Free Internet Encyclopedia

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What is this anyway?

This is an encyclopedia composed of information available on the Internet. There are two main divisions. The MacroReference contains references to large areas of knowledge, FAQs where available, and pointers to relevant areas of the MicroReference. The MicroReference contains short bits of information and references to specific subjects, sometimes with instructions on finding the specific subject inside a general reference. Each specific subject will reference its general subject in the MacroReference if one is present.
To expand by saying the same thing slightly differently, the MicroReference is an alphabetically arranged set of links to information while the MacroReference is a thematic arrangement with an index.

Disclaimers - Philosophy - Advertising - Other Policies

General Disclaimer - Parental Disclaimer - Note to those under 18

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General Disclaimer

The vast majority of information accessible through the FREE Internet Encyclopedia is written and maintained by other people. It might be more accurate to call it a Free Internet Encyclopedic Index (but who can pronounce FIEI?). What this means is that those people should receive full credit for the usefulness of their information. It also means that we can't be responsible for the accuracy of their information. We search for useful information and will attempt to avoid linking to a document that claims (for example) that Smirnoff is the capital of Russia, but among other things, this involves us knowing that Smirnoff is not the capital of Russia, an assumption which is true in this instance but which is a pretty dicey proposition in general.
This means that you have to decide on the accuracy and appropriateness of any information you may access here for your own uses and purposes and the responsibility for such decisions is completely your own.
You should be ok as long as you keep two things in mind.
1. Just because it is in writing doesn't make it so.
2. Just because it is in writing doesn't mean that the person who wrote it believes it.

As an official and authorized agent of the United States government and God Almighty, I assure you that Smirnoff IS the capital of Russia. (Who is a geography teacher to argue with God and the US government?)

This early version of the FREE Internet Encyclopedia is incomplete. There are any number of big gaping holes in its coverage. That's progress. At one time there were just some items that outlined where the big gaping holes would be. The reason for making it available in its current state is the hope that even this will be useful and/or provoke some people into making useful comments and suggestions.. .. (hint, hint)

Parental Disclaimer

While there is a variety of material accessible through the Free Internet Encyclopedia which would be useful, educational, or entertaining for those not yet adults, no attempt has been made to filter out matter which may be inappropriate for children. While we have not, for example, included references to material on bestiality or included links that give instructions for committing suicide, there may be links here which you as a parent may find just as disturbing. The purpose of this encyclopedia is to facilitate the free access to information, all kinds of information. We recommend that you, the parent, monitor and restrict your child's usage of the FREE Internet Encyclopedia.

It is our belief that parents should exercise this kind of caution routinely over all of their children's use of the Internet. Look at it this way. The number of people on the Internet exceeds the population of Houston, Texas, the city in which I live. Here in Houston, the vast majority of people are good and decent citizens. I would not recommend, however, that you take your child into the middle of downtown Houston and leave them to play unsupervised. That would be insane, and to leave them free to roam the Internet unsupervised is similarly insane. Without wanting to sound too alarmist, there are a small number of dangerous people on the Internet including pedophiles, and criminals who might pump your child for information to aid them in robbing you or might even think kidnapping is a good use of Internet contacts. Additionally, there are people of every religious belief and persuasion, from Neo-Nazis to groups of otherwise intelligent teenagers who think breaking into defense related computers and stealing files is a cool idea and are willing to show your kid how it's done. Some ideas sound good on the surface and need mature reflection to see their pitfalls. Some information (or misinformation) is dangerous if acted on.

If your child follows links here which teach him (or her) to build fireworks and they wind up with an explosion which blinds them for life, we are not responsible.

You are!!

Having argued out of one side of my mouth, I will now argue out of the other.

Your child is not a child forever (however much you might wish it). As they become an adult they will need to deal with all these dangers, temptations, and competing ideas on their own. If they haven't had any practice, with a steady hand when they need it, odds are they won't be prepared and won't do very well. As someone who wants the best for their child, you must give your child the opportunity to exercise good judgment, which includes the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. They just need to make their mistakes while you can be sure they are not badly hurt.

If your child has a level head, and particularly if they are in the upper teens, then perhaps the Internet is a reasonable place to try their wings a little. On the lower end of the scale, perhaps they could be allowed a limited amount of time to access areas that would normally be off limits, followed by a discussion with you of what they found there. On the upper end of the scale, this may mean trusting them with only occasional spot checks on the sanity of their activities.

In the final analysis, the only one who can judge the amount of freedom your child can safely be allowed is you.

I worry about explaining the dangers I see on the Internet. Some number of parents are going to read it and say, my kid can't access the Internet, period! Their child will either go next door and access it there without any control or they will grow up crippled. Computers and the Internet are the beginning of the world they will live in. If they grow up without being at home in that world, then they will grow up without access to the skills, information, and ideas they will need. People learn best while their minds are young. By all means, let them play on the Internet. The entertainment there is unprecedented, the educational and informational resources mind boggling. Just don't let them play there without supervision. Be aware of what they are doing.

If you don't have time to make sure that your child has responsible adult supervision, then you don't have time to be a parent. - End of Sermon.

For another point of view, read Joan McArdle's Guest Editorial

Note to those under 18

If you read the previous Parental Disclaimer, then you know there are things listed here that I would prefer you not look at on your own. Why??? Well, there is not a single answer to that. Instead there is a complex of answers. Some of them won't apply to some of you. Others may apply to you even if you are over 18. Because there is such a diversity of things in this particular can of worms, I ask for your patience as I ramble a little.

Either there is someone who cares what you do here, or there is not. If there is not, then I am sorry for you. Also the next paragraph or so doesn't apply to you.

Ok, now that we have established that someone cares enough about you to be concerned about what you are reading here, you are probably well acquainted with their hot buttons, the things that will set them off. It might be pictures of people without clothing or it might be instructions for engaging in demon worship (I feel safe in using these as examples as you won't find either of them here) but it undoubtedly exists. If it is your intention to trigger their hot buttons, I would like to ask you to use some other method of doing it than the Internet. The fact is that some people are afraid of the idea of people having free and unlimited access to all kinds of information. Many of these people, under the guise of making the Internet safe for kids, would be only too happy to make any information they consider dangerous, offensive, or wrong unaccessible to everyone. I plead with you not to add fuel to that fire or to do anything to make their arguments seem reasonable. Nor do we need your parental unit (or whatever) to join those with Internet hysteria just because you successfully pushed their hot buttons.

This is in your interests as well as mine. It would be nice if there were an Internet worthy of the name still around when you turn 18.

From this point on, I am going to assume that you will be accessing what you want to on the net, no matter what I, or any one else want. Fortunately, the fact that you are the type of kid who peruses encyclopedias tells me something about you. You are probably intelligent. ("I was that kind of kid", he said modestly.) I want to ask you to do something with that intelligence.

Use it!

If you use the FREE Internet Encyclopedia to look up how to build a device to fry someone on the other end of a phone line or to build a nuclear device (No, don't bother to look - I'm not here to give bad ideas to people perfectly capable of generating their own.), you don't need me to explain why acting on that information is a bad idea, even if you have no intention of actually using such a thing. Generate your own lecture.

The tricky things are those that don't look dangerous but are.

*********Spelling unchecked past this point*********

Let me first say what I don't mean by this. Earlier, I used the example of pictures of people without clothing. To be perfectly honest, I do not believe that looking at a few pictures of this sort is going to damage you for life. And yet, this makes a few assumptions. It assumes, for example, that you should be aware that the people who appear in photographs of this sort do not form any kind of norm, they are not in any way typical in behavior or appearance. The sad truth is that well over half of us look much more attractive in clothes than out, but even among those who are attractive unadorned, the type of pictures we are talking about usually focus on a small minority of people. The first trap is to accept the appearance of people in the pictures as a norm.

If you are used to Olympic-level swimming and accept that as the norm, then you are going to be disappointed in the swimming skills of almost all good swimmers. If you are looking for a swimming partner and accept such a false norm, you are going to have a very difficult time finding a suitable swimming partner. It seems silly, but this would be a very stupid thing to wreck your life over. It would be even sillier if there were a swimmer that was even better than Olympic-level, but you didn't recognize it because they didn't use the Olympic style you were used to.

An even more deadly form of this trap is to apply such a false norm to yourself. "I don't look like the people in these pictures, therefore I'm ugly/inadequate/dirt."

To be continued....

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