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Babes in Arms
The CIA gets 'em while they're young
By Bob Harris
A LOT OF FOLKS who think "bandwidth" is the main reason Wilson Philips broke up are still worried about the dangerous, titillating content on the World Wide Web.
Granted, there's some really, um, interesting stuff out there, as I discovered one night while looking for vegetarian recipes. I didn't even know a turnip could bend that way, much less stay in that position. But the good news is, there are about a dozen really simple software solutions out there that work just fine.
My sister has two kids of impressionable age using the Internet all the time, and the only thing we usually worry about is carpal tunnel syndrome.
However, there's a new site on the Net that has even me worried. It's designed to entice your kids into thinking it's OK to snoop around, lie to people, kill them if need be, and generally behave as if the ends justify the means.
I'm referring, of course, to ... the CIA Kid's Page.
And you thought Ronald McDonald taught kids dangerous habits.
Designed to appeal to children as young as 6 years old, the CIA Kid's Page (whose address, you'll notice, I'm not giving out) includes flashy graphics, a gallery of spy devices, and a geography quiz that legitimizes the site as educational, even if the context is creepy.
Imagine "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" in which you're trying to hunt her down and kill her, and you've pretty much got the flavor.
It looks as if some major focus-grouping went into the design. There's a cuddly, huggable, explosives-sniffing dog named Bogart.
(Which, if he was sniffing out marijuana, would have been a clever name, but nah. He only sniffs explosives, at least on company time.)
There's a history of the CIA, which somehow manages to omit half a century of political assassinations, mind-control experiments on U.S. citizens, cooperation with drug dealers in Asia and Central America, the overthrow of democratic governments, and the safe-housing of Nazi war criminals.
After all, it is a child's view of the CIA. Just like the one Congress and the newspapers get.
There's even a friendly pigeon guide, obviously intended to subtly make satellite surveillance seem playful and normal. Direct quote: "Hi, kids! My name is Harry Recon, and this is my twin sister, Aerial."
The bird is possibly the cheesiest thing I've seen all year. And also the most paranoia-inducing. It's a lot like turning on the tube and discovering Barney wearing a trench coat and sunglasses.
Sing along, everybody: "I watch you, you watch me ... "
ONCE AGAIN, we Americans have something to be proud about, another scientific study that proves our position of leadership in the modern world.
According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. citizens are No. 1 among all the residents of all developed countries in ... shooting each other.
Bring it on, Canada, we'll kick your national-health-care-receiving ass.
We even beat out Northern Ireland, an actual war zone. Makes you proud, don't it?
The numbers are per capita, so we didn't win on size. Just pure lunatic violence. You're almost 300 times more likely to shoot somebody here than if you live in Japan. Of course, in Japan, you're about 3,000 times more likely to make a living by knocking people down with your enormous stomach. So we still don't have a monopoly on weirdness.
Here's a perfect of example why we're Top of the Pops: The state of Kentucky has just made it legal for ministers to carry concealed handguns while delivering sermons.
Apparently there has been a string of people pulling out shotguns at the end of services and walking off with the collection plates.
Which means somebody has been taking the words "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition" a little too seriously."
So the Kentucky legislature voted 76-9 to let the God guys pack heat.
Excuse me, but somehow I can't see Jesus--avatar of forgiveness, messenger of peace, bestower of slack on humanity--giving the Sermon on The Mount with a nine strapped to his hip. Maybe I missed something.
I guess, for some people, turning the other cheek is just a way of buying time to reload.
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From the April 30-May 6, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
© Metro Publishing Inc.