Như Loan Voted

I don’t pay much attention to Vietnamese celebrities on politics, but I am surprised and impressed with Như Loan’s view on how she voted. She posted on Facebook:

I voted for women to have the right to choose whether or not they should have a baby. Just like everything in life, there will always be exceptionally bad cases where people make poor choices but those should be the choices they get to make. #herbodyherchoice

The entire post personal, honest, and well-reason. I respect that.

Visualgui 2020 Iteration 5: Bitter

For interaction 5, I changed the typesetting to Bitter, designed by Sol Matas. In the previous version, the body text was set in Harriet, by designed by Jackson Showalter-Cavanaugh. Although Harriet is beautiful, its serifs appeared a bit too busy for reading on the web. I wanted something simpler and less busy. Bitter fits the bill. Bitter is an open source typeface and it is also a variable font.

In the past few years, I tried to avoid using open source fonts. Because they are open source, anyone can use them. I wanted to have a bit of a selective typeface, but I can’t resist Bitter. Unlike what its name might suggest, Bitter is such a friendly text face. It is so much easy on the eyes. It has distinctive serifs, but not too overwhelming. I wish its black weight has more contrast, but it is still pretty good-looking for headlines. Since it is a variable font, it would be a waste not to use it.

Google Fonts has been putting out so many high quality typefaces with Vietnamese support. I am very impressed with its dedication to typography. I still don’t want to let them host the fonts on its end. I am hosting all the fonts on my own server. If you want to use Bitter, go check it out on Google Fonts.

The MODX Disaster

After watching the final U.S. presidential debate on Thursday, I checked my RSS reader instead of going straight to bed. I saw a notification from MODX releasing 2.8.1. I was a bit surprised because I just upgraded to 2.8.0 only a few weeks ago. MODX usually takes at least 6 months to put out a minor release. It must be some security issue that they needed to patch.

MODX is the content management system that powered the Scalia Law website. Since it was midnight so no one would be logging into the CMS to make any updates; therefore, it was a good time to do the upgrade. It would only take me about 15 minutes to complete. I followed the procedure like I had always done in the past. Something didn’t go right when the files which were supposed to be merged had prompted me to replace. When I allowed the files to be replaced, the website went down. The files that used to take 15 minutes to merge were now estimated about 55 minutes.

I started to panic, stopped the upload, and tried to figure out what went wrong. I went into our daily backups and re-uploaded the directories I had made the upgrade. The process alone took about half an hour. The website was still down. At this point, I re-upload the entire site as well as the database from two days before. This process took a couple of hours. It was already three in the morning and nothing worked. I called GoDaddy, our hosting provider, to see if there’s anything they could do. The first time I called, the technician recommended that I try to re-upload the site from a week old. If that would also fail, I could request a disaster recovery.

I went on Twitter and tweeted for help from the MODX community. I received no response. Its community is way too small. Around six in the morning I started to get messages from colleagues telling me that the site had been down. I explained the situation to my supervisor and her supervisor. They completely understood. Since I could not get any help the last resort was to ask GoDaddy to perform a disaster recovery. The site remained down until around 4:45 pm on Friday. The site went down for 16 hours and I feel horrible. It was all my responsibility alone to bear. I did not sleep that night and kept checking my phone for a miracle to happen.

Although the website is now backed up working, we are set back 3 weeks. GoDaddy only keeps a snapshot every two to three weeks. Now I have to restore what was missing and it is a pain. I am also causing other people to redo some of their work as well.

After this incident, I now determine that we will need to get off MODX. This CMS is dying. It could never get beyond a couple of thousand enthusiasts. I should have called the shot a long time ago, but I held on the hope for it. Now it has become cleared that I need to make an exit strategy. It’s time to migrate to WordPress.

Ice Skating and Rollerblading

My recreational exercises these days are ice skating and rollerblading. Every Wednesday, I take ice skating lessons for half an hour and practice for half an hour. I am still an amateur, but I enjoy learning the techniques. I encourage my kids to take lessons as well, but they are not interested yet. Đán could benefit from having some structures to grow his skating skills as well as to help him learn to follow instructions.

As for rollerblading, I hesitated at first because it seemed dangerous. Falling on the concrete seemed more serious than falling on ice, especially for someone my age and weight. Then the pandemic hit, which forced all ice skating rinks to close. The alternative choice for skating was rollerblading. Đán and Đạo made a much quicker transition from ice skating to rollerblading than I did. It took me a while to get used to, but now I really am enjoying it. I didn’t even know about skate parks until recently. They are everywhere and we love to discover different ones close to where we live. The kids enjoy rollerblading; therefore, I drag them out to the skate park whenever I have some free time and to get them off the screens. It has been a fun activity I love to do with the kids.

I used to prefer ice skating more than rollerblading, but now I enjoy them both. Although they are similar, ice skating is smoother and rollerblading is much more rugged. One is for the arena and one is for the street. I am glad that I have fostered Đạo’s and Đán’s interest in both. Now I need to work on Xuân and Vương as well.

My wife has informed me that ski resorts will open this winter. I am not sure if it will be safe yet to come back, but I am not ruling it out yet either. We’ll see what will happen. When my wife organized a ski trip for the first time, I hesitated to join the kids for lessons. Skiing is an expensive sport. With ski lift and equipment rental, a day for skiing is around $140 for one person. I gave it a shot and it has also become my favorite winter sport.

I need to stay active and these sports are more exciting than jogging and walking. I am still a noob, but I enjoy discovering more techniques. As long as I can keep myself balanced, I am good. Of course, I have full guards and a helmet to protect myself from head to knee. At this age, I am not taking any risk.

It’s Bad

The day that I have been fearful the most being on my watch has finally come. It’s a disaster and I don’t know if I can recover from it. The whole thing has collapsed from a tiny error. The responsibility is all on me. I am fucked.

A Remarkable Biden Presidency

Bill McKibben, writing at the New Yorker, makes the case for a remarkable presidency if Biden doesn’t care about his reelection in 2024. McKibben argues what Biden can accomplish in four years without looking ahead at his second term:

If Biden’s not guarding his approval ratings for a second run, he could, for instance, demand that his new majority give him a lot of stimulus money to work with, and simply not worry about the G.O.P. and the pundit class as they start warning about deficits. (The fact that the Republicans ballooned the deficit just to give the rich yet more tax breaks takes the sting out of their arguments, anyhow.) At this point, getting rid of the filibuster seems all but certain, but Biden could push to expand and reform the courts. He could embrace the Green New Deal, moving money from the Pentagon to the national-security task of building out solar and wind power and setting irrevocably in motion an industrial transition that would transform our economy over the next generation. He could take millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. He could make sure that we have a commission to examine and recommend reparations for Black and indigenous Americans. And so on. The key things that need to happen if America is ever going to get past its stalemated and sickly status quo are as obvious as they are politically difficult. But, if Biden decided that the next four years were all that mattered to him, he could get to work.

The Case Against Donald Trump

This paragraph from the Atlantic sums up the Trump presidency:

Donald Trump is the worst president this country has seen since Andrew Johnson, or perhaps James Buchanan, or perhaps ever. Trump has brought our country low; he has divided our people; he has pitted race against race; he has corrupted our democracy; he has shown contempt for American ideals; he has made cruelty a sacrament; he has provided comfort to propagators of hate; he has abandoned America’s allies; he has aligned himself with dictators; he has encouraged terrorism and mob violence; he has undermined the agencies and departments of government; he has despoiled the environment; he has opposed free speech; he has lied frenetically and evangelized for conspiracism; he has stolen children from their parents; he has made himself an advocate of a hostile foreign power; and he has failed to protect America from a ravaging virus. Trump is not responsible for all of the 220,000 COVID-19-related deaths in America. But through his avarice and ignorance and negligence and titanic incompetence, he has allowed tens of thousands of Americans to suffer and die, many alone, all needlessly. With each passing day, his presidency reaps more death.

Make America Lead Again

Retired Admiral William McRaven, the Navy SEAL who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, voted for Biden. He writes in the Wall Street Journal:

This week I went to the polls in Texas. Truth be told, I am a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, small-government, strong-defense and a national-anthem-standing conservative. But, I also believe that black lives matter, that the Dreamers deserve a path to citizenship, that diversity and inclusion are essential to our national success, that education is the great equalizer, that climate change is real and that the First Amendment is the cornerstone of our democracy. Most important, I believe that America must lead in the world with courage, conviction and a sense of honor and humility.

If we remain indifferent to our role in the world, if we retreat from our obligation to our citizens and our allies and if we fail to choose the right leader, then we will pay the highest price for our neglect and shortsightedness.

I voted for Joe Biden.


Một phút dại khờ

Lúc mới sang Mỹ, tôi được một người dì khuyến khích đi nhà thờ Tin Lành. Thời đó cuối tuần cũng chẳng có gì làm nên đi gặp người Việt cho đỡ nhớ quê hương và đồng thời giết thời gian. Sáng Chúa Nhật tôi ăn mặc chỉnh tề. Quần tây áo sơ mi thắt thêm cái cà vạt tất cả được mua từ tiệm Woolworth.

Lúc đến nhà thờ tôi cũng cố nở nụ cười chào hỏi. Lúc mọi người hát thánh ca thì tôi chỉ đứng yên. Lúc mọi người cầu nguyện thì tôi chỉ quan sát mọi người nguyện cầu. Lúc mục sư giảng đạo thì tôi ngồi ngáp lên ngáp xuống. Lúc học kinh thánh tiếng Anh thì tôi chả hiểu. Lúc học kinh thánh tiếng Việt tôi cũng mù luôn. Lúc sinh hoạt với nhóm trẻ cùng lứa tuổi thì chẳng đứa nào bắt chuyện với tôi vì tôi không biết tiếng Anh. Lúc đổi sang sinh hoạt tiếng Việt thì nhóm toàn lớn tuổi hơn tôi nên cũng chả thèm đếm xỉa đến tôi.

Không thể hòa nhập vào lớp nào cả nên đâm ra chán. Và rồi lời Chúa dạy và lời mục sư giảng cũng chẳng nhập vào đầu óc hoặc trái tim của tôi nên sau vài tháng tôi không đi nữa. Thay vì sáng Chúa Nhật đi nhà thờ tôi ở nhà luyện porn tự sướng. Xử xong tôi thấy được hiệu quả ngay khỏi cần đợi chờ lời nguyện cầu có được ban hay không.

Nhắc đến việc tự sướng, mấy hôm nay mạng xã hội ồn ào dụ của ông Jeffrey Toobin tự xử trong cuộc họp với đồng nghiệp qua Zoom. Lúc tự sướng ông quên tắt đi máy camera và mic.

Ông Toobin là một trong những người viết về chính trị tôi rất thích trên tạp chí The New Yorker. Đồng thời ông cũng là nhà phân tích về pháp luật cho đài CNN và một tác giả viết sách hay. Tôi khâm phục sự đa tài của ông. Việc đã xảy ra là một tai nạn nghề nghiệp thật đáng tiếc. Dĩ nhiên là tôi không biện hộ hành động hổ thẹn đó của ông nhưng có thể phần nào hiểu được.

Việc đầu tiên khi bị bắt quả tang tự xử là ông xin lỗi ngay đến người vợ của mình. Tôi không biết hôn nhân của ông ra sao nhưng nếu ông phải tự xử chắc có lẽ ông không được thỏa mãn nhu cầu trong tình dục. Tôi không đổ lỗi cho vợ ông cũng không có ý rằng đàn bà phải thỏa mãn đàn ông. Nhưng chỉ vì mấy ông thèm muốn quá mà không được nên phải tìm đến phương pháp khác. Ly dị là một lối thoát dễ dàng nhất nhưng ngoài tình dục còn có tình yêu. Nếu không muốn mất tình yêu mà cũng chả được tình dục thì chỉ còn cách thủ dâm để giữ mái ấm gia đình. Dù sao thì tự sướng không nặng tội bằng đi ngoại tình hay đi mua sướng. Chẳng hạn như có ông chơi pornstar lúc vợ mang thai vẫn trở thành một vị tổng thống của đất nước tự do và còn được tôn thờ là một nhà lãnh đạo vĩ đại được Chúa chọn.

Ông Toobin chỉ có mỗi tội là tự xử không đúng lúc và không cẩn thận. Chỉ cẩu thả một phút mà mất đi nghề nghiệp hai mươi mấy năm và danh tiếng mấy mươi năm. Một đời khôn không bằng một phút dại.

USA TODAY Endorses Biden

For the first time in USA TODAY’s history, the Editorial Board is endorsing a presidential candidate:

For nearly four decades, the Editorial Board has stood for certain core values: truth, accountability, civility in public discourse, opposition to racism, common-ground solutions to the nation’s problems, and steadfast support for First Amendment rights. These aren’t partisan issues, or at least they shouldn’t be.

Donald Trump has trampled each of these principles, making more than 20,000 false or misleading statements, ducking responsibility for his actions, spewing streams of invective at his critics, trafficking in racial fearmongering, governing more as the leader of the red states than of the United States, and relentlessly attacking the free press.

Everything about Biden’s nearly half-century political career suggests he would do a far better job of respecting these values. “We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country, the spirit of being able to work with one another,” the Democratic nominee said in a recent speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.