Auction #2 for Freethought Blogs Legal Defense Fund

This for the FtB legal defense fund. See [pha] for details. Rules are below:

AUCTION CLOSED – Winning bid: $301

For your consideration we are auctioning “Goth Black Lightning” – a chef’s pwning knife in 1095 and 15N20 high carbon steel with a pure nickel layer in the transition-zone. The handle is ebony, .99 fine silver, and resin-impregnated 7000 year old (1000 years before god made the earth!) bog oak. There’s a fine silver pin at the butt of the knife because, honestly, everyone benefits from having their butt pinned on, don’t they?

The darker 1095 slumbers between two layers of pure nickel, and high nickel 15N20 high carbon steel, just waiting to wake up and cut the beejeebers out of something.

Overall length is about 14″ with the handle about 6″.

Flaws: There are scratches on the blade, but they’re not too pronounced. The transition-line at the tang to the handle has some highly visible scratches and would have benefited from hours and hours of careful polishing. Which, it did not get.

[Note, I am doing another auction in parallel with this one, so if your taste is less gothic, you may wish to check that one out first.]

High carbon stains and can rust, so it needs to be cleaned and lightly oiled before it’s put away for any period of time. Red meat will stain the blade in an attractive bluish color so everyone will know you’re not a vegan. The handle can be brought back to looking great by the simple expedient of rubbing a drop of olive oil (literally, a drop) across the wood in the palm of your hand. Do not put this in a dishwasher. Do not hammer on things with that ebony end-cap; ebony is tough but you can break it if you try.

The cloudy-looking transition-zone along the edge is where the 1095 (high carbon steel) is sticking out from between the layers of 15N20 and nickel. It is not a temper-line. The blade is edge-quenched in a way so as to de-emphasize a temper line and the nickel transition zone provides sufficient visual “grab” – this is a fairly dramatic-looking knife.


You can bid in the comments, or bid by emailing me [link]. If you email, I will assume that you wish to remain anonymous and will post a comment in the bidding section that reads: “Anonymous bid in the amount of $___”

Whoever bids the most for the knife wins it for $1 more than the second highest bidder bid. For example, if I bid $75 and Joe bids $50 and I’m the highest bidder, that makes Joe the second highest bidder, and I win the knife for $51. This is a variation of the Ebay bidding algorithm and, while it is less effective at milking money from the bidders, it discourages people from feeling that they need to log in at the last minute and try to bid over someone else. At the time when bidding closes, whichever bid is the highest, whether it’s email or a comment, wins.

The winner is expected to donate the agreed-upon amount to the defense fund and send me suitable proof (a screenshot or whatever) and give me a shipping address, and I’ll send the knife along.

Since we don’t have an automated bidding system like Ebay, I’d like to discourage “auction sniping.” If you want the knife, bid what you’re willing to pay for it and just see what happens. If you simply must have it, bid $1million for it and if the second highest bidder bids $50, it’s yours for $51.

If you lose, you owe nothing! Never before has it been easier to not have a really nice knife!


------ divider ------

I am doing this auction this way because I want to give FtB members first shot at it. If I post this on ebay and instagram it, then FtB members would be bidding against well-heeled internet security millionaires. Obviously, I’d like to maximize the amount I can raise for FtB but it seems that auctioning more knives at a reasonable price is better than trying to auction one for an overreached price.

What is a “pwning knife”? To “pwn” (pronounced ‘pawn’) is hacker-speak from the 90s for “to totally own someone’s systems” – the term got uploaded into gaming community and now I sometimes hear gamers use it and they don’t even know its origin. The implication of a “pwning knife” is that it’s a knife that a chef might use to totally dominate their kitchen against all enemies, whether they be foodstuffs or foes. In other words, this is a tactical chef’s knife.

My blog comment policy requires manual approval of everyone’s first posting. So if you don’t see a comment/bid, please be patient. Also, if you email me from a gmail account and don’t get a reply, check your spam box, because gmail hates Marcus for some reason.


  1. xohjoh2n says

    (I had a choice of which of the two posts to make this point. I guess that makes obvious my proclivities.)

    I’d always heard it and assumed it was pronounced to rhyme with “own” rather than “pawn”.

    See how this expert in the field pronounces it.

  2. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Yeah, its pronounced p-own, or pone. And the original is a common typo when typing “own” really fast and you hit the p by mistake, it happened often enough to become part of the lexicon. It just meant own for a while, then the definition expanded to total dominance of one’s opponent.

    Hack the planet!!

  3. says

    See how this expert in the field pronounces it.

    That’s cute. I wonder if he’s anyone I know.

    [Not to brag, but I have contributed a few terms of art to the field including “bastion host” and my favorite: “rubber hose cryptanalysis” which was inspired by tequila. In terms of “l33t” speak, let me just say that the l33t who started using that language in the mid/late 90s were the n00bs of my generation of practitioners.]

  4. bryanfeir says

    Well, the date on the xkcd image itself, as reported by the web server, is February 1, 2010. For what that’s worth, which obviously isn’t much if somebody wanted to fake it.

    Schlock Mercenary referenced the term back in 2006, as well as a few times later:

    It’s a term recognized by a lot of interested laymen these days.

  5. penihu says

    Assuming you can ship this thing to Switzerland, I am willing to bid USD 300 for it.

  6. says

    Assuming you can ship this thing to Switzerland, I am willing to bid USD 300 for it.

    I’m willing to ship it. I have (so far!) had little trouble with shipping knives.
    So at $300 you are the leading bidder.

  7. says

    I want to comment that both of those knives are gorgeous.

    Thanks! I know you know the feeling of looking at an object and going “hey that’s hours of my life sitting right there!”

  8. penihu says

    Congratulations CJO, I suppose you are the winner.

    Of course I still donated to the FtB fund, though admittedly a bit less than 300.

  9. CJO says

    Good. Frankly I’m glad it got a higher bid. For a while it looked as if i might get it for 200 which seemed paltry for the time and effort Marcus spent on the knife. Thanks for also contributing.

Leave a Reply