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Halloween is fast approaching, so I want to share the most ~terrifying~ travel story of my year (of my life?), in hopes it'll scare you straight. 

A few weeks ago, about fifteen minutes into a direct flight from Newark to Narita, I realized I had brought an expired passport
 (CUE THAT SCARY MUSIC FROM THE SHOWER SCENE IN "PSYCHO").

What had happened was sort of a perfect storm of modern international travel, plus me being an idiot. To make it all work that I was able to board a 13-hour international flight with an expired passport, all these conditions had to be met: 1) I have two U.S. passports, due to multiple visas needs; 2) I checked in online using my still-valid passport details; 3) I have two kids under 3, and packing that morning was especially fraught and last-minute and I grabbed the wrong passport; 4) Neither the airport security agent who checked my passport at securtiy nor the airline attendant at the gate noticed, possibly because 5) My passport had only expired 3 days earlier.

After realizing what I'd done, the real horror set in: 12 hours to contemplate my own stupidity and obsess over what was going to happen when I landed.

The good news/bad news was that my flight had wifi, so I spent those 12 hours trying to put together a plan of action, including having my valid passport sent to the BuzzFeed office in Tokyo, and obsessively searching Japan travel blogs and bulletin boards for signs of hope. Through work, I was able to get some legal advice, which was to go straight to an immigration official on landing, admit my mistake, and throw myself on their mercy. There seemed to be some chance of getting a shore-leave pass, or at least temporary entry.

What happened instead was simpler and way more predictable: A very nice customs official laughed when I showed him my passport, laughed again when I showed him scans of my still-valid passport that was by then making its way to Japan, and then disappeared with my information. A few minutes later a chipper airline official appeared, handed me a ticket back to Newark, and told me to back upstairs to the transfer desk.

At least on the way home, I had an entire row to myself, and watched every movie available.

Don't be like me, kids! Double-check your travel credentials obsessively every time you travel! And if at all possible, don't keep more than one valid passport laying around at a time.

LINKS:

I was in Mexico City last week, and kept hearing about the new Netflix series "Made In Mexico." It's maybe Netflix's next international reality hit (despite having a backlash before it even aired) and is a complicated mess, but is also fascinating trash TV worth checking out.

Also while in Mexico, I came across Miniso, a Japanese/Chinese retail outlet that sort of a mix of Uniqlo, Ikea and Muji. Have you seen these stores? There are a few in the US, but their main presence is in China and they're growing quickly in India

From The Guardian: A new report argues that growth in global internet access has recently dramatically slowed. Growth has gone from 19% in 2007 to 6% last year. And while projects to bring connectivity to remote and other underserved areas can help, for a certain percentage of those on Earth without web access, there are other hurdles: "Even if they can afford the mobile phone and data costs, they may lack the skills to go online, and find little of interest in a language they know if they do."

Two of the web's biggest social video publishers are merging: Last week in the UK, LadBible bought Unilad.

The 2018 Third Conference on Machine Translation starts next week, and I'm keeping an eye out for updates on their "news translation" workstream -- I expect there will be some updates about advancements in using automated translation for news.

One the biggest and fastest-growing kids video channels is the India-based ChuChuTV, the subject of this fascinating profile in The Atlantic, as an example of the wild world of childrens programming on YouTube.

Civil, the blockchain based media startup in New York, finished its initial coin sale last week -- it was a failure, raising only $1.2m from a goal of $8m. But Civil's not over yet. Their founder writes that they have funds to keep their core operations going and will figure out their next attempt at a token sale soon. He was also on the Zig Zag podcast last week to talk about what Civil's learned and what they're hoping to do next.

PASSPORT STRENGTH:

Japan selected as the world's most powerful passport: According to the Henley Passport Index, a Japanese passport gets you into the most countries around the world visa-free or with visa-on-arrival. It's just one way of ranking, though. The Arton Capital Passport Index ranks Singapore and Germany highest, while the Nomad Index lists Sweden as #1 -- both take into account factors like dual citizenship and taxation. (CNN)
i18n:
A semi-regular roundup of links, images and other HTML of note about trends and ideas in global digital media, put together by Scott Lamb.

About the name:
i18n is a numeronym, per Wikipedia, "where 18 stands for the number of letters between the first i and the last n in the word 'internationalization.'"
 
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