Ben Dreyfuss

Ben Dreyfuss

Engagement Editor

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones.

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Robin Williams Has Died at 63

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 7:33 PM EDT

Just awful. I'm speechless.

Rest in peace.

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James Bonds, Ranked

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 2:59 PM EDT

According to CBS News, 51 percent of Americans think correctly that Sean Connery was the best James Bond. A misguided 12 percent—presumably millennials confusing the cause of their affection for the '90s— think Pierce Brosnan was the No. 1 007. Third place went to Roger Moore with 11 percent of respondents inexplicably calling the worst Bond ever their favorite. Current Bond Daniel Craig netted the favor of only 8 percent and rounding errors Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby both came in at just 1 percent.

Connery is without question the best, but let's go deeper. Here are all the Bonds ranked, according to me, a person with opinions.

1. Sean Connery

2. Daniel Craig

3. Pierce Brosnan

4. Timothy Dalton

5. George Lazenby

6. Roger Moore

(Note: I didn't included David Niven because the 1967 Casino Royale doesn't count.)

Watch John Oliver Explain How Payday Loans Are Awful

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 12:31 PM EDT

Payday lenders are awful, horrible scum who prey on the desperation of the working class. Payday loans are awful, horrible deals wherein a borrower gets a small amount of cash at an exceedingly high interest rate and agrees to pay it back in a short amount of time, typically two weeks. If a borrower can't pay it back then they're hit with an avalanche of fees and end up having to borrow more and then its a vicious cycle all the way down. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, the average borrower ends up paying $1,105 to borrow just $305.

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver made these points and more in a way that will make you eventually run your head into a brick wall because you have no more tears left to shed.

Watch:

This Is What Happens When You Like Everything on Facebook

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 11:08 AM EDT

Fun fact about Facebook: You should be discerning with the Like button because the News Feed algorithm is pretty sensitive. This can be a struggle because logging onto Facebook is a bit like hiking up a very tall mountain with Satan. It shows you the world and says, "all these things I will give you if you fall down and Like them." Facebook gives you an unending slew of opportunities to Like things because the more you Like, the more accurate the algorithm gets at predicting what you want to see in your News Feed. In general, it's pretty good at this. However, it makes a few assumptions about your Like. The assumptions are (1) that you actually Like the posts you Like—you may not like some bad breaking-news alert, but you like that you received it, you like that you received it from the page that posted it; and (2) you are somewhat picky about what you Like. Maybe not too picky! But picky. If you Like everything, you Like nothing and it's all meaningless.

What happens though if you Like everything? Every Candy Crush request? Every political post? Every bad joke? Every marriage announcement? Wired's Mat Honan gave it a shot and the answer is, well, things get crazy:

My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore…Nearly my entire feed was given over to Upworthy and the Huffington Post…As I went to bed, I remember thinking "Ah, crap. I have to like something about Gaza," as I hit the Like button on a post with a pro-Israel message.

By the next morning, the items in my News Feed had moved very, very far to the right. I'm offered the chance to like the 2nd Amendment and some sort of anti-immigrant page. I like them both. I like Ted Cruz. I like Rick Perry. The Conservative Tribune comes up again, and again, and again in my News Feed. I get to learn its very particular syntax.

The syntax he identifies will look familiar to anyone has spent any time on Facebook lately. The whole article is pretty interesting. Go read the whole thing.

Obama: "We Tortured Some Folks"

| Fri Aug. 1, 2014 4:58 PM EDT

On Friday, President Obama said that some of the things the United States did after 9/11 were indeed acts of torture. National Journal has the full quote:

Obama also addressed post-9/11 America in remarks about the Central Intelligence Agency. "We tortured some folks," he said. "We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it's important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell, and the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this."

This isn't the first time Obama has said that the US tortured people but the usage of "folks" immediately set tongues wagging. Presumably it's because "folks" is far more humanizing than "detainees" or "enemy combatants".  The US did torture people (real flesh-and-blood human people) after 9/11, and it's good that Obama says so—even if he was just trying to get off the topic of his CIA admitting to spying on Congress.

For a long time it was incredibly controversial to call "enhanced interrogation" torture. It's a sign of progress that no one batted an eye at the "torture" bit and instead focused on the "folks" part. To their credit, even conservatives have come around to using the dreaded T word. Just kidding. Conservatives are freaking out:

Barack Obama is an inexperienced "celebrity" community organizer/campaigner-in-chief who won't stop apologizing for America and was only elected president because of The Decemberists.