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“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” So wrote Benjamin Franklin. The quote is often wrongly attributed to John Wooden, the famous coach of 10 NCAA championship winning UCLA basketball teams (as a number of his former players seem to think). Considering the broad array of interests and talents of Mr. Franklin (including, as recent scholarship suggests, his romantic exploits), one wonders what undertaking inspired this aphorism. Was it the result of an early experiment with electricity, a controversial or humorous publication, a political revolution against the reigning world power, a diplomatic overture, or something else?

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