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Archive for January, 2018

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring- Book 5 Review

Posted by Mrityunjay on January 29, 2018

Once upon a time the famous physicist Albert Einstein was confronted by an overly concerned woman who sought advice on how to raise her small son to become a successful scientist. In particular she wanted to know what kinds of books she should read to her son.

“Fairy Tales,” Einstein responded without hesitation.

“Fine, but what else should I read to him after that?” the mother asked.

“More fairy tales,” Einstein stated.

“And after that?”

“Even more fairy tales,” replied the great scientist, and he waved his pipe like a wizard pronouncing a happy end to a long adventure.

(Source-Brainpickings)

Above story prompted me to go for this book. It is not an easy book to review. I mean, how would you review one of the most celebrated pieces of fiction/fantasy ever written, turned into a humongous series of movies, universally admired and acclaimed?! I was always a fan of Lord of the Ring (LOTR) trilogy; surreal visuals, depth of characters, scale & vision of the director and studio- just everything about the movie series felt grand. It wasn’t until recently that I felt like reading Harry Potters, Chronicle of Narnias & LOTRs of the world, having seen all these movies long back. Primary reason was, I wanted to explore all the literature genres hitherto untouched and secondly, being a part of Education field, I felt it might fire up my own creativity and give me some ideas as Einstein reiterated above.

“The Lord of the Rings” is often considered as the pinnacle of fantasy literature. Written by professor of lotr.jpglinguistics J.R.R. Tolkien, it is a high-fantasy epic- something that the movie series did much to cement in popular culture. The richness of the world Tolkien created is just stunning. A major portion of the book is devoted to telling the history of the places hobbit Frodo and his companions’ journey through and the people they encounter. It’s a large narrative about Middle Earth where everyone and everything has a story. Everything matters. Nothing feels as though it was just thrown in Frodo’s path errantly by Tolkien to further the plot. Tolkein’s descriptions of a place or of some particular race is so vivid and detailed that too often you find yourself pausing for a while and visualizing the entire picture. You could clearly see in your mind’s eyes landscape of the Shire in autumn as Frodo, Sam, and Pippin began their trek away from Bag End.

The book is set in a world created by Tolkien, called Middle Earth. From Hobbit holes to fiery mountains, The Fellowship of the Ring follows the journey of a misfit group on a noble mission to conquer evil. The main character, Frodo, inherits a magical ring that could cause the end of the world. With a fellowship of man, hobbit, elf, and dwarf alike, Frodo goes on a quest to Mt. Doom to destroy this ring. Along the way, he and his friends encounter many obstacles of astounding proportions, which they must deal with to finish their quest. The fantastical nature lends itself to the fairy-tale genre, but the complex nature of the plot can enthrall people of all ages. On one hand, it captures the attention of young readers with fantasy characters and at the same time, it pulls adults with messages of hope, persistence, and honor. The way Tolkien uses the characters to add atmosphere to the story is simply spellbinding. Take any character and you will find it highly detailed, physically and emotionally. The book is essentially just one huge road trip, which brings you from town to town. The journey is quite believable, and so you can understand the expedition more so, Tolkien created a map of Middle Earth, which is included with the books.

The storyline has one single plot of Frodo traveling to Mt. Doom to destroy “The one ring”, leading into countless subplots, which add to the texture of the novels. The book includes a generous dose of poetry which adds to the depth of the plot. Each race has a distinct style of poetry. So for instance, if hobbits sing about their day to day lives then elves wax lyrical about beauty and timelessness. At times, these poems can be distracting but all in all, they also help in delving deep into the mindset of his races. Books introduces several fascinating creatures like dwarfs, Elfs, Orcs, Balrogs, Goblins etc with each of them having distinct characteristics. You will love some of them and hate with equal fervour some others.

If you are wondering about movie adaptation and how faithful was Peter Jackson to the books, then you are sure to find certain deviations. He did an incredible job of adapting such fantastical, epic and well-loved books, but there are many ways in which the stories and their telling differ. Some parts changed, minor characters given larger roles and the feel and pacing differ greatly. Movie has more action and adventure However, what Tolkien provides is a much different experience. In real time, almost, day by day, he is recounting what happened to his characters and he will not be rushed. He is not interested in where the story is going, but the journey itself. Thus, the landscape and the history are important to what he is doing. It gives a much greater sense of distances covered and time passed. The richness of his world starts to come alive once you start reading slowly and going with the pace of the author.

To sum up, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It’s not a book written for kids. Taking a passage from brainpickings once again;  “I do not believe that I have ever written a children’s book,” the great Maurice Sendak once said in an interview. “I don’t write for children,” he told Colbert. “I write — and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’” This sentiment — the idea that designating certain types of literature as “children’s” is a choice entirely arbitrary and entirely made by adults”.

Do read the book and As Tolkien says, “Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else … may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cage-birds.

Looking forward to see how the other two volumes hold up.

Happy reading, folks. Cheers.

 

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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow- Book 4 Review

Posted by Mrityunjay on January 24, 2018

Yuval Noah Harari is someone who makes history look very sexy. It’s not just about him being a historian but more about how he analyses and interprets history that makes you look at the entire subject in a completely new light. The book “Homo Deus” is a sequel to his first bestseller book  “Sapiens: Brief History of Human Kind”, which was an amazing book; one of the very best that I have ever read. Homo Deus” takes off where “Sapiens” left off; it is a “brief history of tomorrow.”

deusIn Sapiens, we read about how Homo-Sapiens progressed from hunter gatherers through the umpteen societal revolutions that took us to our current position whereas Homo Deus describes the possible futures we might envision. Harari builds a pretty solid and convincing case for how the world of technology might blend with or destroy Homo Sapiens in coming times. It is forward looking and speculative. This book is a wonderful blend of history, philosophy, science, religion, and economics into one cohesive narrative.

The book begins with “New Human Agenda”, raising questions like What will we strive for? Basically the world has done well for itself so far. We have controlled diseases, controlled poverty, reduced wars and have achieved many other scientific milestones. So what’s next?  We humans are never satisfied with our achievements. We simply crave for more, better, faster, different. Subsequent chapters ask and tries to answers thought-provoking questions like,

  • What is the difference between humans and all other animals?

  • How did our species conquer the world?

  •  Is Homo sapiens a superior life form, or just the local bully? What kind of world did humans create?

  •  How did humans become convinced that they not only control the world, but also give it meaning?

  •  How did humanism – the worship of humankind – become the most important religion of all?

  •  how humans created meaning for themselves through a framework of beliefs we call religion?

  •  Can humans go on running the world and giving it meaning?

  • How do biotechnology and artificial intelligence threaten humanism?

  • Who might inherit humankind, and what new religion might replace humanism?

  •  Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing?

  •  What’s more valuable — intelligence or consciousness?

  •  What will happen to society , politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?

There are some scary propositions proposed in the book. The way humans are relentlessly moving forward, we are more likely to live longer and have super human qualities but it is most likely to be the preserve of the techno super-rich, the masters of the data universe. At the same time, there is a high possibility of redundancy of labour, supplanted by efficient machines that will create an enormous “useless class”, without economic or military purpose.

Sapiens evolved in the African savannah tens of thousands of years ago, and their algorithms are just not built to handle twenty-first-century data flows. We might try to upgrade the human data-processing system, but this may not be enough. The Internet-of-All-Things may soon create such huge and rapid data flows that even upgraded human algorithms would not be able to handle them. When cars replaced horse-drawn carriages, we didn’t upgrade the horses – we retired them. Perhaps it is time to do the same with Homo sapiens.”

“The individual will not be crushed by Big Brother; it will disintegrate from within. Today corporations and governments pay homage to my individuality and promise to provide medicine, education and entertainment customized to my unique needs and wishes. But in order to do so, corporations and governments first need to break me up into biochemical subsystems, monitor these subsystems with ubiquitous sensors and decipher their workings with powerful algorithms. In the process, the individual will transpire to be nothing but a religious fantasy.”

Harari has given a fascinating detail of the concept of humanism and how it came to be our new belief system. As per this concept, the meaning of life comes from each of us individually. Earlier the Gods and Godmen used to determine morality, the rights and wrongs but now humanism says that all we need to do is pay attention to what it is we think and feel. Take for examples, phrases like, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, “voter knows best”, “Always listen to your heart” or the most prophetic words uttered by all the corporate giants- “the customer is always right” etc. However, the all pervasive humanism is giving way to a new belief system that is slowly engulfing the worlds amidst the advancing technologies which may well become more powerful than humanism. He refers to it as “Dataism”.

He says that, “Dataism declares that the universe consists of data flows, and the value of any phenomenon or entity is determined by its contribution to data processing. This may strike you as some eccentric fringe notion, but in fact it has already conquered most of the scientific establishment. If humankind is indeed a single data-processing system, what is its output? Dataists would say that its output will be the creation of a new and even more efficient data-processing system, called the Internet-of-All-Things. Once this mission is accomplished, Homo sapiens will vanish.”

“If Kindle is upgraded with face recognition and biometric sensors, it will know how each sentence you read influenced your heart rate and blood pressure. It will know what made you laugh, what made you sad and what made you angry. Soon, books will read you while you are reading them.”

Every day millions of people decide to grant their smartphone a bit more control over their lives or try a new and more effective antidepressant drug. In pursuit of health, happiness and power, humans will gradually change first one of their features and then another, and another, until they will no longer be human.

Dataists consider universe as an unrelenting flow of data, whereby each of us absorbs and emits countless bits of data daily. Ever noticed how each one of us consistently receive emails, text messages, read articles, and simultaneously produce our own data in response to these? If humanism put emphasis on the importance of feeling, sensing and having experiences, dataism tells you the importance of sharing experiences. Dataists believe in the importance of data being free and envisions a future where there is one all-encompassing data system which is all-knowing and all-powerful. Our meaning would then be established from merging with this system that is larger than ourselves. Should this occur, it would result in a shift in our focus from ourselves to a system that knows us better than we know ourselves.

I would also like to quote few striking quotes from the book:- “

In the twenty-first century, the third big project of humankind will be to acquire for us divine powers of creation and destruction, and upgrade Homo sapiens into Homo deus.

“For the first time in history, more people die today from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals combined.”

As technology enables us to upgrade humans, overcome old age and find the key to happiness, won’t people care less about fictional gods, nations and corporations, and focus instead on deciphering the physical and biological reality?

Sapiens don’t behave according to a cold mathematical logic, but rather according to a warm social logic. We are ruled by emotions.

All large-scale human cooperation is ultimately based on our belief in imagined orders.

History isn’t a single narrative, but thousands of alternative narratives. Whenever we choose to tell one, we are also choosing to silence others.

But if you enter medical school today in the expectation of still being a family doctor in twenty years, maybe you should think again. With such a Watson around, there is not much need for Sherlocks.

There are no longer natural famines in the world; there are only political famines. If people in Syria, Sudan or Somalia starve to death, it is because some politician wants them to.

Fiction isn’t bad. It is vital. Without commonly accepted stories about things like money, states or corporations, no complex human society can function.

Individuals will become  just a collection of ‘biochemical subsystems’ monitored by global networks

On the other hand, if shit just happens, without any binding script or purpose, then humans too are not confined to any predetermined role. We can do anything we want — provided we can find a way. We are constrained by nothing except our own ignorance.

When the moment comes to choose between economic growth and ecological stability, politicians, CEOs and voters almost always prefer growth. In the twenty-first century, we shall have to do better if we are to avoid catastrophe.

For countless generations our biochemical system adapted to increasing our chances of survival and reproduction, not our happiness.

When you contemplate whom to marry, which career to pursue and whether to start a war, Dataism tells you that it would be a complete waste of time to climb a high mountain and watch the sun setting into the waves. It would be equally futile to visit a museum, write a private diary or have a heart-to-heart talk with a friend.

The upgrading of humans into gods may follow any of three paths: biological engineering, cyborg engineering and the engineering of non-organic beings.

When genetic engineering and artificial intelligence reveal their full potential, liberalism, democracy and free markets might become as obsolete as flint knives, tape cassettes, Islam and communism.

Silencing annoying noises inside my head seems like a wonderful idea, provided it enables me to finally hear my deep authentic self. But if there is no authentic self, how do I decide which voices to silence and which to amplify?

Never in history did a government know so much about what’s going on in the world — yet few empires have botched things up as clumsily as the contemporary United States. It’s like a poker player who knows what cards his opponents hold, yet somehow still manages to lose round after round.

This is one gem of a book that engages with its reader on so many levels. Presented in an objective manner, this challenges you to go deep, take a deep breath and imagine all the possible consequences and a fast changing world. You can already witness changing job profiles, emergence of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, privacy cries and all the related stuffs. Homo Deus is so densely populated with ideas that will make you question the direction that the world is going in and whether you like it or not, you need to think accordingly. It’s more like unlearn all the learnings and relearn things just so that you remain in sync with changing dynamics. As Harari suggests that, “Since intelligence is decoupling from consciousness, and since non-conscious intelligence is developing at breakneck speed, humans must actively upgrade their minds if they want to stay in the game.” My suggestion, get a hold of both the books, Sapiens & Homo Deus and read deeply.

Happy Reading, folks. Cheers.

 

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Grinding It Out- Book 3 Review

Posted by Mrityunjay on January 19, 2018

“Columbus discovered America, Jefferson invented it, and Ray Kroc Big Mac’d it.” –Tom Robbins. Couldn’t be truer than that, isn’t it? Few entrepreneurs can claim to have radically changed the way we live, and Ray Kroc is one of them. “Grinding it out” is a fascinating read. It moves at a relentless pace, symbolic of the man the book is all about. As for the man, someone in the book aptly describes him- “He either enchants or antagonizes everyone he meets. But even his enemies agree there are three things Ray Kroc does damned well: sell hamburgers, make money, and tell stories.”

Like the products Ray Kroc sold all his life, this book is also same- Fast, Swift and tantalizing. He was a true revolutionary the way he brought numerous changes to fast food industry. Food service automation, advertising, franchising, shared national training etc were kind of things our civilization was not really aware of until Ray Kroc arrived on the scene. Ray Kroc founded not only a business but an empire. And to think of it, he started it at the ripe old age of 52- the age when people are normally thinking of retirement bliss. That makes his achievements all the more incredible.

41r1g2X8ttLTalking about the story, many readers might be surprised to know that it was not Ray Kroc who first started the McDonald chain. It was rather founded by the McDonald brothers in San Bernadino (near L.A.). McDonald’s was the first national hamburger chain in the US, founded in the 1940s. Ray Kroc was the man who grew the brand across the country. This book is amusingly written and a pretty fun read. In my view, the success of McDonald’s was primarily because of three factors:- 1) Assembly-line production- where food was made quickly and cheaply. 2) French fries- truly a turning point in the success of the business. 3) Good franchise model. Digging deeper, I will share some passages from the book giving us a glimpse of man’s vision, process and progression.

As Mr.Kroc writes-  “The San Bernadino restaurant was a typical drive-in. It developed a terrific business, especially among teenagers. But after World War II, the brothers realized that they were running hard just to stay in one place. They weren’t building volume even though their parking lot was always full. So they did a courageous thing. They closed that successful restaurant in 1948 and reopened it a short time later with a radically different kind of operation. It was a restaurant stripped down to the minimum in service and menu, the prototype for legions of fast-food units that later would spread across the land. Hamburgers, fries and beverages were prepared on an assembly line basis, and to the amazement of everyone, Mac and Dick McDonald included, the thing worked! Of course, the simplicity of the procedure allowed the McDonalds to concentrate on quality in every step, and that was the trick. When I saw it working that day in 1954, I felt like some latter-day Newton who’d just had an Idaho potato caromed off his skull.”

On the subject of French fries, Kroc writes “Now, to most people, a french-fried potato is a pretty uninspiring object. It’s fodder, something to kill time between chewing bites of hamburger and swallows of milk shake. That’s your ordinary french fry. The McDonald’s french fry was in an entirely different league. They lavished attention on it. I didn’t know it then, but one day I would, too. The french fry would become almost sacrosanct for me, its preparation a ritual to be followed religiously.” Looking back, Kroc writes “The quality of our french fries was a large part of McDonald’s success.”

In a twisted kind of way, Ray Kroc standardized American food taste. Initiating McDonald’s franchising system was a real masterstroke. He was an instinctive leader who brought entrepreneurs into a structure that both forced them to conform to high standards of quality and service and freed them to operate as independent business people. Last I knew, McDonald’s had more than 35000 franchises all over the world. That says something about the success of his model. I still can’t get over the fact that he was 52 years old when he first started rolling out McDonald’s across the country. He spent the next 20+ years of his life expanding McDonald’s to 4,000 stores across the world. A bit like Sam Walton (Walmart), Ray Kroc built a system that kept on growing, long after he retired.

Before discovering his true calling, Kroc peddled ribbon novelties, paper cups, and underwater Florida real estate, and played piano in now-forgotten orchestras. But life grew sweet in the Fifties after the fateful trip to California–even if “”you lose a lot of your friends on the way up”” as well as a wife or two. Not a man to waste time in idle regrets (“I had no time to bother with emotional stress”), Ray Kroc was in business of selling multimixers for making milk-shakes before getting involved with McDonalds. When he first heard about San Bernadino McDonald’s restaurant buying a lot of Multimixers from him, and he decided to meet the owners. In his words- “When I flew back to Chicago that fateful day in 1954, I had a freshly signed contract with the McDonald brothers in my briefcase. I was a battle-scarred veteran of the business wars, but I was still eager to go into action. I was 52 years old. I had diabetes and incipient arthritis. I had lost my gall bladder and most of my thyroid gland in earlier campaigns. But I was convinced that the best was still ahead of me. I was still green and growing.” Some enthusiasm!!

About his sales technique, Kroc writes, “My cup sales kept growing as I learned how to plan my work and work my plan. My confidence grew at the same rate. I found that my customers appreciated a straightforward approach”.

His words about Stress management technique is also something to read twice and imbibe- “I learned then how to keep problems from crushing me. I refused to worry about more than one thing at a time, and I would not let useless fretting about a problem, no matter how important, keep me from sleeping. This is easier said than done. I did it through my own brand of self-hypnosis. I may have read a book on the subject, I don’t remember, but in any case I worked out a system that allowed me to turn off nervous tension and shut out nagging questions when I went to bed. I knew that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be bright and fresh and able to deal with customers in the morning. I would think of my mind as being a blackboard full of messages, most of them urgent, and I practised imagining a hand with an eraser wiping that blackboard clean. I made my mind completely blank. If a thought began to appear, zap! I’d wipe it out before it could form. Then I would relax my body, beginning at the back of my neck and continuing on down, shoulders, arms, torso, legs, to the tips of my toes. By this time, I would be asleep. I learned to do this procedure rather rapidly.”

As for his personal life, his first wife just wasn’t supportive enough of his business endeavours, so that didn’t work out. Second wife was decent but too mild and unexciting for his high octane self. His third wife was someone he propositioned while she was still married to her previous husband, a McDonald’s franchisee! Kroc makes no apologies for this behaviour, his attitude being: when it’s right it’s right.

Talking about his writing style, Kroc has a sparky, energetic and humorous writing style. Its very business-man like. Straight. To the point. I am tempted to share his writing style here. It might feel like hot, crunchy, crispy French fries to your literary buds.

About San Bernadino, the site of the first McDonald’s, Kroc writes “Now San Bernadino is on the edge of the desert, remember, and you could probably put its average annual precipitation in a martini glass and still have room for an olive.” Oh Man, I loved this line!

About hamburgers, Kroc writes “Consider, for example, the hamburger bun. It requires a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun. Yet, is it any more unusual to find grace in the texture and softly curved silhouette of a bun than to reflect lovingly on the hackles of a favourite fishing fly? Or the arrangement of textures and colours in a butterfly’s wing? Not if you are a McDonald’s man. Not if you view the bun as an essential material in the art of serving a great many meals fast. Then this plump yeasty mass becomes an object worthy of sober study.” Yeah, hamburger can be defined poetically too!!

On real estate “Finding locations for McDonald’s is the most creatively fulfilling thing I can imagine. I go out and check out a piece of property. It’s nothing but bare ground, not producing a damned thing for anybody. I put a building on it, and the operator gets into business there employing fifty or a hundred people, and there is new business for the garbage man, the landscape man, and the people who sell the meat and buns and potatoes and other things. So out of that bare piece of ground comes a store that does, say, a million dollars a year in business. Let me tell you, it’s a great satisfaction to see that happen.”

Guess, I am going on and on. So winding it up, I must say, the story of Ray Kroc is nothing short of miraculous and inspiring and it goes to show that if you’re in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, the right things happen. He proves that you’re never too old to be an entrepreneur. He was 52 when he started his McDonald’s gig, and he kept at it for another 20 years as the company took the country by storm. As Kroc loved to say, “Work is the meat in the hamburger of life. Perseverance will prevail every time over brains, education, and almost anything. PRESS On: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent”.

Happy Reading, folks. Cheers.

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How I Made $2,000,000 In The Stock Market- Book 2 Review

Posted by Mrityunjay on January 16, 2018

My second book of the year is “How I Made $2,000,000 In The Stock Market” by Nicolas Darvas. As usual, I came across the book through potent combo of Twitter & Goodreads. It was a pretty quick read. More of a trading text, a healthy portion of the book consists of editorial edition along with some Q&A with Darvas tossed in.

Talking about the author, Nicolas Darvas was a professional dancer who used to perform all around the world. Then as it often happens, he somewhat randomly got into the stock market through; yeah you guessed it right- a tip. Beginner’s luck. And then series of mishits. Sounds familiar, right?

Book’s primary appeal lies in the fact that Darvas was not a professional investor. It’s pretty crazy readinghow-i-made his progression chart. If you are interested in stock market, you can actually relate to all the mistakes he made along the way, how all the noise and rumours played havoc with his system and mental equilibrium and then subsequently he developed his own theory which helped him in making $2 million in 18 months, starting with a stake of less than $25,000. He paid no heed to where market was heading, no prediction or theories about economy in general. What got him hooked was how a particular stock behaves. It’s almost like a scrip reveals its story through its price-volume behaviour.

While reading this book, I was reminded of Jesse Livermore. As far as similarity between the two is concerned, Darvas traded by feel. Because of his professional dancing commitments, he was travelling all around the world so he would receive telegrams with clear instructions to his broker. Every day telegram would be sent to him containing minimal information like scrip names, price, close etc. Through this method, he learned to ‘feel’ the stock price, just as Lefèvre does in ‘Reminiscences of a Stock Operator’ with the ticker tape. Like Livermore, Darvas was also a plunger. He developed this knack of probing the market; that is buying a bit now, a bit more on confirmation and still more after that.

Another important learning for him (and is relevant to all we stock market addicts) was, you can’t get emotional about the market. In his words- “I accepted everything for what it was – not what I wanted it to be. I just stayed on the sidelines and waited for better times to come.”

I really loved the way Mr.Darvas compared stocks to people. Say, he describes the characteristics of some stocks in a very interesting method. For instance, some stocks are highly nervous, irritated and jumpy and the stock price goes all over. Other stocks are sedate and almost bovine. On a closer look, you can actually see that happening. He developed this “Box theory” where a stock trades in a certain price range. He kept watching this range with normal to above average volume depicting accumulation. Then as stock jumped to a new level, he would identify the next box where stock would subsequently find its high/low and made a new range. Once he was sure of higher highs in a new price range/box movement, he would make his move and try to buy at the bottom of the box and gradually increasing his position with every upmove.

Simultaneously Darvas started paying attention to fundamentals as well and connecting the dots. Like how a stock remains steadfast even during falling market, fighting the downtrend. As he checked the story further, he discovered such scrips were growing earnings. “Capital was flowing into these stocks, even in a bad market. This capital was following earning improvements as a dog follows a scent.” And so he married this fundamental idea to his technical box theory. The author says, “I would select stocks on their technical action in the market, but I would only buy them when I could give improving earning power as my fundamental reason for doing so.”

The author puts a strong emphasis on developing/having a set of rules to play the market and no matter what one must STICK to them. It’s fascinating to witness Darvas’ personal trading development along with the construction and refinement of his trading strategy. He kept shifting his course until he finally found the methodology which suited him best. Some people would find certain similarities between his Box theory and popular CANSLIM methodology that mixes fundamental and technical approach.

There is also a stark reminder of what usually happens when you start getting all cocky after initial success. In the story, after he earns his first half million, he goes back to NY to trade on Wall Street – almost immediately he loses his  practiced edge, web of rumours, gossips, heard on the street whispers etc start affecting his trading instinct and he forgets all his own rules and lessons. Back to zero. Not exactly but near-about. Wham! And that makes me think, with all these facilities that we have at our disposal, books/TV/Twitter/WA/Spams/Pumps/Forums etc etc, we are bound to become confused. Stay away. Keep distance. Focus. Period.

One disappointing thing is that the book does not explain his method in detail. Not concisely presented, methodology in bits and pieces over the timeline, you wish there was more written and explained in the book. All in all, a decent quick read.

Happy Reading, folks. Cheers.

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Origin by Dan Brown- Book 1 Review

Posted by Mrityunjay on January 13, 2018

First, a confession. Dan Brown is my guilty pleasure. And second, you need a popcorn read during a 36 hours train journey that’s already running behind schedule by 24 hours! But if you want to sprint through an almost 500-page novel at breakneck pace and escape from thinking for a while, then it is very enjoyable. Coming back to my first read of the New year, this book “Origin” starts with two questions-

Where do we come from?

Where are we going?

The entire book revolves around these two questions amidst typical Dan Brown mumbo-jumbo of vivid locations, historical tie-ins, art, architecture and paintings. Though this time it’s Spain instead of usual Italy which was refreshing. So you come across Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid et al and I simply love all those geographic details along with historical tidbits.

originUnlike his last two books whose climax left a lot to be desired, Origin relies heavily on current events and hot topics to make it more relevant to today’s world. Hence you have topics like “fake news”, the advancement of technology and artificial intelligence, and the dark corners of the Internet. The plot plays on universal thoughts, fears and questions.

Then we have our own Harvard genius Robert Langdon swimming effortlessly through maze of Brown’s plots, codes and puzzles. I love all the information about history, science and religion which made it an interesting read for me. Also fascinating was the fact that you can actually look up the organizations mentioned in the book and find that they are all real.

As for the details, you know the Dan Brown formula – initiation of a mystery usually in a museum, church, famous building. Then Langdon meeting a young, vivacious, bright and successful woman. Then they run around to discover something that has a huge repercussion on our history and future.  Then you have age-old debate of Creationism Vs Evolution.

Don’t delve too deep analyzing plot and scenes or else you will start finding cracks. And yes, the final act was kind of predictable but all in all, the book is pulpy, ridiculous and over the top fiction but entertaining as well.

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Hello There!!

Posted by Mrityunjay on January 11, 2018

3 years and 3 months! That’s how long it took me to update my blog again. pity. Anyways, let’s start afresh, shall we? 2017 was a momentous year for me. Personally as well as professionally. Finally shed the proud tag of being a bachelor and tied the knot. Professionally, my school project has started to shape up. Tiny steps yet but very much in right direction. My other passion stocks did really well but it has less to do with my skills and more with general trend of the market in the year gone by. Any idiot would have made money picking any random set of stocks. So pretty lucky that way being fully invested. Writing took a back seat and it feels like as if I have totally forgotten how to weave words. This blog which is was lying dormant since ages was screaming for revival so I kind of forced myself to write things.. Any thing.. Hence this post. So that was the brief about my life in the year 2017.

IMG-20171217-WA0011However, what I am more interested in talking about today is my reading practice last year. As can be seen from the picture, I managed to finish 27 books and almost 10,000 pages. It’s not really a great number if you look closely at so many other vociferous readers on goodreads but somehow I am pretty pumped up about it. It feels good, you know. Reading gives me so so much satisfaction. There is so much to know. The more you read, the more you realize you have so much more to know. Else it’s like a frog in the well story. As I turn older and start accumulating myriad experiences, reading in a strange sort of way crystallizes them all. Taking me to the far away land. In complete harmony with my increasing silence and solitude. Reading a passage, holding still, reflecting on certain ideas triggered by a nondescript sentence. The joy upon finding a paragraph that resonated with the cacophony of your silent being and this endless urge to be left alone with a book with no one in vicinity.

However, as like any sphere of life, it requires a bit of discipline. Not much. Just a tiny little bit. And it was as simple as it was profound. An Old Article by Shane (of farnamstreet fame- I just love this site) made me read every day instead of going whole hog one day and nothing, the very next. It brought some sort of tranquility and regularity. In nutshell, it was as easy as deciding on a certain number of pages as per your time, appetite and interest and you end up finishing a number of books every year. I somehow have this feeling that reading a minimum 25 pages a day made me a bit wiser and more broad minded.

Damn! Writing feels hard. This post feels more like an office draft. But yeah, I am trying to start scribbling again. I guess I am employing the trick of self commitment made in public domain. ;). Hope it sticks.

And people…do read, ok?. A lot. Flaunting on goodreads gives you more satisfaction than on FB. 😉

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