The Scout Report
October 31, 2014 -- Volume 20, Number 42
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research and EducationFuture Climate Change
The University of Akron: The Phineas Gage Information Page
National Science Foundation: Discoveries
The Jigsaw Classroom: A Cooperative Learning Technique
Polarized We Govern?
British Academy - National Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences
General InterestHistory of Halloween
American Chemical Society
The Stanford Prison Experiment
Advocacy: Online Learning
Mysteries and Science: Exploring Aliens, Ghosts, Monsters, the end of the world, and other weird things
Design Other 90% Network
In the NewsYes Means Yes (Maybe)
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Research and Education
With more than half of the current congress skeptical about climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence for rising temperatures, sea levels, and severe weather patterns, it's nice to know that at least the Environmental Protection Agency still has a head on its shoulders. This website offers clear indications of how global warming will impact our food supply, water resources, infrastructure, ecosystems, and health. The hidden gem is a series of slideshows answering the question: How do climate models work? Readers can learn about models and scenarios, how they are tested, and how they diagnose the past and estimate the future. [CNH]
On an early autumn day in 1848, a railway foreman named Phineas Gage suffered a terrible accident. A three-and -a-half-foot long, thirteen-pound tamping iron was literally blown through his head. The metal post entered under his cheek bone and exited the top of his skull. Amazingly, Gage survived the incident and lived another 12 years holding steady jobs and continuing to engage in his community. However, reports of a change in his personality abounded, eventually making him the most famous survivor of a traumatic brain injury in history. This page, created by University of Melbourne professor Malcolm McMillan, and now housed at the University of Akron, outlines the fascinating history of the event. Select Phineas Gage's Story to read about the man himself, next peruse Psychosocial Adaptation to look at Dr. McMillan's theories about Gage's recovery. Also, don't miss sections highlighting The Damage to Phineas Gage's Brain, Sites and Plaque, Anniversary at Cavendish, and other writings on the history and influence of this epic moment in the history of psychology. [CNH]
This site from the National Science Foundation (NSF) features the discoveries and advances of researchers who have put their NSF funding to good use. Start by reading the article feed that updates several times a week with profiles about investigators and their projects. Or browse by Research Area - Arctic & Antarctic, Astronomy & Space, Biology, and almost a dozen others - for more targeted searches of the Discoveries database. Readers can also Search Discoveries if there is a particular topic or researchers they would like to explore. [CNH]
The Jigsaw Classroom, developed by University of California-Santa Cruz professor Elliot Aronson, and tested repeatedly over the past three decades, seeks to decrease racial conflict among students and simultaneously promote better learning. How? Put simply, students are split into small groups. Each student in the group researches a particular aspect of a topic, then students come together and present their research to one another. The effect is that each member of the group is dependent on the others and must listen carefully in order to learn the material. Explore the website by category to learn more about this approach. Categories include Overview of the Technique, History of the Jigsaw Classroom, Jigsaw in 10 Easy Steps, Tips on Implementation, Books and Articles, and others. [CNH]
The InterOperability Laboratory (IOL) at the University of New Hampshire tests networking and data communications products for companies around the country and the world. The idea is simple: companies need affordable, independent, confidential testing of their technologies and students need technologies to play with. Everyone benefits. Start with the introductory video, produced by students in the UNH Video Productions program, or have a look at Current News and Industry Events. What is UNH-IOL and Testing Programs provides the full story behind this excellent program that has been running continuously since 1988.[CNH]
With a population of 7,991 as of July 1, 2014, Ashland, Wisconsin holds the current title for 104th most populous incorporated town/city in the great state of Wisconsin, putting it at the 46th percentile in terms of population density. However, the median Household Income is sluggish at #673, and the town's numbers have been steadily declining. Curious to know more about hundreds of towns and dozens of counties of Wisconsin? The Wisconsin Gazetteer website can fill you in. Viewers can search the site by town or by county. Other features include Wisconsin Civil Features, Wisconsin Census Data, and Wisconsin Historic Data. Fair warning: there are ads sprinkled throughout (e.g. Wisconsin Land for Sale, adds for the University of Phoenix, etc.), but they are mostly unobtrusive. [CNH]
As Joe Manchin, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, so aptly stated in early 2013, "Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to our American economy is the American Congress." In fact, it is not hyperbole to wonder if the 112th Congress is the most dysfunctional Congress in history. The question Sarah Binder takes on in this report for the Brookings Institution is: How stable is the dysfunction? In the end, will things ever get moving again? The 23-page report is available in pdf form on the Brookings website. [CNH]
The British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences aims to be a fellowship of distinguished scholars, a funding body for the promotion of good ideas, and a voice of advocacy for the humanities and social sciences. The News section on the homepage is frequently updated and often interesting. About Us is another great place to start. Here, readers will find A Guide to the British Academy as well as Annual Reports to explore. Fascinating tidbits include the multimedia publication Prospering Wisely, which argues that 'prosperity' needs to be conceptualized in more than just financial terms. [CNH]
In 2010, a farmer in Richmond, Minnesota grew a 1,800 pound pumpkin. Americans buy 35 million pounds of candy corn every year. And fully one third of adults and children in the U.S. put on a costume to celebrate our second most commercial holiday. This excellent site from the History Channel offers a host of facts and curiosities about Halloween, taking readers on a tour of past and present. Start with the article on the homepage that outlines the development of All Hallow's Eve from its origins in ancient Celtic festivals to its kid friendly formulation in the 1950s suburban United States. Then watch fascinating videos on Fear and the Brain, Candy Corn, Pumpkin Carving, and other topics. [CNH]
The American Chemical Society (ACS) is one of those giant scientific associations that supports the future of STEM in the U.S. With over 160,000 members, 44 journals, and almost 2,000 employees, ACS does everything from bringing great minds together at national and regional conferences to independently funding initiatives. The web site is a hot pot of chemistry resources. Start by checking out the Cool Science articles, which link to interesting insights drawn from chemistry research. Then take the Chemistry Quiz, and have a look a the Molecule of the Week. The Emerging Science section links to open source archives dating back several years, as well as the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, which examines "innovation for a sustainable future." [CNH]
Before the Institutional Review Boards imposed the most basic ethical constraints on psychologists, there was the Stanford Prison Experiment, one of the most famous - and controversial - social psychology experiments in history. In this experiment, Philip Zimbardo, a young professor at Stanford University, randomly selected students to be either "guards" or "prisoners." What unfolded shocked the academy. Find out about this classic example of how circumstances shape human behavior. Simply click "Take the Slide Show to Begin," then follow the narrative through text and videos as the story proceeds through Prelude, Setting Up, Arrival, Guards, Rebellion, Grievances, Escape, and Conclusion. [CNH]
This site from UNAIDS is chock full of resources and information. Click Highlights or Media to learn about the organization's goal to end the AIDS epidemic internationally by 2030. Navigate to Campaigns for a variety of press releases, fact sheets, slides, and methodology documents. Perhaps the most informative page opens from the AIDS Info link, which readers can find under Data Tools. This edifying interactive shows how the treatment of AIDS is progressing from country to country over six continents. View the globe as a whole or click on individual nations to explore most targeted profiles. [CNH]
Every field needs an advocate and in a field changing as rapidly - and as irrevocably - as library science, it pays to have an advocate that is strong, clear, and forward thinking. The Advocacy page of the American Library Association contains all these qualities and more. Viewers can engage with a host of articles, webinars, and Q&As with library science experts. Highlights include "A 21st Century Approach to School Librarian Evaluation," a webinar with nationally recognized librarian Patricia Owen, and the webinar "Literacy Innovations," with ALA President Barbara Stripling. Of course, the meat of the page is advocacy itself. Click Contact Congress to join in the campaigns that are advancing library science on the national level. [CNH]
This site for kids is set up to explore the intersection of mysteries and science. The list of topics, which proceeds alphabetically, touches on abracadabra, area 51, control groups, monsters, superstition, scientific skepticism, vampire, and many others. An article on therapeutic touch offers the story of Emily Rosa, a nine-year-old who conceived an experiment to find out if energy healers could feel energy in a controlled setting. The site also links to fascinating "Sciency Websites," such as Kitchen Science Experiments and Do We Use Only 10% of Our Brain? (For the record, the answer is no, neuroscience has never made the claim that we use only 10% of our brains.) [CNH]
Few people have impacted the history of the United States as significantly as Thomas Jefferson. As this Library of Congress exhibition notes, the third president was a "founding father, farmer, architect, inventor, slaveholder, book collector, scholar, [and] diplomat." Explore Jefferson through his papers, letters, and book collections on this well-executed web site. After perusing the home page, read the Overview, which explicates the exhibition. Then have a look at the list of Exhibition Items before exploring the sections on Monticello, Virginia Republic, Declaration of Independence, Federal Republic, The West, Revolutionary World, Legacy, and Jefferson's Library. Each section is replete with broad explanations and original documents for the viewer to enjoy. [CNH]
Design Other 90% Network is the accompanying website to a series of themed exhibitions organized by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. In 2007, the first exhibition "focused on design solutions that addressed the most basic needs of the 90% of the world's population not traditionally served by professional designers." Then, in 2012 the next exhibition, Design Other 90% Network: Cities, was presented. The most active portion of the current website is the Themes area, featuring Access, Adapt, Exchange, Include, Prosper, and Reveal. Visitors can view solutions to urban design problems, such as the Katrina Furniture Project in New Orleans that created neighborhood furniture-making workshop facilities to help residents rebuild using recycled wood. There's also a Solutions tab to browse for more projects worldwide. Interested visitors can sign up for one of 236 discussion groups to participate in conversations on various topics. Consider contacting the Museum about booking an exhibition to come to your town. [DS]
Storehouse won the 2014 Apple Design Award for good reason. This incredibly intuitive app lets you tell "visual stories" with the photos and videos you've amassed on your iPhone. So, instead of the boring click through of vacation photos, you get a sophisticated presentation of your fun times. This application is designed for iPhone and iPad running iOS 7.0+. [CNH]
Launched by Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, Slack is a very slick, very fast communication app that allows teams to collaborate in real time as they develop complex projects. The tag line? "Be less busy." Well, we'll see about that. Available for iOS 7.0+ and Android 2.3+. [CNH]
In the News
Making Sense of "Yes Means Yes"
"Yes Means Yes" is a terrible law, and I completely support it
California's 'yes means yes' sexual standard has liberals divided
'Yes means yes' opposition: It's about due process, not misogyny
Rethink Harvard's sexual harassment policy
Consent Bro: Meet the guy who teaches frat brothers what 'yes means yes' means
"No means no." For many of us the phrase calls to mind midnight marches, campus rallies, and feminist editorials spanning 20 years of campaigns against sexual assault. But this summer a new injunction rose up from the discourse: "Yes means yes." Last month, California passed a law redefining sexual consent for its college campuses. Consent is now "an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually-agreed upon sexual activity." In addition, consent must be "ongoing" throughout the sexual encounter, and consent in one encounter doesn't carry over to another. The State University of New York adopted the same protocol for all 64 of its campuses a few weeks ago. And by now every Ivy League school has adopted a similarly progressives stance.
Unsurprisingly, the press has gone bonkers. Libertarians and rights activists decry the policies' overreach, their violations of due process, and their propensity for, perhaps illegally, stacking the deck against the accused. Supporters of the "yes means yes" policies counter that extreme problems call for extreme measures. They point out that one in five college women report being sexually assaulted, and they applaud campus communities for finally doing something about it. Whatever your position on handling campus sexual assault, these articles will give you much to ponder. [CNH]
The first link takes readers to a well-reasoned argument in favor of the "yes means yes" protocol, authored by Cornell law professor, Sherry F. Colb. Next, have a look at Ezra Klein's controversial and much read op-ed piece in support of California's new law. The LA Times' coverage of the issue, featured in the third link, provides welcome backstory and examines how the California law has divided liberals. Conservative columnist Ashe Schow takes aim at liberal commentators in the fourth link, accusing them of misrepresenting the issues. Follow the fifth link to an open letter of opposition to the new standards, written by 28 Harvard Law School professors. Finally, the sixth link profiles an undergraduate who is trying to change his fraternity brothers' views on consent, one mandatory presentation at a time.
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