I’ve used Google’s Blogger for my blogging since 2008. In 2010, Blogger stopped posting content to independently hosted domains, which is why I switched my blog to blog.ariarmstrong.com (hosted by Google).
But I haven’t been terribly happy with that. Because Blogger generates sloppy code, it doesn’t play well with Facebook (specifically, FB doesn’t properly pull in the image or lead text), and that is increasingly a problem. Also, I just don’t like the “blog-dot” URL.
I’ve used WordPress over at The Objective Standard, and I’ve really liked it. And I very much like hosting my own material on a server that I pay independently.
For anybody getting going with a blog, I now strongly recommend using WordPress installed on your server. In my view, this is far better than going with Blogger or with WordPress’s own hosting service. And, if anything, using installed WP is the easiest option if your hosting service already provides an install option.
For now, I’m just going to leave all my older stuff up where it now resides. I might slowly integrate it into the new WP blog. For now, my archives exist in four places:
I thought about again splitting the blog into two locations (AriArmstrong.com and FreeColorado.com) but ultimately I decided that it’s much easier to have everything in one place, where I can control everything from a single interface.
I started my web page in late 1998, before the term “blog” had even been coined (if Wiki is to be believed on the matter). Back then, I hand-coded everything under the guidance of HTML for Dummies. I’ve struggled to figure out what to do with my blog, but now I think I finally have it where I want it. And with WordPress, I’m confident I’m using the best modern software to handle the job.
Did somebody call me an old dog?
October 5, 2012 Update: I have started the process of migrating all my archival material to this web page. I am dating that material according to its original publication date. Thus, everything dated prior to this post was migrated on or after October 4, 2012.
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:
Back during a September GOP debate, Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul if “society should just let” people without insurance die. A handful of people in the crowd cheered. When Paul explained why that’s not his position, the overwhelming majority of the crowd applauded enthusiastically.
I was irritated, then, when various commentators mentioned the reaction of the few but not of the large majority. A Talking Points Memo video in particular went out of its way to misrepresent by omission the crowd’s reaction.
In explaining this lack of context, I wrote, “If ‘half the truth is a great lie,’ then Talking Points Memo, [Curtis] Hubbard, and [Mike] Littwin are great liars.” In a column, Littwin mentioned the reaction of the few in the crowd (which he characterized as a Tea Party crowd) but not of the many. However, as any decent writer takes seriously his responsibility to report the truth, I ought not have brought out the “l” word with respect to Hubbard or Littwin, and I apologize for doing so. Even though I used the term in a very delimited context (regarding “half the truth”), it’s just not the sort of word that one should swing around lightly. I should have reviewed the same factual material without making my criticisms so personal.
Littwin assures me that he was trying to establish that the crowd was spirited in order to set up his discussion about Rick Perry, not otherwise characterize the crowd or the Tea Party as a whole. Especially given that I’m asking for more charitable interpretations of the motives of Tea Partiers, I too should be more charitable in interpreting the motives of others. Even when they irritate me.
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:
I moderate comments. I do so to block spam and craziness. Do I discourage some possibly interesting comments by moderating? Perhaps. But to me the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Note that I do not necessarily agree with any comment that I let through. I allow comments that I consider to be interesting and civil. Often I reply to comments with which I disagree, but not always.
Today an anonymous poster complained that I have blocked multiple comments from him. (I’ll say “him” though I don’t know the gender.) In order to save everybody’s time, am happy to explain some reasons I block comments.
First, often I consider anonymous comments, particularly argumentative ones, to be somewhat cowardly. Why should I take you seriously if you won’t even give your name? Obviously I cannot know how many of some particular poster’s comments I have blocked when they are all marked “anonymous.” I think I’ve accidentally left an anonymous comment here or there, just because I’m used to my blog and various other services automatically inserting my name. Generally, though, I make sure to leave my name when I post comments on other people’s services. True, there are occasions in which leaving one’s name might put one in danger, but that’s not been the case with any anonymous comment I’ve ever received for my blog. Nevertheless, my default position is to post all anonymous comments, unless they suffer some other serious problem. (Many or most anonymous comments are spam, by the way.)
Second, I am extremely likely to block any comment that includes a gratuitously insulting personal attack against me.
Third, often I block comments that add nothing interesting to the discussion, particularly if they pertain to an old post. Comments like “Wow, that was really interesting” are of this sort.
Fourth, generally I block comments with rampant spelling and grammatical errors. If you can’t be bothered to subject your comment to minimum standards of editing, don’t expect me to post it.
Fifth, I am likely to block any comment that claims, as the anonymous comment of today did, that by blocking comments on my own web page, that somehow makes me the equivalent of a censor. Anonymous is perfectly free to post his asinine comments on his own web page, where the rest of us are perfectly free to ignore him. My property, my rules. Moderating comments is no more censorship than is stopping a drunk from breaking into my home to deliver a speech.
kazriko commented April 25, 2011 at 2:16 PM
Just out of curiosity, by anonymous do you mean entirely anonymous with no name whatsoever, or do you extend this to those who use a name, but not necessarily a real name?
I’ve been debating this particular point for awhile. When Blizzard started to require verified real names to post to their forums using the idea that said real names would force people to behave themselves, I argued that it isn’t the real names as much as the investment in their identities that mattered for civil discourse. I’ve used this name online for 12 years, so I’m rather attached to it.
Ari commented April 25, 2011 at 3:36 PM
That sounds basically right to me, kazriko. Usually I do post (non-spammy) anonymous comments, though often I consider them tainted by the anonymity. I have no interest in using pseudonyms, but I don’t have any particular problems with those who use them.
Stop National Debt commented April 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM
One question would be whether this would be considered spam, or on topic because I’m asking the question? :-) Its hard to find other ways to spread the word to small government bloggers when you don’t already have traffic than posting, and unfortunately I don’t see a more relevant recent posting to comment on with this:
“POLL REVEALS: Americans Are Still In Deep Denial About The Deficit” http://read.bi/h6QDGR If they realized how bad it is politicians would need to act. Non politics-junkies tune out numbers in the $trillions so we need to rephrase the issue:
The federal government will need >$1 million per household to pay its IOUs!
> $116 trillion =”official” debt plus money short for future social security, medicare, etc
Even its “official debt” of $14.2 trillion is $123,754 per household!
Details at http://StopNationalDebt.com with links to contact congress & complain.
Be among the first to join the new Facebook cause “Stop National Debt” : http://www.causes.com/causes/606425-stop-national-debt
since if you don’t spread the word, who will?
Ari commented April 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM
I do think, “Stop National Debt” guy, that there are much better ways to get your message out, including: Tweet, Facebook, comment on *relevant* posts. Here you’re just basically running an uncompensated advertisement for your group. While I have nothing against promoting one’s own articles and causes through comments, generally I think a comment should primarily serve to advance the discussion of the relevant site.
Stop National Debt commented April 27, 2011 at 7:57 PM
Yup, I agree it should advance the discussion of the relevant site in general. I was hunting for posts on libertarian leaning blogs that were related to the topic in order to comment. Your comment on “comments” just happen to bring to mind the idea of the self-referential question regarding spam or I would have passed on.
re: those other methods, I’ve posted hundreds of messages to relevant Facebook groups, tweeted a few hundred tweets at relevant people, etc, but it is difficult to figure out how to be heard above the noise when starting a new blog/cause.
I find it astonishing that libertarians aren’t more interested in using the issue to make more headway when the vast majority of the public has no idea how bad the situation with the debt and moreso unfunded liabilities is or politicians wouldn’t get away with inaction and libertarians would be listened to more seriously. Political news-junkies may already have run into figures like what I’m talking about, but most of the public hasn’t a clue and its a chance for us to wake them up and question why they are spending so much on government that its debt&unfunded liabilities amount to $>1 million per household based on US Treasury figures.
Despite lip service paid in the mainstream media to there being public concern over the debt, I don’t think most of them realize its as bad as it is and libertarians are missing a golden opportunity to get attention. Libertarians wish people didn’t need to care about politics since the government should be an insignificant part of our lives. The problem is that we need to get people to care enough about politics to take time to understand our ideas in order to change the government. The way to get their attention is to point out how badly broken government finances are and how much the government spends per household (details on spending per household at http://StopNationalDebt.com )
I just drove to the local coffee shop, which thankfully leaves on its wi-fi even when it’s closed, and purchased a copy of my book, Values of Harry Potter, in the Kindle edition for my iPod Touch. I wanted to make sure it is functioning properly as a Kindle ebook. And it is fabulous.
Now that Amazon has built a Kindle application for the new iPad, I figure the Amazon format for ebooks will remain a major part of the market. (Amazon has also released Kindle software for the PC and Mac, and rumor has it that Amazon will start selling its Kindle machines at Target stores later this month.) So creating a Kindle edition of my book seemed like the obvious move.
I am also in the process of creating other digital versions of the book, which I will sell as a package, free from digital rights management. (As a consumer I regard DRM as extremely annoying, counterproductive, and insulting, in that DRM presumes that without it I would behave like a criminal.) I have already finished the HTML version (which I hand-coded). I am working on a hyperlinked pdf in InDesign. I also hope to produce an ePub version of the book, which is trickier than one might think. Apparently I can create an ePub version from InDesign, but I doubt it will feature the sweet functionality of my HTML version. Therefore, I may try to convert my HTML file to an ePub, which I suspect will be a real pain.
My plan is to sell a zipped file with all three digital versions for the low, low price of $7.95, the same as the Kindle price. I’ve always thought it was stupid for stores to make consumers choose among different digital versions; why not provide all the formats and let the buyer use the one most convenient for a given occasion and device? (Obviously, Kindle users may wish to buy the digital package and then send one of those files to their Kindle device, though this is a little more complicated than simply buying the Kindle version.)
Having now read large parts of two books on my iTouch, I can say that I vastly prefer to read a book digitally than on paper. I can slip my iTouch in my pocket and take it with me wherever I go. (This is not possible with the iPad.) I have to make a special effort to take a paperback. I can fit many books on my iTouch. I can hold my iTouch, and flip pages, with one hand. With the iTouch I can toggle between a book and my notes, and I don’t need to carry around pen and paper. The only disadvantage to the iTouch is that its battery can run low. The only reason I will ever again buy a paper book is if I find it used for significantly less than what I can buy it for digitally (or if it is not available digitally).
The way I formatted my ebook makes it especially useful. I’m particularly proud of two features:
1. For the Kindle and HTML version of my book, I included page numbers in brackets to match the pagination of the paperback. That way, people who want to cite my book somewhere can find the standard page numbers in the digital edition. Every publisher should do this.
2. My ebook contains hundreds of internal links (as well as links to external documents). The contents and chapter headings link back and forth. The notes link back and forth. Page numbers listed in the index link to the relevant pages. People who don’t care about any of that can just ignore it. But for any sort of scholarly use, such internal linking will be quite useful, I think.
Preparing the book for Kindle was relatively easy, once I had the HTML version completed. Indeed, Amazon prefers HTML files for conversion to the Amazon format. Aside from the fact that the conversion process added some unnecessary indentations in the text, the process went smoothly. (Thankfully, Amazon offers a preview of the converted file, though this preview does not activate the internal links.)
On the whole, I am absolutely thrilled that books are finally joining the digital parade. And I am pleased that my own little book is marching proudly.
We discussed the theme of the heroic valuer found in J. K. Rowling’s novels, the virtue of independence as practiced by the heroes, and the significance of the Unforgivable Curses. (Penn also offered a delightful FTC disclosure, as I had sent a review copy to the Institute. That government outfit is “more meddlesome than the Ministry,” I mocked.)