Monday, May 31, 2010

The Edge of Random Violence

Unfortunately what appears to be random violence isn’t. The victim’s perception of random violence is seldom shared by perpetrator. Peyton Quinn in his book “A Bouncer’s Guide to Barroom Brawling...” suggests that unprovoked violence is the result of the victim being too happy. The perpetrator loaded with misfortune, unhappiness, locked into a dead-end with no conceivable way out, finds a target that seems too happy. So the theory goes.

Usually the targets are weaker, less able to defend themselves. The attack comes at some moment controlled by the aggressor, usually when the target is the weakest. With perverse logic, the more helpless the victim the better the target, so who could be a better victim then children? This seems to be the pattern we see reported from China, where depressed, failed business men attack grade school children.

In a dictatorship, were it is unlikely, impossible and inconceivable a private citizen could obtain a handgun, knives and even hammers are used.

What I find surprising is the success of these attacks in land considered the sun-source of martial arts. With the martial art tradition of China, how can one man with a knife, assault several teachers and manage to harm children? Where is Kwai Chang Caine when we need him? Well Mao took care of him. Outlawing traditional martial arts, Mao promoted something called Wushu. No matter what you read about it, any fighting style in which the entire blocking surface of the forearm is replaced with the palm in a rising block is the art of the dilatants.

The latest attack seems different.

CNN reports that 5 or 6 men rushed a college dorm in the pre-dawn morning attacking anyone in their way. Armed with knives and meat cleavers, nobody was killed, but several were injured. One student hand his hand chopped off.

The story makes me wonder. Was someone caught red-handed in the cookie jar? Maybe trifling with someone’s daughter or broke some taboo? I suspect the news media for their lack of veracity. How should I evaluate the Chinese government controlled news media?

It is especially troubling to see knives fall into the category of favorite tools of children killers. Every time I read about these incidents I feel knife collectors and admirers take a right hook to the face and get a collective shiner. There’s no beef steak for this shiner either. I wonder how long it will be before somebody gets the idea that maybe knives should not be sold out of hardware and department stores to the general public.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Changes: The Only Constant

Dale Warther lost his battle to cancer. I don’t know if you’ll recognize his name. I don’t think he ever won an award from Blade Magazine. He was never on Celebrity Apprentice or WWF. Warther knife designs haven’t changed significantly in years since master carver Mooney Warther. Each knife comes with old fashioned quality and value, pride of workmanship and an understanding that form must be a handmaiden to function. With a little care on your part, they are the knives you’ll leave to your children.

Dale was part of the knife world foundation. I met him through a knife club and he always had a good word and time to talk about knives. He will be sorely missed.

Saturday was shaping up to be an exciting weekend but a turn of events raised the table stakes. Not all excitement is a good thing and sometimes change brings mixed blessings. My mother-in-law needed to taken to emergency with the blessings of her cardiologist.

Thankfully it wasn’t her heart after all, but she experienced a drop in hemoglobin while in the hospital. Hemoglobin is an iron based molecule in red blood cells that transports oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies. I vaguely remember studying its biochemistry. Microscopic changes in the body’s acid concentrations cause the molecule to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. It’s another knife edge the body maintains.

We had to take the long way to the hospital because the expressway was backed up. I found myself at a T-intersection at University of Akron. (So now you know where I live…) The light was red for me and apparently red for the car on my left. It was also the only other automobile at the intersection or visible is this small part of the universe. Mom’s in the back seat and she’s as well as can be expected, but I need to get her to the hospital. Let me explain need.

It’s quite indescribable. Strip way the veneer of civilization, no matter how thick or thin. Then expose that inner primal creature with a single thought. That thought needs no justification or explanation; it simply exists to make a single demand. Last Saturday the demand was to get to the hospital.

So given this barking, gnawing, demanding creature locked in my soul, I gave serious thought to blowing the light. One little brain cell kept telling me that if I ventured into the intersection against the red, that would be the exact second the other car would also decided to blow the light. Knowing this is one thing, but the creature kept flapping its bat–like wings demanding that I do SOMETHING.

I was about to hit the emergency flashers and horn when the traffic light resolved the situation and we proceeded into the intersection under the green light.

Later in the emergency waiting room I realized we live on a knife edge. Some days it’s a little dull and the footing more relaxed. Your mistakes can slide you forward or backward and you can noodle around with impunity. Other days you’re unknowingly and precariously balanced on the wire edge and a mistaken breath will push you off the edge and into the abyss.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Knives in the Net

It’s been an interesting couple of days for knives. I started searching online for news about knives, mostly in preparation for attending the Blade Show and found a link in the New York Times to a South American knife maker.

He specializes in Damascus steel with a traditional look that results in folding different steels onto themselves over and over…Did I mention you need to fold it over again?

I wish the website showed better images of his knives. The New York time suggest Damascus knives run about $150 an inch but Artisanal Knives charges significantly less. From the few images I saw at the website, I liked the simple, clean lines that give his knives elegance.

The UK is in the grip of weapon frenzy. Crime and violence continues to skyrocket. A recent news report recounts the tragic death of a youngster at the hands of a gang. The gang or mob (as they should be called) attacked him with baseball bats and knives. This adds to the growing tally of violence and death from crime in the UK. Of course pocket knives are a great bone of contention and are viewed by the English justice system as offensive weapons with no redeeming purpose. That little Case canoe the boys of your Scout troop gave you as Scout Master could get you hard time in England.

Concerned about UK’s problem of offensive weapons British scientists have warned the population about knife wielding robots.

It seems that these tools could be armed with other tools that could be used in an offensive manner injuring humans.

Somebody, please anchored them to ground before these bubble-headed ideas make them float away. It appears the scientists were not talking about autonomous Cylons bent on destroying their human masters in an orgy of knife fighting.

No, this is more of if robots-were-using-knives-to-cut-something-and-you got-in-the-way, or if they ran into you, you might be stabbed. There wasn’t any discussion of what could happen if a 250-pound robot runs into you at 45 mph, or if a metal arm weighing 30 pound whips into you at 100 ft per sec. If you are wondering, just a few words to help: bones break, metal bends.

I must kill-kill-kill...and vacuum the floor!

I don’t know. Maybe we should be worried. My robotic floor cleaner, Rhoomba, has been hanging around the kitchen knife drawer a too much for my comfort.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tools and Intentions

We drop our pocket knives in our pockets and sometimes forget how these tools can be used. I try to remember what Mas Ayoob told us about knife attacks every time I gear up. To paraphrase: “Imagine the smallest, most gentle woman you know standing with a 6-inch kitchen knife in her hand. Now imagine that person with a wild, distorted grimace on her face and swinging that blade like she was a Waring blender. Now, who wants to take it away from her?”

Recently Deputy Clay Grant Jr. was doing a little off-duty shopping at Target (the name suggests what’s going to happen) in West Hollywood, California and ran into a woman wielding a knife in each hand.
Fortunately it ended up okay. If by okay you mean injuries are acceptable but nobody died.

That wasn’t the case in the Big Apple, AKA New York City. The Akron Beacon Journal reported in the May 3 issue that Hugo Tale Yax from Guatemala attempted to assist a woman in the Big Apple. I don’t have the details, I don’t know who the woman was or why she was attacked, but in the end someone knifed Hugo. Hugo was a homeless man, but he felt the need to risk all he had, his life, to help this woman. The Beacon reports that security tapes show New Yorkers walking past his still bleeding body without any attempt to help him, much less call the police. I don’t have any real comment. The story says it all.

On the whole, neither New York nor West Hollywood has any really attraction to me as a destination.

I was looking in the employment ads (What! Don’t you ever wonder if there isn’t a better job waiting for you?) from last Sunday. Tucked in among the rest of the ads I found a little something of interest. A private bank, (that’s the way they described it) is looking for a financial officer with the usual and at least one very unusual criterion. They want someone with an underground degree in finance.

Did they want a deep rock miner? Or can you get a covert degree, one that no one will confirm or deny? Is this the handiwork of some secret financial task group working on the edge of international legality?

You tell me - IMF: International Monetary Fund or Impossible Mission Force?

This blog will self destruct when you are done reading it.