Carnival of Journalism: Letter to My Younger Self

David Cohn wrote us November 12 to let us know that Shaminder Dulai would be  December's host, after the revived carnival covered the topic of modernizing college journalism organizations in November.  This months prompt was to write a letter to your younger self.


Dear Beth,

Don't worry.  Things will work out.

You'll do fine with your career.  You won't always seem to have a plan, but if you pursue what engages you, your resume will make sense and if someone seems like they wouldn't want to hire you if you were truly yourself, you wouldn't want to work there anyway.  Your gift will be the abilities to connect the small daily details to a larger picture with the patience to pursue it and to entice folks to work with you, not for you. That's because you are neither a follower nor a leader n the conventional sense.  If your family fear for your path or others belittle it, lovingly ignore them.

You will be able to make a home anywhere.  You'll be able to be frugal with style.  You'll love to travel, even solo.  But it's worth it to have a base of operations, be it a tiny house or a modest shared apartment with someone companionable.

I only found this out lately, when I moved earlier this month into a new apartment in downtown Blacksburg. I feel at home for the first time in years.  (The apartment is one of 5 or six owned by a local man--not a real estate conglomerate--in an older building.  It has wood floors and interesting details:  a built in bookcase in the living room and a Spanish arch leading into tiny kitchen that features  built-in spice shelves, plenty of cabinets and a wall of windows and windowed-door out onto a small landing which will be fun for eating out come warmer weather.  It's around the corner from the natural foods grocery and a few blocks from the college library and our not-for-profit movie theater and concert venue.)

The former occupant left me the most comfortable queen size bed in a room that fills with light each morning. I've bought my first orchid--a rescue from Kroger's manager's special section. The remaining roommate is a pleasure to be around.  The last time I lived with someone whose company I enjoyed, it was a boyfriend who traveled for work and wanted no more than he could load into his Ford Ranger truck.

That boyfriend and I spent our last four years together in a furnished apartment in a problematic neighborhood in Roanoke.  I wanted to buy a bargain of a house next to my friends in Gainsboro or at least move to an unfurnished apartment and buy furniture--I knew I could find something cheap secondhand and told him we could always give it away or donate it back to the Habitat Home Store or the Thrift Shop.

He vetoed all this and eventually moved on.  I used to miss him for little things, like the pleasure of buying him a bag of pepper and sea salt kettle chips I knew he'd enjoy.  Ironically he now has bought a house near where I took him to see the Baby O's play for their fortieth season in Bluefield before the team moved 13 years later to Sarasota. I like to think I got him started on his way to this domestic bliss by introducing him to an 8" Lodge cast iron skillet as an alternative to Teflon and a Pyrex covered casserole instead of those disposable aluminum foil baking pans.  (He did buy me a Vitamix blender which I still have)

All these years later, I've bought that second-hand furniture from the YMCA Thrift Shop (a place with some great finds that makes TJ Maxx prices look like Macy's.).  It panicked me when the apartment before this one didn't work out and I had to move.  But you know what? I found the much better place where I live now and two friends helped me move the lilac-upholstered armchair, the two vaguely art-nouveau dining room chairs, the two oak desk chairs, the full-sized file cabinet, the white student desk with the delft china knobs, the Galloping Gourmet convection roaster and the twin size bed.

One of those friends is invited to dinner with her husband as soon as they get back from the holiday trip to visit family.  She already gave me a duck to keep in the freezer to roast for them (they run a local CSA farm and I think she might have bartered it for  the chickens that they raise.)

I've got goat sausage and stew meat I bought from another local farmer to feed the other friend when he gets back from his travels out west.  He's got lots of tools and he's promised to help me modify the twin bed frame, so it can be a trundle day bed and we put up company in style.

The little desk fits perfectly in the kitchen as a workspace with a third of the surface dedicated as a stand for my roommate's microwave.  The fridge is filled with homemade soups and various cheeses and the freezer--besides that duck and goat--is filled with frozen fruit to make sorbet and grains to grind to flour in the Vitamix.

And I even found a comfy upholstered loveseat more to scale with the living room when I was in Roanoke AND a kind stranger from the town next to mine who offered to deliver it in his van if I would ferry his bicycle in my station wagon. And, yes, he liked the idea of coming over for dinner with his wife after the holidays are done.

In some ways you'll be there with us, too.



Beer Tasting in Blacksburg: Vintage Cellar, December 20, 3 - 7 p.m.

Looking forward to the beer tasting!

Photo from Patrick's blog post of 11/16/13  (Alberta, Canada)

De Ranke Père Noël

Père Noël is a Christmas ale, though very different from many other Christmas ales you might know. While most Christmas ales are rich & sweet, this one is amber-coloured, 7% vol. Alc. strong and has a pleasant hop bitterness. The complex taste is completed with the addition of liquorice. In the recipe we can also find pale malt, Munich malt, Caramel malt, Brewers Gold hops and Hallertau hops.

7% ABV

Photo from review at RateBeer.com

Gouden Carolus Noël
4 pack

Gouden Carolus Noel is a strong, dark ruby red beer with character and contains an alcohol percentage of 10.5 % VOL. Brewed in August, the beer rests a few months to reach an optimal balance. Three kinds of hops and six different kinds of herbs and spices define the rich taste of this Christmas beer. World-class!

10 % ABV

Perennial Artisan Ales Fête de Noël

Our inspiration for this beer was the bread served during Christmas time in West Flanders called Volaeren. This beer uses a Belgian dark strong ale recipe and adds fresh orange zest and raisins as well as a hint of fresh rosemary. It has a complex dark fruit and chocolate character from the dark Belgian candi syrup and a rummy note from Turbinado sugar. We think the fruit and herb additions will make it a great fit for the holidays.

10 % ABV

Scaldis Noël
Scaldis de Noël was born in 1991 to satisfy consumers seeking a hearty beer for the Christmas and New Year celebrations. A product made exclusively from malt, hops, candy sugar and water, Scaldis de Noël is a high fermentation, filtered beer and has an alcohol volume of 12%. The substantial use of caramel malt gives it a coppery red colour and an exceptional roundness. Particularly carefully studied hopping gives Scaldis de Noël a consistent, fruity flavour with a delicately hopped aroma. A limited edition beverage, Scaldis de Noël is an indispensable reference among the end-of-year beers.

12 % ABV


Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys at Monkey House 12/1

Tour poster (photo by Michael Erlewine) of  Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys: (l to r) Mark Lavengood on resonator guitar and dobro, Joshua Rilko on mandolin, Lindsay Lou Rilko on banjo and guitar, Keith Billik on banjo, and Spencer Cain on bass.


I'm looking forward to the Monkey House concert tonight at Robyn and Jim Dubinsky's: Michigan blue grass band Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys from 6 to 8:30 preceded by a potluck dinner at 5.  It's sold out, but you can email Jim about the waiting list for any last minute cancellations at rhetoric73@yahoo.com.

Lindsay Lou has a bluesier voice than what you might be expecting, which gives her band a unique sound.  Here are a couple of samples.  First a video of  "The Fix" (recorded July 29, 2013 at Bending Sickle Farm in Stockbridge, MI by John Hanson) adds Patrick M'Gonigle on fiddle.

And from the latest (second) album, Release Your Shrouds, here's a video of the eleventh cut, "Lemon Squeezy" recorded at WYCE Radio, 

The entire playlist is as follows:

1. Hat's Off
2. My Side Of The Mountain
3. Tied Down to You
4. Leaves And Pods
5. Pass Me The Whiskey
6. Querida Tierra
7. The Leaves Are Changin'
8. Wonderful You Are
9. Barbarossa
10. The Power
11. Lemon Squeezy
12. All Day

Upcoming concerts at Monkey House include:

April 5, 2014:  Kelley McCrae
June 6, 2013:   Lipbone Redding

UPDATE:  What a show!  Actually Salem musician P. J. Brown was on bass and Keith Billik was MIA.  Here's P.J. playing Lemon Squeezy, but on piano:

P.J. George


Anna and Elizabeth: 12/15 House Concert at Blacksburg's Trad in the Attic

Screenshot of video of Crankie for Lord Bateman and the Turkish Lady, sung by Elizabeth LaPrelle.

There will be Crankie Show with  Anna and Elizabeth  at Mark's (up the spiral staircase at 314 Clay Street SW, Blacksburg VA). Doors open at 6pm this time and the music starts at 6:30pm.  The $10 suggested donation goes entirely to Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle. Folks often bring drinks and/or snacks to share.  You can park in the lot for the Blacksburg Library.

This will be the second house concert for the duo at Trad in the Attic.  I got to see them two years ago at that venue, the Swoop House and elsewhere.

Here's the video pictured above.  I'll be putting up others here, but wanted to give folks as much advanced notice as possible.


The gig is the final performance (at least as of now) in a December tour:

12.07 The Floyd Radio Show Episode 22!
12.09  Home concert, Charleston WV (email hysmith@ohio.edu)
12.11  Home concert,
Pittsburgh, PA (email amtrimble@earthlink.net)
12.12  Darden Mill, Elkins, WV  7 pm
12.13 Pocahontas Opera House, Marlinton, WV 7:30 pm
12.14 The Spring, Lewisburg, WV 7:30 pm (inaugural performance at the former
Fort Savannah 



Photo from Kate Briddle who posted a similar recipe to her blog A Dash of Sass in November 2011.


The November 26 (and last 2013 ) farm share from Glade Road Growing is expected to include Hubbard winter squash, spinach, baby arugula, carrots, purple top turnips, other roots medley. Here's a recipe for arugula and/or spinach and ricotta calzones.  You can adapt this recipe for calzones (or pizza) with any combination of cooked veggies you enjoy.  Vegan can substitute my recipe for vegan sour cream for the cheese and eggs in the filling.

You can you can make this recipe with 1 pound of commercial frozen pizza dough defrosted (or if you want to be really decadent use puff pastry) and a bottled marinara sauce for dipping.

Or, if you want to make this  recipe from scratch,  I've included at the bottom my recipe for a dipping sauce and dough.  You'll want to make the sauce night before and refrigerate to let the flavors combine. The night before you'll  also want to start the dough and then remove it from the refrigerator and let rise for two hours.

I use whole wheat flour made from white rather than the more common red wheat.  It has the nutrition found in other whole wheat flours because it includes  the bran, germ and endosperm.  Since it has a milder taste and sufficient gluten, it doesn't have to be mixed with all-purpose flour.  I have a killer blender, so  I make my own flour from the white wheat berries, but you can buy it in flour form.

Serves 4

Prepare the already-made dough and oven:

Quarter dough, form into balls and roll out each  into an 8-inch round using a rolling pin. Put your oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees and then make filling:


Smash, peel and mince. 1 large or 2 small cloves fresh garlic.

Measure out 8 cups of baby arugula and or spinach.  Rinse greens and pat dry.  Depending on what's in season this will also work with broccoli or kale.

Saute  garlic in a cast iron skillet lightly greased with extra virgin olive oil until golden.  Add  greens and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a sieve and press hard on greens to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible, then coarsely chop.

Coarsely grate 3 oz whole-milk mozzarella
Finely grate 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano

Stir together until blended with:
6 oz whole-milk ricotta (2/3 cup)
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Stir in greens.

Put one fourth of  filling (about 1/3 cup) in center of 1 round and fold dough in half to enclose filling and form a semicircle. Press edges together to seal. Beginning at 1 end and working toward the other, stretch sealed edge outward, pinching and rolling edge to form a rope. Transfer to an oiled 17- by 12-inch heavy baking sheet. Make 3 more calzones in same manner, transferring to baking sheet. Bake calzones until golden and puffed, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before serving. If you are going to serve later, continue cooling on rack to keep crust flake. 

Dipping sauce:

Smash, peel and finely mince 3 to 5 cloves fresh garlic
Finely chop 1 TB fresh basil or subsitute 1 tsp. dried if not in season 

Combine with 2 cans diced tomatoes (or four cups chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, if they are in season),  2 TB balsamic vinegar and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Refrigerate overnight to let flavors meld.

Homemade dough:

Combine and allow to rest for 30 minutes to allow the whole wheat flour to absorb the liquid:

3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7/8 cup lukewarm water

(If you want to make the taste even milder, you can substitute 2 TB of lukewarm orange juice for water.  If you are a vegan and don't use honey,  you can subsitute 2 TB agave syrup or 2 TB of water and 2 TB Demerara or Sucanet.)

Knead to make a smooth, soft dough.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover and let it rest  at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Divide into four balls, coat lightly with olive oil  and let rise, covered, for another two hours.


John Egerton, ¡Presente!

Screenshot from a video of historian and activist John Egerton as he demonstrate how make to cabage slaw, along with Hoppin' John and rice, stewed tomatoes and cornbread, all in an hour (except the beans started the night before) at his home in Green Hills, April 28, 2010 for the inaugural episode of Nashville Cooks hosted by the Tennessean's Jennifer Justus (video by Steven S. Harman).


I just found out from the Appalachian Studies email list that John Egerton died Thursday morning of an apparent heart attack.  He was 78. I was hoping he's have at least another two decades in good health.

Born in Georgia and raised in Cadiz, KY (northwest of Nashville, TN), Egerton went to the University of KY and was the kind of white Southerner our Northern detractors often ignore when they just know we're all flaming racists.  (I learned this when I went to William & Mary from a New Yorker who told me he wasn't going to date rape me since he knew I was a Southern belle, say what?) I knew Egerton the author of the classic Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South and as the good friend and "partner in shenanigans" of the late Reverend Will D. Campbell.

What I didn't know is that he was probably more famous for his book, Southern Food, named the 1987 book of the year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Chas Sisk explains the connection, Egerton

observed that, despite their differences, all Southerners shared a common cuisine and that their stories could be found in the recipes themselves.

 Here's a description by one of the southern journalists Egerton mentored, Tom Elben, who reviewed the book for the Atlanta Journal-Constituion:

John had spent more than a year eating his way across the South without adding much weight to his tall, lanky frame or, he said, raising his cholesterol. His book chronicled the evolution and role of food in Southern culture, including the substantial contribution of black culture...We met for the interview at Hap Townes, a long-gone Nashville "meat and three" where musicians, executives and factory workers sat elbow-to-elbow enjoying house specialties that included stewed raisins. "If I had been braver, I would have called the book The Stomach of the South; I think W.J. Cash would have understood," he told me, referring to the author of the 1941 classic, The Mind of the South.

I really can't explain the role of Egerton better than his friend Elben, so I'll quote him again:

John's soft voice, gentle humor and modest demeanor masked a moral compass that compelled him to speak out against things he believed were wrong.

John's most popular writing celebrated what was good about the South, but his biggest contribution as a journalist and historian was his examination of what held the region back: race, class, poverty, inequity and corruption. He was a masterful storyteller who had the courage to not only report facts, but explain what those facts added up to.
I like to think that if there's an afterlife, Egerton is again a "partner in shenanigans"  with Reverend Campbell.  May y'all's memory be for a blessing and give the rest of us an inspiration to carry on.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/11/23/2949766/tom-eblen-paying-tribute-to-a.html#storylink=cpy


Alex Caton & Pat Egan: 11/22 House Concert at Blacksburg's Trad in the Attic

Cover art of Fiddle Tunes and Ballads by Alex Caton on fiddle and banjo  and Pat Egan on guitar.

Shawn Brenneman has organized another house concert at Mark's (up the spiral staircase at 314 Clay Street SW, Blacksburg VA) Doors open at 7pm and the music starts at 7:30pm.  The $10 suggested donation goes entirely to Caton and Egan. Folks often bring drinks and/or snacks to share.  You can park in the lot for the Blacksburg Library.


There are three cuts off of the 2011 album at Caton's website and they are gorgeous!

Fisherman's Island is a reel I first heard played by Wild Asparagus.  It's on album "Call of the Wild."

Pretty Green Island is a ballad I first heard sung by George Tucker on the Rounder record George Tucker, Kentucky Coal Miner (#0064, 1975) collected and recorded by Guy Carawan in Beaver, KY. Tucker is probably better known for Come All You Coal Miners, recorded on the same label with Sarah Gunning, Hazel Dickens and Nimrod Workman.  Here's his version.

Night Flyer by the late Johnny Mullins (see also here)  is a song I first heard on the 2004 remaster of Emmy Lou Harris Luxury Liner.  (I like Caton's version better.  BTW, here's Mullins singing one of his own songs.  Listening to him,  I think Caton's performance may be closer to how he conceived it.  Sort of like the difference between Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton singing Parton's "I Will Always Love You."  or between Roberta Flack and Peggy Seeger singing Ewan MacColl's "The First Time." )

The window is open - so why don't you fly?
Could it be you have lost all the yearning to try?
Your cage is a prison - they've kept you so long
But wings are for flying - the throat's for a song

So fly like an eagle and land like a dove
Go find all the places you must have dreamed of
Fly away with your troubles and drop them somewhere
And if you're only dreaming I don't really care.

They won't even miss you - or ask where you've been
They'll feed you and listen for a song now and then
Fly over the mountain and come back to me
And tell in your song what it's like to be free

So fly like an eagle and land like a dove
Go find all the places you must have dreamed of
Fly away with your troubles and drop them somewhere
And if you're only dreaming I don't really care

God gave us the places to labor and strive
But if living ain't nothing but staying alive
Then give me the dying if that's what you found
Don't sing on my grave or drop flowers on the ground

So fly like and eagle and land like a dove
I'll find all the places that I have dreamed of
Fly away with my troubles and drop them somewhere
And if I'm only dreaming I don't really care.

But you be the judge.  Here's Emmylou...

Other on the album tracks include:
Pink (mp3 from Reverbnation--this is a longer version with more verses of  what John McCutcheon
  calls "Little Pink" on Barefoot Boy with Boots On)
Peeler Roland's/ John Doherty's / Man of the House (video)
Farewell to Milltown Malbay / Bunch of Keys
The Eagle's Whistle / Crackling Radio
Scully Casey's / The Tidy Woman
 Miner's Song   (This may be what she performs it in this video with other musicians as "Coal
   Mining  Song.")
Mulingar Races/ Jenny's Welcome to Charlie / The Steeplechase (the latter, a west Clare reel, is in this video of Egan playing with Chulrua in 2008)
Wayside Tavern
Nancy Rowland's (video)

The CD was recorded in Caton's home studio in Gordonsville, Virginia and mixed and mastered by the NRV's Joe Bass (Joseph Dejarnette) at his studio 808a in Floyd.

UPDATE  11/24:  At the House Concert, Caton and Egan played selections from their new collaboration with old time guitarist and singer Dick Harrington,  also recorded in Caton's home studio in mixed and mastered by Joe Bass at 808a in Floyd.

 Cover Art from Swimming to Lindsay

Swimmng to Lindsey (featuring Patrick Egan)
Who Will Sing for Me (f. Dick Harrington)--see below
Ora Lee (f. Patrick Egan) (video of Caton playing solo for the 2011 WTJU fundraiser)
Preparing for Him (f. Dick Harrington)
Valley (f. Dick Harrington)
Yew Piney Mountain
Beauty Abounds (f. Dick Harrington)
Morning Glory (f. Dick Harrington)
I'm Thinking, Ever Thinking (f. Patrick Egan)
Polka Johnny / Polka Neilli / Possum Up A'simmon Tree (f. Patrick Egan)

Here's a video of "Who Will Sing for Me" that Caton performed with Dick Harrington in the same "scratchy low tuning" for the fiddle we got to hear Friday night from an October house concert at Charlottesville Friends of Old Time Music (C-FOOT).


Parsnip, Carrot, Winter Squash and Apple Stew

Photo by NYC chef Robbi Geane for  the October 8. 2013 post on her blog Pick Up the Whisk.  I found her photo when I was looking for one that approximated my recipe.  Hers uses sweet potatoes instead of the squash, omits the onions and cumin and uses red apples rather than the Granny Smiths.


Glade Road Growing plans for its November 19 farm share to include garlic, winter squash and parsnips, which I plan to make into this winter stew.

Serves 4

Cut winter squash in half, remove seed and pulp, peel and chop into cubes (Depending on the variety, it will be easier to cut the squash and peel it if roast it a bit first to soften it.  Or you can roast all the veggies to develop their sweetness, rather than saute them.)  You will need 1 - 2 cups for this recipe.  Reserve any extra for another use.  You can salt and roast the seeds.

Peel and chop 1 or 2 parsnips
Chop 1/2 pound carrots
Chop one medium onion.
Chop 3 celery sticks
Chop 2 small or 1 1/2 medium granny smith apples (reserving one cup, tossed in lemon juice to preserve color, for garnish)

Smash, peel and finely chop 2 cloves fresh garlic

If you have a dutch oven, you can saute the veggies and then make the soup in the same pot.  I don't, so I use a cast iron skillet and transfer the veggies to a heavy bottom stainless steel pot.  If you want this to be a main dish, you can add 2 cups cooked white beans to the soup before you puree it.

Saute in a skillet lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil the parsnips, sweet potato, carrots, onion and celery until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to pot.  Saute garlic and apples for about 5 minutes until apples begin to soften and transfer to pot.  De-glaze skillet with a bit of water and add to pot with enough addition to measure 3 cups of liquid.  Add 2 TB miso paste, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cumin and 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes.  Cover and cook for about 30 minutes until all vegetables are fork tender.  Transfer to a blender and puree (in batches, if necessary, thinning with water, if your blender requires) until smooth and creamy.  When ready to serve, return to pot, taste and add additional seasoning, if necessary and reheat.  Divide among bowl.  Garnish with raw apple, and if you like parsley.


Sally and JP also plan to include cabbage and a root roasting mix of beets, purple top turnips, black Spanish radishes, and/or hakurai turnips.  I'm hoping that it will include the black radishes, which will be delicious peeled, but leaving strips of the skin in places, sliced, lightly salted  and sauteed in butter.

Photo by Mimi Kresh for the  February 9, 2012 post on her blog, The Israeli Kitchen.  Although referred to as Spanish, the black radishes are common in Russian cooking.


Why the ACA Fixes (even Obama's) are No Fix

Cartoon by Tom Tomorrow, 9/30/13  "Tea Party Freedom Fighters."

Amid the continuing frenzy to discredit it and dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA, AKA Obamacare), I had until now decided not to write on the topic. I am one of those who thinks the act didn't go far enough and yet recognizes that it's better than nothing.   Then this week I read misinformation being spread by a woman I know and respect, whom I suspect is one of those cancelled. And yesterday, the President retrenched yet again.  Today, the House passed Fred Upton's "fix."

Let me tell you, sister, just because you weren't screwed by your insurance company in the past and want to keep a substandard policy, doesn't mean it's a good idea to let the insurance industry blackmail the President.  They are screwing you now and without the ACA they would be completely free to do so in the future.  Or as Ana Marie Cox has already written in The Guardian,

The junk plans the companies offered did not come into existence because they were interested the long-term well-being of the clients. Those plans were the product of a rigged game that allowed insurance company to exclude for the sick and high-risk from more reasonable policies.
I can tell you this from my experience with Blue Cross Blue Shield (now Anthem since changing its status from non-profit to for profit.)  I was first covered by my father's federal Blue Cross Blue Shield policy, then by a BCBS State Employee policy and then by a BCBS large group policy. When I became Executive Director of a non-profit, I chose the BCBS small group plan for our whole workforce as the best available.  Despite such "brand loyalty"  I received no special protection.  Each time I had to qualify and have my premium determined anew.  When I lost my job,  the BCBS COBRA policy amounted to extortion.  As a "Healthy Virginian," I qualified for a comprehensive, affordable individual BCBS policy--albeit with a large deductible--that couldn't be cancelled until I reached a ceiling.

But then I used the insurance and thus had a pre-existing condition. Instead of cancelling, Anthem, over the years, quintupled the price, while offering identical policies to the new suckers at close to my original premium.  If I wanted to take advantage of the "bargain" I could quit my current plan (and its protections). So as "my" policy premium went up, those who hadn't used their insurance yet switched to the "new" identical policy, which left "my" pool sicker and sicker, thus justifying the huge premium.  If this were too much of a burden, Anthem, "helpfully" offered to switch me to a junk plan.

Let me add, that in doing research, I've learned that those "healthy" folks who got sick enough to qualify for medicare disability insurance, but elected to keep their policy to protect their assets, often got nothing for their premiums.  Although they paid the premium for primary insurance, once they received Medicare, Anthem became secondary.  Oh, and a disability policy from Anthem cost quintuple the regular medicare policy, even if the disability required no additional medical treatment, but just made it hard or impossible to work.

Make no mistake, those ACA critics who shut down the government and are now proposing fixes, want to fix nothing: they want to kill the ACA before it can take effect. Because, as bad as the ACA may be (as a result of pandering to the industry), it IS better than nothing. And once US citizens get a taste of some improvement, they might want a real fix.


Pecan-Topped Winter Squash Pie (Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes Work, Too)

Photo from  November 2003 Gourmet Magazine.


The November 12 farm share from Glade Road Growing includes winter squash and since it's getting close to Thanksgiving, I thought I'd diverge from stews and salads and casseroles and provide one for my favorite pie.

Not having much of a sweet tooth--except for dark chocolate or vanilla bean ice cream--I found the Kayro syrup base WAY too sweet---all I really liked  was the pecans. Decades later, I had a brainstorm: why not top a pumpkin (or sweet potato or squash) pie with maple syrup-glazed pecans? This recipe started with the "famous" one you'll find on the Libby's canned pumpkin, but I tweaked it (a word which has been ruined by sounding something from Breaking Bad or Miley Cyrus), including cutting back on and changing the form of the sweetener.

I'm not much of a pie crust fan, either, finding it a waste of fat calories, unless it's made with butter and finding that the bottom layer always seems to get soggy.  But tomorrow, I'll include my recipe for a flaky, press-in whole wheat olive oil crust--an update of another recipe in the book.

Serves 8

Make pie crust in 10 inch glass pie pan and store in refrigerator. If you are not using a crust, butter and flour the pan.

Measure out 1 cup of pecan halves and toss in 2 TB pure maple syrup to coat.

Roast, peel, cube and mash a winter squash, two sweet potatoes or a pumpkin.  Measure out 2 cups to use in this recipe and reserve the rest for another use. Due to how these options vary in sweetness, you will be using the following amounts of pure maple syrup respectively:

1/3 c. for pumpkin
1/4 c. for squash
2 TB  for  sweet potatoes

If  you like a sweeter (i.e. traditional) pie, you can use up to 1/2 a cup for the pumpkin, and adjust the recipe proportionately for the others. Since the syrup is a liquid, rather than using evaporated milk, you will be using 1 cup powdered milk and mixing with enough water to make make 3/4 of a cup.  If you're a vegan substitute a cup of coconut cream and 4 TB cornstarch and 1 TB vanilla for the evaporated milk and the eggs.

Measure out:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 425° F

To make custard, in a large bowl, beat 2 large eggs.  Stir in the squash (or pumpkin or sweet potatoes)  and the dry ingredients.  Gradually stir in the syrup/milk mixture.

Pour custard into pie pan (with or without pre-made chilled crust).  Arrange coated pecans on top of custard.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream, if desired, before serving.

 The farm share is also slated to includ carrots, spinach, kohlrabi, and a rose roasting radish .  In case you're wondering, the latter is also known as a watermelon radish.  Here's a photo from Sally via a seed catalog:

She wrote me to say, "They can be roasted, but honestly we think they are pretty crisp and sweet (minus the tough skin), a lot like regular small radishes but slightly more fibrous."


The history of this recipe starts when I took home-economics and my teacher Mrs. Altice was selling a 1960's series of cookbooks Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers, published in Montgomery, Alabama.  I bought my NYC-born mother the whole set and what she became famous for, thereafter, was her made-from-scratch Southern Pecan Pie from the 1963  Desserts Including Party Beverages volume.

Made-from-scratch from Mom was a big deal, because she made many other desserts from mixes. Every Thanksgiving dinner she would bake a pecan pie, as well as a pumpkin (using canned pumpkin and milk) for my father. Every New Year's Eve dinner, she would bake another pecan pie, as well as as lemon meringue (using Royal pudding and pie filling laced with extra lemon juice) for Yishe Finck, my pediatrician and her childhood friend.
 After college, I would bake a similar recipe, but in industrial quantities, with the syrup mixture literally ladled from a (clean) 50 or more gallon rolling plastic trash can,, as I sweated in front of the ovens of Colonial Williamsburg's (AKA CW) commissary.

You can find the  1964 version of Salads Including Appetizers, as well as the  1965 version  Casseroles, Including Breads book Virginia Tech's in Special Collections.  Neither of these are even in the catalog for the Library of Congress, despite having an LC number.  There is however a "new" 1979 combined salads and vegetables  edition. The Vegetables Including Fruits book came out in 1966.  I've also found that the Meat Including Seafood and Poultry volume dates from 1962 ...I can't recall the others, since the LOC isn't cooperating.

The press has since moved to Nashville and continues to update and expand the series.


Election Day in Montgomery County and Elsewhere in Virginia

Editor's note:  After Monica Daly of Eats has her registraton purged, Dan Casey asked to publish my comments on provisional ballots as a letter to the editor.  It appeared here.


Looking at the Virginia Code regarding provisional ballots,  I'm not sure if someone shows up at the wrong precinct and votes by provisional ballot, that the ballot will even be recorded in the correct precinct...i.e. you may have lost your right to vote.

So, check the Election Registration and Information System page (ERIS) of the Virginia State Board of Elections to make sure your registration is in order and find out your precinct number and voting location.  It's important. As I wrote last year in "Voter Suppression Close to Home," our registrar has mailed cards (including to me) which show the wrong precinct and polling place. The voting rolls correspond not with the card, in that case, but with your page on the ERIS.  THAT's where you need to show up to vote.

Once you know your precinct you can find out the official slate of candidates for the House of Delegates, unless you live in E-1.  In that case, insert your exact address into the General Assembly's Who is My Legislator's Service page.  As I no longer have a 911 address,  using the county real estate map,  I found the address for several neighbors both on Derby Road (my old address) and Coal Hollow Road (my un-numbered current address on the tax rolls.)  Both show that my actual property, if I had been allowed to register there, would have put me in the Seventh District rather than the Twelfth District.  This is also confirmed by the 2011 map on the County Registrar's page.

After the polls close, the Virginia State Board of Elections posts election results for local races in Montgomery County, where mayors of both Christiansburg and Blacksburg are running unopposed, but some of the seats are in contention for the Board of Supervisors and the Town Councils of Blacksburg and Christiansburg and the school board.  Or or if you live elsewhere, find the link here.  You'll also find links for election results for the statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general and for the House of Delegates.

So which House of Delegates District will you vote in?

Democrat-leaning Montgomery County has been divided (gerrymandered?) among three districts ( estimated 2012 population  95,194, of which 29 k in 2013-14 is Virginia Tech students---which of course often vote elsewhere).  Pulaski is also divided.  As Nate Cohn wrote about Congress--not the House of Delegates, but then his focus is national)
In Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina, GOP-led redistricting packed Democrats into a small number of heavily Democratic, urban, non-white districts, leaving the majority of districts to lean Republican. In those states, Republicans won a clear majority of districts, despite far closer tallies in the statewide popular vote. How much did partisan gerrymandering help the GOP? The estimates vary, in part based on the presumed alternative. But there’s no question that partisan redistricting efforts yielded additional GOP seats.

Here's the breakdown from the General Assembly's Legislation Information page

In the Seventh District, Democrat Michael S. "Mike" Abraham (mike@abrahamfordelegate.com) is
running against Republican incumbent Larry N. "Nick" Rush (nickrushva7@gmail.com).  You live in the seventh if you are within in B-3 (203), B-4 (204), C-2 (302), D-1 (401), D-2 (402), D-3 Part 1 (403), D-4 (404), and D-5 (405) Precincts and part of the E-1 (501) Precinct.  You vote with Floyd, part of Pulaski County (Draper (201), Dublin (301), Hiwassee (302), Massie (401), Newbern (203), Robinson (501), Snowville (304), South Pulaski (202), Walker (402), and West Cloyd (103).

In the Eighth Distict, incumbent Republican Gregory D. Habeeb is running unopposed. You live in the eighth  if you are within A-1 (101), B-2 (202), C-1 (301), C-3 (303), and C-4 (304) Precincts.  You votes with all of Craig County, all of the City of Salem,  part of  Roanoke County  (Bennett Springs (107), Bent Mountain (301), Castle Rock (305), Catawba (101), Cave Spring (503), Cotton Hill (501), Glenvar (103), Green Hill (106), Mason Valley (102), Oak Grove (304), Poages Mill (302), and Wildwood (108) Precincts and part of the Penn Forest (502) Precinct.)

In the Twelfth District, Democrat James D. Harder (harderva@gmail.com) is running against incumbent Republican Joseph R. Yost (campaign@yostfordelegate.com).  You live in the twelfth if you are in A-2 (102), A-3 (103), B-1 (201), D-3 Part 2 (4032), E-2 (502), F-1 (601), F-2 (602), G-1 (701), and G-2 (702) Precincts and part of the E-1 (501) Precinct.  You vote with all of Giles County; all of the City of Radford and part of Pulaski County (Belspring (101) and New River (102) Precincts).


Whole Wheat Pasta with Arugula, Walnuts and Cheese

After I developed this recipe, I found a photo from Colleen McConnell AKA Culinary Colleen (twitter, website) which pretty much looks like what I had in mind.


Sally wrote me this evening that the November 5 farm share from Glade Road Growing will  "0.38 lbs of arugula (large leaf but still tasty for wilting)" and a bulb of garlic--which made me think "Pasta!"  In a way, this is a deconstructed pesto. If you want more protein, you can add 2 cups of  cooked white beans or garbanzos. 

BTW, we can also expect

1 bunch of bok choy
1 bunch haukerai salad turnips with greens
0.8 lbs broccoli (last of the season, small crowns)
3-4 green Carmen peppers
2 small poblanos (last of the season)


Serves 4

Wash, drain and coarsely chop arugula.

Smash, peel and mince 3 cloves garlic

Zest 1/2 fresh lemon and reserve.  Squeeze juice (remove any seeds) into a spouted measuring cup

Shave 4 oz. Asiago cheese into curls with a vegetable peeler

In a seasoned cast iron skillet lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil toast 1 cup of walnuts and remove to a bowl.

Saute garlic with 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes until garlic in 2 TB extra virgin olive oil until lightly browned,  Stir in lemon zest and remove from heat.

Bring 1 1/2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stainless three quart pot with a built in steamer  of and cook 1/2 # spaghetti or angel hair whole wheat pasta until al dente.  If you are using beans add to pasta to warm through.  Drain through arugula to wilt.

Divide among 4 bowls.   Season with salt and  freshly ground pepper and lemon juice  to taste.

Top with the seasoned oil, walnuts and cheese. 


Hollow comes to Virginia Tech October 31-November 1

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


Leek, Potato and Spinach Soup

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

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.


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.


Caribbean Black Beans

Photo from Jill Pennington's blog post

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. 


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.


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.) 

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.