The Wires

Public Service Announcement

November 26: Washington Post: "Federal health officials said Monday that only romaine lettuce from certain parts of California is unsafe to eat and that romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled to give consumers information about when and where it was harvested. If consumers, retailers and food service facilities cannot determine whether the romaine was grown outside California, they should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one got sick, according to a lengthy statement from Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. FDA officials said the most likely source of contamination is from the Central Coast growing regions in northern and central California. Romaine lettuce harvested outside those regions 'does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,' the FDA said. Hydroponically grown and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be affected in the outbreak. Romaine from those sources is safe to eat, the FDA said."

... November 20: New York Times: "In a sweeping alert, federal health officials warned people not to eat romaine lettuce anywhere in the country, after 32 people in 11 states fell sick with a virulent form of E. coli, a bacteria blamed for a number of food-borne outbreaks in recent years. The notice, issued Tuesday afternoon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said consumers should not buy or eat any kind of romaine, whether chopped or whole, and restaurants should stop serving it. Anyone who has romaine, the health agency said, should throw it out." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Okay then, guess I'll throw out that romaine. Already ate one head, and I ain't dead yet.

"The Christmas Comet Returneth." New York Times: "Look into the night sky on Sunday [December 16] and you just might see a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. That’s because a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries, right on the heels of this year’s most stunning meteor shower. 'The fuzziness is just because it’s a ball of gas basically,' Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, said on Saturday morning.... 'You’ve got a one-kilometer solid nucleus in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles.' The comet glows green because the gases emit light in green wavelengths. The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the 'Christmas comet,' was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who discovered it in 1948. It orbits the sun once every 5.4 years, passing by Earth approximately every 11 years, but its distance varies and it is rarely this close. As the comet passes by, it will be 30 times farther from Earth than the moon, NASA said.”

By George O'Keefe or somebody.Maybe the Best Gift Would Be a Spell-Check App. Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Way back in November (so Slate has had plenty of time to make corrections), someone named Angela Serratore (hope I spelled that right), wrote a post for Slate, which is featured on its main page now, suggesting gifts from small museum shops. That's a nice thought, but it would have been even nicer if the story had not misspelled Georgia O'Keeffe three times: twice as "Georgia O'Keefe" & once as "George O'Keefe." But never "Georgia O'Keeffe."

Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi leaving the White House Wednesday, Dec. 12, after making mincemeat of Donald Trump.Everybody Loved Nancy's Coat! It's turns out it's from a 2013 Max Mara collection. According to Ana Colón of Glamour, "the Italian fashion house sent out a press release that not only confirmed the origins of Pelosi's coat but also announced that Max Mara would be reinstating the Glamis into its outerwear collection in 2019. 'In a variety of colorways,' no less! A spokesperson for the brand confirmed to Glamour that the decision to bring it back was inspired by Pelosi."

Isabel Wilkerson reports, in the New York Times, on Michelle Obama's book Becoming. It's quite a compelling read.

Reality Chex Bargain. Someone will pay $1 million or more for a letter written by Albert Einstein. You can read it for free. ...

... New York Times: The "God Letter," "written [in German] in 1954 by Albert Einstein ... is being auctioned this week.... He sent the handwritten letter to Eric Gutkind, a German philosopher who had written a book called 'Choose Life: The biblical Call to Revolt' that, apparently, Einstein did not much like.... Einstein wrote dozens of letters in which he mentioned God or Judaism. 'Nobody should read one Einstein letter and think that solves what he thinks about God,' Walter Isaacson, the author of the 2007 biography 'Einstein,' said in an interview.... The letter surfaced in 2008. Until then, it had apparently been in the hands of Gutkind’s heirs (he died in 1965). And it rocketed into the universe of big-money auctions, selling for $404,000 in London.... It will go on the block at Christie’s on Tuesday. Christie’s set a presale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million."

Here's New York magazine's take on A Very Melanie Christmas:

... AND Rhonda Garelick of New York has some thoughts on why Melanie's Red Forest is so empty of holiday cheer.

Chris Hayes reviews this year's White House holiday decor:

So if you'd like to read all about Mika Brzezinski's wedding to Joe Scarborough, Emily Fox of Vanity Fair obliges. It sounds as if it was a very nice ceremony. Except, you know, Mika & Joe.

Kwitcherbitchin. Think things are bad now? They were way worse in 536 C.E. A report in Science explains.

Click on picture to see larger image.

... New York Times: "A celebrated and enigmatic painting of two men and a turquoise pool by David Hockney sold at Christie’s on Thursday night for $90.3 million with fees, shattering the auction record for a living artist and cementing a major broadening of tastes at the turbocharged top end of the market. The price for the 1972 painting, 'Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),' easily surpassed the previous high of $58.4 million, held by Jeff Koons for one of his 'Balloon Dog' sculptures."

Jennifer Szalai of the New York Times reviews Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming.


Things I Learned Yesterday Filing My Taxes

You can pay your estimated federal taxes online, something I'm about to try as I'm snowed & iced in today. Update: I did it. It's a bit more complicated that writing a check as you may have to dig up a previously-filed 1040 for verification purposes. But it appears to have worked, & was less perilous (I hope) than hiking through snow, sleet, ice & rain to my local PO dropoff box.

You can pay any federal taxes due online, too. For once I overpaid my estimated taxes, so I didn't try this.

Having trouble getting your computer & printer to communicate? I was able to scan from my PC to the printer yesterday, but I could no longer scan from the printer to the computer (which I needed to do to send the signed tax docs back to my accountant -- [tho to save time, I sent her a electronic signature first]). I spent about 6 hours doing all things sensible & superstitious to rectify the matter & finally gave up & called Best Buy's Geek Squad. It turns out that Windows has an app built into the software called "Windows Fax & Scan." You should be able to find it by typing "WFS" in the Windows search box (bottom left-hand corner of the screen). The Geek guy made me a desktop button for the app, which is helpful if you're going to use it a lot. Of course you have to have already established a wireless connection between your computer & printer, but my annoying Canon printer would tell me the connection was good -- until I wanted to scan. The Windows Fax & Scan is super-easy to use; the instructions are self-explanatory.

The Trump-Ryan-McConnell Republican tax "reform" law will raise my federal taxes by 15% to 20% next year, according to my accountant. ...

     ... Update: To add insult to injury, Trump went to the town where I grew up -- Hialeah, Florida -- to lie about all the big tax breaks ordinary people like me would get under his favorite tax bill. Then he left to go to Mar-a-Lago, the resort he owns which I could not afford to visit if I wanted to (and I don't).

If you have any wise tips (or corrections to mine) learned in the tax-filing process, please share.

Reader Comments (2)

Tangentially relevant?

An old idea updated recently on "Vox".

Makes sense so it probably has a snowball's chance.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Bea, you are a far braver woman than I am. The very thought of filing electronically is alarming to me. My accountant knows I will only file on paper and via certified mail. Yeah, she always makes me sign a document that this is what I want...but, I have a deep skepticism about how well the IRS online security is...that goes for Social Security, too. With budget cuts...I have to wonder how much money goes into supporting and creating the safety factors needed for sites where such invaluable info goes.

Yeah, I know...once they get my paper filings they probably have someone input the data into their computer system so it is there electronically anyhow. But, at least I don't feel complicit.

April 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMAG
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