benjamin franklin was a genius.

He really was - he was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and he invented loads of things, including the lightning rod, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter. He was also very altruistic, and came up with the concept of "paying it forward", which he introduced in a letter to Benjamin Webb on April 22, 1784:

"I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you... meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money."

Maira Kalman has published this illustrated ode to Benji Franks, titled "Can Do", which aptly sums up his many creations and achievements. In amongst all of the Speidi's and Hilton's in my generation, I wonder (and sometimes worry) who the Franklin's of my generation will be?!