The Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Division’s “American Memory” Web site is offering WWW access to 45,000 black-and-white and 1600 color photographs from a collection created
in 1935-1945 by U.S. government photographers from the Office of War Information Collection.
These images document American rural life, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II mobilization efforts. They are geographically extensive and are searchable by state and location.
This is a high-impact, high-quality, often visually breathtaking collection
that, with a little more curatorial attention, could form the basis of a
really stunning museum exhibition — but then, only a tiny proportion of
its 46,000-plus images would fit into a gallery. Take advantage of its
availability right here on your desktop and spend a little time with it.
Your representatives’ report cards
The Women’s Voting Guide , which is ridiculously
named since it’s equally useful to both genders so far as I can see, offers a
convenient online feature whereby you can compare your own political
positions with those demonstrated by your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Later on
this year, it’ll also be including candidates for office.
You enter your voting district (link here to locate your district if you’re not sure) and then, on a privacy-protected basis, indicate your position — support, oppose, or ignore — on as many highly specific current issues as
you wish. The system returns a detailed, personalized scorecard showing you just
how well your senators and representatives reflect your beliefs and wishes. You
may receive some surprises.
Surf with your pants on
Two excellent online privacy sites this week. First, click on the Center for Democracy and Technology Privacy Information Page to find out what sorts of information the Web sites you visit are collecting from you and why you should worry about it.
From CDT, you can link to The Anonymizer, which receives this week’s Ad Hoc Incredibly Useful Site Award. It’s a Web site that shields your personal information by assigning you an anonymous identity, which is then revealed (instead of your real identity) to other sites while you surf the Web. “Anonymized” surfing and anonymous email straight from the site are both
The Anonymizer also provides for-fee online services, including expedited
surfing, dialup Internet access accounts, and Web publishing; see its price
list at http://www.anonymizer.com/services.shtml.
All about frogs
“Would I could find a fine frog.” – Shakespeare (Pericles)
Let’s take the bad news first: the disturbing massive declines in frog populations around the world have recently popped up in the news again (see, e.g., Washington Post, July 6, page A03, as reported here on WorldNetDaily). UV, climate change, pesticides and pollutants, and emerging diseases are suspects in a general amphibian decline that has been periodically making the news for over a decade.
I realize the idea of some kind of “save the frogs” movement may sound certifiable, but, seriously, these are unfunny developments. Take a look at the frogs captured by unsuspecting schoolchildren in Minnesota in 1996. If only on the canary-in-the-
coal-mine principle, it’s reasonable to be upset at what this situation
says about current levels of environmental depredation.
If you yourself happen to come across a genetically unfortunate frog in the
wild, you can share your pain here. Leading
herpetologists (frog scientists) monitoring and reporting on the frog
problem include J. Alan Pounds in Costa Rica ([email protected]), Karen R.
Lips ([email protected]), and Gary Fellers of the US Geological Survey in
California ([email protected]).
Now for the good news: scarce though they may be growing in the real world,
frogs are easy to find in cyberspace. Frog lovers who need a bit of cheering
up after all that doom and gloom can start at the Froggy Page — pictures, icons, sounds, much general
frogginess — or at Frogland (lots of pet frog info, frog computer stuff, frog jokes, etc). Squeamish or
pro-frog-life biology students who don’t want to have to dissect ’em can
try emailing their science teachers this site for The Digital Frog. It’s a virtual-frog-
dissection teaching CD-ROM for Windows or Macintosh with a zero yuck
Finally, you can download the game Frogger (also for Windows or Macintosh)
from Soleau Software , a nonviolent,
family-friendly shareware site.
Those readers who expressed appreciation regarding the William Blake
Archive site a couple of weeks ago may like to know that the Cambridge University
Library Department of Manuscripts and University Archives hasrecently
placed a mid-13th-century masterpiece, the illuminated manuscript of the “Life
of King Edward the Confessor,” online. To peruse it, click http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/MSS/Ee.3.59/“>here. You can zoom in on the bit of each
folio you want to examine — it’s really cool.
‘Daddy, why is the sky blue?’
Kids at that endless-questions phase? The Oregon Museum of Science and
Industry is creating a Science Whatzit! page where your children will be able to ask any question they like via email or Web form. Already online is a database you can check for easy-to-understand explanations with which to answer many of the little darlings’ queries. Among the issues covered: why do leaves change color? why is the sky blue? what makes gravity? why do different animals
have diferently shaped poop? why do dogs walk in circles before lying down? why
do rabbits have long ears? Good questions, some of ’em. …