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OpenLearn Live: 25th September 2015

Updated Friday, 25th September 2015

The state which existed for one controversial day, twice. And more free learning through the day.

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OpenLearn Live makes the links between your world and the world of learning and research. This page is updated across the day, and there's also a Twitter account.

Yesterday, we saw Hans Rosling admit to cheating, heard about the problems of fish for linguists, and dipped into some research about Facebook stalking

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

On iPlayer now: The Secret Rules of Modern Living - Algorithms

Catch up with Marcus DuSautoy's explanation of how computations and calculations are changing the way we interact with our world. It's on iPlayer now and, just so you know, the decision to recommend this to you is a human intervention.

Watch The Secret Rules on iPlayer

Find out more about The Secret Rules

Talking your way into work

Tomorrow is European Day of Languages. To mark the day, find out how a second language can help further your career.

Working-class gardens

Added to the site yesterday, a transcript of a round-table on gardening and its role in the life of lower classes - why women were the first to garden; how men refuse to admit their flowers are beautiful; and how Ground Force came to flatten working-class traditions.

Read: The working class garden

Listen over lunch: Think

If you're looking for something to think about while you enjoy your lunch break - or maybe don't enjoy your lunch break, depending on how wisely you chose when you made those sandwiches this morning - why not have a quick dip into the recent archives of Think, the KERA daily in-depth exploration of just about everything.

You can see the full archive, or try these recent episodes...

Why does the brain like beauty?

(Related: Why are things beautiful?)

Can computers predict our needs?

(Related: Coding and algorithms)

Can we protect native species?

(Related: The challenge of invasive species)

Lady Chatterley's Tweetdeek: DH Lawrence as Tweeter

If the thought of Morrissey as novelist disturbs you, as a counterpoint can we suggest the delicate elegance of DH Lawrence bites. This is a Twitter account which, as the name suggests, sends small sniglets of writing from Lawrence's works. It's been running for five years, so like Clifford Chatterley it's been going on for a while before we noticed. But it's not late to join up:

DH Lawrence bites on Twitter

See how Lawrence fits into the connections between 20th Century Authors

There's more to life than books, you know: Morrissey as author

Morrissey has released his first novel, and even those who are prepared to grant the singer a free pass on many occasions are struggling to find an upside in the book. Charlotte Runcie has reviewed the book for the Telegraph:

List of the Lost is terrible and, at only 118 pages, still feels overlong. As the novel went on sale, its first readers shared their horror online. The response to the excruciating sex scenes was so universal that “Morrissey” began trending on Twitter. Indeed, has there ever been a less sexy moment in literature than Morrissey describing “the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation” as it “smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone”? The judging panel for this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award must surely have their winner. 

- to her horror, though, Runcie explains that the dreadful sex scenes are of a part with all the other dreadful scences.

For The Daily Beast, Nico Hines is alarmed at the way women are portrayed in the book:

The four young sportsmen at the center of the book, Ezra, Nails, Harri, and Justy, are described in lascivious detail at every turn. The “wide-eyed girls” in the crowd are treated to “the erotic reality of the deltoid deities who have no inhibitions in bodies fully occupied and enjoyed.”

The women we encounter are invariably undeserving of these magnificent specimens. We are told that our poor heroes receive fan mail from “girls of the ‘I, unlovely’ division who wrote too openly from afar.” One of the lucky ones, who succeeds in bedding an athlete, is “over-made-up Tracey, phenomenally top-heavy and modernly unfashionable.”

Perhaps it is a coincidence that some of the bit-part female characters are dismissively sketched, but Morrissey also meditates more explicitly on womankind. “Although the publicly confessed lust of the man must always be made to seem ridiculous and prepubescent, the lust of the woman is at first childlike and desperate—as if they know there is something about which they know nothing, and this itch takes on the aggressive,” he writes. “Women are less of a mystery because their methods and bodies have been over-sold, whereas the male body speaks as the voice calls a halt.”

Perhaps the disappointment of the book is greater because, as a songwriter, Morrissey has always been one of the most erudite and literate figures to have graced the Top 40. Even here, though, his record isn't entirely unblemished - the line in Bigmouth Strikes Again "I was only joking when I said you should be bludgeoned in your bed" was, after all, lifted from Jeffrey Archer's First Amongst Equals parliamentary potboiler.

It all shows that writing novels is something of an art, but one which needs to be nurtured. If there are plans for a second novel, maybe - before a nation turns its back and gags - Morrissey might like to try our free course in creative writing, Start Writing Fiction?


Yogi Berra, who died this week, once famously said "it's like deja-vu all over again", and so we're going dedicate our Friday collection of the bits you might have missed this week to his memory.

The pop-up states: The Republic of Crimea

This week, we've been telling the stories of some states which existed for just a few days - in one case, for just a few hours. If you've missed any so far, here's the collection so far:

Today, we're rounding off the week with a more recent example - and a state which has existed for a single day, twice, in the last 25 years. The Crimean Republic.

The status of Crimea has long been a source of argument and aggression. In 1954, within the USSR, Khrushchev "gifted" Crimea to Ukraine, redrawing what was mainly then an internal border. Many never accepted that Crimea was anything other than Russian, however, and that came to a head in 2014.

A Crimean self-defence militia stands guard with riot shields painted in the Crimean tricolour flag in Simferopol, 2nd March 2014 Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: Elizabeth Arrott/VOA A Crimean self-defence militia stands guard with riot shields painted in the Crimean tricolour flag in Simferopol, 2 March 2014

Against a background of angry clashes between Russia and Ukraine - both verbal and armed - a referendum was held on the status of Crimea. The validity, the question, and the results of the vote were all contested, but emboldened by the quoted 95% support in favour of the territory joining the Russian Federation, on March 17th, 2014, the Supreme Council of Crimea declared independence from Ukraine. The Council set about repealing Ukraine legislation, adopted the ruble as currency and started transfering property ownership.

On March 18th, the Council signed a Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia, surrendering that independence.

For many in Crimea, this one-day independence would have been familiar, as it echoed the events of 1992. On that occasion, the break-up of the Soviet Union had thrown the whole region into confusion. Coming shortly after the people of Crimea had voted in a referendum to become an autonomous republic within the USSR, Ukraine's declaration of independence from the USSR on 24th August 1991 left many feeling they'd wound up on the wrong side of the border.

By February 1992, the Crimean government had restyled itself as the Republic of Crimea, but remained part of Ukraine. That lasted until May 5th, when the parliament declared Crimea independent, approved a Crimean constitution, and announced plans for a referendum to approve those decisions in August.

Faced with a mixture of threats and promises of greater autonomy from Kiev, the government met the next day and added a line to the brand-new Crimean Consitutuion declaring it to be part of Ukraine after all.

After twenty four hours independence, Crimea was back in Ukraine - and there it would stay until 2014, when another day of independence would shake things up again.

Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 has never been formally recognised by the vast majority of other nations, and a vote at the United Nations formally rejected the result of the referendum

Read: Crimea votes to back independence from Ukraine (New York Times, 1992)

Read: Crimea profile at BBC News

Try our free course nationalism, self-determination and secession





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