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Topic Reading-Vol.2851-1/31/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What is your favorite dish for spring festival?
January 25 was supposed to be the day to celebrate a new year in China. However, because of the coronavirus outbreak, many of them missed the chance to make the traditional family reunion and enjoy the festive meals together. While most foreigners think Chinese food is Chinese food, there are so many kinds of food traditions in Chinese cuisine. For example, the Four Great Traditions, Huaiyang cuisine, Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine, and Sichuan cuisine dominate the culinary heritage of China. But there are many more local cooking styles and dishes across the country. Unlike many other countries that have one special dish for a certain occasion, like Thanksgiving turkey in the US and new year’s Osechi in Japan, Chinese people celebrate the spring festival with traditional local and family dishes, some of which are not so popular to foreigners. Can you name any of them?
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos of 12 traditional New Year Eve dinners selected by China Daily.


Topic Reading-Vol.2850-1/30/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The children's game that's got professional athletes playing and millions watching online
The tag of game. It’s a simple game that almost everyone plays at some point in life. Basically, one player chases the others in an effort to touch one of them, who then takes the role of pursuer. Chase tag could also be played only by two people, an evader and a chaser. The game could be made more exciting when it is played by competitive players, put challenging obstacles, set specific rules, or watched by a large audience either online or onsite.
World Chase Tag, a global league for the professional, competitive tag, has been played and enjoyed by many around the world. A 20-second chase, competed by one chaser and evader from two teams of top athletes in the custom-built 12m x 12m Quad, is played 10 to 16 times to determine a winning team. The quad can be easily adjusted to alter the difficulty suitable for the players. This competitive chase tag matches have been broadcasted on TV channels and also viewed by hundreds of millions of times on YouTube. Since each match takes only 20 seconds, it is short enough to draw attention from today’s youngsters.
How exciting is it? Seeing is believing.
Enjoy watching the video to learn about World Chase Tag.


Topic Reading-Vol.2849-1/29/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
US issues new rules restricting travel by pregnant foreigners, fearing the use of 'birth tourism'
If a foreigner wants to be a US citizen, he or she needs to apply for naturalization and go through a long process. But the chances to be granted citizenship isn’t that high unless they are political refugees or from designated countries. However, if one is born in the US, he or she gets citizenship subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. So, if a soon-to-be or intending-to-be mother wants her child to get a US citizenship, the easiest way is to go to the US legitimately and give birth there. For some reason, quite a few numbers of expecting or intending mothers travel to the US to bear a child there. And where there are demands, there are people and businesses that try to accommodate their needs. In this case, there is a practice is called birth tourism. The customers, mostly already-pregnant women, pay from $15,000 to $50,000, come and stay in a maternity hotel in the US, give birth, get a birth certificate, and goes home with the newborn baby/babies. It is estimated that around 10,000 such births have been made each year for the last few years.
The US administration doesn’t want such practice and issued a new policy to enhance public safety, national security, and the integrity of our immigration system. But how is the policy implemented without having the visa applicant admit whether she is pregnant or not? It would be challenging for consular and immigration officers to find the real purpose of the applicant’s visit unless it is so apparent by the appearance.
Why on earth some people want to have their children have a different citizenship from theirs?
Enjoy reading the article and think about how valuable US citizenship is.


Topic Reading-Vol.2848-1/28/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can wearing masks stop the spread of viruses?
The new coronavirus strain was first discovered in Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province earlier this month. It spread out quickly in and out of the city and has become an epidemic. Now the city is locked down and only those who have emergency or essential businesses can move in and out of there. The world is now afraid that this outbreak of coronavirus could become similar or even worse epidemic like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, in 2002-2003 that spread across mainland China and Hong Kong and killed nearly 650 people.
You may also want to know that hundreds of thousands of people die every year because of the flu. You will see many Japanese wearing masks on the street and trains at this time of year. But are masks as effective as people hope to prevent viruses from getting in or out of the mouth?
The best way to avoid being infected, or infecting others, is to avoid interacting with others and going to crowded places, such as stations, markets, schools, or offices and getting on public transportation like trains or busses. However, there are times when you need to go out, and the only protection you could have is to put a mask on. Unfortunately, you can count on it no more than gargling or washing your hands thoroughly. Why?
Enjoy reading the article and learn what you should do to minimize the risk of virus infection.


Topic Reading-Vol.2847-1/27/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Immune discovery 'may treat all cancer'
Though it is still in a very early stage of research, the impact and potential are significant to treat cancers. Researchers in Wales, UK, discovered an immune cell that scans the body, find cancerous cells, and attack them without causing any harm to normal cells. What is remarkable is that this immune cell in people’s blood, called T-cell, and its receptor seem to be able to find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells, including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer.
How will the new treatment work? First, extract the T-cells from the body and genetically modify them. Then, these T-cells are programmed to create cancer-finding receptors. After growing the receptors in number, they are put back into the patient to do their work. This newly discovered immune system sounds like having a one-fits-all solution for cancer treatment.
Enjoy reading about this potential breakthrough discovery in our own immune system.


Topic Reading-Vol.2846-1/26/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Authorities urged to allow marriages on Feb 2
Is the 2nd day of February 2020 so special? The day is shown as 2.2.2020 either by d/m/yyyy-order like in European countries or m/d/yyyy-order like in American countries. But in Chinese influenced countries, the date will be indicated as 20200202 in yyyy/mm/dd order. So what? Well, it looks symmetric, 2020 and 0202, and some soon-to-be-married couples want to have their marriage certificate on that particular day. Why so? That’s because Chinese people think good things come in pairs, they prefer to marry on an even day, especially on this symmetric even date. Unfortunately, February 2nd this year is Sunday and marriage registration offices are closed. But nowadays, Chinese municipal offices are more flexible to accommodate requests from their citizens. The Wuhan City Bureau of Civil Affairs in Hubei province said they will accept online applications to get married on Sunday, February 2, 2020. That sounds like a nice touch. But wait a minute. Wuhan? Isn’t that the city that the deadly coronavirus spread from? Will that still be a good day to get married?
Read the article and think about a day of significance in life to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.2845-1/25/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Single-use plastic: China to ban bags and other items
Another decisive action by China. This time, plastics. China, the world's largest plastic user, has announced a major plan to reduce single-use plastics starting from this year. Restaurants will not be allowed to use single-use straws after this year. Also, non-degradable bags will be banned by the end of the year in major cities and by 2022 in other places. In order to cut the supply of plastic bags, the production and sale of thin plastic bags are going to be banned as well. Only China can take such drastic actions of this scale in such very short notice. Industries and businesses that are producing and distributing plastic products are going to be severely affected. Restaurants, stores, either online or onsite or delivery services need to find alternative wrapping materials within months. The problem is everyone will be looking for the same things at the same time. Will there be enough supply of degradable, or non-plastic straws, bags, or wrapping materials? One way to dodge the new regulations is to use the single-use plastics twice or more, just like silvers and dishes. That sounds environmentally conscious and comically viable. In case you don’t want to use a washed and cleaned straw for your smoothie, you may want to carry a longer-lasting, durable, and washable straw with you.
Is China going to be the global leader to reduce the use of plastics? If so, what the second-largest plastic user, The USA, is going to do? Do elections help save the environment?
Enjoy reading the article and think about how proactive and progressive you should be to live in this new decade.


Topic Reading-Vol.2844-1/24/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Facial recognition: EU considers ban of up to five years
Facial recognition is a technology that identifies or verifies a person’s visual image, either from a photo or video frame, by comparing selected facial features with faces within a database. Since there are factors such as aging, plastic surgery, cosmetics, or pose of the subject that could mislead the identification, the accuracy of the facial recognition systems are not as high as the ones of iris or fingerprint recognition. However, facial recognition systems are used in public places like airports and train stations as well as in offices and laboratories mainly for security purposes. In fact, they are widely used in China both for security and commercial purposes. For example, hundreds of millions of CCTV cameras are installed in public places to monitor people. Also, some stores are using facial recognition systems to verify pre-registered shoppers so that they can check out the store without stopping while cameras in subway stations identify the pre-registered passengers and allow them to go through the gate instead of a token or ticket. If used properly, facial recognition systems offer security to society and convenience to businesses and customers.
However, data privacy is the main concern when it comes to storing biometrics data in companies and public offices. It may infringe the privacy and could be used maliciously if the data is accessed by someone with malicious intentions. Because of these fears, the European Commission is considering a ban on the use of facial recognition in public areas for some years. By the time the EU countries allow the use of facial recognition systems, Chinese authorities and enterprises will be using the next, or next to the next generation of advanced facial recognition systems and applications.
Enjoy reading the article and think about the pros and cons of the use of facial recognition technologies.


Topic Reading-Vol.2843-1/23/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Airbus Beluga XL enters service at long last
You might have flown on the Airbus A330, a medium- to long-range wide-body twin-engine jet airliner made by Airbus. The long-haul version can fly as long as over 13,000 kilometers and carry as many as over 300 passengers or 70 tons of cargo. There is another version of this popular aircraft for a different purpose.
Airbus produces body parts and assembles them in various places in Europe and China. They need to transport huge assembled parts like engines, wings, and fuselages from those assembling factories to the final assembling sites. Since Airbus is a manufacturer of airplanes, it is more convenient, also the only way, to transport those massive body parts by airplanes. But what sort of cargo plane does the job?
Here, the super-transporter cargo plane Airbus A330-743L Beluga-XL, nicknamed the flying whale because of the resemblance to the Arctic mammal. The super-jumbo carrier is 63 meters long, 60 meters wide, and 18.9 meters high, and weighs 127 tones by itself. It can carry payload up to 50 tones and 2,200in size for 4,300 kilometers and longer with a lesser payload. It is Airbus’s workhorse or work-whale. Indeed, the cargo plane has cute eyes on its body.
Enjoy seeing the video of this gigantic work-whale of Airbus.


Topic Reading-Vol.2842-1/22/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Alibaba provides deliverymen free ride on high-speed train to home
Chunyun is the Spring Festival season in China. Around three billion people travel on the road, rails, and in the air, creating the largest human migration just in a few weeks period. During the holiday season, workers, their families, and students go back to their hometowns to celebrate the new year, reunite with their family members, relatives, and friends, and enjoy festivities.
It is also the time for deliverymen to take a break as only one-tenth of the conventional number of parcels are delivered during the new year period. They are key drivers of the growing delivery service businesses and retailers whether they are online or onsite. Those who work hard can make more money than what college graduates can expect to earn. In order to keep loyal, hardworking deliverymen, Cainiao Network Technology, the country's top courier aggregator owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba, bought them highspeed train tickets to go home for Chunyun holidays. It seems like a nice touch as these busy deliverymen saved their money and time to get tickets for the highest travel season.
While AI and robots are taking human’s jobs in some areas, there are industries that are heavily dependent on human powers. Since free lunch, free gym, and free daycare have become common perks in high-tech industries, free travel arrangement doesn’t sound so extravagant in the growing delivery businesses.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the happy faces of the deliverymen and their families.


Topic Reading-Vol.2841-1/21/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Five ways to improve your mental health in 2020
Three weeks have passed since the beginning of a new year and new decade (though some may argue the new decade starts next year). How is your new year’s resolution going, if you have, or had, any? Have you exercised more or eaten more healthily as you pledged?
Here are some tips to make you mentally and physically healthier this year and beyond.
1. Physical practice. Since mental attitudes are affected greatly by physical health, exercising helps you to stay positive. Of course.
2. Volunteering, donation, or doing some favor without expecting returns.
3. Being thankful for others, appreciate the care and help you are given by others.
4. Quality social connection. It doesn’t have to be with a large number of people or communities. Just having a warm and caring bond with family members or just a few good friends develops positive attitudes.
5. Having a sense of purpose. Instead of being just self-disciplined, you may want to feel belonging to something beyond yourself, such as religion, family, and social causes like volunteering.
Are all these sound like been there done that? Then, you really want to read this article and learn what makes you more positive and mentally healthier.


Topic Reading-Vol.2840-1/20/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Spotify now has playlists for your dog, your cat and even your hamster
Pet animals like dogs and birds are often left home alone when their owner goes out for work or fun. Sometimes, such absence lasts longer than a few hours during when those pets can comfortably enjoy taking a nap without distraction. But don’t they feel lonely and empty when they stay in a quiet home without any companion or noise? You could run a radio during your absence, but that could include disturbing noise or voice for the pet.
Now, Spotify, an international media services provider with over 100 million subscribers, offers a podcast and range of playlists for lonely pets, such as dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, and even iguanas. The playlists are based on pet owner’s musical tastes and pet species and also include noises the pet could hear outside, such as rain, human voices, and cars which are selected based on the advice from experts including an animal psychologist and physiologist.
Will it calm your dog or iguana?
Enjoy reading the article and think if your pet likes to stay in a quiet or noisy place.


Topic Reading-Vol.2839-1/19/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world is drowning in debt
The debt-to-GDP ratio compares a country's sovereign debt to its total economic output for the year, gross domestic product, GDP. This ratio allows investors, leaders, and economists to gauge a country’s ability to pay off its debt. While a high ratio indicates that a country isn't producing enough to pay off its debt, a low ratio means there is plenty of economic output to make the payments. It’s like household debt and income. Banks may give you more loans if you make more money.
Investors and lenders are happy to take on a nation’s debt if it produces more. But when they start to worry about repayment, they will demand more interest rate payment for the higher risk of default, which will increase the cost of debt for the borrowers. This makes it more expensive for the country to borrow money, which increases fiscal spending and creates more debt, like the Greece debt crisis.
According to the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, Global debt, which comprises borrowings from households, governments, and companies, surpassed 250 trillion dollars last September and brought the global debt-to-GDP ratio to 322%, breaking the historical record. Despite relatively low-interest rates in most countries, the refinancing risk is growing as more than $19 trillion of syndicated loans and bonds are going to need to be refinanced or repaid this year. And there are countries whose financial conditions are skeptical, such as Argentine and Greece.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what’s going on in the global financial market.


Topic Reading-Vol.2838-1/18/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Colorful kimonos at Japan's Coming of Age Day
Japanese women, especially the young, don’t usually wear kimonos any longer. But only once in a lifetime, many of them do on the second Monday of January in the year they turn 20. The day is called Coming of Age Day. This national holiday is all about welcoming the country’s youth into adulthood, whether they are students or workers. In Japan, youth are officially considered adults at the age of 20 and allowed to drink, smoke, and gamble legally. The legal voting age, however, was lowered to 18 in 2015.
On this day, the newly recognized adults attend municipal ceremonies, pray at shrines, and enjoy gathering with their old friends of the same age. Many young women prefer to wear a colorful long-sleeved Kimono on this day. Since they usually wear this expensive and decorative, but not practical kimono only on this special occasion, most of them rent one from specialty shops. Also, they go to beauty salons to be dressed the kimono and have their hair done in a special way for the kimono. So, if you want to see Japanese women wearing kimono, visit Japan on the second Monday in January or go to Kyoto to see Maiko dancers any time.
But what about men? Most of them wear a usual suit but some wear a traditional men’s kimono with hakama, neither of which is visually appealing. Some of them have big parties, get drunk, and go wild. They are allowed to drink and smoke, but they are also responsible for what they’ve done. It’s time to learn what adulthood means to them.
Enjoy seeing the photos of Japan’s Coming of Age Day.


Topic Reading-Vol.2837-1/17/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
America's new favorite restaurants are Wawa, Sheetz and 7-Eleven
Customers are becoming more obsessed with convenience than ever before and that seems to have been changing the landscape of grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.
Millennials, or Generation Y, who were born between 1981 and 1996 and are now in their twenties and thirties, are especially convenience-conscious customers. They are used to online shopping, delivery services, ride-sharing and hailing, packaged foods, and human-less kiosks and checkouts. The idea to make shoppers stay longer in the store seems to have become unproductive. Stores and restaurants are now trying to let the shoppers and diners leave as soon as they get what they wanted. Also, customers are spending less time and effort on preparing meals themselves. They don’t hesitate to pay extra money for convenience, such as packaged, freshly made, home-style, cooked and delivered, and ready-to-eat foods. As a result, those who have smaller storefronts near customers with an instore kitchen, assorted healthy foods and snacks, and coffee machines are attracting shoppers and diners from supermarkets and fast-food restaurants. Many of such retailers are convenience stores with gas stations, like Sheetz and 7-Eleven. The concept of bigger and more in the 20th century is now being taken over by quick and easy solutions.
Enjoy reading the article and learn how Americans are doing grocery shopping and dining these days.


Topic Reading-Vol.2836-1/16/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
After a 6-year-old finished chemotherapy, his classmates welcomed him back with a standing ovation
Leukemia is a cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues. In people with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, which don't function properly. Some forms of leukemia are more common in children, and others occur mostly in adults. Though the exact cause of Leukemia hasn’t been identified, it seems to develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment for leukemia could include chemotherapy, biological therapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant.
A three-year-old boy in Ohio, USA was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016. He had been treated with different types of chemotherapy and procedures for the next three years until December last year. During the period, he was in and out of school because of the treatment he had to take and the severe side effects he suffered from. After those difficult three years when he returned to school, he was welcomed back with cheers, applause and a standing ovation by his schoolmates and teachers. What a wonderful treatment after difficult times!
Enjoy reading the article about a boy and his family who underwent hardships of cancer.


Topic Reading-Vol.2835-1/15/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Does music make exercise more effective?
There is no need to explain that daily walking helps you improve your physical and mental health. It not only burns calories but also increases your blood flow and even brain cells. But which is the better way to get the most mileage out of daily walking, slow leisurely waking or high-speed walking? A study in Britain, where overweight and obese are major physical and medical problems, found that 10-minute’s brisk walking at around 100 paces per minute gives more such benefits than walking 10,000 steps at a casual pace. Sounds rewarding? Then how fast is the 100-paces-per-minute walking? It’s about as fast as you can talk but not sing.
Understanding is one thing but doing is another. What could help you walk faster? A simple answer is to walk to high-tempo music. This way, you can enjoy not only music but also health and mental benefits.
Enjoy reading the article and decide if and how fast you walk.


Topic Reading-Vol.2834-1/14/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
In pictures: Iran's sites of cultural importance
Iran, or Persia, is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. It started with the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE, later followed by the Achaemenid Empire, whose territory stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley in the sixth century BCE.
After Arab Muslims conquered the Sasanian Empire in the seventh century CE, Persia became a major Islamic power and contributed greatly to art, philosophy, and science in the Muslim world.
After the Islamic Revolution, which ousted the US-backed King Pahlavi and his administration, it became an Islamic republic in April 1979. Later in November, a group of Muslim students seized the United States Embassy and took the embassy with 52 personnel and citizens hostage for as long as 444 days, demanding the US to extradite Pahlavi to Iran. This hostage crisis and the supreme leader Khomeini’s anti-West cultural moves lead to economic sanction by the US and further deteriorate the ties between the two nations.
Now, the US attacked and assassinated Iran’s a heroic military commander in Iraq, Iran declared that it would no longer abide by any of the restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal and retaliate with “crushing revenge” for the killing of the commander. Then the US president Donald Trump threatened to respond to any Iranian retaliation by attacking Iranian cultural sites!
Look at the photos of just a few of Iran’s sites of cultural importance and think if the US president is about to follow the suit of the Taliban, which dynamited and destroyed the 1,500-year-old Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan in 2001.


Topic Reading-Vol.2833-1/13/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Facebook to ban 'deepfakes'
Deepfakes are technologies or media that that replace an existing image or video with someone else’s likeness by using artificial intelligence. The technology creates fake images or videos of popular or influential people, such as politicians, stars, or artists, in pornographic videos, fake news, hoaxes, and financial fraud. Such fake videos look so realistic that they could mislead the public perception of certain people that could affect the person’s reputation, relevant businesses, or even an election result. Platformers of video clips, such as Google and Facebook, have been trying to detect and eliminate harmful and misleading deepfake videos, and Facebook has recently announced that it will remove videos modified by artificial intelligence from its platform. This is not an easy task, though. They need not only to check the reality and authenticity of the video or image but also to fact-check what the person actually did or say. They seem to need AI detector or fact-checker to combat AI-created deepfakes.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what deepfakes are about.


Topic Reading-Vol.2832-1/12/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World's first 350km-per-hour driverless bullet train goes into service in China
Another milestone by China’s railway network. China already has the world’s largest high-speed railway network, having added 5,000 kilometers in 2019 alone to 35,000 kilometers at the end of the year and is extending another 2,000 kilometers this year, which will represent over 70% of the world’s total. The newest line opened on December 30, connecting the capital city and 2022 Winter Olympic host city Zhangjiakou. The 174-km high-speed railway track has reduced the travel time between Beijing and Zhangjiakou from three hours to 47 minutes at a maximum design speed of 350 km/h. What is amazing is not just the speed of the operation and construction, which took just four years, but how it is run. It is the world's first automated high- speed railway. The train automatically starts, stops and adjusts to the different speed limits between 10 stations. Also, there are smart cars that offer convenience and comfort for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes and media personnel at slightly higher ticket prices.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about China’s smartest and coolest high-speed train line.


Topic Reading-Vol.2831-1/11/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
10,000 camels at risk of being shot in Australia as they desperately search for water
Lying in the remote northwest of South Australia, Aangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, or APY, is a large but sparsely-populated local government area for Aboriginal Australians. There are only 2,300 residents in a land that is as large as the state of Kentucky, USA, where over four million people live. Because of the heat, drought, and bushfires, many wild animals have been disturbing human lives in the region searching for scarce water. While koalas and kangaroos have been widely covered by news media and videos and receive sympathy from the world, wild camels in Australia are rarely paid attention to. But they are so desperate that they even risk themselves to lick just a little bit of water that comes out of the air conditioner of human houses.
Indeed, humans dominate and warm the world at the cost of nature and other species.
What will they do with the corpses of the shot camels? Will they be left in the field to let the bushfires burn them?
Read the article and guess how many camels have been killed by today.


Topic Reading-Vol.2830-1/10/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Japanese businessman spends $1.8 million on massive tuna
At the first auction each year at Tokyo’s largest fish market, Toyosu, the successor of the famous Tsukiji market, some bidders try to get an iconic item like tuna at however high the price is. This year, a businessman who owns and runs a chain of over 50 sushi restaurants in Japan spent 1.8 million dollars for a bluefin tuna. Since the tuna weighed 276 kilograms, he paid about 6,500 dollars per kilogram, or 65 dollars per 10 grams, just about a piece of sashimi, including non-edible bone.
He surely pleased the fisherman who caught the tuna. But will his customers have to pay the price, or is that part of his PR activities? In either case, he didn’t spend as much as he did last year. It was 3.1 million dollars last year for nearly the same size of tuna. Presumably, he was ready to pay more than 1.8 million dollars this year. He may keep the saving for next year’s auction. Will there be a counter bidder next year?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about how serious to get and serve the first tuna of the year in Japan.


Topic Reading-Vol.2829-1/9/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
These Indiana twins were born just 30 minutes apart, but in different decades
Twins were born in different decades. Can you solve this riddle?
If one of the twins is born before midnight and the other is born after the clock strikes 12, they have different birthdays. Likewise, if one comes out on a New Year’s Eve and the other does after New Year’s crackers are fired, they have birthdays in different years. When such birth occurred before and after a new decade, the twins have birthdays in different decades. This is what happened in a small town in Indiana, USA. A baby girl was born at 11:37 pm on New Year’s Eve 2019 and her twin brother came out half an hour later. It was already the year 2020.
If such cross-midnight birth occurs, there may be twins born in different centuries and even millenniums.
The family are going to have to stay up late on New Year’s Eve each year to celebrate the twins’ birthdays.
Enjoy reading the article and learn about this rare twins’ birth.


Topic Reading-Vol.2828-1/8/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The truth about the US’s most iconic food
The hot dog/hotdog is a grilled or steamed wiener or frankfurter sausage sandwiched by a sliced bun. Hotdogs are one of the most popular American foods and often eaten in stadiums, barbecue parties, amusement parks, cafeterias, and also on the street.
This iconic American sandwich was invented by a German immigrant Feltman back in 1867 in Coney Island, New York. He came up with an idea to sandwich his frankfurters with a bun so that beachgoers could eat his sausages at the beach more easily. His business expanded from a hotdog stand to restaurants and an amusement park, and at its peak, Feltman’s businesses sold 40,000 hotdogs a day.
Half a century later, a former employee of Feltman, Nathan started its business on the same island and sold his frankfurters at half the price. A century later, his hotdogs are sold over 55,000 supermarkets and restaurants in more than 10 countries. You may recall Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that takes place on July 4 each year, nearly a 50-year-old event.
Whether you like hotdogs or not, here is an article about how a simple recipe could become a nation’s iconic food. How do you usually eat your hotdog, with ketchup, mustard, and/or onion?
Enjoy reading the article and learn about entrepreneurship in hotdog business.


Topic Reading-Vol.2827-1/7/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Democracy has taken a detour this century. Can it get back on track?
What is democracy? It literally means rule by the people, derived from Greek “Demos” (people) and “Kratos” (rule). The term was first used in the middle of the 5th century BCE to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states like Athens. Today, it is defined as a system of government by the eligible members of a community or state themselves or through elected representatives.
In the 20th century, democracy became popular in many states as a result of wars, revolutions, decolonization, and economic circumstances. The most significant example is India, the largest democratic state with over 800 million eligible voters. In the meantime, moves to abuse or reverse democratization also occurred from time to time, like in the 1920s, 1930s, 1960s, 1970s, and in the 2010s when elected leaders or parties autocratize the nation. Hitler’s Nazi was one of the most radical examples of democracy-turned-autocracy. Recently, such regression of democracy or transformation to autocracy has been seen in Russia, Turkey, and India only to name a few. Another setback of democracy has also been seen in once regarded the most democratic nations like the UK and the US, where people’s interests and opinions are distinctly polarized like in Brexit and Trump’s impeachment trial cases.
According to the Varieties of Democracies Institute (V-Dem), over a third, or 2.3 billion suffer from such regression of democracy in 2018 compared with just over 400 million people in 2016. What happened in 2016? Someone was elected in the US, or Americans chose someone who changed the view of democracy. Is democracy now becoming a system to create or justify autocracy?
Enjoy reading the article and think which area you will see more radical changes a decade from now, in technology or politics.


Topic Reading-Vol.2826-1/6/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Will 2020 break the curse of the folding phone?
Which type of smartphone do you prefer, one that can be folded to carry easily or one that can be unfolded to double the screen size? Whichever the type is, the screen needs to be flexible and durable for daily use. The stress the folding part gets, especially the screen, is very severe as it could be opened and closed dozens of times each day. Today’s technology is nearly there to provide such durability but not yet at a marketable or affordable level. Some manufacturers launched folding phones last year, but the deliveries were delayed. One manufacturer says that their model can be folded over 100,000 times, which means you could fold it nearly 100 times a day for three years. But will it hold any residual value after three years? Also, folding phones still cost staggering prices, around or over $2,000. You could buy two or three iPhones at the price that usually keep a reasonable resell value after two years.
The question is whether the functions or style that people value more for their smartphones? Well, if you add two more zeros to smartphone prices, you can compare them with new cars. A conventional passenger vehicle costs around $20,000 to $40,000, a luxury sedan or SUV costs $50,000 to $120,000, and a super sports car may carry a $200,000 or higher price tag.
Since no more camera lenses are needed to already-loaded today’s smartphones, folding phones may be one of the hottest gadgets this year.
Enjoy reading the article and think about how much you’d spend on your next smartphone and which type.


Topic Reading-Vol.2825-1/5/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Japan's birth rate hits another record low in 2019
In Japan, a few years after WWII ended, over 2.5 million babies were born each year. The period is called the first baby boom. Decades later, that newborn generation produced a great number of offspring, as many as two million a year for a few years. It was called the second baby boom. However, those second baby boomers weren’t so enthusiastic about producing a new generation. The number of Japan’s newborn babies has been in consistent decline for the last 45 years due to the declining fertility rate. As the rate settled around 1.4 children per woman, the number of newborn babies went below one million mark in 2016 for the first time and dropping rapidly since then. About 979,000 babies were born in 2016, 946,000 in 2017, 912,000 in 2018, and in 2019, there were only 864,000 in 2019, a staggering five percent drop from the previous year!
In the meantime, over 1.3 million people died last year alone in the fast aging country. As a result, Japan lost over a half million population from the total of around 124 million. Since fewer babies are born from fewer mothers, people are living longer than any other country, and more people are dying of old age, Japan’s population is estimated to decline to below 100 million mark before 2015 and aging fast. This means that younger generations are going to have to support the elderly population for taxes, healthcare, pensions, and daily lives.
Who could have imagined that once rising Asia’s superstar nation is facing such a drastic population loss? Will the relatively isolated nation from foreign immigrants maintain its economy and workforce to sustain social infrastructures and welfare? Will they open the doors to welcome young immigrants?       In rural areas, over 20% of the houses are unoccupied. There surely are rooms for more people and will be more.
Enjoy reading the article and watching the video and learn how serious Japan’s population decline is and will be.


Topic Reading-Vol.2823-1/4/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Kung Fu Nuns in Nepal boost their health in the fight for women's rights
One can sit in a Zen temple and learn meditation for their soul, sit in church and learn to feel compassion for others, and sit in a classroom and receive education to help each other. But how can they learn to put meditation, compassion, or education into action? Knowing is one thing but doing is quite another. Look at politicians, priests, bureaucrats. Most of them are well educated and informed, many of them a well-paid, and some of them are well disciplined. But not so many of them go out of their nestles and try to help others with their hands.
Nuns of the Drukpa Order nunnery in the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, practice Kung Fu. 800 nuns, aged from eight to eighty, undergo vigorous daily mental and physical practices starting at 3:00 am, including meditation, bicycle riding, jogging, running stairs up and down, and kung fu training with swords, sticks, and flags. With these ordeals, they are spiritually, mentally, and physically trained and disciplined not only for themselves but more importantly for others in a place where women have long been socially and religiously discriminated against and mistreated.
Enjoy reading the article and learn how women can rise in a severely discriminated region.


Topic Reading-Vol.2822-1/3/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,

Russia 'successfully tests' its unplugged internet
The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that links devices in the world. It is a network of networks that carries a wide range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.
In most countries, access to the global network is not restricted. However, in some countries, it is closely monitored and controlled, like the great firewall of China which blocks access to some foreign internet services, or Iran’s National Information Network that polices all content on the network and limiting external information.
Recently, Russia successfully isolated the net connection from the global network and made the nation’s network a gigantic intranet like an inter-campus or inter-office network. They could have full control over what can be shown, spoken, sent or received via the “Internet.” That could enhance the security of the state and connectivity with devices and systems like the Internet of Things in a way that the authority wants to regulate. Along with text, facial and voiceprint recognition systems, any individual who posts or voices unfavorable remarks could be identified by the authority as well. Also, people with limited access to such a national intranet may develop different views on people and things from others in the world.
A “free Wi-Fi” sign may not always mean a free access to the Internet in more places in the world.
Enjoy reading the article and think how influential the Internet could be for both