New plans shaping up
Another expedition in the works?
My mother's travel plans are coming together and, in a move that surprised me, she invited me to accompany her to either Greece of Malta at the end of March. In either case, we would be leaving on the 28th. After the Baltic in December, I suspect that the Mediterranean in March would make for quite a contrast. EasyJet doesn't seem to fly to Valletta, though they do have return flights from London to Athens on the right days for less than £90. I don't know anything about Malta, save that is discussed in John Keegan's Intelligence in War, in the context of Napoleon landing there while being chased by Admiral Lord Nelson, prior to the Battle of the Nile. Looking through the Wikipedia entry, the place certainly has quite a history. Particularly for a country that you could walk around in a few days.
Greece, of course, I know much more about. It would be excellent indeed to see the original home of the Parthenon Marbles, which I suppose we would have to stop at the British Museum to have a look at before departing. Going to the very source of Greek food would obviously be a delight, as would visiting the setting of so much classical history and myth. The Greek option is apparently also three days longer than the Maltese.
In either case, I am really excited about the possibility of going. One of the great advantages of living in Britain is the proximity of all the rest of Europe. That, coupled with inexpensive flights from EasyJet and RyanAir, puts a really fascinating section of the world within reach.
An excellent evening
I always leave my supervisions with Dr. Hurrell in very good spirits. Today, we discussed my essay and went into quite a bit of philosophical depth. We discussed a broader reading of Hobbes than international relations theorists generally subscribe to, as well as Rawls, Rousseau, Rorty, and a number of others. Like all of the other supervisions so far, it was a really energetic discussion in which I felt strongly intellectually engaged.
Afterwards, I went for a tour through the Ashmolean with Claire and several of her roommates. Apparently, the place is to be partially torn down by summer, and then rebuilt over the next three years. As a consequence, much of the collection will be inaccessible for a long while. A good amount of what we did see was quite interesting and I should like to go back for a proper, guided tour at some point.
The Strategic Studies Group session tonight was about regulating private military firms, though the speaker only spoke about the kinds that provide direct security (whether in a combat capacity or not). Largely excluded: military contractors like Military Professional Resources Incorporated and logistics firms like Brown & Root. That said, it was quite interesting. I was suprised to learn that international humanitarian law doesn't apply in cases where private military firms are employed by other private companies: for instance, when companies like DynCorp provide security to Shell, operating in Nigeria, or to the Saudi national oil company.
One rather unfortunate thing I learned is the the OUSSG trip to Brussels - visiting NATO Headquarters, Supreme Headquarters Allied Command Europe, and the European Parliament - is taking place between the 22nd and 24th of March: exactly when my mother will be arriving in the U.K. Perhaps I will be able to go next year. Not that I am disappointed, given the prospect of going to Malta or Greece instead. It's just regrettable that it happened to be at the same time, especially since the trip is being subsidized by the European Parliament, such that people only need to pay for transport to Brussels.
- This description of chemical misadventures is short, amusing, and worth a read.
- Also amusing, some legal bluster from the malware industry, over at BoingBoing. This reminds me of the Legal Threats section at SomethingAwful.com.
- Trivia fact: I have been wearing a pair of these Sportif Explorer Convertible Pants every day since I arrived in Oxford. As I learned in Vancouver, Italy, and elsewhere - these are a very durable article of clothing. The zip-up side pockets, profusion of other pockets, and articulated knees are all strong selling points. Next time I am in Vancouver, I am buying the fleece-lined version, which would have been nice in Tallinn and Helsinki.