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Topic Reading-Vol.2113-1/23/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The trend continues, 2017 one of the hottest years on record
2017 was a warm year around the world. It was one of the warmest years on record. In fact, it could have been the hottest year if La Niña, which features cooler than average waters in the Pacific Ocean and consequently cools down the world temperatures, hadn’t occurred. Furthermore, almost all the hottest years have been recorded since the beginning of the millennium, in other words, it has been getting hotter and hotter nearly every year.
What are the causes of such warm climate, or global warming? Everyone knows the answer but only some states and municipalities are making drastic moves. Interestingly, while the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, an independent agency of the US federal government, is warning to the world how severe and critical the problem is, the US government backed off from the Paris Agreement, to deal with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. On the other hand, its archrival China is setting drastic restrictions and taking action to tackle its pollution problems, such as the closure of air-polluting factories and coal power plants and incentive for electric cars.
Enjoy reading and watching the videos, and predict how warm 2018 is going to be.


Topic Reading-Vol.2112-1/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The 280 million-year-old forest in the South Pole
Indeed, Antarctica is a very cold continent. It has a very long winter without sunlight and a short summer covered with ice. But over 200 million years ago, it was much warmer than today when it was part of the supercontinent, Gondwana, which included present-day Africa, South America, Arabia, India, and Australia. There were plants like ferns as tall as 40 meters in the continent back then. They seem to have endured the severe climate condition until they were eventually extinguished by one of the mass extinctions, which were believed to have occurred on earth numbers of times.
So, just like dinosaurs, those trees and plants existed in the icy continent should have left their fossils. The problem to find such fossils is that they are buried under thick ice. Also, they are hardly distinguishable from rocks. Still, there are people who challenged such painstaking tasks.
Enjoy reading and learning what could be found in Antarctica.


Topic Reading-Vol.2111-1/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
5 ways the world is pulling apart
The world seems to be more divided in several areas, as many might have noticed.
First, inequality in income and wealth. The rich are becoming richer and the poor are left behind. It is a global trend, but the severity of the problem is greater in some countries where corruption and exploitation among elite groups are so pervasive. Also, the gender gap is still a problem in many places, including work participation, income, and education. Political views are consequently more divided and even polarized than ever before. Those who feel left behind or unfairly treated become conservative and harden their minds against global issues, such as climate change and refugees. Moreover, the fact that should be worried the most is unequal opportunities for education because they fuel poverty, hunger and child mortality, limit future job opportunities, and thus reduce prospects for economic growth.
All these issues might make leaders and the public more near-sighted, and keep their eyes away from long-term issues, such as global warming, pollutions and the fundamental causes of the other problems mentioned above.
Enjoy reading and seeing the charts, and think if developing or developed is the term that is still appropriate to classify countries.


Topic Reading-Vol.2110-1/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
America is changing
America is a land of opportunity, and thus it is a land of immigrants. It was how the nation of immigrants started and has been that way ever since, for over 240 years. But racial and ethnic diversity hadn’t been recognized or expanded until the 1960s when civil rights and immigration laws changed the scope of individual identity and their opportunities. For example, in the late 18th century, the census had only three categories for race: free whites, other free persons, and slaves. Now there are over 60 options to choose from and more than one race option can be claimed. Also, only less than four out of every 100 African Americans held bachelor’s degree in 1960, but the number has risen to 23 now.
Equal opportunity and diversity are tightly connected, and they seem to be the driving force of the United States, no matter what the incumbent administration does or says. In fact, the U.S. is expected to become majority minority in 50 years, three centuries after the independence.
Will that cause more problems or bring more prosperity?
Enjoy reading and thinking which should construct the nation, a bridge or a wall.


Topic Reading-Vol.2109-1/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
France's Macron wants baguettes protected by UNESCO
A baguette is a long, thin loaf of French bread. The distinctive shape and crisp crust made it very popular around the world, though what is defined by French law is not the shape but the dough. It is usually sliced and put jam, butter, cheese or pate on, or cut from a longer loaf for sandwiches. Now the president of France says the baguette is French cultural treasure and wants the UNESCO to put it on the list of the intangible cultural heritage.  
What is Intangible Cultural Heritage? It includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. Some food and drinks are recognized as intangible cultural heritage, such as Japanese Washoku, Korean Kimuchi, Pizza Napoletana, and Belgian Beer.
Will the listing help preserve or improve the making of the bread?
Enjoy reading and think what roles UNESCO should be taking in food culture.


Topic Reading-Vol.2108-1/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
UK 'faces build-up of plastic waste'
A huge blow to the kingdom in the short term. The U.K. has been shipping half a million tons of plastic to China for recycling every year, which accounts over a quarter of the total plastic waste in the country. But they were notified by China that it no longer receives plastic waste from the UK.
They now have limited options to deal with this crisis. One way is to incinerate, and the other is to dump it in the landfill, neither of which pleases environmental activists.
In the long run, sustainable and environmentally acceptable solutions may be developed and implemented to reduce plastic waste and improve the recycling efficiency, such as tax incentives and simplified regulations.
Could this import ban cause a trade war? Should the Empire strike back?
Enjoy reading and thinking about the issues the UK needs to deal with for the next few years.


Topic Reading-Vol.2107-1/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What's the kindest way to kill a lobster?
Do you think crustaceans, the animal that lives in water and has a hard-outer shell, such as the lobster and crab, feel pain? Since they neither scream nor contort, their pain isn’t usually recognized by humans. But according to animal welfare scientists, crustaceans seem to feel pain and avoid it at any cost, even by giving up their beloved shelter. Does it matter to you even if they feel pain?
You might since they are often cooked alive. Think of lobsters, crab, and shrimps. They are often put into boiling water. In some cases, live shrimps are put into a bowl of liquor and boiled slowly to death. Are these traditional recipes inhumane?
Some countries, such as Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland, think so and ban such cruel cooking.
Maybe the world should be more considerate of animals’ pain and apply mercy killing to crustaceans as well.
Enjoy reading and think if you’d ask the chef to kill your lobster before cooking.


Topic Reading-Vol.2106-1/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What Google street car tells us about income
Google Street View provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world, though restrictions apply in some countries such as China and India. It helps you obtain general or specific images of a place where you’re interested to know. For example, you can find what kind of place it is or how to get to a certain place by photo images.
Also, these photographic images provide sociological information, such as a kind of neighborhood, houses, and cars, which are relevant to the household income of the residents. Especially in the U.S., cars often reflect the wealth, income, and household status. And when such information is linked to personal profile data, such as gender, education, employment and political preferences, many things about the household could be predicted just by the type of car(s) parked in front of a house. And of course, AI augments the quality and accuracy of such prediction at a significantly lower cost than conventional methods.
Enjoy reading and think what could become relevant to what by using existing data and AI technology.


Topic Reading-Vol.2105-1/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is this the best time to be productive?
At what time of the day can you accomplish or learn the most? The answer probably varies depending on who you ask. Some may say first thing in the morning while others say in the middle of the night. But in general, ordinary people have common peak time around 11:00 am, according to a study based on project management platform users in the US. But why just before noon? 
Most people are mentally very active between nine and eleven in the morning because of the internal body clock, or a circadian rhythm. On the other hand, tow to three pm is the difficult time to be mentally sharp. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?
Another finding is that people say Monday is more productive than other days of the week, followed by Tuesday, and Friday being the least efficient weekday. This suggests that having a good weekend is the key to higher productivity in the following work days. 
If so, you may wonder if seasons have a similar effect on human bodies. Which season of the year do you think is more productive than others?
Enjoy reading and think how to make use of your internal body clock.


Topic Reading-Vol.2104-1/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The sports hijab dividing opinions
Niki is, arguably, the most influential sports brand in the world, if not the most represented. So, a debut of their new brand line is always paid great attention not only by sports athletes but also fashion-conscious consumers around the world. Last year, they unveiled the Pro Hijab, the first of that kind marketed by a major brand specifically for Muslim women. It is designed to reduce practical difficulties of wearing religious clothing while exercising or competing.
After all, sports shouldn’t be exclusive to anyone who is able to perform or just to watch. Even the fiercely divided two Koreas can be united for sports occasions like Olympic games. Also, as one of the Muslim athletes says, sports doesn’t tell racial, religious or sexual orientation but shows the talent of the athlete. Those athletes hope that this new sports apparel line marks a good start to eliminate divisions and barriers for Muslim women.
Enjoy reading and learn equal opportunities mean to Muslim women.

This topic was covered in Vol.1796 on Mar.12, 2017, mainly about Nike’s announcement.


Topic Reading-Vol.2103-1/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
An illustrated guide to making better decisions
Is it really difficult to make a decision? There are times when you need to make an important decision, such as which dish to order in a restaurant, which color to paint the wall, where to go for vacation, or whether to accept a job offer or proposal of marriage. There isn’t any easy way to make such decisions because the choices are already pre-chosen, meaning you could take either option.
One way to make such critical decision is to roll dice. Another way is to think which is less important or can be waited for the next chance. Either way, you most likely struggle to get to a conclusion and may regret it. But that is just the beginning. This illustrated guide gives you a simple but essential element of making decisions. As the author-journalist says, it’s the issue of how to live up to the decision you made to make differences.
Enjoy the guide and decide if you think the tip is worth keeping in mind.


Topic Reading-Vol.2102-1/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Evan Edinger: The five ways YouTubers make money
A YouTuber is a person who uploads, produces, or appears in videos on the video-sharing website YouTube, according to Oxford Living Dictionary. Many young people want to be a YouTuber because the job seems fun, intriguing, and rewarding from their perspectives. Since they spend quite a bit of time on YouTube videos, much longer than on TV screen or paper books, it is quite natural for them to have a desire to be a creator of such popular entertainment product.
But how much money do they make? Of course, the answers vary by the person you ask. There are several revenue sources YouTuber could have. The most lucrative one now, according to one successful YouTuber, is to make videos about company’s products in exchange for cash, just like outsourcing or freelancing of creative works. Other revenue sources include AdSense, Patreon, Affiliate links, and Merchandise. Are you familiar with these terms?
Enjoy reading and learning these YouTube terms, and think if you want to produce creative videos to make some money.


Topic Reading-Vol.2101-1/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How sausage flavors the German language
When you think of German food and drink, probably sausages and beer will appear in your mind first. They both are not only so popular across the country but also define Germany’s cities and regions, and are enjoyed together. Especially German sausage, or Wurst in German, is an essential part of their food culture and the source of national pride. There are a variety of recipes, but some are considered closely guarded secrets. Here are some examples;
Bratwurst is made from finely minced pork and beef and usually grilled and served with sweet German mustard and a piece of bread or hard roll.
Nürnberger Rostbratwurst, smaller bratwurst sausage, is a source of great national (for the state of Franconia) pride.
Bockwurst or Frankfurter is made from veal with some pork or other meats.
Liverwurst is usually made from pork with some pork liver and flavored in various ways.
Every year, each German eats over 50 kilograms of pork, the main ingredient of sausages. So, there is no wonder why pork became embedded in their culture and language, such as “pig money” or a lot of money, and “Everything has an end; only the sausage has two.”
Enjoy reading and learning how pig and sausage are integrated into German culture.


Topic Reading-Vol.2100-1/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why are China instant noodle sales going off the boil?
Why does it matter? That’s because China’s instant noodle market is so huge, about 38 billion packages were sold in 2016 alone, nearly 30 packages per person in the world most populous country. But there was a steep decline of seven billion packages from the record sales of 45 billion packages in 2013. The decline equals the total cup noodle sales in Japan in 2016, the third largest market after China and Indonesia. Huge impact for noodle packers.
There seem to be several reasons for the sharp decline. Chinese people are becoming more health conscious after hundreds of millions joined the middle class. And they are historically so. Also, the decline of migrant workers who live themselves away from their family seemed to affect the sales. They are more likely the top consumers of such quick and filling food. Another factor seems to be the highspeed railway systems, which shortened travel times drastically. It was and still is, quite common for passengers on conventional trains to fill their stomach with instant noodles in China. But modern, clean and fast trains seem to have made passengers choose other options such as lunch box or food court in the newly built train stations. And of course, more air travels. Passengers are served meals for longer hauls whose taste and nutrition are comparable to those of instant noodles. The last thing to blame is smartphone apps, which allows hungry customers to order fresh meals and delivered in less than half an hour. No need to stock instant noodles for hungry kids or in the office. There are a bunch of alternatives nowadays. However disappointing this trend is, the market is still too huge to lose for noodle manufactures. Now is the time to compete.
Enjoy reading and think when was the last time you slurped an instant noodle soup.


Topic Reading-Vol.2099-1/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How your body fights back when you diet
There are billions of people who are hungry and underweight in the world. Many of them have to work very hard only to fill their and their family’s stomachs. In the meantime, there are people who want to or need to lose weight desperately. Some of them try to diet but most of them fail even though how seriously and determinedly they work for it.
Why? Is that the methodology, metabolism, or will that make difference?
The human body is like a car engine. Fuel efficiency is depending on the type of engine, fuel, and acceleration. If you consume more energy than intake, or eat less and use the same calories, you’ll burn what you ate first and then stored fat. But there is more to it. When calorie intake is lessened, your body metabolism tries to adjust itself to the new situation, meaning it becomes more fuel efficient. Even if you eat less, your weight may not change that much, and if you eat just a little more during a diet, you’ll burn less and get fatter. This so-called rebound effect is extremely frustrating as it ruins the effort and patience the person has made.
So, what will be the right way to reduce weight?
Enjoy reading and learning the mechanism of human diet and metabolism.


Topic Reading-Vol.2098-1/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
6 ways life in Saudi Arabia will change in 2018
Amazingly historic! Though none but two, the gas price hike and privatization of the government-owned oil company, of the changes announced to occur this year is unusual in most of the countries, the impacts on Saudis by the new moves seem quite significant.
Here are the drastic changes;
- Women can drive. Now they aren’t allowed to drive.
- Women can sit with their family members to watch sports games. They sit separately from their male family members for now.
- People can watch movies in movie theaters. There are no cinemas in the kingdom until March.
- Tourists can visit the country. Only visitors to holy sites or on business are allowed to enter the kingdom for now.
Besides these changes, Saudis now have to pay a modest sales tax and gas prices comparable to the ones of other developed countries. All these moves are initiated by the heir apparent to transform the oil-addicted kingdom to an economically sustainable nation.
Enjoy reading the text and think which is more recluse or tightly regulated, Saudi Arabia or North Korea.


Topic Reading-Vol.2097-1/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What North Korean propaganda posters reveal
Are posters still an effective communication tool? Yes, at least for a recluse socialism country like North Korea where effectively no commercial message or sign is seen on streets or screens. In such colorless society, colorful posters are repeatedly seen by many people as long as they are posted. They have been used to remind people of the slogans and propaganda that the authority wants people to believe and follow for decades in North Korea. In fact, there is a dedicated art design and production facility run by the government.
The basic design concepts of these propaganda posters don’t seem to have changed much over time, particularly the characters and colors. For example, women are often shown in the topics related to labor or science. Also, red, the most favored color among communists, is used to present socialism and aggression as well as passion, while black represents enemies, such as America and Japan.
Enjoy seeing what kind of posters there are in the most secretive country and how they look.


Topic Reading-Vol.2096-1/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is Oshi Palav “the king of meals”?
Tajikistan is a small, mountainous country in Central Asia with a population of just under nine million. For Tajiks, Oshi Pelave (pilaf) is more than just a traditional dish. It is a part of their cultural heritage and enjoyed at regular mealtimes, social gatherings, celebrations, and rituals. This so-called ‘King of meals’ is made of rice, vegetables, and meat with garlic and various spices to add color and flavor. It is prepared for and shared by many it is not only enjoyed by the people around the table but also others in the neighborhood, orphanage and nursing home. Because of this sharing nature, it also eases tensions and conflicts between the people who have different opinions or interests.
While today’s sharing economy shares things and places like bicycles, cars, and rooms, this Tajik’s sharing heritage offers opportunities to people to unite and enjoy the meal and time together. Indeed, Oshi Palav is for treat and generosity, not by greed or economy.
Enjoy seeing the photos and learning about this traditional dish, and think what sharing really means.

If you’re interested in this King of Meals, try seeing the video on UNESCO site.


Topic Reading-Vol.2095-1/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
WHO to recognize gaming disorder as mental health condition in 2018
Good news or bad news? Those who play video games excessively and have behavioral problems in personal or social, educational or professional activities should be warned as the World Health Organization, the WHO, now recognizes such functional difficulties as a mental disorder. For example, if a person plays games, either online or offline, obsessively and put other should-be-done things uncared for or undone for some period of time, he or she might be diagnosed as gaming disorder. This might give the person a chance to receive medical treatment and rehabilitation that are covered by health insurance. However, it is officially classified as a mental disorder, such diagnosis could cause problems when applying for an educational or professional opportunity.
Though people know that excess or obsessive appetite for food, alcohol or gaming could result in new challenges in life. There is no need to completely cut off your favorite thing or activity. Moderation seems to be the key to a better life.
Enjoy reading and think if there is anything you’re obsessed with.


Topic Reading-Vol.2094-1/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
President says future starts now
Not a tweet but a New Year address. That’s what was delivered by the nation’s leader to start a new year. And it was seen, heard and read intensively by all the key members of the party, government, and military. This means that the messages are going to be repeated, interpreted and implemented in respective units across the country.
One of the key messages is to urge all Party and government officials to put people’s needs the top priority. It may sound just like one of those political greetings, but not quite so in this one-party ruled country where implementing orders blindly and achieving goals inconsiderately have been the common practices for success and protection. For example, as covered in Vol. 2082, numbers of migrant workers in Beijing were forced to vacate their rooms only by a day’s notice to clean up the area and curb the population growth. But from this year on, it seems to require careful interpretation and implementation are key to success for party and government officials.
While the daily tweets are criticized and backfired by media, political opponents, or even general public in the U.S., China’s leader is consistently working on building a stronger nation that is going to have stronger influence over the world
Enjoy reading Xi’s new year address and think what he meant to say.


Topic Reading-Vol.2093-1/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The top 7 consumer trends from Tmall big data
During the Singles Day shopping festival, hundreds of millions of Chinese were enthusiastically touching their smartphones for shopping. There is no need to mention again the amount they spent on the day alone. Now is the time for manufacturers and service providers to plan for the next years.
There is big data available to analyze what people searched and bought. According to the data released by AliResearch, an Alibaba’s research arm, there are growing trends, especially among young Chinese people.
They no longer just want things to fill their immediate needs. They seem to have desires to enhance their lives and identities. For instance, they purchased a lot of quick but nutritious ready-to-cook foods, male cosmetics, and exercise equipment. Also, they like to buy things to take out their loved ones, such as baby carriages and dog leashes.
The data suggests that China’s middle-class market shows no difference from other matured marketplaces. But be reminded. There are nearly 380 million people there who were born in and after 1995. Huge buying power and trendsetter that could reverse-influence the world.
Enjoy reading and think how to market things in the world largest market.


Topic Reading-Vol.2092-1/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Psychology that motivates tipping
Is tipping at restaurants common in your place? If not, you may think this article is useless to read. But when you visit a place where tipping is the norm, you may want to know what the mechanism behind the custom.
Tipping or gratuity is widely customary in the U.S. Restaurant servers, taxi drivers, and hotel bellboys only to name a few. Why so? Should tip be given only when the service meets or exceeds the expectation? How much is appropriate?
No one rule applies to all. It’s all depending on the kind of service, occasion, and situation. But one thing should be remembered. Those tips are expected as part of the income of those servers. In return, the price of the menu of the restaurant or the fare of the cab is set lower than all-inclusive one.
Which price would you prefer paying, all-inclusive price, an extra service charge set by the restaurant, or a tip at your discretion?
Enjoy reading and learn about this custom.


Topic Reading-Vol.2091-1/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The funniest wildlife photos of 2017 are here and you'll love them
Happy New Year to MEL Topic Readers.
2018 is the year of the Dog in the Chinese animal zodiac, which repeats a cycle of 12 years. Each year is represented by an animal like Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig in order. Which year of the animal were you born in?
Wild animals, birds, and fish are all fun to watch. Their behaviors, activities, and interactions are unique and unpredictable. However, capturing the images or videos of extraordinary moments of wild creatures requires skills, patience and more importantly, luck.
Thanks to the enthusiastic photographers, there are numbers of funny photos of wildlife that were entered in the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.  
Enjoy the privilege of seeing the winning photos of funniest wildlife of 2017.