Web sites for the apocalypse

If the Internet died, which Web sites would you want to save?

  • The Simpsons Quotes: Worth saving because when the world is in flames and all hope is lost, only the infinite wisdom of Homer Simpson can save the human race. To wit: "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." Amen, Homer J., amen.

  • Kama Sutra translation: Worth saving because at the end of the world, we might have some free time.

  • Three survival guides: Disaster Survival, Captain Dave's Survival Guide and Natural Disaster Recovery: You can never get enough basic survival tips.

  • Wilderness Survival - Edibility of plants: Assuming plants are still growing, you'll want to know which can be eaten and which will make you sick -- or worse. Based on a U.S. Army field manual, this page includes instructions for identifying vegetation and a 13-step "universal edibility test" for determining whether a plant is safe to eat.

  • How Stuff Works: Just like it says, How Stuff Works explains how everything works, from space exploration to the brakes in your car. Most importantly, the site details the brewing process of beer, without which the apocalypse will be intolerable.

  •'s "What to do if a nuclear disaster is imminent": The reason for this one is pretty self-explanatory. Along with climate change, nuclear warfare is one of the most plausible ways humankind could destroy itself. Again, this would be most useful before the bombs are dropped, but you'll want information on avoiding radioactive fallout even if you didn't see it coming.

  • Retrosheet (a database of US Major League Baseball statistics and box scores from 1871 to the present): The lives of countless baseball-stat geeks would be ruined without this valuable resource, a labor of love for fans attempting to catalog the entire numerical history of America's pastime. If not for Retrosheet, survivors of the apocalypse may have no idea that Honus Wagner batted .338 in 1897 at the age of 23 and was still striking base hits 20 years later. They're sure to remember the abnormally large cranium of Barry Bonds, though.

  • How to Kill a Zombie: The Will Smith movie "I Am Legend" taught me one thing about the apocalypse: There will be zombies, and we will spend most of our time trying to kill them. A step-by-step guide: Find a weapon, taunt your undead opponent, destroy its brain, then dismember and burn the corpse.

  • Urban legends are always flying around: Barack Obama a radical Muslim? Mister Rogers a Vietnam War sniper? The crazy rumors might be even more plentiful in the weeks before the apocalypse, and will help us sort out fact from fiction.

  • Wikipedia: It may not always be accurate, but it also might be the closest thing to the sum of all human knowledge available on the Web. Sure, Britannica is more scholarly, but Wikipedia is updated constantly and has more variety, from pop culture to particle physics. With nearly 2.4 million articles in English, it would take an insanely long time to print out, but we never said preparing for the apocalypse would be easy.

  • Water procurement: Post-apocalyptic Earth won't be one endless keg party: You're probably going to want a drink of water once in a while. This handy site will tell you how to identify safe water sources in various environments (the sea, the desert, and so forth) and how to filter out any pollution.

  • Armageddon Online: Columnist Mark Gibbs recommends this site detailing the catastrophes that could send us back to the Stone Age. Super volcano, alien invasion, natural disasters, nuclear warfare, it's all here. Gibbs notes that this site might be most useful "before everything goes to hell," but I'm guessing we might want something like this to help assess how everything went wrong.

  • So, here's the idea: We're living in some future, post-apocalyptic world where the Internet and all computer technology is gone. No Web, no digital storage, nada. Wandering through a desolate wasteland with nothing but a supply of Twinkies and some improvised weapons for warding off marauding gangs, you see a plant and wonder if it's edible. That World Wide Web probably could have given me the answer, you think, and start wondering what other Web sites you would have saved if you'd seen the end of the world coming. Let's assume you had the forethought to print out all of these Web sites in advance and save the content in a bomb shelter. Which ones would you have saved?

  • World Wide Web Consortium: In our future, Internet-less world, eventually we're going to want to rebuild the Internet and the World Wide Web. Although US Senator Ted Stevens famously explained that the Internet is a "series of tubes," it's actually quite a bit more complicated. Rebuilding the Web will take lots of non-tube-related work, and a key piece might be the World Wide Web Consortium's technical reports on standardization of Web technology.

  • Instructables: Do-it-yourself expert Bre Pettis recommends this collection of how-to articles. Want to know how to grow pineapples; build a solar-powered lawn mower; assemble an electric racing car; or make perfect, crispy bacon every time? It's all here.

  • Military hand-to-hand combat guide: Horrific circumstances bring out the worst in some humans, and even the most peaceful among us might be forced to defend ourselves. This guide for unarmed combat has detailed strategy accompanied by diagrams. Learn when to execute a hammer-fist strike to the face, and how to locate vulnerable areas, such as the jugular-notch pressure point.

  • How to build a windmill: Do-it-yourself expert Pettis (see Slide 13) also tells us he'd be brushing up on his ham-radio skills and power-generation projects if he thought the apocalypse was coming. Here's one in the power-generation category: simple instructions for building a windmill.

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