June 2013

Andy Higgs: Journey into Africa

Although it’s easy to feel envious of Andy’s travels around the world, his writing is vivid enough to make you believe you had joined him. His latest series of posts, detailing a trip trough Africa, are no different. It sounds like an amazing continent, one that offers the intrepid traveller some incredible sights:

Great rich earthy trails of red, amber and ochre form streaks across huge plains of deep green foliage and scrubland. Huge white outcrops soar up through groves of yellow-pocked acacia trees, chunky bare-trunked baobabs and the fluttering sprouts of the banana plants…

Blade-like roads slice directly through villages where bright white eyes peer out from under the leafy shade of communal trees, and terracotta coloured, tin-roofed houses are lined up like matchboxes to each side of the varying qualities of tarmac – which range from rough to barely present.

Yet this beauty is threatened by a persistent danger, be it from wild game circling your isolated camp, or from fellow humans in a crime-ridden city:

It was repeated to me a few times that you don’t stop at red lights after dark in Johannesburg, nor do you drive with your windows fully up (it stiffens the glass which makes it an easier task to smash with a crowbar at an intersection). Security is a massive concern of daily life, and every brick built house squats in a concrete or iron-fenced compound, and comes with a big board showing which particular company will provide the armed response. It’s quite a strange sight for European eyes.

What an experience.

The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’

Julian Assange reviews Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s new book, ‘The New Digital Age’:

Google, which started out as an expression of independent Californian graduate student culture – a decent, humane and playful culture – has, as it encountered the big, bad world, thrown its lot in with traditional Washington power elements, from the State Department to the National Security Agency.

Exhibit A: PRISM.