Producer of the Week: MikeMarotta

Posted by sdesapio 3 years, 8 months ago to Featured Producers
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Michael Marotta is a technical writer and author of 300 magazine and newspaper articles spanning business, technology, and culture as well as the creator of the blog NecessaryFacts ( http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/ ). As Producer of the Week, he shares with us his rather unique favorite Ayn Rand character as well as how the works of Ayn Rand have impacted his life.

Gulch Profile: http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/mikemaro...

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QUICK FACTS

*Favorite Ayn Rand book:
While “Atlas Shrugged” is the more complete work, both philosophically and aesthetically, “The Fountainhead” remains my favorite because of its positive sense of life.

*Favorite Ayn Rand character:
My favorite character is the movie version of Jeff Allen. Jeff Yagher's work there was outstanding. He gave us a man who was competent, honest, and benevolent, as at ease with himself as he was puzzled by the events around him. Rand was keen observer and therefore a master of characterization. Coming to the screen via make-up, Yagher wore this role well.

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Q & A

*When were you first introduced to Ayn Rand?
In the 11th grade in the winter/spring semester of 1966, passing one of my friends as his algebra class was leaving and mine was entering, he handed me “Anthem”. I read “The Fountainhead” next, and then FNI [“For the New Intellectual”] and VOS [“The Virtue of Selfishness”] before tackling “Atlas Shrugged”. That fall, I took the "Basic Principles of Objectivism" lecture series. During the same time, I met a girl; and we lived the books.

*How has Ayn Rand influenced your life?
As a teenager, Rand gave me a set of heroes and a philosophical context for understanding them. Her non-fiction provided an intellectual framework for perceiving world events and integrating them into a consistent narrative with predictive success. From the debasing of the coinage, through the tragedy of Vietnam, the success of the space program (and its abandonment), the Nixon Wage and Price Freeze, through to the Reagan-Clinton years, and up to today, I am only waiting for “Anthem” to become non-fiction.

Professionally, as a writer and teacher, I have profited from “Introduction to the Objectivist Epistemology”. My criticisms of that work appear here in the Gulch in appropriate discussions, but the bottom line is that in order to teach a concept, you must know what a concept is. The wider social context for me, professionally, is that I am usually far more productive with a high-tech start-up than I am under contract to a government agency, though there have been some exceptions. The deepest truth from Ayn Rand's works, both fiction and non-fiction, is that productive people deserve to understand the true importance of their self worth.

*What passion project are you working on right now?
My blog, NecessaryFacts ( http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/ ), is my opportunity to write about whatever interests me.

For example, I will write about the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival. This was my third year as a judge for junior and senior high school projects in behavioral and social sciences. My bachelor's is in criminology; my master's is in social science. Also, this year, I judged both upper and lower elementary school submissions. It was a great opportunity to meet a couple dozen really bright kids.

*How did you hear about Galt’s Gulch Online?
As a lifelong Objectivist, I followed the movie, and attended the local premiere when we lived in Ann Arbor. The movie website brought me to the Gulch.

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ON THE WEB
In addition to my blog, http://NecessaryFacts.blogspot.com, I have a site that I created for middle school students who were interested in careers in criminal investigations. http://CSIFlint2011.blogspot.com is about fraud in scientific research, including junk science in the courtroom, and police laboratory misconduct.

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K’s Q & A

*What are you wearing to the Atlas Shrugged III premiere?
I will be wearing my 20th Century Motors cap and Utah Institute of Technology t-shirt.

*What is the one phrase Ayn Rand wrote that stopped you in your tracks?
Ego.

*If you could be the tycoon of an industry, which industry would you pick?
Private security is severely under-exploited. Today, it is a business of management with few entrepreneurs because it is heavily regulated, and dominated by retired police and military. To me, protecting others is a business service. You are there to make their lives easier, not to punish them for breaking the rules. Your clients and their customers are not an occupied belligerent population. In business, we profit by predicting the future, calculating risks, and paying for opportunities. From conflict avoidance, mitigation, and management, to industrial safety (including fire prevention and firefighting), large profits will be earned by the first generation of true capitalists in security.

*What do you pack in a sack lunch?
I usually pack my own lunches with a sandwich of mixed meats and sprouts on whole bread, a whole fruit (usually an orange, often an apple), a small bottle of mixed vitamins and supplements, a bar of high-cocoa chocolate, and sometimes a small bottle of milk. I also bring my own Earl Grey tea bags.

*Favorite current song?
Of all the music that I enjoy, Chopin's "Heroic" Etude (No. 53 in A flat major), lives deepest within me. Of the many versions, this one by Vladimir Horowitz stands out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZGi49Bng...

*Pretzels or chips?
Pretzels

*Crab or shrimp?
Shrimp

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Read how you can be featured in Galt's Gulch as Producer of the Week: http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts/51...


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  • Posted by  $  straightlinelogic 3 years, 8 months ago
    Congratulations, Mike, it's been a good week for you. As you probably know from the announcement, you are also a winner in the "What Made America Great" contest. Send me a PM with your address and I'll send you a signed copy of The Golden Pinnacle.
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  • Posted by  $  richrobinson 3 years, 8 months ago
    Congrats Mike. Its cool that you were introduced to Rands work in high school. I wish I had found it sooner.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 3 years, 8 months ago
      Better late than never. It's a funny thing but over the years my understanding and appreciation of the characters changed. When I was 17, it was not surprising that Dagny was VP of Ops at 32. When I was 40, it was astounding. On the other hand, I think that Howard Roark was always constant for me.

      Generally, regardless of how people come to the works of Ayn Rand, they either enter the door or not based on who they already are. For youngsters, the attractions are obvious. Whether they keep that interest is something else, though millions admit to being "influenced in their lives" one way or another. With mature people, it is more likely that they (you) brought your own context to the novels and philosophy and found agreement with what you already believed, even if only implicitly. Seldom is anyone argued into it.
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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 3 years, 8 months ago
    Thanks. I appreciate the good words. I have been away from the keyboard because my days are long. I get up at 4:00 or 4:30, check my emails and the weather reports, and am out the door by 5:30 or 6:00 to get to work by 7:30 or 8:00. I walk a mile and half to and from an express bus that actually drops me off at the doorstep of the Texas Department of Public Safety. I am on a contract writing contracts for goods and services in support of evacuations. Getting home takes a bit longer in the evening rush hour. I usually make it in about 7:00.

    We also moved last month from north Austin to the south side. We spend a lot of time unpacking... We are almost to the point where the kitchen table can come out of the garage.

    More later: it's time to get motating...
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  • Posted by  $  ObjectiveAnalyst 3 years, 8 months ago
    Congratulations! I have appreciated many of your informative commentaries. I too found Jeff Allen the character and Jeff Yagher's performance exceptional. I noted your comments regarding the Space program with interest. Have you read Rand's essays relating her experiences at Cape Canaveral in "The Voice Of Reason"? Very "uplifting"... :)
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 3 years, 8 months ago
      Thanks, OA. Yes, of course, "Apollo and Dionysus" was Ayn Rand's essay on the space program versus Woodstock as iconic of two different worldviews and two different (implicit) philosophies. The productive people who came to watch Apollo 11 assumed responsibility for themselves from food to good social order. Woodstock was the opposite of that.

      We all have a soft spot for the space program. On my wall is my Hot Wheels "John Glenn" action figure - Mercury, Space Shuttle, and Senator - to which are clipped my two gate passes when I worked at KSC for NASA.

      Just to note: the title came from Nietzsche's "Birth of Tragedy." He contrasted the Apollonian and Dionysian in which the latter is subjugation of individuality through wine and music. Rand was accused of being a Nietzschean as a way to tar-and-feather her heroes as "supermen" without morality - altruism being synonymous with morality. This essay was written late enough in her career that I believe that she purposely chose the title just to draw attention to the true intention of her philosophy.
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 3 years, 8 months ago
        Congratulations again, Mike.
        As the guy who trains most of the engineers on how to prevent catastrophes at the university nearest Kennedy Space Center, I read your comments on the space program with great interest. If you are planning to come back to east central Florida again, I would be honored to have you put on a seminar at Florida Tech.
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      • Posted by  $  ObjectiveAnalyst 3 years, 8 months ago
        Very interesting! Thank you for the additional info and context. Who says grown ups have to give up their toys?!?! :) I would be hard pressed to give up some of my collectibles. I wish I still had my Saturn Five and Lunar Lander models I built back in 69... I did see a shuttle launch. God of thunder!
        Yes, the Nietzshean tar has been difficult to scrape off. We have run into that uninformed criticism too many times, haven't we?
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  • Posted by khalling 3 years, 8 months ago
    A pleasure to see you as PoW, MM. That is very interesting about judging for the science festival. What was the most interesting project you have seen from students?
    Your other websites sound very intriguing.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 3 years, 8 months ago
      Thanks, K! My appreciation for even the "uninteresting" ones developed over time. The first year, I gave cursory attention to repetitions of standard projects such as The Stroop Effect. But I came to understand that no two cooks follow the same recipe the same way: everyone does it somewhat differently - and the science fair students are encouraged to do that, of course. Some develop better statistics depending on their math level.

      We all win awards and I keep mine in a box in the garage because I know that as much as I appreciate the acknowledgment that not all of my winners were better than all the other works offered - and I have a few that should have been, but were not. We all know that.

      This year, I saw a very good experiment from a young high schooler bumped down twice and finally not even given 5th place. He was marked down for getting help at the University - though that was a plus for another winner. And he was placed side-by-side with another very similar experiment and that one won first place, even though it failed to meet its announced objectives, just because it got special help from the high school not the university. I swear... It is all very subjective some times.

      There is no good way to do this. You have 1000 good entrants and the difference between 1st and 5th is like 10% of the rankings. Judges have about 10 minutes (maximum) with each entrant. That is not a lot of time. And as in my case, judging is something that has to be LEARNED. It depends on what you bring to it.

      In my case, for instance, at work in real life, every project gets a bound project notebook, a running diary. I learned that from an engineer long ago and I kept to it. So, when I go to the student's display, I pick up the project notebook first. I have passed it to other judges who decline it, preferring to read the board and listen to the kid deliver a prepared speech. Just sayin...

      Also, as for The Stroop Effect (and Does Music Affect Memory and Does Music Affect Learning, etc.), it is supposed to be critical to the scientific method that we check each other's work. Chemists do that because they use the products that others invent to carry out new work of their own. Otherwise, it might never happen and the vast bulk of publications are never empirically tested for truth. So, I came to a better appreciation of repeating standard science fair experiments.


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