Sidenote from another angle: Erskine was undervaluing some of the education available in plain commercial programs, especially the low-budget syndicated serials. Ann of the Airlanes was packed with serious information about geography and technology, presented in digestible form. Dick Tracy organized the young listeners in Detective Clubs. For 5 boxtops of Quaker cereals you got a Secret Decoder Ring, and every episode gave you a "coded" message to solve, so you could stay ahead of the villain. Kids who spent time on that task were learning more about language than the idiotic fictional "grammar" they were hearing from Miss Marley.Well, I got curious, so I found a Decoder Book (not Decoder Ring) on Ebay and bought it. The book is pocket-size: The book and other items like badges and rings were 'premiums' acquired by sending in boxtops from Quaker cereals. Most of the book is organizational advice and OpSec training for the Secret Detective Clubs. The radio program had a virtual 'meeting' at the end of each episode, with a message to decode. Each message started with a keyword followed by a series of numbers. I wrote down one of the messages: FOOTBALL 10 11 7 17 11 26 17 9 12 25 5 17 6 15 11 25 13 3 26 The keyword made me wonder if the cipher was a Vigenere style, but it's not that complicated. There were three active keywords, each leading to a different 'static' transposition, not a 'mobile' transposition as in Vigenere or the Hagelin machines. The transpositions are nicely randomized, indicating that the program must have paid a real cryptographer for advice. Unfortunately the episodes available online are from a different year with a different set of keywords, so I couldn't actually decipher the message. But I did satisfy my curiosity about the type of cipher. (The book cost $35, so I'm not going to buy a different edition to find the right keywords!) The writers gave especially good advice about when and how to use ciphers without making the use obvious. They advised club members to send at least one message to each of the other local members every day, to stay in practice. Learning with a purpose! Members were also supposed to learn Morse and use it in a variety of ways for private signaling. Club members were learning the essentials of communication and meaning, and developing their own private modes of communication. Before WW1 the Army Signal Corps was training its members in a similar way, mastering creative communication so they could circumvent enemy interception without central guidance. Needless to say, no school or media or corporation is going to sponsor this category of learning now. No codes, no private OpSec. Only NSA-created and NSA-backdoored digital encryption is allowed, and creative modes are never discussed.
The current icon shows Polistra using a Personal Equation Machine.