Ben Dreyfuss

Ben Dreyfuss

Engagement Editor

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones.

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This Is the Best Correction You'll Read All Week

| Tue Jul. 8, 2014 8:16 AM EDT

On June 1, the Sun called Marcus Stead "Britain's biggest whinger." Mr. Stead took issue with the article's accuracy. The resulting correction is an instant classic.

It reads:

In a story 'Britain's biggest whinger' {1 June] we stated that Marcus Stead, who appeard in the Channel 4 documentary The Complainers, 'moans to the council every day for a year.' Mr Stead says that, in fact, the number of complaints is closer to one or two per week. We are happy to put his position on record.

(via Neal Mann)

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"Jaws" Is Ridiculous, Say Kids Who Owe Everything to "Jaws"

| Thu Jul. 3, 2014 7:29 PM EDT

Happy Fourth of July! Thirty-nine years ago, Jaws became the first summer blockbuster. In it the town of Amity Island is terrorized by a killer great white shark around July Fourth weekend. In honor of that, we decided to publish a chat we just had about it. This chat has been edited for clarity.

Emily Dreyfuss: I saw Jaws last night in a movie theater.

Ben Dreyfuss: Why?

ED: Because it was playing right by our house and we needed to be somewhere air conditioned.

BD: Okay.

ED:  Two things: 1) You and dad are exactly alike and 2) I forgot that "we're going to need a bigger boat" wasn't his line, which makes me even angrier when people quote that in regard to him.

BD:  LOL, everyone thinks dad said that. He and I have this joke about Roy Scheider being pissed off about it for 25 years.

ED: I would be too! I hadn't seen Jaws since we saw it as a family 20 years ago.

BD: I watched it with mom last year. She was like, "I love Jaws. My favorite part is when dad kills the shark," and I was like, "Uh, he doesn't," and she was all, "Shut up, Ben. I was married to him for 10 years. He killed Jaws." So we watched it and then she was like, "Huh, I could have sworn he killed Jaws. I've been telling people that my ex-husband killed Jaws." "Well, I guess people think you were married to Roy Scheider." "I guess so."

ED: I mean, the way I read it last night, dad kind of fucked up and was semi-responsible for Quint's death. He dropped the dagger, then swam away and hid, and then the shark ate the captain and Roy Scheider was a hero.

BD: Yeah, I mean, he had the pole knocked out of his hand. Then he swims away and hides. He had just gone down in the cage which was a pretty brave thing to do. By the time he hides he had no chance of killing Jaws. Like, either let yourself be eaten or swim and hide. Scheider was objectively the hero though.

ED: Yeah, I mean, dad had no other options, but I just forgot that he wasn't the hero.

BD: Look, look, we love dad.

ED: Yes, to be clear, dad is the best.

BD: No one here is saying otherwise.

ED: I also forgot that his character was the rich kid! I guess I basically forgot everything.

BD: Oh yeah, with his tony, rich boat that they should have taken to avoid the whole death/sinking thing?

ED: I mean, they don't even address that, which is ridiculous. Like, his boat had all the things they needed! Like sonar.

BD: Right? And Quint demands that they take his rickety piece of shit which is just an insane thing to do. The only reasonable thing to say to Quint when he makes that demand is, "Sir, you are insane. We are not putting our lives in the hands of an insane person. You're fired. Good day."

ED: "Also, we should add, you can't catch a shark this big with a fishing pole. It had to be said."

BD: HAHAHAHAHA.

ED: Like, his big plan is that he is going to REEL it in with his human man arms.

BD: I was under the impression that he was using some sort of contraption to leverage the weight of the boat or something? But that might not be how science works.

ED: I don't think so. I think he was using the power of a metal cup to help hold the fishing rod and that is that and then it shows him reeling in and letting out and then being like, "This shark is so smart! I can't pull him in!"

BD: "He's either very very smart or very very dumb."

ED: LOL, yes. That's the line. Then he hands the rod—with the shark on the line!—to Scheider who knows nothing about fishing and isn't even strapped in!

BD: Then at the end he tries to tow him back to shore.

ED: Yeah and that works out well.

BD: Also, the entire notion of the shark following them out to sea seems suspect. Why would Jaws follow their dumb boat? It's just one boat.

ED:  Because of the dead fish and blood trail.

BD: That little bit of dead fish that Scheider throws in there though, it's not much! Like it's just a bit of blood. Jaws can eat that much fish whenever he wants.

ED: Oh oh oh, another thing that makes no sense is when dad and Roy find the boat with the dead fisherman at night and in the scariest moment of the film the dead body pops out and freaks dad out? WHY WOULD THE SHARK KILL THE FISHERMAN AND NOT EAT HIM? He is not a murderer. He's a "maneater!" He would have eaten that body!

BD: Jaws: Actually a story of a shark out for revenge against Ben Gardner. All the other attacks are just to cover up his crime.

ED: HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA.

BD: I mean, maybe Jaws didn't kill Ben Gardner. Maybe someone else did. Maybe they got away with it.

ED: Wow, you remembered that character's name. I am kind of blown away.

BD: "That's Ben Gardner's boat."

ED: Yeah, that is the line but like, what are you? A savant? I barely remember dad's character's name. I'm confused if it's hooper or hopper.

BD: Emily, I know all the lines to almost all of dad's movies. I watched them all dozens of times when I was young…It's Hooper.

ED: Where was I? I watched Always a lot…and cried.

BD: Yeah, Always is sad. I love the bit of that movie when Holly Hunter comes down in the dress dad bought her and that song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" plays. That song makes me cry.

ED: That is a very good moment. Ok, but so, we can agree, Jaws makes no sense.

BD: Yeah. Great film.

ED: Wonderful film.

BD: Makes no sense.

ED: Makes little sense.

BD: It could make more sense.

ED: It could make more sense!

The end.

The Civil Rights Act Was Signed Into Law 50 Years Ago Today

| Wed Jul. 2, 2014 7:04 PM EDT

Here is President Obama's statement on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:


In 1964, President Johnson put pen to paper and signed the Civil Rights Act into law.  Fifty years later, few pieces of legislation have defined our national identity as distinctly, or as powerfully.  By outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, the Civil Rights Act effectively ended segregation in schools, workplaces, and public facilities.  It opened the door for the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act.  And it transformed the concepts of justice, equality, and democracy for generations to come.
 
The Civil Rights Act brought us closer to making real the declaration at the heart of our founding – that we are all created equal.  But that journey continues.  A half a century later, we’re still working to tear down barriers and put opportunity within reach for every American, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come from.  So as we celebrate this anniversary and the undeniable progress we’ve made over the past 50 years, we also remember those who have fought tirelessly to perfect our union, and recommit ourselves to making America more just, more equal and more free.

7 Things We Hate About Belgium

| Tue Jul. 1, 2014 4:19 PM EDT

Our glorious fighting boys of the US men's soccer team are playing Belgium today in their first elimination match of the World Cup.

We want the US team to win. You should too!

Here are some of the things we hate most about Belgium.

1. King Leopold II
This guy! He oversaw one of the cruelest regimes in history in the Congo. His regime was responsible for 10 million Congolese deaths. If there is a hell, King Leopold is burning in it.

2. Tintin
Sure he's cute and so is the dog. But he's a terrible reporter and also Herge was a real racist.

A frame from Tintin's first adventure, "Tintin in the Congo" Wikimedia Commons

3. The Smurfs
Did you know that possibly the most annoying cartoon franchise in the history of animation was set in a Belgian socialist village? No amount of French fries will make up for that crime against humanity.

4. Dr. Evil
Not only is he evil, and Belgian, but he was a seminal character in one of the most grossly overrated, discussed, and imitated films of the 1990s.

5. Jean-Claude Van Damme
He's quite good at kicking, but Street Fighter was awful. Also, 1999's Universal Soldier: The Return, in which "the Muscles from Brussels" has to off a rampaging fight computer-led robot army. Critics were not impressed. As the New York Post put it, Van Damme's accent "makes Stallone sound like a master of elocution".

6. Belgian waffles aren't even a thing in Belgium
"What is known in North America as the 'Belgian waffle' does not exist in Belgium," sayeth Wikipedia.

7. They are somehow even worse than us on gender equality.
For all the flack the United States gets over gender equality, the US actually beats Belgium handsomely on a few important counts. In 2011, the last year that data is available, 90.1 percent of US women got at least a secondary education. In Belgium, only 72 percent did. In the US, the boards of publicly traded companies are 12 percent women. In Belgium? 10.8 percent. In the US, 57 percent of women were at work in 2012— way above the OECD average of 54 percent, and way, way above Belgium's rate of 47 percent.

No surprise that a country with fewer women in the workplace also has fewer women overseeing things. In 2008, the last year for which data is available, 13.9 percent of US working women held down some managerial responsibilities—more than double the OECD average that year. In Belgium, only 8 percent of working women were managing anything. Worse yet, that figure has fallen to 4.7 percent as of 2011.

On the other hand Audrey Hepburn is from there and she was the best. Still, all in all, USA > Belgium.

Via ohmyglobyougays.tumblr.com/
 

This Judge Just Destroyed the Stupidest Argument Against Gay Marriage Ever

| Tue Jul. 1, 2014 1:54 PM EDT

On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional and issued a withering take-down of marriage equality opponents.

Kentucky had argued that legalizing gay marriage would harm the state's birth rate. "These arguments are not those of serious people," wrote US district judge John Heyburn. "Though it seems almost unnecessary to explain, here are the reasons why.

"Even assuming the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation, the Court fails to see, and Defendant never explains, how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has any effect whatsoever on procreation among heterosexual spouses. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not change the number of heterosexual couples who choose to get married, the number who choose to have children, or the number of children they have.

"The state’s attempts to connect the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage to its interest in economic stability and in 'ensuring humanity’s continued existence' are at best illogical and even bewildering…The Court can think of no other conceivable legitimate reason for Kentucky’s laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage."

Heyburn stayed his ruling while Kentucky appeals, meaning no same-sex marriages are taking place just yet.

Read the full ruling:

 
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