Poor Tia Thomas! Here’s a whiz kid who can spell ortstein, velocious, marmoreal, and totipalmate, and she has the misfortune to be eliminated from the National Spelling Bee on the word Theremin:

Theremin ends spelling bee contestant’s hopes [Theremin World]

(She guessed “Theramin”, which Theremin World’s Jason notes is a misspelling widely spread on eBay.) Heck, I don’t even know what those words mean, though I’ll be the World Wide Web knows, as it’s smarter than I am . . . Let’s see, totipalmate has to do with webbed feet, marmoreal means marble-like, as in, “that’s a very marmoreal Theremin case you’ve got there,” and ortstein means, um, “An indurated layer in the B horizon of Podzols in which the cementing material consists of illuviated sesquioxides and organic matter.” Try to use that in a sentence. Though I will say, Crazy Pete and the Illuviated Sesquioxides would make a killer band name.

No, let’s face it: our children are missing out on a proper Theremin education. We need children building Theremins in Physics class, fashioning gorgeous metal cases in shop, and studying the instrument’s rather elusive playing technique in extensive lessons and together in enormous choirs. (Wait, scratch that last idea, as that would throw off the calibration of the instrument . . . for chorus, they can all have Martenots.) I’m sure the Bush Administration would be game here in the U.S., since inventor Leon Theremin had a background in security and developing listening devices (for the KGB, but now we’re all on the same side). And developing listening devices and hidden microphones? Also more fun that most of what I did in school. I’m sure you’re more likely to run into a Theremin player than you are an indurated layer in the B horizon of Podzols.

Otherwise, there’s just no hope for the Tia Thomases of the world. And she, incidentally, I’m fairly certain of this, is a whole lot smarter than I am. Tia, if you’re out there and want a job as a copy editor, you know where to find us. (If I misspelled anything here, readers, do let me know.)