Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ben

Born today 301 years ago in Boston - yes, Boston - Benjamin Franklin, "inventor of the stove" — which he never patented because he created it for the good of society. Also, inventor of the fire company, fire insurance, bifocals, a flexible urinary catheter, swim fins, the glass harmonica, the odometer, the lightning rod, and - boon to all us vertically challenged readers - the "long arm" — a long wooden pole with a grasping claw at the end — to reach the books we want to read. Also, a very quotable man, one way or another. Here's Adams on Franklin:
“Franklin did this, Franklin did that, Franklin did some other damned thing. . . . Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington, full grown and on his horse. . . . Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightning rod and the three of them--Franklin, Washington, and the horse--conducted the entire Revolution by themselves.”
And here's Franklin himself:
If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do things worth the writing.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


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