When Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning-rod, the clergy, both in England and America, with the enthusiastic support of George III, condemned it as an impious attempt to defeat the will of God. For, as all right-thinking people were aware, lightning is sent by God to punish impiety or some other grave sin—the virtuous are never struck by lightning. Therefore if God wants to strike any one, Benjamin Franklin [and his lightning-rod] ought not to defeat His design; indeed, to do so is helping criminals to escape. But God was equal to the occasion, if we are to believe the eminent Dr. Price, one of the leading divines of Boston. Lightning having been rendered ineffectual by the 'iron points invented by the sagacious Dr. Franklin,' Massachusetts was shaken by earthquakes, which Dr. Price perceived to be due to God's wrath at the 'iron points.' In a sermon on the subject he said, 'In Boston are more erected than elsewhere in New England, and Boston seems to be more dreadfully shaken. Oh! there is no getting out of the mighty hand of God.' Apparently, however, Providence gave up all hope of curing Boston of its wickedness, for, though lightning-rods became more and more common, earthquakes in Massachusetts have remained rare.
I prefer to think about problems the way engineers do. If a valve doesn’t work, they don’t say, “Well, we must have valves, so let’s try two valves.” If a valve doesn’t work, they say, “Well, what would work?” Their rule is, if it doesn’t work, don’t do it more, do something else.
[E]ducation is a thing you get past and forget about as quickly as possible. This is particularly true of elementary and secondary education, of course…. I began to remember what it had been like: the tremendous excitement of the first couple of years, when kids imagine that great secrets are going to be unfolding before them, then the disappointment that gradually sets in when you begin to realize the truth: There’s plenty of learning to do, but it’s not the learning you wanted. It’s learning to keep your mouth shut, learning how to avoid attracting the teacher’s attention when you don’t want it, learning not to ask questions, learning how to pretend to understand, learning how to tell teachers what they want to hear, learning to keep your own ideas and opinions to yourself, learning how to look as if you’re paying attention, learning how to endure the endless boredom.
What a lovely thing a rose is!"He walked past the couch to the open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects. "There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as religion," said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. "It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.