Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, February 07, 2021

three see peeI’m going to stay within the purely visual realm for this week’s edition. Sound and motion may or may not return next week (chances are that it will, if only for variety’s sake).

Poster art has always been a favorite of mine, especially examples from the early and middle 20th Century. Pieces produced in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union always had a distinctive look, evoking a blend of European and Asian influences. Combined with text made up of Cyrillic characters, the finished product has an exotic quality, independent of the messages they were trying to convey.

The Vintage Soviet Poster database has a decent collection of pre- and postrevolutionary Russian/Soviet art, with translations. Frankly, I’d almost rather not know what the words mean — they’re almost a distraction from the art’s impact.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/07/2021 11:16:27 PM
Category: Media Mondays | Permalink | Feedback

Whenever I hear people rant about how terrorism and overseas anti-Americanism is rooted in irrational jealousy, I shake my head. I’m well-acquainted with the average American’s thickheadedness, but the willful naivete regarding America’s role in the world is just astounding.

I’d like to think that a book like John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, about the covert methods Washington uses to assure American supremacy worldwide, would open a few eyes. It might, but probably not many.

Maybe a short interview with Perkins will reach more folks. Especially helpful is an illustration of just how U.S. foreign aid works, and how its distribution is manipulated:

Perkins’ job was to travel the globe and purposely inflate the economic growth estimates in developing countries. Those bloated estimates were then used to justify funneling billions of international aid dollars and bank loans into poor countries.

The money would largely end up in the hands of giant U.S. engineering and construction firms like Bechtel and Halliburton, contracted to build the dams and power plants. Any funds left over often disappeared into the hands of dictators and a few politically powerful families.

It was a sweet, self-serving and corrupt set-up, Perkins acknowledged, one the young economist happily went along with to enjoy the big pay and perks that come with living in developing countries.

The real beauty was that Perkins did not work for an NSA or CIA. He was employed by a private company. It was part of a system that initially, after World War II, was intended to exert U.S. influence and discourage the spread of communism in Third World countries.

Now that same system helps extend the U.S. global empire and, increasingly, the reach and influence of large U.S. corporations, Perkins argues.

Billions of federal taxpayer dollars simply recycled into the hands of big U.S. corporations. The debt incurred by the developing countries - based on Perkins’ own rigged analyses of the countries’ economies - would eventually overwhelm them. When that happened, the United States gained more influence over the indebted country.

“It was like what the hit men in the Mafia do,” Perkins explained. “We arranged for someone to get a gift from the “Don’ that they can never really repay. Then the “Don’ wants something, possibly illegal, and asks for repayment.”

And what favors did the United States request? “Control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases or access to precious resources such as oil,” Perkins said.

Thanks to the role of economic hit men in the 1970s, Perkins said, Saudi Arabia cut a deal with the United States to provide ample oil, even in hard times, in exchange for U.S. military protection.

The first Iraqi war in the early 1990s and the current involvement in Iraq, Perkins suggests, are the result of past failures of economic hit men to make Iraq under Saddam Hussein more beholden to this country.

Americans don’t like to hear it - and it is unfortunate, Perkins said - but decades of U.S. meddling in the Middle East contributed to the rise and “Robin Hood” status of Osama Bin Ladin in certain parts of the world.

The thing is, American involvement is fairly transparent in the countries where it occurs. Even allowing for overblown conspiracy theories, the arrival of American firms and the protection of their interests makes it obvious where the influence is going.

That such behavior would be abhored were it happening in the U.S. is conveniently ignored Stateside. Instead, attacks on American systems are chalked up to hatred and ignorance — when, really, the opposite is true, and those population traits are, ironically, more appropriately applied to American public opinion.

You don’t become a superpower without getting your hands dirty; they stay dirty by maintaining a preeminent position in the world. And no matter how much you try to manage the dynamics of a hundred different involvements, it’s not possible to control every repercussion.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/07/2021 10:34:32 PM
Category: Political, Society | Permalink | Feedback

Is Lotus Ultra Lounge starting the long, slow descent typical of many new clubs?

All I have to go on is a complimentary entry pass thrust at me this past Friday, while hitting Ybor, and the complete lack of bodies in the club for their Breakaway Fridays event.

Granted, it was early, it was cold out, Ybor is typically dead on Fridays, and the club is only a couple of months old. Still, it’s not a good sign when such a hyped-up joint has to resort to no cover (instead of the more-typical free drink cards) to draw people in, and then even that doesn’t work.

Besides, while the interior is nice and roomy, I didn’t see anything to distinguish it from most of the other clubs on 7th Avenue. I don’t see much reason to put it into my usual rotation.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/07/2021 07:14:01 PM
Category: Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (2)