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Topic Reading-Vol.1541-6/30/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What living in space does to your body
Astronauts. This risky job is not only highly demanding but also affecting their bodies and health. Some effects are temporary like weakened muscles and immune system while others take weeks for recovery. But there are effects that stay longer or even for lifetime such as risk of cancer or other diseases might.
So why there still are so many men and women who want to spend time in space?
Ask a mountain climber why he risks his life to climb a mountain. He may say because there is one right there to be climbed.
Passion seems to supersedes fear, at least for some people.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’d like to travel to space for your next vacation.


Topic Reading-Vol.1540-6/29/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why North Korea is a safe haven for birds
Underdevelopment seems to save some bird species. Can you believe that North Korea, undoubtedly the most unfriendly country to foreigners, is the most welcoming nation to migratory birds in the world. Why? The western shores of the northern peninsula are sill untouched by humans, not because of conservation efforts or regulations but just lack of investment.
That’s good news for some migratory birds that fly over 10,000km without stopping from New Zealand. They need a place where they can rest, habit and breed for some time to make their long and risky journey worthwhile.
Enjoy reading and learning that there is at least one thing that the hostile country does good.


Topic Reading-Vol.1539-6/28/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Canine check in: The rise of pet-friendly hotels
It is a trend that is spreading across some part of the world, such as the U.S.A., the U.K., and Austria. There seems to be increasing number of pet owners who don’t want to leave their lovely pets home. Remember how much it cost Jonny Depp when he took his pet dogs to Australia and he had to fly them back home in their private jet only for themselves, not to mention the media attention and government pressure.
To accommodate such pet-loving guests, more hotels have become pet-friendly and pet-welcoming. Just allowing the guests to bring in their pets isn’t enough. They need to present and offer the same level of hospitality as they do to the human guests to the accompanied pets, such as bed making, room service, sitting and walking.
But animals aren’t pleased by lip services but feel friendliness. They won’t be fooled. So, if you do something, do it right.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’d like to stay in a room that was slept by a dog or cat the night before.


Topic Reading-Vol.1538-6/27/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why India is a nation of foodies
Back to basic. Meals are prepared to be shared by the family members. That’s one of the most essential activities of any day for most families in the world. And in India, it is particularly valued to bond the family as every family member eats small portion of everything.
More interestingly, foods seem to be very distinct in one place or family from another in India while most foreigners may think there are only curry and tandoori. It is a big subcontinent and things are pretty much diverse such as languages, cultures and values.
But one thing seems to be common. As introduced in Vol.1522, drinking during a family mealtime is disrespectful.
Enjoy reading and learning what is valued the most in India.


Topic Reading-Vol.1537-6/26/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China dog meat festival: Is it really so bad to eat dog?
What a feast. Many live dogs are slaughtered and eaten. This annual festival is NOT a traditional event in China. It only started only in 2009, though the dog-eating habit has been part of the cultures in some regions.
Is that a matter of what to kill and eat or how to slaughter? Dolphins and whales for Japanese. Rabbits and deer for French. Sheep for Mongolians and beef for Americans. In some religions like Judaism or Islam, how to slaughter livestock is clearly and strictly stated.
Is it a moral imperialism to tell others with different values what not to eat or how to kill?
See the video, read the text and think if you agree with either side of the argument.


Topic Reading-Vol.1536-6/25/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China builds world's most powerful computer
Another top of the list by China. This time it’s probably much more significant than others such as the number of smartphones or cars sold, the length of high-speed railways or the amount of online sales a day. It is in computer science and technology.
According to the Top500 list, a new supercomputer developed in China performs more calculations per second than any other computer in the world, faster than the previous leader also produced in China.
Supercomputers can be used for weather forecast, aero or space dynamics design, biological analysis, chemical compounds simulations or any other field that requires super high-speed computer simulations.
China has now 167 computers on the list, surpassing the US’s 165. What’s more surprising is that the Chinese supercomputer uses domestically developed chips. In other word, it’s a pure Chinese blood supercomputer.
Enjoy reading and thinking how advanced China’s computer technology and industry will be like in the next decade.


Topic Reading-Vol.1535-6/24/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Made in Africa: One of these inventions is about to make it big
Identifying problems is important, though it is just a start. Solving those problems is essential, though preventing problems from happening is more ideal. And it would be nice if these should be done economically and practically, ideally locally.
That’s what this annual Innovation Prize for Africa is about. It encourages people in Africa to come up with solutions to their problems and helps them materialize or realize. The winners get financial prizes and more importantly, may draw attentions from potential users, practitioners or investors.
This sort of stimulus activities seems to play an important role in for Africa where so many people are left behind the poverty line.
Enjoy reading and thinking which solution is going to be practiced in scale and help more.


Topic Reading-Vol.1534-6/23/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why maps have north at the top?
Have you seen an upside-down map, south being the top and north being the bottom? Or, a 90-degree-turned map, east or west being the top?
If you view the earth from space, any place could be the top and the bottom as there is no up or down in space. So why the north is always up in almost all the maps? Is there any historical or astrophysical reason?
In fact, if you had lived in the northern hemisphere in early days of human history, you most likely would have headed south, the warmer direction to seek for food and place to live in. If an absolute ruler lived in north, he would be looking down south, so the top of the map would be north.
But what about the opposite way? If you had lived in the southern hemisphere or an emperor had lived in the south of his realm, what the map would have been like?
Enjoy reading and thinking from which direction you’d like to see your own planet.


Topic Reading-Vol.1533-6/22/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Prejudice is not always overt
Prejudice seems like an unavoidable behavior, whether it is recognized or not. It could be towards a person from a foreign country, of a different religion or with an opposing political view, not to mention to those of a different gender or race.
Classifying people by appearance, race, nationality, background or social position is a matter of common practice of stereotype. But acting or reacting based on the pre-set view is prejudice, whether it is intended or not. It could lead to discrimination, or aggression to some extent.
Enjoy reading and learning about this hard-to-remove human practice.


Topic Reading-Vol.1532-6/21/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India rejects Google Street View plan over security concerns
No street view? Indeed, there isn’t any in India’s google map. Is that because mighty Google hasn’t done the job yet? Actually, they are eager to do it but the permission was not granted by the government due to security concerns. Does that mean the countries where there is no Google street view unsafe or is there any other reason such as privacy or economy that blocks Google’s services?
In fact, you might be surprised to find the fact that there is no street view in Google map in China, Egypt, Myanmar or Venezuela, while their comparative countries like Russia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Columbia are all covered.
So what are the rationales to be or not to be? Don’t they want to invite more foreign tourists and investment? Is the risk of showing street view so different by country?
Enjoy reading and thinking what makes the government say yes or no to street view.


Topic Reading-Vol.1531-6/20/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Should America continue to be a world leader?
Indeed, America’s influence over other part of the world seems to have been declining. Is that because of the leadership or public opinion of the country, or the rise of another superpower?
Actually, influence can be influenced various factors such as military, economy, geopolitics, financial or humanitarian aid, natural resources and diplomacy. Ever since the last world war ended, the U.S.A. had been undoubtedly the world most powerful and influential state. But the world has observed a steady decline of the influence particularly in this decade, when the US withdrew its direct military presence from Iraq and Afghanistan while Islamic State has spread around the Levant. Also in the South China Sea, rising China has increased its military presence in the region and pressure to the neighboring countries. US military is still deployed and is committed to secure peace in the region and to its allies but how long and how much?
Enjoy reading and thinking what role the US can and is willing to take in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.1530-6/19/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26 billion
50% higher price! That’s an extremely generous premium to acquire a publicly-traded company even in the tech industry. But in the meantime, the share price had plunged over 40% this year before the announcement was made. Is it a good deal then?
That’s of course depending on how Microsoft makes use of LinkedIn’s social network for its core business. Although LinkedIn was not one of the shortlisted acquisition target companies by financial analysts, they share the same customer base. Business professionals, who tend to stick with the same platform or application to keep consistency while avoiding costly and troublesome transition to others.
Just like any other merger and acquisition, it’s just the beginning for a long way ahead.
Enjoy reading and thinking of the value of this acquisition and the fruit of the integration.


Topic Reading-Vol.1529-6/18/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Do musicians get better with age?
How old is too old? That depends on what you do. As for creating tasks such as writing, composing or painting, age often brings maturity. For example, the last symphony of any famous classical composer is the last work of his.
But what about performing tasks like acting or singing? Some seasoned actors play the roles to match their age and do them very very well, like Christopher Lee and Anthony Hopkins to name a few. Surprisingly, more aged musicians are creating new works and performing passionately, not only bringing back their old fans but also appealing to new audience, like Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney and so on.
After all, what makes people move and create is passion and spirit.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re interested in these new music works by seasoned musicians.


Topic Reading-Vol.1528-6/17/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The trouble with big data?
Too much is not good. This applies to food, drinks, exercise or anything. Now there is another rising problem. Data and information. Companies are trying to gather more data and information that is relevant to their businesses than ever before in human history. That is because recent technologies and investment have made it possible to collect from any part or move of activities or operations, such as purchase records, driving behavior, medical history, sales analysis, operation monitoring, or responses and reactions. Such recent and cumulative information is used to predict the next possible move, reactions or changes and provide better services and products. But how effectively can such information be utilized?
What about photos. Nowadays, more and more photos and videos are taken by smartphones and stored in the cloud. But how valuable those recently and easily taken images are compared to just a few of photos that were taken in memorable occasions?
It seems that what to keep and use is more important than what to get and store.
Enjoy reading and thinking what big data means to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.1527-6/16/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Thailand's King Bhumibol marks 70 years on the throne
King Bhumibol, US-born and Swiss-educated king of Thailand, has been in the throne since the 9th of June, 1946, a year after WWII. He hasn’t been seen by public for some time due to health reasons, but he is still and doubtfully loved by the Thai.
Though Thailand is a secular state, Buddhism is the national religion and the heart of the Thai. It is a democratic country but has been under military administration since the last coup. In fact, there have been 19, 12 of which were successful, military coups in the country since 1932. This king has seen, and sometimes intervened in arbitration, such upheavals during his reign and earned full trust by his people. On his 70th anniversary of his accession to the throne of Thailand, monks, citizens and military-led administration gather to show their respect and love to him, even though he was unable to appear before the public.
Enjoy reading and learning about the affection the Thai have to their longest-serving king.


Topic Reading-Vol.1526-6/15/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Ramadan for non-Muslims: An etiquette guide
Do you know much about Ramadan? It’s an Islam practice to fast from dawn to dusk for a whole month. During the fast, Muslims are not supposed to eat, drink, smoke or sex. It’s an idea to use the month, in lunar calendar, to develop self-discipline by experiencing abstaining from basic human necessities. Once the sun sets, they can enjoy feast. You can easily imagine how tasteful and enjoyable the meal and drinks are after a whole day of abstention from anything to put in your mouth and stomach.
One downside of this feast is that some people eat just too much to compensate for the endurance and patience during the day.
Another thing is what care non-Muslims should pay when they work or spend time with Muslims who are practicing Ramadan. Eating or drinking in front of a person who can’t do either of them sounds awfully inconsiderate, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learning what should or shouldn’t be done during Ramadan.


Topic Reading-Vol.1525-6/14/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Rodrigo Duterte: Shoot a drug dealer, get a medal
There usually are dedicated functions for laws in most countries such as making, administrating, enforcing, and practicing. And court is the place where final judgement is made if the accused is guilty or not, or the claim is justified, and of course, the punishment, all according to the law.
But if the government or the leader goes beyond the laws of the state, what will the consequence be like? Imagine a situation where an elected leader of the country tells people what to do without legal process or judgement. This means the leader is the law maker and stands beyond the country’s judicial system.
This is what seems to be happening, or at least announced by the newly elected president of the Philippines. People will agree with what he is attempting to do but not necessarily with how to achieve it. There could be a war between drug dealers, which might be what the new leader is intending, not as a whole but as a part.
Enjoy reading and imagining what is going to happen to the country.


Topic Reading-Vol.1524-6/13/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Things you need to know about gaokao
Gaokao. This year, China’s national college entrance examination took place on June 7th and 8th. Staggering 9.4 million applicants took this make or break exam across the country. About three quarters of the total applicants are going to be enrolled.
To prepare for this controversial exam, students, parents, teachers and other instructors have to play their respective role. Because of the long-lasted one-child policy, parents’ expectations for their children’s future are so high that they invest enormous amount time and money to have them prepare for this paper exam.
The question is if paper exam, which is no longer practical or popular in the real world, measures the future prospect of the exam takers properly.
Enjoy reading and thinking of the validity of such a one-time paper test.


Topic Reading-Vol.1523-6/12/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India orders panic buttons for women installed on buses
A staggering fact in India. 32,077 rape cases were reported in 2015. That’s nearly 90 cases a day. Again, this number only shows the reported cases. It is easily assumed that there would have been much, much more such cases in a society where a family, group, or government is controlled by a man or a group of men.
Ever since the 2012 gang-rape incident occurred in the capital, the nation has taken some measures to protect women. Also, women have become more vocal about sexual assaults and violence. This time, the nation’s parliament has passed a law that requires panic buttons, cameras and vehicle tracking systems in all busses, but not at once by phase. Will it reduce rape cases? Are busses the main place where women are unsafe? If public transportation isn’t that safe, what about stations, restaurants or streets?
Enjoy reading and learning about the latest countermeasure that the world largest democratic country has taken.


Topic Reading-Vol.1522-6/11/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why drinking in India is an 'outdoor sport'
Is drinking alcohol disrespectful? It seems so in India, at least before family members, especially the mother. In fact, some of the states even prohibit alcohol consumption. So what do they do when they want to have a drink? They can go to a bar, of course. But there are other popular ways to enjoy drinking in India.
One way is to drink in a taxi or rickshaw, either a pedaled or engined. The passenger can enjoy drinking while it is driven or parked. The driver may serve whisky and join you in drinking it.
Another way is even simpler. Just drink on the street, not on a busy street but on a dark and quite one.
You may wonder if drinking and driving is allowed in India, or leaving empty bottles on the street an acceptable habit.
Enjoy reading and thinking what you’d do when you wanted to have a drink in India.


Topic Reading-Vol.1521-6/10/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Swiss Gotthard rail tunnel - an engineering triumph
The highest trade barrier is now conquered. Though this barrier is everlasting and cannot be lifted or removed, it was finally broken through by human ingenuity and engineering as the ultimate alternative to other north-south transportation in Europe. It’s a railway tunnel but is not a conventional one but the longest one in the world, over 50km long. It also allows trains run as fast as 250km per hour. It took 20 years to build this 12-billion-dollar train-only tunnel.
This tunnel is projected to replace all the trucks that transport goods and materials across the Alps. Residents along the existing paths have been looking forward to this tunnel that will remove noisy and smelly trucks off the roads.
Want to know more about this tunnel as to who made it, how and why it was built?
Enjoy reading and learning about this historic milestone in Europe’s transport


Topic Reading-Vol.1520-6/9/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Dirtied by success? Nigeria is home to world's most polluted city
Pollution is the price of economic growth, but certainly not so much of human wellness. Nigeria, an African country that surpassed the leading position in the size of economy in Africa a few years ago seems to suffer a lot, not economically but environmentally. As more and more people are coming to live in large cities to seek for a better life and opportunities, more solid fuels are burned for cooking at home because the supply of electricity is not reliable, and the streets are jammed by old, fuming vehicles that are not regulated for maintenance or emission control. As a result of such unorganized growth of human activities, major cities in the country are heavily polluted to the degrees that are way worse than that of the World Health Organization thinks bearable. And of course, if the air in those cities is so polluted, it’s not hard to imagine what other environmental problems there are.
Should the quality of life be measured by economic growth or environmental standards?
Enjoy reading and imagining the gap between those busy cities and remote villages in Africa.


Topic Reading-Vol.1519-6/8/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How to win a fight with a shark
Just in case. Most of you probably have never had a chance to meet or will never encounter a shark in the sea. But if ever such a rare incident happened to you, what would you do? Just screaming for help or kicking the water hard won’t be enough because any shark can swim faster than any human.
Here are some useful tips recommended by a shark expert. The key principle seems to pretend to be stronger than the shark that is going to attack you by showing off the strength and size, and punching it. In other words, you need to fool the shark approaching to you.
Whether these tips are practicable or not, it’s better than doing nothing or a wrong thing.
Enjoy reading and thinking which emergency action you could possibly take when you are met by a shark.


Topic Reading-Vol.1518-6/7/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How to save a billion gallons to petrol
Is it that simple? Yes. Just to keep the tire pressure right will make your car drive 4% longer in distance with the same amount of gas, according to the US Government Accountability Office. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Of course, it’s a matter of friction.
If that is the case, car manufactures should try to improve actual fuel economy of their vehicles by promoting the proper way to drive instead of showing unrealistic and impracticable, or even falsified fuel efficiency data only to sell their cars, shouldn’t they?
Drivers can do their part, too. If it’s too little cumbersome to check the tire pressure every time you drive out, how about doing it when you pump gas? You’re in the right place to do that. In fact, you can reduce the gas price by 4%!
Enjoy reading and learning this simple way to save gas for your economy and the environment.


Topic Reading-Vol.1517-6/6/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What does modern slavery look like?
Behind the scenes. There still are so many victims of slavery in today’s modern world. Some are forced to work for free or to repay their debt, others are put on the street to beg for money or sell their body for sex. How come such abuse of human rights still exist and where?
Actually, these unlawful and non-humanitarian practices can be seen behind the scenes quite often, such as on fishing boats, in restaurant kitchens, in large farmlands or production lines of factories. So if you’re wearing a neat-looking polo-shirt, brand jeans and sneakers and dining at a fancy restaurant, you could be enticed by slave labor work, at least some part.
Enjoy reading and learning what today’s slavery is like.


Topic Reading-Vol.1516-6/5/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Getting to know Sansha, youngest and southernmost Chinese city developing fast
Sansha’s main island, Woody Island, is located off the coast of China, Vietnam, and Taiwan. It is the smallest prefecture in terms of population and geometry but is the largest when it comes to its territory, which includes much disputed Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.
The status of the island was upgraded to prefecture level in 2012, most likely to administer other southern islands, which caused criticism from the neighboring countries that also claim the sovereignty of those islands, namely the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The island is occupied only by 1,000 or so residents but it is heavily invested and promoted as dream place to live in or visit in China.
Enjoy checking the websites and articles about this small in size but large in territory island.


Topic Reading-Vol.1515-6/4/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Bees chase car for 2 days to rescue queen
Loyal troops. That what leaders and generals want to have. Patriotism, respect, status, training and education are some of the factors that could drive loyalty. But how many troops are there in the world that never give up their loyalty?
Here is a rare incident that occurred in Wales, the U.K. The driver of the car had no idea as to why the car was chased by thousands of bees for two consecutive days.
Nature seems to play a vital role that could never been developed by humans.
Enjoy reading and seeing this unfortunate vehicle surrounded by worker bees.


Topic Reading-Vol.1514-6/3/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Chasing the light: 2016 National Geographic travel photo contest entries
Do you like taking photos when you travel? If you do, do you print or share them with others? Maybe when you’ve taken good ones worth showing to others.
Some people, even though they aren’t pros or experts, do take astonishingly gorgeous photos that make yours look dull. And there are contests to gather impressive photos of people and things around the world that were taken while traveling.
Enjoy seeing some of the beautifully shot photos entered in this year’s National Geography Travel Photographer contest.


Topic Reading-Vol.1513-6/2/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Some male spiders must give generous gifts to their female mates -- or die
Sexual cannibalism. It is a known behavior among some insects and arachnids that the female cannibalizes a potential or actual mating partner before, during or after copulation. Sounds like a make or break love call for the male, doesn’t it?
A recent study found that the male spider could reduce the risk of being eaten by giving generous gift to the female. That may be because the female is to too busy eating the gift while mating. But there still is a risk for the male once the female finishes the feast.
So better be hurry. Give, do and go seems to the protocol for male spiders to mate and survive.
Enjoy reading and imagining what the life of male arachnids is like.


Topic Reading-Vol.1512-6/1/2016

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The incredible things we know about your heart and blood
Your heart is a hard worker. He beats about 70 times a minute, 24 hours a day and never stops pumping blood to your body. He actually pumps 300 liters of blood just in an hour.
What about blood? It delivers essential stances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. No wonder why the heart has to keep working 24-7 continuously.
There are some mysteries, though. Does the heart beat affect the person’s mood? Why are there different blood types while they all seem to do the same things?
Enjoy reading and learning about the heart and blood.