Not happy with your growth? Blame it on “Not my Business” Firewall

dont disturb

It never ends – the bombardment with stuff that we don’t know or don’t understand.

Right from the morning news paper headlines, to college classroom, to an office meeting, to the screaming news debates on TV in the night, this stuff chases us.

In fact in the times of transitions – new class, new job, new place etc. – this stuff increases manifold and sometimes even gets on our nerves.

But we seem to have evolved a firewall. It’s called – “Not my business!”  firewall or ” Who cares?” firewall

This firewall has a temporarily soothing effect on our minds. It also saves a lot of time for us. Above all it keeps us going – although without acceleration.

So it is good that we have this firewall; at least for those of us who love status quo.

But most of us want to challenge the status quo and grow. And grow fast. To grow fast we need to learn fast which is not possible with this comprehensive firewall in place.

It’s so common to see people struggle at workplace. Struggle to cover-up their insufficient and fragmented knowledge about the product or the service they are dealing with. I know lot of people who know as much about their field today as they knew 1 -2 or 3 years back. Who sometimes falter at answering a very basic question about their field or domain or even their key performance area. At the same time we also come across people who seem to grow, adapt and evolve fast. They often impress us with a refreshing and insightful point related to the issue at hand. They could be from the field of medicine, technology, management and even politics.

We often attribute academic and professional success to intelligence with a rider that intelligence is a genetic factor. Rarely do we try to focus on the fact that learning is a function of eagerness to learn. Most of us end up learning whatever we really want to. People of all age groups have taken to social media with relative ease.

Because of the “not my business” / “who cares?” firewall, the edge of the desire to learn is rendered blunt. To enhance our learning ability and intelligence we need to sharpen this edge by lowering the firewall.

What I am trying to suggest is although by trying to learn everything we might overburden ourselves, we would do well to selectively ease our firewall or to have a selectively permeable firewall.

Why should we do this?

  1. To improve our understandings of your workplace thereby pushing your performance and enhancing our image at the workplace.
  2. To improve our academic grades and also our impression on the faculty. This in turn can have tremendous intangible benefits.
  3. To move ahead of our competitor in business or profession because knowledge is the real power.

This is how we can do it.

  1. Try to observe the words/expressions/terms that you come across very frequently but you don’t know about them.
  2. Also, observe any terms, expressions, which your boss expected you or any subordinate to know but you were not aware about it.
  3. Shortlist 3 to 4 of these terms and give yourself a week’s time to refer to the readily available online resources.
  4. If the target is met in a week’s time, go for the next target; else push the deadline by 3-4 days.
  5. Remember this should be a continuous process

If we want to know a city well, we can do so by visiting and familiarising ourselves with different parts of the city one at a time. If we want to complete a jigsaw puzzle we need to first have all the parts.

Similarly, if we want to a get a grip on any functional or theoretical domain, we can do so by lowering our firewall and gradually allowing different conceptual blocks to enter our consciousness.

Frustration at work place or college etc is partially due to wanting to grow at a pace that our existing knowledge cannot power.

I sincerely hope that you bring out your true potential by allowing your consciousness to grow. Your academic and professional growth are bound to follow.

Thanks for your time. Your feedback is extremely valuable.

Can and Should Drinking be linked with Morality?

This was the topic of discussion on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/theopiniator

This is what I have to say on the topic followed by what other participants said.

To answer the above question it is necessary to define morality. Morality in itself is a philosophical concept and can be very subjective. But I think morality is the ability to draw line between right and wrong and to stay on the right side. Morality varies across cultures. Killing an animal for its meat is considered right in some cultures and wrong in some. Drinking in itself is an act which is neither right nor wrong. But if morality is the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, then it depends on a sound mind. So, anything that has the ability to make the mind, less sound or unsound has the ability to blur the line between right and wrong. And alcohol is known to have the power to blunt the mental agility. So logically there is a direct link between alcohol and morality. Probably this is the reason why we discourage children from drinking and even in the liberal US the minimum age to imbibe is 21. But another fact is that we are living in times with scant regard for “right’ and ‘wrong”. Life is to be enjoyed at any cost. Anything that aids the enjoyment should be followed while the concept of morality that kills this enjoyment must be suppressed. People start hating alcohol only when it directly affects their lives adversely.

For lot of people drinking symbolizes freedom and independence, But I think drinking has the real power to enslave its consumer especially an addict. And it doesn’t differentiate between a truck driver and a big celebrity.  Drinking is a personal choice that a drinker HAS TO make in favor of the drink offered to him. I might be accused of generalising drinking but drinking itself has a history of generalising its subjects.

 

I remember in one interview, writer Javed Akhtar Sahab (who left drinking after being a regular drinker for long) said “I have taken all the damaging decisions of my life under the influence of alcohol.” I cannot ask and am not asking people to abstain but I choose to listen to Javed Sahab’s words of wisdom. I might be the odd one out  in the modern times  but I believe that life can be thoroughly enjoyed even without alcohol. I believe God made life beautiful to be enjoyed in senses. 🙂

Following are the other responses in the discussion: 

 Anurag Singh Chauhan Well drinking is certainly a moral as well as an social issue and it must be given some serious thought. but the question is what our society thinks about alcohol and how it is looked upon? a society consists of different people and with them comes different perspectives! one would say its bad for health and society, and indeed it is, but the effects of drinking depends more upon a persons moral behavior than on drinking itself! a moral person even after getting drunk will try to make sure he dosen’t make a mockery of himself and hurt the ethics of his society while an immoral one will certainly not care about these things!

For some its a matter of free choice and for others poison!.
A beer everyday is the newly evolved mantra for this new generation. A bottle of expensive champagne or wine is the best wedding gift, parties and even the friendship is pompously compared to wine rather than gold. in western cultures if not in india, at a bar or a club people often start their conversation with strangers by offering them a drink. and it has become common with youngsters these days. they use alcohol to celebrate after getting some good news and on the flipside they use it to cushion the effects of bad news, be it breakup(relationship) , bad marks in an exam and what not.

I agree that consumption of alcohol does lead to some negative consequences, but if it really is that bad then how on earth did it survive all these centuries?

I read about a research conducted by a group who explained the positive sides of alcohol in medicine terms and that it assists the body in many ways. wine has been proved to cure strokes, ulcers and some types of cancers apart from helping the heart if taken in appropriate amount. nonetheless, its negative side outweighs all other benefits, including the one where a person tends to lose control over himself and often engages in anti-social behavior.
Apparently alcohol can be held responsible for a lot of negativity in today’s society. for example, Road accidents when a person drinks and drive, and domestic violence.

Too much of every thing is bad, but my question is why even a moderate intake of alcohol is considered insidious? as I’ve stated above, there are certain positives of alcohol apart from enjoyment which have been generally ignored by the society at large.

As does the phrase says “EVERY COIN HAS TWO SIDES”, and so does this. if the world thinks that we are grown up enough at 18 to be considered as adults and can choose the government to run our country, the decision of whether to drink or not, what its good or bad sides and how moral it is, should also be left to us as well.

I think I just wrote an article!

P.S. Don’t Drink and Drive!

Suraj Sharma It depends on society and how it perceives it ,but to me drinking is the root cause of most of the problems that is hurting our society and why our society it is causing impediments even in societies around the world.If the watchdog of your brains leaves it’s place then GOD save you from the wrath of the Satan.Most of the heinous and horrendous crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol and it is the single most culprit in spreading violence against humanity

it certainly is not an insignificant issue and is a sort of menace which should have been taken care of long back but to my utter dismay it is turning into a major horror for the present society.why do you think there is a significant rise in crimes among the juveniles in recent times and it has reached to such a proportion where everyone is crying for alteration in the age of juvenile justice Act.Drinking is directly linked to morality as a person in inebriated state is more likely to obliterate moral fabric of society in more ways than one which in turn influences the society and of course health is an obvious casuality

The western world is the worst hit by alcoholism.United states alone suffers from horrendous effects of alcohol.I have never met a person who has never been in trouble because of alcohol consumption.The only thing which makes us civilized is the watchdog,a sort of mechanism that guide us to do or not to do a certain task or also restrains us from committing any atrocious act but if this mechanism is corrupted,which happens after consuming alcohol,than there is no defense mechanism within the brain to restrain us or save us from committing an act in accordance with our conscience.I have also to come across anyone who has remained moderate in drinking throughout his/her life.Regarding the medical benefit than I must say that it is a trillion or rather zillion dollar industries and medical studies are conducted throughout the world and especially in US to suit the interest of these big industries.

Alka Anuj : Very well written anurag singh chauhan . An immoral and aggressive person will use alcohol as an excuse. The pathetic state of affairs is not sue to increase in drinking, its the lack of values in our own households. We pray to lord Shiv and call Somras immoral? Hmmm …sounds hypocritical . Key is moderation and morality

 

Was Gandhi a great man?

There is something called past.

In the physical realm of the universe it exists in the form of momentum and inertia. In this realm this past is often used to predict the future. This is because any entity with momentum holds its path. Also when a larger entity hits a smaller entity, it can change the course of that smaller entity.

In the metaphysical realm however, the past exists only and only in the mind. And here it is all powerful. It moves the humanity. It is the consciousness that drives the humanity and more often than not it is the past that as the conqueror of the consciousness drives the humanity.

The greatest hurdles in the road to future have been created by the past in the collective consciousness of societies and nations. People often find it easier to overcome challenges that prop up in the present than to face challenges that are rooted in the past.

The two strongest social forces – religion and politics – best exploit this nature of the past.

If the human mind loses its affinity and submission to the past, both religion and politics will lose considerable grip over people.

To know how it feels to try and stop a car moving at even 10 kmph from the front, one needs to try to do this. It can be unexpectedly and highly damaging. The past morphed into prejudices like casteism and racism also acts like a moving car.

Thus, to know how it feels to face the wrath of racism, one needs to face it once. It can be humiliating in the least and devastating to the unthinkable levels.

To stand in front of a juggernaut of racism and force it to change its course can only be called an act of sheer greatness.

This is because standing in front of this juggernaut means fighting with the past rooted in the collective mind of a great many people.

In other words I am suggesting that racism is partially a manifestation of the Golem effect. Golem effect is a situation when poor expectations of the boss lead to below par performance of a subordinate. When a race with a past of astonishing achievements looks down upon another race that lacks the momentum of achievements, it can be difficult for the latter to break free.

Try to visualise a 19 yr old in the end of the nineteenth century going to London to study Law. When he came back to India in 1891 he was too shy to succeed as a practising lawyer. The same young man went to South Africa (a British colony at that time) in 1893 as an employee of a law firm and spent 21 years there.

Gandhi young

During this time he came across a number of humiliating experiences directed at him on the basis of his color. These experiences were in no way extraordinary as it was common in those days for the people of non-white origin to be subjected to humiliation and abuse.

However his response to these experiences was truly extraordinary.

He decided to come in the way of racial juggernaut; and that too without any violence. This idea in itself would seem extremely ridiculous to many.

While in South Africa, he continuously fought for the cause of the expatriate Indian community. He witnessed a number of irregularities in the Indian society, which was in itself divided on the lines of caste and religion.

Again his response was extraordinary.

He decided to challenge another juggernaut. He dreamed of an identity that was “Indian” unencumbered by the ideas of caste and religion.

The greatness of the man was in challenging the status-quo and believing that he will succeed.

When someone is determined to succeed he/she goes about acquiring whatever is need to succeed. Else success would remain elusive and wishful thinking. A person willing to stand up against the vices like racism and casteism, has to fight in the public domain, meeting, negotiating with and convincing both the people and the authorities. Gandhi realised this and worked on these skills. He also realised that to fight the collective power of racism, he would need the power of masses which needed to mobilised from a state of dormancy.

So much so that by the time he came back to India in 1915 he was a skilful public speaker and negotiator. He could effectively present his ideas and project his dreams. He could identify the areas of grave injustice and devise non-violent ways of protest.

I am not saying that India won freedom because of one man – Gandhi.

What I am saying is that even in today’s age of relative liberation it is difficult to imagine a person standing up non-violently against injustice.  So it is nothing short of greatness to lead a long term and nonviolent protest against the might of the imperialist forces of a race that was highly confident of its superiority; a protest that unmistakably dented this confidence.

I am not saying that Gandhi was a saint – free from the human vices.

What I am saying that it can be only after fighting a very long battle with sustained and unwavering grit and determination against a mighty adversary that a person can earn love and respect of millions of fellow countrymen and admiration of people across nations and races.

No doubt Gandhi was a great man. He did not hold any government position of power, he was not awarded the Nobel prize, but he is and will remain alive in the collective consciousness till ages.

He was great because showed that to fight the momentum of injustice a counter-momentum of awakening and mobilisation of society can be only way and also showed us how to walk on that way.

gandhi

Today as our society is facing widespread injustice perpetrated by our own race and countrymen, what are the chances of getting someone like Gandhi? Unsure? I will tell you. The chances are abysmally low.

That’s because a great man like Gandhi is born once in centuries!

 

Is this a world only for the Bold, the Romantic and the Rich?

modern society

A fun activity can be a source of happiness for some and gloom for the others. Bursting crackers at Diwali can be an example. In this world obsessed with individual freedom, one seems a spoil sport to talk about respecting the freedom of people around. It seems so old-fashioned.

In my last post I talked about a trend : Being shocking is so much fun. (To read it please click at the following link.) https://theopiniator.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/being-shocking-is-so-much-fun/

In this post I will try to examine this trend in detail.

I believe that in our social evolution we have come to pay more and more emphasis on some behavioural attributes showcased in myths and stories through ages. Let me make it clear that I am not opposed to the significance of these attributes. I am just  suggesting that they are  desirable only in some appropriate context and background and should not be generalised.

But in last few decades, these attributes have been not only misunderstood but also so much highlighted that they have enslaved the society. Their over the top depiction in movies, songs, advertisements has enforced this enslavement. What are these attributes? Here is a self censored list of three broad attributes.

1. Audacity

audacity2

Today it’s very difficult to imagine anyone belonging to any economic strata to accept anything said by anyone in a raised tone. In fact it’s quite easy to imagine people except those in highly formal corporate or bureaucratic setups, to respond to any criticism in a brash tone. And most of these people explain this behaviour in the name of freedom and bravery. Politeness is not only being increasingly considered as highly undesirable but is also often mistaken for timidity. Using abusive language and drinking have become essential tools to express boldness. Comedy has become synonymous with brazenly insulting people. Politics, sports, entertainment, workplaces, schools, roads are all full of “bold” and “audacious” people.

Once upon a time there used to be an angry young man or a Rambo on the silver screen. Today the world is flooded with Rambos. There are so many guns in so many hands with so many causes. The gun culture in the US is a prime example.

2. Romantic love

romantic love

Today, everyone, at every moment deserves a love story. Romantic love has been so much highlighted and marketed that a life without romantic love is considered to be a “burden”. Rejection in love is considered to be the biggest “disgrace” to one’s existence. So much so that people can go the extent of hacking someone who inflicted rejection. Opposition to love is considered to be the worst form of “tyranny”. And it “should” be confronted with appropriate “audacity”. From the other perspective, romantic love is the worst form of crime. And it “should” be punished with appropriate “audacity”.

3. Classy Life style

rich2

Movies and advertisements have propagated such an idea of affluent and elite life style that many people would go to any extent to seem classy. Simplicity has started symbolizing deprivation, blandness and lifelessness. Life seems to have become a race to fit into stereotypical images of affluence. Consumerism has become the order of the day. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich, what matters is you should look rich. Schoolbags, water bottles, lunch boxes and the lunch within, everything must be classy. Mobile phones have become identities. Never mind if they are loaded with processing power and features which are rarely or never used.

I feel awful when I see someone feeling proud at drinking a can of some carbonised drink or opening a packet of chips. This is not freedom. This is outright slavery to the corporate, their army of advertisers and the media. I feel like humanity is acting like a trained tiger at the circus being controlled by the corporate as the trainer.

The Impact

And with these traits being followed to the point of being worshiped, the world seems a different place as compared to even a few decades back. It has become a place for a person who is BOLD, ROMANTIC and RICH! If you are not one, at least show that you are one. Or be prepared to “feel” insulted or ridiculed …at school, at workplace, at a mall, at a multiplex and so on.

What does a child do whose parents are busy looking bold, romantic and rich? What does a child do whose parents primarily want him/her to enhance their image?

Probably he will grow up observing and will try his own ways to seem BOLD, ROMANTIC and RICH. Isn’t it possible that immature minds trying to flaunt these attributes end up behaving in a shocking way? I think it is.

I strongly believe that increased instances of “shocking’ behaviour” are less of a problem and more of symptomatic manifestation of a dysfunctional society being driven by attributes that have been grotesquely distorted out of context.

The onus of such instances has to be shared by inefficient (clueless at times) parenting, decadent social values, and numerous individuals like me who choose to look the other way and keep quiet.

The biggest beneficiaries of all this are:

1. Profit hungry corporate,

2. Viewer hungry media and

3. Power hungry politicians

I might sound conservative, but I believe that at least in India, even today there is enough space for simplicity, living and enjoying life within the means, smiling back at an abusive person on road, enjoying a glass of “lassi’ more than a can of carbonised drink, shopping in a narrow lane of old city market full of different t sorts of human beings instead of shopping at a mall full of pantomimes.

Thanks for your time. I know there may be readers who have a different outlook. Whether you agree or disagree to these views, your feedback is extremely valuable.

Being shocking is so much fun!

What is life without a bit of fun!

But is there any limit to which one can go in pursuit of a bit of fun. And if it is there who decides it? And is it a fun to break that limit or any limit for that matter?

Phew! Seems I have squeezed the fun out of it.

It’s a common notion that being within the limits can hardly be fun. One needs to do something different, something that breaks the monotony of life, or something that is beyond the banal and the usual. The farther we go from the limit, the more the fun.

And we all love fun. We love jokes because they break the monotony by the twist of words or twist of perspective. We love watching movies, reading books because they transport us to a different world from where we return rejuvenated. We love dancing, creating music, painting as these activities liberate our creativity. We love long drives as it also is way out of the monotony. Even long drives have become even more adventurous in this age of spiralling oil prices. But these are ways of seeking fun which are considered to be more or less harmless.

Then there are people who seek fun in alcohol and tobacco. This is fun often at the expense of health, harmony in a family and road safety. However, these costs are usually rubbished by the enthusiasts.

Drugs are fun for not only the people with lots of money but also the students at different academic levels. Alcohol becomes too staid for them.

Before you label me so, let me clarify that I am neither an anti fun activist trying to make you ascetic nor a sybarite inviting you to the party. I am just trying to think about what is the fun in any fun activity.

In most of the above examples the fun for most of the people is ‘to connect”, “to mingle”, “to share”, “to remind oneself that life is beyond work or studies”. Fun without company isn’t much fun.

But how many of us would seek fun in performing rail track stunts or bullying someone online  to commit suicide?

rail stunttoddler smokingfather-dangles-toddler-out-of-6th-floorBike stunt

To delve into this we need to ask are there other drivers of fun than the ones discussed above?

Some of us would explain this by the desire to seek extreme thrill; or by a desire to escape the reality.

I propose an alternative explanation. I think some people derive fun by shocking others or by going against the conventional. These people are usually confident but may suffer from low self esteem or hurt ego. They may be filled with a suppressed sense of revolt. For them instead of the act itself, it is the reaction of the others which becomes the source of fun or satisfaction. The more unconventional the act is, the more shocked the people around get and the more the sense of fun. I have observed this at rudimentary level in even some kids. A relatively benign manifestation of this desire is a tendency to play practical jokes or post a nasty image or video on social media.

I am of the opinion that this urge to derive fun by shocking others and mocking at the convention is becoming pervasive. Riding on the wings of globalisation, Information technology, telecommunication and social networking this trend is spreading rapidly.

This trend or phenomenon is “Being shocking (unconventional) is so much fun (cool)!”

I might sound un-cool but I would attribute the popularization of tattoos, piercing, sagging jeans to this trend.

Here I would like to note that not everybody who follows a trend does it on purpose. A number of people do it as part of the herd mentality to seem cool even at the cost of not being happy doing it.

I would also like to make it clear that although I am talking about this phenomenon from social and psychological perspective, it is already being exploited by the marketers and advertisers. For them it translates into “being shocking is so eye-ball grabbing!” Ambush marketing and viral marketing try to leverage it. Here, I would use the examples of the war of two toothpaste brands and runaway success of Kolaveri di.

The phenomenon is invigorated by celebrity endorsement. Lady Gaga knows it better than many others. Shocking videos and images have been used by the artists and also by the advertisers. Wardrobe “malfunctions” don’t seem to be all that “mal-timed”. Eminem too has used “shocking’ lyrics. Not everybody can write such lyrics, but by expressing love for such music one can shock the people around. Till of course the lyrics become a craze and then predictable.

Once anything loses its shock value, it loses its popularity.

You might not realize but the last sentence is a potentially dangerous sentence.

As the society is getting habitual of what was once considered to be shocking, the people who seek fun in shocking others are willing to go to any level.

Dangerous biking, stunts on skate boards, stunts on trains and even on railway tracks are examples of acts that would be unconceivable even a couple of decades ago. In fact recently a horrible train accident in Spain was attributed to a train driver obsessed with speed.

I would even like to include Increasing instances of cyber bullying and growing popularity of confession pages as examples of the “shocking is fun“ phenomenon.

I will be  in a better position to explain why few lines earlier I called a sentence “potentially dangerous”.

There are two main reasons.

The first is the lack of remorse in the people who enjoy such acts. There is no demarcation of right and wrong in the traditional sense. Instead behaviour and acts are classified as either cool (fun) or un-cool. Why should one be sorry for being “cool’?

Second, what was once shocking for the society, gradually tends to become conventional or at least acceptable. Thus, an adult movie star makes way through a “reality” show into the living rooms of majority of Indian households and provides an opportunity to the parents to introduce her to their kids (which they prefer over not watching the show and missing the fun). Another ‘reality’ show glamorized adultery to perfection.

All this leads to a search for something which is even more shocking. In the mean time society accepts as “normal” what was once “shocking”.

Coming to the questions I raised at the beginning, if fun is in pushing the existing limits, I am afraid the limits have been pushed to the extent of damaging the basic social fabric.

Although I lack empirical evidence in support of my observation of this phenomenon (Being shocking (unconventional) is so much fun (cool)!”), which may be a cause of a lot of social problems, I would not stop at vaguely outlining it. In my next post I will try to track the factors behind the phenomenon.

I know many of you will have an outlook quite different from mine. Your comments and feedback would help me fine tuning my next post. Thanks for your time. Hope you visit again to read the following post as well. 

The Silk Road and Bitcoins: the dark side of innovation.

dark web

There is a road called life. It is known to teach us, to throw surprises at us and make us grow.  It can take us to education and provide access to crime too.

And then there is a road called the World wide web. This road too is full of learning and surprises. It has surprised us with so many technologies that have brought us together and unleashed our creativity.

And just like life, it has its dark side too. However, this dark web is not without its share or creativity, innovation and chutzpah.

The Need

There are desires that the society rightfully proscribes as they are considered to lead to a waste of human life. But these desires do exist. And wherever there is a desire, there are people who have means to fulfil that desire and an ambition to make money out of it. But while there are lots of legitimate means to fulfil the legitimate desires, dark desires have to venture into the underworld of crime.

The dark Internet

The dark internet refers to those sites that are not visible through normal browsers and cannot be searched through even Google. A number of dark sites, which pander to the victims of destructive and usually anti social desires, thrive in this rather obscure part of internet.

silk road

Enter Silk Road

Silk Road entered this world in 2011 and evolved into the Amazon of this world. The site basically functioned as an organised market place for a wide variety of hallucinogens. It was inhabited by a number of dealers who claimed to provide excellent “product” and “prompt, effective and confidential” delivery of the drugs ordered. It also sold usual product like books and apparel claimed to categorically exclude “harmful” products and services like weapons of mass destruction, child pornography etc.

Silk Road : The market place and the transactions.

Can you imagine dealing with the anonymous and often pseudonymous people in this shady market place and making payment through your credit card’s white money? It  would be full of hazards and there would be few takers. For an innovative market place there must be an innovative monetary system and an innovative currency.

Enter Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a Cryptocurrency.  Cryptocurrency means digital currency for online transactions that relies on cryptography for both creation and transaction. Its origin is attributed to a paper published by one Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. It was implemented for the first time in 2010.

Bitcoins can be generated or purchased and managed online with the help of an App called Bitcoin wallet. The biggest perceived advantage of Bitcoin is the anonymity and the un- traceability of the person using it…i.e. both the sender and the receiver. This feature of Bitcoin made it a highly desirable currency for such dark market places as the Silk Road.

The Silk Road:  Business volumes

In around two years of operation, Silk Road and Ross Ulbricht carried out roughly 1,229,465 transactions and in this period made around $ 1.2 Billion and $79.8 Million USD through sales and commissions respectively. In terms of bitcoins this is a whopping 9.5 million bitcoins out 11.75 million bitcoins in circulation so far!

Ross

The Boss

He was known as Dead Pirate Roberts. Silk Road was his brain child and he was the boss. Of course this was his pseudonym. FBI has arrested a man named Ross William Ulbricht, who they claim is Dead Pirate Roberts.

According to wiki On October 2, 2013, Ross William Ulbricht, alleged by the FBI to be the owner of Silk Road and the person behind the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts”, was arrested in San Francisco on suspicion of drug trafficking, soliciting murder, facilitating computer hacking, and money laundering. On 4 October, Ulbricht appeared in federal court in San Francisco and denied all charges, whereupon the hearing was rescheduled for the 9th of October.

The Downfall

The unscrupulous ways offer steep rise but often the downfall is steeper. In Silk Road’s case it was almost an anti climax. For a person who built his business on the pillars of cryptography and anonymity, it was rather surprising to go down in such manner. What exactly happened?

Different stories are doing rounds. Some say it started when Dead Pirate Roberts gave an interview to The Forbes magazine early this year on a secure TOR network which also hosted the Silk Road. Then some parcel was seized by the customs in July 2013 and it had a photograph of Ross Ulbricht, which matched with his photograph on his LinkedIn profile. Another story is that Ross paid $ 80,000 to hire a man to eliminate a former employee who was allegedly blackmailing him. This man turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

My opinion

What remains to be seen is that whether this the beginning of the end for the dark internet or Silk Road is a scapegoat to save the iceberg. It all depends on how serious is FBI towards demolishing the dark internet and also on the covert equation between the two.

Thanks for your time. Hope this would serve as a primer. If you want to explore more, you may refer the following.

The U.S. Shut Down: A Primer

SHUTDOWN

Everybody is curious about what exactly is this shut down in the US. I would like to provide the basic understanding of the issue.

THE BACKGROUND

The run-up to this problem started with a health care reform act – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare as it was signed by President Obama in March 2010.

The act aims to provide affordable health care especially subsidized and affordable health insurance.

According to the official page for this act, following are the facts worth knowing..

• The Affordable Care Act contains over a thousand pages of reforms to the insurance industry and the health care industry in order to cut health care costs and to provide affordable health insurance to all Americans.

• There are around 44 million Americans who currently are unable to get health insurance. One of the major things ObamaCare does is help these individuals to get health insurance through expanding Medicaid and Medicare and offering cost assistance to Americans who cannot currently afford health care.

• Most Americans will have to have health insurance by January 1st, 2014 or pay a fee on their year-end taxes. Many Americans will be eligible for subsidized health insurance costing anywhere from 0% – 9.5% of their taxable income. Subsidized insurance can be purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

THE STANDOFF

The US legislative body Congress consists of a House and a senate.

The US Financial year runs from October 1 to September 30.

The Budget for the next financial year must be passed before September 30 to enable the government to function properly.

The US congress is dominated by two major parties : the Republicans and the Democrats.

President Obama is a democrat.

The budget must be passed by both the House and the Senate. While Democrats are in majority in the Senate, the Republicans are in majority in the House.

For the budget to be passed it must be approved by both the senate as well as the House.

While the Senate approved the budget the republicans did not pass it as they are objecting the Health care act.

THE SHUT DOWN

As the budget has not been passed in time, the government doesn’t not have money to pay salaries and meet other expenditures.

In the US the government employees have been classified into 1) essential and non essential.

With the shut down in effect, the non essential employees by default proceed to leave without pay.

However, by signing an emergency legislation on Monday, the President has ensured, the essential services like the US military services would continue.

THE IMPACT

Research firm IHS estimates that it’s costing the US government about $300m a day, for each day of the shut down.

Goldman Sachs estimates a three-week shutdown could shave as much as 0.9% from US GDP this quarter.

National parks have been closed to new visitors, and park roads, concessions and other facilities are now being closed. Overnight visitors have been given two days to depart. This will mean a loss of 750,000 daily visitors and an economic loss to gateway communities of as much as $30 million for each day parks are shut, according to the non-profit National Parks Conservation Association.

Most popular tourist spots in the nation’s capital closed on Tuesday. Barricades went up around some iconic locations, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and all Smithsonian museums. The National Zoo is closed and its popular live animal webcams were taken off line. All zoo animals will continue to be fed and cared for.

THE WAY OUT

The only way out is that the differences are ironed out and the house agrees to pass the budget. Till than the US will continue to be in dire straits.

Hope this helped you.