New Blog

September 13, 2014 Update: This month I imported all the material from, at one point my Google-hosted blog, to my home page at

Please see the new blog at

I’ll convert this URL to my homepage with information about my active projects.

Making the Google Jump

[January 28, 2013, Update: Obviously the contents of this post are out of date.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]

My internet publishing is undergoing a major change. As should be obvious, my blog is now at (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 “” 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 and I’m starting a new blog (this one) at Rather than run two different blogs, I will henceforth publish only this blog. (I’ll publish a few residual posts at and cross-post here.)

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to create a feed based on labels. My 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 I’ll turn 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 I quickly figured out that a hyphenated URL is a major pain, so within a few years I switched to In late 2007, I started up with the idea of making that my main blog, but then I realized that I didn’t want to let 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.

Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups in Denver, Longmont, Colorado Springs



In response to record-breaking sales of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, readers will form study groups in Longmont, Denver, and Colorado Springs this fall.

Sales of Atlas Shrugged topped 300,000 for the first half of 2009, a 250 percent increase over that period last year (see Readers see eerie similarities between the 1957 novel and recent events, particularly with government take-overs and bail-outs.

While Barack Obama said “I am my brother’s keeper,” Rand renounces such claims and champions the individual’s moral right to his own life.

One participant of a summer group in Lakewood said, “The novel offers rich moral and political themes, and reading it during this ‘interesting’ period of our nation’s history sheds light both on the novel and on the culture in which we live.”

The Denver group, sponsored by the Auraria Campus Objectivist Club, starts September 15th.

The groups in Longmont and Colorado Springs, sponsored by Front Range Objectivism, start October 1st. These two groups assume that participants are already fans of the novel.

The groups will meet for twenty weeks from the fall through the spring. A person knowledgeable about the novel and Rand’s ideas will moderate each group. For details see

Front Range Objectivism is an organization dedicated to understanding and advocating Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies.

Sam Adams Alliance Awards Videos

I went to Chicago on April 18 to pick up an award from the Sam Adams Alliance. My speech is transcribed elsewhere.

I strongly encourage other liberty-oriented activists in Colorado (and around the nation) to check out the Sam Adams Alliance web page and think about entering the contest next year.

Now the Sam Adams Alliance has released a short YouTube video with highlights of the event.

The video of my speech, and the introduction by Paul Jacob, is also available:

The organization’s YouTube page offers more videos of the event.

Westword Interview on Values of Harry Potter

Westword featured an online interview October 28 in which I discuss Harry Potter and some of the ideas from my book, Values of Harry Potter: Lessons for Muggles.

I wanted to expand one point here. In the interview, I say:

Obviously, the idea of heroes fighting for values in some sense has to be part of any compelling fiction. For example, you see some similarities with Tolkien’s works, but what strikes me about the Harry Potter series is the richness of the characters and their commitment to their personal values. … [T]here is more self-motivation, for example, than for Frodo, Tolkein’s hero, who to a great extent is pushed in this battle by the gift of this ring and the wizard Gandalf directing him to take this quest. He is not fighting for his core life values, as they are in Harry Potter.

Frodo is fighting to protect his world, the Shire, no doubt. And Harry, like Frodo, is placed into a grand conflict to a large degree by forces beyond his control (for Voldemort targeted him as a child). Nevertheless, the thrust of my point remains true. Frodo’s fight for his own values is much more in the background, while Harry’s fight for values is front and center. Even though Harry is targeted by Voldemort and encouraged by Dumbledore, he consciously makes a series of choices to join the battle, explicitly on the grounds that he must do so to defend his values, the people and way of life that matter to him. From Tolkien, an even better comparison is with Bilbo from The Hobbit. Bilbo constantly wishes to return home, rather than complete the journey, and he doesn’t much care about the outcome. And he is quite shoved out the door by Gandalf; he doesn’t pursue the journey because he thinks it is important to achieve the things that really matter to him. So my point is not that values are absent in Tolkien, but rather that personal values play a much more pronounced role in Rowling.

I mentioned a couple other points about independence to Joel Warner (who conducted the interview) that didn’t make the final cut. First, with respect to the formal education at Hogwarts, I pointed out that Harry independently chose to pursue his education, and Hogwarts allows much greater expression of independence relative to typical American schools. Second, regarding political implications, I pointed out that those who take the themes of independence and free will seriously are more likely to advocate personal responsibility in the political system.

If readers of the interview have additional questions for me, please submit them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Support The Undercurrent

The Undercurrent asked me to spread the word about the publication, which I’m happy to do:

The Undercurrent (TU) is an independent, student-run Objectivist newsletter distributed twice a year to college campuses across America. TU is currently looking for distributors and donors for its fall edition, and will stop taking orders on or about September 22, 2008.

If you would like to distribute, please visit and buy your copies of TU today. If money is an issue, please contact Guy Barnett, our head of distribution, at guy**AT**the-undercurrent**DOT**com. There is limited funding from donors for students who want to buy and distribute TU but cannot afford to do so. If you’re part of an Objectivist campus club, you may want to see if your college will fund distribution of TU as a club activity.

If you would like to donate, please visit http://the-undercurrent/donate/ and contribute directly using PayPal. …

Spreading rational ideas on college campuses is critical to making this world a better place. Your assistance is necessary for the achievement of that goal.

Thank you for your support.

Values of Harry Potter

My just-published book Values of Harry Potter discusses the themes of courage, independence, and free will in Rowling’s novels. As this blog focuses on religion, here I’ll summarize my treatment of the subject in the book.

The first three chapters are not about religion. Instead, the first chapter describes the heroic fight for values in the Harry Potter novels. As I review, Harry and his allies fight for for their lives, their futures, their friends, and their liberty. They do so against the viciously evil Lord Voldemort. In the second chapter I discuss the virtue of independence that the heroes display; in the third I review the themes of free will in the books.

Chapter Four explicitly takes up the religious theme of sacrifice. I contrast the heroic fight for life-promoting values with self-sacrifice. I briefly discuss Ayn Rand’s view of sacrifice and spend several pages going through Aristotle’s views of friendship and self-love. I point out that sacrifice does not mean abusing others; it means surrendering a higher value for a lower one (as Rand says). Friends are crucially important to our lives, so it’s not sacrificial to fight for our friends; doing so promotes our values. I review numerous cases from the Potter books in this light.

Chapter Five is titled, “Materialism and Immortality.” “Voldmort,” others have noted, means “flight from death.” Mortality and life after death are large and explicit themes in Rowling’s books. I explain how the Horcrux relates to a crass sort of materialism and a pathological fear of death (as well as the abuse of others). I also discuss how these themes relate to the themes values, independence, and sacrifice.

Obviously my book is intended for readers of the Harry Potter novels. So if you haven’t finished them yet, get going! You can read the introduction to my book on its web page.

Values of Harry Potter

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my book, Values of Harry Potter: Lessons for Muggles. It’s a 112-page work of literary criticism; you can read the introduction at the book’s web page.

As the back cover notes, the book “explores the complex themes of J. K. Rowling’s beloved novels, illuminating the heroic fight for life-promoting values, the hero’s need for independence, and the role of choice in virtue. Drawing on the ideas of Aristotle and Ayn Rand, Armstrong then critiques the Christian elements of self-sacrifice and immortality, arguing that they ultimately clash with the essential nature of the hero as exemplified by Harry Potter and his allies.”

I’m pleased with the project, and, thanks to the design of my wife Jennifer, it’s beautiful. Perhaps my favorite material is from the last chapter, where I analyze the Horcrux, an object created through horrific evil. I explain how the Horcrux combines three aspects of evil that drive Rowling’s villains, then I discuss Rowling’s apparently intended contrast between the Horcrux and the Christian cross.

The earlier chapters deal with courage, independence, and free will.

The book is intended for readers of Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. So if you’ve read them, check out my book and let me know what you think. If you haven’t read the novels, I highly recommend them. If you hurry, you can still read all the novels plus my book before the next movie comes out!

Links to Previous Commentary

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 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.

Forced Medicine and Parental Rights

New year’s Resolutions for the Legislature

Green Death

Drugs, Health, and Rights

Anonymous, Verifiable Voting

Green by Force

Assam’s Semiautomatic Baretta

Government Property

Another Look at Blue Laws

What’s Wrong With Libertarianism

Layout of the Denver Shootout

Sure-Fire Plan to Reduce Emissions by 80 Percent

Happy Halloween!

Investment by Force

CU’s Brown Offends with “Ghetto” Remark

Beauprez Battles Liberty in Medicine

Belching Cows and Global Warming

Government Financing is Not “Private”

“An Extreme Free-Market View”

Subverting Free Speech in the Name of Free Speech

How to Access Dental Care Without Insurance

Human Health as a Pretext for Animal Rights