The Jesus Virus

And other perils of modern life

Santa Barbara-based Solid Oak Software, which produces the notoriously right-wing filtering-software program Cybersitter, has recently gotten all revved up about this practice, particularly when it appears to be aimed at kids. In a Feb. 16 press release, the company fulminated against the trickiness of online pornmeisters who exploit poor typing skills.

"Kids that type in playstatiom.com instead of playstation.com will not get the latest news about their Sony product," the release quoted president Brian Milburn saying.

Solid Oak threatened to break my thumbs if I gave you the address of the secret, press-only page on their site where they've posted a lengthy list of "typo" sites, so I won't-even though it smacks of media elitism. But in glancing over the list, I noticed a number of them traded heavily on the sacred Disney©®™etc. name. Gasp. Were sleazoid adult sites trying to exploit Disney fans' innocence? One URL, www.disnex.com, did in fact take me to an adult site: Euromodels, which should be avoided by anyone with an allergy to silicone. (The site since seems to have disappeared.) But the other three URLs on the list - www.disnay.com, www.disnry.com and www.disnie.com - led to a search-engine page. Granted, one button on the page led to a site that promised adult pictures (though I didn't manage to download any), but that hardly qualifies it as a porn site.

Apparently, it's enough for Solid Oak; they confirmed that that one button had justified the search-engine site's inclusion on the list.

What's the answer? Solid Oak would say filtering software, of course, which is a perfect solution if you don't mind being denied access to gay and lesbian sites, anti-filtering sites and The Village Voice site (all blocked by Cybersitter). Conservative activists, always busy looking out for other people's morals, would say legislation.

Perhaps an easier solution is to teach kids how to spell.

EXPLETIVE, SWEET EXPLETIVE

Richard Milhous Nixon's greatest sin wasn't the break-in at the Watergate or the milk money or the secret bombing of Cambodia-it was the cover-up. I'm not talking about his Herculean efforts to conceal his misdeeds from Congress and the world, but rather about his decision to snip precious and telling bits of conversation from all those Oval Office tapes, thus depriving the American people of their right to know and introducing the zesty phrase "expletive deleted" into common parlance. What did he really think of Bobby Kennedy? Millions went still wondering to their graves.

Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, faithful reader Tom Hartley has put the power of the expletive into your hands on his site, Restore the Deleted Expletive (www.freespeech.org/bullwinkle/thedick.html). Using snippets of actual presidential conversation, Hartley gives you the opportunity to insert your own expletives into the chief executive's conversation. Granted, the harsh language used on this site (ranging all the way from "aw shucks" to "poopy pants") is not for the faint of heart or hardened of artery, but isn't restoring the full majesty of Nixon's conversations worth the price some of us have to pay?

HUNTINGTON STREET BLUES

Speaking of sites that made me laugh till I wet my pants, the official Web site of the Huntington Beach Police Department (www.hbpd.org) is a must-see. The HBPD has come in for its share of negative publicity over the years, like criticism of its Nazi-esque tactics during the annual Fourth of July riots. But its perky little site makes me wanna pack up my troubles in my old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. I don't know-maybe it's the tinkly rendition of the theme from Hill Street Blues playing relentlessly in the background (in fact, it's tootling along on my computer as I type this). Maybe it's the little animation of the surfer being stalked by circling seagulls at the top of the page, which had me wondering if he should have invested in protective headgear. Maybe it's the gory pictures of traffic-accident victims (the one of the woman punched through her steering wheel by a drunk driver had a certain je ne sais quoi). Or maybe it's the tiny police car chasing a speeding motorcyclist across the page, followed by the inevitable crash-and-burn.

Whatever the case, I haven't seen death, dismemberment and human tragedy treated with such cheery insouciance since Serial Mom. Go there today. You will not be disappointed.

Contact Wyn at machineage@ mediaone.net.

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