Paper 4 Draft

It’s not so much a draft as it is an outline, but here it–whatever it may be– is.


Why Option 2 is just a bad idea:

Why Option 3 is an okay idea:

Why Option 1 is essentially the current gen. ed. program:

Paragraph explaining that the current gen. ed. program is fine as it is:


Ultimate Victor of Ultimateness


Ok. Last one, best one. Here we go.

I’m Mike “Mike Shanley” Shanley and uh… there isn’t a second guy to base this joke on…

This week, I’m going to see who the ultimate victor out of all the characters I’ve analyzed (plus some extras.)



As I’m sure you can guess, I don’t actively follow “sports.” That is not to say I don’t know a darn thing about sports, I mean, I enjoy watching football and I frequently visit minor league baseball games. But as a registered geek, it’s not my number one pastime.

Although Fantasy Football still counts as fantasy. Just with less swords.

Although Fantasy Football still counts as fantasy. Just with less swords.

So I’m not good at running/catching/throwing (at the same time? Geez…) but what I do like, for some reason, is the bracket. Like the ones for March Madness. Maybe it’s because I’m a nerd and it’s a flowchart or maybe in a past life I was the guy who invented the bracket. Whatever. I really enjoy the bracket when the participants are not the usual college basketball teams. So this week, I made a bracket featuring all of the past combatants from previous weeks plus a couple extras in order to make the bracket work.


Left Side

  • Malcom Reynolds beats Han Solo
  • Thing beats Mr. Incredible
  • Mr. Fantastic beats Elastigirl
  • Violet beats Invisible Woman
  • Dash beats Human Torch
  • Marty McFly (Back to the Future) beats Bill n’ Ted (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure): Marty has a car time machine and is just smarter than Bill and/or Ted who go through time with a phone booth.
  • Mike “Mike Shanley” Shanley beats Jack-Jack: Ok, how the heck do I beat a super-baby, you ask? In the short, “Jack-Jack Attack,” Kari the babysitter is able to fend off Jack-Jack for like, a week, and survives to tell about it. Kari is, what, 16? Man, I could babysit the diaper off of Jack-Jack
  • Stormtrooper beats Red Shirt

Top Right

  • Link beats Aragorn
  • Na’vi beats Ewok
  • Legolas beats Spock
  • Aang beats Sora
  • Indiana Jones beats Jack Sparrow
  • Spiderman beats Ezio the Assassin
  • Queen Elsa (Frozen) beats Rapunzel (Tangled): Although Rapunzel is pretty fierce with a frying pan and her hair; Elsa actually can attack/defend with her magic
  • Eragon (Eragon) beats Luke Skywalker (Star Wars): The two are practically the same person. I’d go on a long arduous rant about how the plot of A New Hope and Eragon are the exact same but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say that Eragon’s control over magic is more useful in combat than Luke’s mastery over the force. Plus, Eragon has his backup reserve strength of Saphira and Glaedr.



  • Thing beats Mal: the Thing is a rock monster with super strength. Really, only superheroes can damage him. Sorry, Mal.
  • Mr. Fantastic beats Violet: Violet may have been able to defeat his wife, but Mr. Fantastic is a powerful force to be reckoned with and Violet does not have adequate control over her powers yet.
  • Marty McFly beats Dash: What? But Dash is a superhero! Yes, but think about it: Dash can run fast enough to run on water. That’s cute. Marty travels through time. That’s much more than the speed of light. Plus, if it came to a fist-fight, Marty’s a teenager and Dash is in 4th grade. Do the math.
  • Mike “Mike Shanley” Shanley beats the Stormtrooper: Stormtroopers cannot aim. They cannot hit me. If I get any kind of weapon I win.
  • Link beats the Na’vi: Link is simply more equipped to fight. Na’vi have spears and, at best, a dragon. Link has fought much worse opponents.
  • Aang beats Legolas: This one was hard. Both are unbelievably fast. Legolas is good with close combat and ranged, but Aang is the avatar after all. It wouldn’t take much to a) burn Legolas to a crisp, b) freeze/drown him, c) crush him with rocks or d) umm…. blow him away. Air bending kinda sucks.
  • Spiderman beats Indiana Jones: Funny. I could’ve done this. Both swing around a lot and make annoying quips while fighting. But in the end, Spidey is a superhero, having the proportional strength of a spider and all. Also, as an addendum SPIDERMAN.
  • Eragon beats Elsa: Looks like Elsa let this one go. (Get it? Heh. heh. please laugh). As much as I’d love to see a Disney character go to the top and/or anyone beat Eragon (the movie was TERRIBLE), I’m gonna be fair and say that Eragon is more powerful than the Ice Queen.



  • Mr. Fantastic beats Thing: Ok, so the Thing is super strong rock thing. Well, Mr. Fantastic is a super-powerful rubber band. Does rock beat rubber band? No. If you try to beat up rubber, nothing happens, because it’s rubber. Blunt attacks (all of the Thing’s attacks) don’t work on rubber.
  • Mike “Mike Shanley” Shanley beats Marty McFly: Ok, so here’s how it is. I have watched all of the Back to the Future movies. Multiple times. I know Marty’s weakness (call him chicken. LAAAAAAME). So I do that to incite him to fight, make him angry then lay my mad karate skills. Like seriously, I am a black belt. I could take Marty McFly any day of the week.
  • Aang beats Link: Link has fought many demigods (well, actually just Gannondorf, but he’s done it a bunch of times) and super-powerful beings and he has talked with the gods themselves. BUT Aang is an unpredictable, speedy little demigod. If there’s one thing that Link doesn’t seem to handle well is unpredictability. Not to mention any magic attacks Link fires off can just be bent out of the way by Aang’s (insert element) bending.
  • Eragon beats Spiderman: Eragon is making me mad. I don’t want him to go this far, but seriously, he could beat Spiderman. Eragon has all of an elf’s skills– that includes being more agile and durable than a human as well as stronger. Just give him the ability to climb walls and he is Spiderman. With a sword. So because they’re equally matched physically, Eragon can also use awesome magic to take down the web-slinger.



  • Mike “Mike Shanley” Shanley beats Mr. Fantastic: “Seriously?” I can hear you say. Lemme explain. Since I know I’m going into battle against Mr. Fantastic, I know my strategy: tie the guy in knots. That’s one thing that rubber can’t fight against: itself. Also, as a Boy Scout, 90% of the time was spent learning how to tie knots. The other 10% was spent alternating between frisbee, playing with fire, and playing with knives.
  • Aang beats Eragon: FINALLY! Oh sweet relief. Ok, so why can the Last Airbender beat the Last Dragon Rider? Because avatar state. Aang would have to use it against Eragon. Thus making him nearly all-powerful and Eragon had trouble fighting an older Dragon Rider. This, plus, Aang’s bending attacks are near instantaneous, while Eragon’s magic is slightly delayed because he needs the words of power.



Alright, let’s look at the facts:

Aang is the avatar, master of all four elements and the bridge between the physical and spirit worlds. He hails from the Southern Air Temple where he was raised as an Air Nomad. At the age of 12, he was informed by the monks of the Air Temple that he was indeed the Avatar. This frightened him, so he ran off with his giant flying bison and accidentally froze the two of them in an iceberg. 100 years passed, during which the Fire Nation attacked and enslaved about half of the world and committed genocide on the Air Nomads. Aang was released from his icy cocoon by Katara, a water-bender, and Sokka, the comedic relief of the series. In about a year, he learned how to bend all four elements (air, water, earth, fire) and defeated the Fire Lord at his most powerful. Aang, despite all this heavy stuff happening to him, faces the world with the blind optimism of a puppy.

The lesson here is that your puppy might just be the Avatar.

The lesson here is that your puppy might just be the Avatar.

As an air nomad, Aang’s fighting style includes a lot of agile moves, quick attacks, and acrobatics. This style has gotten him through many fights with opponents bigger and stronger than he. As an air nomad, Aang’s fighting style includes a lot of agile moves, quick attacks, and acrobatics. This style has gotten him through many fights with opponents bigger and stronger than he. Aang, as avatar, knows the disciplines of all four elemental bending, meaning he can use wind, water, fire, and earth to fight. Aang’s weapon of choice is his air-glider staff. Normally it looks like a simple wooden staff, but when activated, it sprouts wings and allows Aang to hang on and glide on the wind with the help of air bending. The four elements, as mentioned earlier, are air, water, earth, and fire. Air bending is what comes most naturally to Aang and he uses it the most often. Although it isn’t a very offensive form of bending, it has its uses. It aids Aang move faster than a usual person and can blow people off their feet. Fire-bending is definitely the most offensive form of bending. Almost as simple as earth bending, it is essentially throwing fireballs at other people. Aang knows the more traditional Sun-warrior form but seeing as I don’t know any bending forms at all, Aang should be ok.

Does Thumb-bending count? 'Cause I'm good at that!

Does Thumb-bending count? ‘Cause I’m good at that!

Water bending requires that water be nearby. Water bending also allows Aang to control ice, one of the most powerful attacks of a water bender. Water bending is mainly used as a cutting tool and is based on the idea of using your opponents’ attack against themselves. Earth bending is perhaps the simplest. It is, essentially, throwing rocks with magic at very high speeds. It is the most powerful form of bending and requires large powerful movements in order to properly bend. What is especially significant about being the avatar is that it allows Aang to activate something known as the “Avatar State,” his powers become much stronger and he can harness the powers of past avatars in this state as well. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that he can access the thoughts, council, and memories of previous avatars? Well he can. Google Help can suck it.

I am real. Aang is not. I win.

Think this calls for a thumbs-up!

Think this calls for a thumbs-up!


So I did it. I won. I beat all these losers and won my own game! Is that anti-climactic? Yes! Kind of lame? Indeed! Did I rig it so that I could win? Most definitely! This isn’t about you, besides who doesn’t want to go toe-to-toe with their favorite characters and win? Probably no one. Oh well, I hope you enjoyed reading these. Here’s the End:




Recommendation Report

For all the brouhaha of the general education reform, I have staunchly held my opinion that the program does not need reform. However, that does not seem to be the case, so I believe that if there was to be reform, it should strive to be as similar to the original as possible. The first option proposed, that focusing on exploration, is the most promising. To me, Gen Ed has always been about just that: exploration.

The ideal reform, in my opinion is one in which a student can choose which courses interest him or her. The students will want to take the course because they are genuinely interested in it. This course will enhance their knowledge on the topic and broaden horizons. This is especially important for students in the DUS program because they don’t know exactly what they want to do and an open general education model will help them explore their possibilities. Gen Ed should enable students to increase their knowledge in interesting fields and make them more interesting people.

Red Shirts vs Stormtroopers


Blah Blah Blah, you know the drill

I’m Mike “Set to Stun” Shanley and those were the droids I was looking for!

This week I’m relaxing in a Hawaiian shirt and making the two biggest goofs in the galaxy go at it– the ill-fated Red Shirt and the poor-shot Stormtrooper!



Alright, here’s how it is. The Stormtroopers from Star Wars are the foot soldiers of the evil Empire. Constantly pursuing our heroes throughout the galaxy, you are never too far from a stormtrooper. Aside from doing the Emperor’s dirty work, they also service to do that other Emperor’s dirty work: being George Lucas’ comedic relief.


It’s true. We have group therapy every Wednesday.

Stormtroopers, as frightening as their frowning faces are, actually are some of the goofiest characters in the series. When you really get to know them, they’re about as intimidating as my great aunt Zelda at Hannukah. The reason for the harmlessness is because of one simple reason: Stormtroopers can’t aim worth the Jedi Credits they’re paid. (“But Mike!” I hear you saying to your computers from back here where I’m sitting, “Stormtroopers aren’t paid in Jedi Credits! This is the Empire!” “Yes,” I’d say, “but this is also the ramblings of a nerd who thinks he’s the next Louis CK,”) Anyway, Stormtroopers are notoriously bad shots. Just watch any scene involving stormtroopers trying to shoot things. Just slap the Benny Hill theme song and speed up  the footage and that’s comedic gold! C-3P0 and R2-D2 walk through the middle of intense firefights and remain unscathed! Multiple times! Harmless droids! Luke and Leia are able to take the time to get their grappling hook out, throw it onto a nearby pipe, grab each other, remain pretty much stationary and swing across a chasm while the stormtroopers try to shoot them. I’d list more examples but I think the picture is pretty clear. Stormtroopers are bad shots and that’s why the fans love them. Personally I think stormtroopers are some of the greatest comedy elements of the film whenever they’re not attacking. They bumble around and look forlorn about it! After monkeys and the Nittany Lion doing human things, these guys are number three on things that always make me laugh.

Ah, the Red Shirt. Poor, poor Red Shirt. We never know your name, although it’s probably something like Ensign O’Reilly or Lieutenant Midgen, but who cares? All that matters is that shirt on your back. That shirt of red that leads to your attack. In a cruel twist of fate the color is red. Just like your blood, now that you’re dead. *snap snap snap* Thank you, thank you, you’re all too kind. So anyway, the Red Shirt from the Original Series of Star Trek means that you either work in engineering or security (as to why these two unrelated branches have to wear the same colors, I’ll never know). It really isn’t a problem if you’re in engineering; for crying out loud, look at Scotty– the man wore a red shirt the entire series and didn’t die once!

--Montgomery "The Most Interesting Man in the Galaxy" Scott

–Montgomery “The Most Interesting Man in the Galaxy” Scott

So besides Scotty’s intimate dance with death, what I really mean to touch upon is the fact that the security folks in red are the ones in trouble. On your average episode of Star Trek the USS Enterprise discovers some planet and Kirk decides that going down on that planet is a good idea. So he takes his finest wingmen, Spock and Dr. McCoy, for analytic and medical reasons, and maybe Sulu or Chekov or Uhura if they know something valuable. But it could be a hostile planet and it’s always good to have extra bodi–er–hands. So Kirk grabs one or two random crew members in red shirts on his way out. Probably within the first five minutes, the all-powerful alien residing on the planet has turned these extra people to dust or disintegrated their bones or turned them inside out. Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek) used these hapless nameless human sacrifices to show the dangers of the planet without killing off the beloved captain or his buddies. But to the fans, it became a widely popular inside joke. So popular in fact, that when I went to see Star Trek: This Time with Benedict Cumberbatch, when Chekov put on the red shirt, half the theater gasped in horror (“Oh God! Chekov’s gonna die!/I dropped my popcorn!”) Basically, the glorious Red Shirt has become synonymous with death itself and any caught wearing the ill-fated article of clothing is to be avoided like the plague.

Live Long and Prosper... Except you Red Shirts. Die soon and impoverished.

Live Long and Prosper… Except you Red Shirts. Die soon and impoverished.


Actually I’m not doing that this week.


That’s more like it. See, this isn’t so much a duel as it is a philosophical question. Like, “If a tree falls in the middle of a forest, and no one can hear it does it make a sound?” (Yes, by the way, duh). Or “If cats always land on their feet and bread always falls butter side down, what happens if you attach a piece of buttered bread to a cat’s back, butter-side up?” (The answer is, of course, the cat spins in midair in perpetual motion and that is how infinite energy is created.) So here, the question is “If a Stormtrooper, who can never hit anything, is in battle with with a Red Shirt, who must die, what happens?” It’s like an unstoppable force/unmovable object sorta deal. Something’s gotta give. In this case, I came to a few conclusions.

Conclusion 1

Lets say that The Stormtrooper and The Red Shirt are in some kind of arena. The Stormtrooper will try, with all his might to shoot that pesky Red Shirt, but cannot land a hit. Then either a freak accident will occur, instantly killing the Red Shirt, or the Red Shirt is able to shoot Stormtrooper but then the freak accident occurs.

Say, that gravy pouch that Lucas is trying to pass for a neck bursts and the resulting gravy flood crashes into the arena

Say, that gravy pouch that Lucas is trying to pass for a neck bursts and the resulting gravy flood crashes into the arena

Conclusion 2

If they were on some kind of natural Hunger Games-esque arena or some kind of alien planet, then it’s quite obvious that the Stormtrooper wouldn’t even have to move a finger. The natural wildlife would be upon the Red Shirt faster than he could say, “Oh God, why am I here? Is this some kind of thought experiment?” Or the Red Shirt would kill the Stormtrooper then die of hunger or some other freak accident.

Ultimate Conclusion

The Red Shirt will always die, but does that mean the Stormtrooper wins? He either ends up dead or just the lucky survivor. This is a lose-lose situation. Unless you count survival without honor as winning. And seeing how none of you reading are actually feudal samurai (as far as I can tell) then surviving without honor is winning. Okay, alright, fine. The Stormtrooper wins. Happy?

Ecstatic! Can't you see my grin?