Gun Bans Lead To — Knife “Control”

So what happens when, in the interest of public safety, you effectively ban guns?

CBS/AFP April 3, 2018, 10:36 AM
London’s murder rate surpasses New York’s for 1st time ever

LONDON — A surge of stabbings in London was blamed Monday for the city overtaking New York’s monthly murder tally for the first time in modern history. Fifteen people were murdered in London during February, compared to 14 in New York, according to police figures.

The British capital also suffered 22 fatal stabbings and shootings in March, higher than the 21 in New York. There have been 10 fatal stabbings in London in the last 19 days, following on from the 80 fatal stabbings recorded in the city last year.

London’s murder rate has grown by nearly 40 percent in three years, while police figures show that New York’s has fallen by 87 percent since 1990, raising pressure on London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.
“There is no single cause, but there has been a big spike in both gun crime and knife crime across London,” Parliamentarian David Lammy, who represents Tottenham, told the BBC. “Certainly my constituency finds itself at the epicenter of that. There are real issues about a lack of resources.”

The right-wing Daily Express tabloid on Monday ran with a headline urging “Sadiq act now!”

Sean Yates, Scotland Yard’s head of knife crime, said part of the rise could be blamed on courts not enforcing the “two strikes” law aimed at jailing those caught with a knife twice.

Police Commissioner Dick meanwhile blamed social media for the soaring rate, with 31 fatal stabbings so far this year.

Clearly forgetting the truth that “An armed society is a polite society” and clearly also missing the point that while the gun makes all people equal in defense: size and strength along with speed and aggression rule when guns are gone.

Now the “Go To Fix” for a few hundred (thousand?) years has been to Ban The Bad Thing!!! This has never worked, though. But it still is in the go-to-closet. When weapons were banned in China it lead to the rise of martial arts that are more lethal. Banning bows and knives led to the nunchuck (rice flail) and side handle baton (well handle). So, of course, California now bans the nunchuck unless you can demonstrate you are enrolled in a martial arts class. Clearly unclear on the concept. There are also martial arts using flexible weapons including one that uses a nice silk sash, originally developed for women.

What is ALWAYS missed is that it isn’t the THING that makes it a WEAPON, it is the person who decides what is a weapon. Goliath was brought down by a bit of string with a leather patch, and a stone. I’m practiced in the art of Tire-Iron, as are many truckers. Then there’s that wonderful martial art of bars everywhere “Beer Bottle Bash Bottom” (yielding a wonderfully sharp object with round handle).

So, can we soon expect banning coke bottles in public? Sashes forbidden? Wire bans? (French garrote). A ban on wooden pokey things? Cane Control and Crutch Confiscation? (I have an absolutely lethal “Bird Headed Cane”, BTW).

Well, we’re already teed up for “Knife Control”:

London’s Mayor Declares Intense New ‘Knife Control’ Policies To Stop Epidemic Of Stabbings

The police will now stop and frisk people believed to be carrying knives.

by EMILY ZANOTTI April 8, 2018

An epidemic of stabbings and acid attacks in London has gotten so bad that London mayor Sadiq Khan is announcing broad new “knife control” policies designed to keep these weapons of war out of the hands of Londoners looking to cause others harm.

The “tough, immediate” measures involve an incredible police crackdown, a ban on home deliveries of knives and acid, and expanding law enforcement stop-and-search powers so that police may stop anyone they believe to be a threat, or planning a knife or acid attack.

Yes, it’s that scourge of Western Civilization, the Kitchen Knife that’s causing all the stabbings. Or perhaps it’s that best of Boy Scouts Friend, the humble folding pocket knife.

Oddly, from about age 5 when I got my first 1 inch or so long midget pocket knife until, well, mostly about now; I’ve almost always had a knife on me, or where I could reach one quickly. Yet not once have I stabbed anyone.

True, most of the time it’s been about a 3 inch blade small pocket knife. But on one occasion in a Steak House near Lodi they were slow about bringing the steak knives and I just took out my 5 inch folding lock-open knife and set to work on the steak. (A friend, and newly minted city folks lawyer on the other side of the table, did a wide eyed look and I ‘splained to him this was The Country and it was OK…)

Most lately it’s been a Swiss Army Knife in my car emergency pack (though sometimes I’ve had an 8 inch blade “hunting knife” in sheath in the bag too – depends on the city and laws). I’ve also carried a nice Machete in the car, my “Gator Persuader”, when fishing in the boonies of Florida or sometimes in Texas. Oddly, in California it is “Garden Instrument” by case law, so I can carry it all the time here. Just make sure to put some grass stains on it first, and having some pruning shears with it adds ambiance.

But through all of that, not one stabbing… I guess my knives are timid and not at all like the violence prone British Knives.

Did I mention a Japanese Short Sword lives next to my bed for “bump in the night” things? Strangely, it’s not been pulled in anger ever, nor even unsheathed in the last decade.

Khan announced Friday that the city has created a “violent crime taskforce of 120 officers” tasked with rooting out knife-wielding individuals in public spaces, and is pumping nearly $50 million into the Metropolitan Police department so that they can better arm themselves against knife attacks. He’s also empowering the Met Police to introduce “targeted patrols with extra stop and search powers for areas worst-affected,” according to a statement.

The mayor took to Twitter to announce his new policies.

Mayor of London
No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife.
Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law

No “excuses”? Guess the Mayor never had a tough steak and a butter knife. Never had to peel the insulation back on a wire to get the car running again. Never had an apple in his lunch box and a desire not to eat peelings. Never had a fingernail start to break into the quick and need to trim it before it bleeds ( I do that about 1 per year). Never had to open a bag of chips that just REFUSED to tear at the “perforations”. Never had to cut a shoelace to get a shoe off a hurt foot. And never goes fishing. ( I have a wonderfully sharp 6 inch filet knife in my fish kit that is just not something where you want to touch the blade… Often used after a short trip to the pier in Santa Cruz).

Sigh. I can’t begin to list all the times I’ve used one of my knives. Even inside major cities.

Then there is N.C.I.S. Gibb’s rule “ALWAYS carry a knife”…

Strangely enough, Khan is responsible for decreasing the number of stop-and-searches, having previously declared the tactic racist and potentially Islamophobic. It’s also not clear what local Londoners will now use to cut their food.

Oh, Good One!

Parliament is also set to take up heavy “knife control” legislation when it resumes this week. The U.K. government is expected to introduce a ban on online knife sales and home knife deliveries, declare it “illegal to possess zombie knives and knuckledusters in private” — “zombie knives” are those defined as being manufactured for the purpose of being used as a person-to-person weapon — and ban sales of caustic materials to anyone under the age of 18, the Independent reports.

“Zombie Knives” looks to be the moral equal of the “Assault Weapon” that isn’t really an assault (full auto capable) weapon at all, just an ugly gun.

One wonders how it will be determined that a butcher knife is NOT for the purpose of killing while a similarly sized and shaped knife is a Zombie? “Your honor, my client’s knife never had the intention to kill. It was only pressed into that role by a savage attack by a Zombie Crazed Attack Assault Carving Knife!!!”


Any bets on how long it will take before we have calls to institute “Pokey Things Control” and “Screwdriver Control” and “Wood Banging Thing Control” and “Fireplace Implement Control” and of course the every popular “Blunt Object Control”. (A surprisingly large number of folks are done in every year by “Blunt force trauma”)

Oh, and don’t forget the cane and the umbrella. I’m sure we can have them all made from sponge rubber for safety…

In Conclusion

So, hey Britain: How’s that Gun Ban / Gun Control thing working out for you?…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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52 Responses to Gun Bans Lead To — Knife “Control”

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith: Be very careful about discussing things to ban, Some “Progressive” Californian Politician might get an idea for additional things to ban here. I am really fond of my big brush knife, use it nearly every week. Haven’t loaded my guns in 20 years. I’ve carried a pocket knife for 65 years, even in the Navy as part of my tool kit. Ban dangerous weapons! Anything in my hands can be deadly dangerous, rocks, crescent wrenches, even bare hands.
    It is need or attitude that can make them dangerous to others…pg

  2. Serioso says:

    Wait a New York minute!!! London sees a one-month spike in murders, and (however briefly) exeeds the murder rate in New York City (now one of the safest cities in the USA). Statistical garbage, I say, hardly worthy of a long screeed. Just silly. Ignore London’s long history as a comparatively safe place, just focus on a single month. Unworthy! Ah well, whatever feeds your prejudices.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    I spent 6 years being trained in the art of “empty hand”. One of the hand shapes is “knife hand”.

    How did this marital art come about? The possession of weapons by the people of Okinawa was banned… thus was Karate born.

    During the era of Knights and “Swordsmen”, most deaths on the battle field were caused by the “Battle Hammer”. About 2 to 2.5 feet handle length and a 1.5 to 2.5 pound head. Today we would call that a long handled framing hammer… ( I have one ;-) Estwing- complete with narrow metal shaft)

    I do need to get back to martial arts study. There is now an established art using a simple wooden cane. Now that I can carry one and not look conspicuous, it would be ideal…

    Somebody needs to buy these folk a ticket to a Jackie Chan film festival…. There they could learn the Art Of The Broken Chair, and the Flexible Weapon Dress Shirt, and so much more… Or maybe a James Bond festival. They could learn about the Lamp Cord Garotte and the Ash Tray Mace…

    The CIA train folks in the use of the lethal Ball Point Pen as dirk, and it is reputed the Mossad trains in the use of the credit card as edged weapon. Chinese Palace Ladies learned to use the folding fan as both thrusting and cutting weapon. I’ve seen a demonstration of the art and would not want to face it. The decorative hair pin was lethal too.

    Now all THAT is before you even get into the murder weapon of choice prior to guns existing: Poisons. The spouse watches several British Murder Mystery shows. I’ve learned a great deal about the use of natural poisons from British Television… The local seed store sells Castor Oil Seeds for a decorative plant (special color, lots of red). ONE seed can be lethal, so make sure to use two in that “Special Chili”… But poisons are not “violent”, so nobody cares I guess…

    Oh, and one of my personal favorites when camping is that ancient martial art of Tent Stake… A nice foot of “poky thing” with a fat end to grab… When not camping, but just driving around, I have a very nice 1/2 inch drive “flex handle” and socket (that just happens to fit my lug nuts) that also just happens to be about 2 feet long and have about 1.5 lb of end weight to it… (keep a rag with some wheel dust / grease on it laying on the wrench…)

    The simple fact is that the PERSON makes the weapon. If I can pick it up, I can make it a weapon.

    Even the Mac I’m typing on. An “Air”, it has very narrow and hard edges that I think are metal. Swung into the throat it will kill. Fat rear edge bashed to the skull will at least incapacitate. The fat battery from my old PC Laptop would make a dandy bludgeon. Just the right size and weight. (we’ve already mentioned the power cord garotte…).

    Oh, and honorable mention for the quart of 151 Rum and a cigarette lighter…

    Yet it’s always “Ban The Bad Thing!” not “Ban The Bad Person!”…

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    IF London is so entirely safe, then there must be no need to “ban knives”…

    BTW, my article is about the stupidity of banning things. The linked article (and I saw it on various news programs as well) is about London beating NYC in the murder department. You can take it up with the Mass Media about wether that story is “interesting” or “statistical garbage” or “has merit” or is “worthy”. I really don’t care. I’m just levering off that current in the news today story to point out the folly of politicians and their knee jerk “BAN IT!!” reaction to anything bad.

    As to “comparatively safe”: that comes out of the culture and the people, not out of the bans. Weapons are banned in prisons, yet violence and even knifings are common. It isn’t the thing, it’s the people. (Which was sort of my point all along…) Here in Silicon Valley we are up to our eyeballs in knives and guns. Very few violent events. Go to the poor “East Side” neighborhoods, shootings and knifings are common. Same laws, different people.

    Don’t waste time on useless and ineffective “bans”, spend it on improving the people and the culture.

  5. ossqss says:

    Up next, ban trucks, scooters, and frizbees.

    We have reached the level of obsured, IMHO!

    No Steak knife for you!

    This is what happens in countries that have already been disarmed. Not us!

    Be ready, is all I can say if the liberals have their way. They will be the first to cry foul, but they will not be ready for what follows. Just sayin…..

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Just to put a fine point on it. Palo Alto is in many ways the seat of Silicon Valley. It is where many of the iconic companies began, either in garages or as students graduating from Stanford (or some professors ideas). Murder rate? They had one.

    Report Total	1	9	29	36
    Rate per 1,000	0.01	0.13	0.43	0.54

    That’s a 0.01 / 1000 rate.
    California overall violent crime 4.45 / 1000. Palo Alto 1.12 / 1000.

    EAST Palo Alto (the lower economic strata the other side of the “tracks” (and freeway):

    Murder rate / 1000 is 10 x as high.

    Report Total	3	11	55	52
    Rate per 1,000	0.10	0.37	1.85	1.75

    That’s a 0.1 / 1000 murder rate.

    What causes murder? NOT the laws. NOT “easy access to weapons”. The poverty and the people. Unless you focus on that, on fixing the poverty and fixing the broken culture in poor and disadvantaged areas, no amount of “banning” will work.

    Just like the “Drug Problem” isn’t a drug banning issue. It’s a “poor people in pain and wanting to escape their lives” and “rich folks with depression” issue. We’ve spent a generation “banning” drugs and usage is much higher. All it does is criminalize a population that isn’t criminals otherwise.

    Makes it easy to arrest folks you don’t want to help, though… Lets you ignore the real problems. But the one thing a ban does not do is work.

  7. ossqss says:

    E.M., have a look at the long term trends in Democrat controlled cities like Chicago or Baltimore.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Oh, I know… I live in one… I’m leaving as soon as I reasonably can…

    We’ve had a couple of armed bank robberies “near here”. My particular neighborhood has very low crime and violence statistics, but we are “close enough” to the high crime East Side for “drive in bank robbers”. (All the same city and laws, BTW). My neighborhood is far enough from any off ramp to be inconvenient, both for me and for the drive in criminals, so we’re OK. Over on the Gang Banger side, it’s more like “Murder A Night”…

    The solution? Disarm me. Go figure… (Over the years an increasing number of guns I’ve owned or would like to own have been made a criminal offense. This despite my being very careful to only buy “politically correct” guns over the years. No high capacity mags, no pistol grips, no AR-15 or look-a-likes, etc. etc. Latest ban law passed is even more draconian.)

    Similar story in Chicago. Most of the murders and gun violence are in the poor minority sections. Rather than work on economic growth and prosperity for all, the answer is gun bans, draconian laws, and more taxes leading to more poverty and so more drug problems and violence. Just ass backwards.

    People with a middle class income, a house to keep up, a job, and 2 kids in school don’t go around shooting up the neighbors. Even if they own 20 guns. They are just too busy working, cleaning, and taking kids to practice… Fix the economic decline, you fix the crime problem.

  9. John F. Hultquist says:

    A couple of local events involved lumber. One was a 4 ft. piece of 2 x 4; the other might have been the same, but I’ve forgotten.
    One was a brother-in-law argument over borrowed tools. Loser got wrapped in a rug and carted off to a small ravine off a county road. About a year later a fellow with a full bladder decided to use that site — thus solving the missing body part of the crime.

    Recall there was a 2-fisted knife attack in a high school, and this was not the first. Here is one from 2014.
    Just after dawn, police said, sophomore Alex Hribal went on a rampage through a wing of the Murrysville school in a scene straight from a horror movie, slashing and stabbing 21 students and a security guard with two 8-inch knives.

    Alex was sentenced in January to 23 1/2 to 60 years in prison for the attack.

  10. John F. Hultquist says:

    What the security guard was doing with two 8-inch knives is still a mystery.

  11. Sera says:

    If Delilah was wearing a bit of string with a leather patch, that might bring me down too- not sure what the stone was for…

  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    Not PC, but the most effective way to greatly reduce violent crime in London would be to ban Muslims. Bet the Mayor would entertain that solution? I rather doubt it.
    It is the people that are the cause of the crime not the weapons…pg

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    My bad, was thinking Goliath and typed Sampson. I’ve fixed it. Common kind of error for me; I’ll think one thing, the fingers start typing, then the cascade of related things fires off (in this case other Biblical references) and the fingers are so much slower than the brain that the second or third echo ends up going out the fingers. I usually catch them in proof reading, but today I had too many interruptions. Oh well. Good for a laugh…

  14. jim2 says:

    I’ve frequently wondered if poverty is due to environment of upbringing or is it an inherited lack of control? I suspect it is a genetic lack of control; or an alternative, or in addition, a susceptibility to addiction. Some people raised in poverty do go on to live an honorable, productive life; but that also could be explained by genetics.

    If poverty is essentially a genetic phenomenon, no end of government programs will help.

  15. Sera says:

    In the old days we had institutions for crazy/violent people, but the PC Police said that it was unfair and now the crazy people are walking the streets. I understand the abuses of the system, but can’t we have at least have something in the middle?

  16. Eric Fithian says:

    I recall one of Jerry Pournelle’s novels starting off with the about-to-leave-for -Space protagonist having to fight off some gang-bangers.
    He used a stick and a metal garbage-can lid (handle in the middle: shield!!) …
    The stick? Think “quarter-staff” …!
    Left those goons in tatters.
    They’d better ban longish sticks and metal trash cans, too…
    I rather doubt the lids Rubber Maid supplies would do well: tough enough, but– no handle in the middle…
    Another thought: traditionally, the professional boxer’s hands are considered “lethal weapons” . . .

  17. philjourdan says:

    The problem with always carrying a knife (I do) is that you forget about it. It is part of your attire. Until you step through security at an airport or ball game!

    I have lost a few that way. Now it is top of mind. If I am going someplace secure, I take it out of my pocket and put it on the night stand. The problem is when you get to where you are going, you are instinctively reaching for the knife to do the many things (some of which you documented) you do without thinking about the fact that you just broke every snowflake law in existence.

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve had a change of habit thanks to the paranoia over blades. Two used to live in my “Day bag”. The thing that holds my cell phone, charger, tablet, work folio, etc. A very small (key chain sized) Swiss Army Knife – used several times as emergency wine cork puller at work ;-) – and a larger “flip open”; the kind with the little thumb stud on the side of the blade for easy one hand opening. It would migrate to my belt or pocket depending on immediate needs. So working on wiring in a back wiring closet, it would move to the belt (along with punch down tool, screw driver, dikes).

    Since I did the “fly in” contracts in Florida (or really “fly home and back several times after drive in”) those didn’t fly (literally…) Similarly, fly in for Disney vacation doesn’t let a knife fly.

    What I discovered is that most auto parts stores sell decent lock open knives very cheaply. I’ve accumulated a couple from “Fly in no knife” trips. I’d just stop at Autozone and pop $8 or whatever for the 3 1/2 inch lock open knife and put it in the pack or pocket. At the end of the job it is either given away or goes into some storage at that end (friends house) depending on context. IF I forget and I’m at the airport, well, at $8 it’s disposable.

    Oh, and we’ve shifted to beer and Scotch instead of wine as libation of choice due to the uncertainty of always having a cork puller ;-)

    At one time I had a separate “pull out bag” in my day pack that had the “contraband” in it. That only sort of worked. I ended up driving to Denver and back on one contract just so I could take my tools with me. It’s hard to explain a load of computer / network assembly tools in under 2 minutes at the airport… Ever try to tell someone what a “punch down tool” is and have it NOT sound like you want to punch someone?… Plus it has a pokey end… Dropping $150 on new tools each flight also doesn’t cut it. Especially when you have no idea where to buy them at the other end.

    So now I have a knife that “lives in the car”, and one that’s on a “belt holster” that’s a little bit in the way. It reminds me it is there so I know to remove it if going to ball games or airports. Since I have to move that from pants / belt to pants / belt, it sometimes gets forgotten and left at home, but does not end up forgotten in line to board… Then I just need to pick one of the ubiquitous car parts stores when driving the rental car from the airport and pick up a ‘clip on lock knife’ at the other end of a flight. Yeah, it’s a cheap knife that won’t last 10 years. But it only needs to last a few weeks.

    Hmmm…. I just realized that “banning knife carry” has directly resulted in a large increase in knives sold… I now consider them “consumables” and leave a trail of them behind me on fly in contracts or visits…

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    The other option would be to mail them home, in a padded envelope.

    I have also carried a knife every day for 60+ years. Actually on any given day I usually have 3 knives on my person. A small pen knife the kind that is about the size of a golf pencil, a folder lock blade that I always carry. Instead of putting it in a holster on my belt I clip it on the inside of my pants waistband at my appendix. It gets mostly used at work and home to open boxes of computers and other electronic equipment, or tasks like cut shipping bands on pallets etc.

    Carried that way, the spring clip is hidden behind the belt and only the top 3/4 inch of it is exposed, but it is easy to reach even when sitting in a car with seat belt on. It is of the thumb stud on the blade style and you need to grind down the very end of that thumb stud on some of those knives just a bit or it tends to dig into your skin, but works much better than any other carry I have tried.
    I used to carry my lock blade in my back pocket along side my wallet, but over time it would wear a hole in my pocket and you would get a “knife print” wear pattern in your back pocket where the outline of the knife became visible due to wear on the denim of you pocket like the folks who use chew get a circular wear pattern in their back pocket from the chew can.

    The only thing you have to watch out for, is if you pull your shirt tail out it tends to drag the knife out too.

    The third blade is on the multi tool on my belt holster, but it is a really clumsy knife compared to the two others. The small pen knife is less worrisome to weapon phobic people in polite society than the lock blade, so gets used more frequently in public situations, where the lock blade gets used where that is less of a concern and you want to ensure you don’t accidentally fold the blade up on your fingers as you work on something that requires significant pressure.

    I also recently started carrying a “tactical pen” – it is actually one of the best ball point pens I have ever owned. I carry it clipped inside my front pocket at the rear seam line and hardly notice I have it, yet I always have a pen with me now even if I don’t have a pocket shirt where I used to carry my pens in typical nerd fashion, and it is always easily accessible with a non-threatening gesture of hooking your thumb in your pants pocket. It can also be easily pulled while strapped into a car’s seat belt if you need a window breaker, or someone reaches in the car and tries to pull you out of the car.

  20. cdquarles says:

    Poverty isn’t the lack of money or things. Poverty is a state of mind that results in a state of being. Akin to “you can take the boy out of the country but can’t take the country out of the boy”.

    RE banning things … drug banning began about 120 years ago. Drug problems are cultural in part and intoxication in part. Making criminalizing commerce makes criminals out of enterprising people. Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, if I am remembering correctly “Don’t criminalize vice”, you just make things worse. Vice should be dealt with culturally. That’s why I mostly didn’t mind “Just Say No”, even if part of the underlying premise was wrong.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    @Eric F:

    I remember that story!


    I’d be more worried about someone coming at me with a framing hammer than a 6 inch knife. But please dear God don’t let the politicians and snowflakes find out… I can just see it being made a crime to “carry or possess” a hammer unless you are a licensed carpenter… (Clearly missing that they are used by just about every trade from auto-body repair to plumbers to electricians to home owners to…)

    But, if that were to happen, realize that a nice 2 foot length of 1/2 inch iron pipe into a T middle with 3/4 inch diameter 2 inch extensions each way will make a dandy substitute. You can even leave the T off the shaft until things look dicey… so it’s just 2 bits of pipe.

    (I have a marvelous book about improvised firearms and weapons. It is slightly amazing what can be made into a gun… edged weapons and clubs are even easier.)


    I’ve lived in dirt poor areas, and I’ve lived in rich areas. There are crazies in both, and there are emotionally unstable folks in both, and there are brilliant nice folks in both. A few more crazies on the poor side of town, and a few more brilliant on the rich side, but not a lot.

    What makes poverty? It is HIGHLY variable. There is some genetic component. If you are “dumber than a bag of rocks” it is unlikely you will get a good job paying well and unlikely you will have a life free of frustrations. Yet I’ve met folks of incredible stupidity about the real world who were quite rich. They had either inherited it, or had ONE skill (usually polite sucking up) that got them placed into things like the State Senate. (Memories of a Senator with guards coming to see a Hot Air Balloon that I was helping crew… his ‘brilliant’ question, and honestly asking it, was: “So is it hot air that keeps it up?”) But he looked pretty and handed out favors to the right people…

    Some folks are poor just due to a few generations of poverty blocking their access to education and good jobs. My Mum was “poorer than a church mouse” growing up. Not much education available and zero opportunities. She married a US G.I. in W.W.II and escaped to America. Eventually got a GED and attended the local Community College. VERY bright woman, but in the UK between W.W.I and W.W.II not a lot of opportunity for a “youngest of 9” when Dad was at Sea 9 months of the year and there was no mother at home (medical issues).

    Dad was one of 13 on the Farm. Only real education for his parents was learning by doing. He got a lot of that on the Farm and in the smithy. Never did complete High School. Enlisted in the Army. After the war, with 2 kids in tow, he got enough money together to drive a nearly broken down old Chevy out to California. Arrived at an Army Buddy’s home with 50 ¢ left in his pocket. Proceeded to get work building houses (Army Combat Engineer meant he could build things). Eventually got a Real Estate license and sold houses, ranches, and managed a few rentals. Also a VERY bright man.

    Now which of those two lives is the identifying part? The start in poverty and ignorance, or the end in relative wealth, comfort, and worldly understanding? I got to attend University. My sisters went to college as well (one is a teacher, the other has a masters in something to do with management). Where did environment leave off and genetics take over?

    BTW, this is a sore topic for me. As I have some hearing loss I’m sensitive to deafness issues. In the Progressive Era there was also a strong Eugenics movement. They thought the deaf ought to be sterilized as they were “genetically defective”. Only later was it learned that (or accepted that) diseases like measles and high fevers could cause deafness, and that some drugs and load noises did it too. Rarely is deafness a genetic issue. You can repeat that story for many similar things. The English thought the Irish genetically defective. The Germans thought the Jews (and many of the French) genetically defective. It’s rarely the case…

    While genes matter to innate ability, there is a huge and often overwhelming environmental and historical influence. In general, there’s about a 10% shift in the IQ range, one way or the other, between VERY different populations. That means you can pick a random group of folks from a slum and from the very very rich and end up with a genius and an idiot in both. I once visited the family of a Director of a Very Large Federal Agency ( I was dating the daughter) and was briefly introduced to the younger son. He had “emotional and intellectual challenges”… Now most of this family was very very bright. We’re talking Ph.D. bright. He would be lucky to get a job washing dishes some day. Yet he would be cared for in relative affluence his whole life.

    One other point. I met a “more or less average bright” guy who was fairly nice. He had also inherited $Millions. His whole job in life was to not lose it. By some fairly simple skills (mostly involving hiring good financial managers – so he was studying economics / finance enough to understand when they were blowing smoke at him) he and his progeny would be set for generations; despite not being very bright. Not dumb, just average. There is a HUGE positional advantage to having an obscene amount of money… Genetics pales in comparison.

    I’ve also sat in the living room of a dirt poor friend as his dumb as a post family was clearly never going to amount to anything, watching him grit his teeth waiting for the chance to escape. He went on to college. Similarly, a buddy growing up was also dirt poor. Both parents spoke Spanish, Mom spoke English too, after a fashion. Dad did manual labor on the rail road. Mom stayed at home. Near zero education, and almost as little money. My buddy went to Chico State College. 2 of his brothers enlisted in the Navy and did quite well. It was the opportunity to advance that took them from “wet back no skill dumb” to “college educated and good job”. Their genetics had only a little to do with it (in that their genes were not broken).

    Those that I saw broken in the attempt to climb out of poverty were not genetically broken in any way I could see. Mostly just ground down by the amount of grief and difficulty involved. Heck, it took me 7 years to get a 4 year degree and that was entirely due to my need to earn money to pay for my schooling. More than once I thought of quitting. (It is darned hard to work 30 or 40 hours, and then go carry 12 units of UC workload…) I delayed my family, didn’t get married until I was 30, and generally missed out on a decade of fun life. All while watching far less able folks cruise through with family gifted (new) car as high school graduation gift and paid tutors if needed. NEVER a worry about who would pay the rent or buy the books…

    Now figure I’m way into the “gifted” range (Mensa qualified easily) and pretty durable. Even had a minor scholarship covering tuition the first few years. Best I could manage was a B.A. in 7. (I’m quite certain the ‘work my way through’ cost me a full GPA point. I’m also pretty sure that had it been ‘full boat paid’ I’d have gotten a Doctorate in something. It would have been about the same work that I did in my 7, but less of it drudge-for-money and more of it academic.) So how hard is it for the “merely above average” or “average” kid to move up a rung?

    Now ask that same question about the kid in a Barrio with poor English skills, 25% unemployment all around him, mediocre or poor grades in school ’cause “that was cool” culturally, and a few friends or family dead from drug overdoses or drive-by shootings. Just how hard will it be for him to go to UC, whatever his genetics? About the only option would be a local Community College, and even then we’re talking “ribbing” from his peer group (he’ll be lucky if it is only ribbing). And just how will he pay that minimal cost for books, tuition, parking, travel etc. to get to that C.C. if he’s in the 25% unemployed? I’ve been sitting next to that kid. I knew he could make it; I also knew he would not… No bootstrap money and wrong cultural baggage.

    So are there some genetic loony toons and idiots on the streets? Sure. But there’s a whole lot more poverty encumbered, legally oppressed, and just downtrodden overworked souls. Just yesterday I was shopping at the Walmart over in the wrong side of town (better selection of Mexican foods that I like) and a black woman was sitting out front. Asking for “money to get home”. I talked to her a while. She said her son was just busted for “a outstanding warrant” as they were driving by and now she was stuck here. just needed bus fare to bet back to Merced (about 3 hours drive I’d guess). I didn’t offer money, but did offer to give her a ride to the station. She declined saying she wanted to get the bus fare home.

    So what’s the dynamic there? She was not dumb, but not bright either. More or less average I’d guess; but not much education and likely no job. The rural area she is from is known for rich white farmers, some modest middle class merchants, and a lot of poor farm workers. IF I had to guess, I’d guess the outstanding warrant was either for drug use, or more likely an unpaid ticket of some kind as folks there just don’t have an extra $200 kicking around for a ticket. Most likely that kid will never be employable at anything that pays worth a damn just due to now having an arrest record. Any money Mom might have saved up is going to be spent in the legal system instead of on books or education (or even just good food to grow better brains… just iodized salt is expected to raise the average IQ in China by 10 points…) They are firmly stuck in a poverty trap and escape will not be possible for them. Perhaps the next generation can make it.

    How to fix it? I don’t know. It’s clear that Government can’t. We’ve tried and it just can’t separate the scams from the real benefits. IF my family history (and that of my Mexican friend) is any guide, giving a kid a job and a skill gets them jump started. In those cases it was military enlistment that gave a marketable skill and an honorable discharge record, and VA benefits for housing. That clearly worked. Perhaps something similar for non-Military. I know that entering UC as pre-Med and with grades showing I could do it (and test scores over the top): I would have signed up for a 2 or even 4 year indentured service as Doctor off in hell and gone had I been offered a path through medical school in exchange. (My Dentist was trained by the Army as a dentist under similar offer)

    But we don’t do that. We punish the poor for being desperate and having no hope. We put them in jail for trying to escape through drug use. We put barriers to advancement at every turn. We create soul destroying government “Programs” and think it helps. Then we accuse the folks who can’t stand that shit of being lazy or defective. While some are, many, likely most, are not.

    My Bias: I grew up in a dirt poor farm town with a few rich land owners. My friends and peers have often been from the “wrong side of the tracks” and speaking of which, I grew up 1 block from the rail road tracks… starting one one side then moving to the other. I’ve walked both sides of the money street and frankly, don’t see much difference in the people on either side. Mostly just differences in family history and luck of the draw, then grinding down of the losers in the draw.

    So my opinion is that it’s best to help anyone you can, person to person not via governments where most of the money goes to line pockets of government employees and well connected contractors. Use honest charities where reasonable (but be wary of the Clinton like ones… and the fake Holy Land really Jihadis ones) Find ways to forgive kids for their errors and keep folks out of The System as a “criminal record” is NOT rehabilitating, it is creating a lifetime stigma and assuring a future career is most lucrative in further crime. Focus on making opportunities for the kids coming out of high school as that’s where you can shift the next generation. Above all else, stop destroying job creating industries and growth, as someone with a basic skill and a job is the first rung out of the muck.

  22. H.R. says:

    I’ve carried a pocket knife since 1st grade. My dad took me to the hardware store and let me pick one out of the rotating display case, although my choice was limited to a few that were appropriate to my hand size; 12″ Bowie knives were not among the choices. 😜

    I bought one of these (see link) Leatherman Micras in 1998. It is a handy little beastie. Odd, but the scissors won’t cut string of any sort, but they are the absolute best nylon ty-wrap cutters evah! I had to use them for that task on an almost daily basis.

    P.S. I had a bolt on my desk at work that came from an excavator. It’s a Grade 8, 30mm Hex Head bolt about 450mm long, used to join the ends of the excavator tracks together.

    People would see it and say, “Dang! Now that is a bolt!” I would see it on my desk and think, “Dang! I’m glad that’s there in case I need to give somebody a love tap with it.” I don’t think you have to be picky about where you strike someone with that bolt; just make contact.

    That bolt came home with me when I retired and now sits on my home office desk. 😁

    “WE MUST BAN HARDWARE” before the nuts are all armed with bolts.

  23. Larry Ledwick says:

    I think one of the best stepping stones to success we could accomplish culturally would be to make it fashionable for businesses to run real useful apprentice programs. Not some feel good union operated “let’s create more union members” program, but real, teach you a skill after you work a year sweeping floors job skills program.

    A lot of those hopeless kids just need a hand to get a useful skill that they can pay the bills with. Fifty years ago, kids started out in places like car washes, waiting tables in small mom and pop restaurants and pumping gas and washing windows in gas stations. Many of those entry level jobs simply don’t exist any more or are so flooded by applicants that few get an opportunity to move into a useful job. Jobs where the unskilled and untrained could gradually learn skills from other more experienced workers and an opportunity to show how smart and how much initiative they had. I have sat in an office interview chair and literally told the interviewer I could do any job if they just would hire me and let me learn the skill sets I needed at a minimum wage starting wage. Few were willing to even discuss the option. A couple actually gave me a chance.

  24. H.R. says:

    Hmmm… the link goes to the wrong tool. I have no clue how that happened because I never was on that page. I just went back and douple-checked and that url is on the page of the image of my Leatherman Micra, but when pasted here the link goes to a page and image for a different product.

    I’m stumped.

  25. Larry Ledwick says:

    No worries – Works for me, I suspect you have something in cache, but I see a Leatherman Micra when I follow the link.

  26. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – re: throw away knives.

    I will have to check the Auto Parts stores. The ones I lost were a leatherman (that hurt) and a swiss army knife. Hence why I am good about pulling it from my stash now (the leatherman lives in my computer bag, but now I take a different bag on trips that I have to populate before each trip).

    I used to get ties for father’s day. Now, my kids know to get me small tool sets or knives. :-)

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    “WE MUST BAN HARDWARE” before the nuts are all armed with bolts.

    OMG literally LOL!!!

    Now I gotta get me a G.Damn Fing Big Bolt!!!


    I get the Micra also. Link working. Your cache is corrupt, your memory has faults, your system is pwned, or God is bored… ;-)

    FWIW, I have two even smaller ones that self clip onto a keychain (but can fall off sometimes so now live in a tin…) Yours is the better one. Used in computer rooms in the past when, as manager, I was not supposed to wear a tool belt…


    Been there done that… Many of my contracts have been from the same boss, doing widely different things. He realized I could do anything with a few days warning… so I got whatever nobody else was skilled at… From undercover security to networks to systems programming to… Just call Mikey, he’ll fix anything! Yet other employers would look at the resume and say things like “You don’t have the obscure Microsoft Certification so can’t do the job” despite my having done the job before… I have been rejected for not being technical enough (too much business experience) AND for being too technical (not enough business applications experience).

    Yes, I’ve not spent 10 years turning the left axle nut. But I’ve spent 5 turning the right axle nut and it is the same, you just turn the other direction… “Sorry. We want an experienced left axle nut jobber.”


    In my farm town in the ’60s, kids got all sorts of jobs. Many of them technically illegal. I worked in the folks restaurant from age 7. Now my folks would be put up on charges of child endangerment and child labor violations. I loved it and loved having my own income to spend. I mowed lawns too (yes, a 9 year old kid using power tools and gasoline by the gallon…) I’d guess at least a dozen other jobs too. Picking peaches and bucking hay bales were my two shortest. 1 day each. Allergic to hay and burned crisp in the sun due to redhead gene, then peach fuzz drove me itchy nuts. Did better at door to door selling… started my own business at 8 making jewelry out of marbles… Worked in a 76 station as an attendant back when they put the gas in your car and washed the windscreen. I think I was 17 then. I had an 11 year resume when I graduated high school… 18 year resume when I graduated UC. Now I’m at about 58 year resume.

    Then some stupid Government job application says “LIST ALL PRIOR JOBS under penalty of termination or perjury”… Heck, I can’t even remember them all. AND they want bosses name and phone number… The first decade jobs, we had 4 digit phone numbers in my remote town. Good luck calling that…

    But without that magic cookie the resume scanner was told to get, I’m not “qualified”…

    Oh Well….

  28. Rhoda Klapp says:

    Well, they will end up prosecuting Grandad for the knife he cleans his pipe with while they are already just taking the knives from big violent schoolkids and not reporting them to the police, who probably don’t want to know.

    I suspect we all know what the real problem is but dare not mention it.

  29. philjourdan says:

    Heck, I can’t even remember them all. AND they want bosses name and phone number…

    I have been interviewing of late (outsourced) and yes, had a few of those (list every). The good thing is most of my old bosses are retired or dead! So I just put the main exchange number for them to call. Good luck getting in touch with old Mark (he was only 10 years my senior – but fell off his roof and broke his neck).

  30. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have seen a couple of those resumes, they presume you have only 5-6 years employment experience (age discrimination?).

    The only time I seriously tried to get every single prior employer was on my top secret background check and in the early 1970’s that was a couple pages long.

  31. H.R. says:

    E.M. wrote


    Your cache is corrupt, your memory has faults, your system is pwned, or God is bored… ;-)

    Yeah, all that’s true since I’m now in my 60s, but what is the problem with my computer?😜🤣
    (Thanks, Larry. Thanks E.M.)

  32. jim2 says:

    EM – You mentioned your very intelligent parents and have noted with pride that you possess a “tidy mind.” Certainly such a mental attribute would contribute to success. Do you think your tidy mind was inherited (genetic), a product of your youthful environment, or what?

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    But I would not call my parents “Intellectual”. They were smart, as in able to think fast and clearly and learn new things well; but not very book-learned. My mother, for example, could serve an entire banquette of 20+ people, taking orders along the way for drinks, desert, whatever; then at the END write up all the individual meal tickets. Excellent memory to make banter while keeping track of everything everyone ordered. Dad was very good at doing math calculations to build things without bothering with paper and ink. He could tell you the tax on an item as fast as you could say the price. On real estate forms, any math was just “look at the numbers write the answer” for things like acres to square feet or perimeter to acreage, or how much was his cut of the commission. Also very fast with “banter” – an important skill in small Farm Towns.

    I have many genetic derived similarities to one of my Uncles on my Mother’s side (which she possess to some extent but seemed more pronounced in him) and are likely genetic in origin. At the same time, I was raised in a manner that let those things blossom. My Mom bought all sorts of books (even got a used encyclopedia set) and encouraged us to read. My Dad made sure all of us knew how to run a self reliant life (could make a garden, raise animals, mend things). Mom taught me to knit and sew when I asked about her doing it, not just “that’s for girls” or “go outside and play”.

    I was allowed (encouraged really) to do things like take apart broken clocks and motors. My Mum taught me to read, at home, as soon as I was able (and was chastised by the school for teaching me via whatever system they used in the UK that was out of fashion here). My parents were not strict on most things, but would call out error. From my Dad’s side there was an Amish set of values of being frugal, not wasting things (or time), not making complex what was simple. Both my parents thought numbers and math important so encouraged it. I was given a chemistry set for Christmas at about age 8. I was allowed to take old radios and TV apart (to see how they worked and get parts) so I could build my own electronics starting at a similar age. My Dad taught me how to do electrical wiring and plumbing starting about 7 years old. Many things were allowed as soon as I showed the discipline to not be killed by them. (“Wiring hot” at about 8, working on 400 VDC power supplies for tube radios, using fire to shape metals – smithy of a sort, my own rifle in my room starting with a bb gun at about 5 and a .22 LR at 8 or so, with ammunition). Dad let me drive a tractor then a car at about 9? whenever it was I could reach the pedals – though before that I was steering in his lap and he did the pedals.

    How can I separate those life lessons and accelerated trust from the genetics?

    Per genes, we have a tendency to large head size ( XL hats and helmets…) and fast reflexes. Lots of room for neurons and fast firing rate. Good senses and lots of input. The basic hardware all seems to run well. Beyond that, I don’t know. There’s a slight tendency to obsessive focus that I see in one of my Sisters as well, plus a love of detail.

    But on the flip side: I grew up with 3 older siblings and was always “reaching” to do whatever they were able to do. Years spent playing games like Scrabble and Monopoly against folks older than me – forcing more vocabulary and better math skills. Then I self immersed in things like ALL the Asimov and Heinlein books in existence… We had THE first TV set in town and I was watching the news and PBS (back when it was called “educational TV”) from before I was out of my high-chair. All that will have pushed development. (What does it say about a kid that they loved to watch William F. Buckley on Public TV when others were busy with toy trucks…)

    I’d have to say I’m the result of some of each.

  34. jim2 says:

    For obvious reasons, I don’t want to bare my soul on line, but I will say …
    I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, but we always had food, a house, and a car. My dad worked at a semi-skilled job. Had lots of relatives who looked out for each other. My mom was smart, and I don’t mean book smart, she finished high school, unlike my dad. Mom went to church and made friends.

    I didn’t do well in school and didn’t have much in the way of social skills. They got me encyclopedias, chemistry sets, and I loved to take things apart, as did my granddad and some uncles.

    I went to community college with their help, but again, didn’t do well. It was only when I joined Mensa in my early twenties that I realize I might have more potential than I assumed. It still took several years, many years, before I got a handle on things.

    So, I’m not saying rich kids don’t have a leg up, they do. Poor kids are at a disadvantage out of the box. I was thinking about things like attention span, memory, impulse control, tidy mind :) ; a lot of things other than intelligence that go into the making of a mind.

  35. jim2 says:

    The other half of the story in a nutshell is that over time my social skills improved, some bugs morphed into features, got married, had kids, house in the suburbs, and some pretty good jobs along the way. Livin’ the dream with more than 60 trips around the Sun under my belt.

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    I never had problems with attention span. If anything, it was too much “down the rabbit hole”. Still do. If something catches my fancy, I can be after it for weeks… years… Where I had issues was in NOT wanting to do things that were dreadfully dull when I was interested in something else. So didn’t fit in well with the formal “Study THIS for one hour then stop hard” of school.

    I was able to “just wait them out” enough to then stop at the library on my way home from school and do deep dives on things. I was regularly reading Scientific American cover to cover at ages 8 to 12 back when it was real science they published.

    Were it not for the library I’d likely have gone off the deep end…

    Also, being the Restaurant Brat and washing dishes “nose to nose” with the customers at the front sink (cups and saucers from coffee and sodas); I had an entire town of folks to talk with about things. I spent hours talking to various retired folks in the park across from the restaurant. Lots of life stories… It was the “Railroad Park” and the tracks ran along the far edge by the station.

    On one occasion my Dad and I were “first on the scene” when a train hit a car trying to cross late. My Dad “sized me up” and asked if i was OK to look at the people. At about 9 or 10 I saw my first dead folks. Sitting side by side in the car more or less like wax figures. They had tiny fracture lines with bits of blood like a pencil line all over them. The had fractured on impact from the inertia… On another occasion, about 12, I got to help “pick up the pieces” of an old (literally, about 90) friend who had been hit crossing on his bike (poor vision and hearing going…). No idea if that kind of “early maturity” was inherent to me and observed by others, or came out of the experiences I was allowed to have.

    So there were a lot of non-family influences on my desire to “keep a tidy mind”.

    If I had to pick the biggest, I’d say it was the schooling by Buckley on just what being un-tidy could expose you two when faced with a steel trap intellect as opponent, and then in High School, Mr. McGuire who insisted that you be thinking up to your limit of skill. It wasn’t enough to get the answers right. If you were lazy or sloppy compared to what your ability OUGHT to have delivered, you got called on it. I once asked him, near the end of the year, “What is in gasoline?”. He looked at me and said: “You know how to find out. There’s the CRC Handbook, and you know where the library is at. I expect you to report back next Monday.” And I did.. Left me with a life long understanding of the petroleum industry and petrochemicals… And an awareness of what it means to do your own digging when told to “Dig here!”… A very tidy mind… Retired Lt. Colonel Air Force.

  37. jim2 says:

    At this point, I hope you see my question concerning the poor was motivated by life experience, not prejudice.

  38. cdquarles says:

    Given that a lot of us here are 60+, we also have a similar history, even if some of the details vary. Why? In part it is the culture. Thug culture was not lauded, unlike now. “Welfare” as we know it now, was a stain, not a badge of honor, and that was before the (not) Great Society.

    My life started hard … dad died young, mom’s productive life cut short due to illness (last job she had was in 1964 … teaching). I grew up with books of various kinds and taught to read very early (4) … at the cost of my eyesight. Grandparents survived Jim Crow … and the Depression, with limited book “education”; but lots of practical smarts, some of which were Scots-Irish in lineage. Taught to be frugal. Taught to work early on … as soon as you’re big enough to handle the hand tools … go out and turn the garden over. Go out collecting bottles to get a few nickles. Go sell stuff door to door … remember GRIT? Go cut people’s lawns, rake their leaves … dig ditches, whatever job you got give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay (and remember, you are worth exactly what you agreed to work for) and some of these were definitely “not legal per child labor laws”. Met all kinds of people and this one was huge: despite Jim Crow, the local school system was geared toward excellence. If you didn’t cut it academically, you had the trade schools … plus plumbers made as much as doctors, and sometimes more. It didn’t matter much if you were “black” or “white”, again, despite Jim Crow.

  39. E.M.Smith says:


    I treat almost all things as “just curious about reality” unless there is some reason to do otherwise. I’m like a kid that way. Someone says “Why is your hair thin?” I take as a question about marginal hair growth short of mail pattern baldness and not a pejorative about me ;-) A technical curiosity. Besides, economics is called the Dismal Science precisely because it looks at things like patterns of poverty and economic decline or growth and escape. So to me, it’s all just part of my major field, The Dismal Science… So no worries, eh?


    OMG, I forgot about “collecting stuff”! I’d regularly join my older siblings dragging my wagon around town collecting bottles to turn in for a couple of pennies each. Walnut season was a BIG deal. $1 for a gunnysack of black walnuts, but $10 for a gunnysack of English Walnuts. While I didn’t understand why, I did learn rapidly to tell which was which… We also knew to ask the folks with the tree if we could pick up their fallen walnuts… Dad planted a big English Walnut tree in our front yard, but by the time it made nuts I was off in college (so some other kid got to celebrate!)

    The whole thing leads to a strange contract between generations. The “grandparent” generation get all sorts of yard work done that they can’t really do any more, while the kids generation gets some pocket money, a work ethic, and “supervision” as they learn things and listen to various stories… I had a whole town of “Grandparents” so the fact mine were all dead was not as much of a loss.

    Our farm town had a full machine shop in High School. I took welding so I’d “have a trade” if needed. Also “radio class” where we built a tube radio up from parts (then took it apart last day for the next class…) while learning radio theory. Again, a trade in “radio repair” and likely why I ended up programming computers for a living. IMHO Schools ought to START with “trade” schooling. And Home-Ec. EVERY kid ought to know how to budget a meal and roast a chicken. And change the oil in their car. Just so they know what they are paying for and can’t be cheated as easily if nothing else.

    Oh, and the local farmers preferred Mexican and Black kids over the local whites. They worked harder… I once had the joy of a local farmer commenting that “It was the first time he’d seen a white kid pick more than a Mexican kid”…

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  41. Another Ian says:

    “Machete Attack Every 90 Minutes in ‘Gun-Free’ Britain”

  42. You’ll need to ban pens, too. See That’s going to make the checks going onto a flight more of a nuisance, as all writing instruments will need to be parted from their owners.

    I’ve carried a knife since around age 10, and never intentionally tried to stick it in anyone. Once I found the Opinel knives I’ve used them in preference to the multi-blade Swiss-type knives, since if I want a screwdriver I’ll use one and the multi-blade knives are just too heavy. For most cutting jobs, the 8cm blade length is just about right and it takes a keen edge. It locks closed and locks open, so no problems with the blade unexpectedly folding on my fingers. It seems everyone should have a means of cutting and a means of making fire on them as standard – basically it’s part of being human for me.

    Like any farm, there are a whole load of lethal tools around here. My battle hammer is actually an old wheel-tapper’s hammer from the railways – a double ball-pein hammer of around 1.5lbs with a shaft of around 3ft. Light enough to swing fast and heavy enough to do a lot of damage. I carry tyre-irons in the car down beside the driver’s seat. These have been used to change tyres, too (even work on tractor tyres) and the one I use to break the bead now has a somewhat sharp mushroom on the end.

    If you’ve done plastering, you’ll have noticed that the edges of the float get sharper over time. Yet another lethal weapon, especially with the 2ft long one which also doubles as a shield. Carry that with a small bag of plaster and you have cover. Turns out that most tools can be lethal if used with that intention. Back in the “Teddy Boy” days in the UK, people carried metal combs (needed to get the hairstyle right) that would take a good edge.

    Fairly recently I read of people fighting back against a would-be terrorist armed with a big knife, where the people used the restaurant chairs they had been sitting on as offensive weapons. It’s really not the weapon that is the problem, but the person who is dangerous or not.

  43. E.M.Smith says:


    Chairs? I like that one… The ancient martial art of Ba’ar Sto’ol ;-)

  44. p.g.sharrow says:

    Once attacked a 300 lb. black bear with a steel kitchen chair!
    Imagine a naked 220 lb roaring bull ape with long grey beard and hair swinging a heavy chair at you at 2:00am in the night darkness! Had to protect my 80 pound dog. ;-)
    Upon contact the bear turned and ran. Dog was glad to see me. Good thing I live in the middle of 20 ac. of woods so there were no neighbors to disturb. LoL…pg

  45. Larry Ledwick says:

    Ahh the good old “ursus defensionem sella” technique.

  46. ossqss says:

    I was once attacked by a bar stool! Apparently the stool decided I had been sitting on it long enough drinking beer, so it through me to the ground. That is my story and I am sticking to it since the incident took place a decade ago ;-)

  47. E.M.Smith says:


    An image that, unfortunately, will stick with me to the grave… I now see myself as a “220 lb roaring bull ape” (though reality is closer to 230 at the moment) and I don’t think that meme is leaving the building… ;-)

    Though I’m presently of very short graying yellow-red beard…

    Also, how dare you admit that you scared the poop out of a bear! Don’t you know that’s not communing with nature? The Green Police might come and arrest you for bear frightening. Only people are supposed to be frightened, and then only when politicians say to do it “for effect” in “achieving their social goals”… 1/2 sarc;…


    Beware the crafty bar stool. I’ve had one sneak up on me from behind and jump me! I was on the floor and it was on top of me before I knew what happened. Sadly, the owner of the place only showed me the door. I think the stool was a friend of his, or on his payroll…


  48. philjourdan says:

    Apparently the stool decided I had been sitting on it long enough drinking beer, so it through me to the ground

    ossqss – did it yell “Norm!” when it dumped you? :-)

  49. E.M.Smith says:

    Mine did NOT yell “Norm!”. I distinctly recall it laughing at me ;-)

  50. – “A 38-year-old woman is in a critical but stable condition after being attacked with a cordless drill in Strabane, County Tyrone.”

    It seems a battery-powered drill can be a weapon, too. They should all be banned….

  51. E.M.Smith says:

    Beware the Horrible Sawzall? The Evil Weed Whacker?

    I seem to recall having seen various nail guns used as weapons in movies…

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