Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gazing into the Vortex off the Coast of Japan, Between Kali Mai & Kwan-Yin, Between Tripoli & Madison, a Meditation on the Interdependence of All Life

Kwan-Yin, Japanese Dharma Goddess of Mercy, the Hearer of Cries, as Envisioned by the Russian Mystic Nicholas Roerich (1933)

The statistics are sobering ... Even in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, it's safer to be a soldier than a woman. Women do two-thirds of the world's work for a paltry 10 percent of the world's income and own just 1 percent of the means of production ... Annie Lennox, Huffington Post, 3-8-11

The UN has for a second time offered a free UN flight in Sudan to Ahmed Haroun, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, the UN admitted Friday in response to questions from Inner City Press. Mia Farrow, 3-5-11

Look, my fear is that climate change is the crisis, the biggest crisis of all, and that if we aren’t careful, if we don’t come up with a positive vision of how climate change can make our economies and our world more just, more livable, cleaner, fairer, then this crisis will be exploited to militarize our societies, create fortress continents. Naomi Klein, Democracy Now! Interview, 3-9-11

Gazing into the Vortex off the Coast of Japan, Between Kali Mai & Kwan-Yin, Between Tripoli & Madison, a Meditation on the Interdependence of All Life

By Richard Power

Stupidity, Savagery, Signs

For two weeks, I had been looking for some hopeful sign from either Tripoli or Madison, one with which to frame a new post. But despite the courage of those who resist, stupidity has advanced its agenda in Wisconsin (at least temporarily), and savagery has gained the upper hand in Libya (at least temporarily).

Despite massive protests, and damning poll numbers, the Zombie Cult formerly known as the Republican Party has not only legislated away the right to collective bargaining for teachers, and other public servants; it is has also given the Governor dictatorial power to "privatize" vital public infrastructure, e.g., bridges and utilities.

And while the West and the Arab League dither and fret over whether or not to do something meaningful in Libya, e.g., implement a no-fly zone, Gadaffi and his sons are slaughtering their own people.

Then a sign came, not a hopeful one, but one that belongs in this chronicle. This sign is not about the struggle for human rights, centered as it is in this moment in the Mideast and the Midwest, at least not directly. It is is a sign which humbles all of us, and remind us of the fragility of our common existence, and of its preciousness. But this sign also speak to our desperate, collective need for clarity of mind, breadth of vision and greatness of heart; which brings us back again to the struggle for human rights, because none of these qualities can flourish without an uncompromising adherence to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Kali Ma Stomps & Whirls, Through the Maelstron, Kwan-Yin Hears the Cry of Humanity

One profound shock after another, first a 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Japan (the fifth largest ever recorded), which resulted in a 30-ft. tsunami, and in the aftermath, two nuclear power plants in peril of meltdown.

At 8.9 magnitude, the quake radiated energy equivalent to exploding 1.5 billion tons of TNT (or 1,500 one-megaton nuclear bombs) beneath the seabed. Or, to put it another way, roughly enough power to meet the US's needs for one month, according to the US Geological Survey. The impact shifted the Earth's axis by nearly 25cm, and moved the Japanese coast several metres. Independent/UK, 3-13-11

The video testimony is breathtaking: houses, boats, trucks, trains, highways swept up in a wall of water, an airport flooded in less than 60 seconds, huge vortices forming in the sea, an explosion at one of the nuclear power plants.

NASA geophysicist Richard Gross calculated that Earth’s rotation sped up by 1.6 microseconds. That is because of the shift in Earth’s mass caused by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second.
That change in rotation speed is slightly more than the one caused by last year’s larger Chile earthquake. But 2004’s bigger Sumatra earthquake caused a 6.8-microsecond shortening of the day.
AP, 3-12-11

For over a decade, whenever I fly into the one of the great cities at night, whether in the cold of winter, or the heat of summer, I find myself pondering our future, in awe of the challenges before us. How will we warm them all in the midst of the snow drifts that are coming? How will we cool them all when the thermometer breaks 100 day after day for weeks on end? How will we power all of those computers? How will we power all of those elevators, and all of those street lights? How will we survive our own thoughtlessness? What will we do if we finally come to terms with the stark and irrefutable truth that our carbon-based energy model is destroying the climate on which our civilization is predicated?

In recent years, the same awe has begun to overtake me as I walk the streets of the great cities. I see the throngs absorbed in the waking dream of daily life. It is, indeed, a dream; predicated on the assumption that food will also be on the shelves, and that they will also be able to afford it, predicated on the assumption that there will always be water flowing, with which to drink and bath, predicated on the assumption that their sewage and garbage will simply disappear, without delay or unforeseen consequences, predicated too, on the assumption that when you call 911 or pull a fire alarm, help will come, dedicated, trained, professional help. So many people, so many assumptions.

Were any of those assumptions to fail, what would ensue? Chaos? Well, my friends, we are on a trajectory that could led, sooner or later, to the failure of multiple assumptions, especially those related to food security, water scarcity and sanitation.

Yes, Kali Ma just stomped and whirled, and one of the great nations, the third most powerful economy in the world, is in great peril. It could happen anywhere, anytime.

Meanwhile, the Climate Crisis, along with the Sixth Great Extinction, and other related challenges, are already upon us; their impact is already greater than the projections of even a few years ago. And yet, the USA, which continues to trumpet its own exceptionalism, does NOTHING. America spends more of its time listening to Charlie Sheen, and rooting for Michael Vick than its does pondering what could be done to extend its dwindling future.

The cost of our success is the exhaustion of natural resources, leading to energy crises, climate change, pollution and the destruction of our habitat. If you exhaust natural resources there will be nothing left for your children. If we continue in the same direction, humankind is headed for some frightful ordeals, if not extinction. Christian de Duve, An Interview w/ New Scientist, 2-28-11

Life on Earth is hurtling towards extinction levels comparable to those following the dinosaur-erasing asteroid impact of 65 million years ago, propelled forward by human activities, say scientists. The Age, 3-3-11

The divine reality of which Kali Ma and Kwan-Yin are mere aspects is beyond human comprehension. Kali Ma is impersonal and her ways are ruthless, but Kwan-Yin dwells within the human heart and her power flows from our capacity to love. To move adeptly within this era of global crisis, it is vital to understand the magic of both.

Where Have You Gone Joe Dimaggio?

Predatory capitalism has proved itself to be incapable of anything but devouring its own children.

Our democratic institutions are under assault from the few who hold the wealth of the nation (e.g., Wall Street, the Koch Brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Horrors, etc.), and those whose ignorance sustains them (e.g., anyone who voted "R" or didn't vote in the 2010 mid-term elections); they are all enslaved men imaging themselves to be free, just as a crack addict might imagine himself eloquent or inspired. Those few who have hoarded the riches are enslaved to greed, and those whose sustain them with their ignorance are enslaved to fear.

Ever since the massive protests in Madison began, I have been pulling at two threads from recent history, one from the 1960s, and one from the 1980s, they are wrapped up in a remarkable irony.

Do you remember Mike Nichols' The Graduate (1967)? If you do, it is probably because of Anne Bancroft's incredible performance as Mrs. Robinson, or Simon and Garfunkel's powerful sound track. But do you remember how the film opens? The young Dustin Hoffman portrays Benjamin Braddock. He is floating in his family's pool, contemplating the seeming emptiness of the American Dream. His parents wants him to go to graduate school. They are worried about his future. He is in an existential crisis. Life is meaningless. All value is attributed to possessions, status, etc.

Mr. Braddock: Ben, what are you doing?
Benjamin: Well, I would say that I'm just drifting. Here in the pool.
Mr. Braddock: Why?
Benjamin: Well, it's very comfortable just to drift here.
Mr. Braddock: Have you thought about graduate school?
Benjamin: No.
Mr. Braddock: Would you mind telling me then what those four years of college were for? What was the point of all that hard work?
Benjamin: You got me.

Now fast forward to the 1980s, and the rise of the "Reagan Democrats." In the presidential elections of 1980 and 1984, blue-collar, card-carrying union members deserted Jimmy Carter and Fritz Mondale in turn, to vote for a Hollywood B-list actor's toxic brew of lower taxes, increased militarism, bureaucrat-bashing and thinly-veiled prejudice.

Here is a pithy definition of "Reagan Democrat" plucked from a thread on Democratic Underground:

After unions fought the hard work in the 30s, 40s, and 50s of getting decent wages and working conditions, their children began to take these things for granted. It didn't occur to them that all the middle class comforts that they had had been fought for--often literally and violently. They didn't remember a time when Republican businessmen hired thugs to terrorize workers and keep them in their place. They forgot who their real enemies were, and started listening to Uncle Ronnie and his ilk, who convinced them that brown people were taking away their jobs and ruining their neighborhoods. So they started voting Republican. Democratic Underground, 5-16-08

As I listened to Michael Moore deliver his extraordinary speech to the massive protest outside the state capital in Madison recently, in my mind I kept pulling at those two threads, and the cruel irony they were tangled up with ...

MICHAEL MOORE: America is not broke. Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe, so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Right now, this afternoon, just 400 Americans—400—have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. Let me say that again. And please, someone in the mainstream media, just repeat this fact once. We’re not greedy; we’ll be happy to hear it just once. Four hundred obscenely wealthy individuals, 400 little Mubaraks, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of 2008, now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined ...
If—if you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’├ętat, then you are simply not being honest with what you know in your heart to be true ...

Democracy Now!, 3-7-11 (Full video embedded below.)

Kali Ma, Indian Goddess of Time, Change, Energy, Destruction ... (1895)

If we don't turn this around, we will not only be incapable of helping the Congolese and the Darfuri, we will be the Congolese and the Darfuri. Human rights, economic security, sustainability, all are interdependent, and our common survival is at stake.

Had the massive 8.9 Richter-scale earthquake that has just savaged Japan hit off the California coast, it could have ripped apart at least four coastal reactors and sent a lethal cloud of radiation across the entire United States ... Harvey Wasserman, Common Dreams, 3-11-11

Those of us who work on climate change have spent years trying to figure out why Congress pays no attention to what's clearly the most dangerous issues the earth faces. For years we thought we simply needed to explain the crisis more skillfully. But in the last year the truth is becoming clearer: Hidden in the shadows are the guys with money who pull the strings. We need to illuminate those shadows ... Bill McKibben, Koch Brothers and US Chamber: Polluting Our Earth and Our Democracies, Common Dreams, 3-11-11

Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to for the answer.

Huge Whirlpool Formed After Japan Quake 8.9 Earthquake March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake: Helicopter aerial view video of giant tsunami waves

Japan earthquake: CCTV video of tsunami wave hitting Sendai airport

Michael Moore Joins Wisconsin Labor Protests: “America Is Not Broke”

Richard Power's seventh book, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself, is now available. Here are links to purchase it from, or from CreateSpace.

You can also visit Richard Power author's page at