What Now -- The Edge

[ Thu. Oct. 25. 2001 ]

What Now -- The Edge
This feature from the nonprofit Edge Foundation, Inc. (reviewed previously in the July 25, 2000 Scout Report for Social Sciences & Humanities) is an impressive collection of thoughtful words in response to the recent terrorist attacks and ensuing war. The Edge postulated the question, "What now?" to its members with the idea that, as editor John Brockman explains, "within the community is invaluable expertise in many pertinent areas, not to mention the intelligence that the 'Edgies' can bring to the subjects." What separates this forum from many others dealing with recent issues of terrorism is that Brockman asks for "'hard-edge' comments, derived from empirical results or experience specific to the expertise of the contributors," rather than emotional or purely rhetorical responses. Here are a few of the pieces -- some essay length, others only a few sentences -- found here: psychiatrist Richard Rabkin takes a "strategic psychotherapy" approach to dealing with terrorism, science writer and television commentator Margaret Wertheim and archaeologist Timothy Taylor both touch on the corruption of science by weapons development as well as the intermingling of science and religion, and evolutionary scholar Richard Dawkins brings up the tendency to "bend over backwards to see the other point of view and blame ourselves for everything." Take time to peruse this collection of 44,000 words from 55 contributors and you'll be glad you did. [HCS] 
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Climate Change: Science, Strategies, and Solutions -- "Facts and Figures" [.pdf]
An online sneak preview of the "Facts and Figures" section of this forthcoming book from the Pew Center for Global Climate Change (of the Pew Charitable Trusts) is now available (.pdf). The book, Climate Change: Science, Strategies, and Solutions, conveys the latest information and analyses from experts on a number of global warming issues: the scientific evidence that human activities are changing climate; present and projected impacts of climate change on agriculture, sea level, and water resources; the main determinants explaining projected costs of addressing climate change; and US and international policies and initiatives addressing global warming. The .pdf file contains visually pleasing, simply stated chapters on global and national greenhouse gas and emission levels, along with a section of conversion tables and Web links. This would be a good reference for college students taking an introductory environmental science course. [HCS] 
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The 2000 National Doctoral Program Survey
The 2000 National Doctoral Program Survey has recently been released from The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS), which "is dedicated to improving the quality of graduate and professional student life and education by actively promoting the interests and welfare of graduate and professional degree-seeking students." The survey represents 32,000 graduate students and recent PhDs from 1,300 different programs in the US. The site allows users to rank programs based on student assessment, look at individual program reports, and view overall results for each discipline. The nine topics covered in the survey, which range from teaching and TA preparation to overall satisfaction, are reported by letter grade based on responses and can be viewed by individual topic and individual questions within each topic. Although some programs may only have one or two responses and the NAGPS admits that "The National Doctoral Program Survey is an observational study, not a controlled experiment," the site can be beneficial for prospective students, university administrators, and faculty who hope to gain some insight into a particular university's program. [JAB] 
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US National Response Team Hazardous Materials Planning Guide 2001 Update [.pdf]
The National Response Team (NRT) is a suite of sixteen federal agencies responsible for coordinating federal planning, preparedness, and response actions related to oil discharges and hazardous substance releases. The NRT recently updated its Hazardous Materials Planning Guide, originally published in 1987, and posted it online (.pdf). The intent of this guide is to help local communities plan for hazardous materials incidents. The guide discusses how to organize a planning team, identify hazards, and write and update an emergency plan. It makes reference to legislation such the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, and the FEMA Emergency Operations Plan. It also refers to organizations such as EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Hazardous Materials Safety Assistance Team, among others. The report includes 69 pages of text and seven appendices, among them a glossary and a directory of federal agencies. [HCS] 
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The Peacemakers Speak
TheCommunity.com, a for-profit that has partnered with organizations including Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, and CARE, among others, has posted here statements from seventeen of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates made in the weeks following September 11. Among the statements are words from David Trimble, the Dalai Lama, and a joint letter from Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and F.W. de Klerk. The statements are brief, and the site allows readers to respond to individual Laureates via email. The More About This Laureate link at the bottom of each page takes users to the official Nobel site information on the writer. [TK] 
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The Museum of E-Failure
The Museum of E-Failure bears witness to the dot.bomb phenomenon, presenting the last images of the front pages of failed Websites. Steve Baldwin, who maintains the site, explains, "It is my hope that these screenshots may serve as a reminder of the glory, folly, and historically unique design sensibilities of the Web's Great Gilded Age (1995-2001)." The sites are arranged in a long list, with recent additions on the top of the page. Clicking on a site name brings up a screen shot of the site's farewell front page. A sort of virtual graveyard, the Museum of E-Failure represents a memorial on the side of the information highway. [TK] 
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Three for Halloween
2001 Halloween Guide @ PhillyBurbs.com
Halloween Pop-up Book
Halloween 2001: Oct. 31
Even though many children in the United States won't be trick-or-treating door-to-door this year, that's no reason to let Halloween pass unremarked. These three sites provide some holiday fun. The first, this year's Halloween Guide from PhillyBurbs.com, is a veritable omnibus of Halloween fare. Billing themselves as "the biggest and best Halloween site online," the site includes a number of features on topics such as Dracula, zombies, Ed Wood, and other spooky fare. These are the heart of the site and are geared toward adult readers with a sense of irony. The features on costumes and decorations are sometimes less rewarding, as they seem to be focused shopping guides (though some of them are pretty entertaining even so). A page on Halloween safety and a guide to local Philadelphia events round out the site. Lest kids miss out on the fun, the next site is just for them, though this scout must confess some lost time playing with this fun virtual pop-up book. The last site is from the US Census and consists of a brief page of Halloween data culled from recent Census releases. [TK]