Tuesday, September 12, 2017

India needs one day in each quarter in which absolutely no one makes any work-related calls, SMSes, emails, WhatsApp messages, etc., to you [COMPACTIDEA]

In India's timings outside the stipulated work hours aren't respected. Employers call up employees at odd hours and on odd days, aware that the employee must be sleeping or enjoying his holiday. Customers call up their suppliers before 9 AM [and after 8 PM], knowing fully well that it's either too early to call or is the other person's private/family time. This basically indicates a severe lack of respect for the life of others, and a regard for only one's own needs and priorities [I do the same, or rather I have to do the same].

And so I wish that the Indian government introduce one day each quarter on which - through advertisements and radio messages - Indians are encouraged to make absolutely no work-related phone calls, SMS messages, WhatsApp messages, emails, etc.. Indians deserve at least 4 days per year which are totally free of the nuisance/nonsense of incoming calls/messages at outrageous hours. It should be made a taboo to make a business-related communication on these 4 days. It'll be so nice to have such peaceful days.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Buy at 68% discount and sell at 65% discount doesn't imply 3% gross profit margin [COMPACTIDEA]

Learnt this from a guy named Pankaj [a CA] at his fireworks shop at the annual Diwali fireworks market at Dana Mandi, Ludhiana. He said the other shops are selling Cock brand fireworks at 60% discount thinking that since they're buying at 68% discount, they get 8% gross margin when they sell at 60% discount, and that this is the minimum that they need considering shop rental, interest cost, wastage, wages, other expenses, etc.


Buying a thing with basic price 100 at 68% discount means you bought it at 32. Selling at 65% discount means you sell at 35. Gross profit margin is 3/35, or 8.6%. So the >=8% gross margin that others are asking for is already there at 65% discount. So Mr. Pankaj gets all the sales and volumes he needs since he quotes the best price in the market, while the fools out there sit idle, continuing to quote 60% discount. What's more, these fools happily believe that Mr. Pankaj isn't making any money or maybe is selling at a loss. Amidst all this, mathematics has the last laugh.


Similarly, some people think that if a bank borrows money at 4% interest rate per year [the current rate paid on savings accounts] and issues loan at 10%, then its gross margin is 6%. May not be true. One way to think about this is to forget that the entity in which the bank is dealing is currency/rupees itself. Just call it "goods". The bank borrows 100 rupees but let's just call it "goods" without specifying its value. It pays 4 rupees for one year for these goods and collects 10 rupees. So for the bank the cost of goods sold is 4 while "revenue" is 10. Hence on this trade the gross profit margin is 6/10= 60%.

But there seems to be a problem with the above way of thinking. What if it's a factory that borrows 100 rupees worth of steel [excluding interest cost, if any] and needs to pay 4 rupees for the borrowing cost? Selling this steel at 110 is sort of identical to the bank example, but in this case we'll calculate gross profit margin as 6/110= ~5.45%

Not wholly clear to me yet.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

America accuses without proof, then retaliates, then demands pro-America concessions or steps in order to normalize the situation

I've seen this thing repeat many times over the past few years, that it has become a pattern. This is so important that it needs to be explained. Examples will make this clear.

- US accused Russia of "interference" and "meddling" in its 2016 election. No evidence was offered. US media spread this accusation like wildfire. US politicians spoke/speak about this in a matter-of-fact way. No one questioned/questions that US hasn't provided and isn't providing even a bit of proof. Now US folks talk about this "meddling" as if this is an indisputable fact. Fact established, US went on to illegally seize two Russian-owned diplomatic compounds located in US [on another accusation/pretext that these were being used for spying]. Illegality aside, US later offered Russia a "deal" in which "the return of the compounds was tied to allowing the U.S. to expand its consulate in St. Petersburg" [link]. So first create a false pretext for something that's otherwise illegal and unjustifiable. Then carry out the illegal action and keep loudly beating the drum that it's justified because of that false pretext. Then offer a "deal" in which America gets benefits in "return" for normalization of the situation [from the standpoint of the affected party]. So at the end, America gets something positive while the other party comes back to zero level. And what if you choose to reject their "deal"? In that case America is shameless enough to blame YOU for rejecting their "deal/offer" and for "escalating" the situation.

"Despite an offer to return the compounds, the Russians chose escalation over accommodation. The Trump administration, in the end, chose retaliation." [link]


Friday, August 25, 2017

Donald Trump should post short-length videos instead of giving out short-length text statements on Twitter

Text, if it's brief, removes the feelings, the emotions, the expressions, the gestures, etc., from the overall message. It's very mechanical, cold and thin form of communication [unless it's a long, eloquently-written, detailed story and the reader reads all of it]. Short text is easy to misinterpret, and the real intentions are frequently missed out because we aren't actually seeing and/or hearing a/the person speak. This unfortunate fact about writing is powerfully and systematically used by Western media to demonize foreign leaders they don't like - for example they won't frequently/repeatedly show you the various English-language video interviews of Bashar al-Assad, because that would make you realize that Mr. Assad seems like a very reasonable man, a loyal Syrian, and a defender of his people, in total contrast to his butcher-like image that Western media has carefully crafted. So, Donald Trump should post short-length videos instead of short-length text posts on Twitter. When people will see him, they'll feel what he's trying to say, rather than only worrying about the spelling mistakes or the exclamation marks.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mukesh Ambani versus some petty financial analysts

One thing I frequently wonder when I read bearish comments/reports from these so-called financial analysts about large family-owned global companies and/or their owners and owners' ideas is this - should you trust the wisdom, judgment, experience, track record and planning of the owner, or should you trust the thoughts of these petty "analysts" who make a living passing lofty judgments on others' companies?

"Local brokerage Kotak Securities Ltd. sounded a warning on July 23 when it downgraded Reliance’s stock to reduce. “We remain wary of high capex run-rate and rising net debt levels,” wrote Mumbai-based analysts Tarun Lakhotia and Akshay Bhor." [link]

Shouldn't we rather trust the long-term vision and planning of Mukesh Ambani than some "Tarun Lakhotia and Akshay Bhor", chaps who have likely never actually run any company or done any kind of business, and who still dare to declare as bearish the future of the mammoth entity that RIL is, based only upon "high capex run-rate and rising net debt levels", with no look into the tactical and strategic plans of RIL and its constituents? What do these chaps know about Mukesh's vision about Jio? Can they "feel" the potential in Jio that Mr. Ambani can? Not at all, in all likelihood.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Google's competitors advertise on Google - Google knows which users click on which ads of competitors [COMPACTIDEA]

I clicked on a banner ad by Zoho on some website 2-3 days ago. Ever since, Google is bombarding me with ads of its G Suite - a Zoho competitor. So a significant disadvantage of Google's competitors having to advertise on Google's online ad services is that Google knows fully which users click on which competitor ads. It can then go after those folks with its own products, thus steering them away from competitor products. Evidence or no evidence, this is happening.

Update [27-Jun-17]: Of course, whatever we all search on Google tells Google a lot about which competitor products/services we use, at what time of the day/night, how often, and maybe even whether we use the free version or the paid one. Google, in all likelihood, already vigorously acts on this "intelligence" to "introduce" those people to its products/services who primarily use competitor products/services.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

My respect and admiration for Elon Musk just reduced significantly [COMPACTIDEA]

Based on several news stories that I read recently, it can be summarized that Elon Musk:
  • Puts in 85-100 hours of work per week [that's 16.67/day for 6 days of work in a week].
    • Likely works all 7 days a week.
  • Sleeps ~6 hours per night.
  • Eats his lunch during one of his five-minute slots, usually during a meeting.
The words/phrases used to praise him are:
  • "...how does he manage to get everything done..."
  • "...Musk has a special strategy up his sleeve..."
  • "...breaking a schedule into smaller increments can provide a major productivity boost..."
  • "...helps Musk stay on task throughout his busy day..."
  • "...none of his time goes to waste..."
  • "...CEO says he is constantly trying to innovate and enhance his productivity..."
  • "...secrets behind his productivity..."
  • "Musk doesn’t even take a 30 minute lunch break. Instead, he combines it with meetings and emails to maximise productivity."
  • "...batching--e.g. responding to emails on your smartphone while sitting in a sauna while listening to relaxing music while drinking a glass of vegetable juice...."
  • "...I find is I’m able to be with [my kids] and still be on email. I can be with them and still be working at the same time..."
Musk, to me, looks like a perpetual work-obsessed machine. One who's wasting his entire life working and working compulsively, all the while falsely assuming that he's being hyper-productive. He isn't able to enjoy food, and isn't able to enjoy sleep/resting, isn't able to be only with his kids, and isn't able to enjoy the time we "waste" on "non-productive" tasks. Poor fellow with pathetic life, no matter how rich he is.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Artificial Intelligence [AI], natural language processing [NLP], and natural language understanding [NLU] will enable digital services to build detailed behavioral profiles of people based on detailed past communications [COMPACTIDEA]

Those hundreds of emails, Facebook Messenger messages, WhatsApp chat messages, SMSes, comments under news stories, etc., that we're all creating daily, we just forget those, but those chats/emails/messages don't disappear or become useless. They just get hidden from our eyes. They're there, waiting for advances in artificial Intelligence [AI], natural language processing [NLP], and natural language understanding [NLU]. In the near future, when these technologies reach a very high level of maturity, all those old chats/emails/messages will come back to life. The old stuff will be analyzed deeply again to build a detailed and accurate profile of the person [the way a human can today]. So the value of this otherwise useless stuff is in the future.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The myth of government-provided subsidies, and its relation to cross-subsidies

  • Till some time ago, petrol and diesel used to be subsidized in India, "by the Indian government". First of all, I don't think it's proper to say that the government was subsidizing it. Government officials were's paying for the subsidy from their pockets. It was the public's own money, collected by the government, which was being used to provide this subsidy.
  • This leads to the question of whether there can ever be a true subsidy. Any subsidy that the "government" provides seems either like a cross-subsidy, or like a compromise. The former, if prices are raised for one class of people [say the wealthy] to provide subsidy to another class [say the poor]. The latter, if the provision of a subsidy results in a reduction in government spending on some other priority/sector [e.g., if the government allocates less amount for building roads because it provided subsidy on diesel].
  • In case of a compromise [the latter situation], does the public "save" anything overall? I don't think so. The public sure got that diesel subsidy, but it didn't get those extra roads. Sure, some people or a class of people reaped the benefits, while some other people or some other class of people continued experiencing suffering, but there likely wasn't any net benefit on an aggregate/overall basis [like vector sum in physics].
  • So when a story on FT reads "India to forgive billions of dollars of farm debt", one must remind oneself that while it might be tempting to give credit to the Indian government for "forgiving" this debt and doing a sort of huge favor to the farmers, it's really the overall Indian public that's paying this bill in the form of reduced government benefits. Any praise showered on the Indian government is undeserved. The politicians and the ministers, however, will of course try to milk the debt waiver for their own benefit ["In a note to clients this week, BofA Merrill Lynch predicted nearly $40bn in farmers’ debts — equivalent to about 2 per cent of GDP — would be waived before India’s next general election in 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes to secure a renewed mandate for the following five years."] ["Mr Modi opened the floodgates for a series of costly farm loan write-offs during the recent Uttar Pradesh election campaign, when he promised that the BJP would forgive nearly $5.6bn owed by more than 21.5m small farmers if it came to power."] ["The farm-debt waiver was one of the key campaign promises that helped prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party win a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh’s recent state elections, seen as crucial for Mr Modi’s own re-election prospects nationally in 2019."]. The government, it ought to be remembered, is only managing the public's resources.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

West - England, France, Italy, US, etc. - is expert at stealing money from people of poor nations by selling them expensive stuff under the guise of premium brands

For example, this Vertu Signature Cobra phone at USD 360,000 or INR 2.3 crore is little more than theft. But it's made to look like a premium product that "sets you apart" from others.

West and Western companies have, over the centuries, perfected the art of brainwashing people in the general public into getting deeply attracted to their "premium" brands. Fashion, accessories, fragrances, footwear, fashion jewellery, watches, etc., of these so-called "ultra-premium" brands are sold at such exorbitant prices that it can only be termed as massive transfer of wealth from the buyers to the sellers with little actual value flowing to the buyer. A heist. Daylight robbery.

The defence here is that the buying decision is a conscious choice of the buyer. However, it is the duty of governments, especially of developing/poor nations, to educate their people that obsessively buying products of these expensive European/American houses is highly wasteful - not only at individual level but also at national level. Spending 10-20 times more on a handbag doesn't give you 10-20 times more value. You're not getting something that's genuinely superior at the product/operational/functional level. You're paying for the logo, for the name.

Your brain has been programmed by these companies to lust for their products. It's this programming that drives you to literally throw your hard-earned money towards these companies. These companies know that people in developing nations are aspirational. They further feed/fuel these aspirations via carefully-crafted advertising on TV, in magazines, etc. They spend millions for understanding the human psychology in order to produce marketing campaigns that are so influencing that you quickly get trapped.

This is one of the ways by which these barbaric Western nations get rich by "legally" stealing the hard-earned money of people in other nations. And other nations get poor/poorer because they're left with logos alone. And not with functional/productive products and machines.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cheaper Chinese microprocessors will democratize productivity [COMPACTIDEA]

It's no secret that Intel's profit margins are outsized. Whether it's a poor fellow from Angola or a rich man in Switzerland, both have to make contribution to Intel's billions of dollars of annual profit. And why just call it Intel's profit? It's the world's people contributing to American profits with their sweat and blood, thus making Americans rich. The significant price different between AMD - also American - and Intel chips is proof already that Intel takes an exorbitant amount of profit on the chips it sells. I not only want this but also believe that a few years down the line Chinese-designed and Chinese-manufactured microprocessors [Godson/Loongson, ShenWei, etc.] meant for mass-market consumption will pose a successful challenge to the dominance and outsized profit margins of American firms such as Intel and AMD, based largely on significantly lower prices. The current prices of many of Intel's so-called "higher-end" CPUs are simply outrageous. If you want to be productive, you need a fast machine, but Intel wants you to pay a lot if you want a computer that doesn't irritate you with its slowness. Not good. Must be solved. Everyone has the right to be productive without having to pay a lot.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Just try to imagine the sheer bigness of India's potential! [COMPACTIDEA]

Excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article: 

"...India is almost ready to implement a tax code that unifies more than a dozen separate levies, effectively creating a single market with a population greater than the U.S., Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Japan combined."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Some thoughts on our Universe, time, space, length, Big Bang, God, etc.

  • I don't think it's either correct or complete to talk about the origin of only our "present" Universe [the post-Big Bang Universe that we live in and observe]. I strongly feel that we can't correctly understand this "current" Universe without simultaneously asking what existed before Big Bang [and also why].
  • Is space infinite in the real sense? It seems so. After all, there isn't going to be a wall to mark the end of space. Even if there was a wall, there would be something beyond it. But trying to imagine a "really" infinite space gives me a sort of headache. So much space? How can there be so much space? Is the word "so much" even correct? Because no matter how much space I talk about, it's surely 0.0000001% of some other, larger volume of space [which would itself be a minor fraction of an even larger volume, and so on]. Easy to get headache imagining this.
  • I do get this one thing quite clearly. The Universe cannot be finite. It has to be infinite [saying this without defining what is meant by being infinite], because if it's finite and measurable, then there must be something beyond this demarcated box.
  • However, it isn't necessary that being infinite must/should mean that if we keep going in one direction in the space, we must be able to continue endlessly. The latter is maybe possible but it shouldn't be essential. Why? Because it's possible that the shape/structure of space is such that if you start in one direction and keep going, then you eventually return to the same spot, much like revolving around a circle. But if this were possible, wouldn't it make space finite? Because we would be able to measure the total distance traveled? Seems wrong. Unclear.
    • Is it possible that this issue gets resolved if it turns out that when we start in one direction and ultimately end up at the place of origin [or "space" of origin], the distance travelled comes out to be what's known as "infinite"?
      • Or is it the case that once we leave the place/space of origin, we can never return to it?
  • Why is there anything at all, we must also ask? Why is there nothing/nothingness. No Universe, no us and no space. Now, as much headache the thought of really infinite, endless space gives, that much headache the thought of nothingness also gives. Now that we are here and we can think and observe, it becomes impossible to imagine this absolute nothingness. It seems like there has to be something [at least empty space].
  • And here's the trillion dollar/euro/pound/rouble/yen/yuan/rupee question. Why doesn't anyone talk about the trillions, or trillions of trillions of years before the relatively paltry 13.8 billion years that has been calculated as the age of our Universe? Why do scientists call Big Bang the beginning of time? Was there nothing, say, 500 trillion years ago? Or is it correct to say that time indeed resets every once in a while, and that it's correct to say that time indeed reset to zero - again - about 13.8 billions years ago? Such resets must've happened infinite number of times previously too [not any finite number of times, but infinite]. No scientist seems interested in tackling this question. What about a trillion quadrillion years ago? Something must have existed even back then, unless the very nature of time needs alteration. So like the space is endless, time too is endless backward [as well as forward]. You can keep thinking back and whatever largest number of years you come up with is but a tiny fraction of an even larger number of years, and so on endlessly. Another headache.
    • Now this point appears related to the first bullet point.
  • God?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

This shift from open, interoperable communication standards and applications to closed and proprietary services like WhatsApp and Skype is not good at all [COMPACTIDEA]

Phone calls, SMSes, and emails are open, in the sense that anyone using any device, service, application or hardware platform can send and receive communication/data/information over these protocols. Messages and calls made using WhatsApp or Skype, on the other hand, aren't open. The protocols are closed, proprietary and secret. The apps for these services are available on select operating systems only. So Facebook can decide, whenever it likes, that it won't develop WhatsApp for the BlackBerry 10 OS anymore, and kill the beautiful BlackBerry Passport phone in an instant. Giving such absolute power to nefarious private corporations is not good at all. We cannot and must not let ourselves be at the mercy of these greedy companies to do such fundamental activities as talking and messaging. Nor should we let these firms decide which hardware/software platforms are going to survive and which not. Open protocols and standards are an absolute must for all of us, a non-negotiable right which we must never cede.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Drawing a parallel between the composite material GLARE and different job roles in a company [COMPACTIDEA]

In BBC's program "Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections" [link] on the Airbus A380 [link 1] [link 2] [link 3], he says that a composite made of fibreglass and aluminium [GLARE] was stronger than either of these two materials alone [even when each material alone is used with the same thickness as that of GLARE]. Also, these two materials served different purposes within the composite [thus providing the composite with both sets of benefits, albeit with only half the magnitude each]. For example, cement takes the compression while steel taken the tension. Better together when facing the same situation, simultaneously. Makes me feel like this is the way in companies, where different employees are given different job roles [finance, marketing, operations, etc.]. Neither is sufficient by himself, but together they're stronger than either by himself. Each "material" in a company serves a specific purpose when facing the same overall situation.