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How my dorm became a drug superhighway.
The year was 2012, and we were all supposed to die in December. It was my freshman year of college. I was settling in quite well. I made friends with a bunch of people in our residence hall, we hit it off immediately. We started going out on the weekends, starting with thirsty Thursday, which turns out is actually a thing. I had more than one room mate. We lived in a four person suite with two bedrooms. I had a full ride to my University, so I had a lot of extra money to spend on my living arrangements and meal plan. Oh yeah, I was also a huge pothead. I made friends with the dealer on my floor and started buying him extra meals in exchange for weed. That's when one of my room mates came to me with a proposition. He asked me if I knew what bitcoins were. I did not. He explained the virtual currency and how it worked. Then he really laid it all out. He told me that he had quite a lot of bitcoins and that he wants to get into selling weed. It all sounded great, but I wasn't sure what he needed me for. He then told me that he doesn't really talk to anyone and that he always sees me with people and going to parties every weekend. Okay, this makes sense. He told me how the operation would work, and it sounded swell. For the record, I was eighteen and very stupid. Anyway, he would purchase the drugs from the Silk Road, a dark website where you can buy literally fucking anything. Our friend Noah would then get the goods delivered to his apartment, which had a mailroom with hundreds of mailboxes. This was good because it would be just a little bit less suspicious, also his apartment was not on our campus. Then we'd package everything there and move it to our dorm, which had it's own security. We lived in North Philadelphia, so the security and police were always looking out for the students. After we safely had the products, I would find the buyers. Our first shipment went well. We ordered a half pound of weed, a gram of hash, ten hits of LSD, a small bag of opium (for us), and 1000mg of Alprazolam extract for my room mate's personal anxiety treatment. We got into this business to become weed salesmen. That weed took forever to sell. Everyone who sold weed already had good connections from their hometowns. The LSD though, that sold in five fucking minutes to one buyer who was interested in buying much more than ten hits. He asked us if we could sell him a couple hundred tabs. He said he'd pay $350 for each sheet of 100. We looked at the price per sheet on the Silk Road. It would cost us only $80 each. Yes sir, we can absolutely sell you a couple sheets. We told him we'd call him when it arrived. Later that night we brewed some opium tea and celebrated entering the LSD business. We bought the sheets for him, and we also bought two extras in case anyone else wanted some. The next shipment came with no problems. Our friend came over and bought the sheets we had promised him. We made nearly $800 on that deal. We thought that was a lot, so we celebrated. Later that same day, while smoking a blunt in our courtyard, I made friends with some art students. They invited me to their dorm on the third floor. I agreed, went with them, and we listened to music and painted the walls of the dorm room which was super against the rules. They started talking about how they had taken magic mushrooms two weeks before and how it was life changing. I told them I had two-hundred hits of acid in my room. I've never seen people get so excited in my entire life. They bought all of it. They paid $400 for each sheet. Seemingly out of nowhere we made $600. Again, we thought this was a lot. My room mate was really happy with my networking abilities. Dude, I was just getting high with some hipster art students. I didn't really possess the "networking skills" that everyone thought I had. We went online and purchased another five sheets. We started getting a bit more confident in our ability to sell this magic money making paper. That week I was in one of my classes and had to do a group project with a kid named Eddy. We went to his apartment to work on the project after class. Eddy had an apartment off campus because he was an upperclassman. On the way he asked if I smoked weed. Of course. He said he had something to show me. When we got there he showed me a small weed plant he was growing. It was an adorable little plant in a flower pot by the window. I asked if he needed any weed and he said that he did not. We smoked a bit and then her offered me a Xanax. I had never taken Xanax, so I googled the pill he offered me. Alprazolam. Huh, that's funny. I told him I had 1000mg of alprazolam in my room. This excited him. I asked my room mate if he was willing to sell some of his private stash. Eddy only wanted to buy around 100 milligrams. He agreed and I brought Eddy to my dorm. We gave it to him for the cool price of $150, a slick markdown from what he was paying. After all we hadn't even planned on selling that stuff. He asked how we got it so cheap and if we could get anything else. We told him that we sell LSD. He said he loves hallucinogens and would love to purchase a sheet, so he did. Four sheets left. If we sell them, we can get a new and faster computer. The weekend came and I was hanging out with two of my friends from our residence hall. Joe, who was really chill and loved smoking weed as much as I did. And Bianca, who was so cool that it frightened me. She was really intimidating. I had a huge crush on her, but she was "talking" to a kid that lived in Johnson and Hardwick hall. Bianca was the type of person you see in movies about cool kids doing cool things. A character who has a lot of depth, but it takes nearly the whole movie to slowly peel back the layers, and by that time you're in love. I told her if we sold the rest of our acid I'd buy her a new tattoo. She was covered in them. That night Joe was going to take us to his friend Jamie's house. We were going to try cocaine for the first time. I was terrified. Not only was I terrified about trying cocaine, but I was scared of doing it with Bianca. I just didn't know how I would act, and I didn't want to do something stupid. We arrived at Jamie's house. Jamie was also intimidating. His house was what your typical trap house looked like at the time, with a bunch of really expensive music equipment. Everybody wanted to be a rapper or a D.J. that year. He introduced all his friends and offered us lines of coke. Here we go. Joe went first, he'd already done some before. Bianca went next without hesitation. Now it was my turn. I remember my hand shaking with the rolled up bill between my fingers. I chose the smallest line and sniffed. It did not taste anything like I expected. Five minutes went by. Oh, this is what cocaine is like. It was so underwhelming. It was also some thoroughly stepped on shit. I know that now because since then I've done some foreign blow that literally almost made my heart stop. Anyway, Jamie and I got to talking, mostly about his "music career". Jamie told me if I ever wanted to buy cocaine in bulk to hit him up. I laughed and told him if he ever wanted to buy LSD in bulk to hit me up. I was half joking. He looked at me with the straightest face and asked if I was serious. Honestly, this Jamie guy really scared the shit out of me. He was a good ten inches taller than me and the whole scene was really starting to freak me out. I told him I was serious though. He told me to come with him. He brought me into his room and closed the door. In the room it was quiet. The walls were sound proofed. I looked around and the room was full of money, cocaine, and guns. Okay, he's probably not going to kill me. I hope. He then asked about my LSD connection. I told him I could get sheets for $350. He said he wanted books. Books? This guy wants books? I didn't know this at the time, but a book is a thousand hits of LSD. I told him I had to talk to some people and I would let him know the price, but that I could definitely make it happen. We went back into the party and he gave me line after line of cocaine. Joe offered him money for the lines, but Jamie told him not to pay. He said your friend here bought you guys as much coke as you want for the night. Honestly, that made me feel really cool. After the party I talked to my room mate and told him what happened. We looked up the price of a book on the Silk Road. $300. Not only could we have saved a lot of money if we had just bought a book from the start, but we were going to make a lot more money selling by the book. The days of getting excited over $800 were about to come to an abrupt end. I talked to Jamie and asked how much he would be willing to pay for each book. He said he would pay no more than $3000 for each book. We decided we would sell him the books for $2,800 each. He agreed and asked how many we had. I said we can start with five books. He agreed. This was perfect. Not only were we about to make more money than we had ever expected, but acid was incredibly easy to ship. They were basically sheets of paper. Our supplier used to send it to us in between the pages of large children's coloring books. The books, or prints, as our supplier called them, blended with the kid's books very well. Our prints consisted of a large picture of Bart Simpson, The Grateful Dead bears, and a double rainbow portrait. If you didn't know what acid was, you wouldn't know these were drugs. We made nearly $14,000 from that first deal. Over the course of a few months we would sell close to thirty-thousand hits of LSD. We had $75,000 in cash sitting in an empty bedroom at Noah's apartment. I stopped going to class. My room mate had filled his entire room with computer parts and instruments. Noah, well we didn't really see him much, but he was always present when we needed a shipment. We broke our cardinal rule of not getting high on our own supply. We took a lot of acid that semester. It was an extremely enlightening period for us. Things in my world began to take on entirely new meaning. I had a newfound appreciation for things I had never noticed. The connections with my friends became very strong and we talked about a lot of stuff that was just too deep for my other peers to even scratch the surface of. It was nice. By my birthday in February we had over $200,000 in cash. We didn't die in December, not that I thought we would, but some people were legitimately surprised. They were mostly art students. Things started getting a little crazy. My room mate and I were taking a lot of Xanax by this time and a lot of nights celebrating were never logged as memories. We always told ourselves we would only sell LSD. We had sparked a huge psychedelic scene in and around Philadelphia. There were literally parties where everyone was tripping acid. Many groups of people began taking acid and doing really creative stuff that I admired so much. So much good music and art was around during that period. I felt like I was living in San Fransisco in the middle 60's. It felt like we were part of this incredible scene that nobody outside of the city knew about. Of course every wave has to break and roll back. It was getting close to the summer. I hadn't been to class in months. We hadn't seen Noah since the previous shipment about a month prior. It was a regular weekday, but I wasn't going to class, so I took two hits of acid. I spent most of that evening and night writing and yapping into my tape recorder. I was on the subject of togetherness and how there are so many things that are so incredible that we never notice even though they're right in front of us. Acid talk. I was looking at a glass of water, thinking about its importance, and how so many of us take it for granted. That's when my room mate came home. This was my room mate though. Remember, we had a two bedroom, four person suite. My room mate, who was never involved in our operation. He was obliterated, and not from alcohol. This was something else. He limped into the room and collapsed on the bed. I immediately got the rest of my room mates together. That's when Christian told me what transpired earlier while I was locked in the bedroom tripping acid. He told me that my room mate had broken up with his girlfriend, took an entire bottle of lorazepam, and tried to cut his leg open with my biology scalpel. What the fuck. I examined his leg and he did not try to cut it open, he succeeded. He had a gigantic cut all the way down his lower leg that was fixed up by his father who is a surgeon. His father then brought him back to the dorm. The condition he was in was terrifying. He was breathing, but not well. His heart rate was also very low and we had to monitor him for the remainder of the night, taking shifts to make sure he didn't stop breathing. I couldn't believe his father had brought him back in the condition he was in. The next morning I was exhausted. My room mate and I, the one with the bitcoins, left and went to Noah's apartment to relax for an hour. While we were gone Bianca was to watch over him with her room mate. When we got to Noah's we had a new problem. Noah hadn't gotten out of bed for what looked like weeks. He had ran out of his antidepressants and was in bad shape. At this point I checked out. I walked into the living room and opened a bottle of champagne. I poured a glass, popped a Xanax, and sat on the sofa. I was still a little foggy from my acid trip and I hadn't slept all night. That's when my phone rang. It was Bianca. I answered the phone and her first words were: "Your room is full of police.". Well, it's been a good run. On my desk were a couple thousand hits of LSD and a handgun. In the other bedroom were numerous unopened box's of expensive computer parts, scales and drug paraphernalia galore, and a large pile of white powdered alprazolam. That room also smelled heavily of weed because there was a half pound out in the open. We had gotten very sloppy. I asked her if my room mate was okay. She said that's why the police are there. She said his mom was trying to reach him and he wasn't answering her, so she called the police for a wellness check. Bianca then started talking to someone and hung up the phone. We pondered whether or not to flee the country and become outlaws. We did after all have all the cash here at Noah's. Close to a million dollars. Maybe more. Because we were getting sloppy, we had also started selling hash, Xanax, LSD, 25i-NBOMe, 2c-b, 2c-i, 2c-E, Mescaline, cocaine, MDMA, MDA, LSA, clonazepam, ativan, and other various designer drugs. We were going down for a long time. I started thinking about my life. It literally was flashing before my eyes. I thought about my high school crush, and how I should have been more upfront with her about how much I liked her. I loved her. I thought about the time we slept in the same bed and I couldn't fall asleep because I couldn't believe she was really laying next to me. I remembered how I never wanted to wake up next to anyone else. I thought about my trivial crush on Bianca and how shallow it really was. I thought about my parents and how they'd raised me better. How they did so much for me so that I could go away to college and have a better life than they had. I thought about sitting on the beach last summer without a care in the world. The "problems" in my life that seemed hilarious now. Will I go to prom? Is my car cool enough? My k/d ratio in Call of Duty. How could so much happen in less than a year? That's when Bianca called me again. I was terrified to pick up that phone. We looked outside to see if police were surrounding the apartment complex. They were not. I answered the phone. She said the police were gone. She had put my gun and LSD in my desk drawer. The police never entered the other bedroom. It was just a wellness check. An ambulance came and took my room mate. He was going to be okay. I hugged my partner in crime and we cried. I wish I could tell you we cleaned up our lives after that. My room mate with the bitcoins developed a really dangerous drug habit after that. He spent most of his money on drugs over the next few years. I went back to class after that summer, but stopped going again because I wanted to party instead and start a career as a writer. I failed out of college. Throughout the years I went on numerous adventures all around the world. I have hundreds of stories, I just have to write them. Oh and I have to learn how to write properly. I don't use a lot of drugs today, and I don't encourage people to use drugs. I have unfortunately lost many friends during the opiate epidemic. Weed is cool though, I like weed. I wouldn't tell people to smoke it, but I'll never shame someone for enjoying some cannabis. Actually, I don't really shame people for anything, it's just not my place to judge anyone. Feel free to judge me though, about how my dorm became a drug superhighway. \*Thanks for reading, more stories available on my blog. There's a link on my profile.* Edit: This story is based around actual events that I have experienced.
d down, k up, everybody's a game theorist, titcoin, build wiki on Cardano, (e-)voting, competitive marketing analysis, Goguen product update, Alexa likes Charles, David hates all, Adam in and bros in arms with the scientific counterparts of the major cryptocurrency groups, the latest AMA for all!
Decreasing d parameter Just signed the latest change management document, I was the last in the chain so I signed it today for changing the d parameter from 0.52 to 0.5. That means we are just about to cross the threshold here in a little bit for d to fall below 0.5 which means more than half of all the blocks will be made by the community and not the OBFT nodes. That's a major milestone and at this current rate of velocity it looks like d will decrement to zero around March so lots to do, lots to talk about. Product update, two days from now, we'll go ahead and talk about that but it crossed my desk today and I was really happy and excited about that and it seemed like yesterday that d was equal to one and people were complaining that we delayed it by an epoch and now we're almost at 50 percent. For those of you who want parameter-level changes, k-level changes, they are coming and there's an enormous internal conversation about it and we've written up a powerpoint presentation and a philosophy document about why things were designed the way that they're designed. Increasing k parameter and upcoming security video and everybody's a game theorist My chief scientist has put an enormous amount of time into this. Aggelos is very passionate about this particular topic and what I'm going to do is similar to the security video that I did where I did an hour and a half discussion about a best practice for security. I'm going to actually do a screencasted video where I talk about this philosophy document and I'm going to read the entire document with annotations with you guys and kind of talk through it. It might end up being quite a long video. It could be several hours long but I think it's really important to talk around the design philosophy of this. It's kind of funny, everybody, when they see a cryptographic paper or math paper, they tend to just say okay you guys figure that out. No one's an expert in cryptography or math and you don't really get strong opinions about it but game theory despite the fact that the topics as complex and in some cases more complex you tend to get a lot of opinions and everybody's a game theorist. So, there was enormous amount of thought that went into the design of the system, the parameters of system, everything from the reward functions to other things and it's very important that we explain that thought process in as detailed of a way as possible. At least the philosophy behind it then I feel that the community is in a really good position to start working on the change management. It is my position that I'd love to see k largely increased. I do think that the software needs some improvements to get there especially partial delegation delegation portfolios and some enhancements into the operation of staking especially. E-voting I'd love to see the existence of hybrid wallets where you have a cold part a hot part and we've had a lot of conversations about that and we will present some of the progress in that matter at the product updates. If not this October certainly in November. A lot of commercialization going along, a lot of things going on and flowing around and you know, commercial teams working hard. As I mentioned we have a lot of deals in the pipeline. The Wyoming event was half political, half sales. We were really looking into e-voting and we had very productive conversations along those lines. It is my goal that Cardano e-voting software is used in political primaries and my hope is for eventually to be used in municipal and state and eventually federal elections and then in national elections for countries like Ethiopia, Mongolia and other places. Now there is a long road, long, long road to get there and many little victories that have to begin but this event. Wyoming was kind of the opener into that conversation there were seven independent parties at the independent national convention and we had a chance to talk to the leadership of many of them. We will also engage in conversation with the libertarian party leadership as well and at the very least we could talk about e-voting and also blockchain-based voting for primaries that would be great start and we'll also look into the state of Wyoming for that as well. We'll you know, tell you guys about that in time. We've already gotten a lot of inquiries about e-voting software. We tend to get them along with the (Atala) Prism inquiries. It's actually quite easy to start conversations but there are a lot of security properties that are very important like end-to-end verifiability hybrid ballots where you have both a digital and a paper ballot delegation mechanics as well as privacy mechanics that are interesting on a case-by-case basis. Goguen, voting, future fund3, competitive marketing analysis of Ouroboros vs. EOS, Tezos, Algorand, ETH2 and Polkadot, new creative director We'll keep chipping away at that, a lot of Goguen stuff to talk about but I'm going to reserve all of that for two days from now for the product update. We're right in the middle, Goguen metadata was the very first part of it. We already have some commercialization platform as a result of metadata, more to come and then obviously lots of smart contract stuff to come. This update and the November update are going to be very Goguen focused and also a lot of alternatives as well. We're still on schedule for an HFC event in I think November or December. I can't remember but that's going to be carrying a lot of things related multisig token locking. There's some ledger rule changes so it has to be an HFC event and that opens up a lot of the windows for Goguen foundations as well as voting on chain so fund3 will benefit very heavily from that. We're right in the guts of Daedalus right now building the voting center, the identity center, QR-code work. All this stuff, it's a lot of stuff, you know, the cell phone app was released last week. Kind of an early beta, it'll go through a lot of rapid iterations every few weeks. We'll update it, google play is a great foundation to launch things on because it's so easy to push updates to people automatically so you can rapidly iterate and be very agile in that framework and you know we've already had 3500 people involved heavily in the innovation management platform ideascale and we've got numerous bids from everything. From John Buck and the sociocracy movement to others. A lot of people want to help us improve that and we're going to see steady and systematic growth there. We're still chipping away at product marketing. Liza (Horowitz) is doing a good job, meet with her two three-times a week and right now it's Ouroboros, Ouroboros, Ouroboros... We're doing competitive analysis of Ouroboros versus EOS, Tezos, Algorand, ETH2 and Polkadot. We think that's a good set. We think we have a really good way of explaining it. David (David Likes Crypto now at IOHK) has already made some great content. We're going to release that soon alongside some other content and we'll keep chipping away at that. We also just hired a creative director for IO Global. His name's Adam, incredibly experienced creative director, he's worked for Mercedes-Benz and dozens of other companies. He does very good work and he's been doing this for well over 20 years and so the very first set of things he's going to do is work with commercial and marketing on product marketing. In addition to building great content where hope is make that content as pretty as possible and we have Rod heavily involved in that as well to talk about distribution channels and see if we can amplify the distribution message and really get a lot of stuff done. Last thing to mention, oh yeah, iOS for catalyst. We're working on that, we submitted it to the apple store, the iOS store, but it takes a little longer to get approval for that than it does with google play but that's been submitted and it's whenever apple approves it or not. Takes a little longer for cryptocurrency stuff. Wiki shizzle and battle for crypto, make crypto articles on wiki great again, Alexa knows Charles, Everpedia meets Charles podcast, holy-grail land of Cardano, wiki on Cardano, titcoin Wikipedia... kind of rattled the cage a little bit. Through an intermediary we got contact with Jimmy Wales. Larry Sanger, the other co-founder also reached out to me and the everpedia guys reached out to me. Here's where we stand, we have an article, it has solidified, it's currently labeled as unreliable and you should not believe the things that are said in it which is David Gerard's work if you look at the edits. We will work with the community and try to get that article to a fair and balanced representation of Cardano and especially after the product marketing comes through. We clearly explain the product I think the Cardano article can be massively strengthened. I've told Rod to work with some specialized people to try to get that done but we are going to work very hard at a systematic approval campaign for all of the scientific articles related to blockchain technology in the cryptocurrency space. They're just terrible, if you go to the proof of work article, the proof of stake or all these things, they're just terrible. They're not well written, they're out of date and they don't reflect an adequate sampling of the science. I did talk to my chief scientist Aggelos and what we're gonna do is reach out to the scientific counterparts that most of the major cryptocurrency groups that are doing research and see if they want to work with us at an industry-wide effort to systematically improve the scientific articles in our industry so that there are a fair and balanced representation of what the current state of the art are, the criticisms, the trade-offs as well as the reference space and of course obviously we'll do quite well in that respect because we've done the science. We're the inheritor of it but it's a shame because when people search proof of stake on google usually wikipedia results are highly biased. We care about wikipedia because google cares about wikipedia, amazon cares about wikipedia. If you ask Alexa who is Charles Hoskinson, the reason why Alexa knows is because it's reading directly from the wikipedia page. If I didn't have a wikipedia page Alexa would know that so if somebody says Alexa what is Cardano it's going to read directly from the wikipedia page and you know and we can either just pretend that reality doesn't exist or we can accept it and we as a community working with partners in the broader cryptocurrency community can universally improve the quality of cryptocurrency pages. There's been a pattern of commercial censorship on wikipedia for cryptocurrencies in general since bitcoin itself. In fact I think the bitcoin article is actually taken down once back in, might have been, 2010 or 2009 but basically wikipedia has not been a friend of cryptocurrencies. That's why everpedia exists and actually their founders reached out to me and I talked to them over twitter through PMs and we agreed to actually do a podcast. I'm going to do a streamyard, stream with these guys and they'll come on talk all about everpedia and what they do and how they are and we'll kind of go through the challenges that they've encountered. How their platform works and so forth and obviously if they want to ever leave that terrible ecosystem EOS and come to the holy-grail land of Cardano we'd be there to help them out. At least they can tell the world how amazing their product is and also the challenges they're having to overcome. We've also been in great contact with Larry Sanger. He's going to do an internal seminar at some point with with us and talk about some protocols he's been developing since he left wikipedia specifically to decentralize knowledge management and have a truly decentralized encyclopedia. I'm really looking forward to that and I hope that presentation gives us some inspiration as an ecosystem of things we can do. That's a great piece of infrastructure regardless and after we learn a lot more about it and we talk to a lot of people in ecosystem. If we can't get people to move on over, it would be really good to see through ideascale in the innovation management platform for people to utilize the dc fund to build their own variant of wikipedia on Cardano. In the coming months there will certainly be funding available. If you guys are so passionate about this particular problem that you want to go solve it then I'd be happy to play Elon Musk with the hyperloop and write a white paper on a protocol design and really give a good first start and then you guys can go and try to commercialize that technology as Cardano native assets and Plutus smart contracts in addition to other pieces of technology that have to be brought in to make it practical. Right now we're just, let's talk to everybody phase, and we'll talk to the everpedia guys, we're going to talk to Larry and we're going to see whoever else is in this game and of course we have to accept the incumbency as it is. So, we're working with obviously the wikipedia side to improve the quality of not only our article but all of the articles and the scientific side of things so that there's a fair and accurate representation of information. One of the reasons why I'm so concerned about this is that I am very worried that Cardano projects will get commercially censored like we were commercially censored. So, yes we do have a page but it took five years to get there and we're a multi-billion dollar project with hundreds of thousands of people. If you guys are doing cutting-edge novel interesting stuff I don't want your experience to be the same as ours where you have to wait five years for your project to get a page even after government's adopted. That's absurd, no one should be censored ever. This is very well a fight for the entire ecosystem, the entire community, not just Cardano but all cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, ethereum and Cardano have all faced commercial censorship and article deletions during their tenure so I don't want you guys to go through that. I'm hoping we can prove that situation but you know you don't put all your eggs in one basket and frankly the time has come for wikipedia to be fully decentralized and liberated from a centralized organization and massively variable quality in the editor base. If legends of valor has a page but Cardano didn't have one until recently titcoin, a pornography coin from 2015, that's deprecated, no one uses it, has a page but Cardano couldn't get one there's something seriously wrong with the quality control mechanism and we need to improve that so it'll get done.
The year was 2012, and we were all supposed to die in December. It was my freshman year of college. I was settling in quite well. I made friends with a bunch of people in our residence hall, we hit it off immediately. We started going out on the weekends, starting with thirsty Thursday, which turns out is actually a thing. I had more than one room mate. We lived in a four person suite with two bedrooms. I had a full ride to my University, so I had a lot of extra money to spend on my living arrangements and meal plan. Oh yeah, I was also a huge pothead. I made friends with the dealer on my floor and started buying him extra meals in exchange for weed. That's when one of my room mates came to me with a proposition. He asked me if I knew what bitcoins were. I did not. He explained the virtual currency and how it worked. Then he really laid it all out. He told me that he had quite a lot of bitcoins and that he wants to get into selling weed. It all sounded great, but I wasn't sure what he needed me for. He then told me that he doesn't really talk to anyone and that he always sees me with people and going to parties every weekend. Okay, this makes sense. He told me how the operation would work, and it sounded swell. For the record, I was eighteen and very stupid. Anyway, he would purchase the drugs from the Silk Road, a dark website where you can buy literally fucking anything. Our friend Noah would then get the goods delivered to his apartment, which had a mailroom with hundreds of mailboxes. This was good because it would be just a little bit less suspicious, also his apartment was not on our campus. Then we'd package everything there and move it to our dorm, which had it's own security. We lived in North Philadelphia, so the security and police were always looking out for the students. After we safely had the products, I would find the buyers. Our first shipment went well. We ordered a half pound of weed, a gram of hash, ten hits of LSD, a small bag of opium (for us), and 1000mg of Alprazolam extract for my room mate's personal anxiety treatment. We got into this business to become weed salesmen. That weed took forever to sell. Everyone who sold weed already had good connections from their hometowns. The LSD though, that sold in five fucking minutes to one buyer who was interested in buying much more than ten hits. He asked us if we could sell him a couple hundred tabs. He said he'd pay $350 for each sheet of 100. We looked at the price per sheet on the Silk Road. It would cost us only $80 each. Yes sir, we can absolutely sell you a couple sheets. We told him we'd call him when it arrived. Later that night we brewed some opium tea and celebrated entering the LSD business. We bought the sheets for him, and we also bought two extras in case anyone else wanted some. The next shipment came with no problems. Our friend came over and bought the sheets we had promised him. We made nearly $800 on that deal. We thought that was a lot, so we celebrated. Later that same day, while smoking a blunt in our courtyard, I made friends with some art students. They invited me to their dorm on the third floor. I agreed, went with them, and we listened to music and painted the walls of the dorm room which was super against the rules. They started talking about how they had taken magic mushrooms two weeks before and how it was life changing. I told them I had two-hundred hits of acid in my room. I've never seen people get so excited in my entire life. They bought all of it. They paid $400 for each sheet. Seemingly out of nowhere we made $600. Again, we thought this was a lot. My room mate was really happy with my networking abilities. Dude, I was just getting high with some hipster art students. I didn't really possess the "networking skills" that everyone thought I had. We went online and purchased another five sheets. We started getting a bit more confident in our ability to sell this magic money making paper. That week I was in one of my classes and had to do a group project with a kid named Eddy. We went to his apartment to work on the project after class. Eddy had an apartment off campus because he was an upperclassman. On the way he asked if I smoked weed. Of course. He said he had something to show me. When we got there he showed me a small weed plant he was growing. It was an adorable little plant in a flower pot by the window. I asked if he needed any weed and he said that he did not. We smoked a bit and then her offered me a Xanax. I had never taken Xanax, so I googled the pill he offered me. Alprazolam. Huh, that's funny. I told him I had 1000mg of alprazolam in my room. This excited him. I asked my room mate if he was willing to sell some of his private stash. Eddy only wanted to buy around 100 milligrams. He agreed and I brought Eddy to my dorm. We gave it to him for the cool price of $150, a slick markdown from what he was paying. After all we hadn't even planned on selling that stuff. He asked how we got it so cheap and if we could get anything else. We told him that we sell LSD. He said he loves hallucinogens and would love to purchase a sheet, so he did. Four sheets left. If we sell them, we can get a new and faster computer. The weekend came and I was hanging out with two of my friends from our residence hall. Joe, who was really chill and loved smoking weed as much as I did. And Bianca, who was so cool that it frightened me. She was really intimidating. I had a huge crush on her, but she was "talking" to a kid that lived in Johnson and Hardwick hall. Bianca was the type of person you see in movies about cool kids doing cool things. A character who has a lot of depth, but it takes nearly the whole movie to slowly peel back the layers, and by that time you're in love. I told her if we sold the rest of our acid I'd buy her a new tattoo. She was covered in them. That night Joe was going to take us to his friend Jamie's house. We were going to try cocaine for the first time. I was terrified. Not only was I terrified about trying cocaine, but I was scared of doing it with Bianca. I just didn't know how I would act, and I didn't want to do something stupid. We arrived at Jamie's house. Jamie was also intimidating. His house was what your typical trap house looked like at the time, with a bunch of really expensive music equipment. Everybody wanted to be a rapper or a D.J. that year. He introduced all his friends and offered us lines of coke. Here we go. Joe went first, he'd already done some before. Bianca went next without hesitation. Now it was my turn. I remember my hand shaking with the rolled up bill between my fingers. I chose the smallest line and sniffed. It did not taste anything like I expected. Five minutes went by. Oh, this is what cocaine is like. It was so underwhelming. It was also some thoroughly stepped on shit. I know that now because since then I've done some foreign blow that literally almost made my heart stop. Anyway, Jamie and I got to talking, mostly about his "music career". Jamie told me if I ever wanted to buy cocaine in bulk to hit him up. I laughed and told him if he ever wanted to buy LSD in bulk to hit me up. I was half joking. He looked at me with the straightest face and asked if I was serious. Honestly, this Jamie guy really scared the shit out of me. He was a good ten inches taller than me and the whole scene was really starting to freak me out. I told him I was serious though. He told me to come with him. He brought me into his room and closed the door. In the room it was quiet. The walls were sound proofed. I looked around and the room was full of money, cocaine, and guns. Okay, he's probably not going to kill me. I hope. He then asked about my LSD connection. I told him I could get sheets for $350. He said he wanted books. Books? This guy wants books? I didn't know this at the time, but a book is a thousand hits of LSD. I told him I had to talk to some people and I would let him know the price, but that I could definitely make it happen. We went back into the party and he gave me line after line of cocaine. Joe offered him money for the lines, but Jamie told him not to pay. He said your friend here bought you guys as much coke as you want for the night. Honestly, that made me feel really cool. After the party I talked to my room mate and told him what happened. We looked up the price of a book on the Silk Road. $300. Not only could we have saved a lot of money if we had just bought a book from the start, but we were going to make a lot more money selling by the book. The days of getting excited over $800 were about to come to an abrupt end. I talked to Jamie and asked how much he would be willing to pay for each book. He said he would pay no more than $3000 for each book. We decided we would sell him the books for $2,800 each. He agreed and asked how many we had. I said we can start with five books. He agreed. This was perfect. Not only were we about to make more money than we had ever expected, but acid was incredibly easy to ship. They were basically sheets of paper. Our supplier used to send it to us in between the pages of large children's coloring books. The books, or prints, as our supplier called them, blended with the kid's books very well. Our prints consisted of a large picture of Bart Simpson, The Grateful Dead bears, and a double rainbow portrait. If you didn't know what acid was, you wouldn't know these were drugs. We made nearly $14,000 from that first deal. Over the course of a few months we would sell close to thirty-thousand hits of LSD. We had $75,000 in cash sitting in an empty bedroom at Noah's apartment. I stopped going to class. My room mate had filled his entire room with computer parts and instruments. Noah, well we didn't really see him much, but he was always present when we needed a shipment. We broke our cardinal rule of not getting high on our own supply. We took a lot of acid that semester. It was an extremely enlightening period for us. Things in my world began to take on entirely new meaning. I had a newfound appreciation for things I had never noticed. The connections with my friends became very strong and we talked about a lot of stuff that was just too deep for my other peers to even scratch the surface of. It was nice. By my birthday in February we had over $200,000 in cash. We didn't die in December, not that I thought we would, but some people were legitimately surprised. They were mostly art students. Things started getting a little crazy. My room mate and I were taking a lot of Xanax by this time and a lot of nights celebrating were never logged as memories. We always told ourselves we would only sell LSD. We had sparked a huge psychedelic scene in and around Philadelphia. There were literally parties where everyone was tripping acid. Many groups of people began taking acid and doing really creative stuff that I admired so much. So much good music and art was around during that period. I felt like I was living in San Fransisco in the middle 60's. It felt like we were part of this incredible scene that nobody outside of the city knew about. Of course every wave has to break and roll back. It was getting close to the summer. I hadn't been to class in months. We hadn't seen Noah since the previous shipment about a month prior. It was a regular weekday, but I wasn't going to class, so I took two hits of acid. I spent most of that evening and night writing and yapping into my tape recorder. I was on the subject of togetherness and how there are so many things that are so incredible that we never notice even though they're right in front of us. Acid talk. I was looking at a glass of water, thinking about its importance, and how so many of us take it for granted. That's when my room mate came home. This was my room mate though. Remember, we had a two bedroom, four person suite. My room mate, who was never involved in our operation. He was obliterated, and not from alcohol. This was something else. He limped into the room and collapsed on the bed. I immediately got the rest of my room mates together. That's when Christian told me what transpired earlier while I was locked in the bedroom tripping acid. He told me that my room mate had broken up with his girlfriend, took an entire bottle of lorazepam, and tried to cut his leg open with my biology scalpel. What the fuck. I examined his leg and he did not try to cut it open, he succeeded. He had a gigantic cut all the way down his lower leg that was fixed up by his father who is a surgeon. His father then brought him back to the dorm. The condition he was in was terrifying. He was breathing, but not well. His heart rate was also very low and we had to monitor him for the remainder of the night, taking shifts to make sure he didn't stop breathing. I couldn't believe his father had brought him back in the condition he was in. The next morning I was exhausted. My room mate and I, the one with the bitcoins, left and went to Noah's apartment to relax for an hour. While we were gone Bianca was to watch over him with her room mate. When we got to Noah's we had a new problem. Noah hadn't gotten out of bed for what looked like weeks. He had ran out of his antidepressants and was in bad shape. At this point I checked out. I walked into the living room and opened a bottle of champagne. I poured a glass, popped a Xanax, and sat on the sofa. I was still a little foggy from my acid trip and I hadn't slept all night. That's when my phone rang. It was Bianca. I answered the phone and her first words were: "Your room is full of police.". Well, it's been a good run. On my desk were a couple thousand hits of LSD and a handgun. In the other bedroom were numerous unopened box's of expensive computer parts, scales and drug paraphernalia galore, and a large pile of white powdered alprazolam. That room also smelled heavily of weed because there was a half pound out in the open. We had gotten very sloppy. I asked her if my room mate was okay. She said that's why the police are there. She said his mom was trying to reach him and he wasn't answering her, so she called the police for a wellness check. Bianca then started talking to someone and hung up the phone. We pondered whether or not to flee the country and become outlaws. We did after all have all the cash here at Noah's. Close to a million dollars. Maybe more. Because we were getting sloppy, we had also started selling hash, Xanax, LSD, 25i-NBOMe, 2c-b, 2c-i, 2c-E, Mescaline, cocaine, MDMA, MDA, LSA, clonazepam, ativan, and other various designer drugs. We were going down for a long time. I started thinking about my life. It literally was flashing before my eyes. I thought about my high school crush, and how I should have been more upfront with her about how much I liked her. I loved her. I thought about the time we slept in the same bed and I couldn't fall asleep because I couldn't believe she was really laying next to me. I remembered how I never wanted to wake up next to anyone else. I thought about my trivial crush on Bianca and how shallow it really was. I thought about my parents and how they'd raised me better. How they did so much for me so that I could go away to college and have a better life than they had. I thought about sitting on the beach last summer without a care in the world. The "problems" in my life that seemed hilarious now. Will I go to prom? Is my car cool enough? My k/d ratio in Call of Duty. How could so much happen in less than a year? That's when Bianca called me again. I was terrified to pick up that phone. We looked outside to see if police were surrounding the apartment complex. They were not. I answered the phone. She said the police were gone. She had put my gun and LSD in my desk drawer. The police never entered the other bedroom. It was just a wellness check. An ambulance came and took my room mate. He was going to be okay. I hugged my partner in crime and we cried. I wish I could tell you we cleaned up our lives after that. My room mate with the bitcoins developed a really dangerous drug habit after that. He spent most of his money on drugs over the next few years. I went back to class after that summer, but stopped going again because I wanted to party instead and start a career as a writer. I failed out of college. Throughout the years I went on numerous adventures all around the world. I have hundreds of stories, I just have to write them. Oh and I have to learn how to write properly. I don't use a lot of drugs today, and I don't encourage people to use drugs. I have unfortunately lost many friends during the opiate epidemic. Weed is cool though, I like weed. I wouldn't tell people to smoke it, but I'll never shame someone for enjoying some cannabis. Actually, I don't really shame people for anything, it's just not my place to judge anyone. Feel free to judge me though, about how my dorm room became a drug superhighway. **More stories are now available on myblog. \**Top post of all time on* bartardstories. Thank you to my readers and most of all -- the haters. Thanks for reading.
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
Ethereum Diamond The first token based on system affiliate
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READ ME: Part 1 READ ME: Part 2 It was a few days of me relaxing just taking in the mellow mood that our Cecily- turned sea creature left me with her musical talents. Cecily also gifted me with a relaxing feeling. It helped my anxiety in a way I can’t explain. I fed Doby, the fish I confiscated from the magical book, and bought him a new tank for my kitchen. I think he was another gift from Cecily. I was just happy I was able to put her soul to rest. I spent all that Saturday setting up the sea salt tank fit with plants. Typically, it took time to set up a tank, but I didn’t exactly have time to do that with Doby. I even got him a few companions to keep him company. Then a few days later, as I was feeding Doby admiring the new purple and turquoise blue decor, I felt a sudden need to cut my wrist. I felt like I was in a trance. I walked over to the kitchen, opening the drawer pulling out a sharp knife, I began slicing my arm. I didn’t bleed much, but I had this overwhelming, depressing feeling coming over me. Then I heard my television pop on all by itself. There was a news story about a young girl about sixteen years old that had gone missing. The report was dated three years ago. I knew then it was the book. Dropping the knife, I ran to get a paper towel and some alcohol to clean the wound I created. I heard guns firing lasers, and I saw a blue light illuminating from the book. I took a big gulp; what was I getting myself into? I opened the book to THE MURDER SHOW, which was the next story I was to read, and took a deep breath. I looked down and could see a tiny television featuring two teenagers playing a video game in a room. It was like I was watching a movie. One of them had short bleach blonde hair, the other had long black hair, and I recognized her as the missing teenage girl from the news that had just been featured on my television. Instead of reading this story, I was watching it. I was hearing her voice inside of my mind, or maybe it was out loud. I couldn’t tell anymore. I looked at the pages before me. They were turning on their own like an old fashioned picture book. I watched a girl as her eyes turned and faced me. She had black hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. She had a black t-shirt on with a ton of bracelets. Her thin face was pretty, but she didn’t smile. Instead, I could do nothing except listen to the story titled: THE MURDER SHOW My name is Andrea Becker, and as long as I could remember, I wanted to die. I know it sounds strange, but I looked at death as that permanent nostalgic return to your soul. I swear I’m not a freak. I know I look the part, don’t get me wrong. I am cliche for someone my age. Let me begin by telling you how it all began. When I was ten years old, my grandparents were visiting from out of town. My grandmother was taking a shower, and when she got out, she screamed for my mother as she was having chest pains. She fell over onto the bathroom floor. The EMT’s were there in record time; maybe it was slow- I just know it was all a blur. I watched them trying to bring my grandmother back. My grandpa wasn’t home; he had gone shopping with my dad and older brother. So, I had a front-row to the tragic end of a woman I had loved so much. Then I knew the exact moment she died. I saw her ghost or her soul, whatever you believe. It floated out of her body, and it LOOKED at me! My grandmother’s spirit looked at me and smiled. I knew then everything would be fine, but it wasn’t about me. It was about how at peace she was. I longed for that peace. I lost my grandpa a few years later, but my grandmother’s death stuck with me. I started reading everything in the end. I knew it wasn’t simple science like some claim. You do leave your body when you die. Where you go is anyone’s guess, I just know what I saw that day my grandma died. I had never considered killing myself. That was too weird. Then one day, my best friend, Carla, told me she liked to cut herself. She showed me her scars on her wrists. I was taken back by her self-harm. “What if you go too deep?” I asked her. “I have a couple of times, but I have gotten good at stitching myself up,” she smirked. “Doesn’t it hurt?” I asked her. “Yeah, but sometimes it is the only way I can feel things. I just feel like the world gets to be too much sometimes, and I want to escape it. I just don’t want to die.” That is when I looked at her. “I have always wanted to die,” I said tears in my eyes. “What you mean, like kill yourself?” “No, just be at peace.” “I feel at peace after I feel that rush. Like I get a rush from the pain for a second, and it makes me less - I dunno how to explain it.” “I get it,” I said, and my friend had become my best friend. I never told her, but I started self-harming after that. I had to know if it would give me the peace that I longed for when my grandmother showed me that look in her eyes. Like AT LAST, she could rest! Sadly, over the next few years, Carla and I stopped being so close. She started hanging with a posh stuck up crowd. I still craved death. There was little in common with the mean girls' squad. At seventeen, I had become close friends with a guy named Paul, whom I had a lot in common. We both enjoyed Mr. Fraziers English class, played tons of video games, and enjoyed hacking. Not like professional hacking, just silly stuff like the local website to our local pizza shop. We hacked into it to say that all the prices had been reduced to 99cents. Silly kid stuff. We were never caught. Then one day, Paul came over with two of his laptops. “I have to show you something.” He said to me, excitedly. “You ever been on the dark web?” I shook my head. “No way!” “It isn’t all weirdos; I buy stupid shit on there like electronics. Lots of black market stuff. It isn’t all organs and creepers doing things to people.” “You aren’t messing with those sites, are you?” I asked him, concerned. “No, I just found one, though. I can’t tell if they are serious. It’s called THE MURDER SHOW.” “What the hell, Paul?” “No, I have everything blocked. They can’t find us. I wanted you to see these comments. It freaked me out.” “You are on the DARK WEB PAUL!” I retorted. “Listen, just look at this. Can this be real?” I hesitated and then took his laptop and looked at the site. It was a chat room. I read a few of the posts they talked about murder and the best way to do it. Then I read on. Der786: YOU READY, RANDY? One poster asked. RANDY01: YEAH JUST DON’T HURT ME TOO MUCH. Another user name responded. Der786: YOU GET THAT INSURANCE FILLED OUT? RANDY01: MY WIFE WILL NEVER WANT FOR ANYTHING EVER AGAIN. What the hell? Paul grabbed the laptop. “They let themselves be murdered for entertainment.” “On purpose?” “Yeah, one guy had cancer and didn’t want to live anymore. It even says on the disclaimer that this is the Doctor Kavorkian of murder sites. It is all pity kills. They won’t do it to healthy, happy, or well-adjusted humans. You must prove you are worthy, and they will do the cleanup, so no one ever finds out.” “It is real. Turn it off, Paul.” “Sorry, I didn’t mean to freak you out. I just thought you would think it was at least interesting.” “It is scary and unfortunate if I’m honest.” Paul’s cell phone rang. “Sorry, mom, yes, I forgot. I’m with Andrea. I’m coming.” I looked at Paul, and he ran out and left. He was gone, and so I continued playing a new video game that I had bought with my allowance. I wasn’t paying any attention when I heard someone say, “I see you.” Huh? I said to myself. “You there! Girl with the black hair!” What the hell? Then I realized that Paul had left his stupid laptop on the floor of my bedroom, and it was still on that silly murder site! I peeked over my bed and looked down at the laptop, and just as I was about to close it, a man spoke again. “Don’t close it yet; you had to come here for a reason. Why don’t you tell me what brought you here.” “I- I didn’t. My friend found it by accident, and we weren’t interested in the site.” “That is okay, so you were curious. Can I answer any of your questions?” This was getting too weird for me. “I am good. I think I get it.” “Look, I get it. It’s real live dark web shit. I’d want to close the laptop and burn it too. Only I have seen you. How do you know I haven’t already tracked your address? How do you know I am not using facial recognition to figure out exactly who you are, Andrea Becker.” He said my name. How did he know my name? I was going to kill Paul. I picked up the laptop and looked at the man who didn’t look like your typical weirdo. He was sitting at a desk wearing a polo shirt. He had a friendly smile and kind eyes. Suddenly I felt comforted instead of creeped out, and I didn’t know what it was. “My name is Milton. I founded this site to let people let out a little bit of carnal steam. Tell me about yourself.” “This is weird. I don’t know you.” “Okay, I’ll begin. I’m married. I am a father of two kids. Jessica and Jenna. I work in management. This is just a side thing. I can assure you I am every bit as human as you are. So tell me, why do you wish to die, Andrea Becker?” At that moment, it was like he had spoken to my heart. No one had ever spoken so honestly to me before. It was like having someone see your soul. At that moment, I thought, this is fate. “Peace.” I found myself speaking honestly, and even if I regretted it later, I couldn’t help it. It was nice to see that someone could read my mind. At least it felt like that. “I think most of us who are empathic to the ways of the world feel the same way you do.” “Yeah, I guess.” I sat up straight and leaned into the screen on my laptop. I was beginning to feel much more comfortable than I had thought I ever would. It was strange to trust someone on the dark web like this, but there was something about this man. He had a hold over me. “Tell you what, we are holding an event tonight at eleven, and I hope you will log on to join us to see what we are all about. I promise it isn’t what you think.” “I will have to check it out,” I said, partially wondering if I wanted to have anything more to do with this man. The screen went black, and I shut Paul’s laptop. I decided to go downstairs to grab a wine cooler out of the fridge. It was almost ten o’clock, and my parents were asleep, so I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble. I drank the crappy drink, thinking long and hard about what had transpired and wondering if I wanted to know what went on in this so-called murder show. It was five till eleven, and my cowardice was in full force, so I turned on the television. “A WHITE VAN IS THE SUSPECT IN THE MISSING TEEN’S DISAPPEARANCE IN FRANKLIN COUNTY. WITNESSES SAY THEY SAW YOUNG JAMES MADISON TALKING TO SOMEONE DRESSED AS A CLOWN AS HE WAS ON HIS WAY TO SCHOOL FRIDAY MORNING…” I turned off the disturbing news program deciding I would see the big deal with this “murder show.” There could not possibly be any reason for this nice man I had talked to be part of some sympathy murder thing. The screen was still black, and then I saw a small room come into focus. The chat room was coming alive with flower emojis, and last-minute thank yous and best wishes from viewers who were donating bitcoin to the website’s owner. Then I saw a man sitting in a chair and typing away at his computer. Something oddly terrifying about it was because the viewers seemed to see it, but the man didn’t seem to have anything to do with the viewers as though he didn’t even know he was being watched. I watched as some of the viewers suddenly were also aware of this fact. RHONDA24: Do you think he even knows this is the last night on earth? Davtelly45: Nope, that is how it works. RHONDA24: I know, but I thought he would be more prepared. He has been with us so long here. Davtelly45: He will die soon, but he will be better off. RHONDA24: No more cheating wife, no more debt, and no more anxiety about what tomorrow will bring. Sassy-maria: I’m so happy for him. Davtelly45: Me too, girl. IVANfist: I hope this one is bloody, though. I like them with a little bit of gore. RHONDA24: I have to admit I do too. Maybe he will get slashed on the throat. Davtelly45: I just want our boy to be happy. IVANfist: Fuck that gore all the way! I read the chat, and then I watched as the man sitting at his computer seemed to be working on something very intensely. That is when I heard what sounded like a doorbell ring. The man everyone was watching got up, and walked away. I guessed to answer the door. Then I heard the sound of someone yelling. A man with a black mask on was soon dragging the man who had just been sitting at the computer into his office. “No, I have changed my mind! Please, I don't’ want to-” His throat was slashed in front of the computer. The slash was so deep it nearly decapitated the man who was only moments ago typing away at his laptop. I gasped, watching the scene unfold before me. Then the chat room exploded. RHONDA24: Bye, Randy. We will miss you. UNKNOWN: no, we won’t. Davtelly45: SO long, Randy. I hope you can now be at peace. UNKNOWN: Randy will never be at peace now. Hope he rots in hell. Davtelly45: WHo is this? RHONDA24: I will miss Randy, but anything will be better than dealing with a cheating wife, too much debt, and not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I long for my day to rest. UNKNOWN: You should just put yourself out of your misery. Davtelly45: Seriously, what the hell? Guy, this is pretty insensitive. We are celebrating the life and death of a warrior. There was some strange interference, and I shut off the laptop, unplugging it. I texted Paul to get his stupid laptop, and he told me he would be over tomorrow to get it. I was sick to my stomach. Had a real-life murder just taken place? I knew without a shadow of a doubt it had. I was paralyzed with fear and yet oddly jealous. I secretly wished I would be able to feel that peace that Randy felt. It terrified me, though, to no end. \*************** I woke up the next morning and prepared for school. I had strange dreams of the people on the computer screen. I had dreams of them talking about me the way they had Randy. I was sweating when I got out of bed, and I readied myself for school and what the new day would bring. Paul came over after school to get his laptop, and I made sure I didn’t mention what happened the night before. I just wanted that website out of my life. Paul seemed unphased by the fact I had his laptop. He had a few, so what was one going missing? Following that incident, I stayed off my computer as much as possible. Then I had to log onto my own laptop to finish a school project about two weeks later. When I logged into my email, there were many messages from a person that called themselves FALCON. “Andrea Becker, this is FALCON, Milton wanted me to let you know that he knows you logged on to watch Randy transition, and he wanted to see how you were since viewing our little show.” I deleted the messages. I didn’t want anything to do with these weird people. As I had this thought, I got an instant message from MILTON. Milton: Andrea, I am sorry you seem alarmed by Randy’s transition. Tell me, how did that make you feel? It is okay to feel scared, terrified, sad, angry, or all of the above. I looked at what he was typing, and that same sweet consoling man made my guard go down. I would have asked him how he got my email, but I already knew that if it were easy for them to get my name, how much harder would it be to get my email? Milton: Andrea? Me: Hello, Milton. I don’t know how I feel about what I saw. I don’t think I want anything to do with this. Milton: Andrea, talk to me. Me: I don’t know what to say. You killed a man. Milton: Yes, but he wanted it. We helped him transition. We can help you. I looked at what he was saying. I had wanted so badly to feel at peace and lose all of my earthly worries, but this was too much too fast. Me: I have to go to Milton. Milton: Andrea Becker, reconsider. You don’t have to participate, but we are people that understand you. I read your online diary, your poetry, and I know what you wish for. I was stunned and felt violated. How did they hack into my online diary? It was private thoughts on my blog site I never made public. I was terrified, and then Milton said something else that made me reconsider. Milton: I have seen your interactions with others. We have watched you interact with your friends. We know it wasn’t you that initially found our website. We don’t care. We welcome you. We only ask that you keep our little secret to help others like yourself, and like Randy. I don’t know what made me do it. I began to trust Milton. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel weird about my feelings on death. These people seemed to understand. Me: I feel so weird talking about it. Milton: It is hard to acknowledge your feelings at first, but once you do, you will begin to understand. Me: Are there others like Randy? Milton: We try not to allow too many transitions at once. We give people time to mourn in our community after someone transitions. We have another coming up at the end of the month. This person has yet to be named.” Me: How does it work? Milton: We take a vote on who is next. Once the vote is in, the nominee gets contacted through a congratulations email to give them time to tie up loose ends. Then they are not told the day or time of their death. We feel that it would ruin the transition. Me: What if they change their mind? Milton: They are given no way to back out. It is in our clause. If you are on track for transition, which I feel you are, just being a part of our community is an agreement. You have already witnessed a transition - an illegal act. So you have already agreed to the clause. Me: What about you? Milton: What about me? ME: Can you transition? Milton: I will in time. My agreement was after my children will be old enough to understand. Once they are, then I will join others like Randy and you. “Oh,” I typed Milton: I have to go now; it was nice chatting with you. Remember, if you ever need someone to talk to, we are here. We understand how you feel. He logged off the chat, and I sat in front of the chat. Then another name popped up. RHONDA24: Hello, Andrea. I didn’t respond right away. RHONDA24: I just want to let you know if you ever need a friend. I am not much older than you, and I get how you feel. You can reach out to me. Me: Thank you. I have to go now. RHONDA24: Have a great evening, Andrea. I logged off the computer. ############# As time wore on, I realized that I enjoyed the community. I had made a few friends within the community. I had several bad days in the last month; one of them was that I had a falling out with Paul. He was angry with me for spending time online in the “transition” community as I had learned to refer to it as. The community helped me overcome some of my anxieties, so I didn’t think so much about dying anymore. If anything, I wanted to live because I felt relieved that I now had a group that understood how I felt. After all, they felt the same way as me. Then the day came out of nowhere. I was planning my graduation speech, as I had been elected by Mr. Frazier to give my class a short address. I typed, re-typing, and over-editing everything I was writing when I got a ding on my computer. My email popped up, and I recognized the email address. It was fromFALCON. CONGRATULATIONS ANDREA BECKER YOUR COUNTDOWN TO TRANSITION BEGINS 5-4-3-2- NOW. I gulped reading the email because I didn’t feel the way I had before. I didn’t want to panic. This had to be a mistake. I was no longer depressed; I had things to live for now. Why had they voted on me transitioning? I saw that Milton was online. ME: Milton? I think you made a mistake. I am the least qualified to transition. Especially that now I feel so much better! Crickets could have chirped from the computer. Instead of responding as Milton had hundreds of times before, he ignored me and logged off. This was a nightmare. I stood up, looking around my room. Indeed, I’d have time to graduate. I was at the disadvantage of being home alone. My parents were at some Union banquet because my father was on the teamster's board. I got up from my computer desk and locked all of the doors and secured the doors. I turned on the radio to think. There was a story on the radio about a White Van and how another child had been missing. Another witness saw someone dressed as a clown talking to the child. Ugh! Not something I needed to know to hear right now. I flipped the station to some soft music. Sarah Mclachlan came on, so I left it. I needed to think. I logged into the chat, and I could see all the congratulations Andrea comments in the chat. ME: Hey guys, I think there is a mistake. RHONDA24: Congratulations, Andrea! DAVTELLY45: I hope you have the best transition. UNKNOWN: I hope you bleed into the camera for daddy. ME: WHAT? Who would say such a thing? UNKNOWN: I can’t wait to cut you from ear to ear. RHONDA24: DUDE! Get out of here! I got a private chat request from Rhonda24. I accepted it. Rhonda24: Don’t sweat it, Andrea. The guy is some weirdo that has been harassing a bunch of us. We can’t block him. He has this crazy firewall system. Just please know how happy I am for you and how much I will miss you. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I was about to log off when there was a bang from outside my house. Before I could do anything, a stranger wearing a black mask burst through my bedroom door. I stood in pure terror and shock. It was happening now! I did the only thing I could think of and grabbed the desk chair in front of me, and flung it at the stranger. He was tall, thin, and didn’t seem to have been prepared for my sudden means of survival. He lurched forward and grabbed me by the throat. I could feel his large hands trying to suffocate me. I looked over to the computer and saw it had popped back on - all on its own accord. A red light flashed on the screen. I realized I was being recorded for someone’s amusement. The darkness engulfed me in this very moment, and I sprung up, kicking the man in the groin. He growled in pain, and for a moment, I had time to run but not for long before the man stood up and shut my bedroom door so I had no means of escape. He pulled out a knife from behind him, and I looked around my room to find something else I could defend myself with. I saw a coffee mug, grabbing it and throwing it at his head. To my luck, he stopped to rub his head, and I barreled past him towards the door. Then I was caught off guard by a swiping of the knife to the back of my leg, causing me to scream in pain. I hit the ground, and he went for my throat with the knife. I rolled over quickly, causing him to stab the floor instead of me. I kicked him in the head this time as he struggled to get the knife out of the wooden floor. He fell to the ground, and for a moment, we both worked with the knife. Finally, I managed to grab it and stab him inside the chest. The struggle was over. Someone had transitioned tonight, but it wasn’t me. It wasn’t going to be me. I had far too much to live for. I took a deep breath and then took off the mask of the man. To my utter despair, it was Paul. How had Paul gotten involved with trying to kill me? It all made perfect sense now how they all had known so much about me. Still, Paul had been my best friend for years. I ran downstairs to find my cell phone and call for 911. The dispatcher said they would be sending for someone as soon as possible. I saw a large white truck coming towards my house, barreling down my street. I jumped into the road, flagging them down. There was something strange about the truck. I realized when the headlights were no longer blinding my vision that it wasn’t the ambulance. I backed up onto the sidewalk and continued to look down the street for the ambulance. The truck did something strange, though. They stopped in front of me back up, so my view down the road was blocked. A door to the back of the truck opened up. There were two tall men dressed as clowns. One had blue hair and a red nose with what looked like blood around his mouth and dirty teeth. He grinned big at me. The other had on a red and yellow wig with green makeup. He looked more sinister than the other clown. They stood looking at me, and then circus music began to play. I was annoyed by whatever joke they were trying to play, especially at a time like this. I could hear the ambulance now as it was making its way down my street. I tried to walk around the two stupid clowns. It was all so ridiculous to me. That is when one of them grabbed me. I screamed for them to let me go! I had to help Paul! Then the other one helped get me by the legs. Before I knew it, I was no longer breathing. I, Andrea Becker, died that night. I won’t bore you with the details. It was gruesome, and it was horrid. I have been missing for three years. I hope someone can see my story and relay what happened to me. I’d like my parents to be able to have peace. We all deserve some peace. I saw the book close on its own then. There were tears in my eyes as I read the last words of Andrea Becker. I wasn’t sure how I could help, but I went over to my computer. There were numerous reports on the sightings of clowns in connection to missing children. I decided to search for the area combining missing person cases from around the region. I didn’t know how I was suddenly able to hack into systems using multiple databases, but I was doing it. For Andrea Becker’s sake, I was doing it. That is when I found something very crucial. There were several sightings recently in my neighborhood. There were also six missing persons in a five-mile vicinity. I clicked, I typed, and I searched until I put the connections together. In all of the disappeared persons, there were three bodies found. One was of a seventeen-year-old female. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it would be the remains of Andrea Becker’s young body. I forwarded the information to the detective working the case. How had they not put it together on their own, I had no idea. I did now have gifts now that helped me help those who could not help themselves. Later that night, there was a break in three of the missing person cases. No thanks to me. I was tired after Andrea Becker’s story. That book never rests, though. Last night in the middle of the night, I heard music coming from somewhere. It woke me from a dead sleep. I decided to find out what the matter was. It sounded like circus music. I walked into my living room, and parked in front of my house was a white van with clowns in the driver's seat. I stared at them for a long while and then opened my front door. Two maniacal clowns got out of the back, and as they slowly made their way towards my house, I let out a deep breath. Then I yelled. I was using my new found thunderous gift their windows to the van all burst. They both held on to their ears as though they were in pain. I had no doubt why they were here. I heard someone yell, “HELP ME, PLEASE!” It was a woman. I became momentarily distracted by the sound of wailing behind me. Sad, painful wailing. I looked away from the clown van towards the READ ME book on my couch. When I looked back toward the street, the van with the clowns was now long gone. I would see to it they were punished, but until then, I had other pressing business. I picked up the book, and inside it, I read the chapter to the next story. I was the Youngest Member of the Lunatic Asylum...
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”- Nazi Propagandists, Joseph Goebbels.
Axioms are our base assumptions about the world. They act as filters for new information coming into our consciousness. In classic philosophy, an axiom is a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question. As used in modern logic, an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning. We use these axiomatic assumptions to build our internal models of the world around us. They allow us to compare new information we receive from the outside with our internal narratives, which helps us to decide whether to reject or accept that new information. They are, for want of a better world, your "common sense" beliefs. So how do you go about changing a relatively normal person's core beliefs and base assumptions to the point of rejecting their fellow citizens as traitors, committing acts of murderous terrorist or vigilante violence like Fascist white supremacists running down protesters in acts of terror, ISIS beheadings or mass genocide?
Shock Treatment and Slow Repetition
When I was a child I was subjected to regular mental and physical abuse from my dad. I would also see my mother repeatedly beaten up and then flee to a women's refuge where I would stay with her. Each time my mom left, whenever I visited my dad at weekends, he would constantly try to pressure and manipulate me into convincing my mom to get back together with him. This never worked of course. But what it did do, is make me highly sensitive to manipulation techniques. I was fascinated by people like the magician Derren Brown and the economist Naomi Klein - who both reveal the tricks of the trade used in the advertising and marketing industries to convince people. One way of changing people into killing machines or obedient sheep is through a big shock to the system, like how electroshock therapy allows for a clean slate to rebuild peoples intern mental models. Psychedelics are another way, having a similar effect in the brain. Encouraged by the alt right and alt-light influencers like Jordan Peterson and Rebel Wisdom as they try to “Red Pill” people (an expression taken from the film The Matrix as a metaphor for revealing revealing the truth about the world). They use this shock and disorientation as a way to prepare a “blank-slate” in order to rebuild peoples internal axiomatic models with different core beliefs. Remaking people by shocking them into obedience and gas-lighting them about their existing internal models, making them seem irrational, silly or outdated. Reducing them to a mental state of a child and then rebuilding them with a new ideology and worldview, known as “shock therapy”. As Naomi Klein explains in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, these techniques work on larger scales with use of trauma and shock to influence political outcomes has been used since at least Milton Friedman coined the term “Economic Shock Treatment”. He advised that politicians push through painful and unpopular policies all at once during a time of crisis, before people could regain their footing. The technique is used in economic markets on the large scale, and also against individuals on a small scale with individuals too. Economics and politics is just human interaction on a larger scale, after all. Regular repetition and gentle suggestions of ideas can also instil new axiomatic models and core beliefs into people's minds. As Derren Brown demonstrates how powerful subtly suggestions can be alone, without the need for hypnosis, shocks or drugs. But used in combination, shock and repetition can shift people until they have moved their positions, perceptions and beliefs about the world, to a place they could never have imagined. But luckily once you deconstruct the deception and understand how the trick works, the illusion falls apart.
Defining and Deconstructing Modern Fascism
Firstly, we must define Modern Fascism. Modern Fascism ticks every box of the traditional definitions in Umberto Eco’s essay Ur-Fascism, and not only does it fulfil every criteria, it reveals other motivational forces and has evolved to include new aspects, and has changed into something worse, while it’s main weakness remain the same - the fact that it is primarily motivated by weakness. As General Franco said in a 1938 interview with Henri Massis: "Fascism presents, wherever it manifests itself, characteristics which are varied to the extent that countries and national temperaments vary. It is essentially a defensive reaction of the organism, a manifestation of the desire to live, of the desire not to die, which at certain times seizes a whole people. So each people reacts in its own way, according to its conception of life… What can it have in common with Hitlerism, which was, above all, a reaction against the state of things created by the defeat, and by the abdication and the despair that followed it?" This quote perfectly illustrates the transient nature of the ideology, but also the core motivations of Fascism. It is an ideology based on the assumption of weakness which yearns for restoration of a past greatness or to get revenge and recognition. But the way that it manifests itself is different in each place it takes hold. Therefore the aim of this isn’t to make the case that any particular party or country has embraced out-right fascism (plenty of other people have made that case already), the aim is to reveal the underlying motivations, highlight threats and weaknesses and analyse the less obvious negative effects of Modern Fascism.
History Doesn’t Repeat, But It Rhymes
A false equivalence that is often used is that Liberal Imperialism is just the same as Fascism. And while it is true that imperialists use fascist dictators to extract cheap labour and resources and also dominate smaller counties in a similar way to how fascist empires aspire to rule, the key difference is that the populations of those countries are not gripped by the same fear based delusions. And therefore more Liberal democracies are better equipped to hold their imperial position of power long term because they are better able to assess risks and react accordingly, rather than over-react based on paranoia and competing egos under excessive pressure. This false equivalence was also used in 1930’s Germany, because far-left Communists had been co opted and infiltrated by Fascists. They would repeat the mantra that “the Social Democrats were the real racists”. Contrary to the assumptions of most people, Fascism, as an ideology and political system of government is very distinct to white supremacy. It does of course include white supremecists, but In fact includes many other groups who have been co-opted by Fascist propaganda, or who implicitly support and enable their agenda. Examples of modern opposition which has been repeatedly infiltrated or just simply made up by Fascists include innumerable conspiracy theories, police groups like Blue Lives Matter, militant Black nationalists, the Boogaloo movement who call for a race war, the “Proud Boys” and even sometimes supposed Anarchists, far-left Communists and Left Accelerationists.
Motivations of Fascism
Fascism distilled down to its core reason for existing is the suppression of opposition who represent workers rights and economic justice. So they patently DON’T look after their own people. They con them into submission of the state by generating jingoistic fear of “the other” - whoever is convenient on that day to blame for their problems. Fascism is is an economic shock doctrine upon the inhabitants of the country. We don't spread fascist propaganda in tip-pot dictators because we care about the indiginous people there. We install Fascist dictators in order to remove workers rights and open up access to their natural resources. Artificial moral panics can be engineered and real disasters used to allow corrupt oligarchs and financial predators to consolidate power further by buying up small innovative businesses who don’t have the excess capital to survive the turmoil on their own without external support. Or as a way to eradicate public services by sabotaging them and building mistrust. They are used to erode faith in public services and institutions by rich people who simply want to pay less tax and don’t see why they should subsidise other human beings who haven’t had the same luck as them. So a major motivation of fascism is to suppress the opposition left-wing party who represent workers rights and egalitarian freedoms. Populists claim to be against free trade and to some extent they are, but whatever they do will fail because they are interfering with the markets, so they will retreat to the power of market domination. They use their threats of trade barriers as more just more shock treatment for markets, rather than protecting actual jobs or industries. This is a trick that has been played by Neoliberals too. But while Neoliberals use fascism as a tool for opening markets to Imperialism, they differ from Libertarians, not only because they embrace guns and weed, but they are starting from different positions to achieve the same goal; Neoliberals seek to remove already existing public services and workers rights that lift bargaining power. But Libertarians want to STOP the government from ever providing those services and investments into the poor or enshrining workers rights.
Modern Fascist Ideology has TWO Core Reasons to Exist; Fear and Freed.
I have been researching and analysing how economic systems differ, using a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threads). For each economic system I tried to be as neutral, fair and balanced as possible - which included Fascism. I might seem strange that someone who is anti-Fascist would want to explore the strenghts and opportunities of Fascist ideologies, but in doing so it reveals the real weaknesses and threats which are too important for us to ignore. So what exactly IS Fascism? Is it just an economic doctrine or a personal philosophy about the world? The answer is both. The ideology has TWO core reasons to exist, and TWO distinct audiences types - with one based primarily on fear and the other greed, with each having a malignant and symbiotic relationship with each other. Fear - Authoritarian/Conservative Fascists Greed - Libertarian Fascists There are very few people who actually buy into full Fascist ideology, most believe a watered down version of which resembles Conservatism or right-wing populism or accelerationism, and most of them genuinely believe they aren’t fascist, even though they are being constantly fed subtle suggestions fascist ideology or that align with their plans. But the most ironic thing is that these groups are mostly being used by the second group of rich Libertarians globalist elites pulling a confidence trick on the host nation. Often posing “anti-establishment” conspiracists who actually uphold the establishment through misinformation. See: Russia Today and Youtube Bitcoin and Gold shills who subtly suggest fascist talking points. With those rich Libertarians at the top more than happy for those below them, who they deem less worthy, living in even more delusional ideologies with fake enemies to fear, often resembling traditional Christian but values wrapped in modern conspiracies with added elements of “satanic panic”. Modern Fascism has clearly inspired the modern day equivalents of Brownshirts and Blackshirts, self-styled vigilantes like QAnon, The Proud Boys and “The Boogaloo” - white nationalist violent extremists who want to accelerate towards a full-on race war. It has also infiltrated numerous alternative groups, such as hyper-evangelical “end times” cults, alternative health scenes, internet conspiracy scenes like flat earth and occult magic.
A commonly missing hallmark of fascism that is present in history during the rise of fascism is a controlled opposition and explicit suppression of opposition. This distorts a healthy society and has unforeseen consequences and blowback. Fantasies and political thought bubbles are self delusional custom realities resembling an episode of Black Mirror. They act as coping and escape mechanisms. Especially during the Covid 19 lock-down, these tendencies have gone into overdrive with massive events entering the real world featuring David Ike leading protesters alongside fascists as people ignore rising Fascism, climate change destruction and Covid deaths tolls. Using disasters like Covid or irrational scare tactics such as the "Satanic Panic" style Fascist propaganda from QAnon, can shock people using their fear and disgust response, while making them distrust the news - allowing the government to evade valid criticism from experts while suggesting to people that government public services are inherently evil or Communist. This type of propaganda is a Libertarians wet dream - making a population not only give up on tax funded public services, but actively fear them. An example is Trump trying to discredit and defund the US Postal Service and other public institutions and regulatory bodies. Anti Semitism has been used throughout history by those in power to provoke an “us vs. them” mentality, leading to today's establishment still sanctioning and allowing Qanon on major media platforms, provoking and agitating terrorist attackers from the far-left and the far-right. Those in power in fascist regimes allow and encourage mistrust in the mainstream media, while the long-tail niche political and interest groups keep people separated from each other, who each live in their own custom realities while the real elites continue to dominate and increase their power. With each bubble framing realities based of identity, race, class, nationality, or even subculture special interests like alternative medicine and “gamer bro” culture, so that when they interact in real life or online, they are speaking past each other because they don’t even agree on the basic principles of how they view society.
The Fatal Flaws of Living in a Fantasy
While the main flaws and weaknesses of Fascism remain the same, they are in-fact exacerbated by this new hybrid model. It’s main weakness is the very fact that it is motivated by weaknesses, fear and greed - rather than true strength, self-confidence or heroic benevolent power, as their adherents like to believe. A misconception of fascists themselves that it is based on strength, when it is actually based on weakness - even when the driving force is greed rather than fear. Libertarian fascists want to extract labour and materials at cheaper prices, while inflating their own asset values. In other words; international financiers with little allegiance to any country. Ironically the very type of people who Conservative fascists claim to be opposed to. Fascism claims to make society more successful, but it actually accelerates the destruction of the culture, country or people, rather than preserving and conserving it, because it betrays a fundamental weakness of insecurity. Competitors and rivals can easily see through the charade of and take advantage. If anything does the exact opposite. Russian and China are clearly goading Western nations into becoming more divided and totalitarian, as they themselves benefit from becoming more Liberal and open and reap the competitive advantages that brings. See Kraut’s excellent video about Trump on China as an example. Keynesian investment in the country and people, giving workers more rights, opportunities and a more bargaining power is what makes a country successful and innovative, rather than the faux Keynesian policy of giving kickbacks to corrupt officials for government contracts and widening inequality by supporting the already rich, rather than the ordinary people.
Who Benefits in This Memetic War?
Who is going to war with who? Who is winning? A modern adage is that tankies are just fascists because of their support of authoritarian proto-fascist leaders and regimes who often claim to be Communist. But from my experience talking to actual fascists, they crave a more multi-polar world where other strong leaders rise up as competition and form alliances with dictators. So to me, it looks like Fascists are the real Tankies; wishing our enemies be stronger and wanting to accelerate towards race war or civil war that weakens the society. Not only did Donald Trump have knowledge of Russia allowing ISIS bounties on US troops and withhold that from the public while courting Putin, I have personally heard white supremacists backing extremists Islamists in Discord servers. Trump jumped to the defense of the people who put a 17 year old with a gun against civil rights protesters and assumed the intent before saying that the outcome should be decided by the legal system. They share common values and beliefs like Anti Semitism, accelerationist end-times fantasies, patriarchal traditional values and a fear of outside progressive cultures. In fact modern extremists white supremecist groups share recruitment and terrorist strategies and tactics with militant islamists. You could argue that it was inflicted by Russian or Imperialist propagandists onto the German people in order to take control of larger areas of Europe after the destabilisation of war. Hitler and Stalin came to a non agression truce called The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which as was a secret non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that enabled those two powers to partition Poland between them. The pact, signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov was officially known as the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. They divided Poland under the banner of fighting “Polish Fascism” nearly a century ago with both sides ultimately lying to their own people about spreading freedom while being authoritarian to their core and being able to blame “the other” as being the cause of all their problems. But these days fascism seems to be a rogue meme that no longer serves any particular group. It is pathologically damaging to any society that it happens to grip. Even the aforementioned Libertarians and accelerationists who think they are benefiting are only temporarily gaining by market price volatility. They ultimately lose through the blowback effect of the whirlpool they create.
Psychopathy, Alienation Nihilism and Insecurity
It is well established that Fascist dictators are driven by psychopathic characters and tendencies. They either don’t care about the truth, or disregard it if it’s not convenient to their narrative. In totalitarian despotic societies facts are reversed. As George Orwell proclaimed throughout his writings; “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”. Similar to how authoritarian Starlinist Communists harnessed people’s alienation and tricked them into thinking that it’s possible for the state to fully decommodify everything without having markets, money to account for things, domination or hierarchy or try to convince people that a revolution is just around the corner. But of course, a council representative is still the head of an organisation, for all intents and purposes, because they wield executive power over others, even if the name has changed. Markets are emergent properties when groups of humans want or need a certain commodity when it becomes available. But while both Communist and Fascist ideologies are based on lies that harness peoples alienation, fear and envy, Fascism is also especially to the weak. It is attractive to those who want to be strong again (or were never to begin with), or those who want to have a strong leader to help them. Fascism betrays to others the inherent weakness. Like the insecure kid in school who lashes out - others around can see that it is because of their own insecurity which makes them appear even weaker. Fascism is a psychopathy driven by insecurity. When people become so absorbed in an ideology there is a phenomena of people to self identify as an actual ideology? This produces a phenomena called Identity Protective Cognition, where people's self worth becomes attached to a belief system or ideology. So that when new information contradicts their worldview it is seen as an attack on the person themselves. Therefore irrational, emotional quick fix thinking is the default when there is too much pressure and they feel attacked. They no longer use their slow effortful reflective thinking. (See Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow) This approach has parallels in evolutionary biology, in which a central issue is the ability to adapt to changing environments. Competency - over-competitiveness in management causes chaos which STOPS hierarchies of competence. (Insert video clips of Sapolsky on Chaos vs Reductionism etc. timestamps linked). Fascists try to reduce variability in culture and outcomes - causes weakness of less adaptability - because as Sapolsky explains, the variability is not just noise in that type of system CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems) - the variability IS the system. It is fractal and scale free. The noise and variability is an intrinsic part of the system. But the system doesn’t function properly when the agreed-upon parameters that individuals believe to be true aren’t universal enough to have any form of group coherence. Birds and swarms of animals can produce amazing complex phenomena, which are greater than the sum of their individual parts. There is a “network effect” once a certain threshold and certain conditions and rules are met. These rules can be very simple, like repulsion or attraction, or staying a certain distance apart while traveling in a similar direction, but collectively they create patterns that emerge with complexity and I dear say, a certain amount of beauty. So what happens when millions of people are being brainwashed and misled by cults that are leaving them with a reduced ability to make decisions? Giving them shit-for-brains just so that some rich people at the top can pay a few percentage less tax? That is the sign of a deeply sick system that cannot continue to function effectively. It is sick on so many levels.
Emergence, Complexity and Human Evolution - A Social-Biological Analysis
The problem with viewing the world through only one lens of analysis (or bucket of knowledge) is that you can fall into unnecessarily reductive thinking. (Sapolsky clips) I describe myself as a philosophical anarchist. Which does NOT mean I want total chaos and disorder - it means I want the optimal solution to emerge - including the influences and experiences from the bottom-up. I also think that a bottom-up (or anarchist) lens of analysis is necessary for society to run cohesively in an optimal state. If it is repressed it distorts the overall picture of reality for everyone - similar to a CEO that doesn’t listen to employees and workers on the ground. I interpret as constantly holding authority to account - to justify its existence and reason for dominating others. I also believe it is every citizen's responsibility to hold authority to account. This would be necessary under ANY economic system or society. Anarchists also believe in stigmenric, rhizomatic action to make the world better, organically, not from a top-down authority, which fascism seeks to instill on society. Human beings are collectively parts of a bigger chaotic but stable system known as a CAS (Complex Adaptive System). CAS’s are chaotic systems that can reach periodic steady states of equilibrium. As Professor Sapolsky explains, humans uniquely exist with a mixture of both communal and individualistic tendencies; known in the scientific world as Tournament vs. pair bonding. All the evidence suggests that this tendency has greatly improved our success as a species. But those tendencies distorted too far one way or another lead to pathologies and the worst collective misdeeds and wars. Because as Professor Sapolsky also explains in his brilliant lecture series (which I have condensed the pertinent parts of into a 4 part YouTube video) about CAS; the signals coming from the randomness is being suppressed or repressed, it interferes with the functioning of the system. Pressure in the system makes the patterns more complex but at a certain point of increasing pressure in the complex system, it stops being linear and the doubling of patterns and periodicity totally stops. Order completely begins to break down because of the butterfly effect. Fascist regimes fettishise order and rigidity but in a complex adaptive system, the noise IS the phenomena, not a byproduct to be discarded, ignored or repressed. The majority of people on the right genuinely want to help society by bringing order, using top-down draconian measures if necessary. Whereas the left generally wants to help society by proactively building from the bottom up. I think both of these approaches are necessary to be balanced properly for a healthy functioning society to emerge. It seems our tendency to harness both traits and to focus intently on one or the other is our greatest collective strength, while also being our greatest weakness. And similarly, on an individual level I believe our greatest strengths and weakness are the fact that our brains work efficiently by categorising information to filter out the unimportant bits that slow us down. As the book by Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow, brilliantly explains, slow deliberate, consideration thinking takes energy and time, so our brains developed filters which come out as biases. This is an inherent weakness of the human brain. Now imagine the butterfly effect on the life of just one person who is influenced by the brainworms of QAnon cults or conspiracies which distorts their internal models of the world which they use to filter information about the world The sad and shocking stories on forums like QanonCasualties show the devastating effects on their close friends, family and work life - amplified by their ever increasingly disconnected lives. (insert Flat earther clip - zoom in on idiot rolling head) Now scale that up to the level of a whole of a society, a country, or the world? This is a collective madness to cope with and avoid the reality facing us as a species. Only collective action with agreed basic facts to work from will do to avoid the total descent into actual chaos and destruction.
TLDR; Conclusion and Final Thoughts
In this essay I will have put forward the case for the following four key arguments being true and I have present supporting evidence to explain the logical reasoning for why our current definitions need updating and the threat levels reassed, from a non-hysterical but critical perspective. The overall claims I made are:
Modern Fascism has taken over right-wing populism and bears all the hallmarks of early 20th Century Fascist ideologies.
The ideology has two main reasons to exist, and two distinct audiences which both have a symbiotic, pathological relationship with each other.
The main flaws and weaknesses of fascist ideology remain the same as ever - that fascism is motivated by irrational fears, greed and self deception.
Modern Fascism has major unforeseen damaging consequences for individuals, governments, organisational dynamics, and society at large.
This reality is something I think a lot of fascists, ultra-nationalists and people who have been influenced by the propaganda know deep down on some level already - that they are avoiding the realities of pandemics and ecological harms of ignoring science and reality as it is. They ignore it because fantasies are simpler to understand. And a narrative based on fear of the other is a simpler way to to process a complex world. It is also attractive to the part of us that is drawn to conflict and drama - that hunger for something genuinely interesting to happen. But I would argue from my experience that the beautiful complexity of life in all it’s shades of grey is much more interesting, fun and genuinely fulfilling to understand and engage in, even if it might be harder to deal with and even harder to explain. I believe doing so is also vital for the very survival of our species - we can no longer afford to live in a fantasy, we need to collectively take responsibility for the world as it exists in reality. Thank you to my two Patrons: Carmen Jongepier E.V. Roske Original Script on Patreon
Bitcoin can be quite complicated, and any attempt to explain it in such a short space oversimplifies the importance of this technology. I encourage you to delve deeper into existing research to fully understand just how revolutionary Nakamoto’s White Paper was by checking out One of – if not the most – comprehensive resources for learning about Bitcoin with over 20 categories ranging ... The Bitcoin White Paper Explained By Corin Faife. 11.02.2018 Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoin white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was published 10 years ago this week. Since then, countless articles and blog posts have debated Satoshi’s vision, but the text itself has often been overlooked, or even ignored. In celebration of the anniversary, we analyze key sections ... Bitcoin Whitepaper: a beginner's guide Individuals, businesses, developers: learn from our simple Bitcoin guides. How Bitcoin works, what is Bitcoin, what is blockchain, how to buy Bitcoin, what is Bitcoin mining and more. If you ever wanted the Bitcoin whitepaper explained in layman’s terms, you are in the right place.. The goal of this post is to educate you about Bitcoin and the vision behind it. To do this, I will go through all the aspects covered in the whitepaper written by its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System Satoshi Nakamoto [email protected] www.bitcoin.org Abstract. A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still ...
Bitcoin White Paper: Easily Explained (PART 2) STUDY NOW WITH ME ! :) The Bitcoin White Paper is like the ABC of crypto. Share this with a friend in the community to spread the knowledge too. And ... A deep dive on the Bitcoin whitepaper. We read over and try to elaborate on each section. https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf ===== #sellou... We have been getting tons of questions about Satoshi and his bitcoin whitepaper. So in todays video, we thought it would be a good idea to simplify and expla... BITCOIN WHITE PAPER: EASILY EXPLAINED!!! Watch this video/Class today and get educated about the Fundaments. Most people in the space lack the Education to h... Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin Whitepaper - Explained and Simplified - Duration: 9:09. Altcoin Buzz 10,976 views. 9:09. Joe Rogan Live Podcast: Blockchain, Bitcoin Halving, BTC 2020, Crypto JoeRogan ...