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OpenLearn Live: 24th September 2015

Updated Thursday 24th September 2015

The short-lived state that declared war on Switzerland; then more free learning through the day.

OpenLearn Live brings together the world you live in, and the world of learning and research. There's also a Twitter account.

Yesterday's selection celebrated Bi Visibility Day, the start of autumn, the work of Hans Rosling and Queen Victoria's hot takes on the Chartists

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

Do people stalk their ex-lovers on Facebook?

This might sound like a question you think you know the answer to. But it's only just been properly researched - Jesse Fox of the University of Ohio and Robert S. Tokunaga from the University of Hawaii have explored what happens when status changes from "in a relationship" - and gone more deeply into relationships on social networks:

Romantic relationship dissolution can be stressful, and social networking sites make it difficult to separate from a romantic partner online as well as offline. An online survey (N = 431) tested a model synthesizing attachment, investment model variables, and post-dissolution emotional distress as predictors of interpersonal surveillance (i.e., “Facebook stalking”) of one's ex-partner on Facebook after a breakup. Results indicated that anxious attachment predicted relational investment but also seeking relationship alternatives; avoidant attachment was negatively related to investment but positively related to seeking alternatives. Investment predicted commitment, whereas seeking alternatives was negatively related to commitment. Commitment predicted emotional distress after the breakup. Distress predicted partner monitoring immediately following the breakup, particularly for those who did not initiate the breakup, as well as current partner monitoring. Given their affordances, social media are discussed as potentially unhealthy enablers for online surveillance after relationship termination.

In other words: if you're more deeply into your romance, you're more likely to be committed to the relationship, but when you split - on the evidence of this survey, at least - you'd be more likely to be follow your partner's post-split activities.

Read the full research

Talking fish

The Honourable Husband explains why nothing scares a translator more than the suggestion of a meeting in a fish restaurant:

"The bank's translator opened the menu, and sighed.  Fish, she said, is my personal nightmare."

I could see the point, and agreed.  "When you think about it, there are many more species of fish than of other edible animals.  Even in my own native tongue, I haven't a clue.  What's the difference between a flounder and a halibut?  What's so special aboutbarramundi?  And what the hell is a sea bass?"

"Especially tough in Japanese," David reminded me, "where one finds different words for different parts of fish."

Read: Why is fish the translator's nightmare?

Technically, Hans, this is cheating

BBC Four, 9pm Tonight: The Secret Rules of Modern Living

You'll know that when you ask Google to find you something, Google does some calculations in the background to work out what you really need to see. Likewise, Amazon is doing something computational when it tells you that your purchase of CD X makes it likely that you'd be interested in DVD Y. These algorithms are just the most obvious ones - all around the world, numbers are being crunched to make all sorts of automated decisions. As part of the Make It Digital season, Marcus DuSautoy explains how these things work - and where they might be going next.

Find out more about The Secret Rules of Modern Living

For a fun way to understand algorithms, try The Jewels of Heuro

More Make It Digital content

On iPlayer now: Don't Panic - How To End World Poverty in 15 years

Hans Rosling's programme last night, where he used statistics and a dash of colour to explain how the world could meet the Millennium goals by 2030, is reviewed today by Sally Newall in The Independent:

The small matter of ending “extreme poverty” by 2030 – measured as those living on less than $1.25 a day – realistically, is not one that can be solved in an hour of primetime telly. Yet Hans Rosling, the Swedish pop-star statistician gave it a good go in his inimitable style. His upbeat conclusion that the first newly drawn-up development goal is indeed possible, even “easy”, was an uplifting thought on a grey autumn day - if over-simplified in this package.

This show was made to tie-in with the UN’s new development targets and was in the same vein as 2013’s Don’t Panic - The Truth About Population, with a more over-blown premise. But Rosling convinced with his combo of a presentation of colourful bubble graphs and props interspersed with pre-filmed human stories. The effect was a cross between an extended TED Talk – the format that made his name – combined with election night and a Comic Relief human-story segment.

Now, we're realists, and know that clashing as it did with the live Coronation Street and Bake-Off, statisitically there's a chance you might have missed the programme last night. The good news is that it's available on iPlayer until mid-October, so you can catch up right now (or over the next few days)

Read more about Don't Panic

Watch Don't Panic on iPlayer

The pop-up states: The Bavarian Council Republic

This week, our start-up segment is telling the stories of some pop-up states: independent nations which appeared and disappeared after just a few days. Yesterday, we explored the brief independence of The Faroe Islands. Today, we're visiting the Bavarian Council Republic - or the Bavarian Soviet Republic, as it was also known.

The Republic came into existence during the First World War, and was born of the same turbulence in central Europe that had dragged the continent into that war. The initial declaration of Bavaria as a free state was made by Kurt Eisner on the 7th November 1918 - the anniversary of the Russian Revolution - when crowds marched on the barracks in Munich and persuaded the troops to support them. Eisner was subsequently rejected by the electorate, and then assassinated. Turmoil followed, as various factions tried to form a stable govenrment - and, on April 6th, 1919, the Council Republic was formally proclaimed.

A scene from the Bayern Revolution Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: German Federal Archive under CC-BY-SA licence Troops and public in a scene captured during the Bayern Revolution

The Republic would only last until the 3rd May, 1919, but managed to fit a lot in in this time - including declaring war on Switzerland. For a state which was created to remove Bavaria from a war, this might seem a strange line of action; the casus belli for war was even odder - Foreign Minister Franz Lipp was upset about trains:

"My dear colleague", he wrote to a fellow-minister, "I have declared war on Württemberg and Switzerland because those dogs have not immediately handed over the 60 locomotives to me on loan. I have no doubt  that we will be victorious. Furthermore I will seek the blessing of the Pope, who is a good friend of mine, for this victory." 

One of the first actions of the new nation had been to force cafes to close by six in the evening; this move was so unpopular one of the first U-turns performed by the government was to allow cafes to remain open until nine.

After six days, the first government of the Bavarian Council Republic fell (before either the Pope or the Swiss had responded to the train crisis) when a run on the banks gave the chance for the Communists to seize power. Their plans included the abolition of paper money and seizing luxury apartments to be given to the homeless, neither of which scheme was completed. However, the government did find time to round up and execute eight men, accused of spying.

On May 3rd, troops still loyal to Germany entered Munich and - after prolonged fighting in the streets - restored Bavaria to the Weimar Republic. It's estimated around 1,000 supporters of the Council Republic were killed in the fighting. The leader of the second government, Eugen Levin, and 700 others were executed for their part in the events.

The Council would have one last role in German history - because so many leaders of the uprising were Jewish, the Council Republic (along with the Berlin Sparticists) would play a role in Nazi propaganda, as "evidence" of a Jewish conspiracy against Germany.

Try our free course nationalism, self-determination and secession


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