February 23, 2009

Poor Richard, old Ben

You know who. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Many of the founders of the United States were brilliant and colorful people, but few had as interesting and varied a life as Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Author, revolutionary, entrepreneur, scientist, diplomat, citizen, innovator...the list could go on and on.

Before he was an actor on the world stage, Franklin published the popular Poor Richard's Almanac between 1732 and 1758 under the pseudonym Poor Richard or Richard Saunders. It contained all the usual calendar and weather stuff we associate with almanacs, but is best remembered today for Poor Richard's wit and wisdom, which ranged in subject from religion and politics to marriage, love, money, and lots more.

Along with the usual links and comments about current events, we'll be sampling a little of Poor Richard's fare this week at Goat Rope.

Why don't we start with the subject of foolishness?

The World is full of fools and faint hearts, and yet every one has courage enough to bear the misfortunes and wisdom enough to manage the affairs of his neighbor.

Some things never change. But wait, there's more:

He's a Fool that cannot conceal his Wisdom

That reminds me of what a friend said about a certain politician, to wit "He's usually the smartest person in the room but isn't smart enough not to show it."

Poor Richard particularly enjoyed poking fun at educated fools:

A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.

The most exquisite Folly is made of Wisdom spun too fine.

It's unlikely that we'll ever be rid of fools or our own foolishness, which leads to a dilemma:

It is Ill-Manners to silence a Fool
and cruelty to let him go on.

BANK ON IT. Paul Krugman discusses nationalization here.

WHITHER CAPITALISM? In this op-ed, Benjamin Barber muses on the future of capitalism.

NICKNAMES, MESSIAHS AND MORE are discussed in the latest edition of the Rev. Jim Lewis' Notes from Under the Fig Tree.

MORE SUPREME FUN. El Cabrero missed this one last week. Here's a cover story from USA Today on the Don Blankenship/Massey Energy/WV Supreme Court saga.


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