A bunch of white men apparently too stupid to realize that they are all white men.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about my belief that the country would be in better hands if more women were in charge.

Perfect example:

This is the photograph of the yesterday's healthcare negotiations between Mike Pence and the Freedom Caucus, where attempts were made to negotiate away birth control, maternity care, abortion from the bill. 

Two dozen white men - apparently too stupid to realize that there were only white men in the room - determining how women's healthcare will be administered in the future. 

Their attempts to deny women of this basic healthcare coverage is horrendous.

Their obliviousness over the lack of women or anyone of color in these negotiations is equally appalling. And this was the photograph that the White House chose to release to the public.

Astounding. 

This is hardly the first time that Republicans (including Pence and Ryan) were this stupid.

Famous people who I've met thanks to storytelling

Louis CK: I said hello to him at The Moth Ball, an annual fundraiser for The Moth. He was the guest of honor that night.

He nodded in my general direction. 

David Blaine: I met David Blaine at The Moth Ball. I told a two minute version of my GrandSLAM winning story, which Blaine later asked me to tell again so he could record it with his phone. Then he did a mind numbing trick for me that convinced me and the New Yorker reporter who was standing beside me that he has made a deal with the devil.

Then he told me that he might want to speak to me in the future and said, "I'll give you my business card."

"Okay," I said.

"You already have it," he said. "Left breast pocket."

Low and behold, it was there, a playing card with his contact information hidden within the details of the card. 

Dr. Ruth Westheimer: I met Dr. Ruth backstage at a TED conference in the Berkshires where we were both speaking. I said hello. She asked me how my sex life was. When I said "Fine," she told me that fine is a sad description of a sex life and offered me five tips for improving it.

Steve Burns (The Blues Clues guy): Steve has hosted two of the Moth Mainstages in which I have performed. We spent time backstage chatting before both shows. In all honesty, I never watched Blues Clues, so my friends and my children have always been more excited about me meeting Steve than I have been.

Samantha Bee: Samantha Bee and I performed in a Slate Live Show at The Bell House together and spent time backstage chatting. Her new show on TBS was starting soon, so we spoke at length about what she envisioned for the project. 

There is also a group of decidedly less famous people who I have met thanks to storytelling who I was at least as excited about meeting as anyone in the above list. They include

  • Author and Moth host Dan Kennedy, who has become a friend
  • NPR and This American Life's Zoe Chase, who I've appeared with on several occasions
  • NPR's Adam Davidson, who I met at a Slate Live show
  • Moth host, author, and comedian Ophira Eisenberg, who has become a friend
  • Slate's Mike Pesca, who has become a friend
  • The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, who has hosted two of the Moth Mainstages in which I have performed

Your compliments about physical appearance are meaningless. Try these instead.

One of my New Year's resolutions (and likely one of my lifelong policies now) is the following: 

I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I've been adhering to this policy since the beginning of the year, and I'm here to report that it is not difficult to follow.

It's fairly simple, in fact.

Other than a handful of times that I have wanted to point out the oddity of a person's appearance to a friend or family member, the elimination of comments related to physical appearance has been blessedly easy.

And in those cases when I have wanted to point out the oddity of someone's appearance, I reminded myself, "Who am I do judge how that person presents him or herself? People can be whoever they want to be. I left middle school behind a long time ago."

One of the more amusing aspects of this policy is how I am occasionally required to generate a compliment that isn't related to physical appearance when a simple comment on physical appearance would do just fine.

Though I haven't been forced to research possible alternative compliments yet, I have always loved this list and offer it here as an alternative to the standard comment on clothing, hair, or shoes, which in my experience are the most common (and frankly least meaningful) compliments offered in the world today.  

The 6 levels of humility

Below is my proposed list of the six levels of humility, beginning with the best and descending to the worst. While I think that human beings can fluctuate between these levels depending upon circumstances and needs, I think that most people tend to occupy one level most of the time. 

If you have any suggestions for additions, deletions, or re-ordering, I am humble enough to consider all ideas. 

1. Authentic, honest-to-goodness humility: This is a person who is authentically humble about his or her success, ability, and/or achievement, oftentimes crediting others for the role that they played during their journey and avoiding self-congratulatory statements of any kind. This is a person who knows that it is always better to allow others speak highly of you than to ever speak highly of yourself and would never dream of singing his or her own praises. 

2. Disingenuous but effectively feigned humility: This is a person who lacks humility for a variety of reasons but is wise enough to know that humility is an essential quality of a fundamentally decent human being. Therefore, this person convincingly pretends to be humble, thus appearing to possess authentic, honest-to-goodness humility. In effect, this person appears no different than an authentically humble human being. There may be absolutely no humility in this person's heart, but no one would ever know it. 

3. Ironic lack of humility: This is a person who expresses almost no humility whatsoever but does so in a tongue-in-cheek fashion for the sake of irony or humor. Their use of irony is a clear indication that the person understands the importance of being humble and likely possesses some degree of humility but chooses not to express it explicitly for the sake of amusement or humor. Kevin O'Leary (Mr. Wonderful) of Shark Tank fame is a perfect example of this type of person.  

4. Disingenuous and ineffectively feigned humility: This is a person who is not humble but understands the importance of humility but still boasts about him or herself even though the person knows better. This is the classic humble bragger who manages to sing his or her own praises in the midst of an expression of feigned humility. Sadly, most humble braggers are not aware of their transparency and believe that their feigned expressions of humility are perceived as authentic.    

5. Authentic, honest-to-goodness lack of humility: This is a person who is not humble. This person does not express humility, nor does he or she see any need to be humble. This person is direct and honest about his or her high level of self perception. You know exactly where this person stands and how this person feels about him or herself at all times.  

6. Unconscious lack of humility: This is the person who genuinely believes that he or she is humble yet repeatedly proves otherwise through comments that everyone perceives as lacking humility except for the person making the comments.   

What I try to teach my girls

As a fifth grade teacher, I am often shocked at the disparity in maturity between ten year-old boys and girls.

I've known many fifth grade girls who could effectively enter the workforce if they so desired. 

I've known many fifth grade boys who still can't get their food from plate to mouth without a sizable portion landing on their shirt. 

I shouldn't be surprised. Science has repeatedly shown that girls mature faster than boys. In fact, researchers have recently discovered that female brains mature up to ten years earlier than boy's brains.

As a result, I am equally shocked at boys' ability to somehow catch up to girls. Despite the enormous lead that girls enjoy in fifth grade, boys will somehow catch up to girls along the way, and as a result, we end up with a world ruled by men.

In the House, there are currently 362 men and 76 women.
In the Senate, there are 83 men and 17 women.
In the White House, we have had 45 men as President and 0 women. 

I have long thought that our country would be run more effectively if we flipped these numbers.

I know that many factors contribute to boys ability to catch up and surpass women when it comes to positions of power.

An entrenched, often religiously supported patriarchy.
Draconian laws relating to maternity leave and childcare.
Unchecked sexism in the workplace.

But I also think Amal Clooney is right when she suggests that women must stand together rather than competing and criticizing one another.

It's a message I send to my fifth grade girls every year:

Never fight over a boy. Boys are a dime a dozen, and most of them are worthless in terms of boyfriend potential until they're at least 24 years-old. 

Never insult another girl's physical appearance. You need to stand together. You can't allow the length of a length of a hemline, the height of a heel, or the size of a waistline get in the way of your much needed solidarity.

Compete with boys rather than chasing after them. Seek to push them off the mountain at every turn. The boys worth your time and attention will be the ones who respect your willingness to compete and desire for greatness.  

I don't know if these messages leave a lasting mark on the dozen or so girls in my class every year, but I hope so. They have so much potential and possibility when they are ten years old. They are ready to take over the world at this age.

I also know that hormones and peer pressure can be powerful forces, too.

But I dream of a day when this potential and possibility is fully realized, and women can take assume their rightful place at the mantle of leadership and steer our country along a more rationale, compassionate, and sensible path.   

I think Amal Clooney's message is a good one. Not the answer, for sure, but a small step in the right direction. 

Change can happen quickly. If you allow it.

This is a photo of my son, Charlie, taken last Sunday.

This is a photo taken of the same spot exactly three days later.

It serves as a reminder for you (and perhaps for you) that change can happen a lot faster than we can sometimes imagine.

Earlier this week someone told me that she was "thinking about finally going to college." 

I asked what she was thinking about? What was she considering? What was stopping her?

She told me that she just wasn't sure if she was ready. She wanted to "give it some time." 

"What a terrible idea," I told her. "The worst idea."

Far too often, people stall their lives, imagining what they could be doing rather than doing it, failing to realize how quickly their lives could be different and better if they took action. Instead they linger on the worry. Focus on the hard stuff. Debate a decision when they already know the answer in their hearts.  

In 2009 - just eight years ago - I had not published a book or spoken on the stage in my life. Nor did I think that either of these things would ever happen. But I wasn't waiting. I wasn't "thinking about it." I was constantly writing. And when given the chance, I took the stage and told my first story, despite my fear and uncertainty. 

Today I have published four novels. Two more are on the way, along with my first YA novel and a instructional memoir on storytelling. I'm the humor columnist for Seasons magazine. I've written a rock opera and three musicals. I'm publishing two more essays in Parents magazine this summer.

Since 2011, I have told stories on hundreds of stages large and small. I've won 28 Moth StorySLAMs in 52 tries and four GrandSLAMs. I've traveled all over the country telling stories and spent two weeks in Brazil last summer teaching and performing. I teach storytelling and public speaking to individuals, corporations, school districts, and universities. I've taught storytelling at Yale University, The University of Connecticut Law School, Purdue University, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and many other places. Along with my wife, I founded Speak Up. We produce more than a dozen shows a year. Most of them are sold out. I've spoken at half a dozen TEDx conferences.  

All this in just eight years.

And I'm not resting on my laurels. This year I plan to perform my first one-man show. I will try stand-up for the first time. I'll write my next screenplay. I'll begin my first book on teaching. 

If another opportunity arises, I'll seize it.

I don't expect my life to be the same eight years from now. I'm not sure how it will change, but I expect it to change, because I know that change can happen quickly if you let it. If you jump in head first. Stop the calculation and consideration. Embrace the fact that your life can be different and better in what will seem like the blink of an eye if you allow it. 

Don't be complacent. Don't settle. Don't mistake the life you have for the only life you can have. Change is a beautiful thing. You must fight for it everyday.  

Details matter. They matter a hell of a lot.

This was the fundraising letter sent to supporters upon Trump's announcement of the new travel ban, which was thankfully halted by a federal judge last night.  

The failure of communication from this administration is astounding. 

The first bullet, for example:

  • Temporarily Restricting immigration from six countries comprised by radical Islamic terrorism: Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yeman

The first two words of the sentence are capitalized, which also makes no sense. 

The first two words of the next bullet are also capitalized, but not the first two words of the third bullet. 

This is a mess. And the actual content isn't much better. 

Despite Trump's argument that this is not a Muslim ban, he indicates in this letter that these countries were chosen specifically because they are "comprised by" radical Islamic terrorism, which clearly implies (if you can get beyond the grammar) that one religion is being targeted over another (which is one of the very reasons the federal judge halted the ban), even though the majority of terrorist attacks in this country are committed by Americans.

In fact, no act of terrorism has been committed on American soil by anyone from these six nations since 9/11, and Saudi Arabia, where almost all of the 9/11 terrorists originated, is not on the list. 

And Iraq, the very center of ISIS activity in the world, has now been removed from the list. Logic would dictate that if your travel ban is essential for keeping terrorists out of America, the first country on the list should be Iraq. 

Of course this is a Muslim ban. Trump referred to it as a Muslim ban many, many times on the campaign trail and after the election. His own words have doomed these Executive Orders right from the start.

You may say I'm nitpicking here. Who cares about grammar and capitalization? But details matter. When a President who is attempting to change something as complex as the American healthcare system, details matter. They matter a lot. They are the difference between the elderly having access to affordable healthcare and the ultra-wealthy receiving massive tax breaks as part of the proposed plan.

For many Americans, the details in this healthcare plan will be the difference between whether they live or die.

Details matter. 

This administration doesn't seem to think so. 

Trump's Housing and Urban Development Cabinet chief, Ben Carson, recently referred to slaves as immigrants.

His chief White House counselor Kellyanne Conway introduced the world to the notion of an "alternative facts."

His national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was an agent for a foreign power who lied about communication with the Russians during the election - facts which Trump knew about for weeks before finally firing him. 

Trump accused a former President of wiretapping based solely on a right-wing report based upon the unsubstantiated claims of a right-wing talk show host. He claimed - once again - that his Electoral victory was the largest since Reagan, only to be corrected by a White House reporter again.

His response: "I was given that information. We had a very, very big margin."

"Given that information?" By who? The President's team can't conduct a simple Google search? Or more likely, Trump was either lying or spitballing because details don't matter to this administration.

His Electoral win, by the way, was not as large as George Bush, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama. In fact, it was one of the narrowest Electoral victories in American history. 

Details matter.

But when you have the resources of the Republican party and the United States government at your disposal and you can't produce a letter that is grammatically correct, you make it clear that details don't matter at all to you.

This might be the most frightening aspect of the Trump administration.

Say no to "more details."

Parents and teachers often tell students to "add more details" when commenting on student writing. 

It's one of the least helpful things that you can say to a writer. 

Have you ever finished a novel or essay or memoir and wished that the author had included "more details?"

Teachers and parents say this to students because so many of them are not writers and do not seriously engage in the writing process. As a result, they simply don't know what to say in the same way I could say nothing to a apprentice carpenter or a beginning skier.

If you don't engage in the craft, you will have little to say about the craft. 

So rather than talking about craft, parents and teachers see quantity as quality. They believe - with all their heart - that an argument that be effectively made in 250 words is automatically made more effective if written with 500 or 1,000 words. 

It makes me insane.  

To this end, young writers should remember this:

Don't seek quantity. Seek quality. Rather than waxing on for paragraphs about a person or place, find the two or three words or phrases that capture the essence of the person or place, and leave it at that.

The best writers don't choose the most words. They choose the right words.  

It is only snow and nothing more.

As I write this, it is snowing outside. Meteorologists are referring to the storm as a blizzard. Much of Connecticut is shut down (though I just returned from a successful trip to Dunkin' Donuts) and apparently the grocery store shelves are empty, but here's the thing:

Tomorrow, less than 24 hours from now, the storm will have ended. The sun will shine high in the sky. The roads will be clear. And though we may have a foot or two of snow on the ground, we have certainly seen this much snow before in New England and will see this much snow again.

Probably more. 

I despise the ongoing, never-ending, relentless conversations about the snow, the impending snow, the snowfall projections, and the incessant complaining about the snow. One of my primary goals in the teaching of storytelling is to make the world a more interesting place. If people know how to tell great stories and know the right stories to share, then the world becomes a more entertaining, connected, and meaningful place to live.

I believe this with all my heart. 

Conversations about the weather are the antithesis of this of an entertaining, connected, meaningful world. They are the death of good conversation. They are the enemy of the interesting.

My humble suggestion: Avoid these conversations at all costs. Change the subject. Do not engage. Walk away if necessary.

You will be the happier, and the more interesting, for it.

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Stories are so damn important.

Few things have felt truer to me than this quote from the late Alan Rickman:

I cannot tell you how many times a person has told me at the end of one of our shows that they feel like they have been renewed by an evening of storytelling. Their heart has been filled. Their mind has been put at ease, at least for a couple hours, and perhaps longer. 

Storytelling is magic. It is medicine for the mind. Food for the soul.

I've been telling stories all over the country and the world since 2011, and here is one of the strangest things that has happened to me in the course of my travels:

Twice I have stepped off the stage after telling a story at The Moth in which I expressed great vulnerability and been approached by a woman who needed to tell me about her recent miscarriage. In both cases, the woman had yet to tell anyone in her life about her loss but had somehow decided in that moment that I was the right person to tell.

When I told Elysha about this craziness (the second incident happened just recently), she said that it wasn't crazy at all. There is unknowable amounts of emotion wrapped up in the tragedy of a miscarriage. Grief, guilt, shame, despair, and unspeakable loss. Women oftentimes have great difficulty talking about a miscarriage, even to people who they know and love most.

In both of these instances, Elysha explained, these women likely saw me as a person willing to open my heart and share something sacred about my past. I shared a story about my life in a way few people are willing to do so openly. In the eyes of these two women, I became the perfect person to unburden themselves of their secret. Someone who they could trust. Someone who possessed an open heart. But also someone who they would never see again. In that way, I was safe. They could speak their truth and then leave it behind. 

Admittedly, I was surprised and confused when these women revealed their secret to me, but each encounter ended with a hug and many tears. And perhaps a bit of relief from something that these women were carrying alone before they met me.

Rickman was right. We need to tell stories about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.

Now more than ever.

End the scourge of the additional anus

I'd like to propose that we permanently retire the phrase "tore me a new one" and all its its variants as a means of describing a situation in which a person or persons have been savagely berated or abused by another person. 

The idea that someone would be berated or abused so badly that it would result in an additional anus is not only illogical, but it's fairly disgusting.

There are better ways to describe situations like this without adding to the digestive system in the process.  

Can we all agree that there is no place for this unfortunate phrase in our modern day lexicon? 

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Rules of Self Praise by the Brilliant and Handsome Matthew Dicks

Rule: If you have to say that you were the smartest person in the room, you were not the smartest person in the room. 

Not by a long shot. 

Corollary: Always allow others to sing your praise. Self praise is almost always disgusting. If you don't feel like you're receiving the credit you deserve, you haven't earned the credit you deserve. Try harder. Do better.

Corollary to the corollary: If you engage in self praise, please know that people will most assuredly disparage you when you are no longer present.   

Addendum to the corollary: Self praise is permitted in the private company of spouses, significant others, and in salary negotiations. But even in these cases, it must be deployed with grace, humility, and moderation.  

Additional addendum to the corollary: Sarcastic, exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek self praise is permitted when done to be amusing because humor trumps all.

Note about the additional addendum to the corollary: Donald Trump has permanently tainted the use of the verb "trump." 

Michael Bloomberg on succeeding in business

Michael Bloomberg - three term mayor of New York and eighth richest man in the world - recently offered his insight in a New York Times piece entitled Michael Bloomberg on How to Succeed in Business

He said a few things that I liked a lot.

Nobody remembers where you went to school. The first job they may ask, by the third job they won’t remember to. People put too much emphasis on that. It’s much more important that you go to a place where you fit in and which has decent academics. 

I have watched students and parents twist themselves into knots trying to get into this school or that school, when it's absolutely true:

No one will remember where you went to college unless you're the douchebag who brings up your time at Princeton whenever possible.  

Bloomberg is right. Find a place where you fit in and that has decent academics. 

My wife attended Smith College. It's an excellent school, but more importantly, it was a place where she felt completely at home, and she remains closely connected to the school even today.

I attended Trinity College for my English degree and St. Joseph's University for my teaching degree - two well respected schools - but the best education I ever received was the three years I spent at Manchester Community College. My years spent at Trinity and St. Joseph's pales in comparison to the instruction I received at the community college.   

The part that’s most important in an education is how to deal with people. There’s no job I know that you do by yourself, and I learned as much from the two guys I worked for at Salomon Brothers, Billy Salomon and John Gutfreund, as I’d learned at Harvard. In the end, it’s people skills that you need. 

The greatest eduction I ever received in terms of dealing with people was the ten years I spent managing McDonald's restaurants, beginning in high school and continuing through college. Learning to train, manage, and motivate a vast array of employees ranging from pregnant teens, paroled felons, non-English speaking immigrants, college students, empty nesters, and everything in between taught me more about management than any MBA program could.

I have always believed that companies would be wise to identify highly effective McDonald's managers in inner city restaurants and steal them away for whatever management positions they may have. When you can operate a fast food restaurant in the inner city profitably, you can do almost anything.     

What disturbs me is you talk to kids applying today and they invariably say, “I cured cancer, I brought peace to the Mideast.” Spare me. How about, “My father never existed, my mother is a convicted drug dealer. I worked three shifts at McDonald’s.” That’s the kind of kid I want — with an ethic of taking care of his family — because then he’ll take care of others. Some of us don’t have much prenatal intelligence, but nevertheless go out and try and have a decent chance of surviving. I’m not the smartest guy in the room, but nobody’s going to outwork me.

I couldn't agree more.

I recently met a person who recently graduated from a prestigious university after attending a private boarding school in high school. He managed to land a dream job in New York and was telling me about how lucky he felt to break into a tough industry so early in life.

Lucky?

His parents sent him to a prestigious private school. He had all the advantages that a person could imagine as a boy. Then he attended a prestigious university on his parent's dime. He spent his summers interning in his chosen field. No part-time or summer jobs. He's traveled the world, studied abroad, and graduated without any debt.    

Landing that job was not lucky. His entire life was designed to land that job. 

Give me the kid who had to claw and scrape his way through college any day. Give me the kid who has faced enormous adversity and came out on the other end stronger, wiser, and with a perspective that will serve him well. Give me the kid who wasn't supposed to make it as opposed to the kid who had no choice but to succeed.

This position may reflect a personal bias, but Bloomberg agrees with me, so it can't be all about my own experience.

I broke my promise to my wife: The origin story of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

The paperback edition of my fourth novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, is finally out! If you didn't have an opportunity to read the hardcover, now is the time to purchase the paperback with it's brand new cover.

Order online or purchase in your local bookstore. And if your bookstore isn't carrying the paperback, please be so kind as to request it. When readers ask booksellers to stock a book, it makes a difference. 

The origins of the book are interesting, and they include a broken promise to my wife.

Years ago, Elysha and I were lying in bed, talking about our childhoods, when Elysha told me about small but apparently memorable moment of cruelty. A friend was sleeping over her house, lying beside her bed in a sleeping bag, when she said, "Emily Kaplan's bathroom is bigger than your whole bedroom."

The words were probably not meant to be mean, and they certainly aren't excessively cruel by any standards, and if you ask Elysha today, she will adamantly report that this was no big deal.

Except it was a big enough deal for her to remember the moment more than 20 years later. So it was something...

I said, "Wouldn't it by nice to find that girl and say the things you wish you had said that day?"

Truthfully, Elysha didn't feel the compulsion for revenge, but I knew that many people would feel differently. I knew that there were lots of people who would love to find their schoolyard bully as adults and really let them have it. "That would make a good book," I said, lying beside her in the dark. "Don't you think? A girl who is bullied in high school goes back to her hometown, finds her bully, and says the things she's always wanted to say."

"Sure," Elysha said, wanting to go to sleep.

I agreed. I added it to my list of book ideas, and years later, I wrote that book.

As I was writing the book, I chose the name Emily Kaplan for Caroline's bully in honor of the book's origin story. When Elysha began reading the manuscript, she asked that I change the name, particularly because Emily Kaplan had done nothing wrong in her childhood story except live in a home with a large bathroom.  

I agreed. I promised I would. Then I didn't. As I continued to write, Emily Kaplan became Emily Kaplan, and eventually it became impossible to change the name because she had become real in my mind.

As real as any other character who I have created. 

I didn't tell Elysha about my failure to change the name until the book was in production, at which point the change would have been impossible. 

She was rightfully annoyed. Not angry, but not pleased, either. It might be the only promise I have ever broken to her. 

But it was done in the noble pursuit of literature, and that makes it okay. Right?

In case you missed it, an important comment from a reader

On February 13, I wrote a piece about the astonishing number of typos and errors that had proliferated from the Trump administration on a single day, including the imaginary Bowling Green Massacre and a typo on the official inaugural photo of Donald Trump.

I just noticed that I received a comment on the post from someone who identifies himself as "Mike Pruitt" and worried that perhaps regular readers (like me) failed to notice Mike's scintillating prose. 

I post it here for your reading enjoyment:

I wonder if this special little snowflake wrote an article on all of the Obama Administration’s typos? Nah, he was too busy trying to figure out a way to detach himself from Obama’s nutsack to bother with that.

I always appreciate it when readers take the time to comment on something I have written. I wish that Mike's level of discourse was slightly elevated, but not everyone can adhere to the "no name calling" and "avoidance of vulgarity" policies that I have self-imposed. Nor should they.   

I also wish that Mike hadn't fallen back on the too-often used insult of "snowflake," which is a common refrain from right wing Internet trolls these days. It's not that "snowflake" hurts me in anyway. I just appreciate variety, creativity, and ingenuity too much to enjoy an overused zinger like "snowflake."

Mike is also correct that I did not write a post about all of the Obama administration typos. I'd remind Mike that I'm not a journalist and therefore have no ethical requirement to balance my commentary in any way whatsoever, but I'd also tell him that I have no recollection of any prominent Obama-administration gaffs of the kind I wrote about that day.

  • No typos on either of Obama's inauguration photos. I checked. 
  • No memorable misspellings of famous people's names.
  • No false attributions of quotations to former Presidents.
  • No fake terrorist attacks. 

Obama, to my recollection, never mistakenly asserted that a famous American like Frederick Douglass, who has been dead for more than 150 years, was still alive, and his administration, to my knowledge, never referred to African slaves as "immigrants."

Obama's administration was simply more precise in my admittedly imperfect memory.  

 An examination of President Obama's last 200 tweets also reveals no typos that I can see.

By contrast, there are THREE typos in Donald Trump's last 10 tweets, and that doesn't include the tweet that he posted and deleted FOUR TIMES before finally getting the word "hereby" correct.

Count that one and he has SEVEN typos is the last 10 tweets.

Writing a post about the Obama administration's typos might have simply required far too much research to write. There may not be enough of them to make the post worthwhile. I like low hanging fruit, and the Trump administration provides it in bushels.  

Still, I always appreciate the feedback, even when it's not entirely positive and slightly vulgar.  

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Critics of food stamps need to experience a childhood of hunger

There's a lot of talk amongst Trump supporters and the far right about the way in which food stamps are decimating the federal budget and costing American taxpayers millions.

If you hear people speaking like this, I would like you to consider saying something in response. These are criticisms that cannot be allowed to stand. 

As a child, my family received food stamps. My parents worked full time until my mother was injured at work and permanently disabled. She received a settlement for her disability, but even with these two incomes, my parents received food stamps at certain times in our lives. We also received cheese and milk from the WIC and an occasional donation of food from the church.

Despite all of this support, I was hungry as a child.

I was hungry a lot. 

This is why I become so enraged when I hear people talk about food stamps as the bane of the federal budget. 

The annual report from the United States Department of Agriculture showed that about 45 percent of food stamp benefits went to children under 18, totaling about 20 million youngsters. Nine percent of recipients were age 60 or older, and nearly 10 percent were disabled adults who were under 60, according to the analysis of food stamp usage for the fiscal year that ended in September 2014.

I know that there is fraud and abuse in the food stamp program (as there are in MANY PARTS of our nation's budget, including the military), but this does not make it bad or unnecessary. When I hear someone complain about the less than two percent of our annual budget that feeds people who would otherwise go hungry, I ask:

Do you really think that I should have been hungrier as a child?

Did I not deserve the food that I received as a child thanks to food stamps?

Do you really think the wealthiest nation on the planet should allow children, the elderly, the disabled, and even those abled bodied adults who are experiencing unexpected difficulties to go hungry?

Hunger is a terrible thing. When I was homeless later in life, I was often hungry, but because I had no address or phone number, I was not eligible for many of the benefits that might have otherwise been able to receive, including food stamps. Nor could I find a job without an address or phone number. Had it not been for friends and former employees who took me in when I was in desperate need of help, I might still be hungry today. 

I am not opposed to rooting out waste and fraud. I am not opposed to making things more efficient in order to save money. But when I hear well fed people talk about cutting back on food stamps for people who genuinely need them to eat, it makes me wish that these lawmakers could experience hunger in the way that so many Americans have experienced it in their lives.

It's easy to cast judgment on others with a full belly.