Expecto Inutilem Gradus! Duke Offering a 'Spell Book' Course

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Happy Friday, Gentle Readers,

For better or worse, and to cheers or catcalls, I have returned from a much-needed semi-vacation. I did not get much poolside reading done, but I managed to sample various microbrews and burger joints in Greenville, South Carolina. Although I cannot make any official endorsements, I can tell you that I may have located the best brew and burger restaurant in the Continental U.S. At the very least, it is a contender for the slot. In any event, I needed the time off, and truth be told, I could have spent another week wandering the streets sampling beer and scotch. 

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Why we can't have nice things or a sane country.

It isn't exactly news to anyone with two brain cells to rub together, a pulse, or the ability to fog a mirror that our institutions of higher learning have devolved into institutions for the criminally insane. 2024 will go down as the year that college campuses began officially doubling as CHAZ/CHOP zones. Along those lines, stories crop up now and then about the DEI and CRT courses that prepare students for their futures as unemployed baristas or terrorist cell leaders. Or both. 

However, the latest offering from Duke University does not exactly fit the DEI/CRT curriculum. Although I suppose the case could be made that it would complement a Womyn's Studies program nicely. 

The course is titled "Radical Magic." A full description can be found here. You will need to do a bit of scrolling and there are some other courses that promise to be interesting. 

"Radical Magic" covers witchcraft, starting with the Salem Witch Trials through second-wave feminism to the present day. The description even takes time to bemoan the fact that Taylor Swift has been accused of including occult references in her performances. I'm not a Swift fan, so you will have to judge for yourself below.

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The description reads in part:

We will explore the feminist and queer communities who have gravitated towards spells, incantations, and Tarot decks to provide a greater insight into a dominant world that was not made for them.

Ah, there you go! I knew feminism and queerness would be in the mix somewhere! To wrap up the coursework:

For your final project, you will create your own personal grimoire, or spell-book. Yes, you read that right—a spell book! This non-traditional assignment challenges the distinctions we often put between writing, crafting, art, and magic, and it will provide a space to try new things. Your grimoire will likely be playful, at times somber, but ultimately the tenor of your book will be defined by what excites you. (sic)

Yes, the final project is a spell book. Any surprises?

As I write this, my dog is being tested for heart arrhythmia, and I am waiting for the results. We have two businesses, and I have a mountain of paperwork to catch up on. I am miles behind in my writing. We have bills to pay, and I am looking out the window at a week's worth of grass that needs to be mowed. None of these things excite me or bring me joy, but such is life. Some things need to be done, and the "excitement quotient" of those things has nothing to do with their necessity. While this may be a quirky class ostensibly designed to hone writing skills, it only encourages students to believe that they can demand or even "magic" the rest of the world into complying with their pronouns, fantasies, and tantrums. On the plus side of the ledger, Campus Reform reports that a recent survey indicates that 3 out of 10 anti-Israel protesters have had job offers rescinded in the past six months, so there is some justice in the universe.

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Wine Recommendation

... because the vet just called and my dog is going to be okay, and you should always find at least one thing to celebrate every day.

I was getting ready to get out of town last week, so I grabbed this bottle on a bit of a whim, hastened by the urgency of the hour. Behold the Ménage à Trois Exotic Blend.


Ménage à Trois produces a line of wines that almost always deliver and are set at a decent price point. Snootier drinkers may consider it a "discount" wine, but the winemakers are known for using good grape varietals and nice wines. If you are not a "wine person" but need a bottle for your dinner or party, Ménage à Trois is a safe bet. 

This is a wine one drinks for the sheer enjoyment of drinking. There isn't much here to dissect in terms of taste, body, finish, or bouquet. It is a fruity mix of Chardonnay, Moscato, and Chenin Blanc. Look for a heavy citrus taste that runs down the middle of the road between dry and sweet and leans away from the acids. It will work well with your basic white-wine dishes, especially shrimp, and you may find it makes for a nice, refreshing break.

I have to get my dog from the vet and unpack, so that's it for me. Have a great weekend, and I will see you next time. 

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Note: inutilem gradus is Latin and can be translated as "useless degree."


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