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Topic Reading-Vol.1725-12/31/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Photos of Chinese students taking test in heavy smog draw outrage
Putting a pollution mask on is no new news in Beijing. But wearing one to take tests on the school playground is not a common practice even in this air-pollution-accustomed city in central part of China.
Staggering photos of students taking exams on the school playground with pollution masks on went viral and the school principal was suspended from his duty.
But why the students were taking exams on the playground in the first place? Is that a traditional practice in the region or a measure to prevent students from cheating?
Enjoy reading and thinking what it’s like to take on a task outside in polluted air.


Topic Reading-Vol.1724-12/30/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
You need to go back to school to relearn English
Is that just the language that needs to be shared when one speaks to another,? When you speak to someone in your family, school or work place, you share a lot in common, such as history, experience, knowledge, backgrounds and situations. For example, you can talk about the phrases that are used in a popular TV show or mentioned by a comedian. You may also use proverbs, metaphors or examples that are specific to the group or society.
So, it is often not understood well, or at all, if a native speaker of some language talks to someone whose mother tongue is different or who doesn’t share the same cultural backgrounds, in a way or at a speed that he or she usually does to their friends or colleagues. This is true to even English that is commonly used and also well learned by non-native speakers.
Now there are programs to make native English speakers communicate better in English to non-native speakers.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you are thoughtful to speak to someone whose mother tongue or dialect is different from yours.


Topic Reading-Vol.1723-12/29/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Snow falls in Sahara for first time in 37 years
The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world. It is nearly as large as the U.S. and spreads across most of Northern African countries; Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia. The temperature might reach 50 degrees during the day but could fall below zero at night in the desert. The temperatures also vary by season and place. The highest point of the desert is over 3,000 meters and the lowest is below the sea level. So there is no wonder why they occasionally get some snowfalls in not only those highest points but also in and around inhabited areas.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos of snow on the desert.


Topic Reading-Vol.1722-12/28/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How long is China's Great Wall? 21,196 km
The Great Wall. It’s one of the wonders in the world and in history, such as Machu Picchu in Peru and Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The original wall was built over 25 centuries ago and has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced until the 17th century. It has recently been measured that the total length goes beyond 21,000 km, a little over the half of Earth’s circumference.
Though the wall was built to protect China from enemies outside, it has been ruined by natural erosions, human acts and negligence of their own people. It is one of the world heritage sites but there are endangered sections that need urgent repairs. Chinese government has been putting a lot of effort, work and money to conserve this historic asset and inherit it to the future. Modern technologies such as drones are playing important roles to inspect and patrol this ancient structure.
Enjoy reading and learning how significant this great wall is.
Also, if you’re interested in a human story of the wall, check this out.


Topic Reading-Vol.1721-12/27/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pakistan International Airlines goat slaughter mocked
Ridiculed widely but not criticized seriously.
A black goat was killed right next to an airplane that was about to take-off in the airport in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. It was the first flight since the national airline had grounded the fleet of the same aircraft that crashed on the seventh of the month, killing all 47 people on board. The goat was a sacrifice to keep off evil that might have caused the fetal accident.
According to the airline’s spokesperson, it wasn’t an organized event by the airline but was initiated by the ground staff. But is it allowed to bring in a live goat to the airport and kill it alive?
Though it is unclear whether the meat of the sacrificed goat was put on the inflight menu or not, the flight took off and returned from the destination safely.
Enjoy reading and hoping all the safety inspections had been completed before the slaughter.


Topic Reading-Vol.1720-12/26/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The man who looks after 735 dogs
How a person finds his or her happiness varies. When this successful founder of a software company in Bengaluru, the capital of IT in India, met his first dog, he was thrilled. When he found a stray dog in the rain, he didn’t hesitate to bring the dog home. Since then, he has been taking care of abandoned or stray dogs in his dog farm. He not only dedicates three to four days a week working in the farm but also employs ten people to take care of over 700 dogs there. Many of those dogs were abandoned by their previous owners because of illness, aging or whatever other reasons.
In fact, there are a lot of stray dogs in India but no one seems to care so much even in major train stations or busy streets. So, his farm is the last resort for those poor dogs in Bengaluru. No wonder why he is called “Dog Father.”
Enjoy reading and thinking how you found or will find your happiness.


Topic Reading-Vol.1719-12/25/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Nursing home visitors earn coupons
Care and attention. Both are essential for happiness, no matter how old a person is. When a person retires from work and lives in a nursing facility, he or she is taken care by the staff to eat, sleep and live. They are also offered medical care when needed. But they feel lonely if they aren’t visited by their children or relatives. They are the ones who can provide mental attention to those who live apart from the family and relatives, especially for seniors.
A nursing home in China started offering monetary coupons, which are only redeemable to pay for the expenses in the facility, to those who visit their senior family members more often. Though the amount is not that substantial, more seniors are now visited than before. Also, some local governments are offering monetary incentives or paid vacations to their citizens to visit their senior family members. 
Just like kids expects a Santa to give them presents on Christmas day, seniors look for someone to give them attention at anytime. 
Enjoy reading and thinking if there are other tactics or encouragement to increase attention to senior residents in nursing homes.


Topic Reading-Vol.1718-12/24/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The invisible credit card of the future
Barter to currency, and currency to personal credit or debit. Also, metal coins to paper banknotes, and to plastic cards. In stores, the cash register to the bar-code scanner, and soon the microchip reader. How will you be paying or completing your transactions tomorrow, whether instore or online?
It is predicted that all of personal payments and transactions can be integrated into one digital wallet, such as cash, bank accounts, credit or debit cards, or even reward points earned from your purchases. But how? Many smartphones users are already enjoying the convenience of mobile payment platforms like Alipay or Apple Pay. And now credit card issuers are also working on developing wearable devices such as a ring, bracelet or even eye scanner to replace plastic cards they’ve making business of for the last half century.
While the benefits and convenience of new payment methods are going to be enjoyed by consumers, there will be new and serious battles between tech companies and banks because the integration could create a zero-sum game.
Enjoy reading and thinking of benefits, convenience, and also the risk of privacy and security when everything is integrated into one account or device.


Topic Reading-Vol.1717-12/23/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Electric Car Charging Etiquette
Free of charge, priority parking space and tax break. Some of you might have been enjoying these perks that are offered to plug-in electric vehicle or PEV, drivers. It might not have been a problem finding a free charging spot that is waiting for you to charge as there aren’t so many PEVs per charging spot. However, things are changing rapidly as more affordable and battery-efficient PEV appear on the streets.
Sometimes, you may have to wait in line to get your PEV charged. Since charging a PEV takes longer than pumping gas into a conventional vehicle, the time to complete the charging process seems to be increasing. Therefore, when there are waiting lines, rules, etiquettes and consideration are expected and respected. In the meantime, those who newly bought a PEV to conserve the planet and save money, such requirements may not be so difficult to abide by.
Enjoy reading and thinking if and when you will get an Electric Vehicle.


Topic Reading-Vol.1716-12/22/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Legal-Marijuana Activists Celebrate New Massachusetts Law
It was illegal yesterday but it’s ok today. Things like this are occasionally seen in states where an absolute ruler or party reigns. But it seems that liberalism moves others to make changes in democratic societies. For example, the civil right movement for LGBT, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, is spreading across the world. But what about something that was not only illegal but also taught not to by parents and teachers?
The US state of Massachusetts joined a group of liberal states, such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon and newly approved California, that allow smoking, growing and possessing a limited amount of marijuana. Though whether the sale of Marijuana will become intact as voted, this controversial practice that hasn’t been allowed in neighboring states is permitted in the state.
Enjoy reading and thinking about the line between legality and ethics for this sensitive topic.


Topic Reading-Vol.1715-12/21/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Spain is trying to kill the siesta
Jamon is one thing that makes Spain distinctive, as covered in yesterday’s Topic Reading Vol.1714. There are another traditions that Spaniards love, Siesta and late dinner.
If you visit Spain, you’ll find people get up in the dark, enjoy long lunch, followed by siesta for some and have late dinner at night. One reason for this rather unusual practice is the time zone. Most part of Spain belongs to Central European Time, or CET, that is an hour ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT, though the country lies in almost the same longitudes as the U.K. In fact, they used to use GMT before the Second World War but the time zone was changed to CET during the war and has remained so since then.
 (The current time zone in Europe, click or touch this.)
In order to finish working, have dinner and go to bed earlier for healthier life, the Spanish government is considering moving its clocks back an hour to GMT.
Enjoy reading and thinking which time zone you’d prefer if you lived in Spain.


Topic Reading-Vol.1714-12/20/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Secrets of a ham-carving master
Jamon refers to certain types of dry-cured ham from Spain. Either of the two majority types, Jamon Serrano or Jamon Iberico, is carefully produced and certified. But however good the quality of this specially produced ham might be, what determines the taste seems to be how well it is sliced and served, not to mention the bread and wine to go with it.
Like sushi chefs in Japan, there are experienced ham-caring masters in Spain. They carefully choose the best Jamon for their client restaurants and taverns, slices and serves the ham into perfection. There are even contests for ham-carvers to take part in.
Enjoy watching the video and learn how important Jamon is in Spain.


Topic Reading-Vol.1713-12/19/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Chinese retirees could fuel the overseas property boom
Golden age. For some, it’s the time to do what they’ve long wanted to or to live in a way they’ve dreamed of. For others, it’s the time to start a new life in a way that is very different from the present one or in a place where they feel more comfortable than their hometown. For the growing wealthy Chinese seniors, such golden-age perks are no longer a dream.
It is estimated that the population of senior citizens, 60 and older, will go over 360 million by 2030, more than the present population of the U.S.A. Their priorities for retirement years are good medical and living services along with comfortable environment and weather, which are scarcely available in China. That’s why many wealthy senior Chinese or their children are looking for overseas property to live in and invest, especially in America, Canada and Australia. Also, they’ve already outnumbered the Japanese and Korean retirees living in warm South Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines in the number of long-term, renewable visa applications.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’d like to welcome a newly forming Chinese community in your neighborhood that pushes up the property value rapidly.


Topic Reading-Vol.1712-12/18/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Polar bear cubs’ swimming lesson
They look cute but they are desperate. Ice is the place and house where the polar bear lives on. They follow the ice when it retreats in summer. They seem to have to swim longer and better these days as the precious land space is shrinking because of the global warming.
Their main meal is the seal. Polar bears usually hunt them by waiting for them around their breathing holes, or pursue them on the ice. Either way, polar bears must be able to swim from an ice sheet to another that they can inhabit and hunt.
Those cute little cubs seem to know that they can and must swim.
Enjoy watching this rare scene when cute cubs jump into the water for the first time.


Topic Reading-Vol.1711-12/17/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Japan tests innovative magnetic tether for slowing space junk
Fishing net in space? Sounds very conventional to collect something but it is indeed innovative to make space safer for astronauts and satellites.
There are uncountable number of potentially harmful pieces orbing the planet. They are abandoned parts, tools and pieces of no-longer used satellites or rockets, as well as destroyed objects by space weapons. Enormous number of debris are traveling around Earth over 20 times faster than the speed of sound, or about 30 times as fast as the cruising speed of a jetliner. If any of these high-speed orbiting objects of any size hit a rocket, satellite or space station, the damage would be catastrophic.
In order to reduce the risk of this clear and present danger, Japan came up with an idea to use a specially made magnetic fishing net to catch such debris to slow them down, so that they would be pulled into atmosphere by Earth’s gravity and be burnt.
Enjoy reading the article and think if this solution is innovative or primitive.


Topic Reading-Vol.1710-12/16/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Bouncing bird may be the funniest clip from Planet Earth II
It is indeed quite common and natural for a man try to get woman’s attention, seriously. Some show off their muscles or spend their fortune, others sing songs or dance at their best. In some cases, men contest or even fight.
Some of these practices are of course common among animals and birds, even usually-pacifist giraffes as shown in Vol.1695 on December 1.
You probably have witnessed male birds singing beautifully in mating season to attract females’ attention. But these little birds in the tall grasses of Kenya's Maasai Mara do those things quite differently from others. To make them visible and audible to female birds, male birds try to jump higher and sing while they are in the air because otherwise they won’t be recognized by female birds.
Enjoy seeing the video and judge which one looks and sounds most attractive.


Topic Reading-Vol.1709-12/15/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Highlights of China's scientific and technological achievements in 2016
Just take a look. These are just a dozen snapshots of China’s scientific and technological achievements of the year 2016 alone. Stealth fighter jet, super computer and space station only to name a few, all of which used to be America’s icons of technological supremacy.
There are other superior factors China has over the U.S., the speed, scale and determination. As over nine million students enter colleges and universities every year and several hundred thousands students are studying in U.S. colleges, they seem to have enough intelligent resources to advance research and development potentials. They also possess financial muscle to materialize such projects and products.
Enjoy seeing the photos and think what will be shown a year from now.


Topic Reading-Vol.1708-12/14/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Shopping a sale gives you the same feeling as getting high
Do you like shopping, either on-site or online? Do you usually buy things on impulse? Do you often regret after buying something you didn’t plan to? Do you think you’re somewhat addicted to shopping or a sale? Do you consider yourself a shopaholic?
Many people seem to feel an irresistible impulse when they find a sale sign, especially the ones with higher discount tags on like 50% off or two for one (the price of one). Some people are even addicted to hunting bargains like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes.
Enjoy reading and learning why shopping a sale creates such a sense of urgency.


Topic Reading-Vol.1707-12/13/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Did Greig Tonkins break the law when he punched the kangaroo?
You might have seen a cartoon or animation that shows a kangaroo is wearing boxing gloves. Whether the animal actually punches others like human boxer does, you might have presumed that they might do so when they need or want to. But you probably never have imagined that a kangaroo is punched by a human. Also, you might have thought dogs might chase or harass kangaroos but not the other way around.
These are what exactly happened in New South Wales, Australia. A hunting dog was head-locked by a wild kangaroo and the owner of the dog punched the roo to rescue his dog.
As this video went viral, some animal activists became very critical of the man’s conduct while many praised him as a hero.
Enjoy watching the video and reading the article about the reactions by Australians.


Topic Reading-Vol.1706-12/12/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why India's train network is so deadly
There was a deadly train collision in India on 20th of November, killing around 150 passengers on board. The derailment occurred in the early morning when most of the packed passengers were asleep. It was one of the express trains that run across the subcontinent. Some of the passengers spend more than a day and night on the train to reach their destinations. Thanks to the government’s subsidization, train fares are reasonably priced to accommodate ordinary citizens, over 23 million passengers a day between 8,000 stations across the country.
However, the convenience also poses dangers. In 2014, over 24,000 people were killed by railway accidents, many of whom were hit while they were walking on, along or across the railroads.
Also, the infrastructure of India’s railway networks is aging and overused. Major lines were built over 150 years ago by the colonial British government and trains running on the rails look quite outdated. The Indian government seems to modernize this inherited treasure soon.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re interested in traveling the subcontinent by train. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1705-12/11/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
12 incredible African tribal traditions
In Africa, some extraordinary and distinctive rituals are still being practiced by indigenous tribes to commemorate, celebrate, compete, prove or simply to decorate. Some of them are just to wear unique clothes or put special materials on people. Others make the participants or qualifiers challenge extreme tasks. Many of those rituals have been practiced for pride or prize especially among nomads who usually live only within their own community. But as the waves of modernization and conservation spread across the continent, some of the rituals are being performed for money and others are less practiced these days.
Enjoy seeing these extraordinary photos that have captured indigenous traditions in Africa.


Topic Reading-Vol.1704-12/10/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Lord of the dance: The Sufi mystic who has got the world whirling
Any idea who is the most popular poet in America? Despite the long diplomatic woe and hostility since 1980, Americans seem to admire this Persian poet, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. He’s a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist and Islamic scholar whose verses and poems influenced people beyond borders and ethnic division. His poems express the deepest longings of the human heart for its beloved, which never change in time or by place.
Every year, a festival is held to admire and appreciate Rumi in a town in southern Turkey. The main event of the festival is the whirling dance performed by the members of Sufi religious order.
Enjoy seeing this distinctive dance and reading some of his renowned poems.


Topic Reading-Vol.1703-12/9/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Nestle says will cut sugar in chocolate by 40%
Any idea how much sugar is used in chocolate? There is no one clear answer for it as it varies widely by type, color and product. But unless you eat chocolate to get energy to survive in the winter mountain or starvation, you most likely wish less sugar per bite. One solution to reduce sugar use is to substitute it with some other substance such as aspartame or saccharin, neither of which provides the same level of satisfaction as sugar does. If you simply cut the amount of sugar per serving, chocolate won’t taste as sweet as you expect, thus you eat more of it or choose something with more sugar in it.
The world food giant and also the largest chocolate products producer, Nestle, has come up with a breakthrough technology to reduce the amount of sugar while maintaining the same level of sugary taste in their chocolates. Wow. How do they do that?
Enjoy reading and thinking which would be your choice of chocolate regular or reduced-sugar.


Topic Reading-Vol.1702-12/8/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India cinemas ordered to play national anthem
It was ruled by the nation’s supreme court that the national anthem to be played before a movie is presented in every cinema. Sounds similar to numbers of ads shown before the featured film, which most of the audience pay little attention. But in India, it is mandatory that the audience shall stand to attention whenever the anthem is sung or played, except when it is played as a part of the film.
Playing the national anthem before a movie is one thing and standing in a cinema seems another thing, though the audience in a football field or baseball stadium seem to be more willing to stand and even sing the anthem. In the U.S., civilians are expected to stand to attention with right hand over heart and military personnel in uniform and veterans should salute throughout. But they don’t play the anthem in movie theaters.
Enjoy reading the article and comments, and think if playing the national anthem before a movie show does any good or harm to the audience.


Topic Reading-Vol.1701-12/7/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pearl Harbor Attack, December 7th 1941
On this day three-quarter century ago, the U.S. military base in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked by hundreds of Japanese war planes. As many as 2,000 US service men were killed and many others were wounded. It was the beginning of the Pacific Theater of World War II which changed the political and geographical map of Asia.
(December 8th in Japan time because of the International Date Line)
45 months after the attack, the US dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to cease the war as well as to show off the might.
Despite these hostilities, the two countries have been close allies ever since the war ended. Seventy years from the attack, a US aircraft carrier was sent to off the coast of Fukushima and Miyagi to help the earthquake devastated and radiation threatened areas by the major earthquake and tsunami deal with the crisis and recover from the damages. This support operation was called “Operation Tomodachi (friendship).”
Enjoy reading and thinking of the hostility and alliance between countries.


Topic Reading-Vol.1700-12/6/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Road, Street or Avenue?
“Where is Times Square?” “It’s at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue.”
When you get directions to go somewhere in America, you’ll find quite a variation of titles for the roads, such as street, avenue and of course road to name a few. But there are many more titles like boulevard, parkway, lane, place, plaza and court. Are they given just randomly or deliberately?
Though there are plenty of exceptions, general codes behind those titles seem to exist. Knowing some of these general descriptions may help you predict what kind of road you’ll be traveling on.
Enjoy reading the introductory text and watching a video that presents never-thought-of titling codes beneath the roads.
Oh, lastly, but not the least, thank you for reading this 1700th Topic Reading.


Topic Reading-Vol.1699-12/5/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why female genital mutilation still exists in modern Singapore
It may be quite surprising to many of you to find that circumcising is still a popular practice in some religious communities. One estimate shows that as many as 200 million women and girls are circumcised worldwide. But you may be more surprised to find that the practice is still popular among certain religious communities in Singapore.
The city-state was just awarded again the highest-achieving primary and secondary students in international education tests in math and science. You may wonder why such a huge gap exists between the ancient tradition and modern education.
Enjoy reading and thinking of the rationales for this ancient practice in modern societies.


Topic Reading-Vol.1698-12/4/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Kondapalli toys face modernisation and cheap imports
Did you have any handcraft toys when you were a child? Have you given one to someone? Though handcraft toys may not draw children’s attention so much these days, they look charming to some adults, especially ethnic and colorful ones.
Here in the southeastern region of India, there is a remote village called Kondapalli where a group of ethnic minority people dwell. They have been handcrafting these traditional toys ever since they settled in the place in the 16th century. It is such a labor-intensive work that the whole family works in each house. All of them had used only locally obtained natural materials until recently but now some are using modern glues and paints purchased from other part of the world because they are more economical and practical.
They are facing stiff competition with cheap Chinese toys like any other industry. But they also need to deal with more serious challenge. Their children are moving out of the village looking for better jobs and different lives. The remaining family members seem to have no choice but to keep making these toys.
Enjoy reading and thinking what the life is like to inherit a tradition that is not going to be inherited.


Topic Reading-Vol.1697-12/3/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Ten Toughest Border Crossings in The World
In yesterday’s Topic Reading Voc.1696, you might have seen a video about the world busiest border crossing point, Tijuana. Yes, it takes some time to go across the check point but the process is strictly done according to the laws and regulations, no need to, in fact you shall never try to, pay bribes to the officials. All in all, it is basically accommodating for legitimate and documented travelers and commuters.  
But some border crossings are naturally and officially demanding. Some have jungles, desert, rough surface and even land mines between the two border posts totally unguarded and unmaintained. Others require unlimited inspections and questions by the officers until they are satisfied by not valid documents but reasonable bribes.
These situations change accordingly to the territorial governance and bilateral relationship.
Enjoy reading and thinking what will the border crossing will be like between the US and Mexico when the new administration takes place in the White House in 2017.


Topic Reading-Vol.1696-12/2/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A day at the world's busiest land border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico
Crossing a border everyday doesn’t seem like a popular way to commute. But there are many land borders that are crossed by large number of commuters, merchants, traders and truck drivers around the world such as China and south Asian countries like Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos, US-Canada and US-Mexico.
Among such border crossing points between two neighboring countries, Tijuana is the busiest in the world. As many as 50 million people cross this border every year. Many of them do every day to work in the other side of the border, which takes considerable time in the long line for customs and immigration, especially from Mexico to the U.S.
Why do they sacrifice so much time for traveling? Well, things are much cheaper in Mexico than in the U.S. and wages are much higher in the U.S. than Mexico. Living in Mexico and working in the U.S., or working and living in the U.S. and spending money in Mexico seems quite advantageous financially.
Enjoy watching the video and thinking what the life is like to have a family in Tijuana and work in San Diego.


Topic Reading-Vol.1695-12/1/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Giraffes in epic battle
For what do giraffes fight each other? How do they fight? These are the questions that are rarely asked or answered. They are plant eaters, so they usually don’t need to fight for a prey. They possess neither sharp fangs to bite or strong tail to whip others. Furthermore, you probably think the giraffe is a peaceful animal.
This rare video footage shows you why and how they fight each other. It’s well organized and edited with a touch of spaghetti, or macaroni western film.
When you finished seeing this video, you may be inclined to imagine how the gigantic plant-eating dinosaurs have fought against each other or its predators.
Enjoy watching this amazing video and think why male animals or humans fight for a female so furiously.


Topic Reading-Vol.1694-11/30/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'They will kill us': The Rohingya refugees fleeing torture and rape in Myanmar
Religious reason or racial hatred? According to the state media, the operation by the army soldiers was to clear certain areas to find the suspects who killed nine soldiers in October, and is for the sake of national security. The clearance operations included activities like burning the houses, raping women, killing men and chasing those who managed to escape to the border.
Who are the people persecuted by the Myanmar military forces? They are the Rohingya [ˈroʊɪndʒə] people. Most of them are Muslim and their population in Myanmar is estimated to be somewhere around 1.3 million. Though there isn’t any state religion in the country, the vast majority of the Myanmarese believe in Buddhism, and Islam is just one of the minor religions. Unfortunately, the Rohingya people have been segregated and ill-treated for long and is perceived as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Do you remember or know the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights?
Enjoy reading and remembering who the political leader of Myanmar is.


Topic Reading-Vol.1693-11/29/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world most generous countries
What is generosity? Donating money to causes, giving time or volunteering to help others in need? None of these actions seems more substantial or troublesome than solving an algebra problem or doing a grocery shopping. For some it’s just part of their lives, but for others it’s not something they are used to doing regularly or even occasionally.
There are countries that people seem to do or give something for others quite naturally. According to 2016 Global Civic Engagement Report, Burma came to the top of the list of the world most generous countries followed by the US, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Anything common among these countries or cultures?
Enjoy reading and thinking what makes people more generous to others.


Topic Reading-Vol.1692-11/28/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How will India destroy 20 billion banknotes?
In Topic Reading-Vol.1677, India’s scraping 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes overnight was introduced. This bold move was to crack down on "black money" or illegal cash holdings. It created long lines in front of the banks as well as confusions and worries among people who have had enough cash to exchange.
To prepare new banknotes to replace the currently-circulated ones in this magnitude in complete secret was an astonishing job, though the printing the new banknotes was delayed due to the shortage of ink! Also, transporting them to the banks across the country and storing them in the vaults in safe must have taken considerable efforts by many.
But what about the replaced banknotes? The estimated number of expired banknotes is somewhere around 20 billion. Will they be recycled, burned to ashes or used as toilet paper?
Enjoy reading and learning what the fates of soiled, damaged or replaced banknotes are once they are collected.


Topic Reading-Vol.1691-11/27/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World’s Most Expensive Home Hits Market for €1 Billion
A billion dollars for a single home? How expensive a family residence could be? What are the key factors to determine the price tag of an exclusive property, the location, view, style, size, number of bedrooms and bath rooms, age or story?
There are numbers of luxurious properties for sale around the world from America, China to France whose values are well over hundreds of millions. One thing quite common among such expensive properties is the location. Most of them are located in a quiet place or elevated from the noise and traffic of the city, and are overseeing the ocean, mountains, forests or city.
While the number of bedrooms matters more to ordinary families, it doesn’t seem to bother those who are looking for extraordinarily exclusive properties. Of course, only few have over 10 family members to live with.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos and price tags of the most valuable family properties.


Topic Reading-Vol.1690-11/26/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pope Francis extends Catholic priests' power to forgive abortion
Yesterday’s Vol.1689 covered how Pope Francis is shaking up the Vatican by appointing new cardinals who are dedicated to those who need help especially in Africa and South Asia.
He made another significant announcement on November 30 when the Year of Mercy ended. During the year, any priests had been authorized the power to absolve the sin of abortion, which were usually allowed only to bishops. He extended this special permission indefinitely.
Abortion has been regarded as a moral evil in the Catholic Church for the last 20 centuries. Though that stance won’t be changed, every priest now can forgive the mothers who confess the sin and wish to come back to church. The intention is to make the Catholic Church more open to anyone who repent from sin.
Giving authorization to the field staff is nothing new in modern businesses, but it’s not that simple to implement such practice for this two-millennium old society.
Enjoy reading and thinking if there is any difference between indefinite extension and permanent resolution.


Topic Reading-Vol.1689-11/25/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How Pope Francis is shaking up the Vatican
Theory to practice. Vatican to the places where help is needed. That’s what Pope Francis seems to be working on since he became the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church in 2013.
In fact, the 266th pope is more open to other religions, LGBTs, and concerned about humility and the poor.
In his latest appointment of cardinals, who advise and elect the pope, there are more outsiders from Vatican circle than before. His picks are those who actually have been working for people in the fields where help is needed, especially in Africa and South Asia.
As Muslim population is growing rapidly, it seems necessary for other religious leaders to reshape and strengthen their organizations and next leaders.
Enjoy reading and thinking what world leaders should be doing for the present and future agenda.


Topic Reading-Vol.1688-11/24/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world first blue wine
Tradition or innovation?
That seems to be the key divide whether one would try this newly created wine or not. When you eat traditional an Italian or Spanish dish, what sort of drinks should go well with it?
OR, resistance to blue. Yes, there are some blue drinks like soda drinks or cocktails like Blue Hawaii, but not usually on dinner tables.
Some entrepreneurs in Spain challenged to create new type of wine. Blue wine. They neither are expertise nor had had any previous experience in wine business but wanted to create something totally new to this most traditional drink.
Some like it but others don’t. It’s hard to imagine eating red tomato sauce pasta with blue wine. Will they go well?
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re interested in trying this new wine with your favorite dish.


Topic Reading-Vol.1687-11/23/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
University in Henan shows off futuristic library
What do you think this facility is? It looks like a public space where people can meet, gather or relax. It looks so spacious and accommodating that one may spend a whole day working on some project. Yes. That’s what university libraries have been used these days. They are no longer a place where paper books are stored and read but where students work on their assignments, projects or interest. And it is a space where future talents and innovations are going to be created.
What about books? The fifteen-century innovation to print books seems to have been nearly replaced by digital revolution in the 21st century.
Enjoy seeing the photos and imagine how creative and innovative students will be if they spend time in such innovative library.


Topic Reading-Vol.1686-11/22/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
People around the world are eating banana peels because they know something that Westerners do not.
Banana peels are edible. For most of you, eating a banana means just its flesh, not the yellow peel. Though the peel is not edible as is like the flesh unless you are starving to death, they could be palatable if they are fried, baked or boiled. And there are some benefits of eating it.
First, the peel is nutritious. It contains similar nutrients as the flesh.
Second, it is environmentally friendly. Think of how much trash you create every time you eat a banana.
Third, it is cost effective. You may want only a half of a banana if you eat the peel as well. That’s 50% discount!
Enjoy reading and thinking your way of eating the banana peel.


Topic Reading-Vol.1685-11/21/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How do you keep bananas fresh as they cross the oceans?
How long are bananas you bought palatable, or at least edible? As you know by experience, bananas shouldn’t be kept in the fridge unless you want the yellow peels turn dark brown. Then don’t you wonder why bananas look fresh at stores after a long journey from the subtropical plantation? They must have been kept in a tightly controlled environment to get perfectly ripe at the shelves, not before.
Bananas are shipped in refrigerated containers that are monitored and controlled by Remote Container Management, or RCM system. It allows the shipping companies to even expect the conditions of the bananas in the containers, so that they can not only guarantee the quality but also reduce the time for inspection.
Another area that modern technology is used to entice your daily life.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of transport, and say how are you to your next banana.


Topic Reading-Vol.1684-11/20/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What the state of your desk says about you
How does your desk look? Scattered, messy, personalized, organized or plain?
Researchers say that how your desk looks tells your personality. Well, you know it. It’s not limited to the office desk but the rooms and a house you live in, too. The way one works or lives clearly tells what type of person he or she is in general. Though it sounds stereo-typed, there seem to be common styles how one works at the desk.
Enjoy reading and seeing the photos by work types, and think which type you belong to.


Topic Reading-Vol.1683-11/19/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Psychic software? How a small social media company predicted Donald Trump's victory
Do you always answer poll questions as honestly as your comments on social media? Most people write their opinions or feelings from their heart on social media because they want to express them. But they don’t always express their true emotion or thoughts on politics when they are asked because they are asked.
That’s what seems to have happened in the last US presidential election. Many answered more favorably to one candidate than they really think of her. That’s because they might have not wanted to be looked as a supporter of the other radical candidate. But some of them didn’t seem to have voted for the candidate they said they would.
Analyzing social media traffic is a new way to find recent trend, rising problems and potential moves. Combining with Ai and polls, a South African company was able to predict the US election result. They did the same for the UK referendum for Brexit.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you would vote on emotion or by reason.


Topic Reading-Vol.1682-11/18/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Persian art of etiquette
Say no three times before saying yes. It may sound complicating to you but this is the way to say yes courteously in Persian culture. For example, accepting a gift requires several back and forth replies and compliments before the gift is handed. Even a taxi driver refuses to take the fair that he deserves declines a few times. It might be very confusing when you negotiate with an Iranian counterpart for business or politics. But that seems the way to show respect and to be polite in Persian society, called taarof or tarof. Similar attitudes for respect are also seen in Chinese culture called limao and in Japan as reigi.
Hospitality is another distinct tradition in Persian culture. If you ask a way to somewhere, the person may take you there. If you’re invited for a tea, you may end up staying overnight.
Do you prefer being declined before accepted, or declining before saying yes?
Enjoy reading about this unique Persian tradition and think if you want to experience it in Iran.


Topic Reading-Vol.1681-11/17/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China versus US in e-commerce
Who spent US$18 billion on a single day in China? How did they buy that much?
Instead of going to the mall and look around, Chinese shoppers seem to prefer shopping online to save time, compare prices and enjoy convenience. They spend more time and money online than American shoppers. They like to use their smartphones to shop, as much as two-thirds of shopping is done by smartphones while only one-thirds of America’s online shopping is made by smartphones. That might be because Chinese online shoppers are younger than Americans on average and they are more used to using smartphones than PCs, being helped by the most popular mobile payment, Alipay, easy and convenient online payments by Alibaba with over 400 million users.
What you see in Chinese online shoppers probably indicates the shopping trends in emerging markets as their infrastructures and payment structures are similar to those of China.
Enjoy comparing the user profiles and habits of Chinese and American online shoppers.


Topic Reading-Vol.1680-11/16/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Online shopping frenzy sparks trash concern
$18 billion, or 120 billion yuan, sales were generated on a single day. That’s what China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba posted on its Singles’ Day sales festival on November 11th this year, up 32 percent from the previous year.
You can easily imagine it will take several days or even weeks to fulfill this magnitude of orders across the country. Trucks and drivers will be running around to deliver hundreds of millions of packages. What will happen to the boxes and wrapping materials such as bills and envelopes, poly and plastic bags, cardboard boxes and tapes when those delivered goods are unpacked? Even though 80% of the cardboard is recycled, the rest needs to be produced by chopping trees. Also, there are tons of non-biodegradable materials that will be dumped or burned somewhere. It is estimated that 30 billion tons of post packages are produced in 2016 and that figure will increase to 50 billion by 2018 as more people shop online in China by their smartphones. But who is paying all these environmental costs?
Enjoy reading and thinking how to reduce or discourage the use of shipping materials.


Topic Reading-Vol.1679-11/15/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Want to read your dog's mind? Japan's boom in weird wearable tech
How well do you know the feeling of your pet dog(s)? You probably have a good guess by their eyes, ears or tail even though dogs don’t tell you how they feel. But if you want to know more precisely and timely how they feel, there is a newly developed device that shows the mental status of your pet dog. It is called Inupaty, or dog-pathy in English, a wearable heart rate monitor that shows how the dog presumably feels by six LED lights. For example, if the dog is calm, you’ll see the blue light glow. When the dog is excited, red light glows instead.
This new wearable device certainly helps the dog’s owner understand how the dog feels better but it also seems convenient to those who aren’t so familiar with the dog. When you encounter a dog wearing this wearable monitor and lights, you’ll find if you should go nearer or stay away from the dog.
Enjoy reading about newly designed wearables and think if you want any of them.