Weird stories and shady characters: Giving your own personal history a shot

NOTE: This was originally published here on January 8, 2016.

“Your honor, the witches were just proving a point after she told them ‘#YOLO.'” (via Wikimedia Commons)

Note: I’m taking some time working on a more “scholarly” article, so here’s something a little fluffier just for fun in the mean time.

It always troubles me when someone bemoans history as a boring school subject in which they were forced to memorize useless dates and names. I have a BA in history, and I’m certain I could not recite even basic so-called “important” historical dates. For me, the value of history is in its lessons and stories.

The future leader of America’s son and daughters attend a history lecture.

Putting aside the problem with unqualified or disinterested coaches dominating social science classes (granted, there are some phenomenal coach-teachers), too many teachers teach history wrong. Dates are important and useful, but they’ll never be as interesting as knowing the honest and unfiltered stories of our nation and world. (I highly recommend James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me for an introduction to the world of textbook-less history.)

Even with a disdain for the classroom version of history, anyone can find an interesting story in the branches of their own family tree.

Continue reading Weird stories and shady characters: Giving your own personal history a shot


Lessons from a First Semester in ACS

Note: This post was originally published here on January 3, 2016.

If only the Army would give me five years…
I’m a fan of online research. Searching for a good book? Take a look at what other people are reading. Want to eat out? Find the highest rated restaurant in the area. Looking at taking a certain class? Research the professor. About to start grad school via the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) program? Look up other folks’ experiences in that program.

You may notice that last one isn’t linked to anything. That’s because, before moving out to start grad school, I couldn’t find a whole lot in the way of firsthand accounts from officers in the ACS pipeline. This is my contribution to what I feel is a sorely lacking selection of literature on the subject.

After two rounds of applications (first to teach at West Point and then to get into a reputable graduate program), I started my first semester of grad school as part of the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) program in August. Here are some things I have learned at the conclusion of the semester and a quarter of the way through my Masters program.

Continue reading Lessons from a First Semester in ACS

It’s Time to Welcome Women to the Selective Service



This piece was first published on PMJWire, the online blog for PolicyMatters Journal, the journal of the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley. It was subsequently published here on December 16, 2015.

On December 3, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that all military positions, including combat occupations, are now open to women. This move follows a trend in recent years of military policy changes geared toward social equity, including the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the easing of administrative action against transgender troops. It didn’t take long for demands for women to be required to register for the Selective Service to follow.

I agree. Women already serve in direct combat and graduate from Ranger School. Despite the legal and political obstacles, it is now time to require women to register for the Selective Service.

Continue reading It’s Time to Welcome Women to the Selective Service

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