The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 1

January 7, 2011

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

National Science Foundation: Predicting Seasonal Weather [Flash Player]

How does a meteorologist or other such individual predict seasonal weather? That question forms the basis for this special report from the National Science Foundation. The interactive report starts by offering an explanation of how the U.S. economy is affected by weather conditions, and it reviews a bit of material on how different businesses attempt to mitigate the effect of varying weather conditions caused by warmer sea temperatures and the like. The remainder of the report is divided into five sections, including "Fall Predicts Winter" and "New Seasonal Forecast Model". The "New Seasonal Forecast Model" section talks about a more accurate model of weather prediction that has been developed in cooperation with NSF scientists. Each section contains a range of graphs and maps that help illustrate the key concepts within each topical area. [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

The Boston Foundation: Multimedia Library [pdf]

The Boston Foundation has been providing high-quality research on the Boston region for policy makers, politicians, and concerned citizens since 1915. For persons with an interest in urban affairs, their Multimedia Library site will be very useful. First-time visitors may wish to start by clicking on the "Reports" tab to get started. Here they will find over 75 reports that include the Foundation's annual report and works such as "School Funding Reality: A Bargain Not Kept" and "Healthy People in a Healthy Economy: A Blueprint for Action in Massachusetts". Moving on, the "Audio" area includes dozens of talks and conversations on cultural projects in Massachusetts, nonprofit leadership, and community safety. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive their newsletters, which include "Philanthropic Advisor" and "FYI: For Donors and Fund Advisors". [KMG]

Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Based on the waterfront in Portland, Maine, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute "catalyzes solutions to the complex challenges of ocean stewardship and economic growth in the Gulf of Maine bioregion." Their work includes projects that deal with lobster management in the Gulf, along with projects that encourage effective management of other natural resources in the region. Clicking on the "Science" tab on the homepage is a good way to get up to speed with some of their current projects and the basic work that informs their policy work and proposed solutions. Moving on, the "Community" area allows visitors to view past lectures at the Institute, and they can also read up on their Sustainable Seafood Initiative, which includes a partnership with Hannaford Supermarkets. Also, visitors won't want to miss their blog, and they can also sign up to receive updates from the Institute via Facebook and such. [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

Nature: American Eagle [Flash Player]

With its bold beak and talented talons, the bald eagle is perhaps one of the best symbols of the United States of America. Recently, the Nature program on PBS created this documentary to profile this majestic animal. Visitors to the site can watch the program in its entirety, leave their own comments, and learn about bald eagles' evolutionary ancestors. That's not all, as visitors can also look over an interactive map that tracks bald eagle populations over the past decades. For those who might want to watch smaller sections of the film, there are short clips available as well, including "Sibling Rivalry" and "Autumn Bounty on the Mississippi". Finally, visitors can also give their own feedback on the program, and there's a chance that the producer might chime in with his own response. [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

Dictionary of Art Historians

Although there are many dictionaries of art online and in print, dictionaries of art historians of Western art history are harder to come by. Visitors interested in the lives of art historians will be delighted with Duke University's free online database of historic scholars, museum professionals, and academic historians of art. Dukes Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies' created this database as a "biographical and methodological database intended as a beginning point to learning the background of major art historians of western art history." Visitors will find that the "Explanation" link found on the menu across the top of the page, tells when the Dictionary of Art Historians got started and why there was a need for it. Several telling quotes about how art historians are regarded, lead the section, and the introduction that follows it states that the "basics of where an art historian trained or who his/her major influence was, or even what methodology the scholarship employs are often impossible to discern." The "Recent Entries" link allows visitors to go back to January of 2009, and they can also find entries from 2002-2008 available at the bottom of the page. The site is also available in German, French, Dutch, and Italian. [KMG]

The Art Institute of Chicago: Education: Online Resources [Quick Time]

The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) recently redesigned their online resources site, and visitors new and old will find much that is compelling here. This particular set of videos on this site was designed for English and Spanish speakers who might be visiting the Institute in the near future, and all told there are nine different short films. The films include an introduction to the AIC, a film on how to teach and instruct students in the galleries, and a rather fine film on the Modern Wing (designed by Renzo Piano) and its green design. Additionally, visitors can slide on over to the "Podcasts" area for artist talks, curator commentaries, and other audio explorations. [KMG]

G. William Skinner Map Collection

Professor G. William Skinner of the University of Washington was a major theorist of family systems and of spatial social science. Professor Skinner's maps are products of his "lifelong interest in the spatial distribution of social variables." His maps document subjects such as agrarian China, 19th century France, and Japan. Some of the variables he was most interested in included agricultural wages, fertility rates, and the sex ratio in various regions. This remarkable digital collection from the University of Washington Libraries brings together all 1200 maps from the Skinner Collection. Visitors can browse the maps by country and region, subject, or theme. The site also includes several documents by Professor Skinner on his work dealing with hierarchical regional space and a complete list of all the publications related to this work. [KMG]

General Interest

Mural Arts Program

Started in 1984, the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia was designed to help eradicate graffiti throughout the city. Over the past several decades, the program has grown significantly, and since its inception, hundreds of artists have worked together to create some 3000 murals. The program has also been recognized for its ability to bring together the power of artistic endeavor and criminal and restorative justice, as it offers a range of educational programs in local prisons and rehabilitation centers. This gorgeous website allows visitors to explore some of the murals in exquisite detail, learn about the Program's outreach efforts, and also read their in-house newsletter. First-time visitors should start with the "Explorer" feature, which includes photos of the murals linked up with Flickr, along with examples of student artwork. Visitors shouldn't miss the "Interact" area, as here they can take advantage of the social networking features on the site and their "Wall Watch" blog. [KMG]

Rising Flood Waters: 1964 Corvallis

In 1964, a tremendous flood struck Corvallis, Oregon. It was a nightmare for the residents of the town, and during the recovery the Western Ways, Inc. group took 59 oblique photographs of the damage caused by this natural disaster. The Oregon State University Archives later digitized these images, and they are all available on this site. New visitors will note that they can just browse around the collection as they see fit, and they are also encouraged to use the "My Favorites" area to create their own collection for future reference. These aerial images are quite dramatic, and for anyone with an interest in engineering, hydrology, geography, and related fields, it will be quite fascinating. [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

Film Noir Foundation

Whether you're a fan of the Fred McMurray vehicle "Double Indemnity" or Ricardo Montalban's turn as a detective in "Mystery Street", lovers of film noir will find much to admire on the Film Noir Foundation website. The Film Noir Foundation was created to serve as an "educational resource regarding the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of film noir as an original American cinematic movement." The materials on the site are divided into nine sections, including "Video Archives", "NoirCity", and "News". The "Video Archives" are fantastic with interviews that include June Lockhart, Harry Belafonte, and a riotous performance by Ernest Borgnine. Moving along, the "Resources" area includes audio clips of Bob Dylan talking about his own noir literary inspirations and an interview with Robert Mitchum about his own poetry. Finally, visitors can chime in with their own thoughts in the "Forum" and also make a donation to the Foundation. [KMG]

Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park [pdf]

Approximately 12 million years ago, a massive volcano in the southwestern corner of Idaho erupted and spread a tremendous blanket of ash over a large area. Much of this ash settled over the grasslands of northeastern Nebraska. Animals consumed the ash-covered grasses, and eventually they began to perish as a result of consuming this abrasive powder. Eventually these animals and their skeletons became fossilized, and this area is now the Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. Visitors to the Park's website will be delighted to learn that they can view a range of images and videos from the fossil beds, along with an excellent interactive skeleton map that documents the fossilized remains on site. Also, the "Ashfall Geology" site is uniformly excellent, and it includes aerial views of the site and details about the geological formations in the area. Finally, the "Ashfall Animals" area contains information about the paleontological finds, which include five horse species and a saber-toothed deer. [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

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum is a mansion in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, which is a wonderful example of the decorative style of the "Gilded Age". It is all the more amazing, because it is the oldest building with its original interior in Chicago. The "About" link provides visitors with a biography of Richard Driehaus, the Chicago entrepreneur who founded the museum. Access to his collection of fine and decorative art is also found in this section. The "Explore" section that allows visitors to use an interactive floor plan to see photos of the overall room, as well as zoom-enabled detail shots of some of the exquisite craftsmanship, such as ceramic tile, marquetry (wood inlay), stained glass, furniture, and Tiffany lighting in each of the rooms. Visitors can also view historic photos of the rooms. The "Preservation" section of the website is fascinating in its details about the work done on a stained glass dome, ceiling, Lincrusta wallpaper, and the stone exterior of the building, which was stained with coal smoke. On the first photo of each restoration project are instructive quotes from decorators and interior designers of the period the mansion was being built. [KMG]

The Stuttering Foundation

Stuttering has entered popular culture with the release of, and critical acclaim for, the recent movie "The King's Speech", which is about King George VI of England's problem with stuttering. Since 1947, the Stuttering Foundation has focused on preventing and improving the treatment of stuttering. The Foundations website provides a series of podcasts, which include a recent interview with the scriptwriter of The King's Speech, David Seidler. Visitors will also enjoy the website's other podcasts, which address topics as varied as recently identified genes for stuttering; helping children who stutter, by the Foundation's president, Jane Fraser; and famous people who didn't let stuttering prevent them from achieving their goals, such as John Stossel, Mel Tillis, and basketball star Bob Love. There is also a podcast that visitors should not miss, entitled "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories". Clicking on it will take visitors to a list of over three dozen podcasts with the stories of women from around the world, of all ages and ethnicities, who stutter, or work with stutterers, or do both. There are many touching, helpful and humorous stories among their number. [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

American RadioWorks: Testing Teachers

As the national documentary unit of American Public Media, American Radio Works' riveting hour-long documentaries are broadcast on public radio stations throughout the United States, and across the Internet. Listeners who miss their broadcast on local stations can go to the American Radio Works website to listen to their new and archived documentaries. The documentary "Testing Teachers", which is about quality testing public school teachers, is one that sparks much debate among teachers, students, parents, the public, and policy makers. Five questions are asked in the documentary including: "What is Good Teaching?"; "Are Test Scores the Right Measuring Stick for Teachers?"; and "Do Poor Kids need Different Kinds of Teachers?". Visitors are also given the opportunity to write about their best teachers, as well as read responses to that same query from public radio listeners in the Minnesota and Wisconsin area, where the documentary was produced and first broadcast. [KMG]

Network Tools


Do you like open data? Do you like visual representations? If so then you should give Freebase a look. With Freebase, visitors can use all types of publicly available data to create "entities" which will be connected and manipulated into a graph format. Freebase has access to about 13 million entities, so interested parties have a tremendous amount of material to choose from. Visitors can use the material on the homepage to see what previous users have done with this data. This version is compatible with all operating systems, including those running Linux. [KMG]


As this is a New Year, there will be a need for new presentations. SlideRocket makes pesky presentation troubles go away, as you can access PowerPoint presentations from any locations, collaborate with colleagues around the world, and also integrate dynamic data, charts, and graphs quite seamlessly. Some of the more advanced features are only available via the pay versions of the product, but the free version is easy and engaging. This version is compatible with all operating systems, including Linux. [KMG]

In The News

In difficult economic times, cities ask nonprofits for voluntary contributions

Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Feeds

City to ask more from nonprofits

Princeton: University will provide township a $500K gift

Nonprofits shouldn't be a revenue source

Balancing Budgets

Commentary: The Burden of Tax-Exempt Property

Over the holidays, cheer and goodwill reigned supreme in most quarters. In the New Year, it is back to business, and for many nonprofit organizations this could mean another difficult challenge. A movement has been afoot to garner property tax payments from a wide range of nonprofits across the United States as of late, and a number of nonprofits have voiced strong concerns about such a trend. Nonprofits, such as universities and churches, are largely exempt from property taxes, and cash-strapped local governments are seeking a wide range of voluntary contributions from these institutions. In Princeton, New Jersey, the well-endowed Princeton University recently made a voluntary payment to the township of Princeton, but such an offering is much more difficult for other organizations. Tim Delaney, the chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, recently remarked, "Governments are taking their public burdens and putting them on the backs of nonprofits, at a time when the demand for our services is skyrocketing." Other taxes instituted as of late on nonprofits include drainage feeds, street-light fees, and a catchall type of voluntary offering known as "payment in lieu of taxes", or PILOT. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a recent piece from the Wall Street Journal which talks about this recent trend. The second link leads to a piece from the Boston Globe which describes how the city of Boston is revamping its formula for determining how much nonprofits should contribute to the city coffers. Moving along, the third link leads to a piece from this Monday's Princeton Packet about the voluntary payment given by Princeton University to Princeton Township. The fourth piece leads to an editorial from the Racine Journal Times on this controversial issue. The fifth link leads to another editorial, this time from the Watertown Daily Times which remarks, "Rather than reach into the pockets of schools, churches and community groups, municipalities need to bring their costs under control." Finally, the last link leads to a thoughtful piece from Donald A. Krueckeberg of the Bloustein School of Rutgers University-New Brunswick on the potential burden of tax-exempt property.

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