April 2, 2004
According to Webster's, an almanac is supposed to contain astronomical and meteorological data arranged by day, week, and month of a given year. It may also contain a miscellany of other information. The reason we still read Dr. Franklin's work, however, is not out of idle curiosity for what the heavens and the weather might have looked like on a given day in the Eighteenth Century. The devil is in that miscellany.
In addition, William was well advised to respectfully decline to compete with the Naval Observatory, the Weather Channel, or the US Weather Service in providing astronomical or meteorological data, since he knows precious little of that, and what he does know he finds quite boring. Many have expressed the view that William would have been equally well advised to have refrained from offering gratuitous advice and observations altogether, but alas, it is too late for that now.
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Revised: April 3, 2004