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August 16, 2010 | by  | in Online Only |
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Academic Idol: Round Five

This week’s question:

What animal would be your patronus and why?

Holy sheeeeeeeeeeeit! What a week of voting. At 5pm Thursday we had two lecturers tied at the bottom—Chris Eichbaum and Matthew Trundle—after a frantic last hour of voting. What to do? ELIMINATION! ELIMINATION! DOUBLE ELIMINATION! In the first week back from break we’ll be sending home not one, but two lecturers. You have until 5pm Thursday 2 September to vote for your favourite lecturer. Text their name to 027 CUSTARD, or email Just think, you could spend your entire holiday launching a campaign, making posters and badges and doing leaflet drops, obviously neglecting the piles of readings and assignments you should be doing. Ooh ah.

Who will it be, Victoria University?

Who will it be…

Chris Eichbaum, public policy
My patronus/power animal exists in corporeal and enduring form. Her name is Millie, but she was christened Princess Rose.

She is an Airedale terrier. She can be a wilful patronus, not always inclined to follow her master’s wizard-like commands. At her best she is indeed an incarnation of this caster’s (at his best) innermost feelings—a sense of loyalty and of service, and of a desire to make a positive difference.

While not yet proven in this regard, she also has immense potential to shield me from Lethifolds, a number of which have been sighted in Kelburn. We are working on photo recognition now—the Dude abides, but Millie will take no prisoners.

Marc Wilson, Psychology
One of the subscribers to the Otter Weekly Gazette (subscribe here) said they’d
be a wolf “because the Facebook quiz ‘What is your patronus?” said it would be. And let’s face it, Facebook quizzes are always correct and NEVER lie.” So I dutifully followed their lead and did the quiz and apparently I’m a squirrel… Seriously though, I wouldn’t be a stag because I don’t have as much to compensate for as Harry, and while rats are obviously
intimately associated with psychology, I’m not a moustacheoed behaviourist. Soooo, my patronus would be inspired by my dog, Banjo, who is NOT a black toy poodle, whatever his
registration says. Why? Because he looks a little like me in the shaggy hair department, AND as well as deflecting the minions of the Dark Lord I can send him to pee on their beds like he does at home. Now, where’s that sock gone?

Dean Knight, Law
Because I’m democratic—or, rather, because I’m a Harry Potter peanut—I consulted my virtual community:

  • A golden labrador? (The ginga thing again, sigh)
  • A bear? Or a cub? (I’m sure they mean the San Fran kind, not cute pandas…)
  • A horse? (A knight needs a horse I’m told… or, rather, a cowboy does)
  • A camel? (A horse designed by a lawyer)
  • A dragon? (My nickname already, apparently, because I’m scary with Socratic questions…. pfftt, hardly!)

Well, elephant, I think. Big, strong and able to squash enemies with ease. And, of course, elephants and the Law ( has been my blog for years…

Peter Andreae AKA Pondy, Computer Science
When the web informed me that “the Patronus […] is advanced magic and difficult to master”, I realised that I have a Patronus already—an EMACS. My EMACS certainly lets me do advanced magic, invoking obscure incantations on text and data*. I first acquired an EMACS in 1977, so I have had many years to master it (though keeping up with the
upgrades is still challenging!). A Patronus is also supposed to “defend against Dementors”; my EMACS is a constant defence against the dementedness of both Unix and Windows, magically massaging their crazy formats and multifarious interfaces into the one consistent, friendly and infinitely powerful*** editor, superior to all other editors.

* Like C-X(C-AC-FC-KC-NC-X)M-0C-Xe** to extract lecturer’s names from silly acrostics.

** You could use EMACS to try this one yourself, though be careful in case the spell backfires on you and deletes all your files instead! You could also use Regexps, but beware!


David O’Donnell, Theatre
I’m a staunch citizen of Aotearoa so my patronus would be indigenous. The kiwi’s an obvious choice—as a theatre director I spend most of my time in the dark. But I’ve chosen the playful pukeko—cheeky, colourful and with long skinny legs. I sometimes get bogged down in university admin like the pukeko in his swamp. But pukeko are fast runners and some Maori martial arts moves are based on their footwork, so if attacked by werewolves, wizards or really terrifying creatures like theatre critics, I can run away or do a neat sidestep to protect myself.

Hilary Pearse, Political Science
This week I copied Dean and put a call out for patronus suggestions on Facebook. Responses included the hippopotamus, the sloth and the naked mole rat queen. So I’m going to ignore my ‘friends’ and go for the leopard. Leopards are agile and ferocious so would be a good defence against Dementors. They’re solitary and elusive, characteristics that appeal to me as an introvert. Also, the leopard has been my go-to costume for animal-themed parties ever since I discovered a pair of faux leopard skin six-inch open-toed heels for $8 at Paperbag Princess. Cheryl West, eat your heart out.

Matthew Trundle, Classics
A wolf (lupus, lykos). Despite that fact that Harry Potter has been translated into both Greek and Latin, I know little about this global phenomenon. Marc Wilson’s answer last week showed how useful the internet really is—and so according to an online questionnaire for what one’s Patronus animal would be. I would be a wolf—Lupus Lupus—which seems to me an excellent choice (especially given the other options, one of which was an iguana). A she-wolf suckled the young Romulus and Remus. Romulus founded Rome. The wolf became the symbol of Rome and wolf skins were worn by the younger men in the army. Lykos, the Greek wolf, was worshipped by the men of the Arcadian mountains, Zeus had turned their first king Lykaos into a wolf. Wolves were wild, untamed and hunted, often associated with the transition to manhood. The wolf seems an excellent choice to me—well done the online survey.

Don’t forget to vote!

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