Jag Venugopal's Blog

January 31, 2012

Friendly and charming ways…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jag @ 10:46 pm

People who know me wouldn’t associate words like ‘attracted’, and ‘charming’ with yours truly. But I still hold out hope that this fortune cookie knows something about me that I don’t know about myself :).

 

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January 28, 2012

What if Neil Armstrong had been unsuccessful?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jag @ 10:12 pm

One of the joys of visiting Washington DC is being able to see documents in the National Archives, such as the original copy of the Constitution. Another, very interesting document I saw was a contingency plan for a speech to be delivered if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did not make it off the moon. Below is the letter from the National Archives, courtesy of a link from Letters of Note.

January 23, 2012

The 1909 letter that precipitated restrooms on Indian trains

Filed under: India — Jag @ 8:51 pm

Click on the document to be taken to the source.

January 21, 2012

Principle vs Principal

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 5:12 pm

Principle Technical Something-or-Other.

Principal Technical Something-or-Other.

January 20, 2012

Fake experience letters

Filed under: Information Technology — Jag @ 6:15 am

I have blogged about H1B visa scams in the past; click  here and here. My blog posts on it have been quite popular (at least relative to my other posts).

My blog’s dashboard showed a visitor from Google yesterday, with the search query

“from where can i get fake experience letters in chennai”

I guess the visa fraud industry is alive and well in spite of the economic downturn.

January 18, 2012

From Friedman’s ‘Capitalism and Freedom’

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 6:44 am

I’m re-reading Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. I was raised in India during its socialist days, and for that reason, I can identify with what Friedman writes.

I’ll blog excerpts that I find to be particularly relevant. Today’s quote:

“Only a crisis-actual or perceived-produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. “

January 13, 2012

Indian Government sues the Internet

Filed under: India — Jag @ 6:57 am

Someone please put Indian IT minister Sibal out of his misery.

He’s now off suing the Internet (or at least Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft) for “for offences of promoting enmity between classes and causing prejudice to national integration”.

Didn’t know that the Indian Republic, tracing back to a 5,000 year history, founded by such stalwarts as Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Ambedkar, and forged through a freedom struggle of some 90-odd years is so fragile as to disintegrate due to posts on Facebook, Yahoo, Google and whatever Microsoft puts out.

Only in India, kids.

Birthers, Tea Partiers and now… Socialists. Where’s the GOP headed?

Filed under: Business — Jag @ 6:17 am

The Republican primary season is now becoming a theater of the absurd. First it was people demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate. Then it was the Tea Partiers, who prized supposed ideological purity over all else, including electability. Now, is it socialism?

The newspapers are filled with accounts of how Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and their SuperPAC minions are attacking Mitt Romney for his time at Bain. Supposedly, Romney’s company fired a lot of people after taking over perfectly good companies, thereby pocketing the profits. One ad, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, states thus: “The company was Bain Capital, more ruthless than Wall Street.”

Republicans attacking a market economy? Well I guess pigs can fly.

The job of a company in any free economy is not to generate jobs. Instead, it is to deploy capital most efficiently to generate profits for its shareholders. And in doing this well, employment is generated and dollars are put to good use. For what happens when the sole purpose of employment is to generate jobs, look no further than two companies in India that I have blogged about in the past: Hindustan Cables and Haldia Fertilizers. The former does not produce an inch of cable, and the latter, not an ounce of fertilizer. Yet they provide employment to thousands (literally), wasting precious capital that could be put to use elswhere in India’s economy.

When evaluating a company, we were taught in MBA class to see it as a series of cash flows. And there are rather simple mathematical formulae to calculate the value of all future cash flows in today’s dollars. Its called the Net Present Value or NPV. Now, if you’re the owner of a company that is offered a buyout by Bain Capital, you look at your NPV. If Bain offers you more cash today than your NPV, you’re better off taking the money and investing it elsewhere. And in return, Bain either makes your company more efficient, or sells it for its parts. Perhaps they know a thing or two about running your company more efficiently, and therefore their cash flow projections are better than yours. And based on these better cash flows, they’re able to offer you a better price than your own future cash flows.

How can the situation be improved? Certainly not by railing agaist capitalism (how ironic that Republicans have started doing it). Its simply by allowing the owner to realize a better series of cash flows, thus preventing him from selling or breaking up the company. And how’s that done? There are many ways… allow him to sell more; reduce his expenses through reduced regulation, keeping interest rates low by keeping government borrowing low, keeping taxes low, keeping the NLRB in check, preventing ADA misuse… the list is endless.

But I guess, regardless of political affiliation, a good politician does not let truth and facts get in the way.

Update: there’s a great article from WSJ describing what private equity does. While I argue above as to why any owner would want to sell their business to private equity, the WSJ article talks more about what private equity companies do once they buy a firm.

January 11, 2012

Ludicrous smartphone names

Filed under: Digital Living — Jag @ 6:28 am

Came across this gem in a promotional email sent by AT&T:

Samsung Galaxy S (TM) II Skyrocket (TM)

I can’t think of anyone that woke up one fine morning and said “I gotta get me one of those Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrockets”. Is this the best that the combined marketing departments of Samsung and AT&T could come up with?

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