A year of extraordinary upheaval, from the war in Ukraine to catastrophic natural disasters, a brief look at some of the words and phrases that have defined 2022.
With the war in Ukraine and increasingly strident threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the specter of nuclear warfare is stalking the globe for the first time in decades.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis” in 1962, US President Joe Biden warned in October.
Experts warned of the most dangerous situation they can remember, with fears not limited to Russia: North Korean nuclear saber-rattling has reached new heights, with the world bracing for a first nuclear test since 2017.
At 6:30pm on Sept. 8, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth had died, bringing to an end the longest reign in British history and sending shock waves around the world. For 10 days, Britons paid respects to the only monarch most had known, following a carefully choreographed series of ceremonies. The program of events, famously codenamed “London Bridge,” set out in minute detail every aspect of the protocol — down to BBC presenters wearing black ties. In the event, she died in Scotland, meaning special provisions came into force — Operation Unicorn.
LOSS AND DAMAGE
World leaders and negotiators descended on the Egyptian Red Sea port of Sharm el-Sheikh for the latest UN summit (COP27) on tackling climate change. After a fractious summit, widely seen as poorly organized, a deal was clinched on a fund for “loss and damage” to help vulnerable countries cope with the devastating impacts of climate change. Behind the institutional-sounding name lies destruction for millions in the developing world. The COP summit was hailed as historic but many voiced anger over a lack of ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
WOMAN. LIFE. FREEDOM
The chant screamed by protesters in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested by the Tehran morality police. Protesters have burned posters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and women have appeared in public without headscarves, in scenes scarcely imaginable before the uprising. The demonstrations have lasted three months and appear to pose an existential challenge to the 43-year rule of the clerical regime.
The tiny blue tick (it’s actually white on a blue background), which certifies users on Twitter, became a symbol of the chaos engulfing the social media platform in the wake of its US$44-billion takeover by Elon Musk. The mercurial Tesla boss announced that anyone wanting the coveted blue tick would have to stump up eight dollars, only to scrap the plan hours later. A month on from the takeover, Twitter’s future remains up in the air, with thousands of staff laid off, advertisers leaving and its “free speech” platform hugely uncertain.
ROE V WADE
In an historic ruling, the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v Wade” decision that enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion. The Supreme Court ruled that individual states could restrict or ban the procedure — a decision seized upon by several right-leaning states. Protests erupted instantly in Washington and elsewhere, showing how divisive the topic remains in the US. The overturning of “Roe v Wade” became a critical battle in the US mid-terms, in which candidates in favor of abortion rights won several victories.
One of the “words of the year” in Britain and Australia, the phrase refers to doing the bare minimum at work, either as a protest against your employer or to improve your work-life balance. The trend, which has sparked debate about overwork, especially in the US, appears to have surfaced first in a TikTok post in July.
“You’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” said the post which went viral, drawing nearly a half-million likes.
As Liz Truss approached the end of her chaotic and short-lived tenure as British prime minister, the Economist weekly mused that her effective period in office had been “roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce.”
The tabloid Daily Star leaped on the idea, launching a live web cam featuring said vegetable — complete with googly eyes — next to a picture of the hapless Truss. Her premiership lasted just 44 days and featured a mini-budget that collapsed the markets and generated extraordinary political upheaval. In the end, the lettuce won.
Environmental protesters seeking to draw attention to the role of fossil fuel consumption in the climate crisis hurled tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting at London’s National Gallery in October, touching off a series of similar stunts. Since then, activists have smothered mashed potato on Claude Monet and glued themselves to works by Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and Johannes Vermeer. For some, the campaigners are heroes bravely drawing attention to the climate emergency. For others, the attacks are counterproductive and lose force by becoming commonplace.
Protests erupted in China, initially over COVID restrictions but later widening to broader political grievances, posing the greatest threat to the Beijing authorities since 1989. The demonstrations became known in some quarters as the “A4” protests as protesters held up blank A4-sized sheets of white paper in a sign of solidarity and a nod to the lack of free speech in China.
The last couple of weeks I have been traveling across the island of Panay in the Philippines, visiting my wife’s family. Inevitably, I have spent a lot of time on the trip comparing the Philippines to Taiwan and contemplating the rich, ancient connections between them. I could wax eloquent on politics or history, but today I’m going to talk about that most lowly of food items, the humble green. That’s what I miss the most whenever I leave Taiwan, and of all the nations around Taiwan, the Philippines presents the sharpest contrast on this topic. Our benighted, myopic tourism bureau may
The cool, clean river water quickly evaporates as I warm myself in the tropical sun, still strong at midday even in November. Below me is a bend in the river, and a deep emerald pool has formed here alongside the concrete platform I am sitting on, which once served as a check dam, but today serves as the perfect place to launch myself into the water. On shore, children splash in the water as parents sit nearby under awnings. Above me, a hawk traces out lazy circles against the bright blue sky. In the distance, a train emerges from a
Feb. 6 to Feb. 12 The plan was to break out of jail, seize the facility’s ammunition, release the inmates and broadcast their “declaration of Taiwanese independence” to the world at the nearby Broadcasting Corporation of China station. Chiang Ping-hsing (江炳興) and his fellow political prisoners at Taiyuan Prison (泰源監獄) hoped that this action would attract international attention and spark a nationwide rebellion that would overthrow Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) authoritarian regime. It was originally planned for Feb. 1, 1970, but due to various setbacks they weren’t able to strike until the noontime guard change at the prison on Feb. 8. They attacked the
Milf Manor is the house that Freud built. Eight women aged between 40 and 60 arrived at this beachside villa in Mexico to film a dating show, somehow missing the twist: the lineup of young men they’d be in the villa with would include… their sons. The show premiered in the US last week, and I have screamed hoarsely through every video I can find, shouting, “I HATE IT I HATE IT OK ONE MORE CLIP I HATE IT!” into my arm. You know how Big Brother and its fellow reality shows used to claim they were sociological experiments in order