Monday, April 12, 2010

For There Is Much To Learn

Every now and then, I requre a boost of interest in my subject of study, which is History.  I get bummed out about "Why can't I do this instead?" or just the simple fact of having tons of reading I have to do for my classes.  Getting out of those rutts is really hard, but defnitely possible.  All it takes is a new History. :)

I call it a "new History," but really, all it is the discovery of something in History that I haven't read about before.  As I cleaned my room tonight in anticipation for tomorrow's carpet cleaning, I popped in National Treasure to listen to.  A movie matchable in magnificence only by Batman Begins and Beauty and the Beast, it immediately made my cleaning duty a little bit more manageable.  When I got to the end, I watched the extra features for the first time, having never actually watched it on DVD.

In this extra features section, there was a learning bit about cryptography.  Cryptography has always fascinated me, even though finding hidden meanings and secret codes has never been a strength of mine (sadly).  That's probably why Sherlock Holmes and Dr. House are so intriguing to me, come to think of it.  Anyway, in this wonderful little section of information, I learned about Cardinal Grilles.

In the early seventeenth century, Cardinal Richelieu of France (yes indeed, the same Cardinal of The Three Musketeers fame) was obsessed with cryptology.  Cryptology is the practice and study of hiding information.  Through his obsession, he developed the grille.

To create a grille message, you start out with a normally-written message.
Then, lay a piece of cardboard on top of your message and cut out holes over the words of the true message.  By creating this device, your normal message becomes something else entirely.
Being without cardboard and a box cutter, I simply used a piece of paper and a nail file.
Cardinal Grilles became one of the most popular methods of sending secret messages.  Even though the invention of morse code came in 1865, Cardinal Grilles were used heavily in WWI, the most intense of which had over one hundred slots.

Doesn't this little piece of History make you eager for more?  Doesn't it just make you want to reach over and grab the History book closest to you and read it cover to cover?
That's what I feel like when I learn something new about my beloved History.

And one day, I hope that's what my students feel like too.

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