Archive for the ‘Grassroots’ Category

Justin Owings, Ron Paul supporter, fitness enthusiast, and graphic designer

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Justin Owings

Justin Owings, Volunteer with Myelin Repair Foundation

>What causes do you care most deeply about?

Generally, I want people (myself included!) to have fulfilling, healthy, and free lives. That may sound a bit peace-on-earth-y, but it’s hard for me to imagine a better world than one inhabited by happy, fit, and autonomous human beings. What I like about my “cause” is that it is one that is inherently decentralized, has no single solution, and can be furthered over a cup of coffee. At it’s core, the idea is about getting in touch with what it means to be human. But that’s another discussion.
>What ignited your interest in multiple sclerosis research? Do you have
any family or friend connections that have MS?
My interest in multiple sclerosis first emerged after having a mentor in college who was dealing with MS. That interest has increased as I’ve learned more about health and nutrition. I’ve also become more interested the more I’ve learned about myelin as I’ve been trying to come up with clever designs for the Myelin Repair Foundation! One thing I particularly like about the MRF’s mission is that it is incorproating a collaborative effort to break down information silos to speed up research. I see this as a very 21st century, decentralized, nerdy solution to the problem over over-specialization and “information hording” that tends to produce a great deal of unnecessary stagnation.
>What is your day job when you aren’t volunteering to create cool
graphics for nonprofits or for the causes you believe in? Do you
consider that your passion/life’s mission?
By day I manage a few financial media websites all involved with the ongoing economic calamity that began in late 2006. These sites are collectively branded with the “Implode-o-meter” logo. I wouldn’t consider dispersing information on the latest imploded banks, hedge funds, home builders, and lenders a life mission, but it’s been the most interesting and fun job I’ve ever had. It’s also enabled me to learn more about both entrepreneurship and the Internet.
>What is most rewarding about what you are doing in your life?
As bizarre as it may seem, the most rewarding work in my life right now (completely ignoring the fact that I’m about to be a dad) is spreading the word about the coolest footwear invented since … ever: Vibram fivefingers. I do this via a fan site called birthdayshoes.com. The great part about this pet project (A pro bono labor of love at this point!) is that it, in a roundabout way, gets people in touch with their humanity through their feet. The realization that you can run and play outside barefoot as an adult — it’s a freeing experience. And it opens the door to other revelations about health and movement, which gets back to my original overarching goal of healthier and happier individuals.
>As a younger version of yourself (child - teenage years) were you
interested in “creating” or “doing”? Anecdotes?
I was always into art as a kid. I think the first t-shirt I designed was in fourth grade, but I was doing various forms of “art” before that. I’ve lost track, but I’ve designed a number of tshirts for organizations ranging from schools to churches to emerging institutes working to create new frontiers (i.e. the Seasteading Institute!). And of course, I’m into creating websites. My first website was on AOL back around 1995. It was not-so-creatively titled “The Owings Brothers Page,” and was adorned with probably ten links and a handful of animated GIFs. Thankfully, that page wasn’t archived publicly. It was atrocious.
>What are some of your most influential books or thinkers? And why?
Recently, I’ve been stuck on the ideas put forth by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan (and Fooled by Randomness). I’m fascinated by how humans have a tendency to want to oversimplify, centralize, and control things that are incredibly complex and dynamic. Taleb is the poster child of this idea.
I also have been influenced heavily by David Friedman through both his blog, Ideas, and his books Law’s Order and The Machinery of Freedom.
Though I do not consider myself an Objectivist, I confess to being first snapped awake by Ayn Rand’s works (The Fountainhead being the pivotal read for me). Rand was the first author to frame human beings as autonomous individuals.
Other books I’ve read lately that were particularly enlightening: Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taube, Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, and Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.
I could go on and on here so I better just stop.
>What advice can you give to artists that are looking for an outlet for
their creativity?
Keep trying different things until you find stuff that works. But once you’ve mastered what works, try something else (you don’t want to get into a rut!). Also, if you’re struggling with being creative, I always find it helps to have a few parameters that constrain my creativity. It’s strange, but placing limits on what I can create tends to focus my attention.
Finally, it helps to have a goal or purpose behind your art. Are you trying to push an idea? Present an emotion? Capture a perspective? Or maybe you’re just trying to make people laugh. Art for art’s sake can be interesting and even fun but don’t expect people to care about it.

Justin Owings found me on Twitter due to our shared interest and passion in Vibram Five Finger Shoes and paleo/evolutionary fitness. We ended up chatting more and found more mutual interests — he was involved in the Ron Paul campaign in Georgia and helped design very cool t-shirts to help spread the word and interested in seasteading. He also manages financial media websites that are helping to spread the message on the real reasons for the economic crisis and housing bubble.

Justin is also a very forward-thinking and creative guy and, I think, will be a future player in the movement. Below is my interview with him.

Q: Justin, what causes do you care most deeply about?

Generally, I want people (myself included!) to have fulfilling, healthy, and free lives. That may sound a bit peace-on-earth-y, but it’s hard for me to imagine a better world than one inhabited by happy, fit, and autonomous human beings. What I like about my “cause” is that it is one that is inherently decentralized, has no single solution, and can be furthered over a cup of coffee. At it’s core, the idea is about getting in touch with what it means to be human. But that’s another discussion.

Q: What is your day job when you aren’t volunteering to create cool graphics for nonprofits or for the causes you believe in? Do you consider that your passion/life’s mission?

By day I manage a few financial media websites all involved with the ongoing economic calamity that began in late 2006. These sites are collectively branded with the “Implode-o-meter” logo. I wouldn’t consider dispersing information on the latest imploded banks, hedge funds, home builders, and lenders a life mission, but it’s been the most interesting and fun job I’ve ever had. It’s also enabled me to learn more about both entrepreneurship and the Internet.

Q: What is most rewarding about what you are doing in your life?

As bizarre as it may seem, the most rewarding work in my life right now (completely ignoring the fact that I’m about to be a dad) is spreading the word about the coolest footwear invented since … ever: Vibram fivefingers. I do this via a fan site called birthdayshoes.com. The great part about this pet project (A pro bono labor of love at this point!) is that it, in a roundabout way, gets people in touch with their humanity through their feet. The realization that you can run and play outside barefoot as an adult — it’s a freeing experience. And it opens the door to other revelations about health and movement, which gets back to my original overarching goal of healthier and happier individuals.

Q: As a younger version of yourself (child - teenage years) were you interested in “creating” or “doing”? Anecdotes?

I was always into art as a kid. I think the first t-shirt I designed was in fourth grade, but I was doing various forms of “art” before that. I’ve lost track, but I’ve designed a number of tshirts for organizations ranging from schools to churches to emerging institutes working to create new frontiers (i.e. the Seasteading Institute!). And of course, I’m into creating websites. My first website was on AOL back around 1995. It was not-so-creatively titled “The Owings Brothers Page,” and was adorned with probably ten links and a handful of animated GIFs. Thankfully, that page wasn’t archived publicly. It was atrocious.

Q: What are some of your most influential books or thinkers? And why?

Recently, I’ve been stuck on the ideas put forth by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan (and Fooled by Randomness). I’m fascinated by how humans have a tendency to want to oversimplify, centralize, and control things that are incredibly complex and dynamic. Taleb is the poster child of this idea.

I also have been influenced heavily by David Friedman through both his blog, Ideas, and his books Law’s Order and The Machinery of Freedom.

Though I do not consider myself an Objectivist, I confess to being first snapped awake by Ayn Rand’s works (The Fountainhead being the pivotal read for me). Rand was the first author to frame human beings as autonomous individuals.

Other books I’ve read lately that were particularly enlightening: Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taube, Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, and Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.

Q: What advice can you give to artists that are looking for an outlet for their creativity?

Keep trying different things until you find stuff that works. But once you’ve mastered what works, try something else (you don’t want to get into a rut!). Also, if you’re struggling with being creative, I always find it helps to have a few parameters that constrain my creativity. It’s strange, but placing limits on what I can create tends to focus my attention.

Finally, it helps to have a goal or purpose behind your art. Are you trying to push an idea? Present an emotion? Capture a perspective? Or maybe you’re just trying to make people laugh. Art for art’s sake can be interesting and even fun but don’t expect people to care about it.

Check out his website at www.justinowings.com and follow him on Twitter @justinNO

Note: He and his wife just completed their “Project Aminowings” and just had their first baby — a girl!  Justin pictured with li’l Aviana, a future liberty-lover.

And out of curiosity, are there any other movement people out there with Vibram Five Fingers? If so, give a shout-out in the comment section.

2tqka5r6xy

Freedom Watch

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

The time has come to put Freedom Watch on television:

Watch them all here.

Compare Ron Paul & The GOP

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Today’s Wall Street Journal Political Diary (subscription only) includes the following articles in order. See if you think there is a connection between Ron Paul’s success and the GOP’s cashflow problems:

Being Ron Paul

The Libertarian Convention starts today in Denver, but the party’s real inspiration this year will be there only in spirit. Ron Paul is still out campaigning in the Republican primaries, despite a nomination that has been secured by John McCain. According to campaign finance reports filed this week, the candidate had $4.7 million in the bank at the end of April.

Mr. Paul has reiterated that he won’t run as a third party candidate and it’s a lock that he isn’t getting the GOP nomination, so his continued presence on the trail is an eccentricity, albeit one with a message. The free-market Texas Congressman is still drawing a portion of GOP voters who remain unconvinced of Mr. McCain’s conservative bona fides. He drew 16% of the vote in Pennsylvania, his highest numbers yet, and he has gotten more than a million votes nationwide. He’s even been collecting a few delegates along the way.

Ron Paul voters aren’t substantial in their numbers–he won support in the low single digits for most of the contested primary season. But they are a grass-roots force and have proven to excel at fund raising, raising $35 million for his primary campaign. His book, “The Revolution, a Manifesto,” hit No. 1 on Amazon in a matter of days and has climbed the New York Times best-seller list, evidence that he is still serving as a voice of conscience on core principles among conservative voters.

Mr. Paul has been endorsing candidates in a number of states to good effect, and the book boasts that “candidates across America are running as Ron Paul Republicans.” That is a legacy in itself.

– Collin Levy

GOP Money Woes Worsen

Five months before Election Day, Republicans up and down the ballot face a growing financial crisis. Aside from the GOP’s political disadvantages, the latest campaign-finance numbers show Democrats with a massive cash edge.

Reports detailing campaign committee fund raising through the end of April show the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee with more than $45 million in the bank, while the National Republican Congressional Committee actually spent more than it brought in during the month, ending with $6.7 million on hand.

Both parties spent heavily on special elections in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. With Democratic wins in those three states will likely come additional contributions, while the losses mean Republicans will have a harder time getting supporters to write checks.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee outraised the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee by a small amount, $4.3 million to $4.2 million. And by spending less, Senate Republicans actually closed the gap between the two by about $2 million. But the DSCC still has a $37.6 million to $19.4 million advantage.

The GOP’s one bright spot remains the Republican National Committee, which raised just shy of $20 million in April and built its war chest to $40 million. That’s nearly 10 times the $4.4 million the Democratic National Committee has in the bank. While the DNC has had trouble raising money this year, that likely will improve once the party settles on a nominee, who can focus some donor efforts on building the party.

Still, if House and Senate Republicans are counting on the RNC to bail them out of a tight financial spot come the fall, they may be disappointed. Sen. John McCain is expected to accept public financing and use that $84 million in conjunction with the RNC’s hefty bank account to battle likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama, who will have significantly more money at his disposal. The RNC will not have the money to aid both Mr. McCain and its down-ballot races.

– Reid Wilson, RealClearPolitics.com

Ron Paul and Racists

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

On the very day that Ron Paul’s new book, The Revolution: A Manifesto, debuts at #1 on Amazon, two new stories popped up that hearken back to a very old topic, race. 

First, my buddy Dave Wiegal over at Reason uses Ron’s endorsement of Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute as proof that Ron Paul is still keeping company with bigots (Here). Never mind that he starts with the assumption that Lew Rockwell wrote some of the less enlightened diatribes that appeared in Dr. Paul’s newsletters back in the early nineties, offering no proof of that claim, and then uses it to smear Dr. Paul by association.  While very specious and weak, it is indicative of a deeper problem.

As is the story out of California that Holly Clearman, Ron Paul’s State Coordinator, has signed on to run the campaign of one William Johnson, an attorney and advocate for the Pace Amendment which would ban everyone darker than, well, William Johnson, from living or owning property in the United States. To quote:

”No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race, in whom there is no ascertainable trace of Negro blood, nor more than one-eighth Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood, provided that Hispanic whites, defined as anyone with an Hispanic ancestor, may be citizens if, in addition to meeting the aforesaid ascertainable trace and percentage tests, they are in appearance indistinguishable from Americans whose ancestral home is in the British Isles or Northwestern Europe. Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.”

But don’t worry Firsts Nations. You’ll be allowed to stay and enjoy life the way black South Africans did in the Eighties.

“American Indians, Aleuts, and Hawaiians, although not real citizens, will not face relocation, but will be maintained in “tribal reservations” analogous to the arrangement in South Africa.”

So what it is about the message of liberty as articulated by Ron Paul that finds common cause among so many of the ignorant and hateful?

I am not asking rhetorically as a set-up so that I can then dispense my sagely wisdom.  I’m really baffled by it.  I can understand the strain of southern political sentiment that identifies states rights and race. But my 20 plus years of study of the philosophy of liberty puts me firmly in the natural rights camp that empowers individuals and de-emphasis race.

I fear that if we don’t have a revolution of ideas within our movement, we face allowing this cancer to grow and undermine our efforts.

I welcome your comments.

The Dems and Greed

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Obama’s elitist and ignorant remarks about the people of Pennsylvania are just the latest in what seems to be a long-standing trend within the liberal left.  The left (broadly defined) has a fundamental hypocrisy when it comes to greed:

They claim to decry greed, but when middle or lower class Americans (such as those Pennsylvanian towns where jobs have left) choose to vote against their economic interests (as defined by the left as raised taxes or less welfare state) and in favor of different values - whether it is gun rights, closed borders, limited government, or anything else - they are called stupid and ignorant.

A good idea…

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Freedom is Popular

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Ron Paul Meetup Numbers

(Thanks to jj111 at ronpaulforums.com)

Looking for a Ron Paul Meetup group near you? Click
HERE
, type in your zip code and press GO!

Source

Colbert Report

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Ron Paul is on the Colbert Report at 11:30 pm EDT tonight.

Update. Here’s the video:

Also, here’s footage of Ron Paul’s arrival at Colbert HQ: