Thought #1: Toilet paper.
It's strange, but I often think about toilet paper. I think many Japanese people might. I know people in Greece and Venezuela are thinking about it all the time, especially right now.
Did you know that, even today, many Japanese people are hoarding toilet paper? My evidence is anecdotal, for sure, but I know three families who have a few months of toilet paper stored up.
We are one of them. There must be many many more.
Remember when I told you that Japanese people hoard toilet paper because there have been several times in modern history when it was completely gone for months on end? Yes, in 1979, when there was an oil shock, I have heard many stories from Japanese people that toilet paper was a commodity that could not be found anywhere. And that situation lasted for months. People were using old newspapers for the duties.
How could one of the world's top economies not have toilet paper? (Well, we have a problem with butter, so that may be a clue.... See: Economic Illiteracy and How Japan is Responsible for the Destruction of the Western Economies)
Well, now, here is that "No Toilet Paper" threat in Greece (of all places). From Keep Talking Greece: "ND-candidate “sees” even toilet paper shortage, if SYRIZA wins the elections"
"If SYRIZA wins the elections and forms a government on Monday Greeks will run will run out of toilet paper. This is what ND-candidate Sofia Voultepsi implied just 48 hours before the elections.
“Bank run” vs “toilet paper run”?"
Well, it looks like Syriza won the elections. I figure that there is a toilet paper shortage coming all over Europe as EU bureaucrats are about to start shitting their pants because they are going to all be out of jobs soon enough.
I mentioned this toilet paper shortage stuff to my friend Jeff Berwick and he tells me the exact same thing is going on in Venezuela; no toilet paper.
I suspect that this toilet paper problem is representative of a larger problem (of course) that has something to do with distribution, corruption (maybe) and government interference with the free market (of course). I mean, it's not like toilet paper is perishable, is it? How could there be a shortage (excepting that all of a sudden there are more people shitting their pants? There certainly is no sudden increase in the number of assholes....)
I think it is even weirder to have a toilet paper shortage in Japan because, as the Japanese are world famous for high-tech toilets, lots of people have toilets with washlets built in. We do.
Why my wife wants to buy tons of toilet paper? We have a 1/2 year supply downstairs... No kidding.
Thought #2: McDonald's.
McDonald's is doing very badly in Japan: Plastics in food. human teeth in french fries... And it's not just Japan, in the UK a woman found "A worm in Chicken McNuggets."
That's disgusting, but the story is funny and shows how stupid people are. The woman was quoted as saying, "'I'm very fussy about what I eat and when I saw what was in the McNugget I went white."
She's fussy about what she eats, yet she was eating at McDonald's????
We live in a world with LOTS of stupid people.
Thought #3: Coffee
I used to eat McDonald's many years ago.... But stopped for my health about 15 years ago. I do like McDonald's coffee though. In fact, my favorite coffee is 7-11 coffee at ¥100 or McDonald's coffee at ¥120. I refuse to pay Starbucks ¥500 (about $5.00) for a cup of hot water and crushed coffee beans!
7-11 is the best deal. But with McDonald's I can sit down inside. So that's good. I never eat the other McDonald's stuff.
But I no longer eat any fast food at all anymore.
Thought #4: What Do These Things Have in Common?
Well, this is a stretch, but here goes....
Did you know that, in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Japan came in third on total medal count and gold medals after the USA and the Soviet Union? That's right; Japanese used to be an Olympic powerhouse.
As the years went by, though, Japan became more and more inept at sports and fewer and fewer medals were to be had. Nowadays, if a Japanese athlete comes in fifth, it's big news. If they get a bronze or silver, they are superstars for life.
Well, as the medal count has consistently dropped over the years, in the early 90s (I think it was) a right wing commentator said something to the effect of, "The Japanese athletes no longer win as many medals today because Japan now has sit down western toilets instead of traditional squat toilets. Thus, Japanese kids no longer do squats at home so their athletic ability has declined."
No kidding. (If anyone can remember the name of the guy who said this, remind me, will you, please?)
"But, Mike, what does that have to do with McDonald's?"
Hold on, I'm getting there....
In 1971 when McDonald's first came to Japan, it was founded by a guy named Den Fujita. He opened his first McDonald's in a ritzy Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza, an upscale district in Tokyo, Japan. It was a smash success.
At that time, Den Fujita was quoted as saying, "Americans are much bigger and stronger than the Japanese and the USA wins much more Olympic medals than Japan does because they eat things like McDonald's."
He really did say that, and he was dead serious.
I'm not making this stuff up.
You might remember when John Belushi set the world record in winning 8 Gold Medals at the 1975 Olympics?... He attributed his success to "Little Chocolate Donuts" being at his training table every morning. Can't argue with success.
So you see, I guess we can deduce from this that, because the Japanese no longer use squat toilets, they have lost lower body strength because they no longer do squats; in spite of the fact that they gained strength because they started eating more McDonald's....
Just like Americans and American athletes do.
So, now you know what the relationship between toilet paper and McDonald's in Japan is...
Silly joke I thought of when I was contemplating coffee yesterday in a coffee shop with my friend...
Question: "What do you call David Bowie when he is sitting in a coffee shop?"
Answer: "Ziggy Starbucks."*
Thanks to Jeff Berwick and James Santagata