Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod, the odometer, bifocals. He started the first fire department; he taught people the importance of vitamin C. His "Join or Die" illustration, with its iconic segmented snake, just might be the first American political cartoon. Help celebrate B-Frank's 300th birthday at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org), won't you? The daylong party begins at 11 a.m., when you can eat birthday cake with "Benjamin Franklin" himself. At noon, attend a screening of Ben & Me, a 1953 Disney short film that introduces young viewers to Franklin's life and achievements. Then at 7 p.m., Wash. U. psychology professor Stanley Finger chats about his new book, Dr. Franklin's Medicine, which examines the birthday boy's tremendous contributions to medical science. All of these events are free (and Finger's book is available for purchase), so save the date. After all, if you've ever put on reading glasses, chuckled over Doonesbury or just been really damn glad not to have scurvy, you owe a debt of gratitude to Benjamin Franklin.
Tue., Jan. 17