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Review of Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Benjamin Franklin Autobiography
Benjamin Franklin Autobiography
Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Born on January 6th, 1706 in Milk Street, Boston, Benjamin Franklin had an internal push to want to be successful despite the challenges he encountered. He was the youngest son of Josiah Franklin. Benjamin Franklin discontinued his education at the age of ten; this did not hinder his inner desire to be great. He later worked for his brother James who was a printer in one of the firms in Boston. Franklin was employed as a nominal editor. After a disagreement with his brother, Ben ran away to New York and later to Philadelphia. This incident happened in October 1723. While in Philadelphia, Benjamin set up his printing house, this is where he printed his first recognized work in history called ‘The Pennsylvania Gazette.’ His autobiography is all about the records of his successes, failures, famous quotes, beliefs and life experiences that he went through his entire life.

But the question is what inspired Benjamin to do the things that he did during his time? For example, what inspired him to establish a public library in Philadelphia? And what was the effect of this library on Franklin and his community? This account of his life happened at Passy in Paris in the year 1784 (Franklin p.43). It was after Benjamin had received letters of request, and he could not get a grip of what had already been written. In his autobiography, Ben explained the account on how he started the library. Based on his words, Benjamin said that the library started from a small beginning, and it grew to be very considerable in Philadelphia (Franklin p.56). On the account, Benjamin admitted that by the time he established himself in Pennsylvania, there was no good bookseller shop that people at Philadelphia could depend upon. He also admitted that the printers in New York and Philadelphia only sold papers (Franklin p.61). Book lovers were forced to send out for books from England.

Then, Benjamin suggested to Junto members that they should bring their books to the room where they had hired for their meetings (Franklin p.101). After bringing all the books, members of the club were supposed to borrow books they wished, so that they can read at home. Later after seeing the benefit of the book collection, Benjamin suggested that they consider the public and make it a public subscription library. Benjamin and the team then came up with a sketch of plan and rules that would govern the library. They hired Mr. Charles Brockden, who was a skilled conveyance for that job (Franklin 102). There was a fee that the fist purchaser was supposed to pay and an annual contribution for any additional book. Even though there were few readers in Philadelphia, at the time when they begun the public library, the little amount they got, thy imported the books and the library started to function, one day per week.

Benjamin’s effort to establish the library was not wasted; it manifested its utility. The first effect of the library is that other town and provinces borrowed the idea. Other places imitated that idea and opened other public libraries.  More libraries were opened, and people could get access to books (Franklin p.112). Another effect was that book donors came up, and the libraries were foiled with books from donors. In his words, Benjamin said that reading became the fashion of the day. Most people diverted their attention and leisure time to reading and studying (Franklin 113). But the greatest effect and impact that was caused by that library is that most people were acquainted with books and that generation was more knowledgeable and intelligent than any other people of the same rank in other countries.

Franklin did not just made strands by establishing a public library; he also had a quest for moral perfection. In his quest for moral perfection, he was able to convince both the bold and the intellect with his project (Franklin 120). Franklin wished that he would live his life without committing any fault. He was convinced to do this by all means and natural inclination even if it would cause him to lose his friends. His thoughts could not accept the fact that one can either be wrong or right, he believed that a person can do well and avoid wrong. But in his words, he also admitted that he had undertaken one of the greatest tasks in trying to prove moral perfection (Franklin p.120). Benjamin concluded that in his quest to do right, the wrong always surprised him. He talks about habits taking advantage of the good intentions, and this he said, was too strong for reasoning. Benjamin also concluded that even if we have the drive to be virtuous, that does not stop one to slip. Therefore, he believed that every wrong habit must be broken and new and good one to be acquired and embraced for one to be dependable and steady (Franklin p.120). He then comes up with a method that was to help him prove his philosophy.

In his readings, Benjamin has come across various moral values that he incorporated them in his catalog. Benjamin then came up with a list of thirteen moral values that he promised to undergo the test by himself. He then purposed that until he has attained one of the virtues in the list, is when he will proceed to the next (Franklin p.121). He made a book where he allotted the virtues and marked his progress. The result was a success because; he noticed a big change in his personal habits. The most challenging virtue to maintain was temperance. Temperance deals with eating and drinking habits (Franklin p.122). He could find that he has already gone against this habit even without his conscious.

But another question that one may ask after reading this autobiography is what does “a speckled ax is best, mean? This quote is derived from a short story of a man who bought an ax from a Smith. The ax was supposed to be grinded every time and then after being used but the man did not do so and at the end he desired the speckled ax (Franklin p.96).  Therefore, Benjamin likened it to most people who desired to break bad habits but find it hard to go through the process. Henceforth, this saying means that most people would like to have good habits but in the long run, they give up at the process of discipline. They then end up settling for mediocre virtues. Reason being, those who press on for good morals, end up to be hated and envied by their friends.

Benjamin Franklin was a very religious man because he associated his prosperity with the blessings of God. In his autobiography, Benjamin speaks a lot about God. He said that one ought to give thanks to God for giving them life and comfort (Franklin p.106). He was religious because, with all humility, he owes his happiness and success to God’s kind provision. He also talked about the punishment of God to offenses (Franklinp.107). Also, Benjamin was a religious man and for that matter a Christian, the reason being he quotes a lot of Holy Scriptures in his writings and his beliefs and arguments were inspired by the scriptures. For example, he quotes Solomon 3:16, 17, whereby he viewed God to be the foundation of all wisdom (Franklin p.108). Benjamin believed in one God who created all things. He concluded that God will reward good virtues and punish bad habits.


Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1757. Bedford, Mass: Applewood Book, 2008. Print.

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Comparison and Contrast of the “Marshmallow Experiment” and “Don’t! The Secret of Self-Control”


The referenced YouTube video, entitled the “Marshmallow Experiment”, presents Professor Phillip G. Zimbardo revisiting the “Marshmallow Temptation Study”, first led during the late 1960s/early 1970s by Stanford Psychology Professor Walter Mischel.  Throughout the course of this study, Mischel attempted to identify how children oriented to time, or more specifically, whether a child was present oriented or future oriented.  Additionally, Mischel sought to understand how a child’s orientation to time, whether present or future, affected their overall decision making process; with the premise that how a child orients to time, indicates how well the child will perform in school.  Furthermore, Mischel argued, by recognizing how a child orients to time, one will then be able to predict the quality of the decisions the child is most likely to make once they enter adulthood.

Marshmallow Experiment by Professor P. G. ZimbardoThe “Marshmallow Temptation Study” was conducted amidst a group of four-year-old children participants.  During the study, the children were offered one marshmallow and told they were allowed to eat the marshmallow immediately.  However, prior to the children consuming their single marshmallow, they were informed that if they were to wait to eat their marshmallow until after they were left alone with it for a period of time, then they would be given an extra marshmallow to eat; thus, instead of receiving only one marshmallow and eating it immediately, they would receive two marshmallows if they waited (e.g., delayed gratification).  While most of the participants did not hesitate to eat the marshmallow immediately after they were left alone with it (e.g., present oriented children), some of the participants resisted the temptation to do so (e.g., future oriented children). Watch the video below:

More than a decade later, when the study’s participants were interviewed at the age of eighteen, the differences between the present oriented children (e.g., those who were unable to delay gratification) and the future oriented children (e.g., those who were able to resist immediate temptation) were astounding!  For example, the children who were categorized as future oriented, scored 250 points higher on their SATs than those children who were considered more present oriented.  The future oriented children were also regarded for their cooperative nature, confidence, self-reliance, and ability to work well under pressure and with others.  On the other hand, the personalities of the children who were thought to be more present oriented, were described as being moody, indecisive, prone to jealousy and envy, with the likelihood of overreacting when faced with frustration or adversity.  Therefore, given the findings of the “Marshmallow Temptation Study”, it can be concluded that a child’s ability to delay gratification can indeed predict the quality of the decisions they are most likely to make as an adult, and by association, their future outcomes.

Finally, the “Marshmallow Experiment” YouTube video concludes with Professor P. G. Zimbardo discussing the results of the “Marshmallow Temptation Study” in relation to one’s personal happiness.  According to Professor P. G. Zimbardo and his published work—The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life, one’s personal relationship to time plays an important role in one’s personal happiness; for instance, to attain a keen understanding of one’s self (e.g., self-concept and self-awareness), in addition to an increased familiarity with social institutions (e.g., religion, politics, business, and national destinies), Zimbardo’s Time Paradox explains how to recognize one’s personal approach towards time, and how said approach impacts one’s daily decisions.  Moreover, Zimbardo’s Time Paradox addresses the procedure necessary for an individual to distinguish how he or she personally orients to time; and, by the same token, this knowledge supports and encourages an individual in overpowering the hidden mental biases consuming and/or confining an individual to his or her past experiences.  Subsequently, one’s harmful fixation with instant gratification is disrupted, and any apprehension surrounding one’s long-term goals is disbanded.  This YouTube video concludes with Professor Zimbardo reiterating how his book, The Time Paradox, details how to improve one’s personal success, happiness, and psychological health/wellbeing, by essentially making one’s time work for their benefit(s).

In comparison, the May 2009 edition of “The New Yorker” featured an article written by John Lehrer entitled—Don’t! The Secret of Self-Control, during which Lehrer similarly discussed Mischel’s “Marshmallow Temptation Study”.  However, instead of emerging from the perspective of a self-proclaimed colleague of Walter Mischel’s, Professor Phillip G. Zimbardo, Lehrer (2009) recounted the details of the “MarshmalloPower of Self Controlw Temptation Study” from Walter Mischel himself, as well as Craig and Carolyn Weisz (a brother and sister who participated as children during Mischel’s initial experiment in the latter part of the 1960s), Karen Sortino (mom to Craig and Carolyn Weisz), and fellow colleagues of Mischel’s, including Ozlem Ayduk, Marc Berman, Angela Lee Duckworth, John Jonides, David Levin, Yuichi Shoda, and Jennifer Winters.  In other words, Lehrer’s (2009) Don’t! The Secret of Self-Control, is a third person point of view profile feature article, written in the past tense, about Walter Mischel.

The article talks about Carolyn Weisz and her brother Craig who are now all grownup and in their forty’s. They had both undertaken this experiment when they were kids. Carolyn at that was a four year old and decided to wait so that she could receive a second portion while Craig on the other hand could not wait. When asked to take a similar test again they both claim that they would probably take similar decisions as they did when they were kids. Carolyn admits that throughout her life she has be able to become tolerant and therefore very patent while on the other hand Craig admits that he has been the exact opposite of her sister. The article highlights that they turned out to be totally different people in life. Carolyn grew to be a very patient person and did she very well in school to the point of attain a PHD at a very young age. She was also very jovial and kind as well as being very successful in life. On the other hand, Craig was the complete opposite of her sister and he suggests that he wish he could have been a little patient because his life would have turned out to be better than it did.

Personal reactions.

Both the YouTube video and the article by John Lehrer on the New Yorker describe the marshmallow experiment. I find this experiment to be very interesting and I do agree with it on most part though there some areas I would have some disagreements. One area where I tend to agree with Walter Mitchell is that we can be able to determine the expected future behavior of an individual by studying his or her decision making process while at their childhood. For example in both cases that is the article and the YouTube, the psychologist were able to predict the future behaviors of the children under observation and it turned out to be true later on in life when they are grownups.

The marshmallow experiment also suggest that we can be able to tell whether will have a happy and productive life by being able to maneuver the time paradox. It suggests that this would help us understand the world around us because the time paradox influences most of the decisions we make in life. I totally agree with this argument because in the case of Carolyn and Craig it turned out exactly the same as it had been predicted. Carolyn is future oriented while his brother is present oriented. Their lives spun out to be the opposite with Carolyn being able to achieve a lot in her life while Craig does not. These two individuals make me believe that Walter Mitchell argument is valid.

However the only disagreement that I have with the marshmallow experiment is that while it has reported a high percentage of success, the situation would have been otherwise had these children been made aware of their conditions at a young age and therefore practice on improving their behavior. It probably turned out the way it did for Craig because he was not aware that he need to improve on his time paradox because it would affect his decision making process later in life. Had he been made aware of this experiment he would have practiced on improving his time paradox and today his situation would be different.

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Imitation in Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Childhood Memories
Imitation of Three Sections in Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Fifty Years Ago

Another BullshitIf you had been raised in a small countryside fifty years ago, somewhere in China, say, especially in an undeveloped place that is more than a bit laggard compared to cities like Shanghai and Beijing, and your parents were conservative, or stubborn, or both, then there would not be one single possible chance that they ever let you study abroad. It couldn’t be done. Every teenager including you in the town, as long as they were about to graduate from high school, whether compliant or a rebel, all would take the National College Entrance Examination and stay in a national college, or to work. If you showed one bit interest in exploring foreign country by studying abroad for college. You parents would say, no one does it, you are insane, and they couldn’t help wondering where was the crazy idea from. They would hold your hands with shaky hands and nearly a begging look on their faces, they would hold their breath waiting for you to admit you were joking, they would not believe whatever you said. They would forbid you from reading books about foreign countries, they would talk to all your friends, they would find out who is the “bad influence.”  They would not understand why you want to go to a place where the government does not control the TV stations, they would not understand why you want to go to a place where parents can’t take care of you, they would not understand why you want to make your life so difficult to do something no one else in the region has done. They would adequately use their parental power to stop you from getting on the “wrong” path. If this was fifty years ago you left the town maybe once or twice a year for business purpose, none if you were a public servant, to get a peek at the outside world, and you might get the sense, probably rightly, that there is no where other than the town you can be. After all the years you had stayed at the same place without regular communication with the outside world, where else you can go? Where are you going to stay if not here?


 (2009) I get drunk for the first time when I’m fourteen, at a bar called Fantasy. The education of tequila takes place in Fantasy, in midnight, at a holiday I can’t remember. Without a specific drinking age limit in China, most teens have tried the taste of whisky, brandy, or tequila, but I haven’t tried anything other than beer. My experienced friend Lee takes me with another friend that has been partying with him for two or three months, in case when I go nuts after drunk, they would still be able to send me home. We start with ten glasses of light cocktails and we empty them. I don’t feel anything. Then we order a whole bottle of tequila and mix it with 7 Up soda to make Tequila Pop. At first, only one fifth of the glass is filled with tequila, then with half tequila half soda. I leave the bar drunk like dead. Fantasy is the best bar in the city that is only for the young, built by the most famous company in the province, called Qianxi, a company that has been there since 1900. My first time there was because of my mother, only 28 at that time, took me to her best friend’s birthday party. She told me that they drank tons that night and her friend’s driver sent us home, but I remembered that she was not drunk. I have never seen her drunk, not even with a whole bottle of wine, she could still cook my meal and check my math homework.

The October, one night just before my birthday, my father tells my mother and me to pack our stuff for an overnight trip and go out to his car. It is midnight, a school night. My mother just came back from a business dinner party, knowing nothing about the trip. He seems pretty excited. Today he told me that he saved a patient that all the other doctors said impossible to cure, maybe that’s why we are having the trip. We drive down to the countryside nearby where they have a huge house they want to move to after they both retire. Town’s asleep, rain drops. The light at the countryside is turned off and night, only the head lights shines in dark and quiet night. It was scarier that I expected. My father tells us to wait and disappear in a cornfield next to the house. After a while, he comes back with six ears of corns, big smile on his face. One dollar per ear of corn was too expensive. He explains to us. As a kid, we’d sneak into the cornfield, he snorts, to steal several ears of corns. He puts them in a plastic bag and passes it to me with a big smile. I probably see tears in his eyes.

Fucking Liar


On the mother’s car, a kid is lying on the back seat, looking exhausted

            Mom: How were your finals today?

            Daughter: They were fine, mom. I am just tired. Three two-hour exams are killing me.

Mom: OK, sweetie. Take a nap. We will get home in half an hour.

Daughter: Nah. Just gonna wait till he get home.

(Daughter plays pop music, loud. For ten minutes, no one talks.)

Mom: (keeps driving) I am going to tell you something honey.

Daughter: (turns off the music) What, mom?

Mom: You grandfather passed away.

Daughter: (beat)

 (Daughter sits up, freezes, looking at her mother)

Mom: Are you OK?

Daughter: (beat) How?

Mom: Heart attack.

Daughter: (beat) When?

Mom: Three days ago. Your father was with him.

Daughter: (beat) THREE days ago?

Mom: (look back) I am sorry. You were studying hard for the finals. I just couldn’t tell you that.


(Beat) Daughter: I had three questions today on my English exam that I had no clue what the answer could be. It bothers me so much I probably will have to call the teacher and ask for the solution.

Mom: (pull over and lean back) Flora, he is old. Death is inevitable.

(beat) One day I am going to die.

(beat) And you too.

Daughter: Let’s go upstairs.

(beat) I need to call the teacher for problems on exams today.

(Daughter gets off the car and heads to their house)

Mom: (stay in the car, sigh)