5 Sites That Prove the U.S. Government Sucks at the Internet
We're gonna go ahead and guess that only a small percentage of you like to browse government websites for fun. That's a real shame, because buried among all the boring and useless information about "doing your taxes" and "signing up for health care" and lists of those fascist "don't dig up the streets looking for pirate gold" rules, you can find nuggets of bizarrely fascinating material. Here, bad mini-games, cartoons made by psychopaths, and other, harder to define insanities abound -- all funded by your tax dollars, of course.
The NSA's Kids' Site Is Even Creepier Than the Adult One
The NSA is not exactly the most popular group with kids today, which is weird because they have a sweet hip-hop turtle and everything! What more could you ungrateful little brats want?!
Suspiciously not pictured: Eddie Snowed-in, the gossipy penguin.
Since 2005, the NSA's CryptoKids characters have tried to steer the youngest Americans into embracing a fun and wacky career in code-breaking. Each CryptoKid has an elaborate backstory, which means that some poor bastard had to come up with nine different explanations for why an anthropomorphic squirrel would give a shit about cryptography. For example, there's T. Top, the Linkin Park-wannabe turtle whose hobbies include computer programming and consistently spelling "cool" like a douche:
Another bearded Web user posing as a 14-year-old.
And then there's Decipher Dog, the apparent leader of the kids. What's his "Favorite Project"? He's really stoked about that time he helped his stepmom set up a home Wi-Fi network ... which he says he monitors to see what programs his stepsister is using.
Decipher Dog says: "I know what porn you like, and I'm judging you!"
The U.S. Mint Store Makes SkyMall Look Classy
Of all the areas of the government, the last one you'd expect to be so strapped for cash that they have to resort to late-night infomercials is the U.S. Mint. If you'd asked us to describe what usmint.gov looks like without visiting it, we would have guessed "Wikipedia, but plainer." The truth is closer to "basic cable channel at 2 a.m."
"We also pay CA$H for your gold!! We ... have no shortage of cash."
Go ahead, try to spend that curved coin with a baseball glove on it. Maybe the folks at the 7-Eleven will take such pity on your shitty counterfeiting skills that they won't even call the cops. Bored of seeing Washington and Lincoln's faces on your pocket change? The U.S. Mint has your back. You can now purchase this set of 25 Warren G. Harding $1 coins for just $32.95 -- and no, because we know it's the first question on your mind: There's no household limit.
Collect the full "Heroes of the Teapot Dome" set!
The U.S. Mint also offers coins featuring the First Spouses! Impress friends and amuse surly newspaper vendors, who certainly won't beat you ferociously when you try to pay them with currency featuring images of Lucy Hayes and Ida McKinley, celebrating such achievements as "organizing the first White House Easter Egg Roll" and "crocheting slippers for charity"!
We can't show you what's on the reverse of the limited Lewinski edition.
So obsessed is the mint with the First Spouse series that they didn't let bachelor president James Buchanan disrupt their flow. They posthumously married him to the abstract concept of Liberty.
Liberty gave herself to everyone, which is why hubby Buck in the background looks so sad.
The bronze medal of the second George W. Bush inauguration reminds us that "freedom cannot be denied." But savings cannot be denied either! And remember, when buying those William Henry Harrison coins, shipping may take longer than his one month in office.
The Missile Defense Agency Protects America by Ripping Off Atari Games
The Missile Defense Agency has a very important mission: stopping hostile missiles from hitting American soil. Such a tech-intensive and crucial agency requires the best and brightest, so how do they convince people to join? Why, by using their massive budget to put a crappy Flash game on their employment page, of course.
"Uh ... sir, some kid put in the Konami Code and now has full control of NORAD."
If that game looks familiar to you, then congratulations, you're an old-school nerd from back when that used to mean something (mostly wedgies). Yep, the government is employing a rather shameless rip-off of classic Atari arcade game Missile Command:
"Actually, we funded that, too, to subliminally train '80s kids to pilot drones."
The Department of Defense called their knock-off "The Interceptor," and it consists of four levels spent protecting generic cities from a barrage of explosive balls. Are they projectiles sent by a hostile power? A poorly timed refuse dump from the International Space Station? Aliens? Your job is to mindlessly click the "throw missile" button, soldier, not to ask questions. But whether you save America from the explosive meatballs or doom it to a spicy death, the reward is the same: a screen inviting you to learn more about the agency ... which leads to a 404 error page.
Surprise! Just by choosing to play, you failed the job interview.
Good job, agency literally responsible for making sure we don't all explode.
FEMA Wants Kids to Fear Space Weather
The children's website for FEMA has a bunch of disaster fact sheets to help kids know what to do during every conceivable disaster. Which is great! Surely nobody can mock such a noble and useful effort. Why, there are helpful how-tos here for surviving everything from a landslide to a home fire to ... "space weather"?
You'll know it's coming because the space dogs will start howling.
The Space Weather pamphlet informs kids that, in the event of a solar flare, it's perfectly normal for your toilet to stop working. Which is ... odd. First of all, why would one of a child's primary concerns during a gargantuan solar storm be a working toilet? They barely use that thing anyway, the filthy little animals. Plus, is that even true? Solar flares mostly affect electronics, right? Is this pamphlet aimed at well-off Japanese kids with their fancy talking commodes, or are solar flares way worse than we've been led to believe? Where is the space weather pamphlet for adults, you bastards?!
Then, when you've finished reading and memorizing all the fact sheets and the many, many poo-disposal-related tips, the real fun can begin: The FEMA site also includes an interactive comic called Disaster Master, in which a bunch of children that God clearly hates come across a wildfire, a tornado, an earthquake, a tsunami, and more, one right after another. As you follow the story, you're presented with multiple-choice questions about what the kids should do in each emergency, and none of the options are "repent." You get two chances to make the wrong decision, because on the third it's "game over, those children are all dead by your hand."
But the toilet is safe, and that's what's important.
The Department of Labor Has a Brutal "Ways to Die in a Mine" Cartoon Series
Look, we get why it's important to make children aware of mine safety. Their lungs are rubbery and resilient -- great at breathing coal dust -- and we need their little hands to reach into tight spots and grab our valuable minerals, but nobody wants them dead. Children, if possible, should be alive. We get that. We're not monsters. What we don't get is why the Department of Labor apparently employed the children themselves to make its hastily slapped together mine safety website:
Seems like that time would be better spent in the mines, that's all we're saying.
In these fun cartoons, the generic boy hero (let's call him Trespassing Timmy) is depicted playing with explosives:
"You will be propelled into the air like in a movie, and it will be awesome. DON'T DO THIS."
Jumping into a quarry while aiming directly at a clearly visible, exposed rock:
That's like 3 inches deep. He would have died anyway.
Or sitting under an apparently moving vehicle:
"I welcome death. Maybe this time I won't be pulled back. Maybe I will know peace."
Once Timmy gets inside the actual mine, the cartoons play out like a particularly mean-spirited Choose Your Own Adventure book -- will you be crushed to death by the rotting timber or the crumbling wall? Do you fall from a faulty ladder or a broken winze? Do you pet the snake? Turn to Page 42.
Hey, kids, can you find Timmy in this image? Hint: You should NOT pet the snake.
Gavin is installing stained glass windows on his bunker so when zombies bust through on Day 1 there will be a cool gothic vibe. He also has a Twitter.
For more things our tax dollars are probably being wasted on, check out 11 Things the CIA Is Keeping From Us.
Related Reading: If you prefer to read about websites by terrible people, FOR terrible people (to hook up), click here. And while we're on the subject of dating websites, did you know one exists for women behind bars? If you'd rather read about more "official" websites that are unbelievably awful, click away.