sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, May 3, 2013

Blade Brothers (Series Review)

Todd Begg makes custom knives in Petaluma, California and now he's working with his brothers, who've never made a knife -- and he has a reality series which will serve to make his knives (which some may consider 'over priced' ) even more expensive. Todd wants to make knives look as if they were born, not built.

Because he's making one-of-a-kind knives, his backlog has reached to six years. At up to a quarter of a million dollars per knife, it's an interesting sole proprietorship.

If you pump the blades out and sacrifice craftsmanship for volume, you risk dropping the price and losing the high dollar buyers.

The Discovery Channel series features Todd Begg, his older brothers, John (fmr. soldier and oil field worker) and Mark (fmr. fashion model).

It's a new series and the jury is out as to whether it will be self-sustaining in the way that Duck Dynasty or the Kardashians have.

Clandestine Bolo - from Todd Begg's website (above)
Clandestine Combat - from Todd Begg's website
A Personal Note: I have knocked around the custom (also called 'bench made' not to be confused with the manufacturer of the same name) knife business since I was about ten years old and have met some of the old knife making legends, such as Gil Hibben (met in 1965 when my grandfather built a rifle for him) and Jimmy Lile. Both Lile and Hibben priced themselves well beyond my purchase point. Not long ago, custom knife legend, Rick Hill (voice from the past), called me and we spoke about a very cool knife that he made for me prior to a deployment that I made when I was in the US Navy. I still have the knife in its original parachute-safe sheath and it's one of my proudest blades - if not the sharpest. It was nice speaking with him and we collaborated on the selection of a knife that I ended up buying from another source for work in Mexico. It's difficult to find the right working blade for the right purpose.
My knives may be worth something, but they're all work tools, not museum pieces or movie props. Buying a knife that I'd never carry or use strikes me as somehow wrong, but that is what collectors do. 
So I am not a collector, I'm a user. And I have discriminating tastes. I'm looking forward to see how Todd Begg's journey through the reality television world comes out, so I will be watching. 
Watch with me and post in comments below. Tell me what you think about the Blade Brothers. 

Syria and Obama's Political Capital

The Obama Administration doesn't understand what diplomatic capital is, or if they do, they act as if they don't. I'll explain.

I understand and don't disagree with the general circumspection to use of force in the Middle East. The US should avoid sending ground troops to enforce the eviction of Assad from Syria for a number of very sound reasons. However, I'm not even sure that Assad, who has killed 70,000 Syrians recently is worse than the Muslim Brotherhood that will inevitably replace him. 
Because of the growth of Salafist groups among the opposition to Assad, Obama, who said that the Syrian use of nerve gas was a red line, is backing down from that posture. And Iran, which is developing a nuclear arsenal for the stated purpose of using it against Israel and the US, is watching closely.

Despite the fact that most of the countries in the Middle East are not fond of the US, there is presently an overwhelming focus there on the need for some type of US-led military response to the Syrian conflict. Regional states claim they have tried negotiation and that, because Assad is completely unresponsive, they have thus backed the disunified opposition. In turn, Damascus asserts that the Arab League has taken an anti-Syria position and therefore Damascus can no longer negotiate with the body or its members.

In the region, where each Syrian neighbor pursues its own agenda, they all understand that a guiding and unifying hand by the US is likely to achieve results while their own moves do not. The US has a wide variety of options that they can use to GUIDE the regime change without committing combat troops or providing advanced weaponry (that may one day be used against us). In this way, the White House could be present and engaged and have the POLITICAL CAPITAL to influence the future of Syria when Assad falls, as the unifying force in the body of nations bordering Syria which have 'skin in the game'.

The US has made moves such as stationing 250 Special Forces troops in Jordan tasked with recovering some of Assad's hundreds of tons of chemical weapons when the regime falls. That still falls short of leadership and leadership is what's called for.