Hey, kids: Let the NSA teach you codebreaking
The agency's CryptoKids website features cartoon characters like Decipher Dog and instructions on constructing 'your own cipher disk.'
It turns out that the NSA is just one of the many government agencies that spend a surprising amount of time and taxpayers' money trying to win the hearts and minds of the nation's youngest citizens through Web-based cartoon characters.
At the NSA site, little ones can follow the adventures of America's CryptoKids, including Crypto Cat and Decipher Dog, which Zero Hedge recently mocked. The NSA has another site for kids called "Change the World" that features puzzles they can solve and instructions on how to "construct your own cipher disk."
The NSA is following the federal government's lead that starts at the kids.gov site, which features games and videos along with tips about different "cool" government jobs. From that site, children (and parents and teachers) can get to an astounding 2,500 kid-friendly government sites. Even agencies that aren't exactly warm and fuzzy such as the Securities & Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Defense have content aimed at kids.
And top secret, spy-stuff fun doesn't stop at the NSA's CryptoKids. A cartoon lady decked out in a trench coat and fedora who appears to be answering a shoe phone "Maxwell Smart-style" can be found on the CIA's Kids Page (her identity appears to be confidential).
Another gang of scamps hangs out at the U.S. Mint's website, h.i.p. pocket change, led by Peter the Mint Eagle and his pals Flip the Mint Seal, Bill the Mint Buffalo, Pinky the Mint Pig and Nero the Mint Police Dog. Interestingly, there really was a bald eagle named Peter who lived in the Philadelphia Mint in the early 19th century.
The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine teaches kids about animal health through a variety of characters including Jazz the dog and Mozart the cat. It even offers some poetry, such as this ditty: "Mozart, he meows all day. The flea collar on his neck is registered at the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)."
Let's not forget the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Nuclear FHIZ Kids, also known as Fiona, Horace, Ira and Zoe. They're "mythical characters who came into existence through the process of nuclear fission," according to the NRC.
The EPA's Flat Stanley and Flat Stella, who teach kids about the environment, aren't so mythical, though they are kind of cute. For that matter, so is the Hawaiian-shirt-wearing blue surfer bug found on the Department of Energy site, who, alas, doesn't have a name.
Since taxpayers paid to develop these characters, parents might as well use them. And if your kid has an affinity for making ciphers, the NSA will probably know about it before you do.
Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on
a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of
it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people
don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in
Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the
country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to
drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist
dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no
voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked,
and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Hermann Goering
Yes, and you start working on the kids first, just like religion does.
My tax dollars went to 2500 government websites aimed at amusing/winning over kids? Are you kidding me?
Let the indoctrination begin. This is how to be obedient slaves to a corrupt system.
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You don't have to sign up for Medicare. The catch? If you don't enroll when you're first eligible, you could pay some serious financial penalties later in life.
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