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OpenLearn Live: 11th April 2016

Updated Monday, 11th April 2016

The cricket ground razed by the Suffragettes. Then more free learning across the day.

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

On Friday, we completed a week of failed digital products; heard how doctors used a fitness tracker in A&E; and discovered why the internet audience in China has got further away

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

FutureLearn this week

Just three new courses over at the glittering FutureLearn portal this week:

True stories of the 1975 referendum

The UK is now just a few weeks away from its second referendum on membership of the European Union. It's a while since the last one, and maybe you don't have any memories of what happened in 1975. Perhaps you were yet to be born. Perhaps your parents were yet to be born. Maybe you hadn't got over the 1960s by that point. To give you a taste of the campaign, we've compiled a collection of true stories from the 1975 vote - from the person Harold Wilson couldn't convince; to how Basil Fawlty voted, and why the National Front disrupted events which were held by the campaign they supported.

Read True Stories of the 1975 referendum

Why are so many dodgy websites based in Kansas?

Short answer: They're not.

When something bad happens on the internet, the people to whom that bad happens often wish to extract real-world revenge. One way of doing this is to discover the IP address of the person doing the bad, work out where that IP address points to, and turn up at that address and shout.

Joyce Taylor is aware more than most that this can happen. She's not misused the internet in any way, but has been visited by a lot of people over the last decade who are convinced she has.

How many?

So many the local police have had to post a sign at the edge of her property instructing would be visitors to contact them first.

Joyce has the misfortune to live quite near the centre of the US. Near enough so that when a company which maintains a list of locations linked to IP addresses chose a default point to assign any addresses it couldn't place anywhere else, they chose her location.

Kashmir Hill tells the full story over at Fusion:

[F]or the last 14 years, every time MaxMind’s database has been queried about the location of an IP address in the United States it can’t identify, it has spit out the default location of a spot two hours away from the geographic center of the country. This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate. If any of those IP addresses are used by a scammer, or a computer thief, or a suicidal person contacting a help line, MaxMind’s database places them at the same spot: 38.0000,-97.0000.

Which happens to be in the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s house.

Read How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell

Understand how IP addresses work with this segment of our free course

A week in April: The Nevill Ground arson

This week for our start-up segment we're looking at events that happened on the same day in the past. Today, we're going back to April 11th, 1913 - and the burning of Tunbridge Wells cricket ground.

Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells, Kent Creative commons image Icon John Sutton under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license The Nevill Ground today

When you think of sporting events disrupted by the Suffragettes, your mind probably goes first to the death of Emily Davison at the 1913 Derby. However, just a couple of months earlier, Suffragettes in Kent had targetted another sporting symbol, burning down the Nevill Ground, a cricket pitch used by Kent for county matches.

The ground itself once straddled the Kent-Sussex border, and boasted an impressive stand. Built in 1905 at the cost of £1,200, it was the centrepiece of a facility rated amongst the best on offer in the country.

Until this day in 1913, that is, when arsonists broke in and set a fire in the dressing rooms. The fire took hold; the nets stored in the building proved especially flammable. Although the fire was spotted by a lamplighter doing his early morning rounds, the stand was destroyed and, with it, the records of two local clubs, and £12 worth of cricket whites owned by the Post Office Cricket Team.

The link to the Suffrage movement wasn't hard to prove, as a photo of Emeline Pankhurst (at the time being held in jail) and Suffrage literature was left on the scene.

Amongst those who reacted swiftly and angrily to this attack on cricket itself was the local mayor. He was outraged:

"Tunbridge Wells is declared to be a hotbed of militants!"

You can understand his upset - imagine if "angry" attached itself in the popular mind to "Tunbridge Wells".

Equally enraged was Arthur Conan Doyle, who broke off from writing Sherlock Holmes stories to attend a public meeting:

"Outrages like this must be stopped because they mean neither more nor less than anarchy."

In Conan Doyle's mind, burning down a cricket ground was on a par with "blowing up a blind man and his dog".

The local branch of the Women's Social And Political Union attempted to attend the meeting, but were asked to leave. Olive Walton told the local paper what happened:

“There were three of us, Miss Le Lacheur, Miss Haynes and myself. We are all members of the Tunbridge Wells Branch of the W.S.P.U. We asked various questions of one of the speakers, because he misinterpreted our motives. We simply had to contradict his statements. He also said things rather offensive to the W.S.P.U., and so, of course, we did not stand that either. He then deliberately said, ‘If they are not quiet, put them out’, thus I took it, deliberately inciting the mob.

“Then we felt the crowd hustling. They seemed to attack me more than the others for some unknown reason. I simply folded my arms and felt myself being pushed about. An egg hit me in the face, and its contents ran down all over my clothes. My two companions, who were being somewhat similarly treated, kept close to me. I felt my head being pulled back, and my hat was dragged off. Then the Chief Constable, Mr. Prior, came up and advised us that we had better allow the police to take us to the police station. In fact, they insisted upon doing so, and thither we went, followed by a booing and jeering crowd".

The cricket ground was repaired, and quickly back in action - although it was to suffer the indignity of being requisitioned during the First World War to provide grazing for cavalry horses.

The Suffragettes would fight on, of course, but cricket would return to the Nevill Ground before the first women would be allowed to vote.

Listen to a reappraisal of The Suffragettes from The Things We Forgot To Remember

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