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OpenLearn Live: 25th August 2015

Updated Tuesday 25th August 2015

A visit to a resilient coastal community, then free learning and analysis across the day.

This is OpenLearn Live, an experiment in real-time free learning. This page will be updated across the day, or you can keep an eye on our Twitter feed at @openlearnlive.

Yesterday, we visited the model for Xanadu in Citizen Kane, considered modern Citizenship, checked in at a busy city railway station - and more.

See the full collection of OpenLearn Live


Today's Posts


Can the WHO eliminate rabies from Asia by 2020?

That's the target the World Health Organisation have set themselves. But it's not easy - not least because of the sheer number of rabid dogs in India at the moment:

In India, culling dogs is not allowed on humanitarian grounds. A 2001 Indian law details how dogs should be humanely caught, housed, sterilised and released back onto the street. Experts say culling isn’t very effective anyway, considering at least half of the patients with rabies were bitten by pet dogs.

So the authorities turn to vaccinating not just the human population, but the dogs as well. If 70 per cent of the dog population were vaccinated, that would be enough to contain the spread of the virus. According to the 2015 PLOS study, by 2010 India had vaccinated just 15 per cent of its dogs. And vaccinations are not enough. The dogs must also be sterilised to make sure new animals – potential reservoirs for the virus – aren’t introduced into the community. At the time of writing, India has no national or state-wide plans in effect to make this happen.

Read: Can rabies be eliminated from Asia by 2020?


Just published: Supreme Streets

Employee ownership is about more than just Co-Ops and John Lewis. But the reasons for turning a business into an employee owned enterprise, and how you go about it, can be confusing. Our new game, Supreme Streets, invites you to explore the challenges and opportunities of this sort of business arrangement by taking charge of the fortunes of a business making street furniture...

Play Supreme Streets


How do you make a scientific discovery?

That's a good question. AJ Johnson, a grad student from the University of Colorado at Boulder has a quick guide to making discoveries in particle physics:


Just published: Ethics of gaming

OU philosopher Derek Matravers explores if it's okay to be bloodthirsty when playing video games:

The boundary between happenings in real life and happenings in video games is a particular instance of the boundary between real life and make-believe. It is plausible to think that it is what happens in real life that matters, and it does not really matter what we make-believe. Children do things in games of make-believe that would be terrible if they did them in real life: shooting Indians, operating without anaesthetic, sinking boats and so on. We would not really wring the neck of our line-manager, even if we might relieve our stress by day-dreaming about doing so. Loving couples enact sexual fantasies which, were they real, would not be the kinds of things done by loving couples. One would have to be rather puritanical to think that moral judgement applied equally on both sides of the boundary. If this line of thought is right, then it seems that video games are in the clear.

Read: Virtual murder - just a game?


Eastern market meltdown: A reading list

Trying to make sense of the turmoil in the Eastern stock exchanges? Here's a quick reading list:

Keith Pilbeam's explainer: China’s Black Monday and global market turbulence:

Stock markets in recent years have benefited from market-friendly monetary policies. There have been three rounds of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and more recently the European Central Bank. There have for some time been concerns about the outrageous valuation of shares of certain US companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Tesla, GoPro, Netflix and Amazon. Both short-term and long-term interest rates globally have been artificially low for record periods. This unusual era of money printing and low interest rates has boosted asset prices – not just stocks, but also property prices in major towns and cities around the globe.

Jay Zargosky on why we shouldn't worry (most of us):

Falling or rising stock prices, even when the market changes dramatically, typically do not have a large or immediate effect on sales at stores, restaurants or other retailers. One reason for this is that people spend only a portion of their wealth each year.

Few people pay current bills and expenses from their stock market accounts. Instead, most people base their day-to-day spending decisions on their paycheck and other sources of income, not on their stock market holdings. Instead, stocks are often held to achieve long-term goals like retirement, a child’s or grandchild’s education, or a place to store money until needed to make a major purchase.

Moreover, when wealth increases, like when the stock market or housing market rises in value, people often spend only a fraction of that. When wealth decreases, many people don’t cut back their purchases on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Mardi Dungey on What's really going on - and what might be next:

The reaction of global currency markets to the Chinese renminbi devaluation is mainly newsworthy because it was unexpected. In a manner rather reminiscent of the disbelief that Russia would defer payments on its debt in 1998 (because a nuclear power had never before done so), there was no expectation that the Chinese currency would change in such a ground-breaking manner. It then takes markets a little while to sort out their reaction. As it does, this will set up a new set of expectations around how transmissions work.

It is the changes in the network of the relationships between different currencies and countries that represent the contagion effect. Previously existing links between currencies, may be weakened in the longer term, perhaps as markets recognise the greater separability of some of the other Asian economies from the driving force of China. At the same time other links may form or strengthen, perhaps in the direct assessment of individual Asian economies by non-Asian investment markets.

 


Google's new CEO

As part of the reorganisation of Google that we covered on OpenLearn Live on the 11th August, Indian-born Sundat Pichai became CEO of the search company. His home country reacted with jokes and a Wikipedia edit war, as Subhashish Panigrahi explains:

He holds a Bachelor in Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, a Masters from Stanford University and a MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Pichai, who was relatively unknown in most of India saw much love from his home country and state after the promotion.

His Wikipedia article  saw a massive edit war — between two groups of two different schools — claiming from he graduated from their alma mater before he joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

Read How India reacted to Sundar Pichai's new role


Beyond Blue: Crescent City

This week, our start-up segment is celebrating BBC One's live coverage of the oceans off California by coming inland to discover some of that state's coastal communities. Yesterday, we started our journey in San Simeon. Today, we're heading North - almost to the Oregon border - to explore Crescent City.

Crescent City Lighthouse Creative commons image Icon Kathleen Franklin under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license

Before Europeans arrived, the area that is now Crescent City was broadly shared by two Native American nations - the Tolowa and the Yurok. Early settlers from Europe traded with the local population, but peaceful relations didn't last long. A group from Crescent City, dressed as soldiers, took part in a massacre of Tolowa in 1853. The men attacked in the middle of a religious festival, and attacked without mercy. A Tolowa man would recall the slaughter years later:

The whites attacked and the bullets were everywhere. Over four hundred and fifty of our people were murdered or lay dying on the ground. Then the whitemen built a huge fire and threw in our sacred ceremonial dresses, the regalia, and our feathers, and the flames grew higher. Then they threw in the babies, many of them were still alive. Some tied weights around the necks of the dead and threw them into the nearby water.

Two men escaped, they had been in the Sacred Sweathouse and crept down to the water's edge and hid under the Lily Pads, breathing through the reeds. The next morning they found the water red with blood of their people.

The change from coexistence to violence had largely been driven by the Great California Gold Rush. It wasn't just the discovery of gold - although that brought people and roads, what really caused Crescent City to expand was the secondary effect of the mining industry.

As people poured into California seeking to make their fortunes, there was a building boom - and the curved sandy bay which gave Crescent City its name made it a perfect entrepot for the region's lumber industry. Wood from across the area was brought to Crescent City for shipping on to San Francisco. The gold rush faded quickly, but the lumber boom lasted for nearly a century, until a move from harvesting old growth trees changed the shape and economics of the lumber industry.

That Crescent City stands today is in itself remarkable - the town was badly hit in the tsunamis which followed the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. The epicentre of the quake was off the coast of Alaska, but the shifts in Ocean floor affected the whole west coast of America. Perched on the edge of the nation, next to an area of sea floor which enhances the strength of the inundation, Crescent City took the force of four waves. Much of the town was flattened; most of downtown vanished and 12 of the 139 people who died in the quake's aftermath across Canada and America were from the city.

The town was also hit by the tsunami which followed the 2011 earthquake in Japan - as this film shows:

The harbour was destroyed; four were swept out to sea, and one died.

It's a city in a dangerous place; but it's a resilient community, as coastal communities often have to be. The rebuilding which followed 2011 has, it's believed, created the first tsunami-resistent port in America.

Read: An introduction to America's native people

Read: Crescent City hit hard by tsunami at the LA Times

Read: Crescent City's official history

Try our free course: earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis

 

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