29 September 2021

Wired: “It’s True. Everyone is Multitasking in Video Meetings”

The etiquette for remote work meetings is weird. You don’t have to wear pants, but allowing your eyes to dart around your screen can seem rude and disrespectful, a giveaway that you’re distracted by another digital task. And once you turn the camera off, multitasking can mean folding laundry, grocery shopping, or anything else that needs doing.

If you tend to multitask in video meetings, you’re not alone. A new study of Microsoft employees finds that people multitask more frequently in larger and longer meetings, and that multitasking happens far more often in recurring meetings than during ad hoc meetings. Meetings held in the morning have higher rates of multitasking than at other times of day, and multitasking takes place six times as often in video meetings lasting more than 80 minutes compared with meetings that take 20 minutes or less.

There’s an opportunity with remote meetings to just ‘sort-of’ attend a meeting, says Microsoft chief scientist Jaime Teevan. You can skip a meeting and watch it at double speed if it was recorded. You can have it playing in the background while you do other things and listen for important points.

Khari Johnson

I must admit, I’m doing this myself increasingly often lately (to be perfectly clear, multitaking in remote meetings, not joining without wearing pants). If you must be at your computer for that set length of time, you might as well get less important work out of the way, and free time for more focused tasks later – or for a well-needed break. The more participants in a meeting, the lower the chance you need to intervene; you just need to pay attention when your name gets mentioned, and to politely greet everyone when joining and leaving the call. And when meetings are audio-only, this becomes even easier.

28 September 2021

The Pull Request: “We are no longer a serious people”

The reason for this sudden silence is that in the year 2021, the cream of American society and the flower of its finest universities, can only understand the world as projections of the country’s own domestic neuroses. Our current elites, whether in media or politics, squint at the strange peoples and languages of whatever international conflict and only see who or what they can map to their internal gallery of heroes and villains: Who’s the PoC? Who’s the Nazi?

If however the situation involving foreign realities can be grafted onto simplistic domestic narratives, in however fantastic a fashion, then that issue becomes a curious side show to the main American stage. That’s what’s happened to Israel, which now features as a talking point in that same progressive wing of the party. And if the situation can’t be mapped, such as Afghanistan or the recent protests in Cuba, it’s utterly ignored for being just completely beyond human comprehension or concern.

This is the true privilege of being an American in 2021 (vs. 1981): Enjoying an imperium so broad and blinding, you’re never made to suffer the limits of your understanding or re-assess your assumptions about a world that, even now, contains regions and peoples and governments antithetical to everything you stand for.

Antonio García Martínez

This is certainly how America looks from the outside for someone like me following events on Twitter: a society so self-absorbed by imaginary conflicts and culture wars that it no longer has the capacity to even acknowledge real, tangible, urgent problems, both internal and external, let alone address them in any sensible manner

27 September 2021

Nature: “Why many countries failed at COVID contact-tracing — but some got it right”

The WHO’s benchmark for a successful COVID-19 contact-tracing operation is to trace and quarantine 80% of close contacts within 3 days of a case being confirmed — a goal few countries achieve.

But even that’s not quick enough, says Christophe Fraser, a mathematical biologist at the University of Oxford, UK. Transmission is too rapid and the virus can spread before symptoms emerge, he points out. Modelling by Fraser and his team suggests that even if all cases isolate and all contacts are found and quarantined within three days, the epidemic will continue to grow. He says that in a single day, 70% of cases need to isolate and 70% of contacts need to be traced and quarantined for the outbreak to slow (defined as each infected person passing the virus to fewer than one other, on average)6.

At the beginning of the pandemic, overstretched contact-tracers in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom faced the extra burden of antiquated health-care systems. In Australia, as well as in US states such as Hawaii and Washington, health departments are often notified of new cases by fax or phone. It’s somewhat embarrassing, says Plescia, but we never invested in the systems to allow them to do it differently. Entering names and other details into a database from faxed notifications causes big delays, he says, so that the window during which contact-tracing might make a difference vanishes.

Dyani Lewis

Interesting analysis that goes through several reasons for the low effectiveness of contact tracing in many countries. Paradoxically, while the lack of modern digital technology can hinder contact tracing efforts, advanced technological solutions, such as the decentralized contact tracing protocol introduced early in the pandemic by Apple and Google, have also failed to live up to expectations. Low adoption aside, a decentralized system relies on individual initiative by entering positive test results in the app and isolating – a high ask for many people, as we have all discovered – but even worse it withholds data from health authorities, who cannot make proper projections and estimations of the extent of infection.

26 September 2021

The Verge: “The controversial science behind woolly mammoth de-extinction”

A flashy new biotech startup launched yesterday called Colossal is on a mission to make an elephant-woolly mammoth mashup — with the ultimate goal of promoting biodiversity and combating climate change, it says. The effort has gotten a lot of hype and big-name backers, but scientists who work in conservation are still pretty skeptical.

The science behind Colossal is in very early stages and is mired in ethical quandaries. The company won’t actually bring back a woolly mammoth, which hasn’t roamed the Earth in about 10,000 years. Instead, Colossal’s de-extinction effort aims to create a hybrid between a woolly mammoth and its distant relative (the two share a common ancestor): the Asian elephant, which itself is an endangered species.

Lamm believes Colossal’s work might benefit the elephants and draw more attention to other conservation efforts. We’re trying to make sure that we do this in the most transparent and ethical way as possible, Lamm tells The Verge. We feel very confident about what we can do to help the elephant lineage… For us it’s about giving the species additional tools to survive. An elephant with mammoth traits would be better able to survive in the Arctic’s cold temperatures, away from urbanization that threatens its species, he says.

But Asian elephants’ home is tropical South and Southeast Asia. They’re also highly intelligent and social animals that form tight-knit groups. They have a culture, Bennett says. All that raises “major” ethical questions for Bennett over whether a mammoth-elephant hybrid would be able to behaviorally manage being transplanted in a new home that’s vastly different from where elephant species currently live.

Justine Calma

A highly ambitious project that I would like to see succeed – but realistically I would give it about as much chance of materializing as Elon Musk’s random wild ideas.

25 September 2021

The Wall Street Journal: “Xi Jinping aims to rein in Chinese Capitalism, hew to Mao’s Socialist Vision”

For most of the 40 years after Deng Xiaoping first unleashed economic reforms in China, Communist Party leaders gave market forces wider room to flourish. That opening helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and created trillions of dollars in wealth, but also led to rampant corruption and eroded the ideological basis for continued Communist rule.

In Mr. Xi’s opinion, private capital now has been allowed to run amok, menacing the party’s legitimacy, officials familiar with his priorities say. The Wall Street Journal examination shows he is trying forcefully to get China back to the vision of Mao Zedong, who saw capitalism as a transitory phase on the road to socialism.

Mr. Xi isn’t planning to eradicate market forces, the Journal examination indicates. But he appears to want a state in which the party does more to steer flows of money, sets tighter parameters for entrepreneurs and investors and their ability to make profits, and exercises even more control over the economy than now. In essence, this suggests that he aims to rewrite the rules of business in what could someday be the world’s biggest economy.

Lingling Wei

Not entirely surprising, considering recent trends and Mr. Xi’s increasing desire for top-down control and ideological purity. I doubt anyone would have foreseen at the turn of the century that the Cold War divide between capitalism and communism would reemerge, with the Unites States and China as primary actors this time around.

23 September 2021

Coronavirus in Romania: tsunami warning

After a quiet summer, in early autumn the coronavirus has returned to Romania with a vengeance. In the first half of July, the case numbers had dropped under 50 daily, and the total for the entire month was just shy of 2400, the lowest case number since the beginning in March 2020. For a good portion of July, Romania was recording daily deaths caused by coronavirus in the lower single digits, and the monthly total was slightly under 500.

Since then, the situation has changed drastically. Beginning with the second week of July, cases have climbed at a remarkably steady pace, on average 57% each week – except for last week, when the percent increase from the previous week was even higher, almost 90% – bringing us back to a daily count of 7000 cases. Compared to the earlier stages of the pandemic, this growth rate is unprecedented, likely attributable to the more contagious Delta variant, coupled with the lack of restrictions over the summer and the low vaccination rate. Between people returning from holidays, from countries like Greece with higher infections rates, recent large festivals with high attendance, and children returning to school in person last week, the outlook for the next months (even weeks!) is grim.

21 September 2021

The Verge: “Why the global chip shortage is making it so hard to buy a PS5”

I had somebody from deep within Washington call me up and ask me how much money it would take to catch up with TSMC. I had just been to the GlobalFoundries fab in Malta, New York, and they had spent $15 billion to get 30,000 wafer starts per month at 14 nanometers — so it’s not even leading edge, but it’s a nice fab. They’ve done a good job there. TSMC Fab 12 has a capacity of 250,000 wafer starts per month. TSMC Fab 14 has about 250,000. TSMC Fab 15 has about 250,000. TSMC Fab 18, they’re targeting the same capacity. So I told this person, Oh, I don’t know. You’d probably have to spend 10 times what GlobalFoundries spent up in Malta, New York. I could hear him fall out of his chair.

And when he got back up, he said, What did you say? And I said, I don’t know, 10 times that, $150 billion. Maybe it’s not $150 billion. Maybe it’s $130 or $140 billion. But you have to realize that TSMC is going to spend over $30 billion this year, and that’s one company. And they spent $20-plus billion last year, and they’ve been spending $10 to $20 billion a year for the last decade. And they’d been spending like $5 to $10 billion a year for the decade before that. So they’ve been pouring money into this for 35 years. So $52 billion — and by the way, all the lobbyists are in there trying to make sure that their company gets their share of it. By the time it gets peanut-buttered around, the worry will be, how much difference is it actually going to make?

Dr. Willy Shih

Nice overview of the complexities of chip manufacturing and how the supply was affected by the pandemic. It helps to remember the numerous steps and precision required to produce chips, and why efforts to create domestic production from US companies and the European Union will take a long time and huge investments to materialize.

The Ezra Klein Show: “The Foreign Policy Conversation Washington doesn’t want to have”

ROBERT WRIGHT: Right. We helped train some of the people who became leaders of the Taliban to expel foreign occupying forces, and it turns out they did that twice. They just did it to us. Now, I don’t want to suggest that we are exactly comparable to the Soviet Union by any means, or that the nature of our occupation was, but we do tend to take it for granted that countries around the world see things the way we do.

Like most people, we assume that we’re good people. We see our intentions as good, and that’s not always the widely shared perception. We are not always perceived as liberators, and the people in the countries that come into play in our contests with great powers do not always share the aspirations that we attribute to them. And I think, if there’s one thing I would propose is a miracle cure for the ills of US foreign policy, it would be for Americans to get much better at trying to see the world from the perspective of other people around the world.

EZRA KLEIN: And when you have this much bipartisan support for something, like, say, a Cold War with China or the war on terror, it becomes hard in a two-party system to find space for critique of it, to have people who see their political interests bound up in criticizing it, and they will try to make the American people aware of the failures in logic or the failures in execution. And I think, broadly speaking, in a bunch of these foreign policy debates, a problem is here that they are actually pretty bipartisan. And when things are too bipartisan, you actually get a suppression of contrary viewpoints, which I think has been true.

Ezra Klein

Interesting conversation, and very timely in this context. The remarks about how Americans should get better at recognizing and understanding the perspectives of other people (basically become more empathetic), apply perfectly to recent international events, from the Afghanistan withdrawal, when President Biden failed to acknowledge the Afghan soldiers who fought and died during these two decades, to the recent Indo-Pacific pact with Australia, who angered France. The reactions from the Anglo-American side were mostly dismissive of the French responses, ranging from entertaining and inconsequential to theatrical – not the best way to calm the situation if you ask me.

20 September 2021

Corporal Frisk: “A RAUKUS in the Pacific”

The American decision, which leads to the exclusion of a European ally and partner like France from a crucial partnership with Australia at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, be it over our values or respect for a multilateralism based on the rule of law, signals a lack of consistency which France can only notice and regret.

As the quote above shows, while there is understandably some anger directed towards Australia for breaking the contract (and doing so a mere two weeks after Both sides committed to deepen defence industry cooperation and enhance their capability edge in the region. Ministers underlined the importance of the Future Submarine program during a joint 2+2 ministerial meeting between French and Australian foreign and defence ministers), the main villain in the French eyes seem to be the US who not only outmanoeuvred the French, but brought along the British and left the French out in the cold. Crucially, there seems to have been little to no warning given to the French, who even if they must have known that the Shortfin Barracuda was in trouble, most likely did not anticipate the US and UK unilaterally deciding to trash the long-held non-proliferation convention to not export reactor technology for use aboard SSNs. Interestingly, it does seem that the initiative – as well as the decision to keep the French in the dark – came from the Australians, making the French framing of this being a US diplomatic backstabbing of the higher order seem somewhat misplaced.

Robin Häggblom

The strategic partnership between US, UK, and Australia, announced last week out of the blue, became the controversy of the week on Twitter – and an opportunity to learn more than I expected to know about nuclear-powered submarines. But unlike most Twitter scandals this has the potential for long-lasting and wide-ranging consequences.

19 September 2021

The Guardian: “The last of the Zoroastrians”

As recently as the 80s, hungry vultures had swooped into the dakhmas and picked Parsi corpses clean in a matter of days. Then, in the space of a decade, the birds died out, mainly owing to the use of diclofenac, a drug fed to livestock that poisoned vultures when they fed on the carcasses. Bodies inside the dakhmas were instead left to decompose naturally, which could take several months. On certain days, people living nearby could catch a putrid whiff of decaying human flesh from their windows. In 2006, someone sneaked a camera inside one of the dakhmas and leaked photographs of the gruesome sight online. Even the staunchest advocates of dakhma consignment were horrified, and began thinking up possible solutions.

Eventually, angled solar reflection panels were installed at the top of the dakhmas to speed up the decomposition process, but a small group of Parsi reformists believed a more dignified option should be available. They raised money for a funeral hall, which was opened in the suburb of Worli in 2015, and that was where my grandfather chose to be cremated two years later. A little over 10% of the Mumbai Parsi community now opts for this method, mainly those who want to ensure that relatives who have married outside the faith will be able to attend their funerals. The priest who presided over my grandfather’s funeral was one of two who agreed to work at the new prayer hall. The conservative majority was furious, and banned them from performing ceremonies at the Towers of Silence.

I’m sorry to say, said Mistree, in a tone that was notably unapologetic, that those Parsis who opt for cremation will go to hell. Later, he clarified that Parsis who lived abroad could choose alternative methods, though never cremation, as it sullied fire with the evil spirits present in a dead body. But for those who lived in Mumbai, like my grandfather, there was no excuse. In Mistree’s severe reading of Zoroastrianism, a man who had spent most of his 95 years on Earth steeped in prayer, and abiding by the exhortation to good thoughts, words and deeds, had been despatched to hell.

Shaun Walker

Fascinating incursion into the current state of one of the oldest surviving religions and cultures – and one of the first monotheistic religions – including their, shall we say, unconventional burring rites. Not unlike the Jewish people, Parsis were driven out of their homeland in Iran, finding refuge in India. But unlike Jews, Zoroastrian priests are much less willing to accept outsiders into their community, going as far as excluding woman who marry outside the faith and all their descendants. And this dogmatism will likely lead to the slow extinction of the ancient religion, as young people are less inclined to follow inflexible and arbitrary rules and choose life-long partners exclusively from a shrinking group of coreligionists.

18 September 2021

Wired: “A Bad Solar Storm could cause an ‘Internet Apocalypse’”

Though they don’t happen often, coronal mass ejections are a real threat to internet resilience, says Abdu Jyothi. And after three decades of low solar storm activity, she and other researchers point out that the probability of another incident is rising.

Undersea internet cables are potentially susceptible to solar storm damage for a few reasons. To shepherd data across oceans intact, cables are fitted with repeaters at intervals of roughly 50 to 150 kilometers depending on the cable. These devices amplify the optical signal, making sure that nothing gets lost in transit, like a relay throw in baseball. While fiber optic cable isn’t directly vulnerable to disruption by geomagnetically induced currents, the electronic internals of repeaters are—and enough repeater failures will render an entire undersea cable inoperable. Additionally, undersea cables are only grounded at extended intervals hundreds or thousands of kilometers apart, which leaves vulnerable components like repeaters more exposed to geomagnetically induced currents. The composition of the sea floor also varies, possibly making some grounding points more effective than others.

On top of all of this, a major solar storm could also knock out any equipment that orbits the Earth that enables services like satellite internet and global positioning.

Lily Hay Newman

During the pandemic, the world has grown increasingly dependent on Internet access, which has maintained a sense of connection during lockdowns and allowed many people to continue working from home, keeping businesses running on digital services. Now imagine Internet access abruptly disrupted, with no warnings and no way to find out what is going on… The chaos would be massive, and the disruption could last for months, as damaged undersea cables and disabled satellites cannot be replaced instantly. And, as with the pandemic, the world seems ill prepared to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.

14 September 2021

BBC Future: “The other virus that worries Asia”

These include the Nipah virus. Fruit bats are its natural host. It’s a major concern because there’s no treatment… and a high mortality rate [is] caused by this virus, says Wacharapluesadee. The death rate for Nipah ranges from 40% up to 75%, depending on where the outbreak occurs.

She isn’t alone in her worry. Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reviews the large list of pathogens that could cause a public health emergency to decide how to prioritise their research and development funds. They focus on those that pose the greatest risk to human health, those that have epidemic potential, and those for which there are no vaccines.

Nipah virus is in their top 10. And, with a number of outbreaks having happened in Asia already, it is likely we haven’t seen the last of it.

There are several reasons the Nipah virus is so sinister. The disease’s long incubation period (reportedly as long as 45 days, in one case) means there is ample opportunity for an infected host, unaware they are even ill, to spread it. It can infect a wide range of animals, making the possibility of it spreading more likely. And it can be caught either through direct contact or by consuming contaminated food.

Someone with Nipah virus may experience respiratory symptoms including a cough, sore throat, aches and fatigue, and encephalitis, a swelling of the brain which can cause seizures and death. Safe to say, it’s a disease that the WHO would like to prevent from spreading.

Harriet Constable

The Nipah virus has killed a 12-year-old boy earlier this month in India, putting the state into high alert. Compared to the coronavirus fueling the ongoing pandemic, Nipah is far more dangerous, as it is deadlier, has a wider range of transmission pathways, and a long incubation period. The only thing preventing a devastating outbreak seems to be the low human-to-human transmission rate, which reduces the risk of a pandemic event – but viruses can mutate rapidly und unpredictably, so the emergence of a more infectious variant is certainly possible. In the absence of treatment, it would be prudent to have a vaccine ready just in case – the mRNA technology should be able to deliver one relatively quickly. Personally, I would vaccinate against this virus without a second thought…

The New York Times: “If You never met your Co-Workers in Person, did You even work there?”

The coronavirus pandemic, now more than 17 months in, has created a new quirk in the work force: a growing number of people who have started jobs and left them without having once met their colleagues in person. For many of these largely white-collar office workers, personal interactions were limited to video calls for the entirety of their employment.

Never having to be in the same conference room or cubicle as a co-worker may sound like a dream to some people. But the phenomenon of job hoppers who have not physically met their colleagues illustrates how emotional and personal attachments to jobs may be fraying. That has contributed to an easy-come, easy-go attitude toward workplaces and created uncertainty among employers over how to retain people they barely know.

Kellen Browning & Erin Griffith

During the past year, I have had several similar experiences as I changed jobs a couple of times. The companies I have worked at since the start of the pandemic have all tried to compensate the lack of daily in-person interactions with regular virtual meetings with coworkers, but with limited success. Personally, I find it difficult to interact freely on a set schedule – also, most of the time, these calls were mixing job-related topics with small talk, not a terrific way to promote a relaxed atmosphere. Another factor may be that, even in the office, people developed closer ties to some of their coworkers, but not with others, depending on specific affinities and interests – putting a group together in a ‘social call’ does not automatically mean that each member feels equally free to chat and share personal stuff with all the rest of the team.

12 September 2021

Dune News Net: “Villeneuve sees Zendaya as a Star of Dune: Part Two”

On the other hand, when I was casting the character of Chani, I met a lot of actresses. Zendaya wanted to audition and now, after shooting the film and seeing what a great actress she is, I regret having her audition, just because I didn’t know her. However that day, she impressed me and when she walked out of the studio I knew that Chani was her, the young desert tiger. I’m honored to present two such explosive talents on screen and I can’t wait to shoot the second part of Dune to have them back together. Knowing that in the next chapter, Zendaya will be the protagonist of the story.

Denis Villeneuve, speaking to la Repubblica (translated from Italian)

It’s possible something was lost in translation during the interview itself, assuming Villeneuve was speaking in English or French. Based on what’s written in Italian on the page though, there is no room for ambiguity. That last sentence states that Zendaya—who said herself that she plays “a small part” in the first movie—will be the protagonist in Dune: Part Two. Marcus Gabriel

The upcoming Dune movie has sparked countless discussions and massive hype – at least on the subreddit dedicated to the series. A relatively recent post linked to an interview with director Dennis Villeneuve about the second part, where he wants to make Chani, Paul’s lover in the novel, a protagonist. I was immediately skeptical of this direction. While Chani plays an important emotional role for Paul as he becomes increasingly isolated among Fremen because of his Messiah-like status, she does little to drive the plot forward compared to other characters. Moreover, she spends a big portion of the second half of the book away from Paul, tending to their first son. I doubt a movie set from her perspective would manage to accurately depict the action up until the final climax. And hearing comments like these from Dennis Villeneuve makes me suspect that he either has a superficial understanding of the book or is arrogant enough to think that he can do a better job than Frank Herbert telling the story.

11 September 2021

Science: “New SARS-CoV-2 variants have changed the pandemic. What will the virus do next?”

A popular notion holds that viruses tend to evolve over time to become less dangerous, allowing the host to live longer and spread the virus more widely. But that idea is too simplistic, Holmes says. The evolution of virulence has proven to be quicksand for evolutionary biologists, he says. It’s not a simple thing.

Two of the best studied examples of viral evolution are myxoma virus and rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, which were released in Australia in 1960 and 1996, respectively, to decimate populations of European rabbits that were destroying croplands and wreaking ecological havoc. Myxoma virus initially killed more than 99% of infected rabbits, but then less pathogenic strains evolved, likely because the virus was killing many animals before they had a chance to pass it on. (Rabbits also evolved to be less susceptible.) Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, by contrast, got more deadly over time, probably because the virus is spread by blow flies feeding on rabbit carcasses, and quicker death accelerated its spread.

Other factors loosen the constraints on deadliness. For example, a virus variant that can outgrow other variants within a host can end up dominating even if it makes the host sicker and reduces the likelihood of transmission. And an assumption about human respiratory diseases may not always hold: that a milder virus—one that doesn’t make you crawl into bed, say—might allow an infected person to spread the virus further. In SARS-CoV-2, most transmission happens early on, when the virus is replicating in the upper airways, whereas serious disease, if it develops, comes later, when the virus infects the lower airways. As a result, a variant that makes the host sicker might spread just as fast as before.

Kai Kupferschmidt

As with many other uncertainties surrounding this pandemic, the simplest answer to this question is “we just don’t know yet”. Evolution does not follow a predictable path, and even if it did, there are too many variables to consider, from local restrictions, to vaccinations levels, to complex interactions between the virus and the human immune system in vaccinated or unvaccinated people. As much as we all want this crisis to be over, the best approach remains proceeding with extra caution, vaccinating people and keeping restrictions in place to reduce transmission, because the only way to reduce viral mutation is to have as few infections as possible.

01 September 2021

The Verge: “The secret garden”

Julian Bayliss (biodiversity and protected areas specialist, professor at Oxford Brookes University): I started systematically going across Northern Mozambique, scanning it using Google Earth satellite imagery. I came across this mountain range where Mount Socone is. It’s in between Mabu and Namuli [two nearby mountains], which I knew about before. Just below that, I could see this sort of crater-like mountain with this dark, round patch. I thought, Oh, that’s got to be a forest. I then zoomed in to that and was looking at detail. I could see that the surrounding land was all heavily cultivated and quite badly disturbed, and there were roads and everything else. But the base in the forest was completely intact, dark green, no evidence of disturbance.

I zoomed in more closely to the crater, the actual sides of the mountain, and I could see that they were this smooth granite. It was an inselberg. The sides were steep, smooth, fortress-like. And that’s when the excitement came because if you can’t get up there, then that forest is unique, extremely special, highly undisturbed, very rare. You’re looking at a site where no humans have been before, or at least very few humans have been before.

Brewin: You’re on this kind of monolith, this big, granite boulder. You’re looking out across the local area for miles and miles, and you see the extent of human interaction with the environment, the amount of deforestation that has gone on, the amount of planting of these eucalyptus plantations. And you know that 50, 60, 70 years ago, it would have just been pristine miombo woodland [a type of African forest]. There’s sadness as well that you feel because you know it’s changed. It’s gone forever, and it will change more. And you know that you’re standing on the last little remaining fragments of what was a kind of African paradise in a way. So yeah, [it was a] privilege but shrouded in a bit of regret and a bit of sadness for what was gone.

Andy Wright & Sonner Kehrt

It feels thrilling to know that, even now in the 21st century, there are still places (on land) that have been hardly touched by humans, where you could venture as an explorer and discover it for the first time. But at the same time I shudder to think that paving the way to these virgin lands will soon strip them of their uniqueness, turning them into yet another farmland for people to exploit.