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Sunday Roundup: Portal 2, Tim Hetherington, MOCA…

Portal 2 is out! This game is awesome and I think I should write an entire blog post about it. Seriously. It’s clever and fun, even CNN says so! ‘The story is fantastic, and the writing and dialogue remain one of the cornerstones to this series. GLaDOS’s voice is dripping with sarcasm and malice even as her tone remains soothing and calm. Wheatley is silly, frantic and almost childlike […] Overall, “Portal 2” is a sublime game from start to finish, with humor, wit, intelligence and drama carried over from the debut title. The action remains fresh and original, and the dialogue spurs.’ Now go get Portal 2 and enjoy!

Gaming, still. Bringing Digital Art To Your XMB. That’s what James Thorpe – PlayStation Network Product Manager announced on April 13th. ‘Showcasing the best in digital design, The Studio brings to PlayStation a collection of Static and Dynamic Themes for PS3 and PSP from some of the most coveted and cutting edge graphic and digital artists, illustrators and graphic designers around the world‘. Among these artists: Craig Redman, Serial Cut but also #Jon Burgerman. Feel free to explore the store on your PS3 and PSP or visit The Studio gallery on PlayStation Home.

Now let’s talk about serious stuff. Seriously.

Tim Hetherington, director of ‘Restrepo,’ photographer for ‘Devil Came on Horseback’, and Chris Hondros of the Getty Images photo agency, were killed in the besieged city of Misurata, #Libya, on Wednesday. Human Rights Watch paid a tribute to Tim Hetherington: ‘Hetherington was a brilliant photographer and film-maker who covered many of the world’s most critical human rights stories: conflicts in Liberia, Afghanistan, Darfur, and now Libya. In every assignment, he demonstrated a remarkable sensitivity to his subjects, a tender insight into their human ordeals, and a keen sense of how visual imagery could be used to effect positive social change‘. I first wanted to work as a conflict photographer and these deaths saddens me, profoundly. The New York Times explains: ‘Misurata, Libya’s third-largest city, has been cut off by land from the rest of the country by military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. It has been the scene of intensive, close-quarters fighting for weeks. Hundreds of Libyans have been confirmed killed‘. Many other people are being killed as you read those lines…

#Congo. Child soldiers. Heather Murdock writes on The Washington Post: ‘The U.N. estimates that the number of children serving in Congolese militias, armed groups and the national army is about 3,500, but some observers say the number is much higher. The children are increasingly difficult to find, and many are girls […] Some children were forced to commit crimes in their villages before being taken into the militias, further isolating them by making them enemies to their own neighbors. Others are welcomed back by their communities, but with no skills, they cannot work, and many are too old to go to regular schools‘. In Congo, rape is a weapon of war. Child soldiers are the forgotten victims.

#China‘s Premier Wen Jiabao wants to ‘Speak the truth‘. Skeptical? Jaime FlorCruz‘s column about Chinese society and politics published on CNN offers a quite interesting insight: ‘In recent years, China has seen communist governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan swept by political turmoil called the “color revolution”. Beijing has also watched authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa toppled by popular uprisings. The fall of these regimes has raised the spectre of a Chinese “jasmine revolution.’ The author adds: ‘They have good reasons to fret. The country is grappling with high inflation, endemic corruption, growing pollution concerns and a widening gap between the rich and the poor. They fear outbreak of ethnic strife in Tibet and Xinjiang, which experienced bloody street riots in 2008 and 2009, respectively.’ Meanwhile, Chinese artist #Ai Weiwei remains hidden away in prison. So yes, please ‘Speak the truth‘, Premier Wen Jiabao, don’t be afraid of it!

Almost four years ago, I wrote: Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi and a thousand monks. Again. I can hear many people ask: ‘Aung San Suu Kyi is free at last. Now what?Andrew Marshall gives his point of view on The Time: ‘Well, we must continue to demand that the Burmese government release all political prisoners, end the violent persecution of ethnic minorities and guarantee the liberty and safety of Suu Kyi and other democrats. But we must also put pressure on our own governments. They could start by dismantling the legal obstructions on delivering humanitarian aid to Burma — or explain why it gets less aid ($6 per capita) than communist Laos ($62).’ #Aung San Suu Kyi may be free but people in #Burma are not. Let’s no look away too quickly, as we tend to do too frequently.

About ‘looking away’. All eyes are focused on the Fukushima plant but let’s not forget about Chernobyl’s poisonous legacy 25 years on. ‘A full quarter of a century after the Chernobyl disaster, and the sarcophagus over the wrecked reactor is cracked and deteriorating, hundreds of tons of highly radioactive material remain to be dealt with, attempts to raise many millions of pounds to make the site safe are falling short, the health of Ukrainian children unborn in 1986 is still being damaged, and it will be 20,000 years before vegetables grown in the area will be safe to eat.’ Wired Science wrote the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency revised its preliminary rating of the Fukushima crisis, upgrading it to the highest level on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. That places it on par with Chernobyl. This is really bad for Japan and also for the rest of the world. Green energy anyone? Anytime!

Now let’s look at the bright side of pollution. Pollution can be beautiful, really. PowerHouse has just published some of the work of J Henry Fair’s aerial photographs of industrial pollution in Fair’s first book, The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis. You can see some of his photographs on this page. You can also visit industrial scars website: ‘Industrial Scars is an aesthetic look at some of our most egregious injuries to the system that sustains us in hopes that the viewer will come away with an innate understanding of her complicity and a will to make a difference’. Dismally beautiful!

#Graffiti. Since graffiti art entered my life almost a quarter of a century ago, I have heard and read many things about graffiti art but it’s the first time I hear about a comparison between graffiti and the Aryan Brotherhood… A letter to the editor on the LA Times about Art in the Streets, a history of street art and graffiti running at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles, says graffiti art is vandalism (nothing new here) but the letter also says: ‘I’m certain our friendly Aryan Brotherhood skinheads consider synagogue vandalism as a thing of ‘beauty’ as well‘. Picture via @SaberAWR. Are we still talking about graffiti here?

#Geek friends. iPad users with small fingers and retro lovers. ‘After 16 months of intense product design and laborious research and development we are proud to say that our wishes (and hopefully yours) have finally come true!  From texting to web browsing, the new Spinning Hat Typescreen™ gives you all modern functionality of an iPad with the sleek classic feel of retro typewriters that we all miss so dearly.’ April fool or not, I need it. More on this site.

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