Thanks to an executive order issued by U.S. President Clinton back in 1998,
various agencies of the American government are now required to create
webpages aimed at children. This becomes amusing when applied to agencies
that don't have that much content that appeals to children. Realizing that in this case, reality is far
funnier than anything I could possibly write on this subject, I now present
you with a tour of the crème de la crème of the U.S.
government's "for kids" websites.
Central Intelligence Agency for Kids
First on our tour is the CIA's kids-oriented website. You can meet all
eight members of their canine unit, and hear their inspirational stories,
told from a first person perspective.
"From childhood to adult, I have always been a big German Shepherd," writes
Orry, a member of the CIA's canine unit. "I was very shy and ate a lot
because I missed my parents and I had no friends. The other dogs made fun of
me because I was so heavy." Overweight american preteens can take comfort in
the notion that they may one day too become a member of the CIA's canine
unit. The site also features a strong "say no to drugs" message, encouraging kids to
take the "Junior Intelligence Officer Pledge Against Drugs," which is "a
promise your life depends on keeping."
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for Kids
"'Potato guns' or 'spud guns' generally consist of sections of PVC
plastic tubing and fittings and are designed to launch a muzzle-loaded
potato (or other similar-size projectile) using hair spray or other aerosol
vapor as a propellant. The propellant is ignited by means of a barbecue
grill igniter or other similar ignition system." The ATF kids' site's
description of how to build a potato gun is followed by a description of
exactly which sections of the United States Code regulate the use of potato
guns, along with a mention of the fact that if the potato gun is used for
purely recreational purposes, then from a legal standpoint, it's not
considered to be a weapon. Like the CIA site, this one also features
"Truman," a member of the ATF's canine force. (The FBI has a similar
emphasis on its canines — I guess doggies are the only
things that law enforcement agencies can think of that appeal to children.) By the way, say no to drugs.
Food and Drug Administration for Kids
Thanks to the wonders of image maps, kids can help Mac and Molly inspect a
warehouse! Click on the rats to earn ten points and learn that disease-laden
vermin are a bad thing to have near food. Clicking on a link labeled
"All About Animals," I hoped to be introduced to Bess, the
lipstick-testing kitty. Unfortunately, my hopes were not to be realized, as
the link took my to a page on how to care for pets. Say yes to drugs, but
only if they stand up to rigourous, double-blind clinical testing.
Centers for Disease Control for Kids
Want to trade your E. coli 0157:H7 for my Cryptosporidiosis? The CDC features infectious disease trading cards that you can download and print. All kids' favourites are there: Anthrax, Hepatitis B, Hantavirus, Recreational Water Illness — even Avian Flu! Be sure to grab Ebola's rookie card; this up-and-coming star is sure to increase in value!