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Michael Marotta Culture - Ask Me Anything

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The first thing is to let you know up front what I am not: Italian, or Italian-American. My paternal grandparents came from Sicily. Sicily is an island. Italy is a peninsula. They are two different places. That said, my parents were divorced when I was young and so we never had much to do with my father's side of the family. We lived with my maternal grandparents who were Hungarian. I did learn some Italian by taking a community ed class in 1996. Even though I never actually went to Italy, I got to use what I learned when my wife and I were tourists in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Cleveland during a Saint Rocco's All Night Festival. We went into a crowded restaurant. "Is the restroom in back?" I asked. "No. In back is all crowded," the host replied. "Dove e il cabinneto?" I asked. "Is in back," he replied.

I do identify with a wider culture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9qYF9DZPdw

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Is being condescending genetic or learned behavior?

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AMA MM ...

-- have you updated your thinking about Asperger Syndrome?

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MSK: After looking them up to find out who they are, I do not think that we are related, except as all humans are, and all life on Earth. (Indeed, perhaps all life… Achondrite meteorites often contain organic molecules including amino acids.) My wife did tell me about Jesse Jackson on Reddit and the moderator getting fired, but I did not pursue it. Thanks for the tip. I also found out who Channing Tatum is.

Adam: Behavior is both genetic and learned. I believe that our chemicals largely determine our feelings, especially when we give no thought to our actions. However, from warfare to celibacy, it is pretty clear than you can learn or unlearn quite a lot. In my case, I would just say that my condescension is what Aristotle called "second nature" to me.

Oh, I meant to ask: did you understand my little joke about astrophysicists playing the Doppler Effect card in traffic court?

William: The simple answer is "No." I am familiar with the term and what it means in common culture. I believe that all human behaviors exist on continuums. While I share some of the experiences that Ba'al has spoken of, I am closer to "normal" on the spectrum. However, I must point out that some people are so "normal" that they never achieve any self-awareness. As for Doctor Asperger himself, his collusion with the Nazis was excused by US military intelligence officers who saw nothing wrong with using "boy scout" (military) type behavior modification.

Brant: I usually understand sarcasm, but if that is what you intended, the meanings of your comments eluded me.

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Adam:

Oh, I meant to ask: did you understand my little joke about astrophysicists playing the Doppler Effect card in traffic court?

Did not even read your "joke," since you lost me with opening sentences.

There may be a message in that for you.

I will try to go back and look at it.

A...

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MSK: After looking them up to find out who they are, I do not think that we are related, except as all humans are, and all life on Earth. (Indeed, perhaps all life… Achondrite meteorites often contain organic molecules including amino acids.) My wife did tell me about Jesse Jackson on Reddit and the moderator getting fired, but I did not pursue it. Thanks for the tip. I also found out who Channing Tatum is.

Michael,

I'm surprised you missed it.

Just so readers know, both Victoria Taylor or Ellen Pao are part of the current scandal at Reddit. Ellen Pao is a new administrator who is trying to clean the place up (probably so they can get advertising money), but she is making an enormous mess with the main parts of the community, so much so, she's often on the front page of mainstream news.

And Victoria Taylor was coordinator of one of the most popular things on Reddit. Guess what it is called?

Ask Me Anything

btw - The latest Pao scandal happened recently when Pao fired Victoria Taylor. A huge number of the most popular threads suddenly went to private--the moderators did that in protest over the firing. Things are currently back to normal, sort of.

The Ask Me Anything threads were massively popular, featuring people like Bill Gates, Obama, Bill Murray, Tim Berners-Lee, Julian Assange, Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Buzz Aldrin, and on and on.

Here's the most recent article about the scandal in the New York Times (from today):

Why We Shut Down Reddit’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ Forum

Obviously, your Ask Me Anything thread here on OL will make history, too.

:smile:

Michael

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Brant: I usually understand sarcasm, but if that is what you intended, the meanings of your comments eluded me.

I was not being sarcastic. I was being humorous. This is the Humor Thread. I made it a little rough, like a roast.

--Brant

beyond that, I can't help you

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Ellen Pao, the interim chief executive of Reddit, resigned from the online message board on Friday after a week of ceaseless criticism from scores of angry users over the handling of an employee departure.

Ms. Pao will be replaced by Steve Huffman, who, along with Alexis Ohanian, started Reddit from a two-bedroom apartment in a suburb of Boston a decade ago. Ms. Pao said she would remain as an adviser to Reddit’s board for the remainder of the year.

Her exit, which the company described as a mutual agreement between her and Reddit’s board, follows a week of unrest in the Reddit community, which is made up of more than 160 million regular users who use the site to talk about anything from current events to viral cat photos.

Ms. Pao characterized her departure as a result of a disagreement with Reddit’s board on the future of the company.

Victoria Taylor, far left, moderated an in-person “Ask Me Anything” session at South by Southwest in March.
Op-Ed Contributors: Why We Shut Down Reddit’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ ForumJULY 8, 2015

“It became clear that the board and I had a different view on the ability of Reddit to grow this year,” Ms. Pao said in an interview. “Because of that, it made sense to bring someone in that shared the same view.”

Sam Altman, a member of Reddit’s board, said he personally appreciated Ms. Pao’s efforts during her two years working at the start-up. “Ellen has done a phenomenal job, especially in the last few months,” he said.

Reddit, now based in San Francisco, is composed of topic-based forums, known as subreddits, where discussions take place on subjects like news and technology. The company has 70 to 80 employees and relies largely upon its thousands of dedicated power users to govern the site.

That tight-knit community erupted into upheaval when the news broke that Victoria Taylor, a prominent and well-liked Reddit employee, had been abruptly dismissed from the company with no public explanation. Many Reddit users blamed Ms. Pao directly in the hours after Ms. Taylor’s firing, flooding Reddit’s forums with vitriolic messages — often racist and misogynistic — calling for Ms. Pao’s ouster.

Reddit users circulated an online petition calling for her removal that garnered more than 200,000 signatures.

Ms. Pao apologized to the site’s members for the episode earlier this week. Reddit’s management made errors, “not just on July 2, but also over the past several years,” Ms. Pao said in a post on one of the site’s forums on Monday. “The mods” — moderators — “and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of Reddit.”

Ms. Pao has long been a figure of controversy in Silicon Valley. In March, she lost a gender discrimination lawsuit against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where she had previously worked. The trial, which involved big-name Silicon Valley investors such as John Doerr, mesmerized Silicon Valley with its salacious details while also amplifying concerns about a lack of diversity in the technology industry.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/11/technology/ellen-pao-reddit-chief-executive-resignation.html?emc=edit_na_20150710&nlid=53564225&ref=cta

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My Favorite Music is classical music, symphony works. I grew up listening to Chopin, Tchaikovski and Beethoven. My mother had some popular music around, but by the time I was five, it was no longer in the daily repertoire. Later, the old 45s resurfaced. By then, though, in elementary school music classes, I learned about the Bs: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms. Later, my family added the Beatles and then much later, I added Bartok. In the mean time, the classical library grew to include Mozart, Haydn, and Wagner.

We did not think much of rock 'n' roll. When we viewed the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, we were stunned. It was difficult to conceptualize. However, about a year or two later, for one of his televised Children's Concerts, Leonard Bernstein demonstrated sonata form by singing, "And I Love Her." Well, that was the stamp of approval for us. So, we listened more carefully.

I stopped listening to rock in the 70s. But the 80s caught my ear. At first it was called "new music." Then the name "alternative" stuck. Blondie, Patty Smith and Patty Smith and Patty Smythe, the Ramons, B52s,… But I never followed the groups the way we did the Beach Boys and Beatles in the 1960s. (My brother is Paul Marotta. "Drano in Your Veins" YouTube here:

but also a cover of Terry Riley's "In C.")

In the late 1980s, I discovered "space music" via NPR's "Music from the Hearts of Space" which our local affiliate aired after "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I already knew about Wendy Carlos from Walter's "Switched on Bach" and a colleague (also an objectivist) played the Dr. Who Themesong for me. So, I acquired some Constance Demby, Kitaro, and Enya.

Cleveland is a music scene. When I was working a federal project in Cleveland in the mid-90s, a local store had new and used CDs. Judging only by the covers, I picked up a couple dozen at a dollar each and found a pretty broad range of world music, experimental, and jazz.

When I was 15, and reading Atlas Shrugged, a teacher who also knew the works of Ayn Rand told me about Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto. We had it already. I listened to it over and over while I read Atlas Shrugged twice. I may know every note, just as I know every word.

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Could you elaborate on knowing "every word" of AS? In one sense I do too. Rand did not have anything like a William F. Buckley vocabulary, but she had all she needed and if she had needed a better or new word she would have reached out and found it. Buckley's outstanding vocabulary masked the generally poor quality of his fiction. I much preferred his other writing.

But I hardly think you are talking about vocabulary. Are you talking about sentences and paragraphs? If Branden had read TF40 times in his adolescence--I believe he did--then I believe his statement that if you had read him a sentence of it he'd tell you about the sentences preceding and following, but taking your statement literally makes no sense even if you have a photographic memory. You must mean something else and your statement is shorthand for it. Whatever it is you achieved it with two readings, many additional readings or constant readings? I'm intrigued since your statement about reading ancient Greek is remarkable, especially in these days of that language no longer being part of a standard liberal arts education for intelligent youth, something that went back to Roman times and ended (?) in 19th C. England.

--Brant

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However, about a year or two later, for one of his televised Children's Concerts, Leonard Bernstein demonstrated sonata form by singing, "And I Love Her." Well, that was the stamp of approval for us. So, we listened more carefully.

Tut tut. He used And I Love Her to demonstrate AABA form. He was building towards his presentation of Sonata form.

I don't know of any pop songs in Sonata form. No doubt some "progressive rock" of the 70's (Rush, Yes), with their long instrumentals, went to the trouble of fashioning one, but I'm not aware of any examples.

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SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS (collectively labeled STEM) comprise a significant aspect of my culture. On my blog, I have four articles about Pi.

Patterns in Pi (November 5, 2012)

Happy Pi Day 2013

Pi in the Sky over Austin (March 13, 2014)

Happy Pi Day of the Century

You will find articles on astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology (genetics, epigenetics, and evolution). Science education is also important. See my reviews of the Austin Energy Regional Science Fairs where I judged exhibits in behavioral and social sciences. See, also, my reviews of Monsters from the Id: Science is Mankind’s Last Great Hope a film by David Gargani here and Fantastic Voyages: Learning Science Through Science Fiction Films, Leroy Dubeck, Suzanne E. Moshier, Judith E. Boss, (Springer, AIP Press, 1994,. 2004 (here).

I was happy to be able to tie science to the American political tradition with a review of The Science of Liberty by Timothy Ferris (here). But in addition, you will find a review of Great Scientific Experiments by Rom Harre, and "Science in the Middle Ages" (here), and more.

A confluence of several factors brought science to my personal culture. First of all, education was always important in my family. If I had evinced an early and abiding passion to be a lawyer, that might have been supported, but the fact is that I did not. More to the point was the importance of the atomic bomb in the narrative history of my family's experiences which was capped by the launching of Sputnik and the "space race" against the USSR. Astronomy, physics, and chemistry carried the hallmark of Real Science. I owned two telescopes by the time I was eleven. But even before that, at nine years of age, I had begun memorizing the Periodic Table. I had a chemistry set, of course. I also had a microscope.

I was in my early teens when the technicians at Metro General Hospital went on strike in an effort to unionize. My grandparents' three-family house was a block from the hospital. The other two suites were often rented to young doctors, as were several upper or lower halves of some other houses on either side of us. So, my brother and I were invited to cut open mice and process their innards for immunology projects. I also learned to make cultures from mouth and throat swabs. It was OK. I was not squeamish, but the results were not as startling as my first view of Saturn.

Over the years, Objectivism continued to attract me. First, of course, the major heroes were an architect and a physicist. (Gail Wynand and his newspaper were another, different consonance. I will write more on that, later.) On a deeper level, Ayn Rand's Objectivism, as a modern form of traditional objectivism, is congruent with the scientific method. Objectivism is rational-empiricism. Theories explain facts and facts support theories. Reality is real. Contradictions do not exist.

I have worked as a technical writer these forty years because it puts me into a wide range of technical arenas where I confront new technologies, absorb them, and explain them to others. I worked in robotics. I wrote admittedly trivial memoranda for the space shuttle, but that let me work at Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.

Last week, I dropped in on a Biotech Social Hour here in Austin. I helped to ignite public awareness of this "ugly step-sister" of Austin techno-culture. In 2011, I found the Austin Biotech group on LinkedIn underutilized. So, I wrote some articles and blurbs; and that drew others who had registered but not had reason to participate. When the Chamber of Commerce hosted two "Biobash" events (read on my blog here and here) I was able to link up with others and we launched an Austin social meet-up for biotech. It continues because of the work of others. I am not active. But I do write about Bio-Punk and Disruptive Diagnostics. My interest in the capitalism and the sociology of business intersects my article about Bob Swanson and Genentech (here). I will have more about capitalism and money in a later post.

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