kottke.org posts about benjaminfranklin

Ben Franklin did everythingJul 31 2009

Maira Kalman posts another one of her wonderful illustrated stories, this time about Ben Franklin and the nature of invention.

I don't think he was ever bored. He saw a dirty street and created a sanitation department. He saw a house on fire and created a fire department. He saw sick people and founded a hospital. He started our first lending library. He saw people needing an education and founded a university.

Kalman Tesla

Imperfectly interestingJan 28 2008

Chuck Klosterman writes that the New England Patriots would be better off losing the Super Bowl than compiling a perfect 19-0 season; the final game loss would make them more interesting.

But if they lose -- especially if they lose late -- the New England Patriots will be the most memorable collection of individuals in the history of pro football. They will prove that nothing in this world is guaranteed, that past returns do not guarantee future results, that failure is what ultimately defines us and that Gisele will probably date a bunch of other dudes in her life, because man is eternally fallible.

Jill Lepore would likely agree with Klosterman. In her recent New Yorker article on Benjamin Franklin (the patron saint of bloggers, BTW), she argues that he failed to follow many of his aphoristic writings and in doing so became more interesting.

He carried with him a little book in which he kept track, day by day, of whether he had lived according to thirteen virtues, including Silence, which he hoped to cultivate "to break a Habit I was getting into of Prattling, Punning and Joking." What made Franklin great was how nobly he strived for perfection; what makes him almost impossibly interesting is how far short he fell of it.

It's also worth noting that, per Aristotle and Shakespeare, the hero in a tragedy always has a fatal flaw; it's what makes him a hero and the story worth listening to.

Benjamin Franklin's Advice to a Young ManNov 03 2006

Benjamin Franklin's Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress, in which he lists the many reasons that old women are much preferable to have affairs with than younger women.

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