David Powers: PHP 7 Solutions

I still love PHP. It is a robust programming language that powers a handful of solid CMS including WordPress, Drupal, and MODX. I work with PHP almost everyday even though I am not a backend programmer. It has been quite a while since I picked up a book on PHP; therefore, I wanted to catch up. David Powers’s fourth edition of PHP 7 Solutions turns out to be a good choice for reviewing my knowledge. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Powers offers many applicable use cases including how to create a CMS. I would love to setup a simple CMS for small client projects, but freelance has come to a halt in the past few years. Nevertheless, I recommend this book if you want to learn this awesome, dynamic programming language.

Ali Wong: Dear Girls

Wong’s love letters to her daughters are so damn raw and unfiltered that they won’t be able to read them until they turn twenty one. They will learn that their mother is one crazy raunchy Asian. From sex to career to race, Wong takes on the subjects with honesty, humility, and humor. Her writing is hilarious. Here’s her advice to her daughters not to fuck virgin men: “They might not have a physical hymen that you can break and make them bleed, but their emotional hymen is real, and it’s thick, especially at that age.” When her husband told her that he didn’t know what she wanted, Wong’s responded, “We’re at a fucking mall. Tiffany is right there, go in and ask me if I want something and you’ll find out!” Wong is authentic and brilliant. Best of all, she embraces her Vietnamese culture. I love this book. I love an Asian American woman who speaks her fucking mind, particularly on sex. It is an enlightening, empowering, and engrossing read.

Thanksgiving: A Day of Mourning

Philip Deloria’s “The Invention of Thanksgiving” in The New Yorker is a must-read and the following passage is worth quoting:

What follows is a vivid account of the ways the English repaid their new allies. The settlers pressed hard to acquire Indian land through “sales” driven by debt, threat, alliance politics, and violence. They denied the coequal civil and criminal jurisdiction of the alliance, charging Indians under English law and sentencing them to unpayable fines, imprisonment, even executions. They played a constant game of divide and conquer, and they invariably considered Indians their inferiors. Ousamequin’s sons Pumetacom—called King Philip by the English—and Wamsutta began forming a resistance, despite the poor odds. By 1670, the immigrant population had ballooned to sixty or seventy thousand in southern New England—twice the number of Native people.

We falsely remember a Thanksgiving of intercultural harmony. Perhaps we should recall instead how English settlers cheated, abused, killed, and eventually drove Wampanoags into a conflict, known as King Philip’s War, that exploded across the region in 1675 and 1676 and that was one of the most devastating wars in the history of North American settlement. Native soldiers attacked fifty-two towns in New England, destroyed seventeen of them, and killed a substantial portion of the settler population. The region also lost as much as forty per cent of its Native population, who fought on both sides. Confronted by Mohawks to the west, a mixed set of Indian and Colonial foes to the south, and the English to the east, Pumetacom was surrounded on three sides. In the north, the scholar Lisa Brooks argues, Abenaki and other allies continued the struggle for years. In “Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War” (Yale), Brooks deepens the story considerably, focussing on indigenous geographical and linguistic knowledge, and tracing the life of Weetamoo, the widow of Wamsutta and the saunkskwa, or female leader, of her tribe, the Pocasset. Weetamoo was Pumetacom’s ally, his relative, and a major figure in the fight. In the end, not only Pumetacom’s head was stuck on a pike; hers was, too, displayed for Wampanoag prisoners who were likely soon to be sold to the Caribbean.

The Thanksgiving story buries the major cause of King Philip’s War—the relentless seizure of Indian land. It also covers up the consequence. The war split Wampanoags, as well as every other Native group, and ended with indigenous resistance broken, and the colonists giving thanks. Like most Colonial wars, this one was a giant slave expedition, marked by the seizure and sale of Indian people. Wampanoags were judged criminals and—in a foreshadowing of the convict-labor provision of the Thirteenth Amendment—sold into bondage. During the next two centuries, New England Indians also suffered indentured servitude, convict labor, and debt peonage, which often resulted in the enslavement of the debtor’s children. Thanksgiving’s Pilgrim pageants suggest that good-hearted settlers arrived from pious, civilized England. We could remember it differently: that they came from a land that delighted in displaying heads on poles and letting bodies rot in cages suspended above the roads. They were a warrior tribe.

Fascinating history.

Iliza Shlesinger: Unveiled

Iliza Shlesinger is back with another Netflix Special tackling feminism and wedding. Her content is not bad, but she is way too hyper. Her acting and sound effects get in the way of her materials. I wish she toned down her goofiness a notch. She definitely looks great at 36, but her performance is at 16.

Back Again

Life is back to normal again. My wife and I made peace—and love. I am tuning out on all the negativity around me and focusing on my kids’ activity. I still have lots of improvements to do, especially in the socializing department. If I can’t hide it, I might as well face it. I promised myself not to get into any more controversies. I kept reminding myself to stay out of people’s business even if they are in my environment.

I just need to get back to do things I enjoy the most. Spending time with my kids helps me letting go of the baggage. Reading helps me staying sharp. Writing journal helps me relieving my stress, but I have to be mindful of what I write now that I know some of the people reading my blog. As long as I think carefully before I hit the publish button, I think I will be safe. It puts a restraint on me, but now I am learning to be more generic in my writing than being specific. As long as I am not directing my subject at anyone, I think I can still write what I want to write.

I still have annoyances on my mind, but I can’t make them go away unless I decided to cut off all my ties. Part of life is putting up with shit you don’t like. I have learned to ignore them rather than to make a big fuss about them. If I can’t learn to adapt to them or to deal with them, I am just going to make myself miserable. Either way I am fucked.

Erin Lee Carr: All That You Leave Behind

In her debut memoir, Erin Lee Carr writes about her relationship with her father, David, who was a renowned journalist at The New York Times. David was a lovely father who raised his twin daughters on his own until he got remarried. Though he had his flaws and dark moments, David always made time for his daughters and gave them advice when they needed him. Like her father, Erin struggled with alcohol and it got worse after his death. It’s a concise, bittersweet, and honest read.

Visualgui 2020 Iteration 1: Fine-tuning

Visualgui 2020 is not a new departure, but more of a fine-tuning from Visualgui 2019 Iteration 6. I am still obsessed with the book-reading experience with just one-column text on muted background color.

The biggest change is the typeface. The main text is now set in Fragen, by Lucas Descroix. I really love this new slab text face. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work with Descroix on Fragen’s Vietnamese diacritics. I am mot using a sans-serif complementary in this version.

I am also bringing back the huge display text on the homepage. Currently I am using Roslindale Ultra by DJR. It’s pretty much it.

Politically Free

As I was waiting for my sons to do their Cub Scouts activities, one of their leaders came up to me and asked what I was reading. I closed the book and showed him the cover of Pete Buttigieg’s Shortest Way Home. He showed no reaction; therefore, I asked him if he knew Pete Buttigieg. To my surprise, he didn’t.

I gave him a brief background of Buttigieg and told him that he’s the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. He didn’t seem to care; therefore, I wanted to find out a bit more about him. I knew he is Vietnamese-American and he was born in the United States. He told me that he is in his second year at NOVA community college. I asked him if he liked to read and his answer was not if he had to.

I was not making any judgment. In fact, I thought it is good for him not to get all caught up in politics. I wish I could zone out just like him. Following politics only stresses you out. You can’t make a difference. Most politicians, Republicans in particular, have been bought out by big money. They don’t give a fuck about this country. They only look out for their own interests as well as the big donors’ agenda. For the most part, money still rules this country. The more you know about politics, the more corruption you will see.

Niềm vui nhỏ

Chiều thứ sáu sau khi ra sở tôi lái xe đến chỗ Đạo và Đán tập múa lân và họp nhóm hướng đạo. Đến 8:30 tối thì có lớp dạy tiếng Việt. Thầy giáo dạy tiếng Việt có ba đứa con. Nghe đồn là ba người mẹ khác nhau nhưng tôi không rõ. Chỉ biết là mẹ thằng út bị tâm thần và khi hai người chia tay tòa án không cho thằng nhỏ theo mẹ mà phải theo ba. Là ba nó cho biết thế.

Mỗi chiều thứ sáu ông cha tay dắt tay bồng ba đứa con đi hướng đạo. Chẳng những thế còn xung phong dạy tiếng Việt cho đám nhỏ. Nói mấy tháng nay rồi mà thứ sáu hôm qua mới bắt đầu. Dĩ nhiên làm thầy mà thằng con ôm chặt làm sau dạy. Cả đám mẹ ngồi trong lớp vậy mà ổng quăng thằng nhỏ cho tôi.

Thôi thì cũng đành nhận vậy. Tôi cho nó ra khỏi lớp rồi dụ dỗ nó đi vòng trường nhìn những tranh vẽ của học sinh. Nó lớn hơn thằng Vương chắc bốn hoặc năm tháng. Thằng nhỏ rất dễ thương nó cứ dắt tay tôi đi tìm ba nó mà càng đi thì càng xa. Nửa tiếng đồng hồ tôi và nó cứ đi vòng trường. Không ngờ đó là những giây phút thật nhẹ nhàng. Tôi bế nó lên và hôn lên má nó làm tôi nhớ đến thằng Vương của tôi.

Và trong thời gian đó cho tôi cảm giác được là tôi không thể sống xa con. Tụi nó là sự tồn tại của chính tôi. Tôi may mắn và hạnh phúc khi được sống bên cạnh chúng nó. Nhất là thằng Vương bây giờ đang trong lúc rất dễ thương và tương đối dễ chịu.

Pete Buttigieg: Shortest Way Home

Buttigieg’s life exemplifies the America’s middle-class family. He grew up Christian, went to Harvard, served in the military, and became a politician to make a change for our country. He ran for offices in his hometown South Bend and became the mayor. Buttigieg is a good writer, but the pace is a bit slow. The memoir covers both his political career as well as his personal romance. The story of how he met Chasten is sweet and charming. If Buttigieg becomes president in 2020, he will be great for America. I trust his character and decency over the puppet occupying the White House right now.