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June 12th, 2006

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04:08 pm - No, no, no, no, NO!
Okay, so my pal il31415li turned me onto "Stumble Upon" which is a plugin for the Mozilla (and presumably Firefox) web browser. It sounded like a good idea at the time: you tell it your interests, and then hit the "Stumble" button, and it will serve you up with a tasty random website based on your interests.

First of all, I must tell you that I am not linking to the "Stumble Upon" module here, because it is the epitome of sheer and diabolical EVIL.

EVIL, I tell you!

If you ever want to get anything done online again, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT install this module. This will have you running across the coolest and most useful sites EVER, many of which you will not have already seen.

Work? Screwed.

Family time? Completely hosed.

Blog writing, correspondence, yard work, housework? Forget it.

"Stumble Upon" will suck the fucking life out of you. It will make you an addict, and you won't be able to resist hitting that button over, and over, and over, and over again.


Until, one day, you happen upon something so horrifying, so omnipotent in its creepiness and sheer wrongitude, that you seriously consider going through the agony of Stumble Upon withdrawals just to make sure you never, never, EVER, see anything like that again.

In my case, this site was "FEMA for Kids."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency -- you remember them: they're the ones who did such a great job after Hurricane Katrina and so forth -- has put up a website for children in order to teach them how to be prepared for disasters and disaster damage.

This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, you know. I mean, children can use information about disaster preparedness too. Hell, most kids would be thrilled to be involved in Mommy and Daddy's disaster planning schemes! So the idea of this website isn't what's so terrifying.

No, no.

Rather, it's the implementation.

First of all, the site is bright yellow.

Bright. Fucking. YELLOW.

With "FEMA for KIDS" in giant blue (#340dd1) letters outlined with green (#20d301). Something like this:

FEMA for Kids

Okay, it's not really like that, because on their site, the letters are outlined with the green, but I didn't feel like screwing with the code necessary to fool the various browsers into doing a text outline.

Now, if that didn't make you want to claw your eyes out of your head, just wait! It gets better!

You know how some organizations and so forth will have a spokesperson, or spokesmodel, or otherwise some sort of public relations entity that hangs out with you through the site? Sometimes it's "Bob the CEO," and sometimes it's "Cindy, Customer Relations Specialist."

On FEMA for Kids, it is Herman.

The spokescrab.

Yes, you read that correctly: Herman, the spokesCRAB. As in, some sort of hermit crab with a bright blue shell the same color as the FEMA for Kids lettering.

There is a story about Herman and his search for a disaster-proof shell. After the WIND (because, as we all know, those under-sea winds are killer) blows his shell away, he finds a new shell and uses hurricane straps to tie it down. Unfortunately, there comes a big RAIN (another under-sea danger that is not widely reported) and his new shell is flooded!

At this point in the story, Herman states, and I quote, "I bet you didn't know being a hermit crab was this much trouble!"

No. No, Herman, I did not. In fact, I would have thought that your ocean-going life would have made you smart enough to stay the hell OUT of the wind and the rain and down in the coral reefs where you belong. But okay, I've learned something, so never let it be said that the FEMA for Kids site is not educational in many, many, wondrous ways.

Next, his shell gets destroyed in an earthquake. Herman laments, "This was terrible and I was very mad. Why did things keep happening?"

Well, yes, indeed. I'm sure we'd all be very mad. I'm sure the Katrina victims were quite perturbed when their houses got flooded and destroyed. I'm sure earthquake victims have been just a tad vexed at the loss of their property and occasional family members.

I, for one, am happy to know that hermit crabs can be empathetic to our problems.

Finally, after checking, and re-checking, and reading countless taxpayer supported reports, he finally comes up with a shell that will withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes! He basks in the knowledge that he is finally safe in his shell!

But then, the stupid motherfucker has a barbecue and BURNS his shell down!

(No, I'm not kidding.)

Now he calls himself, "Herman, the Particularly Important Crab (P.I.C.)" and wanders about this site showing everyone what he has learned throughout his many home disasters. Herman asks that we all spread the word and tell his story, and so, I have done so for you, my dear friends.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that Herman is going to have a bit of trouble getting homeowner's insurance after totalling no less than four fucking entire homes! Where's the FEMA for Kids insurance tips, that's what I want to know! Useful information, dammit. That's what we need.

I won't go over the many frightening things on this site like the invitation to become a Disaster Action Kid, the Terrorism section (which requires parental approval) or the FEMA for Kidz RAP (which includes the words "mitigation is important to our agency" among other traditional hip-hop rhymes), The Mighty Disaster Twins (um ... "Tornado-stopping powers -- activate?") or the Earthquake Drill video ("Evvybody get unda the table!" screams an eight-year-old) which is not much better than "Duck and Cover."

I believe I'm scarred for life. TRULY scarred and traumatized.

The moral of this story is: Do not use the "Stumble Upon" Mozilla plugin, and if you do, and you see a bright yellow website with blue letters, CLOSE YOUR BROWSER IMMEDIATELY.

Important safety tip.

(9 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
Funny, I don't see any pictures of Herman camped outside the Superdome on there...
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
By that time, he had his new hurricane-proof shell.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 02:08 am (UTC)
1) That is like so 4 years ago.

2) Hermit crabs spend most of their time on land.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
1) That is like so 4 years ago.

Yes, but I did NOT bookmark it 4 years ago the first time I found it, and I never expected to see it again.

2) Hermit crabs spend most of their time on land.

The ones in our reef tank didn't. I guess they were the smart ones.
[User Picture]
Date:June 14th, 2006 12:16 pm (UTC)
"The ones in our reef tank didn't. I guess they were the smart ones."

Did you happen to notice that they weren't moving?
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
I'm just wondering what kind of sick mind would have interests that would bring up a site about disasters, terrorism, and damage for children.

Oh, wait. It's Mrs. V.

It all makes perfect sense, now.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
I blame Cognitive Science and Open Source, myself.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2006 03:27 am (UTC)
Hehehe, I was using the fema for kids site in my research a few years ago as an example of antiterrorist propoganda. I can't believe it's still there! Herman! I miss you!

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