Ben Dreyfuss

Engagement Editor

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones.

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No, Saudi TV Didn't Blur Out Michelle Obama's Face When the President Met King Salman

| Tue Jan. 27, 2015 5:32 PM EST

Twitter is hopping right now about how Saudi TV allegedly blurred Michelle Obama's face, thanks to this YouTube video:

Only it's bullshit. The YouTube uploader appears to have added the blur, not some Saudi TV network.

(Here is another video the YouTuber uploaded that's blurred.)

This version shows no such blur:

 

Nothing is real on the internet.

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Here's How Much You Should Tip Your Delivery Guy During A Blizzard

| Mon Jan. 26, 2015 4:45 PM EST
A delivery cyclist battles through mounting snow in Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood in New York City last February.

As you may have heard, a blizzard is about to destroy life as we know it on the Eastern seaboard. Your children, your children's children, their children's children will all learn of this snowfall in stories. If a normal snowstorm is, as the wise men used to say, "God shedding a bit of dandruff," then what we are about to experience can only be described as, well, God shedding...a lot of dandruff? An avalanche of dandruff? One or two revelations of dandruff? We're going to be knee-deep in God's dandruff, is what I'm saying.

If, like mine, your fridge is bare of everything but the essentials (Tabasco, old Bloody Mary mix, a few jars of pickles) then you're probably hoping to make it through this thing via one of two ancient ways: 1) master-cleanse or, 2) Seamless. Assuming you take the second door, the question becomes: What do you tip a delivery man during a blizzard? What is morally acceptable?

Let's first dispense with the question of whether or not it is ever acceptable—regardless of gratuity—to order delivery during a blizzard. Leave that to the poets and the ethicists. It doesn't matter in the real world. People order delivery more during bad weather. Them's the facts. You are going to order delivery in bad weather.

During really bad weather like blizzards and apocalypses, a lot of restaurants nix their delivery offerings altogether—and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has banned all non-emergency vehicles, including delivery bikes, after 11pm Monday night. But the ones that manage to stay open—and in this case are willing to deliver on foot well into the night—reap the benefits of constrained supply. If this were Uber, it would result in surge pricing to get more restaurants delivering. But since GrubHub and its parent company Seamless don't do that—and they shouldn't unless there is some way of ensuring that the increase goes to the delivery person and isn't pocketed by the owner—we're thrown into this sort of state of moral worry. You know in your bones that the guy who brings you pizza in sub-zero weather should get more than the guy who brings you pizza when it's 68 degrees and sunny. But how much more?

GrubHub Seamless crunched the numbers on tips during last year's polar vortex and found that residents in some zip codes increased their tips by as much as 24 percent, but on the whole, New Yorkers raised their normal tipping amount by a meager 5 percent. In the Midwest, however, where the temps dipped especially low, gratuities rose higher, to 14 percent in Chicago and 15 percent in Detroit and Minneapolis. Maybe the stereotypes are true and Midwesterners really are the nicest people in the country.

So, more. Tip more. How much should you tip a delivery man in a blizzard? More. More than you usually tip. Whatever you usually tip, tip better. Are you a good tipper normally? Become a great tipper. Are you an awful tipper? Become a just-bad tipper. (Also, you're a very bad person, and no one likes you very much.)

Want a strict system? Don't trust your heart to lead you to the right amount? New York magazine can help. Last year they spoke to Adam Eric Greenberg, a UC San Diego Ph.D. who co-authored an empirical analysis on the relationship between weather and tipping. Here's what he told them:

When the weather is bad, be a bit more generous by tipping 20 to 22 percent. If it's raining outside, tip 22 to 25 percent. If there's any snow accumulation, add a dollar or two on top of what you'd tip if it were raining. Having to work as a delivery guy during a blizzard is similar to getting stuck with a party of 20 as a restaurant server, so if you hear weather forecasters promising a "polar vortex, " a 30 percent tip is not outrageous.

So, there you have it: 30 percent. Anything under 25 percent and you go to Hell.

Bill Nye Slams Bill Belichick: "What He Said Didn't Make Any Sense"

| Sun Jan. 25, 2015 4:21 PM EST


Let me start by saying, I don't know anything about football. I'm from Los Angeles. We don't have a football team. I went to NYU where the most popular sporting event is the Spring production of Damn Yankees. Up until very recently I thought football was soccer but with players who didn't have feet, instead their legs ended with sort of rounded nubs—"balls," if you will—and I thought it was so awful that millions of Americans get together every Sunday—which is the Lord's day, by the way—to force disabled folk to compete in some sort of blood sport. It's not that though. It turns out it's the real life version of NFL Blitz, which it turns out isn't just a video game. It's based on a real thing. Anyway, what am I talking about?

Oh yeah! #Deflategate! The Patriots! (Why are they called "the Patriots"? I get that it's about the American Revolution and Massachusetts played a key role in that but come on, we're all patriots here, FOX News. Even the Bengals fans.) I don't like the Patriots because they're from Boston and Boston is the home of the worst NBA team in the whole wide world, the Celtics, who had the audacity to beat my Los Angeles Lakers a couple of times in the 1980s. Also, the Red Sox! They're pretty awful! And Boston is a very cold city, at least in the winter. A not-so-long ago history of racism, Boston also has, let's not forget. And New England clam chowder is garbage compared to Manhattan clam chowder. So, I say this just to be transparent. I don't think I personally want the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Maybe I do. The Seahawks don't sound great. Pete Carroll is apparently a 9/11 truther, which is a turnoff.

Let's veer this ramble towards the news: #Deflategate! Bill Belichick says he didn't do it. It wasn't him. It was Mr Blue in the Library with the piano wire. Or, something. He has a scientific explanation for why the balls were tested to be under-inflated.

"We simulated a game-day situation, in terms of the preparation of the footballs, and where the footballs were at various points in time during the day or night. ... I would say that our preparation process for the footballs is what we do —I can't speak for anybody else -- and that process raises the PSI approximately one pound," Belichick said. "That process of creating a tackiness, a texture -- a right feel, whatever that feel is, whatever that feel is. It's a sensation for the quarterback. What's the right feel -- that process elevates the PSI one pound, based on what our study showed. Which was multiple balls, multiple examples in the process, as we would do for a game."

I don't know what any of that really means. It reads like gibberish to me. I, like so many Republican politicians, am not a scientist. Bill Nye is though and he says it's gibberish too:

"What he said didn't make any sense...Rubbing the football, I don't think, can change the pressure."

And that's the news. Goodnight and good luck.

P.S. One of the things I was confused about was how deflated balls would give an advantage to a football team, because presumably it would make them less aerodynamic, but as my colleague Tim McDonnell notes, it's about "grippiness."

This Washington Post Headline Is the Funniest Thing You'll Read All Weekend

| Sat Jan. 24, 2015 3:31 PM EST

Got the winter blues? Well, turn that frown upside down! Here's a thing to make you smile.

In other pretend candidate news:

What a time to be alive.

Listen to Tom Brady Talk About His Deflated Balls...and ISIS

| Thu Jan. 22, 2015 6:17 PM EST

Tom Brady would like you to know that he is innocent...also, "this isn't ISIS."

Here is a video, courtesy of our friends across the aisle at National Review.

Also, here is a Vine of just the ISIS part.

Sports!

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