In the past couple of weeks, a number of obvious lollygaggers, loafers and/or non-team-players from the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services have written in, complaining how they couldn’t reach the Arkansas Times blog from their at-work accounts. With the freedom of wage-slaves everywhere on the line and suspecting a vast right-wing conspiracy moving against us, we gave DHHS spokesperson Julie Munsell a call to see what was up.
On the day we called, Munsell said she had no problem viewing either the Arkansas Times webpage or blog from her office computer. The problem, she said, was likely the DHHS firewall and the content of our blog the day our tipsters tried to access it. Munsell said that she herself has had problems with scaling the firewall in the past.
“When you’re clicking through it, it feels pretty random,” she said. “Sometimes at the end of the day, I like to pick up a recipe off of the Food Network before I go to the grocery store. I can’t do that sometimes. It’ll let me get to the network website, but when I try to actually pull up a recipe, it’ll block me.”
Munsell sent over a list of items banned and allowed by the DHHS firewall, and we’re honestly shocked that those who try to access the Arkansas Times webpage from a DHHS computer aren’t immediately killed by an electric shock sent through the keyboard.
According to a webpage forwarded by Munsell, some of the forbidden categories for DHHS web surfers are: Alcohol, Chat, Child Pornography, Comics, Criminal Skills, Cults, Explicit Art, Fashion, Gambling, Games, Hacking, Hate and Discrimination, Instant Messaging, Internet Radio, Internet Service Providers, Lifestyle (“Sites that contain material relative to an individual’s personal life choices. This includes sexual preference, cultural identity, or organization/club affiliations.” Sorry, Gay Moose Lodge members), Malicious Code/Spyware/Viruses, Militant/Extremist/Terrorist, Movies and Television, Music Appreciation, Obscene/Tasteless, Online Greeting Cards, Paranormal (“This includes topics such as mysticism, UFOs, astrology, numerology, the occult, tarot, crypto-zoology and conspiracy theories” — this means you, tree-worshipping Fouke Monster hunters …), Peer-to-Peer/File Sharing, Personals/Dating, Political Opinion (“Opinions dealing with political concerns such as party platforms, political reform, candidate advocacy, PACs, lobbying organizations, campaign sites, ‘the president sucks’ sites, recall sites, etc.” — oh, firewall. You had me at “the president sucks”), Pornography, Religious Opinion, R-rated, Social Opinion (“Opinions dealing with social issues such as divorce, business ethics, abortion etc.”), Streaming Media, Tickets, Theater, Unsavory/Dubious (“Sites of a questionable legal or ethical nature. Sites which promote or distribute products, information, or devices whose use may be deemed unethical or, in some cases, illegal.” You know: the ENTIRE INTERNET), Vehicles, Web-based Newsgroups, Web Logs and Weapons.
The categories permitted are: Art, Books and Lit/Writings, Community Organizations, Drugs (“Sites that promote the sale/use of illegal drugs and narcotics, paraphernalia for expressed use with illegal narcotics, questionably legal ‘supplements’ with a narcotic effect or sites that glorify the effect of illegal narcotics. Sites that offer techniques and products for testing clean for drugs as well as information on other forms of narcotics.”), Education, Educational Games, Employment, Entertainment, (“All general entertainment sites not already classified in a specific category such as restaurants/clubs, clip art and animated .gifs, amusement parks, cell-phone ring tones, etc.”), Financial, Fitness, General Business, Government, Health/Medical, Holistic (Holistic medicine without mysticism, cults or numerology? Just what kind of kooks do you think we are?) Humor, Information Technology, Legal, Local Community, Message Boards, Military — Official, News, Online Classes, Outdoor Recreation, Real Estate, Recreation, Reference, Religion/Religious Establishment, Self-Defense, Self-Help, Search Engines, Sports, Travel and Web-based Newsgroups.