29 March 2013

D.C. Bucket List

I'm moving in a couple of months (again).  An important task remains.

To see as much of D.C. and the surrounding area as I possibly can.

Sure, I've seen the highlights - the monuments, the Capitol, the White House, Mount Vernon, various exhibits in various Smithsonians - but it's time to cover the nooks and crannies of this history-obsessed place.  Time to be a professional tourist.  

Part of the Berlin Wall
Today we went to the Newseum, which is, incidentally, a museum of the News.  News/media/journalism, etc.  It's not a free museum and maybe not as exciting sounding as the Spy museum (which is a pretty cool museum) but it's massive, contains a huge number of interesting, engaging, and well-laid out exhibits, and it's interactive (if you want it to be).  Highlights include an exhibit on G-Men (the FBI) and the most famous criminals they've pursued, part of the Berlin Wall and a guard tower from Checkpoint Charlie, and a huge gallery of hundreds of newspapers and headlines  - the actual documents themselves, not pictures or copies - from the 1500s right up into the 21st century.  Papers from the American Revolution, the sinking of the Lusitania, WWII, the first Star-Spangled Banner (the newspaper of the US Armed Forces), 9/11, etc.  

Maybe you can tell that I find that really cool.  Of course, you can't touch them.  But you can peer at them in their little glass drawers.

The also have an exhibit about freedom of press and censorship around the world, with this map you may have seen, or seen the likes of:

Red covers countries with heavy censorship, Yellow for countries with a moderate amount of censorship, and Green for those with the most freedom of press.  Norway is said to be the country with the most free press.  If the status of press in a country changes significantly, they change the color accordingly.

Those are just some of the exhibits, off the top of my head.  If you go to D.C., try to take some time to see this museum.  It's not some collection of facts about news media history, it's an examination of how we perceive events (and how they're allowed to be perceived) and how that perception in turn shapes those events and later ones.  It's also a refreshing break from the ivory-columned galleries of Important Dead People's Stuff. (Not that I don't enjoy looking at Important Dead People's Stuff.)

Sorry about the lower quality photos than usual.  I was using R2D2.  R2D2 is my phone.  Because it's a (An)droid.*

Does it bother anyone else that R2D2 is a "droid" but he's not an android because he's not human-shaped?  Kind of like my phone, actually...

*I named it after R2 rather than C3PO because it's white with a blue case.  Also because R2 is way tougher.

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