Thursday, January 31, 2019

Knives Are Not Good for Defense

That's a provocative title.  Notice, I didn't say self-defense, and I love knives.  I have dozens (at least) of all kinds, from expensive custom beauties to cheap, mass-produced junk.  I don't go anywhere without a knife, other than places where they run me through a metal detector.   

The point is that a knife is not a good defensive weapon.  A club or a stick can block and parry.  Knives cut, slash, and stab.  We're not talking about swords but about something you carry folded up in your pocket or hanging unobtrusively on your belt.  Can you get someone to stop hurting you by cutting them with a knife?  Absolutely.  The problem is that it is an offensive action on your part. 

My father told me about a street fight he got into back in the late 1920s.  Ninety years ago.  That's hard to believe.  He was closer to the Civil War than we are to that street fight.  Anyway, it was four or five on two, and Dad was one of the two.  As things were not going well, Dad's friend pulled a knife and started cutting people with it.  I imagine Dad did, too, but he never admitted it. The fight ended with some townspeople arriving with law enforcement.  Dad, I believe, found himself in some legal difficulties and was advised to leave the state for a couple of years. 

These days, I doubt the law would be so accommodating.  He would, most likely, have been severely fined and ended up with a criminal record if he managed to avoid jail. 

Can brandishing a knife get someone threatening you to back off?  Possibly, but it's not as good as a firearm.  Most of the time, when a firearm is used in a self-defense situation, it is not fired.  A three-inch pocket knife, while capable of causing serious injury and even death, does not carry the same intimidation factor as the business end of a firearm -- even something as anemic as a snub-nose .22 revolver.  No one wants to get shot with anything.  No one with any sense wants to get cut, but the number of sensible people likely to initiate an attack against another sensible person is relatively small.  I am not a lawyer, but I doubt that it is a good idea to "brandish" anything. 

Never draw a firearm unless you have reason to be legitimately "in fear for your life".  The same is true of a knife -- only I personally would never draw a knife unless I knew I had to use it.  I have advised my granddaughters that, if they are ever in a life-threatening situation, the first indication an attacker should have of the presence of a knife is his own blood coming from a wound.  Again, that's not legal advice, that's grandpa advice to smallish females. 

I have a concealed carry permit, though I no longer need one in my state.  I often carry a firearm, but, as I said, I always carry knives -- sometimes three or four, if you count multitools like the Wave and SAKs.  I carry edged tools because I like them.  They are handy, very often useful -- even essential, and they could, if absolutely necessary, be used to neutralize a threat. 

If some thug tries to choke you in an elevator or traps you in a restroom stall or tries to drag you into an alley, or if you are attacked by a party of thugs -- as happened a few years ago to a couple not far from here one night, you might have to resort to stabbing and slashing.  It may be your only choice, and I would rather have the choice, if it came to that, than not have it.  Used correctly in a life-threatening situation, a blade might save your life and get you out of that situation.  Then land you in court.  Still, better to be tried by twelve than carried by six applies to knives as well as guns.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Cui Bono?

Cui bono?

This is a latin phrase used sometimes in criminal prosecutions.  It means, Who benefits? 

If you want to know why something comes to the forefront, why some issue is being pushed or promoted, ask that question first.  A parallel americanism is "follow the money". 

For example, transvestites and drag queens aren't new.  Why have transgender issues suddenly become the cause du jour?  Maybe because there is money to be made?  Up until four or five years ago, the idea of allowing young children to transition using hormones would have struck most people as unethical.  My trans friend, who is about my age, and only began the process in recent years, thinks giving hormones to teenagers, let alone those who have not reached puberty, is a bad idea.   Yet, it is becoming more acceptable.  Who makes money off of it other than the news and entertainment (but I repeat myself) media using it to sell soap? 

Pharmaceutical companies supply the chemicals, which, I would guess, will cause life-long medical issues requiring -- surprise, more drugs.  But I'm sure it's all driven by compassion and morality -- and building demand for your product.  A heroin dealer will always give you the first hit for nothing.   Besides, public opinion has to be manipulated before the insurance companies can be intimidated into footing the bill.

It doesn't matter what the issue is -- health care, immigration, war, gun control, climate change, movies, music -- the question is always the same.  Cui bono?

Am I cynical?  I am.  In this age of self-styled cynics, the problem is most of the professional ones  aren't nearly cynical enough.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Immigration, Population, and Government Jobs

When I was in college, back in the dark ages of the early 1970s, the big concern was the population bomb and a Malthusian fear of famine from trying to feed too many people.  We are still, nearly fifty years and three or four billion people later, running a food surplus in most of the world, most of time.  We owe that surplus to fossil fuels, petrochemicals, GMOs, and the dominance of agribusiness.  I'm not altogether sure that's a good thing, taken as a whole, but famine is, perhaps, the grimmest of reapers.

Now when I read about the dangers of declining populations, I have to wonder just a little.  Why would a more "sustainable" population be bad?  I tend to think it is for the same reason that immigration is heralded as a good, even when those immigrants are possessed of a vastly disparate cultural and religious background.  Most of the new immigrants and "refugees" pouring into the West are not assimilating or being altered by the culture.  The numbers are too large, the influx too rapid.

These immigrants are committing violent crimes.  They are putting a burden on the taxpayer who foots the bill for housing, welfare, health care, and education.  Governments are straining to handle and pay for the increasing numbers of unemployed and, often, unemployable foreigners.  Yet it is the government that allows immigration.  Are the people in power simply unaware of the problems and moved by compassion?

I think we all know the answer to that.  Could it be instead that more immigrants mean more votes for those who wish to expand the role of government?  Government, as I have said before, does not produce anything except more government.  Like the Blob, it exists to get bigger, more powerful, and more invasive.  Sure, there are some good people working in government jobs.  We don't deny that.  You can argue that some government jobs are necessary.  Firemen and police officers at the local level sometimes do essential and heroic work.  The guys down at the water treatment plant are saving lives every day.

So long as they are local and their jobs clearly defined, I have little problem with those who work for the city or the county.  Except for the teachers, but they aren't really local anymore.  And at the state and federal level, I'm obviously in favor of the Border Patrol and some degree of national defense.

The thing is that the political leaders in the West have no problem with an increase in crime or terrorism because it allows them to expand their control of the average citizen.  The NSA monitors all communications under the guise of the Patriot Act and the "War on Terror".  Despite the fact that drug prohibition feeds into gang violence just as alcohol prohibition did in the 1920s, the "War on Drugs" continues to enable police departments to expand, to militarize, and to excuse the routine seizure of property and assets without due process.

Government feeds on chaos.  More strain on the education system excuses and enables the employment of teachers and administrators on the government payroll.  The strain on health care justifies the government's push for more control of the health care system just as the increase in crime justifies the expansion of police departments and the prison system.  And the vast majority of those employed are now beholden to the great white father in Washington or London or Brussels for their paychecks, pensions, and lucrative benefits.

Eventually, who is left in the mobocracy to vote against such expansion?  The productive are now merely serfs in a vast fiefdom controlled by the political aristocrisy and their minions who now, more or less, vote for a living.

I can see where an end to uncontrolled immigration and a population decline would be seen as a threat.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not All Coyotes

I read James Lileks' Bleat -- the one in question is here -- about every day that he writes it.  Lileks is a conservative and a newspaper man.  He might be called a humorist.  He is funny in a cerebral way.  I don't think I have ever laughed out loud at his writings, unlike, say, Dave Barry, but I am often amused and intrigued.

He has a bit in the linked Bleat taking offense at a Dennis Prager tweet: "The news media pose a far greater danger to Western Civilization than Russia does."  Lileks argues that this is equivalent to someone saying, "We must eliminate quadrapeds because they eat cats", when what they really mean is that coyotes are eating cats.

Lileks makes a couple of serious errors in this.  First, Prager's tweet makes no mention of eliminating journalists or the news media.  I can't speak for Prager -- though I agree with his statement.  I do not believe the media should be eliminated.  It should be honest about its biases.  No one is objective.  I'm not.  Dan Rather is not.  Walter Cronkite was not.  Fox News is not. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, no one is objective.  A person or an organization is most susceptible to being led astray by their prejudices when they refuse to recognize them.

For example, I am bias toward beef, foxes, Chevrolet, Yamaha, Remington, Ruger, and, now Glock.  I am more or less neutral toward a bunch of other things, and I am bias against chicken, sushi, most "seafood", Democrats, copperheads, and coyotes.  But that's coyotes as opposed to foxes.  I am glad coyotes are in the world -- much more so than copperheads and Democrats.  Really, I wouldn't even want to eliminate copperheads from the planet.

Now if CNN, the idiots on the Today Show, the producers of sitcoms and cop shows, et al, would simply admit that they are leftists, socialists, anti-American and antichrists, I would be cool with them lying about whatever they want to lie about.  I don't want them eliminated.  I don't think Prager does either.  Thus Lileks' analogy fails on that point.

Second, the category should have been coyotes.  Quadrapeds is not comparable.  Prager wasn't saying screen writers, novelists, Youtube channels, or even opinion journalists.  He said "news media".  Not all coyotes, you see, eat cats.  Some coyotes have probably never seen a domestic cat.  For all I know, some coyotes may not like the taste of cat.  Some coyotes, though, live in or near suburban areas where small dogs -- or even large dogs, and pet cats may wander around unwatched and unprotected.  These suburban coyotes are going to eat those poor, naive creatures if they get a chance.  Again, it doesn't mean they should be eliminated, but their nature and presence have to be taken into consideration by pet owners.

It's the same with the news media.  They are a part of the information ecosystem, but they are a dangerous part.  They are most dangerous when they are not challenged, when we are not on our guard against their biases.  They are not to be trusted any more than a coyote in the brush is to be trusted with Fluffy.  Again, in that regard, it appears to me that Lileks fails in his analogy. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Charity and Where It Begins

I usually don't quote Scripture here, however sometimes we need the reminders.

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household … for this is pleasing in the sight of God …But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1 Timothy 5:4,8

This is from the ESV.  You can read it in most any version and in context and the meaning is not changed.  First, you take care of your own.  Your family and your kin are the number one priority.  The same is true for everyone, not just Americans, and not just those of northwest European descent.  The same holds true in Mexico, Mongolia, and Mozambique.  If you won’t take care of your own people, why should I? 

One of the great errors of American foreign policy has been foreign aid, billions of dollars poured into third-world ratholes around the world that remain, surprisingly, after seventy years, third-world ratholes albeit with cell phones.  The aid that comes in funds corruption, for the most part.  Aid to Somalia funded the warlords who ravaged the country and led to the ‘Blackhawk Down’ episode.  It happens everywhere.  We feed people who cannot feed themselves, and yet we get more of them to feed.  Funny how that works.

The same in true of the “war on poverty” in this country – we give money to people for sitting on their butts and having babies.  We are then simply shocked and astounded when people sit on their butts more and have more babies.  We hand welfare to invaders and colonizers crossing our borders illegally and puzzle over why the influx of illegals continues. 

But Christianity requires us to help those in need.  Love thy neighbor.  The Good Samaritan.  Yeah, read what’s up above again.  Love your family first.  Put your own people first.  Then, if you want to try and give someone a hand up, do it, but do it with your own money and not mine.  Let’s all be Pro-Choice – as in, I would like to choose what I fund.  Let your compassion start from your own bank account.

Monday, May 22, 2017

CRKT Clever Girl -- A Biker Blade

I picked this knife up last fall at the Smoky Mountain Knife Works store in Sevierville, TN (childhood home of Dolly Parton) when we drove around through some of the Southeastern United States.  This was about the time they were having some of the big fires around there.  If you are ever in that part of Tennessee, it is worth stopping in Sevierville (which is apparently pronounced "severe-ville", instead of sev-e-Ya), and the SMKW store is like the Bass Pro in Springfield, MO.  It's cool.   

I was interested in this knife for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the story behind it and the designer, Army veteran Austin McGlaun.  CRKT has a series of these Forged by War knives where some of the profits go the charity of the maker's choice.  

Another reason I decided to pick up this knife was the sheath.  It locks in solidly and can be attached to belt or pack in a number of configurations.  This high, haft-forward crossdraw works well for me.  If I wanted to conceal it -- not that I normally would, a loose-fitting, untucked t-shirt hides it adequately as long as I am standing.  I have to push it back on my ribs a little more when I sit down.

A third reason I decided on this particular blade is the size and construction.  A four and half to five inch blade on a belt knife is a good size for almost any task, neither too big nor too small.  Blade length on the Clever Girl is 4.6" and 10.125" overall.  The blade material of the factory knife is high carbon SK5.  It is hard and holds an edge well.  I worry just a little about brittleness, but I've had no reason to worry so far.  

The spine of the blade is about 3/16" (4mm) through the haft and at the base of the blade, tapering to needle point on the upswept end.  Again, an alarm bell sounds with regard to snapping off the tip, but I'm not going to be throwing it.

The blade shape lends itself to slashing, if I were going to use it defensively.  Upward thrusts in a hammer grip also seem a natural movement.  It looks deadly in an ice-pick grip as well.  From a more utilitarian, less deadly view, it would also make a nice skinner with that upswept tip, reminiscient of a classic Persian sword.  I'm sure it will peel potatoes and slice and dice all your camp and trail comestibles.

What it is NOT is a chopper.  The knife is handle heavy, with the balance point being a good inch behind the blade.  It will be a quick blade.  The pommel, meanwhile, has a "glass breaker" and is solid.  Carry something else to chop your camp wood.  Except in an emergency, I probably would be afraid to baton the knife, and even then I would be reluctant.  There just isn't enough blade out on the sharp end.

If you are looking for an all-around, do-everything camp/bushcraft knife, this is not, repeat, not it.  Again will work great for skinning and cutting up meat -- whether the object in question is alive or not.  Self-defense in extreme circumstances, such as occur in war zones abroad or at home, is clearly the intended purpose, and no one needs to apologize for that, any more than they need to apologize for making a Glock 19 or Smith & Wesson snubnose.

I called it a "biker knife", not, though, because I think Sons of Anarchy is representative of motorcycle riders or bike culture, but because, as bikers, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where a belt knife is handy.  Even a one-hand opening lockback can be a challenge to handle while wearing winter gloves.  If you need one in a hurry to cut something free from a belt or chain, for example, pulling a good cutting blade out of a tight-fitting Kydex sheath is faster than fumbling with a thumb stub or a retaining strap.    And, as bikers, we tend to be supportive of veterans.  This is an opportunity to show that support by paying a little extra for a quality product that helps out those who have earned our respect and gratitude.