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Topic Reading-Vol.2505-2/19/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why China is obsessed with numbers
It is well known that Indians are good at math. Likewise, Chinese are good at using numbers. But how?
First, you want to know how to pronounce numbers in Chinese.

1   2     3     4    5     6   7    8   9  
yī  èr  sān   sì   wǔ  liù  qī  bā  jiǔ 

10   11       20        30       100    1000
shí  shíyī   èrshí   sānshí   bǎi     qiān

Now, you may have found that Chinese digits are monosyllabic. They are easily pronounced, which makes it easier to remember when a few or several digits are used for an ID, nickname, website or even a phrase. For example, as 1688 sounds like ‘ee-lio-ba-ba’ in Mandarin, it is used by Alibaba’s group websites. Also, 520 sounds like “I love you” in Chinese. That’s why a series of numbers are often used for passwords, IDs, or websites by numbers in China. Also, in the old days when keyboards were used to type and access to websites, numbers were preferred rather than spelling words because they require just a single keystroke. As you know, Chinese people think for the long term but tend to do things quickly.
So, when you go to or live in China, pronounce numbers as Chinese do.
Enjoy reading the article and think if you can work out things by numbers.


Topic Reading-Vol.2504-2/18/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Iran marks 40 years since Islamic Revolution with nostalgia and threats
Four decades ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran was established after two years of demonstrations and campaigns to throw out the western installed monarch. Despite the name, the Islamic Revolution, or Iranian Revolution, left relatively a small number of casualties for the size of the country during the period. After then-exiled religious leader, Khomeini returned from France, a new theocratic-republican constitution was formed, and the nation was reborn. Since then, the clerically ruled Islamic country seems to have been getting continuing steadfast support and loyalty from its 80-million inhabitants despite the hardship caused by the US-led economic sanctions and corruption and cronyism of their own regime. Their accumulated hatred of the U.S. seems to have helped the theocratic nation endure long lasting hardship.
Enjoy reading and learn what the Islamic Revolution was about and how the forty-year anniversary is commemorated in Iran.


Topic Reading-Vol.2503-2/17/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
TSA finds 10 loaded guns a day in carry-on bags
Each day last year, about 10 loaded guns were seized before boarding at 249 airports in the U.S., according to the Transportation Security Administration. Atlanta alone, the world’s busiest airport, nearly 300 guns were found and confiscated at the security checkpoints.
You probably know that guns, ranging from small handguns to military-grade machine guns, can be purchased, owned, and used legally in the U.S. And in any state, either permitted or qualified individuals are allowed to carry concealed weapons in public. However, a firearm of any kind or ammunition is not allowed to be brought in any commercial flight unless it is carried by an authorized agent with permission. Of course. You can’t go through a security gate even with a bottle of water nowadays. In other cases, guns must be declared and stored in a hard-sided, locked case as checked baggage.
But why so many people are trying to bring their guns to the cabin? Are they worried about the security or determined to use their weapon at some point?
Enjoy reading and think how many loaded guns might have been being carried into the cabin without being discovered in the US daily.


Topic Reading-Vol.2502-2/16/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Sweden’s surprising rule for time off
While the neighboring country is testing the effectiveness of universal basic income scheme to unemployed citizens, covered in yesterday’s Vol. 2501, Sweden has a law that helps full-time workers to try out their own businesses. The law ensures the right to take a six-month leave of absence to start a new company or to study. It gives those who have an idea and passion for a new business a chance to try it out. Though the salary isn’t paid for the period, the person can get back to the job if he or she decides not to pursue the project any further. It seems to ease the fear of failure, financial risk and career opportunity to start a new business.
In fact, there has been a significant increase in small businesses in the last decade in the Scandinavian country even though the direct link to this program hasn’t been clarified.
Unlike the universal basic income program, this law doesn’t cost any to the government. But what about the employers and coworkers who need to fill the gap during the period?
Enjoy reading and think which idea works better in your country to stimulate entrepreneurship, universal basic income or leave of absence.


Topic Reading-Vol.2501-2/15/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Finland basic income trial left people 'happier but jobless'
Finland is one of the world's northernmost countries with a population of five and a half million, about the same as Singapore. Despite the pressure from the giant neighbor during WWII and cold war, it maintained its independence and integrity. Finland is now one of the top performers in per capita incomes, education, social welfare, civil liberties, quality of life and human development.
In January 2017, they started testing of a controversial welfare scheme, called Universal Basic Income, or UBI, which provides a certain amount of monthly income to everyone. In the Finnish test, they randomly selected 2,000 individuals who were unemployed to see if the basic income would help them find a new job or gain new skills. After two years of their test period, they found that those recipients were happy but didn’t get new jobs as much as they had hoped. They are now busy analyzing the test results.
Among the variety of progressive social welfare schemes, such as universal basic income for all or those who are unemployed, or universal basic services, which provides essential social services like education or healthcare for free, which one works better than the others for citizens, social security system and economy?
Enjoy reading and think if universal service or benefit is an effective way to improve social welfare in your society.


Topic Reading-Vol.2500-2/14/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Spectacular snow fireworks as Russians celebrate the deep cold of winter
How cold is too cold to go outside and have fun? Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and skating are all popular among almost all ages. Also, taking an outdoor hot bath is so relaxing and warming until the moment you get out of the bathtub. But there are some activities that you could enjoy only at a sub-zero temperature. Dubak in Russia is a trick of throwing boiled water in the air and watch it turn into ice before it hits the ground. It looks like an artistic activity rather than a sports activity, but it does require physical and mental strength to stay outside as well as creative sense as to when and how to throw the boiled water in the air.
If you would like to try it, you’d need to go to Siberia or Alaska, dress warmly, and wait for a perfect day for photo/video shooting.
Lastly but not the least, let me extend the highest appreciation to the Topic Readers. 
2,500 volumes have been published for the last six+ years. 
Hope you've enjoyed reading interesting topics from the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2499-2/13/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
America colonisation ‘cooled Earth's climate’
It is estimated that over 50 million indigenous Americas had lived in North, Central, and South America before Columbus brought the most unwelcomed gifts to the continent at the end of the 15th century. They were western civilization, colonization, and deadly diseases, such as smallpox, typhus, measles, influenza, and cholera. Since indigenous people of the Americas were so vulnerable to these devastating diseases that their population was reduced to only one-tenth of what it had been a century ago. It is called the Great Dying.
The scale of population reduction in such a short period of time devastated not only the civilizations of the indigenous but also their cultivation.
A large part of their farmland, about the size of present France, was abandoned and was repossessed by forest and savannah.
Recent studies of the air bubbles trapped in ice cores in Antarctica found that there was a fall in global carbon dioxide levels during the period.
Now, a new study concluded that a decline in the use of fire and grow-back of natural vegetation in Americas caused a drop in CO2 in the air substantial enough to cool the temperature of the globe, especially in Europe combined with the little ice age.
Was that really a genocide and epidemic caused global cool-down?
Enjoy reading and learn what human activities could do to the environment.


Topic Reading-Vol.2498-2/12/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Morocco in the fast lane with world's largest concentrated solar farm
The Kingdom of Morocco is a Northwest African country that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. A large part of the country is mountainous, but the southeastern-most portions are part of the Sahara Desert. There, the kingdom operates the world largest solar farm that produces enough electricity to power over one million homes.
As most of the energy need was provided by imported fossil fuels, Morocco has been trying to increase the share of renewable energy. Thanks partly to this newly built the Noor-Ouarzazate complex, 35% of its energy is already renewable now. They are aiming to produce more energy by renewables than fossil fuels by 2030.
They seem to have a clear goal to live with clean energy under the clear sky.
Enjoy reading and learn how electricity is generated in this mega powerplant and how it was financed.


Topic Reading-Vol.2497-2/11/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The strategies that get you through tough challenges
How do you usually encourage yourself do unpleasant tasks, such as work, research, commuting, and household chores? Some may play music or sing songs trying to make the task more enjoyable, or less painful, and others check the goal progress to feel the achievement. But researchers say focusing on the results and outcomes of the task is the most commonly used strategy among successful people, who are usually good at controlling themselves. For example, if I do this, I’ll get the thing I want, or If I don’t it, I won’t get it. In other words, goal-oriented.
How do you manage yourself when you work on an unpleasant task? Do you do it when it is the right time or do it just before the deadline? You don’t mind doing unpleasant tasks at all?
Enjoy reading and think what strategies you usually deploy to cope with challenging tasks.


Topic Reading-Vol.2496-2/10/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Which countries eat the most meat?
World’s meat consumption has been on the rise for the last half-century. As the global population has more than doubled from around three billion to over seven, food consumption has increased to fill the larger-than-ever stomach. Also, thanks to the developing economies, there has been a substantial increase in the middle-class population, particularly in China and other Asian countries. Now, more people can afford to eat meat than ever before while most people in Africa have not enjoyed such luxury yet. In fact, people in Ethiopia, Rwanda or Nigeria eat only one-tenth of meat compared to Europeans.
Though moderate meat consumption brings about health benefits, meat production, red meat in particular, harms the environment. The most inefficient converter of feed is beef, which has three to ten times as much impact on land use, water, and greenhouse gas emissions compared to chicken.
As both overall and middle-class population increase, more recipes for vegetarian and poultry dishes need to be developed for the welfare and environment.
Enjoy reading and think what your next celebratory meal is going to be.


Topic Reading-Vol.2495-2/9/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
South Korea's glass ceiling: the women struggling to get hired by companies that only want men
Gender prejudice and discrimination have been in workplaces far too long to change, at least in South Korea. Even though women are supposed to be given the same treatment and right by law, South Korean women are challenged by discrimination and unfair treatment both in the hiring process and at the workplace. For example, while male candidates are asked job-related questions, female applicants are asked only about their family plan. In some cases, female candidates were deducted their test and interview scores to be disqualified. Though such conducts are unlawful, they seem to have been practiced all over the place. Is it because the penalties are too small to bother the employers, or the laws aren’t enforced properly?
It is indeed difficult to change what is in people’s subconscious and what has been practiced in a society for a long time. But it is time to realize that women are an essential workforce especially when the population is declining, and the society is aging rapidly like South Korea, Japan, and China.
Enjoy reading and think if the lawmakers are supposed to just make laws or also be responsible to make the laws properly enforced.


Topic Reading-Vol.2494-2/8/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The stress interview: a technique that goes too far?
A stress interview puts a job candidate under intense pressure to assess how he or she deals with work overload, multiple projects or workplace conflicts. Stress questions include insults, criticism, anger evoking comments, and embarrassing or humiliating questions. For example, “Why did you study at the college that is not so great?” or “Explain why you didn’t accomplish much in your current/former job.”
Of course, it would be difficult for an employer to judge if a candidate is suitable or tough enough for the job only by asking strengths, weaknesses, or accomplishments. But there may be a few aspects to look at this practice.
Should a stress test be part of a job interview?
Is an interviewer allowed to conduct a stress test in a job interview?
Does an interviewee have to undergo a stress test during a job interview?
And how much is too much or appropriate for a job interview?
Enjoy reading and think if you would accept a job offer after an extreme stress interview.


Topic Reading-Vol.2493-2/7/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Teenage elephants need a father figure
Teenagers often have difficulty controlling their aggressive behaviors especially when they are among themselves. Their muscles are developing and their hormones are rising. They sometimes fight or bully others. But when they are with someone stronger or senior, they usually control and adjust their behaviors to fit the society. This is how our society is in order. Such aggressive behavior is also common among teenage elephants. When male elephants are in musth state, a period when testosterone levels go as high as six times than in the same elephant at other times, they become so aggressive that sometimes they stub other male elephants with its trunk to death.
In a national park in South Africa, poor rhinos were victims of adolescent elephants that had not been accompanied by adult male elephants. In short, they were out of control. The solution was very simple. When some adult elephants were brought in, the testosterone levels of the young elephants went down, and they behaved themselves accordingly.
Enjoy reading what learn makes youngsters become gangsters.


Topic Reading-Vol.2492-2/6/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Humanics; A way to robot-proof your career?
The world is already changing with AI and robotics. For example, in the late last century, factor automation transformed the way cars are assembled and painted. Now, humans only do what machines or robots can’t do efficiently. So, the roles of humans in auto factories have changed dramatically from how Henry Ford designed his mass production line. As a result, programming and maintenance skill are needed to paint cars instead of painting skills.
So, when cars are driven automatically, should drivers still need to learn to drive a car? Will there be a driver’s seat in a car in the first place?
This is what’s going on in workplaces in the very near future, if not now. You may wonder what jobs will survive in your days at work. How to prepare for days working with both humans and machines and when their roles are constantly changing, you need different education, skills, and mindsets.
After all, we’ve been managing such role changes ever since the first industrial revolution took place in the 18th century. The big difference is things are changing much faster than ever before.
Enjoy reading and learn what is needed to cope with such drastic changes.


Topic Reading-Vol.2491-2/5/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Mobile pay encouraging tourists to spend more
A clear message to businesses that can benefit from increasing Chinese tourists. If you want more deep-pocketed Chinese customers, equip yourself with mobile payment solutions, WeChat Pay or Alipay, ideally both. They are now so accustomed to using mobile payment in their daily lives in their homeland so that they prefer shops and restaurants that accept mobile payment when they travel abroad. Think of the benefits of being listed as recommended on Chinese tourist websites or SNS message boards, or the risk not appearing on the list. They tend to flock to places where other Chinese tourists go to or recommend. Also, they say they would spend more if stores accept mobile payment not only because they are their preferred payment method but also they carry an only limited amount of cash with them!
Enjoy reading and think if there will be a day when “WeChat Pay or Alipay?” becomes a standard question to any customers or shoppers around the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2490-2/4/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What to know about frostbite
It’s winter time in the Northern Hemisphere. Staying outside for a long time in a low temperature especially in a strong wind, part of your skin might begin to get pale or turn red. It is called frostnip. Though it irritates the skin, you can still bend and feel soft. There is no permanent tissue damage to your skin, and it can be treated and returned to its healthy state by gradually warming the skin up with warm, but not hot, water.  
However, when your skin doesn’t feel anything and turn pale white, grayish-yellow, or blue instead of red, the frostnip has most likely developed into frostbite. The skin starts to lose flexibility and the pain increases further. Once your skin suffers frostbite, you need immediate medical attention and care to avoid permanent damage of the skin or amputation of the body part.
It sounds freezing cold, doesn’t it?
Enjoy reading and learn what needs to be or shouldn’t be done to avoid getting frostbite.


Topic Reading-Vol.2489-2/3/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
More screen time for toddlers is tied to poorer development a few years later, study says
How young is too young and how long is too long to stare at a screen? This correlation has been studied ever since TV became popular a half-century ago when the first man landed the Moon.
On average, most children in the U.S. spend between five and seven hours a day in front of a screen, watching TV or videos, chatting with friends, playing games, reading, or working. Does this sound too long to you? Does watching TV too long make you dumber as your parents or grandparents used to say?
A new study found that it is not untrue. The study in Canada suggests there is a directional correlation between screen time and performance on developmental screening tests among children aged between two and five years old. The longer they spend time on a screen showed poorer performance in communication, motor skills, problem-solving and personal-social skills. The researchers suggest that by limiting the time to about an hour a day would avoid affecting children’s health and wellness.
Most of you are probably well aware of the harm, just like junk food and sweets, and may feel guilty all the time. Telling children not to do what they themselves are doing makes parents feel even more guilty.
Enjoy reading and try to figure how long you spend in front of a screen while you’re awake, including the smartphone.


Topic Reading-Vol.2488-2/2/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
When your plane touches down but doesn't land
Have you experienced a go-around at the final moment of your flight? It is an aborted landing by the flight crew on the final approach. Instead of touching down, making reverse thrust and braking, an aircraft starts to climb back into the air to prepare for another approach. Such maneuver can be judged and made by the pilot when he or she finds difficulty in landing due to weather, mechanical or landing site conditions. It could also be directed by air traffic control when they find an obstruction on the runway or any problem with the landing aircraft.
Since go-arounds rarely happen, it surprises and scares the passengers. However, for the cockpit crew, it is part of their standard procedures. In fact, pilots have been trained as many times, or even more often, to initiate a go-around as they land the aircraft in the flight simulator. So, next time your landing is ever aborted, try to be calm in the cabin like the crew in the cockpit.
Enjoy reading the article and watching the video about the second take-off during a flight.


Topic Reading-Vol.2487-2/1/2019

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How weddings in Pakistan can top 1,500 guests
Is this one of the phenomena among Asia’s rising middle-class? Though not all Asians enjoy their lives like this or the one shown in last year’s movie, Crazy Rich Asians, the wedding party in this video is hosted by the bride’s family of the rising middle class in Pakistan. As people marry later in their lives and make fewer children than before, the cost of education and expenditures for ceremonies are on the rise. Others may think such extravaganza is unnecessary or improper for young couples who are just about to create their new lives themselves. But for the parents, it is the time for celebration not only for their beloved children but for themselves. Indeed, parties are held and guests are invited for the sake of the hosts.
Enjoy watching the video and think which middle-class ceremony looks more extravagant, the one in Pakistan or the one in Indonesia (Vol.2457 on Jan.2, 2019).