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Topic Reading-Vol.1784-2/28/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The 15 worst cities for rush hour traffic
Economic prosperity and traffic congestion seem to coincide with each other. According to the data compiled by a GPS manufacturer, growing metropolitan cities like Bangkok and Mexico City have heavier evening traffic congestion than other 388 cities in the world. Of the top 15 most congested cities, seven are in China, and many more seem to be listed in the following rankings.
When people move in residential or suburban districts of such metro cities where there are limited public transportation options, they have no choice but to drive cars. Furthermore, people rush out of their workplaces almost at the same time on weekdays.
When modern science and technologies are advancing at a speed humans have ever experienced, this simple human-caused problem doesn’t seem to find any viable solutions soon.
Enjoy reading and thinking if you can bear with such traffic every evening only to go home.


Topic Reading-Vol.1783-2/27/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
UAE seeks to build human settlement on Mars by 2117
A hundred-year project. Aiming to achieve in the generations to come, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, plans to build the first human colony on Mars within 100 years. Though it doesn’t sound as bold or ambitious as JFK’s commitment made back in 1961 to send a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, it seems to inspire the emirates’ students, engineers and scientists of the present and the future to work for the dream.
But one question still remains to be answered. Is Mars such an enjoyable and comfortable place to live on?
Ask *Mark Whitney if he’d like to go back to the red planet again.
  *Mark Whitney is a botanist in a science fiction novel, The Martian, who was left on Mars alone, but was later rescued by the crew.

Enjoy reading and thinking if humans will ever inhabit the neighboring planet.


Topic Reading-Vol.1782-2/26/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Life expectancy to break 90 barrier by 2030
People are expected to live longer in the future. With improved health care and medical services along with healthier nutrition, lifestyles and living conditions, humans, or any other being, can live longer.
According to a recent study conducted by the WHO and a British university, South Korean women are expected to live longer than women of any other country. It also shows the gap between men and women are closing because of safer and more health-conscious life styles among men. Heavy drinking and smoking don’t seem to look fashionable any longer.
Other factors on this increasing longevity are education and equality, both of which influence on early life nutrition, which is essential for healthy growth.
Enjoy reading and thinking how you’d live this increasing time in your later life.


Topic Reading-Vol.1781-2/25/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can’t unplug?
Sense of belonging or feel of being connected? Whichever the motive might be, many people seem addicted to smartphones wherever they are and whenever they can. Most of them admit that they are spending too much time and attention on their beloved digital device that hadn’t existed until a decade ago.
Is it really a bad habit? Is staying online so different from watching TV for hours?
Reading the paper, writing letters and talking on the phone had been typical forms of information, communication and interaction before the digital age. All these things can be done by a piece of thin device now. So, spending a couple of hours day on a smartphone may not be that different from spending time on such activities all together. But those who are addicted admit that they are doing too much and too long.
Enjoy reading and thinking how long and easily you can disconnect yourself from the Internet.


Topic Reading-Vol.1780-2/24/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Westerners' favorite Chinese dishes that you won't find anywhere in China
Are all the dishes served in a Chinese restaurant genuine Chinese food? China is indeed such a diverse country that each region has its distinct cooking style and dishes, like Sichuan, Fujian or Cantonese to name a few. But there are dishes that don’t seem to be served anywhere in China but are very popular in western countries, such as General Tso's chicken, fried spring rolls and fortune cookies. How such non-Chinese dishes became standard dishes at Chinese restaurants overseas is unknown. But they are surely popular and loved by many western diners. Even though those dishes are cooked by Chinese chefs and served in Chinese restaurants, they are often regarded as non-genuine because they aren’t served anywhere in China. Is it fair or reasonable to classify dishes like that? How about giving those dishes a new status, Western style, the ninth Chinese cuisine.
  F.Y.I. The eight Chinese cuisines, check this;

Enjoy reading and thinking which of these nine Chinese cuisines you like to try next.


Topic Reading-Vol.1779-2/23/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Tech Tent: inners and losers in the 'gig' economy
What’s gig economy? It’s the freelance economy in short. It is an environment where temporary positions are filled by people who have space and time to spare with those who are looking for such space and time, such as Uber and room renting. Their platform allows people to provide such services without official registrations or permits, and spreading rapidly around the world, which makes traditional service providers like taxi drivers worry about their businesses and jobs. But is it really eroding existing businesses?
Enjoy reading and thinking if you’re interested in using or providing gig services.


Topic Reading-Vol.1778-2/22/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Barcelona protest to support migrants draws thousands
Despite the rising resistance to accept more refugees across Europe, there is a call for more in Barcelona, Spain. The mayor of the Mediterranean city of Catalonia actively campaigned to push the national government to take the number of refugees committed in 2015.
People in Catalonia seem to be more sensitive than others in the nation to what’s happening in the sea that the region faces where thousands of refugees are estimated to have disappeared in 2016 alone.
Will the world have more of such calls and rallies for humanitarian efforts, or just mind one’s own business?
Enjoy reading and think what the border and nationality mean to those who are desperate to escape from life-threatening force.


Topic Reading-Vol.1777-2/21/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Meet Zealandia: Earth's latest continent
They look part of a large mass of land that departed, Australia and New Zealand. Their civilization, or westernization, started when they were settled by westerners back in the 18th century. Naturally, people had been regarding the Australian continent and nearby islands in one group, Australasia until 1995 when a geophysicist came up with a new term Zealandia.
Now, The Geological Society of America claims that Australia and New Zealand are on separate continents.
They have quite distinctive landscapes, cultures and life styles any way. So does it matter much? Well, if you’re trying to reach the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents, called Grand Slam, you need to add one more climb.
Enjoy reading and thinking which continent you’re interested in visiting first, if you haven’t.


Topic Reading-Vol.1776-2/20/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why millions of Chinese men are staying single?
Of the total population of 1.3 billion, approximately 700 million are men in China. Considering the rapidly ageing nation’s population, this gender imbalance is quite problematic. As women outlive men by several years or even decades, there are more women than men in older generations. So, the real problem lies in the 30s and 40s age groups who are expected to get married and have children. In fact, there are 15 to 20 more men per 100 women in those family-forming generations.
For men, finding a suitable woman for him is one thing. In addition to the traditional match making practices, there are numerous Internet meeting sites and services available for all generations. But there seem to be other obstacles to overcome not only for men but also for women. Why?
Enjoy reading and thinking if AI can match men and women better than humans. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1775-2/19/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India in record satellite launch as Asia's space race heats up
While the nation’s aging train network has safety and punctuality problems, they seem to be enthusiastic about launching rockets. On February 15th, India successfully launched 104 satellites from a single rocket, beating the previous record of 37 marked by Russia in 2014. Also, they’ve been operating a Mars orbiter for the last two years.
Why India is so eager to put money and resources into space programs? There seem to be several reasons, such as beat-China spirit, pride and business. In fact, thanks to the low-wage space engineers, the cost to launch a rocket in India is far cheaper than that of any other country. For example, thanks to the low labor costs even for rocket engineers, the Mars orbiter cost less than a big-budget Hollywood film. It seems that they are financially motivated, too.
Enjoy reading and thinking if these priorities make sense to you; rocket science before literacy, Mars before toilets, national pride over social welfare. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1774-2/18/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Dubai announces passenger drone plans
Would you be willing to get on a flying vehicle that has neither human pilot nor control gears? This flying vehicle is the first of that kind, made by a Chinese company, and approved to fly over the skyscrapers in Dubai.
Though its specifications sound no more peculiar than auto-driving cars on the road, volatility of such a self-flying vehicle is yet to be tested extensively and thoroughly.
Enjoy watching the video and thinking when you will fly solo in a drone. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1773-2/17/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Wave of deadly violence follows police walkout in Brazilian city
What is Military Police in Brazil? They are a type of preventive state police and are responsible for maintaining public order, but aren’t in charge of detective work, which is undertaken by Civil Police. Why the country needs such dedicated police units in every state, including the capital?
The question in answered very clearly. When the military police officers went on a walkout, over one hundred homicides were reported only in five days in the Brazilian city of Vitoria. On the street, many people are robbed, cars are burned or hijacked and stores are looted.
It seems that the security and order of Brazilian cities is assured by force rather than people.
May the force be with them.
Enjoy reading and thinking how many countries have such military forces to maintain peace and security. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1772-2/16/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Namibia's fairy circles: Has one of nature's great mysteries been solved?
Science and technology. They may soon take men to Mars. But they haven’t resolved all the mysteries on their own planet yet.
One of such unsolved mysteries is these patches on the surface of the Namib Desert, Namibia, a southwestern country in Africa whose land is very dry. There have been two distinct theories to explain how and why these grass-empty spots appear in this particular region, spreading across nearly 1,800 kilometers.
One theory is to blame underground termites eating vegetation, and the other attributes these circles to naturally formed vegetation.
And what does the new theory say?
Enjoy reading and learning what could have created such mysterious patches on Earth. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1771-2/15/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Pakistani court issues nationwide ban on Valentine's Day
Pakistan is an Islamic republic, and over 96% of the citizens are Muslims. It became independent in 1947 for Muslims from the regions in the east and west of India. Though the eastern part of the nation turned to be Bangladesh in 1971, its constitution states that all laws are strictly in accordance with the teaching of Islam.
Now, the High Court of the nation’s capital issued an order effective immediately on the day before Valentine’s Day to ban the celebration and related activities, including gift and flowers, for Valentine's Day across the country. Many venders and merchants, such as balloon sellers and florists, were stranded on the street with the merchandises they had purchased that would become worthless after the special day.
Can any court issue such an immediate and impactful order in other countries?
Now, you may wonder what Christmas is like in Pakistan. Surprisingly, they do celebrate December 25, but not as Christmas Day but for memory of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Enjoy reading and compare how February 14th is treated in Pakistan and China (Vol.1770, 2/14/2017). 


Topic Reading-Vol.1770-2/14/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
E-gift card lures Valentine's Day shoppers
WeChat is a free, cross-platform and instant messaging application, like WhatsUp or Messenger, provided by Tencent in China, and is one of the largest messaging apps with 864 million users. It also offers online payment services, such as Apple Pay or AliPay. Online payment is the hottest business category in China where cash had been the main payment method. Also, online shopping is becoming more popular than onsite shopping as more people find it much more convenient and comfortable.
WeChat also offers a mobile payment application called red envelope which allows users to “give” money to other users as a gift, which became an immediate hit. Now the messaging giant teams up with a coffee giant Starbucks to allow its users to buy and send online gift cards that can be redeemed at any Starbucks’s 2,500 coffee shops in China. The new serice was launched prior to Valentine's Day targeting thosewho are looking for a sweet gift to their loved ones.
Enjoy reading and thinking of the business potential of 864 million active users who check the app on their smartphones more frequently as checking the time or weather. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1769-2/13/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The end of the filling station?
Gas stations. No matter how fuel efficient a gasoline-engine car is, it still needs to be pumped gas at some point. There used to be sufficient number of gas stations even in the large cities like New York or London. But quite a few number of them are gone while the number of gasoline fueled vehicles on the road has been increasing. Is that because newer cars are so fuel-efficient that the total gas consumption declined?
Despite the growing concern about the global warming, such technological advancement has yet to be seen. So why are there fewer gas stations in countries where there are more cars on the road?
Enjoy reading the article and learn the economics of gas stations.


Topic Reading-Vol.1768-2/12/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Do 'longest flight' records matter?
If you’re traveling to the other side of the globe, you need to be ready for a very long flight. Most of you probably prefer a non-stop flight rather than a one or multiple-stop flight if the fares aren’t that different. Then, how long do you dare to sit in a seat only with a 30 or so inch leg-room, being sandwiched by unknown passengers and fed several hardly-palatable airline meals?
With business reasons, new long routes are being added in the world flight map, such as Delhi to San Francisco and Doha Qatar to Auckland, New Zealand, which go beyond 16 hours for one way, not roundtrip. Furthermore, as the range capability of new aircraft improves, more long-haul flight routes are expected to appear.
Why? Are more passengers becoming more tolerant of sitting long because of free Wi-Fi and onboard entertainment?
Enjoy reading and thinking if the Doha-Auckland flight ends up carrying more camels and sheep than passengers.


Topic Reading-Vol.1767-2/11/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
US, Japan conduct successful missile interception test
Missile attack is becoming more like a clear and present danger. There are countries developing and testing ballistic missiles that could hit a far-away target with nuclear warheads. Are there any practical ways to intercept such threatening missiles that could be launched by unpredictable North Korea?
It seems yes to some degree. There are Aegis cruisers and destroyers deployed by the US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force around and near Japan. The Aegis Weapon System is a centralized and automated weapons control system that is designed to counteract any type of weapons, such as missiles and torpedoes. Along with surface-to-air missile defense systems, this newly tested ballistic missile interceptor is expected to improve safety and security in the East Asia region.
Enjoy reading and learning what sort of defense systems are being developed and deployed in Asia.


Topic Reading-Vol.1766-2/10/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Are 'food comas' real or a figment of your digestion?
Getting sleepy after lunch? It’s is not that uncommon especially after a big meal. That’s because the blood flow shifts from the brain into the stomach for digestion and also into the intestines for absorption. Sounds like healthy function of blood sugar metabolic processes, doesn’t it?
But not everyone has a luxury to take a siesta. Most of you probably don’t want to lose concentration while studying, working, driving or attending a meeting or class in the middle of a day. So, are there any ways to stay awake even after a midday meal?
Enjoy reading and learning as to when, what and how much to eat lunch to avoid getting sleepy


Topic Reading-Vol.1765-2/9/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How fast food reveals secrets of the economy
Comparing the prices of the same goods, food or service, you can learn the economy of the marketplace. For example, the prices of a train ride and a slice of pizza in two different times could reflect the scale of inflation or deflation during the period. Another example is that the amount of French fries one country consumes. Because French fries are usually not local food and provided at fast food restaurants, it shows how much middle-class population has been created in the market. Also, the price of the same burger at the same restaurant chain in different countries is a good indicator of the currency value.
Next time you travel abroad, have a cup of Starbucks coffee and compare that price with the one of you your country or with other local meals of the country, you’ll learn how much value is added to a cup of coffee.
Enjoy reading and learning how to check the economy by food prices and menu.


Topic Reading-Vol.1764-2/8/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Muslim ban: Japanese and Muslim Americans join forces
One of the most distinct and convenient way to classify people at the port of entry is the nationality by passport because it is an official document to identify who the bearer is. There are over 300 ports of entries to the U.S. The government can easily block entries of unwanted people whose passports are issued by the designated countries, and detain or send those individuals back to their port of origin. Until the executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority nations was blocked by a federal judge, there had been chaotic confusions not only at those ports of entries but also in the airports around the world. No one had ever imagined a valid visa to the U.S. is revoked without prior warnings.
But it is not the first time such discriminatory act took place in US history. Back in World War II era, many Japanese Americans were detained in the camps.
Now those who were and are discriminated are trying to work together to resist President’s segregation acts.
Enjoy reading and thinking what sort of moves can be provoked by an inconsiderate act. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1763-2/7/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Babies remember their birth language – scientists
Do you naturally speak like your parents? People basically learn to speak unconsciously as a child through imitation. That’s why many people have roughly the same or similar accent and inflection pattern as their parents. But when does this process begin?
A new study suggests that language knowledge is preserved in the very early period of life, a few months. In fact, babies even learn their mother's voice before they are born.
Sounds like once in a lifetime opportunity, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and thinking what and how would you talk to your new born baby/babies.


Topic Reading-Vol.1762-2/6/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
People will rise against N Korean regime, says defector
Defection. It is not just an act of leaving a country to go to another. One who intends to defect from an authoritarian country like North Korea must be determined to abandon everything and everyone because defection is an utmost betrayal to the regime. Imagine how hard for this high-profile diplomat of North Korea to lose his country, status and privileges, and friends and loved ones. Instead, he now has to worry about his family’s safety and security for the rest of his life unless the regime collapses even with the protection by the South Korean government.
Why did he do it? What is his hope now?
Enjoy reading and thinking what your decision would be if you stood in his shoes.


Topic Reading-Vol.1761-2/5/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Who should be called an expat?
The distinction between immigrants and foreign workers seems quite clear. While the former live and work in a country where they settled permanently, the latter do the same but in a limited or undecided period, looking for money, better life or experience. But when it comes to drawing a line between expatriates, or expats in short, and migrant workers, the answer may vary.
Though an expatriate is defined as a person who lives in a country, they are often referred to as individuals who are assigned to work for a managerial or professional role in a foreign country in a limited time. And those who work as a labor in a foreign country are usually not called expats but migrant workers.
If you want a clarification as to how to distinguish different types of foreign workers, enjoy reading the below and decide how you will call them. 


Topic Reading-Vol.1760-2/4/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Defining a true 'pre-industrial' climate period
When did the effect of industrialization start to occur? Is it worth researching the exact time?
In October 2016, the Paris agreement set a goal to keep global average temperatures to below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. And the period 1850-1900 has been the de-facto agreement for “pre-industrial.” But some researchers are looking for more appropriate baseline to set a target. They think the period 1720-1800 serves better as there had already been industrialized activities such as the steamed engine in 1769.
Whichever the baseline might be, were there any viable records of temperatures of that time? Also, were there other factors that could have affected the temperatures, such as volcano eruptions or solar activities?
Enjoy reading and thinking which matters more to global warming, scientific research or elections.


Topic Reading-Vol.1759-2/3/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Apocalypse is 30 seconds closer, say Doomsday Clock scientists
Apocalypse is the end of the world as described in the Bible. The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents a countdown to possible global catastrophe, Apocalypse, which was first set in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, most of whom actually helped develop the first atomic weapons. It has, sadly, just the minute hand.
The minute hand has been moved forward or backward depending on the event or threat to the world. For example, it was moved to only two minutes before the Apoclypse when the US tested hydrogen bombs in 1953. On the contrary, it was set back to 17 minutes before midnight when the Cold War officially ended in 1991. It seems political leaders are the ones that regulate the clock’s movement.
Now the minute hand was set ahead by 30 seconds only to two minutes and a half to midnight, the second closest time since it was first set.
If you are interested how the Doomsday Clock has been adjusted, check this chart.
Enjoy reading and thinking what could add the hour hand to the clock.


Topic Reading-Vol.1758-2/2/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What if the state provided everyone with a basic income?
Universal Basic Income. It is indeed a “what if” kind of topic and is highly controversial.
Finland is experimenting in the effects and influences of universal basic income to 2,000 people. Imagine one was given a certain amount of money every month, no question asked, what he or she would do with the money? It may be depending on how much higher or lower the money given is than how much they are earning. The reactions also vary by the person’s age, marital status, family size or situation.
Advocates say people will enjoy their lives more or invest the money or their time for the future. Opponents argue that people will become so selective in jobs that it’ll become difficult to fill unpopular job positions.
Enjoy reading and thinking if such limited experiment could show a viable picture of social behavioral patterns.


Topic Reading-Vol.1757-2/1/2017

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Human-pig 'chimera embryos' detailed
Chimera [kɪˈmɪər ə]? It is originally a fire-breathing monster in Greek mythology that has a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. But now, it could mean a hybrid creature through fusion of a sperm and an egg from different species.
A new successful development of such hybrid embryos was reported in a scientific journal. Though such development is only allowed for scientific research and limited to four-week experiments, it could explore new genetical understanding and solutions in medical field.
The embryos consist of less than one-thousands human and the rest is pig. And as of now, human cells don’t seem to have been integrated into the brain of the embryos, yet.
But what if more-human embryos are created and developed for a longer time? How far should such scientific experiments go?
Enjoy reading and thinking if there will be a day when ordinary humans are sandwiched between Ai and hybrid creatures.