Thursday, July 29, 2010

I wouldn't call myself an educated man. Daydreamed through the 8th-11th grades. Finished university after the USAF on one of the versions of the G.I. Bill. Even had to spend the first year or so at a community college. Still, I thought I knew a few things until September of 2008 when I learned that I didn't know squat about the way the world works. I realized that I was an idiot and that I would never be like those who can confidently predict the future and know the way to solve the world's problems. I mean, I ain't no Nobel Prize winner like Paul Krugman. (They don't give those things out for nothing, you know.) Plus, I am an American which as everyone knows is the most poorly-educated group on earth. Why, just a week or so ago, there was more hand-wringing in the US over the fact that fewer US students were graduating from universities despite the absurdly inflated costs of doing so. What the hell, put the poorer of them in the military and send 'em to well-off foreign lands to "preserve freedom."

Fortunately, I now live in a country which is ideal for an idiot because of the ability to learn from the highly educated populace. I learn something new and valuable nearly every day. It could be a trivial thing like I learned Monday: People in Osaka walk faster than people in any other city on earth while folks in NY walk second fastest, and those in Tokyo walk third fastest. And here I had been thinking that most people in Tokyo walked at about the pace of a dead snail that is reading email on a cell phone. Stoopid me.

Or it could be something breathtaking and potentially world changing.

Tuesday started as a normal day. I had been given my usual Tuesday task of gathering information about some sort of puzzling New-Think, this time concerning Red Ocean/Blue Ocean. This had apparently been the subject of a popular 2005 business book which I had not read nor even heard of. These small details would not stop me from finding out as much as I could about the subject in 3-4 hours and then pretend I had a clue of what I was talking about.

Fortunately, I found an interview with the authors in which they clearly explained the concept:

We use the terms red oceans and blue oceans to describe the market universe. Red oceans are all of the industries in existence now... ...Blue oceans, in contrast denote all industries not in existence today...

I cut a little, but the above should be sufficient to prompt most to run out and either buy the book, Blue Ocean Strategy, or jump from a tall building. My understanding is that a good "blue ocean strategy" company will try to find customers and markets by thinking outside the box, throwing out the Old-Think, and establishing a new paradigm---all very unusual for a cutting-edge business book.

Oh, to the point of this post...

Later, I got to chat with a fellow whose major had been economics. He is now a fairly high level executive---shall we say in the top level of his organization which is one of the largest in his industry. We talked economics, as he is wont to do when he is not detailing some unique character traits of the Japanese (which seem incredibly commonplace to an uneducated flunky) and how the current environment is affecting his industry and company. For an international company heavily dependent on imported raw materials, the increasing demand for those raw materials is pushing up prices and eliminating profits.

Then he let me in on what may be a secret. There is sort of a cartel controlling prices on these raw materials. It involves a number of foreign countries, including one in South America in which a minority of folks are of European descent. (1-2%, according to him.)

This was interesting. We had discussed this before, but not in such detail. The way he was talking, I began to suspect the Illuminati, but after beating around the bush a bit, he told me: The Jews!

Oh yes, I should have known! It seems many here take for granted the "theory" that to some degree or another Jews control the US, or tend to believe in a general Jewish conspiracy to control the world, but this was the first that I had heard that they controlled a major raw materials market.

Later, as dim-witted and poorly educated as I---and all other Americans (meaning only the US in this case)---am, I began to get an idea. I don't know why I am the only one to think of this, but I may have solved not only my problems, but Japan's and perhaps the rest of the world's. With so much of the world's power and money in the hands of Jewish people, why not convert to Judaism? It may be immoral if one is not sincere, but it would seem to be a pretty simple way to resolve financial worries. I could certainly use the power and influence that this small percentage of the world's population is rumored to have, too. It may even make me more welcomed by some here.

And the risk of an aimless, goalless, thoughtless, clueless leadership class leading the country to the Fujiwara-ian glory of the past of poverty and hardship for all except the powerful elites? Could not Japan convert to Judaism and take advantage of that power and wealth? Isn't there some evidence that Japanese are actually Jewish anyway?

I feel honored that I may have stumbled into the secret of solving all the world's problems in a discussion with a man who, without a doubt, represents one of the most well-educated classes in the country. Not only that, I got to experience that mysterious Eastern wisdom which has been handed down through the generations, and which, despite the fact that we are in roughly the same age group, makes me feel like I was born yesterday while he has the accumulated knowledge of a zillion years.

Whereas these sorts of Jewish conspiracy theories would not be considered acceptable in many other countries, and might be taken as a sign of ignorance or even antisemitism, we can't use that sort of Old-Think about subscribers to the theories in Japan. Things are different here. It's all harmless and innocent. Sort of a quaint and cute provincialism. By the way, my acquaintance is very polite and seems a nice guy. So how could anything be wrong?

*From the 1989 TV mini-series, Lonesome Dove. I think ol' Gus would have saved a lot on powder, balls, and caps for his Walker Colt had he left the plains of Texas and Montana for my current neck of the woods.


  1. *Sigh*

    The whole stupid "Jews run everything" is something I grew up listening to by a minority in our neighborhood in Brooklyn. Anytime one of my parents'friends started to blow on this topic, I would say " If the Jews are so darned smart, why did the Nazis annihilate a good portion of them? Why don't some buildings in Manhattan still won't allow Jews to apply to be in their co-ops? If you can explain that, go ahead."

    I would usually get plenty of humruphs and silence. What a strange and dumb myth to perpetuate.

    As for new paradigms...we have been talking about this a lot in the last 15 years, since I was in high school, then college, then grad, then working. I now take anyone who says new paradigm as "flailing about like a fish."

  2. That's the first definition of "paradigm" that I have heard that I understand.