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Who is the best? I, Benvenuto Cellini, am the best! At EVERYTHING!

Benvenuto Cellini, did a lot of things according to his autobiography.  In every endeavor, he claims that he was the best at it ever and was honored by all around size1him.  In this autobiography, Cellini continuously says that to tell the entirety of his accomplishments in an area, “It would take me too long to write” (67).  In doing this, Cellini is both claiming that there is more than what he has said and that he is full of experience.

The areas which Cellini claims expertise in are marksmanship (42), being a goldsmith (10), was an awesome lover (121), courageous (11), leading armies (69), being a necromancer’s assistant (116) and was well connected (59).  The only thing that he resists doing, but is still awesome at, is being a musician (34).
There are definitely more things which Cellini claims to be good at and it is rather ridiculous to read.  This list of expertise and what it contains is new to that time.  Before then, many of the biographies were simply about the wars that kings won and their conduct.  This is a personal account, Cellini is telling the reader how he feels, what he is doing, and what the consequences and reactions are to that.  This shift is something that develops through the Italian Renaissance and Cellini embodies.
12c4ac8a6caa4885c1a4211c6a7a4218_home-clipart-cartoons-cartoon-clipart-long-list_350-276It also feels really familiar, like a college admission form.  The college wants you to be a leader and be studios and be well connected and have interesting hobbies. For college, it is expected, required that you have at least a smattering of skills and talents.  For Cellini, it was the most important thing, he was writing around 58 years old, he had had so much more time than a traditional college bound student.  For me, this expectation of colleges was one of the strangest ones, I am coming here to get an education, I am 17 years old, what do you think I will have done that I should add to this list you want?

Diversification Or Isolation


1.  The act or process of diversifying; state of being diversified.
2.  The act or practice of manufacturing a variety of products,investing in a variety of securities, selling a variety of merchandise, etc., so that a failure in or an economic slump affecting one of them will not be disastrous.
ef47a1d2092bfaa764acec01e52e0055When we use the word “diversification” it is often in the same sentence as the word “portfolio”.  This is the second definition offered above, where diversification occurs because of fear of economic slumps.  Now diversifying your investment portfolio is a good idea, it does provide better odds for an improvement in your monetary situation.
However, is your portfolio the only thing you diversify?
Can you diversify the contents of your mind?
I don’t know if you can, and if you are reading this, then I think you would have to make a choice.  The choice would be to search out other ideas, and then engage with the ideas with the intent of letting them actually change how you think or act.  Even though you might not agree with every idea, by engaging with it, you are increasing diversity and you have more information than before.
The mental diversity is what either allows a person to embrace a global perspective or be isolated.  If the mind in question either chooses not to or does not have an opportunity to diversify, they become geographically and temporally isolated with a restricted set of ideas easily accessible or presented.
This type of isolation can be harmful, because we live in a society that is increasingly global the impacts of isolation are farther reaching.

Too Hot, Too Cold, Just Right

In reading The Book of the Courtier by Baldesar Castiglione, I was struck by the desirable characteristics described, and how these characteristics felt so familiar.

The virtues and their expression are that he “should be fierce, rough, and always at the fore in the presence of the enemy; but anywhere else he should be kind, modest, reticent and anxious above all to avoid ostentation” (58-59).  The courtier is supposed to embody a spectrum, from fierce warrior to refined court attendant.  The appearance is also important “both manly and graceful” (61).
Being able to rest in the middle ground, or at least pass over it, this is the ability of the courtier.  It feels like they are being judged like the Three Bears, and the judge is Goldilocks.  They must think but not over think (68), they must be graceful but not effeminate (61), they exhibit good sense and discretion (64).  The courtier must always be just right, the perfect place to fulfill the duties of a courtier as both an elite solder and a well schooled decoration for the court.

The Economic Sphinx

You approach the sphinx outside Thebes.  The sphinx asks her riddle but you are not ready for this one, you only studied for the classic sphinx riddle “what walks on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon and three in the evening?”


Instead of blurting out the answer of “Man!” you hold back and replay what she just said in your head.  The real question she asked was, “Would you like 100 drachma (ancient Greek currency) today, or 110 drachma in 2 years?”

You aren’t allowed any clarifying questions, all you can do is answer correctly or be eaten.

Weighing all factors, you wonder if investment, inflation, and interest exist in this time period, and you don’t really know.  A this time there are a lot of wars and invasions that make a stable financial system difficult to maintain.  All these things might exist, but since you don’t know it they do, then you don’t know the numbers of any of them so you can’t do the math.

Realizing that with all these factors, you can’t really compare two different drachma amounts at two different points in time, you decide that the safest answer is the one that she didn’t offer you.

You say “It depends, because you cannot truly compare two amounts at two different times.”


Confusion Everywhere!

Reading selections from the Decameron  by Boccaccio, I was interested in high quantity of the stories that were centered around promiscuity.  At that time, sexuality and desire were curbed and monitored.  This is why I thought the stories felt out of place, most of them satires on romance that would not have been out of place next to The Millers Tale in Canterbury Tales.  The content might make more sense with the context of the Black Death, the first devastating sweep had just passed through when Boccaccio wrote this.

I felt as though I was experiencing cognitive dissonance when I was reading these stories, just because of how some things were phrased or expressed.  For example, at one point, a woman is described as “without a womanly show of grief, she began to weep…pouring forth her tears as if from a fountain” (302).  If weeping in this way is not what would be termed as womanly grief, what is? In sum, I read 11 stories from the Decameron, 6 told by men and 5 told by women, which is a little disproportionate because the book contains 100 stories, 30 told by men and 70 told by women.  At one point however, one of the women says to all the others “It is less becoming in women than in men to speak at great length” (447).  But 70 are by women, it was just confusing in that way.
Most of the stories were interesting or at least mildly amusing, but there were a lot of contradictory elements in each story and in the collection as a whole.

Economic Growth, are you contributing?

The shorter term economy goes in cycles, rising and falling every few years.  In the long term, the economy can have an upward trend or a downward trend.

The factors that cause long term economic growth are broadly in four categories, human capital, capital goods or services, labor, and technology.

I am going to be focusing on human capital because that is where my choices are making a small difference in the long term trend.  Human capital is the amount of education, training, and other investment in the individuals knowledge or skills as they are spread across the population.  The greater the amount of human capital, the more skilled and proficient the workforce is, leading to higher wage jobs and improvements in other areas.

By choosing to come to college and study instead of entering the workforce directly out of high school, I am increasing the rate of human capital that is in circulation.  This tiny thing is the result of a family and a society that encouraged me to decide to go to college and has encouraged or pushed many others to do the same.  This societal and familial force shows how education is valued in society and how the expectation of a certain level of education pushes more reluctant people into college.  best-motivational-quotes-for-students-with-image

Interviews 101 (Boccaccio Style)

Day 1, Story 1

Interviews are a time where the interviewer and the interviewee are trying to learn about each other, and see if they think that the position would be a good fit.
Some common questions and how to answer them — in a way that will lead you to be revered as a saint (even if you are not at all that person).
This section contains common questions about your weaknesses, to these you want to give an answer that is supposed to make you look good, even though the question is about your failings.
Q1.  If you make a mistake, how long does it take you to ask forgiveness?
A1.  I usually make sure to do it before the week is out, but “there are many weeks that I confess…more often” (30)
Q2. Have you ever found yourself attracted to a co-worker?
A2. No, “I am as virgin today as when I came from my mother’s womb” (31)
Q3. Do you stress eat?
A3. No, I stress fast until everything that stresses me out is finished, although afterwards I stress eat.
Q4. Do you have a tendency to take office supplies?
A4. No, I don’t take office supplies, but sometimes I take all the sticky notes and make sure every desk in the office has a pad or three.
Q5.  “How many times have you lost your temper” (32) in a work environment?
A5.  I think this goes back to the office supplies, I only get angry when I see all the young people in the office hoarding them away.
Q6.  “Did your wrath ever lead you to commit murder” (32) or to have any other problem with the law?
A6.  I have never done anything like that “and every time I met such a man, I always said: Begone! And may God convert you!” (32)
Q7.  Have you ever tricked or cheated anyone?
A7.  One time I did, unintentionally, and I restored all to it’s proper order once I knew it was incorrect
Q8.  Do you always come to work on time and properly attired?
A8.  Of course, I am always prompt and prepared.
Q9.  Have you ever had problems in the workplace with foul language?
A9.  “When I was just a little boy, I cursed my mother one time” (34) and I have never been able to think clearly about cursing since then.
These are not meant to be serious suggestions or ideas for interviews, they are meant to be an amusing spin off from the Decameron.
Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Trans. Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella. N.p.: Signet Classic, 1982. Print.
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