Monday, April 23, 2018

DC bait and switch: what really happened to your taxes

Just now I downloaded a detailed highly professional review of what REALLY happened to taxes last year:

http://harvardmag.com/pdf/2018/05-pdfs/0518-57.pdf

A few zingers:

p.58: $3.2 trillion in cuts, $2.4 in increases... sizable ... winners and losers.

p. 59: Multinational.. intellectual property [PJW: think Intel, google, Boeing].. face a new world of tax complexity and potentially higher rates...  In contrast,... real estates and ... will be clear winners.

[What was that about Trump wanting to zap Amazon and boost his own stuff? Will innovation improve if we screw the Amazons and Intels and become a real estate turnover society?]

p.60 .. the TCJA's pass-through provisions are enormously complex, create numerous tax-planning opportunities, and will create indfalls for those best positioned..

p.61. Several ideas that take aim at... universities... came to fruition... relatively small in the scope of the overall legislation... first step in a continuing effort to challenge the tax-exempt status of elite universities... go to the core of the universities...

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In general, I tend to worry a lot when armies of lobbyists work hard on the bill of the year, because if what they do in the dark when they are set loose. I saw it from the very center in 2009, when I was the only senior staffer with access to BOTH the Republican AND Democratic senior staffers and strategy working the Senate climate bills of 2009 (the last year they seemed to have a real chance).

Even in the office of Senator Specter, perhaps the highest integrity Senator in the whole place, there was an interesting split between the PR people and the substantive policy people. When word came through that the workers in Pennsylvania wanted more focused attention to a certain issue (steel jobs), the PR office would naturally ask: "What can we do to show that we are already on the job?" (We were to SOME extent.) We would ask (with some encouragement from the Senator): What new could we do to help more, more effectively, in reality? Many other places in DC seem to be almost all PR, especially the bigger and bigger paid lobbies. More and more, groups will survey the public in depth to refine the public PR message, while other groups in parallel, largely in the dark, decide how to dish out the loot, sometimes as far from the message as you could possibly imagine, maximizing the political spoils and PAC support. Voters get the words, PACmen get the loot. Probably the new tax bill is not as bad as many other things (like the current NASA budget especially, or like Bannon's "drain the swamp" message), but it just might be true that people like the author of this piece in Harvard Magazine could have made it better in living up to the original message. Hell, secure financial transactions and attention to the Panama papers issues, on an international basis, could have done better in bringing back money to the US and other popular enterprises, away from criminals and from the specific types of rogue international billionnaires threatening all the major popular governments on earth.

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By the way, this year we went to H&R Block for the first time, as the complexities and inherent fuzziness of tax laws became a bit too much for me. (I imagine Einstein saying: "No, I have to skip the unified field theory this year. I am forced by the government do spend "my" time instead this year on a harder task, figuring out how to pay my taxes.") As a final, unpaid gesture, they showed me actual tax liability to the US government, versus what it would be a year later under the new law. Under the new law, it would be more than 50% higher. The article shows I would not be alone.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Which environmentalists are working for the extinction of all mammalian life on earth?

MANY, and it is serious. Here I will analyze a post from a colleague:
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Many object to shielding the planet from the sun’s rays by injecting particles into the atmosphere, but a small band of researchers think the approach is worth studying before it’s too late

"In 2010, the Convention of Biological Diversity, an institute of the United Nations with more than 190 parties—excluding the U.S.—issued what amounts to a moratorium on any large-scale climate intervention activitiesincluding solar geoengineering or carbon capture, until there is enough scientific evidence to justify such strategies."

It's like they are riding along in a car, seatbelts unbuckled, while heading for an imminent and foreseeable collision. Sheer madness. 

-- Steve

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old
problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination
and marks real advance in science. -- Albert Einstein
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
============================================
Thank you, Steve.

I agree that the group you are referring to is an example of group insanity and hysteria so severe that it threatens our very existence.

It reminds me of an informal discussion I had with some IT executives last week, where we summed it up: "To understand how it really works in Congress, there are two things which drive it all: economics, and psychiatry." For many years, large and powerful lobby groups have been drooling over all the cash they expected to extract from the taxpayer from things like the Waxman climate bill of 2009. (I still remember a hearing where an advocate stood up, looked rapturous, saying something like "You really need to envision the great new ecology which could emerge from the flow of this $500 billion per year in allowances which this bill will pour into the environment."
This was before Trump changed the language... I envisioned a great swamp full of crocodiles and malaria carrying mosquitoes... )

So those folks view geoengineering as a threat to their expected bonanza. Group response to a threat. Waxman did not pass in the US, but something similar passed in the EU, and lots of crocodiles were fed for awhile, so of course they respond to threats, and of course their feeding is what matters to them, not the survival either of the species or of the planet. 

Many more honest environmentalists say "All known geoengineering is risky, so we should wait until the last ditch." (The statement you found is more like "let's wait until we are provably dead before we stir ourselves.") Problem with that:
(1) IF it is risky, and if there is SOME possibility we might need it, the rational response is to explore a wide variety of possible geoengineering solutions, get a better understanding of its impacts, and find the best we can, with aggressive technology development. NOT JUST DO NOTHING!!! One of the things we would do, if rationally trying to survive, is do full justice to space-based options, among others (as Abdul Kalam emphasized) by developing truly low-cost truly real launch capabilities, and studying ways we could exploit them, IN PARALLEL.
(2) Sadly, there is evidence that the last ditch is already here. It is dumb that we debate whether global warming might shut down the main thermohaline currents ("lungs of the planet") which bring oxygen to the ocean; they have already shut down:
In my view, the environmentalists who do not face up to that are a demonstration of groupthink insanity just as serious as... whatever your favorite example of group hysteria may be. 


Best regards,

   Paul

P.S. Of course, there were better, simpler, and more rational climate bills proposed in 2009. Why did Reid insist on Waxman-like bill? Well, that's more like the swamp which Trump has talked about, which is certainly not just Democrats.

==============================================================
A defender of the UN position wrote back :
You seem to have overlooked the words "large scale" in the phrase "large-scale climate intervention."

They certainly did NOT advocate doing anything at all. 

It reminds me of how Mike Rogers recently DID NOT cancel NSA's efforts in information assurance, needed urgently to 
harden our power grid. "We are just sending the functions elsewhere on a distributed basis." 

Political speak for strenuous efforts to get rid of competition. 

Thanks, Steve!

I am ever so glad that someone else really cares about that boring old issue of whether we live or die in the end.

I had a chance last night to probe a little further. You and I were BASICALLY right, but ... 

What really happened was classic reactive group thinking. Some folks in the UN system became aware of just how serious the H2S threat is, and probed the possibility of international action (with an open door to US participation, but not requiring it or waiting for it). And then... the announcement was just a fancy way of saying NO. Many hired hands at the UN have their own interests guiding their behavior, just like lobbyists who make money as representatives of some company or group in Washington. 

Why not just live and let live? Well, what if they are hard committed to a policy which DOESN'T let us live? 




Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Can anyone explain ESP, or syychic phenomena in general?

A respcted me6mber of the Sadu discussion group recently asked everyone:

Does anyone know any books or papers that try to bring mechanisms for ESPs ? Because I think that consciousness cannot be properly understood without accounting for ESP. And so far, I never saw any such kind of attempt. There are lots of theories for consciousness out there and many millions of pages written in the history of man with lots of interesting things about "normal" consciousness. But I never stumbled upon any paper that tries to bring any mechanism for ESP (for example, how can we account for precognition without dealing with temporal paradoxes? what view of time/consciousness we need to adopt in order for precognition to not be paradoxical and problematic? etc.). Anyone knows any such papers?
======================================

Thank you for your very serious and important questions, ..! I have certainly attempted such an explanation or mechanism myself, and have some papers to point to. It does not really seem so tricky to me now -- but I still remember when neural networks and deep learning seemed SO incomprehensible to everyone else, and how many ways people have to find difficulty in seeing relatively simple things (especially when the simple things are entangled with other more complicated things and people's sense of identity and so on).  

Let me focus first on just one part of your paragraph: the question about MECHANISM for psi. 

Since March 1967, when I became open-minded about psi AFTER knowing about things like deep learning and neural networks , I looked far and wide for the kind of explanation or mechanism you are asking about. There were many papers which attempted to explain psi via electromagnetism or by quantum effects as such; however, Dean Radin has summarized his own conclusion here about the failure of electromagnetic explanations, and even QED-based explanations simply cannot live up to most of the basic psi phenomena. 

My claim: it is not possible to explain the "signal processing" or "switching" which can connect one person flexibly to other parts of the earth or humanity at will, without 
a model assuming some kind of CONNECTIVE STRUCTURE, which I sometimes loosely call "an invisible neural network." (Physically, dark matter and dark energy allow such a thing to be possible even if ordinary QED technology cannot see it.) See https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/arthur_conan_doyle_134512

This leads directly to the explanation for psi which I have developed, which is the only possibility I have seen or been able to find anywhere which does not invoke concepts of the supernatural or ideas like the idea that everything we experience is just a computer simulation. That explanation is 
the noosphere species theory, which is summarized (with links to citeable papers) at:


Some aspects of the idea are further depicted at:


I am sorry that I have not had time to put it all together in one integrated paper with all the details, but my time is ever more divided lately. Most of my recent papers have coauthors, which gives an indication of how difficult it is to manage many threads at the same time and how I depend on others more and more. 

Others on this list have pointed out that the explanation might be different if we DO invoke concepts other than objective reality. I do not claim to know that such concepts are false, but it is hard to work with them in real life and I do not assign them more than, say, 30% probability:


=====================
================

That's just to address ONE of your sentences!!!

Psi by itself, and noosphere, are large enough... but yes, precognition and time create additional complexities. Levels and levels of them.

The initial level, simple precognition (what got me started in 1967!) , is actually easier to explain than the psi itself which it builds upon. Even in QED, the dynamics of the universe are symmetric with respect to time. What seems hard to explain, to begin, is WHY everyday life should seem to show such an asymmetry between past and future, when the underlying physics are symmetric. But the physical explanation is simple in retrospect:

P. Werbos, 
Bell's Theorem, Many Worlds and Backwards-Time Physics: Not Just a Matter of Interpretation, International Journal of Theoretical Physics (IJTP), Volume 47, Number 11, 2862-2874, DOI: 10.1007/s10773-008-9719-9. 

It is simple, but until human culture fully assimilates this first step, it may be premature to go much further, except in narrow circles of those ready to do so. 
To assimilate this first step, the world needs to see the results of experiments which directly test and implement the explanation, which I have argued for in dozens of venues, such as: https://arxiv.org/abs/1309.6168 and https://arxiv.org/abs/1309.6168, and  a couple of quick more recent papers posted at vixra.org
These not only provide some way to test the explanation, but also ways to build technology which does the same. 

Dealing with temporal paradoxes, the next level, is more difficult. At www.werbos.com/NATO_terrorism.pdf (a citeable book chapter, which I know that prominent folks in the quantum group at Tsinghua have read), I give an initial view, but no one on earth has sorted out all the complex issues. 

Best regards,

   Paul


Thursday, March 22, 2018

asked about new directions in power/AI/IOT, main comments were about China and Trump

First, the new directions. I am grateful that IEEE folks offered to pay my way to give an invited talk at WCCI 2018 (http://www.ecomp.poli.br/~wcci2018/ ) on what the "new AI" could do for the world electric power system, affecting everything from renewables to security to cars to survival. I was also happy that the paper was reviewed (like all papers for the conference) and that they encouraged us all to seek more comments before making the paper final. The accepted draft is at:

http://www.werbos.com/E/GridIOT.pdf

I will take comments until April 8, after which I will rewrite and "push the buttons".
This is just a special session paper, but after seeing it one of the society presidents said: "Too bad we can't make it a plenary, but plenaries two years in a row in the same conference would be irregular."

===========

I am grateful to have received useful feedback from 5 people so far, two at great length.
One of those two said I was too critical of China, and the other said I was too gentle. (China was not the main theme, but China is involved in all these technologies.) As I hear really crazy and technically uninformed stuff both pro and con on CNN... maybe I should post my immediate thoughts on that issue, even before I revise the paper. And add some details, commenting on news of the day, e.g. about tariffs.

-----------
My main responses:

To the friend who said I was too harsh on China:

I will try to rephrase section 4 to create less of that impression.

In truth, I had a mix of positive but worried reactions to an excellent documentary Luda recommended to me on IIAB and the policies behind it:

https://www.amazon.com/Backlight-Chinese-World-Jos-Putter/dp/B074T4Y72M/

I have long said very strong favorable things about Confucianism, about Meng Tzu in particular, and what I saw visiting ShanDong province. But circa 1000AD, degenerate forms of MANY positive ideas sprung up. We have also visited the "Thousand year academy" in Changsha, where a guy named Zu Xi (sp?) taught HIS version of Confucianism... where Mao went to school, and rightly had a negative reaction. Just as garbled versions of Aristotle have driven folks like Ted Cruz to try to acquire power by attacking civil rights, there are fplks who followed garbled versions of Meng Tzu in ways which led to serious problems with excess nepotism, warlords, and a lot of other stuff, which are still a potential problem within China. In summary, I worry about China and I worry about the US, both, and I worry even more about folks like Erdogan who have gone totally over the edge. 

My key point is that NEITHER the DNA system NOR the money system are a sufficient basis for solving urgent challenges facing us. The IIAB documentary (which perhaps I should cite) rightly questions systems which tend to force people to be too focused on money, but excess focus on family values is just as limited and risky in its own way. 


But again, I thank you for flagging this, which should help me to be clearer.

To the friend who said I was too complimentary to China (and maybe too harsh to the US):

I do worry about how easy it is to ignore problems that any major organization faces, including nations, and then to fall into typical human wishful thinking. The truth is usually a complex middle, but (1) I certainly do not want to claim that any major organization on earth is ALREADY on path to save itself or the rest of us, given the difficulty of what is coming down the pike in many sectors; and (2) I have done a lot of thinking in the last few days about the ups and downs of China and of Trump in particular. (Russia more the days before.) 
The intelligent grid is far from dead, but that's another matter. 


China really was unique for awhile, under Jiang Zemin (despite his horrible policies against all things spiritual, even home grown Chinese exercise traditions, though his lieutenants Bo Xilai and Zhou were the worst), because it was relatively free of the extreme excess narcissism which tends to warp all large powers. But as China recovers its pride, I see worrying signs here and there, and do not take it for granted, despite the true positive things I have said in the past. All big nations also have a mix of good and bad people -- more complicated than that, but true enough. 

Of course, anyone serious about the future of humanity also thinks hard and realistically about the Middle East. I heard Prince Mohammed's interview here a few days ago, and it was quite impressive. But he is also realistic about people in the area he has good reason not to trust; it is important that we not take him for granted so much that it hurts him and us and everyone else. (Let us not create another Shah!) Nuclear reactors in the Gulf strike me more as an example of how people can make mistakes through inadequate foresight, unless they are intended to allow quick response to any Iranian return to weaponization. I do think we need to think harder about how to eventually come to a more benevolent relation with Iran, tricky as that may be.

Regarding Trump... it still looks as if he could end up EITHER canonized or lynched in the end, depending on what he does.  He has lots of chips on both sides of the table. Will he really understand the swamp enough to drain it, or will he make it worse? Of course, a little global economic depression on the side would make it less uncertain which of the two it is in any case. The lynching process and its aftermath may represent serious problems on the other side. 

=========================================
=========================================

In mid 2016, I wrote on this list about the serious risk that the US might undergo problems similar to what Brazil recently experienced (a real disaster), when the new President -- EITHER Hillary Clinton OR Donald Trump -- took office, and encountered, yes, a real witch hunt due to forces I understood moderately well by then, because of my links to many government agencies in the neighborhood where I like.  

And so... I sense intense support AND opposition out there, even in the SAME people. 

The firing of McCabe should have been a plus for Trump, because it addresses the cabal which would have lynched EITHER candidate. But when Trump so viciously turned it into something partisan, and hired partisan extremists to carry through -- it's just like the firing of Comey, when it was an action called for objectively but it was a classic case of "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" because he made statements of intent which any judge woulkd rightly take very seriously, which also degrade democracy.

The swamp needs to be drained. Anyone intelligent enough, seeing my paper, would get some insights into the swamp -- though I have carefully held back discussing the most lurid concrete things I have seen. The swamp is NOT Hilary Clinton's apparatus, though Trump's statements have mobilized some irrationality on the left as well. His fault. The swamp is NOT "the deep state." The biggest risks of tyranny are NOT from the controlled civil service created by Teddy Roosevelt (history we should never forget), but from those "outside secret society meetings" funded by folks who outside the government are unobserved and unconstrained, using both selected purchased congressmen and political appointees to corrupt the system to a much greater degree than most Americans would imagine. If Trump goes beyond McCabe to break the wrong kinds of wires, we still have hope of restoring democracy (it is already that serious, folks!) and of him becoming a hero. But if McCabe was a one-off and if he empowers folks to destroy democracy EVEN MORE... well, the lynch mob is ready, and it would be illogical even to assume that civil war is impossible. (My paper talks a little about a few of the sources of instability, and some positive solutions, but in 8 pages one cannot cover everything.)

On the trade front, I was surprised how it is the opposite of the McCabe firing: a scary kind of action, but words which were very much aimed at a fair balance. Most economists remember the Smoot-Harley (sp?) tariffs which caused the Great Depression, but if the outcome is fair and not scary threats, maybe.

But: a big nit: Trump was grossly inaccurate in blaming imbalance on other nations. It was the same old stakeholder systems, folks in the US who were unrestrained in seeking money at the expense of others. Tim Kaine (VP candidate in 2016, still our senator) said: "TPP is fine in theory. What's wrong are the sneaky arbitration/judgment rules snuck in there which erode protections for environment and workers, especially US workers." I have seen a LOT of that kind of in-the-dark insertion stuff in DC. I was shocked that China did not AGREE with Kaine, to defend all the workers of the world... but it seems they still have a corruption problem of their own. Neither Communism nor Christianity have counterbalanced other folks. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell was especially scary in her statements about NAFTA, pushing hard to just get rid of ALL protections, making life even worse for workers and environment and for inequality in general. Sure, true socialism is impossible and silly, but at the present time the risk is more from GROWING inequality and lack of fair competition (which includes equal opportunity), and degrading of human culture in general. 

Can we come up with a more sjustainable way forward? "Killing the bad guys" is not the answer. My new paper gropes for just a few elements of what we need, urgently.. and our lives are at risk.






Sunday, March 18, 2018

miracles just for saints or rishis or for all of us?

One of the Vedanta folks presented the views of a yogi who is claimed to do (image?) materialization demonstrations to selected followers, after I suggested opening it up to cameras and such.

First I give my response, addressing the really important issue of human potential for all of us, and then I give some technical details of what astral travel actually is and how it works.

His comment:

The opening of eyes could not be thru the demonstration of psychic or supernatural powers only.  In reality, the opening of eyes implies making the people around aware of their true self which is cosmic consciousness and persuading them and creating adequate motivation in them to regain their true self.

My reply:

How to open the eyes of the people is a very fundamental challenge to all of us, especially to the most capable of us.

Here we are, after thousands of years full of many very serious spiritual teachers, backed up by intelligence far greater than what humans in general seem able to imagine in concrete terms... and yet just look at the state of this planet. After so much effort by so many incredibly capable minds... clearly the challenge is not trivial even with the greatest of intelligence and understanding. It is like what I have been trying to say to Serge, about the relation between aleph zero intelligence, versus aleph one and aleph two. 

Many religions try to come up with contorted explanations for their question: "If God is all powerful, all knowing and all good, why are things so imperfect here and so full of pain and confusion even now?" But those of us who have even a little experience in teaching seventh grade know a little about these kinds of challenges. 

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Many religions have been run  by humans as simple in their thinking as those movie makers twenty years ago who fell into a simple model/theory to maximize sales: "just maximize sex and violence." I am glad that that period has passed! But in religion, the similar simple formula is: "Just make people believe." Or: "Just get them to 'know' (believe) the 17 sacred principles." Strictly speaking, with the CORRECT 17 (?) principles actually applied to life, it might work, but every system promulgated by ANY of the major world religions demonstrates the devastating implications of adhering so much to what was distilled by mulling over the past in the ways which humans have learned so far.

The essence of "opening the eyes" as Jesus meant it was NOT creating loyalty to whatever string of words you choose, whether true and complete or not (almost never both in human history). It was NOT a string of words to be frozen like statues in the verbal ego of the mundane brain (fantasizing that it is more than that). It is, more literally, opening up the whole self, first to full attention to feelings which are nonverbal in nature, and then to the direct input from the spiritual world. BELIEF alone is no good. Total belief in belief is a false belief, a devastating one. 

The problem of false belief in belief... I have discussed with Yeshua, who liked:


When teachers encourage a false belief in belief itself, and focus on propagating the beliefs THEY have come to, without actually creating a realization that this actually connects to reality... when they limit themselves to a narrow circle ... they actually destabilize that narrow circle itself.

It is hard to move forward just one big step in reality, especially in spiritual reality, rather than imagining a thousand steps in one's own mundane fantasies... it requires strain and growth., But that is what we are called to do. Maybe it is a bit oversimplified and silly... but I like Yeshua's phrase, "GOD is an acronym for Grow or Die."  And indeed, this applies to the entire macroscopic Schrodinger cat we think of as "the entire earth." 

Best of luck,

    Paul
P.S. Of course, I know about the walking on water story, as does Yeshua. It is important to have values straight, but equally important to be respectful of the needs of people who need to see.


By the way, at 4AM, just before I saw your message, I had been thinking a bit about Princeton, which has so many interesting connections. In the Princeton thread, I thought first of the woman who took over the Princeton energy program a few years ago, who knows about real material science, including stuff like NEGF. I thought of a friend with similar background who visited SpaceX, which tried to hire him... but he refused, with sadness, because he could see that (1) they were not organized to use his best capability; and (2) their lack of understanding of the real materials issues made them about as promising as the Jonestown cult. Such good intentions... but such strong commitment to things which exclude what actually needs to be done. That is very much entangled with the fate of this Schrodinger cat we live in here. 

=================

Last night, I thought again about how much I like them metaphor or being fully aware of the ground immediately under one's feet, even as one move a step ahead and looks to the far distance to make sure one is on a path which gets to an interesting place and allows a return home, father than a path which could get you lost or even take you over a cliff. The importance of balance and integration of the three levels one must attend to, the feet, the path immediately ahead, and the far mountains.

I also thought of a real example of this, when I was walking in the great Yellow Mountain in the general area of Xian, in the company of an extremely attractive and vibrant young woman who herself offered a kind of path (attractive but at risk of falling off a cliff). I also remember when she and I reached one of the peaks, where there was a small shrine with a little green statue representing the spirit of the mountain. She stopped to express very serious and even energetic devotion to that statue... even as I breathed in and communed directly with that mountain itself, far more real and powerful than any statue. Opening the eyes entails seeing the mountain, and not just the statue... though I feel sorry for those stuck in places where little statues are all they have, not even good photographs. If only more of humanity could have access to more... essential also to the spiritual and mental ;productivity and survival of this little cat.

============

It was curious that as I started drafting this in my mind, Luda pulled me to our balcony, and pointed to the sky.
"See that triangle! Jupiter on the lower left, Spica on the lower right, rising up to Arcturus ever so bright on the top.' Spica? "Yes, your Virgo."  Oh? Are we doing the law of the triangle thing this night? Jupiter like Trump and Putin and such folk? Or? "Yes, but Polaris is on the other side of the house/sky." Arcturus as in Voyage to Arcturus, with its own image of what materialization looks like?

============================================
=================================

We had a further discussion of astral travel:

On the subject of lucid dreams versus astral travel, I previously wrote that there is not a distinct line between the two, NOT ONLY in our ability to tell which is which, but in the reality of the experiences themselves.

On Sun, Mar 18, 2018 at 4:02 AM,  ...  wrote:
But there is one difference between the two. While the experiences of the physical world are 
available universally to everyone without any efforts but the experiences of the astral world
are available to a few may be one in million and that too after a lot of efforts and practice.

In the end, we humans say we have had a lucid dream or an astral experience when we have a memory of a string of images and other experience, a memory which we preserve in our mundane cerebral cortex. 

What we remember is a kind of COMBINATION of inputs deposited into our cortex by our "soul" or "noosphere", and of things we reconstruct in our own mundane  cerebral cortex. I always remember the old story of a dreaming person whose alarm clock starts to ring... who begins to work the alarm clock into the dream, perhaps as a giant dragon... and then finally wakes up. The situation is even a bit more complicated, because the noosphere itself is a kind of mental space, with its own cortex-like reconstruction, provided shared mental spaces analogous to internet chat rooms. (I am reminded of Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow which gives examples of such.) 
it is never 100% perfect input or 100% reconstruction; it is always a mix of the two, and even the input is the mixed bag one can encounter in a mental space. Typical astral travelers tend to get mixed up between what is reconstruction and what is actual input.


But no, it is not just for the one in a million.There was a time in human history when LITERACY was for the "one in a million,"
and many institutions worked hard to keep it that way, declaring that this was a law of nature, not realizing how much was lost by taking it that way. 

One of the reasons I liked Jane Robert's readable little trilogy of Oversoul Seven is her vivid picture of hundreds of people engaged in authentic out of body travel (astral travel) every night... really showing up in the noosphere... but floating there half conscious, and not remembering it later. I have seen much the same myself at times. What they are missing is NOT the training to be able to do astral travel, but the training to be CONSCIOUS enough when they do it, to benefit from the experience, to leave an impact, and to be able to remember it. And also the training to penetrate through the illusions which we and the noosphere itself create as part of the natural healthy process of reconstruction. (By the way, at www.werbos.com/Mind.htm, I have links to a Handbook which gives the basic equations for performing that kind of reconstruction. My paper with Joshua Davis, aka Yeshua ben-David, shows that the model does fit 25KHz real-time unit recording data from the cortex.) 

When **I** use the term cosmic consciousness, I think of a state closer to 100% real input, with full awareness of one's current mundane situation ("wakeful, embodied," like bilocation), with no immersion in chat rooms, with more direct, flexible and explicit addressing of other parts of the noosphere, and more resonance with its emerging more conscious thought (and yes, its own input/output channels).
No astral bodies. More like what Brad Steiger talks about in "In my soul I am free."