It's True. All of it.

Mine eyes are opened:

Also of note:

  • What's so extreme about wanting to kill unborn children anytime, for any reason? Alexandra DeSanctis watched and noticed: The GOP Debate Exposed Democrats’ Extremism on Abortion

    During last night’s Republican primary debate, GOP hopefuls drew attention to the Democratic Party’s extreme position on abortion. This was a shrewd political move: Few Americans — indeed, few Democrats — support allowing abortion until birth for any reason.

    But following the debate, progressive commentators rushed to insist that no one, and certainly not any Democrat, is in favor of allowing unlimited abortion. “No one supports abortion until birth,” tweeted Jen Psaki, formerly of Biden’s White House staff and now at MSNBC.

    And Psaki was not alone in her naysaying. But DeSanctis counters:

    But of course, none of these claims square with the facts. The 2020 Democratic Party platform explicitly affirms a universal right to abortion and doesn’t reference a single abortion limitation acceptable to the party. “We believe unequivocally . . . that every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion,” the platform states.

    It also promises to “fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to reproductive health and rights” — in other words, to block any and all limits on abortion, including gestational-age limits. The platform embraces federal funding for abortion businesses, supports repealing the Hyde amendment that precludes taxpayer dollars from directly reimbursing abortion providers, and promises to “protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom.”

    That last pledge is a reference to the federal Women’s Health Protection Act, supported for years by most Democrats in Congress, which not only would create a fundamental right to abortion at the federal level with no limits but also would abolish any state law protecting unborn children at any stage of pregnancy.

    How hard would it be for mainstream "journalists" to notice the obfuscation involved in Democrats' denials and pro-abortion euphemisms? Not very. But I won't hold my breath waiting.

  • I knew I liked her. Noah Rothman also noticed something about the debate: Nikki Haley Treats You Like an Adult

    It’s hard to avoid noticing how many Republicans in the race for the White House don’t seem to have much respect for your intelligence. Much of the field of 2024 presidential candidates seem to believe that if they acknowledge life’s complexities, they’ll cause some great offense among Republican voters. So many of the GOP’s presidential candidates insist that all things are possible through sheer force of will — indeed, they are possible “on day one.” Nikki Haley took a different approach on Wednesday night’s debate stage by making the genuinely courageous decision to treat Republican debate watchers like adults.

    After spending much of her time as a declared candidate avoiding the risk of offending any potential Republican primary voter, thereby appealing to no one in particular, Haley took a calculated risk in May when she advocated the pursuit of a “national consensus” on abortion. The former South Carolina governor took that position to the debate stage on Wednesday, arguing that her approach has the added advantage of being “honest” with both “the American people” and, though it was unspoken, Republican primary voters.

    I think Nikki makes a lot of sense on that. Yes, you can posture and throw out red meat to the crowd. You can employ the candidate-as-entertainer strategy embraced by Trump.

    Or you can actually get something done.

  • Strange new respect for Nikki also seen … on the WSJ editorial page: Nikki Haley’s GOP Debate Truths

    If Nikki Haley gets a bump in the polls from Wednesday’s presidential debate, one reason will be that she respected viewers by telling them the truth. Ms. Haley said, accurately, that passing a national abortion ban at 15 weeks is politically off the table, since it would require 60 votes in the Senate. She has argued this before, but many Republicans might be hearing it for the first time.

    The former South Carolina Governor instead suggested—brace yourself—consensus policy-making. “Can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions?” she asked. “Can’t we all agree that contraception should be available?” At the same time, Ms. Haley called herself “unapologetically pro-life.”

    I'm hoping that voters will notice Nikki is treating them like adults, and respond appropriately. ("It's a crazy scheme, Ambassador Haley, but it just might work.")

  • Scariest thing I've read recently. The Guardian reports: Zadie Smith, Stephen King and Rachel Cusk’s pirated works used to train AI.

    Zadie Smith, Stephen King, Rachel Cusk and Elena Ferrante are among thousands of authors whose pirated works have been used to train artificial intelligence tools, a story in The Atlantic has revealed.

    More than 170,000 titles were fed into models run by companies including Meta and Bloomberg, according to an analysis of “Books3” – the dataset harnessed by the firms to build their AI tools.

    Books3 was used to train Meta’s LLaMA, one of a number of large language models – the best-known of which is OpenAI’s ChatGPT – that can generate content based on patterns identified in sample texts. The dataset was also used to train Bloomberg’s BloombergGPT, EleutherAI’s GPT-J and it is “likely” it has been used in other AI models.

    I'm not sure that's a good idea. To put it mildly as I can.

Recently on the book blog:

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:59 PM EST


The Curious Science of Humans at War

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Mary Roach has been dubbed "America's funniest science writer". A couple years ago, I read her book on the human digestive system, Gulp, finding it to be gross, disgusting, icky, and just plain hilarious.

This book, about the intersection of science and (mostly) American armed forces is also (to be honest) equally graphic, and somewhat hilarious. But Ms. Roach never flinches from the basic reality that her subject matter involves real people engaged in some very dangerous work in remote places. And many come back damaged or dead. Her hilarity is tinged with respect and somberness. (It helps that many of the service members she interviews are equally dark-humored.)

If you run out of water in the desert, and are dying of thirst, should you resort to drinking your own urine? Ms. Roach answers no: "The proteins and salts are by that point so concentrated that the body needs to pull fluid from the tissues to dilute tham, which puts you back where you began, only worse, because now you are saddled with the memory of drinking your own murky, stinking pee."

Fun facts revealed in a footnote about mixing up food for sandfly larvae (for some reason Purina doesn't sell Sandfly Larvae Chow): it involves rabbit feces. And: "Rabbit turds are more expensive than rabbits." $35/gallon. (Although they don't sell rabbits by the gallon,)

In fact, Ms. Roach devotes an entire chapter to maggots. They can show up in some pretty nasty places, like genitalia. The technical term is "myiasis". (Yes, Google it if you don't believe Mary.) And:

Here again, some words from the Armed Forces Pest Management Board: "Vaginal myiasis is a concern of increased importance because of the larger numbers of women serving in deployed units. . . . Egg laying may be stimulated by discharges from diseased genitals." In a hot climate, there might be a temptation to sleep outside uncovered, the board points out. And the kind of soldier who sleeps outside with no underpants would also, I suppose, be the kind of soldier with a genital disease. The kind headed for "dishonorable discharge" of one kind or another.

Moan. But also: Ha.

The book covers a lot of disparate topics, but the reader will notice the overall theme: the armed services devote a lot of their resources into keeping their members alive and healthy. And, failing that, devoting a lot of their resources into finding out what went wrong, and (if possible) putting things back together. (Like penises.)

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:59 PM EST