Brexit: what say ye?

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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Mo wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 16:51
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 15:07
Mo wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 14:59
Solitudinarian wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 14:17
Jennifer wrote: 18 Feb 2020, 22:37Naming them after the guy who stole them in the first place was a pretty ballsy move.
If by "stole" you mean "saved them for humanity from certain destruction", I don't think it's that ballsy.
If by “saved them for humanity” you mean “took them to decorate his house and sold them at a loss to cover divorce costs” then you’re totally accurate.
True, but that points to the fact that he bought them from the Turks (okay, the Ottoman Empire) and that when he sold them, Greece was still under Ottoman rule. Now maybe some sixteen years later when Greece finally won its independence the right thing to do would have been for the British Museum to return them, but Elgin still probably did the right thing at the time.
The authenticity of the letter authorizing it is very questionable and no one has ever seen a record of it on the Ottoman side.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Mo »

Aresen wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 17:02 If they do go back to Greece, I hope the British record every possible detail by every means available and make really good replicas before sending them back.

I would not be surprised if big pieces got stolen from the Greeks and wound up in some billionaire's private collection.
They already have casts and the Acropolis museum has many of the rest of the surviving sculptures that were near the marbles in it. A plurality of Brits think the marbles should be returned. The only reason the British Museum is resisting is because they’re afraid the rest of the museum would be hollowed out due to the precedent.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Mo wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 16:51
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 15:07
Mo wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 14:59
Solitudinarian wrote: 19 Feb 2020, 14:17
Jennifer wrote: 18 Feb 2020, 22:37Naming them after the guy who stole them in the first place was a pretty ballsy move.
If by "stole" you mean "saved them for humanity from certain destruction", I don't think it's that ballsy.
If by “saved them for humanity” you mean “took them to decorate his house and sold them at a loss to cover divorce costs” then you’re totally accurate.
True, but that points to the fact that he bought them from the Turks (okay, the Ottoman Empire) and that when he sold them, Greece was still under Ottoman rule. Now maybe some sixteen years later when Greece finally won its independence the right thing to do would have been for the British Museum to return them, but Elgin still probably did the right thing at the time.
The authenticity of the letter authorizing it is very questionable and no one has ever seen a record of it on the Ottoman side.
They were kept in an Armenian file clerk's office.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Even taking the pro-Elgin, "let the Brits keep the marbles" arguments at face value -- the Turks invaded Greece and sold off their stuff fair and square, or even "Had the marbles stayed in Greece they might have been lost or destroyed by now" -- that still sits badly with me. Many years ago I started a thread here speculating about an unlabeled logical fallacy (which a pre-racist Randian suggested calling "argument from hindsight," while Thoreau suggested "argumentum ad butterfly effect") -- basically, the argument "Bad things happened a long long time ago, but some current good things came of it; ergo, the bad thing was not so bad." The most egregious example --- and one I used to start that thread -- was some (white) asshole making the argument "Most black Americans today are much better off than black Africans today, and most of those black Americans wouldn't be here now if not for the slave trade. Therefore, today's slave descendants should stop complaining about slavery, since they are actually benefiting from it."

Likewise, "It's good that the British Empire looted the world 200 years ago, because some of that loot likely would've been destroyed had its original owners been allowed to keep it" strikes me as a very similar argument.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Who are the original owners? I mean...do any of us really believe the “country” is meaningful for this purpose? I don’t get why current Greek people or the current Greek state has a legitimate claim in people’s minds.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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nicole wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:12 Who are the original owners? I mean...do any of us really believe the “country” is meaningful for this purpose? I don’t get why current Greek people or the current Greek state has a legitimate claim in people’s minds.
I can get that more easily than I can get why the current British state has a legitimate claim.

If another country were powerful enough to invade and occupy/"colonize" the United States, I'd still say the US has a more legitimate claim to various North American artifacts than does the Chinese Museum or whichever country invaded us.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:16
nicole wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:12 Who are the original owners? I mean...do any of us really believe the “country” is meaningful for this purpose? I don’t get why current Greek people or the current Greek state has a legitimate claim in people’s minds.
I can get that more easily than I can get why the current British state has a legitimate claim.

If another country were powerful enough to invade and occupy/"colonize" the United States, I'd still say the US has a more legitimate claim to various North American artifacts than does the Chinese Museum or whichever country invaded us.
Why though? I get that a person who bought a new phone has a more legitimate claim than does the thief who ran off with it (good luck enforcing that btw). But governments aren't people. There are no legal or moral constraints on their actions, especially as applied to their dealings with one another. The people who created the artifacts in question might have a legitimate (moral) claim to them, but after they die the thing is more or less up for grabs.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Jennifer »

Hugh Akston wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:24
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:16
nicole wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:12 Who are the original owners? I mean...do any of us really believe the “country” is meaningful for this purpose? I don’t get why current Greek people or the current Greek state has a legitimate claim in people’s minds.
I can get that more easily than I can get why the current British state has a legitimate claim.

If another country were powerful enough to invade and occupy/"colonize" the United States, I'd still say the US has a more legitimate claim to various North American artifacts than does the Chinese Museum or whichever country invaded us.
Why though? I get that a person who bought a new phone has a more legitimate claim than does the thief who ran off with it (good luck enforcing that btw). But governments aren't people. There are no legal or moral constraints on their actions, especially as applied to their dealings with one another. The people who created the artifacts in question might have a legitimate (moral) claim to them, but after they die the thing is more or less up for grabs.
Pragmatically, what alternative would you prefer -- a total free-for-all? Like, "when Allied forces occupied Italy during and after World War Two, it would've been okay for us to dismantle the Roman ruins and bring them to America as war booty?"

For that matter, is the current Italian government justified in refusing to allow ordinary people to carve off bits of the Colosseum or Forum as souvenirs?
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:28
Hugh Akston wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:24
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:16
nicole wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:12 Who are the original owners? I mean...do any of us really believe the “country” is meaningful for this purpose? I don’t get why current Greek people or the current Greek state has a legitimate claim in people’s minds.
I can get that more easily than I can get why the current British state has a legitimate claim.

If another country were powerful enough to invade and occupy/"colonize" the United States, I'd still say the US has a more legitimate claim to various North American artifacts than does the Chinese Museum or whichever country invaded us.
Why though? I get that a person who bought a new phone has a more legitimate claim than does the thief who ran off with it (good luck enforcing that btw). But governments aren't people. There are no legal or moral constraints on their actions, especially as applied to their dealings with one another. The people who created the artifacts in question might have a legitimate (moral) claim to them, but after they die the thing is more or less up for grabs.
Pragmatically, what alternative would you prefer -- a total free-for-all? Like, "when Allied forces occupied Italy during and after World War Two, it would've been okay for us to dismantle the Roman ruins and bring them to America as war booty?"

For that matter, is the current Italian government justified in refusing to allow ordinary people to carve off bits of the Colosseum or Forum as souvenirs?
I asked why you think one group of people who didn't create an artifact have a stronger claim than another group of people who didn't create the artifact. Asking me for alternatives isn't an answer.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Jennifer »

Hugh Akston wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:51
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:28
Hugh Akston wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:24
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:16
nicole wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:12 Who are the original owners? I mean...do any of us really believe the “country” is meaningful for this purpose? I don’t get why current Greek people or the current Greek state has a legitimate claim in people’s minds.
I can get that more easily than I can get why the current British state has a legitimate claim.

If another country were powerful enough to invade and occupy/"colonize" the United States, I'd still say the US has a more legitimate claim to various North American artifacts than does the Chinese Museum or whichever country invaded us.
Why though? I get that a person who bought a new phone has a more legitimate claim than does the thief who ran off with it (good luck enforcing that btw). But governments aren't people. There are no legal or moral constraints on their actions, especially as applied to their dealings with one another. The people who created the artifacts in question might have a legitimate (moral) claim to them, but after they die the thing is more or less up for grabs.
Pragmatically, what alternative would you prefer -- a total free-for-all? Like, "when Allied forces occupied Italy during and after World War Two, it would've been okay for us to dismantle the Roman ruins and bring them to America as war booty?"

For that matter, is the current Italian government justified in refusing to allow ordinary people to carve off bits of the Colosseum or Forum as souvenirs?
I asked why you think one group of people who didn't create an artifact have a stronger claim than another group of people who didn't create the artifact. Asking me for alternatives isn't an answer.
No, but if you're suggesting a change to the current status quo, I'd like to see at least a suggestion regarding what sort of change you'd prefer. (Doesn't even have to be a politically feasible suggestion, mind you, just the one you'd like to see in an ideal world run exactly according to your preferences.)
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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I'm not particularly interested in arguing the issue, but in Anglo-American common law a right of ownership and possession is typically qualified as enforceable against everyone except those with a better right. One might therefore argue that the descendants of a particular ancient culture have a better right than anyone else, all other factors being equal, and that that suffices.

That said, like elections, conquests have consequences.

As a general rule, not of law but of my personal preference, I'd rather the artifacts of ancient cultures be spread throughout the world, or at least throughout those parts of the world sufficiently interested, willing and able to be good custodians of them. I'd just as soon not have to go to Egypt to see a mummy sarcophagus. For that matter, if one of the original copies of, say, the Declaration of Independence went on the market and the Greek or Egyptian government made the best offer, I'm fine with such things leaving the U.S..
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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D.A. Ridgely wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:58 I'm not particularly interested in arguing the issue, but in Anglo-American common law a right of ownership and possession is typically qualified as enforceable against everyone except those with a better right. One might therefore argue that the descendants of a particular ancient culture have a better right than anyone else, all other factors being equal, and that that suffices.

That said, like elections, conquests have consequences.

As a general rule, not of law but of my personal preference, I'd rather the artifacts of ancient cultures be spread throughout the world, or at least throughout those parts of the world sufficiently interested, willing and able to be good custodians of them. I'd just as soon not have to go to Egypt to see a mummy sarcophagus. For that matter, if one of the original copies of, say, the Declaration of Independence went on the market and the Greek or Egyptian government made the best offer, I'm fine with such things leaving the U.S..
Freely made loans or sales are fine, sure. I'm talking about outright looting. If India, for example, chose to dismantle the Taj Mahal and sell it to another country for the money (similar to how various European countries sold various soon-to-be-demolished medieval buildings to whichever rich guy founded the Cloisters museum in Manhattan) of course that is their right -- but it still would've been a crime had the British gone through with their earlier plan to dismantle the Taj and sell it for architectural salvage to rich English lords, and if they had, then I'd say modern India would be justified in demanding it back.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:04
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:58 I'm not particularly interested in arguing the issue, but in Anglo-American common law a right of ownership and possession is typically qualified as enforceable against everyone except those with a better right. One might therefore argue that the descendants of a particular ancient culture have a better right than anyone else, all other factors being equal, and that that suffices.

That said, like elections, conquests have consequences.

As a general rule, not of law but of my personal preference, I'd rather the artifacts of ancient cultures be spread throughout the world, or at least throughout those parts of the world sufficiently interested, willing and able to be good custodians of them. I'd just as soon not have to go to Egypt to see a mummy sarcophagus. For that matter, if one of the original copies of, say, the Declaration of Independence went on the market and the Greek or Egyptian government made the best offer, I'm fine with such things leaving the U.S..
Freely made loans or sales are fine, sure. I'm talking about outright looting. If India, for example, chose to dismantle the Taj Mahal and sell it to another country for the money (similar to how various European countries sold various soon-to-be-demolished medieval buildings to whichever rich guy founded the Cloisters museum in Manhattan) of course that is their right -- but it still would've been a crime had the British gone through with their earlier plan to dismantle the Taj and sell it for architectural salvage to rich English lords, and if they had, then I'd say modern India would be justified in demanding it back.
That's a perfectly respectable ethical point of view but, as I said, conquests have consequences.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Jennifer »

D.A. Ridgely wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:12
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:04
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 15:58 I'm not particularly interested in arguing the issue, but in Anglo-American common law a right of ownership and possession is typically qualified as enforceable against everyone except those with a better right. One might therefore argue that the descendants of a particular ancient culture have a better right than anyone else, all other factors being equal, and that that suffices.

That said, like elections, conquests have consequences.

As a general rule, not of law but of my personal preference, I'd rather the artifacts of ancient cultures be spread throughout the world, or at least throughout those parts of the world sufficiently interested, willing and able to be good custodians of them. I'd just as soon not have to go to Egypt to see a mummy sarcophagus. For that matter, if one of the original copies of, say, the Declaration of Independence went on the market and the Greek or Egyptian government made the best offer, I'm fine with such things leaving the U.S..
Freely made loans or sales are fine, sure. I'm talking about outright looting. If India, for example, chose to dismantle the Taj Mahal and sell it to another country for the money (similar to how various European countries sold various soon-to-be-demolished medieval buildings to whichever rich guy founded the Cloisters museum in Manhattan) of course that is their right -- but it still would've been a crime had the British gone through with their earlier plan to dismantle the Taj and sell it for architectural salvage to rich English lords, and if they had, then I'd say modern India would be justified in demanding it back.
That's a perfectly respectable ethical point of view but, as I said, conquests have consequences.
No doubt, but nowadays -- at least in theory -- the civilized world is moving AWAY from the "might makes right" notions of ownership.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Eric the .5b »

Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:14No doubt, but nowadays -- at least in theory -- the civilized world is moving AWAY from the "might makes right" notions of ownership.
In very abstract theory, given nation-states are ultimately defined in terms of, "We slaughtered our way to control of this territory, like, awhile back, so it's totally wrong and unjust to take any of that territory away from us."
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:22
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:14No doubt, but nowadays -- at least in theory -- the civilized world is moving AWAY from the "might makes right" notions of ownership.
In very abstract theory, given nation-states are ultimately defined in terms of, "We slaughtered our way to control of this territory, like, awhile back, so it's totally wrong and unjust to take any of that territory away from us."
Sure, but again -- for all the horrors and injustices that led to the current status quo, off the top of my head I cannot think of a better alternative to offer.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Eric the .5b »

Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:42
Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:22
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:14No doubt, but nowadays -- at least in theory -- the civilized world is moving AWAY from the "might makes right" notions of ownership.
In very abstract theory, given nation-states are ultimately defined in terms of, "We slaughtered our way to control of this territory, like, awhile back, so it's totally wrong and unjust to take any of that territory away from us."
Sure, but again -- for all the horrors and injustices that led to the current status quo, off the top of my head I cannot think of a better alternative to offer.
Sure, but why is "lol, no" then a worse response to requests to return those statues than it is about Gibraltar or, I dunno, Wales?
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:48
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:42
Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:22
Jennifer wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:14No doubt, but nowadays -- at least in theory -- the civilized world is moving AWAY from the "might makes right" notions of ownership.
In very abstract theory, given nation-states are ultimately defined in terms of, "We slaughtered our way to control of this territory, like, awhile back, so it's totally wrong and unjust to take any of that territory away from us."
Sure, but again -- for all the horrors and injustices that led to the current status quo, off the top of my head I cannot think of a better alternative to offer.
Sure, but why is "lol, no" then a worse response to requests to return those statues than it is about Gibraltar or, I dunno, Wales?
I ... did not realize it was.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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If the people in Gibraltar wanted to be Spanish, it would be a bigger deal. Self determination and all that.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Eric the .5b »

Mo wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:52 If the people in Gibraltar wanted to be Spanish, it would be a bigger deal. Self determination and all that.
I'd tend to agree, but a lot of the world doesn't care what the residents of Gibraltar (or other places like the Falklands) want.

Ultimately, I just find the furor about the statues weird. At some point, it seems you have to say "OK, anything you grabbed before X year is yours." or you'll get lost in bottomless wrangling. I don't know what year that should be exactly, but I bet it's less than 200 years ago.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 17:13
Mo wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:52 If the people in Gibraltar wanted to be Spanish, it would be a bigger deal. Self determination and all that.
I'd tend to agree, but a lot of the world doesn't care what the residents of Gibraltar (or other places like the Falklands) want.

Ultimately, I just find the furor about the statues weird. At some point, it seems you have to say "OK, anything you grabbed before X year is yours." or you'll get lost in bottomless wrangling. I don't know what year that should be exactly, but I bet it's less than 200 years ago.
Agreed. Even better the two parties can accept that reality and get together and figure out a compromise or some other mutually beneficial arrangement instead of one side just demanding the other hand everything over because somebody's long dead ancestor may or may not have legitimately acquired it from someone else's long dead ancestor.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

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I think it’s less because it’s a mutually agreed upon compromise and more or a “we took over your country and ‘oooh pretty’” or “we took over your country and the local governor owes some bad people some money, so let’s sell whatever isn’t bolted down.” It’s pretty different than if the Feds decided to sell the Apollo 11 capsule to the highest bidder.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Warren »

Painboy wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 17:22
Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 17:13
Mo wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:52 If the people in Gibraltar wanted to be Spanish, it would be a bigger deal. Self determination and all that.
I'd tend to agree, but a lot of the world doesn't care what the residents of Gibraltar (or other places like the Falklands) want.

Ultimately, I just find the furor about the statues weird. At some point, it seems you have to say "OK, anything you grabbed before X year is yours." or you'll get lost in bottomless wrangling. I don't know what year that should be exactly, but I bet it's less than 200 years ago.
Agreed. Even better the two parties can accept that reality and get together and figure out a compromise or some other mutually beneficial arrangement instead of one side just demanding the other hand everything over because somebody's long dead ancestor may or may not have legitimately acquired it from someone else's long dead ancestor.
So like. Your world doesn't have a Middle East at all?
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Jennifer »

Warren wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 21:04
Painboy wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 17:22
Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 17:13
Mo wrote: 20 Feb 2020, 16:52 If the people in Gibraltar wanted to be Spanish, it would be a bigger deal. Self determination and all that.
I'd tend to agree, but a lot of the world doesn't care what the residents of Gibraltar (or other places like the Falklands) want.

Ultimately, I just find the furor about the statues weird. At some point, it seems you have to say "OK, anything you grabbed before X year is yours." or you'll get lost in bottomless wrangling. I don't know what year that should be exactly, but I bet it's less than 200 years ago.
Agreed. Even better the two parties can accept that reality and get together and figure out a compromise or some other mutually beneficial arrangement instead of one side just demanding the other hand everything over because somebody's long dead ancestor may or may not have legitimately acquired it from someone else's long dead ancestor.
So like. Your world doesn't have a Middle East at all?
Going back to the original topic: the Middle East's current status as "land of perpetual political unrest" is also largely due to Britain taking upon itself the "duty" of redrawing maps of the area, back in the day.
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Re: Brexit: what say ye?

Post by Jasper »

When I was in Rome several years ago, on a tour of the Forum, I picked up a fist-sized piece of marble off the ground and brought it home.

If Rome wants to protect their ancient architectural debris, they should post more guards.
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