Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Back in the days of stone knives and bearskins, I was the lone engineer amongst my friends in college, all of whom were studying things such as international politics, English, history, and the like. One of my roommates went so far as to write a 600+ page (!) thesis on the politics of the Commonwealth of Virginia. (Writing a thesis was a requirement for securing a bachelor’s degree; writing a thesis the size of a cinderblock was more an exercise in testing the patience of one’s faculty advisor.)

As an engineering student, my course load was heavily weighted towards the mathematical and the scientific - things like physical, organic, and inorganic chemistry; thermodynamics; fluid mechanics; separation processes; engineering statistics; multivariable calculus; differential equations; and biochemistry. I had my share of electives, which I used to pursue interests such as typography, photography, and Shakespeare. But nary a course in politics or history did I take, and there are times I regret not having done so.

Like now, f’rinstance.

That is mainly because my good friend Houston Steve has a son who, while completing his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Georgia, has been an instructor for an Introduction to Comparative Politics course. And despite my general loathing for things political, taking Josh’s course would probably be entertaining as well as educational. Submitted as evidence is part of the final exam he has been administering to his students this week, some of whom had requested that he include a bonus question for extra credit. And Josh was only too happy to oblige:

Bonus Essay

Part I: Take one item from Column A and one item from Column B and do a comparative political analysis of the two, using an argument/theory/set of arguments that we have touched on this semester (midterm material is fair game here).

Part II: Choose one item from Column C and add it to your analysis from Part I. Would the argument change at all? How would item A and B deal with item C?

Be creative. If you can source from memory, do, but it will not hurt you not to source. Feel free to bring in culture, religion, economy, violence—anything; the world is your oyster on this one.

Column A
Volturi (Twilight)
Death Eaters (Harry Potter)
The Matrix (The Matrix)
Australia (Mad Max)
The UGA Football Team

Column B
United Federation of Planets (Star Trek)
The Wall (Game of Thrones)
Gotham (Batman)
Pandora (Avatar, or “Dances with Smurfs”)
The Jedi Council (Star Wars)

Column C
Zombies (Your pick of universe)
The Aliens (District 9)
Cthulhu (H. P. Lovecraft)
Cylons (Battlestar Galactica)
Dragons (Your pick of universe)

I suspect that there may be a few of my Esteemed Readers who might want to have some fun with this... specifically Eric and Kevin. So, what say ye? Anyone wanna try your hand at writing this Bonus Essay? I might even prevail upon Josh to grade it for you, now that he has successfully defended his dissertation and is now officially Piled High and Deep.


Kevin Kim said...

I might give this a stab, and you honor me by thinking of me as someone who would be interested in this sort of topic, but I'm pretty sure I'll end up with an "F" from the good professor: history just isn't my thing, and I'm terrible at drawing historical connections and thinking like a historian. My buddy Mike, at Naked Villainy, might be better suited to this task. He's a history buff who could have been a history professor had he not knocked his wife up three times and diverted his path away from his true academic destiny and into the treacherous badlands of suburban family-raising.

I give your friend's son a big thumbs-up, though, for confirming what I'd recently written about Bloom's Taxonomy and high-level cognitive questions that are created by college profs: this sort of essay question falls under the Bloomian category of synthesis, which is all about creativity and the establishment of heretofore unseen relationships. Well done!

The Maximum Leader said...

Good call... It was my destiny...

Kevin Kim said...

So what say you, Mike? Shall we both give this a try? Or the three of us—you, me, and ol' Elisson, here?