Thursday, 23 June 2022

Links: 23/6/22


Russia's invasion of Ukraine is now in its fourth month, with no end in sight. It looks likely that Ukraine's candidate status will be approved by the European Union, beginning the long process of integration, while Europe struggles to transform its energy system away from reliance on Russian gas, as supply becomes unreliable. 

The effect of increasing energy prices has also affected the rest of the world, with Australia struggling with how to ensure affordable supply for customers in an open market in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. 

One of the countries deeply affected by the global crisis is Sri Lanka, which is running out of food, fuel and medicine - the global food chain is struggling with the effects of one of the world's biggest grain producers unable to export due to the war, while global fuel prices are rising. 

This is an interesting article on two initiatives to use CRISPR technology for growing crops that will be better at storing carbon, and the general debate about cutting emissions and mitigation efforts.

Pop Culture: 

Two of my favourite books this month have been Nina LaCour's Yerba Buena and Jules Ohman's Body Grammar. They're both about complicated relationships, mapping characters moving towards and away from each other as they make decisions about their lives. Elle (fittingly, as the main character of Body Grammar decides on pursuing a career as a model, until she doesn't) interviewed Ohman and singer Angel Olsen (who just released Big Time), and the interview captures something interesting about being in your 30s and having seen the world change around you (they're also both fans of Elena Ferrante). 

Motherland Fort Salem is back for its third and final season, and I've gone through a whole process with the show (very entertained bewilderment over some of its decisions, that I've described as "feels like it was written by someone who was high", to a deep affection for the characters and the relationships by the end of the second season, and I'm now genuinely curious how its investigation into ideology and politics will go, and if it can stick its landing (luckily, the creator was aware that the show would be ending, and was able to write this final season accordingly). Nicte Batan, one of my new favourite characters, has a second face (in addition to her first already excellent face, Arlen Aguayo Stewart) played by Battlestar Galactica's Kandyse McClure!

And I've also been watching Olivier Assayas' Irma Vep, maybe one of the most self-referential piece of writing in the history of television (fittingly - his 1996 film was about cinema, and exists in the timeline of the show, which is about the state of television in 2022). The director-character in the most recent third episode spent a therapy session discussing his failed marriage to the star of his Irma Vep film (I hope Maggie Cheung still gets royalties for the flashbacks), and Alicia Vikander's (who is excellent) Mira discusses the merits of serialised storytelling with her cast- and crew-mates at a drunken party. One of the joys of every Assayas work is how seamlessly he moves across languages and borders, and here it's the international cast that comes together in Paris to film the show (Lars Eidinger's German stage actor and crack addict Gottfried, who trolls the media with right-wing soundbites, is maybe the most frenzied example).

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