"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jefferson: Judgement Day

According to the most recent Terminator timeline, Skynet was installed two days ago and today, April 21, 2011 is the moment in history when humanity falls to the machines. The buzz is all over the interwebs, though so far so good at the Lost and Founders office. Still, there's still a lot of day left and if there's one danger any upstanding American citizen should be prepared to face at any time it is robot attacks.

While coming up with our escape-from-technological-ruination plan this morning, we ironically stumbled across a very cryptic letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1811 that we felt worth noting in this potentially darkest hour of mankind. In the letter, Jefferson clearly alludes to the possibility of an impending attack by what seems to be a race of violent machines. There is obviously some warranted debate here as to how a founding father could know about robots in 1811, given that the first android was not created until sometime in the late 1890's. Still, the uncanny prophetic nature of Mr. Jefferson is one we've grown quite familiar with, and it would not be surprising to confirm that he simply suspected a future robot attack to be inevitable.*

Take these words as you will - an unheeded warning, or a foretelling of things still to come. Just please take this seriously, and stay safe out there today.

"An association of men whose bones and skin are as iron as their will has never yet existed, though that is not to say that it will not come to pass in our day. From the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry, there is but one danger for which we as a People are not yet prepared - violence against man, by men who are both man and monster. Steel your heart my friend, for you may be sure that theirs will be.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, February, 1811

*Editors note: this particular excerpt is a little vague - its also admittedly possible that Jefferson was talking about vampires or some golem-esque beast for which we simply do not have a name.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Timeless Words of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin - printer by trade, inventor and statesman by necessity, and notorious womanizer by virtue. Franklin is lauded as one of the most intelligent and downright witty men in history. Countless aphorisms from his famous "Poor Richard's Almanack" are taught to school children as simple, effective lessons. His most memorable quotes grace numerous government buildings, including the offices of the Lost and Founders staff.

When discussing possible options for today's post, we noticed one such Franklin quote above a closet doorway and decided what better way to start off the week than to impart a small collection of some of our favorite gems from the works of "old Ben." The inclusions below are a mix of both commonly known sayings gleaned from  various editions of "Poor Richard's," as well as a few rarer excerpts from unpublished editions that only the most serious history buffs will probably recognize. While there is no particular message to today's post, it's nigh impossible to get glimpse into the mind of this founding father and not learn something. Enjoy!

"A penny saved is probably going to be pretty worthless 300 years from now."
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1737

"A Spoonful of Honey will make the medicine go down, a Gallon of Ale will bring it back up."
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1748

"I must be early to bed, early to rise" is the best excuse for unrehearsed lies."
Benjamin Franklin, Advice to a Young Tradesman, 1748

"Having been poor is no shame, but currently being poor is just lazy."
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richards Almanack, 1749

"Here comes the drunkard! With his flood of last night's meal, and his drop of spittle."
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1735

"Human Felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good ass that seldom happen, as by little favors that occur every Day."
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 1771

"I pronounce it as certain that there was never yet a truly great man that was not at the same time getting some."
Benjamin Franklin, The Busy-body, No. 3, February 18, 1728

"We must all hang together, for the mall very big place. The buddy system is an imperative of the human condition."
Benjamin Franklin (attributed), at the signing of the Virginia Mall work order, July 19, 1779

"Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Drink as if you were to die To-morrow."
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757

"[I]t is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own. For this reason, we must ensure that no New England real-estate developer ever becomes President of this great nation."
Benjamin Franklin, letter to Samuel Cooper, May 1, 1777

Poor Richard's Almanack

Thursday, April 7, 2011

James Wilson on Budgets

There is currently quite a bit of national debate on this year's budget crisis - the government is in danger of shutting down and despite numerous speeches from congressional members it appears there is still not much hope of a resolution any time soon. What are we as citizens to think when these partisan struggles seem to prevent a speedy resolution every term? What can we do to help the political process? For starters - we can take a cue from our Founding Fathers.

It is often difficult to recognize patterns in history when faced with an immediate crisis. It is very easy to assume that the current situation is the first of its kind, but any good historian will tell you that this is simply never, ever true. Thankfully, useful bits knowledge from the past is exactly what the Lost and Founders are here to impart.

Today we examine the life of one James Wilson. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, one of the first six appointed justices of the Supreme Court, and a man well-respected both for his words of wisdom and his remarkable ability to dance to literally anything played on a piano. In 1779, Wilson made the following comment in reference to a discussion on the powers of Congress:

"To prevent government shut down due to the inability to pass a federal budget, will be the noblest end and aim of our newly formed Congress. To punish them by means of incessant bitching and media coverage, is one of the means necessary for the accomplishment of this noble end and aim."

James Wilson, Of the duties of the Congress, 1779

Wilson's words ring as true today as they did in 1779. - it definitely sounds like he is saying that is it our duty as a people to come down hard on Congress to see that this and any future budget issues get resolved in a more timely manner. Although we here at Lost and Founders consider ourselves impartial historians and tend to not claim any particular stance - you really can't argue with history, its already happened.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tribute to the REAL March Madness

While Wikipedia tells us that March Madness dates back to 1939, the truth is that this quintessential American sporting event actually originated in 1703, the year the Connecticut Wild Turkeys beat the Virginia Gentlemen in the first ever game of Whiskey Pong. After 16 rounds of neck and neck battling, Jack Daniel of Connecticut threw up an epic bounce shot that slipped right through the hands of Virginia’s Jim Beam. Some still say Beam may have blocked that shot had he not passed out at that exact moment. The Connecticut fans went wild and the “bounce pass” became a crucial move not only in Pong, but also in what we today call “basketball”.

This game attracted so much attention that Whiskey Pong immediately became America’s national sport. Each year thereafter Colonies would put together a team of their finest men to train and compete for the national title. The event ultimately evolved into a month-long match held every Spring between the top 64 teams in the country. At the end of each year’s national championship game, the winning team would perform the “Big Dance” - a drunken showcase of their finest dance moves - in celebration of their victory.

Unfortunately, the tournament was officially disbanded during the Prohibition Era. The displaced Whiskey Pong players then took their talents to the basketball courts of colleges across the country. Their die-hard fans started hosting campus-wide Beer Pong tournaments each March to show their solidarity and in this way, the REAL March Madness lives on.

So, if you’ve ever filled out a March Madness bracket or played a game of Beer Pong, then you’ve been part of the divergent history of Whiskey Pong.