The most moving Morse code story I’ve heard is this one from Somalia: A man writes a letter complaining about conditions in a hospital, and the government imprisons him in solitary confinement, with no one to talk with and nothing to read. After eight months, his next door neighbor whispers across: “Learn ABC through the walls....” and he learns an ad-hoc Morse Code through knocks and taps. Then, after two years, the neighbor begins “reading” to him, via the code, the 800 page novel Anna Karenina.
The article doesn't seem to be exactly about using Morse code when kidnapped, unlike the title, but about instances of Morse and other code used in various circumstances today and in the past.
Having said that, to reflect the title itself I don't think Morse code has a very good bang-for-buck ratio for kidnapping.
Absolutely most people never get kidnapped, it's a very rare occasion statistically. Learning Morse code is not enough: you will have to use it repeatedly to keep remembering it, and I don't think you need Morse code very much in general life so you'll need to exercise your skills intentionally just in case a very unlikely event would happen. Further, to benefit from Morse code while being kept hostage you will need some medium through which to transfer knocks or beeps and you need another party who is both listening and can read Morse code.
It might make sense if your lifestyle calls for higher risks to be kidnapped, but even then I think there are wiser ways to spend your minutes trying to avoid being kidnapped in the first place.
If you want to learn Morse it is a lot easier if you don't try to learn it in alphabetical order. Instead you should learn it in order of the lengths of the signals, which corresponds roughly to the frequency order of the letters in English, i.e. learn the one-beep-long letters first (E, T), then the two-beep-long letters (A, N, I. M), then the three-beep-long letters, etc.
E . T -
I .. A .- N -. M --
S ... U ..- R .-. D -..
H .... B -... L .-.. F ..-. V ...-
W .-- K -.- G --. O ---
Z --.. C -.-. X -..- P .--.
J .--- Y -.-- Q --.-
After listening to a Camille album from time to time, I subconsciously internalized the backing vocals of the song "Show Me The Waves". https://youtu.be/S0PMZg8lZ-M
Knowing that it's Morse code for the title of the song, I can reconstruct the individual codes for the letters AEHMOSTVW.
If someone were to write a hit song containing the whole Morse alphabet in a way that gets stuck in your head easily like in this Camille song, we might all learn it without trying.
I think morse code could be helpful for someone with locked-in syndrome, like Jean Bauby. In 'dictating' his memoir 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', it took him an average of two minutes to write each word by blinking at the time when the next letter he wanted was presented to him.
Totally dating myself here.
In the Hardy Boys book “Hostages of Hate”, Frank Hardy’s girlfriend, Callie Shaw, is kidnapped and is able to send a secret message to Frank by blinking her eyes on a video recording.
Funny what sticks in your mind from a young age.
Had a question about this for while: Are movies where people communicate using knocks really accurate?
I would assume to effectively use Morse code, you’ll need a way to convey short silence, long silence, short beep, and long beep. Knocking misses the long beep.
Instrument pilots use Morse code to identify ground-based navigation aids such as Instrument Landing System (ILS) or VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR).
The VOR does not account for the aircraft heading. It only relays the aircraft direction from the station and has the same indications regardless of which way the nose is pointing. Tune the VOR receiver to the appropriate frequency of the selected VOR ground station, turn up the audio volume, and identify the station’s signal audibly. Then, rotate the OBS to center the CDI needle and read the course under or over the index.
Say a pilot is flying by reference to Avenal VORTAC. She would tune a nav radio to 117.1 and listen for Morse code tones AVE, the station’s identifier and helpfully printed on the chart for quick reference. Nice avionics units will perform this translation for the pilot.
: FAA Instrument Flying Handbook, https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/a...
U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton, Jr., was a POW for ~8 years during Vietnam. He did something similar.
> Denton was forced by his captors to participate in a 1966 televised propaganda interview which was broadcast in the United States. While answering questions and feigning trouble with the blinding television lights, Denton blinked his eyes in Morse code, spelling the word "TORTURE"—and confirming for the first time to U.S. Naval Intelligence that American POWs were in fact being tortured. 
You can see the video  on Youtube.
I learned Morse code (only listening and transcribing, not producing) at the German Army. It was an interesting, but also stressful experience, since we weren‘t practicing on natural language, but meaningless gibberish.
Alas, I have lost the ability. Everything is gone.
I've tried several morse keyboards for android, but all of them seem to be more fun than useful. if only I could get a cross between the hackers keyboard and morse, I could stop finger fucking these tiny screens and actually type what I want
There are so many things to learn these days but learning morse code to fight against kidnapping sounds about as esoteric/specific/paranoid as learning shorthand so as to be able to transcribe important conversations quickly without having to rely on audio equipment. Survivalists probably have more practical tips at hand before needing to learn ham radio and morse. Heck, learning to run fast and long is probably more useful for most people.
The "long knock" problem can be resolved in multiple ways. A dot can be a single knock, and a dash can be two knocks very close together, for example.
I learned Morse many decades ago and still remember much of it, but if I was in that situation now I'd probably think of FM-encoded ASCII first... and while it might not be as "efficent" as Morse, I think ASCII is much easier to remember and only requires two states to transmit.
Any idea where to learn it? Just in case.
FWIW I find that copying morse code toward the limit of my ability (50+ wpm) results in a very peaceful mental state. Really anything over 35 wpm causes it.
Interestingly, copying fast morse also pushes the limit of the human perceptual system just as hitting a 100 mph fastball does. It's fun to play at the edges and watch the skill strengthen over time.