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The perfect-sized coffee cup

Most Americans love to buy a lot of coffee—I learned this when I traveled through the country with an 8 oz reusable cup. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to drink this amount of coffee, by the time you reach the last drop, it's almost cold but not quite. I think that's a perfect size. But, the cafe staff I met did not.

In the San Diego airport, I asked for "this cup, full of coffee." The staff examined my cup like a foreign artifact. He wondered aloud how big it was. When I told him 8 oz, he looked confused, and then charged me for the smallest size they have—12 oz. I paid and didn't say anything.

Then in the Los Angeles airport, I asked for the same thing. The young woman working there was equally surprised by it. She looked at the till, frowned, and then looked over her shoulder, and said, "They're just gonna overcharge you." So she took the cup and filled it with coffee for free. I guess, to her, that's fair. I said thanks.

Create a strong team with music

An important study showed that members of a team who listened to rhythmic music together before carrying out a task worked more cooperatively and efficiently than groups who listened to music without a clear beat. People who listened to white noise did the worst. Why is that?

Brain studies have shown that music releases endorphins and dopamine. These neurochemicals cause us to feel pleasure and closeness to others. So when we listen to music together, we naturally feel closer to each other. Playing music together has an even stronger effect. And dancing together to rhythmic music creates the strongest bond of all.

How to avoid news anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is fear and/or panic about an uncertain outcome. It usually appears when you are experiencing a stressful situation. Physical symptoms include a racing heart, sweating more than usual, rushed breathing, and having trouble sleeping. Psychological symptoms include feeling helpless or overwhelmed.

It is normal to experience anxiety from time to time, but if such feelings are interrupting your life, you might need to take action. 

Sometimes the news can cause such feelings. It's commonly known as news anxiety

How can you ease news anxiety?

Cook to learn English

English is a tool you can use to do many things. Since English is a global language, you can use it to learn things from different cultures.

A fun way to learn English is cooking. You have to know how to talk about the ingredients, measurements, textures, times and flavor descriptions, and explain the process. And, if you teach cooking in English, your pronunciation needs to be clear enough for others to understand.

Accordingly, in 2015, two English language teachers in Manchester, UK, set up a program called Heart and Parcel. Karolina Koscien and Clare Courtney gather immigrant women together to cook dumplings. Why dumplings? Because "parceled foods" are universal to all cultures. Women from different countries can all come together with their recipes and share their unique histories with each other. Besides language learning, social connections are formed that help the women thrive in their new home.

A most interesting host

On a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, my friend and I had a great conversation with an incredibly interesting AirBnB host. Over a few beers, he explained how he became a host after retiring from the national police force, where he was the Chief Superintendent.

Clearly captivated by this, my friend and I asked him to talk more about his past experiences. He talked about his time in Bosnia, Sudan and Iraq as part of a UN Peacekeeping force in the 1990s. Having grown up only knowing Baghdad as one of the most dangerous places on earth, I was fascinated by his recounting of the city as a safe cultural oasis back then.

Embracing change

Humans find it difficult to adapt to change and this is evident in how technological advances are viewed. This is nothing new because even Socrates, the architect of Western philosophy, wasn't too excited about the introduction of writing, as he felt people would become more forgetful.

It may be natural to fear change, but we have to realize that by nurturing this kind of fear, we are resisting innovations that could improve our quality of life, productivity and connectivity. 

The fear of technological change shows a lack of trust. As it stands, Americans don’t trust each other, our corporations or our public institutions. The absence of trust means a lot of damage has been done and the only way to fix this is to ensure everyone has the information that is essential to building trust back up.

Japan has the oldest companies

Japan has more old companies than any other developed nation. A study of 41 countries shows Japan has more than half of the companies older than 200 years. As a matter of fact, the oldest company still in existence is Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd., founded in 578 A.D. It was in operation under its own name until 2006, when it became a subsidiary of Takamatsu Construction Group

According to David E. Weinstein, an expert on the Japanese economy, business failures are as common in Japan as anywhere else, but the importance of tradition keeps the companies on their feet.

To ensure survival, a popular custom in Japanese family businesses is to adopt heirs outside the family, such as in-laws and talented male workers. As stated by Weinstein, "It's the name that is continuing, people get attached to the names."

While many parts of the world prioritize profit maximisation, Japanese companies focus on building and passing on a legacy to future generations.

Visuals: Threat of extinction

Over 900 animal species have gone extinct since the year 1500, and many more are threatened with extinction.

Extinction means that an entire animal species dies. For instance, the Dodo bird, a flightless bird that used to live on the island of Mauritius, went extinct in the 18th century because of overhunting by humans.

Please have a look at the graph below and discuss what you see with your teacher.

Where art and science meet

When you hear the word "artist", you might not think at first of the person who drew the pictures in your science textbook, or created images of the coronavirus during the pandemic. But medical and scientific illustrators are definitely artists. The job requires equal amounts of scientific research and artistic skill. Just look at works by Cynthia Turner, or Bryan Christie. They're gorgeous enough to frame and hang on your wall.

Is biohacking a major concern?

Gene-editing technology known as CRISPR is becoming more and more widely available. CRISPR is the name of a family of DNA sequences, parts of which can be used like a pair of molecular scissors capable of cutting strands of DNA. However, many in the scientific community have sounded the alarm because doing this activity outside of professional laboratories could be quite dangerous.

In the near future, biohackers may be able to upgrade or optimize their physical and cognitive performance with gene editing. Some other biohacking techniques include implanting a small computer chip into your hand to use as ID, or taking "smart drugs" called nootropics.

But in California, where in Silicon Valley biohacking really took off, a new law is making it illegal to sell a do-it-yourself genetic engineering kit unless it comes with a warning that it’s not for self-administration.