Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle The Man for Munchkins

OCTOBER 19, 1998:  Supposing you want to introduce the wee ones to the, um, investigative branches of our government, but worry about exposing them to such "grown-up" topics as cocaine trafficking, political assassination, and J. Edgar Hoover's personal life. No problem, parents -- Uncle Sam is a step ahead of you, with (Web)pages full of propaganda -- er, educational programming -- designed specifically for the kids! First, you can check out the CIA for Kids site (http://www.cia.gov/cia/ciakids/safe.html), which beckons the wee ones to enter the "Kid's Secret Zone," a counterintelligence clubhouse of sorts with clever cartoons involving reconnaissance pigeons, geography trivia, and explosive-sniffing dogs. If you have Shockwave software, you can even create the disguise for your very own secret agent! I don't have Shockwave, so I didn't get to outfit my own spy, but I'm guessing the options forgo the plastique-and-a-cyanide-capsule aesthetic for the more generally palatable trenchcoat-and-a-fedora line. When you tire of the CIA, check the FBI's "Kids and Teens Educational Page" (http://www.fbi.gov/kids/kids.htm) which has information on fingerprinting, polygraph testing, and DNA analysis. Good info, but somehow not as popular as the FBI had hoped: While the forensic science page has a counter that can record up to 10 billion hits, they've only received nine thousand in the last year. Why not give 'em a boost and add your visit to the count! Finally, there's the Department of Justice kid's page (http://www.usdoj.gov/kidspage), with its pages on hate crimes, courtroom procedure, and Internet Do's and Don'ts. (Example: "Do be careful about talking to 'strangers' on a computer network. ... Some people say and do things which are not nice.) Useful stuff, actually, and there's even a personal thanks from Janet Reno: "You're doing your part," the bespectacled one assures us, "to make our country a little safer." An abundance of information, and no messy loyalty oaths to sign. Happy hunting! -- J.H.


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