10th Feb 2021

Adieu, Daniel

Et merci, pour tous.

T étais pour moi comme Zorba le Grec en vrai vie, et je t’adore. On va se revoir, un jour.

“Because you gave to me oh so many things it makes me wonder
How they could belong to me
And I gave you only my dark eyes that melted your soul down
To a place where it longs to be”

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23rd Dec 2020

Suy ngẫm về sự hưởng lạc

Đến một độ tuổi, chỉ cần uống quá một ly cocktail buổi tối sẽ phải trả giá bằng giấc ngủ ban đêm và tinh thần buổi sáng.

Những lạc thú vô thường càng ngày càng trở nên đắt giá, và kẻ hưởng lạc này bắt đầu suy ngẫm về sustainable pleasure, về ataraxia và aponia.

Một hedonist đang trên đà chuyển hoá thành epicureanist như thế ^^

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17th Nov 2020

Quote of the day, or life :-)

Kurt Vonnegut:
“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”
And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”

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06th Nov 2020

The chaos of 2020

An article in the middle of US election chaos. “American democracy seems to have reached a point that has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with stories”.


Trump, a post-truth man for a post-truth world

Waleed Aly

Depending on your politics, you can call this election result whatever you want. Call it catastrophe, or catastrophe averted. Call it vindication or abomination. What you cannot call it is repudiation.

That’s mostly a problem for those who were cheering on a Biden landslide, which was really only ever code for a thorough, history-correcting repudiation of Trumpism. That has emphatically not happened. History is not being corrected because Trump is not an aberration. We know this now.

One of the most underestimated features of this election is that, unlike 2016, it is a mass-turnout event. Trump winning a low-turnout affair is conceivable – he wins because his loyal followers turn up while much of the country doesn’t – but to be highly competitive in the highest turnout in over a century?

There can’t be millions of true believers who didn’t turn up in 2016. We’re looking at something now baked into the system itself. It’s not just that the country is polarised. It’s that almost nothing seems able to shift it.

We need a better word than polarisation because that just implies serious disagreement.

We’re beginning to see something much bigger than that: people who inhabit completely different worlds. These sides do not merely object to one another, they simply fail to comprehend how the other can even exist.

That’s most obviously true of progressives, who continue to express shock at the level of Trump’s support, even though they’ve had four years to get used to the fact.

But it’s also true of Trumpists who, as I write this, cannot believe that Trump’s lead in key states began to evaporate once postal votes were being counted, despite the fact that just about everyone predicted that would happen weeks out.

That’s because American democracy seems to have reached a point that has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with stories.

Here we must obviously cite Trump’s complete disregard for truth in his attitude to just about everything, from the size of his own inauguration crowd to the realness of COVID-19 to the idea of a stolen election.

The most accurate description of Trump is the one we most quickly abandoned: post-truth. Remember that? The point isn’t that he misrepresents facts. It’s that facts are just irrelevant. All that matters is the narrative and how you feel about it.

Progressive forces have been doing this in more subtle ways, too. That’s why there is progressive bewilderment that Trump has done well with the Latino vote, for example.

That can only be a surprise when you start with the axioms of today’s progressive politics: that Trump is a racist, that people of colour exist as a politically meaningful group, and that this identity means they could never vote for a racist.

But, actually, “Latinos” include massively divergent groups, including Cubans and Venezuelans who care much more about the threat of “socialism” than any discourse of racism. That fact has been discoverable for decades, but only Trump seemed to grasp it. So he exploited it and these voters smashed Biden in Florida.

Similarly, recall Buzzfeed’s publication of the “Steele dossier”, an unverified opposition research document that purported to detail Trump’s collusion with Russia. It’s not the publication of a blatant lie in the Trump style, but it happily disseminates unverified information that was generated for a political purpose.

This sort of thing happens because a story is set and “facts” are constructed to suit them. Trump’s story here is of a ceaseless witch-hunt. The progressive story is of a president so one-dimensionally evil that we can pretty much believe whatever is said about him if it fits that description.

There’s no real middle position on offer here. You simply choose which narrative suits you. And once you choose, no accommodation can be made – no conversation can even be had – with those who subscribe to the other one. The result is to replace a political culture of disagreement with a political culture of contempt.

No doubt, a figure like Trump makes contempt appealing. But this contempt inevitably spreads to his supporters, not just him. The effect is not to make him accountable. It is to make his politics consequence-free.

He can adopt legendary levels of dishonesty and incompetence – even in the deadly context of a pandemic – and it can all be subsumed by his grander narrative of the witch-hunt against him. Either the pandemic isn’t real, or it is and he’s done a good job, or it’s just unimportant. In a way, Trump is the world’s first major post-modern politician: subordinating notions of objective truth to a narrative of anti-elite resistance. That’s how someone with his track record can even come close.

Democracy does not work where divisions become calcified in this way. Its whole aim is to balance stability and fluidity.

By allowing for change at frequent intervals, it delivers stable transitions from one government to another on the understanding that both victory and defeat are only ever temporary. This lowers the stakes of any given election, and allows us to avoid a kind of “winner takes all” politics in which even the most basic institutions of government can be sacrificed for the sake of winning.

But that only works if people have faith that persuasion and deliberation are possible, that despite our disagreements we’re starting from a loosely agreed set of facts, and that the other side is even worth engaging. America has dismantled all of these things.

Once the terms of democratic combat become so mutually exclusive, winners really do take all. That takes us to a place with almost no firm principles – not even foundational democratic ones – evidenced by Trump’s current campaign to stop actual votes being counted.

It is optimistic to think this would somehow disappear upon Trump’s exit. This mode of discourse, led by the story you want to tell rather than the facts you assemble, has been building for years.

It is aided significantly by the fracturing and splintering of our news services, by journalism’s fight for survival.

Trump once said Twitter was the reason he could achieve what he did, and he’s probably right. Trump didn’t invent this approach. He’s just better at it than anyone else: a post-truth man for a post-truth world. What we might be about to discover is that it’s a very short trip from post-truth to post-democracy.

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30th Oct 2020

Halloween, favoristism, etc.

Nemo: Mẹ, con nghĩ là bố mẹ Greg show favoritism

Mẹ: Con nghĩ bố mẹ Greg favor ai? Manny?

Nemo: Ya.

Mẹ: Thế bố mẹ Greg làm gì mà con nghĩ vậy?

Nemo: Ngoài các thứ bênh vực khác ra, thì trong khi Greg toàn mặc lại đồ cũ của Rodrick thì Manny toàn đồ mới, xong rồi đồ Halloween của Manny còn là bộ Deluxe

Mẹ: Đấy thấy chưa, con phải thương cảm Kiddo, không những mặc lại đồ cũ của con mà Halloween năm nay Kiddo còn mặc lại cái đồ bộ xương mấy năm trước của con!

Vừa tự ca về sự un-favoritism của mẹ thì bác gửi về cho Kiddo một bộ Halloween thật là Deluxe. Ba an ủi mẹ, bảo đấy là bác shows favoritism thì làm thế nào được ^^



Tiếp tục câu chuyện Halloween:

Bà mẹ ki bảo Nemo hãy mặc lại bộ đồ Harry Potter năm ngoái đi, Nemo không chịu, bảo sẽ mặc áo sơ mi và làm business man 😀 bà mẹ lười thấy cũng ok và bảo pa sẽ cho con mượn cái cà vạt, ông bố đã ừ ừ thật là ý kiến hay.

Đêm trước khi tổ chức Halloween ở trường, bà mẹ hỏi ông bố: đâu, cà vạt đâu? Ông bố tìm khắp nhà không thấy cái cà vạt nào.

Bà mẹ vốn đã sẵn lương tâm không được thanh thản với thằng con làm “business man” trong khi thằng em có bộ đồ Darth Vader mới cứng từ Mỹ gửi về, đã vô cùng bực mình gầm gừ trách móc.

Sau một hồi lục lọi tất cả các accessories của mẹ, đây là tác phẩm của ông bố, từ cái thắt lưng váy của mẹ:


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01st Oct 2020

Grow up process

Mẹ đọc bài tập làm văn làm ở nhà của con, để bài tả về trường em. “Em rất vui vẻ khi em ở trường, em thấy trường rất vui vẻ”.

Mẹ: viết như thế này không hay
Con: và cũng không thật, vì nếu con viết thật những gì con nghĩ thì con sẽ bị phạt
Mẹ :-?

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07th Sep 2020


Mẹ: Xuxi và Sammy rất tức giận với con

Nemo: mẹ biết tại sao không, con đã đồng ý là mỗi người được chơi một lượt, và ai chết thì người kia được chơi. Nhưng mà đến lượt con và con mãi không chết, thế là Xuxi và Sammy rất tức giận. Mẹ thấy có kỳ cục không?

Mẹ: (cười ngã xuống ghế), why am I not surprised at all about what you say?

Ba: oh, because he has a lot of you, that fix sense of justice. I didn’t know that even this is genetic :D


A bit related from Sapolsky teaching: one of critics of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development is that his studies, in 60s, were done mostly on males rather than females, so his model for moral development is better fit to male, as males are more about justice and female are more about affiliation and reconciliation and stuff like that.

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17th Jun 2020

Sapolsky, again


– I’m watching Sapolsky on depression and aggression and higher IQ stuff if you breastfeed, and that thing will really put moms of formula kids in guilt :))

– That’s what I was telling you that when I was at the beginning of the lecture I was thinking: this is pretty cool, maybe I’ll forward it to X, and then, you know… I guess every mom is guilty watching Sapolsky :D I guess that’s why the first episode of disclaimer is so long :D anyway, look at the result, I feel like only my mom (and yours ;-) ) breastfed, every other moms were formula

– :))))

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10th Jun 2020

Đọc lại thơ cũ



Bên Trời Bão Loạn


Đưa chân chiều

thầm tiếng hát điêu tàn

Hoàng hôn về tan nát giữa môi phai

Phố bụi chờ đời thay áo đỏ

Chết người

cho thắm tới môi cười

Máu khô từ thuở lạnh.

Gươm rơi…

Đâu người nhớ nhau không thề hứa

Đường về, khép cửa. Đẹp xa vời

Manh áo thơ ngây còn gởi mãi

Bụi sầu quên phủi

vải u hoài

Giữa chiều kiêu bạc, hãy rách vai !

Dấy mộng trùng lai nơi vó ngựa

Bên trời bão loạn

ghé môi cười.


(Joseph Huỳnh Văn)

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28th May 2020

Stress, human behavior, et al.

In occasion of going through Stanford Human Behavioral Biology series: 

– Time spending with your pets can be one of major anti-stress agent (backed by Sapolsky’s work :)) ) Time spends with your boss can cause a lot of turbulence and damages to your health, at molecular level :)) , make you less healthy, shorten your life, and if you spend enough time with your boss you’ll get ulcer :)) When I think back about my dad, he was always a very strong person from my perspective. But I grew up seeing him struggle with his chronic ulcer, and recently I noticed I’ve reached his age (as I knew him) and I have no ulcer yet :-) Quite an achievement :-)

– :)) You have quite a non-stressful life. A lot of people suffers chronic stress and their body responds to that in someway… but look at my boss, he has no ulcer until now :))

– There are couple of things influence your stress level. Social ranking is one, and this might help your boss reduces some stress: the lower rank you are (if you’re a baboon) the more you get spanked by higher rank baboons and that causes a lot of stress. So you want higher rank, but not too high, like if you’re a king, everyone is trying to overthrow you and that causes you stress too. And if you can’t get a good images if yourself from the office, pick up a hobby, or pick something you’re good at, and do that, it boosts your mood, less stress. Get some friends, having friends is a very good anti-stress. Get some pets, time spending with them are very beneficial for your health and mind.

There’s this experiment: put a hamster in a cage, use electricity to stress him out, he will develop ulcer. If you do the same thing but you put another (maybe smaller and more submissive) hamster in the cage, so when you electric shock the hamster he can go bite/vent the stress on the other hamster, he will NOT develop ulcer. Does this help to explain why your boss doesn’t have ulcer yet? :))

– Ya, maybe :))

– That’s one popular way to reduce stress, so… please keep the disclaimer in mind, otherwise next time we get stress we will have to immediately look for someone to vent on :))

– :)) we both know it works, it’s just a matter of morality if you do it or not :))

– we do that, but the thing we should remember and think hard before we do things is reality is much more complex, and there are many mechanisms, many genes, many factors,… involved

– ya

– we will soon learn go stop doing that if the other hamster is big and muscular :)) some hamster, if you give him a warning, like a light, at the right time before the shock, the hamster also won’t develop ulcer. He has predictive information, he is more prepared. Or if you put in a lever, and when he puts the lever he gets shock, he won’t get ulcer, he feels he has control :))

– :))) I can see it’s quite a savage experiment

– yes, I hate it when people use “public safety” to justify draconian actions by government, but can we do all these in the name of science and knowledge? :-? I’ll be okay if we do these on humans, with the consent of the subjects

– Ya but I guess too little people consent to do that, to make a proper experiment. Or it will not be random people but let’s say most of them are masochistic :)) that will also distort the result.

– I guess all of us consent to take stress to exchange for money :)) that’s called work

– but not electric shock

– woudn’t you rather take a controlled amount of electric shock that only stress you out for a while than go to work and fight a person? :))

– No I’d rather work for X :))

– I’d check voltage first, and I can see that there’s more chance I’ll take the electric than X, at least I feel some sense of control, there must be some sort of limit on this (like when you go into a cage, you can quit any time, or you have a referee who will interfere if you can’t take it anymore), for X these things are uncertain :))

– :)) you can always quit a job, no. And remember Stanford prison experiment, no electric shock involved but I still rather take X :))

– another spoiler: the guy who sort of discovered this mechanism (stress caused ulcer) found it out because he did an experiment, he injected something in one group of hamsters, and injected saline into another group, then he found…. both groups all got ulcer :)))

– :))))

– they got ulcer because of the stress they got from him handling them, maybe the way he injected shit… into them…

– poor hamsters

– I think what justify our experiments on others is they do experiment on us too :)) they do crazy things on us, created different enzymes, poison, blah bluh, to break us down :D consume and digest us. there’s this worm that parasites on grasshopper and when they mature they go to the grasshopper’s brain and manipulate it so the grasshopper… suicide :-? by jumping into water and die, and the parasite leaves :D there are things like that they do on us too. Covid is the new product from Virus scientist lab :D

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