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Nixon's Stance on Abortion

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Whether you love him or hate him, Richard Nixon is easily one of the most complex and fascinating characters we seem to tackle. In the magazine, we've talked about how he created the EPA, how he was responsible for a six-fold increase in the National Endowment in the Arts, his funding of methadone clinics as a means of helping to reduce crime (it seemed to have worked), his Quakerism and his engagement with China.

Of course, we've also talked about hatred for soups (he banned them at the White House), that whole Watergate debacle, and his completely pathetic style of dating (he asked his wife Pat to marry him on their first date, and when she said no, he drove her around on dates with other men just to spend a little more time with her.) Also, he was kind of a racist.

Today, the NY Times is reporting that the newly released Nixon tapes showcase his "ambivalent" stance on abortion after the Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling. Part of the reason he didn't make a public statement about the case was because he was in two minds about it: 

"Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster "permissiveness," and said that "it breaks the family." But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies.

"There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white," he told an aide, before adding: "Or a rape.""

I have no interest in fanning an abortion discussion on the blog (we just put out the apolitical, feel good issue of the year, after all!), but I did think this was helpful in getting a little more insight into his complex mind.  Thanks Lizzie!

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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