Friday, January 31, 2014

Sci-Tech watch, 11: DataWind's Ubislate series comes to the US/UK markets, from US$37.99 for the 7Ci, up

For some years at KF, we have kept an eye on the emergence of the Indian "cheap Tablet" intended for education; as a part of a focus on technological capacity for education transformation. 

This morning, I saw on Yahoo how the supplier, Canadian firm DataWind, is launching a range in the US Market (and the UK market), starting from the Ubislate 7.0 Ci at US$37.99, which now has a capacitive technology touchscreen (instead of the original's resistive screen):

Meet the $38 tablet: Hands-on with DataWind’s UbiSlate 7Ci

By | Digital Crave – Wed, Jan 29, 2014 1:56 PM EST

What’s that? You’d love a new tablet – for yourself, your parents or the kids – but think you need to take out a second mortgage to afford one?

In an effort to help bridge the “digital divide” – the gap between those who can afford technology and those who cannot -- DataWind has just launched the UbiSlate 7Ci, the least expensive tablet computer in the U.S.
Indeed, this 7-inch Android 4.2.2 tablet costs just $37.99 . . . .

For those who like to know specs, under the hood this UbiSlate features a Cortex A9 (1GHz) processor – comparable to the original iPad – along with 512MB of system memory (RAM) and 4GB of internal storage. There is a microSD card slot, however, capable of memory cards up to 32GB each.

Along with the built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), the UbiSlate 7Ci tablet supports external 3G for mobile broadband data connectivity; a USB adaptor is included in the box, to snap in a WAN stick, if desired. The tablet has an embedded G-sensor for device orientation, therefore it knows when you’re holding it vertically or horizontally . . .
The thing seems a bit flimsy, and has a 3-hour battery life, but that is a beginning and a sign. 

Obviously, this is no competition to the serious ~ US$ 300 - 800 or so tablets from the big names, or even the ~ US$ 150 (effectively loss leader) machines. But it, and its range, point to a niche for basic, inexpensive tablets suitable for education.

PC Magazine comments:

Datawind is initially targeting these tablets mostly at schools. That's in its wheelhouse; the education market has been its major success in India, where the small Canadian company became the country's No. 2 tablet vendor at one point, with nearly a million units sold in the past year. You'd think that U.S. schools would be happy with their iPads, but Tuli points out that in our deeply economically divided country, a $299 iPad isn't affordable for a lot of people.

"A lot of the areas where we're getting interest seem to be those who are working with minorities and the inner cities where they're a lot more price sensitive … with a quarter of people not having broadband access at home, a significant number of kids don't have these tools," he said.

Yes, there are other cheap tablets on the U.S. market, but none are quite as cheap as the Ubislate. Walgreens sells a range of $89 and $99 tablets. Amazon has a few tablets in the $60 range. Datawind has not only a cheap tablet, but a 9-year history of products solid enough for PCMag to review and a supply chain that's been tested by its Indian success.

"Because of our success in India, our scale and size is significantly larger than most of those small players," Tuli said. "There will also be a level of comfort that the user will have knowing that somebody has been around for a bunch of years."
This is not exactly what I would plunk for, but it is a sign of things to come.

Namely, the traditional textbook is going to see serious competition from the Course Manual- Reader- Workbook, primarily available as an eBook, but perhaps with a print on demand or Risograph printed version for walking around with. And where, with textbooks for College going at US$80 - 200+ easily, that is a first likely market. But also, with numbers out there, secondary and primary education markets in our region are not far behind.

Where, of course, I favour the 7" tablet cradled in a vinyl folio that also has a built in keyboard and prop-stand:

Here is a video review of the UbiSlate 7Ci (language warning . . . ):

Where, we can also note from PC Mag, on the range:

We played with the Indian Ubislate 7ci model last year, which we found to be very cheaply made, but functional. It doesn't compete with any other tablet we recommend; if you can afford $150 or more, it obviously won't be the right choice. It's for people who have been locked out of the online revolution because they simply don't have the cash.

The Ubislates coming to the U.S. are similar to the model we saw last year, but with a 1GHz Rockchip Cortex-A8 rather than an Allwinner processor, Tuli said. They'll come in three models. All have 7-inch, 800-by-480 screens. A Wi-Fi-only unit costs $37.99. An EDGE model, running on AT&T's network, will cost $79.99 without service or $99.99 with one year of unlimited Web browsing through Datawind's compression server. Both of those lower-end versions have 1GHz Rockchip Cortex-A8 processors, 512 MB of RAM, 4GB of storage plus a memory card slot, a front-facing VGA camera, and Android 4.0.

The "luxury" Ubislate 3G7, for $129.99 without a SIM card and $149.99 with unlimited Web browsing for a year, includes Bluetooth and GPS and has 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and an added 2-megapixel rear camera. It has a dual-core Cortex A7 processor and runs Android 4.1. At that point, though, you may as well buy a higher-end tablet like the $129 Barnes & Noble Nook HD.

If you're curious, read our earlier hands on with the Ubislate 7ci as well as our reviews of the company's original, 2005 PocketSurfer device and its 2008 followup, the Pocketsurfer 2.
So, not only are we in a world where we have US$100 - 120 tablets, but now also down to US$40 or so as a commercial proposition. 

The digital education -- and, sadly, propagandistic indoctrination -- revolution's platform is here.

So, the question is whether we are going to surf the wave or be swamped by it. END

Matt 24 watch, 234: Storm watch -- Iran is now evidently at the nuke weapons and delivery systems threshold

The Times of Israel reports:

Iran can now build and deliver nukes, US intel reports

Tehran has capacity to break out to bomb if it wishes, intelligence chief James Clapper tells Senate, but would be detected if it tried to do so

January 29, 2014, 10:05 pm

Iran now has all the technical infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons should it make the political decision to do, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a report to a Senate intelligence committee published Wednesday. However, he added, it could not break out to the bomb without being detected . . . . 

“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”

In the past year alone, the report states, Iran has enhanced its centrifuge designs, increased the number of centrifuges, and amassed a larger quantity of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride. These advancements have placed Iran in a better position to produce weapons-grade uranium . . .
 In that context, MEMRI's web clip from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard brigadier general, Rastegar Panah, makes for chilling reading and viewing:


January 30, 2014
Special Dispatch No.5626
IRGC Brig.-Gen. Panah: We Can Hit Any American Or Israeli Target With Our Long-Range Missiles

In a recent Iranian TV interview, IRGC Brigadier-General Rastegar Panah said that Iran had the long-range missile capability to hit any necessary American or Israeli target. Stressing that Iran had improved its deterrent power, Panah, who is acting head of Iran's Center for Sustainable National Security Studies, said: "We will be able to respond in kind to whatever military action they take." The interview aired on Iran's Channel 3 on January 27, 2014.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

[NB: Video Clip at MEMRI]

[ . . . . ]

Brigadier-General Rastegar Panah: "They are considering the pros and cons. Undoubtedly, if the U.S. resorts to the military option and attacks us on any level... They are fully aware of our capabilities.
"We take upon ourselves a commitment that with our nation, our people, and the values of our revolution, we will be able to respond in kind to whatever military action they take.

"Their military analysts are well aware of this, as they themselves acknowledge." [...]

"Today, we have capabilities of long-range missiles, which can hit any necessary target. We definitely have the potential to hit any American or Israeli target, but we are not the ones who initiate wars. We have improved all our capabilities of deterrence, and the enemy knows this full well." [...]
So, while the Iranians have a well-deserved reputation for exaggeration, we must also reckon that what is reasonably demonstrated by intelligence reports and the like is a MINIMUM capacity, not the maximum. At minimum, Iran is in position to break out and build nukes, and is threatening retaliation against any who would interdict.

It is also boasting of a diplomatic victory, in which it is moving full steam ahead to nuclear materials, with the Western powers having in effect surrendered to its wishes to so proceed, dismantling the sanctions that were beginning to bite. Where Iran has long stated that it intends, as the perceived vanguard of the all-conquering black flag army of the end of days Islamic figure, the Mahdi, to provide the weapons needed for such operations.

 In that context, we must also note the threat implied in the largely Iranian sponsored ring of 170,000 -- yes, nearly two hundred thousand -- rockets that target Israel, some of which doubtless have chemical weapons warheads. As Times of Israel reports:

'For first time in decades, enemy can drop huge amounts of munitions on our cities'

170,000 rockets are aimed at Israel’s cities, says IDF intel head

Aviv Kochavi lists missile threat ahead of Iran nuke program; says in time, though, cyberwarfare will prove most dramatic change on battlefield

January 29, 2014, 4:44 pm

The head of Israel’s most powerful intelligence agency depicted Wednesday a changing battlefield in which offensive cyber capabilities will, in the near future, represent the greatest shift in combat doctrine in over 1,000 years. For now, though, he said, the 170,000 rockets and missiles pointed by enemy states at Israel represented the most pressing threat, a danger he placed even above Iran’s rogue nuclear program . . . 
This ring of fire and steel -- one set up despite UN sponsored peace keeping missions that were supposed to block such -- sets the stage for a nuclear threshold or outright nuclear war in the Middle East, with all sorts of global implications.

Where, Israel has of course long since stated the quite understandable policy principle that it will not allow Iran to cross the nuke threshold. And where, quietly, Gulf zone Arab countries (in the face of the patent diplomatic surrender of the Obama led Western powers) seem to be making common cause with Israel in the face of the looming Iranian menace. Doubtless, they too have been re-reading the history of the 1930's in Europe, and understand the sobering signs of the times.

Israel, of course, not being bereft of strike options:

. . . in the face of the range of Iranian nuke facilities, all of which exist in a context of obvious gross and sustained violation of Iran's solemn commitments under the Non-Proliferation agreements by which it obtained access to nuclear technologies in the first instance::

The bottomline is that we are at the threshold of war, with Israel essentially alone save for the now waking up Gulf Arab states.

Western diplomatic failures over the past decade and more, duly aided and abetted by a media culture that has refused to fearlessly investigate and expose the threat posed by IslamISM and associated Mahdism (especially the Shiite forms espoused by the Mullahs in Iran), have seen to that.

It is time for prayer, and for preparation for the likely chaos triggered by such a war in the Middle East as we are evidently facing now, as a result of such failures to act seriously and responsibly when there was time. 

Time, it seems, has now just about run out, and the irresponsibility of the West's current leadership is only parallel to that of the European powers in the 1930's who refused to squarely face facts on what Hitler represented.

But then, if one is determined not to learn from the blood-bought lessons of history, one has by default therefore chosen to relive or at least echo its worst chapters. As has been all too common across the ages. END

PS: The collective response of Iranian ruling and military elites to US Secretary of State Kerry's allusion to an American military option, makes for chilling collective reading, here; again, thanks to MEMRI. (The clip from Brig Gen Panah above is one of the responses.)

PPS: Earlier KF posts, on announcement of the Iran Munich II diplomatic deal:
Matt 24 watch 229l: The Iran Nuke Deal in charts
First, Powerline: If you think this is dismissible gross exaggeration, the Endowment for Middle East Truth  puts it in these terms: The former Iranian Revolutionary Guard who uses the...
Nov-30-2013 | More »

TOI reports how, on a state visit to Mexico City, Israeli President Shimon Peres has appealed to the people of Iran: “There are countries that try to take advantage of this transition [in the...
Nov-29-2013 | More »
Matt 24 watch 229j: A further Churchillian reflection on Munich 1938, after the Second World War
After the Second World War had been fought and won -- insofar as such a thing can be said to have been won -- Churchill made a further reflection on the Munich deal of 1938. He did so in the first...
Nov-27-2013 | More »
Matt 24 watch, 229i: A Churchillian, post-Munich lesson from history (as given in the UK Parliament House of Commons by a great historical and strategic thinker)
In the aftermath of the Munich debacle, Churchill went on record in the UK House of Commons in a classic speech. It is highly relevant to our current circumstances. Let us clip, to breathe the...
Nov-25-2013 | More »
Matt 24 watch, 229h: A Neville Chamberlain moment -- "Mr. Masaryk, you happen to believe in Dr. Benes, I happen to trust Herr Hitler."
Some months after the infamous "peace for our time" Sept 30 1938 statement at the London airport captured in this photograph (which gives more context than the usual ones): . . . Hitler proceeded...
Nov-25-2013 | More »
Matt 24 watch, 229g: March 2012 -- US Obama administration leak games to hamper or block Israeli options on Iran
Some time ago, as I thought about the Israeli strike options to hit and delay Iran's nuke programme sufficiently for sense to prevail: . . . given the list of possible target-points: . . . I...
Nov-24-2013 | More »
Israel's leadership -- for cause -- have not minced words in response to the just signed deal with Iran. Netanyahu (HT: PL): Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words about the deal President Obama...
Nov-24-2013 | More »
Matt 24 watch, 229e: "Historic" "Deal" with Iran struck in Geneva . . . "Peace for our time" (NOT -- Iranian President Rouhani celebrates "right" to enrich Uranium . . . putting Iran 2 weeks away from enough Highly Enriched Uranium to make bombs at any time)
Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to relive, or at least to echo, its worst chapters. So, it is appropriate to begin this post with how on September 30, 1938, on his return from the...
Nov-24-2013 | More »
Matt 24 watch, 229d: You can't make this up dept. -- a top Obama administration official says Israel's position on the Iran nuke talks would "essentially lead to war" . . .
AS7 News, Israel reports: U.S. Official: Israel's Position on Iran Could Lead to War Top White House official warns that Israel’s proposal that Iran totally dismantle its nuclear capacity would...
Nov-22-2013 | More »

Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton weighs in:, speaking on the round two negotiations that are starting up after the French and/or Iranians stopped the last round. If it was the French, it...
Nov-21-2013 | More »

Matt 24 watch, 229a: While reports suggest a done Munich II deal made in secret by Valerie Jarrett, the Saudis -- yes, the SAUDIS -- are unhappy with the Obama administration's ongoing Geneva diplomatic nuke game with Iran . . .
A week ago, I expressed serious concerns about the ongoing Geneva negotiations with Iran over its push towards nukes. In the course of those remarks, I cited a Times of Israel report that noted from...
Nov-20-2013 | More »
Matt 24 watch, 229: Munich II in Geneva? (Points of concern on the emerging Geneva deal with Iran)
NB: Follow-up, on Saudi Arabia's reaction, here The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs makes some telling points in its online issue of Nov 12, 2013: Eliminating Iran’s 20-percent-enriched...
Nov-13-2013 | More »

Friday, January 24, 2014

Turning a wooden version of an Atom A40 style surf fishing metal lip swimming lure

Lordship Lures has posted an extraordinary video that shows how a wooden version of the famous Bob Pond Atom A40 surf fishing metal lip swimming lure is made on a lathe (with the help of a band saw and a drill press as well as a controlled molten lead pouring machine):

Ideas for small manufacturing facilities abound.

1 --> The wood used seems to be Alaskan Yellow Cedar, which raises issues of good light, strong woods.

2 --> It is accurately cut, centred and square in the lathe.

3 --> Notice the transparent hood and vacuum powered dust extractor over the shaping tool mount.

4 --> It is obvious that a template is guiding the cutting action, as the hand pushes a handle. This allows accurate reproduction of cuts.

5 --> Some jigs would help with accuracy on drilling for hook hangers, for the weight in the belly, and for the  through-wire.

6 --> It seems the lead pouring machine is programmed to deposit a precise quantity, similar to modern paint mixing machines.

7 --> This weight in teh belly both helps to provide a keel reducing tendency to roll and spin out of control, and it helps control where the centre of gravity/mass of the lure will be, which means it will tend to pivot around the belly, wobbling attractively.

8 --> In this context the use of a light, strong, easily turned wood -- Alaskan Yellow Cedar is a favourite of small lure manufacturers (and for lighter lures, balsa and basswood) -- creates a tendency of strong buoyancy, which can then be managed through insertion of a keeling weight. 

9 --> It also makes for a lure that tends to be lively, as the moment of inertia about the centre of mass will be lowish. Remember, this sort of lure is so fine tuned, that its depth of swimming, to several feet in some cases, can be controlled by slightly bending the horizontal line tie loop at the front up or down. (Bending the lip, which is much harder to do right, is NOT recommended for amateurs.)

10 --> In terms of engineering, such lures are mostly designed and developed on an intuition, general rule of thumb and trial and error basis. (A set of likely candidates is tested and viewed with an experienced eye, with the fish allowed their vote. A successful version is then standardised and manufactured.)

11 --> Plastic versions can te4hn be developed to have more standardised performance, but will normally be a bit different in behaviour. (Of course, no two wooden lures will be the same, and it is notorious that some will be hot and some, duds, though they come from the same series by the same manufacturer. Small variations in the wood and the manufacturing make potentially big differences.)

12 --> A wood version Magna Strike Predator would be an interesting project:

13 --> As would be a standard darter (which is notoriously ticklish, but can be very productive):

Ideas for light manufacturing based on wood turning. END

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A speculation: why is Mathematics so effective in the sciences and the like? Could that be saying something to us . . . as in, is God the ultimate Mathematician?

Sometimes, it is useful to stir the pot of thought a bit, to keep us from going stale.

So, after some months in which I have been thinking about Wigner's famous remark on the strange almost magical power of mathematics in the sciences, I have some thoughts, a sketch if you will. Just for fun and stimulation:

Now, for argument consider an abstract, empty world. (If such be possible.)

To see how numbers are real in even such, consider the well-known empty set, which collects nothing: { }.  Then, consider -- all of this is a mental, abstract exercise -- the following steps:
i: Assign { } the symbol, 0:  { } --> 0 
ii: collect 0 as the sole member of the set 1: { 0 } --> 1 
iii: Similarly, collect to get 2: { 0, 1 } --> 2. The number 2 thus exists without a beginning or cause,  nor can it cease from being -- it is a necessary being. We cannot create a possible world in which 2 would not exist, given the abstract steps so far! 
iv: This recognition of the reality of numbers can continue indefinitely to yield the Natural Numbers, N. So far, some odd math but nothing too weird. But let us go on: 

v: For the more mathematically inclined (fair warning . . . !), this can be extended by defining fractions and decimals to express Real and Complex numbers, by setting any real number as being a composite, WHOLE + FRACTION, where:
Fraction = 0 + b1/10 + b2/100 + b3/1,000 + . . .

A complex number, (SOURCE: Wiki)
. . . so that we get say 19.79 etc with the usual meanings, and where also we define a complex number c = p + i*q, i being the square root of minus 1 (very useful in Math) and p and q are real numbers. So we can have the complex number 1.978 + i*19.79. And, as we can see that for any two "neighbouring" points u and v defined on such whole + fraction terms (which differ by some tiny amount, e), we can always extend to a number between them, by adding in more terms -- or, simply, by taking the average (u + v)/2, i.e. we have here defined a continuum, the Real Numbers, where we are taking in the negatives as simply the reversal of the positives such that w + [-w] = 0. 
vi: Now  i*q is often assigned to a Y-axis and p the X-axis, so that p and i*q can be plotted on the Argand plane. We can then draw a vector r from the origin, to the point defined by the co-ordinates. Then, angles made by such a vector can then be defined relative to the X-axis from the usual trig ratios, and rotations can be defined, introducing time, t. By Pythagoras' theorem, of course r^2 = p^2 + q^2, defining the magnitude (length) of r. BTW, a rotating vector is called a phasor. 
vii: Similarly, we can extend to three dimensions [using the i, j, k unit vectors along x, y and z axes], and allow a virtual particle p -- notice, we are now in the world of contingent possibilities -- to traverse on set coherent laws of motion, including introducing mass, force, momentum, energy etc.  in what is now a virtual model world. 
viii: Bodies in such a world would be collections of linked particles, even as geometrical figures are clusters of linked points. 
ix: We now have a three dimensional virtual reality with a physics! (Computer graphics uses techniques related to this outline sketch.)

x: This can then move to the or a real world by instantiation. This would of course require a creator with the skill, knowledge, intent and power to move from virtual worlds to actual ones.

xi: As a corollary, it is worth noting on the parallel lines postulate of Euclidean Geometry. It is often said that the fact of non-Euclidean Geometry renders moot the idea that parallel lines never meet, which is equivalent to the angle sun triangle assertion that the sum of the three angles is 180 degrees of arc. Just look on how triangles on Earth's surface can sum to a different value, and how parallels of longitude converge at the poles:

xii: But, a subtlety lurks. Parallel lines lie in a flat plane, as is specified by the vertices of a triangle, say ABC. (Such a plane can be set up algebraically using the Argand plane, with origin at say vertex A and 0X axis along the line  AB, so we can define a vector of arbitrary length r pivoting from A within the plane and rotate it to sweep the plane, guaranteed to be flat by the mathematics involved. And with a spot of thought, this can be extended to the three-dimensional case.)

xiii: Within the plane, straight lines can be specified by the usual expression y = m*x + c, and for a given m, the slopes will be the same for a family of lines with a range of values of c, say c0, c1, c2, . . . cn. These lines will be parallel, separated by the fact that 0Y-intercept is c and oX-intercept will be -c/m. The triangle between the origin, the 0Y and 0X intercepts will specify that the triangles for c0, c1 etc are similar, and the lines for two different values ci and cj will have a guaranteed separation linked to the value of cj - ci at any given point along the lines.

xiv: That is, within a Euclidean, planar space, parallel lines indeed will never meet. Spaces where this fails are not planar. Hence the following from Wolfram Math World:

In three dimensions, there are three classes of constant curvature geometries. All are based on the first four of Euclid’s postulates, but each uses its own version of the parallel postulate. The “flat” geometry of everyday intuition is called Euclidean geometry (or parabolic geometry), and the non-Euclidean geometries are called hyperbolic geometry (or Lobachevsky-Bolyai-Gauss geometry) and elliptic geometry (or Riemannian geometry). Spherical geometry is a non-Euclidean two-dimensional geometry. It was not until 1868 that Beltrami proved that non-Euclidean geometries were as logically consistent as Euclidean geometry.
xv: So, equidistant straight lines in the same flat plane will be at the same separation anywhere. That is locked into what parallel means in this context -- and to shift from such a world without notice is a case of equivocation, i.e. there has been a subtle shift in the meaning of triangle and parallel. 
xvi: In other words, the dismissive assertion that this fifth Euclidean postulate does not hold (as was used to create non-Euclidean Geometries) is equivalent to leaving such a space, e.g. cf. a “triangle” on the curved surface of the earth. The problem was that evidently such spaces had not been thought through as possible. Where also of course, post Relativity, whether the world we live in in the large scale is Euclidean is doubtful, but in the small scale it is sufficiently close that it suggested the idea of such a space. 
xvii: This little excursus shows us how the astonishing relevance and power of Mathematics in analysing the physical world can be easily explained on the use of such mathematics as the means of contemplating and creating the world, by God.  Again,
xviii: God is the best candidate explanation of a world in which mathematics (necessarily including logic) shows such astonishing power.
An eternal mind that is all-knowing and capable of such contemplation, reasoning and creation etc, is of course one way of describing God.

So, let us pause and let us ponder . . . and note this is not a proffered proof or even a claimed warrant: could God be the ultimate mathematician? And, could the mathematical order we seem to discern be a signature of the intelligent design of our world? (Good enough to at least be sand inside the Oyster's shell, methinks. ) END

Rom 1 reply, 43: Is history "bunk" or else little more than the propaganda of the victors, used to make their aggression seem justified? (Or, is such dismissiveness little more than an excuse for the march of folly? [And, is "bunk" all the Christian gospel is?])

It is said that the famed industrialist Henry Ford -- who, unfortunately, seems to have thought favourably of  [BETTER, ON CORRECTION: influenced*] Mein Kampf  (which, appallingly, is now racing to the top of ebook sales at Amazon and elsewhere . . . ) -- thought that History is "bunk."

And, altogether far too many ordinary people in our day tend to regard History as irrelevant, boring, suspect as an "academic" exercise, and so forth.

Among the post-modern, progressivist educated, there is a strong tendency to dismiss and "deconstruct" history as little more than the propaganda of the victors trying to legitimise their aggression and oppression.

I think, for cause, that such are ill-advised, dangerous and foolish trends, a march of folly, in Barbara Tuchmann's famous words.

I say that for a very simple reason:
History, well founded, diligently researched and well reported, sound and fair history, is a summary of the hard-bought lessons of the past, lessons that too often were paid in full for in blood. 

That is why good history is so powerful, and so costly: it was bought with the most precious of commodities.

And, therefore, as we reflect on the events of 1914, 100 years ago now, and those in the run-up to round two of that horrid war in 1939, that should give us sobering pause as we contemplate current events.

The ghosts of seventy or eighty millions who perished in those horrific wars, concur.

Only a piggish fool, then, would treat such hard-bought wisdom as pigs would treat pearls that -- as our Lord famously said on that mountain in Galilee -- were somehow tossed down in front of them. 

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of such fools, on the streets, in the classrooms, behind teacher's desks or lecturer's podiums, in Board Rooms, on the too often justly nicknamed idiot boxes in the corner of our living rooms that so many of us are addicted to watching for hours on end, all over the Internet, in legislatures, in Cabinets and -- God have mercy on us -- even in pulpits.

So, George Santayana's two pivotal lessons of history are very important, though quite soberingly sad. 

First, that those who refuse to learn from it are doomed to repeat its worst chapters, and second, that by and large we refuse to learn from it

Hence, the deep-set folly that no less a figure than Karl Marx summed up as to how history repeats itself twice, once as tragedy, the next time as farce. (And unfortunately, that sick farce "The March of Folly" has had a very long run with many revivals,  indeed.)

Nor, should we forget that sound journalism, rightly and diligently, courageously done, is "a first, rough draft of history."

And, when detectives, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges in courts of justice -- not "courts of injustice" --  act with integrity and diligent soundness, the processes of the courtroom are often in effect an exercise in historical investigation.

Which means that the issue with history and with historical writings is the quality of the investigation and integrity and soundness of what has been recorded. 

Sound history must be credible and authoritative.

I therefore wish to again bring to our attention some lessons from the well known jurisprudential thinker Simon Greenleaf, a founding father of the modern anglophone school of evidence.

First, his insightful opening remarks in the first chapter of his Treatise on Evidence:
Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [--> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction. 

Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd. 

The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them. 

The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved.

By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond reasonable doubt.

The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]
Similarly, in noting on Christian foundations he remarks, in Testimony of the Evangelists:
 [26] . . . It should be observed that the subject of inquiry [i.e. evidence relating to the credibility of the New Testament accounts] is a matter of fact, and not of abstract mathematical proof. The latter alone is susceptible of that high degree of proof, usually termed demonstration, which excludes the possibility of error . . . The error of the skeptic consists in pretending or supposing that there is a difference in the nature of things to be proved; and in demanding demonstrative evidence concerning things which are not susceptible of any other than moral evidence alone, and of which the utmost that can be said is, that there is no reasonable doubt about their truth . . . . 
If, therefore, the subject [were] a problem in mathematics, its truth [would] be shown by the certainty of demonstrative evidence. But if it is a question of fact in human affairs, nothing more than moral evidence can be required, for this is the best evidence which, from the nature of the case, is attainable. Now as the facts, stated in Scripture History, are not of the former kind, but are cognizable by the senses, they may be said to be proved when they are established by that kind and degree of evidence which, as we have just observed, would, in the affairs of human life, satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man. [Testimony, Sections 26, 27, emphases added.]
Likewise, from this work and similar sources we may highlight some well tested rules for the road that will guide us well (page references are to the 1995 Kregel reprint of this classic work that dates to 1851):
1] THE ANCIENT DOCUMENTS RULE: Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [p.16.]
2] Conversance: In matters of public and general interest, all persons must be presumed to be conversant, on the principle that individuals are presumed to be conversant with their own affairs. [p. 17.]
3] On Inquiries and Reports: If [a report] were "the result of inquiries, made under competent public authority, concerning matters in which the public are concerned" it would . . . be legally admissible . . . To entitle such results, however, to our full confidence, it is not necessary that they be obtained under a legal commission; it is sufficient if the inquiry is gravely undertaken and pursued, by a person of competent intelligence, sagacity and integrity. The request of a person in authority, or a desire to serve the public, are, to all moral intents, as sufficient a motive as a legal commission. [p. 25.]
4] Probability of Truthfulness: In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is a sufficient probability that it is true. [p. 28.]
5] Criteria of Proof: A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. [pp. 28 - 9.]
6] Credibility of Witnesses: In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shown; the burden of impeaching his credibility lying on the objector. [p. 29]
7] Credit due to testimony: The credit due to the testimony of witnesses depends upon, firstly, their honesty; secondly, their ability; thirdly, their number and the consistency of their testimony; fourthly, the conformity of their testimony with experience; and fifthly, the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. [p.31.]
8] Ability of a Witness to speak truth: the ability of a witness to speak the truth depends on the opportunities which he has had for observing the facts, the accuracy of his powers of discerning, and the faithfulness of his memory in retaining the facts, once observed and known . . . It is always to be presumed that men are honest, and of sound mind, and of the average and ordinary degree of intelligence . . . Whenever an objection is raised in opposition to ordinary presumptions of law, or to the ordinary experience of mankind, the burden of proof is devolved on the objector. [pp. 33 - 4.]
9] Internal coherence and external corroboration: Every event which actually transpires has its appropriate relation and place in the vast complication of circumstances, of which the affairs of men consist; it owes its origin to the events which have preceded it, it is intimately connected with all others which occur at the same time and place, and often with those of remote regions, and in its turn gives birth to numberless others which succeed. In all this almost inconceivable contexture, and seeming discord, there is perfect harmony; and while the fact, which really happened, tallies exactly with every other contemporaneous incident, related to it in the remotest degree, it is not possible for the wit of man to invent a story, which, if closely compared with the actual occurrences of the same time and place, may not be shown to be false. [p. 39.]
10] Marks of false vs true testimony: a false witness will not willingly detail any circumstances in which his testimony will be open to contradiction, nor multiply them where there is a danger of his being detected by a comparison of them with other accounts, equally circumstantial . . . Therefore, it is, that variety and minuteness of detail are usually regarded as certain test[s] of sincerity, if the story, in the circumstances related, is of a nature capable of easy refutation, if it were false . . . . [False witnesses] are often copious and even profuse in their statements, as far as these may have been previously fabricated, and in relation to the principal matter; but beyond this, all will be reserved and meagre, from fear of detection . . . in the testimony of the true witness there is a visible and striking naturalness of manner, and an unaffected readiness and copiousness in the detail of circumstances, as well in one part of the narrative as another, and evidently without the least regard to the facility or difficulty of verification or detection . . . the increased number of witnesses to circumstances, and the increased number of circumstances themselves, all tend to increase the probability of detection if the witnesses are false . . . Thus the force of circumstantial evidence is found to depend on the number of particulars involved in the narrative; the difficulty of fabricating them all, if false, and the great facility of detection; the nature of the circumstances to be compared, and from which the dates and other facts to are be collected; the intricacy of the comparison; the number of intermediate steps in the process of deduction; and the circuity of the investigation. The more largely the narrative partake[s] of these characteristics, the further it will be found removed from all suspicion of contrivance or design, and the more profoundly the mind will rest in the conviction of its truth. [pp. 39 - 40.]
11] Procedure: let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances.[p. 42.]
Here, we supplement: J W Montgomery observes of the NT accounts -- and following the McCloskey and Schoenberg framework for detecting perjury -- that the modern approach to assessing quality of such testimony focusses on identifying internal and external defects in the testimony and the witness:
(a) Internal defects in the witness himself refer to any personal characteristics or past history tending to show that the "witness is inherently untrustworthy, unreliable, or undependable."
(b) But perhaps the apostolic witnesses suffered from external defects, that is, "motives to falsify"?
(c) Turning now to the testimony itself, we must ask if the New Testament writings are internally inconsistent or self-contradictory.
(d) Finally, what about external defects in the testimony itself, i.e., inconsistencies between the New Testament accounts and what we know to be the case from archaeology or extra-biblical historical records?
--> In each case, the answer is in favour of the quality of the NT, as can be observed here.
12] The degree of coherence expected of true witnesses: substantial truth, under circumstantial variety. There is enough of discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them, and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction, as the events actually occurred. [p.34. All cites from The Testimony of the Evangelists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1995). The First Easter's timeline gives a good case in point. You may find it profitable to also examine Edwin Yamauchi's review and W L Craig's remarks on the resurrection vs the current version of the hallucination hypothesis. Craig's critical assessment of the Jesus Seminar is also well worth the time to read it.]
With these in mind, we would be wise to pay heed again to Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ, as addressing perhaps the single most precious lesson of history of all, and the one that -- freighted with the weight of our souls -- is the most important one to be heeded:

But that is not all, the issues of heeding the lessons of history are of quite broad relevance, not least as we run up to general elections and ponder our duties, responsibilities and privileges as citizens.

So, will we now treat history soberly or in a trivially dismissive or else a naive way? 

Even, with our souls in the stakes?

The choices, the duties of care -- and the consequences of wisdom or folly -- are ours. END


*F/N: Sober lessons dept. First, I conflated in my mind/memory two or three things -- hence the correction, and should note that the book Ford specifically promoted was Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Also, from perhaps 1915 on Henry Ford was one of the most prominent anti-semites of the early C20, eventually publishing a book, The International Jew, that Hitler apparently read in Landsberg prison and which has clear influences on Mein Kampf. Indeed, Ford is apparently the only American named in that book. (Cf summaries here and here.) However, praise for "Fordism," mass production and associated "scientific" management, was widespread in the 1920's and 30's, and should not be taken to be equal to wholesale acceptance of Nazism or Communism etc.