140. -new- Where to Find Old Maps Online?
"The title of this website is most accurate: it is a collection of thousands of old maps. They are wonderful. The portal was created as part of collaboration between the Great Britain Historical GIS Project, based at the University of Portsmouth, and Klokan Technologies GmbH, based in Switzerland. First-time visitors will note the site draws on GPS technology and other place-based location services to pull up local maps of interest. For example, if one is in Los Angeles, dozens of maps of the nearby area will appear on the right-hand side of the interface screen. Visitors can click on each map as they see fit, or move to another part of the world for more maps. On the top of the interface, visitors will see a timeline that ranges from 1000 CE to the present day. They can use this timeline to look for historical maps from a set period of time. There's also a blog to consider here, and visitors can learn more about the contributing institutions via the Collections tab"—as cited by the Scout Project
139. The Bacteria Museum
In this online archive, one not only learns how ubiquitous bacteria are, but that they are vital to our continued existence even if a goodly portion of them will lay us low. See http://bacteriamuseum.org/cms/ . Very few of us know that the quality of certain of our foods is dependent on bacteria action. That is, “Sour cream and Crème fraiche are both the products of cream after bacteria are allowed to grow in it. The difference in flavour, texture, and behavior (sour cream will curdle when heated, crème fraiche will not) all result from the differences in bacteria required to produce the two products. Buttermilk is low in fat and cheese comes in many variations. Yoghurt is probably one of the oldest forms of fermented milk.” (05-25-11)
138. Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time
One could spend an evening or two or three looking through all these quotes at AMC’s One Liner Site. The place is to look is under movie quotes by decade. There you will find. “We took some pictures of the native girls, but they weren't developed...But we're going back again in a couple of weeks.”---Animal Crackers. “Well, when I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better." ---I’m No Angel. “We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity.”----Notorious (5-11-11)
137. Scanning the News – Everywhere
interesting way to view a distant newspaper front page. Click on any “city” button and up pops the local paper front page! You
can then open a link to the paper’s website to view more articles etc. http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/
136. Photos: Bring Life to Life
It’s pretty much forgotten now but it was photos—great photos—that put piss and vinegar into Henry Luce’s Time Life Empire. At its zenith Time Life was the epicenter of America, putting imagination on the front table of every American, and enjoying an importance not even matched by TV today. We think we are visual today, and that the written word is in retreat. Fact is, visuals were more important in the age of photo journalism, when pictures did not simply mirror life, but were bigger than life. Google and Time Warner (now a media cripple) have cooperated to bring these photos back to Americans on the web. (02/18/09)
135. Beyond the Blue Shirts
This website is truly global. Laurie Carr, a web developer and obsessed New York Rangers fan (our kind of gal), tracks oversea hockey developments on Beyond the Blue Shirts, where she “translates daily hockey reports from the Russian press. Specifically, she follows Russian, European, and North American Ranger prospects, as well as former and current players.” See “From Russia,” New Yorker, December 8, 2008, in Talk of the Town, p.38. (12/17/08)
134. Home of Useless
Useless Information comes to us from a science teacher in Chatham, on
the outskirts of Albany. Steve Silvermann clearly has a lot of time on his
hands, because he has done a fabulous job of installing all sorts of useless
stuff on his website. Clearly he has cultivated a sense of irony that
teachers need to fend off the slings and arrows of a truly insane
educational system and to ward off the insults offered by a country racing
ever faster towards blinding ignorance. Learn about Japan’s Hiroo Onoda who
kept fighting well after 1945, never having learned that his country had
surrendered. Learn about David Rice Atchison, the only man to have been
President of the United States for only a day. And look into contact lenses
for chickens. (3/28/07)
Flightstats may depress you—or help you. It will tell you just how
often the flight you have chosen is late getting to its destination, and how
far it typically runs behind. We, however, have found it useful. It has
guided us away from some real losers and put us on board at a time of day
when we have a chance of getting to the church on time. (12/20/06)
are looking up semi-celebrities, we find that
www.zoominfo.com turns up references to people we want to run down,
with a fair amount of ease. Often it seems to find citations that search
engines don’t turn up. (9/27/06)
Carolina has pieced together quite a program on
farm tourism. Other states are trying to get in the act as well, hoping
to put a nickel in poor family pockets, this and specialty crops and animals
being the two best hopes for family agriculture. Massachusetts also has put
a map to picture farms. Those wanting to take a sabbatical in the green
world should see
Opportunities on Organic Farms, but this group requires that you join it
before accessing its directory. (8/2/06)
Ready for the Video Store
are a 1,000 movies we all want to watch, but when we get to the video store,
we cannot remember one of them. And it’s an impossible hunt to find
anything worth while when you get there. Peter Kindlmann has given us a
literate way of improving our aim. Light up a cigar and pull up
Senses of Cinema. At leisure, read about one of these directors,
say Altman, and take careful notes with your fountain pen. Now you are
ready to tool off to the video store in your 1988 Volvo and get a film that
will give you smiles on a summer night. (5/31/06)
Even America’s biggest companies are trying not to be left behind by
the Internet. So many have gone beyond websites (where they hardly ever
excel) to blogs. Here’s a
Wiki List, though we have not discovered whether any of these blogs will
really brighten your life. But they’re a safe substitute for Lunesta and
all the other sleep drugs that have crept into the market. The history of
this site about business blogs (an effort by Chris Anderson of Wired and
Ross Mayfield of SocialText ) can be found at
The Long Tail, a blog that’s worth a look in any event. Of course, the
best corporate blogs are not managed by companies, but are the products of
renegade employees who have simply decided to get a blog going.
Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, explains what
it is all about on his site which we quote below. If he’s right, the New
Economy is all about niches and niche products, which means America can get
deeply into value added niches—and survive amid global competition. Such an
economy will be very dependent on the Internet and our particular
passion—relentless collaboration. Anderson says:
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and
economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small
number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the
demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the
costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is
now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all
containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space
and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-target goods and
services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.
One example of this is the theory’s prediction that
demand for products not available in traditional bricks and mortar
stores is potentially as big as for those that are. But the same is
true for video not available on broadcast TV on any given day, and songs
not played on radio. In other words, the potential aggregate size of
the many small markets in goods that don’t individually sell well enough
for traditional retail and broadcast distribution may rival that of the
existing large market in goods that do cross that economic bar.
The term refers specifically to the yellow part of
the sales chart at upper left, which shows a standard demand curve that
could apply to any industry, from entertainment to hard goods. The
vertical axis is sales; the horizontal is products. The red part
of the curve is the hits, which have dominated our markets and culture
for most of the last century. The yellow part is the non-hits, or
niches, which is where the new growth is coming from now and in the
Traditional retail economics dictate that stores
only stock the likely hits, because shelf space is expensive. But online
retailers (from Amazon to iTunes) can stock virtually everything, and
the number of available niche products outnumber the hits by several
orders of magnitude. Those millions of niches are the Long Tail, which
had been largely neglected until recently in favor of the Short Head of
When consumers are offered infinite choice, the
true shape of demand is revealed. And it turns out to be less
hit-centric than we thought. People gravitate towards niches because
they satisfy narrow interests better, and in one aspect of our life or
another we all have some narrow interest (whether we think of it that
way or not). Our research project has attempted to quantify the Long
Tail in three ways, comparing data from online and offline retailers in
music, movies, and books. (3/22/06)
Graphic design has fallen into disrepair. Generally the worst is not
as bad as it was 30 years ago. But the highs are few and far between: we
have come to be dominated by the boringly average. And, perhaps because of
digital media, most design has become too busy and over-wrought, chaos to
the eyes, anxiety provoking for the soul. Design budgets have fallen, with
companies plowing too many of their dollars into web activities where the
graphics make it hard for readers to clunk around slow-moving sites. With
the computer, every man and woman has become a self-taught design expert
with little to show for it.
The busy-ness of design reflects our age. Everybody is
doing too much unreflectively too many hours a day. Our artifacts are
mirroring are hyper lives—confused, teeming with options, overcome with
particulars that obscure any view of the general. Computers and cellphones
have too many functions and options that bear no connection to the very few
things most users actually want. Design now may not be pretty, but it
reflects all too well the current state of our culture.
The marvel of the design community, however, is that
many of the old hands still love what they are doing as much as ever, and
chat with each other about design and designers with the same passion
evinced by wine and single malt aficionados. One example of the frenzied
communications around the design beehive we sometimes enjoy is
Design Observer. It’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff
here, so don’t try. Simply read the one-liners, and you will occasionally
pick up an idea about some subject you will want to pursue further. In
other words, it’s a hit and miss affair, but just occasionally you will find
As entertaining perhaps is
DesignBoom, where we would particularly recommend the interview
section. This is more about products, but products with a fair amount of
eye appeal. It ranges about the world, and certainly branches out into the
graphic design world.
Take a look at Rolf Beuker and his
design management weblog to get a feel for what’s going on in
Mount-Everest-level design education in both Europe and America. At all the
sites, including Beuker’s, you can find an avalanche of design commentary
and design publication links that makes you wonder how designers ever get
any work done.
We find it
ironic that Bruce Nussbaum of Business Week merits some attention if
you are trying to follow design in the general media. For instance, he did
a fine piece on Korean design, which gives one some insight into design
throughout Asia. Ironic because he maintains a blog that is chatty but not
NussbaumonDesign. Ironic because Business Week does some annual
industrial design awards and architectural awards which are not particularly
perceptive or innovative: they’re the sort of thing that designers like but
lack a critical eye. Ironic, too, because Business Week is a clunky
publication (we know because we read it regularly) that is not well-written
or well-designed. Often too many words saying very little. (3/8/06)
and Other Science Sites
We find that you have to peek around the web to find sites that give
you a good feel for what’s emerging in science, and none is comprehensive.
A good place to start is
Element List, which claims to provide the best science links on the
web. Well, some of them. Element List was founded in October 2004 by Dr.
Jacqueline Floyd, research scientist in geophysics at Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory of Columbia University in New York. It’s more or less organized
like a blog, which means it is quite disorganized. And it gets
argumentative both about politics and science, instead of just sticking to
its mission of providing good links. That said, we find occasional items
that don’t pop up elsewhere.
We have reviewed
Science Daily. The Hogans make an effort to be comprehensive and don’t
get bogged down in didactic or preachy commentary. This is the right place
to start your search on a new development.
By and large The New York Times has the best
weekly science section of all the major papers we have surveyed, and this
has probably long been the best section in the whole newspaper. In some
senses, it’s an oddity, since the wisdom of this science talent does not
spill over into the coverage of the high-tech industry, etc. In other
words, there is very little trickle down from the science talent pool. But
for bits and pieces of science news, we would tackle the
BBC, which manages to put together quite an online news service, given
the fact that it is a broadcast service. Likewise,
its health section is worth the read.
While we do not recommend The Wall Street Journal
for science in general, although it takes in major amounts of revenue from
high technology advertisers, Sharon Begley’s column is first rate and takes
you through an offbeat look at some serious science questions usually not
tackled elsewhere. She goes where her nose leads her.
easy read comes from the Japanese government. Its
Trends publication does a science section, which is sort of a Ripley’s
Believe It or Not that points to interesting applications that are or will
be coming into the marketplace soon. Here you can learn that the Japanese
are well ahead of us in some respects, with robot applications and hot shot
bathrooms within reach—if you have the dollars. (3/1/06)
You have to poke around a bit at the National Weather Service and
FEMA to find out which states have been most punished by natural disasters.
We had heard, for instance, that Rhode Island, even though it is located on
the Coast, had been less blighted by hurricanes, tornadoes, and everything
else than other states, but were hard pressed to find some data to back up
the hearsay. Well, here are some places where you can find out who has
taken a beating:
cannot be interested in 20th century American and European literature if you
The Paris Review. There are interviews archived here with
everybody—Algren, Capote, Robert Penn Warren, Forster, Mauriac, even Dorothy
Parker. Why you could deal with your insomnia just by visiting here! As a
dividend, you will find a link to the complete archives of the New York
Review of Books. It’s hard to realize that
George Plimpton, founder and forever editor, bon vivant and sportsman,
has bitten the dust, but it’s a pleasure to see this—the best memorial to
“Paris: Capital of the 19th Century” is a marvelous work in progress at
Brown University. In general it includes, thus far, a bibliography and a
smattering of useful essays. It is a lovely introduction to France when it
was still on top that provides, we think, useful clues as to why it has
fallen into mild irrelevance. Irrelevant, unless you are a cook, an arena
where it still is a world power. (1/18/06)
Phone Systems, Computers
you have learned to hate corporations that make you duel with their
automated phone systems when you are seeking customer service. Sometimes
there is a way around it. Blogger Paul English has posted
The IVR Cheat Sheet, which lists codes that make take you out of the
system and put you in touch with real humanoids (i.e., human beings that
work for big corporations). But English helps you with other unfriendly
systems as well. He’s a computer programmer who says that he is embarrassed
about how ridiculously complex the software/computer world is. So he shows
you how to do your blogging via email. And he gives his best hints on
everything from Alzheimer’s to spam. English is cofounder and tech head
Kayak.com, a travel website about which we know nothing. (1/11/06)
Professor Scout Plous of Weslyan maintains the most comprehensive database
on social psychology one can find on the internet called the
Social Psychology Network. It’s backed by the NSF. It’s a smart way of
finding out what’s going on in doctoral programs around the country.
of India and Ceylon
Harappa.com when we were looking into aspects of Ceylon. But it is a
historical trove of images about ancient India, Pakistan, the Indus Valley,
and Sri Lanka. It is produced in San Francisco. For some reason, San
Francisco is rich in people who do fascinating cultural and historical
compendiums, such as Robert Mix whom we talked about in
“Being There.” (12/7/05)
eBird website was developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the
National Audubon Society. Visitors can make their own bird observations, or
access the entire historical database to find out what other users of the
eBird site have to say about their own bird watching forays. The site as
well has a good glossary. But one should go further and root around all the
sites available from the Cornell Lab. For instance, see the homepage of the
Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Or take a look at the
Macaulay Library. The tribe at Cornell was intimately involved in the
rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker and brings a passion to birding
that does not seem to be rivaled anywhere in the country. For a wonderful
behind-the-scenes look at the ivory-bill story, visit the Audubon Society
website and read
“The Best Kept Secret” by Rachel Dickinson, journalist and husband of
Cornell Laboratory’s Tim Gallagher, who was himself intimately involved with
the pursuit of the long lost woodpecker. (11/23/05)
immensely impressed with the website of the
American Conifer Society. There’s a wealth of information here about
particular conifers, about events in the evergreen world, books to read,
pruning, and links to nurseries and gardens. (11/2/05)
times past young people would take a continental tour to complete their
education. Now Jonas Carlson has saved them the trip by providing 360
degree panoramic images of several delightful spots across the globe—on his
Virtual Sweden site (www.virtualsweden.se).
Strangely enough, after peeking around at all his scenes, we find he has an
affinity for churches and is able to evoke their spiritual quality. The
rest of his pictures seem competent but perhaps a bit lifeless. (10/5/05)
online collection from the Michigan State University Libraries and the
Michigan State University Museum presents important cookbooks from the late
18th to the early 20th century. Of course, Fannie Farmer is here, but there
are also chestnuts like Artemis Ward, a White House cookbook, etc. See
Pilots Hang Out
Obviously, Mike the Webmaster for this site is a longtime pilot who has had
to sit around in a lot of places. In fact, we notice that our own pilots on
a recent trip hung around all the standard places in town, uncovering
nothing new on their trip. Mike, as you will find, uncovers a bit of
everything, some good, some bad. But at least he gets off the beaten path.
116. Churchill Speaks
you can hear Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” speech delivered at Westminster
College in Fulton, Missouri on March 5, 1946, when he foreshadowed our
struggle with Stalin and saluted the opportunity presented by the United
Nations. It’s worth listening just to hear his golden strains.
“Westminster,” he says, that’s a name with which he has some familiarity.
Much more clearly than FDR or Truman, he saw the dangers posed by the “Iron
Curtain” and perhaps envisioned the long Cold War ahead. See
www.churchillspeeches.com. Given Great Britain’s relative decline in
power and his own political vulnerability, Churchill played his hand very
well, wooing and warning the us colonials about the ways of the world.
Wouldst we could hear his wisdom today, when we are frittering away our
of the Southwest
lighting on photographers around the world who don’t quite make their living
from their images but are very serious, indeed. Often their work has a
freshness lacking amongst the chaps who are shooting commercially fulltime.
Lately we have come across Wright World (www.wrightworld.com/links/links.html),
which is full of links to the photographic scene in the Southwest and
114. Cancer Resources
worry about a website where we cannot easily find out who put it together
and for what reason. That said, if you are just starting to learn about one
variety, The Cancer Directory (www.cancerdir.com)
will provide a number of links that may lead you somewhere. Also take a
look at National Cancer Institute on
Stitch in Time
for reliable interpretative information. (3/16/05)
113. Airline Meals
Don’t get over-excited about this site (www.airlinemeals.net/indexMotwArchive.
html), but it’s worth a read. It has almost 11,000 images of meals
from nearly 500 airlines taken by various contributors who add a comment
about the food. This won’t help you find the exceptional meal, but at least
it will help you learn about the disasters in advance so that you can fly
with your own hamper put together by a charcuterie in the city from which
you depart. We surveyed, for instance, Dragonair, since we had our first,
really first-class meal in years aboard one of its flights from Hong Kong to
Bejing. And dexterous service to go with it. Yet this airline does not
show up on the chart of those lines winning awards from the website. On the
contrary, several trunk carriers with dismal food in all classes do get one
or more awards in the meal of the week archive. A 30-plus graphic designer
from Rotterdam is the eminence grise of this site, and we suspect, yes, he
knows more about the look of food than the taste of it. Nonetheless, he
does recognize that the Asian airlines generally do a better job on food
than the rest.
To get a perceptive readout about the first class food of airlines flying
Asian routes, go to
“The Ups and
Downs of First Class,” on our Best of Class. (3/9/05)
112. American Garden Museum
This intriguing website,
www.americangardenmuseum.com, does not provide much in the way of
background, workings, editors, or ownership. We believe it’s located in
Florida. But please understand that it is only a web creation without
bricks and mortar. The following site description was abstracted from the
who ask others the eternal question, “How does your garden grow?”, the
American Garden Museum website may be a nice way to find out how different
American gardens have evolved through history. As a statement on the site
proclaims, “The Museum highlights gardens big and small, urban and rural,
gentle and outrageous, wildly expensive and affordable.” Visitors may want
to delve into the site by looking through the “Showcase” area. In this
part of the site, a different garden or landscaped environment is profiled
every couple of months, including such interesting sites as Opus 40, which
is located in Saugerties, New York. The “Gardens” area features an
interactive clickable map of the United States, where visitors may learn
about prominent gardens in each state, such as the Stonecrop Gardens in
Cold Spring, New York. Finally, those who already have a green thumb may
submit their own gardening stories or experiences, which may then be
shared with the online gardening community via this particular website. [KMG]
111. Garlic Breath & the
This rather fun website gets into the growing and lore of garlic,
plus a little health, plus
that you should not feel obliged to try. We’re amused but don’t include it
spice section, simply because it is not a foodlover’s paradise. We are
pleased to learn that Ulysses owes his escape from Circe to “yellow garlic,”
which makes us wonder, however, if he would have been a more interesting
fellow, had he gotten entrapped along the way. See Garlic Central at
www.garlic-central.com. Learn here that stinkin’ breath apparently
works well against insects and vampires as well in case you are overcome by
either of those critters. (2/23/05)
Observatories: Chaco Canyon
Yet another wonderful extraterrestrial happening in New Mexico. The
abstract below comes from the Scout Report:
Canyon installment in the Ancient Observatories series is designed to
help teachers introduce students to the field of archeoastronomy, the
study of astronomy of ancient cultures. Available in both Flash/broadband
and an html version for slower connections, the site includes a wealth of
documentation of astronomical observations conducted from Chaco Canyon in
New Mexico, from petroglyphs to NASA photographs. For example, see a 1997
photograph showing a supernova in a distant galaxy compared with a
petroglyph created in AD 1054, thought to be a representation of a
supernova in our own galaxy. There are also maps, animations showing
seasonal alignments of the sun, and a time-lapse Quicktime movie showing
how sunlight changes throughout the day at Chaco. Links are provided to
NASA’s Sun-Earth Day main site, featuring other ancient observatories,
such as Stonehenge, and Sun Watchers Through Time.
Bowdoin College in Maine may not immediately make one think of zen gardens,
but it has certainly done a fine job offering web users valuable online
tours and insights into these peaceful and lovely places. Specifically, the
site is dedicated to the gardens of Japan and—to be geographically more
precise—to the historic gardens of Kyoto and its environs. Through the
various pages dedicated to over twenty separate gardens, visitors may take
virtual tours of each one and read extended histories on each locale.
First-time visitors will want to read the overview essay, which discusses
the importance of early Japanese gardens, and then continue on to the
section which discusses the various elements of these gardens, such as
bridges, sand, stones, and water. The site is rounded out by a bibliography
for further exploration and a glossary of key terms. (This comment was
drawn from the Scout newsletter which, now and again, cites exceptional
World of Dahl
generations of dreamers have read Roald Dahl’s books about
James and the Giant Peach,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and
Matilda. They are charming and engaging, but harbor a little
bit of terror just below the surface. We remember well, for instance, a
Dahl story (“Royal Jelly”) where a baby was brought back to health through a
diet of bee jelly, and only later did they notice a furry coat developing on
its belly. This engaging website (www.roalddahl.com)
has all sorts of wonderful things to explore, but be warned that it is
over-designed and tedious to navigate. If you read Dahl’s autobiographical
sketches, you will wonder how such a serious person could summon up such
enchantment. Perhaps his works are an escape from life as he knew it,
which, now and again, had some dreadful patches. This site is much too
complex, much too hard to navigate, and takes too much patience to peruse.
This hyperdesign, incidentally, is a problem in toydom, in modern design,
and, most of all, in today’s computerdom. Those who write about the future
of computing sum it up in one word, “Simplicity.” There will be a drive to
make software, websites, software, and computers much simpler to operate,
putting a very simple face (the techies can’t even make this word simple:
they call it interface) on toys, websites, computers, systems, and gadgets
of all types. Even some of the seminal thinkers about information
processing at MIT complain about the inoperability of today’s software.
out New Mexico
we suggested in our letter of
17 September 2003, New Mexico is about the outdoors, the supernatural,
the escape from all urban vestiges. Now, a few centuries after the Jesuits
made their way here, the problem is to find notes from wayfarers that will
lead you through its open spaces. We have discovered a couple of academics
who have tried to see the state in the right way. Back in 1994, Philip
Greenspun, a professor around MIT, who has done heaps about the Internet and
is willing to talk about everything else besides, took a trip around the
state. You will find his photo record, observations, and even a proposed
itinerary for future travelers at www.photo.net/us/sw/new-mexico.
In addition, a graduate student who spent a patch of time at Los Alamos by
the name of Dallas Masters put something together for all his colleagues
back in 1996 and happily it has not been wiped away. We find particularly
helpful his ranking of hot springs, and he nicely tells you how to move
beyond all the obvious tourist places. Los Alamos, needless to say, is a
strange town that you need to get away from. See
http://nis-www.lanl.gov/~dallas/sers/index.html and then open the
section “Life in Los Alamos.”
Your son is coming in today on Air Lateness, and you want to know if he is
on time and how far his flight has really progressed. And you do not want
to be put on hold by the airline whose clerks often provide ambiguous or
wrong information anyway. Go to Flight Tracker (www.flightview.com/TravelTools),
plug in the flight number, and see just where things stand.
105. The Beer Advocate
The brothers Todd and Jason Alstrom have built their site into the home for
beer lovers since 1996, with more than 18,000 members from 120 countries,
and about 1.5 million users per month. See The
April 21, 2004, p. E3. In addition to their site
www.beeradvocate.com, they have also gotten into the beer festival
business, their next Art of Beer Fest to feature 35 breweries and nine guest
speakers. The brothers still have a little work to do. We could not, for
instance, find our current favorite from Danang, 33 Beer, which we typically
have with our pho, Vietnam’s delicious soup.
for the Long-Distance Runner
To keep up on
real runners, look at
www.coolrunning.com in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. But for
even more fun, look at Kevin Tiller’s home page, incorporated in the
Australian site, where he tells you all about himself, including his running
times, and his assorted other interests. We are very partial to his list of
inspirational quotes at
http://www.coolrunning.com.au/kevintiller/inspire.shtml which provides
you with a stream of aphorisms that will help you roll rocks uphill, give an
extra lunge when you are rowing the last sixteenth mile, or win the contract
when you are outgunned by McBooz, Goldfinger Bank, or one of the other
gigantic professional service firms that offer generic advice for too much
money. You can find here Neil Young’s “It’s better to burn out than fade
away” or Courtenay’s “Small can beat big, but you have to have a plan.”
Anonymous is often the best quipmeister, saying, for instance, that “If
you’re not living live on the edge, then you’re taking up too much space.”
He links to a Ghandi website which reminds us that “we must be the change we
wish to see.”
Gyre.org is simply a great way to catch up on breaking technological
developments both in military applications and on other scientific fronts.
So you will find lots about space, biological warfare, and the like. But
you will also find all sorts of things in nano- and neuro-technology, fields
that the scientifically aware have to track these days.
102. America's Most Literate Cities
We would not take this paper too seriously, but
it’s sort of fun to look at, and we were tempted to put it under Global Wit
and Wisdom. It’s by an educational bureaucrat who has put in too much time
in places like Florida and Wisconsin, places more blessed in their wilds
than in their cities. The survey using the author’s criteria, shows that
literacy resides in smaller, second cities with populations around the half
million mark. You can find it at
www.uww.edu/cities. On reflection, you will probably find that
knowledge, such as it is, is more evenly distributed in these burgs. But,
we suspect, the highs are much higher, and the lows much lower, in much
That aside, what is interesting about the study is that Minneapolis,
Minnesota comes out on top. Minneapolis has some clear strengths on which
the nation has not focused. There are great amounts of midlevel education
available: It does not produce greatness, but the education does seep
through to a goodly part of the citizenry. Some of the best thinking in the
public health field comes out of its public health professionals, and we
hear that it gets a better return than most on both its educational and
health dollars. We wonder if either its political traditions or
Scandanavian feedstock have produced a sturdier middle class here than other
sections of the country. Minnesota does deserve much more study by all our
101. Lightning Does Strike Twice
It happened to us twice in 2002, the two jolts
within 25 feet of one another, all during the month of July. That kindled
an interest in lightning, which has not led to anything practical but we
hope it does. We would like to better learn how to protect limb and
property. We asked the chap whose company did the repairs on our maimed
buildings what you do to avert such problems. All we learned from our chat
is that he suffered as devastating a strike not longer after our little
incident. Perhaps we should all drink white lightning to forget that we
ever had to deal with the real thing. Nonetheless, there are a clutch of
websites and other sources that give us a little insight into lightning.
PJK writes from New Haven
that the text to pay attention to is R. H. Golde’s
Lightning Protection, which unfortunately is out of print and sells
for a king’s ransom. It came into the world in 1975 (1973 according to
other sources) from the Chemical Publishing Company in New York City. It
sets forth in some detail everything you never wanted to know about
lightning rods and the several things you should know about deadhead wires
to establish a proper ground. Everybody says this is the classic book in
the trade, but we really wonder how many have read it.
Some minor thoughts for you,
if your buildings take a hit. Plan on it knocking out most of your minor
appliances including your phones, a TV or two, etc. Surge arresters will
help computers, TVs, answering machines, and the like, if you have not been
lucky enough to unplug things in advance. It’s good to do so, incidentally,
when you go away on summer vacations. Make sure you not only run your
current but your phone lines for these gadgets through the arresters: Quite
often you will lose your computer because of the modem hook-up, and not
because of the electric line. Major electrical motors can go out even a
year after you are struck, so make sure you have some recourse with your
insurance company in case things breakdown much later. Buried cables and
other lines belonging to the power company can deteriorate over a two month
period after the strike, so have them checked if you experience an outage
after you think all is cured.
We have not checked to find
out whether lightning is on the increase, but anecdotally we hear of more
problems nationwide over the last 2 years. The University of Florida
maintains a Lightning Research Laboratory
www.lightning.ece.ufl.edu/ which indicates the high degree of interest
the utility industry has in the whys and wherefores of lightning. Other
centers of research can be found at
http://ae.atmos.uah.edu/. New Mexico, incidentally, has the highest
rate of lightning fatalities in the nation. Florida, Arkansas, and Wyoming
are the other states where you may easily get hit by a bolt from the blue.
While there appears to have been a decline in the number of lightning deaths
since the 1950s, lightning does account for more deaths than other natural
disasters such as tornados and the like. Given that lightning is associated
with the 100,000 or so thunderstorms we experience each year, it’s an
anomaly that we still do not know how to deal with it well.
Should you want to take in a
little tame lightning, go to Quemado, New Mexico where you can hope to see
the best and the worse, as you survey the 400 stainless steel lightning rods
stuck in the desert to attract vagrant electricity. For more on this, see
www.lightningfield.org. Or see the Van de Graaff generator at the
Boston Museum of Science, which can product some pretty heavy sparks. See
www.mos.org. And particularly see
www.mos.org/sln/toe/history.html. More about lightning, Franklin, etc.
appears in Forbes, July 7, 2003, pp. 139-40.
Yet More on Lightning:
eternally meeting more people who have been struck by lightning and have
lived to laugh about it, even if their laughter is a little faint. Many are
from North Carolina. Maybe that’s why Lightning Strike & Electric Shock
Survivors International, Inc. was started in and still resides in North
Carolina, Jacksonville to be specific. To seek aid, counsel, and whatever,
www.lightning-strike.org. Moreover, to find out about lighting storms
and lightning victims, read a fine story by Robert Sargent in the
Tallahassee Democrat at
places Florida Number 1 in the lightning field—not in fatalities which
belongs to New Mexico-- but in number of strikes. “With an average 1.3
million flashes a year, or about 20 flashes per square mile, Florida tops
every other state, according to Arizona-based lightning-tracking firm
www.vaisala.com/page.asp?Section=32538), which operates the U.S.
National Lightning Detection Network.” Vaisala, incidentally, looks like it
intends to be king of the hill in the lightning business, offering an array
of equipment to deal with lightning. We are waiting for it to claim it “is
first in lightning.” Take a peek at its other website at
Lightning, notes The Economist (December 6, 2003, pp. 71-72),
for all the attention it gets, is still not very well understood. Ludger
Woste at the Institute for Experimental Physics of the Free University of
Berlin is using his Terambile (laser) to try to get his arms around the
big bolts by artificially generating his own lightning.
of the Florida Institute of Technology has developed some substantiation for
a theory of Alexander Gurevich of the Lebedev Institute in Moscow, who in
the early 90s claimed that lightning was ignited by cosmic rays from outer
space. Dr. Hugh Christian of Huntville’s Marshall Spaceflight Center
observes that rapid increases in lightning flashes seem to be predictive of
tornados. Other groups have seen connections between lightning and other
weather phenomenon: A group in Toulouse, for instance, thinks there may be a
relationship to hail storms, while others are linking it to both ozone and
greenhouse gas effects.
Global Hydrology and Climate Center (http://thunder.msfc.nasa.gov)
gets into the history of lightning research as well as its own efforts in
the field. A crackle of thunder lets you know you have gotten to the right
site. The various ways this NASA group gathers data are revealed here,
making a further argument for space exploration. For the average
reader or the junior scientist, probably the “Primer,” which gives you a
fast A to Z review of lightning, is the best feature of the site.
100. Best Website Directory
the brainchild of Ainuddin Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur, really looks around the
Web, and it will lead you to as many interesting, great websites as you can
stomach. If you don’t get out much or if you live in a wasteland cut off
from the world, then this is a great place to go to find out what all the
other people in the world are enjoying.
99. Your Surgery.com
Surgery.com looks at the whys and wherefores of all sorts of surgical
procedures including details on what will happen, possible complications,
alternatives, etc. While this is a good site, we would recommend that
patients search further to look at the long-term efficacy of surgical
procedures so as to better weigh whether the outcomes justify the discomfort
and cost. See
Probably the most pressing reason to know about this website is to learn
what in the Sam Hill vexillology is all about. It’s the study of flags.
Here you will find all the flags of the world. Moreover, the 20th
International Congress of Vexillolology is to take place 28 July-August 2003
in Stockholm, and it promises to be a most vexing occasion. You can see
here 18,000 pages and more than 32,000 images of flags. And there’s much
www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags. We must admit to particularly liking the
link to the National Anthems site where you can learn how 192 peoples sing
about their nationhood.
97. The Ref
Bob Drudge is
the father of Matt Drudge, the colorful Yellow Dog journalist of the
Internet, the one who uses a reporter Dick Tracy type hat in order to look
like Walter Winchell. But Bob should be more famous than his son, because
he has given us a very useful website with links to everywhere where you
find out about things. As with all portals on the Internet, you will waste
a lot of time looking around this chock full of stuff site in order to find
what you want. In his secret mind, he fashions himself a reference
librarian. And that’s what this site is about. If he had a phone, he could
be the answer man whom you call into to give you the right response to a
Trivial Pursuit question or to find you an exchange rate or to take you to
a King James version of the Bible, so that you can avoid the more pedestrian
versions published now. If it were organized somewhat differently and had
slightly more graphic appeal, you would make it your homepage. But put it
in your bookmarks anyway. See
www.refdesk.com. It’s a place to get quick facts, not deep thinking.
96. Solid State Stuff
We have already posted rankings of the states according to fiscal
performance, as prepared by the Fraser Institute. See Best of Class, item
126L. Gradually we are finding other state rankings that are of some
interest. Kaiser looks at health throughout the United States, where you
can learn, for instance, that Hawaii has the lowest number of deaths per
100,000 people, and the District of Columbia the most. Generally states in
the West and a few in the North have a longer lifespan whereas you will
depart early in the South and in the Southwest. Morgan Quitno Press (www.morganquitno.com)
is making a living publishing directories showing which states are best or
worst in a number of categories. Connecticut is the smartest; New Mexico is
the dumbest. Minnesota is the most livable, Mississippi the least.
Mississippi won another award: it is the unhealthiest, while Vermont comes
in as the healthiest. North Dakota is the safest, and Louisiana the most
dangerous. Who knows whether Morgan’s rankings are correct. We suspect the
Fraser and Kaiser tabulations will help you spot the right place to live.
95. London Pubs
We found the
ones we treasure listed here, so it is a trustworthy list:
www.pubs.com. Put together by Paul Keating, an ITN cameraman, it even
includes a pix or two besides detailed information, so it’s worth a look.
He does supply enough of a description to tell you whether any one drinkery
is worth the visit. And if you are just touring, he has done a handy trick
of naming the pubs that are near some of the famous sights.
is an advertisement for Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville. But there are
enough historical details, little pictures, resources, and other surprises
to make this site alone worth a visit. See
93. Callin The Dog in Mississippi
We have learned lately that everything good gets done by telling stories.
As we have indicated, some companies are even using myths and stories as a
core part of their formal and informal company training. For fun and
instruction we recommend
www.AmericanFolklore.net, where you can draw on stories long told around
the nation. So far our favorite is a Mississippi tale called Callin The Dog
in which the man who can tell the biggest lie wins a puppy:
Now, the last man to talk knew he didn't have a
chance of winnin' that there pup on account of all them tall-tales the
others told was so good. So he jest said: "I never told a lie in my life."
"You get the pup!" said the owner of the hound
dog. And everyone else agreed with him.
about storytelling, see
Letters from the Global Province, 19 August 2002, “Stories R Us” and
Agile Companies, number 152, “Donut Stories.”
92. Flying Buttresses
Skyscrapers.com has about as much as anyone needs to know about skyscrapers
around the world. We particularly enjoyed its listing of the 100 tallest
office buildings where you learn which countries are stepping out in the world. For
instance, the two tallest are in Kuala Lumpur—Petronas Towers I and II. Of
the top 10, 8 are in Asia, 6 in China when you count Hong Kong. See
91. Louise Brooks Society
Louise Brooks did it all and was a pretty good actress besides. Apparently
she’s best remembered for her role of Lulu in the German film,
Pandora’s Box, which did not really catch on in its own time (1929 …
probably everybody had other things to think about). Hence, the name of
this most interesting website (www.pandorasbox.com).
Apparently the site is home for the Louise Brooks Society, which claims to
be the world’s biggest fan club for a silent movie star. We remember Brooks
better for her colorful life than for her roles. When she escaped Kansas,
she went on to dance in New York, mingling with both Martha Graham and
Ziegfield along the way. She lived in the Algonquin Hotel, frequented
London café society, had affairs with Charlie Chaplin and a host of other
well-known greats and not so greats from stage and screen. Oddly enough she
had a long post-career sojourn in Rochester, New York, the home of Eastman
Kodak and the site of vast film archives, curated by her friend James Card.
Perhaps that was the right locale for a film antique.
90. All About the Prez
should have written about this site before July 4. It tells you the whole
nine yards about presidents—who they were, what they did, who their wives
were, etc. It is mostly free of cant and propaganda, even though it is a
government production at
www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents. Good quiz stuff to use with the
89. Best of the History Websites
Thomas Daccord, who teaches at Noble & Greenough School in Dedham,
Massachusetts, has put together this site for students and history educators
www.besthistorysites.net. We have not ploughed through the site to see
if his rating system works. But, for sure, it will help school kids get
through their term papers.
88. Think Tanks
thought that think tanks were just a U.S. disease, with maybe a few in
Europe. Well, they are all over the place, as we learn on
www.nira.go.jp/linke/tt-link. Now just what is it that they are
thinking about in the Kyrgyz Republic?
87. Chinese Art Net
We can testify that the links here don’t always work, but this is
good look at Greater China, Singapore, the U.S.A., and a couple of other
places where you can tap into decent Chinese art. Oddly enough, the site is
located in Patterson, New York, wherever that is.
86. It's a Small World
Molecular Expressions captures the world of optics and microscopy. You get
to see all sorts of things really close up in addition to learning about
optical microscopy in a slew of tutorials available on the site. See
85. Virtual Museums Online
we will give you a choice here. You can get your museums deadly serious or
you can have a little wit. The self-important site is
www.museumstuff.com, which will lead you to a very broad assortment of
museums in a number of fields. But if you need a lot of amusement with your
www.coudal.com/archives/museum.html. Put together by a creative
semi-marketing firm, this site is really advertising of the best sort: it
will get you to the Smithsonian but it will also lure you to The Museum of
Firecracker Labels or Manhole Covers Arranged by Country. This is a smart
use of the Web: every commercial site should include some free, useful, and
sometimes amusing information that is not self-promotional but still conveys
the spirit of the enterprise.
got to www.sciencedaily.com
initially when we were running down the relationship of stem cells to brain
repair. The Hogans, in their spare time, keep us abreast of developments in
several fields, between their jobs as webmaster and teacher. It is a daily
and, unlike a number of the daily web technology letters we receive, the
content is consistent and always useful.
83. Bugs Aplenty
In case you ever doubted that the systems that control are lives
are riddled with error and liable to crash, then you should visit Mr.
Huckle's site from across the water and find that our terra ain't firma.
82. Best Ways to Care for Maps
The Prime Meridian, Virginia dealers in maps, has a very helpful
website, with a useful search mechanism to its collection, links to lots of
map people, and sundry other goodies. we would particularly recommend its
section on the Care of Old Maps, a helpful guide whether you are dealing
with 19th-century maps or old prints. See
www.theprimemeridian.com/MapCare.html. Also, booklovers would be
advised to visit the page about search engines to find that rare edition or
out-of-print book that has been eluding them at
81. Shake, Rattle, and Roll
One can learn more than you need to know about earthquakes in the U.S. at
http://quake.usgs.gov/. More fun, however, is just to carve out the
section on Recent Earthquakes in California and Nevada, notably the San
Francisco Special Map. You can get, as we did, a countdown on earthquakes
over the last 4 days or so (30 or so from 04/14 to 04/18), broken down into
those that occurred during the last hour, the last day, and last week. It
is only an illusion, we claim, that Californians are laid back; as near as
we can tell they are vibrating at every moment. See
80. Nobel People
Nobel Foundation has turned its website into a tour of the lives of those it
has honored as well as a fun place to play animated games and visit
interactive science laboratories. See
www.nobel.se. Also see CIO, April 1, 2002, p.34.
79. Amdahl's Internet Exploration
Amdahl, soon to be renamed Fujitsu Technology Solutions, Inc., has
a section of its site other companies should think about emulating.
What Amdahl provides here is a meta-site that links to newsworthy events,
sports, internet news, weather, etc. The whole effort is called
"Explore the Internet," and provides reasons to visit Amdahl frequently.
The usual product brochure material is on the site as well, but it is in
this section and in its case histories that Amdahl demonstrates some understanding of
how the Internet is to be used. Sadly, the name of the founder,
computer pioneer Gene Amdahl, will soon fade away.
78. March Madness
High school, not college basketball, was the genesis of the
whole idea of March Madness. Learn all about it at the site of the
group that keeps the mania alive.
This will let you see what topics and websites do a lot of volume.
It does boast occasional surprises. One of the top 10 is Scandal
Taiwan, the doings of a lady politician there whose mating rituals have been
laid out in as much detail as Bill Clinton's idylls with an intern.
76. Movie Mom
Nell Minow, who tries to keep companies in line through her
corporate-watch activities, also has figured out how to create kids with
angelic minds. It's MovieMom, a site that lays out what kids should
We find this site valuable because it points you towards the cities
and countries that have worked at wiring themselves to achieve smarts in a
hurry about on everything. John Eger, the creator, is a major catalyst
in this movement. See
74. The Wages of Work
This site provides salary survey data, a way of finding out whether
your wages are vaguely competitive. See WageWeb at
73. Casting a Vote for Civilization
Against the backdrop of war and all its destruction, it was
cheering to discover a website devoted to the greatest human accomplishments
of the last 2,000 years (The New Yorker, October 29,
2001, pp. 32-33). Visitors to
www.new7wonders.com can participate in a global internet
vote to choose the seven new wonders of the world, the ancient wonders
having disappeared, except for the pyramids of Giza. The seventeen official
candidates were culled from 529 Unesco World Heritabge Sites; "wild cards"
were added by voter suggestion. Currently the top three contenders are
the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the pyramids at Chichen Itza in
Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. To date, over 5.68 million people from 238
countries have voted. (Nearly a quarter of the ballots come from Peru,
possibly because Macchu Picchu is a write-in candidate.) Voting ends on
December 31, 2001.
Bernard Weber, a Swiss filmmaker and former museum curator,
is the founder of the website and its parent, The New 7 Wonders Society.
Weber's goal is to "promote global awareness of the earth's cultural
heritage and to preserve the beauty of nature." His first real world
objective may seem a bit quixotic: to rebuild the statues of Buddha that
were destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan earlier this year, first as 3-D
computer models, and eventually in situ. But who knows? It's
dreamers like Weber who may save our souls.
72. Gargoyle Central
Yes, somebody does have the best gargoyle collection on the web. See http://users.skynet.be/dhs/gargouilles.
71. Government and Science
Department of Commerce site, looks around the government's storehouse of technology.
70. Wireless Updates
Mobile Streams does a pretty
good job keeping track of wireless events on its gamut of websites. It's not
well-related or indexed, so you have to hunt around a bit. Maybe you should begin at
www.mobilefirst.com. But plow around:
there's a lot of stuff here. Forgive Mobile Streams: technology companies never use
technology very well.
69. Chiefs of State
We have already told you that there are a couple of things to see on the CIA's
site (see entry #19 below). But we had not mentioned its
chiefs-of-state listing which is updated weekly. It's worthy of attention, since you
can expect rapid-fire changes in national leadership for the next few years. Keep
track here at www.cia.gov/cia/publications/chiefs/index.html.
Who knows, but this site has little fragments of information that flag
developments that our newspapers are missing in countries around the globe.
Singapore, for instance, has made some serious armaments purchases and has supplanted
Subic Bay as America's base in the Pacific rim. See www.spiescafe.com.
67. Latin Lynn
Lynn Nelson, whom you can read about in Gods, Heroes, and Legends, tells us
that he is, oddly enough, best known for his Latin word book, which you can find at www.ukans.edu/ftp/pub/history/Europe/Medieval/aids/latwords.html.
It is still the only universal language, so this is a site worth knowing.
66. Free-Market Boys
The Fraser Institute lists institutes and publishers around the world that carry
the cudgels for unbridled capitalism, except when it comes to their own tax status, where
they curry special favor with their respective governments. See www.freetheworld.com/other.html.
65. Tartans to Go
Correspondent Etta MacKay has told us where to look for kilts for any clan.
We came up short on this for Elly's birthday, so we are grateful that we will be
ready to deck out the next Scot who comes our way. For tartans all, see:
64. Virtual Library
http://vlib.org. This is the place to find
out about everything everywhere. The links lead everywhere in the world, from
museums and libraries to institutes, with very serious sites about every heavyweight
63. Academic Finance Site
Links to journals and lots of other things. See www.cob.ohio-state.edu/fin/journal/jofsites.htm.
62. Ranking the Consultants--Top
What this tells us is that there are too many in the United States, and not enough
in Europe and Asia. Clearly size has no correlation with quality: in professional
services, bigger hardly ever means better.
61. Buyer Beware
You actually can find out if your airline is in trouble, but goodness knows what
you can do about it. We'll be travelling more on American Eagle, which is a disaster
waiting to happen and which should be disciplined by the FAA. Read this report and
weep. 3.7% of its flights are late 70% of the time, while 0% are late on Aloha,
TransWorld, and Northwest. 5.7% of its operations (I guess this is flights) are
cancelled verses 0.7% on Southwest, etc. etc.
60. History of Cartography
Campbell has been Map Librarian of the British Library for fourteen years. Before
that he was an antiquarian map dealer and cataloguer. He also shepherds a journal,
conference, and other doings around maps. The site is wonderful, but naturally he
only thinks he's done half the job. As he puts it, the web only provides a part of
the information needed. Well, it's the best map place we've been to.
international network of history sites dating back to 1993, maintained by the University
58. Hot Stuff
www.chileplants.com is the best thing we
have seen on chile peppers. Hundreds of chiles with pictures and descriptions.
This is the right kind of commercial site, providing excellent and complete information,
with the view that it will attract customers to Cross Country Nurseries of Rosemont, New
Jersey. We are surprised at how many very good food sites there are, surpassing by
far other e-commerce sites. The site has excellent links, including www.chilepepperinstitute.org at New Mexico State University, in the state that makes the
nation's hottest food. We suppose that after visiting Cross Country, you should go
to Boylan's for refreshment, also located in New Jersey, maker of the country's best root
beer and ginger ale. (For more on Boylan's, see Best of Class #175.)
57. A Site for Value Investors
www.valuepro.net. Plug in your stock symbol
and this site will spew forth your stock's intrinsic value (if it is in the site's
database). This is one way of finding out how much fluff is still in a stock's
This site, a project of the University of Michigan
School of Information, has some 2,000,000 visitors per month. We arrived here
because of its extensive literary criticism collection.
Art Crimes (www.graffiti.org) has a more limited
view of graffiti than we espouse. Graffiti, for us, was always the witty
philosophical stuff found on bathroom walls in Irish bars. The folks who put
together this site mean the stuff that used to cover subway cars in New York City, until
new politicos beat the stuff and recaptured New York for its average joes.
Nonetheless, this site is well worth a visit, as it shows a cheery dedication to spray-can
outpourings from 43 countries, creations that run parallel to the semiotic scratchings of
academics in their journals or the obsessiveness of hackers and code-breakers around the
virtual world. In other words, this is what you do when you can't stop.
54. Bloodshot Eyes
A classmate and pal of old just heard Wynonie Harris singing "Don't Roll Your
Bloodshot Eyes at Me." He thinks the song dates back to an expedition we took
in the 50s to Pennsylvania, but I can't remember so I must have been bloodshot. At
any rate, I recommend to Chet The Global Hangover Guide (www.hangoverguide.com), which comes to us from a
commercial artist in Germany. It's really not a very good site, but what do you
expect? Probably you should try the hangover cures, though, which are as good as
anybody else's. And skip the bars, which are pedestrian atrocities. The world
needs a hangover site as we try to get over the last decade.
53. Best Gone With the Wind
We spotted this when we were doing our Annual Report on Annual Reports 2001.
There are a skillian Gone sites, but this one seems to be the most fun.
Clearly it has the best URL.
52. Bad Astronomy
The Bad Astronomer is Philip Plait, a University of Virginia Ph.D. who's spent time at
Sonoma State University and at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He's
helpful in putting the blocks to bad science and particularly to bad astronomy. But
there's more to his site than informed crankiness. Mr. Plait's movie reviews are marvelous
examples of how educational and engaging academic reads of Hollywood productions can
be. He also gives us his top ten picks for websites, even though he actually has
eleven and then a whole bunch more, since, like all charming academics, he can't make up
his mind. So this is an astronomy plus site.
51. Finding the Right Hotel
This is not as easy as it looks. None of the big chains, save Four Seasons, are really that good, even though each
has a singular virtue. For instance, Westin
always has a phone on the desk as well as the bedside table, so you can work in the
room. An acquaintance claims that it has gone to great length to have the best
mattresses. By and large, however, you must look to small, one-off hotels for
quality. And they're not always easy to find. But even the lists of small
hotels have some real losers. Caveat Emptor. Check like the
devil. Helpful lists include Small Luxury Hotels of the World (www.slh.com) and Preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide (www.preferredhotels.com). There are also
newsletters like Andrew Harper's Hideaway
Report, but the same cautions apply.
50. Bringing William Blake to
Academic textual scholarship--that is, the study of how texts were physically produced and
how they should be reproduced "accurately"--seems to many outside academia an
esoteric and lackluster pursuit. For example,
by examining pause marks in the Declaration of Independence, American
cultural historians have shown how the document was meant to be spoken rather than read
silently, and in the process have convincingly argued that Thomas Jefferson may have been
a horribly shy public speaker. Indeed, this
may not seem overly revolutionary to most.
However, with The William
Blake Archive, the rewards of textual scholarship become easily recognizable. Created and edited by Blake scholars from the
University of Rochester, the University of California at Riverside, and the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this web "archive" makes plain how important the
way a text looks is to how we read and interpret it.
For Blake, of course, presentation was everything. But until the past decade, the technology did not
exist for an accurate representation of both his words and his plates--his genius for
artistic multi-disciplinarity--outside of printed books, books that are not cheap, to say
the least. As one of the editors notes about
the work on the archive, "We felt and I see
now that we were on the frontiers of something, but we werent sure what." (See Collaboration Takes More Than
E-Mail: Behind the Scenes at the Blake Archive" in The Journal of Electronic
Publishing, December 1997.)
The archive is huge and will put a strain on your computers memory, so devote some
space to it by exiting out of other programs before you enter it.
49. Best Website for Out-of-Print
The site www.abe.com bills itself as "The World's
Largest Network of Independent Booksellers," and, indeed, it may be. Searches
even for fairly obscure books have turned up dozens of copies offered by a host of
dealers. Through the website, we've obtained a mint first edition of Joe Eck's slim,
hard-to-find volume, Elements of
Garden Design. While looking for a good reading copy of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer,
we discovered that a treatise he wrote on Bourbon, which we bought in the
1980s, has quintupled in value. We're now trying to decide which of the thirty-six
available copies of Bertram Thomas' 1932 travel classic, Arabia Felix: Across the Empty
Quarter of Arabia, to add to our collection. Possibilities range from a
"fine" first American edition with "slight chipping to the upper
edge" ($215) to a "clean" $15 copy with no dust jacket and "stains on
the end papers."
Two more things we like about this website:
Most dealers meticulously describe the condition of the volumes they have on
offer, a must for collectors and a great help to anyone who buys old or rare books.
Best of all, the site gives one the option of purchasing directly from the
bookseller, an excellent practice which has led us into more fascinating conversations
than we could ever have with one-click providers.
For other on-line portals to independent
booksellers, see entry 32 below.
Everything you ever wanted to know about woodenboats of sundry shapes and sizes.
This includes WoodenBoat Magazine, the WoodenBoat Show, Maritime Life and
Traditions (yet another magazine), etc. See www.woodenboat.com.
47. Just to the Right of Attila
To keep up on the right and as a balance to the networks, go to Bozell's CNSNews.com. We learned about it from a reasonably
hip, fun, young reporter. She was right to point us to it so we could find "The
Right News. Right Now."
46. China Internet Information
Get the news from official China's point of view.
45. Weather Sites
Here are a few--take your pick. But there are other ways you should check out the
weather if you are really a weather nut. Try, for example, http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(GH)/home.rxml
-- a University of Illinois project for looking at long-term weather information and
providing instructional methods on studying it. Or take a peak at the Aviation
Weather Center in Kansas City, Missouri (www.awc-kc.noaa.gov/wxfact.html).
But for current stuff, see the following sites hailed by the Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2001, p. B13:
a. Weather.com - www.weather.com from the Weather Channel
b. Intellicast.com - www.intellicast.com
from Weather Services International Corp.
c. AccuWeather.com - www.accuweather.com
from AccuWeather Inc.
d. Wunderground.com - www.wunderground.com
from the Weather Underground Inc.
e. Unisys Weather - http://weather.unisys.com
from Unisys Corp.
If you drive old station wagons, you'll want to tune in to aficionado Steve Manning's
website. The pity, of course, is that nobody makes "woodies" anymore, and
Roadmasters went the way of the dinosaurs in 1996. Maybe a site like this can
convince Detroit that ugly, unstable vans are not the only way to get families around
43. Web Exhibits
www.webexhibits.org. The only trouble with
this website is that it does not have a good table of contents. But it links you to
a host of interesting sites dealing with everything from time, calendars, and balloon
races to graphic design, humor, and horrible eating.
42. Global Monetary Watch
For a while, you could use this site to watch the Asian Economic Crisis. Now it has
morphed, and its main value is to catch all the headlines that will drive monetary events
from Frankfurt to Indonesia. There's other stuff here, but we only recommend the
"news" feature. See www.stern.nyu.edu/globalmacro/asian_crisis/cur_global_fin_issues.html.
41. Google Again
We have told you before that Google is the way to
search the Web. It just seems to find more that's relevant. But if you're
really in the searching business (and you use Microsoft Internet Explorer), download
toolbar.google.com to give yourself even more search power. The "search"
feature on lots of websites is often wretched; this toolbar will do the job better.
Free Email Newsletters
We are on the lookout for email newsletters that have the ring of quality, are free, and
add to our store of wisdom. Generally they are short, reasonably literate, and
dont have a particular axe to grind. Often they just present data, but some
deal in insights. A few follow. We will be adding to this list.
j. -new- The Scout Report.
The Scout Project at the University of Wisconsin
captures a huge amount of internet information for all users and also puts
out a report telling us about new finds in the area of math, science,
etc. Here you can read lots of items that show up much later in the
popular science press. See
i. Singapore Extra.
The Singapore Government puts out "Bites of the
Week" each week, and it gives you a good idea of what people are focusing
on on that special island. Admittedly, this is government thinking,
but in Singapore, the citizens think about what the ministers think about.
As you can see, everybody has economic recovery on the agenda.
Subscribe at http://www.sgnews.gov.sg.
Good, miscellaneous spot news about mini-trends in technology by John Gehl and
Suzanne Douglas. One sponsor, incidentally, is Research
Libraries Group, which deals with digital archives of universities, national
libraries, and cultural societies here and abroad.
We previously have talked about Steve Talbot's love/hate relationship with
technology. (See Best of Class, item 50.) It worries him,
but, of course, he's a computer guy. We enjoy the fact that he's now given up
conversing by email. Just like Bill Joy at SUN or all the plasma physicists we know
who are upset by atomic power. But his wandering newsletter is read by everybody and
has tremendous impact. Lately he has been wrestling with globalization gone astray,
a topic now brought to a white heat by Duke professor Michael Hardt, who has tried to lay
a neo-leftist theoretical foundation for all the clamor against technology and economics
of global forces. Co-author, with Italian Antonio Negri, of Empire,
he is now read and talked about in universities around the world. See The New
York Times, July 7, 2001, pp. A15 and A17. Subscribe to Netfuture at www.netfuture.org.
News. The folks at New Generation have been dealing with bankruptcies,
turnarounds, and distressed securities for quite a few years, not only as publishers but
as money managers. The interesting thing about their new site is that it has vastly
increased their audience not only reaching financial audiences and bankruptcy
professionals but also financial managers in corporations across the land. To get
their daily newsletter, simply go to www.bankruptcydata.com and follow instructions.
From Nikkei Business, this covers enough of the headlines in Japan, China, Taiwan,
Singapore, etc. to keep you abreast of the real players in computerdom, networking,
telecommunications, etc. Often an early flag as to what will happen in U.S. markets.
To subscribe, go to www.asiabiztech.com.
Global Province Letter. This is a weekly update as to
whats new on www.globalprovince.com,
with trends in business as well as other trends in culture, fashion, health, etc. that are
expected to change the rules of business. To subscribe, click here.
Newsletter for Web Editors. Davenetics, at www.davenetics.com, may sound like something put
out by the Scientologists, but it is actually an Internet headline collector that also,
conveniently, includes a list of sites you can go to for Web news. If you are
responsible for building content at a substantial website, you will want to get on its
daily list. An acquaintance involved with the Internet at the New York Times put us on to this one. The only
downside, of course, is that virtually all the media sites on the Web are strategically
flawed, so here you will not find a way out of that media morass.
Diabetes E-News Now! The American
Diabetes Association offers both consumers and health-care professional newsletters,
which carry everything from recipes for diabetic cooking to prevention tips in __ to
diabetes. It is most useful for those wanting to keep track of all the ways America
is raising awareness of this growing scourge on our society. See www.diabetes.org/emaillist2.asp to
subscribe to the various newsletters.
Kindlmann's Archives. Peter J. Kindlmann-- consultant, Yale professor,
Director of Undergraduate Studies--issues a thought or two a week on everything from
quarks to Lady Hamilton's Portrait to mumbo jumbo, all depending on what new idea has come
his way. He's a new product guy in electrical engineering, but he's interested in
all the issues surrounding "the sensible application of technology." See http://jove.eng.yale.edu/mailman/listinfo/eas-info.
39. Marketing Journals
Here are three pages of publications plus some links to other sites where you can find yet
more. But we should warn you that when we finally located the right journal, someone
had already eliminated the key issue from the archives. Nonetheless, you'll discover
some international sources worth investigating. See Tilburg University Marketing and
Research at http://marketing.kub.nl/journal1.htm.
38. The Play's the Thing
We've just run across www.pogo.com, which claims to have
48, 236 players online. At any rate, our resident game expert gives a thumbs-up for
the site which ranges from backgammon to crosswords to trivia to Tank Hunters. You
can waste hours and hours here. Apparently about 1/2 of all Internet users are game
37. Best Website for Singaporean
Saying that Singaporeans are food-obsessed is like saying that humans breathe air to live.
A recent count turned up 3,725 restaurants and 17,080 food stalls in this tiny
nation of four million inhabitants--that's one eatery for every 200 people. A
website that perfectly conveys the passion Singaporeans bring to food is www.sintercom.org/makan. The brainchild of
"Thian," an expat who now lives in Amsterdam, the site will take you on a wild
rollercoaster ride through the polyglot cuisines--Indian, Malaysian, Chinese and many
permutations thereof--that make dining out there such an intoxicating adventure.
It's easy to get lost in the enthusiastic reviews of the 41 best places, for example, to
get "chicken rice," the unofficial national dish. One reader obsesses over
the fragrance and texture of the rice at his favorite hawker stall; another raves over the
"succulent farm chicken flavor" at her own top spot.
And therein lies a caveat. Much of the
site's headspinning content consist solely of reader opinion. For novices, however,
there is a glossary of unfamiliar dishes, and for anyone who begins to salivate after 20
minutes of reading about black pepper crab or fish head curry, there are many enticing
recipes, most from the kitchen of Thian's mother. A peripatetic banker who lived in
Singapore for seven years says the site "has the right local attitude about
food" and recommends it "as long as you're okay with unedited comments."
Besides, he notes, "it had our fav chicken rice place" and "gave it
a decent review."
36. Stopping Junk
Unwanted mail and invasions of privacy are growing threats to the smooth workings of the
Internet. Jason Catlett of Junkbusters.com
has advice and software to help you fight both noxious phone salespeople and, more
importantly, the unsolicited ad emails that are now clogging your inbox. Most of it
is coming from the United States, but even the old Eastern bloc countries are fast
learning rotten habits, sending lots of chaff out into the ether.
35. Tracking the VC
Not the Vietcong, but the venture capitalists. Go to Price Waterhouses
MoneyTree Report, which shows you which VC are spending money where and
on whom. Price Waterhouse traditionally has kept good numbers and has a lot of good
stats somewhere on law firms: partner compensation at law firms used to make
more than one PW partner salivate with jealousy. At MoneyTree you will learn that
Silicon Valley is chasing too many software deals and that not enough money is being spent
in the Northwest, given its terrific potential. See www.pwcmoneytree.com.
34. Liszt's Last Flat and Walking
This site (http://www.lisztmuseum.hu/)
is really Liszt Central, telling you about the great Hungarian composer. But it also
includes a list of Budapest's museums and a list of all the places he lived in Budapest.
He also lived in Rome and Weimar, so we are waiting for information to be
posted about those two cities as well.
33. The Jolly Roger from Chapel
This very busy, complex website hides a treasure. Go directly to the library at www.jollyroger.com/library/.
What you will find there are 40 pages of world classics you can download and read
in the middle of the night to assuage your insomnia. Henry Adams, Balzac, Dante
Aligheri, Conan Doyle, Goethe, Bret Harte, and on and on. Elliot McGucken is a
prematurely retired Davidson College physics professor (age 31, no less) who has chosen to
make a living off his classics website. What other content website makes money
outside of pornography and the badly conceived online Wall Street Journal?
Classics, combined with a whole lot of work, linked to banner ads and web partnerships,
produce actual revenues and a devoted following.
in the Internet Age
The Web has revolutionized the world of the collector. When only the second-known
photo of the famously camera-shy Emily Dickinson turns up on E-Bay
(though only a few watchful folks recognized the potential importance of the daguerreotype),
we know times have changed. But outside of the major on-line used bookstores like
Powells (www.powells.com), where does one go to
optimize the power of the web when on the market for a book? Try Bibliofind (www.bibliofind.com) and Bookfinder (www.bookfinder.com). These two websites scour
used- and new-book dealers from around the world, providing the consumer with prices,
conditions, and purchasing options. Even better, the sites allow the discerning
collector to discover what a book is truly worth on the market. Price-gouging
Update: Recently, Bibliofind
joined up with Amazon. Although we haven't explored thoroughly its abilities since
this merger (for lack of a better word), we have noticed that the availability of powerful
search criteria on the page have been significantly reduced.
31. Useless Facts
At www.uselessfacts.net. Lord knows
there is an awful lot of trivia on the Internet, so why shouldnt we have a site that
celebrates the World Wide Webs potential for dragging us down into the weeds.
We ourselves will be spending hours pouring through this site in order to be amused by
everything we do not have to know. There is even a worlds dumbest section in
case you doubt where you are.
30. Investor Site Navigator
When you cant dig up data on an investment topic that interests you, go to www.CyberInvest.com, The Investors Guide
to the Net. Theres nothing brilliant herejust a lot of links to
everything under the sun. It is simply a way to go places, even to sites that look
at stocks outside the United States.
29. Best Website to See
Otherwise known as dolphins, porpoises, and whales. In fact, there is a host
of wonderful stuff about whales on the web, but this site takes the cake. It gets
our vote for completeness and attractiveness. See www.cetacea.org.
Walt Crowley and his Seattle band have put together a wonderful compendium of Seattle
arcana at this stop. But there's lots more here, and we have just begun to play
around on this site. For instance, look at HistoryLink-o-rama, which has over 575
links to historical matters and other curiosities. See www.historylink.org. We wish every city had a
landmark gang like this who knew that connections to the past make our future much more
27. Bali or Bust
Everybody wants to go to Bali, at least once or twice in a lifetime. For the ladies,
it's right up there with Greece as the supreme romantic, semi-mystical location. All
the aficionados keep up with doings there on this chatboard, a.k.a. Balitravel Form.
26. Keeping Up on the Media
See Jim Romenesko's MediaNews at www.poynter.org/medianews,
which provides you with all sorts of media buzz, not only with respect to mainstream
journalists and columnists, but also to a number of alternative journalists and
columnists. If truth be known, the media is not serving us that well now, and the
4th Estate is very busy redefining itself. The most interesting reading is on the
blue highways, instead of on the super highways. To pick up on the world beyond
homogenized media, you need a site like this. But read fast, because most of this is
trade nonsense otherwise called navel-gazing.
We have just begun to explore the website at the American Library Association. It
has several useful features, but we particularly recommend Booklist, which
provides balanced and useful reviews of more than 5000 books a year. See www.ala.org/booklist/index.html.
24. Keeping Up with Linux
This is a terribly good idea, but the site is clunky. The idea is to be a
clearinghouse for all the developments in the Linux movement. This site sort of half
does it slowly. But take a peer anyway at www.siliconpenguin.com.
23. Build Your Own
Economic model, that is. Go to http://fairmodel.econ.yale.edu.
Economist Roy Fair lets you input some of your own numbers into his U.S. economic
model, or you can just track his stuff. But if you play other fruitless computer
games, why not try this?
22. SciTech Daily Review
A "sister site" to Arts & Letters Daily, which also comes to us by way of
New Zealand, SciTech Daily (http://scitechdaily.com)
is a fun miscellany of science--sort of an updated popular science that catches lots of
stuff, some of it occasionally significant. Plenty on the planets, an average amount
of electronics and physics, more modest amounts on biotech and health. Vicki and
Peter Hyde are clearly interesting people, with enough time in Japan to bring obliqueness
to this task.
21. Humanities on the Web
Known to academics simply as "The Shuttle," the University of
California-Santa Barbara's Voice of the Shuttle is a
superb directory of web-based humanities research, including work in Literature, History,
Cyberculture, Linguistics, Religious Studies, Photography, Architecture, Gender Studies,
Anthropology--the list goes on and on.
20. Top of the World and Other Places
On global websites, weve taken you round the world on earth, water, and
space. Heres an exploration that takes
you to the top of the world and to other exotic places.
See www.evici.com, www.mountainzone.com, and www.horlicks.com.
19. The World According to
On the CIA website, you can
find out how the spooks regard the world in The World Factbook.
And, of course, there's also the CIA's
Homepage for Kids.
18. Kasparov's Chess Portal
The Champ has his own site, and it is a great way to get your kid into chess as
well as discovering what's happening in China, Monaco, or parts obscure in the best of
chess. Visit Kasparov Chess.
17. Tice's Prudent Bear
David Tice is not your average bear. The site for his Prudent Bear Fund is a cluster of links
and insights about bear thinking here and abroad. This accords with his general view that
we are all living in a worldwide credit bubble in which you have to look very, very
carefully for a safe harbor.
16. Arts & Letters Daily
Edited by New Zealand professor Denis Dutton, this site does a reasonable job of
covering books and literary opinion in parts of the English-speaking world. Since we
are now without a Saturday Review of Literature, Theater Arts, et al, it
fills a big void. Visit the Arts
& Letters Daily site.
15. Great Web Resource Sites
There are several of these sites. In general they provide a massive number of links
to other sites. Two very popular ones are CEO Express and Refdesk.com. Both lead you to a number of
major publications, newspapers, and other data sources on the Web.
14. The Half-Geek Website
Unfortunately, like most of the most important websites, this is not terribly well put
together. A former partner of mine says, "Web design...now there's an
oxymoron." Well, Slashdot is oxymoron design and moron writing. But it
keeps you plugged into the Linux grapevine, and Java, and whatnot. Its impressario
hangs out in the tulip capital of America. Known as slashdot.org, I recommend it to all the
information officers and tech academics who visit us. A skillion people around the
world check in at this site. But, be warned, these guys take themselves much too
seriously to qualify as full-fledged geeks.
Heather Halstead and buddies just completed a 2-year round-the-world trip that
she's been beaming into classrooms through the internet and other devices. While
this does not measure up to Captain Joshua Slocum's Sailing
Alone Around the World, it's a better way of perpetuating school than hanging
around campus as a graduate student.
12. Fingleton In Japan
Journalist Eamon Fingleton did an odd little tome with me years ago on
shareholder freebies (still a great idea) and then took off for Japan. His view from
the other shore should not cause us to gloat over our "new" economy.
First, he did Blindside:
Why Japan is Still on Track to Overtake the U. S. by the Year 2000
(1995). Now he's just out with In Praise
of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, is the Key to Future
Prosperity (1999). Probably his economics are not too profound, but his
common sense should wake us up about virtual reality. I know of at least one
Internet CEO who wants to be on a "hard-industry" board, because he knows what
he's doing is not quite real.
11. Around the World in 1095 Days Or So
Many years back when Jim Rogers retired from George Soros and money management, I
asked him over lunch what he was doing with himself. "Reading a lot of
books?" I asked. "Not really," he said. "I'm too
busy." With bike riding, teaching a course at Columbia, a port wine
collection, etc. Well, he's still too busy, going around the world with the lovely
Paige Parker. They set off on December 28, 1998, and the jaunt will
be 150,000 kilometers, with volcanic Iceland as the launching pad in January 1999.
This is one way to do the Millennium. See http://www.jimrogers.com
10. Mundell Revisited
This year's winner of the Nobel Prize, Robert Mundell, did his initial work on
international monetary dynamics back in the 1960s. But the award came this year
because the jurors just got it. International capital flows or dams are setting the
terms of all our economic lives throughout the world. A prophet, he is also a bit
quaint, looking for a return to the gold standard and loving the new single Euro currency.
At any rate, Mundell helps us break away from narrow national models of how
9. Feynman's Last Caper
The physicist Richard Feynman not only was of Nobel caliber, but he had heaps of
fun. Towards the last, he led a merry band on a caper, the goal of which was to
reach Tuva in the Soviet Union. Tuva, it seems, was fastened in Feynman's mind
because of an odd-sized stamp he remembered from youth. Well, he did not make it to
Tuva, but his caper endures in the group called "The Friends of Tuva," which
makes Feynman and Tuva endure through time and space for us.
8. Global JobSites
According to Media Matrix, these are the Top 10 websites on which to look for a
Unique Visitors - 3/99
7. Smart Search Engine Sites
We've already told you to use "Ask Jeeves." Also look at Northern Light, Direct
Hit, and Google--in that order. These are not
global tools and that's frustrating. But, curiously, they can lead you to portals
with global possibilities.
6. The New
York Times Web Navigator
The New York Times has assembled a compendium of web sources to get its
journalists moving. A fun list to peruse. And it lets you know how media look
at the world--and all of the things they miss.
5. The Dismal Scientist: An Economic
Information and Economic Analysis Website
More than you ever wanted to know about the U. S. economy, with lots of
indicators and lots of interpretation. Probably the key issue is to watch the 4 or 5
headline stories--interest rates, farm drought, etc.--and you are on top of the current
debate. See http://www.dismal.com
4. Microsoft TerraServer
See the world via TerraServer at Microsoft, which now stores complete detailed
pictures of the earth, right down to your house, based on U. S. and Russian space photos.
This site is linked to Encarta, Microsoft's multimedia encyclopedia.
See The Economist, June 19, 1999, p. 13. (http://www.economist.com).
Also see http://terraserver.microsoft.com.
3. Ask Jeeves
On its website, this Berkeley company has software that lets users easily get
responses to questions that are similar to ones Jeeves has answered before. This is a
superior search engine for the worldwidenet, because it is low tech, using a flock of good
editors to work out the answers to common questions. Then the software retrieves the
stored answers with ease. The approach makes so much sense that corporations such as Bell
South, Dell, and Toshiba are even using the technology to make sense out of their own
websites. See http://www.ask.com.
2. Asian Crisis Homepage - Professor Nouriel
Charts the course of the Asian economic crisis with links to the most influential
policy bodies and economists trying to explain why things went down, when things will go
up, and what's wrong with every proposed cure for the malaise.
1. Some Industry Watcher Sites