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fun in the sun

who knew london in march was similar to dallas in march? the weather has been cooler-- near 60, and chilly at night-- but it's been sunny every day. neither of us slept on the plane, which gave me an excellent chance to watch the departed three times! b.a. has graciously installed monitors on the backs of every seat in coach, so we were able to selcet from a variety of films and music. in between showings of the '06 best picture, i caught glimpses of the devil wears prada and dreamgirls.

our friend chris picked us up at gatwick and brought us to his lovely home near east croydon, a sort of suburb of london to the south. we walked around the high street for a couple of hours and ate lunch at a local pub. bangers and mash by the fire-- fantastic! after a short nap we had dinner with chris, ruth, and the girls, and had a good night's sleep.

yesterday we went into london and visitied the tate modern museum and the british museum. the tate was great, although christy's not so in to modren stuff. i dug it. but the british museum was the real prize. they have countless artifacts from ancient greece, rome, and egypt, which was fascinating to me. literally floor to ceiling of statues and clay pots.

while i was looking at these ancient treasures, i began to wonder about the question many historians (particularly in greece) have asked over the years: does the british museum have the right to retain these artifacts taken (stolen?) from another society? just as that thought crossed my mind christy walked up with a flyer published by the museum discussing this exact point. there's also more on their website. their main arguments are that if left in greece they would have faced the same deterioration as those that were left behind did; and these artifacts belong to human history, not just the greeks. plus they have been on permanent display for free for nearly 200 years, seen by 5 million people every year.

those are good arguments, but it still leaves the question open, not just for museums but for people in general (even americans on holiday): what right do we have to take a part of someone else's culture and put it on display for others to marvel at?


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