People’s History is turning out to be a gem. I am treating it like a template more than a definitive history textbook (apparently just the way Zinn prescribes it).

If there are necessary sacrifices to be made for human progress, is it not essential to hold to the principle that those to be sacrificed must make the decision themselves? We can all decide to give up something of ours, but do we have the right to throw into the pyre the children of others, or even our own children, for a progress which is not nearly as clear or present as sickness or health, life or death?

—  Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

Such a beautiful lens to look at most pragati versus the people debates that end up in fruits of development checkmates.

Reading this in conjunction with Stallman’s Guardian column (A Radical Proposal to Keep Your Data Safe. See link. ) where he tells us how honouring people’s data is a trait to be built into systems with the power to abuse it:

The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.

It is the Blahg over at Rivendell that usually copy-pastes bare links into articles, letting readers choose to—painstakingly—copy-paste them back into address bars. The last few times I visited those links I was glad Mr. Petersen ignored basic usabilty wisdom to make such a low-noise statement on the virtue of effort(?).

 

My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present. And the lines are not always clear. In the long run, the oppressor is also a victim. In the short run (and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs), the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims.

— Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

So what? That ‘rich ecosystem’ is no substitute for freedom.

Mathew Hutson interviews Stallman (via r/stallmanwasright)

 

Three short (one was a novel) projects in Malayalam this week. One for a neighbourhood festival. Single colour offset, the printer picked a much nicer shade than I could conjure from the Pantone deck. Then they topped it off with a slight showthrough uncoated stock. Bliss. Fonts are the lovely Baloo Chettan and Noto Sans. The Serif is quite usable too, even more than the paid-for ones around.

There are two words every designer needs to feel comfortable saying: “no” and “why.” Those words are the foundation of what we do. They’re the foundation of building an ethical framework. If we cannot ask “why?” we lose the ability to judge whether the work we’re doing is ethical. If we cannot say “no” we lose the ability to stand and fight. We lose the ability to help shape the thing we’re responsible for shaping.

Mike Monteiro writes about the state of UX design.

I planned to get the Cycliste thing* on a long-ish ride this weekend and see if it could hold 16 Litres (Queen’s) of stuff over the long-ish ride. I did, and I sort-of did.

On Saturday morning I strapped it onto the seatpost with ‘some’ effort (not at all how I pictured the business in my head the night before with soundtrack from that Wong Kar Wai film) and an extra 4ft Bungee cord (also from ViaTerra). I was briefly impressed by the cord’s build quality, in soft contrast to the stuff the bag seemed to be forged from. Then I remembered I paid approximately twenty times more for the bag and quickly got the tying up part over with. There is some inelegant threading-through-seat-rails of the straps involved, but it can replace a short warm-up exercise routine if your inelegance matches that demanded of the operation. Mine did. The only thing that got stretched before the ride had metal hooks on both ends.

The road to the beach was re-constructed recently enough to not have been laid to waste by three or four Panchayat administrations along the way, the water department, the state owned telephone company or the hopelessly ironic ‘Japan potable water’ project people (quick translation, entirely inappropriate). Only four across-the-road-excavations so far. All that this means is that you are better off not trusting when I say the bag didn’t swing around or drop down to the tyre on the way, despite all the inelegance and bungee-cord. It could certainly do all that and more on a proper trail or a normal road anywhere in the country.

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Image above: knots in an abandoned fishing net. Non sequitur if you have to ask.

When on the saddle, the bag reminds you it is there with its sides softly brushing against your thighs (part of this had to do with my aggressively aero saddle, I think) in an inappropriate way. It is a nice thing on lonely rides early in the morning. When off the saddle and climbing, it doesn’t sway too much into what could be oncoming traffic on roads where people wake up that early and get into their metal boxes. I’m sure the camouflage pattern did a good job too, of making (the whole of) me invisible to what little traffic there was. Explains that Pulsar coming to a halt in the middle of the road as I was breaking into yet another unnecessary sprint.

The ride was thankfully eventless. The beach was free of too many people watching their cellphones. There was a karate class where some sort of a mid-term evaluation was underway, an impromptu freerunning lesson some way away and a kid running sideways along the crabs running sideways, away from the kid running sideways along the shore. The bag comes off the bike and manages to make me look unfit for anything involving straps while coming off. Ones off, it is easy to transport. There was no sense of shame in lugging it down to where the dry sand met the wet edge on the shore. It being early in the morning helped. It was fairly inconspicuous (thanks to the camouflage pattern) and didn’t scream “expensive gear” or “dog food.” I even took a photo of it lounging there, with the three kids some way away squinting to see what it was that was being thus immortalised. Since—in the name of science—I was lugging around the Kindle, I read the same five pages again and again and remembered none of it.

It is a good, budget, 16-Litre bag if that is what you are after. They could’ve gone easy on the logo-slapping though, and instead chosen brand-coloured straps and wider reflective tape. The seatpost straps are meant for larger aluminium ones, closing in too late on the 25.4mm steel one on my bicycle. Perched over the rear tyre, it is holding a sleeping bag (there because it filled space in one go), a 12 inch laptop (it fits), the aptly named power brick, a 200 page A5 notebook, some rolled up shirts and a tool bag (spare tube, tyre levers, multitool, a puncture kit that has seen better days, Oxford commas, and spanners). No, I did not carry all that to a beach.

I mean to use it on occasional commutes to the studio (25 Kilometers one way, in chaos) and—to justify the cost—on vegetable-bagging runs. It is not a delight to behold, but so isn’t a beaten up Nokia 105 that just works and doesn’t run out of juice the moment you stop stroking its ego.

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Kids that come out of our company are the best product[s] that come out.

— Yvon Chouinard, talking to NPR (How I Built This with Guy Raz)