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OpenLearn Live: 9th December 2015

Updated Wednesday, 9th December 2015

The week when the people rose against the church and military in Barcelona. Then more free learning through the day.

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OpenLearn Live connects free learning with your world. This page will be updated during the day, and you can also follow us on Twitter.

Yesterday, we were offline for part of the day, but still caught up on the French elections and fracking

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Today's posts

Don't ask a dog to look in a mirror

If you want to understand if an animal has self-awareness, the test in the past has involved using mirrors. That's tough on dogs, who aren't so much interested in looking at mirrors. There is an alternative, though, and new experiments are yielding interesting results:

This research was conducted with a test performed on 4 dogs, all strays grown in semi-freedom. Dr. Gatti collected urine samples from each dog and divided and stored them in containers labeled to each dog. Then he submitted the animals to the sniff test of self-recognition. The tests were repeated four times a year, at the beginning of each season. This test is nothing more than a modified version of the mirror test, carried out to check the sense of smell, and not the sight, as the main way to determine self-awareness.

Read the full article The dog beyond the mirror

On iPlayer now: Blood And Gold

The first episode of Blood And Gold (or, to give the series its kennel name, Blood and Gold: The Making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore) was on BBC Four last night. The Daily Express' Matt Baylis enjoyed the programme:

CITIZENS of Córdoba in southern Spain, off to pray at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, might decide to spare themselves the mouthful.

For short, locals call their cathedral La Mezquita, or the mosque, because that’s what it was until the start of the 17th century. In this casual way one important feature of Spain’s history extends into the present, a reminder of all the cultural threads in its fabric. Another, as Blood and gold: The making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore (BBC4) reminded us, is the flag.

Being of a rather unpoetic bent, I’ve always thought the Spanish flag reminded me of sand and sangria. I now know better, along with a lot of other things I didn’t know before. Mr Sebag Montefiore’s history hasn’t got to the gold yet but there was certainly a lot of blood shed in the first instalment, mainly from the constant conquering that seemed to go on.

Catch up with Blood And Gold on iPlayer now

Ada Lovelace is 200 today

Today would have been the 200th birthday of Ada Lovelace. Find out why she's such an important figure in the history of science; join a 19th century pilgrimage to her memorial; and meet some other world-changing women.

A week in Barcelona: The Tragic Week

This week, marking our new BBC Four programme on Spanish history, Blood And Gold, we're spending some time exploring Barcelona. Yesterday, we went back to 1992 and the city's successful hosting of the Olympics. Today, we're going further back to a more difficult time in Barcelona's history: The Tragic Week.

Tragic Week round-up, Barcelona, 1909 Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: Public domain Police round-up during Tragic Week

With a name like The Tragic Week, it's obviously not going to be a happy time.

In 1909, tensions between workers and the elite of Catalonia had been growing across the spring. Industrial turmoil was never far away - especially after management locked out the staff at the Rusinol factory. Sensing a move to try and force down wages in the textile industry, unionists gathered and decided that any further provocation from factory owners should trigger a General Strike.

Meanwhile, skirmishes across the Med in Morocco between members of the Riffians and Spanish troops were going badly for the Europeans, leading to a call-up for military reservists. Alarmed at the possible consequences of removing the breadwinners from desperately poor families, many started to call for the strike.

On July 21st, the newspaper El Poble Catala published a petition demanding a walk-out across the country; on July 24th, two Barcelona anarchists Jose Rodriguez Romero and Miguel Villalobos Morena started to gather support from the streets for action. The city's socialists felt they had no choice but to join the pair's Central Committee for a Strike.

Carried forward under its own impetus, the strike started on the Monday. Panicked employers closed factories; troops, their numbers thinned by actions overseas, were reluctant to act; a mix of anti-capitalist, anti-war, anti-church and anti-colonial sentiment came together.

By Tuesday, the city was in the hands of the people - workers stopping trains carrying troops and overturning trams.

By Thursday, riots and street fights were breaking out across Barcelona as all parties lost control of the situation. As the Catholic Church was seen as part of the establishment being rejected, symbols of the church became targets. Reports of graveyards being desecrated and convents being burned spread.

However, support for a nationwide strike proved sketchy, and the failure of the revolt to spread much beyond a few other Catalonaian towns harmed the morale of the workers. The national government declared a state of war, and - after local troops refused to attack their neighbours - soldiers were drafted in from outside Catalonia to crush the protests. 

Somewhere around 100-150 protestors were killed; three clerics, eight police and army also died. Military courts were convened to try 1700 protestors - five of whom were executed for their part in the week; a further 59 were given life sentences. Global reaction to the heavy-handed response was largely negative; stung, King Alfonso XIII replaced Prime Minister Antonio Maura. As a consequence of the events, the Liberals would, for a time, hold the rudder of power in Spain.

See more about Blood And Gold

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