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An open letter to John Green about American history

John Green in Crash Course

John Green in Crash Course (screen cap from YouTube)

Mr. Green! Mr. Green! Aren’t you stepping into a political minefield by doing your next Crash Course on American history? Don’t you realize that you are not only alienating viewers who aren’t American, you’re alienating viewers who don’t share your political views? Won’t that hurt sales of The Fault in Our Stars?

The people John Green might offend with his take on American history are too busy banning his books to watch Crash Course anyway. But the fact that our history has become so politically contentious is dangerous not just to him, but to all Americans. To explain, I’ll share a story about Me from My Past.

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Evaluation: President Obama’s second inaugural speech

President Obama delivers his inaugural address.

President Obama delivers his inaugural address. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Anyone can speak better when the pressure is taken off. The same is true for a president.

President Obama had high expectations for his first inaugural address. People expected it to be on the par of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s, John F. Kennedy’s, or Ronald Reagan’s, so anything less would have been a disappointment. This time around, President Obama didn’t have that pressure, so he was able to let loose with a more passionate, forceful, and eloquent speech.

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A free short story to say thanks

Everyone loves free stories too. Get it on Amazon for a limited time.

Everyone loves free stories too. Get it for free on Amazon for a limited time.

Update: The free deal is now over, but you can still get “Everyone Loves JELL-O” for your Kindle reader or app. It is only 99 cents USD (or the appropriate price for your currency), and you can borrow it for free if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Thanks to Laura Pfundt, my 500th follower on Twitter, you can get my new short story for free on Amazon for a limited time. In “Everyone Loves JELL-O,” two estranged brothers find that facing their past is the hardest part of making a JELL-O mold. Get your copy free for your Kindle device or app from Tuesday, 22 January at 12:00 a.m. to Saturday 26 January at 11:59 p.m. (All times are US Pacific Time. If Amazon hasn’t switched to the free price exactly at the start time, come back later and try again.) Amazon Prime members can borrow it free at any time.

Click the book cover on the left or click here.

Want more of my writing? Please visit my Books page to learn about my other fiction and non-fiction books. If you like what you’ve read, please post comments at your online bookseller. Enjoy!

What Martin Luther King can teach you about public speaking

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Day, let’s look at his greatest speech, “I Have a Dream.” After nearly 50 years, it remains undiminished in its power and eloquence. It provides a great model for all speakers to emulate. Here are several things you can learn from it.

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Matthew Arnold and Matthew Arnold Stern

Matthew Arnold and Matthew Arnold Stern

It’s a shame I also didn’t emulate Matthew Arnold’s nice suits. (Photo on left from Wikipedia.)

Is a name destiny?

When I think about Matthew Arnold and myself, I can’t help but think about Mark Twain’s quote about lightning and lightning bugs. Mark Twain got to pick his name along with his writing career. The story about my name is more complicated. For starters, I wasn’t named after Matthew Arnold.

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