Thursday, June 22, 2017

Astrophysicists Finally Wonder if the Universe is Alive — Only Trail Shamans By the Entirety of Human History on that Front - disinformation

Jun 22, 2017

Another week, another news story from a major publication with a mainstream scientist talking like he was your high school weed dealer. I don't know what to tell you on this one, is the universe alive? Duh. I love how Carl Sagan loved to say "we're all made of star stuff" (referenced in the first paragraph of the article) while failing to explain why a  non-sentient fire ball supposedly devoid of narrative would for some reason create an entire microverse planet filled with conscious apes completely obsessed with art and narrative structure. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Solar worship goes so far back throughout the highly repressed Occult and shamanic traditions it's nuts, but this guy is calling the interconnected nature of mind/matter a "proto-consciousness field" so like, far out scientist brah. No, I'm just fucking with you, I'm honestly more than excited that mainstream astrophysicists would even entertain this hippie shit. From NBC. Last week Newsweek, this week NBC.

"For centuries, modern science has been shrinking the gap between humans and the rest of the universe, from Isaac Newton showing that one set of laws applies equally to falling apples and orbiting moons to Carl Sagan intoning that "we are made of star stuff" — that the atoms of our bodies were literally forged in the nuclear furnaces of other stars.

Even in that context, Gregory Matloff's ideas are shocking. The veteran physicist at New York City College of Technology recently published a paper arguing that humans may be like the rest of the universe in substance and in spirit. A "proto-consciousness field" could extend through all of space, he argues. Stars may be thinking entities that deliberately control their paths. Put more bluntly, the entire cosmos may be self-aware.

The notion of a conscious universe sounds more like the stuff of late night TV than academic journals. Called by its formal academic name, though, "panpsychism" turns out to have prominent supporters in a variety of fields. New York University philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers is a proponent. So too, in different ways, are neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose, renowned for his work on gravity and black holes. The bottom line, Matloff argues, is that panpsychism is too important to ignore.
"It's all very speculative, but it's something we can check and either validate or falsify," he says.
Three decades ago, Penrose introduced a key element of panpsychism with his theory that consciousness is rooted in the statistical rules of quantum physics as they apply in the microscopic spaces between neurons in the brain.

In 2006, German physicist Bernard Haisch, known both for his studies of active stars and his openness to unorthodox science, took Penrose's idea a big step further. Haisch proposed that the quantum fields that permeate all of empty space (the so-called "quantum vacuum") produce and transmit consciousness, which then emerges in any sufficiently complex system with energy flowing through it. And not just a brain, but potentially any physical structure. Intrigued, Matloff wondered if there was a way to take these squishy arguments and put them to an observational test."
Read the rest over at MACH, which I'm guessing is like the NBC science site or something. If you dig their shit, ummm, no, I'm not sure why you'd give any money to NBC.

So since mystics and shamans are apparently like a gajillion years ahead of y'all in certain ways, let me offer up another clue. That universe you're obsessing about so intensely? Outer space? The whole thing's a metaphor for the astral plane. No really, it's all a goddamn metaphor. You'll catch up eventually.

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.

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Inside the Strange, Psychic World of Indigo Children

Reminds m of Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhoods End" ( 1953
A person, usually a teenager or young adult who does not and can not comply with modern society, who is highly evolved spiritually and is believed to have come here in this time to aid in the transition of the energies of earth in the near future. They tend to be androgynous and have psychic powers, such as clairvoyancy. The youngest are Crystal Children which are about seven and under, but can be older.
She has an Indigo aura, so she must be an Indigo Child.

Apr 12 2016, 2:00pm

VICE investigates the secret world of Indigo Children, a select group of people who are said to possess extraordinary sensory talents, but who critics say suffer from ADD and ADHD.

In the 1990s, a number of American psychologists started to classify children that they felt had special psychic powers as "Indigo Children." Though many of these children were subsequently diagnosed with ADD or ADHD by healthcare professionals, some parents maintain that their children do not have these conditions, but instead possess supernatural traits and abilities. Critics argue that not treating children with ADD and ADHD can lead to long-term social and behavioral health problems.

VICE's Gavin Haynes heads to New York to meet with grown Indigo Children born in the 1990s to understand more about the movement and to find out how they feel about their unorthodox upbringing and perceived psychic gifts.

On his journey for answers, Haynes has his aura read, undergoes a holistic dentistry examination by a mother and daughter Indigo pair, and meets the rap duo The Underachievers, who preach Indigoism as a way of life through their music.

Children with "Indigo" auras, that usually differ from modern society. They are prone to ADD and ADHD diagnoses, however, blind mothers might claim their ADHD child as an Indigo to avoid the fact that their child is less than perfect and try to excuse him from making trouble.
Oh, my child isn't a bully, he's just an Indigo Child!
Known for their indigo auras.
They're critical of everything, but that also includes themselves. So don't mistake them for being stuck up or snobby all the time... They are antisocial but very empathetic, and sensitive, and can see people's true intentions better than most.

Just because somebody is a better listener than a speaker, it doesn't mean they don't approve of you.
Boy: That kid's stuck up and weird...
Girl: Nope, he's just an indigo child.
A powerful, intelligent, independent child, named for his/her supposedly indigo aura, who will help improve the spiritual quality of the world. Their frequency has recently increased drastically to possibly over 95%, with the first being born in the 1970s or '80s.
Indigo children are often diagnosed with ADD or ADHD because of their unwillingness to focus on certain things.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Where factory jobs are plentiful, Trump's supporters want better

HUMMING ALONG: Record sales of recreational vehicles mean plenty of jobs at factories in and around Elkhart, Indiana, including this LCI Industries glass components plant. LCI says it is working to improve conditions that many industry employees say make their jobs unattractive.
REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Pummeled in the Great Recession, Elkhart, Indiana, bounced back quickly, thanks to a boom in the RV business. But the work is grueling for the pay, and many locals hope the president's pledge to bring jobs back means bringing good jobs back.

Filed June 20, 2017, 2 p.m. GMT

ELKHART, Indiana—While many politicians, including President Donald Trump, say the United States desperately needs more manufacturing jobs, this small industrial city has more than enough.
The problem, for many workers here, is one of quality, not quantity.

That's the case with Brandon Seitz. The rail-thin 32-year-old worked for 12 years on an assembly line at one of the local recreational-vehicle factories that have made Elkhart the RV Capital of the World. The job, Seitz says, nearly wrecked his health.

His pay, as for assembly workers at most RV factories, was a combination of a low hourly wage and a large production bonus, referred to as the "piece rate." The frantic rush to meet output targets — and thus earn bonuses — made it easier for accidents to happen, he says. During his first year, he tore tendons in his knee when a steel frame hit him.

And then there was the heat. Most RV factories lack air conditioning. "I was constantly sweating," he says. "There were days in summer when I drank two-and-a-half gallons of water and was still dehydrated." In 2014, surgeons cut into his back and used a laser to break up and remove a large kidney stone that they said was caused by dehydration.

That's when Seitz vowed never to work on an RV production line again. "The money is good," he says, but "it's just so hard on your body."

A manufacturing revival was well under way in Elkhart by the time Trump began promising one during last year's presidential campaign. During the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the local unemployment rate hit 20 percent, among the highest in the country. It has since recovered to a seasonally unadjusted 1.9 percent, its lowest in nearly two decades and far better than the national rate, an adjusted 4.3 percent.

The RV industry accounts for a big chunk of that improvement. Local officials estimate that half of jobs here are related to manufacturing and that half of those are linked to RVs. Today, Elkhart County and the surrounding region produce 85 percent of U.S.-made RVs. Unit sales last year were the highest since the 1970s.

HOT JOBS: Most of the RV plants in Elkhart, like this Thor Industries assembly shop,  lack air conditioning. Tough working conditions are why many RV workers say they hold out hope that U.S. President Donald Trump can fulfill his campaign promise to bring better manufacturing jobs back to the country. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Judging by such numbers, times are good in Elkhart — not the sort of place to find those white, working-class voters who, feeling forgotten by the political class, helped propel Trump to the presidency.

Yet, people here voted two-to-one for Trump, more so than even in deeply Republican Indiana as a whole. And a few months into the new administration, despite the investigations into alleged Russian involvement in the election, and despite the president's failure so far to get much of the agenda he ran on enacted, support for Trump is strong among local workers, including many Reuters interviewed who stayed away from the polls last November.

Seitz is one of the more recent converts. He didn't vote in the November election. He says he wasn't sure whom to believe. Now, he says, he would probably vote for Trump in the future. "He's already living up this promise to bring work back from Mexico," Seitz says.

He and many other workers interviewed for this article don't want more jobs like the ones readily available in Elkhart. They want jobs with steady, predictable pay for the long haul – the kinds of jobs that decades ago helped build and sustain a solid middle class in Elkhart and across the industrial Midwest. And they blame immigration and the forces of globalization for reshaping the work that is available.

OFF THE LINE: Brandon Seitz stands outside the Goshen, Indiana, factory where he worked on an RV assembly line for 12 years, until the job, he says, nearly wrecked his health. He would probably vote for Donald Trump in the future, he says, because the president is already bringing jobs back from Mexico. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

"I really think (Trump) can make America great again," says Mary Swihart, 28, who voted for Trump. She works in an RV factory here owned by Thor Industries Inc, the nation's largest RV maker, where she earns about $15 an hour stringing wires into harnesses that go into the vehicles.

She especially likes Trump's pledges to halt illegal immigration and speed up deportations. Like many workers here, she believes that immigrants are willing to work for less than native-born workers and don't complain as readily about bad conditions.

"If we sent them back, it would mean more jobs for legal Americans," she says.
Elkhart County's population is about 75 percent non-Hispanic white. About 30,000 Hispanics live in the county, according to Census data, forming a small but fast-growing community.

Robert Warren, a former Census Bureau demographer who is now a senior visiting fellow at the Center for Migration Studies in New York, has estimated the number of illegal immigrants in states and counties across the U.S. By his calculation, about 9,400 illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, live in Elkhart County, and of those illegal immigrants who work, 67 percent have some type of factory or production job.

Officials at Thor and other local RV makers say they don't pay immigrants less and don't hire undocumented workers. "There's no difference in pay," says Jeffery Tryka, a Thor spokesman. "Every one of our workers is required to provide documentation that they're here legally — so they're all paid the same."

As for the work, Thor and other producers say their plants are safe, despite the hectic pace. "There's no question it's a physically demanding job," Tryka says.

Ken Julian, Thor's vice president of administration and human resources, says the industry is constantly improving the ergonomics of assembly line jobs to make tasks easier and safer for employees of any age. To deal with the heat, he says, they also keep water or other drinks on hand, and "if we see a 100-degree heat index, we'll shut the plant."
Industry executives say the bonus system is popular with workers, since it allows them to earn more money in less time.

Attractive or not, jobs in the RV industry are emblematic of the kind of work that is increasingly the best option for blue-collar workers. The industry is prone to booms and busts, as wells as shorter-term fluctuations throughout the year, which can mean frequent layoffs, though that hasn't been a problem amid the current production boom.

The frenetic pace of piece work means many people stay at the best-paying assembly line jobs only for as long as they can stand it or until their health or stamina falters. When they no longer can, these workers often move into lower-paying jobs.

That's what Seitz did after his kidney-stone surgery. He now works in the service department at Jayco, an RV maker recently acquired by Thor. He figures he puts in about 48 hours a week, compared to the 35 hours he averaged on the assembly lines — and his weekly take-home pay is $500 less. But he much prefers working at his own pace and interacting with customers.
His former employer, Forest River Inc, part of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, didn't respond to requests for comment.

Workers jump from job to job in search of better conditions or to maximize their earnings before the next downturn. At many RV factories, the annual turnover rate is 100% or higher – meaning a number equal to the total workforce or more is replaced each year. Much of the churn occurs as the companies struggle to fill the same lower-end, entry positions over and over again.

OLD SCHOOL: Assembly of RVs, as at this Thor Industries plant, is more akin to home construction than the automated systems that dominate auto manufacturing. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

RV workers are among the "anxiously employed," says Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics in Fort Wayne.  Trump appealed to these workers by saying that "You're working hard, but you're still not doing as well as you'd like" and that there was a time in the past when their lives — and the jobs available to them — were better.

That message resonated in Elkhart, once home to a more diverse industrial base that provided steady middle-class paychecks. Before it was the RV capital, Elkhart was known as the Band Instrument Capital of the World for the dozens of musical-instrument factories that operated here. Most of that work has moved to China.

Elkhart also had a huge pharmaceuticals company. Miles Laboratories Inc invented the diabetic test strip here and once had Elkhart factories churning out everything from Flintstones vitamins to Alka-Seltzer tablets. Germany's Bayer AG bought Miles in 1978 and eventually moved everything away. All that's left is a roadside marker honoring the test strip.

What's happened in Elkhart has occurred across industrial America. The average wage on U.S. factory floors dropped below the average for all private-sector workers in 2006, and the gap has widened since. Manufacturing workers now earn an average of $20.79 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, below the $22 an hour for all workers. Service workers, meanwhile,

pushed ahead of their factory-floor counterparts in 2008 and now earn an average of $21.79 an hour.
A 2016 study by the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that a third of production workers in the U.S. earn so little that they qualify for some form of government assistance, such as food stamps. Many of these workers weren't putting in enough hours to earn more, the study found, but about a third worked at least 35 hours a week.

FOREIGN INFLUENCE: Stacy Curtis, who worked in Elkhart's musical-instrument industry before Chinese companies grabbed a big part of the U.S. market, blames Mexican immigrants for her inability to find stable employment in recent years. She says she was cheered by Donald Trump's tough talk on immigration. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

"You go look in these factories today and you hardly see any whites or Americans—they're all Mexicans."
Stacy Curtis, unemployed Elkhart worker
Stacy Curtis says she voted for Trump because she liked what he said about bringing back "good" jobs and for taking a hard line on immigration. Curtis dropped out of school at age 16 to work in a van-customization shop. She later landed a sought-after job at one of the town's musical-instrument factories. It was a union job, with good pay, and it was prestigious for the skills needed to fashion thin metal into trumpets and trombones.

In 2006, workers at Curtis's factory went out on strike after the company, the Vincent Bach division of Conn-Selmer Inc, demanded changes in work rules that would allow it to pay lower wages to compete with Chinese rivals. The strike ended after three years, when workers severed their links to the United Auto Workers and accepted the company's offer. Curtis didn't go back to making trombones.

As she sought factory jobs in recent years, always at far lower pay, she says she felt at a disadvantage because of her background. "You go look in these factories today and you hardly see any whites or Americans—they're all Mexicans," says Curtis, 54.
Now unemployed, Curtis has applied for Social Security disability benefits, citing fibromyalgia and lupus.

Sour attitudes about immigrants are part of a broader hostility to the forces of globalization that Trump's campaign tapped into. And in the eyes of some people, comments like Curtis's reflect a distinctly racial component to the Trump phenomenon in the Elkhart area.

Tracy DeGraffreed, 48, is an African-American. He voted for Clinton in November. He has spent most his career in the RV business — many years for suppliers and, since 2015, running his own business as a trucker, towing RVs to dealerships.

He says he understands why many of his white neighbors support Trump. "As an African-American, we've always been struggling," he says. "But the Caucasians have always had what they wanted. Now they're feeling the pain the others have always felt."

RACIAL ANGLE: Tracy DeGraffreed, a self-employed RV delivery driver, says many white voters in the Elkhart area supported Donald Trump because he spoke to the "pain" of their struggle to find solid, secure jobs that used to be plentiful. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

"The Caucasians have always had what they wanted. Now they're feeling the pain the others have always felt."
Tracy DeGraffreed, RV hauler
That "pain," he says, is the struggle for well-paid, secure jobs that were once relatively plentiful in Elkhart. "That's why Trump won here."

Voters' frustration was fueled in the middle of the campaign last year when two manufacturers with deep roots in Elkhart announced they were moving work abroad.

CTS Corp, a maker of auto electronics that began here in 1896 as the Chicago Telephone Supply Co, said it was moving all of its Elkhart production abroad to "simplify" operations, cutting 230 jobs here and elsewhere in the U.S. Crown Audio, a subsidiary of Harman International Industries Inc that makes amplifiers, said it was moving 125 production jobs to Mexico and California in order to stay competitive.

Over time, moves like that have left the local economy increasingly reliant on RV manufacturing.
Each factory is typically dedicated to a handful of models. The result is a proliferation of workplaces. Thor, which had sales last year of $4.6 billion, operates 190 plants, most of them in or around Elkhart. The company's complex on the outskirts of Goshen, down the road from Elkhart, has 30 separate plants sprawling out in a grid of metal buildings and parking lots.

The factory buildings are more like workshops than the high-tech assembly lines used in the auto and other modern industries. The process is similar to home construction; workers hoist walls and install sinks as the RVs inch along while others crawl over, under and inside the vehicles.

None of the plants are unionized and never have been. Nearly all of them pay by piece rate — something most other industries have abandoned. Workers receive a low base, about $10 an hour, and earn bonuses for hitting production targets.  At assembly plants that make the most expensive or in-demand models, workers can earn more than $60,000 a year when operations are humming.

TRADEOFF: Kirsten Southern was paid by "piece rate" in a series of RV assembly jobs until the constant fatigue that the work caused prompted her to take a job for lower pay as a receiving supervisor for LCI Industries. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Kirsten Southern, a 34-year-old mother of three, was paid by piece rate in successive jobs on RV production lines at two different companies. The work "tears your body down after a while," she says. "A lot of bad things happen when piece rate comes into play, because you're trying to rush to get things done," she says. She was never injured on the job, she says, but she was constantly exhausted.

She now works for lower pay as a receiving supervisor at an LCI Industries plant in Goshen, making sure deliveries are accounted for and moved to the production line when needed. She has a fixed schedule, and she says she's generally treated better.

Had she voted last fall, she says, she would have voted for Trump. "I know Trump is for bringing the jobs back," she says, "and I agree with that."

Piece rate pay fuels the hectic pace in the factories. That, workers say, has given rise to increased numbers of "speeders," people who take methamphetamines and other stimulants on the job. Manufacturers say they enforce strict drug-free policies.

Thor requires drug tests of job applicants and tests workers after accidents if drug use is suspected, says Julian, the Thor executive.

Southern's employer, LCI, is one of the industry players taking steps to try to make the work more appealing. Nick Fletcher, chief human resources officer, says when he arrived four years ago, turnover at the company was over 100 percent. It's now less than 40 percent, and he expects it to continue falling.

Fletcher has been on a campaign to end the piece rate system, which "doesn't incentivize workers to be safe or produce high quality," he says. More than 75 percent of the company's workers are now on fixed hourly pay, averaging about $17.50, he says.

Safety has improved, too. Fletcher points to a chart on his computer screen showing that the number of "recordable incidents" has fallen to 3.84 now from 6.22 in 2013. (Recordable incidents, a measure used by federal safety regulators, is the number of workplace injuries or illnesses that require more than basic first aid multiplied by 200,000 and then divided by number of hours worked.) The improvement is especially notable, Fletcher says, because it happened as LCI added 3,000 workers, for a total of 8,000.

reuters investigates

For the majority of RV factory workers, though, conditions remain much as they have been for years.
Cassidy Davies jumped from one RV job to another earlier in his career, he says, because the atmosphere in many plants was unbearable.

"I've seen people get into fist fights because somebody else used their power-drill battery," says the 29-year-old. "And the money is constantly going up and down" as production rises and falls.
He now works in a large Thor factory, which he says he likes better than any of the other places he worked. That doesn't mean he thinks it's the sort of job on which he can build a career.
"I really don't know how long I can do it," he says, "because you're beating the crap out of yourself every day."

Davies says he has never voted. "I don't like the way Trump talks to people, the way he treats people," he says. "But I do agree with some of the things he's doing," including Trump's talk of bringing back good manufacturing jobs.

STACKING UP: The lot of a Thor Industries plant in Elkhart is chock full of new RVs as the industry enjoys sales volumes not seen since the 1970s. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Hard Labor
By Timothy Aeppel
Graphics: Maryanne Murray
Photo editors: Steve McKinley and Chris Helgren
Design: Jeff Magness
Edited by John Blanton
  • Follow Reuters Investigates

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

At least 62 killed in forest fire still raging in Portugal

By Andrei Khalip | LISBON

A huge forest fire raging since Saturday in central Portugal has killed at least 62 people, the government said on Sunday, in what is possibly the deadliest-ever forest blaze in the Atlantic coastal country, used to the woods burning almost every summer.

"The dimension of this fire was such that we don't have memory of such a human tragedy," Prime Minister Antonio Costa said as he arrived in Pedrogao Grande, a mountainous area some 200 km northeast of Lisbon.

He said it was vital to focus on the prevention of new fires, amid a continuing heat wave, strong winds and lack of rain. He also warned that the death toll could still increase.

The government declared three days of mourning and sent two army battalions to help the emergency services. The European Union said it would provide firefighting aircraft. France has offered three planes and Spain has sent two, authorities said.

Speaking in the Vatican, Pope Francis, who visited Portugal last month, mentioned the victims in his weekly address: "I am close to the dear people of Portugal, hit by a devastating fire which is raging in the forests around Pedrogao Grande, causing many victims and injuries. Let us pray in silence."
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a Twitter message: "Solidarity with Portugal, hit by terrible fires. Our thoughts are with victims. France makes its aid available to Portugal".

The European Commission's aid chief, Christos Stylianides, said in a statement that "all will be done to assist the authorities and people of Portugal at this time of need."

The death toll released by Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal affairs, has gradually climbed from the 19 initially announced late on Saturday. Gomes said most of the victims were caught in their vehicles on the road.

In one village of Nodeirinho, where 11 residents have died, state television RTP showed burned out cars and blackened houses. Shocked residents spoke of a whole family that was trying to flee their home in a car but got caught in "a tornado of flames".

"It does not seem real, it is out of this world... It is an authentic inferno, we have never seen anything like that," the mayor of Pedrogao Grande Valdemar Alves told reporters. Over 20 villages have been affected.

Another 54 people have been injured and taken to hospitals, including four in serious condition.
The blaze on Saturday hit the mountainous area amid an intense heat wave and rainless thunderstorms. Police said a lightning striking a tree probably caused the fire.

Hundreds of firefighters were still battling the flames on Sunday. Various local motorways were shut for safety reasons.

"The smoke cloud is very low, which does not allow helicopters and fire planes to work efficiently ... but we're doing everything possible and impossible to put out this fire," Gomes said, adding that no villages were currently at risk.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited the site of the tragedy during the night and expressed his condolences.
The "situation is unfortunately atypical ... " he said. "It was not possible to do more than what has been done" in prevention and the immediate response.

But various local residents said they had been left to their own devices and had seen no firefighters for hours while their homes burned. Others complained about poor forestry reserve planning and depopulation of remote villages, which leaves many wooded areas unattended.

(Additional reporting By Maya Nikolayeva in Paris, Crispian Balmer in Rome and Robin Emmott in Brussels, editing by Larry King)

Next In Environment

CALGARY, Alberta Canada's oil sands need more emissions-cutting measures and monitoring, an official panel said on Friday in recommendations that could potentially raise costs in a high-cost region that international players have increasingly abandoned.

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