Catch the Lightning Benergy!

Tags: Birthday wishes, refried posts, you know who.

The Benjamin

Rebecca G of (a)musings of a grad student fame reminds me that today is Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday. Happy birthday, Ben! In honor of the occasion, Rebecca recommends the following Franklin-approved activities:

1. eat an apple,
2. launch a hoax,
3. make a friend of an enemy,
4. write a letter,
5. buy, borrow, or lend a book,
6. make a charitable donation,
7. invent a labor-saving device,
8. commit a sexual indiscretion,
9. organize a club,
10. buy insurance,
11. rig up an experiment with ordinary household items,
12. play a musical instrument,
13. go for a swim.

I can’t believe she didn’t include: “Go fly a kite!” I guess that’s included in number 11. Of course, I’m in the middle of reading this book, so I have Franklin’s kite on the brain.

Anyway, in a spirit of un-Franklinian laziness but entirely Franklinian show-off-itude, I’m going to remilk some previous posts on the Benjamin:

It’s Mostly About The Benjamins: Franklin in France, George Washington’s teeth, Christ’s crown of thorns, and who to root for in the French Revolution.

Turk 182: Franklin versus the Turk, Enlightenment automata, mesmerism, John Merlin, Harry Houdini, and Alexander Graham Bell.

Ben and Me: A personal post over in my LiveJournal, where I used Franklin’s autobiography to kick off a series of reminiscences of my time in Boston.

Edited to add: I can’t believe I didn’t see this before: Philadelphia is promoting the hell out of the Frankliversary, with the slogan (wait for it) “Philly’s got Benergy!” “Benergy”??? Bwaa ha ha hee. I titled this post “Catch the Lightning” because I thought that was a lame and witless slogan. Man, now I’m kind of embarassed for getting caught up in all the Benergy. Here, to atone, is an interview with David Waldstreicher, whose book Runaway America asks tough questions about Franklin, in particular his stance on slavery.


  1. Salzburg has Benergy too! A piece of Franklin / Mozart trivia for Wolfgang’s 250th, as noted by David Post of

    “…And here’s a weird bit of Mozartiana. He’s one of the few composers who ever actually wrote anything for Ben Franklin’s glass harmonica – one of the world’s most peculiar instruments, consisting of a series of water-filled glasses whose rims are rubbed by the player to make sounds at different pitch (depending on how much water is in the glass. It’s pretty lousy stuff, to be honest; the instrument’s very difficult to keep in tune, has very limited range, and, to my ears, sounds a bit like the coyotes up here in Vermont, on a night with a full moon… Mozart’s pieces for the instrument – a Fantasie, and an Adagio & Rondo – were both composed during the last few months of his life, in 1791; a shame, really, as he (or at least we) would have been considerably better off had he spent that precious time working on, say, another opera, or another symphony …”

  2. The Benergy is contagious!

    That’s pretty cool, Post’s musical criticism notwithstanding. I wonder where I could hear a recording of that…

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