Andy Daly and my connections to fame

I was listening to a recent Sound of Young America podcast this morning and it was an interview with Andy Daly.  As is often the case with the Sound of Young America, I had no idea who Andy Daly was, but as the podcast unfolded, I soon realized that he’s a commedian who’s appeared on shows that I don’t watch regularly (like MadTV and Lewis Black’s Route of All Evil).

In this way, the Sound of Young America is a little hit and miss.  There are many times where I bail on the episode because I’m just not familiar with the talent.  But there are many times where I find the talent to be entertaining (especially commedians) and I am always amazed with the host’s pop culture knowledge.  Jesse Thorn (America’s Radio Sweetheart, if you didn’t know) is a little bit younger than me and he’s way better plugged in to less mainstream talent like bands and commedians but his interviewing skills are really good (something that really should be better appreciated in interview shows) so that even though some of the people he has on his show may not be that familiar to me, I am still often drawn into the interview.

I was immediately drawn to Andy’s telling of the MustacheTV story and so I found myself mindlessly listening to the interview.  Somewhere along the way, Andy talks about his upbringing in New Jersey and how his small town had a community swimming pool, much like so many of the towns near mine.  This piqued my interest enough to google him to see where he was from.  And it was then that I realized that I knew Andy Daly.  He and I went to college together.

Now let me be clear.  I knew of Andy Daly.  I don’t know Andy Daly.  He does not know me.  I think we were at a few of the same parties and bars and even a class or two but that’s the extent of it.  But it’s funny how once you have a shared connection with someone you suddenly feel more supportive of them.  I now find myself wanting to watch Lewis Black’s show, or old MadTV episodes, or even Match Game, of which he is reportedly the new host.

And yet, I imagine that I won’t diligently follow his career, and I probably won’t see him on MadTV.  But I will still get excieted if I channel surf and happen upon him.  I’ll still cheer him on and hope that he achieves greater fame.  It’s a funny thing, having these contacts from throughout life that come and go.  You never know when you may come upon them again nor in what context.

In this case, I have Jim to thank for pointing me towards the Sound of Young America.  It’s another in the series of podcasts that I recommend and regurlarly listen to.  And without that recommendation, I wouldn’t have known of my connection to fame in Andy Daly.

Sierra Club California Elections guide

I received this email today from the Sierra Club, sugesting some voting positions.  I use several sources when it comes to deciding on elections – and I find the Sierra Club to be one of those valuable resource when it comes to voting on the environment.  I don’t always agree with them but they provide a viewpoint from which one can base their decision.  I thought I’d share the email for those looking for some information on some of the issues facing us in the upcoming ballots:

Dear Christian:

I don’t have to tell you how important this election is. This year, we decide how our nation will address global warming, our energy future and find out whether we can build up a green economy from the news of financial ruin.

We’re also making a lot of important decisions here in California, many of them centered around the same concerns. We have a chance to turn back bad energy, alternative fuels and family planning policies, to make a real difference in the amount of greenhouse gases we produce, and to protect our waterways from factory farm pollution.

Please consider these five recommendations this Election Day:

  1. “Yes” on Proposition 1A. It’s time to get high-speed rail on track! It’s our best way of quickly moving people around our great state without producing any pollution. Powered by zero-emission energy, high-speed rail could remove 12 billion tons of global warming pollution from our atmosphere!
  2. “No” on Proposition 7. A poorly drafted, poorly vetted measure that actually weakens California’s existing renewable power laws and could stall the growth of renewable power in our state. The goals contained within this measure are ambitious, but the proposition lacks the necessary provisions to achieve its target.
  3. “No” on Proposition 10. Asks taxpayers to fund $5 billion in bonds for a scheme disguised as an effort to benefit the environment. Instead, the measure will benefit a select group of natural gas producers and manufacturers, wasting money and time on technologies that won’t address global warming or promote clean air.
  4. “Yes” on Proposition 2. Not only will this pro-animal initiative make conditions better for farm animals, it will also reduce the concentration of harmful animal-waste pollution from factory farms.
  5. “No” on Proposition 4. Let’s turn back this bad family planning idea, and send a strong message against this dangerous amateur-abortion-promoting measure.

Thank you for all you do to protect the environment,

Bill Magavern
Sierra Club California Director

An Open Letter to the Farmer in Chief

I’m a big fan of the New York Times online.  I’ve grown up with the New York Times always on the kitchen table – that is until I went off to school – and I’ve really enjoyed being able to read the paper online, as I find it much more consumable while at a computer, or more recently on my iPhone.

This last week they had an excellent article in the Magazine section written by Michael Pollan about the current state of our nation’s food system and what the next president should take into consideration about the challenges that will most likely face us in the coming decade.

I can’t recommend the article enough, though this is one instance where the paper version might be more digestible as the online article is 9 pages long (impossible on an iPhone, manageable on a computer over a few sittings).

One of the things that Pollan does is suggest a few White House specific activities that I think make a ton of sense and could help spread a message to the rest of the country (assuming people still pay attention to what the president actually does and not just what the news agencies report on what he says).

“..there is the power of the example you set in the White House. If what’s needed is a change of culture in America’s thinking about food, then how America’s first household organizes its eating will set the national tone..

“..You should make a point of the fact that every night you’re in town, you join your family for dinner in the Executive Residence — at a table… And you should also let it be known that the White House observes one meatless day a week — a step that, if all Americans followed suit, would be the equivalent, in carbon saved, of taking 20 million midsize sedans off the road for a year.

“..Let the White House chef post daily menus on the Web, listing the farmers who supplied the food, as well as recipes.

“.. tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden. When Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943, she <started a> movement that ended up making a substantial contribution to feeding the nation in wartime.  By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America.

The article gives a lot of detail about the current state of the American food system – a system I feel is quite broken – and he provides some great recommendations for how to make changes for the better.

This is one area that should be of interest to everyone and whether you agree with Pollan or not, the article provides an excellent platform for a real discussion.

Ahh, I love these

Got this in my email today – it’s timely too, as I listened to a This American Life podcast this morning on my way to work about people who actually reverse-scam these guys.

Anyway, enjoy!

From: Andrew Hornsby

Dear Friend,

I am Andrew Hornsby, a barrister here in the United Kingdom. I am writing following an opportunity in my office that will be of immense benefit to both of us. I was the legal counsel to the late Udo Pleines, a German who unfortunately lost his life in the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia.

Before his death, I assisted him deposit a consignment containing the sum of US$19.1M (Nineteen Million One Hundred Thousand US Dollars) with a financial institution in one of the major cities here in Europe. Since I got information about his death, I have been expecting his next of kin or relatives to come over and claim his money. Unfortunately I learnt that his supposed next of kin being his wife died along with him in the tsunami leaving nobody with the knowledge of this fund behind for the claim.

It is therefore upon this discovery that I now decided to do business with you and release the money to you as the next of kin or beneficiary of the funds for safe keeping and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it. I would need you as a Foreigner acting as the next of kin and sole benefactor to the inheritance of late Udo Pleines to claim the funds for us to share.

There is no risk involved at all in the matter as I am going to adopt a legalized method and prepare all the necessary documents. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue. Once the funds have been transferred, we shall share in the ratio of 60% for me, 35% for you and 5% for any expenses incurred during the course of this operation. Should you be interested, please send me your telephone and fax numbers for easy communication through this email address.

In the event you are not interested, I sincerely ask that you disregard this email and tell no one about it. I am very careful not to truncate my legal career should you mention this to someone else. I hope you can be trusted in this regard.

Please note that all necessary arrangement for the smooth release of these funds to you have been finalised. We will discuss more in detail when I do receive your response.

Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.

Yours truly,

Andrew Hornsby

See?  Isn’t that fun?  It does amaze me that these things are profitible enough for the scammers.  I mean, come on.

This American Life is another of the podcasts that I regularly listen to.  And because I enjoy it, I donated a small amount via their website – just as I was asked.  I really like the micropayments method of business – of course it only works if you have a critical mass of followers though.

T Boone Pickens?

I’ve seen several of the T. Boone Pickens ads on television – the ones that talk about “bridging the gap” in our energy needs – and I’ve wondered, from afar, who the heck this T. Boone Pickens is and what his plan calls for.

After the presidential debates this evening, I decided to take a gander at his web site, at

Watching the ads, I was definitely skeptical about the Pickens Plan – it just smacks of one of those friendly, good-for-all issues that ends up in reality as a confusing, misleadingly named stab in the back that the problem it pretends to support.

The website has the same feel to it.

And T. Boone Pickens is an oil man through and through.  But, he claims he’s done making money and he’s interested in what gets left behind for future generations.

Reading through the plan it doesn’t have any gotcha backdoors to it – at least as far as one can tell by the limited information available.  The basic tenants are to support massive infrastructure in wind power and at the same time, invest in natural gas vehicles (mostly for fleet vehicles, not so much for personal vehicles) as an alternative to gasoline vehicles.  This would act more to reduce dependence on foreign oil by transferring that need to natural gas but help less on global climate issues.

For ‘energy independence’ it would help reduce the amount of oil we need to import, and if we could convince other nations to do the same we could reduce the power other nations have gained (Iran, Russia, Venezuela) from the rising price of oil.

From an environmental perspective, it’s somewhat better to burn natural gas than oil and the support of wind power is great.  It’s not a long-term solution, but it doesn’t claim to be.  In the long term we clearly need to figure out hot to get away from fossil fuel engines.  But is this the bridge that’s needed to get us there? Does the cost/time/effort of transitioning fleets to natural gas buy us enough environmental benefit for this to be a really suitable bridge?

For more information about energy and how it impacts the environment and global policies, I highly, highly recommend a couple of podcasts:

The first is a Fresh Air interview with Thomas Friedman who makes a strong case for how our oil dependence has really empowered nations that we’d really prefer not to empower.

The second is a Commonwealth Club of California discussion with Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (search for her name on the linked page).  She speaks very eloquently about the importance of a comprehensive energy plan and all of the ways in which we are impacted without one.