About This Show
Hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, Futility Closet is a celebration of the quirky and the curious, the thought-provoking and the simply amusing. This podcast is an audio companion to the popular website that catalogs more than 8,000 curiosities in history, language, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and art. In each episode we explore intriguing finds from our research, share listener contributions, and tackle an entertaining puzzle.
Most Recent Episode
043-Ben Franklin's Guide to Living
6 days ago
As a young man, Benjamin Franklin drew up a "plan for attaining moral perfection" based on a list of 13 virtues. Half a century later he credited the plan for much of his success in life. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll explore Franklin's self-improvement plan and find out which vices gave him the most trouble.
We'll also learn how activist Natan Sharansky used chess to stay sane in Soviet prisons and puzzle over why the Pentagon has so many bathrooms.
Sources for our segment on Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues:
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 1791.
Gordon S. Wood, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin, 2005.
Dinah Birch, ed., The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 2009.
Here's Franklin's list of virtues:
Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Moderation. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
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.
Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
And here's a sample page from his "little book":