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Topic Reading-Vol.2141-2/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Five myths about loneliness
Do you feel lonely sometimes, often, or always? Loneliness is feeling of disconnection, or an unhappy feeling as a result of being without the companionship of others. Being alone is a state of being apart from another or others, in other words, solitary. So, you may feel lonely when you aren’t alone. For example, you may feel disconnected even when you are talking you’re your family or friends.
Interestingly, you may sometimes want to be alone, but you don’t want to feel lonely. When you feel lonely, you probably want to be understood by or connected with others. Then, you may try to find a way to search a new relationship or try to improve the existing ones. It sounds like feeling hungry, doesn’t it? When you’re hungry, you enjoy the food better. Meanwhile, if you are always hungry, you will most likely be mentally stressed and physically weakened. That’s when feeling lonely causes problems.
Interested in learning more about loneliness?
Enjoy reading and learning what loneliness is about and does to you.


Topic Reading-Vol.2140-2/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Seeing double: School with 44 sets of twins in one year sets world records
44 pairs of twins in the sophomore class of 1,000 students? Yes, there are in a high school near Chicago. Even though multiple births are getting more common these days, that sounds quite a log of twins, doesn’t it? Yes. It in fact set two the Guinness World Records, for most twins and most multiples in a single academic class.
Is it confusing to have so many lookalikes in the same class? Not really. Of the 44 pairs and one triplet, only three pairs are identical twins.
Advancing average age of mothers and the use of fertility drugs seem to be creating more multiples these days. Over 90 percent of multiple births are twins. There are two types of twins, identical and fraternal ones. The former is created when one fertilized egg splits and develops two babies who share the same genetic information. The latter is developed from two eggs that are fertilized by two sperm, just like ordinary sisters or brothers. Those twins are siblings born just at the same time. Approximately two in three sets of twins are fraternal,  and they can be either the same or different sex.
Parents of this high school are asked whether they want their twins to be in the same class or not. Teachers may be more confused than their fellow students since they need to keep the record of their students by the family names.
Enjoy reading and learning what the situation is like in this crowded-with-multiples school.


Topic Reading-Vol.2139-2/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Bill & Melinda Gates: Why we give our money away
Just a reminder. Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975, the world third most valued company based in Seattle, Washington. When he turned 31, he became the youngest billionaire in the world, and eight years later, the wealthiest person in 1995 with a fortune of nearly $13 billion. He stepped down the CEO role of the successful company in 2000 to dedicate his time and wealth to philanthropical work with his wife, Melinda. The couple devoted their time and wealth, donating nearly $3 billion in cash and 700 million Microsoft shares to charitable causes. They also inspired other ultra-riches to donate more than half of their wealth to charitable causes in their lifetime. Those who took part in the move were Warren Buffet, a legendary investor, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, and Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X’s only to name a few.
The couple has committed to most of their wealth to the foundation to help stop preventable deaths and also to remove other barriers to health and education, such as fighting Alzheimer’s disease, providing resources to women in developing countries, and promoting health initiatives around the world, including the effort to eliminate polio disease.
Now you know what he and his wife did and have done. Interested to learn more?
Enjoy reading the article and watch the video why they committed themselves and their wealth to the philanthropical causes.


Topic Reading-Vol.2138-2/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How Americans preserved British English
How did British people in Shakespeare’s time speak English? Like any other language, people in those days spoke English differently from modern times. Then, do modern-day British maintain the traditional way of speaking English more than those on the other side of the ocean?
Most languages change or evolve as time goes on, especially when people hear voices through radios and TVs and also when they travel and move from place to place more often. So modern British English sounds quite different from the one their great ancestors spoke. But interestingly, some of the pronunciation believed to have been used in old times is still heard in some places of America. Linguists think old language could have been kept unchanged in isolated places where interactions with outside world are rare. In other words, preserved.
It’s noteworthy that it was the 16th century when the English Bible, Elizabeth I’s letter and Shakespeare’s works were first printed in England. In those days, the spelling of English wasn’t that standardized but rather reflected how the words would have been pronounced. It is also thought that nobles, including the queen and the kings, didn’t seem to have spoken like present-day posh English.
Enjoy reading and learning how a language could have changed and kept.


Topic Reading-Vol.2137-2/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The country running out of space for its millionaires
Monaco is a sovereign city-state on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is one of three surviving principalities along with Liechtenstein and Andorra. You might have heard or seen the world-famous car racing Monaco Grand Prix, a Formula One motor race held on the Circuit de Monaco, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious car races in the world.
The principality is the second smallest state after Vatican city, with just over two square kilometers. It is populated with 37,000 residents, which makes it the most densely populated state in the world. (Macao has higher population density, but it is an autonomous region, not a state.
What is remarkable about this popular Mediterranean city-state is the wealth of its residents. In fact, over 30% of the population are millionaires, the highest number per capita in the world. Accordingly, house prices in Monaco are staggeringly high, around $100,000 per just square meter.
Why do so many rich people want to live in such a tiny city-state? Are they all motor racing fanatic? Is that climate so better than the one of other Mediterranean resorts?
Enjoy reading and learning what attracts the super-rich to a crowded place like Monaco.


Topic Reading-Vol.2136-2/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
German workers win right to 28-hour week
How long do you want to work in a week? If you work eight hours a day, you’ll be working for 40 hours a week or about 1,900 hours a year. If you work seven hours, it’ll be 35 hours a week and nearly 1,700 hours a year. You may not mind working longer hours so much when you are motivated to achieve objectives for your career or obliged to earn more money for the family.
Certain times in life, people want or need more time to care for their family, like looking after a baby or an elderly parent. Recently, a German metal union and their employers have reached a historic agreement to allow their members to choose more flexible work hours for better work-life balance. Now their workers can choose to work as few as 28 hours a week, which is 30% shorter than most common 40-hour work week in most other countries. Even for Germany, which is well known for its high productivity, it’s a 20% reduction of work time.
Will they be able to maintain the productivity and competitiveness in today’s globalized business environment especially when AI is changing how businesses are conducted? Or, will this move pave a way to work with AI?
Enjoy reading and think how long is enough for you for now and in the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.2135-2/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World's flags take the spotlight in Pyeongchang
Many of you might have been watching the winter Olympic games being held in freezing PyenongChang, South Korea, including the folks who rarely watch TV these days. Among the 91 national flags paraded during the opening ceremony. the one that marched the last was the unified Korean flag. It has a blue silhouette of the Korean Peninsula on a white background. The athletes of North and South Korea marched together under the unified flag. Yes, a national flag shows the identity of the nation and unity of the people.
Then what about the design of national flags? During the Olympic games, those flags look the same in their shapes. That’s because they are created for the sake of practicality. In fact, national flags are in different shapes. You may remember that Switzerland’s flag is perfectly square, and all the others are rectangular, except for Nepal’s which is composed of two combined triangles. But even the rectangular ones are in different shapes, ranging from 13:15 like Belgium to Qatar’s very stretched 11:28.
And what about the colors used in those flags?
Enjoy reading and learn what national flags are meant to be and show.


Topic Reading-Vol.2134-2/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
10 foods to try in South Korea
As the XXIII Olympic Winter Games are being held in PyeongChang, South Korea, many of you may be enjoying the heated competitions on snow and ice under freezing temperature. While the participating athletes are competing in the ice arenas and on the hills and fields, visitors from all over the world are enjoying not only those exciting games but also delighting local foods in restaurants and on the street.
Korean barbecue and kimuchi are probably the most well-known Korean dishes around the world. But of course, there are many other delightful foods in Korea. Jjigae, a type of rich, spicy stew, often served like bibimbap in a hot stone bowl, is one of the beloved dishes especially in severe winter. If you walk along the street, you’ll find Toppoki, a soupy ricecake in a spicy, fermented red chili paste, in street-food stalls and snack bars. And there are many more to entice your stomach and heart.
Enjoy seeing the photos and descriptions of ten popular Korean foods, and enjoy the games.


Topic Reading-Vol.2133-2/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Elon Musk just launched our earthshaking new adventure
By now, you might have seen the spectacular launch of the most powerful rocket in current operation. Falcon Heavy is a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX, an entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space enterprise. It is capable of lifting into earth’s orbit nearly 64 metric tons, which is heavier than a fully-loaded 737 jetliner, with its three strapped reusable launch booster rockets. In fact, two of them had been used in previous missions and landed perfectly this time again. Despite the massive capacity, the only payload this time was just an electric sports car on a mannequin in a spacesuit, called Starman, in the driver’s seat.
The purpose of this launch mission is to test the capability of this powerful rocket that is designed to carry equipment, materials, and persons to build a human station on Mars, the red planet.
It was nearly half-a-century ago when Apollo 11 was launched from the same launch pod to send the first men to the moon. Given the technologies available today and tomorrow, isn’t it the time for a new frontier?
Enjoy reading the article and watching the videos and think if you will ever see an ad for a trip to Mars.


Topic Reading-Vol.2132-2/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Sky's the limit as Africa makes major move towards aviation single market
Do you know how many people and countries there are in Africa? It is estimated that a little over 1.2 billion people, about 17 percent of the world population, live in 54 recognized states. That population of the continent is increasing at a little over 2.5 percent annually because of the high fertility rate - the number of children who would be born per woman - of nearly 4.7. Just like any other developing regions, urbanization has been in progress in many states in the continent. Over 500 million people live in cities now. Though the market size of each country may not be as large as the ones of other developed continents, it is growing fast now and even faster in the coming years.
Then as the population and economy grow, more people will travel within the continent, especially by air because cities are scattered across the continent and roads and railroads are rarely connected. However, most of the air travels are conducted by airlines outside of Africa. As a result, many intra-continental travelers are connected at an airport in Europe or the Middle East when they travel from an African city to another. In order to accommodate the increasing needs for air travels over the continent, the African Union (AU) has launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to free their skies for air travel. It is part of the African Union’s initiative to encourage pan-African integration, which also includes relaxation of visa restrictions for African citizens.
Paving a road may take a long time and a lot of work but opening the skies can be done much faster and more easily because it only takes agreements by the governments.
Enjoy reading and learning what the air travel is like in Africa for now and will be in the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.2131-2/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What will millenniums kill this year?
Who are Millennials, or Generation Y? They are people who reached adulthood around the Millennium, born between 1977-1994 in the US. They are the largest cohort since the Baby Boomer, their parents. They are known as incredibly sophisticated, tech-wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales approaches, which they have been exposed to since they were in their early childhood. They are also flexible and changing in fashion, style, and communication as they grew up with the Internet.
Their influence on traditional businesses has been significant. Many traditional businesses, such as restaurants, fitness gyms, newspapers, packaged food like cereals, which that had been developed by their parents’ generation, have witnessed a sharp decline in their revenues. They don’t look exciting or anything to this generation of people because they grew up with them. Rather, they seem to be looking for and adopting new things and styles that have been created by their own generation. SNS rather than emails, chatting online rather than talking on the phones, takeaway food rather than sitting in a restaurant, touch screen rather than the keyboard. It is not surprising to see many of the new dominant businesses, such as Amazon, Facebook and YouTube were all created by their generation.
Sounds like children are killing their parents’ businesses and traditions.
Enjoy reading and thinking how adaptable you are to arising technologies, styles and trends.


Topic Reading-Vol.2130-2/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Nuclear Posture Review: US wants smaller nukes to counter Russia
The US has revealed a plan to develop a more practical, easy-to-use, or feel-less-guilty, nuclear weapon in order to be competitive with Russia, its archrival in nuclear armament race. It says the new weapon is much smaller, only as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
Deterrence is the most common justification for nuclear armament among the already-nuclear-armed nations. They say they need to stay ahead of, keeping up with, or catching up to their rivals. They try to keep their nuclear armament capabilities as powerful as and as practical as their potential enemy. They’ve been increasing or decreasing the number of warheads and the strength of the power, as well as developing and modernizing the launch and delivery capabilities. This race doesn’t seem to stop forever in the name of deterrence and national security.
Will the matching force be the only way to hold back the other? If so, why not eliminating all the nuclear weapons in the first place?
Read the article and think about the difference between the disciplines of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and practices of the Nuke-armed nations.


Topic Reading-Vol.2129-2/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Reality Check: Where are the world's nuclear weapons?
In 1945, two atomic bombs were used to kill hundreds of innocent civilians and destroy the civilization of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. It has been hoped that these two were the very last nuclear weapons to be used. However, there still are 9,000 nuclear weapons in military service, 1,800 of which are ready to be used at any time. How could humans whose hands are on the launch buttons resist the temptation to push the button when they learn that their country is under attack or believe that an attack is imminent. Remember, on January 13, 2018, a false alert of an impending missile attack was sent via the Emergency Alert System and Commercial Mobile Alert System over television, radio, and cellphones in Hawaii. Though the launch procedures aren’t that simple, they are designed to be carried out quite smoothly and swiftly.
Also, on top of those active nuclear weapons, there are as many as 6,000 retired weapons waiting to be dismantled. Are they safe and secured?
The Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to then US President Barack Obama in 2009 in a hope to strengthen his influence over nuclear weapons. The committee rewarded the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, in 2017 for their longtime commitment and activities towards a nuclear-free world.
Will human ingenuity ever eliminate those unnecessary evils?
Enjoy reading and learning how many nuclear weapons there are in the world and where.


Topic Reading-Vol.2128-2/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Polar bears could face extinction faster than thought, study says
Polar bears live within the Arctic Circle. The Arctic bear is classified as a vulnerable species as its habitat, Arctic ice has been melting because of the global warming. It’s a huge animal. An adult male polar bear weighs around 350–700 kg while an adult female is about half that size. Surely, they need a lot of food to live. In fact, an adult polar bear requires over 12,000 kilocalories to sustain its energy level. Their main prey is ringed and bearded seals. Time to time, those seals surface in holes in the ice to breathe or haul out on the ice to rest. These are the very rare opportunities the polar bear can hunt them. But it isn’t an easy hunting. A new study found that the success ratio is merely 2%. The maritime bear spends nearly half of its time searching its prey, and that time is getting longer as ice melts. Indeed, arctic ice is vital habitat for the polar bear and is one of the species suffering the most from global warming.
Enjoy reading and learning about the survival of this giant white bear.


Topic Reading-Vol.2127-2/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Four major changes to make Spring Festival travel rush smooth
China’s Spring Festival, or 春运 (Chūnyùn), is the world largest annual human migration period. Nearly three billion passenger trips are projected between Feb 1 to March 12 this year.
Why do so many people want to travel during such a busy time of the year?
For most Chinese people, Spring Festival is a long-held tradition to reunite with their families to celebrate the lunar new year. Just for a reminder, the population of China is over 1.3 billion.
Also, there are as many as 37 million university or college students in China, and many of them study outside of their hometown. This is the time for them to go home.
And of course, it is time to travel for fun. Many workers get not only a week or longer vacation during the period but also a handsome bonus.
In order to make this mega-human-migration smother, several upgrades have been made on the road, on the rails, and in the air. Great news for travelers but not always for some employers. Why? There are many workers who choose to make a one-way trip.
Enjoy reading and learning about this festival and travel period in China.


Topic Reading-Vol.2126-2/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
India estimates 21 million of its girls are 'unwanted'
In India, there seems to be a very strong preference for boys over girls. Some parents keep making children until they get a boy. As a result, it is estimated that there could be as many as over 20 million unwanted girls in the nation. This sounds more humane than sex-selective abortions, as long as those girls are treated and given care as well as and as much as boys.
And there seem to be numbers of sex-selective abortions. In some regions, under the age of seven, there are 1,200 boys for every 1,000 girls of the same age. How will those boys find their girlfriends or brides when they grow up?
One of the reasons many Indian parents still prefer boys is that they want to pass their property on their sons. Also, when their daughters get married, they are obliged to pay handsome dowries, and they move to their husband’s house by tradition. Though modern lifestyle is changing such traditions and customs in large cities, they are still in practice in many parts of the country.
Read the article and think what it’s like to be one of those unwanted girls in India.


Topic Reading-Vol.2125-2/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
World's tallest man meets world's shortest woman
How tall can a man be? The tallest living man is Mr. Sultan Kosen, whose height is 2.5 meter. He was born in Turkey, and has been the tallest man since 2009, and is now 36 years old,. His extraordinary height is caused by excess growth hormone produced in the brain. His parents and four siblings are of ordinary height.
How short could a woman be? The shortest living woman is Ms. Jyoti Amge from India, whose height is just 0.63m. She was born in 1993 and was declared as the shortest woman in 2011 by Guinness World Records. She is an actress and appeared in several shows and stories.
How do they look when they are in a photo together? Mr. Kosen is four times taller than Ms. Amege. Can they fit in a photo? Yes, beautifully well in fact. They were pictured together in front of a Pyramid in Egypt to promote its tourism!
Enjoy seeing the photos of the tallest man and shortest woman in the world.


Topic Reading-Vol.2124-2/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
This company wants to clean up space
Space is supposedly clean and quiet. No air, sound or gravity. But in fact, there are millions of pieces of space debris, broken or torn pieces of human-made objects in Earth orbit, such as old satellites and spent rocket stages. Some of them are as large as satellites or large enough to be tracked, but most of them are smaller than 1 cm. Too small to worry about? The problem is there are too many of them in space and they travel too fast. The speed of such debris is nearly seven times faster than a bullet, or over 10,000km per hour. Any flying object at that speed could cause substantial or catastrophic damage to a spacecraft or satellite. Furthermore, when such object hits each other, more pieces of space debris are created. As more satellites are being launched and planned to earth’s orbit for commercial, science or military use, the chances for such collisions are increasing. Sounds like dumping trash without any thought of collection or clean up, doesn’t it?
Now there is a company that wants to tackle this present and clear danger. But how?
Enjoy watching the video to find what methods are being planned to clean space.
If you want to know what it’s like to be hit by space debris, remember or check a space movie “Zero Gravity.”


Topic Reading-Vol.2123-2/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Australian Open: Age no issue, says Roger Federer after 20th Grand Slam title
Roger Federer was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1981. He has been a professional tennis player for 20 years since 1998 and won over 1,000 games and 96 titles. Surely, he is still one of the top players in the world even at his age. What makes him one of the best players in tennis history is that he has just won his 20th Grand Slam title, more than any other man before him.
Grand Slam, or majors, are the four most important annual tennis events. They are the Australian Open played on hard court, the French Open on clay court, Wimbledon on grass court, and the US Open on hard court. Federer has won these major titles five, one, eight and five times respectively. The closest man to this milestone achievement is his archrival Rafael Nadel, who has won 16 titles.
His recent Australian Open title is so significant because he now has one-tenth of all the four major titles, or 20 titles out of 200 in total since tennis became a professional sport in 1968. That also means 20 major titles in 20 years of his professional career. No wonder why he got emotional when he accepted the trophy. In fact, he didn’t seem to have hesitated to share the joy with the crowd.
Enjoy reading and learning about his remarkable achievement.


Topic Reading-Vol.2122-2/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Gluten-free water and other absurd labeling trends
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and related species and hybrids. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. However, it could trigger disorders, such as wheat allergy or celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that makes the body attack gluten in the digestive system.
If you live in or travel to America, you’ll find quite a few “gluten-free” labels on food products and descriptions on restaurant menus. Such descriptions are also found on a merchandise like water that doesn’t have gluten in the first place or service like car repair that has nothing to do with gluten.
While such food labeling assures food safety for those who need to avoid certain ingredients, it could be used to take advantage of the knowledge gap between the marketers and the customers. For example, labels like organic coffee, farm-raised salmon, or gluten-free burger may appeal higher value than un-labeled compatible products.
Do you pay any premium for such claims?
Enjoy reading and think if such labeling improves transparency and food safety.