All Stars

Anne’s New Bedazzled Converse All Stars

Jay sent Anne this photo of Anne’s newly bedazzled Converse All Star sneakers. Jay has glammed shoes for Anne, Jane and herself. All three sisters plan on wearing their stunning and coordinated Chucks together for Maren and Dave’s wedding next month. Anne went with high tops, while Jay and Jane went low tops. Anne had to ask if her high tops would make her taller than her sisters? It was really generous of Jay to do this project, because Anne’s crafty dance card is pretty full these days. Number one on her plate being the MAD quilt, which as of Saturday Anne had finished quilting the front face of all sixteen blocks. She still has the backside to do and then a border to be complete. Sunday though she switched projects and began working on the canopy for the chuppah, which she should knockout pretty quickly.

Saturday night, we took Joanie out to dinner for her birthday (It was a big one for her!).  For the restaurant she chose Cunetto’s House of Pasta, which is definitely not Weight Watchers friendly. I must admit that I was more than a little leery about her choice, because of Covid. Cunetto’s is always crowded, which usually results in a long wait in the bar before you are seated. Back in the day, the bar was always very smoky too. Thankfully, at least that is no longer a problem anymore, but the prospect of waiting in the bar seemed to me to be rather problematic. To prevent this circumstance, we showed up early, half-an-hour before the place even opened. we were first in line and were seated first. We got a table in the corner, where we enjoyed a scrumptious Covid free meal.  

Speaking of All Stars, how about those Cards? On September 12th we attended a Cardinal’s ballgame at Busch. The Redbirds won, which kicked off a winning streak that became the longest winning streak in the club’s almost 130-year history. They have become red hot the second half of this month, peaking just in time for the playoffs. On Sunday, they won their sixteenth game in a row and return to Saint Louis to finish the regular season. The Cardinals magic number is down to one now, for a wildcard playoff berth. It looks like a red October. 

Johnson & Johnson & Me

Coronavirus, David Goodsell, 2020

Last March, Anne and I drove halfway across Missouri (Road Trip!) to snag our one-and-done Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccines. At the time, medical authorities were advising everyone who want a vaccine to take the first available one and not pay too much attention to overall relative effectiveness of the different vaccines. We managed to get ours in the first week that the J&J shot became available. At the time there was already some evidence that the J&J vaccine was the lesser of the choices, but we followed orders and took it, because it was available first. Subsequently, with the rise of the Delta variant members of the Pfizer Fanatics or Moderna Mob, our smugly double-dosed compatriots have been clamoring for a third booster shot, to super charge their already superior immunity. Not to be outdone, Johnson & Johnson recently announced that a second dose of their vaccine boosted immunity from 65% to 95%. 65%? I seem to remember that its effectiveness was higher than that before. Now both the FDA and the CDC, our famously clearly communicating medical authorities have approved a third Pfizer shot to boost immunity for old farts, like me. Moderna is expected to get approval for a booster soon too, but who knows when J&J will get theirs. This situation begs the question of what to do. Should I wait it out in the hope that the J&J gets approval for a booster soon, before all of my antibodies disappear or should I mix and match? I haven’t seen any guidance on this in the news yet. I guess, I need to ask my doctor.

Killer Robots from Outer Space

Helmet, Persian, Iran, 18th Century

We have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology E.O. Wilson

For many years now Israel has been prosecuting a clandestine war against Iran, aimed at disrupting their nuclear program. Most of the acts that have come to light are in the form of assassinations of Iran’s top level nuclear scientists (a couple of dozen by now) that are engaged in the alleged development of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Early hit jobs used rather pedestrian methods to kill, like poison, but as the body count has risen Iran’s own defensive measures have necessitated ever more novel approaches, like the delivery of limpet mines onto car doors by passing motorcyclists. Today, the New York Times (pay wall) published an article that details the methods used last November to kill Mohsen Fakrizadeh, the father of Iran’s nuclear program and an Iranian Deputy Defense Minister, who exhibited “an insouciance bordering on fatalism”, with his insistence on driving himself. According to this piece, Israel had been gunning for him for years, with many failed attempts in the past.

With an approach that is reminiscent of the modus operandi employed in the 1997 action-thriller The Jackal, Israel’s Mossad settle upon using a remote-controlled machine gun as the murder weapon. Unlike in the movie the Mossad did not control their weapon from somewhere nearby, but a thousand miles away in Israel. The satellite datalink involved had a latency of 1.6 seconds, making hitting an individual driving a moving car, all the while overcoming the bucking of the machine gun seemingly impossible. The Mossad purportedly employed an undisclosed combination of artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology to overcome this latency problem, according to the article. Fakrizadeh was killed, but his wife sitting next to him in the front seat was unharmed. The Times article read like something out of James Bond.

Master of Light

Thomas Kinkade – Master of Light

No artist seemed to evoke as much revulsion in my mother, Jackie, as did Thomas Kinkade, the self-appointed “Master of Light”. This revulsion has been passed on to my son, Dan. Me, I can take him or leave him. Maybe because I only became aware of him after he had passed and by that time. Kinkade was an American painter of popular realistic, pastoral, and idyllic subjects. He is notable for achieving success during his lifetime with the mass marketing of his work as printed reproductions and other licensed products. There is a store in Monterey that sells his work. I thought that it had gone out of business, but on my last visit there, I found it again. I guess that I can’t get all worked up about him is because when I first saw his work, he had taken to putting Disney cartoon characters into his paintings. I can’t think of anything less artistically serious than that.