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OpenLearn Live: 30th July 2015

Updated Thursday, 30th July 2015

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Yesterday's OpenLearn Live included a park in Sao Paulo, street lighting and the Life Scientific

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Today's Posts


Surrogacy and money

We've just added a couple of transcripts from Thinking Allowed to the site. First, looking at transnational surrogacy in India and beyond:

 So the women are kept under constant surveillance during the months of their pregnancy, what they eat, their activity, their interaction with their family – everything is being monitored by the medical staff and the hostel matron.

And nowhere else in the world can you find something like this. So what the clinic does is that – although the doctor will never agree that she does this but brokers are sent out, and these brokers are usually midwives and nurses and they literally go from door to door recruiting women, fertile women, to become surrogates.

Once these women get convinced and once they have their husband’s consent they are brought into the clinic, they sign in to or put their thumbprints on a contract and then the process starts. And almost all of them are kept in the hostel for the entire length of their pregnancy.

And has money got a bad name - and is that fair?

The idea of a local currency is to keep money circulating within a community, so you accept the Bristol pound as payment, you can only spend it within Bristol, so the idea there is partly to – it’s what economists call the multiplier effect – partly to generate more value within the community, so to make sure that the pound stays in Bristol, but it’s also I think to encourage – and this is possibly the more important thing – it’s to encourage people to think locally and to act locally.


Cecil the lion: A short reading list

Some perspectives on the killing of Cecil the Lion, by a dentist who paid a lot of money to shoot the creature. 

Why killing lions like Cecil may be good for conservation, by Niki Rust & Diogo Veríssimo at The Conversation:

Hunters are willing to go to remote and unstable areas that most photographic tourists are unwilling to venture into. Far more photographic tourists would have to travel to Africa than hunters to make up the same level of revenue, so the carbon footprint from all that air travel would surely have a significant environmental impact. It should also be noted that the potential for nature tourism is not equally distributed, with the industry often focused only around a few locations. This leaves other regions without access to tourism revenue. Oh, and let’s not forget that wildlife reserves can also kill lions.

If the goal is to preserve populations and species (as opposed to the welfare of individual animals), countries with healthy wildlife populations should be able to use their natural resources to cover the costs of management. This is particularly the case in countries such as Zimbabwe, one of the poorest places in the world.

Cecil the lion was a victim of deep-rooted and persistent arrogance towards wildlife by Eric Jensen at The Conversation:

Animals in danger of extinction are obviously the most urgent concern, but large-scale social change is required to make a real difference. Moreover, as with many problems in poor countries around the world, the origins are in wealthier, developed nations such as the US, where a market for poached products continues to operate.

Enhanced public engagement with biodiversity, conservation and related issues is fundamental to the struggle to curtail the loss of plant and animal life already well underway around the world. But an occasional public outcry is not sufficient. This issue, like many others, requires sustained attention and systemic change to make a real difference for wildlife.

Beyond Cecil the lion: Issues the media need to cover about Zimbabwe by Fungai Machirori at Voices Of Africa:

For many Zimbabweans, international focus on Cecil stands in stark contrast to the barely audible attention paid to Itai Dzamara, a local anti-state activist who has been missing for over four months. Or to the precarious status of unregulated local street vendors as police mount a crackdown on their activities. Or to Sangulani Chikumbutso, a high-school dropout who has become the first Zimbabwean to design and manufacture a hybrid helicopter and electric vehicle. It is the deepest irony that in a time when the #BlackLivesMatter movement continues to gain traction in highlighting the differential scales used to value human lives, the world should cast its eye on Zimbabwe for its wildlife, with no thought or concern for its people.


Language and creativity

What is creativity, and what does it have to do with language? This animation looks at how people use language in creative ways, at the roles linguistic creativity plays in society, and at how people go about studying it.

Inspired? For more about English language studies at the Open University visit our prospectus site: BA (Honours) English Language and Literature BA (Honours) Language Studies


Parks And Recreation week: Vondelpark

Continuing the theme of our start up segment this week, we're now going to make a flying visit to Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam Creative commons image Icon Yo pa guille under CC-BY-ND licence under Creative-Commons license

Now, it's a free park open to all - but that wasn't always the case. When it was first opened in 1865, it was strictly a members-only affair - although you could pay on the gate if you didn't want to join the park. What's amazing is that it remained a fee-paying park until 1953, and it was only the trustees of the park getting into financial difficulties that led to its adoption by the city, and the opening of the gates.

That it took well past the Second World War for the park to be opened up is even more surprising when you remember this is Central Amsterdam's only green space - there are no parks at all within the central rings of canals in the city.

If the park wasn't originally a public park, it wasn't originally Vondelpark, either. The imaginative name for the new park when it opened was Nieuwe Park, or, erm, New Park. It took its current name from a statue erected in the park in 1867, of 17th Century Dutch  poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel.

Unlike the surrounding areas of Amsterdam, the land upon which the park was built hadn't been systematically reclaimed from the sea, and - having been founded upon soggy, peaty soil - the park was slowly sinking. A decade-long project at the start of the Millennium has attempted to stabilise the land, and save Vondelpark for the future.

More on the Netherlands from OpenLearn: Explore the baking and culture of the Netherlands

Dutch visual culture is part of The Open University course Exploring art and visual culture

 

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