Captain’s log

I woke up to a faint buzzing noise and the voice of the suit computer telling me that the life support systems were online. A bright sun shone through my visor as the computer continued its restart routine. I got up and looked around the landscape. It didn’t look good. My Rasamama S36 scout ship was a few meters away in the middle of a plain of what looked at first glance like assorted crash debris.

Kant, bees, and the brain’s GPS

How do we find our way around? One obvious method is landmarks. Researchers have identified “place cells” which represent locations in our cognitive map of the world. However, that doesn’t explain how we can find out way around in a place we’ve never been before. In 2005, a second kind of brain cell associated with location was identified in the paper Microstructure of a spatial map in the entorhinal cortex. The new cells were called grid cells:

Intellectual debate

This week the Harvard Republican Club wrote a letter about failing to endorse Donald Trump. It started as follows: Dear Members and Alumni, In every presidential election since 1888, the members and Executive Board of the Harvard Republican Club have gathered to discuss, debate, and eventually endorse the standard-bearer of our party. But for the first time in 128 years, we, the oldest College Republicans chapter in the nation, will not be endorsing the Republican nominee.

Amazon dissatisfaction

Update: Jet.com bought by Walmart. Oh well. Original article: I’ve been an Amazon customer since 1997. However, this year they’ve started to annoy me. The first annoyance was when they increased the minimum order for free shipping to $50. That wasn’t a big deal; it just meant I batched up purchases into bigger orders. Then they started offering some video games exclusively to Prime subscribers. Video games were one of the things I bought from Amazon a lot, because stores often only keep the most popular games in stock.

In which I finally become an American

Unlike my trip to the interview, my drive to the naturalization ceremony was a relaxed one. I wasn’t nervous, simply enjoying a day off work with my wife, and the chance for a short road trip. We arrived in San Antonio an hour early, and sat in the park for a while. The ceremony was to be at the Institute of Texan Cultures at noon. By the time we headed there, over half an hour early, there was a long line of cars attempting to enter the car park.

Personal Brexit

The process of becoming a US citizen started, for me, with the renewal of my “green card” after 10 years as a permanent resident. The renewal is more of a replacement. Once again I had to pay a few hundred dollars, wait for a few months, then turn up to be photographed, fingerprinted, and my paperwork processed. One of the problems with my first application for permanent residence is that when I’m under stress, my hands break out in eczema.

How the other side thinks

Moral Foundations Theory holds that people have 6 fundamental principles (or “foundations”) which they use to support their moral beliefs: Care for others Fairness Liberty Loyalty to your group Obedience to authority Moral sanctity or purity Conservatives tend to believe in 5 or more pillars, but are particularly strong in their belief in loyalty, obedience and moral purity. Liberals (like me) tend to have little or no belief in obedience or sanctity, and very little concern for loyalty.

Brexit update for 9 July

Michael Gove dropped out, so it’s now Theresa May vs Andrea Leadsom to be the next UK Prime Minister. Both are committed to brexit, so barring some miracle, expect the process to begin this fall. The British pound overtook the Argentinian peso to become the worst performing currency of 2016. Analysts are predicting it could reach dollar parity later this year. Job advertisements dropped by 47% as companies froze UK hiring.

The signs were there

PPP poll, 2013: Facing low approval ratings after a historically unproductive 112th session and a series of last-minute showdowns over fiscal matters, Congress is now less popular than root canals, NFL replacement referees, head lice, the rock band Nickelback, colonoscopies, carnies, traffic jams, cockroaches, Donald Trump, France, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and Brussel sprouts. …colonoscopies, carnies, traffic jams, cockroaches, Donald Trump, France, Genghis Khan… …cockroaches, Donald Trump…

Brexit the 4th

Now that he’s done his bit to destroy the UK, Nigel Farage has resigned. It seems absolutely nobody involved has the balls to stand up and lead the UK in completing the EU exit they campaigned for. Meanwhile, Nick Clegg wants a general election. Presumably since the Liberal Democrats are now the only party with functioning leadership, he smells opportunity, but I expect the only reason why the LibDem leader hasn’t resigned is that nobody knows who he is.