Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why don't we have a Franklin day?

I have delayed and delayed writing about my favorite founder, Ben Franklin, for a long time now, but not just because the amount of material out there is overwhelming. Unlike with Thomas Jefferson, whose character I loathe, I have nothing really original or bad to say about Franklin and the subtitle to this blog says – My thoughts, what else? However, now that I decided to write about him anyway, his having been on my mind for a couple of weeks, I’m not sure how I will keep it from growing like a stalk out of a magic bean, given how verbose I am even on limited topics.

I have lost track of the biographies I have read about Franklin, but I usually recommend his own brilliant, but short autobiography on the first part of his life and H.W. Brands’ The First American (although I am not the biggest Brand fan otherwise). I’ll also expand below on Tom Tucker’s Bolt of Fate, which is a sensational book on a limited topic. But, I’m not going to scare you away from Carl Van Doren’s classic, Benjamin Franklin (my first after his autobiography when I was a kid), the always readable Catherine Drinker Bowen’s The Most Dangerous Man in America, the equally fun Thomas Fleming’s The Man Who Dared the Lightning or Stacy Schiff’s recent award winning retelling of his years in Paris, A Brilliant Improvisation, which was much better than I had thought it would be.  Less interesting to me were both Walter Isaacson’s somewhat prosaic Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and Edmund S. Morgan’s Benjamin Franklin, though he might be the best historian of the group (if not the best writer).

I’ve decided what I’ll do is talk about a few things about Franklin that make him my favorite founder and why we should have a Franklin day. Although I think he and Washington, were the only indispensible Revolutionaries, I will not try to convince you about that here. It’s enough for me that other than the ever cranky John Adams and a few other contemporaneous critics, almost everyone else thought so too. Maybe another time. As always, this is not Wikipedia, and if you love Franklin or find any of the following interesting, try one of the books I recommended above. The information I give here is derived from them, among others, original research not being in the cards for me.

A really, really brief and completely inadequate overview

I heard Walter Isaacson say once that Franklin was not a genius. I don’t know what he is talking about. If he was not, I’m not sure we ever had any. Franklin's list of inventions, not least his revolutionary discoveries in electricity, his ability to re-invent himself and be immensely successful at whatever he tried, his unparalleled diplomacy in France (against all odds), his civic work and writings among other achievements, cannot be compared levelly with any other American's, at least in sheer talent and diversity of talent. He was the American Leonardo DaVinci. He showed his genius in his writings and even in his playfulness. I understand Isaacson doesn’t want to be a hagiographer, but, really? 

Franklin was endless fun

Long after Ole Ben was dead, Jefferson recalled his own torture while congress tore apart his draft of the Declaration of Independence (Franklin had been on the committee and helped a little) and his conversation with Franklin about it while he was listening. Someone else less inventive than Franklin might have just said, “Don’t worry so much, Tom,” or "It will be okay," but according to Jefferson, Franklin said:

"I have made a rule, whenever in my power, to avoid becoming the draughtsman of papers to be reviewed by a public body. I took my lesson from an incident which I will relate to you. When I was a journeyman printer, one of my companions, an apprentice hatter, having served out his time, was about to open shop for himself. His first concern was to have a handsome signboard, with a proper inscription. He composed it in these words, 'John Thompson, Hatter, makes and sells hats for ready money,' with a figure of a hat subjoined. But thought he would submit it to his friends for their amendments. The first he showed it to thought the word 'Hatter' tautologous, because followed by the words 'makes hats,' which showed he was a hatter. It was struck out. The next observed that the word 'makes' might as well be omitted, because his customers would not care who made the hats. If good and to their mind, they would buy them, by whomsoever made. He struck it out. A third said he thought the words 'for ready money' were useless, as it was not the custom of the place to sell on credit. Every one who purchased expected to pay. They were parted with, and the inscription now stood, 'John Thompson sells hats.' 'Sells hats!' says the next friend. 'Why, nobody will expect you to give them away. What then is the use of that word?' It was stricken out, and 'hats' followed it, the rather as there was one painted on the board. So the inscription was reduced ultimately to 'John Thompson,' with the figure of a hat subjoined."

The Great Speech

Franklin was a very old man approaching death when the Constitutional Convention was held, and if it were not in his home town, he would not have been there. He contributed little to it. But, what contributions they were. If Franklin did nothing in his life but write his last great speech which was read for him by James Wilson at the convention, he would deserve the title – great man (excerpt follows):

“Mr. President:
I confess that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present, but Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it: For having lived long, I have experienced many Instances of being oblig'd, by better Information or fuller Consideration, to change Opinions even on important Subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow the more apt I am to doubt my own Judgment, and to pay more Respect to the Judgment of others. Most Men indeed as well as most Sects in Religion, think themselves in Possession of all Truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far Error. Steele, a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only Difference between our two Churches in their Opinions of the Certainty of their Doctrine, is, the Romish Church is infallible, and the Church of England is never in the Wrong. But tho' many private Persons think almost as highly of their own Infallibility, as of that of their Sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French Lady, who in a little Dispute with her Sister, said, I don't know how it happens, Sister, but I meet with no body but myself that's always in the right. Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison.
In these Sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its Faults, if they are such; because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution: For when you assemble a Number of Men to have the Advantage of their joint Wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those Men all their Prejudices, their Passions, their Errors of Opinion, their local Interests, and their selfish Views. From such an Assembly can a perfect Production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this System approaching so near to Perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our Enemies, who are waiting with Confidence to hear that our Councils are confounded, like those of the Builders of Babel, and that our States are on the Point of Separation, only to meet hereafter for the Purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.
The Opinions I have had of its Errors, I sacrifice to the Public Good. I have never whispered a Syllable of them abroad. Within these Walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the Objections he has had to it, and use his Influence to gain Partisan in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary Effects and great Advantages resulting naturally in our favour among foreign Nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent Unanimity. Much of the Strength and Efficiency of any Government, in procuring and securing Happiness to the People depends on Opinion, on the general Opinion of the Goodness of that Government as well as of the Wisdom and Integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own Sakes, as a Part of the People, and for the sake of our Posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution, wherever our Influence may extend, and turn our future Thoughts and Endeavours to the Means of having it well administered. . . .

His brilliance still shown there, even after the great speech.

While others were just milling about during the signing of the constitution, Madison recorded Franklin saying as follows:

“Whilst the last members were signing it Doct FRANKLIN looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.”

Come on, who says things like that spontaneously? Pretty much no one but Franklin:

The Inventions, improvements and innovations

If he had invented or played a role in only a handful of the following, it would have been remarkable. I include those social innovations attributed to him as well as improvements or introductions of institutions to America:

Electricity – I’ll cover this later. But, it was the hallmark of his great fame which led to his great success as a diplomat. Aside from that, he was one of the first proponents of the theory that light traveled in waves.

Flexible catheter: he didn’t invent it, but his was probably the first ever made in America.

The lightning rod: He invented it. How many lives and how much property did this one invention save?

The first volunteer fire company in America.

The first fire insurance company in America (at the least, he was one of the founding members and the inspiration)

Bifocals (which he called “double spectacles.”)

Refrigeration. No, that wasn’t until the 20th century. But, he and one John Hadley made early experiments with ether demonstrating it almost two decades before the revolution.

Copperplate printing press (first in America). He made this himself after observing them in England.

First political cartoon (you’ve seen this – the segmented snake representing the colonies and the words “Join, or Die”.)

The Franklin Stove (more heat, less smoke)

The Gulf Stream (not that others didn’t know about it – sailor’s did, but by taking temperatures with ingenious methods, he discovered how to map it).

First secular subscription library (at least in America)

First use of matching funds to raise money.

The glass armonica (a musical instrument – Franklin’s was not the first instrument to work by touching whirling glass, but was a remarkable improvement – Handel, Beethoven, Mozart and Richard Strauss all composed for it and Tchaikovsky almost used it in The Nutcracker, settling instead on another recent innovation).

Hospital – he didn’t invent this, naturally, but in connection with a doctor, he started the first one in America.

I’m not going to try to be comprehensive here.  But, please don’t tell me the man was not a genius. By the way, the invention by him of the rocking chair, is most likely just apocryphal.

Scientific skepticism

While Franklin was in France during the Revolution Mesmerism, that is, hypnotism, then called “animal magnetism, was foisted upon the public by Friedrich Anton Mesmer. Ironically, he initially tried to use (inspired by Franklin’s electrical experiments) electricity as a conduit from the stars to humans, then turned to magnets and finally a Mesmerizing personality. When the French medical establishment denied him a license, Mesmer created a public company and raised a lot of money from citizens. The government intervened and created a committee to investigate it. It’s three most famous members were Joseph Ignace Guillotin, who later became famous for something obvious if you read his name again, Antoine Lavoisier, father of Chemistry and one of France’s greatest scientists who happened to end his life at the wrong end of a guillotine, and the world’s most famous scientist, Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin and his co-committee men did scientific experiments with one of Mesmer’s followers and determined that at best, Mesmerism was unproven, but also dangerous (but, because it might excite women to you-know-what).

Franklin did not, however, doubt that Mesmer got results - psychological ones - just that his explanation - that some kind of magnetism was responsible, was correct. Despite the report condeming it, he did not believe that they could stem the popularity of what we now call hypnotism. As he wrote later, “[s]ome think it will put an end to Mesmerism. But there is a wonderful deal of credulity in the world, and deceptions as absurd have supported themselves for ages.”  And, he was right, as hypnotism is still quite popular and believed by many people. Even America’s crusading skeptic, Michael Shermer, who has worked on debunking many magical and superstitious beliefs, accepts it as true (I still don’t understand why). But, I know many credible people who tell me they have been hypnotized. I don’t believe that, though I believe they think they have been hypnotized, much as I believe many people who are sure they have seen a UFO, have seen something else. Of course, all they need to say is, you just haven’t experienced it, and how do you argue with that. Yet, whatever you have read or heard, there is no credible scientific evidence of a “hypnotic” state. And, please, no jokes about using my blog to put people to sleep. Anyway, this topic is for another day.

I just like that Franklin was involved in debunking Mesmer.

The great electrical hoax

I don’t like to do book reports here, but I don’t mind turning you onto a book. Tom Tucker’s Bolt of Fate: Benjamin Franklin and his Electric Kite Hoax, was published in 2003 and I came across a library copy up for sale a year or two later. I am always skeptical of historians who come up with radical ideas for which there seems little but speculation in support, like - X (Jesus, Homer, etc.) was a woman, or, that Dead Sea Scrolls are really evidence of an desert drug cult or there is a code in the Bible, and so on. Sometimes though, scholars or even journalists convince me of something I didn’t think true before. Lionel M. Jensen’s Manufacturing Confucianism, which I recently browsed at an afternoon at a library (yes, I didn’t say I read it completely  – Will Durant pointed out in one of his books that you can’t read everything, and I no longer even try after reading that; if he couldn’t, I certainly can’t) which very ably argues that Confucius is a creation of 17th century Italian missionaries to China, is one example. Donald Foster's research showing that Henry Livingston, Jr., not Clement Moore, wrote A Night Before Christmas, is another.

Tucker goes after an American legend that we all grow up on and believe. Franklin flew a home made kite to which was tied a thread and a key, to demonstrate that electricity and lightning were one and the same. I can’t believe it after reading Tucker’s book. Instead, it seems more likely that it was one of Franklin’s many hoaxes. His career is filled with them, beginning from when he was a child. Certainly many other historical figures have engaged in hoaxes, but I doubt any with Franklin’s regularity or success.

You can read the book if you are interested, but he shows how, for example, there was no key in Philadelphia that would have been light enough to float on a kite. Moreover, the wet thread Franklin described would have likely ruined, not helped, the experiment. If it hadn't, the experiment might have killed him (and, in one instance, apparently did prove fatal to another scientist). Also, he laboriously goes through various correspondence from Franklin and others further showing the likelihood of the hoax. Tucker’s book is a great piece of detective work and it includes a lot of material on Franklin’s literary battles with the Royal Society (which later made him an honorary member) that I had not seen elsewhere. Franklin won. He almost always did since he was little.

Don’t go away thinking that most of Franklin’s scientific experiments were a fraud or hoax. He was correct that lightning and electricity were the same, but was certainly not the first to suspect that and he certainly did not completely prove it even if his experiment was real. He coined the terms plus and minus, conductor, armature, positive/negative, battery, condenser, to explain his single fluid theory of electricity, which was also correct.

Franklin's electical experiments are his greatest achievements other than his political one's. Tucker's book does put a little hole in this claim, but, though he has persuaded me of his point, it does not erase all of the rest of it.

Franklin and Slavery

I have always been a critic of the founders when it came to slavery, not just because they owned slaves or tolerated them among others, but because they absolutely knew better and emphatically said so. Some like Washington, Jefferson and Madison kept many slaves and John Adams, the only early president not to own one himself, would make no argument to Southerners of their deserving freedom, thinking it not his business. One of Patrick Henry’s letters, which I’ve posted before, stated it most accurately, admitting that however much of an abomination it was, it was to convenient to give up.

Franklin was a slave owner. He did not own very many (I think 3, but maybe it was more – too tired to research it - you do it), but numbers don’t matter. Is there perdition for slave owners? I hope so or Franklin is sunk. But, like Hamilton (whose wife owned them and he also bought some at least once for a relative) and Burr (who also owned slaves during his life), Franklin became an abolitionist. With only a few years to live he took up the presidency of the old Quaker Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery . . . and really tried to make it a force. There had to be a solution to what to do with newly freed slaves who were incapable of living on their own, and he proposed that America had a duty not just to free them, but to educate them. Good luck on that, of course, and in this, he failed.

Also, in the year of his death, Franklin wrote another hoax, which he never published, likely because he died soon after, in which he created a historical character to lampoon our own slavery, a supposed African Muslim arguing against a petition by a group known as "Erika" against the enslavement of Christian slaves.” I give you only a small part of it:

“Have these Erika considered the consequences of granting their petition? If we cease our cruises against the christians, how shall we be furnished with the commodities their countries produce, and which are so necessary for us? . . . Who are to perform the common labours of our city, and in our families? Must we not then be our own slaves? And is there not more campassion and more favour due to us Mussulmen, than to these christian dogs? . . . But who is to indemnify their masters for the loss? Will the state do it? Is our treasury sufficient? Will the Erika do it? Can they do it? Or would they, to do what they think justice to the slaves, do a greater injustice to the owners? And if we set our slaves free, what is to be done with them? Few of them will return to their countries, they know too well the greater hardships they must there be subject to: they will not embrace our holy religion: they will not adopt our manners: our people will not pollute themselves by intermarying with them: must we maintain them as beggars in our streets; or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage; for men accostomed to slavery, will not work for a livelihood when not compelled. And what is there so pitiable in their present condition? . . . While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing; and they are treated with humanity. The labourers in their own countries, are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged and cloathed. The condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no farther improvement. Here their lives are in safety. . . Let us then hear no more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government, and producing general confusion. I have therefore no doubt, but this wise Council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers, to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition.”

And . . . I just love

- that when someone at a gathering suggested that all of the great animal fables had been written, he was able to make up a pretty good one on the spot.

- that he developed a new phonetic alphabet in which he removed letters he thought redundant but added others (it went nowhere, as have so many other attempts).

- that he seemed so unlike other politicians then and particularly now, truly interested in doing public good for no reward, and was all but indefatiguable in it.

- that he so often met his greatest critics and defeats with silence, except when absolutely necessary, and that his fame still greatly exceeded their own (excepting, I guess, Adams, who is in our pantheon).
- that he avoided public argument, instead only asking questions of those he disagreed with.

- that when he went to France he did so without his wig on, which was fairly shocking at the time.

- that he appeared at the peace treaty signing with England in the same gown he had worn when he was humiliated in front the Privy Council 9 years earlier.

- that he swam long before it became popular.

- that he loved to play chess. In fact, there is no one else in America known by name who played before him - but he had to learn from and play with someone, didn't he?

- that he wrote his epitath (it wasn't used) that stated:

“The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author”

- that though he believed in God and frequently referred to him, he was non-denominational and wrote some memorable lines about “Him.” At the Constitutional Convention, in suggesting a prayer – he argued: “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

- that shortly before he died, when asked about his beliefs about Christianity, he wrote with his customary humor: As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.” (Italics added).

Jefferson, another great founder-writer, was never so funny.

The virtues

At the very last, having long exceeded your patience, I give you his 13 virtues, and, in blue, my own comments upon them:

"1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation." Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good advice, of course, but did he look skinny to you in all those illustrations?

2. "Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation." Please, Ben, that is half the fun in life.

3. "Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time." I suppose. But, I’d add – but first read number 9.

4. "Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve." I try, I try, but he didn’t have NCIS or the internet to take up his time.

5. "Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing." Probably great advice. Some people actually follow it and we call them cheap or boring.

6. "Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions." Isn’t this the same as 4?

7. "Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly." This from a man who would do anything to win a contract or job.

8. "Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty." No complaints.

9. "Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."

10. "Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation." He clearly had no idea of how a real bachelor lives and of the pleasures of messiness.

11. "Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable." If I could, I’d put this before the eyes of almost everyone I know, every second of the day.

12. "Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation." Chastity? He (like me, but the similarities end there) had a child out of wedlock. By venery, he must be referring to sexual desire (and not hunting, the other possible meaning). And, of course, screw him when it comes to that.

13. "Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates." Sure, try, but not when it comes to accepting death meekly. Then listen to Clint Eastwood’s in The Outlaw Josey Wales:

"Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is."

How is it possible to write about Benjamin Franklin and not mention his almanac, his printing business, any many great writings I couldn't get to here? I'll tell you. It's because there is just too much to talk about with him.

Peace out, fellow Franklinphiles. I have a busy week coming, so I may or may not skip a post next week. Try and live through it.

7 comments:

  1. You loathe Jefferson's character? One of the greatest Americans, and you "loathe" his character? Isn't that a bit strong? I loathe Charles Manson's character. I loathe the thought of dying in quicksand. "Dislike" would have passed without comment...
    As for Franklin, here, here, gotta' love an old, fat, drunk who could still get laid in his seventies. Bless him. Not news though Frodo, that the kite flying thing was not factual. And I agree with you, GENIUS,GENIUS, GENIUS.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Now you've called down the thunder. I have been saving my evalovin' energy for one massive exorcism of the Jefferson character and will get to it in the near future (sooner than later). It's such a big job though.

    As for the kite, it is at least possible it is not news to you because I've mentioned it here JUST LAST MONTH!!!!!, but, show me one of his biographers who didn't report that it happened (and if someone new does mention it - do they cite to Tucker's work?) I'll save you the trouble. Don't bother. Even as up to date a site as Wikipedia - source of all worldly knowledge, is unaware of it. Isaacson and Morgan's are the two newest full bios and both say it happened.

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  3. On the kites - there's an essay in the Oxford Companion that says it didn't happen, and in my copy of the Morgan bio, he says there is no evidence that it happened. I'm not home, and I don't care that much, so you aren't getting a page number. And I KNOW you can't stand the god of Jefferson, but I still think "loathe" is inappropriate. I don't like that egotistical, oversensitive toad, Adams, but I still admire his greatness as a thinker and founder.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Quiet please, children!

    Hey I loved the post. There was actually a lot in it about him that I didn't know.
    One small quibble- I think you meant to say is there "salvation" for slave owners or Franklin is sunk. You said "perdition" which is damnation so he would be sunk already.
    -Don

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  5. Yes, I wrote Morgan said it happened. So did everyone else I know of. You didn't say the Oxford Companion to what, but I'd be interested to see it (and if they mention Tucker [2003], which was the point of my mentioning him). Laziness is no excuse except when it is me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. No, Don, I actually meant "redemption," which is close enough to salvation, but I think a little bit better for my meaning, but couldn't think of the word. I often put in place holders for words so I can look it up when I proof read, and then I get tired or just forget to change them when I'm done. Like, I wrote "William" Livingston in this originally b/c I couldn't remember his first name was Henry, but that one I at least remembered to fix the next day. I will leave this error in as is so you can point it out to me from time to time as a monument to my imperfections.

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  7. A ponderous monument that would be!
    -Don

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .