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Hello 通勤家族，歡迎收聽Look Back Sunday回顧星期天，在這個節目John老師會彙整過去不同國家與主題的熱門跟讀文章，讓你可以在十五分鐘內吸收最精華的世界時事趣聞！我們這週聽聽泰國的趣聞，Let's get right to it!
Topic: Spray and pray - Thais celebrate Songkran
Thailand’s traditional New Year, as known as Songkran, is celebrated on April 13 to 15 every year. It is a time when people splash or spray one another with water, to symbolize washing away the old and welcoming the new. The word Songkran derives from the Sanskrit word for “passage” or “cross over,” representing moving into a new year. Songkran is also celebrated in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Known by the Taiwanese as the “splashing festival,” Songkran conjures up images of street water fights, with participants using water pistols or buckets. It originated from a traditional Buddhist ritual, and the water represents purification and blessing.
Songkran is about more than water fights. Traditionally, Thais also go to Buddhist temples to donate money or goods to the temple or monks during the festival, and the monks sprinkle holy water, symbolizing blessings, on them. People also bathe statues of the Buddha by pouring water over them. Thais will also sprinkle water in the hands of family elders, symbolizing respect and the receipt of the elders’ blessings.
Miss Songkran beauty contests are also held throughout Thailand, as a way to preserve traditional Thai costumes. There are around 700,000 migrant workers in Taiwan. Of these, just over 60,000 are from Thailand.
In order to make Thai workers in Taiwan feel at home, Songkran was celebrated on Sunday at the ASEAN Square in Taichung, organized by the Ministry of Labor and the Taichung government. There will be another Songkran celebration held this coming Sunday at City Hall Square in New Taipei City.
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2019/04/17/2003713497
Topic: The Price of Recycling Old Laptops: Toxic Fumes in Thailand’s Lungs
Crouched on the ground in a dimly lit factory, women picked through the discarded innards of the modern world: batteries, circuit boards and bundles of wires.
They broke down the scrap — known as hazardous electronic-waste, or e-waste — with hammers and raw hands. Men, some with faces wrapped in rags to repel the fumes, shoveled the refuse into a clanking machine that salvages usable metal.
As they toiled, smoke spewed over nearby villages and farms. Residents have no idea what is in the smoke — plastic, metal, who knows? All they know is that it stinks and they feel sick.
The factory, New Sky Metal, is part of a thriving e-waste industry across Southeast Asia, born of China’s decision to stop accepting the world’s electronic refuse, which was poisoning its land and people. Thailand in particular has become a center of the industry even as activists push back and its government wrestles to balance competing interests of public safety with the profits to be made from the lucrative trade.
Last year, Thailand banned the import of foreign e-waste. Yet new factories are opening across the country, and tons of e-waste are being processed, environmental monitors and industry experts said.
“E-waste has to go somewhere,” said Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, which campaigns against trash dumping in poor countries, “and the Chinese are simply moving their entire operations to Southeast Asia.”
“The only way to make money is to get huge volume with cheap, illegal labor and pollute the hell out of the environment,” he added.
Each year, 50 million tons of e-waste are produced globally, according to the United Nations, as consumers grow accustomed to throwing away last year’s model and acquiring the next new thing.The notion of recycling these gadgets sounds virtuous: an infinite loop of technological utility.
But it is dirty and dangerous work to extract the tiny quantities of precious metals — like gold, silver and copper — from castoff phones, computers and televisions.
For years, China took in much of the world’s electronic refuse. Then in 2018, Beijing closed its borders to foreign e-waste. Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia — with their lax enforcement of environmental laws, easily exploited labor force and cozy nexus between business and government — saw an opportunity.
“Every circuit and every cable is very lucrative, especially if there is no concern for the environment or for workers,” said Penchom Saetang, head of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand, an environmental watchdog.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/349813/web/
Topic: About Thailand - Thailand’s pet groomer reopens as new coronavirus cases slow
Chewy and Miley, both two-year-old Schnauzer dogs, are getting their hair cut at a groomer in Bangkok for the first time since the new coronavirus outbreak began in Thailand in January.
Pet grooming shops are among a handful of businesses that the Thai government allowed to reopen this week, following the decline in the number of new coronavirus cases.
Extra precautionary measures that accompanied the reopening to prevent a new round of outbreak mean that the owners of Chewy and Miley are no longer allowed inside the shop.
Instead, they have to make an appointment and pick a hairstyle for their dogs in advance. They then drop off their pooches in a sterilised basket behind a plastic barrier in front of the shop. None of the dogs’ personal accessories are allowed into the shop.
“Instead of being able to groom more than 10 dogs during the whole day, we can only take about five in order for us to practise social distancing,” said Sukhum Nuangjanpat, the owner of Modern Dog Grooming and School shop.
Clawing back normality: Bangkok cat cafe reopens after virus shutdown 回到常態：曼谷貓咖啡廳在因病毒歇業後重新開放
As Thailand’s capital cautiously reopens many restaurants shuttered over coronavirus fears, the feline “employees” of the Caturday Cafe are back at work.
The few dozen friendly cats typically lounge around the cafe, breaking up naptime to saunter over to human customers for snuggles and belly rubs.
The friendly furballs give some much-needed outside contact for Thais who have mostly been confined to home during weeks of semi-lockdown with most non-essential businesses closed.
Like other businesses across Thailand, the cafe has new rules aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. Before entering, customers must have their temperature checked and wash their hands, and once inside must wear a mask at all times.
As an extra precaution, the cats have dry baths, their fur brushed and eyes cleaned every day.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1373101 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1371500
When it comes to language use, many people may hear someone catching a “cold” instead of “I’m got flu”. Is there a difference between the two? And where does the word “flu” come from? According to Taiwan CDC, colds cause respiratory tract symptoms such as sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, and sometimes accompanied by fever. An influenza on the other hand, affect the whole body. Flu viruses are categorized into types A to D, with type A and B flu resulting in seasonal outbreaks. In short, if you have fever, aches and fatigue, it is probably the flu.
Vocabulary and Sample Sentences:
Difference n. a point in which people or things are not the same
Symptom n. a physical or mental feature that is regarded as a condition of disease.
Accompany v. go somewhere together, occur at the same time
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K045: T.S. Eliot’s Estate Donates ‘Cats’ Royalties to Brontë Museum
The estate of T.S. Eliot has gifted the struggling museum, which reopened in late August after being closed since March, 20,000 pounds (or approximately $26,000) this month. The donation was first reported by the BBC.
The parsonage, located in Haworth, said it was facing a loss of expected income of more than 500,000 pounds because of the coronavirus pandemic.
There is a connection between Eliot and the Brontës: The “Bradford millionaire” who appears in the Eliot poem “The Waste Land” is thought to be Sir James Roberts, a Yorkshire philanthropist who was also a customer at the bank where Eliot worked. Roberts donated Haworth Parsonage — once the home of the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne — to the Brontë Society, which operates the museum, in 1928. Roberts knew the family as a child.
But the Eliot estate’s gift didn’t come with any fanfare: Rebecca Yorke, the head of communications and marketing at the Brontë Society, said she discovered the donation when it showed up on the museum’s crowdfunding campaign page with a message of support. “Realizing that it was from the T.S. Eliot estate was a very special moment,” she said.
Yorke said the Eliot estate told the organization that the donation was possible thanks to the success of the Tony-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats,” which is based on Eliot’s playful 1939 poetry collection “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.”
The parsonage houses the largest collection of Brontë manuscripts and personal possessions in the world and attracts more than 70,000 visitors each year. “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Brontë, and “Wuthering Heights,” by Emily Brontë, were both written there.
The museum has been hard hit by the pandemic because more than 70% of the Brontë Society’s income comes from admissions, events and retail, according to its website. The typically busy spring and summer months normally sustain it through the slower winter season.
The museum has furloughed a majority of its staff and applied for grants and emergency funds, but it still faces an end-of-year deficit of 100,000 pounds.
Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/4891641
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K044: About Australia - Kangaroos can learn to communicate with humans, researchers say
Kangaroos can learn to communicate with humans similar to how domesticated dogs do, by using their gaze to "point" and ask for help, researchers said in a study published on Wednesday.
The study involved 11 kangaroos that lived in captivity but had not been domesticated. Ten of the 11 marsupials intently gazed at researchers when they were unable to open a box with food, according to the report. Nine alternately looked at the human and at the container, as a way of pointing or gesturing toward the object.
"We interpreted this as a deliberate form of communication, a request for help," Alan McElligott, the Irish researcher who led the study, told Reuters in a call.
The findings challenge the notion that only domesticated animals such as dogs, horses or goats communicate with humans.
He soon found two culprits, non-venomous carpet pythons 2.8 meters and 2.5 meters long, that had slithered into a bedroom and living room. The snakes have an estimated combined weight of 45 kilograms.
Snake catcher Steven Brown was called to remove the two snakes. "I would assume that it was two males fighting over a female that was nearby in the roof," he said. He suspected the female could still be in the ceiling or nearby.
The males were returned to the wild, but the suspected third snake hasn’t been found.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1422528 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1420019
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K043: Brazil Is Famous for Its Meat. But Vegetarianism Is Soaring.
She started cooking from home, taking orders from people she knew. With a little Instagram marketing, she had inadvertently tapped into Brazil’s booming demand for plant-based food.
The country, the world's largest beef exporter, has seen a dramatic shift toward plant-based diets. The number of self-declared vegetarians in Brazil has nearly doubled over a six-year period, according to a poll by research firm Ibope; 30 million people, or 14% of Brazilians, reported being vegetarian or vegan in 2018.
Mainstream supermarkets now stock foods made from plant-based protein next to its meat, poultry and fish. And in the toniest neighborhoods of major capitals, eateries that devote as much attention to atmosphere as they do to the menu serve up inventive, meatless dishes to a casually hip crowd.
This transformation has turned the nation of 212 million people—globally renowned for all-you-can-eat steakhouses and increasingly under siege for the carbon footprint of its cattle ranches—into a powerhouse for plant-based food innovation.
Brazilian plant-based food startups have seen soaring demand since animal-based protein analogs first became widely available in 2019 in supermarkets and restaurants.
The shift away from animal-based protein is mainly being driven by health concerns, experts said. Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have increased as people have adopted more sedentary lifestyles and junk food has become increasingly cheap and accessible.
Rising deforestation, much of which is driven by the meat industry, and an increasingly visible animal rights movement are secondary factors pushing Brazilians to reduce or phase out animal products.
Companies that have relied on Brazilians' love of meat have taken note of the shift in views and appetites. Outback Steakhouse, one of the most popular chain restaurants in Brazil, early last year launched a burger made with broccoli and cauliflower.
“We're going through a revolution,” said Bruno Fonseca, a co-founder of New Butchers, one of several new Brazilian companies that makes plant-based replicas of animal-based protein, including burger patties, chicken breast alternatives and imitation salmon.
Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5162011
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K042: About Asia - Not wasted： Sewage in Nepal serves as affordable virus warning tool
A pungent smell hangs in the early morning air as researchers collect samples of sewage dumped into a river in Nepal － a cost-effective way to trace the coronavirus spread for the resource-strapped Himalayan nation.
"When you are limited in the resources that are available for testing and screening, this is a quick and easy way － and a cheaper way － of finding hotspots," said Dibesh Karmacharya, who co-founded Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal, the NGO leading the research.
With some cases asymptomatic, the community-wide nature of the testing, rather than at an individual level, could help pick up the disease in places where it may not appear to be present.
The restaurant at the Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri started serving its own happy meals this month, after Thailand de-listed cannabis as a narcotic, allowing state-authorised firms to cultivate the plant.
“Cannabis leaves, when put in the food or even a small amount ... it will help the patient to recover faster from the illness,” said Pakakrong Kwankao, the project leader at the hospital.
“The cannabis leaf can improve appetite and make people sleep well, and also be in a good mood."
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1427425 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1404482
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K041: Surging shipping rates pose new headwind for the global economy
Shocks to supply chains are engulfing a wider swath of the global economy as the pandemic rages on, threatening to stifle Asia’s trade-led recovery just as soaring freight rates make it harder for businesses to weather another year like 2020.
Shortages of consumer goods like paper towels and work-from-home gear early in the COVID-19 crisis have given way to parts shortfalls in one of the most globally integrated of industries: auto manufacturing.
Compounding the industrial imbalances are transport woes plaguing consumer and healthcare sectors still dealing with a dearth of available shipping containers to move components and finished products out of China, Taiwan, South Korea and Asia’s other export powers.
Nerijus Poskus, vice president for global ocean at San Francisco-based freight forwarder Flexport Inc, reckons the world needs the equivalent of 500,000 more 20-foot containers — roughly enough to fill 25 of the largest ships in operation — to satisfy the current demand. In the meantime, standard container rates on transpacific routes are quadruple what they were a year ago. And that is before equipment surcharges and premiums for guaranteed loading are added.
“Anyone paying the freight bills in 2020 though knows the true cost of shipping is much higher than even the recently increased rates,” Poskus said. “We expect that to only increase in 2021.”
The unstoppable rise in container shipping costs is borne out by December figures recently announced by Taiwan’s three major shipping companies — Evergreen Marine Corp, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp and Wan Hai Lines Ltd — which saw a record-breaking year-on-year surge of revenue at 58.8 percent, 35.19 percent and 75.71 percent respectively.
Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2021/01/18/2003750759
Hello 通勤家族，歡迎收聽Look Back Sunday回顧星期天，在這個節目John老師會彙整過去不同國家與主題的熱門跟讀文章，讓你可以在十五分鐘內吸收最精華的世界時事趣聞！我們這週聽聽韓國的趣聞，Let's get right to it!
Topic: About S.Korea - Drive-thru clinics: Korea’s new weapons in virus fight
South Korea is trying new ploys to battle the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, set up a drive-thru testing facility on Wednesday, where symptom checks, sample collection and payment receipt are done in one-stop fashion in under 10 minutes.
Gyeonggi Province communications official Park Hyun-su said that the checkups at the drive-thru are about 20 minutes faster than the typical way done at hospitals or public health centers. Park said the service will soon be introduced in other regions of the province. Other cities outside Gyeonggi Province with drive-thru clinics are Daegu and Sejong.
Topic: Vintage fashion： senior models bridge S. Korea’s age divide 陳年時尚：高齡模特兒縮小南韓世代鴻溝
Aged 70 she was working 20 hours a day in a hospital just to make ends meet. Now at 75, Choi Soon-hwa is an unlikely fashion star and model in South Korea.
"I think of having this job at this age as a miracle," Choi says.
She is now the oldest professional model in the South, and has walked runway at Seoul Fashion Week. It is a far cry from her life even just a few years ago when she was a care worker.
"The stress was excruciating," she confesses.
When she worked at the hospital, she says she had to dye her hair as patients didn’t want someone who "looked too old" to look after them. Now her pale locks have become an asset to a new generation of designers who value distinctiveness.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1355590 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1352896
Topic: More ’Korean bananas’ to be harvested this year amid climate change
Jeju Island was long considered the only warm-enough region in Korea for commercial banana farming, but climate change is now turning the mainland into a producer of the tropical fruit.
According to the agricultural technology center in North Chungcheong Province, the number of people investing in banana farming has surged in recent years.
About 99.7 percent of all bananas consumed here are imported, mainly from the Philippines, and most of the rest is produced on Jeju. But with more farmers exploring the field, this soon could change.
Topic: South Korean football club fined $81,300 after filling stands with ’sex dolls’ 南韓足球隊在看台上擺放充氣娃娃後被罰款8萬1300美元
South Korean football team FC Seoul has said it has been handed a 100 million KRW（$81,300）fine after being accused of placing sex dolls in its stands to add to the atmosphere during a closed match.
FC Seoul sparked controversy on Sunday during its home match against Gwangju in South Korea’s top football championship, with the club being accused of using sex dolls to fill its stands.
Fans criticized the club online and said it had blown the chance to show off the K League to an international audience.
"FC Seoul messed it up making the league look salacious," wrote one. "It’s really ugly and dirty."
However others said the whole incident had been blown out of proportion.
"Those who don’t even watch football normally are turning this into a thing," wrote another fan.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1379287; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1379517
Topic: Real Korean Flavor For a YouTube Table
During the years that she was addicted to online gaming, life for Emily Kim began when she got home from work at 6 p.m.
“I would shower quick, and eat something, no matter what, so I could start playing my game,” said Ms. Kim, a.k.a the YouTube Korean-cooking star Maangchi. “And I wouldn’t stop till 3 a.m.”
In 2003, divorced and with her two grown children out of the house, Ms. Kim ventured into the online role-playing battle game City of Heroes and couldn’t pull herself away. Maangchi, pronounced MAHNG-chee and meaning “hammer” in Korean, was the name of her online avatar, who specialized in destruction, wielding a huge scimitar and wearing a tiny miniskirt.
In 2007, her children persuaded her to try a more nourishing form of Internet expression: cooking videos. “I had no idea if anyone would watch me,” she said, “but the Korean recipes I saw in English were full of mistakes, and I wanted to show the real way we do things.”
Now, Ms. Kim has more than 619,000 YouTube subscribers.
At age 58, she has just published a cookbook, “Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking,” one of the few comprehensive books on Korean cooking written for Americans, but without major adjustments to make the food more accessible.
From watching her videos, it is hard to envision Ms. Kim as a reclusive gamer. In extravagant eye makeup and bright pink lipstick, she cooks huge batches of bibimbap, bulgogi and KFC, sweet-sticky-spicy Korean fried chicken. She demonstrates the endless variations of kimchi and schools her viewers in the pronunciation of dishes like soegogi-muguk (pronounced SAY-go-gee moo-GUHK), beef and radish soup.
Although she presents herself as lighthearted, Ms. Kim is first and foremost a teacher, and a strict one at that. “I have to do everything correctly,” she said. “Otherwise I will hear about it from the Koreans.”
This is a phrase she often repeated to the editors of her cookbook when they quailed at including recipes for fermented sardines, jellyfish salad and kelp stock. This, Ms. Kim believes, is the problem with virtually every Korean restaurant in the United States: The food is sweeter, saltier, less spicy, less fishy and less rich with umami than it should be.
Ms. Kim was raised in Yeosu, near the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, where her family was in the seafood business. She learned from her mother, aunts and grandmothers how to not only cook but also pickle, smoke, dry and ferment.
Ms. Kim first came to the United States in 1992 with her husband, who emigrated to take a teaching
job in Missouri. In the Midwest, she would lead fellow expatriates on expeditions in search of Japanese or Chinese restaurants.
Now, she lives and shoots her videos in a compact apartment perched above Times Square. She shares the apartment with David Seguin, a web developer at The New York Times, whom she married in 2009. There, she practices the slow and ancient art of fermenting, making gochujang (chile paste) and doenjang (soybean paste), an umami-rich flavor element pervasive in Korean cooking. The recipe calls for an electric blanket, about four liters of salt and hay; it takes almost a year to complete.
Traditionally, even a basic family dinner consists of 8 to 10 different dishes: soup or stew, rice, kimchi, often a stir-fry of protein and vegetables, and at least three side dishes like spicy cucumber salad or steamed eggplant.
“There is nothing Koreans love more than sitting around a table where every inch is covered with food,” Ms. Kim said. “And if there is a grill in the middle of it, that is even better.”
KFC changed their classic “ Finger Lickin Good” slogan that was considered to be inappropriate during the pandemic in 2020. Instead of It’s Finger Lickin Good, now the words “Finger” and “Lickin" are pixelated. KFC senior executive said they will revert to the original slogan when it is appropriate again. In 2021, Macdonald’s plan to launch their Macplant platform and debut their plant-based patty co-created by Beyond Meat.
Vocabulary and Sample Sentences:
Pixelate v. – divide an image into pixels / display an image as a small number of pixels to disguise someone’s identity.
Health hazard n. - health risk
Mainstream n. ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as conventional or dominant in society.
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K040: From Buffalo to San Antonio and Beyond, Museums Woo Members
When financier Jeffrey Gundlach showered $42.5 million on the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, it radically altered the museum’s long-term agenda.
The gift was predicated on the challenge that the museum raise $50 million more in just three months, with the money going to a major new building as well as an operating fund that would help guarantee its upkeep.
Such transformative gifts are unusual for any museum, but they are rarer in cities where wealth is not as high as in cosmopolitan behemoths such as New York, Houston or Los Angeles. Smaller cities generally lack the influx of newcomers who are willing to make a splash with a big gift in their adopted city, and their museums depend on luring repeat visitors.
Sometimes, to do that, museums are forfeiting admission fees. As Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, puts it: “If a museum is free, you can come and go. You can come often and do one gallery at a time. A museum can be like a restaurant, you can taste one thing at a time.”
Indeed, of the 242 museums that are members of the Association of Art Museum Directors, fully one-third are free, said the association’s director, Christine Anagnos.
That trend puts particular pressure on institutions to exploit their existing resources and to bond with other local arts organizations in original programs for the public. Whether these programs take place in the museum or outside, the strategy is to lure more visitors who may well become members.
And museums are doing just that. Erik Neil, who took over as director of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, three years ago, said that 75 percent of the museum’s visitors come from within 50 miles.
Neil has worked to involve African-Americans as well as personnel at the nearby Navy base and lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual groups. Among the efforts: an exhibit of “Women and the Civil Rights Movement” and “Thomas Hart Benton and the Navy.”
To make the Chrysler Museum more welcoming, Neil has done away with museum guards. Instead, he relies on paid employees to act as hosts to visitors. For example, he said, “If visitors have questions, the employees can get in touch with a curator for the answer.”
Directors are also breaking through museum walls to extend the art experience into the streets and on to museum lawns with cocktail evenings for young members or even art events that go beyond the museum doors.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/320440/web/
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K039: In Japan, the Elderly Often Live, and Die, Alone
Cicadas, every Japanese schoolchild knows, lie underground for years before rising to the earth’s surface in summer. They climb up the nearest tree, where they cast off their shells and start their short second lives. During their few days among us, they mate, fly and cry. They cry until their bodies are found on the ground, twitching in their last moments, or on their backs with their legs pointing upward.
Chieko Ito hated the din they made. They had just started shrieking, as they always did in early summer, and the noise would keep getting louder in the weeks to come, invading her third-floor apartment, making any kind of silence impossible. As one species of cicadas quieted down, another’s distinct cry would take over. Then, as the insects peaked in numbers, showers of dead and dying cicadas would rain down on her enormous housing complex, stopping only with the end of summer itself.
“You hear them from morning to evening,” she sighed.
It was the afternoon of her 91st birthday, and unusually hot, part of a heat wave that had community leaders worried. Elderly volunteers had been winding through the labyrinth of footpaths, distributing leaflets on the dangers of heatstroke to the many hundreds of residents like Ito who lived alone in 171 nearly identical white buildings. With no families or visitors to speak of, many older tenants spent weeks or months cocooned in their small apartments, offering little hint of their existence to the world outside their doors. And each year, some of them died without anyone knowing, only to be discovered after their neighbors caught the smell.
The first time it happened, or at least the first time it drew national attention, the corpse of a 69-year-old man living near Ito had been lying on the floor for three years, without anyone noticing his absence. His monthly rent and utilities had been withdrawn automatically from his bank account. Finally, after his savings were depleted in 2000, the authorities came to the apartment and found his skeleton near the kitchen, its flesh picked clean by maggots and beetles, just a few feet from his next-door neighbors.
The huge government apartment complex where Ito has lived for nearly 60 years — one of the biggest in Japan, a monument to the nation’s postwar baby boom and aspirations for a modern, U.S. way of life — suddenly became known for something else entirely: the “lonely deaths” of the world’s most rapidly aging society.
“4,000 lonely deaths a week,” estimated the cover of a popular weekly magazine this summer, capturing the national alarm.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/321753/web/
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K038: About Austria - Austrian man spends 2.5 hours in box filled with ice cubes
Austrian man Josef Koeberl beat his own record for the longest full body contact with ice cubes by staying 2 hours, 30 minutes and 57 seconds inside a custom-made glass box filled up to his shoulders with ice cubes.
More than 200 kilograms of ice cubes were needed to fill up the box, after Koeberl stepped inside wearing nothing but swim trunks.
In order to dampen the "wave of pain" caused by the freezing temperatures, Koeberl says he was trying to focus on positive emotions.
A small crowd of people watched on as Koeberl beat his own record from 2019 by 30 minutes. After being taken out of the ice box by helpers he said that "the sun felt really great on my back."
Tired of sniggers, Austrian village tweaks its name to Fugging 受夠遭竊笑 奧地利村莊小改名Fugging
The Austrian village of Fucking is changing its name, the mayor of the municipality where it is located said on Thursday, after residents apparently grew tired of the sniggers it prompted in the English-speaking world and of visitors stealing its signs.
The village has long been a figure of fun in English-speaking media, which have gleefully reported local exasperation at signs being removed.
In 2018 the pornographic website Pornhub said it was offering free premium access to residents of Fucking and towns with names such as Titz, Germany or Big Beaver, Pennsylvania, in the United States.
As of Jan. 1 the village will be called Fugging, the official statement said, adding that the initiative had been brought by the residents of the village.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1423967; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1423757
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K037: Taiwan-born astronaut chosen for Artemis lunar mission
On Dec. 10, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the list of names of 18 astronauts who will take part in the Artemis moon-landing program. US Vice President Mike Pence, who is also chairman of the National Space Council, introduced the 18 astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts, half of whom are women, will soon commence training for the Artemis moon-landing program.
One of them is 47-year-old male astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who was born in Taipei on Jan. 23, 1973 to a Taiwanese mother and a Swedish father. He emigrated with his family to the Midwestern US but spent most of his childhood in the UK. After graduating from senior high school, he was admitted to the US Air Force Academy, where he majored in biology with a minor in Chinese and received a bachelor of science degree in 1995. He gained a master of science degree from Colorado State University in 1996 and a doctorate of medicine from the University of Colorado in 2002. In 2007 he received a master of public health from the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he completed his residency in aerospace medicine the following year.
Lindgren was chosen to be a NASA astronaut in 2009 and served as a flight surgeon for the STS-130 space shuttle mission. He joined the Expedition 44/45 mission on July 22, 2015 and stayed on the International Space Station for 141 days before returning to Earth on Dec. 11 of the same year. He is the first astronaut to have been born in Taiwan.
Two other NASA astronauts with connections to Taiwan are Taylor Wang and Leroy Chiao.
Wang was born in Jiangxi Province, China in 1940. In 1952 he moved with his parents to Taiwan, where he attended the Refresher Substitute Elementary School (today’s Jhong-Jheng Elementary School), followed by senior high school studies at the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, after which he moved to Hong Kong. He completed a seven-day space flight on the Challenger space shuttle from April 29 to May 6, 1985.
Chiao is a Chinese American engineer and former astronaut. While working for NASA, he lived on board the International Space Station for six months. His father, Chiao Tsu-tao, was born in Shandong Province, China and graduated from the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University and Cheng Kung University’s Department of Chemical Engineering. His mother, Cherry Chiao, was born in Qingdao City in Shandong. They married in Taiwan and moved to the US in the 1950s, and Leroy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/12/29/2003749543
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K036: Civil Code reform: adulthood at 18, no 50/50 divorce assets split
The Legislative Yuan “cleared its stocks” at the end of the year by passing several important bills. Among them, a bill to amend some articles of the Civil Code, along with the Enforcement Law for Part IV, Family Law of the Civil Code, was passed on Dec. 25, lowering the age of majority from 20 to 18. Meanwhile, for the sake of equality, the minimum age of marriage for both men and women will be the same — 18 years old, which is no change for men, but it had been 16 years old for women before the amendment. A buffer period was set before the amendments take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. This is the first major change of its kind in the Civil Code since its enactment and implementation in 1929.
Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, who presided at the meeting, said afterwards on his Facebook page that this is a prelude to the major task of amending the constitution. It has been the consensus of the ruling and opposition parties to revise the age threshold for the exercise of civil rights to 18 years old. The UK, France, and Germany changed their civil rights age threshold to 18 years old back in the 1970s. Taiwan’s neighbor Japan also completed such youth movement reforms in 2018.
On Dec. 30, the legislature also passed on its third reading an amendment to Article 1030-1 of the Civil Code, whereby, when filing for divorce, the interests or income through utilization of the property acquired by one party before the marriage relationship will not have to be distributed equally to both parties if the other party did not contribute to acquiring the assets or cooperate in their utilization.
Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2021/01/04/2003749883
Hello 通勤家族，歡迎收聽Look Back Sunday回顧星期天，在這個節目John老師會彙整過去不同國家與主題的熱門跟讀文章，讓你可以在十五分鐘內吸收最精華的世界時事趣聞！我們這週聽聽比利時的趣聞，Let's get right to it!
For years it was just an urban myth. Then the diggers moved in and found it was true - that the heart of a former mayor of the eastern Belgian city of Verviers really was buried under a fountain.
A small metal box, containing Pierre David’s heart in an ethanol-filled jar, was uncovered during renovation work on the city’s ornate stone fountain last month.
The relic is mentioned in civic documents, but until it was found "no one really believed it," Verviers city councillor Maxime Degey told Reuters.
David, the city’s first mayor after Belgium became an independent country, was still in office when he died in 1839 after falling from a building.
Authorities built a fountain in his honour and, with his family’s permission, placed his heart under a stone in the monument in 1883.
The box is on display at the Verviers Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics. It will be returned to the Fontaine David in the city’s Place Verte once the renovation is complete.
Belgians looking for a different culinary experience will once again be able to eat 50 metres above the ground as the dining-in-the-sky experience returns from COVID-19 lockdown with a new, socially distanced feel.
Belgium-based Dinner in the Sky, which has been set up in some 60 countries since its 2006 launch, involves diners strapped into seats at a table suspended from a crane while well-known chefs cook and serve from the centre.
Their original platform sat 22 people together along the perimeter, but in the COVID-19 era, up to 32 diners will now reserve four-person private tables spaced apart. The chefs and servers also have a little more space to roam.
Dinner in the Sky offers three sittings - for lunch and two for dinner over the coming two weeks. The price is 295 euros per head or 150 euros for weekend afternoon cocktails.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1402192 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1400700
Eco-friendly ’Little Food’ said its crickets, which can be eaten dried, in different flavors such as garlic or tomato, or turned into flour, were also friendlier on the environment.
"For the same amount of protein as a cow for instance, they （crickets） need 25 times less food, they need 300 times less water, and they produce 60 times less greenhouse gases," Little Food cricket breeder Nikolaas Viaene said.
While eating insects is common practice in a number of countries, such as China, Ghana, Mexico and Thailand, Brussels residents seemed unsure about putting crickets on the menu.
Strolling in downtown Brussels, Efthimia Lelecas declined the offer of a cricket snack： "No, I’m not eating that," she said. "No, no, that looks awful, no, no...no."
Source article: http://iservice.ltn.com.tw/Service/english/english.php?engno=1115149&day=2017-07-01
A Belgian minister arrived by bike to a news conference to promote cycling on Tuesday, only to find it had been stolen when he left half an hour later.
Ben Weyts, minister of mobility for the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, unveiled a plan to invest 300 million euros （$320 million） in cycle lanes until 2019, as part of a wider program to promote alternative modes of transport.
"We left the bike in racks at the station and locked it," a spokesman for the minister said. "When we got back half an hour later, it was gone."
While Belgium is a country obsessed with cycling as a sport, cars are the main method of commuting to work, leading to some of the worst road congestion in Europe.
The minister had to call his driver to pick him up from the station in Halle, just south of Brussels, the spokesman said, and hoped police would discover the bicycle thief with the help of security camera footage.
Source article: http://news.ltn.com.tw/news/world/paper/1079689
In this dual article episode, we find that Microsoft has opened a permanent work from home policy for employees in response to the struggles of getting to office amidst the pandemic. Once the pandemic subsides, Microsoft employees can choose to work from home permanently with their manager’s approval. Next piece of news is about the Korean government moved kindergarten and elementary school students back online in response of the surge in the number of COVID19 infections.
Vocabulary and Sample Sentences:
Provisions n. action of supplying or providing something / financial or other arrangements
Drag on ph. V – process or situation that continue at unnecessary length
Surge n. - powerful upward or forward movement
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K035: About New Zealand- Mittens the cat could become New Zealander of the Year
Mittens, a famous feline from Wellington, is in the running to be voted New Zealander of the Year, going up against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield.
The feline joins a host of nominees for the annual Kiwibank award, including figures from sectors such as politics, media, health, music and design.
Other nominees for New Zealander of the Year include microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles and lawmaker Chloe Swarbrick.
The Wellington Museum has also dedicated a mini exhibition to Mittens and his adventures, named "Floofy and Famous." And in May the mayor of Wellington, Andy Foster, gave Mittens the key to the city, an honor previously granted to "The Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson.
New Zealanders have voted in favor of legalizing euthanasia for people with a terminal illness － clearing the way for the controversial proposition to become law in 2021.
More than 65% of voters backed the proposed law, according to preliminary results of a referendum announced by the country’s electoral commission Friday.
Lawmakers voted 69-51 to approve the End of Life Choice Act 2019 last year before sending the issue to a referendum.
More than 2.4 million people took part in the poll, which was conducted alongside New Zealand’s general election on October 17.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1422581; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1396855
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K034: How Good Child Care Helps Mothers, and the Men They Raise
As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income.
Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults.
Affordable care for children under 5, long a goal of Democrats, is now being championed by Ivanka Trump.
The Department of Health and Human Services says child care should cost 7 percent of a family’s income at most — but 42 percent of families who buy care for young children spend considerably more than that, according to census data analyzed by Beth Mattingly at the University of New Hampshire. A report by New America and Care.com put the average cost of child care in the United States at $16,514 a year.
It’s children with parents who can least afford high-quality care who benefit most from it, research has found. That is because affluent children have better alternatives. For well-off children, some studies have linked day care, especially low-quality care early in life, to achievement and behavior problems.
A powerful new study — which demonstrated long-term results by following children from birth until age 35 — found that high-quality care during the earliest years can influence whether both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives. The study was led by James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate economist at the University of Chicago.
“They’re engaged more in the workforce, they’re now active participants of society, they’re more educated, they have higher skills,” Heckman said. “So what we’ve done is promoted mobility across generations.”
The study analyzed two well-known experimental programs in North Carolina, which offered free, full-time care to low-income children age 8 weeks to 5 years, most of whom were black and lived with a single mother. The children in the control group were at home or in lower-quality programs.
The mothers of those in the experimental program earned more when the children were in preschool, and the difference was still there two decades later.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/314555/web/
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K033: Japanese astronaut posts night view of Tainan and Kaohsiung
On Nov. 15, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida, sending the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft with a four astronauts on board to meet up with the International Space Station (ISS). The crew members were US astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The spaceship docked with the ISS on Nov. 16.
Noguchi has used his Twitter account to post photographs taken from space of the Earth’s surface, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya and Osaka in Japan as well as Florida, Washington DC and New Orleans in the US.
As the ISS orbits around the Earth, on Dec. 4 Noguchi posted an aerial photo of Hong Kong and Macau and another one of Taiwan. He wrote in English “Taiwan is cloudy tonight — this is the best I got,” followed in Japanese by “Sorry to everyone in Taiwan; this is not a good photo.” He also noted that the cities in the photo were Kaohsiung and Tainan at night.
A lot of the comments posted below said that Noguchi had captured the murky feeling of Taiwanese cities on a cloudy night. Many of the comments praised the photo, saying things like “It is very atmospheric” and “I have seen a night view of Taiwan on a return flight from Vietnam — it left a deep impression, and I am glad to see it again.” Others wrote “It is interesting to see how each city’s lights are different” and “It is really beautiful — Thank you for taking a photo of Taiwan and posting it online.”
Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/12/22/2003749135
每日英語跟讀 Ep.K032: The Silent Film Returns - on Social Media
The summer’s hottest destination for video entertainment is a U.K.-based social media brand called LADbible. In July alone, the viral clips that churn out of its Facebook page were viewed more than 3 billion times.
Although the site is nominally branded around young British men, its offerings hold an oddly universal appeal. On a recent afternoon, it served up videos of a guy accidentally hitting himself in the head with a baseball bat; a pizza being made out of french fries; a dog bathing in a Jacuzzi; a woodworker crafting a salad bowl; a tourist riding a slide down the Great Wall of China and a manatee kissing a snorkeler.
The videos are curated from disparate sources, filmed on smartphones and GoPros around the world, but they all have one thing in common: They’re best watched silently. If they even have sound, it’s completely beside the point.
We are living in the golden age of the silent video. Although we may still pop headphones in to watch a YouTube rant, social media has cultivated its own mute visual culture. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are designed to encourage endless scrolling, and that boosts videos that are made to catch the viewer’s eye without offending her ear with grating bursts of noise.
The clips that spread the furthest online are the ones that can be consumed anywhere without disruption: on the subway, the sidewalk or in the doctor’s office; next to a partner in bed, behind the counter at work or under the desk in class. They’re the ones that allow for private experiences in the most public of places. And in the internet’s global marketplace, they’re the ones that transcend language barriers, instantly legible to viewers in Peoria or Paris.
Tubular Labs, the online video analytics company that placed LADbible at the top of its rankings, has found that of videos posted to Facebook by media companies, 46 percent of views go to videos that are completely silent or just accompanied by music. And in practice, an even higher proportion of social videos are watched silently. Advertising agency BBDO Worldwide says that more than 85 percent of its clients’ Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off.
All of that has given rise to a particular kind of video spectacle on social media, one that is able to convey its charms without dialogue, narrative or much additional context. To entertain soundlessly, viral video makers are reanimating some of the same techniques that ruled silent film more than 100 years ago.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/320172/web/