International Intonation: Oct. 10, 2012

Mark Hendricks, Contributor Ω

New California law to provide free textbooks for students

A new law in California will provide students with free electronic textbooks for 50 select lower division courses.

Californian governor Jerry Brown signed into law last Thursday a bill that will create a website to serve as an information commons where select textbooks will be available to download for free. Which textbooks will be available hasn’t been decided yet.

The law will give Californian universities the option to either create textbooks or to purchase licenses for already available textbooks. Any textbooks that are created by the Californian universities will have a creative commons license, allowing these textbooks to be used for free by other universities.

“Many students are paying more than $1,000 every year on their textbooks,” senate president pro tem (the highest ranking member of the state senate) Darrel Steinberg said in a press release. “Sometimes having to choose between buying the books they need or paying for food and other living expenses.”

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Looking at cute things can improve your performance

A recent study at Hiroshima University in Japan found that looking at cute images can improve your performance doing everyday tasks.

This study means that those images that flood your Facebook wall or email inbox with more cuteness than a puppy and kitten taking a nap together might actually be helping you in your studies and daily activities. The study measured both fine motor control and concentration skills. Both areas saw significant improvement after viewing cute images.

The research team believes this increase is the cause of “cuteness-triggered positive emotions that is associated with approach motivation.”

The study is called “The Power of Kawaii”, kawaii being the Japanese word for cute and can be found on the peer-reviewed open access electronic journal site PlosOne.

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Slums being levelled and residents evicted in Rio

Buildings in Rio’s Favela do Metro slums are being levelled and the residents being evicted as Rio attempts to spruce up its image before the World Cup.

Approximately half the families in the Favela do Metro have been evicted and placed in a new housing estate. The housing estate was not finished in time and is only able to accommodate half of the families at the moment.

This has not halted the demolition as earth movers are in the process of destroying the buildings.

“It looks like you are in Iraq or Libya,” Eomar Freitas, one of the last remaining residents, told The Guardian, “I don’t have any neighbours left. It’s a ghost town.”

Residents of the Favela do Metro believe the city wants the area to build a new parking lot for the nearby stadium.

Jorge Bittar, the city’s housing secretary, said the area was singled out for destruction due to the precarious state of the homes there.

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