REM

Zoë Heller writes in The New Yorker:

Science has long understood that rem sleep—the stages of sleep characterized by rapid eye movement, in which most dreaming takes place—plays a vital role in our mental health. The human need for REM is so uncompromising that, when it is inhibited over a long period by excessive alcohol use, the pent-up backlog will release itself in a form of waking psychosis, otherwise known as delirium tremens. For a long time, the scientific establishment suspected that dreams were a superfluous by-product of the REM state. But in recent decades, thanks in large part to the advent of brain-imaging machines, scientists have been able to establish that dreams themselves are essential to the benefits of REM sleep. First, dreams knit up the ravelled sleeve of care by allowing us to process unhappy or traumatic experiences. Typically, during the REM state, the flow of an anxiety-triggering brain chemical called noradrenaline is shut off, so that we are able to revisit distressing real-life events in a neurochemically calm environment. As a result, the intensity of emotion that we feel about these events in our waking lives is reduced to manageable levels. In “Why We Sleep,” Walker attributes the recurring nightmares of P.T.S.D. sufferers to the fact that their brains produce an abnormal amount of noradrenaline, preventing their dreams from having the normal curative effect. When the dreaming brain fails to diminish the emotion attached to a traumatic memory, it will keep trying to do so, by revisiting that memory night after night.

Dreams also help us to master new skills; practicing a task or a language in our sleep can be as helpful as doing so when we are awake. And they appear to be crucial in honing our capacity for decoding facial expression: the dream-starved tend to slip into default paranoia, interpreting the friendliest expressions as menacing. Perhaps most alluring, dreams help us to synthesize new pieces of information with preëxisting knowledge, and to make creative lateral connections. The long list of inventions and great works said to have been generated in dreams includes the periodic table, the sewing machine, Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” Paul McCartney’s “Let It Be,” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

RIP, Typekit

Adobe has pulled the plug on standalone Typekit plans; therefore, Typekit subscribers are screwed. I am forced to subscribe to Adobe products to use Adobe Fonts. I already have my Adobe products through the law school, but I want to keep Adobe Fonts separately for my own projects.

It would be ridiculous and wasteful to have two subscriptions of Adobe products, but if I don’t go with an Adobe plan next year, all my sites that are using Typekit will have no custom fonts.

The “Type Recommendation” on Vietnamese Typography will be heavily affected. To keep this resource forever, I will have to pay a monthly fee of at least $120 a year for Adobe XD or take down that section completely. My other option is to get rid of all the typefaces that are served through Adobe Fonts.

In the future, I will only recommend typefaces that I have a copy of the font files. If you are a type designer and would like to showcase on Vietnamese Typography, please contact me.

Jelle De Laender has also written about his concern.

June Casagrande: The Joy of Syntax

This is another informing book on grammar from Casagrande. She explains syntax in a clear, comprehensible, and joyful writing. Her examples help seeing how sentences are constructed. Although I know most of the rules, I still trip up grammar when I write. Here are a few guides I have noted.

On page 42, Casagrande shows the apostrophe-less adjective:

Often, the implied word for comes into play. If it’s a policy for homeowners, the apostrophe is commonly omitted: homeowners policy. If it’s a massage for couples, you’re likely to see it written couples massage.

On page 91, she explains be:

So be is a base form. You’d use it to replace is, am, or are when employing the subjunctive mood.

He is here.
It’s crucial that he be here.

You are nice.
It’s crucial that you be nice.

I am ready.
It’s crucial that I be ready.

On page 92, she shows how the verbs don’t change in the subjunctive form:

He walks. — It’s crucial that he walk. (Note: No s)
He is. — It’s crucial that he be. (Present tense)

On page 93, she demonstrates the contrary-to-fact meaning:

If Mary were alive
(The speaker knows Mary is not alive.)

If Mary was alive at the time
(Mary may have been alive.)

On page 169, she explains the use of the singular they:

Singular they, them, and their fill a need in the language. English has no designated third person singular personal pronoun that isn’s gender specific. He and she are third person singular, but you’re assigning a sex to someone when you use one of these.

On page 170, she provides some examples:

Everyone should keep their car locked.

Anybody caught out after 11 p.m. knows their movie privileges will be revoked.

Someone who loves me said they will come to my defense.

I highly recommend this book for a crash course on grammar.

The Price for Elite Colleges

Erica L. Green and Katie Benner report in The New York Times:

T.M. Landry has become a viral Cinderella story, a small school run by Michael Landry, a teacher and former salesman, and his wife, Ms. Landry, a nurse, whose predominantly black, working-class students have escaped the rural South for the nation’s most elite colleges. A video of a 16-year-old student opening his Harvard acceptance letter last year has been viewed more than eight million times. Other Landry students went on to Yale, Brown, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell and Wesleyan.

But:

In reality, the school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity. The Landrys also fostered a culture of fear with physical and emotional abuse, students and teachers said. Students were forced to kneel on rice, rocks and hot pavement, and were choked, yelled at and berated.

The Landrys’ deception has tainted nearly everyone the school has touched, including students, parents and college admissions officers convinced of a myth.

Visualgui 2019

Here’s a colorful design for 2019. Each blog post is now separated by a vibrant color to spice up the layout. I wanted to move away from black text and red link on white background.

Of course the typography is completely changed. Body text is now set in Fern, by David Jonathan Ross. The big headlines are set in Dattilo, a stylish revival of the classic Italian slab by David Jonathan Ross with Roger Black. Dattilo is fresh off Font of the Month Club last night. Small text is set in Frequenz, by Sebastian Losch.

My personal goal is to give this blog at least one redesign a each. For 2018, however, I had gone through six different iterations. I am sure I will do the same for 2019.

As for WordPress, I am not sure how the release of version 5.0 and Gutenberg will change the way I have been theming this blog. I am still using the minimal requirements (index.php and style.css); therefore, the new editor, which allows users to create rich experience, does not fit my need. The minimal theming allows me to hone into the text and make the redesign quickly. I don’t have to comb through 100 files. My focus is still typography rather than image-driven design.

I hope you enjoy the new design.

Bình yên

Gần đây cơm lành canh ngọt nên không viết vớ vẩn nữa. Sống bình yên và bớt căng thẳng. Hạnh phúc là được dành thời gian cho con cái và đọc sách. Tôi không muốn suy nghĩ nhiều càng không muốn va chạm đến người khác. Càng yên tĩnh càng tốt.

Mùa Giáng Sinh cũng sắp tới nên cuộc sống cũng có chút nhộn nhịp hơn. Tôi không hứng thú gì với những ngày lễ cả chỉ muốn được nghỉ làm ở nhà với gia đình. Dĩ nhiên nếu có bạn đi ăn nhậu lai rai cũng vui nhưng không có cũng không sao.

Tôi quý cuộc sống bình thường. Không ồn ào không drama là quá đủ rồi. Có con cái nhỏ mà muốn được yên tĩnh cũng hơi khó. Biết làm sao bây giờ ngoài việc cố tự gắng kiềm chế cảm xúc của mình. Tôi rất muốn được tu tâm dưỡng tánh để được sống nhẹ nhàng. Chỉ thế thôi.

Brené Brown: Braving the Wilderness

In the first chapter, Ms. Brown gives a remarkable account of her personal experience in finding her true belonging. For the rest of the book, she shares her research and advice on dealing with loneliness, connecting with people who have different political views, and kicking the bullshit. After the engaging beginning, the book drags on even though it has less than 200 pages. It’s a passable read.

Master of the Political Machine

Robert Draper writes about Nancy Pelosi in The New York Times Magazine:

Pelosi is something of a paradox in the world of politics. A Gallup poll five months ago found her favorability rating to be at a dismal 29 percent, and yet — unlike other unpopular political figures such as Trump and Hillary Clinton — her 31 years in public life have been free of scandal. She has been excoriated from the right as the quintessence of California limousine liberalism. But she is also a practicing Catholic whose first career was as a stay-at-home mother of five children, with little in common with — and at times little patience for — the new generation of activists in her party, to whom she sometimes refers as “the lefties.” Pelosi — who with her husband, the investor Paul Pelosi, owns a large house in San Francisco’s upper-crust Presidio Heights as well as a Napa Valley vineyard — is indeed rich. But 29 members of Congress, 18 of them Republicans, are richer.

What sets her apart from other legislators of her stature is her gender. Pelosi has been known to say: “No one gives you power. You have to take it from them.” The leitmotif of her three-decade ascent is that of a woman wresting power away from a male-dominated political machine, until one day the machine discovered she was its master.

Pelosi is tough, smart, and talented. The Democrat should be thankful for her leadership.