Fists of ham

I've recently been reading Paul Krugman's The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 - fun stuff! - and the chapter on Japan in the 1990s reminded me of something that happened about ten years ago, which I think is worth mentioning in the abstract even though it was relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

So: a friend of mine read a book which took place in Japan (it's murder mystery, maybe you've seen the movie), and afterwards voiced "we're losing to Japan because they cheat!" sentiments, and he lent the book to another friend, and afterwards she said more or less the same thing. In the context of Japan's economic troubles at the time they were expressing these opinions, it was ridiculous; however, I borrowed the book.

Here's what struck me the most: the anti-Japanese business tirade in this book (which had been echoed by two friends after reading the book) takes place in the office of an American business which is undergoing a lavish and completely unnecessary renovation. Which is to say, the circumstances of the complaint about Japanese business practices undercut the message. Or at least, should have undercut the message, but my friends seemed to have missed the implicit commentary.

Not terribly important in itself, but it makes me wonder how much many - most? all? - people miss in the things that are going on around them.