RSS Feed

5/26/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2236-5/26/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Starbucks is stepping up its expansion in China.
How many Starbucks coffee shops are there in China? Of its 28,000 shops around the world, about half of them are in its home country, the U.S.A. There already are over 3,000 Starbucks coffee shops across China. And the coffee company is aiming to add 600 new shops a year, more than a shop a day, in the next few years to double the number of total outlets.
You may wonder why people in a traditionally tea-drinking culture want to drink coffee so much. In fact, there are over 1,000 outlets in Japan and South Korea, and over 800 in the U.K., all of which are traditionally tea-drinking countries. Does coffee taste better than tea? Have their eating habits changed so much just recently?
Starbucks serves a variety of fresh coffee and other drinks, hot or cold. You can even custom order your drink, like Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato.
They also provide safe, stylish space for the customers to spend time comfortably, unlike fast-food restaurants where customers are expected to eat and leave.
While American the giants like Google, Apple and Facebook are all struggling to do business in China, why is Starbucks enjoying growth there? Is that because of its flavor?
Enjoy reading and think what it would take to grow business in different cultures.

5/25/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2235-5/25/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Elon Musk promises $1 rides in LA transit tunnels
Los Angeles is known as one of the most congested cities in the world despite having the vast highway system. It is quite surprising that this scale of mega-city has just six metro lines with 93 stations, used only by some 360,000 passengers daily on average.
Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has been initiating innovations to bring once-astronomically-expensive projects on and above ground to commodity, such as electric cars and space traveling. Now, he is digging the ground.
His infrastructure and tunnel construction company is trying to construct alternative urban transportation by a series of underground roadways that ferry vehicles to and from destinations using high-speed electric tracks. He chose his hometown LA as the testing ground for his new venture. He believes the company can build tunnels at much faster and economically using his tunnel boring machine (TBM).  
Surely, innovations slash the price and make the dream happen.
Enjoy reading and learn what this high-speed underground transportation system is like.

5/24/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2234-5/24/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Two-thirds of world population will live in cities by 2050: UN report
Towns and cities become larger as more people move in from rural areas. The UN estimated that about half of the world’s population lived in urban areas a decade ago. It is predicted that figure will grow to about 68% by the middle of the century with additional three billion new city residents. In other words, two out of three people live in cities by 2050.
There used to be only 10 mega-cities with populations over 10 million in 1990. Now there are 33 similar sized urban centers and will be 43 by 2030. These rapid urbanizations will be seen in Asia and Africa.
Though urbanization boosts the economy, brings modern life and well-being, and improves efficiency, it also creates distinct inequality of incomes and environmental challenges, such as traffic congestions, air pollution, and waste. Also, as more people move in urban areas, demands for housing also increase. As a result, the housing market has already skyrocketed in growing cities like Sydney, Australia, and Vancouver, Canada. Good news for those who own properties but bad news for those who want to own or rent a house.
Enjoy reading the article and learn new challenges the world is facing in the next few decades.

5/23/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2233-5/23/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Amazon Prime members to get extra discount at Whole Foods
Amazon.com Inc. is the largest Internet retailer and on-demand cloud computing platform provider in the world. It is the world’s third most valued company only after other two “A” companies, Apple and Alphabet, google’ parent company.
It is estimated that the online retailer has 90 million prime members in the US who pay $12.99 a month or $119 a year for a membership fee. What are the privileges of the membership? Free fast deliveries, selected streaming movies and videos, Kindle books, and magazines to name a few. Also, the prime members earn 5% back at Amazon.com using the Amazon credit card. Is it worth the membership fee?
              Click/Touch for more details about amazon prime
For those who want more from the fee, they can now enjoy special discounts at Amazon-owned grocery stores, Whole Foods. You can enjoy the benefits both online and onsite.
By the way, when was the last day you didn’t see any news or article on Amazon?
Enjoy reading and think if the membership is just a member’s privilege or financial segregation.

5/22/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2232-5/22/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why you eat more when you’re in company
It seems to be clear that people eat more with others than alone. Of course. When people eat in a group, they most likely gather to enjoy the company, time and meal. In other words, they are there to eat longer. The longer time you spend on eating, the more food you dine. Also, you tend to be indulged in more food than you usually eat when others are enjoying a larger portion of meat, extra pieces of pizza, or sugar-rich dessert. According to a food researcher, this phenomenon is called social facilitation. But is it really a bad habit?
When food was scarce and limited, people like hunter-gatherers shared whatever food available and edible. Also, sharing food gives chance to balance nutrition. So, social eating isn’t that too bad for your diet as long as you manage your appetite.
There is another tip. People tend to eat more when they are accompanied or served by heavier people. Is that because they want to grow to match the others in size?
Enjoy reading and think what could make you eat healthily.

5/21/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2231-5/21/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How long are you going to live?
Life expectancy. It is a statistical measure of the average time one is expected to live. The most popular measure of life expectancy is at birth by country and gender. For example, Japanese women are expected to live the longest in the world at 86.8 years and Swiss men are expected to live longer than any other men in the world for 81.3 years. Life expectancy at birth can be affected by living standards, lifestyle, education, and quality and availability of health services. So, you may think newborn girls in a developing country would on average live longer lives than their mothers. Not quite. That’s because grownups have already lived many years, meaning they have gone through the most critical period of life in their early periods and years. In fact, although the first 48 hours of a new life is the most crucial period for newborn survival, quality care to prevent and treat illness for newborns and their mothers are far from available in Sub-Saharan countries. As a result, their life expectancies are far shorter than the world average. More than a dozen countries have female life expectancies shorter than 60 years.
So, life expectancy varies by gender and age group even in the same country. And there is a quick calculator to find the answers in this article.
Enjoy reading and checking the life expectancies of you and others in the world.

5/20/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2230-5/20/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
'Memory transplant' achieved in snails
Why snails to study human memories? In fact, the cells and molecular processes in the marine snails aren’t that different from the ones of humans. The difference is just the number of neurons in its central nervous system. The former has about 20,000 and the latter does billions. In short, snails’ memory system is similar to humans’ but much simpler.
A team of scientists transferred a form of genetic information called RNA, ribonucleic acid, of marine snails that were trained to react to electric shocks to another. Surprisingly, the memory-transplanted snails that had never experienced such shocks showed the same reaction as the snails that experienced the shocks.
It seems like a step towards better understanding of how memories are formed, preserved and transferred.
Enjoy reading and learning how one’s memories could be transplanted to another.

5/19/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2229-5/19/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The compromises that companies make to do business in China
Though Taiwan, the Republic of China officially, is fully self-governing, People’s Republic of China regards it as part of its territory. Just like fewer and fewer countries officially recognize Taiwan as an independent state in order to keep the diplomatic relationship with and also economic aids from mainland China, businesses are also complying with the demands and restrictions that Chinese government sets. Now, a number of airlines are told not to indicate Taiwan as a separate state from China in their route maps and website. Also, tech companies are required to store important data in China instead of transferring it to their homeland for the sake of cybersecurity. There also are limits on foreign investment for joint ventures, though some of which are going to be removed.
When you are in the local market, do as what the local authorities say.
Enjoy reading and learn what you need to consider when you work with the soon-to-be the world largest economy.

5/18/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2228-5/18/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Would you pay for an ad-free internet?
Ads are a double-edged sword. They make the content and services free of charge for visitors and users. Meanwhile, they bother them by popping up, occupying the prime space, or running nosy videos. Advertisers have been pouring a substantial amount of money into online ads for the last two decades. In some marketplaces, online ads spending exceeds any other medium, such as TV, radio or newspaper. However, whatever the medium is, no one can tell exactly how effective their advertisement is, and online ads are no exception. Some may argue that online ads are more targeted and measurable, especially when over half of digital ad revenue comes from smartphone ads. While marketers of digital ads pitch their side of stories, the more targeted and customized ads are, the more bothering they could be to the viewers because they are ads after all.
Enjoy reading to learn what is behind online ads and think if you are willing to pay for an ad-free internet, and if yes, how much.

5/17/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2227-5/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
China trash ban is a global recycling wake up call
If only 9% of all plastic materials are recycled, where does the rest go? Incinerators, landfills, or the environment. Of the plastic materials being recycled, most of them are low-grade, hard or expensive to be recycled. No one wants it, so countries like the US, UK, and Japan have been exporting such plastic wastes with other wastes like paper and steel to China, where recycling of such wastes had been economically justified. But the costs to recycle such wastes have been rising economically and environmentally. So, China no longer accepts such low-grade wastes from other countries. Bad news for those waste exporting countries and communities. They need come up with places to dump them or ideas to reduce wastes, especially environmentally hazardous plastic materials. One of the effective and practical ways is to ban the use of single-use plastic products, such as straws, bags, and packages. They can be more easily replaced by more reusable, bio-degradable materials like paper or cotton.
Though it’s bad news for a short term, it seems like a good opportunity to save the environment.
Enjoy reading and think what you can do to reduce wastes.

5/16/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2226-5/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Does a cashless society benefit everyone?
Cash, plastic or mobile? Coins and banknotes are issued by the central bank of a country. So, there usually one currency in a country. Plastic cards, such as credit cards or debit cards are issued by card issuers like banks under certain financial services bands, such as Visa or Mastercard. There usually are a few or more brands that dominate each market. Mobile payments are usually done by smartphones via mobile payment service providers, such as Apple Pay, WeChat Pay or Alipay. While cash can be handed directly from one to another, card or mobile payment goes through electric transactions. It is convenient, efficient and safe if both the payer and receiver are in the same transaction loop. However, if you don’t have access to those services, or if the receiver is reluctant or unable to accept cash, how do you make a payment for a cup of coffee or a ticket for a bus ride?
Such problem is arising in Sweden where cash payment is discouraged and has become unpopular among retail stores and shops. Plastic is now the popular and standard payment method in the Scandinavian country. In China, mobile payment is becoming the de facto payment practice in shops, restaurants and even for tax payment.
It seems that you may need to download a local mobile payment platform when you visit another country instead of stopping by a currency exchange counter.
But who will enjoy the benefit the most, and who will suffer inconvenience the most?
Enjoy reading the article and think which your preferred payment method is.

5/15/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2225-5/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The innovation turning desert sand into farmland
Desertification. You may think it’s not an immediate problem to you. But even if the land in your area has enough water to keep the land green and farm now, it may not in the future.
Desertification is underway in many areas. It is the process by which natural or human causes, such as increased drought, deforestation, and intensive farming methods, reduce the biological productivity of drylands. Approximately half of our planet’s ice-free land surface is drylands. Farming such drylands is physically and economically impractical. Thus, among the people who live in such areas, some are wealthy enough to buy foods from other regions, but others live in hunger and poverty. Unfortunately, such infertile land space is expanding nearly half the size of Britain each year while the population of those areas is increasing rapidly. Farming in arid or semi-arid areas is essential. But how?
There is a new innovative farming method that uses just half the amount of water to irrigate the same space of land in the desert.
Enjoy reading and learn how to farm the desert.

5/14/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2224-5/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Number of children in Japan shrinks to new record low
It has been that way for the last 37 years. The central government, ministries, local governments, companies, and people in Japan all have known this problem of having fewer children, but it has never been solved or eased. In fact, there are 15.53 million children aged 14 or under, representing only 12.3% of the total population of 126million, compared to 18.9% for the US, 16.8% for China, and 30.8% for India. As the country is rapidly aging, the costs for healthcare and social services are rising while the population that supports the economy is declining. The main reason is the low fertility rate, only 1.4, among the lowest in the world like Korea and Singapore. Why don’t young Japanese people make children? Is it the economy, job market, social welfare, gender roles, education cost, or future prospect that deters or discourages young people to get married and have children, or the combination of all these factors?
To make the situation even worse, the country has been reluctant to accept immigrants to fill the generation gap, either. Will robots and auto-something do all the tasks that are done by humans?
Enjoy reading and think what will help the country to maintain its economy, health care and welfare, and social balance.

5/13/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2223-5/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Alabama 'miracle' boy awakes before doctors pull plug
A miracle comeback or a rare misdiagnosis? Just a day before his organs were to be removed to save five other children, this boy himself regained consciousness.
Trenton McKinley, a 13-year old boy in Alabama, USA, suffered severe brain trauma in March when his head was hit by a flipped over utility trailer he was riding on. His parents were told by the doctors that he would never go back to normal again, but his organs could help other children should their organs were transplanted by his.
Though he is still in a long, slow recovery process, he already enjoys talking, walking and reading. He doesn’t remember anything until he regained consciousness but one scene.
Enjoy reading and learning what the boy saw while he was unconscious.

5/12/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2222-5/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Why pollen is costing Japan nearly $2 billion a year
Bad news for many and good news a few. The bad news is that many, as many as the half of the people in Japan, seemed to have suffered from pollen-induced allergies this spring when a record amount of pollen was produced especially by cedar and spread in the air. Many people tried to refrain themselves from going out. When they did, they wore a mask and glasses to minimize contact with pollen floating in the air. Even in offices, many workers suffered from the side-effect of the medicine and felt sleepy, or, felt difficulty in concentrating their work.
The good news went to the pharmaceutical industry and drug stores that sold a record number of masks and amount of allergy treatment medicine.
Why are there so many cedar trees in Japan? Why has hay fever become such a big problem?
Enjoy reading this MEL Topic Reading Volume quattro two.

5/11/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2221-5/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Drones to the rescue!
Drones are no longer just a tool of the military, business, entertainment or art. Though conventional drones can fly only for a limited time because of the battery capacity, there are some ways to make them provide essential services in an emergency or extraordinary situation.
For example, if a drone is wired to the ground to be powered, it can fly 24/7 to provide internet connection in an area where signals are too weak or unavailable. Another idea is to fly multiple drones around a building on fire each of which has a different role to play, such as providing internet connection, visual images of the site, and thermal data of the burning building. Why not just one drone to do all the tasks? That’s because the lighter the drone is, the longer the operational time could be. Also, drones can complement or augment an existing connection service when it is overburdened, such as during a sports game or a music concert where tens of thousand people try to be connected at the same time.
Enjoy reading and learn what roles drones are and will be playing in the backyard.

5/10/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2220-5/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Guinness World Record for drone flight broken in Xi'an
Drones are no longer just a tool of the military or business, or a toy for people to fly around. They're becoming a tool for art and entertainment, too.
On April 28, 1,374 drones hovered over the ancient city wall of Xi'an, China to stage a spectacular light show. It was recognized as a Guinness World Record for the "Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously. Each drone was equipped with differential GPS sensors and controllers, and the movements were directed by codes programmed into the controllers.
Though not all the drones didn’t fly as flawlessly as planned as some of them were disorganized and went out of sync, the show was no less spectacular than any large-scale firework display. It was in fact much safer and more environmentally friendly than fireworks because it produced no fire or air-polluting smog.
Enjoy watching this modern aerial show over the ancient wall in China.

5/09/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2219-5/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Taj Mahal colour change worries India Supreme Court
The Taj Mahal stands on the bank of Yamuna River, in Agra, about 200 km from the nation’s capital, Delhi. The famous white mausoleum complex was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 to house the remains of his beloved queen. It is one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a proud symbol of India’s history and visited by millions of people every year.
The Taj Mahal is built of shimmering white marble, which seems to change color depending on the daylight. But its color turned yellow and is now turning brown and green. The causes of the color change are believed to be pollution, construction and insect excretion. In an attempt to clean the stained surface, the palace's white marble has been coated in a mud pack, just like a face mask, to absorb dirt, grease, and animal excrement.
Enjoy reading the article about this massive mud pack on the romantic and historic architecture.

5/08/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2218-5/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
What if all guns disappeared?
Guns could be held and used by anyone. Soldiers, militias, law-enforcement officers, hunters, and criminals. In the US, unless an adult has no criminal record or some sort of impairment, anyone can buy and own a gun, just like a car. As a result, approximately 100 people die every day by gunshot, either being shot or shooting themselves. Surprisingly, more than half of the gunshot deaths were suicides.
Should all the firearms suddenly vanished, the number of gun-caused deaths would decline accordingly? Here is a good example. Since Australian government banned and bought back assault firearms two decades ago, there has been an 80% drop in gun suicides while non-gun homicides remained about the same. Guns seem to have made more people commit suicide.
And of course, there would be a substantial reduction in the number of domestic violence, homicides, terrorism, and even police shooting if all guns disappeared. Would people then revert to old weaponry, such as spears, swords, or bows and arrows, or a rope to kill others or themselves, or would the total number of killing decline?
It seems that there’s no weapon more efficient at killing people than a gun.
Enjoy reading the article and learn a few cons and a lot of pros of eliminating firearms.

5/07/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2217-5/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Taiwan loses diplomatic ally as Dominican Republic switches ties to China
Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. It was one of the founding members of the United Nations and had represented China until 1971 when it lost its seat to the People’s Republic of China. Despite the one China agreement in 1992, both PRC and ROC have maintained their respective interpretations. However, their economic ties have become stronger than ever especially in the electric and IT manufacturing industries.
Now, even though Taiwanese passport is still accepted as a valid travel document in most countries in the world, the number of countries that recognizes Taiwan as an official state and maintains diplomatic relations has been declining recently, and there are only 19 states left after the latest departure of Dominican Republic. What makes this island state so isolated?
Enjoy reading and learn why a country that has visa-free status with 137 countries has diplomatic relations only with 19 countries.

5/06/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2216-5/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The brain science that explains “hanger”
“hangry?” Whether you think it’s a misspelling of “hungry” or have seen or used it in your SNS, it is officially a word in the Oxford English Dictionary. It defines this blended word of “hungry” and “angry” as “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”
In fact, people tend to become angry when their blood sugar level is low due to the rise of certain hormone and adrenaline in the body.
Do you get angry more-easily when you’re hungry? Which do you think become hangrier when they are hungry, men or women? One thing for sure it that a couple who are both hungry should eat something to prevent a nasty quarrel from happening
Enjoy reading and think which works better to control one’s temper, a counselor or a snack bar.

5/05/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2215-5/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How stories have shaped the world?
A story is an account of imaginary or real people and events told mainly for entertainment. Most people enjoy reading stories for fun. But some of the intriguing stories seemed to have gone beyond entertainment and played important roles in history.
One example is the Iliad by Homer, a war story about characters of Greek myth and history, including Achilles, Helen, and Hector. The story seemed to have influenced Alexander the Great’s conquering of the Persian Empire. Also, some stories opened doors to new literacy cultures, such as The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu’s and One Thousand and One Nights by Scheherazade. The Divine Comedy by Dante is another example which helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language, a departure from Latin. Nowadays, a story that is most often referred to is George Orwell’s 1984, which was published nearly seven decades ago.
Why are great stories so influential?
Enjoy reading the article about what famous stories have done to our history.

5/04/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2214-5/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Robot co-workers? 7 cool technologies changing the way we work
New technologies, such as robots, virtual reality, and AI, are emerging all over the places. For example, coworkers are robots in fulfillment centers and virtual or augmented reality helps sports players or employees to train offsite. Also, AI tools measure blood flow and muscles volume to help doctors diagnose and treat their patients. Furthermore, an AI algorithm even designs new TV commercials.
You may now be wondering if humans are served, helped or directed by these emerging technologies. Indeed, some jobs are taken over by robots or AI. Many people won’t be doing the same job as they’ve been doing for years. But isn’t this what happened when factory automation, production robots and computers replaced jobs in factories and offices?
Enjoy reading and think what skills will be essential in this ongoing industrial revolution.

5/03/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2213-5/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Can classes help Seoul’s marriage-phobic singles?
To marry or not to marry. That is one of the biggest questions in one’s life. Indeed, marriage isn’t just a form of love. It isn’t only for the couple but for their parents, and children they may produce. Though it is the core of societies in most of the world, many young people in Asian countries aren’t so motivated or interested to get married. And even if they get married, those couples aren’t encouraged to make and raise children. For example, South Korea marked the lowest birthrate in history at 1.05 in 2017.
What makes young people deter or prevent from forming a family?
Enjoy reading and learn the complexities of rapidly grown societies.

5/02/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2212-5/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
In Hawaii, being nice is the law
If you’ve ever visited Hawaii, you must have been greeted by a word, “Aloha.” This Hawaiian word literally means hello and goodbye. But it is not just a word of greeting and farewell but also a spirit of mutual regard and affection and cares to others without expecting any return.
“Aloha” is also a philosophical and fundamental concept for Hawaiians. Hawaii is such an isolated place that the islanders had had no choice but do everything themselves and collectively. Also, the space is so limited that they need to work and live in harmony, otherwise, it would become a very unpleasant and uncomfortable society.
To clarify this traditional and spiritual value as law, “Aloha Spirit” was created in 1986. Although the law is mostly symbolic and philosophical, it seems to direct a code of conduct in businesses and politics and also to the way of life.
Enjoy reading the article to learn what “Aloha” really means to Hawaiians.

5/01/2018

Topic Reading-Vol.2211-5/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Meet the new Gmail, now with disappearing messages
Do you still write or read emails? As smartphone-friendly messaging tools like WhatsApp and WeChat are becoming more dominant in both private and business communication, the number of active email users seems to have been declining. But it is still used to communicate with billions of people across the world and device.
Now, Google has announced a major upgrade in its proud Gmail, which has1.4 billion active users a month. One of the notable upgrades is disappearing messages, a popular feature in secure chatting apps. It will allow the sender to opt for the confidential mode to make a message to expire in a chosen period ranging from a day to five years. Also, a Gmail in confidential mode may not be read without a password sent separately, or forwarded, copied, or printed depending on the setting. Other notable features include reminder and snoozer.
Interested to find out more?
Enjoy reading the text and introductory video and think if the new features make Gmail more user-friendly and convenient than the one you use.