How to Understand the Current World Financial Problems

If you have difficulty in understanding the current world financial situation, the following should help. It has been simplified.

Once upon a time in a village in India , a man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each. The villagers seeing there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.

The man bought thousands at $10 each, but, as the supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts.

The man further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.

Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going  back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply  of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his  assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50.”

The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys.

Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!

Welcome to WALL STREET. (also explains the real estate debacle)

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Around the World Pic: TGI Fridays – Some People Have a Different Pilgrimage Site

This is me and some of my friends at TGI Fridays in Philadelphia. Why are we here? To celebrate someone’s graduation from college. However, for some, TGI Fridays isn’t just a meal – it’s a religious experience.

The person graduating has been to numerous TGI Fridays around the globe – many of which I dined at with him. It’s not that the food or service is so great or that he misses America when he’s around the world.

It’s that TGI Fridays – and its crap on the walls – is the iconic exportation of Americanism, and no matter where you go, you can get any classic Fridays food. Sure, one could say the same of McDonalds, but the Golden Arches is the big name out front that everyone knows and thinks of America when they see, but the inside is bland and only makes one think he’s at a McDonalds.

TGI Fridays screams at you from every inch of every wall that each piece of junk and flare came straight from crap-town USA and there’s no where you can turn to forget it.

So why are we eating at TGI Fridays in Philadelphia rather than some place else since we’re not around the world? Well, good times were had by all, and it certainly reminded us that no matter how far away we all lived from each other, there was always some place that would remind us of our awesome friend, his hilarious rantings about TGI Fridays, and that we could celebrate his graduation.

What are your thoughts on TGI Fridays? How about your thoughts on the exportation of Americanism in the form of franchised restaurants?

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Around the World: The Acropolis in Athens is an Incredible Place

Enjoying the View from the Acropolis

Enjoying the View from the Acropolis

Greece is a spectacularly beautiful place. Most of my time there was spent hopping around a few islands, and I only spent about 4 hours in Athens before I caught a plane to London at the end of my trip. All I really cared to do was explore the ancient forum and climb up to the Acropolis.

Like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that is currently home to the Dome of the Rock, the Acropolis, meaning ‘sacred rock’ is an elevated mountain platform that has always been associated with the sacred and the holy. Since the sixth millennium BCE it has been inhabited or built upon and though it is no longer in use for worshiping the gods, it’s still a breathtaking place to visit.

The 360 degree views from the top are spectacular. The columns are insanely enormous and the entire structure dwarves you and all the people hopping around the edges of it. Funny enough, I saw the friezes that adorned the Acropolis a year earlier when I was in London visiting the British Museum. They’re also incredible, and I can’t imagine what they would have looked like at the top of this amazing structure.

Have you ever been to the Acropolis? What did you think? Have you seen the parts of it that are in the British Museum?

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Religion in the News: The Olympics Opening Ceremonies and the World’s Arrival in China

As most of you probably know and as many of you likely watched, last night the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games took place in the Beijing stadium known as the Bird’s Nest. I don’t know if you watched it, but I must say that from the bottom of my heart it was truly a spectacular event.

I cut it off shortly after the U.S. team marched (I was tired), and so I didn’t see the official opening words of the Chinese president, Hu Jintao or the words of the head of the IOC. Honestly, I would have liked to, but oh well. What I cared most about was the presentation by Zhang Yimou, an unbelievable display of Chinese history. It was one of the most sensational performances I have ever seen.

Symbolism and Performance

As many of my loyal readers will know, I love history and religion, and this performance was a masterpiece encapsulating both of those elements. Plus, the symbolism was fantastic. Many may not know the importance of the number 8 to the Chinese but the word 8 is ba, and an incredibly similar word means prosper and wealth. The Chinese pay more money to live on the 8th floor of buildings and in apartments with 8 in the number. Two 8s together (88) means double joy and happiness. The telephone number 888-8888 was sold for $270,723 in China, if that gives you any idea. What’s my point? That 8-8-08 being the opening ceremonies of the Olympics is no laughing matter or accident. Moreover, 2008 performers were in each different piece of the ceremony.

Chinese Religion and History

Westerners often fetishize eastern religions, particularly Buddhism but also Taoism. Though I’m guilty as well, I’m also slightly troubled by the fact, and thought that these ceremonies were an excellent way of the Chinese demonstrating that their religions, history and traditions have more depth than we tend to understand. Of course, it doesn’t help these ideas to try to sum up Chinese history in a few hours of performance pieces, but it was nonetheless truly a sight to behold.

Chinese characters of harmony were displayed in the most fabulous ways, calligraphy and painting were done by dancing men on an enormous moving canvas, and Tai Chi, the ancient art of body movement to enhance the flow of the chi was performed for the entire world in amazing ways. 2008 dancers in green outfits that lit up created an enormous flying dove with their bodies.

My description, as I look back, is a smack in the face of this amazing performance. Truly, you should go watch it online. The incorporation of Taoist and Buddhist thought and symbolism into multiple performance pieces designed to display China’s proud history was remarkable and makes me excited for what’s to come.

Idealistic Hopes for the Future

Those who know me may think I’m an idealist, and so might you after this next paragraph. I hope that these Olympic Games are a new beginning for China. Much of the symbolism of the performance was about opening China up to the world and welcoming it with harmony. The Great Wall was created and then replaced with flowers that symbolize this transformation.

It is my hope that this is the beginning of China relaxing its strict policies about protest, becoming more democratic, and doing the right things internationally (Taiwan, Tibet, etc.). I’m not suggesting that the day the Olympics is over all will change and be well, but I do hope that when we look back in 20 or 30 years, we look at this event – this opening of China to the world for the Olympics – just as we look at ping pong diplomacy and Nixon’s visit today. Well, even better than that.

Yes, it’s idealistic, but China is a growing powerhouse and one to be reckoned with, and I only hope that this event marks a visible turning point in its history when it realizes the value of being a part of the world order and some of the democratic values that go along with that.

What do you think? Did you see the ceremonies? What was your favorite part? What do you think about China and the future in light of these Olympic games?

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Zen Talk. To check out last week’s Zen Talk, click HERE. To check out last week’s Religion in the News article, click HERE.