More Thoughts On Gun Control

Colt 1911

GUN CONTROL?? WHAT ABOUT ABSENT FATHERS?

Do we want to solve gun violence, or do we just want to engage in useless bluster?

Whenever a terrible shooting takes place, in Toronto, or an American city, the gun control enthusiasts rush to the podium to bang their fist and display their anger.

Recently, US President, Barack Obama reacting to the mass shooting in Oregon that left nine people dead, said: “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.

He meant gun laws.

But another display of emotion won’t make gun control work.

The guns are not the problem, but they are an easy target, and politicians, like water, seek the easy course.

If gun control worked, Chicago would not experience the violence that it does. If gun control worked, the Toronto Sun would not have reported, in mid-July, that “The 227 shooting victims so far this year are 31 more than the total for all of 2014.””

Toronto and Chicago have gun control. Murder is also ‘controlled’.  It is illegal!  The problem is deeper and more complicated than the tool that is used.  But it is politically correct to blame the gun.  It is less so, and therefore fraught with political danger, to talk about family breakdown.

An article in The Federalist by Peter Hasson notes: “Violence?  There’s a direct correlation between fatherless children and teen violence.  Suicide?  Fatherless children are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.  Dropping out of school?  71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless families.  Drug use?  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”

How about guns? Two of the strongest correlations with gun homicides are, growing up in a fatherless household and dropping out of school, which is itself directly related to lack of an active or present father.

So what can we do to encourage young people to avoid single parenthood and to encourage responsible fatherhood? How do we keep young men from having to search for belonging and acceptance from other young men in a gang?

We should be as critical of the choices that lead to kids having babies as we are of guns, but politicians mostly recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they try this approach.

What about mental health? Are we willing to address that issue?  In theory the people are, but are politicians willing to make the necessary choices in priorities, and are we willing to stop putting money into parties like the Pan Am Games, and instead, adequately fund mental health programs?

Apparently not!

Too many things have already gone wrong before a young man picks up a gun and attacks his fellow human beings with the intent to kill. It’s a good thing to talk about fathers, mental health, conflict resolution, employment, mentoring, or whatever anyone can come up with towards achieving the common goal of ending gun violence.

The people whose first, and often only ‘solution’, is more gun control, when it clearly doesn’t work, are not to be taken seriously. Murder is illegal, and most guns used in shootings are illegally held under present gun laws.  We want young people to grow up, so let’s be grown-up about real solutions.

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With many thanks to Gerry Agar, a Toronto Sun columnist and radio talk-show host, for some interesting and lucid thoughts about guns and social violence.

Blade Runners

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On Saturday, Aug. 23, the son, grandson and I attended another Art Knife Show at a fancy hotel in downtown Toronto. We took along with us, the Katana sword shown above, which the son won in a door-prize raffle in 2011. Tickets were $5/ea, or 5 for $20. The son risked the twenty bucks, and the lady at the door gave him six tickets. Being honest, he returned the extra ticket, and insists that it was the karma from this act which won him the sword.

We carefully wrapped it in a large towel, so that it could ride the subway with us, incognito. It was a collaboration effort. One skilled bladesmith created the blade, and then handed it over to another maker, more skilled in adding the fittings – handle, guard, wrap, and sheath – and assembling the final product.

While finished, at the show, it took another 10 months for it to be shipped to us. We emailed photos to the blade maker, but he was very interested in actually seeing and handling the finished product. He had to miss the 2012 show. In 2013, the son forgot to bring it, but promised, “Next year in Jerusalem Toronto.” In 2014, we were 60 miles from home when the son finally thought of it. We weren’t going back! This year, finally, the blade guy was overjoyed and impressed, and took several shots of it for his catalogue.

Below are several photos of blades I felt were interesting and well made, along with a few comments. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll try to answer.

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See final picture at bottom.

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The knife on the right is one version of a sub-hilt fighter.  I paid a maker $700 to produce a cheaper model with a white handle that I could have scrimshawed.  He played around for over two years before deciding that he wanted to make American Civil War replicas.  It took another year, and urging from influential members of the Guild, to get him to return my money.  I’d have been much happier to have the knife instead.

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This Damascus double ulu started off as a joke by a maker with a young son who didn’t want to eat the crusts on his toast.

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Double-ended jackknives used to be common.  Some cutlery companies still make a few from $20 to $100.  I believe this beauty was going for $850.

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Not quite an ‘art knife’, this hay-bale cutter contained $200 worth of material and labor.  The maker built it for experience and practice.  It was going to a Mennonite in my area in exchange for some Damascus steel that he had made, and a small blower forge.

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My little digital camera really does not do some of these knives justice.  Click on the photos for more detail.

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The photos above and below are of knives produced by the maker of the blade of the katana at the top.  Again, my lack of detail does not show the high quality of his blades, but amateurish finish on his handles.

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Knife Collector's Prayer

The photo at the top shows a small portion of a collection that the owner of this sign had on display.  The ‘Art Knife Makers’ were all dressed in suits and upscale clothing.  They usually built one knife at a time.  While they charged $500 to $5000 a knife, they often had it sold, and money in hand before it was finished.

This unassuming guy dressed like me – black jeans and a polo shirt, but his display contained dozens of these expensive toys.  I need to ask him next year what he does for a living.  The cost of his collection could buy a small country.

A Phish Out Of Water

The other day, while I was out being threatened (More on that later), the wife was being phished. Since the son and I were out running errands, she took advantage of our absence to sit at the PC in the computer room, and pay some bills online.

She had just accessed the bank’s website, and was viewing activity on our account for the last 30 days, when the phone rang. Jane Doe? Yes?? This is Walter, at the accounting department of XYZ Bank. I want to talk about a $200 deposit that was made to your account, 11 AM, on June 18.

She wisely said that she’d check into it, and would call him back. What was his number? The bank’s accounting department would be in Toronto, with a 416 area code. He gave her a local, 519 number. What extension?? Oh, that’s a direct line.

She scrolled up the page and, of course, there was no such deposit. She tried calling his number back. We’re sorry. The number you have called is equipped for outgoing calls only. It was worrying that this scammer knew her name, which is not listed in the phone book, and the fact that we banked with XYZ. We paranoidly shred everything that has a name or address on it, to the point that a Christmas present from the son, was a new cross-cut shredder which makes confetti.

She called the bank’s 1-800 customer service number, and reported the incident. They said they’d look into it, but it’s like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

Meanwhile…. I’d had a Tri-Fecta week.

Shopping cart

A woman in a grocery store had backed into my cart, and apparently hit her elbow. Ow! Ow! Ow! – WELL?? Well what? Are you going to apologise? NO!

I left another store a couple of days later, and went to climb into my car. Suddenly, the owner of the van to my left, leaned past his windshield and yelled, “Take it easy on my van! It’s brand new, and I don’t want it all scratched up.” Uh, Okay…. “I told you, don’t scratch my van!” I didn’t – I didn’t touch it. “I’m warning you. Take it easy on my van.” Even with my door fully open, it doesn’t touch your van by two inches. Take a look. “Just watch yourself! I warned you to stay away from my van. I hate ignorant cocksuckers like you.” (My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.) and climbed in and roared away.

The coup de grace came on Saturday morning. When the son got home from work, we went out together to do some shopping and errands. As we finished the last, it was nearing lunch time, and he offered to treat, at a Subway shop.

We followed a family in, parents early 30s, boys 6 and 8, and waited patiently as they all worked their way down the counter, picking out toppings. Dad went first, then the excited, indecisive boys, followed by mom in ballerina mode, arms akimbo, hands on hips, swiveling back and forth, making decisions.

She finally made her last choice (Swiss cheese) and moved up to the register, where dad was paying. I moved up, and started giving my choices, when she and her Tai Chi elbows came dancing back. I tried to back out of her way, but one of her flying elbows just touched my ample tummy.

Being the well-mannered Canadian that I am, I said, “Oops, I’m sorry.”, and she danced away again. I continued picking stuff for my sandwich as hubby spoke to her….or so I thought. Suddenly I heard, “Hey! I’m talking to you!” Wha’?? “Watch what the fuck yer doin’! That’s just fucking disrespectful. I oughta slap the shit outta you!”

So, he’s taught the boys that it’s okay to use foul language in public and threaten people, all 5’ 8”, and 150 lbs. of him. A lover, not a fighter, and almost 71, I think I could have taken him, because it would not have been a fair fight. If not, I brought along my son, The Bear. At 6’ 2”, and 275 lbs. he could just squeeze this mouthy idiot’s head till all the shit ran out his ears.

As they headed for a table, he leaned in and hissed, “Yer just lucky I had the wife along today.” which, while not the dumbest thing I’d heard all week, was well up in the top ten. If he hadn’t had the Prima Ballerina, she wouldn’t have bumped into me, and this whole damned drama scene wouldn’t have occurred. Shit, take your meds, and attend those court-ordered anger management sessions!

Then he sat down with the wife he was so worried about, pulled out his smart phone, and proceeded to ignore her and his sons while he phoned three friends to set up a golf game the next day, and then play Candy Crush.

As the President of the local Grumpy Old Dude Association, I’d like to claim that I’m an irritating old turd, and own these, but:

You weren’t watching where you were going, and walked into my cart. I didn’t touch your vehicle! Open your eyes and look.
Your wife backed into me – and I apologised.

If these had valid causes, I’d blame them on urban overcrowding pressure. What in Hell causes people to get so angry and aggressive about imaginary slights and insults?

#483

Serendipity

Storm Warning

GOD hates Toronto

Through reading Cordelia’s Mom’s submissions, (as well as her other fun and interesting posts) I have been introduced to another entertaining and helpful lady.  Marilyn Armstrong, over at her Serendipity blog site, occasionally posts a photo prompt as an inspiration.

She calls it the Serendipitous Photo Story Prompt.  You can write a short story, or a long one, about her picture.  It can be fact or fiction, or even poetry.  It’s okay if it inspires you to use one of your own photos, or a picture you found on the internet.  It’s even acceptable if you post an interesting picture with just a caption, or a comment.  Hey, if that isn’t Serendipitous, I don’t know what is.

Locally, May was one of the driest on record – no rain for the first 29 days – then we got an entire month’s precipitation in two days.  It wasn’t as bad as Texas, or Germany, but it had its moments.

I got the above picture from the son’s friend, who had to be in Toronto.  We were 75 miles away when this happened, and I’m glad!

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Minutia V

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I’ve been slowly working my way up through the list of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, a fact that those of you who had to wade through three of my “Book Reviews (?)”, are aware of.  I’ve read the first ten, with another ten ahead of me.  The next on my list is One Shot, the book that was made into a movie, and started me on this quest.

I recently picked up four books in the series, all on the same day.  I stopped on my way to the Farmers’ Market, to take some cash out of the bank.  The branch was having a fund-raising program, which included donated books for sale.  There was a decent copy of one title – for $2.

At the market, the wife and I visited the Used Book Lady.  She doesn’t often get Lee Child books, and they disappear quickly, but two had just come in, and she remembered my interest, so she held them for me.  She sells second-hand books $4/ea., or 3/$10.  Along with another author’s book, I now had two more at $3.33/ea.

On the way home, I stopped at a Chapters bookstore and bought the next one I needed in the series.  Piggybacking on the son’s discount card, the $10 book cost me $8.

I recently published a post, critical of the French culture and language – only because they deserve it.  The language illustrates how entitled and impatient the French are.  In English, we are content to watch, to see what the time is.  A French wristwatch is a montre-bracelet – a show me timepiece.  R.F.N!   👿

In English, we let the good times roll, and often translate that as “laisser rouler les bon temps.”  But in correct French, they insist, fait rouler des bon temps – make to roll (some of) the good times.

I’m glad to hear that stupidity still carries the death penalty.  The first selfie suicide (at least the first one I’ve heard of) has occurred.  Some macho goof in Mexico held a gun to his own head and his cell phone camera out at arm’s length, and snapped a photo.  The camera flash startled him, his finger involuntarily twitched, and the pic includes brain, bone and blood.

A tourist couple in Portugal, climbed over a barricade and past signs in three languages that said, Don’t Go Here, Fool!, to get a better view of the ocean, 140 meters ( 460 feet) below.  They backed up to the edge for a photo, witnesses say that one of them stumbled, and they both plunged off the cliff while their horrified children watched.

Not to be outdone, there was a large outdoor concert in Toronto this summer.  Somehow, two different types of recreational drugs got spilled on the ground, solid tablets, and powder-filled capsules.  Concert-goers snatched them up and swallowed them.  The final count was two dead, and thirteen in serious condition in hospital.  Not content to merely ingest unidentified chemicals, one of the dead is said to have swallowed at least ten of the pills.

And, the stupidity rolls on!  In an attempt to close the barn door after the horses have died, the police issued a request that anyone who purchased drugs at the concert, but had not consumed them, could surrender them to police, and no charges would be laid.  Orrrr…you could just throw them in the garbage, or flush them down the toilet, and no-one would know.

About a year ago, I included a story about an alcoholic, DUI Paki.  He’d had six or more convictions for drunk driving.  He’d caused several accidents, and driven away from most of them.  He threatened the cop who arrested him, in court, and told the judge that he would just go out and drive drunk again.  His excuse (there is no excuse for this behavior) was his first name.  He was Sukhvinder, and all the white kids had made fun of him and his name.

Recently, a drunken Paki named Sukhvinder drove an oversized dump truck onto a bridge on the main (only) major highway between Toronto and Buffalo, with the dump box fully raised, and ran into the overhead support beams.  The bridge was closed for four days, with heavy traffic going through residential areas, while the damage – considerable – was assessed.

I almost hate to think that this is just a coincidence in names of drunken Pakis.  If this is the same guy, we can now charge him with reckless endangerment and either throw him in jail, or deport him.  Maybe Sukhvinder is a common Paki name.  Maybe they all drive drunk.  I read a story about the legal problems of an actor named Vincent D’Onofrio.  Aha, says I.  I know him from Law and Order.  Apparently I didn’t.  Believe it or else, there’s another actor named Vincent D’Onofrio.

Speaking of names – again….  The Indian reservation just outside my home town, fronts on Lake Huron.  Its backside nestles against the Saugeen River.  The road signs on the highway declare it to be Chippewa Hill.  So the Indians in it are….Ojibwa??!

The little city on the other side of the Bruce Peninsula has two rivers which run into the bay.  The Sydenham, a good British stream, from the east, and the Pottawatomi from the west.  There is a Pottawatomi Indian tribe….just north of Kansas City, a thousand miles away.  Did one of them drunk-ride his horse all the way up here?

Saturday’s Sharp Shots

 

These are the photos of the art knives from the knife show I recently attended in Toronto.  The first four are from the South African maker.  They were not on display at this show, but are taken from his advertising.  Note the patterning in the Damascus steel of his blades, and in other photos.

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This one from a lady maker from Wisconsin.  It has no finger nick, but can be opened manually.  If you don’t tell the nice policeman, it also has a hidden spring, and an adjustment stick which turns it into a switchblade.  Don’t you feel safer that the Government has banned these things? Some of the makers put out notes about their knives’ content.

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The next bunch are by a maker who produces fine knives, but also spends hours and hours scrimshawing beautiful pictures on the handles.  Do you like the coming-and-going, wildcat pair, in color?  He did the same type of thing a few years ago, in black and white – chalk on ebony, and carbon on ivory.

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Hardly recognizable as a knife, this was the most artistic (?), and most expensive.  Note the $14,500 price tag.    😯

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Looking somewhat like an Eskimo ulu, this is actually modeled after a European knife/tool used to scrape the excess off the backs of hides for tanning.  Aside from looking pretty, this one has a razor edge, and can be used to prepare food, or at the table to slice roasts, etc.

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The son bought a $1200 Katana from the same guy who made the blade of the Katana that he won, three years ago.  I’ll show pictures of them in a future post.  In the meantime, the rest of these are gorgeous.

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Sharp Saturday

 

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We had planned to go to a knife show in Toronto on a recent Saturday.  The son’s medical emergency on the Friday afternoon seemed to put that in jeopardy, but when he survived the Attack of the Killer Kidney Stone, we decided to proceed, with the grandson and fiancée, and him well medicated.

The regular Canadian Knifemakers Guild spring show has been suffering, so, this year, they decided to do something different.  They waited till mid-summer, moved it downtown, to an upscale hotel, and made it an invitational Art Knife Show.

This show had as many makers as the usual one, but instead of tables with 50 or 100 hunters, skinners, or steak knives, each maker displayed only 1 or 2, or a few, but worth what a whole table of those others were.  Prices started in the high hundreds of dollars.  The most expensive single knife I saw went for $14,500.

There were makers from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas, as well as France, Germany, Austria, Brazil and South Africa.  Most shipped their knives ahead, some using the Post Office, others by courier.  One guy packed his two knives with his socks and underwear, and checked his baggage with the airline.  TSA will X-ray it, but only worry if there are firearms or an explosive device.

Almost all of these knives were decorated with gold, silver, various jewels, ivory or titanium.  One maker also does his own beautiful scrimshaw.  I have read about the South African maker in my knife trade magazines for years.  Many of these makers can afford to make such expensive knives because they already have prestigious jobs.  They do it for the satisfaction, the creativity, and the bragging rights.

The top Canadian maker is a Nuclear Physicist, somewhat more than a Homer Simpson.  The fellow from South Africa displayed a folder with exquisitely carved hippo-tooth ivory.  It’s easy for him. He’s the country’s best dentist.  Another, with a price tag of $4500, was made of 4.5 Billion year-old meteorite-based steel.

Despite any decoration, or price, he insists that all of his creations are working knives.  A lady asked him if “the meteorite” was sharp.  He picked up a scrap of paper, and shaved a couple of strips off it.  The knives in the teaser photo at the top are his.  For those interested, return tomorrow when I will publish a mostly photo post, with shots I took at the show.

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After we had sated our eyeballs, it was time to think about our stomachs.  I was willing to try either of the hamburger/French fry wagons across the street.  We couldn’t afford to eat in this hotel. The grandson has a friend with Toronto relatives, who has treated him to downtown tours.  He insisted that we walk a couple of blocks over to the Eaton Center, and he treated us to a lunch at an upscale burger joint in the lower level.  We got to see the impressive old 1850 sandstone City Hall, framed against the new monstrosity, which looks like a flying saucer coming in for a landing in a bay of the Mother Ship.

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UFO

Watching TV out of British Columbia recently, I saw an ad for Mucho Burrito Grill.  My regulars know my fascination for Tex/Mex food, 🌯 so I researched the chain online, and tried to find out where they were.  The “locate restaurants” button didn’t locate anything for me.  Instead, it asked me where I was, and offered to show nearby outlets.

I specified a 500 kilometer range, and asked about Vancouver.  The map showed several in Washington State, and a covey in B.C.  Similar queries showed a bunch, centered on Edmonton, Alberta, and also Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  There were only two in Manitoba, both in Winnipeg.  I could find nothing in Ontario or further east.

Big Smoke Burgers’ burgers are served on actual plates, with metal cutlery, and their fountain drinks in glass glasses, a refreshing change from the usual food-court cardboard and Styrofoam.  As I sat, inhaling their gourmet creation, with mushroom gravy, and spicy cole-slaw dressings, I looked up across the huge eating area, and my eyes fell on a Mucho Burrito Grill.

Since it sat in the direction of the washrooms, when I was finished eating and wanted to wash up, I stopped over to investigate.  Mostly, it was as much of a disappointment as the Del Taco restaurant in Detroit.  I could get as good or better at Taco Bell….all except for a plate of nachos a customer carried away, that actually looked as good as the advertising picture – perhaps if we do this again next year.

Since it had begun raining outside, we decided to make our way back the few blocks to the subway through the warren of underground tunnels and shopping areas beneath the streets and buildings.  Fiancée works at Starbucks, and needed a coffee fix.  She used her employee discount card, and stopped at a Starbucks beneath one bank building.  We walked to the next building – and there was another Starbucks.  We turned, and walked under the street to the next building – and there, was another Starbucks.

Starbucks makes good coffee, and runs a nice corporation, but I regard them as pretentious.  These outlets were all in the financial district, beneath big banks and investment houses.  You decide.

All in all, a most enjoyable and educational day.  Pics, or it didn’t happen, so remember to come back tomorrow for photographic proof.