Monday, October 24, 2005

Roll Your Own!

Rollyo enables you to limit a search to a user-specified subgroup of websites. (same idea as NeighborSearch, discussed here last year) Chris Sherman has provided a nice summary at Search Engine Watch

Friday, October 21, 2005

Currently in Congress 1-15 October 2005

The latest issue of Currently in Congress is available on the U.S. Mission to South Africa's Library webpage:

Highlights: FY06 spending bills (and a controversial amendment to the Defense spending bill), a bill to increase oil refinery construction and expansion in the U.S., the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the ratification of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, various hurricane housing relief bills, and a resolution in support of the Africa-America Institute.

Hearings include: Marriage promotion in Washington DC, small business growth and Hurricane Katrina, the Exon-Florio amendment (which allows the President to stop a takeover of a U.S. company by a foreign entity if it threatens national security), the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, India's Caste System, Spyware, and the Kyoto Protocol.

Previous issues are archived on the website.

Improving public diplomacy in the Muslim world - interesting new article

Articles on how to fix public diplomacy are thick on the ground these days, and most of them are run of the mill stuff. This contribution to the debate is, I think, better than average. The author, Professor Richard Pells, visited Indonesia, and came up with interesting suggestions to improve public diplomacy in the Muslim world (though his suggestions have a wider application). One is to substantially enlarge and improve university collections of books, periodicals, and DVDs on American subjects beyond the level of American Corners, and another is to promote semester-long visiting professorships. Essentially, he believes ignorance of America, not ill-will towards America, is the real problem.
Read it for yourself at:
or via the excellent Arts and Letters Daily web site at:

Tel Aviv IRC (Ralph Amelan)

What kind of dog are YOU?

As a lover of dogs, I'm of course familiar with the many services on the internet that can tell someone - on the basis of their answers to a few simple questions - what kind of dog they would be if they were a dog. The best of these services, in my qualified estimation, is the excellent Canine Algorithmic Transfer System at (click on "what dog are you" link). Personally, I'm very proud and happy to be a Spinone Italiano. I'm not sure how this resource can be used in IRCs or public diplomacy, but you should know that it exists!

p.s. - Just in. Believe it or not, one of my colleagues is a Norwegian Elkhound!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Another new resource from the Ralph Bunche Library

Once again the Ralph Bunche library has been adding new resources for our benefit, without fanfare.
The latest new database is HeinOnline. It has all sorts of legal goodies, including law reviews, US Attorney-General opinions, and the US Supreme Court Library.
While Lexis has most of the law reviews available at HeinOnline, it does not have them as far back. If you are looking for law review articles from the 1980s or before, HeinOnline should be your first choice of database.
Further, they have a 'Treaties and Agreements' library that is very extensive. The recently updated LLRX guide to researching US treaties and agreements ( features HeinOnline as an important resource.
And, for your arts contacts, the Ralph Bunche has added the Grove Art database ( for a trial month. Thanks to Carla Higgins for passing the word on. If we find it useful, we may be able to subscribe to it for 2006.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Class Brain

This is a fun and attractive site that teachers might like to know about:

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge
"In keeping with the traditions of the Hoover Institution, the programs feature lively debate on any number of topics, ranging from gun control to international foreign diplomacy. Visitors to the website can browse through a list of recent shows, or look through their archives which date from 1997. " Visitors may also wish to view the entire television program on their computer, listen to the audio presentation, or read a transcript." (annotation from Scout Report, 10/14/05) The "Browse Through Shows by Season" section includes discussions on many issues that might be of interest to secondary and university teachers/students.

Friday, October 14, 2005

English in the U.S.

The research pages of the U.S. English Foundation are a useful source of facts and statistics on U.S. population and language distribution. The U.S. English Foundation has a clearly articulated agenda, but the information at this site - derived from the 2000 census - can be of interest regardless of one's position on the "official English" issue.


Pledgebank is an interesting approach to enlisting community participation for accomplishing common goals. Users make public resolutions (e.g. "I will contribute 20 dollars to Pakistani earthquake relief efforts") , on the condition that x number of others do the same by such and such a date. To facilitate local community empowerment (e.g. "I will petition the city council about reopening the neighborhood community center if 15 others do the same) Pledgebank also allows you to search for - and receive email notification - of pledges in your particular community.

Google Reader

Google now offers an RSS reader...see (requires a Google account)

Governing portal

Governing, the monthly magazine for state and local government officials, makes freely available the online supplement to its 2005 State and Local Sourcebook. Governing's ambition for the online supplement is to be "the Web's best gateway to state and local government information."

Making of America

"Making of America (MOA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history primarily from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The book collection currently contains approximately 8,500 books with 19th century imprints. For more details about the project, see About MoA. New Additions: 33 more volumes focusing on New York City, many with a number of photographs, were recently added to MoA. Digital conversion of the volumes was made possible through a gift from UM alumnus Lawrence Portnoy. The digital conversion of the complete run of the Journal of the United States Association of Charcoal Iron Workers was funded by a generous donation from a Friend of the Library." For more on the value of this site to New York City history buffs in particular, see Debbie Nathan's article "The Past, in Pixels" in the NYT, August 14, 2005.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Castle Garden Immigration site

" offers free access to an extraordinary database of information on 10 million immigrants from 1830 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened. Over 73 million Americans can trace their ancestors to this early immigration period. Castle Garden, today known as Castle Clinton National Monument, is the major landmark within The Battery, the 23 acre waterfront park at the tip of Manhattan. From 1855 to 1890, the Castle was America's first official immigration center, a pioneering collaboration of New York State and New York City. "

Thursday, October 06, 2005

African American genealogy

and here's another genealogy site, from Marylaine Block's "Neat New Stuff" column
"A thorough collection of links to beginners' guides, death records, federal
records, state guides, family histories, military services records, and more."

New resource from the Ralph Bunche library

Dear colleagues,
There is a new resource on the Ralph Bunche library web site, from the GalleryWatch people.
It is called GalleryWatch Foreign Policy Briefing, and it is listed on the Ralph Bunche Databases page.
It offers, on the left side of the page, a list of recently published CRS reports on foreign policy issues, and on the right, 'hot docs and press releases' which include GAO reports and government and congressional press releases.
At the foot of the page, there is a link to an appropriations and authorizations bill tracker for FY 2006, and a listing of upcoming congressional hearings. It seems to be updated every week.
This resource looks very useful, and saves burrowing through lists of CRS reports from the other GalleryWatch site for foreign policy material.
Happy hunting!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Currently in Congress 15 - 30 September 2005

The latest issue of Currently in Congress is available on the U.S. Mission to South Africa's Library webpage:

Highlights: Congress passed a continuing resolution to keep the government running, since Oct. 1 is the beginning of the 2006 fiscal year. So far, only two of the 12 regular spending bills have been passed into law, and Congress is busy working on the remaining bills. In addition, a House committee is considering an agricultural subsidies resolution, and the House passed the Head Start reauthorization bill.

Several ethics issues have come up in Congress, which are briefly mentioned, and the Senate approved the nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Hearing topics include the No Child Left Behind Act, UN reform, Darfur, housing programs for the poor, fighting methamphetamines, the regulation of political speech on the internet, and the Supreme Court's recent Kelo decision on eminent domain issues.

Previous issues are archived on the website.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Literature Map

Type in an author and Literature-Map generates a galactic map showing other authors that you may be interested in. Click on any author name and that author becomes the center of the map. (from Library Stuff)

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents

Reporters Without Borders have issued Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents. This is an interesting and useful compendium of information about how bloggers around the world - the "new heralds of free expression" as one contributor calls them - are using blogs to disseminate information in a variety of political environments. Includes personal accounts of blogging activities in countries as diverse as Bahrain, the U.S., Hong Kong, Iran and Nepal, as well as practical tips about how to set up a blog and get it picked up by search engines, ways to get around censorship, how to blog anonymously, and how to ensure email privacy.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Experimental fiction

Literary contacts might like to be alerted to Ben Marcus's defense of experimental fiction in the October issue of Harpers. Not only is it a well-written and entertaining article about an interesting and much-discussed topic, it contains elements that suggest it may be a "debate in the making" - most notably a withering pronouncement on a more famous and successful writer (Jonathan Franzen) known for his withering pronuncements and - best of all - who might reasonably be expected to respond! Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Here's a interesting post from Inter-Alia, an "Internet Legal Research Weblog"...

Take a Meme-o

How often do you visit Memeorandum for the latest take on the news? Well, that's not often enough. This site is one of my favorite visits during the day; it takes important news articles throughout the day, and links directly to bloggers who are discussing them. All in one place, you get the story and the commentary, from all points of view.

And here's a feature you may not have noticed. Click on the Preferences link and select Show Link Search. Now, you'll be able to check Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Technorati, and IceRocket for even more sites that link to the particular article. Unfortunately, this feature's only available if you visit the site, so if you subscribe to the RSS feed, you're out of luck.

Posted by: Tom Mighell at 6:39 am

Centralization and collaboration

Nearly 10 years ago, in the March 1996 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows's article The Java Theory outlined a scenario in which computing applications and even operating systems would move from personal computers to the net, ultimately displacing PCs with simple gateway devices that connect users to the internet. Several new and useful applications are nudging us in that direction, uniting the advantages of centralized processing and storage with the enormous power of thought and knowledge that a collaborative community - as opposed to a mere individual - can bring to a project. Wikipedia is the example that comes immediately to mind, but wikis are also a good tool for more local or limited collaborations (see f.ex. posting here about Peanut Butter Wiki) Writely is similar to a wiki, but provides the functionality and formatting possibilities of a word processor. It allows you to store and share your documents online, and grant editing privileges to other users. is one of several "social bookmarking" services services that allows users to store and organize their bookmarks on the web and share them with other users. Esnips is another servcie that enables centralized storage and sharing of information. Particularly convenient is the esnips toolbar (currently for IE only), which allows you to select images, documents, or segments ("snips") of text while browsing the web and store/categorize them in your esnips folder. You can read more about esnips in an a Mary Ellen Bates's "A new approach to sharing web research" The potential impact of on-site witnesses providing vital information to a virtual community was nicely demonstrated by Scipionus during the disaster in New Orleans. The empowerment of local citizens all over the world as global reporters is further exemplified by the profusion of blogs and emergence of a "blogosphere." When a news story breaks, professional journalists (and librarians) worth their salt will know the value of consulting their amateur counterparts in the blogosphere; Jonathan Dube at the Poynter Institute put together some useful tips on finding local blogs a few months ago.