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Topic Reading-Vol.2202-4/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Chinese man caught by facial recognition at pop concert
As reported in yesterday’s Vol.2201, one could alter his or her face with an app on smartphone. Though human viewers may be easily impressed by such enhanced facial appearance, cameras linked to AI face recognition systems aren’t.
Also reported in Vol.2142, China has the world most extensive surveillance network. There are 170 million closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras that produce images or recordings for surveillance in public places and street corners across the country. A few of such cameras installed in a concert hall caught an image of a man among 60,000 concert goers and identified him as an economic crime suspect. He was caught by police officers when he sat in his seat. There will be 500 million such cameras installed across the country soon.
As facial recognition technologies advance, the face may someday become a person’s identification replacing documents or cards, such as passport, driver’s license, credit card, social security card, or even tickets. Will such surveillance and convenience by advanced face recognition technologies make you give up privacy?
Enjoy reading the article and think of a world where everyone is located, and every transaction or access is monitored.


Topic Reading-Vol.2201-4/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Altered faces are dominating China's selfie industry
Taking selfie photos and posting them on SNS is no more different from writing comments these days. In fact, many young Chinese are so selfie-obsessed that they post their own photos on SNS to be social. Now, there are apps to help those who want to show socially well-perceived photos on SNS. Those smartphone apps allow users to edit their selfie photos to make them look in a way they want. They can enhance, highlight or delete the part of the facial features like a professional photo editor does. Which is easier and surer to make one look nicer, doing make-up or editing photos, or both? It sounds like using an avatar in a virtual reality game. Is SNS an augmented reality or virtual reality? In any case, it seems that new social practices are being created as new smartphone apps become popular these days.
Enjoy watching the video and think if you want to enhance the face value by your smartphone.


Topic Reading-Vol.2200-4/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Henley Index: 2 Asian passports now world's most powerful
What does the power of a passport mean? Can a certain passport holder get a discount for shopping in other countries? One of the privileges certain passport holders have is visa waiver. It allows passport holders of specific countries to enter the country for certain purposes, such as traveling, visiting, or business for a limited time without obtaining a visa. Most of the 193 UN member states exempt passport holders of preferred countries from their visa programs. Then, which passport holders are regarded safe, harmless and beneficial to other countries?
According to one of the several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports, Japan and Singapore passports have more visa-free entries than any other passport, closely followed by Western countries like Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, and Spain, and another Asian state, South Korea.
Enjoy reading the article and check how many countries you can visit without a visa.


Topic Reading-Vol.2199-4/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Experts warn Europe: Don't grant robots rights
A robot is a machine that carries out a series of actions automatically. Most robots are designed to perform a task, such as industrial robots, medical operating robots, patient assist robots or delivery robots. Some robots are created to perform tasks autonomously like auto-driving, and others are constructed to look like humans and take on tasks such as reception robots in a Japanese hotel chain.
Now, European legislators are considering whether to grant rights and responsibilities to intelligent robots that do tasks autonomously. They think granting legal status to sophisticated autonomous robots makes them responsible for any damage they may cause. Sounds like a progressive move towards a co-existing society between humans and robots, doesn’t it? However, experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, law, medical science, and ethics warn that such status would allow manufacturers, programmers and owners to waive the liability of their robots they create or use.
Just like autonomous driving cars, who is responsible for an accident?
Enjoy reading and think of a world where robots take on half of the tasks that humans do now.


Topic Reading-Vol.2198-4/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Symphony of the Seas: World's largest cruise ship sets sail
Want to experience something the biggest in the world? Here’s one for you.
MS Symphony of the Seas is the largest passenger ship. This newly inaugurated 228,000-ton, a 360-meter-long cruise ship has 2,759 cabins to host as many as 6,680 guests. There are 24 elevators to connect 18 decks, 22 restaurants to fill over 6,000 stomachs, 24 pools to entertain kids and adults. Also, the ship is divided into seven neighborhoods, each of which has its own personality, such as an adults-only lounge or park, and a family packed water park. If you want to enjoy a thrilling moment during the peaceful and entertaining voyage, take a 10-story drop water slide at a steep 27-degree incline.
This city-like cruise ship is operated and serviced by 2,200 crew members, meaning every three passengers are served by a crew member. Sounds very luxurious, doesn’t it? Also, imagine a massive building with nearly 9,000 people is cruising the water at a speed of 40km per hour. It seems like a whole town is making a massive migration or exodus.
Enjoy reading the article and seeing the photos and video, then think if you want to be one of those passengers for your next vacation.


Topic Reading-Vol.2197-4/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Baby born through surrogacy after parents die
Destined to be an orphan upon arrival into the world. This boy was born On Dec 9, 2017 from a Laotian surrogate mother in a hospital in Guangzhou, China. He was named Tiantian, literally sweetness, by his maternal grandmother in the hopes of bringing happiness and sweetness to the families of his dead parents.
Only five days before the scheduled transplantation of the embryos created by his parents using vitro fertilization, both parents died in a car accident. His dead parents were both only child of their respective families, just like many others in China because of the One-child policy. The parents of the dead couple were so eager to use the left embryos in a hospital to keep their family lines. Since there is no such regulation or law for a use of dead parents’ embryos in China, they had to file a lawsuit to retrieve the embryos, seek a hospital overseas to conduct a transplant operation, and find a surrogate mother to deliver the baby. Four years after the couple died, their, and their parents' dream came true.
The grandparents won’t tell this story to the boy until he is ready.
Enjoy reading the article and learn what it took for the grandparents to make this amazing birth happen.


Topic Reading-Vol.2196-4/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Delivery robot puts pressure on deliverymen
I-M-WAY is a street centering on intelligent manufacturing in the Zhongguancun Science Park in Beijing. The core of the street is an agile manufacturing center that provides much-faster research and development opportunities for manufacturing businesses than conventional processes by 3D printers, material testing machines and various kinds of manufacturing and testing devices. It is a home to more than 360 enterprises and programs and provided services for over 5,000 businesses.
One of such manufacturing entrepreneurs has developed a delivery robot. The one-meter-tall yellow robot runs as long as 60-80 kilometers after a single battery charge. It can carry up to 30 kilograms at a maximum speed of 12 kilometers per hour. Just like auto-driving cars, the delivery robot uses laser radars to avoid road barriers automatically. To pick the delivered parcel, a QR code needs to be read by a smartphone, just like bike-sharing.
It seems that more unmanned, autonomous technologies are being developed in China where labor costs are rising faster than ever before.
Enjoy reading and think which machine delivery method you’d prefer, a drone, robot or human.


Topic Reading-Vol.2195-4/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Is this the best time in history to learn languages?
Is a foreign language something needs to be taught by a teacher and studied like other subjects? Today there are over 250 million people live in a country other than the country where they were born. It’s a 50% jump from year-2000 level. As international migration increases, a wider variety of cultural and linguistic interactions are happening in communities and classrooms. Kids are and will be getting used to more multicultural and multilingual world.
Also, they can be more connected with others in the world through their smartphones. They can play games with others and see photos and videos made by someone who lives on the other side of the planet. Such situation where kids learn without realizing they are absorbing information or developing skills is called implicit learning.
It seems that children and young adults are exposed to more multicultural and multilinguistic environment to learn other languages than any other time in history. And it's not only for food but also for fun and interest. Indeed, learning through interactions and experience is no less valuable than an academic degree.
Enjoy reading the text and think what other languages you are interested in learning.


Topic Reading-Vol.2194-4/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
First luxury hotel in space announced
What is your dream vacation or experience? Visiting Antarctica to take photos with penguins, or staying in a completely isolated island privately? What about overlooking the blue planet from 360 kilometers above the surface without any gravity? Such dream may come true very soon if only you can afford it.
A US space technology startup has recently announced a 12-day vacation plan for space travel. Four space travelers and two crew members will stay in their fully modular space station at a time. While the luxury space hotel orbits Earth every 90 minutes, the guests will see around 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. And of course, they can enjoy floating freely in the gravity-free cabin and dining in their space suits.
What will it take to get there? A three-month training program and all-inclusive transportation to and accommodation in the space station costs $...
Enjoy reading the article and think if it’s a value package for an authentic astronaut experience.


Topic Reading-Vol.2193-4/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Vaping now an epidemic among US high schoolers
What is vaping? It is to breathe in an aerosol, or a vapor, using an e-cigarette. E-cigarette is a hand-held electronic device that heats an e-liquid to produce an aerosol. It makes the “smoker” feel like smoking a cigarette.
Though the health risks of e-cigarettes are uncertain, e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction when used by non-smokers. And it is concerned that children could start smoking once they are used to vaping. Health experts are worried about the artificial flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes that seem appealing to kids. As a matter of fact, the number of e-cigarette use by high school students is rapidly rising in the U.S. Since the vapor disappears quickly and the odor doesn’t remain like cigarette smoking, some high school students are vaping in hallways or even classrooms.
The pleasure of inhaling artificial vapor shouldn’t be allowed in the school environment, especially the ones that make young kids become addictive. Maybe it is time for school administrators to consider installing another detecting device in schools.
Enjoy reading and think of the benefits and drawbacks of artificial something.


Topic Reading-Vol.2192-4/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China will fight back 'at any cost' – Ministries
China seems firmly determined to counteract the US’s offensive trade sanctions. Immediately after the US announced to consider additional tariffs on Chinese products worth $100 billion, China held a news conference to restate its firm position against any new tariff on Chinese products. The language used in the conference was no longer diplomatic but retaliatory, like the one used in territorial disputes or foreign intervention in its domestic affairs such as human rights.
Unlike daily tweets by the US President, what China announces is firm and well-thought out. When they declare to fight back with all options possible and at any cost, they mean it. What politicians in democratic countries concerned about the most may be next elections and opinion polls. They don’t seem to mind reversing or changing what they said. But that won’t apply to Chinese leaders.
In the meantime, Chinese foreign minister said the relations between China and Russia are the best level in history during his visit to Moscow. Enemy of the enemy is a friend, isn’t it?  
Enjoy reading the article and think how scarcely the situation could be if the word “trade” is removed from the text.


Topic Reading-Vol.2191-4/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How laughter makes you a better worker
When do you laugh? People usually don’t laugh when they are alone. They laugh when they are or want to be relaxed. They laugh to share joy and happiness with others. In fact, laughter is a visual expression of positive emotional states, such as joy, mirth, happiness, or relief. The behavior that helps clarify their intentions in social interaction, and also adds an emotional context to conversations. It shows acceptance and positive interactions with others. Therefore, if a group of people is laughing together, it could mean that they are open to others and to themselves. According to experts, this might help the individuals of the group become more creative and innovative. That’s why offices and laboratories that produce creative or innovative ideas are designed to provide relaxed and interactive environment even in today’s digitally connected world.
Does it mean you are expected to create more in such relaxing environment?
Enjoy reading the article and try to remember when you became more creative.


Topic Reading-Vol.2190-4/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What women say about the gender pay gap
April 6, 2018, seemed to be a historic day for both men and women in the U.K. It was the deadline for over 9,000 employers to disclose their gender pay gaps among their 15 million employees, roughly half of the UK workforce. The mandatory disclosure law was made a year ago in an attempt to fight workplace discrimination. The UK gender pay gap on average is 18.1% for all workers or 9.4% for full-time staff. Now female workers in companies with 250 or more employees know if their gender pay gap is wider than the nation’s average and how much.
What about the other side of the pond? According to CNN, women in America earn only $0.80 for every dollar men make on average. Surprisingly, gender pay gap is wider in the industries where expertise seems to make difference to the job, such as teaching, sales, and legal, female earn $0.78, $0.67, and $0.56 respectively for every dollar their male coworkers receive.
In the early 20th century, there were growing suffragette movements across the U.K. to earn the right to vote. A century later, it may be the time for women to make their voices heard.
Enjoy reading the article and think what creates the gender pay gap.


Topic Reading-Vol.2189-4/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Bread's crust not more nutritious than the rest
Most bread crust is harder and more flavored than the rest. The crust is formed from surface dough when it is baked. It is hardened and browned through a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars, like seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, cookies, and biscuits.
It has been said or believed that the crust is more nutritious than the rest. But is it true? Not necessarily, according to food and nutrition experts. There are pros and cons for the part of bread, but it seems that the part of bread does not give as significant difference as the type of bread. For example, 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread is more nutritious than other types of bread.
So, the question now is whether you use or consume the crust. Some people cut off the crust when they make sandwiches. But such practice seems economically and environmentally problematic. Does bread crust taste as awful as banana skin?
Enjoy reading and think if you will cut off the crust when you make sandwiches next time.


Topic Reading-Vol.2188-4/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Here's a new reason why eating out might be bad for your health
Sugar, salt, fat and now what?
Phthalate is a substance added to plastics to make the material more flexible, transparent, durable and long-lasting. It is used in plastic gloves, commonly used in food processing factories and fast food restaurants, and plastic bags for packaging. A new study found that the substance is harmful to your health. Consumption of phthalate leads to birth defects, behavioral problems, obesity, and infertility. Researchers suggest that you eat at home more because home cooking has less exposure to or consumption of the chemical, provided that the food isn’t already-prepared one and packed in a plastic container.
Sounds very annoying, isn’t it? How can you avoid food or drink that is NOT packaged in plastic in your daily life?
What about Vada Pav (Vol.2186), a popular fried potato burger prepared and sold by street vendors in India? No or little container seems to be used in the cooking or wrapping process as the sandwich is simply prepared by his bare hands and served in old newspaper.
Enjoy reading the article and think which should be concerned more, phthalate or hygiene.


Topic Reading-Vol.2187-4/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The world oldest center of learning
What is the oldest university that is still being operated? You may think of Nalanda University in India or Oxford University in England. They taught Buddhism and Christianity respectively. But in fact, the oldest university that is still in operation is the University of Al-Karauine in Morocco. It was founded by an immigrant woman in 859 CE to teach Islam. It is located at the center of the medina in Fez, Morroco, one of the best-preserved historical towns in the Arab-Muslim world. The medina is a car-free urban area where donkeys and carts are the main transportation means.
During its early years, the school focused on religious education but later added linguistics, grammar, law, music, Sufism, medicine, and astronomy. Though the university was founded by a woman, it was until recent years when female students started studying at the institution in significant numbers. The mosque of the university is not limited only to Muslims, so that many tourists from around the world visit this oldest university and enjoy ancient Islamic calligraphy and mosaics of the medina.
Enjoy seeing the gallery and think if you want to visit and see one of those oldest textbooks written on deer skin.


Topic Reading-Vol.2186-4/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Vada Pav: The Indian burger McDonald’s can’t master
What kind of burger-substitutes are there in India where beef is rarely a popular choice of food? Surprisingly, McDonald’s is quite popular in the subcontinent. They serve chicken sandwiches and veggie-burgers with spices and flavors that stimulate their appetite and please their stomach. But there is a more popular street food that is similar to hamburgers especially in Mumbai, called Vada Pav, or Bombay Burger. It is a vegetarian fast food dish consists of a deep-fried potato dumpling sandwiched by a bread bun (pav). It is usually accompanied with chutney and green chili pepper to make sure the eater feels the sandwich spicy enough for their taste. As you can imagine, the combination of fried potato and bread is a quick energy charger. That’s because Vada Pav was first invented as a snack for mill workers in Mumbai. The snack is now prepared and sold by street vendors and chain restaurants across the country who all claim that theirs have a secret recipe or a special ingredient that makes their vada pav special.
Indeed, it is Bombayites, or Mumbaikars, choice of snack.
Enjoy reading the article and think if you want to make this India’s potato sandwich yourself or get there and taste it at one of those street vendors.


Topic Reading-Vol.2185-4/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Prince Laurent: €46,000 blow for Belgium's 'cursed prince'
What is it like to be a prince whose brother is the king? Not bad. A royal status without a king’s obligations, public attention, or time restriction.
Prince Laurent of Belgium is the second son of King Albert II and Queen Paola, and younger brother of King Philippe. The 54-year-old prince is 12th in the Belgian line of succession, practically no hope to ascend the throne.
Despite a lengthy emotional letter to the Belgian parliament, his endowment was cut by 15% by the parliament after he showed up at a Chinese diplomatic function in full military uniform without the consent of the government. The animal-loving prince claims that the endowment is the only source of income for him and his family because he is unable to work for a living as a royal. His annual allowance is now £270,000, roughly $378,000. Will that be enough for a family of a prince and four princesses to live a royal life?
Enjoy reading and think what the life of a royal family is like.


Topic Reading-Vol.2184-4/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Smart Homes for Dogs
Do you have a pet dog? Whether you do or not, here is something you may want to check. Smart kennel. While you enjoy the convenience and benefits of modern technologies, such as smartphone and apps, most pet dogs are left home alone while you are out working, doing things needed, or having fun. They don’t have so much to do during such a time but to sleep, in some cases nearly all-day long. It is unprotected, vulnerable and stressful time for any dog. Is there any device or technology that pleases the left-alone dog?
Yes. Just like your smart-home, there is a dog house that provides comforts such as a fan and mind-healing music. Also, there is a house that features an auto-feeder and water supplier. Another device is a remote camera with a speaker and microphone that enables visual and audio contact with the dog from anywhere in the world.
Does a dog like to be spoken or awaken by a speaker? Can a dog identify its master through a speaker?
Enjoy reading the article and watching the advert videos about smart dog houses.


Topic Reading-Vol.2183-4/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Guangzhou opens unmanned 'car vending machine'
Another innovative service for smartphone users. China is famous as the world most advanced mobile payment society. People shop and pay by their smartphones, and businesses make transactions on mobile payment platforms. This time, a brand-new car can be test driven from a vending machine through a completely human-free process. You just need to apply for a test drive of a car of your choice. Your application is instantly approved or disapproved by the online credit scoring system. If your credit score exceeds a certain point, you could test drive a car free of charge. Throughout the process, no human is involved. Sounds like as easy as a bike-sharing service.
The credit scoring system is called Sesame Credit. It is a personal credit scoring system provided by Alibaba’s financial service arm. Users of Alipay are rated based on a variety of factors, such as social media interactions, purchases at Alibaba’s websites, payment through Alipay. A high scorer earns a higher credit limit, better interest rate, and easier access to various services including the car vending machine. It has already regarded one of the person’s credentials, such as the educational records, job, and salary.
Enjoy reading and learning about this unmanned service innovation in the most populous country in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2182-4/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Free gift? China extends influence in Africa with $32M grant for regional HQ
Established in 1975, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a 15-member regional group to promote economic integration between the member states.
The 15 member countries of the ECOWAS are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. ( Map : How many of these do you recognize?)
Now a new headquarters of the organization is going to be built in Abuja, Nigeria with a grant from China. The organization says the $31.6 million grant is China’s goodwill, and they will promote future ECOWAS-China cooperation.
Is this the same kind of grant that an educational institution is given to build a library or to initiate a research project? Between countries, there always are trades and exchanges. What sort of return will the organization be expected for the new facility? Will that be a good deal?
Enjoy reading and think if this grant is an aid or aim.


Topic Reading-Vol.2181-4/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The drone that drops lunch on your desk
The dabbawalas is India’s lunch delivery system from homes and restaurants to people at work. The food is prepared by meal suppliers or at home, put into a reusable lunch box, then delivered by a dabbawalla using a bicycle or railway trains. After the meal is eaten, the empty lunch box is picked up by the delivery man. The system seems quite ecological compared with the fast-growing food delivery system in other countries, especially China, that uses plastic or paper for container and motorcycles for delivery.  
Indeed, many workers in India are accustomed to this two-century-old lunch delivery service, especially in busy Mumbai. This means there is a huge demand for food delivery. In order to meet the demand, a new way of food delivery is arising. Unmanned Arial Vehicle, UAV, or more known as the drone. Sounds quite progressive in a market where food is delivered by a man on foot or on a bicycle, but considering the congested streets and trains, open air might be a good alternative route for daily delivery.
Enjoy seeing the video and think which delivery you would prefer for your lunch, by a human or a drone.


Topic Reading-Vol.2180-3/31/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How video games turn teenagers into millionaires
It’s been a while since people started creating music and sharing it with others online. The same practice has been seen in photos on Instagram and videos on YouTube. These easy-to-use online platforms have been providing chances to individuals who want to publicize their creative works. And online gaming has been following suit for the last few years.
Millions of people, mostly young, are playing online games every day, everywhere in the world. Those players are now playing not only the games that are created and sold by game companies but also the ones created and streamed by individuals. Enthusiastic online gamers can enjoy playing games all day long. But nowadays, competitive players can compete at eSports events, creative players can produce games themselves to share them on online platforms, and communicative players can stream games created by others to gamers around the world. And they can be financially rewarded. Yes, gamers can monetize their talent, effort and time online.
Enjoy reading and thinking what online platforms do for the entertainment industry.


Topic Reading-Vol.2179-3/30/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Canada introduces new gun control measures
Students are marching and silencing to stop gun violence. Lawmakers are arguing to control firearm sales and ownership, such as background checks and the minimum age to purchase guns.
Canada is the second-largest country by total area. The population is just over 36 million, which makes it one of the least densely populated countries in the world. You can imagine that the people who live in remote areas want to have some sort of firearms to protect them from people and animals.
Though it’s not as high as the one in the US, the number of gun-related has been on the rise in Canada. And the lawmakers there are trying to curb the increase by making it more difficult to purchase guns by introducing stricter background checks.
Does it sound like an effective solution? Are those gun-related crimes and incidents committed by individuals who have easily-traceable records? Could it have prevented the recent gun massacres in Florida and Las Vegas?
Enjoy reading the article and think what makes lawmakers hesitate to act more decisively.


Topic Reading-Vol.2178-3/29/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
South Korea to shut off computers to stop people working late
How hard-working Koreans are! Garlic girls (Vol.2177) aren’t the only ones to work hard to make their dreams come true or make their living. According to OECD, South Korea’s average annual hours that were worked per worker in 2016 were still over 2,000, the second longest only after Mexico. Though the figures used to be over 2,500, they have been declining steadily for the last 10 years. Just for reference, the average hours among OECD nations are 1,763, and German’s are 1,363. However, South Korea’s government workers work over 2,700 hours a year, about 1,000 hours longer than the OECD average, or two times as long as Germany’s.
Now the government is rolling out a new initiative to switch off their computers at 7:00pm on Fridays. How late do they usually work now and how late will they stay in their offices on other working days? Surprisingly, over two-thirds of the affected workers have already asked for exemptions from the switch-off program.
Why so? Are the government offices way understaffed? Is competition too keen? Do they need to earn more money? Or are they so insufficient?
Enjoy reading and thinking what drives Koreans work so hard either on ice or in offices.


Topic Reading-Vol.2177-3/28/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
South Korea's 'Garlic Girls' enjoy the sweet smell of Olympic success
Are you familiar with Curling? It is a team sport played by two teams of four players on the ice. Players slide granite stones towards a target area that is segmented into four concentric circles. Curling has been a medal sport in the Winter Olympic Games since 1998. Canada and Sweden have been winning most of the medals for women. But in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, the South Korean women's curling team won a historic silver medal.
In fact, curling hadn’t been so popular in the country. There are only 800 or so players and five dedicated centers for the sport. But these five medal-winning team members, all named Kim, the most popular surname in South Korea, have dedicated themselves to this unpopular sport for the last 12 years. The whole country was stunned by their unexpected and unprecedented success in the Olympic Games.
Enjoy reading and learning how this amazing team was formed and what the team members have been working on while playing the ice sport.


Topic Reading-Vol.2176-3/27/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Stunning images capture the world around us
Sony World Photography Awards Open competition is an 11-year old photography competition that showcases the best photography in the world from the previous year. It is today’s one of the most respected and influential photography competitions. There have been over a million of entries since its first edition in 2007. Among the four competitions of the award, professional, open, youth and student, the open competition invites all ages, backgrounds and experience levels to compete.
Now, the 2018 Open competition category winners & National Award winners were announced in the following categories; the Travel award, the Portraiture category, the Enhanced image category, Landscape and Nature section, Still Life section, the Motion category, the Culture section, the Wildlife category, the Street Photography section, and the Architecture category,
Each of the winning photos looks eye-opening, jaw-dropping, or mind-aspiring.
Enjoy seeing the winning photos of all the categories and judge which one should win the best award.


Topic Reading-Vol.2175-3/26/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Burger-flipping robot begins first shift
Grilling burger patties. It is a pleasing task when you make burgers for your family or friends on the weekend. But it isn’t a kind of job most people want, especially at a burger restaurant where a griller has to endure doing the same work in a hot, greasy environment all day long, on every working day. It is regarded as one of the most popular unskilled jobs though it requires a thorough implementation of the standard procedure. Can a robot do the job?
Yes. A California burger chain has introduced a burger-flipping robot, called Flippy, to its 50 restaurant locations. The $60,000 robot, which is capable of grilling up to 12 burgers at once, is now taking over human grillers in the unpopular environment. Though it still makes mistakes time to time that humans can possibly do, it keeps flipping burgers all day long without complaining or taking a break. Powered and controlled by image recognition and heat sensing technology, Flippy knows which burgers need flipping precisely to grill burgers to perfection.
All this hard-working robot needs is $12,000 monthly running cost and regular maintenance.
Enjoy watching the video and think which burger you’d like to bite, human-made, or robot flipped.


Topic Reading-Vol.2174-3/25/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Your chances of getting sick in the air soar if your neighbor is ill
How risky is it to fly on an airplane? You may be relieved to learn that the risk of an airplane crash is much smaller than a car accident. But what about the chances of being infected by an airborne virus during a flight? There often are passengers who cough or sneeze around you. How far is safe enough to avoid infection?
An in-flight study was conducted on ten medium-range flights, lasting about four hours or so, in single-row aircraft. Researchers checked the movement of the passengers during the flight and found that about 60% of the passengers left their seats once or more. The more people move, the higher the chances of spreading the virus, including flight attendants. Also, the longer the flight is, the more moves are made to go to the lavatory or just to stretch bodies. The researchers also collected environmental samples before, during and after the flights and tested them for common respiratory viruses. The results were all negative. So, what does the research say?
You may also wonder how contaminated the surfaces of objects you most likely touch during a flight, such as the seat buckle, bathroom lock, lavatory flash button, and tray table.
One researcher says one person's mild sickness may be another person's severe disease. You may not want to be just protective but also preventive.
Enjoy reading and learning what could prevent you and others from getting sick on your next flight.


Topic Reading-Vol.2173-3/24/2018

Amazon didn't kill Toys 'R' Us. Here's what did
Have you ever shopped at or seen a Toys 'R' Us or Babies "R" Us store in your country?
Founded in 1948 in the U.S., Toys "R" Us is an international toy and juvenile-products chain store. Of the 1,700 plus total stores globally, 700 are in the U.S., 100 are in the U.K., all of which were announced to be closed. The fate of the other 900 stores in 36 counties, like 160 in Japan, 100 in China, and 80 in Canada, is uncertain.
Is this seven-decade-old toy giant another victim of e-retailers like Amazon? In fact, is one of the most visited sites in the specialty toy and baby products retail category with an assortment of toys. However, that didn’t seem to be enough to compete against online businesses of other retailers or cover the loss in onsite stores. The problem of the toy giant started even before online shopping became mainstream in toy retailing business. So, what made the toy retailer go bankrupt?
Enjoy reading and learning what could ruin, stay alive in or prosper business


Topic Reading-Vol.2172-3/23/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How chatbots could replace your HR department
It seems that AI is now playing some roles in HR department.
In Japan, where graduating students send their job applications to as many potential employers as they can nearly at the same time, some companies have started using AI technology to conduct an initial screening of job applications instead of having their HR department staff do the time and painstaking task. Other companies are even using AI to conduct initial job interviews with their applicants, either online or onsite. The AI interviewer converts each applicant’s answers to text, analyze the data and score it to be reviewed by HR staff. In this case, applicants are extremely eager to respond to the questions.
But what about a situation when an interviewee is reluctant or afraid to talk about a sensitive topic such as sexual harassment or discrimination in a workplace? Has AI technology become sophisticated enough to have interviewees to tell a story that could potentially affect their career opportunities within the organization? It seems so up to a certain extent as AI HR robot had become capable of using cognitive interview method, which is commonly used to interview witnesses to crimes who are also worried about their safety.
In either case, AI interviewer has nearly unlimited time and patience at any time, anywhere.
Enjoy reading and learning about what AI can help humans in sensitive issues.


Topic Reading-Vol.2171-3/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Astronaut's DNA no longer matches that of his identical twin, NASA finds
On Earth, a thing falls at approximately 9.8 meters per second. In Space, nothing falls. That’s zero gravity. After a year-long stay in the International Space without gravity, a 52-year old astronaut became taller by over five centimeters. His identical twin brother who remained on earth during the period had no change in his height, of course. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the extended height of the astronaut returned to normal after a few days. But didn’t he experience any other physical, biological, or mental changes?
In space, gravity isn’t the only difference from the normal environment on earth. Space crew members and passengers will experience weightlessness and isolation, feel stress, and suffer radiation exposure during the spaceflight or mission. In fact, some changes in the astronaut’s gene expression, how the human body reacts to the environment, was observed after the year-long mission, such as collagen, blood clotting, bone formation, and immune activities. Also, some of his genes were found to be different from the ones of his identical twin brother’s after the mission.
Some of these changes might have surprised even Stephen Hawking.
Enjoy reading and think if you want to jump on the first flight to Mars or wait until more is studies.


Topic Reading-Vol.2170-3/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Stephen Hawking on God, artificial intelligence, and mankind's future
Born in Oxfordshire in 1943, Stephen Hawking studied physics in Oxford. He was diagnosed with a rare form of neuron disease at the age of 21 and was said he would live only a few years. However, he went on to Cambridge for his postgraduate research in cosmology and became a professor of mathematics, a role once held by Sir Isaac Newton. He passed away on March 14 at the age of 76 in Cambridge.
He was a brilliant scientist, known for his theories on black holes and relativity, and inspired scientists, astronauts, and students. Though he lost his speaking ability, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generator by using a single cheek muscle.
His daughter once said you could ask any question to him. One of his famous quotes says if one is disabled, one should concentrate on the things that one can do, and not regret the things that one can’t do. He also predicted that Artificial Intelligence would take off on its own and redesigns itself at an ever-increasing rate.
Enjoy seeing this brief video to feel his intelligence and foresight.


Topic Reading-Vol.2169-3/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'We are the future' -- Students across country walk out to demand new gun laws
They want their voices heard. A month after the shooting massacre in a high school in Florida which left 17 people dead, an unprecedented number of students across the U.S. walked out of their classes, some marched to White House, asking for actions to end school shootings. At 10 am in each time zone, the National School Walkout took place for 17 minutes, each minute was dedicated for each victim of the Florida shooting. Though penalties may be imposed in some school districts, students took strides out of their classrooms to ask lawmakers to:
- Ban assault weapons;
- Require universal background checks before gun sales;
- Pass a gun violence restraining order law to disarm potentially dangerous people.
One student cited, "Change never happens without backlash." Now it is time for adults to respond to the movement. After all, it is for their children and for their future.
Enjoy reading and thinking if there was ever a day when students would march to commemorate the achievement of the movement they initiated.


Topic Reading-Vol.2168-3/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How to build muscle as age tears it down
When people reach their 50s or 60s, most of them become physically relieved from family and/or business responsibilities. Also, people tend to become less physically active as they age. Then is the time to start rebuilding their muscles, according to the experts.
Furthermore, even if you exercise regularly, you need to do more and better just to maintain the same level of muscle and physical strength. That’s a hardship, isn’t it? But muscle loss actually begins in your 30s and accelerates in your 50s. Though it sounds depressing, the good news is that you could slow the muscle loss by exercise regularly and intensely. Sound like a fair exchange to you?
Also, more protein needs to be taken to develop new muscles, especially the one from dairy, meat or fish. This may sound a bit encouraging. How about doing some workout and taking grandchildren to MacDonald’s? No fries or sugary drink, though.
After all, healthy aging and independence are essential for anyone to enjoy their remaining years. But that fortune needs to be attained by some work.
Enjoy reading and learning what it takes to be in good shape.


Topic Reading-Vol.2167-3/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Saudi Arabia: What to know before you visit
Do you want to see a red planet? Then, you don’t have to wait until next year when Big Falcon Rocket is projected to take you to Mars. From April this year, tourists can enter this desert kingdom, Saudi Arabia. You might not know the fact that Saudi hasn’t been open for tourists since its establishment in 1932, even though over 20% of the population are foreign citizens and millions of religious pilgrims visit Mecca, a holy city for Muslims, every year.
Now you can see the famous camel contest and racing, taste camel burgers, and enjoy a desert scenery on a camel. The kingdom is projecting to welcome 30 million visitors by 2030, up twelve million from 2016.
Indeed, the conservative kingdom is opening opportunities for its citizens, too. Movie theaters are reopening, females are going to be allowed to drive on the street and watch sports games in stadiums.
Just a few reminders. Women need to be 25 and older or accompanied by their husband or male family to get a tourist visa. Also, no alcohol is allowed, even on the plane or in hotels. Lastly but not the least, wear conservatively and avoid exposing your skin.
Do you want to check other restrictions and requirements to visit Saudi or Mars?
Enjoy reading and think if you want to be one of the first wave of visitors to this aggressively changing this conservative oil-rich kingdom.


Topic Reading-Vol.2166-3/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How daylight saving time works and why these states want to ditch it
Most states in the US put their clocks and watches forward an hour on Sunday, March 11th. They now start their day earlier to enjoy more sunlight during the day until November 14th. Then, they put their clocks backward an hour, so that they don’t have to get up in the dark. This time adjustment practice is called Daylight Saving Time in America and is observed most of the states except Hawaii and Arizona. It is called Summer Time in Europe, but theirs begin on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October each year.
The practice to adjust times was first introduced during the WWI but wasn’t widely adopted until the 1970s when the world faced substantial oil shortages. Though the practice offers effective use of daylight and saves energy, the first morning in the summertime is a big challenge. Most people don’t mind getting up an hour earlier for fun, like going fishing or skiing, but no one wants that just to do the same things. The last hour of sleep is so precious for both mental and physical health. In fact, more car accidents and heart attacks occur on the first summer day.
Indeed, it isn’t that easy to adjust the body clock.
So, are there any ways to ease the pain? Yes, there are. For example, eating dinner earlier or taking an afternoon-nap helps you to make the transition smoother, if you can.
Enjoy reading and learning about the pros and cons of Daylight Saving Time.


Topic Reading-Vol.2165-3/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
After100 hours in Tibet, I knew it was time to leave
When you plan a journey to a place where you’ve dreamed to visit, you probably want to stay there as long as you want especially when you spend a lot of time and money for it. There is no blame. You deserve and earn the trip. But how long is enough to enjoy staying in the dream place? The longer the better? Should you stay until you feel enough?
It seems that an exciting travel experience is no different from a pleasurable dining experience. No matter how sublime the food is, the ecstasy declines as your stomach is being filled. An author of many books on travel emphasizes the pleasure of the inner journey that follows the outer journey. In other words, a sensational memory of an outstanding journey stays long and repeatedly be enjoyed through one’s life. For that reason, an outer journey shouldn’t be too long. And just like any other memorable experience like a sports game or date, a good experience stays in your mind for a long time, if not forever. After all, it’s experience, not just seeing and feeling things in a different place.
But how long is too long or too short? That’s a million-dollar question.
Enjoy reading the article and think how long you want to spend in your dream travel destination.


Topic Reading-Vol.2164-3/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Protesting Iran's compulsory hijab law
On March 8, the 107th International Women’s Day was celebrated across the world, calling for gender equality. In the meanwhile, there are numbers of women who are forced to wear certain clothes despite their will by tradition. One of such customs is hijab. It is a veil that covers the head and chest, in some cases face as a symbol of modesty and privacy. Many Muslim women wear hijab by tradition, law or their will. However, in some places, there are women who are forced to wear or not to wear it against their will. For example, Saudi Arabia and Iran, women are required to wear hijab by law. On the contrary, a burka, which covers the entire body and face, is banned to wear in public in France, the Netherlands, and China. In either case, some women experience not only pressure but also physical attacks to wear or not wear hijab or burka in public.
As a small but determined protest against such discriminatory acts and force, an Iranian woman created an animated video with the help of her boyfriend, which shows how she felt the pressure to wear the traditional clothes.
Enjoy watching the animation video and reading the article and think what your choice will be in such a situation, defection, detention, or hijab.


Topic Reading-Vol.2163-3/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
International Women's Day 2018: History, strikes and celebrations
March 8th was International Women’s Day. Millions of women around the world rallied, some even went on strike, against gender inequality and pay gap, and sexual discrimination. (Photos)
It was originally a movement to improve labor conditions in New York in 1908. The move became international and was first celebrated in 1911. A milestone event took place in war-torn Russia in 1917 when women demanded bread and peace and went on strike. They successfully removed the tsar and earned the right to vote. The day in the Gregorian calendar was then set as International Women’s Day.
International Women’s day is celebrated around the world but quite differently. For example, women are given a half-day off, flowers, or honor by the president. This year, millions of women in Spain joined an unprecedented strike targeting gender inequality and sexual discrimination, shouting "if we stop, the world stops".
Though the day has been celebrated 107th times and is recognized by the United Nations, the world still hasn’t seen a female Secretary General in the UN yet.
Enjoy reading and think how equally women are treated in your country, society, and family.


Topic Reading-Vol.2162-3/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
North Korean defector: 'I wish I can go back for a day'
What it’s like to defect to another country? For some reason, quite a few numbers of people choose to leave their country with a determination of never returning, while refugees are left no choice but to escape from their country because of a war, natural disaster, or political, religious, racial, or economic oppression. In other words, the difference between a defector and refugee is by will or by force.
The Korean War was fought by both Koreas and their allies between 1950 and 1953. Though an armistice was signed to cease the fight and the Demilitarized Zone was created to separate two Koreas, no peace treaty has been signed. They are said to be technically still at war.
Every year, a few thousand people defect from North Korea, risking their lives. Some try to go across the border, and others take a long journey via China, Thailand to South Korea or the U.S. Making such a life-threatening one-way trip is one thing. But starting a new life in a different country is another challenge. Furthermore, those who defected can never return to their homeland. Indeed, they earned a new life at the sacrifice of their home, family, and friends.
Enjoy reading a defector’s story and watch the video that shows how South Korean public is learning about the North from its defectors.