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- Beyond Blue: San Simeon
- Free course: Music research
- Listen over lunch: Citizenship
- The seaweed choking the Caribbean
- BBC Two tonight: The World's busiest railway
- New on FutureLearn this week
A quick round-up of new courses on our sister service FutureLearn - ready for you to learn now, and all for free:
At the very least, the OU's new series on BBC Two this evening might make you feel better about your commute, as it brings the crush and chaos of the world's busiest railway into your home. Three million passengers pass through just one station on the Mumbai rail network every day. Three million passengers a day. That's about ten times as busy as Victoria Station.
But there's more to the series than just schadenfreude - how does a system like that cope with the weight of numbers? It's an engineering marvel; and it's that which the programmes set out to celebrate.
The wildness of the Sargasso sea: climate change is currently overrunning the Caribbean with sargassum seaweed. It's slowly choking out all other life - and the environmental disaster might lead to an economic one if the governments of the region can't control the weed:
Naturally, Caribbean governments are concerned about the effect of the seaweed on tourism. Sargassum along Tobago's eastern coast was piled so high on the beaches that some of it had to be removed with the help of backhoes. Guests at one upscale hotel on the south-east coast of the island complained that the smell from such large quantities of the algae was nauseating. Still, as of last week, Tobago seemed to be full of holiday-makers, as the island's western coast remained unaffected, likely due to the motion of the tides.
To understand the debate about immigration, you also have to understand what citizenship entails - the sense of belonging, of what it means to be a good citizen. Our series of podcasts, Opening The Boundaries of Citizenship, explores and unpicks some of the big questions about citizenship in the modern world. From the new rush to Africa to the heart of the new Arab world, where is citizenship heading?
In Codes of Misconduct: Regulating Prostitution in Late Colonial Bombay, Ashwini Tambe discusses how The East India Tea Company turned the rights of women into the rights of men who were thought to own them. Tambe writes that, The East India Company upheld the right of husbands to buy wives and parents to sell children, and it targeted the `enticing’ of children and women into prostitution as an infringement on these property rights of husbands and parents. The law thus largely enshrined male private property rights to women and children… (Tambe, 28). The colonial construction of women as property continues to inform the legal sanction of marital rape, despite opposition from progressive thinkers. Ongoing activist campaigns not limited to the Delhi gang rape protests are attempting to challenge these colonial laws and ideologies. For example, one can consider that Section 377 of the India penal code, India’s sodomy bill was also instituted by British Colonial Rule. In 2010, after a tireless campaign by activists and allies, the Delhi high court made the decision to read down Section 377, hopefully moving towards the lasting decriminalisation of same sex desire in the region. My research therefore asks- how political movements can challenge colonialism at the level of gendered ideology?
How do you set about studying and understanding music as an academic discipline? Our new free online course will show you - introducing the sorts of tools used by musicologists, sharing some documents - and then dipping into the intersection between politics and music:
Popular musicians are courted by political parties keen to have their messages endorsed, or their images improved. Well-known examples of this include Frank Sinatra’s role at John F Kennedy’s presidential inauguration and Sheryl Crow’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign (she also performed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention). Indeed, US presidential elections often make prominent use of dedicated campaign songs, drawing in recent years from existing popular culture—though this is far from a new phenomenon, and earlier elections could be just as sophisticated in their use of music (see Harpine, 2004 on the functions of songs in the 1896 presidential campaign of William McKinley, which frequently expressed a belligerency in their attacks on opponents that was absent from the candidate’s speeches).Popular musicians are courted by political parties keen to have their messages endorsed, or their images improved. Well-known examples of this include Frank Sinatra’s role at John F Kennedy’s presidential inauguration and Sheryl Crow’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign (she also performed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention). Indeed, US presidential elections often make prominent use of dedicated campaign songs, drawing in recent years from existing popular culture—though this is far from a new phenomenon, and earlier elections could be just as sophisticated in their use of music (see Harpine, 2004 on the functions of songs in the 1896 presidential campaign of William McKinley, which frequently expressed a belligerency in their attacks on opponents that was absent from the candidate’s speeches).
This week, BBC One is off the Californian coast for Big Blue Live. For our start up segment, we're going to wander up onto the beach and explore some Californian coastal communities. So, let's go to California now...
Our first Californian coastal visit is to San Simeon. Originally, San Simeon was a large Mission - a religious and military outpost of the Spanish Empire. In 1836, the Mission was closed, and split into what were then three ranches - Piedras Blancas, Santa Rosa and San Simeon.
No longer serving God or the Spanish Crown, the settlement developed into a whaling port. For a while the place thrived by harvesting sea mammals, but whaling in the area started to decline in the 1860s (ironically, while the rest of the nation was enjoying something of a peak in the practice - whaling fleets continued to leave US ports into the 20th century.) Around the same time, a drought hit agricultural activity around the area, causing farmers to sell up and leave. San Simeon went into a decline.
The town was saved by William Randolph Hearst. As land had become available, his father George Hearst had started to snap it up - eventually ending up with quarter of a million acres. In 1919, William inherited the land, and set about on a grand project - La Cuesta Encantada or "enchanted hill". With architect Julia Morgan he created Hearst Castle - 167 rooms and 127 acres of landscaped gardens and outdoor areas, dedicated to showcasing Hearst's art collection.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, that's because it is. Hearst Castle is the model for Xanadu, home to the Hearst-like figure at the heart of Orson Welle's Citizen Kane. The home itself, though, despite its proximity to Hollywood, hasn't appeared much on-screen beyond travelogues; it was used in Kubrick's Spartacus and for Lady GaGa's GUY pop video.
When Williams Hearst died, parts of the estate were passed to the state of California, and were added to the State Park system. The tourism generated by the attraction was central to the rejuvenation of San Simeon. Nowadays, the town is home to just under 500 people - and the beach is a haven for elephant seals. A place built on killing sea mammals has become a sanctuary for them.
Big Blue Live continutes on BBC One at 8pm on Thursday