•The alarms go off almost every day: The Web is being corporatized! Alternative voices are in danger! Though there are definitely some troubling aspects to the invasion of cyberspace by suits, plenty of sites are still run by rabble-rousers, watchdogs, secessionists, blasphemers, monster watchers, and assorted malcontents who rock the boat.com.
What follows is a tiny sampling of the Web’s untamable regions.
NASA WATCH (www.nasawatch.com): You know NASA Watch won’t be your typical space site as soon as you see the disclaimer at the top of the homepage: “This is not a NASA Web site. You might learn something.” Astrobiologist and rocket scientist Keith Cowing, who used to work for NASA, holds the space agency’s feet to the solar flares with acerbic commentary on the latest twists and turns of space policy. On a near daily basis, he points out the broken promises, cost overruns, delayed schedules, hyperbole, and contradictions of the government’s space program. And people listen. The site has been quoted in Congress and cited by big media outlets. In his role as editor, Cowing has given congressional testimony about the space agency. NASA Watch is proof that one person’s Web site can make a difference.
MONSANTOS (www.monsantos.com): This parody site looks and sounds so much like its target a first-time visitor might not realize it isn’t the cyberhome of Monsanto, the wonderful multinational corporation that supplies the world with genetically engineered crops, patented life-forms, and bovine growth hormone, not to mention Agent Orange and DDT. Read about Monsanto’s true legacy, sign the petition to label Frankenfood, or label it yourself by printing the hilariously disgusting logos of fruit-insect hybrid life-forms.
JESUS DRESS UP (www.jesusdressup.com): Jesus’s attire on the cross could’ve used a little pizzazz, and thanks to the wonders of the Web, you can provide it. Based on the dress-up paper dolls of our youth, this site lets you see how the crucified Jesus looks in pink bunny slippers, a top hat, Daisy Duke shorts, a football helmet, shades, bell-bottoms, and other wild threads. Just drag an article of clothing over to the Messiah, and it snaps into place. For the finishing touch, add a sign to the cross (personal favorite: “Hang in there baby!”).
RAGGED EDGE ONLINE (www.raggededgemagazine.com): The radical disability-rights magazine has an equally uncompromising Web site. Read about the U.S. Olympic Committee shafting of the Paralympics, Clint Eastwood’s campaign against the Americans With Disabilities Act, and “Visiting Jack Kevorkian in Prison: A Crip Fantasy.”
DRUGSENSE (www.drugsense.org): A nonprofit institute for drug policy reform, DrugSense runs the Media Awareness Project, a “clipping service” that archives almost every drug-related article that appears on the Web. They’ve hit the 45,000 mark and are adding dozens per day. Search for any topic related to illegal drugs (and some on tobacco, booze, and prescription meds), and you’re sure to find a bongload of information.
HOLOCAUST FORGOTTEN (www.holocaustforgotten.com): Maintained by a converted Jew, this important site is a testament to the rarely mentioned 5 million non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust: Gypsies, Catholics, gay men and lesbians, the disabled, German citizens who resisted Hitler’s plans, and gentile spouses of Jews.
GENDERCIDE WATCH (www.gendercide.org): This fascinating, disturbing site explores historic and current examples of gendercide, which is defined as an act of “gender-selective” mass killings, whether against women (the Nanjing massacre, female infanticide) or men (slaughters in Rwanda and Colombia).
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT (www.whistleblower.org): If you’re a military, government, or corporate employee who wants to blow the whistle on the Man’s wrongdoings, this is the first place to turn for info, advice, referrals, and possible legal representation.
ALASKA INDEPENDENCE PARTY (www.akip.org): The people of Alaska were never allowed to vote on whether they wanted to remain a territory or become a state, a commonwealth, or an independent nation. Believing in the concept of better late than never, the Alaska Independence Party—which claims to be the country’s largest third party, with almost 19,000 members—wants the people to have that vote now. To find out about a similar movement in Hawaii, check out the Hawaiian Nation site at www.hawaii-nation.org.
LOCH NESS LIVE! (www.lochness.scotland.net): The blatant touristy commercialism of this site is annoying, but that doesn’t interfere with the real draw: two webcams beaming updated pictures of Loch Ness from above and below the surface. Now you can keep a constant eye out for Nessie from the comfort of your living room.
THE SECULAR WEB (www.infidels.org): This site offers a huge repository of information about what is commonly called atheism, but often goes by other names (like nontheism, secular humanism, etc.). Among the many strong points of the Secular Web are its daily collection of news links, exclusive original articles, and library of past and present free-thought writings.
THE ALTERNATIVE DICTIONARIES (www.notam.uio.no/~hcholm/altlang): Here you’ll find a most impressive attempt to catalog sex slang, drug speak, expletives, and derogatory names from around the world. With over 3100 entries in 79 languages, this is the place to go if you want to ask for a blow job in Turkey, score pot in Mexico, or call someone an asshole in Basque country. Advanced students will want to bone up on Latin and Esperanto.