Yesterday was the 226th anniversary of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, one of those classic "did you know that…" events. Although Revere was the one celebrated in verse, he never finished the ride; Dr. Samuel Prescott — the man to whom the Battle of Bunker Hill order "don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes" is attributed — was the only one of the three riders to actually reach Concord. Why Longfellow chose Revere as the subject for his poem is a mystery to me, but Prescott just doesn’t seem to be a popular subject for poets; a Dawes-leaning parody version of Longfellow’s poem was written in the late 1800s, and it doesn’t mention Prescott either. Maybe it’s the lack of satisfying rhymes. In any case, the "one if by land, two if by sea" message was delivered, the riders warned the militia that British soldiers were coming, and the spectacularly improbably American Revolution was underway. Nonetheless, one can’t help but wonder what would have happened if such a message had to be transmitted a few years later, after Claude Chappe invented semaphore and the French built a network of towers to distribute information at the unheard-of speed of seventy miles a minute — "Listen my children, and you shall hear / Of the midnight telegraph transmission of dozens of tower semaphore operators" just doesn’t sing! None