NSA Scandal and Edward Snowden

A forgotten quote from the founding father of USA's constitution.

A forgotten quote from the founding father of USA’s constitution.

I am sad to say but I am losing trust in Obama and his administration due to the recent NSA scandal. Being an ex-hacker I have always been concerned about my privacy and there was a time when I used to communicate with my online peers only through IRC and Skype. Skype was the best IM available since it not only encrypted every messages but the executable itself was encrypted providing best stealth from all kinds of honeypots, etc. attacks.

But sadly after Microsoft acquired Skype, this is no longer the case. One of the architects of the once-heavily-encrypted-protocol called Skype revealed that Skype has moved from the peer-to-peer architect (which in fact provided the security from wiretapping) to a server based architect. Unfortunately, this means all messages can now be aggregated and logged, etc. It is difficult to say why Microsoft went this route. Was it because to comply with US government’s demand or was it a business strategy to move from peer-to-peer model to server based model so that they can provide more robust uptime through state-of-art hardware rather than depending on some guy from Ukraine or Poland with a PC that acted as a supernode for the Skype?!

It is very sad to see what George Orwell predicted in his novel 1984, would become a reality in my own lifetime. Even if I did imagine this was a possibility, I always had a communist backed government in my mind. And not a freaking democratic government like USA! Honestly, after reading that US government has declared Edward Snowden as a traitor and a spy, I am bewildered at the irony – USA charging Snowden with espionage charge while they were themselves spying on Americans and other countries all this while without anyone knowing. How is this difference from what China has been doing to its people?

There was once a time when America used to the first one to offer asylum to such revolutionists, activists, whistleblowers and oppressed people from other countries. Now Snowden has to seek asylum in other countries for trying to do the right thing – telling the truth about how our human liberty is being held at stake in the name of stopping terrorism.

Harry Potter fans knows how this goes...

Harry Potter fans knows how this goes…

I have seen some people arguing that they don’t mind if their government is tracking their activity or phones or emails – they are not doing anything wrong so they don’t have anything to worry about. But that argument is so flawed that it needs to be explained.

If you have actually read what Communism is and all its aspect, you will find yourself actually appreciating the idea, albeit, on paper. The fundamental problem with Communism is the concentration of power in the hands of few – in this case – government. It will just take a small group of people to corrupt and devastate the entire country because of the power they can hold. Now a very similar concentration of power is showing up through this NSA scandal in US. How long do you think it will take someone to corrupt himself or herself and abuse this vast amount of data that they have out there?

Did you know that Hitler did not become a dictator overnight?! He legitimately rose up the power through his political party and made sure that when he exercises his dictatorial powers, he does it legally. And then everyone knows how he segregated his own countrymen into a master and slave race and various other such classifications. I am not saying this is what is going to happen again. All I am saying is that the ingredients for such a recipe is out there. What if an elite fanatic goes absolute batshit insane and decides in order to stop terrorism some group of people needs to be eliminated or quarantined?

I am just so glad that Hong Kong let Snowden leave the country when USA demanded Hong Kong to extradite Snowden for the espionage charges. HK government cited that USA did not follow the legal process completely and as such they have no reason to stop Snowden from leaving the country.

Since the documents provided by the US government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the US government to provide additional information … As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

Snowden is now seeking asylum in Eucador and I am glad to read such a statement coming from Eucador’s foreign minister –

Eucador’s FM Patino stressed that the Ecuadorian government puts human rights above any other party’s interests. Patino also said it is “paradoxical” the person who revealed alleged rights violations is being “persecuted.”

“It should be asked, who betrayed whom,” Patino stressed as he questioned the correctness of calling Snowden’s leak a “treason.”

“Is this betraying the citizens of the world, or betraying some elites that are in power in a certain country?” the Minister asked.”

I do wish the world knows that giving up your liberty or sovereignty just for the sake of stopping terrorism does not make any sense at any level. The erosion of civil liberties is something to be guarded against not because of the perception of an immediate threat, but because you won’t recognize the value of those liberties until you have been deprived of them and discover you have no recourse.

The Red Wedding – Game of Thrones

game-of-thrones-burning-logo-widescreen-hunt.com-8314212

Something happened last night. I am in a shock. Shock from watching the episode S03E09 “The Red Wedding” from Game Of Thrones. Distraught, disgusted and probably devastated.

My reaction was similar to what Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) experienced when he saw “The greatest magic trick ever“.

A lot of people cry about the insane shock values some films and TV shows portray, but this is different. Have you ever said to yourself while watching an intense drama/action/fight/horror scene like – meh, the hero is not going to die no matter what! Well, this episode will just make you question everything in your life – Why? why did I even? What just happ..? How can he jus..? My life is suddenly hollow…

Having watched thousands of movies and TV shows so far in my life, I can almost predict the twists in the plots. But this episode was a complete mindfuck….so much that I am still in my bed whereas I should have been in my office right now. And I am not exaggerating.

How can they all die? He was the goddamn king of The North. The only one that I felt can kill the Lannisters and the White Walkers. Whhhyyyyyyyyyyy?

Nevermind the real life civil protests currently happening in Istanbul. The Red Wedding is far more gruesome & intense. This what George Martin (author of the book on which the TV show is based) does to you. The emotional investment in his fantasy world of Westeros seems greater than the real world of ours where a government is oppressing its citizens and a hurricane is causing devastation in another corner of the world. Like I said before, my life seems hollow right now.

I think I should get ready for the office now. When a fictional story affects you so much – does it mean that it is the most beautiful piece of literature or just that I am escaping too much into the fantasy world neglecting the real life problems of our own world? I…..dont……know ¯\(°_o)/¯

Also, today I learned, this was the chapter that sold the idea to adapt the book into a TV show. HBO and the producers decided to make the show so that they can film his particular episode! And each episode has a 6 million dollar budget! Amazing.

Here are some of the reaction videos captured by people who had read the book and knew about the red wedding but others didn’t. My best reaction is from a twitter post that went something like this – “Remember when your really really nerdy friend was depressed 13 years ago? Well, watch the red wedding episode and you will know why.” I think that sums up. If a 60 minute episode can affect me so much than you can only imagine the minute details the whole chapter must have describing everything in detail.

If you haven’t seen this show, then I would suggest you start or read the book.

27 Something

Number_27After procrastinating a lot, I have finally thought over the continuation of the name of my blog – 27 Something. Number 27 represents my age and “something” refers to, well, something.

I still remember the beating I got when I was in school when my Math teacher Ms. Melinda asked the value of pi. My hand didn’t go up but I shouted “3 point something”. And, oh boy, she got pissed. I never forgot the value of pi upto 4 decimal places after that day 🙂

So back to the topic – I have decided not to change the name as I age opposite of Brad Pitt from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. 27 will always represent “something” every year. One day it might also be *the answer* to all the questions about life, universe and everything, which currently is the number 42. 🙂

Also, did you know, there is a term called “27 Club” used to refer to popular musicians who have died at the age of 27. Phew, I am not a musician.

 

Some copy-pasta for the mind about number 27:

  • The Greek Strongs number G27 is “Agapetos” which means “Beloved“, as found in the New Testament of the Bible.
  • 27 – the highest level of knowledge in rupaloke (Buddhism).
  • 27 – number of grains in some Buddhist rosary (108 divided by 4).
  • In almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books
  • Pythagoras and Plato say that the number 3 in the cubed (i.e. 27) and number 2 in the cubed (i.e., 8) represent the Cosmos.
  • In the Kabbalah there are 27 letters, corresponding to 27 channels of communication with God and 27 combinations of the names of God and – 13 overt and 14 covert.
  • Some Masonic lodges have the 27th title.
  • 27 – number of United Trinity Church, taken 9 times, symbolizing the fullness of the Absolute.
  • Mystical root of 27 is the number 9.
  • According to Feng Shui, to raise money, keep in the house 27 identical coins.
  • In ancient Incan culture there were 27 roads to El Dorado.
  • In Nidaros there were 27 archbishops (between 1153 and 1537)
  • 27 signs of the zodiac in Indian astrology

This is how I spend my Sunday

I came across a wonderful post by Manali titled – “How do you interpret this picture“. At first, when I looked at the picture I just thought – “Oh snap! not another crybaby”. But when I read the post it was about interpretations – so my mind wandered. I haven’t played this game in while so I thought to myself let’s take the challenge and come up with my interpretation. So after about 30 odd minutes of jumbling lots of thoughts, here’s what I replied –

How would YOU interpret this picture

Photo shamelessly taken from Manali’s blog.

Many are hurting for love, while many are suffering from a love that hurts”.

The picture simply depicts a heartbroken end – an end that deeply hurt someone. When we go through such experience it is not too uncommon to find ourselves wishing for a meteor to destroy the world *right now* and wipe us out of the existence.
In this case, too, the person who was hurt was deeply in love and have gotten betrayed.

The rose, beautiful as it is, has thorns too. It represents a character who simply has the most breathtaking and admirable beauty on the surface with some dark and terrifying secrets underneath. But like those thorns on the rose, the dark secrets can be known when you try to look at the person beyond the radiant beauty.

Some people do look beyond such dark pasts and accept the person unconditionally. It is not easy to say if the person is being foolish or best lover one can ever have. The dilemma is always there…ringing inside your brain or whispers falling into your ears. Yet, you gather strength and do what you want to do – love the other person with all your heart.

You understand her, she understands you. Or you think you understand her or she thinks she understands you.

And then the betrayal. Maybe the rose finds another bee or the bee finds another rose. “Maybe a guy with an Audi who is good to you 40% of times and acts like an asshole 60% of times.

You were holding the rose safe in your hands and now you find yourself in such a shock that you involuntarily grip your hands harder and the thorn hurts you. But still the pain isn’t overcoming the pain that is in your heart. You want to scream. You dive into the pool and reach the bottom to let that scream out. Still the hurt is unbearable. “The shattering of a heart when being broken is the loudest quiet ever”.

Then you see a hope. The only way to reduce the emotional pain is the physical pain. You take that blade and cut your wrist. You cut your wrist to tell your brain that the pain from that thorn and that pain in the heart must be forgotten. But does it?

You have lost. Lost every sense. Lost every emotion. You die. Die inside. Broken. Shattered. Fade to black.

Disclaimer: This is work of fiction and any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Or is it?

Not exactly a masterpiece of art but had fun writing it rather than being lazy on the bed on a Sunday afternoon. Wait, wasn’t Sunday created for exactly that purpose?! *face palm*

This.

Just being dramatic.

Liebstar Awards!

Writing this post because Himani Gupta nominated me for the Liebstar award. She has a wonderful and an active blog and writes very passionately.

Supergirl

Himani demanding that she be shown real super heroes. Now! 🙂

I think I came across her blog through a post about super heroes. Being a hardcore cinephile, I immediately commented on her blog about the subject and exchanged a couple of comments.

Please do visit. You will enjoy her inundated mind!

Now back to Liebstar nomination. So, I am suppose to tell something about myself through the questions Himani has posted. So here we go –

1. If given a chance to suggest a topic for the weekly writing challenge on WP, what would you suggest?

I would ask bloggers to share their experience on when was the last time they did something for the first time?

2. Name a blog that inspires you.

Hard to point to one since each provides inspiration in its own way – inspiration to write, inspiration to do something, inspiration to read, etc. And, of course, so many random blogs I encounter here at WordPress!

3. Who’s your favourite person?

Real Life: My mum

Reel Life: Bruce Wayne/Batman

4. Why is that person your favourite?

My mum: Because she is the most awesome mom one can ever have! The freedom that she has given me right from choosing my religious beliefs to letting me disappear over the weekend without asking where I was…(well maybe she has given up all hope on me) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Batman: He is the superhero I want to be. Why? because I don’t need to be an alien from planet Krypton or get bitten by a radioactive spider or have gazillion dollars to build a suit. Anyone with enough determination and self-discipline can become the batman.

A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat on a young boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hadn’t ended.” – Batman

It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” – Bruce Wayne

5. What makes you continue blogging?

Although,  I don’t write as often I would like to due to busy office life, but that is exactly what makes me continue – to escape that world.

6. Any embarrassing moment of your life that made you laugh? (Tough one.)

This one happened about four years ago when I was new to USA. I had heard Americans drink lots of beer but didn’t think so much that they would have it on a vending machine in an office environment. But that is what I saw – Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Peppers and – Root Beer. I probably told everyone I knew about that with so much excitement. Only a week later when I had enough courage to buy one I found it was nothing like beer..not even remotely close to a beer. Not too mention tasted like crap. Had to tell everyone how I was fooled by this blasphemous name of a sugar-soda drink.

This is how I imagined most of the American kids who were not in the legal age for drinking.

This is how I imagined most of the American kids who were not in the legal age for drinking.

7. Tell us a habit of yours.

Collect a toothpick from restaurant and save it for a collection. I have been doing this since almost 7-8 years now. Weird? Welcome to my neighborhood! 🙂

8. Have you ever felt love for yourself? Why? (This could be for a quality in you or for something you did.)

Felt love for myself? – Always.

9. One crazy/silly dream of yours that you wish to fulfill.

Travel out in the space. Seems this might actually become true for most common people. Mars One – a not-for-profit organization wants to send humans to settle on Mars. The catch? – This is a one-way mission! Read all about it here.

10. How was your day today? Be honest.

It was okay. Went to office. Spent little time with my two nieces at home. Stumbled upon an e-mail that my best friend had sent me 6 years ago regarding a girl who had sent him a really flirty e-mail. Forwarded that e-mail to my friend and his wife and started eating  imaginary popcorns to witness a drama. 🙂

In case you are wondering, nothing serious happened. I will be getting a detailed account of the conversation between him and his wife later. Only best friends can joke around like this without getting serious and this email was from 6 years ago!

11. What was the first award of your life?

Wow, this sends me back straight to school days! All I remember is the annual sports day where I think I had won a balloon bursting race.

Well, this is what I have from my side. It was fun writing.

I nominate the following blogs:

http://thegeneralist.me/

http://vandysnape.wordpress.com/

http://mysphinxblog.wordpress.com/

http://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/

http://onethousandsingledays.com/

http://listfulthinking.org/

http://grammaniac.com/

http://michelledevilliersart.wordpress.com/

http://profmattstrassler.com/

Sorry, have only these many to nominate. I would pass the same questions. Good luck!