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Topic Reading-Vol.1298-10/31/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
How far do you have to run to burn off a burger?
Calorie intake versus calorie burn-out. How much do you know or care? If you regularly burn more than what you eat and digest, you never have to worry about your weight. But just for you to know, if you have a BigMac and small fries, you get nearly 700 kilocalories, about equivalent calorie served in popular meals such as Japanese lunch or dinner, or Chinse noodles with meat. The question is how much exercise is needed to burn that energy. It varies by person, especially the weight and age, but on average it takes an hour of cycling or fast running. That sounds quite a task for a 10-minute munching, doesn’t it?
You may also be interested to know how much energy is consumed in other day-to-day activities such as chewing, reading or sitting.
Enjoy reading and learning how efficient certain activities are to make someone fit.


Topic Reading-Vol.1297-10/30/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China's Steve Jobs is changing U.S., too
“Shower me”, is the way to pronounce Xiaomi. This five-year-old Chinse startup has become one of the hottest and most rapidly growing smartphone producer in the world.
They do copy the sleekest design from Apple. They do use the latest technologies like Samsung. Yet they have no less influence or admiration than any of these two giants.
Rather, they even create bigger marketing sensation by adopting totally new marketing, product launching and designing approaches using the Internet and their fans. That’s how this newest and hottest smartphone producer (rather than “manufacture” or “maker” because of its creative and unique marketing approaches) has earn today’s success and tomorrow’s prospects.
Enjoy reading and learning what it would take to be successful in the world most crowded and demanding market.


Topic Reading-Vol.1296-10/29/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The web has deluded you, and don’t pretend it hasn’t
Does the Internet make you feel confident? It seems so, more than what you actually are.
There are more gadgets and tools available these days, such as smartphones, hybrid cars and Segway. How much or how well do you know how those convenient tools work?
You may simply look up the information on the Internet, which usually provides answers instantly in text or visual. And you may think you understand it well. But will it become your knowledge? Will you be able to explain it in a plane language?
Enjoy reading and learning what and how much you understand the things you haven’t known until you look up the Internet.


Topic Reading-Vol.1295-10/28/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The Children Raised by Wolves
Feral children. Are they real?
Imaged created by a Germany-born photographer show unimaginable figures of children behaving like the animals, such as monkeys, dogs and even wolves, they had lived with until they were found. In fact, they had to be and live like one of such animals in order to survive because they had been abandoned or had left no choice but to escape from their family.
How that could be possible? Can human toddlers survive among wild or domesticated animals? The children who were found alive were unquestionably fortunate ones. But there might have been even more who were just left and died. And even the fortunate ones had to undergo a long process to adapt themselves back to human life.
Enjoy reading and thinking what these feral children’s life were like.


Topic Reading-Vol.1294-10/27/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why bananas as we know them might go extinct (again)
Banana pandemic. Just a half century ago, then the most popular bananas became commercially extinct by a fungal disease called the Panama disease. It came out from Central America and quickly spread to other banana plantations all over the world. Fortunately, an alternative type of banana was commercialized and has been planted and produced to fill the needs.
However, that banana is facing the same problem, again. This time, the fungal disease is called Tropical Race 4, which originated in Indonesia and has been spreading quickly. Since most of the commercially traded bananas have no genetic diversity, one type of disease could wipe all of them out.
Can’t human ingenuity prevent the same problem?
Enjoy reading and learning what is happening to one of the most popular fruits in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.1293-10/26/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
China chain imposes 'filial piety tax' on employees
What’s filial piety? It’s the important virtue and primary duty of respect, obedience, and care for one's parents and elderly family members in Confucianism. It’s is still core value in Chinese society. However, today’s fast changing world, the tradition hasn’t been practiced as much as it used to be. In fact, China passed a law in 2013 to encourage filial piety, mandating children who live apart from their elderly parents must visit them frequently.
More practical example to reinforce the tradition. There is a beauty salon chain which automatically deducts 5% or 10%, depending on the marital status, of its employees’ salaries every month and send it directly to their parents to promote good moral values among its employees. The company doesn’t hire anyone who doesn’t agree with this policy.
Does automatic deduction enhance people’s respect for their parents?
Enjoy reading and learning about this unique yet disputable corporate approach.


Topic Reading-Vol.1292-10/25/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Which jobs could a 100-year-old do?
Things will change by the time today’s kids turn 70. Hard to imagine what the job market will be like then? Think about that of 70 years ago when the last world war ended. There weren’t so many 60s or 70s, men or women, on the payroll. Today, in rapidly aging societies like Japan, it’s not so unusual to find your dad or even granddad age person delivering packages or driving a cab. So it may not be surprising to see a woman whose age is well over 80 taking your sandwich order in a fast food restaurant when life expectancy comes near 90.
There will be more high-tech robots, machines or devices to substitute the jobs that are currently done by human labor. But there will also be more jobs that could be handled by skilled and aged workers. People in developed countries are longer educated, more frequently trained to adapt to new practices and environment. Therefore, it won’t be the age but the adaptability of the person that makes difference.
Enjoy reading and thinking what you may be doing a couple of decades from now.


Topic Reading-Vol.1291-10/24/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
India's Hindu Fundamentalists
It’s supposed to be a secular, democratic country, isn’t it? They had the world largest national election to choose its leader last year with over 700 million voters. And the elected prime minister has been pledging that the country is welcoming more foreign investment. In the meantime, the number of domestic violence in most vicious and cruel scale is rising, attacks by hardcore Hindu mobs against believers of other religions and even within their own religious community.
One of the reasons seems to be the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the majority party led by Prime Minister Modi. Ever since he took the office to run the country, the members and supporters of the party and other religious extremists seem to have intensified and expanded their activities aggressively and even violently to emphasize Hindu belief and practices.
Is the government taking actions to stop such violence?
Read the article and see the video of the report on the religious violence in the soon-to-be world most populous country.


Topic Reading-Vol.1290-10/23/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why Singapore has the smartest kids in the world
More and more teenagers are entering higher education and more college graduates are taking continuing education. In the meantime, date, information and knowledge are easily accessible via the net. Rote learning seems to be a legacy from the post war education, doesn’t it?
Now what makes people more competitive or qualified in the 21st century seems to be the intelligence to use the knowledge and the ability to apply it into practice. The question is how to educate today’s children to learn such intelligence and ability. One answer is found in Singapore, a tiny resource-less country that became independent only half a century ago. They started from nothing but a port. The domestic market is far too small to sustain the nation’s economy. They had no choice but to become competitive by growing talents through education.
Enjoy seeing the video and think what will make today’s children be ready for the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.1289-10/22/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Welcome, 'Back to the Future' Day
Yesterday was October 20th, 2015. What the day mean to you?
It was the day Marty McFly time traveled to from his time in 1985. Do you recall the story? Yes. Back to the Future Part 2 starred by Michael J. Fox and directed by Robert Zemeckis. The movie itself was released in 1989, way before PCs were seen on the desk or CGI on the screen. How did they predict what the world would be like nearly three decades later? Some of the dream gadgets have been materialized but others haven’t.
Which are yes and which are not? Maybe good time to watch the movie again.
Enjoy reading and comparing what people in 30 years ago thought would be used today.


Topic Reading-Vol.1288-10/21/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Toothless tiger: Japan Self-Defence Forces
A tiger or a cat?
With the seventh largest budget in the world and 250,000 well-trained personnel, how effective Japan’s Self Defense Forces are against an attack or invasion by a foreign country or terrorists? They have been sent to peace keeping missions in Africa. They have been deployed for rescue and relief missions for natural disasters caused by earthquakes, typhoons and snowfalls. However, they’ve never been engaged in any battles or situations where they attack enemy forces or defend their citizens or themselves.
They are still well trained and highly disciplined forces with the latest and most advanced fighting, reconnaissance and supporting equipment compared to the ones of other nations in Asia. Moreover, if something ever happened to threaten Japan’s national security, the U.S. forces are there to help.
Is toothless a proper description of Japan’s defense forces?
Enjoy reading and learning how a foreign military analyst view Japan’s SDF.


Topic Reading-Vol.1287-10/20/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
White House turns to crowdfunding campaign for Syrian refugee crisis
What’s crowdfunding? It emerged outside of the typical funding by financial institutions as an alternative means of financing particular campaign, cause or investment. It raises monetary contributions from large numbers of people often via the Internet. Contributors can donate or invest any or a set amount of money, usually not a large amount, so that it is suitable for new initiatives or emergency needs, such as a business venture, election campaign or disaster relief.
White House, one of the most powerful and influential media figures, called for an emergency funding for Syrian refugees who fled their conflict-torn homeland to neighboring countries and Europe. So far, the Obama administration has donated more than $4.5 billion and large corporations have done millions more to the Syrian crisis.
How much more will this campaign fund the Syrian refugee crisis?
Enjoy reading and thinking what and how crowdfunding might work.


Topic Reading-Vol.1286-10/19/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Gay subway proposal an Internet hit in China
To pledge to love someone on a subway car. It’s not quite unusual scene in movies like the 1988 comedy romance Coming to America in which an African prince, stared by Eddie Murphy, asking a New York woman to marry him.
Nearly three decades later, the same scene was witnessed and video shot by a smartphone on a crowded subway car in Beijing. They were cheered by other passengers like the movie. However, there was one quite significant difference there. The couple were both men.
Though same-sex couples are more widely recognized especially in young urban societies, there still are considerably discriminatory perceptions in the majority in China. Two decades ago, guys and lesbians were regarded mentally ill and severely discriminated from the society. However, as the country is becoming more diverse, the society seems to have become more open to same-sex couples like other countries.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the video of this unusual pledge on a subway car.


Topic Reading-Vol.1285-10/18/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why South Korea's men are buying tons of cosmetics
There is a disputable proverb in Korea. "If you buy something, you must choose the one which has a good appearance." There are stories with opposite suggestions in other parts of the world, like a man of integrity chooses the least appealing one and earn a reword. But in Korea, men spend way more money on cosmetics per capita than any other country in the world. Some even spend more than their wives. Why?
One reason is its highly competitive society. There are a lot of well-educated youngsters with comparable resumes. In order to stand out, appearance seems to be a make-or-break factor to get a chance to be employed. That’s understandable if employers respect the aforementioned proverb.
Another factor is quite unique. Military experience.
Why does military experience encourage young men to be so appearance conscious?
Enjoy reading and finding why they are so eager to look nicer.


Topic Reading-Vol.1284-10/17/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
When white actors play other races
How is today’s diversity reflected in films? Not much. Despite the widespread criticism of white actors and actresses playing the roles of other races, Hollywood directors are still casting popular white actors in their films. For example, there were complaints over the casting of Johnny Depp as the Native American Tonto in The Lone Ranger.
Why? One of the reasons is that the vast majority of the executives of Hollywood studios is dominated by white. They tend to pick their preferred actors to work comfortably with, according to an author of Multicultural Psychology.
Another reason is obviously to draw more audience. By casting already-popular actors and actresses, movie producers feel more assured to get higher return on investment.
What about the audience? Do they expect to see actors whose racial backgrounds match the ones of the characters or popular actors who can play the roles more excitedly and professionally?
Enjoy reading and thinking which way you’d like to see in future films.


Topic Reading-Vol.1283-10/16/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Documents of Nanjing Massacre inscribed on Memory of World Register
In short, the World Heritage Document. This program was established by UNESCO in 1992 to;
- facilitate preservation of,
- assist universal access to,
- increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of
documentary heritage.
Following a two-year process to select most valuable documentary heritages out of 88 submissions from 61 countries, Documents of the Nanjing Massacre from China was inscribed on the Memory of the World Register. The document severely and critically accuses Japan’s imperial army’ conduct during their occupation of the city, which Japan has been arguing its accuracy, validity and objectivity.
Enjoy reading and learning about this another world heritage.


Topic Reading-Vol.1282-10/15/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Photographer on the hunt: Discovering India's ancient stepwells
Stepwells. There were a large number of such ancient architectural structures to reserve water in ancient India. People descended the steps to fetch water. It was a hard work but it also provided relief from daytime heat. Stepwells were also served leisure, social and religious purposes.
Though many of them were abandoned or simply forgotten, there still are number of surviving stepwells with architectural significance. Some of them are even added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
A Chicago-based journalist has been dedicating herself to explore these abandoned or surviving stepwells to introducing them to the world. She hopes that the more people get interested in these stepwells, the more effort might be made to preserve them.
Enjoy reading and seeing the astonishing photos of India’s ancient architectures.


Topic Reading-Vol.1281-10/14/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Digital dependence 'eroding human memory'
How many phone numbers do you remember? Do you think you need to remember any?
In today’s digital age, it is much more convenient and fast to look up information in your smart phone or from an Internet storage site. Actually, you don’t even need to look up a phone number, email address or contact ID when you call or chat with your smart phone.
A survey conducted in several European countries just simply confirmed how much people are depending on their IT devices or online services when they recall information. The result is so obvious that the more people depend on external device or source, the less they remember in their own memory. But that’s exactly the direction the whole world is moving forward, isn’t it? Children who are growing up with a smart phone are less likely to remember phone numbers, addresses or spelling because they don’t need to.
The researcher was concerned that people tend to forget information knowing that it can be retrieved easily, which could make people less likely to keep or develop long-term memory.
Enjoy reading and thinking if people should sharpen up their memories or their learning skills.


Topic Reading-Vol.1280-10/13/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Chinese tourists spend over $830 m in Japan during Golden Week
Politicians don’t but tourists do. That is who visits Japan from China. During China’s National Day holiday week from Oct 1, as many as 400,000 tourists from China visited Japan and spent as much as 100 billion yen, or $830 million in shopping.
What did they buy? Traditional Japanese kimono or special craft works? No, nothing special. The most popular items they rushed to buy were commodity goods like toilet seats, medical drugs, and household items like thermoses, shavers and also some luxury goods. Some stores went out of stock on certain popular items while others limited the quantity that each customer could purchase. It’s not hard to assume that some of the items those Chinese shoppers purchased were made in China.
Why do they come all the way to Japan and buy such commodity items, even sacrificing the time for sightseeing? Cultural affection, currency exchange rate and the quality of Japanese goods seem to be the top attractions for Chinese tourists.
Were there any high profile party officers or bureaucrats among those tourists?
Enjoy reading and learning the difference in politics and practices.


Topic Reading-Vol.1279-10/12/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Why you could be wearing cotton picked by forced labor
White Gold. Cotton used to be picked by slaves in southern states of America long ago. As no innovation or improvement has been applied to the process, picking cotton is still a labor intensive work.
Now a large amount of cotton is produced in Central Asia, namely Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, in slavery conditions. Those governments have been forcing their own citizens, including children, to pick cotton in hot, hazardous and unsanitary conditions. And they get nearly nothing but relief from being accused or humiliated by their own government. Only the limited number of government elites enjoy profiting from the produce.
So far, the international community and human right groups have little succeeded in changing or improving the situation. Sounds like North Korea, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning how the cotton products you’re using or wearing produced.


Topic Reading-Vol.1278-10/11/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The birds that fear death
Don’t tease or threaten crows. They remember you. A recent study confirmed that crows remember a threatening person’s face and let others know of it by croaking. Then the next time the person appears, they scold loudly trying to scare the person away. They seem to possess cognitive and communicative ability.
They are also able to recognize the death of their own species. When there is death in their community, they gather around and squawk loudly nearby the dead crow. There are some other animals that do the similar thing such as elephants, giraffes and chimpanzees.
Enjoy reading and learning this interesting experiment to find how crows react to death.


Topic Reading-Vol.1277-10/10/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The Great Six-hour Workday Experiment
Shorter work hours for the same job. Does it sound attractive to you? There are several factors you may think before you answer this question.
First, the amount of the job. Do I have to do the same amount of the job in shorter time?
Second, the pay. Do I get the same pay in shorter work hours?
Third, the days to work. Do I have to work more days to make up the reduced work hours?
Fourth, the balance. Will I be able to keep or improve my work-life balance?
The answer to these questions may vary, depending on the job, work place and environment, and your lifestyle and priority. But it does sound tempting, or at least worth considering, doesn’t it? Or would you prefer working longer hours a day but fewer workdays a week?
Enjoy reading and learning about this new attempt to improve the quality, efficiency, satisfaction in workplaces. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1276-10/9/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The truth about pigs
How much do you know about pigs (not pork)?
Yes, they eat anything and everything. Yes, they wallow in mud. But are they really filthy and senseless what and how to eat?
It was found that when the wild boars in a zoo in Switzerland were given sliced apples that were covered with mud, they carried them to the nearby stream and washout the dirt off before they ate them. Sounds like a very decent eating manner they have, doesn’t it?
Also, unlike chimps that hunt monkeys to eat, pigs are mainly vegetarian. Yes, some domesticated pigs eat their feces occasionally in their congested home but wild rabbits eat their poos too for a second digestion.
Enjoy reading and learning the real world of pigs and align your of them.


Topic Reading-Vol.1275-10/8/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The toughest dilemma for a returning expat
Cultural difference often gives challenges to returnees from a foreign country. Teaching style is one. In many countries especially in Asia, listening to the teacher, taking notes, memorizing things and taking exams still seem to be the most common style at school, while western education requires participation and contribution to the class activities. In work places, seniority and respect mean more than the title in some countries but hierarchy and authority are the absolute power in other places. In Japan, building good team work through consensus is the must qualification for managers.
Working in different countries and cultures require skills and patience, not to mention understanding and respecting the local practices, on top of the expected performance for the job.
But is that just culture that makes difference in work places? What about the industry, the size of the workplace or the management style of the organization?
Enjoy reading and thinking what sorts of challenges expatriates face.


Topic Reading-Vol.1274-10/7/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Bolivia stands up to US with coca-control policy
Force or popularity? The answer to this question is found in one of the poorest countries in South and Central America, Bolivia. Farmers grow coca to enjoy chewing its leaves like chewing gum or candy to relieve stress and feel relaxed. But that’s not cocaine but coca leaves. They’ve been growing coca for not only to enjoy the taste and flavor for themselves but also to sell to their local market where they generate multiple times more cash than any other produces in their farmland.
The biggest user of cocaine, the Unite States of America, tried to reduce or eliminate this crucial drug by sending task force to help enforce the law and fight against coca traffickers. However, they encountered harsh resistance from the local farmers. Then the newly elected president took a different approach allowing the farmers to grow some coca, earning wide support from producers and users of coca, not to mention the traffickers of cocaine.
So, enforcement by superpower didn’t seem to win a battle against poor farmers.
Enjoy reading and learning about this battle in a mountainous country in Andes.  


Topic Reading-Vol.1273-10/6/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Palestinian flag raised at United Nations headquarters
Neither is a member state, yet. Their status is still an observer. But their flags are raised before the United Nation’s Headquarters in New York. Palestinian Authority and Vatican City.
This is especially a historic moment for people in Palestine which declared its independence in 1988 by the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO. Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Jerusalem is their designated capital where they have only partial control. They became a non-member observer state in the UN in 2012 but had to wait to its flag to be raised for three years.
For their flag to be raised, eight countries including their archrival Israel and the U.S. opposed the motion in the UN general assembly, along with 45 abstained states.
Enjoy reading and learning how significant this flag-raising event is to Palestine.


Topic Reading-Vol.1272-10/5/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Airline proposes even longer nonstop: 18 hours
Traveling to Mars takes an unimaginably long flight, a few months. The crew members are going to be all well trained, highly motivated and decently paid for their extraordinary mission. But what about an 18-hour non-stop flight between the world two techiest cities, Bangalore, India and San Francisco, California?
This ambitious route is going to be serviced by Air India. The flight will most likely be filled with IT engineers and businesspersons who opted or are forced to be sitting three-thirds of the day in their assigned seats in the respective classes, which greatly matter the comfortability during the flight. The Internet connection seems to be more important than TV monitor or movies in this flight.
Just in case you are a long-flight enthusiast, there is another nearly-as-long-as this India-America trans-Pacific flight. Dubai-based Emirates airline is going to have a long haul trans-Atlantic flight between Dubai and Panama City. In this flight, you may be sitting with people in trade business more than tourists.
The distance of these two ultra-long haul flights is approximately 14,000 km, nearly 35% of the earth’s circumstance.
Enjoy reading and learning about these upcoming long flights.


Topic Reading-Vol.1271-10/4/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Liquid water exists on Mars, boosting hopes for life there, NASA says
Mars, our neighbor planet. Instead of traveling at a speed of light for many years, evidence of another life form could be found within the reach of today’s space travel technologies.
The red planet orbits mere 225,300,000, not light years but kilometers away from ours. And NASA’s reconnaissance spacecraft got photos and images of the trace of water running on the surface. Scientists know neither where the water is from nor how salty it is but think humans from Earth will sooner or later find microbes, early form of life, on the planet.
As a total of six men and women are spending a year being completely isolated in Hawaii to simulate what the life is going to be like to travel and explore Mars, and also The Martian becoming one of the best-selling books this year, curiosity and interest in Mars are never been higher than before.
Enjoy reading and learning the latest discovery by NASA.


Topic Reading-Vol.1270-10/3/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Five bizarre 'lessons' in Indian textbooks
India is committed to enhance education for children. Of course. With the largest illiterate population of the world especially among women, they’ve got to have all children sit and study in the classroom. As of 2011, it was estimated that less than two-thirds of the women in India were literate while 82% of men were able to read and write.
Why is the gap so wide? Some background cultural or religious was shown in one of the textbooks used in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, which compared the donkey to the housewife. And there are other weird or even ridiculous errors or content in other textbooks.
What kind of education are those children getting?
Enjoy reading a few examples in school textbooks in India.


Topic Reading-Vol.1269-10/2/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
Nine things that shape your identity before birth
Have any idea how you had been formed before you first breathe in life?
For example, whether you are right or left handed was determined and the pattern your finger prints was formed well before birth. The most distinguishing feature, the sex, was determined at the time of conception. However, another critical function, your immune system, seemed to have developed at a much later stage.
Enjoy reading and learning how a human is developed inside of his or her mother.


Topic Reading-Vol.1268-10/1/2015

Dear MEL School’s Topic Readers,
The biggest writing mistakes new graduates make
Do you write or speak well? Communicating with others is still one of the most crucial skills for any type of job. Young people, especially students of any grade, are using social media as their primary communication means and source of information. The problem of relying mostly on such convenient media is that they don’t learn to be a better communicator. They post photos, images, videos and web sites and just add brief comments that are not written in a style acceptable outside of their society.
Employers say communication with colleges, customers, clients and other business partners is the most important skill in business and they expect their employees to possess basic skill and improve it as they work with others.
How well do you write? Do you pay attention to the quality and integrity of your writing?
Enjoy reading and learning what writing means in the real world.