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Topic Reading-Vol.2322-8/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Are your internet habits harming wildlife?
As you probably know, Elephants, Rhinos, and Pangolins are critically endangered species mainly because of poaching and trafficking of their ivories, horns, and skins. There are also other species that are endangered by human desire, not for their body part but because of their cuteness. As photos and videos of rarely-seen cute animals like Red pandas and Loris attract viewers on the Internet, the demand for these little animals increases and develops a black market where people try to capture and sell these animals to those eager buyers. As a result, the population of these cute animals decreases in the wild.
Adoration of animal photos and videos could indeed endanger their lives and existence.
Enjoy reading and learn what harmless, heartwarming images on the Internet could do to wildlife.


Topic Reading-Vol.2321-8/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
New Zealand bans foreigners from buying property
Good news and bad news. When property value goes up, the property owners become wealthier. However, it makes those who don’t difficult to buy or rent one, especially the young. That is what has been happening in New Zealand and Australia where a flock of Chinese investors have been pouring their money into the real estate market. As a result, housing prices have soared to the level where restrictive measures to foreign buyers have taken place. Australia did it last year and has seen a decline in their housing prices. New Zealand followed the move and has just passed a similar law.
The new law is waiting for the Royal assent, which signifies that the bill has the approval of the Governor-General as the Sovereign’s representative.
Enjoy reading and learn how foreign investors could affect the lives of the citizens and permanent residents.


Topic Reading-Vol.2320-8/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Selfie violence and illegal bathing at Rome's Trevi Fountain
Have you seen Trevi Fountain in Rome? Created in 1762, this 49-meter wide Baroque fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world. It was featured in old movies like Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, the eponymous Three Coins in the Fountain, and Roman Holiday.
The fountain draws not only visitors but also coins in large numbers, as much as 3,000 euros daily because visitors throw a coin with the right hand over the left shoulder as shown and sung in a 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain. How many of those coin throwers have seen the movie?
Anyway, the more crowded a hot spot is, the higher the chances of disputes among visitors and violations of the law. And that is not limited to this popular fountain in Italy.
Enjoy reading and learn some don’ts in this Europe’s popular travel destination.


Topic Reading-Vol.2319-8/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India’s impressive concept about nothing
Zero is fundamental to math, physics, engineering and modern technologies. As you might know, today’s computers use the binary number system that is made up of only 0s and 1s.
The concept of zero was developed in ancient India, where nothingness is embraced as part of teachings in Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in meditation of yoga.
While the Ancient Greeks only counted up to 10,000, ancient Indians did over trillions. They also had the concept of infinity. No wonder many IT experts and executives are from India these days.
Enjoy reading and learn how zero came to the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2318-8/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Good cod! A bitesize history of fish and chips
Yesterday in Volume 2317, stories of French Fry were introduced. Today, let’s learn about one of the most popular ways of serving fried potatoes in Britain, Fish and Chips.
You may wonder why two distinct foods were combined and became one popular dish. When and how each food became popular, and who ate them in the early days. Back then, fried food was a luxury. It was only enjoyed by the rich and served on plates. As the two fried foods became popular, they were wrapped in old newspaper. Today, the combined dish is served anywhere in the UK with lemon and/or vinegar.
Enjoy watching the video, of course in a British accent, and learn this popular British dish.


Topic Reading-Vol.2317-8/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can Belgium claim ownership of the French Fry?
No matter how you call it, French Fry, Chips, or Steak Fry, it is deep fried potatoes. Though how, when, and where it was invented is still unsure, somehow the dish is often called French Fry. Today, this popular dish is enjoyed in distinct ways around the world. For the British, chips must be provided with fried fish, called fish and chips. In America, fries always come with burgers. In Belgium, double-fried French Fry is eaten with a touch of mayonnaise. And each claims that it is their cultural heritage.
Interested in the origin of this popular dish?
Enjoy reading and learn how fried potatoes were invented and are enjoyed in different places around the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2316-8/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Australian hotel chain fined $2.2 million for manipulating TripAdvisor reviews
Do you check any user reviews when you book a hotel or restaurant?
TripAdvisor is a website that shows users’ reviews of hotels, restaurants, accommodation bookings and other travel-related content. While most of the content is created by the website users, their revenue is generated by advertisement by the hotels and restaurants. It sounds like a well-balanced business model provided that the user reviews are properly shown. Nowadays, hotel staff these days try their very best to get good reviews, or not to get bad ones, because such reviews show up immediately on this or other review websites, which could significantly affect the reputation of the property.
However, some of the properties have made a malicious effort to hide negative reviews. For example, a large Australian hotel chain gave an invalid email address to TripAdvisor for negative reviews. It is a violation of the consumer protection law, and the hotel chain was fined $2.2 million by the federal court.
Now you may wonder if positive reviews were truly contributed by the guests or hotel staff.
Enjoy reading and think how to use or discount the reviews on travel websites.


Topic Reading-Vol.2315-8/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Don't pressure your picky eater -- it doesn't work
Eat it! It’s nutritious and good for you.
Some parent pushes their child to eat carrots or string beans that the child is reluctant to put into the mouth. Though such parent feels responsible to make sure their child gets enough and balanced nutrition, forcing young children to eat certain food seems to cause a negative effect. After all, food is not just one of the necessities for a healthy life but also for fun. So, for picky eaters, encouragement works better to remove the barrier to try eating unfamiliar or unfavorable food. Yes. Put the food on the child’s plate and encourage them to try eating it. Ideally, if you put the food that was grown in your own yard or bought from a store with the child, they may eat it with curiosity. It is also suggested that eating with other family members naturally encourage children to try the food that everyone else is eating.
Enjoy reading and learn dos and don’ts to feed young children.


Topic Reading-Vol.2314-8/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China has an online lending crisis and people are furious about it
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a method of debt financing that enables individuals to borrow and lend money. P2P platforms connect borrowers and investors online. They attract lenders with interest rates that are much higher than conventional saving or investment financial options like bank saving accounts or money market funds. They also provide borrowers, such as start-ups and small businesses with access to financing that traditional lenders don’t. Sounds like a win-win business model, doesn’t it?
However, there is a fundamental rule in financing. The higher the expected return is, the higher the risks are. And in the market where such financial service is loosely regulated, there are cases that the promised returns on investment are not paid, and in some cases, the initial money invested is entirely gone when the lending service company suddenly disappears. That is what is happening in China where there are a lot of eager investors who believed that the money invested was secured and the promised interests would be paid.
However, such rapidly increasing alternative financing services had not been strictly regulated like traditional banks, and as a result, there have been increasing cases of fraud. Then what happens to the investors?
Enjoy reading and learn the promises and risks of P2P lending service.


Topic Reading-Vol.2313-8/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The man who makes six figures rating dogs
Do you want to get your pet dog rated? If yes, there is a twitter account that rates your dog, not too seriously but generously. Just send photos and videos of your dog to this dog-rating account, he/she will be rated on a 10-out-of-10 scale. Since your dog is so special to you, the score is usually 10 or even higher. Interestingly, many pet owners seem to like this dog rating, or dog-show-off site so much that they buy lots of dog-related merchandises from their online shop. Now this dog rating account has become a successful business platform.
The founder of was a college student when he opened a twitter account dedicated to dog photos and videos. He had no intention to create a new business or anything. But what he created was what people wanted. Yes, dog owners want to show off their beloved dogs. Isn’t that how a successful new business is initiated?
Enjoy seeing the video and check what weratedogs is like.


Topic Reading-Vol.2312-8/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why Brazilians are always late?
Are you punctual? Is that important in your culture?
In countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, punctuality is the rule number one, except for Japan where politeness is no less essential for business and social occasions. A delay by a minute makes others irritated and frowned. Yes, you are expected to arrive and things start on time in those cultures.
However in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro in particular, punctuality is neither expected nor appreciated. For example, turning up on time to a social gathering is regarded as awkward. And it’s not just for a few minutes but to an hour or two is the norm. Why do Brazilians hold such a relaxed approach to time-keeping? Is that because of the traffic congestion or lack of transportation infrastructure? Some say that’s because of their optimism in life.
Enjoy reading and learn how and why Brazilians don’t want to be punctual in western standard.


Topic Reading-Vol.2311-8/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Meet Britain's real-life Iron Man
You might have seen Robert Downey Jr. fly in the movie series Iron Man. Do you think a human can fly in the air like that? There had been no precedent for creating such a flying device until this British inventor came up with a jet-powered flying suit. It allows the wearer to fly as fast as 50 km per hour and as high as Mount Fuji. And to your surprise, it is on sale at a department store in London. The price? Just US$442,000, about the same price tag as a small apartment in a metro city like New York or a super car like Lamborghini’s Aventador.
This Jet Suit by Gravity is easy to operate, and anyone can wear it and fly, according to the inventor who claims he is no more than an ordinary person. Even if you cannot afford this special suit, you can still try it on at the department store, or you can test fly in his company’s hanger.
Enjoy reading and think if you want to try it or wait until more affordable one becomes available.


Topic Reading-Vol.2310-8/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Your next job interview could be with a computer program
When you search and apply for jobs, you may get a chance for an interview. Nowadays, you may be interviewed via video or asked to upload an introduction video of yourself. In any case, humans have been screening the candidates. But new AI technologies can monitor and detect your facial expressions and tone that cannot be recognized by ordinary humans. For example, when you are hesitant, reluctant, uncomfortable, or dishonest to answer questions, you tend to show some non-verbal sign without realizing it. But trained AI algorithms can detect such sings easily. This kind of technology can assist humans to make critical decisions as to whether the company should proceed with the hiring process of the applicant.
Will that be good news for you?
Enjoy watching the video and learn how things are changing in the job hiring process.


Topic Reading-Vol.2309-8/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What is 5G and what will it mean for you?
Most of your mobile devices are connected via so-called 4G, fourth-generation network, or LTE, Long-Term Evolution. Though it is fast enough to watch videos or play online games, it sometimes becomes jerky or suffers glitches when data transmission is too congested. Is it time for a new generation of mobile internet connection?
Indeed. Fifth generation, or simply 5G, mobile internet is coming soon to provide much faster data transmission speeds, wider coverage, and more stable connections. Technically, the new data service could achieve browsing and download speeds about 10 to 20 times faster than the current 4G network. This means you can download or upload almost anything you want without stress or glitches. But more importantly, the new technology and infrastructure will allow real-time Internet of Things, or IoT, to the world. For example, cars are connected with each other continuously, so that real-time mapping, navigation, and auto-driving can be realized. Also, when numbers of drones are coordinated in the air, they can monitor or search wider areas more precisely for research, surveillance or rescue missions. Another possible use of IoT is to monitor your health conditions in real time, all the time.
How soon and where such services become available?
Enjoy reading and learn what the new generation mobile internet connection is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.2308-8/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why so many people fall for scams?
Do you receive junk mail, spam email or robocalls often? Nowadays, no one seems to be free from such solicitations. They are not only annoying but also potentially harmful. When you get sweepstakes, lottery or other mass-market scams, you may think you’re lucky. But that is exactly what those solicitors are intending. In many cases, consumers overestimate their ability judge what’s safe or unsafe and underestimate the risks and dangers of those traps and click, open or respond to the malicious invitations.
A new study found that those who are less educated tend to react more to financially motivating offers than others.
There is no easy money after all.
Enjoy reading and think what your strategies are to protect yourself from such scams.


Topic Reading-Vol.2307-8/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
22 of the best places to visit in the United States
There are 50 states and a federal district, Washington DC, and five major self-governing territories like Puerto Rico and Guam in the United States of America. It is the third largest country by total area and is nearly as large as the entire continent of Europe. As the mainland lies between the Atlantic in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west, and Canada in the north and Mexico in the south, it is very diverse in geography, climate, wildlife, and atmosphere. For instance, there are mega cities like New York and Los Angeles, a sub-tropical state like Florida and arctic region like Alaska, and mountainous Colorado and the Great Plains like Kansas.
Now, CNN Travel picks 22 attractive places to visit in the great country. How many of them have you visited or thought of visiting?
Enjoy seeing the photos and guides of 22 travel destinations in the US.


Topic Reading-Vol.2306-8/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A crammed commute where men aren’t allowed 
Life is a struggle, especially for women in Mumbai, India. It is the second most populous metropolitan area in India with a population of over 21 million.
Mumbai Suburban Railway provides train services for over 7.5 million commuters daily, connecting suburban areas and the metro region. It is the most crowded commuter rail system in the world.
You can imagine how struggling it is for female commuters there. Just getting on and off those overpacked trains is beyond imagination. Even if one successfully gets on it, she needs to struggle just to survive in the crowd to the destination. There could be groping, pickpocketing, or robbery to female passengers. Can they protect themselves?
Here is a solution. Dedicated compartments for women and children under 13. There, women can safely settle themselves and travel without fear of being intimidated or attacked. But there is more to it than that. Since most of those commuters take the same train on their workdays, they come to know each other and become friends. They can chat, sing, or even celebrate other’s birthday on the train. Then, the train becomes a social place for commuters.
Enjoy watching the video and learn about commuters in Mumbai.


Topic Reading-Vol.2305-8/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Nashville in the MLS: How do you build a team from scratch?
MLS? Major League Soccer is a man’s professional soccer league in the USA and Canada. It was founded in 1993 and the first season took place in 1996 with ten teams. Now, there are 20 US teams and three Canadian teams in the league. It’s going to add another franchise in Nashville, Tennessee in 2020. As of now, there are no coaches, no players, no permanent stadium, no training ground, no offices or even its name but the investor who initiated this bold move and a chief executive, Ian Ayres, recruited from England. He was a former CEO of Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League and was appointed to build and lead a brand new “soccer” team from scratch. That sounds like a big challenge even for a seasoned executive in the field. Another challenge for this English guy is to adapt himself to a new culture, such as fish and chips to catfish and fries or a lift to an elevator, not to mention football to soccer.
Enjoy reading an article about this bold challenge of a US billionaire and an English football executive.


Topic Reading-Vol.2304-8/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Dogs rush to help when owners cry, study suggests
How much and how well do dogs understand their owners or caregivers’ emotional state? In other words, how empathetic are dogs to humans? A new study found that dogs responded much more quickly when their owners said “help” in a distressed tone than in a normal tone. Among the dogs in the study, nearly half of them were therapy dogs but the rest were ordinary pet dogs. Since the word “help” is not particularly an enticing word for dogs like “meal” or “walk”, those dogs that responded swiftly most likely had sensed something unusual was happening to their masters.
Is this surprising to you? In fact, dogs are very attentive and sensitive to their owners and their family members. They recognize their family members by their voice and footsteps. Also, they seem to sense whether the person whom the owner is talking to is hostile or friendly by their owner’s tone and manner.
Why not? Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and they live very closely with their owners.
Enjoy reading and learn how dogs reacted to their owners.


Topic Reading-Vol.2303-8/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A philosopher asks: Is a longer life a happier one?
How long is too long to live? There are several aspects need be viewed to answer this question. What seems to matter first and most is physical health and ability. If you become physically incapable of doing things you want or need to do, you’ll have to depend on others’ support. That’ll make your life less enjoyable or fruitful. Also, if your cognitive ability declines, you could be mentally distressed for not recognizing people you loved or things you enjoyed doing.
Socially and financially, as the average human lifespan in developed countries extends, the social welfare becomes more burdensome. In fact, there used to be three or four people of working age, 16-64, for every person over age 65, there are two or even less to one soon in aging countries like the UK or Japan. Higher taxes to the young and less benefits and services to the seniors.
In any case, healthy aging is worth a fortune or maybe anything else.
Enjoy reading and think how old you want to live.


Topic Reading-Vol.2302-7/31/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A New Zealand company tried a four-day work week. It was a 'resounding success'
Why do most people work five days a week? Is that because a one-day weekend is too short, or a three-day weekend is too long? Is a five-day work week the most effective or convenient for workers and management teams? Do you produce more, or at least the same, when you have a three-day weekend?
These are difficult questions to answer. So, one company in New Zealand tested four-day work weeks for two months to find out if shorter work days is better for its employees and for the company. They were paid the same salary even for shorter work hours but were expected to produce the same outputs. The results were astonishing. The employees reported higher productivity, better work-life balance, and lower stress levels during the test period. Did they work longer on working days, or did they become more productive?
Enjoy reading and learn how people could manage their jobs in reduced work days.


Topic Reading-Vol.2301-7/30/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is sparkling water as hydrating as regular water?
As shown in Vol.2291 on July 20th, over two-thirds of your body is water. And nearly every part of your body depends on water to function. Water is needed to flush out toxins from the liver, bring vital nutrients to the cells, and keep the ears, nose, and throat humming along smoothly.
Indeed, water is essential for humans. Though it’s pretty much depending on your weight and age, activities, and conditions, at least two litter of water is needed to avoid dehydration. That sounds like a lot of water to drink. The good news is that water can be taken from fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, spinach, watermelon, and strawberry. All these contain 90% or more water by weight. So, if you eat a vegetable or fruit salad, you also had a good water intake for your body. And if drinking just plain water is tiring, you can substitute it with plain or flavored carbonated water.
It is in the middle of summer in the northern hemisphere. Water is vital for survival.
Enjoy reading and learn a few options to take enough water.


Topic Reading-Vol.2300-7/29/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World Bodypainting Festival: Models transformed into amazing artworks
This body painting festival is held annually in Klagenfurt, Austria. The 20-year-old festival offers opportunities the art of body painting for growth and networking through interaction with local art initiatives and the cultural institutions of the region. There are awards in 12 different categories, such as airbrushing, special effects and face painting.
What is unique and distinct about this art festival is that it’s not just artists’ painting human models, but the painted and decorated models are also part of the artwork. In that sense, it may be more like a fashion show rather than a conventional art festival.
Enjoy seeing the stunning photos and think if you want to see the festival next year.


Topic Reading-Vol.2299-7/28/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Open offices make people talk less and email more
What makes people interact more with each other in a workplace? Of course, the objective is not to have people waste their time chatting gossips or just for fun but to create more productive and innovative solutions for their tasks through interactions and collaborations.
However, according to a survey that monitored individuals’ behaviors in open offices, simply putting people in an open space seems unlikely to achieve the objectives, but rather it is distractive to individuals’ productivity. That’s because such an environment could deteriorate privacies and concentration on their work. Also, open office environment seems to make employees more defensive. That’s understandable because you may not feel secure if there are no boundaries around you.
Enjoy reading and think what the best way is to make a productive workplace, or what kind of workplace you want to work in.


Topic Reading-Vol.2298-7/27/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Prime Day was the biggest shopping event in Amazon's history
It is a one-day only, though it was extended to 36 hours this year, global shopping event exclusively for Amazon Prime members. It marked the biggest sales event for the online giant, exceeding the tabs of any other sales event like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, or its previous year’s event. It was estimated that the sales would go over three billion dollars, but the exact amount hasn’t been disclosed. However, the company claims that it has sold over 100 million products worldwide. If this was the biggest online sales event in the U.S., it also shows how big China’s biggest sales event, Singles’ Day is. The Chinese online platformer sold $25 billion within 24 hours on November 11 last year, a hefty increase of 40% from the previous year.
Amazon wanted to add more prime members and sell more own products like Kindle and Amazon Fire TV stick. Prime members need to pay a membership fee to get various benefits like free delivery at desired times, free video streams and reading contents. The membership fee varies by country. For example, only $36 annually in Japan and $119 in the U.S.
Who takes advantage of the sales event like this, the buyers, the sellers or both?
Enjoy reading the article and mark the event day on your calendar.


Topic Reading-Vol.2297-7/26/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The secret tricks hidden inside restaurant menus
Menu engineering. Indeed, some restaurant menus of large chains or prestigious restaurants are carefully engineered to present their food items more attractive and enticing. They want their diners to choose more profitable dishes, drinks, and desserts. There are many ways to serve the purpose. One typical way is to use descriptive names, such as homemade pancakes, farm-raised salmon, and freshly baked bread. Another way to enhance diners’ appetite is to use proper font types, colors, and sizes of the letters shown in the menu. For example, rounder typefaces sell more sweets while angular fonts represent salty or sour taste. Also, orange or read stimulate appetite, the favored colors by fast food chains, while green represents healthier diet. Furthermore, today’s and emerging technologies allow restaurants to create a tailor-made menu and recommendations when you visit the restaurant again.
However, if you remember the report in Vol.2232, “Why you eat more when you’re in company,” what seems to affect the most, or at least, to eat more is to have dining companions.
Enjoy reading the article and think about what stimulates your appetite the most.


Topic Reading-Vol.2296-7/25/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Photographers capture the rise of South Korea's 'loner' culture
Their parents worked hard to build the economic foundation of the country. In return, many of them were able to afford to buy things they had wanted, such as home appliances, a car, and even a house. In the meantime, the cost of housing and education have been rising to the level where parents opted to have fewer children. In fact, South Korea’s birth rate had dropped from around six down to only 1.2 during the last half-century. The country is rapidly aging like its neighbor Japan.
The influences of such changes in the social environment seem immense. More and more those single children seem to be used to being alone and even feel more comfortable by themselves than being with others. They don’t seem to mind eating, living, or even traveling alone. Such individualistic culture is called honjok, a combined word of hon, alone, and jok, tribe. While such trend has created new businesses to accommodate their need and desire, such as dining space for lone eaters and specialized furniture and apartment for singles, the outlook for economic growth and the social foundation is becoming questionable. When more people chose to live alone, what will happen to the marriage, divorce, and fertility rates of the country that is already aging?
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of loners in South Korea.


Topic Reading-Vol.2295-7/24/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Indonesia mob slaughters nearly 300 crocodiles in revenge killing
Another threat to an endangered species in Indonesia. It seems that many people tend to act for immediate benefits or by emotional instinct. The world’s largest island country, with more than thirteen thousand islands, is trying to protect endangered species like orangutans and crocodiles. But as shown yesterday’s Volume 2294, more trees and forests are being destroyed for the sake of economy and as a result, the intelligent primate species are losing their habitats. Now, nearly 300 protected crocodiles in a state-run sanctuary in West Papua were all slaughtered by the local residents with knives, shovels, hammers, and clubs in retaliation for a local man thought to have been killed by one of the crocodiles from the site. Even though those villagers broke the law and will be charged, the perished reptiles will never come back.
Read the article and see the disgusting photo and think what human nature is about.


Topic Reading-Vol.2294-7/23/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A battle to save Indonesia's orangutans
The orangutans are species of great apes native to Indonesia and Malaysia but they are now only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. As they live in the trees and eat fruits mostly, forests are their natural habitat. There used to be nearly 300,000 orangutans in the wild, but the most recent estimate says there are only around 100,000 of them and the number is rapidly decreasing. Indeed, they are one of the most critically endangered species.
Despite the Indonesian government’s attempt to protect the wild forests in the area where the remaining endangered species inhabit, development projects haven’t been ceased yet. The investors claim that they had put so much money already, and people want jobs, too. Local farmers in the area also want to use the land for their living.
The population of Indonesia is 267 million for now and is going to add another 100 million in the next decade while the population of wild orangutans is expected to be halved in the same period.
Though Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates, they don’t seem to be able to figure out how to cope with the intrusion by other primates.
Enjoy reading the article and think when humans learn to balance economy and ecology.


Topic Reading-Vol.2293-7/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Humanoid robot runs through the park by itself
Atlas is a bi-pedal humanoid robot developed by an American robotics company. The 1.8-meter tall robot was funded by Uncle Sam and first unveiled in 2011. It is designed for search and rescue tasks both outdoors and inside buildings. It uses multiple sensors to balance, avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation, and manipulate objects. The robot can turn 180 degrees while jumping, perform a backflip, and run across grass on an uneven terrain. If it wore clothes and disguised itself as a human athlete or soldier, it would be hardly suspected if it were a machine.
SpotMini is a small, four-legged civilian-use robot that weighs 30 kilograms including the arm. It can navigate offices, climb stairs, open doors and even fight off a human armed with a hockey stick. The robot also can pick up and carry a payload of up to 14 kilograms. This amazing robot will become on sale in 2019. Though the price tag hasn’t been announced yet, the robot seems to have received good interests from the world.
If you get an AI-speaker and one of these robots, you’ll probably be living in a world where science fiction writers had dreamed of.
Enjoy watching the video and imagine when you’ll have one of those robots in your house to do the housework for you.


Topic Reading-Vol.2292-7/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
On sale in Australia: Avocados as big as your face
The avocado is the fatty fruit of the avocado tree, which is native to Mexico and Central America. The fruit consists of 73% water, 15% fat, 8.5% carbohydrates (mostly fibers), and 2% protein. Avocados are rich in minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin B, C, E and K. Avocados fat is monounsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic acid, which may help protect against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Besides all these nutritious and health benefits, avocados go so well with any kind of food that they are now used widely in all food menus around the world. As the demand for avocados rises, suppliers are trying to increase production. Planting more trees is one way to produce more avocados and enlarging the size of the fruit is another solution. Now, Australian farmers are growing jumbo avocados, nicknamed "Avozillas," about five times as large as a regular one, without sacrificing any taste or nutritious benefits. They now probably are the most fat-and-calorie-rich fruit in the world.
Enjoy seeing the video and photos and think of a new recipe to make use of this giant avocado.


Topic Reading-Vol.2291-7/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How much water should I drink a day?
As you probably know that over two-thirds of your body is water. There is no doubt how important water is to keep your body in good shape. You need to take enough water not to be dehydrated, a drop below normal levels of water in the body, especially when you work or exercise outside in a hot temperature, or when you suffer from diarrhea or vomiting.
How much water is enough to keep your physical and mental health? That’s depending on your age and gender, body weight and activities, and the temperature and humidity. Also, some food contains more water than others, such as steamed rice, fruits, and vegetables. Overall, two litters of water is needed to keep you healthy. The question is how to measure how much more water is needed? One easy and dependable way is to check the color of your urine. When it is light yellow or clear, you’re OK, but when it becomes darker, you ought to take more water, immediately. But too much water is no good either because the salt level in your blood goes too low.
Enjoy reading and learn how to keep your hydration level in balance.


Topic Reading-Vol.2290-7/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can the Middle East solve its water problem?
If you see a world map, there are noticeable places like the Middle East and North Africa where there is no or very little part if any painted green. People in the region basically get water from rivers and the underground, but that supply has been exceeded by the growing need. While their population is growing faster, the water supply in the region is getting scarce. Some of those countries are fortunately so oil-rich that they can afford to build and run expensive sea-water purifiers, or desalination plants. However, that process is harmful to the environment because of the energy needed to evaporate water and discharged chemicals and brine, water saturated with salt, into the sea.
According to a recent World Bank report, water is getting scarce in the region, and water conservation, production, and consumption are all essential to balance the supply and need.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about the situation of global water supply.


Topic Reading-Vol.2289-7/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
KLM's new airport robot Care-E will guide you to the gate
Wouldn’t it be a luxury if you had a personal guide to the boarding gate in the airport? Celebrities and special passengers are often assisted by their agents or airline staff. But most passengers have to find the way to the gate with their carry-on luggage, sometimes with playful children or a crying baby. It is quite a task especially in a large airport whose boarding gates are located so far away from the check-in counters. And what if the boarding gate or departure time is changed but you can’t hear or understand the announcement?
Now, there is another way to make use of smart robots in airports. A Dutch airline KLM has introduced a passenger assisting robot called Care-E to guide their passengers to the gate. The AI robot walks you to the gate at a normal walking speed and carries your luggage. Also, it’ll redirect you should the boarding gate is changed. All you need to do is to scan your boarding pass, no need to listen to or speak Dutch or English.
Enjoy watching the video and think what other service or assistance you want robots to do to help you in the airport.


Topic Reading-Vol.2288-7/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The truth about only children - why the stereotype is wrong
If every couple had only one child, the world would go extinct in the future. In fact, the world fertility rate, the average number of children born to one woman while being of child-bearing age, declined from 2.57 to 2.45 between 2005 and 2015. In some Asian countries particularly like China, Japan, and South Korea are losing their populations because of the low fertility rate and the trend doesn’t seem to change sometime soon despite the measures and actions being taken by their governments. There are various factors why couples in those countries choose not to have more than one child, such as high education cost, late marriages, housing costs, and lack of support to raise children. Anyway, the world is producing more only children than ever before in human history. But is an only child so distinct from siblings in their behaviors, characteristics, and temperament? Population Research Center of the University of Texas conducted a research and made a brief video about their findings.
Enjoy watching the video and think about what an only child is like in the family, at school, and in a workplace compared with siblings.


Topic Reading-Vol.2287-7/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Millennials may be less happy and healthy than their parents by middle age
While gig economy gives young people chance to manage their time flexibly, it seems to cast a shadow over their future, according to a recent study among adults in the U.K. who were born in the 1980s or early 1990s. Of course. Without job security, how could anyone feel secure about their daily living and future career development? The study also has found that the rising housing market makes the young adults less hopeful about their future.
Along with these economic uncertainties, those grownups with digital devices and online social network also seem emotionally unstable. They feel difficult to establish social relationships with others and communities.
With all these modern convenience and future ambiguity, the researchers think millennials in the UK are not as happy or healthy as their parents in the next decade or two. But weren’t their parents so happy when they were young? What about a fear of nuclear war, infectious disease or air pollution?
Enjoy reading the article and think if you’re happier than your parents’ generation.


Topic Reading-Vol.2286-7/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can plastic roads curb waste epidemic?
Plastic lasts for long. Unlike paper or wood materials, plastic isn’t biodegradable. So, when it is wasted, its durability causes a big problem to the environment. But what if plastic is used as material to last for long?
A British Company came up with an idea and recipe to make use of used plastic, such as plastic bottles, diapers, carrier bags. The idea is to blend used plastic with asphalt to be used for road construction and repairs. They claim when used plastic is cooked at a right temperature and mixed at a right proportion with asphalt, the blended asphalt lasts longer than conventional asphalt. This plastic-blended asphalt has already been used in the UK, the Gulf, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Sounds like a brilliant idea to solve the plastic problems, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learn how a problem can be turned into a solution.


Topic Reading-Vol.2285-7/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How your age affects your appetite         
Do you eat only when you are hungry? Probably not. In reality, most people live to clock or schedule in modern life and they eat regularly, sometimes despite or beyond the need or appetite.
Do you eat as much as you want or only the foods you like? If you eat alone, you could choose what to or not to eat within the budget, according to the availability and by convenience.
Do you like eating alone or with others? Many people tend to eat more when they dine together because it is part of a social engagement. They take longer time to eat and as a result, they eat more. Also, when others are eating, you feel like eating too even though you’ve eaten more than enough than usual. After all, food isn’t just for energy and nutrition.
Did you eat more or less 10 years ago? People should be more cautious about food intake and balance as when they start losing muscles gradually from the 50s.
After all, while good appetite is regarded as the best sauce for food, what and how much to eat seem to be more essential to human lives. And that is likely to change as one ages.
Enjoy reading and think what your eating strategy for the next decade.


Topic Reading-Vol.2284-7/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How long could we live?
What is an appropriate question to ask about life, just how long to live or live a healthy life? Some may say as long as they can because they can’t think of dying while others say as long as they are healthy and active. Some researchers think people can live much longer, say hundreds of years. Tech investors are putting money on researches on longevity. Genetic research and engineering, advanced medical technologies and treatment, and healthier diet and lifestyle may someday prolong the lifespan by years or even decades. But in what physical, cognitive and mental conditions?
It seems that beyond technologies and treatment, there are essential factors that keep the life more enjoyable and meaningful, such as physical activities, social connection, and mental stimulation.
How long do you want to live?
Enjoy reading the text and think what would make you want to live longer.


Topic Reading-Vol.2283-7/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Affirmative action: Trump 'to scrap' college racial bias policy
Preferential treatment to a certain group of people could mean unfair treatment to others, even though it was intended to maintain the diversity of the academic environment. Ever since an executive order to give preferential treatment to a disadvantaged group of people on federal hiring was signed by JFK back in 1961, affirmative action has been debated intensely especially for college admission guidelines. For example, students of affluent Asian-American families tend to score higher grades and advance to higher education because of their families’ intense focus on education compared with those of Latinos and African Americans families. As a result, prestigious universities like Harvard, whose admission rate is as low as 6%, have more qualified applicants from certain racial and family backgrounds over others. So, they set non-explicit guidelines to keep the diverse environment on their campus, which has made Asian-American students feel unfair.
While the world is becoming more diverged, the gap between the rich and poor seems to be widening and become overwhelming. And in the U.S., this topic is so controversial that each administration seems to have taken different actions.
Enjoy reading and think what is fair to all, opportunity or result.


Topic Reading-Vol.2282-7/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
South Korea cuts its work limit from 68 hours a week to 52
How much is hardworking and how long is overworking? South Korean workers seem to work too long. On average, they worked over 2,000 hours in 2017, the third-longest after Mexico and Costa Rica among OECD countries. That’s nearly 50% longer than its economic rival, Germany. Why do they work so long? Is that a way to show their loyalty to their employers or to compete with their co-workers? Are they all so ambitious to be successful in their careers or is that because of their collective culture?
Working long hours could cause physical, mental and social problems. Productivity and efficiency decrease, the stress level goes up and mistakes and errors increase, and fertility rate declines. In fact, an average Korean woman has only 1.2 children, the society is rapidly aging.
So, the lawmakers finally made a drastic move by limiting the maximum work hours per week from 68 to 52, a staggering 24% reduction!
Will this abandon a place for a retreat like “prison for people seeking peace and quiet”?
Enjoy reading and think what makes people work harder and longer.


Topic Reading-Vol.2281-7/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, has died
She was a female western lowland gorilla born and grown in California. She was named Hanabiko, meaning fireworks child in Japanese, because she was born on the fourth of July. She understood 1,000 English words and communicated with 2,000 Gorilla Sign Language, a modified version of American Sign Language (ASL).
Koko demonstrated not only her intelligence to humans but also maternity to her pets. In fact, she adopted five kittens in her life. She named them All Ball, Lipstick, Smoky, Miss Black and Miss Grey respectively and cared for them as if they were baby gorillas. When she was signed that the first adopted cat was killed in a car accident, she signed "Bad, sad, bad" and "Frown, cry, frown, sad".
Indeed, Koko showed cognitive abilities and emotional capacity of the gorilla. She passed away unexpectedly but peacefully in her sleep about two weeks before her 47th birthday.
Enjoy reading and learn what a gorilla can do.


Topic Reading-Vol.2280-7/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
First confirmed image of the birth of a planet
Far away from our solar system in the Centaurus constellation, a newborn yet still forming planet was discovered. By using a coronagraph to block the light from the young dwarf star PDS 70 light, two teams of researchers captured an image of the disk and the planet. It is a gigantic gas planet that is at least a few times the mass of Jupiter, but it takes 120 years to orbit its star because of the distance from the star that is equivalent as the one of Uranus. Despite the distance, the newly forming planet is over twice as hot as our hottest planet, Venus.
You may wonder why this discovery is so significant. That’s because the processes behind early stages of planetary evolution have never been clearly observed. If such observation is realized over time, we might be able to learn how the earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago.
Enjoy reading and learn about this baby planet that is 200 million light years away from earth.


Topic Reading-Vol.2279-7/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Beer is being rationed in the UK
Is carbon dioxide, or CO2, good or bad? While it mustn’t increase in the air to curve global warming, carbon dioxide is necessary for our daily lives.
CO2 prolongs shelf life of food like meat because it slows the growth of bacteria. Without it, the shelf life becomes at least a day shorter. It is also used to stun chickens and port before slaughter. And CO2 gas carbonate drinks like water, cola, and beer. Can you imagine non-carbonated cola or beer?
So, what if there was a shortage of commercial and industrial CO2? In fact, some beer brewers in the U.K. were left no choice but to allocate the amount of beer to deliver to their retailers because they were unable to secure enough CO2 to keep up with their production. Also, some meat producers are using electric stunning instead before slaughtering cattle and chickens.
Indeed, modern lifestyle produces and uses CO2 a lot.
Enjoy reading and learn what CO2 does to our lives.