Sunday, October 28, 2007

Calypso's cave, Dwejra, taxi

On a better day, I'll return to the area of Calypso's cave...the one in the Odyssey. You can climb down into it..but as the top photos shows, it is not easy. The beach below is a red sand. Then come a couple of photos from my boat ride at Dwejra. Unfortunately, my camera battery died. The Azure window (not shown) is very blue. In fact the whole look of the water is blue, and that despite the overcast, grey day. Worth a special trip. The last photo is of Mr. Gregory Spiteri and his cab. I met him on my first trip and found him congenial and his car comfortable. So, I hired him to drive me around for my tour. He was very good at it. If you want to call him, his mobile is: (356) 99440353.

Ggantija 2

Ggantija 1

Thought it was a humid day with too much haze for good photos, I went back to Gozo to do a quick tour with my taxi driver (photo later). The next two postings are fro Ggantija, an ancient human temple. This and similar structures on Malta are believed to be the oldest free-standing buildings in the world--far older than Stonehenge and even older than the pyramids. Many Earth Goddess figurines have been found on the island in association with the temples. I have yet to make reservations to see the main ones on Malta, but will do so.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

International Law

I've claimed to my international relations colleagues for years that international law ought to be at the core of our student's education. I published a little piece, The Hegemon and the Professions, in International Studies Perspectives about teaching my Tech undergrads Int Law. I tried to show how useful it was in teaching international relations.

But now I see the importance of my claim more clearly than ever. I'm giving some lectures at the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). As I've mentioned in other posts, the men and women at IMLI are all lawyers and all doing either public or private international maritime law. I teach in the public international law course. I face a room of people from all around the world: Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America, N. America, Carribbean. They come from wealthy countries, poor countries. They come from governments of all persuasions and from the world's many religions. And, every last one of them is learning the same law. What's more, when I sat in on a few of Prof. Attard's elegantly clear lectures....he taught the same concepts as I taught at Tech (only I now have a better way to teach them!). I've been talking with some Algerians and what is their interest? Making sure Algeria meets all the international legal obligations they have agreed to meet through treaty. A lawyer from Dominica talked to me about bases to claim territory and we were using the same language to address a problem.

Yet, too often in the US, students can get an undergraduate degree in international relations and take no international law. Even worse, in graduate education many dismiss the topic as not important to theorizing about states or even as not something that matters in state behavior. It is so misguided. Law is probably 75% of all state behavior, so why isn't it more important in American international relations programs?

Of course we veer off in class to talk about political explanations rather than legal ones...and it is usually not that difficult to mark the point where one leaves off and the other begins. Of course the students know that big powers have better lawyers and can pursue their interests through law more readily than smaller ones. Yet, we can use law to discuss the whys and wherefores of this behavior...and to show how law itself changes in light of state initiatives and resistance.

International law is for everyone, and putting it into every American IR curriculum will be my mantra.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wardija Hill II

wardija hill

I was feeling a tad lonely today and just was not really working on Monday's lecture. So, I said it was time to go for a ramble. Even since I moved to St. Paul's Bay I've looked at Wardija Hill from my reading chair in the living room. It fill us the sliding glass door to one of hte balconies. Today is cooler, breezy, and just plain nice, so I set out to climb the hill. I went straight up over the rocks, but took a much more sedate and longer route down. It was worth it!, though I did find myself trying to recall if there were poisonous snakes on the island as I scrambled up the rocks. The top photo is "the goal". Others are on the way up. Another set of photos (Wardija II) are from the top. On the way up I found a perfect fossil clam. I doubt I'd be allowed to take it home, but it would be interesting with my Lake Superior rocks.

I think all the walking and stair climbing of the past five weeks may be doing me some good. I did not even get out of breath going up or down the hill.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


One consequence of teaching theories of international relations and, especially, US foreign policy, is that Iraq comes up. My students seem rather split on the subject. Some think the US is just throwing its weight around. Others, however, think it is OK for the US to use its power vigorously. Some think the war in Iraq is justified, even desireable. It's interesting to me, because I didn't really expect any support. Stay tuned as I learn more about this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Size of Malta v Houghton County

I said in reflection 1 that Malta was a small town in some ways. I had the scale of Malta to Houghton County entirely wrong.

Area of Malta: 124 Sq Mi/ 321 sq km

Area of Houghton: 1502 sq mi/ 3889 sq km

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Gozo photos

The top one is from the ferry looking at Gozo.
The rest are from Xlendi.

Gozo Opera Trip 1

Gozo is a nearby island and is part of the country of Malta (though quite distinctive--more rural, different dialect. It's sort of like UP v downstate in Michigan, only more so. They have a tradition of opera on Gozo and Sat. night they put on Verdi's La Forza del Destino. It is not one of his best, but I knew that when I decided to go. The Serena Hotel had a special package deal: room, tickets, dinner, and breakfast. I had a nice time...though the opera did not finish until 12:30 and all of us were a tad annoyed with that. We finished our dinners by 2:45 a.m, but managed to be talkative at dinner anyway. A huge thunderstorm came up and knocked out electricity at 2, but the hotel generators worked fine.

The hotel is in Xlendi (Shlendi (or something like that). It was a fishing village and still is, but tourism is growing.

I caught the bus to the ferry and hopped the ferry, found a cab driver (who I liked); ditto back home. I enjoyed the unusual scenery and found the room very comfortable.

Photos of the ferry, room, view and opera house.

Clouds from my balcony and roof

It's hard to take pictures of sunsets here...something about the scale of the cloudes relative to the topograph of the land. But, here are some photos I took from my balcony and roof.

cleaning tile/marble/stone floors

Virtually all buildings have marble, tile, or stone floors. They do a dry mop with a squeegie type thing (photo). Works really well.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Teaching was fun

I had my first day of teaching in two classes: Theories of International Relations (a first year course) and US Foreign Policy (2nd adn 3rd years). The theories class was very lively indeed and just plain fun. The students in AFP were a little reluctant to participate at first, but did so and did well. Clearly they have learned quite a bit from their first year classes. My IMLI students are all lawyers and practicing either private or public maritime law and quite a fascinating group. I think all three sets of students will keep me on my toes...and in a few weeks I'll pick up some 3rd year Intl Law students. I've been away from teaching for a while and wasn't sure how I'd do. But, all looks pretty good so far. I'm going to learn so much from them.

IMLI took some pictures, so they will appear eventually, though pictures of teaching are odd things.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reflection 2

Some things that appear to be different from home:
a) people just about never eat alone--they are very gregarious. Restaurants hardly know what to do with me.
b) dog doo and trash is everywhere; people throw stuff from cars.
c) national holidays are associated with specific political parties.
d) outsides often look modest; insides of places are great.
e) homes seem to have many framed paintings or sketches on the wall.
f) most doors are closed at school and students have to knock and queue up--even for dept offices. It might be in honor of air conditioning, the high number of part-timers, or the fact that classes really haven't started. So, I must wait to further evaluate this observation. LATER-- Classes started and mine is the only open door when I don’t have air conditioning on. I was locked in last night. Fortunately someone in another building was around and called security for me (I didn’t have the number, but I’ll get it for future reference). For some reason I am not authorized for a building key. That is not all bad-- zero chance I’ll be tempted to go to the office in the evenings or on weekends.
g) students do not engage in extracurricular activities much (hypothesis: they spend time with family and friends if they have time).
h) quite a few young adults seem to live with parents until they marry--even into the late 20s. But this is increasingly common in the US.
i) university education is tuition-free and students even get small stipends for living and books. This does not increase their desire to study (smile).
j) generally speaking [N=9], food is excellent in restaurants, but wine matching has yet to catch up with the food. In Houghton, the same could be said about wine matching, but only a few of the restaurants in town match what I'm finding here on the food count.
k) the drinking age is 16; the driving age is 18. I used that comparison in discussing jurisdiction in international law—states can prescribe rules and apply them to anyone in their territory. My IMLI students asked if the US embassy in Malta would serve drinks to a 17 year old. I said I didn’t know, but I seriously doubted it. Fun question.
l) Maltese are known for their tax evasion.

Things that seem similar
a) family matters
b) there is a serious lack of signage (Michigan Tech only recently fixed this, I still get lost driving at home now and then on back roads)
c) the local beer is good
d) food costs are very similar to Houghton (but the fruits and veggies are much more wonderful here)
e) everyone is friendly and helpful--I have even managed to get help from the bus drivers (who are known for in-your-face gruffness). People have been overwhelmingly generous with their time and help to me. Tech is very friendly, too.
f) people love dogs
g) there is a lot of entrepreneurial behavior..but it "feels" different, somehow, from home. Perhaps I'll do a reflection on it in a few months.
h) faith matters (Malta is virtually all Catholic--there was a mass at the opening of the public university, a point that should go up in the different category)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lunch at the US Ambassador's Residence

The US Embassy helps new Fulbrights meet people by hosting a lunch in their honor. Mine was this past Wed and quite lovely.
US Ambassador to Malta, Molly Bordonaro hosted it at the Ambassador's Residence. I met people from both political parties, the university and the Embassy. Mrs. Bordonaro was active in President Bush's election campaign, thus she is what we would call a political appointee. Fortunately for the United States and for Malta, she is doing a wonderful job. I have had people simply bring her up in conversation, because they are so impressed with her. "She is the best US Ambassador we've had in many, many years" is the sort of thing I've heard. I can see why. She is young, energetic, diplomatic and savvy. Here is the photo of the two of us.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dry Dock Valletta

The harbor has considerable capacity to repair ships. So, in honor of my husband, who is the busines manager for the Society for Industrial Archeology, are a couple of photos.

Water taxi II

Water Taxi

The water taxi was great fun. We piled in planning to spend a Lira each for a trip over to Valletta, but he proposed one lira more for a tour of all five fingers of the harbor. We took it and it was so fun. The boat in Maltese was called the Little Trouble. All boats, as they say, are a hole in the water into which you pour money, but the captain of this lilttle craft clearly took great pride in his boat. If some of the views look familar...the movie Gladiator was fillmed here in part.