Ten reasons to live without a smartphone

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 26, 2017. It can also be found online here.

The X is here. iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) arrived last week to the fanfare we now expect from Apple. It represents the next smartphone generation; pocket-sized do-everything machines that have become part of daily life.

Despite smartphone companies’ positive spin, we should recognize the real downsides that come with their overuse. Continue reading “Ten reasons to live without a smartphone”

Good marriage is a connection where two shine as one

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 22, 2017. It can also be found online here.

Chances are you’re going to a wedding soon. 40 percent of weddings now take place as the fall sets in and leaves change color, up from 30 percent in 2009, according to the largest industry survey of its kind. And September and October are tied for the months of the year with the most marriages.

These numbers make my wife a walking statistic: she’s currently on a two week excursion to two weddings, one overseas in Croatia and one domestic in Pennsylvania.

With all the time and expense that weddings entail, as the average one nowadays tops $35,000 (without the honeymoon), it’s worth thinking a bit about why we go to so much trouble. What does marriage really do for us? Why do we bother?

I’m certainly no expert on the subject. Just someone working hard at my own marriage, like many others. But I’ve had nearly a decade of experience at it by now, and have observed the ups and downs of many other marriages. And so I feel qualified to offer some thoughts on our curious custom of coming together. Continue reading “Good marriage is a connection where two shine as one”

Entire state should work to bring Amazon to Colorado Springs area

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September14, 2017. It can also be found online here.

Amazon just announced it wants to add a second headquarters to its current Seattle home. The company is looking for a city with a population over one million, with a high quality of life, strong university system, and solid mass transportation options. Over the next two decades, the chosen city will receive roughly $5 billion in investment, 50,000 skilled tech workers, and a deep-pocketed business ally.

Here’s how Colorado Springs can get in on and win this sweepstakes.

(I know what you’re thinking. You’re right, there aren’t a million people in the Springs. We’ll come back to that in a moment.) Continue reading “Entire state should work to bring Amazon to Colorado Springs area”

The Battle Hymn of the Strategist: Composing the Terrible Swift Sword

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

A couple months ago, The Atlantic magazine signed up jazz musician Jon Batiste to draw ears to their new podcast. Their bonus was a masterclass on military strategy.

It was an inspired choice to draft New Orleans-native Batiste, who currently serves as The Late Show with Steven Colbert’s charismatic band leader, to re-mix “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” for the podcast’s theme music. The Battle Hymn is America’s quintessential war music, written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe, whose lyrics first appeared on The Atlantic’s cover in early 1862. So Batiste’s musical update was a clever way to remind listeners of the magazine’s deep roots, while also holding on to the monthly’s core theme of “the American idea.”

An Army strategist by trade, I was transfixed by the behind-the-scenes video and audio description of Batiste’s creative method while updating this martial song (whatever comes of your having read this essay, agree or disagree, like or dislike—you MUST download or stream Radio Atlantic’s podcast, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”, and listen to the process from roughly 5–10 minutes in; the actual song is performed for the last three minutes of the 65-minute episode). Open-eared listeners will hear how making this music jives with military strategy’s artistic development, but it also serves as an introduction to the many other ways the two are in tune. Continue reading “The Battle Hymn of the Strategist: Composing the Terrible Swift Sword”

To reduce wrongful shootings, police can learn from our soldiers

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 4, 2017. It can also be found online here.

Sometimes, police must shoot to keep the peace. When used effectively, this results in safer cities. When done wrongfully, it inflames society.

The question is how police can best wield deadly force. The 2015 Colorado state law mandating local law enforcement report and review shootings is a good start. In Minneapolis, where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman, the acting chief has announced police must turn on body cameras for “any call.”

But this technological solution treats the symptoms of police shootings that countrywide cause roughly 1,000 civilian deaths each year.

The problem is deeper: to reduce wrongful shootings, cops should reinforce an ethical code that, like soldiers, accepts deadly risk as inherent to their professional responsibility. Continue reading “To reduce wrongful shootings, police can learn from our soldiers”

Why veterans do belong on university campuses like UCCS

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on August 30, 2017. It can also be found online here.

I’m a veteran and I belong on a university campus. Both today, as a dissertation student, and someday, as a professor.

Last week a vocal minority calling itself the “Social Justice Collective,” in an unsanctioned newsletter posted on bulletin boards at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, declared this is bad for everybody, that “in order to protect our academic institutions we must ban veterans from four-year universities.”

To be sure, like all broad-based groups, veterans aren’t perfect. And this newsletter’s particularly distasteful argument is easy enough to dismiss. But it does provide an opportunity for former soldiers and fellow citizens alike to evaluate and upend some of what this newsletter claims are fundamental incompatibilities. Continue reading “Why veterans do belong on university campuses like UCCS”

Running the Rockies for Colorado’s Riches

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on August 27, 2017. It can also be found online here.

If value is that which is unique and useful, then the Rockies are Colorado’s rarest riches.

I learned this the hard way over the past week while part of a long distance trail running event. Along with 400 other athletes from 17 countries, six Canadian provinces, and 38 U.S. states, I participated in the TransRockies Run, a six-day, 120-mile footrace that featured 20,000 feet of climbing over the Rockies, traveling alongside US. 24 from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek.

While a race like this isn’t exactly for everyone, it does provide an exceptional view into what makes Colorado such a breathtaking place. Continue reading “Running the Rockies for Colorado’s Riches”