From India to Iran, from Russia to Britain, and the whole new world, Indo-European languages spread far and wide. How so?
Indo-European languages originated from an area between Black Sea and Caspian Sea, north of Caucasus Mountain. Between two large water bodies, the air is more moist, the temperature is more temperate and the land is more fertile than surrounding areas. Outsiders will repeatedly attempt to conquer and take over this land. Earlier inhabitants, once defeated, have to look for new habitats. These war hardened people often conquer other people easily. Waves after waves of people originated from this area take over larger and larger areas. This is how Indo-European languages spread.
A fertile area surrounded by less fertile areas. People from less fertile areas attempt to take over more fertile areas. This is often why wars are fought and people move. But why this particular area between Black Sea and Caspian Sea is so fertile to generate languages and people. I guess this is because the area backs into the high Caucasus mountain. There is no easy escape for the inhabitants. The fights must be extremely fierce. Those who trained in this area must be great fighters. That is why the descendants from this area conquered so much land on the earth.
White people are called Caucasians. They are originated from Caucasus mountain. The spread of Indo-European languages is the spread of Caucasians.
my father, twice as old as me, can climb to the top of a branchless tree. just witnessing him, in itself, is — unbelievable, a miracle, breathtaking. agile and swift, in body and mind, he is (by a running leap!) the greatest inspiration to me. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ he is the man that swims in the frigid river on the coldest and bitterest of days. he is the only one. it doesn’t faze him. i watch him set off, cheerfully. a grin as wide as can be. ask him how the water is? ‘it’s 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩!’ he’ll reply, with such delight — in his genuine, hearty, heart-filled way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ he is the solo man walking up the mountain every morning to the university. a 2-hour hike to teach, back and forth. his shoes are worn, but never his spirit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ he is the smartest man i have ever met, and that, by quite some distance. sovereign in every sense of the word - a brilliant and independent free-thinker. a rare scientist, with a groundbreaking theory, contrary as it may be to the current way of thinking. he is the one that first taught me - through his remarkable presence - what it takes be free. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ innovative and honest, he is a pioneer that has lived through and thrived despite his place in history. and yet you won’t catch him telling anything about himself. it is hard pressed to squeeze much about him out of him. in conversation, he is always the one asking questions, filled with warmth and curiosity. he has the ears of an elder but the eyes of a child — open and intrigued, reverent and glistening. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ though what i find most remarkable of all — is his presence and devotion to his family. the small things i remember - like the way he adored my mother, supporting her fully as a stay-at-home-mother. how deeply he valued children and child-raising. admiring her and appreciating her work as ‘the most important job in the world.’ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ and how he participated in that, every chance that he got, he spent his every minute home with us. every moment with a child is sacred to him. and he had five of us! in his eyes, we were always a blessing. in his words, ‘i am always learning’. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ every night of my childhood he would lay with me to sleep. he would tuck me in and stay for as long as i wanted and tell me story after story after story. i would ask him millions and millions of questions and to each, he would thoughtfully reply. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ he was always up for a new adventure. always engaged with the fullness of life. he learned from and beside the five of us, a myriad of new skills and knowledge. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ he would sit in my anatomy and physiology lectures while holding my baby brother on his lap. discussing what he learned afterwards with me, from his unique perspective of thinking. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ his fervent, insatiable taste for knowledge, his endless love of learning. his sharp intelligence, questioning mind, his reverence for the world around him. his complete devotion to his family and children. his warm and luminous presence. he gave us all the world and more. i will forever be thankful to him. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ we have certainly not always seen eye-to-eye, we have come head-to-head many times. but nothing has ever shaken the unwavering respect i have for him. as a father, mathematician, scientist, human being. extraordinary, in every capacity. he has had, by far, of anyone in my life, the greatest influence on me. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ so much of who i am is a tribute to my father. and this i never tell him. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ so maybe it’s time for him to know? oh, how i love you, daddy.
When my daughter was a baby, at northern Michigan.
Poplar is a type of popular tree. Poplar belongs to genus populus. The trees of genus populus, such as poplar, aspen, cottonwood and willow, are generally very populous. Probably the word populous comes from populus.
This book, in my opinion, is Keynes’ greatest book. This is how the book starts.
Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions, and feel ourselves with enough margin in hand to foster, not assuage, civil conflict in the European family. (P. 3)
Clearly, Keynes understood the world as a non-equilibrium system.
The great events of history are often due to secular changes in the growth of population and other fundamental economic causes, which, escaping by their gradual character the notice of contemporary observers, are attributed to the follies of statesmen or the fanaticism of atheists. Thus the extraordinary occurrences of the past two years in Russia, that vast upheaval of Society, which has overturned what seemed most stable—religion, the basis of property, the ownership of land, as well as forms of government and the hierarchy of classes—may owe more to the deep influences of expanding numbers than to Lenin or to Nicholas; and the disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy. (p 8)
The above paragraph shows that Keynes thinks that biology is the fundamental force in human society. Keynes also discussed in great detail how French wanted to take over German coal, to empower France and to deprive Germany of power. Keynes keenly understood the importance of resources.
Keynes understood the world as a non-equilibrium system. Keynes understood the importance of biological and physical forces in human societies. Many years later, when he wrote his General Theory, Keynes reverted to the standard theory of equilibrium theory. His equilibrium theory might be “dynamic”. The prices might be “sticky”. The economic profession, as well as himself, might call the General Theory “revolutionary”. But at the core, Keynes gave up his insight for non-equilibrium system for the convenience of standard equilibrium framework, which he modified to suit his needs. This makes his exposition easier. A fully developed non-equilibrium theory requires very different physical and mathematical foundations.
Here is another quote from the book.
He felt about France what Pericles felt of Athens—unique value in her, nothing else mattering; but his theory of politics was Bismarck's. He had one illusion—France; and one disillusion—mankind, including Frenchmen, and his colleagues not least. His principles for the peace can be expressed simply. In the first place, he was a foremost believer in the view of German psychology that the German understands and can understand nothing but intimidation, that he is without generosity or remorse in negotiation, that there is no advantage he will not take of you, and no extent to which he will not demean himself for profit, that he is without honor, pride, or mercy. Therefore you must never negotiate with a German or conciliate him; you must dictate to him. On no other terms will he respect you, or will you prevent him from cheating you. But it is doubtful how far he thought these characteristics peculiar to Germany, or whether his candid view of some other nations was fundamentally different. His philosophy had, therefore, no place for "sentimentality" in international relations. Nations are real things, of whom you love one and feel for the rest indifference—or hatred. The glory of the nation you love is a desirable end,—but generally to be obtained at your neighbor's expense. The politics of power are inevitable, and there is nothing very new to learn about this war or the end it was fought for; England had destroyed, as in each preceding century, a trade rival; a mighty chapter had been closed in the secular struggle between the glories of Germany and of France. Prudence required some measure of lip service to the "ideals" of foolish Americans and hypocritical Englishmen; (P 14)
Modigliani and Miller Theory: A Societal Perspective
Modigliani and Miller (MM) theory is the foundation of corporate finance. Mostly we apply the theory to corporations. But the theory will offer us great insights about the whole societies as well.
The MM theory states that the risk of a company is determined by the business activities of the company. The risk can’t be reduced by financing methods. However, interest payments from the debts are tax free while dividend payments from the stocks are taxable. This means debt financing often reduce the overall risk for a business. More debt financing is usually good for businesses. Since the development of Modigliani and Miller (MM) theory in 1958, the business world relies more and more heavily in debt financing. Usually, the argument stops here.
However, if we apply MM theory to the whole society, the reduced risk for businesses must mean the increased risk for the rest of the society. Indeed, that is the case. During 2008 financial crisis, many debt ridden financial institutions and other companies were bailed out with tax dollars. The stock market has done extremely well since MM theory. But the incomes of the working class have been stagnant for several decades.
Cost of capital quantifies the level of risk of a business investment. It is the most important concept in corporate finance. Cost of capital is the total cost of financing, from both debt and stocks. From the concept of the cost of capital, we cannot use the interest rate of the debt as the cost of our capital. When a company face financial trouble, we will layoff workers and cut dividends first. We still have to make interest payment on our debt. The interest rate of our borrowing is relatively low because its payment is safer than the other parts of payments, such as to workers and to equity owners. The overall cost of capital is higher than the cost of debt. When we borrow too much money, the risk of equity owners, who are left holding the bag, will increase. The overall risk of a business will increase with too much borrowing. In a debt ridden business, workers are less likely to get raise in their pay. They are more likely to get laid off. Workers are less committed to their jobs. Customers and suppliers are more wary.
The concept of cost of capital is generally applied in corporations. But this concept can be applied to general society as well. Nowadays, governments often borrow heavily to finance various programs. US government debt to GDP ratio is over 100%. Japanese government debt to GDP ratio is over 200%. Many economists state that since the interest rates on government debts are so low, it is a good deal to borrow more money. However, from the theory of cost of capital, we cannot use the borrowing rate as the cost of capital. With too much government borrowing, the risk of equity owners, who are supposed to be the whole population of the society, will increase. The risk ultimately presents itself in the number of child birth, the most important investment in a society.
The US fertility rates have been lower than two per woman for more than a decade. In the past, US fertility rates had been temporarily lower than two in difficult times, during 1930s and 1970s. However, this time, US is amid the longest bull market in history. It means that even in a boom, people are less committed to have children, the long term future of our society. In many other wealthy countries, their fertility rates have dropped below replacement rate for a long time. Their populations are aging rapidly. Such societies are unsustainable.
It is often argued that lower the risk for businesses will stimulate overall economy. However, the overall risk is not reduced. It is merely shifted from very few large corporations to the general population. Because of the added burden to the general population, most people are less able to create their own businesses. Because new companies are difficult to get debt financing, the tax benefit of debt financing is largely concentrated in large dominate corporations. The tax benefit stifles instead of stimulates market competition in the economy. In US, the number of publicly listed companies has dropped to half its peak level in 1996. The world is increasingly dominated by small number of gigantic companies that wield great power to our societies. The current social system shifts much of the risk from large corporations to ordinary people.
Because of the large tax benefits of debt financing, companies rely heavily on it, even if heavy debt financing may generate great business risk. Take Target Canada as an example. When Target expanded its businesses in Canada, it mainly relied on debt financing. This greatly reduces the cost of expansion for itself but greatly increases the possibility of bankruptcy. It kept its operational performance a secret. Suppliers continue to provide goods to Target without being paid, believing Target, as a huge company, is creditworthy. When Target Canada went bankruptcy, many creditors and suppliers suffer heavy losses. This is an example how debt financing shifts risks from powerful large companies, this time, Target, to small suppliers, who have less legal, social and informational power.
A debt ridden system inevitably becomes more fraudulent, with more powerful parties download their risk to and benefit from less powerful parties. This is also true on a society level. When CPP (Canada Pension Plan) was first implemented, the deduction rate was 3.6% of a person’s income. Now it is over 10%. Earlier participants are paid handsomely upon retirement, from the contributions from later participants who are still working. The pension system is a standard Ponzi scheme. Due to its enormous scale, the pension system will eventually collapse the whole society. But this idea rarely surfaces in mainstream media. Instead, pension system is often trumpeted as a pillar for a stable and prosperous society.
When we apply the Modigliani and Miller theory to understand our society, we learn several things. First, the overall risk of a society is largely determined by the risk levels of economic and social activities. Financing methods can’t change the overall risk. It only shifts risks around different parties. Second, the cost of borrowing does not represent the overall cost of the economic activities. The overall cost of capital in a society is higher than the cost of borrowing. Third, debt financing is an effective tool to shift risks from more powerful entities, such as large corporations, especially financial institutions, to the less powerful general population. Fourth, too much borrowing generates huge burdens to ordinary people. It will weaken the long term viability of our future.
Kant is probably the most prominent philosopher of the last two thousand years. Numerous experts have studied his philosophy. Countless college students, voluntarily or involuntarily, have read his books. Yet his theory is still very obscure to many. If his theory is so obscure, why his theory is so prominent? If his theory is so prominent, why it can’t be made less obscure, after more than two hundred years?
To understand these questions, we first need to know Kant’s time. In eighteenth century, science progressed rapidly. We know that the earth, like other planets, moves around the sun. We know that the universe is vast. The earth is only a tiny spot in this vast universe. Many pioneers, such as Hume, already perceived human beings, including human mind, from an evolutionary perspective. The advance of scientific and philosophical thinking threatened the view that human beings are the master of the universe. For a long time, the supreme status of human beings is upheld by the religious doctrine that human beings are made by the God, according to the God’s own image. However, by eighteen century, religion is no more prestigious among the upper class. At the age of science and reason, there is an urgent need to produce a new theory with scientific method to maintain the supreme status of humans among all animals and as a consequence, maintain the supreme status of the ruling elites among all human beings. Kant’s theory fills such an urgent need.
Kant is a learned man. In most of his life, he is more interested in physics than in metaphysics. In the age of science and reason, this made him an ideal spokesman for a new religion to replace the discredited old religion.
The most famous passages of Kant are the conclusion part of his Critique of Practical Reason, originally published in 1788, one year before the outburst of French Revolution. The conclusion part contains three paragraphs. We will study them in order.
In the first paragraph, Kant wrote “the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me”, the most famous quote from him. With starry heavens, Kant, as well as other people, “stand into an unbounded magnitude with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems … a countless multitude of worlds annihilates … my importance as an animal creature”.
To assert the importance of human beings, Kant brings out “moral law”, which is unique to human beings. “the moral law reveals to me a life independent of animality and even of the whole sensible world, at least so far as this may be inferred from the purposive determination of my existence by this law, a determination not restricted to the conditions and boundaries of this life but reaching into the infinite.” Simply put, moral law “infinitely raises my worth”. That is the true purpose of Kant’s philosophy.
But the concept of morality has been used and misused for so long and by so many people. “Morals began with the noblest property of human nature, the development and cultivation of which looked to infinite use, and it ended – in enthusiasm or in superstition.” The concept of morality has lost prestige by itself. In the age of science, to have prestige, Kant proposed a scientific morality, or morality studied scientifically in the second paragraph of conclusion. “In a word, science (critically sought and methodically directed) is the narrow gate that leads to the doctrine of wisdom, if by this is understood not merely what one ought to do but what ought to serve teachers as a guide to prepare well and clearly the path to wisdom which everyone should travel, and to secure others against taking the wrong way; philosophy must always remain the guardian of this science,”
Are you still confused? Kant knew you are confused. In the last paragraph, he concluded, “though the public need take no interest in its subtle investigations it has to take an interest in the doctrines which, after being worked up in this way, can first be quite clear to it.”
In essence, Kant said he studied philosophy scientifically and guarded science philosophically. He knew his theory is too subtle, in fact, too muddled for people to understand. Nevertheless, people should take an interest in his theory, for his theory “infinitely raise” the worth of human beings, at least the worth of those human beings who believe in his theory.
Kant’s theory is a response, a reaction to Hume’s theory. Hume’s theory is an evolutionary theory. It greatly simplifies our understanding of life. But in an evolutionary theory, human beings no more sit at the top of the living systems. This implies the ruling elite don’t sit at the top of the human societies. As a result, the ruling elite want to restrict the scope of evolutionary theory. Kant’s theory obscures our understanding of life. By making simple things so difficult to understand, after making lengthy and obscure deductions, Kant somehow “infinitely raises” the worth of human beings. Kant’s philosophy put human beings back at the top of living systems. By implication, the ruling class should always be at the top of the human societies. That is the reason why the establishment love Kant’s theory. That is why Kant’s philosophy is so prominent.
Appendix: The Conclusion section of Kant, 1788(2015), Critique of Practical Reason, Cambridge University Press
Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and reverence, the more often and more steadily one reflects on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not need to search for them and merely conjecture them as though they were veiled in obscurity or in the transcendent region beyond my horizon; I see them before me and connect them immediately with the consciousness of my existence. The first begins from the place I occupy in the external world of sense and extends the connection in which I stand into an unbounded magnitude with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems, and moreover into the unbounded times of their periodic motion, their beginning and their duration. The second begins from my invisible self, my personality, and presents me in a world which has true infinity but which can be discovered only by the understanding, and I cognize that my connection with that world (and thereby with all those visible worlds as well) is not merely contingent, as in the first case, but universal and necessary. The first view of a countless multitude of worlds annihilates, as it were, my importance as an animal creature, which after it has been for a short time provided with vital force (one knows not how) must give back to the planet (a mere speck in the universe) the matter from which it came. The second, on the contrary, infinitely raises my worth as an intelligence by my personality, in which the moral law reveals to me a life independent of animality and even of the whole sensible world, at least so far as this may be inferred from the purposive determination of my existence by this law, a determination not restricted to the conditions and boundaries of this life but reaching into the infinite.
But though admiration and respect can indeed excite to inquiry, they cannot supply the want of it. What, then, is to be done in order to enter upon inquiry in a way that is useful and befitting the sublimity of the object? Examples may serve in this for warning but also for imitation. Consideration of the world began from the noblest spectacle that can ever be presented to the human senses and that our understanding can bear to follow in its broad extent, and it ended – in astrology. Morals began with the noblest property of human nature, the development and cultivation of which looked to infinite use, and it ended – in enthusiasm or in superstition. So it is with all crude attempts in which the principal part of the business depends upon the use of reason, which does not come of itself, like the use of the feet, by frequent exercise, especially when it has to do with properties that cannot be directly exhibited in common experience. But after there had come into vogue, though late, the maxim of carefully reflecting beforehand on all the steps that reason proposed to take and not letting it proceed otherwise than on the track of a previously well-considered method, then appraisal of the structure of the universe obtained quite a different direction and along with it an incomparably happier outcome. The fall of a stone, the motion of a sling, resolved into their elements and the forces manifested in them and treated mathematically, produced at last that clear and henceforth unchangeable insight into the structure of the world which, with continued observation, one can hope will always be extended while one need never fear having to retreat.
This example can recommend that we take the same path in treating of the moral predispositions of our nature and can give us hope of a similarly good outcome. We have at hand examples of reason judging morally. We can analyze them into their elementary concepts and, in default of mathematics, adopt a procedure similar to that of chemistry – the separation, by repeated experiments on common human understanding, of the empirical from the rational that may be found in them – and come to know both of them pure and what each can accomplish of itself; and in this way we can prevent on the one hand the errors of a still crude, unpracticed appraisal and on the other hand (what is far more necessary) the leaps of genius by which, as happens with the adepts of the philosopher’s stone, without any methodical study or knowledge of nature visionary treasures are promised and true ones are thrown away. In a word, science (critically sought and methodically directed) is the narrow gate that leads to the doctrine of wisdom, if by this is understood not merely what one ought to do but what ought to se