Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

Get my RSS |

Julian Assange: Coming to a Nativity Scene Near You

| Thu Dec. 9, 2010 9:00 AM EST

Looking for the perfect holiday decoration to one-up that neighbor who synced his Christmas lights to Slayer? How about a statuette of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for your nativity scene. Seriously. Inspired by the silver-haired Australian's online escapades, a Naples creche creator has crafted an Assange figurine (holding a laptop, naturally) to go along with the more traditional Mary, Joseph, and Jesus ensemble. It's a Christmas miracle.

Reuters:

"I included him to poke a little fun at the world and have a good time," said Di Virgilio, 29, whose family has been making nativity statuettes and ornate creches since 1830. "In a sense, Assange is the man of the year," said Di Virgilio

There is only one copy of the Assange statuette, which costs 130 euros. Di Virgilio says he will make others on request. There are, however, multiple copies of statuettes of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that Italians can place in the manger with the Holy Family, the wise men, the ox and the sheep.

MoJo's profile of Assange last June suggested that he brings only a rucksack when he travels, so perhaps the laptop is a little ambitious.

The prospect of Assange attending the Nativity did make us wonder, though: What would a leaked State Department cable of the big event look like? After all, if this is how they report on a wedding in Dagestan, one can only imagine how the Roman ambassador might react to the birth of the Lord and one true savior:

SUBJECT: A BABY SHOWER IN BETHLEHEM

ROME 00000241200 001 OUT OF 001

SUMMARY

---------

On December 24th, attended an impromptu summit in Bethlehem, a midsized city under the control of King Herod. Herod projects a public image as a family man, although there have been reports he murdered no fewer than two of his children, and at least one wife. Opposition members have argued that Herod may suffer from fits of acute paranoia, citing his controversial proposal to summarily kill every first-born son in his kingdom. Analysts say the measure, if enacted, could lead to economic contraction in the near future, as the kingdom reacts to a dwindling labor supply and a suddenly aging populace.

[redacted]

As the newborn lay in the traditional oaken manger, the welcoming commitee, which included a cow, two sheep, one camel, and a quartet of cherubs, were seen to be looking on with unusual interest bordering on reverence. The adoration of the cherubs, however, did little to dispel whispered rumors about the identity of the child's biological father [redacted]. Visiting dignitaries arrived conspicuously late, lavishing gifts such as [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted] that seemed more appropriate for a deity than a first-time mother.

And MoJo copy editor, and resident WikiLeak guru, Adam Weinstein takes his stab below the jump.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Kentucky Offers Tax Breaks for Noah's Ark Theme Park

| Wed Dec. 1, 2010 6:00 PM EST

At a press conference in Frankfort today, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced his unlikely plan to save the state's economy—by offering a massive tax incentive to the planners of Ark Encounter, an eco-friendly Noah's Ark theme park to be built outside Cincinnati. Building a Genesis-based theme park, during a recession? Shouldn't he be focusing on Job?

Per the Herald-Leader:

During the news conference, Beshear was asked several questions regarding the separation of church and state and whether support of the project was constitutional.

He said the law does not allow him to discriminate against a for-profit business because of the subject matter. Not everyone supports NASCAR, the governor said, but that did not stop him for providing incentives to allow Kentucky Speedway to hold a Sprint cup race next year.

He said there was nothing "remotely unconstitutional" about the business and the economic impact it would have on the state.

A Noah's Ark theme park actually sounds like a lot of fun—animals (x2), water, "replica of the Tower of Babel"—and if it can replicate the success of the nearby Creation Museum (run by the same group, Answers in Genesis), it promises to be an economic boon. Eighty percent of the museum's visitors come from out of state, which means that, sinkholes permitting, they're likely to cram as much into their visit to Kentucky as possible. Beshear's justifications seem legally airtight—even American Atheists couldn't come up with any objections.

But it also amounts to a giveaway (as much as $37.5 million) to AiG, an organization that's committed to defeating secular science education; (the park promises educational exhibits to go with its amusements). And while Beshear says he'd be open to the same kind of deal with any for-profit religious organization, is there any realistic chance of anyone besides AiG creating something of this stature? The market for a Hijra-themed resort in Paducah seems a little dry right now.

What if Western States Were Organized by Water?

| Mon Nov. 29, 2010 3:35 PM EST

Map courtesy of USGSMap courtesy of USGSIt is a matter of public record that I'm an avid fan of weird maps. And over at the appropriately named Strange Maps blog, Frank Jacobs has unearthed a pretty neat one: John Wesley Powell's proposal to divide the western United States into a series of amoeba-like blobs amoeba-like water districts. Powell, the one-armed geologist who first mapped the Grand Canyon, believed that water management was the single most important issue facing regional development, and therefore the West should be governed accordingly. Per Jacobs:

Powell's warning at an irrigation congress in 1883 seems particularly prescient: "Gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply the land." Powell must have been frustrated by the contrast between the way his achievements were lauded, and his warnings ignored...

Like Jefferson's states, the units proposed by Powell seem, well, the wrong shape. From a purely cartophile point of view, they don't work as well as the states that did eventually make the cut. Ironically, they lack the normality of the present batch of straight-border states. Or is that just the force of habit talking?

To jump to Powell's defense, I'd say the whole thing actually has a sort of Central Asian feel to it; you won't find any box-like Wyomings hovering around the Hindu Kush. The biggest problem, though, seems to be that these places would be even less populated than our existing western states. The southwestern corner New Mexico, for instance, gets its own hypothetical state/district, even though no one actually lives, or ever has lived, southwest of Las Cruces.

Anyways, Powell was prescient in that he understood that management of natural resources and environmental limits were going to be preeminent issues facing the nation a century hence. But he was obviously shortsighted in thinking that 21st-century (or 20th-century, or 19th-century) leaders might ever be moved to do anything about it. To wit: His amoeba plan was scrapped at the behest of...the railroad industry.

Anthology of Rap: The Unofficial Index

| Mon Nov. 29, 2010 7:35 AM EST

The much anticipated release of The Anthology of Rap has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. The project, which features a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., has drawn criticism for the abundance of transcription errors—and in hip-hop, the difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between, well, George Wallace and Gerald Wallace (an actual mistake in the book). That's a shame because, errors aside, it's an awesome compilation: 920 pages of some of the baddest, phattest, flyest tracks ever dropped.

And that, invariably, means plenty of preposterous pop-culture references. Unless you rolled with Junior M.A.F.I.A. back in the day or hail from Queensbridge, you're probably not included in this book. But plenty of totally random people (and things! and historical events!) are. So what exactly shakes like Smucker's grape jelly? What's the best way to hijack a space shuttle? And what does Nas really think about Calvin Coolidge? We've got you covered. Here's our unofficial, abridged political and pop-culture Anthology of Rap index.

Attila the Hun

  • is not LL Cool J, p. 216

Bambi

  • mad phatness of, p. 312

Bicentennial Celebration

  • boringness of, p. 419
  • similarities to Arsenio Hall Show, p. 419

 Booth, John Wilkes

  • as second-grade icon, p. 358

Bush, George H.W.

  • as real estate agent, p. 424
  • worth less than a bird in the hand, p. 424

Bush, George W.

  • a natural ass, p. 699
  • did 9/11, p. 751
  • not a Seminole Indian, p. 715
  • treatment of blacks relative to treatment of trash, p. 699

Clinton, Bill

  • hanging in strip club, p. 681
  • slanging crack, p. 485
  • smoking up, p. 681

Coolidge, Calvin

  • suspected black ancestry of, p. 469

Dahmer, Jeffery

  • consumption of dogs, p. 485
  • consumption of mail-order brides (hypothesized), p. 647

Etch-a-Sketch

  • as matter of life and death, p. 180

Falwell, Jerry

  • as funky dope musician, p. 136

Gandhi

  • as serial killer, p. 389

Goodyear Blimp

  • says "Ice Cube's a pimp," p. 426

McCain, John

Mephistopheles

  • as metaphor, p. 361

NASA

  • hijacking of space shuttle with a .38, p. 389

Nixon, Richard

  • wickedness relative to Ghostface Killah, p. 548

Nobel Peace Prize

  • awarded to Canibus, p. 352
  • passed up by Canibus, p. 352

Obama, Barack

  • as pen pal, p. 760
  • complexion of, p. 717
  • merits of putting on $5,000 bill, p. 717

Peloponnesian War

  • lack of respect for science or intellect, p. 159

Picasso, Pablo

  • similarities to Kool Moe Dee, p. 204

President

  • complexion of relative to a Maybach, p. 438
  • dead, p. 427
  • dead, with sprinkles, p. 428
  • fuckin' dead, p. 428
  • efforts to combat Chinese expansion, p. 755
  • Eric B. is, p. 170
  • future employment as, p 391
  • impeachment of, p. 255
  • is black, p. 715
  • is half-white, p. 438
  • never did shit for me, p. 716

Reagan, Nancy

  • sexual intimacy with, p. 298

Reagan, Ronald

  • employment of Too $hort as economic advisor, p. 298
  • selling cocaine in the White House, p. 298

Republicans

  • not fuckin' broke, p. 424
  • should be disabled, p. 341

Senators

  • getting high, p. 424

Shaft

  • shafting like, p. 223

Sharon, Ariel

  • odds of showing compassion relative to odds that Immortal Technique will stop blastin', p. 655

Smucker's

  • shaking jelly like, p. 530

Steve, Scuba

  • respiratory struggles of, p. 635

Swayze, Patrick

  • is Method Man, p. 539

Tastykake

  • as artificially flavored equivalent to Ol' Dirty Bastard's rhymes, p. 545

Truman, Harry S.

  • dapper as a rapper, p. 135

Tyson, Mike

  • Knocked-out like, p. 61
  • Knock you out like, p. 215

Voting

  • decision to spend dough on hoes instead of, p. 717

Click here for more Music Monday features from Mother Jones.

Mon Jul. 21, 2014 3:33 PM EDT
Tue Jun. 10, 2014 9:26 PM EDT
Tue May. 6, 2014 10:03 PM EDT
Tue Apr. 15, 2014 4:54 PM EDT
Fri Mar. 28, 2014 7:41 AM EDT
Thu Jan. 30, 2014 7:00 AM EST
Tue Jan. 28, 2014 3:35 PM EST