Reading some older books

Well, I’ve decided to read some older books – following the same vein as Ben Franklin’s Autobiograph (1793) – and looked up some more of the “popular” books on This lead me to “How to Analyze People on Site – Through the Science of Human Analysis” (1921) and “The Gentleman’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness – A Complete Guide for a Gentleman’s Conduct in All his Relations Towards Society” (1860) both of which were not particularly good.

“How to Analyze People on Site” was a complete waste of time, as it’s entirely pseudo-science and makes comments about studies performed but no actual data or reliable information. I continued reading primarily because I don’t like leaving books unfinished and secondly because the style of writing and language used was enough to keep my interested. The whole book is based on the theory that people can be divided into 5 basic categories: alimentives (excessive people – fat people), thoracics (thrillers – people with high/large rib cages), muscular (workers – muscular people), osseus (stubborn people – very bony), and cerebrals (thinkers – disproportionately large heads). I’m simplifying the descriptions a bit. It then goes into various characteristics (both physical and mental) of each type and then suggests that these labels can then be used to judge how people will behave based on physical appearance alone. The authors make the concession that most people aren’t going to be purely one type (people are more complicated) but holds pretty strongly to its thesis that personalities and habits can be correlated directly with physical appearance. It also has advice considering the kind of social relationships, monetary success, etc. that will or won’t work out based on type – which was mildly entertaining. While I don’t recommend this book, as it doesn’t provide much in the way of useful information, it does provide a bunch of stereotypes for people which were a little fun to read due to their absurdity. I found it particularly entertaining that as I was reading the mental descriptions of each type I could relate to each one. It might be interesting to find somebody else who has read this book and inquire about which type they believe I should be classified as.

The Gentleman’s Book of Etiquette was interesting at first. Mainly because of the novelty of reading a book about etiquette and some customs that have long run their course. However, there were large sections that were needlessly repetitive which detracted heavily from the overall reading experience. In addition, the author was overly fond of quoting long passages from Lord Chesterfields works on etiquette which makes me question why I should read this man’s work as opposed to Chesterfield’s. I definitely don’t recommend this book to anyone unless they’re interested in reading a bit about how different social interactions were in the mid to upper classes of society in the mid 1800s.

Autobiography of Ben Franklin

Biographies in general are a departure from my normal reading genre, almost exclusively fantasy. I came to find this book while aimlessly wandering around the internet. I found a few motivational tips that I thought were particularly interesting (mainly life hacks to form habits, be more productive, etc.) and found that Ben Franklin was cited as the source.

I’ve been known to look at the occasional self-help book, such as “The Wealthy Barber” and it’s sequel, but only when a particular subject struck my fancy (i.e. personal finance). In this case, I was bored out of my gourd and with a particularly unpleasant cold. I’d already exhausted my interest in Belgian Netflix and decided I might as well exercise my brain – even if only a little.

Ben Franklin’s autobiography is full of interesting facts concerning his life but what struck me as the most interesting was his writing style and how focused he was on the process of obtaining results and of improving himself and fellow man.

One interesting tool is his thirteen virtues. He had a list, as follows, containing various virtues which he believed were important for the character of any man.

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Rather than have fewer virtues, with overarching definitions, he opted for more virtues with more precise meanings. Then, once having these virtues, he prepared a booklet to follow his transgressions against each virtue on a weekly basis. An example format for the pages is shown below. Knowing that applying his focus on all the virtues simultaneously would prove overwhelming, he focused primarily on one virtue each week (13 weeks per cycle).

13 VirtuesSelf improvement is a popular topic, but this is one of the most methodical and practical solutions I’ve seen. It’s simple, it’s specific, measurable, and can be tweaked to preference. In particular, I find it intriguing that he would devise such a self improvement method in his early twenties.

There are several other pieces of advice scattered through this book (not excessively) that may prove to be useful and the subject mattered itself is quite interesting. I recommend anybody with some free time and a little interest to give this short read a shot. A free copy can be obtained from

A Fresh New Start

And there we have it. A brand new start for this website.

I’ve installed WordPress to manage my content and turn this site into a blog instead of a glorified To-Do list – at least in form if not yet in function. Next step, to actually generate some content.

Give me a few weeks and I might have some interesting things to post – depending on your definition of interesting.