UTD Heroes: Ross Ulbricht

Lamentations were shouted into the heavens at the thought that his mythical presence would never grace the concrete pathways of UTD again. Tears were shed at the thought that he would spend the rest of his days within the cold confines of the prison cell the world placed him in — a world that would not and could not understand his vision. But hark, Hope, in its radiant splendor, has emerged from the mist of the Fog Log to reveal a ray of, well, y’know, hope. Ross Ulbricht, thought to be permanently removed from the public eye, has taken his case to appeal and seeks to overturn his life imprisonment charge.

For those unaware, Ross Ulbricht, a UTD Class of 2006 AES Physics graduate and campus legend, founded what became known as Silk Road, an online darknet market for selling illegal drugs. He operated this market under the pseudonym of Dread Pirate Roberts. The entire staff of AMP’s investigatory team has been devoted to determining whether or not Ulbricht was actually a pirate, but unless someone’s performed a covert hit job on the requisite sassy but ultimately redeemable parrot, no evidence has been found … yet. AMP will continue this search and update this article in real-time as more information becomes available. Aargh.

In light of this recent appeal, AMP found itself duty-bound to determine what makes Ulbricht such a visionary for UTD students to admire. Our findings below illustrate why all of you should add “The Alma Mater of Ross Ulbricht” to the byline of the education section of your resumes.

First of all, Ulbricht’s LinkedIn account is phenomenal. I’m personally surprised the Career Center has not printed copies and distributed one to every student interested in applying for a job — any job whatsoever. His listed experiences as CEO of Good Wagon Books and as a graduate research assistant give short but specific details on what skills he gained from his positions, and his bio has the most effective use of “I love learning” than any I’ve ever seen — I actually believe that he does! The bio even devolves into a short manifesto so that prospective employers can easily discriminate against him for his politics and beliefs.

Speaking of work experience — he was CEO of a used bookseller! Therefore his dream of “abolish[ing] the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind” obviously concerns the oppressive textbook market. His “economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force” must pertain directly to professors forcing students to buy the newest editions of their textbooks along with online homework software access codes. (Seriously, the REAL criminal in this story is paying just to submit homework, am I right? [I’m not right. Ulbricht ruled over a network of drug smugglers. But I sure fooled you guys!]) Ulbricht’s manifesto is a call to the proletariat to rebel not against the government and the institutions that control it but against the virtual monopoly of the textbook market. Under Dread Pirate Roberts’s direction, we can crawl out of the Pit of Despair that is the textbook industry’s hold on our lives.

[AMP Investigation Journal Log 1: Alerted by the potential sound of cannon shots in the distance, we walked miles toward the horizon. The journey was long, mostly because we had to stop and check each stick to see if it was a peg leg. As we reached the end of the convenient trail that pointed in the direction of the sound, though, we found only a singular laptop. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, it was connected to the PlotConvenience Wi-Fi network. Inconceivable! Opening the laptop brought us to a new version of the fabled Silk Road. To test the validity of this site, we ordered lots of drugs. It was really easy. They arrived in two business days. These, of course, will be turned over to the police, in accordance with our ethical responsibilities as journalists.]

Ulbricht is remembered in his time here not only as a successful graduate and drug network founder but as a very eligible bachelor. AMP reached out to an anonymous lovestruck female student for comment and was immediately replied to with “What’s not to love about a mastermind who happens to love the outdoors?” Desiring Ross purely out of sensual passion and reasons of the flesh would do his legacy no justice, and our source was quick to point out that “he was aight (sic) but his intellect made him hot.” Waxing poetic about his keen insight into “the potentials and pitfalls of FinTech and the blockchain revolution” that “showed [the] international community a speck of opportunity it could create”, our source concluded that “Ross is a boss.” Any student wishing to woo the female populace of UTD should seek to emulate Ross’s charm. (Editor’s Note: This is an actual interview that took place with a real UTD student.) (Editor’s Note: I am the editor.)

[AMP Investigation Journal Log 2: We did the drugs. It was for the story. The nearby songbirds began to speak in tongues, and only by putting a piece of cloth over one eye were we able to discern their truth. The ground below melted into the gentle waves of the ocean. We were on a ship.  We were the ship. A pirate’s hat was placed on each of our heads, or maybe we were placed under the hats. Nevertheless, we set sail to find the answers we so longed for, and maybe to find ourselves along the way.]

Some would argue that maybe we don’t want someone that paid $730,000 for fictitious murders-for-hire to be a role model for UTD students. However, the amount of economic and computer science knowledge necessary for this kind of feat is worth its weight in bitcoin. Just as we are capable of separating Scott Baio’s portrayal of Bob Loblaw on Arrested Development from his support of Donald Trump, so too can we separate Ulbricht’s criminal past from his academic prowess.

[AMP Investigation Journal Log 3: tHe NEw siTE oWNerS WeRE aRrESTeD. One oF US wAS a NARC. he WaS DisPOseD of. WE Are aLl tHaT Is LEFT. we aRE In cHArGe NOw. An EMPiRE iN ouR HANds. ThE wORLd AT ouR FEeT. tHe sEa BECKOniNG. avaSt, let uS HArnEss tHE wInd AnD THe WavEs aND SAil to foRTUnEs UNkNOWN.]

The greatest insight into this man, however, is how adorable his prison cell is. He grows little trees in there! He raises mice! Not only is this totally cute, this is direct evidence of a keen eye for aesthetics and arrangement that any artistically minded student can draw inspiration from. While it could be that he’s raising the mice only to conduct nefarious scientific schemes on them in the future, such as injecting them with artificial intelligence, he would only be aligning with what we already do to mice here at UTD.

When searching for an alumnus to enshrine in this month’s pages, I could think of no one more qualified than Ulbricht. His notoriety is matched only by his charm, his past virtual fortune matched only by his keen perception, and his eye for innovation matched only by his eye for revolution. Any student seeking to maximize their talents and do the impossible should dive into Ulbricht’s past in order to secure a better future for us all.

[AMP’s investigation team was found deep in the wilderness, attempting to swim on land. One was found murmuring “You killed my parrot … Prepare to die …” Three were dead, seemingly murdered by the rest of the team. The remainder were arrested on charges of drug trafficking, possession, use, and homicide. Their trial is pending.]

[AMP is hiring investigators! Apply now at amodestproposal@gmail.com]