Tuning In & Tuning Out

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Groucho Marx

Everyday many of us come home from work and switch on our television sets; & nearly everyday we listen to the floating heads on TV and their rather binary view of the world. And everyday, we accept the outrage that the floating heads deliver to us via the media, whether it be Television News, Newspapers, Web Portals or any other medium.

Take TV for instance. We have 6 or more floating heads per news channel arguing it out, on prime time; debating (screaming) about something, with one floating head being with the anchor and the other against the anchor.

I find it amusing that the anchor decides in the span of 45 minutes (allowing for commercial breaks) which side is righteous & which side “wins”.

We also feel that the news anchors we choose are fighting for us. They are displaying the indignation we must be displaying to the “careless Government” & the “stupid opposition. After all the News Anchor and his other floating head “panelists” chastise Narendra Modi,Rahul Gandhi, Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, Vijay Mallya,Arundhati Roy, M.S. Dhoni, Hugo Chavez, Bill Gates, Batman, Iron Man, Mickey Mouse, The Greek God Zeus and anyone else the panelists can find.

The entire premise of most Television news is that only if these famous people clean up their lives, we can all live in unlimited utopia. And the Television Anchor and his Floating Head friends are delivering us this utopia, at least for one hour 45 minutes everyday.

I believe that the excitement of watching famous and powerful people getting bashed on live TV is what we crave.

|Television “debates” are the new Gladiator matches.|

If we are tired of the floating heads on “News Channels” we can simply press a few buttons and switch to other floating heads on TV soaps & movies. These floating heads are well dressed ( in a lot of or very little clothing) and lead generally exciting lives.

For instance, Tulsi Viranis husband dies, Ted Mosby is out looking for his soulmate, Alia Bhatt is solving boyfriend problems with a therapist, Sunny Deol is fighting the Pakistanis with a hand pump, James Bond is seducing 3 to 4 very good looking ladies, Jethalal is arguing with Bhide while eating Jalebis, Tom Cruise is saving the world and Robert Downey Jr. is saving the darned universe and all of this is happening every evening.

Compare that to our own lives. Most days of our lives are rather monotonous. We go to work, chit chat with colleagues, come back home and watch these larger than life stories and characters. We feel like we are missing out on something. We ask ourselves, “why is my life not so exciting?”

After all, not all of our days are exciting. Not everyday are we launching a new product or making a breakthrough. Not many of us are working on something that can change the world.

And to avoid the void, we turn to the idiot box with the floating heads.

But here is where it gets interesting, regardless of our profession or role, not everyday is going to be exciting.

I recommend that you decide for yourself what you want in and out of life. Once you do that, I think the floating heads will lose all relevance.

The ONE Lifehack You Need To Win

I wish I could give you a surefire formula for success, but life doesn’t work that way.


Scott Adams in How To Fail At Almost Everything & Still Win Big

We all come across ads like “Do these 5 things that ALL billionaires do.”, “3 life hacks you must know to retire by 40.”,”The ONE thing that you MUST DO to get ripped.” All such ads have a similar message, a quick, easy way that helps us find the one perfect solution to all our problems, the one perfect way to achieve all our goals & the one perfect way to never fail.

The green tea that you need to drink to lose weight, the protein powder that you must drink to get ripped, the bat you must own to bat like Sachin Tendulkar, the MLM scheme you must join to make big money very easily and countless other examples are all variants of the same.

And we are all enchanted, enchanted by the call that this one thing is all we need to make it in life. To use metaphor, we are all enchanted by the grail quest. It is seductive. It offers us a respite from all of our problems. We need only do the things recommended & everything else automagically falls in place.

And a part I find rather amusing is that we do not want people to point out flaws on what is being offered. We’d rather be ignorant about what the flaws in our wonder solution that have someone point them to us and destroy our dreams.

Why is it so?


My guess is that we are:

  1. Averse to hearing flaws in our own plans.
  2. Afraid to look within for answers.
  3. That we are always given solutions in school & college.

The negative news breaks the spell and we are forced to come back to reality. Our problems still exist. And that is rather psychologically painful. We are afraid to look within because then we need to confront our demons. Our own laziness, our own mistakes, our own lack of judgement. Add to this the fact that we are always given the one perfect solution in classrooms for 20 or so years. Everyday, for around 21 years, an authority figure tells us what we should do. How we should solve a math problem. How we should sit in class, how we should behave. School even defines what a winner is.

Overcoming years of conditioning , added with our own aversion to criticism from outsiders and lack of honesty with ourselves is (in my opinion) what leads to our quest of the perfect solution. After all, the solutions we are applying are most probably the ones taught in school & are no longer working. And if we fail, we are (gasp) losers!

So what is my LIFEHACK?

I believe that there is none. The only “lifehack” I recommend to people is to take complete responsibility for themselves & learn to trust their own judgement. I believe that if I really, really want someone to follow my instructions & ideas, then I need to live them.

Psst… if someone does have a lifehack on how I might improve my writing, I am all ears.

Plotting Normalised Charts in R

In order to compare the price action of 2 different stocks, we “normalise” them, i.e. use the percent change and then plot them. Quandl provides the option to do this when pulling in data. The notebook is available on my Public Dropbox Folder with a few other notebooks.

Notebook

Plotting Indicators in R

In this R Notebook, we import the stock price of Lupin from 1 November 2010 till 12 October 2018 and plot the 50 & 200 day simple moving averages using the TTR function.

Check out the notebook for more!

Plotting Multiple Charts in R

Previously we have seen how we can import quotes into R & use it to plot stock prices.

Now we go one step forward & import multiple stock quotes & plot them along in different combinations.

The HTML file is available for your perusal. Simply plug in your Quandl API key and you can replicate these exact charts. Or pull in quotes of stocks you like!

Importing Historical Price Data Into iPython From Quandl

In this file, I show how to pull Quandl data into Python notebooks without downloading the files on our own systems. The iPython notebook & HTML version of the files are available to download. I recommend that you get Anaconda as it also has a whole host of other features and programmes that make using Python & R easier.

Download links:

  1. Python HTML  File.
  2. Python Jupyter  Notebook.
  3. R HTML File.
  4. R Jupyter Notebook.

As always, for any feedback, contact “me“.

The Word Is Not The Meaning

“We interpret words to mean something that will be convenient or suitable to us, or interpret them according to a certain tradition.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Imagine you are thirsty and asked your Mother for some water. Now instead of handing you a glass of water, you get a lecture on what the chemical composition of water is, the different types of water (say mineral or spring) and how it takes various forms like steam or ice for half an hour instead of the drink. Merely understanding the term “water” is not going to satiate your thirst.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, words are the worst form of communication till we have tried all others. As we explore in “Whose Reality Is It Anyway?”, we all see life from a different perspective and add meaning or draw inference from events differently. A good event for one could be a bad event for another.

Now let us try a thought experiment to understand this better:

What colors are the boxes below?

You’d say that the boxes are orange and pink respectively.

Now imagine that a child is thought that the color on the left is pink and the color on the right is called orange. As he grows up, he remains unaware of this till one fine day, the teacher asks him to name the colors. The child gets it “wrong”. He is regurgitating what is taught to him and it turns out that what is thought to him is “inaccurate”.

Now you can imagine what the child goes through in this situation here. I am guessing bewilderment, and perhaps anger and mistrust at his parents.

The point is that even for some of the most widely used words, each one of us may hold different meanings of the same word. Add to this the complexities in understanding tonality, body language and the evolution of language itself where some words disappear from common use and some words find their way into daily use.

Now imagine someone who thinks in a different language altogether. The ideas may be lost in translation as a complete transfer of meaning is difficult between two languages.

So the next time when you speak or write something, you might want to make it as lucid as possible and define every term as clearly as possible. This may help you and your associates to communicate well.

And when it comes to reading or listening, practise dropping all your preconceptions and you can discover the very essence the writer or speaker is conveying.