J-P Teti

J-P Teti

The Internet Slowdown

Tomorrow is the Internet Slowdown, a massive protest to force the FCC and Congress to keep ISPs under control.

Participate if you can. If you’re an American, call your representatives. If you have a website, put this up. Change your Twitter avatar. Do what you can.

Thought Experiment

What if we hired the best person for the job?

What if we supported and loved everyone—women, men, homosexuals, heterosexuals, transgender people, non-transgender people, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Jews—but didn’t pretend that meant always approving of and supporting the behavior of everyone?

What if we spoke out against abuse and harassment?

What if we treated each other as human beings?

Why Aren’t More Americans Atheists?

Nick Spencer:

Once upon a time, so the story goes, people believed that the world was young and flat, that God made everything including people in a few, frantically busy days, and that earthquakes and thunderstorms were examples of his furious rage, which you ignored at your peril. Into this sorry state of affairs, emerged a thing called “science” and, despite the best efforts of ignorant, self-serving clerics who wished to keep the people in utmost darkness, “science” proved that none of the above was true…

The problem with this particular creation myth is that whilst it is true enough to be believable, it is not true enough to be true. “Science”—if we can treat that collection of disparate disciplines as one single, coherent enterprise—did have something to do with the growth of atheism in the West, but very much less than most imagine. Those three great moments of scientific progress—the Copernican revolution in the 16th century, the scientific revolution in the 17th and the Darwinian in the 19th—were hardly atheistic at all. Copernicus was a priest; Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, devout; and Charles Darwin incredulous that anyone could imagine evolution demanded godlessness. “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist,” he wrote in 1879.

The whole article is fantastic.

What Atheists Have To Offer The Right

Not an atheist, but I mostly agree with this article in The Federalist by Robert Tracinski. This in particular:

People on the left say they believe in “science,” but they really just believe in being sciencey—adopting the intellectual trappings of science as it suits them, to reinforce their pre-existing beliefs. Most of them, in my experience, are liberal arts graduates whose actual exposure to science is that they watched “Cosmos” once. So in addition to gravitating to a bunch of hocus-pocus about Eastern philosophy and alternative medicine—you know, the kind of stuff where you can hurt water’s feelings—they also end up throwing out most of what is known and proven in the science of economics.



…consistently, polls have shown that while people dislike Congress in general, they tend to like their own representative, and think he or she is doing a good job — which helps explain why so many incumbents get reelected every year. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, though, that’s not the case anymore — for the first time in the poll’s history, a majority of people disapprove of their own representative’s performance.

This is not a good sign.

Sam Harris On Israel

Sam Harris, my favorite radical atheist, has written an excellent piece on the situation in Gaza. Two great quotes:

The truth is that there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them. The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal. It looks forward to a time, based on Koranic prophesy, when the earth itself will cry out for Jewish blood, where the trees and the stones will say “O Muslim, there’s a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him.”

And later:

What would the Jews do to the Palestinians if they could do anything they wanted? Well, we know the answer to that question, because they can do more or less anything they want. The Israeli army could kill everyone in Gaza tomorrow. So what does that mean? Well, it means that, when they drop a bomb on a beach and kill four Palestinian children, as happened last week, this is almost certainly an accident. They’re not targeting children. They could target as many children as they want…

What would the Palestinians do to the Jews in Israel if the power imbalance were reversed? Well, they have told us what they would do. For some reason, Israel’s critics just don’t want to believe the worst about a group like Hamas, even when it declares the worst of itself. We’ve already had a Holocaust and several other genocides in the 20th century. People are capable of committing genocide. When they tell us they intend to commit genocide, we should listen. There is every reason to believe that the Palestinians would kill all the Jews in Israel if they could. Would every Palestinian support genocide? Of course not. But vast numbers of them—and of Muslims throughout the world—would. Needless to say, the Palestinians in general, not just Hamas, have a history of targeting innocent noncombatants in the most shocking ways possible. They’ve blown themselves up on buses and in restaurants. They’ve massacred teenagers. They’ve murdered Olympic athletes. They now shoot rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas. And again, the charter of their government in Gaza explicitly tells us that they want to annihilate the Jews—not just in Israel but everywhere.

This is parody, right?

Ian Svenonius pens a literally1 unbelievable tract according to which minimalists, Apple, and Ikea are engaged in a massive conspiracy to control the entire world. You really must read it to comprehend the sheer insanity of it.

  1. And I do mean literally—not figuratively. 

Podcaster Stands Up To Extortionist

This is awesome:

Personal Audio LLC is an East Texas shell company that gleaned national attention when it claimed it had the right to demand cash from every podcaster. The company was wielding a patent on “episodic content,” which it said included anyone doing a podcast, as well as many types of online video.

Now the company is trying to walk away from its highest-profile lawsuit against comedian Adam Carolla, without getting paid a penny—but Carolla won’t let the case drop.

Verizon Made An Enemy Tonight

This is absurd. Streaming Netflix over Verizon FIOS is significantly slower than streaming Netflix through a VPN over Verizon FIOS.

(In case anyone doubted that Verizon has been lying through their teeth about throttling Netflix.)

This is why we need strong net neutrality laws. Verizon’s behavior here is just disgusting.

This is Apple’s new ad for the MacBook Air. I don’t like it at all, although I think the new slogan—“The notebook people love”—is great.

Do note, however, that the rainbow Apple logo makes a brief comeback. Watch the end very carefully.

In which John Oliver uses Muppets to talk about the United States’s horrible prison system.

Democrats unveil legislation forcing the FCC to ban Internet fast lanes

Good move, Democrats.

The Color Purple

I don’t know Eric Meyer personally. I know his work, of course, and if you’re reading this online, you probably have benefited from his work, wittingly or not. Regardless, there is very little, if anything, in the world, worse than losing a child, and I think just about anyone with a heart cannot help but feel for him.

At Jeffrey Zeldman’s suggestion, I’ve changed my site highlight color and avatar to purple to support the Meyer family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Mocking the "right to be forgotten"

Stewart Baker thinks the “right to be forgotten” is ridiculous:

I propose a contest. Let’s all ask for takedowns. The person who makes the most outrageous (and successful) takedown request will win a “worst abuse of privacy law” prize, otherwise known as a Privy.

I like this idea.

(via Julian Sanchez’s retweet of this tweet by Amie Stepanovich.)

Why I’m Using CloudKit

Brent Simmons wrote a post on CloudKit. It’s a good summary of its benefits and costs. He concluded, however, that Q Branch, the company he runs with John Gruber and Dave Wiskus, would not have used it for Vesper sync. I’m certainly not trying to refute his judgement here; all of his objections are completely reasonable for Vesper. But Vesper is not Taskonomy, my new app, which will be using CloudKit1, and I wanted to write up why.

First of all, let me address Brent’s objections. His first is that CloudKit is limited to iOS and OS X (though he grants that this is a valid decision on Apple’s part). For Vesper, a web app is at least a possibility. Taskonomy, on the other hand, cannot have a web app. Well, it could—but it would be completely useless. The features of Taskonomy rely on things a web app cannot offer. Of course, that still leaves Android and Windows. I’ll address that in a moment.

His second objection:

The second thing is that there’s no facility for building services on top of these services — there’s no way to run my own code in the cloud. I require that, because there are services I’d like to build.

I don’t require that. I don’t have services I’d like to build.

The third thing that would concern me about using it with Vesper is the limits. It’s possible those will change, and it’s possible that more clarification would take away those concerns.

This could be a problem. I’m not 100% clear about the limits, because Apple’s documentation seems unclear. However, it appears to me that the limits only apply to the public database. The private database seems to have unlimited transfer and storage limited based only on the user’s own account. That’s fine with me for a number of reasons: Taskonomy will not require large amounts of private storage2, and very close to nothing will be public.

The big thing

Here’s the big thing about CloudKit, though: it’s free. This is a really big deal. I don’t have any guarantee that Taskonomy will be successful. I don’t want to offer my users sync, have the app be unsuccessful, and shut down the servers because I can’t afford to run them. With CloudKit, I can rest assured that—as long as I continue basic maintenance of the iOS app—sync will be available for as long as Apple is in business. This is a big deal. It also means I don’t have to administrate servers, which I’m not all that comfortable doing.

This big thing is the reason I don’t think an Android or Windows app is such a big deal. Writing my own sync service out of concern about possible future Windows and Android apps—which I have no intention whatsoever of actually making—would unfairly disadvantage my actual iOS users. And say I do make an Android or Windows app: I’ll import from CloudKit to my new sync service, and gradually remove CloudKit support. I don’t think that’s so terrible as to outweigh the enormous benefit CloudKit offers.

(Let me reiterate: I am not criticizing Brent Simmons here. This is about why I am using CloudKit. It has nothing to do with whether Brent Simmons should or not. If I were in his place, I don’t think I would use CloudKit either. But I find it interesting and helpful to read other people’s explanations of their engineering decisions, and maybe—hopefully—you found this one helpful as well.)

  1. Of course, it’s possible that after using it, I’ll find that it’s unstable and that Apple has once again let us down with their server software. Or there could be some unexpected other problem that changes my mind. But I’m planning to use CloudKit. 

  2. Plus, storing data in the user’s iCloud account is likely to mean that any anger over having to pay for more storage—if it’s necessary at all—will be directed at Apple, not me. Meanwhile, I can offer sync without worrying that it could become unsustainable.