Posts Tagged ‘Ben Franklin’

Top 173 Things in History: #168. Ben Franklin’s Alphabet Reform

N.B. This is the first History post that doesn’t rely extensively on Wikipedia. Instead, I’ve done my research for this in 1958’s first book of Daniel Boorstin’s scintillating trilogy The Americans, subtitled The Colonial Experience. The entire text can be found here.

We Americans have pretty much agreed that Benjamin Franklin was a fairly smart guy and probably the closest thing our country has to Leonardo da Vinci. He “discovered” electricity with a kite and all that, inventing the lightning rod and thereby saving dozens of houses from burning to the ground. He drew that “Join or Die” snake to help unite the colonies in the decades before the American Revolution. He came up with bifocals and streamlined the post office and gave some important speeches. In fact, Ben Franklin is so smart that we’ve more or less forgiven him for the positive/negative fiasco regarding electrical charge.

But, as smart as we think Ben Franklin was, it’s not even close to how smart Ben Franklin himself thought he was.

Ben Franklin thought he was so smart that he “conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.” From the eighth chapter of his nauseating autobiography:

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The Decline of The Office

the office

 

It’s always easier to analyze things in retrospect, and the demise of The Office, my one-time favorite show on television, is no different. In retrospect it’s easy to point to the third season premiere as the moment when things went south, but at the time I didn’t feel that way at all.

First, though, I should acknowledge that I’m in the minority. Most people probably object to the very premise of my account of the “the decline of The Office,” since the show has increased in popularity and prestige since I stopped watching. The Office is a perennial Emmy nominee and is still considered one of the best and smartest shows on television.

And there was a time when I would have been the show’s most vocal defender. During seasons one and two, I preached the virtues of the show to anyone who would listen. My friends and I (Tim and Josh included) counted down to episodes of the show and made references to it in daily conversations. We were particularly eager for the premiere of season three, “Gay Witch Hunt.” Continue reading