The story begins with yet another "What, if anything, do they have in common?" question. Up for comparison this week are Bill Clinton, Kermit the Frog, Richard Simmons, Marcia Clark, Billy the Kid, Eudora Welty and David Byrne. What do they .... you know the rest.
If your guess is that they are all American, you're almost right. (Yes, Kermit is an American; we've seen his green card.) You won't necessarily read about his experiences at Migration to America, but otherwise the site is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the subject. This Turner Adventure Learning project combines images and text into a retrospective of Ellis Island and its role in the country's immigration history. We particularly liked the Teacher Resource Book, which offers photographs and first-hand accounts of: The Voyage Over, Inspections, First Impressions and Life in America.
Now, years later, what does the country have to show for it? Well, amongst other things BigBook and Switchboard, two new, enormous business and residential directories. These internet equivalents of your neighborhood yellow/white pages each boast over 10 million searchable listings; and you can help them grow.
Back to the question: what do all these folks have in common? It isn't that they all ran the Alaskan Iditarod Dog Sled Race, but if they had, you'd be able to follow them and the current race at iDog: Iditarod Daily Online Guide, which offers daily news, information and image updates of the event. Nor does the White House tie them together, although one of the site's latest additions, The White House for Kids, is worth a visit. Follow Socks on a tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and learn about previous presidential families and their pets. So now we have a dog that wrote a book and a cat that runs a website, hmmm; interesting.
While on the subject of politics, technology and wackiness, you may want to try Regulate The Internet Your Way!, which, like the kids' game Mad Libs, asks for a collection of nouns, adjectives, adverbs and numbers and returns your own customized version of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Technology and politics also come together at Iowa Electronic Markets, "real-money futures markets where contract payoffs depend on economic and political events such as elections." International markets are included; you need not stake all your money on Clinton or Dole. Or, for a study of the relationship between information technology and society, try SiliconBase, a project out of Stanford University which explores the history, sociology, politics and culture of the digital age. Finally, plain wackiness: someone in Mankato, Minnesota seems to have had a rough winter. "Let's Make It In Mankato" talks of pyramids, an underwater city, hot springs that keep neighborhoods toastily warmed at 70 degrees year round, and a university with a sprawling 1.2 million acre campus. Fact or fiction? You decide.
Okay, the connection is something out of left field. It'd be mighty under-handed of us if we didn't tell you. What we really mean is, it's a combination of the two: they're all left-handed. We learned this at Famous Left-Handers, which is exactly what it sounds like. The list is part of Primate Handedness and Brain Lateralization, a fascinating research site at Indiana University; read about the leftie/rightie study, or even participate in it. Take your pick(s).
Begin the voyage on a cruise down the Nile, with the Egyptian Art and Archaeology Institute at the University of Memphis. Included is a well-designed clickable map that guides you on a color tour of this ancient world. Fast loading images of the Pyramids of Giza, a 4000 year old loaf of bread, and the last known hieroglyphics are a few of the many artifacts exhibited here.
From desert sands, we travel east to observe the cloistered Art of Tibetan Sand Painting, described by the site's author as "a marriage of high tech and ancient ceremony." Watch Buddhist monks as they create a brilliantly colored sand mandala: a meditation tool of geometric and symbolic shapes. A must-see is the Complete Image and Movie Archive, where you can view the daily progress of one of these amazing creations through time-lapse photography.
From mandalas to monuments: The Caixa Catalunya Foundation site includes an interactive tour of Antoni Gaudi's Casa Mila (La Pedrera) in Barcelona, which became one of UNESCO's World Heritage monuments in 1984. Make your way through the building by using a clickable guide to view images, or by reading about it's legacy.
Tuft University's Perseus Project on Art and Archeology is a comprehensive database of buildings and artifacts from Classical times, which allows access to vast amounts of scholarly information on the subject. Images include sulpture, architecture, ceramics and coins.
Finally, whether it be a pyramid, a building, or an archaeological site, UNESCO's World Heritage Centre is working to make sure that these icons of the past are preserved for future generations. You may be surprised by what you find on this list of endangered properties.