Ministry of Foreign Affairs source. Blacklisted states are in yellow. Delisted states in green. Note: Kanas was delisted, then listed again later.
Some odd things about this list. Once the state is on it, it is hard to get off. But no sign of states like Florida, Georgia, or Alabama. This has me curious as to how this list is compiled. If anybody know, please share it.
It’s 5:09 AM and I have been up for 3 hours in a tiny business hotel (APA) next to the Sumo Exhibition Hall (Ryogoku Kokugikan) in Tokyo. Here is a quick timeline on how I got here.
A 30-minute check-in after a 45-minute bus ride from Haneda, after 4 hours of paperwork, spit tests, waiting, immigration, and baggage. All were observed carefully by at least 200 employees, mostly young women, and through about 20 stops, or stations to cover six steps for the entry process. Because I was visiting Colorado, I won a 3-day paid holiday at this hotel with a daily spit test, and 3 box lunches a day.
All this was preceded by a 10-hour Delta flight (ironic, the name) with about 20 people on board. Before that, a 3-hour layover in Seattle with a little northwest clam chowder. My 3-hour flight to Seattle from Denver started with an hour Uber ride from my brother’s house at 4 AM. So all that totals to close to a full 24-hour sojourn. All masked, and continually enforced, especially in the airplane, even though all the passengers had negative covid tests.
I just ordered some snacks from Amazon because my stomach is not on the box lunch schedule. They should arrive later today, and will be checked before being delivered to me. No alcohol, no tobacco, no pizza, or fried chicken lest I have some fun or set the room on fire (how do you do that with pizza? The grease?)
The blizzard of paperwork started before my trip (July 23) after I had finished my vaccination here in Japan. Regardless, the US required a Covid test, which meant $250 and two trips to a clinic. Arrival in the US was pretty much the same as pre-covid (again with only about 20 people in the flight on the first day of the Olympics), with a cursory glance at the test at immigration.
Preparing for the return, I found a nice family clinic with travel covid tests. It seems these tests are free for most people, but I had to get the official test results on a paper form from some Ministry here in Japan, so it cost me $50. I made a new friend, the doctor, a Russian Japanophile, who went the extra mile to do all the checkmarks and signatures and stamps the document required. She may visit when Japan opens up. She may reconsider after reading this post.
Timing is very important on these tests. The results have to be within 72 hours of your flight. Beware of weekends, if you have to return. Some send you pdfs by email to hasten the process, and generic reports are OK for US entrance, and I think Japan would accept a generic test. I had time, so did the fill Ministry-approved form, which was checked carefully by at least 3 of the stations at Haneda.
Boarding in Seattle, I was given a 10-page handout with instructions, but no link to an electronic version. I filled out 4 forms there, and prepared to deplane. This became a bureaucrat’s wet dream. Every form had to be re-entered electronically, at different stations. At one point I got another 20-page handout that the bored staff tried to get me though, even though half the time there was no time to actually read the stuff. About halfway through, I got a green card to put on my wrist when they learned I had been in Colorado. Some states are like that. A woman I had recommended the clam chowder to was from Japan and she suffered the same 3-day incarceration, as did another woman from Kansas. The list of locations seems to be getting longer as I had not noted Kansas, but did note that neither Alabama or Florida were on it when I checked about 10 days ago.
I did a spit test and waited for the results, called to the podium by announcement. I wondered whether they chose the staff by because her numbers, in both Japanese and English, were practically unintelligible. As we proceeded through the process, the trend was away from bilingual announcements to Japanese only. I guess they figured were all either natives or long-term transplants here.
I was instructed to download 2 apps to my phone. You must have a phone and it has to be in working order. The apps check your location when they call at random times during the day (and night?). The other app allows them to see your face to make sure it is you. The guy wanted to download and set up the apps for me, but when he reached for my phone, I resisted. He walked me through the process with an eagle eye and jabbing fingers. Reading the terms and conditions was out of the question. The next lady checked to see if everything was working with test messages.
This will last 14 days.
After my 3 days at the hotel, I will return to Haneda, where my daughter will pick me up in our car. Some people rent cars or get very expensive limousine services. No public transport allowed, not even taxies. Then 11 more days at home with the electronic ball and chain.
Your vaccination status is never considered or brought up. It is irrelevant. I’ve read about some kind of vaccine passport, but nobody had one in our group.
A faithful historic rendition of the years Thomas Cromwell rises to power first under Cardinal Wolsey, then King Henry VIII. This account is the first of a trilogy, now finished, with the first two winning the Booker Prize. An acclaimed BBC mini-series brings the book even more to life. A story for all ages, reviewed in the Guardian and NYTimes, here a couple of takes on issues at the edge of the story: the printing of books and paper notes.
You get a really good picture of life in 1530s England under Henry VIII and his court with this book. Court politics aside, money and banking aside (both ample topics), we get a glimpse of how the printing press, tied to Luther and Protestantism, is infiltrating and changing England and Europe.
Cardinal Wolsey sees this early on and gains power and wealth by decommissioning monasteries, mostly full of corrupt monks, and using the proceeds to establish colleges at Oxford. You can see the power move from church to university.
When Tyndale translates the Bible into vernacular English, it becomes a target of the King, trying to maintain credit and credibility among the Catholic kings of Europe, to which he is indebted. With his annulment to Katherine, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabelle, things get confusing. But the disruptive nature of books in the hands of regular people is well noted by Cromwell, who tries to manage his fortune around that fact.
The other notable part of this book (for me) is Cromwell’s fascination with the Memory Palace, which he learned in Italy, and commissioned a sort of memory machine by the Italian (Name begins with C), now moved to Paris. He goes on about a box, or chest, with drawers, and drawers within drawers, each with a book in it, and each with more drawers inside, linked from the text to another book. There is an eerie resemblance to Vannevar Bush and his concept of linked texts in As We May Think. Evidently, though, this is an adaptation of a system to remember things, Method of Loci, where lists are remembered by assigning them places, so it is also called a Memory Palace.
I plan to take a short break and start book 2 of the trilogy in about a week, on my daily walks up the hill to the park, then winding down through the cemetery. The audiobook version read by Ben Miles is excellent. Also looking to find a place to watch the BBC mini-series (It’s on Amazon, 4 Episodes, each about 90 minutes).
Note: Here is a quick collection of recent links that have tittled my interest. Go to my blog. Read. Comment (I have to approve your first comment, but then you can whenever.) And yes, I know tittled is not a word and I didn't spell Weekly right. It makes searching easier.
Kitties: My wife’s kitty (Noah) has been keeping me company while she is helping her mother in Nagoya. Did you know that their whiskers are just wide enough to tell them they can get through a hole?
We can see the underbelly of the immigration crisis, with the capitalists making out like bandits with help from the Banana Republicans. For-profit jails (like for-profit universities) are raking in government money and paying slave wages. Literally. Slave wages. (DailyBeast)
Fortunately, we have people taking a bit longer look at the year ahead, and how similar it is to a century ago. (NYTimes) Politics, literature, and culture were changing at a tremendous rate then and now. For a broader look at post-WW1 and how it really wasn’t so peaceful, read futurist Bryan Alaxander.
Speaking of Alexander, I have just finished (late) reading Twitter and Teargas as part of his online book club. Zeynep Tufecki has covered demonstrations all over the world in research and has long been studying the beneficial (initially) and detrimental (ongoing) effects on political movements. Confession here, reading the book, I imagined Tufecki as a man and just saw her picture, making the book even more amazing considering all the places (Mexico and Guatemala, Egypt, Turkey and others) in her studies of often contentious and violent demonstrations. The excellent research goes without saying.
Rachel Maddow is killing it with her incisive journalism, marshalling details often overlooked, connecting the past to today, making her more and more popular. (WashingtonPost). With her BA from Stanford, and PhD from Oxford (PoliSci), she regularly pummels Trump colluder Sean Hannity (did not graduate) on information available. One of the best things I did on my walks this last month was to listen to Bag Man, a podcast about Spiro Agnew, a corrupt local Maryland politician elevated to Vice President under Nixon for his rhetoric against politics and the media. The Justice Department investigation into his ongoing bribery in the white house as it was coming down around the ears of Nixon and him was faithfully rendered by Maddow in 7 episodes of about 30 minutes each. The reflection on today is both alarming and exhilarating. There is precedent.
I am in this online course, an extension of a MOOC, called E-Learning 3.0, hosted by Stephen Downes. Over 10 weeks (12 if you count the warm-up) we look at the technical and social sides of where learning online (edtech?) is going, or at least where it is right now.
MOOCS have been closely associated with Connected Learning over the last 10 years, especially for Stephen and a group of thinkers “connected” to him. I, for example have been “connected” since the first MOOC in 2008, and since then in a couple of other online events. Building a personal learning envirionment (PLE) or similar is expanding your connections to other resources and people, thus the name “Connected Learning”. But others have taken that idea and refined it so that it could be considered an alternative to Constructivist (think Piaget), Constructionist (think Papert) (disambiguation) or Behaviorist (think Skinner).
Connectivism came about as a result of the environment. The web was maturing, and the web is based on nodes with anchors, links and targets to other nodes. Brain science (OK, neuroscience) was going great gangbusters with a new tool called FMRI, discovering all these links between neurons. I was reading Linked by Albert-Lazlo Barabasi. It was only natural that we try to apply these advances to learning (and by extension, to teaching, and finally to education).
Back to the present. In our 3rd week of #el30 we are looking at some highly technical roots of connectionism, mostly mathematical concepts that underlie how tech works, how we work with tech, and how we work with each other. Last week we talked about tree structures, which look like the sentence diagrams we wrote at kids when Chomsky was applied to everything. It also looks like the sports league championship diagrams.
But this week we move from trees to graphs. All trees are graphs (a subset), but graphs can be more like networks, with multiple connections in all directions, without–and this is crucial–a center. From there the thinking widens to neural networks and machine learning. Note again that these can be applied to networks of machines or of people. It is a way to look at the world, a way to see that the connections are just as important as the nodes of content. I can see how this can even get philosophical.
I don’t understand much of this. When I studied this stuff in the ’90s, about Speech Recognition, there was the Markov Model and not much else. It has blossomed as I have ignored it. My silly prediction that SR would be viable was premature by at least a decade. But now we have SR, many of us use it every day, and it is based on these ideas of graph theory. This is my corner of the connected part of this course. You can jump in any time.