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OpenLearn Live: 8th February 2016

Updated Monday, 8th February 2016

The Welsh king who stands alongside Alfred and Charlemagne; fearing death and celebrating a new New Year. Free learning from your world, across the day.

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On Friday, we heard of the end of the 747, caught up with rugby and a caught mouse, and completed a week of real people who inspired great poems

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Today's posts

Happy new year

Unless you had one of the two £33million lottery tickets, it's possible you've been a bit unimpressed with the new year to date. The good news, though, is we get another chance to have a crack at the new year, as today marks Chinese new year. It's the year of the monkey, as well, and as everyone knows, monkeys are wonderful.

Watch silver langur monkeys being filmed for the BBC/OU Life series

See our Year of the Monkey collection

FutureLearn this week

What are our friends over at FutureLearn up to this week? Almost certainly going to swish parties that we haven't been invited to which we'll hear about on their Facebook feed and then have to pretend we didn't want to go to in the first place. More importantly, though, they're pressing the Go button on this lot:

Something there for everyone, but if nothing catches your eye, don't forget we've got over 750 free courses here on OpenLearn. Check out the full list.

How scared should we be of death?

We're all going to die some day. There's a cheering thought, right? And what does that sense of mortality do to our lives? Jonathan Jong reports:

When asked, we do not seem, perhaps not even to ourselves, to fear death. Nor would we guess that thinking about death has such widespread effects on our social attitudes. But there are limits to our introspective powers. We are notoriously bad at predicting how we will feel or behave in some future scenario, and we are similarly bad at working out why we feel the way we do, or even why we have behaved a certain way. So, whether we realise it or not, it seems that to bring death to the surface of our minds is to open Pandora’s box.

So what should we make of these new efforts to demystify death and dying through conversation? It is hard to say. Increasing death’s profile in our imaginations, private and public, might make us all more punitive and prejudiced, as the research found. But then perhaps we get these negative effects precisely because we are unaccustomed to thinking and talking about death.

Read the full article: How scared should we be of death?

Welsh kings: Rhodri The Great

This week, for our start-up segment we're exploring the lives of some the kings of Wales. We're kicking off today with Rhodri Mawr, or Rhodri The Great.

Dinefwr Castle Creative commons image Icon David Evans under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license Ruins of Dinefwr Castle - this construction was a later one on a site where Rhodri constructed one of his fortifications.

Rhodri ascended to the crown of Gwynned in 844CE upon the death of his father. Contemporary chroniclers hailed him as "the Great" - an honour bestowed upon only three European leaders in the ninth century; England's Alfred The Great and France's Charles The Great, more commonly known as Charlemagne. The recognition of greatness for each man is a reflection of how strongly they built their nations and forged a sense of statehood.

Unlike the other two, though, little is known about Rhodri. It's recorded that he was a fierce warrior - he killed Gorm, leader of Danish invaders and routed two further Viking invasions in 872CE.

But he wasn't solely a fighter; he came to rule over roughly half of modern day Wales (for comparison, that's an area about half the size of Wales) as much through charm and diplomacy as skilled use of the sword.

His end came on the battlefield - depending on which source you choose to believe, either in 873CE or 877CE, fighting an Anglo-Saxon incursion into Angelesey. The Chronicle of the Princes (Brut y Tywysogion) claims that so distraught were the women of Angelsey at his death, that they took up arms and chased the Saxons from the island.

Rhodri's impact was so strong that for generations afterwards, all who sought to rule Gwynned would seek to prove their descent as coming from his line.

Inspired? Try our free course discovering Wales and Welsh





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