Saturday, March 29, 2014

Whaling: in Video Form

Essentially the last blog post, but via a "Ramblings" episode:

I take off tomorrow immediately after church - I'll keep you updated on what the ICJ says!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hague Trip: Whaling Case

I’m heading to The Hague on Sunday to attend to ICJ Announcement of their decision on the Australia v Japan (New Zealand Intervening) Case on Whaling in the Antarctic. You can read more at
I attended a briefing today with Dr. Harrison from the University of Edinburgh, who has been involved in the case as legal advisor for Japan. Another of my faculty, Professor Boyle, is serving as counsel and will be at the Peace Palace with us.
Quite interesting to see a case come through the docket!

Interesting in that I think Japan is probably correct legally in some ways, but I don’t actually want them to be killing whales.
One of the more major legal issues is that the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling currently banning whaling is actually set up as a fisheries/resources management rather than an actual ban on all whaling because we like whales. It was initially written to get whale stocks back up to a “fishable” level.
There is an exception on the current ban on commercial whaling for scientific whaling. Whaling – including lethal whaling – is legal. Questions for the Court are then whether they have jurisdiction, whether the whaling is properly “scientific”, whether the amount of whales they’re capturing is appropriate, and whether the lethal methods being used are necessary.

We shall see what the Court says on Monday. I and other Edinburgh students have a meeting with Judge Greenwood immediately after the case is announced, so we’ll hopefully have a chance to get some insight on how decisions were made.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

London's Calling...! Eek !


With great pleasure but slight dread...London's calling.
King's College London is, in fact, the perfect school for me other than its location in London. ;)

I'll be getting a PhD in Human Geography focused on Middle Eastern Environmental Policy and Peacebuilding 2014-2017. My faculty are fantastic; geography is going to be a really fun field (ecofeminist theory, here I come!); etc.

And London will be lovely. Just...large.

Moving in September. :)


The previously promised photos. Stockholm is, indeed, beautiful. We had fantastic weather. Our hostel was a boat. We had dinner Saturday night at a vegetarian buffet that was oh-so-amazingly-good. Sunday we narrated the Swedish-only "Life in Water" exhibit at the Natural History Museum for ourselves. We also saw the Vasa...totally amazing restored shipwreck. Go Google if you haven't seen it!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shower and Stockholm

I trained to London last night and had the joy of throwing a Baby Shower for Lizzie, one of the Marshall Scholarship staff, this afternoon. I thought about blogging last night from the train…but the Marshall office sometimes reads my blog, and I would have hated for Lizzie’s surprise to be ruined. ;)
I’ve now arrived in Stockholm, Sweden. Chris Heffner, a close mate from undergraduate, is touring Europe. I haven’t been in Stockholm yet…quite excited to see both Chris and the city! Photos to come soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Please consider supporting AMENDS

As is probably quite obvious from several of my other blog posts, the American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford that I attended last April has become an incredibly important part of my life. I was amazingly inspired by the work of 35 young people from across the Middle East, North Africa, and US: People like Nihal, who runs street volunteer patrols to protect women from sexual harassment in Cairo; Fadi, whose alternative sustainable energy start-up has just received a contract from the Palestinian government to supply 10% of the West Bank's energy needs through wind power; and Nargis, empowering women and youth in Afghanistan through cultural celebration and community development.

Since April 2013, I have been elected the Secretary of the AMENDS Fellows Network and helped plan a follow-up conference in Turkey, where I met a group of the 2012 AMENDS Fellows. Again, I was moved beyond words.

Moving forward with my research, my friends through AMENDS are going to be a critical part of my PhD fieldwork: I'll be able to couchsurf my way through the Middle East, interviewing environmental activists that the AMENDS Fellows have offered to introduce me to.
In three weeks, Stanford hopes to welcome another 35 delegates. However, funding is incredibly tight. As time moves away from the "Arab Spring" of 2011, funding for youth capacity-building in the Middle East is waning. But, of course, the need for and the power of young people's activism in the region is not. I am currently leading an initiative to build an endowment for AMENDS so that this kind of fundraising will not determine whether annual Summits are possible in the future. But, as you know, that kind of development takes time. In order to run the 2014 Summit, the AMENDS Fellows Network is trying to raise $10000 in the next three weeks. Thanks to an anonymous donor, this is going to be matched - every $50 I am able to raise becomes $100.
I am asking each of you to consider donating anything you can to this Platform. This work is unspeakably important to me, and it is a way to make a very positive and long-term impact on a fantastic group of people who, because of the amazing model of AMENDS, will become very close friends when I meet them next year in Turkey.

Please do consider donating. All funds go through Stanford University, so you can donate securely online and will receive a receipt for tax purposes. Remember that everything you contribute in the next three weeks doubles!

I greatly appreciate your whatever form it takes. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Picnics in the Sun

Norwich gave me some obscenely gorgeous weather for my weekend. 
Cue wine picnics with the students who attended my lecture on Friday to continue discussion and a forest-lake frolic with Iorwerth on Sunday.

The 2013-14 batch of MSc Water Security & International Development students.

This is our "I shall lounge in warm, soft grass eating grapes fed to me by beautiful women" pose.


A swan friend! This sparked listening to "Colors of the Wind".

...I'm not prepared to say that Maestro slipped into the lake and rode the bus home naked.
But I'm not prepared to testify that he didn't, either.

Once home, though, we didn't take off our sari-esque wrap immediately. Instead, we swapped to a combination of Sumi wrestler and tribal dance moves in a sarong-esque thingamabob.
Overall, a grand time was had by all.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Hello to the always fine city of Norwich. 
I trained in last night, had a lovely late film night with a mate, and am giving a lecture today. 

Have several tea/coffee/pub/dinner dates with various mates this afternoon and evening after the lecture. 

Tonight is quality time with the Maestro - photos of Iorwerth shall be gracing Facebook soon. ;)

Tomorrow meals with loved ones at m favourite Norwich restaurants, and Sunday I will be giving a stunning performance as "Stubborn Donkey" at the Octagon Unitarian Chapel. 

Meanwhile, Norwich Castle in sunshine and daffodils:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dorm Room Diplomacy: Gender

One of the organisations I volunteer with, Dorm Room Diplomacy, has started a new programme this semester: Foundations. Unlike the regular 10-week sessions I facilitate, the "Foundations" sessions are just three weeks long and topically focused, rather than longer-term relational sessions during which a variety of topics are discussed per group choice.
This semester, I'm helping to run the Foundations Session on gender issues. I have eight undergraduate students from across America, Palestine, Afghanistan, Turkey...
Last week during our first chat, we addressed the basic definitions of sex and gender, the social construction of gender, and a historical overview of feminism globally.
Today, I invited my AMENDS buddy Nihal Saad Zaghloul, an epic gender activist from Egypt who began the Imprint Movement, working against sexual harassment on the streets in Cairo. More recently, Nihal has launched a campaign to create gender studies curriculum and knowledge written in Arabic. Her work was recently featured in a great article (written in English!) -
The group had a great time with Nihal, chatting about strategies for countering sexism and harassment, the political and religious climate in Egypt, and Western views on women in the Muslim world. Really great issues were raised and grappled with. At the end of the session, I think our major consensus was: "I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!"

The internet has dehumanised a lot of things we do. But it's also provided an incredibly powerful platform for serious relationship-building and knowledge sharing.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hello, power!


I am a home electrical engineering genius.
AKA, I managed to flip additional fuse switches properly.
Most excellent.
Welcome back, power. You were missed.

Good-bye, power

I am apparently feeling some Michigan solidarity or something this morning. 
My shared clothes dryer was a bit on the fritz this morning...nothing that seemed overly unusual, but it paused in the middle of a cycle. And then, trying to turn back power of any kind in the house. One assumes that they are related, but perhaps one is wrong. I have tried the very basic fuse switches to no effect. Had to take frigid - and I do mean frigid - tap-hair-cleansing action, since my power shower won't send any form of water via shower without power. Ha. And my hot water is off because I never use it (that'll teach me to conserve). And then had to run off to church. 
This afternoon's task is to turn absolutely everything on and off and try to get something, anything, running again. And/or call the power company. 
It's all very exciting. 
It would be more interesting/less obnoxious if I weren't supposed to be on a Skype business meeting in 20 minutes. Ahem. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The PhD Saga Continues

Oxford. You're killing me.

For the first time last weekend, I truly enjoyed a day in Oxford.

I've been half a dozen times or so, but it's never really been all that pleasant weather-wise (even though I've been at all times of the year). I don't find it as pretty as Cambridge. It's larger than Cambridge. It's not as close to Norwich as Cambridge.

You get the picture.

But last Saturday, I was there once again visiting mates and having some meetings. And on Saturday...the sky was blue, the river was flowing, the birds were singing...blah blah blah. And it was lovely.

So here I am. Okay, Oxford, maybe I'll keep considering you for doctoral programmes.

Today in the office, arrives an email:
"Dear Rebecca Farnum,
"Thank you for your application to the DPhil in Public Policy programme at the Blavatnik School of Government.  Your application has now been assessed and it is with pleasure that we extend this interview invitation to you...[details]."

Oh. Well, fine. Way to keep me on my toes and make use of a window of opportunity and my good graces, there, Oxford.

I, of course, reply: 
"My sincere thanks for this interview offer. I am happy to accept and will make myself available...I look forward to our conversation on Monday."

6.5 hours later, I receive an email telling me they need to reschedule my interview for later next week.
You're killing me, darlings.

But, anyway. I'll be interviewing for Oxford sometime.
Cambridge doesn't do interviews, but can take "several months" to decide. So just sitting around waiting for them.
King's College London has formally offered me a place already.
I, meanwhile, continue to sit here, "tripolarly", unable to actually identify a first choice. The upside to this is that I will be quite happy wherever I end up. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pancake Day

Lent is the 40 day (not including Sundays) season before Easter. It commemorates the forty days Christians believe Jesus spent in the desert fasting and praying before beginning his ministry.

The day before Lent is full in most predominantly Christian countries of various celebrations marking the last day of "naughtiness" before we clean up our act, or our kitchens, or our tv habits, or whatever. Christians generally give up something for Lent. For Catholics, this is pretty well prescribed - no meat on Fridays. And thus the origin of the Friday Fish Fry, everyone coming together for a non-meat meal. In most Protestant denominations, individuals choose what they'll give up. Chocolate is a common one. Increasingly, people choose to "fast" from Facebook and things like that. Others add something on - devotions in the morning, exercise routines, time intentionally spent with family, etc. 

Yesterday was "Pancake Day" in the UK - the day before Lent, there's a tradition of eating crepes. It's mostly lost its religious significance - but who's going to turn down a crepe!?! In the US, communities celebrate Mardi Gras with a huge party or "Fat Tuesday", eating lots of packzi - donuts made from all the lard, sugar, eggs, and lard not allowed during Lent by Catholic practices in Poland. 

So...happy desserts or lack thereof as Lent continues!