Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Is Apple A Christian Environment?

There's an article in Tech.Mic, syndicated to the New Zealand Herald and probably other places, about sexism in Apple's workplace culture. Most of it sounds all too plausible :-(. I haven't seen many examples of this sort of behaviour at Mozilla or elsewhere, but I wouldn't expect to have since, very sadly, I haven't had many chances to work with women in the office.

One detail doesn't sound right, though:

"several people" who have quit, citing a "white, male, Christian, misogynist, sexist environment"
Is Apple really a Christian environment? In my experience of the Silicon Valley technical workforce, Christians are extremely scarce and most of those keep quiet about it at work ... often for good reason. The environment is, in fact, fairly Christian-hostile. In social settings I have sometimes been in conversations where people started talking about what idiots those Christians are, assuming everyone present shares such views, and I'm sure there are more when I'm not around! I find it hard to believe Apple is different. (I know it's a cult, but not that kind of cult :-).)

I guess the quote probably meant "Christian" as some kind of general, malign force of culture and tradition, only loosely connected to actual Christians and Christianity. Regardless, it's frustrating to be saddled with.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Theism And The Simulation Argument

The simulation argument is quite popular these days; Elon Musk famously finds it compelling. I don't, but for those who do, I think it has an important consequence that is obvious yet underappreciated: if we live in a simulation, then a form of theism is true. If the simulation argument is valid, then atheism is improbable.

The agent responsible for the simulation would be the God of our universe: it intentionally designed, created and sustains our universe for some purpose. (That purpose might have nothing to do with us or our pocket of the universe, but since life on Earth is the most complicated system we have observed so far, we can at least take as a working hypothesis that the purpose is connected to us.) This already implies we have at least a God of classical deism.

Furthermore, if we can use our simulations as an analogy, we should assume the simulating agent has ongoing access to the substrate running the simulation and the ability to modify its state. In other words, the agent is likely to be omnipotent (in our universe) and miracles are possible. (This is not the "can make a rock so heavy he can't lift it" straw-man omnipotence targeted by many atheists, but it's well within Biblical parameters.) It's also possible for the agent to reveal itself to us, and that it might want to.

The other two "omnis" do not seem to follow. I see no reason to believe that the simulating agent would be omniscient, even just about our universe. Likewise I see no reason to believe it would be omnibenevolent. However, being omnipotent, it could make us believe it was omniscient and omnibenevolent if it wanted to.

I don't expect to see proponents of the simulation argument in churches en masse anytime soon :-). However, they should be taking theism seriously and atheism not seriously at all.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Auckland Food 2016

Here are some places I like at the moment, valuing not just quality but also interest and value for money.

  • Uncle Man's on Karangahape Road (Malaysian). Best roti in the city in my opinion. Just a little bit better than Selera and Papa Rich.
  • Cafe Abyssinia in Mt Roskill. The only Ethiopian food in Auckland that I know of.
  • Kairali in Royal Oak. Good cheap South Indian food.
  • Jade Town on Dominion Road. Uyghur food, i.e., far-western Chinese. Get there early, around 6pm, or their specials are sold out.
  • Hog Heaven in Newmarket. The pulled pork sandwich is delicious. Go there soon because there's not much traffic and I fear it has not long to live.
  • Momotea in Newmarket and elsewhere. Decent food but their real attraction is their Taiwanese-style drinks and desserts. I like the black sesame milkshake and the "Momo Redbean Ice", perhaps the only time I've found a dessert to be bigger than it looks on the menu.
  • Viet Kitchen on Dominion Road. The pork-and-prawn pancake is delicious.
  • Hansan in Newmarket and elsewhere. Nominally also Vietnamese, but a different style that I've been told is more Cambodian. I think the food's generally less good than Viet Kitchen but it has milkshakes and desserts which I greatly enjoy, especially the coconut-banana-sago pudding.
  • Tombo in Newmarket, Korean-Japanese. The lunch boxes are good, and the dinner buffet is great, if a little overpriced.
  • Smile Dessert in Somerville. High-end Chinese dessert restaurant which also sells light meals. I like the walnut and black sesame soup.
  • Dae Bak in the city. Great value Korean BBQ buffet ($20 lunch, $22 dinner). A bit less variety than Gangnam Style in Takapuna, but cheaper, easier to get to, and a less cringe-worthy name.