Tag Archives: San Francisco

Ten Rules For Success Not A Myth

Adam Savage is a dude who knows about which he speaks.

A special effects master, a Maker, a knowledgable sort-of scientist, an amazing television co-host of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, Savage is an all-round astonishingly good guy.

He spoke recently at a theatrical event for Makers, designers, engineers, eccentrics and anyone who wants to be around clearly odd folks like that in San Francisco. His topic was on how to succeed. Savage didn’t actually say succeed in what. But, after looking over the interesting assortment of suggestions he put forth, I’m thinking these ideas could apply just about anywhere.

I’m going to just run them here because, really, there’s not much I could add right now*. Thanks to boingboing.net, which originally ran the list.

1. Get good at something.
Really good. Get good at as many things as you can. Being good at one thing makes it easier to get good at other things.

2. Getting good at stuff takes practice.
Lots and lots of practice.

Everyone at the top of their field is obsessed with what they’re doing.

4. Doing something well and thoroughly is its OWN reward.

5. Show and Tell.
If you do something well and you’re happy with it, for FSM’s sake, tell EVERYONE.

6. If you want something, ASK.
If something piques your interest, tell someone. If you want to learn something, ask someone, like your BOSS. As an employer, I can tell you, people who want to learn new skills are people I want to keep employed.

7. Have GOALS.
Make up goals. Set goals. Regularly assess where you are and where you want to be in terms of them. This is a kind of prayer that works, and works well. Allow for the fact that things will NEVER turn out like you think they will, and you must be prepared to end up miles from where you intended.

8. Be nice. To EVERYONE.
Life is way too short to be an asshole. If you are an asshole, apologize.

9. FAIL.
You will fail. It’s one of our jobs in life. Keep failing. When you fail, admit it. When you don’t, don’t get cocky. ‘Cause you’re just about to fail again.

Work like your life depends on it…

*Which is not to say that I won’t find something to say in a a day or so, which I can almost guarantee will be the case. Check back tomorrow and see if I’ve recovered the power of voice by keyboard.

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Kickstarting Genetically Modified Organisms

To me, the greatest thing about the movie Avatar, by James Cameron, had to be the beautiful, glowing ecosystem of Pandora. Which means I was the perfect person to hear about the actual glowing plants offered by a San Francisco team.

Offered on Kickstarter, the crowd-funding website that hooks up inventive types with folks who have too much disposable money, the glowing Arabidopsis spoke to me. Anthony Evans, the project’s spokesperson on Kickstarter.com, offered backers a package of seeds that, when planted, would sprout a genetically modified plant that would glow on its own. Vegetable bioluminescence.

It sounds like a relatively simple idea. Take the genes that govern bioluminescence and graft them into the genes for a benign plant species. The idea is simple. The implementation, though, is astonishingly complex.

Still, there’s no way I could ignore this possibility. Not only was the whole thing speaking to me, I know that my middle little dude, Zippy the College Boy, believes Avatar is the ultimate expression of film, the best movie ever conceived and produced, so being able to give him a glowing Pandora-like plant. . . Couldn’t pass it up.

Genes for jellyfish bioluminescence inserted into a plant.
Genes for jellyfish bioluminescence inserted into a plant.

Which, it turns out, was a good thing for me. Because just as soon as the glowing plants were funded by more than 8,400 backers, kicking in $484,013 to fund a $65,000 request, Kickstarter banned anyone from giving away any genetically modified organisms.

Firstly, you can see I wasn’t alone. More than 8,400 people backed the project, kicking in more than seven times the amount the creators would have considered a winning goal. Secondly, I understand Kickstarter’s hesitation, but I think an outright ban is a bad idea.

I understand that no one likes the idea of a genetically modified plant running wild. Think about it. If you create a weedy plant that is much better at spreading itself, it could literally overrun entire sections of the country, the world. Think the kudzu plant. Here in the south, the kudzu plant is a green menace, gradually taking over every single inch of land it can reach. Now imagine if someone souped it up. Yikes. Kudzu-World.

Invasive kudzu covers anything in its path.
Invasive kudzu covers anything in its path.

Still, the folks behind this project selected a plant that isn’t weedy, doesn’t spread without human help, and does not receive a significant reproductive advantage from the glowing genetic inserts.

A blanket ban on genetically modified organisms seems like a bit of an overreaction to the possibility of something going wrong. I mean, I’m a big believer that we’re going to need all the help we can get for the human race to help heal the planet we’ve done so much to damage.

Genetically modified organisms might be the only way we have of healing the damage. And cutting off a funding source for dudes who are looking for ways to expand our abilities doesn’t sound very smart to me.

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A New Low For Interns

Just how bad does an intern have to mess up to make an entire US government department issue a press release disavowing the intern’s actions?

Apparently this bad.

San Francisco’s KTVU news was running a story on the crash of the Asiana Flight 214, which ended up in at least three deaths and many more injured when it crash landed at San Francisco’s airport.

To make sure that its graphics and newscasters had the correct spelling of the names of the crew on the flight, KTVU contacted the National Transportation and Safety Board, which has jurisdiction over plane crashes.NewImage75

They got hold of an intern, who, apparently, had given his brain away for the afternoon and was running on — well, I’d say autopilot, but that’s almost as bad as what the intern did — pure bodily functioning, with no brain work at all.

Yep, the intern said, these are the names.

Read them carefully. Sound them out in your head.

Yeah, not only did someone think this was funny, but multiple people at the news station saw these names and said, basically, “Looks good to me. Let’s run it.”

Firstly, do I have to even suggest just how insensitive it is to make fun of the crew in this instance. We still don’t know exactly what happened, but even crew that might have been negligent don’t deserve this sort of thing to happen to them.

Secondly, I think the racism thing is pretty blatant here and not something I need to go into.

The thing I can’t believe is that the KTVU reporters, graphics folks and anybody who happened to be at the station that day didn’t take a look at these names and think that — maybe — something might not be quite right. Possibly they should suggest another call to someone else to — you know — double check the names.

The NTSB has issued a press release stating that “a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.”

The NTSB later issued another press release saying that, although the intern erroneously confirmed the names, they actually originated at the television station. Which means, they’re saying the news crew came to the NTSB and said, are these names — Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow — the actual, real names of the plane crew?

And the intern thought nothing of it? And the news crew actually went to the NTSB with that?

I really don’t think the full story has been released on this one yet, nor do I think it ever will be. The intern will be running for cover, the NTSB will stonewall until the whole thing goes away and the KTVU will start hitting extra hard on all those prostitutes walking the streets so they can stir something salacious into the pot to make people move on from their perfidy.

Not just a new low for interns, dudes, but a new low for television news (which I honestly didn’t think was possible) and for people in general.


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