Immunity for parents braving the school drop-off line

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on March 5, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I have a confession to make. When I drop my daughter off at school, I break the law. Not always. But sometimes.

In my defense, like all parents, I know kids are our future. And if they don’t get to school, there will be no future. For any of us. So no impediment must ever hold back a parent’s ability to transport their child to school. A parent driving a child to school is a sacred social event, like a funeral procession or pro sports championship parade, and nothing should hinder its execution or progress. Even laws.

For the thousands of parents in the Pikes Peak region that brave this stress-inducing event to drop their kids off at school, it’s time to organize and demand that all parents be granted the right to drop-off their children without fear of legal infraction. These parents should get the same immunity we customarily extend to diplomats. Continue reading “Immunity for parents braving the school drop-off line”

Reel War at the Oscars: Lessons for Warriors from the Red Carpet

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site.

He’s turning ninety, so he’s seen a lot of war. Even at thirteen and a half inches tall, with a golden body weighing only eight and a half pounds—Oscar’s been around and has some stories to tell.

The little statuette, of course, nicknamed “Oscar” (which may or may not be due to his having resembled someone’s “Uncle Oscar”), is more formally referred to as the “Academy Award of Merit.” Twenty-four of these will be handed out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sunday night at Hollywood’s annual gathering to applaud great artistic and technical achievement. The competition is fierce among the fifty-ninenominated movies; it’s almost surprising there hasn’t been more real blood on the red carpet beyond James Cameron nearly bludgeoning Harvey Weinstein with his Oscar twenty years ago.

The Oscars also have a distinct martial heritage. The first Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role was given to Emil Jannings, in part for his role in the 1928 silent film The Last Command, set during the Russian Revolution, a story that was inspired by a real-life general in the Imperial Russian Army named Theodore A. Lodigensky who fled the communist revolution and opened a restaurant in New York City (Lodigensky would also go on to play an “ex-military man” in several silent films himself). Continue reading “Reel War at the Oscars: Lessons for Warriors from the Red Carpet”

Can’t separate the Olympics from global politics

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on February 19, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I love the Olympics, in part because they seem to defy reality as a place where dreams really do come true.

But geopolitics doesn’t stop while the Olympics are on – countries always use the Games to jostle for power, position, and prestige. Hitler’s 1936 Games come to mind, or the U.S. decision not to attend the 1980 Games in Moscow, and the subsequent Soviet decision to skip the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

The geopolitical maneuvering continues at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang – not surprising considering they’re so close to the DMZ that separates the North from South Korea. Tensions are high, as the North’s missile and nuclear tests have grown in number, range, and quality, poised to threaten not just Seoul and Tokyo, but the U.S. homeland as well. Continue reading “Can’t separate the Olympics from global politics”

A cost-free way to help make our children ready for school

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on February 12, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I almost ran a kid over the other day. It was pre-dawn, a wintry, early morning, and I was out for a run. Shoulders hunched, he shuffled along, the way drowsy teenagers do, and left me wondering how he possibly could have missed my fluorescent clothes or flashlight.

Sleepwalking his way to school, he was destined to be a teen zombie for the first hour or two of classes.

Which is the problem: every day, our Pikes Peak area middle and high schools force half-awake teenagers, against their biological clocks, to start school a solid hour before their bodies are physically ready to learn. Our kids take tests with their brains still partly asleep. Continue reading “A cost-free way to help make our children ready for school”

Yes, Unfortunately, Sometimes Militaries Must ‘Destroy the town to save it’

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site.

Fifty years ago this week, during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, a US Army major famously remarked to a journalist, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” Pilloried for its callousness, one fellow officer who claimed to have been present even said it went “down in history as an example of some of the insanity that was Vietnam.”

Myself an Army major, I know how crazy it sounds to most people. And, yet, while I am on the record as strongly opposed to empty platitudes like “the purpose of the military is to kill people and break things” (the military’s purpose is to protect and defend), I also know this infamous quotation from fifty years ago reflects one of the harsh, paradoxical realities of war: sometimes, unfortunately, militaries must destroy in order to save. Continue reading “Yes, Unfortunately, Sometimes Militaries Must ‘Destroy the town to save it’”

Throwing fruitcakes could be healthy fun

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on January 31, 2018. It can also be found online here.

It turns out tossing some fruitcake might have been the healthiest thing you could have done this past weekend.

I did, this past Saturday, at the 22nd annual Manitou Springs Great Fruitcake Toss. Hundreds took advantage of a sunny afternoon to descend on Memorial Park to try their hand at three fruitcake-infused challenges: throwing for accuracy (through hula-hoops of various sizes), throwing for distance (on a marked field), and balance (speed-walking a zig-zagged path while holding a cake on a spatula). Continue reading “Throwing fruitcakes could be healthy fun”