exchange based on the latest information and also display a customized graph of historical exchange rates for 164 countries. Visitors shouldn't overlook the "Weekly Indicators" area, which includes information on commodity prices, Asian GDP growth forecasts, budget balances, and producer prices. [KMG]

Science, Art and Technology

The Art Institute of Chicago's education section of their website "began as a year-long course offeredto Chicago Public School science teachers interested in exploring the relationship between science and art within a museum setting." The website has six different lessons encompassing several different scientific disciplines, including "Art and Astronomy", "Perception, Light, and Color", and "The Chemistry and Physics of Light and Color". At the top of the page links to "Lesson Plans", "Student Projects", "Self-Guides", and "Books and Media" are also available. The "Self-Guides" are "guides for museum visits", and address concepts such as color and pigment in paintings, as well as particular artists' styles. "The effects of acid rain on stone sculpture" is one a fascinating lesson plan where students study the effects of acid rain on sculptures they make. The "Student Projects" tab has some great examples of charts that were made by classes to summarize what they had learned for the chosen lesson plan. As the site indicates, determining how to authenticate paintings was a popular lesson plan for chemistry classes. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

Carolina Photojournalism [Flash Player]

The North Carolina Visual Communication program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an award-winning web presence that covers many different areas of photojournalism, including documentary and video. Visitors interested in seeing some of the short videos students have created thus far can click on "Vimeo", on the right side of the page. The video "They Stole So Much More..." starts off with a closed-circuit video of a convenience store robbery. The work goes on to tell the story of the wife whose husband was the clerk killed in that robbery. Black and white stills of the wife and young children, mixed with film clips, make the wife's narration particularly compelling. Visitors should also check out the two-and-a-half minute video "One Way in, One Way Out", which is a set of interviews of citizens from the same southern town. The interviewees all discuss how the town has changed over the years, and the light captured in this short film is beautiful and memorable, and is reminiscent of an early morning. [KMG]

The Pew Financial Reform Project [pdf]

After the recent financial crisis, the Pew Trusts decided to establish the Pew Financial Reform Project. The goal of this Project is "to bring nonpartisan, balanced, fact-based analysis directly to policymakers." To achieve this goal, the Project established a task force on financial reform, created a policy briefing series, and developed this website. The materials on the site are divided into the sections "Task Force Reports", "Reform Resources", "Events", "About Us", and "Discussion Forum". The "Task Force Reports" area includes background notes, briefing papers, and task force recommendations. Here visitors can sign up for newsletters and read through works like "Quantifying the Effects on Lending of Increased Capital Requirements". The "Reform Resources" area brings together links to reform related news articles, congressional hearings, and selected outside papers and reports. Lastly, the "Events" area brings together a calendar of events related to financial reform. [KMG]

CIF Belief

Commentary on religion can be a touchy subject, and it's nice to find a place online where the commentary is both thoughtful and well-informed. The "Comment is Free" site created by the Guardian newspaper blends informed remarks on religion with the thoughts and viewpoints of visitors to the site. Front and center, visitors will come across "The Question". This area contains a weekly question that visitors are invited to respond to, and it also includes a piece of commentary from an author with relevant background on the matter at hand. On the right-hand side of the site, visitors can view the latest religious news from the Guardian, and then look into the "How to believe" area. Recently, this area has featured expert weblog posts on great works on religion and philosophy, such as Plato's Dialogues. The "Multimedia" area certainly warrants a visit, and recent features include "Islamophonic", which looks at the lives of Muslims in Wales. [KMG]

National Water Management Center [pdf]

Started during the Great Depression, the National Resources Conservation Service has "provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America's private land owners and managers to conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources." One of their outreach projects includes the National Water Management Center (NWMC) website. Persons with an interest in water-related issues and resource conservation will find the site most useful, and they can use the site to learn about water resource planning, watershed assessments, water policy implementations, and other topics. On the NWMC homepage visitors can look at the right hand side of the page to learn more about their work on environmental compliance, stream restoration, and water resource partnering. Visitors won't want to miss their special "Mississippi River Basin" area. Here, they can learn about the difficult conditions facing the Basin, including the persistent low oxygen conditions which affect about 15000 square kilometers. The site also includes an "Information For" area which contains thematic resources organized specifically for engineers, watershed planners, and policy makers. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

Holocaust Encyclopedia

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has some tremendous online resources, and the recent addition of the Holocaust Encyclopedia continues in this tradition. The interactive Encyclopedia includes hundreds of articles that cover topics like the Third Reich, refugees, ghettos, and the liberation of Nazi camps. Each entry contains hypertext links to other entries and relevant resources, including timelines, photo galleries, and primary source documents. Visitors can use the "Browse Articles" to get started, and they should also note that the articles are available in French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, and six other languages. In the "Additional Resources" section, visitors will find a link to "The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students" and a complete "A-Z" list of all the articles. [KMG]

General Interest

The Business [iTunes]

Apparently there is still no business like show business, and KCRW Radio in Santa Monica isn't afraid to take on this sprawling sector of American economic and cultural life. The program is hosted by Kim Masters, a former entertainment-industry correspondent for National Public Radio. She's the author of several books on the business, and once a week she hosts this engaging program. Visitors to the site can learn more about Masters on the homepage, and then dive into the most recent show. There's also an archive of past shows, and a number of ways that users can share the programs via various social networking programs. Recent programs of note include "Do the Emmys Matter?; The 'Guiding Light' Goes Out" and "Hollywood Bollywood and Vice Versa". Visitors can also create their own list of shows for future reference, and they are also welcome to download the programs. [KMG]

Florida State University Heritage Protocol

The Florida State University (FSU) Heritage Protocol was created to preserve the history of FSU through collections of various ephemeral items, including yearbooks, photographs, items of clothing, audio recordings, and films. The materials on the site are divided into six primary sections that include: "Virtual Museum", "Photo Galleries", "Mixed Media", and "Publications". In the "Virtual Museum", visitors can look at the mortar board of physical education professor, Katherine W. Montgomery, and the 1913 commencement announcement for the Florida State College for Women. Moving on, the "Photo Galleries" area includes a photo of the week feature, a collection of images from the Florida State College for Women and some unique photos of one Burt Reynolds, who went to Florida State University in the 1950s. The "Mixed Media" area is quite interesting, and visitors can view a FSU circus rehearsal film from the early 1950s and listen to an album of performances from FSU's School of Music. Finally, the "Publications" area includes primary documents like an article on the FSU Circus from the March 31, 1952 issue of Life magazine and a piece from 1955 on the FSU Marine Lab. [KMG]

BBC World Service

As its name suggests, the BBC World Service brings together news from all corners of the world. Visitors can listen to their radio programs online, and they will get a heady sampling of their work just by perusing the special reports, topical updates, and commentaries on the homepage. In the "News Programmes" area, visitors can avail themselves of different World Service shows, including "Newshour", "The World Today", and "Business Daily". Moving on, visitors can chime in with their two cents at the "Over to You" area. Here they can weigh in on topics like citizen journalism, the world's superpowers, and fashions and societal values in Ghana. Also on the homepage is a section titled "Special Reports", which includes timely news features on the trains of India, drugs in Mexico, and Charles Darwin. [KMG]

International Women's Media Foundation

Founded in 1990, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) is dedicated "to strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide as a means to further freedom of the press." First-time visitors can read the "In the News" feature on the homepage to learn about current and ongoing situations that affect female journalists. Here visitors will also find a slide show of images that talks about recent IWMF fellowship winners, their global research programs, and recent events they have sponsored. Journalists will want to look at the "Opportunities" area to learn about the different ways they can be involved with their work. The site also affords visitors the ability to learn about assisting the IWMF with donations. [KMG]

MoMA: Ron Arad: No Discipline [Flash Player]

Who is Ron Arad? He happens to be an influential designer known for his "daredevil approach to form, structure, technology, and materials in work that spans the disciplines of industrial design, sculpture, architecture, and mixed-medium installation." In the fall of 2009, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) featured a show by Arad that brought together a selection of his works. This site was created to complement the onsite show, and visitors can view some of his art right here. Users will want to click on over to the "Works" area to get a sense of Arad's oeuvre, which includes wavy chairs, elaborate steel sculptures, and delicately arranged boxes. Moving on, "The Show" area features highlights from his show at MoMA, complete with some time-lapse videos of the installation process. [KMG]

National Portrait Gallery: Feature Photography [Flash Player]

The website for the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution features an online version of its physical exhibit, "Portraiture Now: Feature Photography". The exhibit is comprised of contemporary photographic portraits by six photographers whose work has been in such publications as The New Yorker, Esquire, and The New York Times Magazine. Each photographer's portraits can be viewed in a group, thus heightening their impact and the artists' statements can be viewed via a link below the brief bio of the artist along with audio links to interviews with some of the artists. Particularly arresting are the portraits by Katy Grannan which appeared in The New York Times Magazine article "The Women's War", which featured Iraq war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. [KMG]

National Geographic: Redwoods [Flash Player]

Astounding, beautiful, fantastical, and enormous, these are all apt descriptions of the redwoods of the Pacific coast. National Geographic's website offers a multimedia presentation about these majestic trees which includes the cover story, "The Super Trees", from their October 2009 magazine, and details under "Tune In", on when to watch the corresponding broadcast "Explorer: Climbing Redwood Giants". In addition to an online photo "Jigsaw Puzzle" of a 300-foot California redwood that visitors can time themselves putting together, there is also a great 2.5-minute "Video" of the photographer's attempt to create a composite photo of an entire redwood tree. The "Living Giants" interactive time line shows the historical moments a 2000-year-old redwood has lived through, including the reign of Genghis Khan, the signing of the Magna Carta, and the settlement at Jamestown. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

Network Tools Portable 3.1

Packing a number of office applications can be an onerous undertaking, but this portable version of OpenOffice makes this task a bit easier. Essentially, users can use this open platform program with any storage device (such as a USB drive) to take their materials wherever they need to go. This open source office suite includes an email client, an instant messaging client, a PDF reader, and so on. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer. [KMG]

Freebie Notes 3.31

Do you have an important commitment on Arbor Day? Perhaps you need to remember to send out an email to colleagues? Never fear, Freebie Notes is here. This versatile application allows users to create quick notes that sit on their computer desktop. The notes come in all different colors (including neon yellow, of course). Also, notes can be customized to include simple alarms. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Post-colony collapse disorder, bees receive a helping hand in cities

Paris rooftops abuzz with beekeeping

Woman relocates bees to more loving home

The short-haired bumblebee: Bzzzt, it's back

Propolis Bee Farm: A New Tourist Attraction in Penang

Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility [pdf]

Leaving the Bees Be: Why Vegans Won't Eat Honey

Two years ago, honey bees around the world began mysteriously disappearing. Apiarists and others were able to identify this phenomenon as colony collapse disorder, though the exact cause remains undetermined. There's been some good news as of late, as a number of urban beekeeping programs founded by dedicated beekeepers have yielded positive results in terms of creating vibrant hives, and of course, some honey. On the roof of the Grand Palais exhibition hall, beekeeper Nicolas Geant monitors hives that have thrived since they were first set up in May. Unlike pigs and chickens, bees aren't as heavily monitored by city officials around the world, although the practice is illegal in New York City. Perhaps one of the most inspiring stories regarding urban beekeeping comes from Atlanta, where Cindy Bee [her given name] takes care of over one million bees on a regular basis. Bee is what some would call a "live bee rescue" expert, and she spends most of her time rescuing honey bees that have become holed up in various structures that are undergoing renovation or demolition. Ever year Bee and her charges produce over three tons of honey, and she remains an enthusiastic spokeswoman for the importance and value of these tiny creatures. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news article about urban beekeeping from MSNBC which appeared on Sunday. The second link leads to the previously mentioned article on Cindy Bee from this past Saturday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Moving on, the third link whisks users away to a piece from The Economist which talks about the return of the short-haired bumblebee to Britain. The fourth link leads to a curious piece about a new bee farm in Penang which serves as a tourist destination. The fifth site will delight and amaze those with even a passing interest in honeybees, the online home of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, which features information about their research and the role that bees play in the natural world. Finally, the last link leads to an explanation of why vegans don't eat honey, straight from the Pacific Free Press. [KMG]

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