This morning a user on Twitter asked me if I was involved with LibertasColorado.org, the “Libertas Institute Colorado.” I was horrified to learn that the web site had stolen the last two years’ worth of my blog posts and was reproducing them in full. I did not authorize this reproduction of my content. (The site was also pulling in other content without permission.) After I notified the person to whom the web site is registered, he pulled down the page.
The same Twitter user said she received a late-night robocall on behalf of Libertarian candidate Gaylon Kent, and she thought that the robocall may have been associated with Libertas Institute Colorado.
I do not know if the robocall was associated with the same organization that stole my intellectual property, or if the robocaller is totally unrelated and merely used a similar-sounding name.
Gaylon Kent says he did not authorize the robocalls. See also the 9News story on the matter. I contacted 9News, and reporters there were not sure who originated the robocalls. I have not obtained or heard any audio recording of the robocalls. [See below.]
Obviously I had nothing to do with the robocalls; prior to this morning, I had never heard of Gaylon Kent or of Libertas Institute Colorado or any like-named group. (I probably saw Kent’s name on my ballot, but I paid no attention to it.)
All in all, this has been a frustrating morning, first to have to deal with the theft of my intellectual property, and then to be associated with a dubious campaign effort (even if by accident) of which I had no knowledge.
October 20 Update: I just realized that 9News includes the audio of the call in question. It ends, “This message brought to you by the Libertas Institute.”
Readers may have noticed that I’ve been trying out different strategies for aggregating news. I do want to track select items of news and views, not only to provide some potentially useful tips to others, but to help myself keep track of the items.
It seems that now I’ve come full circle. I started out using my Twitter feed to collect news stories; more recently I set up an entire new web site (now defunct) devoted to news aggregation (see my explanation); and most recently I’ve posted “news roundups” to my personal page (see this morning’s example).
For now at least, I’m going to go back to using Twitter to track the stories and opinions of interest to me—so now is an excellent time to follow me on Twitter, if you do not already do so.
Of course, if I want to write something more substantial about some article than Twitter will accommodate, I’ll probably do so as a blog post here. And, as should be obvious by now, I may change my mind about this.
[September 7, 2014 Update: Today I moved all the files from RationalBeacon.com to my homepage, AriArmstrong.com. See the “Rational Beacon” category for the contents imported from RationalBeacon.com. —Ari]
Although I’m glad I tried running Rational Beacon, it has been more time consuming and less successful than I’d anticipated, so I’m shutting it down. At first I was upset about this move, but then I thought about it in Edison’s terms: I didn’t fail at blogging, I merely discovered one additional way for me not to blog.
I plan to import all of Rational Beacon‘s contents to my personal page at AriArmstrong.com, where I plan to continue blogging. I also plan to consolidate all my previously published works there, except for my material with the Objective Standard and with Complete Colorado. (In the future I may write material for other publications and not reproduce it on my own page.) Although I’m shutting down RationalBeacon.com, I’m retaining the url into the indefinite future, in case I want to resurrect the site in a different form (something for which I have no plans at present).
A few people may be interested in a fuller account of my reasons for shutting down the site.
Originally, my idea for Rational Beacon was that, as I read the news and views of the day, I would quickly blog about the items that interested me, something I didn’t think would take much additional time. After all, I was essentially aggregating news for myself already, so, I thought, why not simply convert that work to a blog? Not only would that process help me keep in better touch with the news of the day, I thought, it might prove useful to others looking for a filtered news source.
Obviously part of my inspiration for aggregating news was InstaPundit, only I wanted to omit many of the types of stories covered there and to include many stories and opinion pieces not covered there. No one else aggregates stories the way I’d like to see it done, so I end up subjecting myself to the data equivalent of a fire hose each day, mostly via my Twitter feed. That seems to be unavoidable at this point. Very little of the total material published on a daily basis significantly interests me, but I have to sift through a substantial amount of that material to find the few items that do interest me.
Unfortunately, in blogging for Rational Beacon, I soon found myself spending much more time than I’d anticipated writing about certain stories. I thought I’d spend less than an hour, or perhaps up to a couple of hours, writing for Rational Beacon every day; instead, I found myself spending several hours blogging on most days. Especially given that no one is paying me to do it, I just can’t justify spending that much time on it.
Soon after starting the site, I shifted my focus. At first, I thought I’d post two or three dozen very-short posts. But I quickly began writing fewer (often a handful or a dozen), longer posts. Many of my posts are essentially (short) op-eds.
I’ve tentatively decided that I do want to continue aggregating news, although in much briefer form. Yesterday and today I published “roundups” of links, and that’s the way I’ll probably continue to aggregate material at my home page. If I want to say something more substantial about some event, issue, or editorial, I’ll write a dedicated article about it, either for my own page or for another publication (at this point, usually for the Objective Standard).
I never imagined Rational Beacon would be an Internet sensation, but I thought it would be more successful than it has been. After nearly a month of steady effort, the Facebook page has only 91 likes, and the Twitter page has only 75 followers. That’s just not enough of a following to justify the effort. (I have received some very positive feedback from several people, which I appreciate. I also appreciate the numerous “Rational Bacon” jokes.)
Part of my reasoning for starting Rational Beacon was that I thought a publication name separate from my name might go over better. Apparently I was wrong. So I’m just going to consolidate my offerings on my personal blog and through my personal Facebook and Twitter feeds. Associating my content with my name is fine, I think; that’s what Michelle Malkin and various others do (although Malkin has something like 300 times the Twitter followers that I have).
Of course, part of my problem, in terms of number of readers, is that I advocate some view or other to alienate nearly everyone. I’m not a conservative, or a leftist “liberal,” or a libertarian, or a “moderate”—and in many instances I loudly declare my disagreements with those groups. But I’d rather reach a few active-minded individuals than many cheerleaders.
Over the coming years I plan to write not only op-ed-style articles, as I’ve been doing for many years, but weightier articles on a range of subjects. (I hope my efforts toward that end will help broaden audience.) To reach my main goals in writing, I need to be a lot more careful about how I spend my time. As painful as shutting down Rational Beacon is, the main purpose in doing so is to help free up some of my time so that I can work more on other projects. Stay tuned.
September 7, 2014 Update: I discontinued posting to RationalBeacon.com on August 29 and converted all the files from that site to AriArmstrong.com today. —Ari
Rational Beacon launched July 29 to offer brief commentary on the news and views of the day. Since then, I’ve published 180 posts—on average more than six per day—covering such topics as Islamic State, the Ferguson shooting, Ayn Rand, environmentalism, economics, and criminal justice.
That’s a great start, but it’s only a start. You can help Rational Beacon expand its reach in several ways:
“Like” Rational Beacon on Facebook, Like and Share its posts, and turn on “Get Notifications” (part of the “Liked” menu.)
Follow Rational Beacon on Twitter and retweet it.
Tell your friends about Rational Beacon, in person and via email and social media.
If you hear of an important, recently published news story or opinion piece, let me know about it via email: ari (atsign) freecolorado (dot) com.
Thank you for your support toward creating a world of reason and individual rights.
W. Earl Allen, long active in Colorado libertarian and free market organizations, died August 9 in a plane crash. See my brief write-up about Earl and the Denver Post‘s report about the crash. Just a few months ago I gave Earl some old flying videos that I’d collected. I’ve known Earl for many years, and I’m deeply saddened by his passing. The photo shown is of Earl at a 2009 event I organized to protest legal restrictions of beer sales.
“Rational Beacon was founded by Ari Armstrong on July 29, 2014, to publishing mini-posts on the news and views of the day and to advocate reason and individual rights.” Check it out! [November 10, 2014 Update: That content has since been integrated into AriArmstrong.com.]
Rational Beacon is an aggregator of news and views of interest especially to people who advocate reason and individual rights. Rational Beacon was founded by Ari Armstrong, and the site and its trademarks, including “Rational Beacon,” are owned by Ari Armstrong. Unless otherwise marked, all posts are written and copyrighted by Ari Armstrong. Although there are currently no plans to turn Rational Beacon into anything more than an aggregation service, it’s possible the future may hold more in store.
September 7, 2014 Update: On August 19, I discontinued posting to Rational Beacon; see the explanatory post. Today I imported all the posts to AriArmstrong.com, and eventually I’ll delete the contents at RationalBeacon.com. -Ari
In the past, I’ve linked to all of my blog posts published by The Objective Standard from my personal web page. But these days TOS is publishing most of my writing, so it seems pointless use my personal page to link to everything over there. Readers are welcome to check out my catalog of posts at TOS.
I’ll still link to my print articles and possibly to some of my more notable blog posts as well.
Along these lines, recently I wrote a post about a Colorado case in which the government is seeking to force a businessman to bake a cake for a gay wedding. That article has received a fair amount of play; check it out if you haven’t already done so.
I have been using the trademark “Free Colorado” for many years, and I here assert my right to keep on using it.
Unfortunately, another group has called itself “Free Colorado,” and that group claims to be “a non-profit organization registered in the State of Colorado.” (I was not able to find a record of the group on the Secretary of State’s web page.)
This group could not possibly have failed to notice that I have registered “FreeColorado.com” or that I call my site “Free Colorado.”
Unfortunately, this other group lists no contact information on its web page, FreeColorado.net. And a “whois” search of that domain lists only Proxy, LLC of Arizona as the contact information.
I have nothing against this other group (other than it using my name), but I wish it had picked some other name, or at least asked me first if I’d sell them or give them the rights to call their group “Free Colorado.” At this point, I request that the group select some other name.
At this point, I want to clarify that I have nothing to do with this organization, and it has nothing to do with me (besides using my name without my permission).
January was a busy month as I began to blog more frequently for The Objective Standard. I also coauthored two columns for Grand Junction Free Press, wrote several substantial blog posts, uploaded five videos to YouTube, maintained my social media work, and moderated the DenverLiberty In the Books.
My very good friend—famous feminist-liberal Pamela White (author name “Pamela Clare”)—has become a full-fledged gun nut. … Pamela, as you will see by following the first link, used to be anti gun. Two vicious criminals broke into her Boulder home, and she was saved only by the timely and unlikely arrival of cops with guns. She remained anti gun until I and Ari Armstrong, a friend and great American, taught her about gun rights and guns. Ari sent her to the Western Slopes for firearms re-education camp.
Today, 10 years later, Pamela leaves this on my wall: “So, it’s official. I may be a gun nut. Yesterday’s shooting spree included my Mossberg, a Navy SEAL edition SIG Sauer P226, a Beretta, a Henry lever-action .22, an AR-15, a Winchester 3030, a SIG Mosquito, a Marlin .22 rifle, some kind of .45 (can’t remember). It was a lot of fun… The SIG is just sexy.”
And this, for which I am very proud: “I blame you and Ari Armstrong. ;-)”
I was also touched by this letter by Gladys Woynowskie published by Grand Junction Free Press:
I read an online article by Ari Armstrong relating his confrontation of a Denver Post journalist. I am impressed by his willingness to simply ask for verification of data. It seems like a simple and innocuous act, yet accuracy is powerful and significant.
I want to express my appreciation for Mr. Armstrong’s regard for accuracy (especially valuable in a journalist), and his patient tenacity in expecting other journalists to value the same. Mr. Armstrong reflects well on the reputation of Grand Junction Free Press.
If you find my work to be a value, please consider making a contribution!
When I read a set of gun-related statistics in a December 28 Denver Poststory, the reported claims didn’t seem right to me. So I started digging into the data and found very different figures. By the end of the day I had written two articles on the matter, the Denver Post had issued a correction to its online article, and Glenn Reynolds had linked to my main article through his Instapundit.
Originally the Post reported the following: “More than 500 children in the United States die in gun accidents each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2007 report, which estimated 1.7 million children live in homes where guns are kept.”
But, I discovered, that single sentence contains three serious errors. First, in 2007, 112 minors (under age 18) died from unintentional shootings. Second, the “1.7 million” figure refers to the number of children who (based on unreliable survey data) live in homes where unlocked and loaded guns are kept. Third, there was no 2007 CDC report reporting those figures.
However, obviously it’s a very bad thing when anyone dies of unintentional gun fire (or any other hazard); I wrote about that general problem in a follow-up article, “The Tragedy of Fatal Hazards for Children.” I found, among other things, that children are more likely to die from drowning, falls, fire, poisoning, suffocation, or transportation than they are to die from unintentional gun fire.
Because of my write-up, I was invited on to the December 30 radio show for NRA News. I spent about ten minutes explaining the statistics and the positive trend lines in terms of reduced deaths due to unintentional gun fire.
My reporting even earned some praise from left-leaning blogger Jason Salzman, who wrote on his Twitter feed, “Some conservatives mindlessly slam The Post, but here’s an example from @ariarmstrong of how to complain constructively.” (Of course, I don’t consider myself a conservative, though I am friendly with many conservatives.)
Articles for The Objective Standard
I also coauthored an article for The Objective Standard, wrote a book review, and wrote four posts for the journal’s blog. (Of all the work listed in this write-up, I get paid directly only for my work for that journal, in addition to my work with Liberty In the Books).
I was also quoted in the Durango Herald on the campaign laws: “I think it’s a travesty and a mockery of the First Amendment that Colorado citizens are being dragged into court for daring to engage in the political process.” (Diana Hsieh also was quoted by the AP on the matter.)
Also, Matt Arnold reported that an audio clip from my video of State Senator John Morse was used in a segment for 560 KLZ radio.
I posted 442 Tweets on my Twitter feed (ending the month at 10,932 total Tweets), and I gained 51 new followers, moving from 1,168 to 1,219.
On my YouTube channel, I posted eight videos, all about the campaign laws except for one about Ayn Rand’s We the Living. That brings my total to 173 videos. Following are two of the December offerings.
Other Major Blog posts
I posted 21 articles to the blog in December. The major ones include the following:
As 2011 draws to a close, I wanted to review my writing and political activism for the year. A friend suggested that I start to offer monthly summaries instead, so that’s what I’ll do starting next month. Thankfully, there’s much to review for the entire year!
If you find my work to be a value, please consider making a contribution!
Hoiles Finalist and New York Trip
Perhaps the biggest news of the year was the September announcement naming me as a finalist in the Hoiles prize for regional journalism. See my media release,which links to the articles entered for the contest.
My Facebook author page has 211 followers (please give it a “Like”); I use it to announce my new articles, videos, and media appearances.
My Twitter feed has 1,168 followers. I love Twitter and use it to aggregate news I find interesting (especially Colorado-related news), as well as to link to my own work. My Tweets are retweeted or mentioned nearly every day. If you’re not following me on Twitter you’re missing out on a large portion of my commentary.
I’ve loaded a total of 166 videos onto my YouTube channel, with 77 this year. My most popular video remains my shortest: “‘USA Union Rally” at 26 seconds garnered 10,770 views. All my videos for the year got 30,849 views.
I think the following video is my favorite of the year; it contrasts the anti-capitalist sentiments of Occupy Wall Street with a defense of capitalism by my wife and a friend.
Liberty In the Books and The Objective Standard
Thankfully, I get paid directly for some of my work. I have now added fifteen works to the Liberty In the Books web site, and (thanks in part to a marketing campaign) the group’s Facebook page has 408 followers. (Please give it a “Like!”) I also moderate the monthly Denver reading group. Last year I raised funds for this work in an amount that covers it through the first part of next year. Liberty In the Books is a project ofLiberty On the Rocks.
The Objective Standard also pays me for my articles. I am now a regular contributer to the blog there. Following is the list of my TOS articles so far this year:
TOS has been a great forum for me to address more national issues.
Articles for Other Publications
I’ve written articles for various Colorado newspapers (some through the Independence Institute) as well as for Pajamas Media. (Neither the publications nor the Institute paid me for any of this work).
My dad Linn and I continue to write a twice-monthly column for Grand Junction Free Press. See the complete list of those articles. In an online September poll hosted by the paper, we were listed as the favorite columnists!
I’ve also placed several articles with other Colorado papers:
I’ve posted 208 articles to this blog in 2011 prior to this one. Sometimes I use the blog to summarize my work elsewhere and link to it, but often I publish substantive and original content directly to the blog. Following are a few of those posts:
Ari Armstrong Announced as Hoiles Finalist for Regional Journalism
Colorado free-market writer Ari Armstrong has been announced as a finalist in the 2011 Hoiles Prize for regional journalism. The award, offered by the International Policy Network (IPN), takes its name from R. C. Hoiles, former head of Freedom Newspapers.
“I’m honored to be included in this impressive group of finalists,” Armstrong said. “I’m also very pleased that IPN recognizes this important regional work. I’ve long believed that advocating liberty at the regional level forms the bedrock of a strong republic.”
Armstrong joins six other finalists, and the three winners will be announced November 2 in New York. The same evening, IPN will also announce the winners of the prestigious Bastiat Prize.
Armstrong coauthored four of the six essays submitted for the contest with his father Linn for Grand Junction Free Press.
An IPN release announces the following details:
“Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Dallas Federal Reserve, will speak at the tenth annual dinner for the Bastiat Prize at the Four Seasons Restaurant… in New York on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. … This year a new prize, the R.C. Hoiles Prize for Journalism, will be given for American work. The prize celebrates courageous journalists who explain the importance of free markets and risks presented by excessive government intervention. …
“The seven nominated Hoiles finalists are: Ari Armstrong (Colorado Daily), Sara Burrows (Carolina Journal), Bill Frezza (RealClearMarkets.com), Steven Greenhut (The Orange County Register), Steve Malanga (Manhattan Institute, The Wall Street Journal), Bruce Ramsey (The Seattle Times) and Damon Root (Reason).”
The following six articles were considered for the prize:
[January 28, 2013, Update: Obviously the contents of this post are out of date. I include it here for archival purposes; it originally appeared at http://blog.ariarmstrong.com.]
My internet publishing is undergoing a major change. As should be obvious, my blog is now at http://blog.ariarmstrong.com/. (I am also posting quite a lot to Twitter @ariarmstrong, where I mention interesting links and offer brief commentary.)
Recently Google announced that its Blogger service will no longer support FTP publishing, meaning the service will no longer send material to a domain hosted elsewhere. Instead, to use Blogger, one must host the blog through Google. A Blogger user can use a “blogspot.com” blog, register a domain with Google and use it for a Google-hosted blog, or register a domain or subdomain elsewhere and set the DNS to Google (such that Google hosts the content). I’ve decided to go with the last option.
I also strongly considered abandoning Google altogether. Not only am I miffed that Google is shutting down its FTP service, but I’m still annoyed that Google shut down the blog of economist George Reisman. Nevertheless, as one of my friends pointed out, Blogger is a free service, so it’s a little hard to complain too stringently about it. If you really hate Blogger, don’t use it. That said, I do think it would be absolute foolishness to give Google control of one’s domain (if one cares about keeping content online). Because I own and control my subdomain, I can reclaim it and republish my content elsewhere if need be.
Blogger just works well. It’s extremely easy to use. I helped set up a friend with Word Press and quickly learned that that service, while okay, is a lot harder to operate. I seriously considered going back to hand coding my page (based on templates created in Dream Weaver). But then a single blog post would require updating at least four pages: the index, the individual post, the archives, and the feed. Major hassle. So I’ll stick with Blogger.
Here’s how I’m handling the change. I’m leaving all my existing content online at AriArmstrong.com and FreeColorado.com. I’m starting a new blog (this one) at http://blog.ariarmstrong.com/. Rather than run two different blogs, I will henceforth publish only this blog. (I’ll publish a few residual posts at FreeColorado.com and cross-post here.)
Thankfully, there’s an easy way to create a feed based on labels. My FreeColorado.com blog feeds into People’s Press Collective; now I will use the “PPC” label for all relevant content. The PPC-related political feed is this:
(I may also use a generic “politics” label for national stuff.)
The general feed for all my content is this:
Others might be confused as to how to direct a subdomain to Google. Here’s how I accomplished that. I checked in with my registrar and learned that I can create a subdomain there only if the DNS points to that registrar. Because I host my (other) content with Web Hosting Buzz (a great service, by the way), I had to submit a ticket to that company’s technical support team, asking to create the subdomain and direct its DNS settings to Google. Then I created a new blog at Google and switched its URL to the subdomain. It took me a while to figure out, but the process itself is very easy. (Things get more complicated if you want to move old content over to Google, which is one reason I didn’t go that route.)
I’ll slowly convert all my existing content at my two main pages to Dream Weaver files, such that I can easily edit the template and have it apply to all the files. (My wife tells me that all my old framed files are deprecated.) I’ll run the political feed from this blog (as well as my Twitter feed) on FreeColorado.com. I’ll turn AriArmstrong.com into my home page, with links to all the archival material as well as to my active projects. (I may run the blog feed there as well.)
This might be a good time to briefly summarize my history of web publishing. Back in late 1998 (before the term “blog” had been coined), I started publishing the “Colorado Freedom Report” at co-freedom.com. I quickly figured out that a hyphenated URL is a major pain, so within a few years I switched to FreeColorado.com. In late 2007, I started up AriArmstrong.com with the idea of making that my main blog, but then I realized that I didn’t want to let FreeColorado.com lapse, so I converted that to a blog to begin 2008. But now I’m finding that running two blogs is hard, given my activity on Twitter and my other projects.
So now this integrated blog in 2010 marks a new stage in my internet publishing. However, some things never change. What matters most is content, and, as always, my goal is to make the tech serve the ideas.
I’ve just updated the archive of my columns at Boulder Weekly.
Also, because I decided to devote this blog to politics and culture and reserve AriArmstrong.com for commentary about religion, some of the early posts from the other blog fit better here. Following are some of those posts that I consider most interesting.
[September 14, 2014 Update: This post is outdated. I’ve imported all the content discussed here to this page.]
Henceforth, my blog at AriArmstrong.com will be dedicated to issues of religion and culture. Every topic and post will have some significant connection to religion (with the possible occasional exception of announcements regarding the blog) . As my readers know, my perspective is essentially critical of religion per se (though of course I recognize valuable contributions from various religious people).
At the same time, I am converting FreeColorado.com to a blog. All of the content created prior to the blog will remain intact. Every post that I write about politics and cultural issues not directly connected to religion will appear there. The old RSS feed for FreeColorado.com will be discontinued, so readers may switch to the RSS feed connected to the new blog.
Why the changes? I’ve found that my blogging lacks focus. At AriArmstrong.com, I’ve been writing about religion, national politics, local politics, films, and so on. While some readers appreciate the range of commentary, others probably favor a narrower range. Now readers who care only about religion and its impact on culture can stick with AriArmstrong.com. Readers interested only in my political commentary can turn to FreeColorado.com. (Hopefully some readers will frequent both blogs. I hope that the the hassle of reading two blogs is minimal, whereas the benefits of separating the content are substantial.) Even though religion is itself an extremely broad topic, my comments at FreeColorado.com will tend to cover an even broader range of issues. For that reason, I’ve decided to put any (infrequent) personal note there.
Since I started the blog at AriArmstrong.com, I haven’t known quite what to do with FreeColorado.com. But it’s a great domain name with nearly a decade of history behind it. However, the process of manually updating files has grown wearisome, especially when blogging is so much faster. Now FreeColorado.com will return to its original purpose: hosting commentary mostly about politics, with an emphasis on Colorado. Now, though, I’m more likely to post shorter comments along with more substantive articles, given that posting to a blog is so fast. The amount of commentary appearing at FreeColorado.com should increase substantially over recent weeks.
I plan to substantially change the look of FreeColorado.com over the coming weeks, and I may also make some updates to the design of AriArmstrong.com. Regardless of the look, I hope that readers find the content of both blogs to be interesting and considered (if often controversial).
$2.57 a day buys food, perspective
My wife and I spent the month of August eating for $159.04, or $2.57 per person per day. Welfare — the forcible transfer of wealth — should be phased out and replaced with voluntary charity.