Archive for January 26th, 2008

Want/Do Not Want


Oh dear:

A unique chocolate made to look like a beetle larva has captured the fancy of candy aficionados in Japan. Produced by the Komatsuya confectionery and bakery based in Akita prefecture, the bite-sized Larva Chocolates (Youchu Choco) have a grub-shaped body made from milk chocolate and corn flakes, a layer of skin made from white chocolate, legs made from tiny strips of dried squid, and a dainty mouth made from orange peel. Komatsuya, which is struggling to keep up with demand, hand-produces about 400 per day and sells them online (shipping in Japan only) for 210 yen ($2) each.

Part of me thinks this is just appalling, and part of me thinks that I must have one.

January 26th, 2008 at 08:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Weirdness

The Database Revisited

As much as I despise the Bush administration and believe that the 935 Lies Of BushCo. Database is a worthy and valuable endeavor, I think my friend Anders makes a valid comment:

The philosopher in me really wants to insist that the database lists statements that turned out to be false, not “lies”. A statement that turns out to be false is not necessarily a lie when it is made. For one thing, it has to be known to be false to be a lie. I have no doubt that, for example, Bush may really have believed we found weapons of mass destruction at the time he said so.

The point is that moral culpability of the act really depends on the epistemic situation of the speaker at the time, not on the objective facts as later determined. It is perfectly possible for false statements to be fully justified by evidence available at the time of their making, in which case, the maker is blameless for going where the evidence points.

I am not saying these statements were even justified by that standard. But by and large don’t see any serious attempt by the compilers of the database to clearly identify *lies* among these statements.

I don’t really want to defend the Bushie’s conduct with these statements. But this conflation of lying with speaking falsely seems to me a every sleazy rhetorical maneuver. To me, Bush-bashers are no better than Coulter or Rush Limbaugh if they exploit such a conflation. One should have higher standards of argumentation.

Now, I believe that Anders is probably giving BushCo. far more benefit of the doubt than they deserve. I think that in most cases, Bush and his inner circle were well aware that what they were saying was false or, at best, completely unsubstantiated (remember “The intelligence is being fixed around the policy”?).

But Anders is correct that the database does not take the additional step of closing the loop by contrasting BushCo’s false statements with what they knew at the time. It’s easy to say that the Bushies said 935 things that were untrue, but if you want to prove that they’re liars and not just fools, then you have to show that their statements were as clearly false then as they are now. They do some of this on the main page, but not within the individual database items.

However, I feel obliged to point out that even if you give the Bushies the maximum benefit of the doubt and say that they were simply mistaken 935 times about something as weighty as the reasons for going to war, that is pretty damning in its own right.

4 comments January 26th, 2008 at 01:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Terrorism,War

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