Skip to content

OpenLearn Live: 10th March 2016

Updated Thursday 10th March 2016

The company that created a publishing powerhouse in Dundee. Then more free learning across the day.

OpenLearn Live brings free learning into the heart of your world. This page will be updated across the day.

Yesterday, we attended a trial and opened up logic

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

Open Education Week: OpenPediatrics

Continuing our small contribtuion to Open Education Week, here's today's choice from the thousands of resources (an ugly word for stuff) on offer from the open community - OpenPediatrics:

OPENPediatrics is an online community of clinicians sharing best practices from all resource settings around the world through innovative collaboration and digital learning technologies.

Amongst the offerings are a collection of medical illustrations and animations aimed at helping educate clinicians around the world, like this explanation of Gas Exchange in the Alveoli in a Healthy Patient:

Visit the site at OpenPediatrics

Can Trump do as he says?

Donald Trump is talking tough on the campaign trail - but does what he promises to do to defeat ISIS go beyond what international law will allow? A former Air Force major general, now teaching at Duke Law School, offers a considered take:

The law is subtle when it comes to human shields. In very rare circumstances, it can even be tricky when it comes to the idea of targeting civilian family members.

To be clear, an order from President Trump – or anyone else – to target civilian family members who were not directly participating in hostilities simply as a strategy to coerce the fighters themselves could not be reconciled with the law of war. Such an order could not – must not – be obeyed.

Has any president ever issued illegal orders to the military? Many scholars believe that Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, which was enforced by the military, along with the Civil War trials of civilians conducted by military commissions, were unlawful. Arguably, this would make any orders to effectuate those policies unlawful as well.

But the legality of orders isn’t always clear-cut. In the Republican debate on March 3, Trump introduced (perhaps unwittingly) some new and complicating nuances to his proposal by setting it in the context of the 9/11 attack.

Read the full article Could President Trump do what Candidate Trump promises?

A week in Dundee: DC Thomson

This week, we're spending some time exploring the city of Dundee. Yesterday, we climbed aboard the RSS Discovery. Today, we're exploring a publishing powerhouse: DC Thomson.

Desperate Dan statue in Dundee Creative commons image Icon Neil Howard under Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 license

It's not unusual for a city to preserve, in bronze, in its centre, a statue celebrating a famous son or daughter. Dundee, though, is unusual in erecting a public tribute to a man who spent his entire life in a different town, in a different country; a man who didn't really exist; a man who was more famous in two dimensions than three.

But it makes sense for Cactusville's Desperate Dan to have a statue in the heart of Dundee.

The Dandy's Dan, along with The Beano's Dennis, noted Menace, are two of the greatest gifts to UK culture from the publisher DC Thomson. The company provided one of the js - journalism - in Dundee's legendary three j trinity of jute, jam and journalism. (Jute reflected Dundee's textile heritage; jam the Kellier preserve corporation.)

DC Thomson - the man, David Couper Thomson - was born into a wealthy family. His father, William, bought into the Dundee Courier & Daily Argus in 1884, with an eye on its power to help shape his main financial interests in shipping. He called his eldest son back from overseeing the Glasgow arm of the shipping business and installed him as general manager on the paper.

David showed a flair for running a publishing concern, and in 1905 created a new company under his own name to focus on producing newspapers, comics and magazines. And despite a reputation for clinging to tradition, and a certain dourness, his business would help shape the imaginations and lives of Britons across the 20th Century.

Thomson wasn't above exerting proprietorial influence - in 1922, his papers came together to help unseat Winston Churchill as local MP.

DC stood down from day-to-day running of the business in 1933, but remained chair until he died in 1954.

The company that carries his name, however, didn't stop. And for a period, the comics and magazines industry offered women a cradle-to-grave soft entertainment path of Bunty-Judy-Jackie-My Weekly-People's Friend.

Jackie - which ceased publication in 1993 - is being celebrated in a musical opening in Dundee today. Aimed at girls on the cusp of adulthood, the title couldn't withstand the wave of publications which muscled in during the late 80s, with a less coy approach and a glossier remit, but the importance of Jackie during its imperial phase should be recognised. In an age before the internet, an age before Childline, even an age before decent sex education in schools, Jackie's legendary Cathy and Claire advice column was one of the few places young people could turn for help in sometimes pretty desperate situations. The pair (who, in reality, had no more corporeal existence than Desperate Dan) have even been celebrated with an exhibition at the Southbank Centre.

Not all of the company's ideas worked - the decision to spin off a comic dedicated to Plug, the least charismatic of The Beano's Bash Street Kids, was rewarded with indifference; Scoop, a sports-led anthology designed to defeat rival IPC's Tiger fought as pluckily as any of the footballers in its comic strips, but has managed to be one of those rare things: something whose existence doesn't even merit a mention on Wikipedia.

And nether could DC Thomson remain immune from changing tastes and the shift online of much entertainment - most notably, The Dandy comic tried various reinventions (including a spell as Dandy Max) before throwing in the paper towel. The much-trumpeted change of format from a print comic to an online title didn't take, and the online Dandy was switched off within six months. (Something that might give the owners of The Independent pause for thought.)

But although The Dandy failed to survive the 21st Century, Desperate Dan strides on - down the street in Dundee, and in the minds of millions of kids who followed his exploits on cheap newsprint for the best part of a century.

Try our free course on Dundee's jute industry


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?