23 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2022
    1. When he was coming up as a writer, the author and journalist Rex Murphy would write out longhand favorite poems and passages. He was asked, what’s that done for you? “There’s an energy attached to poetry and great prose,” Murphy said. “And when you bring it into your mind, into your living sensibility, by some weird osmosis, it lifts your style or the attempts of your mind.” When you read great writing, when you write down a great line or paragraph, Murphy continues, “somehow or another, it contaminates you in a rich way. You get something from it—from this osmotic imitation—that will only take place if you lodge it in your consciousness.”

      This writing advice from Rex Murphy sounds like the beginning portions of Benjamin Franklin's advice on writing and slowly rewriting one's way into better prose styles.

      Link to Franklin's quote

  2. Sep 2022
  3. Jul 2022
  4. May 2022
    1. What did Franklin himself think about abortions? In 1728 during his early years as a printer, he generated controversy over something he would end up doing himself. According to “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson, he “manufactured” an abortion debate, largely because he wanted to crush a rival, but his own opinions may not have been too strong about it. Franklin wrote a series of anonymous letters for another paper to draw attention away from Samuel Keimer’s paper: The first two pieces were attacks on poor Keimer, who was serializing entries from an encyclopedia. His initial installment included, innocently enough, an entry on abortion. Franklin pounced. Using the pen names “Martha Careful” and “Celia Shortface,” he wrote letters to Bradford’s paper feigning shock and indignation at Keimer’s offense. As Miss Careful threatened, “If he proceeds farther to expose the secrets of our sex in that audacious manner [women would] run the hazard of taking him by the beard in the next place we meet him.” Thus Franklin manufactured the first recorded abortion debate in America, not because he had any strong feelings on the issue, but because he knew it would help sell newspapers.

      Benjamin Franklin manufactured the first recorded abortion debate in America to help sell his newspapers and to crush a rival.

    2. Jesuit’s bark, also known to us as quinine, was an important anti-malarial drug. According to Molly Farrell, an associate professor of English and the history of science who first reported on Franklin’s abortion entry in Slate, it was also “mistakenly thought to be an abortifacient.” 
    3. The ninth edition entry, reprinted in Slate, also recommends the use of “Harts-horn.” Harts-horn, according to Merriam-Webster, is an “American pasqueflower.”  According to “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West” by herbalist Gregory L. Tilford, pasqueflowers were used by Native Americans to induce abortions, or speed up childbirth.  
    1. Copies of The American Instructor:

    2. The recipe details, moreover, assume that these “unmarry’d Women” had the kind of knowledge of arithmetic that the book’s earlier instructional sections had taught. The recipe insists on careful attention to measurement and counting. And it asks the preparer to work with repeated multiples of three. Franklin had a track record of promoting female education, and of arithmetic for them in particular. He advocates for it in his early, anonymous “Silence Dogood” articles, and in his Autobiography singles out a Dutch printer’s widow who saved the family business thanks to her education. There, Franklin makes an explicit call “recommending that branch of education for our young females.”

      Evidence for Benjamin Franklin encouraging the education of women in mathematics.

    3. John Tennent’s The Poor Planter’s Physician to the end. Tennent was a Virginia doctor whose medical pamphlet had first appeared in 1734.*

      Virginia physician John Tennet's pamphlet The Poor Planter's Physician first appeared in 1734, and included details for effecting abortions. Benjamin Franklin found it to be so valuable that he copied it into his book The Instructor (1748).


      Surely the pamphlet had appeared previous to 1734 as there's a copy labeled as the third edition which Benjamin Franklin had reprinted in 1734, which lists him as the publisher.

    4. William Mather’s 1699 Young Man’s Companion also has one (the London book would inspire the very first arithmetic book to be printed in the colonies in 1705, by Franklin’s old boss Andrew Bradford). In Mather’s book, though, the recipe was short, misleading, and ineffective. It includes an entry for “Terms provoked,” a heading also found under comparable medical books with abortifacient concoctions (where the “term,” or period, needs “provoking”). Unfortunately for Mather’s readers, however, he prescribes “stinking Arach,” or goosefoot, which is an emmenagogue (an agent to stimulate or regulate menstruation) but not a reliable abortifacient. He also makes the even more dubious suggestion to “take a draught of White wine” under a full moon.
    5. In this week’s leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.” Yet abortion was so “deeply rooted” in colonial America that one of our nation’s most influential architects went out of his way to insert it into the most widely and enduringly read and reprinted math textbook of the colonial Americas—and he received so little pushback or outcry for the inclusion that historians have barely noticed it is there. Abortion was simply a part of life, as much as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

      Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has written in a leaked draft opinion of Dobs v. Jackson Women's Health that "The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation's history and traditions."

      However, historians have shown that in fact it was so deeply rooted in in early America that Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the country actively inserted medical advice about abortion into a widely read and popular primer on math and reading.

    1. SUPP RESSION of the COURSES.NOW I am upon Female Infirmities, it will not be unfeafonable to touch upon a common Complaint among unmarry’d Women, namely, The Suppression of the Courses. This don't only dis¬ parage their Complexions, but fills them, belides, with Sundry Disorders. For this Misfortune, you muft purge with Highland . Flaggy (commonly call'd Belly-ach Root) a Week before you exped to be out of Order ; and repeat the Same 2 Days after : The next Morning, drink a Quarter of a Pint of Pennyroyal Water, or DecoBion , with ia Drops of Spirits of Harts-horn , and as much again at Night, when you go to Bed. Continue this, p Days running; and after Refting 3 Days, go on with it for p more. Ride out every fair Day, ftir nimbly about your Affairs, and breath as

      much as poflible in the open Air. YOU muft feed upon a warm and cordial Diet, enrich’d with a great deal of Muflard, Nutmeg, Horfe-radijh and Garden, l Crejfes ;'at the lame Time avoiding every''"j thing that is aftringent, flegmatick, and 1 windy. And let your Drink be Beer, M brew’d with Sorrel-Leaves , or elfe Ground 1 Ivy-Tea . • 1 T O prevent this Complaint, young Women muft Ihake off Sloth, and make Ufe of their Legs, as well as their Hands* - They Ihou’d be cautious of taking Opiates j too often, or Jefuits-Bark , except in Cafes of great Neceffity; nor muft they long foie pretty Fellows, or any other Trajb whatfoe- ver.

      https://archive.org/details/2574010R.nlm.nih.gov/page/n47/mode/2up?q=misfortune

  5. Feb 2022
    1. This is why choosing an external system that forces us todeliberate practice and confronts us as much as possible with ourlack of understanding or not-yet-learned information is such a smartmove.

      Choosing an external system for knowledge keeping and production forces the learner into a deliberate practice and confronts them with their lack of understanding. This is a large part of the underlying value not only of the zettelkasten, but of the use of a commonplace book which Benjamin Franklin was getting at when recommending that one "read with a pen in your hand". The external system also creates a modality shift from reading to writing by way of thinking which further underlines the value.

      What other building blocks are present in addition to: - modality shift - deliberate practice - confrontation of lack of understanding

      Are there other systems that do all of these as well as others simultaneously?


      link to Franklin quote

    1. I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious or that may be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory, where they will be ready either for practice on some future occasion if they are matters of utility, or at least to adorn and improve your conversation if they are rather points of curiosity.

      Benjamin Franklin letter to Miss Stevenson, Wanstead. Craven-street, May 16, 1760.

      Franklin doesn't use the word commonplace book here, but is actively recommending the creation and use of one. He's also encouraging the practice of annotation, though in commonplace form rather than within the book itself.

  6. Sep 2021
    1. Imitation, Paul says, allows us to think with other people’s brains. It is a key technique — globally and transhistorically — for learning, from babies imitating parents to apprentices imitating masters. And yet imitation is seen in contemporary US society, and schooling especially, as so debased that it is frequently punished. In fact, if Paul is correct (and I think she is, and have thought so for years when teaching writing), we should build imitation into many more of our lesson plans.

      On the importance of imitation...

      I'm reminded of Benjamin Franklin imitating what he thought were good writers to make his own writing more robust.

      See: https://via.hypothes.is/https://www.gutenberg.org/files/20203/20203-h/20203-h.htm

      Maybe the aphorism: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," should really be "Imitation is the sincerest form of learning."

  7. Aug 2021
    1. The Echo & Narcissus Writing Club is all about mimicking the work of exceptional writers in order to learn from them.

      I'm reminded here of a portion of Benjamin Franklin's passage in his Autobiography where he describes his writing process and work to improve.

      Also the main plotline of the movie Finding Forrester.

  8. Jun 2021
    1. Writing is a verb, a practice. It is labor. A paper is at least one step removed from that labor and learning. It is a product of your labor, not your labor itself. So our grading system should align with what this course is mostly about, which is your acts of learning, your labors of writing. 

      I'm reminded here of a portion of Benjamin Franklin's passage in his Autobiography where he describes his writing process and work to improve:

      About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator.[18] It was the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand. Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should have acquired before that time if I had gone on making verses; since the continual occasion for words of the same import, but of different length, to suit the measure, or of different sound for the rhyme, would have laid me under a constant necessity of searching for variety, and also have tended to fix that variety in my mind, and make me master of it. Therefore I took some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again. I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and compleat the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts. By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method of the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English writer, of which I was extremely ambitious. My time for these exercises and for reading was at night, after work or before it began in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the printing-house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance on public worship which my father used to exact of me when I was under his care, and which indeed I still thought a duty, thought I could not, as it seemed to me, afford time to practise it.

  9. Apr 2021
    1. As I was gearing up to start my PhD last fall, I received a piece of advice that made a lot of sense at the time, and continues to do so. My colleague, Inba told me to 'write while I read', meaning that I should take notes and summarize research while I read it, and not just read and underline article after article. That way, not only do I not lose my thoughts while I'm reading an article, but I am actively thinking through the arguments in the paper while I am reading it and my writing is thoroughly grounded in the literature.

      This is generally fantastic advice! It's also the general underpinning behind the idea of Luhmann's zettelkasten method.

      I'll also mention that it's not too dissimilar to Benjamin Franklin's writing advice about taking what others have written and working with that yourself, though there he doesn't take it as far as others have since.

  10. Feb 2014
    1. The Benjamin Franklin Programming Practice Model
      • Find a program that you greatly admire and read it.
      • Takes note on the roles, inputs, and outputs of each major component.
      • Take notes on how the components interact.
      • Rewrite the program.
      • Compare your code with the original.
      • Note where you can improve and study accordingly.
    2. Benjamin developed his method in his early teens and worked hard at practicing his craft. Here is the exceprt with a few added line breaks for legibility. About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. It was the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand. Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should have acquired before that time if I had gone on making verses; since the continual occasion for words of the same import, but of different length, to suit the measure, or of different sound for the rhyme, would have laid me under a constant necessity of searching for variety, and also have tended to fix that variety in my mind, and make me master of it. Therefore I took some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again. I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and compleat the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts.

      Benjamin Franklin on developing proficiency.

    3. The hard part is teaching the consequences of each choice.

      Once you get the syntax and basic language idioms out of the way this is the real problem that faces us no matter what language we pick.