Did Benjamin Franklin Hate America?

30 Oct

Speaking of time travelers, I’m trying to figure out why Benjamin Franklin felt like he had to screw around with everything he ever pointed his face at, just because he thought he was so much better than everyone else that we’d all appreciate it.  For instance, did you know he’s the reason why you can’t get hammered at work?

It’s true.  In his autobiography, he writes about his job at a printing company, at which the normal thing to do was get hammered all day.  These guys would come in and start drinking, rock right on through to dusk, ten hour days, just getting blasted the whole time. 

In walks Benjamin Franklin, and he starts thinking, man, I bet we’d get a lot more printing done if we cooled down on the booze, you know?

They’re all like, well, there’s no way to find out for sure.  But Benjamin Franklin wouldn’t let it go.  So he stops drinking.  Keeps going to work.  At first, nobody notices, because they’re all still hammered.

It’s such a controversial idea at the time that he feels it necessary to spend at least two full pages in his autobiography, defending the notion of not getting hammered at work.  Talking about how one can acquire an equivalent amount of energy by limiting their caloric intake to non-alcoholic sources, such as fruit and bread. 

Water and food, he assures us, are all the body truly needs to function during the work day.  Alcohol, he argues, actually has a negative effect on your energy level.  I don’t remember if he included any diagrams, but he certainly had that tone. 

I mean, he’s not even talking about coffee, just sit there and eat fruit and print stuff.  Needless to say, his productivity goes through the roof.  He seems very proud of himself indeed as he snaps down a pretty thorough argument against getting hammered at work every day – the end of an era.

You can bet your ass he was one popular cat with the other employees, once their boss realized, hey, this guy’s right!  Couple years later, he’s scratching his head on a whole other continent, talking to a cartoon mouse.

It’s not something that goes away, either.  He spent a lot of time toward the end of his life in France, which from what I can tell, was an even more rocking Kingdom of Awesomeness before Benjamin Franklin got there, and stunk the place up.

Check out these letters from him.  I’m not very patient and I’m running low on time, so I only skimmed them when I was googling him to find out why the hell he invented Daylight Savings Time.  He appears to be talking to somebody French – I love the part where he say, so you guys normally get out of bed at what, about noon?

Then he goes on to talk about how he was up at six in the morning and was shocked to see the sun coming up.  He had some kind of Colonial Jet Lag – Ship Lag, I guess, though that seems too gradual to be a lag – and so he couldn’t help it, just sat up at six.

I’m pretty sure he’s joking about being shocked to see the sun.  Sort of like a Hot Enough For You kind of joke.  He starts figuring out, using an Almanac, that the sun comes up at different times during different parts of the year.  Then he goes on about how economical natural light is, and how the workday should be skewed such that we don’t have to use artificial light when we’re printing stuff stone sober.  Thanks, pal.

Yes, and just like a print shop owner, everybody who owned a business in the whole world thought, hell yeah, let’s do that.  Screw around with the workers’ concept of time, sure – but save a few bucks or francs or whatever.  Get it going!

Then he left France – or maybe died there, I didn’t get a History degree for this post or anything –  and I don’t know what he did while he was there, but those guys get up at like ten-thirty now.  He left his big, filthy paw prints all over the place.

Holy Christmas, I just went back over there and read a little further, and this guy deliberately sets about to convince the population of Paris to get up before noon.  I don’t have time to read this whole thing right now but I’m going to definitely read it later, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear about it here.  It’s like he’s obsessed with squaring the place off.

Yes, and actually, upon reading a little further, I guess it turns out that practically everything else he invented is really hard to paint in a bad light.  The light bulb, you know, I guess, sure.  Pretty cool.  A stove that keeps you warm and cooks your food – I suppose I forgot that people didn’t have those yet.  What did they have, fireplaces?  I guess fireplaces – got to admit stoves were a good idea.

Lightning rods, bifocals, libraries, the odometer.  Apparently he figured out how to map the Gulf Stream and improve the efficiency of shipping routes.  Good lord, there’s no doubt about it – this guy was definitely a time traveler.

I mean, either that or it really is a good idea to get up before noon, and then not get hammered at work all day.  We shall have to let history be the judge.

1 Comment

Posted by on October 30, 2010 in Future Tom Grab Bag


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One response to “Did Benjamin Franklin Hate America?

  1. Bill V

    October 31, 2010 at 1:23 am

    The hell with not getting hammered at work. What a douche bag.


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