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Wine: The cure for everything?! November 12, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben can’t claim to compete with the likes of Founding Gourmet Thomas Jefferson (see Silence Dogood’s post tomorrow for more on that) when it comes to wine appreciation (or consumption, for that matter). But a glass of a good (or at least drinkable) red never goes amiss. And recently, claims of red wine’s being heart-healthy make it possible to at least attempt to outface self-righteous teetotalers (at least, as long as they haven’t read—correctly—that red and purple grapes and grape juice are just as beneficial, if not nearly as much fun).

As a red wine drinker (“appreciator” and “enthusiast” are a bit too elevated for my relatively untutored palate), I was at least hoping that some part of the health claims might be valid. But I was unprepared for an article I found in the September 2012 issue of a magazine called Departures (www.departures.com) by Colman Andrews, “I’ll Drink to That!” The article, which pointed out that everyone from the Apostle Paul and Hippocrates to today’s preeminent researchers recommended drinking wine for its health benefits, went on (after recapping the work of various medical specialists) to make the following claim:

“Moderate drinking—variously defined as from one to three drinks a day—may measurably reduce the risk of ischemic stroke, thyroid and kidney cancer, lymphoma [both Hodgkins’ and non-Hodgkins’], osteoporosis, arthritis, peripheral artery disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and the common cold.”

In other words, it’s good for what ails you. Various researchers and medics through the ages have also claimed that it could be used as an antiseptic, an anti-anxiety medication, a cure for urinary tract infections, eye disease, stomach upset, and fever, and a surefire way to boost weight loss and longevity. (I had actually read a separate news story not long before that noted that, with the exception of Seventh-Day Adventists, all groups with notable longevity consumed between 4 and 5 glasses of red wine a day. But this surely isn’t true of two notably long-lived populations, the Japanese and the Hunza, so our friend Ben took the article with a glass of wine, I mean, grain of salt.)

Modern science has isolated at least two components of red wine that might boost its healthful properties, phenols (antioxidant compounds) and the much-touted resveratrol, the longevity booster. But as Mr. Andrews points out, research has also found that you’d have to drink 150-200 bottles of red wine a day to consume a measurable amount of resveratrol, by which time you’d have long since died of other causes, as rock history makes abundantly clear. But at least one enterprising vintner is now fortifying his wines with additional resveratrol, so there’s hope. And studies have shown that drinking wine increases “good” (HDL) cholesterol while reducing blood clotting.

Whatever the case may be for medical claims, there’s no question that a glass or two of wine with dinner promotes congeniality, stress reduction, and relaxation. (As our hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin, was known to remark, “Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” a comment the equal-opportunity Dr. Franklin was also known to say about beer.) That’s good enough for our friend Ben. Bottoms up!


Happy 305th birthday, Ben! January 17, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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“He snatched the lightning from heaven and the sceptre from tyrants.”

Today is the birthday of our hero and blog mentor here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, the great Benjamin Franklin (born January 17, 1706). We wish old Ben were still here to guide and advise us, but certainly his spirit lives on, which few others can claim after 305 years!

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up a few of Ben’s best-known and best-loved sayings. We hope you enjoy them, and take a moment to raise a glass to Ben Franklin, America’s greatest Founding Father! (After all, he was the guy who said “Beer [or “Wine,” depending on your version] is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Cheers!)

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“On education all our lives depend/And few to that, too few, with care attend.”

“There are no gains without pains.” [Leading to today’s “No pain, no gain” mantra, but in Ben’s day, “pains” in this case referred to effort, as in “painstaking,” not actual pain.]

“Don’t throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass.”

“We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God.”

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

“Would you live with ease, do what you ought, not what you please.”

“Anger is never without a reason but seldom with a good one.”

“Wish not so much to live long as to live well.”

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.”

“A true friend is the best possession.”

“To lengthen thy life lessen thy meals.”

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

“Without justice, courage is weak.”

“When men are employed they are best contented.”

“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve niether liberty nor safety.”

“He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”

“None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault or acknowledge himself in error.”

“Tart words make no friends. A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.”

“A good example is the best sermon.”

“If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some.” [Modern version: “If you don’t think anyone cares if you’re alive or dead, try missing a payment.”]

“Necessity never made a good bargain.”

“Success has ruined many a man.” 

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

“God helps them that help themselves.”

“Remember that time is money.”

“Half the truth is often a great lie.”

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

“There never was a good war or a bad peace.”

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.”

There’s a pocketful of thought-provoking observations from Dr. Franklin to start your day (and your year) off right. Please join us in wishing Ben a happy birthday!

              —Our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders