Fifteen Eighty Four

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Michael Ruse’s Spelling Test

Michael Ruse

via Brainstorm

Health-care reform is set to become my King Charles’s Head. I am going to find it difficult to write anything without it coming up in the middle. Fifty-seven million people in the United States of America without healthcare insurance and we — at least those blocking reform — call ourselves a Christian nation. Shame, shame, shame. But, spurred by a well-merited criticism of my last blog, I want to write about something else that has been on my mind and which I intended to raise at some point. So why not now?

I have in my possession a school report from when I was about 10 years old. My mother was a schoolteacher and we took school reports very seriously in my family. They were not glanced at, signed, and then forgotten. They were returned, stored safely, and discussed on pertinent occasions in the future. The report, said he modestly, is pretty good. “Sports” is a bit off, but generally I was nicely on track. However, then we come to “Spelling.”  “B, Michael is improving.” Well, there was room for improvement and I am afraid it did not go far. As my perceptive critic noted, I simply cannot spell. On this occasion, I got “miniscule” for “minuscule,” but this is nothing. Some words I just blank out on. The other day, I could not for the life of me spell “cloathes,” you know those things you put on. I can never spell “campaing,” the thing that was the end of Napoleon in Russia.  And you may ride in an automobile, but I ride in a “vehcule.” And when it comes to, well you know what it is when you have had too many prunes and it begins with a d, I cannot get close enough to look it up in a dictionary.

I don’t know why it is. There are some words I have the hang of. I know how to spell “parallel.” And “embarrassment” is never self predicating. But in general, I am a mess. I think I usually know when I have something wrong, but as miniscule shows not always. And I doubt now that I have lived and misspelt for seven decades that things are going to change much.

Do understand, I am not writing this post in a welter of self pity. Don’t write comments of sympathy — or scorn for that matter. I live with my bad spelling and by and large it does not bother me.  Although there was a nasty moment when I did my test for citizenship and the chap asked me to write: “Abraham Lincoln was president during the Civil War.” I kid you not, I did not know whether to write “Lincoln” or “Lincone.” (Mark you, I was so damn nervous, I could not remember my address.  The poor officer asked, in bewilderment: If you and Lizzie are married, why do you live in different houses?)

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About The Author

Michael Ruse

Michael Ruse is Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. His publications include Can a Darwinian be a Christian? The Relationship between Science and Religion (Cambrid...

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