Ben Dreyfuss

Engagement Editor

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones. He's done some other stuff, too. 

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This GoPro Video From Inside An F-18 Fighter Jet Is Absolutely Bonkers

| Fri May 22, 2015 11:28 PM EDT
ABC News

GoPro videos are cool. Fighter jets (that aren't the F-35) are cool. GoPro videos from fighter jets are unsurprisingly cool.

This one was featured on ABC News last year but I only discovered it just now courtesy of Nightline producer Meredith Frost on Twitter. (Follow her.)

You should watch it! Or not. I mean, you don't have to. It takes all sorts to make a world. Maybe you want to leave a comment asking incredulously "why is this news?" Either way, have a great night!


ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

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Holy Shit. This Is How the Duggars' Homeschooling Curriculum Allegedly Dealt With Sexual Abuse.

| Fri May 22, 2015 6:11 PM EDT

All I can tell you about this tweet is that the Duggars are/were fans of Bill Gothard and that this sexual abuse "lesson" does appear to have been a part of his curriculum at one time.

Gothard himself has been the subject of sordid allegations.

Update: "This is what purity culture does. More than anything else, it silences victims." —Samantha Field, whose thoughtful post "how Josh Duggar is getting away with it" served as Sarah Galo's source for Gothard's insane sexual abuse counseling sheet. Go read the whole thing.

New York City Is Not the Bohemia You May Think It Is

| Thu May 21, 2015 2:50 PM EDT

Greenwich Village, 1917:

On a cold winter's night in January 1917, [socialist artists] mounted to the top of Washington Arch and strung up some balloons. [Gertrude Drick] then read aloud the document she and Ellis had prepared, declaring the secession of Greenwich Village from the America of big business and small minds. They called on President Wilson to extend protection to their domain as one of the small nations, the "Free and Independent Republic of Washington Square."

"Declaration of Independence of the Greenwich Republic" John Sloan Manuscript Collection, Delaware Art Museum.

Greenwich Village, 2015:

Capital One Opening Coffee-Shop-Meets-Bank Concept on Union Square

The Science of Why New York's Bagels Taste So Damn Good

| Wed May 20, 2015 3:11 PM EDT

MANHATTAN—New York City has the best bagels in America. This is a truth handed down from generation to generation. Why are the bagels here better than the bagels in Boston, Boise, Birmingham, or even cities that begin with letters other than B? Legend has it that it has something to do with the water that's piped down here from upstate. That's never really felt right. I'm not a water scientist but it just seems like some nonsense that sounds like it could be true so what the hell, sure, it's true! Doctor Oz probably credits NY bagels to the water.

So, anyway, some cats from the American Chemical Society got together and ran some tests and spoke to some chefs and concluded that indeed it's not the magical properties of the Empire State's water supply that makes NYC bagels unique, but rather the unique competence of NYC bakers. Yes, the softness of the water plays a role but not an integral one. The baking method used in New York is just better than the baking method bakers in other cities use—but there is no reason why those bakers couldn't start using the NYC method (with some slight modifications), or so sayeth the video.

Is this video accurate? I have no idea. I am not a professor of baked goods. It sounds maybe reasonable to me. It sort of makes sense, right? Because, yeah, New York has the best bagels but I've certainly had good bagels other places. But those bagels are normally the exception to the bagel culture of the area. I've definitely had one or two okay bagels in LA. Maybe those bakers are using the NY method? I don't know. What do you think?

This Is What Osama bin Laden Liked to Read

| Wed May 20, 2015 1:00 PM EDT

Today, the Director of National Intelligence released a bunch of the documents US forces recovered from Osama bin Laden's compound during the  raid in Abbottabad. The inventory of the declassified materials provides a glimpse into what were OBL's reading habits. Were there novels of Nick Hornby and Ian McEwan? Maybe a dog-eared copy of Donna Tartt's The Secret History? Or a marked up first edition of Julia Phillip's infamous Hollywood tell-all You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again?

No, you will be unsurprised to learn, there were not.

SPOILER ALERT: Bin Laden liked to read things about al-Qaeda. Things with such sexy sundry titles as “Prospects for al-Qaeda” and "Al-Qaeda and the Internet: The Dangers of ‘Cyberplanning’."

Two fun ones though: Popular Science's "Best Innovations of the Year" and an article in TIME about AOL's troubles, both of which sort of seem like the reading materials one might find in the waiting room to hell.

In the section titled "Documents probably used by other compound residents" we find some of the bin Laden children's periodicals: art stuff, Guinness Book of World Records, video game instruction manuals, a sports nutrition guide, and a suicide prevention manual entitled "Is It the Heart You Are Asking? by Dr. Islam Sobhi al-Mazeny.

Pretty bleak!

Here's the full list of "media articles" from Bin Laden's bookshelf, courtesy of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. You should probably commit the names of some of them to memory so you'll have something interesting to talk about at parties.

Business Week (19 Feb 2007 issue)

Doctrine: Journal of General Military Review, Issue 3

Foreign Policy in Focus, “Prospects for al-Qaeda” (24 Jan 2003)

Foreign Policy (Jan-Feb 2008)

Foreign Policy (March-Apr 2008)

Foreign Policy (May-June 2008)

Foreign Policy (Nov-Dec 2008)

Foreign Policy (Sept-Oct 2008)

Heft, “The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Determination of Illegal Combatants,” Issue 4 (2002)

“The Impact of the War in Iraq on Islamist Groups and the Culture of Global Jihad,” by Reuven Paz, Project for the Research of Islamist Movements (2004)

International News, “Governments’ Successful Measures against Terrorism” (21 Aug 2009)

Journal of International Security Affairs, “Future Terrorism, Mutant Jihads” by Walid Phares

Los Angeles Times, “Is al-Qaeda Just Bush’s Boogeyman? (11 Jan 2005)

Middle East Policy, “Terrorist Recruitment and Radicalization in Saudi Arabia” (Winter 2006)

Military Review, “Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations” (Nov-Dec 2005)

Newsweek, part of an article on an attack within Israel

Newsweek, part of an article on President Bush’s business practices prior to his terms as President

Newsweek, part of an article on hawks and doves on Iraq within the Bush Administration

Newsweek, quotes column (unknown issue, but apparently from the years of the Bush Administration)

Osprey corporate advertisement featuring U.S. military troops rappelling from a helicopter

Parameters, “Al-Qaeda and the Internet: The Dangers of ‘Cyberplanning’,” Timothy L. Thomas (Spring 2003)

Parameters, “The Origins of al-Qaeda’s Ideology and Implications for U.S. Strategy,” by Christopher Henzel (Spring 2005)

Popular Science, “Best Innovations of the Year Issue” (Dec 2010)

“Pushing the Prize Up , A Few Notes on Al-Qaeda’s Reward Structure and the Choice of Casualties,” by Raul Caruso and Andrea Locatelli

“Studi Politico-Strategici: An Introduction to Unconventional Warfare,” by Joseph Gagliano

Time, part of an article on a dive of America Online’s stock

Tulsa World article on criminal charges against David Coleman Headley

U.S. News and World Report (fragment, issue unknown)

Washington Quarterly, “Counterterrorism after al-Qaeda” by Paul Pillar (Summer 2004)

Washington Quarterly, “The Post-Madrid Face of al-Qaeda,” by Rohan Gunaratna (Summer 2004)

Washingtonian Magazine profile of John Esposito (Jan 2005)

"Documents probably used by other compound residents":

Art Education: The Journal of National Art Education Association, “Islamic Art as an Educational Tool about the Teaching of Islam” by Fayeq S. Oweiss (March 2002)

Arabic Calligraphy Workshop by Fayeq S. Oweiss

Published Work Sample from Fayeq S. Oweiss (2004)

Resume for Fayeq S. Oweiss, Ph.D. (2006)

Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide

Game Spot Videogame Guide

Grappler’s Guide to Sports Nutrition by John Berardi and Michael Fry

Guinness Book of World Records Children’s Edition 2008 (scans of several pages from)

Is It the Heart You Are Asking? by Dr. Islam Sobhi al-Mazeny (suicide prevention guide)

Silkscreening Instructions

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