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OpenLearn Live: 18th August 2015

Updated Tuesday, 18th August 2015

Starting with the last tree standing after a tsunami, and then free learning and insight through the day. 

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OpenLearn Live is an experiment in daily free learning. You can follow our Twitter stream @OpenLearnLive.

Yesterday, we covered people sleeping rough, NHS funding models, the Edinburgh festival and the Royal Oak

See the full OpenLearn Live collection

Today's posts

Just published: The politics of Laibach

Laibach, the Slovenian band who are booked to play North Korea, are easily dismissed as a fascist band. But is there something more subversive to their music? Amy Bryzgel thinks so:

Audiences who went to their concerts expecting to be entertained were disappointed. Laibach’s performances subverted the notion of a rock concert, taking spectators well out of their comfort zones. Audiences not yet familiar with these strategies responded with equal violence: at the 1982 concert, the lead singer, Tomaž Hostnik (who was dressed as Mussolini in full military gear) was hit in the face with a bottle. Instead of responding, he maintained his authoritarian stance, and continued to perform with blood dripping from his head.

Read: Laibach and think of North Korea

Free course: Challenges in advanced management accounting

One of the great things about OpenLearn is the range of content - some of our content has, we hope, broad appeal. Some - well, some is a bit more niche. So, we're not expecting tens of thousands of you to sign up for our latest free course, but if you're at all interested in building a career in shaping sustainable organisations, this course will be perfect for you:

Note that, technically, risk and uncertainty do not necessarily have negative connotations. They simply mean that future outcomes are not known with certainty. Where they are present, it means that cash flows could be better or worse than their estimated values. However in everyday use, risk and uncertainty are typically used to mean outcomes which are worse than a level previously predicted, so be aware of this difference.

You may notice that despite the definitions above, there is still a grey area between risk and uncertainty. While we may always be able to estimate probabilities of certain outcomes occurring, the degree to which these probabilities are accurately known is also subject to uncertainty. For example, if I am rolling a die or tossing a coin, I know exactly the probabilities that the possible outcomes have. However, a situation where you know the probabilities for certain is unlikely in business situations.

Try Challenges in advanced management accounting


Technology versus jobs

Does technology destroy jobs? The common assumption seems to be that, as automated tills and internal combustion engines edge out checkout operators and farriers, it does. But we might have been too quick to become gloomy, says a report in The Independent:

Deloitte has found that technology has created more jobs in the past century, not less.

The authors, Ian Stewart, Debapratim De and Alex Cole, pored over census data for England and Wales stretching back to 1871.

They found that rather than making human workers redundant, technology has simply shifted work into other areas.

Admittedly, it has taken 150 years to work this through. Bet a machine could have come up with that finding more quickly.

So does this mean the Luddites were wrong all along? Perhaps, although it depends what you're thinking of when you think of Luddites. As Vice explains, a lot of the time we're invoking their spirit of protest incorrectly:

It's worth remembering that there was an important impact of the Luddite movement. Not only did it jolt industrializing society into recognizing that measures had to be taken to address worker concerns and stir up mass popular support, it seeded an enduring body of critical study on the topic.

"The working-class critique of machinery, of which machine breaking was the most dramatic concrete expression, left a major mark on British thought," MacKenzie writes.

If anything, we should stop using 'Luddite' as a facile insult, and use it to invoke a cautionary tale of what can happen when the specter of automation stokes fears of mass joblessness in an uneasy public—a phenomenon already taking root today. 

Read: Technology has created more jobs in the last 144 years than it has destroyed, Deloitte study finds

Read: You've Got Luddites All Wrong

Read: What's so great about innovation?

BBC Two, 9pm Tonight: Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School

The series concludes tonight - it's a moment of truth, as the students schooled Chinese-style are examined alongside those who had a more traditional Hampshire experience. Have the new teaching methods changed pupil's outcomes?

Read more about the programmes, and join in the debate.

Sri Lankan election: A short reading list

BBC News: Sri Lanka elections: UNP claims victory as Rajapaksa faces setback:

Mr Rajapaksa lost the presidency in January to his former health minister, Maithripala Sirisena.

He ran as a parliamentary candidate for the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in Monday's elections - hoping to secure enough support to force President Sirisena to name him as prime minister.

However, the UNP is expected to have enough seats to form a national unity government, backed by Mr Sirisena's allies.

Oliver Walton for The Conversation: Sri Lanka’s election thwarts Rajapaksa and sets the scene for deeper reform:

A victory for the main opposition coalition, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), would have led to calls for Rajapaksa to be installed as prime minister, which would have seriously undermined Sirisena’s progressive agenda. Instead, while the UNFGG coalition does not appear to have won an overall majority, its leader Ranil Wickramasinghe is now expected to form a unity coalition with support from both Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and several minority parties.

Optimists are hopeful that that the UNFGG’s win will restore political stability, boost economic performance and provide space for the consolidation of Sirisena’s “good governance” agenda, which has had trouble getting off the ground.

Centre For Monitoring Electoral Violence: Parliamentary General Election 2015: Final Communiqué Election Day:

CMEV commends the Commissioner for Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya and the Inspector General of Police, N.K Illangakoon and their officers, for both providing and sustaining an enabling environment for a free and fair election. In particular, CMEV’s monitoring of the pre-election period and Election Day highlights speedy action taken by the Police in implementing election laws. Such measures reinforced public confidence in the respective officials upholding the rule of law and in their taking the steps necessary to protect the integrity of the poll.

The Virtual Arboretum: The Rikuzentakata Pine Tree of Hope

This week, we're starting up each day with a tree with an extraordinary tale. Today, it's the Pine Tree Of Hope.

The pine tree of hope in front of the collapsed Rikuzentakata Youth Hostel Creative commons image Icon Jacob Ehnmark under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license

The Iwate Prefecture in Japan used to host a forest of 70,000 pine trees. That was until March 11th, 2011. The day of the Tōhoku earthquake, and the tsunami that followed.

The force of the water hitting the Japanese coast swept away nearly all of those trees, but not this one. As people tried to understand the damage that had been done to their community; their infrastructure; and their lives, they were astonished to discover that somehow this one tree, near the Rikuzentakata Youth Hostel, remained upright. It was adopted as a symbol of hope - a show of resilience in the face of destruction; for those more spiritually-minded it suggested the power of a miracle.

Sadly, though, even resilience has its limits, and by the middle of 2012 the tree was dying. The inundation of the ocean might not have toppled it, but the salt left behind in the soil slowly killed the tree.

The response? Rather than let the tree vanish completely, it was turned into a sculpture - casts were taken of the branches and trunk, and in March 2013 a permanent, life-size resin replica of the tree was put in place where the original tree once stood.

And the wood from those other trees that didn't survive the tsunami? Some were collected and used in an art project - people around the country were invited to help carve the wood in return for a donation to help with reconstruction.

How do earthquakes trigger tsunamis?

OpenLearn's report from the day of the tsunami





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