The Scout Report
March 6, 2015 -- Volume 21, Number 9
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences
Made with Code
Fire Lab Research
CCRC Responds to Obama's Free Community College Tuition Proposal
Engineer Your Life
The Whitney Plantation
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Collections
American Battle Monuments Commission
International Journal of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences
California Mission Postcards
National Center for Transgender Equality
2015 Index of Economic Freedom
The Open Utopia
In Louisiana, a Dangerous Bacteria Escaped the Lab
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This site from the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences offers tremendous advocacy resources for anyone who loves history, languages, the arts, and the social sciences. For those less familiar with the Commission's work, the homepage offers a 55-minute video of Karl Eikenberry's presentation at the 25th Anniversary Chicago Humanities Festival. The film provides a passionate argument for the humanities, featuring luminaries such as George Lucas, Yo Yo Ma, and Sandra Day O'Connor and is accompanied on the site by a freely available 70-page report arguing for the place of the humanities and social sciences in a 21st century democratic society. Perhaps most useful to educators are the Humanities Indicators. This comprehensive resource tracks the humanities through K-12 Education, Higher Education, the Workforce, Funding & Research, and Public Life. In the K-12 Education section, for example, readers will find National Measures of Achievement, such as Reading Performance of 9-year-Olds and SAT Writing Scores by Race/Ethnicity. [CNH]
Launched in 2004, Phys.org's Physics News covers a staggering array of science topics, from mathematics to earth science to nanotechnology and beyond. The Physics News section publishes several original articles per day, categorized by subjects including General Physics, Optics & Photonics, Quantum Physics, and Condensed Matter. In addition to the news items that appear in order of publication date, readers may peruse the site by Featured articles, Last Comments, Popular articles, and Most Shared articles. There is also a Trending Topics section that lists 15 of the topics people are talking about in the magazine's comments sections. For readers who like to keep up on the latest developments in physics, Physics News will be a welcome find. [CNH]
Google.org, the charitable arm of the tech giant, has committed over $100 million to investments and grants in the last five years. While Google.org's initial projects concerned plug-in vehicles, solar energy, and emergency response systems, the foundation has recently expanded into computer science education with its free Made with Code program. This program is designed to interest girls in the art and science of coding in order to develop a new generation of female programmers. Readers may like to start by watching the inspiring short video. Perhaps the most engaging aspect of the site is the Projects section, where beginning and intermediate coders will find engaging projects such as Music Mixer and Kaleidoscope. Uplifting stories of young women who have fallen in love with coding round out the site. [CNH]
For those who believe a data-driven, test-based educational system provides the best measures for understanding and improving schools, the Georgia Education website offers a wealth of interesting information, from statistics on the schools in the entire state, down to data on individual schools. Readers may select View the Reports to get started. From there they may select a level (from all of Georgia to individual counties to cities). Then they may select a school from the list of individual schools that can be found in the drop down menu and, finally, select a report from the choices of profile, test scores, and similar demographics. There's a lot of information here, provided in fine detail. For instance, readers might select Appling County (level), Altamaha Elementary (school), and test scores (report), to find out that in the third grade at Altamaha Elementary, 58% of the students exceeded the standard reading requirements for 2013, a jump from 51% of students who met the criteria in 2012. [CNH]
The Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program at the Rocky Mountain Research Station boasts a website that is packed with information about fire and related topics. The research on the site is divided into six focus areas: Physical Fire Processes, Fuel Dynamics, Smoke Emissions & Dispersion, Fire Ecology, Fire & Fuel Management Strategies, and Science Synthesis & Delivery. Readers may select any of these topics for further lists of dozens of subtopics. For instance, selecting Physical Fire Processes navigates to topics such as Burning Rate and Clearance Distances, among many others. Clicking any of these topics navigates to full-length articles that can educate any reader who is fascinated by forest fires. [CNH]
When President Obama announced his plan to offer free community college tuition to anyone who had performed well in high school, numerous pundits wrote on both sides of the issue. This website from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University links to a number of articles on the issue, many of them written by faculty at the center. For instance, readers may navigate to the Time Magazine op-ed by Judith Scott-Clayton and Thomas Bailey, or Sandy Baum and Judith Scott-Clayton's article in the Hamilton Project's blog. Further links take readers to articles on the topic from Newsweek, the New York Times, and other media outlets. For readers who are interested in the various opinions surrounding President Obama's bold announcement, this site is a good home base from which to start. [CNH]
Engineer Your Life is a website designed for high school girls who are curious about a career in engineering. Resources on the site feature women who have built successful careers in engineering. For instance, one short video focuses on Tara Teich, a computer science engineer who designs Star Wars video games, while another profiles Erin Fletcher, a civil engineer who manages large scale municipal projects in Seattle. There's a list of "Ten reasons while you'll love it" ? engineering that is - and profiles of over a dozen women who love their work as engineers. In addition, the Find Your Dream Job area lets readers search through categories such as aerospace, bioengineering, chemical, civil, and other engineering fields. In all, this is a wonderful resource for teachers, counselors, and other adults who are helping guide girls in their career choices. [CNH]
The Whitney Plantation website may be the most informative - and the most disturbing - website about slavery on the Internet. Opened to the public in 2014, the Whitney Plantation is the only plantation museum in the state of Louisiana dedicated to telling the story of slavery. Readers may wish to start with the History tab, which describes the founding and expansion of the plantation, from 1721 onward. The gorgeous Photo Gallery offers readers a visual representation of the plantation's many buildings, including a Spanish Creole mansion, a church, and various shacks and outbuildings. The meat of the site, however, lies in the tab titled Learn. Here, readers are confronted with the hard truth of slavery, told through short articles sorted into three categories: the Slave Population, the Owners, and Historic Buildings and Memorials. From there, the content covers such topics as Resistance, Slavery in Louisiana, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the Big House and Outbuildings. [CNH]
For readers who are interested in the history of American film, the various resources found on the Academy Oral History Collection can provide hours of edification. Readers may like to start by browsing the Completed Oral Histories. There they will find a list of more than 70 interviewees from all walks of Hollywood life, from costume designers to film editors to screenwriters. Each name is accompanied by a brief biography. From there, readers may link to The Writer's Guild Foundation's the Writer Speaks, which features video and audio interviews with writers who have made their careers in Hollywood. Lastly, the Film Music Foundation link navigates to interviews with the composers who have brought the magic of music to the screen. [CNH]
The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), which was established by congress in 1923, honors the "service, achievements, and sacrifice" of American soldiers by caring for overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials. Readers will find much to explore in the Cemeteries & Memorials section of the website, where the dozens of cemeteries the commission oversees are listed in alphabetical order, from the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France to the Western Naval Task Force Marker in Morocco. Selecting any cemetery or monument navigates readers to that site's informational page, where readers can peruse a history of the site, examine photographs, and often download PDFs of commemorative and visitor booklets. In addition, the site features an excellent search function that allows readers to search the site's 224,290 records for servicemen and women that are commemorated by the ABMC. [CNH]
The International Journal of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences is a peer-reviewed online journal that concentrates its efforts on pharmaceutics and industrial pharmacy, pharmacology and toxicology, phytopharmacy and medicine, and other related fields within chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. Recent articles have included empirical investigations of Eclampsia, a hypertensive disorder that can complicate pregnancy; the health effects and benefits of chocolate; and the antioxidant properties of extracts from the plant, Peltophorum Pterocarpum. While some the articles require a certain level of background in the field, it can be interesting to scroll through breaking research, even for readers with no depth of chemistry knowledge. Best of all, as an open access journal, everything can be read online for free. [CNH]
The Muse is a popular student newspaper that has been published at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland since 1950. In addition to the 10,000 print copies the paper distributes every week, the periodical also hosts an excellent website. Recent stories have covered happenings at the university, an op-ed concerning misconceptions about Muslims, and an article about the supreme court of Canada's recent ruling on euthanasia. The site also features a number of blogs, ("Impressions of a French girl in Newfoundland" is a Scout favorite), reviews of albums, books, movies, and video games, a humor section and a lifestyle section. In all, this is a prime example of the college newspaper at its finest. [CNH]
When picture postcards became popular in the late 19th century, businesses sprang up to take advantage of the new art form. In fact, names like the Curt Teich Company, the Detroit Publishing Company, the Edward H. Mitchell Company, and the Van Ornum Colorprint Company were, for decades, nearly synonymous with the small photos and sketches that tourists sent home from their travels. The dozens of postcards featured on this website from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, are all associated with the 21 missions established in northern and southern California by Spanish Franciscan missionaries between 1769 and 1823. Readers may peruse the beautiful paintings and photographs of these iconic religious institutions on the site, as well as read the brief but fascinating history of postcards in the United States and of the Spanish Missions that inspired this particular collection. [CNH]
There has been increasing media coverage of transgender individuals in the past several years. However, most people are still relatively unfamiliar with the issues that affect those citizens who identify as a different gender than the one to which they were assigned at birth. This site, hosted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, has a good deal of information about the trans community. Readers may like to start with the About Transgender People section, which provides an overview of Transgender Terminology, some FAQs About Trans People, a section on Statistics, and Jaan's Story, a moving essay about a transgender couple. Readers who would like to be more involved in the trans rights movement may also view 52 Things You Can Do for Trans Equality. Published in 2005, there is still a lot of useful information in this downloadable PDF poster, and is just one of many other opportunities for political action presented on the page. [CNH]
The Index of Economic Freedom is published annually by the Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank whose stated mission is to "formulate and promote... the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." The 2015 rankings break countries into five categories based on a cumulative metric. Countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand are considered economically Free. Other nations fall into the categories of Mostly Free, Moderately Free, Mostly Unfree, and Repressed. While rankings and economics might not be for everyone, readers may also find much to ponder in the dozens of profiles of individual nations. Here, they can read about measures of Rule of Law, Regulatory Efficiency, Limited Government, Open Markets, and other metrics. The website also allows readers to compare nations. For instance, a comparison of Hong Kong and the United States shows Hong Kong outperforming the U.S. in most categories of economic freedom every year for the past 20 years. [CNH]
"Does the world really need another edition of Thomas More's Utopia?" asks Stephen Duncombe, the editor of The Open Utopia. After all, Utopia has been in print almost continuously since first published in 1516 and available in digital version since 2012. The Open Utopia joins a community of other freely available online editions, such as the Gutenberg Project version, Oregon State University, or the Literature Project to name a few. Duncombe argues that what makes The Open Utopia different is its very openness - "open to read, open to copying, open to modification." This means that The Open Utopia provides the total social reading experience - Duncombe has included links to scholarship on Utopia, various editions, analysis, letters, translations and illustrations. The Open Utopia makes the full text available for download in a variety of formats for a variety of devices. Readers can also add their own annotations and comments, using Social Book - software developed for social reading, piloted by The Open Utopia. Social Book works best with Google Chrome or Safari browsers. [DS]
poetic.io is a simple and secure way to transfer files. Sign up just requires an email address. From there, users may drag and drop files as large as 3GB to the poetic.io page, enter destination emails, and then send. (To put this in perspective: the average full-length movie is about 1GB.) Besides speed and efficiency for large file movement, the site also provides basic security, so that readers know only their recipients will receive the data. The site is free and accessible from any computer with an Internet connection, and can be a welcome tool for teachers who need to share data with students and each other, co-workers who are working on data-heavy projects, and others who share large data files (video, graphics, photos) in their work and play. [CNH]
Here at Scout we work with a lot of open tabs - sites to annotate, reviews of those sites, various searches, historical references, all while answering emails, updating social media, and looking for the latest news stories. So sometimes the proliferation of open tabs can be a little overwhelming. OneTab is designed to address this problem with an elegant trick. When the reader finds too many tabs are open, she can click the OneTab icon to convert all open tabs to a simple savable list. In addition to simplifying screen clutter, this saves up to 95% of memory by reducing the number of open tabs, which can speed up a computer that has been bogged down. The OneTab add-on is available for both Google Chrome and Firefox, and can be installed within a matter of seconds. For readers who constantly multitask on the Internet, the service offers a welcome respite from the glut of information through which most of us swim. [CNH]
Escape of dangerous bacterium leads to halt of risky studies at Tulane
Deadly bacterium 'released from US high-security lab'
Dangerous Bacteria Mysteriously Escapes From Louisiana Monkey Lab
The little-known Tulane Primate Center: What sort of research is done there, why; what's it's future?
How secure are labs handling the world's deadliest pathogens?
Tulane National Primate Research Center
The bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei usually thrives in the soil of such far off places as Southeast Asia and northern Australia. But 35 miles north of New Orleans, scientists at the Tulane National Primate Research Center have been working with the deadly pathogen for several years, attempting to manufacture an effective vaccine. Federally mandated safety precautions were the norm in the lab: multiple layers of safety equipment, sealed refrigerators, careful disposal of infected rodents. But somehow the Burkholderia pseudomallei, which is spread through direct contact across species and boasts a 50 percent human death toll, escaped. The federal response has been swift and all research into deadly pathogens at Tulane has been halted. Several studies of the surrounding campus have been conducted, though no additional samples of the bacteria have been found. The incident, however, has experts worried, especially as it arrives on the tails of several other high-profile pathogen leaks in the past year. As noted by Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert at Rutgers University: "The fact that they can't identify how this release occurred is very concerning." [CNH]
The first two links, from Science Insider and the Telegraph, respectively, provide brief but excellent coverage of the incident at Tulane and its impact on health and public policy. Next, the ABC News website hosts a short video news segment about the bacterium's release, as well as an informative article and several helpful links concerning the control of pathogens worldwide. For readers who would like more in-depth coverage of the Tulane National Primate Research Center, the fourth link navigates to an article from the New Orleans Advocate that provides backstory on the lab, its history, and its 5,000 primates. Finally, in the next link Sharon Begley and Julie Steenhuysen examine the question of how secure our nation's pathogen labs really are, while the last link navigates to the website of Tulane's National Primate Research Center, where the outbreak took place.
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|Internet Scout Team|
|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
|Debra Shapiro||[DS]||Contributing Editor|
|Kendra Bouda||[KAB]||Metadata and Information Specialist|
|Elzbieta Beck||[EB]||Internet Cataloger|
|Samantha Abrams||[SA]||Internet Cataloger|
|Corey Halpin||[CRH]||Software Engineer|
|Yizhe (Charles) Hu||[YH]||Web Developer|
|Cea Stapleton||[CS]||Web Developer|
|Zev Weiss||[ZW]||Technical Specialist|
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For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout staff page.