10/29/13

Hollow comes to Virginia Tech October 31-November 1


Hollow (Filmmakers optimized her interactive doc for Chrome.  Read more about it here.

10/28/13

Leek, Potato and Spinach Soup

Photo from Janice Feuer Haugen's blog post of 12/2/11.

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When I was growing up one of my mom's favorite soups was vichyssoise,  her fancy name for canned Campbell's cream of potato, served chilled, topped maybe with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped chives from my father's garden.

The traditional vichyssoise includes leeks, cream and potatoes and Julia Child says that its origins--despite the name--are actually American (see her landmark Mastering the Art of French Cooking, page 39.) 


My version is served hot and uses Yukon gold potatoes which are so creamy in texture that you will need no milk or cream if you puree part of the soup and return it to the pot. I usually use onions, but since the October 29 expected farm share from Glade Road Growing includes leeks, I thought why not fancy it up in honor of Julia Child.  And, as we're also expecting spinach, I decided to add some, to brighten up the look of regular recipe. I like nutmeg with my  spinach, so I added to my usual recipe.   Alternatively, you could use a bit of cumin, cardamom, coriander and  turmeric, if you prefer a more curried taste.

If you'd like for this recipe to serve as a main course, it's good with the addition of 3 cups of cooked white beans--navy, great northern or cannellini. Those who love meat may want to toss in some cooked sausage or chicken instead. 

BTW, other expected items in this week's farm share are carrots and butternut squash:  add apples, orange juice--and some prunes, if you're traditional--and that could mean tzimmes.

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Serves 6

Coarsley chop the white and pale-green parts of leeks (you can save the dark green parts to make a veggie broth)


Smash, peel and coarsely chop 2 cloves garlic

Coarsely chop 3 stalks of celery

Cut 3/4 # of Yukon gold potatoes into 1-inch cubes

Coarsely chop one packed cup of fresh spinach 
 


In a cast iron skill coated in extra virgin olive oil, saute leeks, celery and garlic over low heat, stirring until leaks are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Transfer to 3 quart stainless steel pot with a heavy bottom and a steamer top. De-glaze skillet with a bit of water and add enough water to make 6 cups. Add 2 bay leaves and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Bring to boil and steam potatoes for 10 minutes.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a blender or food processor  puree 1 cup of potatoes and 1 cup of  soup mixture (without bay leaves) and add to pot, along with remaining potatoes and cook a bit more until it thickens.  If you are serving this as a main course, stir in cooked beans or meat and warm through.  Stir in chopped spinach and cook until wilted.

Divide the soup among bowls and dust with nutmeg or a mixture of 1/8 teaspoon each of ground cumin,  cardamom, coriander and  turmeric.

You can top the soup, if you'd like, with a dollop of Greek yogurt or vegan sour cream and chopped chives or green onions and  cilantro.





10/25/13

The Non-Apology Apology



 Screenshot from DirecTV Commercial "The Mountain People."  I first published this post on 10/25/13 at 8:07 p.m.  I updated it at 5:44 on 10/26/13 to restore the missing screen shot, fix some broken links and update at the bottom of the post.


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Novelist Silas House was up at 1 a.m. this morning, looking at the time stamp on his email to  Appa,he Appalachian Studies list.  And I'm guessing he might have been fuming when he sent a link to  DirecTV's "over the top stereotyping in new national commercial."

Thirty-one seconds which include a dilapidated shack with a goat wandering inside, unkempt folks with terrible teeth and more, yep this ad has all the stereotypes.

Sadly, the comments to the video Silas linked to by user Roller Coaster  included a mention of Deliverance and this:
Why does this Kentucky hillbilly believe the commercial is offensive to Appalachians? The word "Appalachian" or anything similar is not used. The commercial refers to "Mountain People" me thinks this Harlan County hyper sensitive jerk probably has family w goats in the house... Go take up serpants, ya marooooon.

Said commenter hides behind a penname as "Dolamite363," but IF he uses the same one on a certain a dating site, he lives in a town about two miles from American Legion Post 20 on what's known familiarly as The (Jersey) Shore.  IF I've got the right guy, you'd think as someone from another region of the country that's put upon by stereotypes, he would be more sensitive.  After all, the guy with the same moniker on the dating site describes himself as 

intelligent, well spoken, educated... rep for a major medical equipment supplier who likes mountains and has, he is told, "a very smart sense of humor.

After all, look how this New Jersey native Odie Henderson railed against Don Jon at Roger Ebert's site, while Ebert's former partner Richard Roeper gave the film a B+.

Roller Coaster has since disabled comments. Hmm, I wonder if "our side" had started to weigh in or if Roller Coaster himself got offended by the the likes of Mr. Dolamite363.


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Later this morning another Appalnet member linked to  Joe Asher's  Harlan (KY) Daily Enterprise piece, "DIRECTV apologizes for television commercial."  Except, as Silas and others noted, it was no apology at all.  Asher writes that DIRECTV Senior Public Relations Manager Jade-lin Ekstedt sent out an email
It certainly was not our intent to offend anyone and we apologize if there were customers that did not like the ad or found it offensive...The commercial ended its broadcast run on Monday and will no longer be airing.
That's what  Canadian author and illustrator Bruce McCall--best known for his frequent contributions to The New Yorker--would have called a "non-apology apology."  In the New York Times April 22, 2001 "The Perfect Non-Apology Apology" he satirized Bush diplomacy when he gave other examples about how
with sufficiently artful double talk, you can get what you want by seeming to express regret while actually accepting no blame. And this can work even if you're in the wrong!
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I wonder if DirectTV, when issuing this statement was worried about liability, rude or simply ignorant.  Interestingly, in Canada, where stereotype has it that folks are unfailingly polite, Alberta, since 2008, has legislation that you can't be held at legal fault for issuing an apology.

Phillip Swann, who writes on television ads from DC, interviewed Harlan (Kentucky) Tourism and Convention Commission member Roger Fannin, after his comment appeared Joe Asher's article.  Fannin told Swann he tried to contact DIRECTV CEO Mike White to complain about the ad, but 
I think it's easier to reach the Wizard of Oz than Mr. White. There's no way that you can even get into upper level management.
 Tim's Marema notes in the October 25 The Daily Yonder, "Speak Your Piece: A DirecTV Insult,"
The commercial is all the more reprehensible because DirecTV ought to have special awareness of rural markets, since that’s one place where their satellite technology might offer advantages for consumers who can’t get traditional cable.

As always, there’s the question of whether calling attention to the video and reposting it do more to promote DirecTV than to chastise it. But within the pages of the Daily Yonder, there’s no question in my mind that folks who care about issues of diversity and inclusivity need to see this.
Grundy, Virginia based Appalachian School of Law prof Patrick Baker gave DirecTV  in the October 23 (Louisville, KY) Courier-Journal op-ed, "DirecTV's stereotyping latest to alienate Appalachia."

DirecTV is catching it on fb.  One example from John Francis Michael Hickey who identifies himself as from Philly but as identified with West Virginia University:
I have seen your offensive ad denigrating mountain people. You need to fire the people who approved it, withdraw the ad, and publicly apologize. Where are your heads at?
In checking other links for the ad on YouTube, it appears, according to user CurrentTVCommercials that the ad was created by the self-proclaimed "famously effective" Grey Global Group Inc. (twitter).  Helpfully, DirectTV (twitter) offers us this tip on conducting a campaign:  

Join the conversation.  Tweet, & .
 Maybe we should just do that.   If you'd like to weigh in on the video on your own blog, I've altered the links to the videos with the utility donotlink.com so as to not improve "'their'" search engine position."  
Donotlink.com routes links to questionable sites through a unique intermediate url that forwards the visitor to the destination through javascript. This url is blocked in our robots.txt file, so (search engine) robots are discouraged from crawling it. The "noindex" and "nofollow" properties of the link and the intermediate page give robots another reminder to not crawl the link. If a known robot does decide to crawl the link, our code will identify it and serve it a blank page (403 Forbidden).
Or by all means, add you own comments on the video.  (The link I've used doesn't, however, affect the number of viewers.)  User "Current TV Commercials"is still allowing comments.

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UPDATE:  As of 10/26, Roller Coaster  has made his or her videos private, rather than just disabling comments. I guess s/he didn't consider  the almost 7k viewers of  "Mountain People" a windfall.  When I checked yesterday most of the videos had been viewed by two dozen or less visitors (s/he has two dozen followers). 

I've  substituted another link in Silas's quote for the user CurrentTVCommercials.  Yesterday s/he had two commenters, one of whom thought the ad was "so funny."  The other comment was "unbelievable."  Now there are additional comments specifically pointing out how demeaning the ad is.  

At first I thought  think Mr. Dolamite meant "moron" not the dark brownish-red color, since UK fans sports blue and white, however, Rodger Cunningham, who teaches English at Alice Lloyd College let me know that "'maroon'” means a dumb rural person, originally a member of a community of escaped slaves."  I'm not sure how the term transmogrified from slaves to rural people. In checking the urban dictionary, "rural" has been deleted.  Maroon and moron seem similar in meaning now, although in psychology the latter was used to specifically to denote mild mental retardation and was closely associated with the eugenics movement.

10/21/13

Caribbean Black Beans


Photo from Jill Pennington's blog post
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The Glade Road Growing farm share for October 22 is slated to include cabbage, peppers, salad mix, beets, garlic and salad turnips.

Here's a recipe for black beans using the garlic and peppers, which I have been cooking since I read about it in Gourmet back in 1993. This is really good and colorful served over yellow rice (2 cups brown rice cooked with 2 TB extra virgin olive oil  and 1 tsp turmeric) and garnished with "islands" of yellow tomatoes (in the summer) or  cooked winter squash or sliced naval oranges (when tomatoes are no longer in season), topped with Greek yogurt (or tofu sour cream), chopped scallions and chopped cilantro.

If you need less than the 12 servings, the cooked beans freeze well in pint canning jars in portion-sized servings until you are ready to use them. Leave some room at the top for expansion during freezing.


Serve 12

The night before, bring one pound of dried black beans (about 2 cups) to a boil in 6 cups of cold water and simmer for five minutes. Soak overnight.

The next morning rinse well and drain. Cover with colder water plus an inch and start to simmer. (Add water as necessary to keep the beans barely covered).

While the beans are cooking, chop the following:
•1 onion, fine
•green bell pepper
•1 red bell pepper
•4 garlic cloves, smashed peeled and minced

In a cast iron skillet sauté veggies in extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon of ground cumin over moderately low heat, stirring until softened. Add 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook, continuing to stir, for another two minutes.

When beans are soft, stir in veggie mixture. Add balsamic vinegar, freshly ground pepper and salt to taste and simmer for another 15 minutes until thickened. 

10/16/13

Update on Greenwald and Omidyar Joint Venture



Photo of Pierre Omidyar in May of this year presenting an award to  "Global Integrity, for the leading role they've played in catalyzing and convening the government transparency and accountability community." I originally published this post on October 16, 2013 at 2:30 PM writing about my reaction after reading  Rosen and Beaujon.  I updated it at 6:10 PM to add this photo and the section marked update which reflects on past articles by Beaujon and John Letman. H/T to   Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray  and Samir Mezrahi for including Letman's interview in their Omidyar story posted last night at  7:19pm "This Billionaire Really Likes Glenn Greenwald.  BTW, apparently the post was already in the works before Reuter's Mark Hosenball reported the Omidyar connection at 7:06 PM, because they link to him as a confirmation in a 7:29 PM update. I updated it again at 7:41 PM to add my rundown of the coverage via Memeorandum and mediagazer.

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Last night, I speculated about the joint venture last night with Glenn Greenwald , but had no access to Omidyar.  Today he's released a statement, but his only interview was and will be with Jay Rosen, according to Andrew Beaujon, news editor at Poynter Institute.

So, what can Rosen tell us after his interview with Omidyar?  According to his blog post at 11:48 AM, updated at 1:00 PM, it turns out that  Omidyar was a contender for the purchase of the Washington Post. I was right that Omidyar's experience with Honolulu Civil Beat, according to Rosen
stoked his appetite to do something larger in news.
After his experience with The Washington Post,
Omidyar started thinking seriously about investing in a news property. He began to ask himself what could be done with the same investment if you decided to build something from the ground up.

I had thought that Omidyar's emphasis on philanthropy was significant and that this project, like those detailed in yesterday's post would be a project of the Omidyar Network. If he makes this a successful business venture, I hope it will have some applicability for legacy media.

I DID noticed that Omidyar posts often as staff at Civil Beat.  If I had known about the Washington Post  connection or dug deeper into Civil Beat, I might have speculated otherwise.In checking Civil Beat's FAQs, it's a for-profit run by Peer News LLC  and charges $239.99 a year for an online subscription. Peer News is registered in California as a foreign corporation (which can just mean out-of-state.)  There's a summary by Mark Coddington updated on October 2 at Nieman's encyclopedia of news sources. 

Omidyar's new project with Greenwald, whose name has not been released, but Rosen refers to as "NewCo, will be   
 a company not a charity. It is not a project of Omidyar Network. It is separate from his philanthropy, he said. He said he will be putting a good deal of his time, as well as his capital, into it. I asked how large a commitment he was prepared to make in dollars. For starters: the $250 million it would have taken to buy the Washington Post.
Rosen had access because 
As Omidyar was making the rounds to talk to people about his plans I was one of those he consulted with. That happened in September. So he knew I was familiar with his thinking and that’s probably why he chose to talk to me. That’s my initial report. I may have more to say as I sift through my notes and think about what he told me. 

I WAS  right, though, about Omidyar's underlying motivations, if not his ambition to come up with a commercial model:
“I have always been of the opinion that the right kind of journalism is a critical part of our democracy.” He said he had watched closely over the last 15 years as the business model in journalism collapsed but had not “found a way to engage directly.” But then when the idea of buying the Washington Post came up he started to think about it more seriously. “It brings together some of my interests in civic engagement and building conversations and of course technology, but in a very creative way.”

A final factor. His “rising concern about press freedoms in the United States and around the world.” The U.S. has the First Amendment. When the freedom to practice hard-hitting investigative journalism comes under threat here, he said, that’s not only a problem for our democracy but for the chances that democracy can work anywhere. NewCo will designed to withstand that threat.
This is borne out  by Beaujon.  Since he  had no direct access to Omidyar, he decided to add value to the story by interviewing John Temple, former editor of Civil Beat (who edited the Rocky Mountain News,was a managing editor at The Washington Post after he left Civil Beat and now teaches at Stanford).  Temple told Beaujon about his experience with Civil Beat.  Omidyar was
in the newsroom almost every day...[and was] very involved with writing the code for the site... [He has] got a journalist’s sensibility...He enjoyed the hunt for a story, and he’s very open to experimenting with how to tell the story and using contemporary approaches...[Omidyar] gives you the space to do your job....it is much more in his character to build and innovate than it is to transform...He could have bought the paper in Honolulu, for example.
 It also turns out, according to Rosen, that
Greenwald, his collaborator Laura Poitras, and The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill had been planning to form their own journalism venture. Their ideas and Omidyar’s ideas tracked so well with each other that on October 5 they decided to “join forces” (his term.) 
UPDATE:

Omidyar's mention of Poitras, Scahill and Greenwald and their plans to form their own venture  sheds light on AP ReporterBeaujon's September 28 scoop that Jeremy Scahill comments to the audience members at the Rio debut of Dirty Wars.  He announced that he and Greenwald were
working on a project right now that has at its center how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the U.S. assassination program...There are so many stories that are yet to be published that we hope will produce "actionable intelligence," or information that ordinary citizens across the world can use to try to fight for change, to try to confront those in power.

 Also interesting is this nugget from Civil Beat interview with Omidyar on the occasion of  the launch of the joint venture with HuffPo.  John Letman wrote on September 17
I didn’t want to talk about twerking teens or top ten lists of weird fruit. I was interested in what...HuffPost Hawaii might do to shine a light on Hawaii’s often overlooked but massive role as a surveillance and intelligence outpost and headquarters for the U.S. Pacific Command...
Letman links to Nick Grube's "Bow Ties, Spies and Money: A Look Inside Hawaii's Intel Community" from July and writes in details about Omidyar's views on what the media needs to do:
It’s been a little disconcerting— whenever the drum beats of war are beating, it seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It creates a sort of war frenzy...I think it’s a biological thing ... something about the Third Metric can help us balance that a little bit. The male drive is once the drums start beating ‘we want to get out there, we want to be violent’. As a society, of course that's really dangerous. I think the media — parts of the media — beat the drums and accentuate that....Is...[military action] really the only the answer and why is that the first thing we think of when the think of bad people in the world doing bad things?” He said it shouldn't be the “only tool in the toolbox.“I would add that the crux of the debate that needs to be had is how we balance our need for security with the importance of our liberty and civil liberties...

The distractions unfortunately, sort of official government propaganda, really is about distracting from that core issue because people in power with the best of intentions accumulate as much power as they can in order to keep us safe. They give their lives for that and they truly have the best intentions, I really believe, but they lose perspective on not what makes us safe, but what makes us human...

The government assault on whistleblowers in general, I think really impacts the intent on the First Amendment. Without whistleblowers speaking to the press — or any citizen — you don't have to be a journalist, the First Amendment is there to protect any citizen, but without people on the inside able to speak their conscience and then have others amplify that voice, there’s no way for us to check the power of these secret programs. So I think whistleblower protection needs to be expanded, personally.

I also believe that the communication between journalists and their sources also needs to be privileged in some sense and should not be forcibly disclosable and so I think shield laws are also very important.
Letman also included Omydar's observations on suveillance:
Can we be truly free if we are surveilled all the time, if we have no privacy? I think that’s a really important debate to have.
 Letman also observed that 
Omidyar, who in recent months has gone from being an [occasional tweeter](https://twitter.com/pierre to an almost daily Twitter critic of the NSA and other government surveillance. 
Interestingly, Memorandum "leads" with Omidyar's post (but only as one of "more items" below, of course the shutdown media carnival, but also something on drunken college women.)  For the discussion, it links to Rosen  and to Beaujon, but also Hosenball's scoop for Reuters, Andrew's piece at Buzzfeed and Farhi's piece at the Washington Post (which I wrote about yesterday and all of which predated Omidyar).  Other links include   The Huffington Post, NPR, Guardian, Poynter, Scripting News, Mashable, Politico, and Business Insider. As usual for additional coverage, it sends you to  mediagazer.

 Mediagazer, on the other hand lists Jay Rosen's interview as primary with the discussion including Omidyar's post, plus The Huffington Post, Forbes, Guardian, Poynter, CNET, GlobalPost, Subtraction.com, @emtitus, @allanbrauer, @johngapper, @mlcalderone, @jason_pontin, @ariannahuff, @erikwemple, @biellacoleman, @nickkristof, @thestalwart, Poynter, @poynter, @carlzimmer, @jayrosen_nyu, @mleewelch, @jayrosen_nyu, @howardweaver, @clarajeffery, @barryeisler, @jcstearns, @timoreilly, @rafat, @jgreendc, @omidyarnetwork, @michaelroston, @pierre, FishbowlNY, The Drum, Business Insider, Gawker, Pressing Issues, Committee to Protect …, Hit & Run, BBC, The Wrap, WebProNews, The Verge, The Raw Story, New York Magazine, BuzzFeed, Online NewsHour, Talking New Media, Erik Wemple, @hunterw, Hillicon Valley, Mediaite and Politico

It lists again the Huffington Post story in its own section as related, although there's not much original there, other than connecting some dots to other pieces.  The Beaujon's Pointer piece, which DOES have original content, is only listed as related to the HuffPo piece, along with Mashable, @tcarmody, Gawker, The Switch, Press Gazette, Big News Network.com, Talking Points Memo, Slate, The Atlantic Wire, CNET, Boing Boing, @raniakhalek, Business Insider, The New York Observer and Daily Dot.

Also, as only a related story is Reuter's Mark Hosenball scoop, with the discussion including a second HuffPo piece and  The Wrap, Washington Post, New York Times, Gannett Blog, Glenn Greenwald (when that link is to his announcement?!) Mashable, Erik Wemple, PE Hub Blog, The Verge, FishbowlNY, @qhardy, New York Magazine, Softpedia News, Business Insider, Mediaite, VentureBeat, and GigaOM. Which goes to show that algorithms rate popularity, not quality, I guess. I'm glad that Omidyar is interested in both: Again from Rosen:

Omidyar believes that if independent, ferocious, investigative journalism isn’t brought to the attention of general audiences it can never have the effect that actually creates a check on power. Therefore the new entity...will have to serve the interest of all kinds of news consumers. It cannot be a niche product. It will have to cover sports, business, entertainment, technology: everything that users demand.

10/15/13

Glenn Greenwald Departs Guardian for new Omidyar Venture

Photo of Pierre Omidyar from his staff profile at Honolulu Civil Beat,  where his slogan is "Be you. Be cool. Be civil."  The project emphasizes "investigative and watchdog journalism, in-depth enterprise reporting, analysis and commentary that gives readers a broad view on issues of importance to the community."

This post was first published on 10/15/13 11:50 PM.  I'll be updating, as I get further information. 

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So, Warren Buffet buys the Roanoke Times and Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post.  And now enter another billionaire E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar's new as yet unnamed venture, for which Glenn Greenwald will head up political reporting.

The Washington Post's Paul Farhi (twitter)--who reported on the Bezos sale October 1--writes that   a "person familiar with the venture" says it has also sought to hire Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.  (Neither could be reached for comment as of the updated version of the story at 10:21 PM.

Unlike Bezos and Buffet--who seem to me to be angel investors with an emphasis on investment-- Omidyar's history is more philanthropic regarding journalism, especially with  initiatives that foster government transparency.
People look to government institutions to work on their behalf and provide oversight on matters that significantly impact their quality of life. Government fulfills this role most effectively when its activities are open and transparent to citizens. With visibility into government actions and spending, people are more likely to participate in the political process and hold government officials accountable for their actions. When citizens engage in the issues that affect them, they can help to ensure that power and public funds are used wisely and are representative of their interests...

We believe greater transparency will also result in more effective investigative journalism, which holds political leaders and systems to a higher standard. More accountability will ensure appropriate influence and integrity in the political process, and bolster the effectiveness of representative government as a force for improving people’s lives.
Omidyar's  portfolio includes Global Integrity, Global Voices, Project on Government Oversite (POGO) and the Sunlight Foundation.   (Omidyar also funded Newstrust in 2010, back when I worked there. Founder Fabrice Florin left the online social news network in January 2012 for the Wikimedia foundation and announced in June of that year that he had turned the effort  over to Poynter.)

 I had thought that Omidyar's emphasis on philanthropy was significant.  Even foundations that expect impact find "impact investing" problematic. Take for instance, Kevin Starr, who directs the Mulago Foundation and the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program. In Stanford Social Innovation Review, he writes that 95% of the foundation's porfolio is philanthropy because "few solutions that meet the fundamental needs of the poor will get you your money back... and "overcoming market failure requires subsidy."
A businessman in Africa told me that Coca-Cola lost money there for 12 years. In other words, it required over a decade for one of the most competent companies on Earth to break even on the sale of a mildly addictive sugary drink that is absurdly cheap to make. Imagine what it takes when you’re focused on impact. Microcredit, the iconic impact investment of the last decade, required more than $100 million in subsidies before it became a profitable business—and the impact has been disappointing at best.
It would seem that the same might be true of journalism projects in the public interest. Maybe it's unrealistic to believe that traditional journalism can yield great returns on investment when the ever-increasing competition comes from those who have no concern for quality or informing the public.  Even those sites which fund journalism rely more and more on getting free content. Florin-- who had worked at Apple--may have grown frustrated that Newstrust (unlike Craigslist, twitter, facebook, Wikipedia, et al.) was no killer app.  Newstrust was an aggregator that attempted to promote quality, not just popularity.  It did no costly investigative reporting.

After Greenwald issued a statement by himself and the Guardian's Jennifer Lindauerat,  Ben Smith at Buzzfeed reported at 4:15 PM that George Soros, through his spokesman, had denied being Greenwald's deep pockets.  The Buzzfeed story made second place on Memeorandum, right behind the shutdown coverage.  The story was number one on the related size mediagazer.  The discussion included Greenwald, VentureBeat, Slate, Talking Points Memo, The Atlantic Wire, The Wrap, Boing Boing, USA Today, Erik Wemple, @ggreenwald, CNET, Politico, @blam, @dylanbyers, @niemanlab, The Verge, @rosental, @fishbowlny, @erikwemple, Business Insider, @megan, @hamishmckenzie, @hunterw, @jackofkent, @brianstelter, The New York Observer, @rafat, @arusbridger, Gawker, FishbowlNY, Mediaite, @davewiner, @fishbowlla, @raniakhalek, @michaelroston, New York Times, @pkafka, @jeffjarvis, GigaOM, Hit & Run, BBC, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Guardian, @stefanjbecket, Hillicon Valley, The Raw Story, Daily Dot, mUmBRELLA, Online NewsHour, WebProNews and Talking New Media.

Reuter's Mark Hosenball may have been the first one to report the Omidyar connection at 7:06 PM.  Listed as a related story by mediagazer, the discussion included Farhi's story, as well as Mediaite, GigaOM and @qhardy.

While Soros has also launched transparency intiatives, I see him as more involved in activism and Omidyar as more involved in journalism.  In any case, I look forward to Omidyar's latest project.

10/14/13

Kohlrabi Apple Carrot Slaw

Photo by Matthew Holloway from JR Organics (twitter).


October 15's farm share from Glade Road Growing  is slated to include spinach, carrots, celery and kohlrabi.

The word "kohlrabi" is German for "cabbage turnip." While in the mustard family--as are are turnips--these veggies are more closely related to  cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts. All of the latter originate from the same species of wild cabbage.  In kohlrabi, selective breeding has emphasized the swollen portion of the stem.  You can read more information about its origins here.


Photo of white kohlrabi by Elise Bauer (twitter) on her blog post at Simply Recipes.  There is also a purple variety.

Kohlrabi can be cooked and are often used in Indian cuisine. The leaves can be sauteed or steamed like other greens.  I like them raw, peeled, sliced and added to a salad.  Prepared that way, they taste  a bit sharp and peppery with texture like jicama.

Here's a recipe for a slaw.  If you'd like to make it into a main dish, I suggest serving on a bed of a mixture of 3 cups of cooked hulled barley or wheat berries and 3 cups of cooked black beans.

Serves 6


Peel the hard skin from 2 - 3 kohlrabi.  Cut into thin slices and then into matchsticks.  Cut 1/2 # unpeeled carrots and 2 tart unpeeled apples the same. In a large bowl toss with 1 tablespoon lime juice to preserve color of apples and kohlrabi. 




Photo from Quinne Davey's (twitter) blog post.

Mince 1 small onion and 2 stalks of celery.  Place in a quart jar and combine with the other ingredients for dressing, cover with tight lid and shake to mix well:


3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
1 tablespoon dry mustard
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Toss dressing with veggies and apples to coat.  Serve, if desired over, grain and bean mixture.  Garnish with 3 TB of chopped fresh cilantro, parsley or chives, as well as a sprinkle of poppy, celery and toasted sesame seeds.

10/11/13

Steinkamp and her "Marie Curie" come to Virginia Tech October 18



Photo of Jennifer Steinkamp's Madame Curie (2011) from the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech exhibit page.  I first published this post on 10/11/13 at 12:58 PM. I updated it on 10/18/13 after attending  Steinkamp's artist lecture at from 4 to 5 PM on October 18 at the Armory Art Gallery in Blacksburg.  The exhibit will have its official opening Monday October 28 from 6 to 8 PM at Ruth C. Horton Gallery, Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech. (Steinkamp won't be there.)  It runs through December 1. See the bottom for dates for gallery talks relating to the exhibit.

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UPDATE 10/18

I wrote Madame Curie Remembers Radium after reading Marie Curie's biography of her husband Pierre, written after his death. So, of course, I wanted to be on hand to hear LA-based installation artist Jennifer Steinkamp (website) give her artist talk on her own piece inspired by Marie Curie--a multi-channel, synchronized projection originally commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The above picture appears to be part of this image from the original installation there, taken  by Robert Wedemeyer (website) which appears on Steincamp's history of the exhibition.





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Steinkamp says "Marie Curie" was inspired by the frightening and now closed San Onofre nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast.



Photo  (2001) by Dan Kelson for the LA Times.


When Steincamp started reading about the history of atomic energy,  she encountered Eve Curie's biography of her mother Marie, who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics for her discovery of the elements radium and polonium.  She was inspired by reading that Marie Curie loved flowers so much that she would buy them even instead of food when she was a student and that she later gardened.

At the time of the initial installation, Steinkamp gave an interview to Kinsee Morland (twitter) for San Diego City Beat, which I found with exhibit materials by Lehmann Maupin.

Two years ago when the museum contacted me I had no idea what I would make. The idea of a subject came to me driving past the frightening nuclear plant in San Onofre on the way to the museum.

I have had a distrust and fear of nuclear power and weapons since grade school when we were taught to duck and cover. We also watched devastating films about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, the Three Mile Island accident, 1979, and the Chernobyl Disaster, 1986, should have put an end to the industry, not to mention many more radiation accidents. My research has found that nuclear power is too costly on all fronts including living beings and monetary. There is no way to dispose of the radioactive waste, unfortunately Fukoshima is proving these dangers as we speak.

My research took me on a winding path looking at the connections between nuclear power and weapons. I came across Madame Curie who won two Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry for her research. I decided to look at her incredible life for inspiration. Besides being one of the foremost scientific minds in all history, it turns out she was enamored with flowers, her daughter's biography of Madame Curie mentions many throughout the book. I decided to use this little known and perhaps insignificant detail to make a peaceful homage to her brilliance. 

I told her Steinkamp that I was not surprised that a utility would build a plant on the ocean coast.  After all, here in Virginia Dominion constructed its North Anna plant on a fault line that became the epicenter of an earthquake that damaged the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.  (I have to still wonder about leaks, especially after re-reading this piece that Alex Madrigal wrote for The Atlantic.

Margo  Crutchfield (bio), curator at large for the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech told me that she has been following Steinkamp's career for a decade and that she chose this piece for the opening of the center because Tech is so involved with technology and that she wanted to highlight the work not only of a woman artist working with technology but also of a woman scientist.

I shared with her that I had just encountered an article by Eileen Pollack in the October 3 NYT Magazine, "Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?" with a caption "Can you spot the real outlier?" who, of course was Marie Curie.




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BTW, although Southern California Edison, which operated the San Onofre plant announced  June 7 that it would close the plant, the saga continues.  October 16,  the utility submitted to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) a Request for Arbitration for claims against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems for defective steam generators designed and built for the plant. 

October 16, Jason Wells reported for the LA Times that fifty sirens went off  in an annual test in the cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano, as well as other areas of southern Orange County, nearby state parks and the Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton, still required despite the decommissioning.

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Steinkamp says likes to change architecture with light--that she dematerializes architecture with her art and, in turn, architecture dematerializes the art. I'll write about what she said about some of her other work in a separate post.  I'd love to interview her to learn more about her interest in social science fiction, as I'm a fan of disutopian fiction such as The Handmaiden's tale.

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There will be a series of gallery talks about the exhibit by Virginia Tech faculty.

Friday, November 1, 2013, 7:20 p.m.
Holly Scoggins, Director of the Hahn Horticulture Garden

Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7:20 p.m.
Elizabeth Mazzolini, Assistant Professor in the Department of English

Friday, November 8, 2013, 5 p.m.
Joe Merolam Professor in the Department of Chemistry

Friday, November 15, 2013, 7:20 p.m.
Doug Bowman, Director for the Center for Human-Computer Interaction

There is also a projected video animation by Steinkamp and and a 3-D sculpture by Rona Pondick (http://www.ronapondick.com) at the Armory Gallery October 25 - November 22, 2013, "Two Trees," which "explores the interaction of computer-based technologies and traditional art practices." The opening reception is October 25 from 5-7  PM and Pondick will speak at 12:15 PM on October 28, in the Armory.

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10/7/13

Another Moroccan Stew: Beets, Buttercup Squash and Radishes


Photos of heirloom buttercup squash and radishes from the French J&L Seeds and Planet Natural respectively.
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Yesterday evening at the Glade Road Growing potluck, Sally was talking about the survey results.  Although she's only had ten answers to date, the most frequent answer for "least liked new veggie" is either radish or salad turnip.  She asked if I could provide a suggestion for radishes in the recipe for this week's newsletter.

I thought that maybe those folks who don't enjoy radishes object to the sharp taste, which can be  down by slicing them  very thin or by pickling or combining them with fat and acid (think balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil or nuts or cheese. Radishes will also be milder in taste when roasted, braised, sauteed, steamed or stewed. The following is a recipe that combines cooked radishes with the buttercup squash and garlic we are slated to find in this week's farm share.

Other expected veggies this week are napa cabbage (think kimchi, Asian stir fries and soups) and Greenstar lettuce mix.

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Serves 6

If you are going to cook your own dried garbanzo beans/aka chickpeas (which I prefer to canned), start the night before or at least two hours early.  The night before you make this stew or at least two hours before, cover 1/2 # of beans (1 cup) with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Soak for an hour or overnight, rinse, add three cups of water, bring to boil and cook until tender.  Rinse and drain.


Peel and dice 2/3 pound of beets (about 2 cups).  If you want this to be a little less messy and bring out the sweetness, you can quarter and roast them first before slipping off the skins and dicing.  

Wash a buttercup squash (or other winter squash, such as delicata, acorn, butternut, hubbard or pumpkin).  Winter squash are hard and thick-skinned, which make them store well, but hard to peel and cube unless you first cook them slightly.  You can do this by cutting off the stem end, halving it,  scooping out the seeds and fiber with a spoon and baking, microwaving or steaming until slightly soft. Or, to bring out the sweetness, you can roast the halves at the same time as the beets.   Cut the softened squash into 1/2 rounds and peel, then dice into 1/2 inch cubes.  You will need up to 2 cups for this recipe.  If there is more, you can save it for another recipe.  You can roast the seeds the same way you would pumpkin seeds.

Wash and trim stems and leaves  on about  2/3 pound radishes.(You can reserve the leaves and stems to use as a spicy salad green).

Coarsely dice 1 onion or two small onions.

Smash, peel and mince 4 cloves fresh garlic.

Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons).  If there is more, you can save in a jar with a tight lid.

Measure out the following spices:
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes



Coat the skillet or dutch oven with extra virgin olive oil and saute onions, stirring occasionally until softened.  Add the garlic and spices and stir to combine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.  If you don't have a dutch oven, transfer to a 3 quart or larger heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot with a lid.  De-glaze skillet with a bit of water and add to pan.

Add  beets, 2 1/2 cups water and stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beets are slightly softened.  Add squash, radishes, chickpeas, 1/4 cups of raisins, 1 T sweetener such as raw sugar, molasses, honey or maple syrup.  Return the mixture to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring every 10 minutes and making sure to stir to the bottom of the pot to rotate the vegetables evenly, until the vegetables are fork-tender but still hold their shape, about 45 minutes.

While stew is cooking, prepare garnishes  coarsely chop 1/4 fresh cilantro. Slice 3/4 cups of almonds and toast in skillet. 

 Taste and season with salt as needed. Remove from the heat and stir in  lemon zest.  Serve stew over a cooked starch.  Couscous is traditional, but this also works with cooked brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, barley or millet, if you prefer a whole grain.

Sprinkle with the almonds and cilantro.

10/4/13

Poem: Marie Curie Remembers Radium

"Fireflies  Inside" by Alfredo Camargo.  Digital fractal posted to DeviantArt.com in 2009..


MARIE CURIE REMEMBERS RADIUM

Dew on periwinkles
fireflies
moon-bathed high plateau
Pierre in a French window

eyes clear with abandon
dreamer lost
in his reflections.
Light always lured me.
How can it surprise you
I was seduced
a gram of blue glow
coaxed from tons of pitchblende?

I tell you the instant of my calling:
uranium salts kept in dark for months
and black paper shrouded
exposed a photographic plate.

You assume
that radioactivity's escape
from the shroud fascinated a girl
who had lost her mother too young--

a girl, who even before the hacking cough,
noted her mother's avoidance
of kiss
or even an embrace.

Don't. As much as I mourned
and stiffened to others' touch
and even banished God
I tell you

a glass case, graceful instruments,
amber, silk, the gold-leaf electroscope;
I must have been only five
yet, I remember my father's tools.

Yes
light always lured me.

10/1/13

Mr. Rogers: A Beautiful Man in the Neighborhood


This photo accompanied a February 28, 2003 tribute to Fred Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Rob Owen (twitter) and Barbara Vancheri.  Rogers grew up in Latrobe, PA, 40 miles to the east. 


My friend Barbara Schauer (website) posted someone else's version of the following story about Fred Rogers on Facebook, but Marc Acito (website) is the original source,  according to A.W. Hatano-Worrell in 2006,  who quotes Acito's essay, "A Sad Day in the Neighborhood:  Mr. Rogers, Gay Men, and Me" published in Lavender Magazine.

UPDATE:  11/10/13.

After I posted A.W. Hatano-Worrell's version, I emailed 
Acito (email) on 10/2/13 and asked him for a link to the original, which he didn't have, but instead kindly sent me a copy.  I've replaced Hatano-Worrell's excerpt with the slightly longer version Acito sent me today.

UPDATE:  11/18/17:  Today, Facebook reminded me that on November 18, 2012, I had posted the auto-tuned version of Mr. Rogers' "Garden of Your Mind." 

When I was looking at Acito's website, I realized that he wrote the book for the Broadway play about the WWII US internment camps for American citizens of Japanese descent, Allegiance, starring George Takei.  I didn't recognize his name at the time he wrote me.  While the musical 
began development in 2008 and premiered in September 2012 in San Diego, California, it didn't reach Broadway until October 2015, where it ran until  February 2016.
I also learned that the tag line at the end marked it as one of his humor columns in 
"The Gospel According to Marc," syndicated for four years in nineteen publications, including the Chicago Free Press and Outword-Los Angeles, according to his bio at Penguin, publisher of two of his books.  Acito started writing a weekly column under that tag line again on 9/25/17, this time at his blog.
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A Sad Day in the Neighborhood
Mr. Rogers, Gay Men and Me

So I’m talking with my friend Bobo about the recent death of Mr. Rogers
when he says to me, “When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch Mr. Rogers.”

Wasn’t allowed to watch Mr. Rogers? What kind of flicking-cigarettes- at-your-
head, child-services- arriving-in- the-dead- of-night parents don’t allow their kid to
watch Mr. Rogers? Did they keep him in a cardboard box in the basement, too?

“My dad thought he was gay,” Bobo says.

Gay?! Okay, purse-carrying Tinky Winky I can understand. The creepy purple
dinosaur, sure. But Mr. Rogers?

The Far-Out Right would have us believe that there’s a vast gay conspiracy
determined to warp the young minds of America. But I’ve got news for them; most
gay men don’t give a rip about the young minds of America. Forget Tinky Winky;
most of us are just interested in Hanky Panky.

The latest target is Sponge Bob Square Pants. Okay, I admit, the little guy
makes Christopher Lowell look positively butch by comparison, but he is most
certainly not a homosexual.

He’s a sponge, for crissake.

Sponge Bob, Tinky Winky, Mr. Rogers: What is it about these characters
that’s so threatening to conservatives?

Is it their gentleness, which has always been considered subversive in our
“my weapons of mass destruction are bigger than yours” culture? Maybe. Because no
one was gentler or more subversive than Mr. Rogers.

Wait a sec. The guy in the faggy sneakers subversive? Perhaps I’d better
explain.

I went to college in Pittsburgh, where Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was filmed,
and I once found myself seated near him on a People’s Express flight home. (For
those of you who don’t remember People’s Express, it was the first no-frills airline. It
was a good deal until the rubber bands broke.)

We disembarked at the same time and, after making the insightful
observation that he was indeed Mr. Rogers, I found I had absolutely nothing to say
to the man.

Fred Rogers took one look at my off-the- shoulder sweatshirt and leg warmers
(it was the 1980’s, okay, give me a break) and politely inquired as to whether I’d
seen Torch Song Trilogy. “I hear that Harvey Fierstein is awfully good,” he said.
That’s right, my one and only conversation with Mr. Rogers was about a drag
queen.

A couple of years later, my roommate Lisa got an internship on Mr. Rogers’
Neighborhood and she began a lifelong friendship with Fred Rogers. Lisa’s most
cherished memory is of a trip to Boston they made together for a concert. (No, not
to see Metallica, he was doing a children’s concert.) Upon arriving at the fancy home
of a WGBH executive, the limo driver Billy turned to Fred and asked when he should
return to pick them up.

“Why, where are you going?” Fred answered, and promptly invited Billy to
join them for dinner, much to the bewilderment of the hostess.

On the way back to the hotel, Fred sat in front, so he could find out more
about Billy. When he discovered they’d be passing Billy’s house, Fred suggested they
stop in to meet Billy’s parents.

“So there we all are,” Lisa says, “getting out of a limo in the middle of West
Roxbury, Massachusetts to meet the driver’s parents. We walk in the door and
there’s Billy’s dad coming down the stairs in his bathrobe, a cigarette dangling from
his lips. He takes one look at Fred and yells, ‘Holy Shit! You’re Mr. Rogers!’”

Think about it. How would you react if you were sitting around on a Friday
night and Mr. Rogers came wandering in your front door? Talk about visiting the
Land of Make Believe.

“Then suddenly it was like the whole neighborhood showed up,” Lisa says.
“People brought cookies and Fred was playing the piano…it was just magical.”
Billy and his family never forgot that night (who could?), but apparently Fred
didn’t either, because a few years later when he learned that Billy was dying of
AIDS, he took time out from his vacation to call the hospital.

Think about it. You’re on your deathbed, and Mr. Rogers calls to comfort you.
That indeed is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

I don’t know what Mr. Rogers said to Billy, but I’m pretty certain it was the
kind of thing that he said to all of us for over thirty years: “You make every day a
special day by just being you. There’s no one in the world exactly like you. People
can like you just the way you are.”

No wonder the bigots are so threatened.

And that, my friends, is The Gospel According to Marc.