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  • mistermuse 4:12 pm on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ben Franklin, kite, , , , Saving Mr. Banks   


    This morning, in replying to a reader’s comment to my last post BEN THERE, DONE THAT, I closed my reply with the words “go fly a kite.” Well, as often happens, one thing leads to another, and those four words called to mind this song  (from the Disney films MARY POPPINS and SAVING MR. BANKS) as a fitting curtain call to the soaring achievements of Mr. Franklin:

  • mistermuse 12:21 pm on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ben Franklin, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, inventorsm France, Poor Richard's Almanac, ,   


    FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN (Jan. 17, 1706 – Apr. 17, 1790), was a jack-of-all-trades and master of many. No other American, except possibly Thomas Jefferson, has done so many things so well. –WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Ben Franklin indeed did so many things so well that it would take an encyclopedia to chronicle them fully. To touch on but a few, as a statesman he was the only man to sign all four of these foundational American documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaties of Alliance with France and of Peace with Great Britain, and the Constitution. His service as minister to France helped win the Revolutionary War. As a civic leader, he established the world’s first subscription library, raised money to help build the Pennsylvania Hospital for the sick and insane (the first in America), and helped found the academy which became the University of Pennsylvania.

    As an inventor, he cooked up an efficient heating stove, was one of the first to experiment with electricity (famously, and dangerously, flying a homemade kite with a key tied to the end during a thunderstorm), and invented the lightning rod. In this connection, I beg your indulgence with a poem:


    For of all sad words
    Of tongue or pen,
    The almost saddest are these:
    “It might have, Ben.”

    No doubt you’re familiar with Franklin’s POOR RICHARD’S ALMANAC, but did you know why it was so called? He wrote it under the pen name Richard Saunders, an imaginary astronomer, beginning 1n 1733 and published annually for 25 years. It is the source of some of Franklin’s most famous and enduring sayings, such as “A penny saved is a penny earned,” “God helps them that helps themselves” and “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

    But in my research for this post, I found my favorite Franklin quotes to be those with more wit and humor (such as the one that opened my previous post) than I had associated with his writings. Just goes to show that you can’t judge an almanac by its cover. I close with these examples:

    Fish and visitors smell in three days.

    We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

    Many people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they are 75.

    When you are finished changing, you’re finished.

    If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.

    Were I a Roman Catholic, perhaps I should on this occasion [narrowly avoiding a shipwreck] vow to build a chapel to some saint, but as I am not, it should be to build a lighthouse.

    The only thing that is more expensive than education is ignorance.

    Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away.

    The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished.

    I’m finished.




    • scifihammy 12:42 pm on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      An amazing man – and some excellent quotes 🙂


    • mistermuse 2:16 pm on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks. It was fun learning that Franklin could be a fun guy (as opposed to a fungi).


    • arekhill1 2:57 pm on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You forgot my favorite, “Only the bold deserve the fair.” I expect it got Ben laid many times. It’s worked for me, too, and I always credit the author when it does.


    • mistermuse 3:02 pm on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know if Ben said it first, but “Whatever works.”


    • Marie Lough 9:49 pm on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great writing and information – and I love your sign off, too!


    • mistermuse 10:37 pm on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      And I love comments like yours — except I may have trouble getting my hat off if I receive many more.


      • Michaeline Montezinos 2:15 am on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I find it difficult to top these comments, which are all true. So I will say I liked the title to your poem about Ben Franklin also. “KITE-TASTROPHE”…now that is an original!!!


    • mistermuse 8:36 am on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think I read in my research for this post that Franklin never ran for public office. If he were alive now, he probably wouldn’t be elected if he did run — he was too practical and believed in getting things DONE. Today, ideology rules and pragmatism can go fly a kite!


      • Joseph Nebus 3:42 pm on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Oh, no, no. Franklin was elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature (before his appointment as Postmaster General), and in the 1780s served as the President of Pennsylvania, which is what they called their governor back then.


    • mistermuse 4:52 pm on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks. My bad. I should’ve re-checked, rather than relying on memory (especially at my age).


    • Don Frankel 7:10 pm on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Richard the IVth is right here. Ben got laid a lot and he has a few quotes on that too.


    • mistermuse 11:27 pm on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It seems that Ben was always working on something, even when laying down on the job.


  • mistermuse 3:28 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ben Franklin, , humor quotation, ,   


    In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.
    –Benjamin Franklin

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Fellow American History lovers, I hadn’t intended to post again until Ben Franklin’s birthday tomorrow, but in doing research for same, I came across the above quote which so smoothly bridges the space between Ben and the subject of my last post, I would be stupid to let it pass.

    What’s that you say — letting it pass wouldn’t make any difference? Fine. Just for that, I have a good mind….not to invite you back tomorrow for more Ben. But I forgive you. Meanwhile, while drinking water, remember to filter it through your teeth to strain out the bacteria. I wish I could say that also works for straining out stupidity, but no matter — in your case, it’s too late anyway. Hahahahaha.

    • Don Frankel 3:46 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In vino veritas. Ahh, you knew that was coming but I got here first.


    • mistermuse 5:18 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, luckily I own a little book titled LATIN FOR ALL OCCASIONS (Lingua Latina Occasionibus Omnibus), from which I chose the following more or less appropriate responses (English translations upon request):

      Hoc ei propinabo!
      Caupo! Etiamnunc!
      Re vera, potas bene.
      Nonne de Novo Eboraco venis?


    • arekhill1 8:26 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m pretty sure Ben had gone flying to the Big Kite in the Sky before the concept of bacteria was fully formulated, Sr. Muse. Now that’s he’s been misquoted by a normally reliable source (you), I tremble to think that he never said that thing about beer being proof that God loves us.


      • Joseph Nebus 11:36 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I have to say, I was skeptical that Ben Franklin could bring a witty little line in at under 540 words. He was pithy for the time, but he was working in a time when everybody wrote like an end-user license agreement.

        Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 12:13 am on January 17, 2015 Permalink

          I was also surprised to find that Franklin quote, not as much for its brevity as for the humor of its wit. But I’m not a Franklin scholar, so perhaps that type of Franklin wit isn’t as rare as I thought. I’ll be checking out more quotes attributed to him for my Franklin birthday post after I get a good night’s sleep.

          Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:36 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You had me worried there for a minute, Ricardo, so I consulted my old friend Barney Google and found that bacteria were discovered in 1676 by Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek (I’m not familiar with him either, but then his name doesn’t exactly lend itself to easy memorization). Ben wasn’t born until 1706, so I guess I’m still a reliable source. Normally.

      As for the beer quote, it seems that it’s actually a misquote, though Ben did say something similar about wine. Either way, I’d say it’s proof of something.


    • Michaeline Montezinos 10:10 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In the Old Testament of the Bible, (I am not going to look it up but I do remember the general idea,) David as a Canaaite warrior fighting the bad guys, wrote in the Psalms, that after a battle to “Give wine to the wounded and stronger drink to the dying.” (Don’t quote me; this is the gist of what he wrote.) i don’t think they had the means or the money to make beer since the Isrealites were always being enslaved by one stronger nation or another.


      • Michaeline Montezinos 10:16 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        mistermuse, you are correct in writing that Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) discovered bacteria. He was a Dutch natualist and pioneer in microscopy. He was not taken seriously until “germaphobics ” began to sit on those contour couches in psychiatrists’ offices.


    • mistermuse 11:56 pm on January 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I note that van Leeuwenhoek lived to age 90 (a ripe old age in those days, or even today), so he must have taken his microbiology seriously even when others didn’t.


    • scifihammy 12:55 am on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Love the quote. Now I am busy straining bacteria through my teeth as I drink my coffee!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:00 am on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You know it’s a great quote when you don’t notice incorrect grammar….or if you do, you realize the quote is perfect the way it is. I refer to the word “bacteria,” which is plural (for “bacterium”). Technically speaking, the quote should end “there ARE bacteria” — but then, it wouldn’t end well, and we all know all’s well that end’s well.


  • mistermuse 8:51 am on October 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ben Franklin, Clare Booth Luce, , , , , , , phrase inversion, Samuel Johnson, ,   


    I’ll bet you don’t know what the above title is an example of….I mean, besides an example of a title.  And far be it from me to intend it as an example of an insult, or an insult of an example. It’s called chiasmus, which is defined as a rhetorical inversion of two parallel phrases. Friends, is this blog an education, or is this education a blog, or what?

    Truth be told, I likewise had never heard of the word until I bought a book with the fascinating title NEVER LET A FOOL KISS YOU OR A KISS FOOL YOU, by Dr. Mardi Gras (my “made-in” name for Dr. Mardy Grothe — sorry about that). Of course, I’d read chiasmus for years not knowing what they’re called. As Dr. Grothe points out, profound thinkers and great wits have long been masters of the form: Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and Anonymous, to name more than a few.

    No doubt you too are familiar with some of the following chiasmus, but with the likes of these, if familiarity breeds contempt, you may have contempt for the familiar….or, more likely, I’m guilty of stretching a chiasmus / making much ado about nothing. Or something.

    I wasted time, and now doth time waste me. -Shakespeare (King Richard II)

    The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man. –Germaine de Stael

    I find Peale appalling and Paul appealing. –Democratic Governor/Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson (comparing conservative Minister/author Norman Vincent Peale and the Apostle Paul)

    In the bluegrass region / A paradox was born: / The corn was full of kernels / And the colonels were full of corn. -John Marshall

    I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. -Randy Hanzlick

    When you have nothing to say, say nothing. -Charles Caleb Colton

    Don’t worry that other people don’t know you; worry that you don’t know other people. -Confucius

    A fool often fails because he thinks what is difficult is easy, and a wise man because he thinks what is easy is difficult. -John Churton Collins

    Friendship is love minus sex plus reason. Love is friendship plus sex minus reason. -Mason Cooley

    No woman has ever so comforted the distressed — or so distressed the comfortable. -Clare Booth Luce, on Eleanor Roosevelt

    Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good. -Dr. Samuel Johnson, to an aspiring writer

    Boy meets girl; girl gets boy into pickle; boy gets pickle into girl. -Jack Woodford, on typical plot of Hollywood movies 

    That’s all for the present. I thank all present, and recommend the book as a present to all.


    • Joseph Nebus 8:55 pm on October 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I didn’t know the name for that kind of sentence structure but am glad to know it.


    • mistermuse 10:33 pm on October 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I’d be surprised if anyone but a few knew. Who knew? Maybe the new gnu in the zoo knew, as gnus travels fast there (they’re a kind of antelope, you know).


    • arekhill1 10:04 am on October 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      It sounds vaguely like a disease name, so no wonder only the truly erudite such as yourself are bold enough to use it.


    • mistermuse 10:30 am on October 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Ricardo. A muse has to do what a muse has to do.


  • mistermuse 12:09 am on April 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , April 30, Ben Franklin, Honest Abe, , , , , National Honesty Day, Oliver Wendell Holmes, , , ,   


    April 30 is National Honesty Day, and in all honesty, few are better qualified to wax veracious on this subject than I, or my name isn’t mistermuse. I have even composed a little poem (which I dedicate to my fellow man) to celebrate the occasion:

    Always be honest with yourself
    To make the most of life —
    It will save you untold trouble
    Unless you tell your wife.

    Of course, no homage to honesty would be complete without a contribution from the most honest man (recusing myself from consideration) who ever lived, “Honest Abe,” whose real name was Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately, “Honest Abe” acquired that reputation well before becoming a politician, so we can be reasonably confident that he was indeed honest, and so accustomed to truth-telling that not even politics could break him of the habit. He therefore gets the honor of leading off this compilation of quotations on honesty:

    If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?  –Abraham Lincoln

    Honesty is the best policy.  —Benjamin Franklin

    I have not observed men’s honesty to increase with their riches.  –Thomas Jefferson

    Honesty is the best policy – for poor people.  —Evan Esar

    It is better to be quotable than to be honest.  –Tom Stoppard (who managed to be both for the price of one?)

    Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it.  —Mark Twain

    Pretty much all the honest truth-telling in the world is done by children.  –Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

    Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.  –Robert Brault

    Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.  –Ludwig Wittgenstein

    We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find is an honest friend.  –Robert Louis Stevenson


    • Don Frankel 5:32 am on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Great advice here, especially your marital advice. If you leave out telling your wife it is very easy to be honest. Honesty is a relative thing as it does depend on what someone’s definition of is, is.


    • mistermuse 6:43 am on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Don, your mention of Bill Clinton’s theory of relativity causes me to question my marital advice. I wonder if he would’ve saved himself untold trouble if he had told Hillary about Monica?


    • Don Frankel 5:41 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      It seems she knew all about it. But I loved his answer. Besides no one ever proved he had sex with that woman. All that dress proved was he almost had sex with her.


    • Michaeline Montezinos 5:29 pm on July 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I enjoyed the Honesty post and the I Forgot Day. The latter seems right for me since I had my concussion 3 weeks ago. I am getting my memory back. Reading mistermuse’s posts and the comments is helping. Three more weeks to go and I should be all well. Hope you all have a Happy Fourth!


    • mistermuse 7:30 pm on July 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Michaeline, I’m going to reply to your comment before I forget. Have a safe and happy Fourth, and remember to keep wearing your football helmet for another 3 weeks. Better safe than sorry! 🙂


  • mistermuse 1:28 pm on March 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: agnostics, , Arianna Huffington, , Ben Franklin, cynics, , , , , , , skeptics, , ,   


    I tend to be drawn more to the wisdom of those who question everything than to “accepted” wisdom, since no one knows everything — no one I know and trust, that is. But what of God, who (I was taught) does know everything. As an American, how could I not trust God? The proclamation IN GOD WE TRUST is all-inclusively bannered on our country’s legal tender –which, if you stop to think, seems an odd bearer for it, given the admonishment that money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

    Be that as it may, the thing about God is like the thing about truth — exactly whose God, whose truth are we talking about? To paraphrase the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, you’re entitled to your own God, your own truth — but not your own facts. If you take the discrepant God of divergent religions for a fact, how can a fact divided against itself stand?  Aren’t we left with the logic that no deity conceived by humans has a basis in fact? But you knew that …. right?

    I don’t believe in any religion’s God (which isn’t the same as not believing in a Creator), but if I did, why would I want to take the life of, or coerce, a man of a different faith — both of our faiths are, after all, only fallible beliefs. Better to take the measure of human folly, as observed and recorded by those who have questioned everything:

    The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunk man is happier than a sober one.  –George Bernard Shaw

    If absolute power corrupts absolutely, where does that leave God?  –George Deacon

    I don’t pray because I don’t want to bore God.  –Orson Welles

    When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.  —Emo Phillips

    Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.  –Ambrose Bierce (THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY)

    Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridged: It is so. It is not so. It is so. It is not so.  –Ben Franklin 

    Well, you could become a Southern Baptist. I mean, instead of having to obey the Pope, you could just obey your husband.  –Arianna Huffington

    The only thing that stops God from sending a second flood is that the first one was useless.  –Nicolas Chamfort

    When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, “Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?”  –Quentin Crisp

    I too much respect the idea of God to make it responsible for such an absurd world.  –Georges Duhamel



    • arekhill1 2:48 pm on March 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I think that it is obvious that if there is a God, He eats over the sink.


    • mistermuse 7:54 pm on March 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Or maybe over the john. Either way, it all ends up down the drain.


    • Don Frankel 3:38 am on March 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Reminds me of the time my cousin went to Ireland. She was in a Pub when she was asked if she was a Protestant or a Catholic. She said. “I’m Jewish.” To which she was asked was she a Jewish Protestant or a Jewish Catholic.

      “World without end. Amen.”.


    • mistermuse 6:27 am on March 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Love your “cousin” story, Don. It’s the perfect example of a one-track mind.


    • carmen 5:22 am on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think it makes more sense to believe that man made god(s) rather than the other way ’round.

      Liked by 1 person

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