Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. 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 |

Even Life Insurance Actuaries Are Coming Around on Pot

| Wed Mar. 18, 2015 12:48 PM EDT

A copy of Contingencies—the official magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries—came in the mail on Monday. I don't know why—I'm not an actuary; I'm not even in a celebrity death pool. But there's some interesting stuff in there. AAA president Mary D. Miller, in a column titled "It Takes an Actuary," boasts that "our world will be more vital than ever" in the era of drones and Big Data, as people find more and more innovative ways to die; the puzzle columnist is retiring.

But I was mostly struck by the cover story:

Contingencies! Tim Murphy

Weed!

With the legalization movement racking up victory after victory, the writer, Hank George, seeks to correct a misunderstanding among his actuarial colleagues—that marijuana "conferred the same relative mortality risk as cigarette smoking." To the contrary, he writes, "recreational marijuana users enjoy better physical fitness and get more exercise than nonusers" and "have even been shown to have higher IQs." He concludes: "The tide is turning—life underwriters would be wise to be at the front end of this curve, and not stubbornly digging in their heels to the detriment of their products."

For now, at least, life insurers are still holding the line on pot smoke as a vice on par with cigarettes. But it's a testament to how far the legalization movement has grown beyond its hippie roots that even the actuaries are starting to fall in line.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Town Overrun by 31-Acre Sinkhole Now Overrun by Homeless Kittens

| Mon Mar. 9, 2015 6:45 PM EDT

In August of 2012, a salt cavern maintained by the mining company Texas Brine collapsed, creating a sinkhole outside the town of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, and prompting a mandatory evacuation order that has yet to be lifted. Two and a half years later, the sinkhole has grown to 31 acres, Texas Brine has reached a $48.6 million settlement with displaced homeowners, and the company is considering bulldozing much of the town and converting it into "green space."

But it's not just Bayou Corne evacuees who are looking for a new place to live—the neighborhood near the sinkhole is still home to 38 feral cats, who risk losing their suburban habitat if the properties return to nature because of the sinkhole.

The New Orleans Times Picayune has the full story on the kittens of Bayou Corne, and the efforts of one of the few remaining residents, Teleca Donachricha, to find them a home:

Some of the residents had been feeding different groups of them, but those residents are all gone now. One woman had been trying to drive the hour from Baton Rouge every other day to feed one group of the cats, but Donachricha knew that wasn't going to last long. She said if the woman could provide food, she would feed the cats for her, and she has.

...

Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said he couldn't say when demolition will occur. The company donated $1,000 to a nonprofit Donachricha was working with to get some of the cats spayed and neutered. All but three of the 38 cats are now spayed or neutered -- one of the remaining ones is a newer arrival that was recently dumped there, and the other two she hasn't been able to catch.

"We support her efforts," Cranch said. "Hopefully she'll be successful in finding homes for these animals."

Any takers?

 
Tue Feb. 28, 2012 10:16 PM EST
Wed Feb. 22, 2012 10:28 PM EST
Wed Feb. 22, 2012 5:23 PM EST
Fri Feb. 17, 2012 8:35 PM EST
Wed Feb. 15, 2012 6:21 PM EST
Tue Feb. 14, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Mon Feb. 13, 2012 5:33 PM EST
Fri Feb. 10, 2012 7:30 AM EST
Thu Feb. 9, 2012 2:33 PM EST
Tue Feb. 7, 2012 1:38 PM EST
Mon Feb. 6, 2012 10:00 AM EST
Fri Feb. 3, 2012 6:54 PM EST
Tue Jan. 31, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Fri Jan. 27, 2012 12:38 PM EST
Fri Jan. 27, 2012 12:08 PM EST
Thu Jan. 26, 2012 1:55 PM EST
Thu Jan. 26, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Wed Jan. 25, 2012 9:48 PM EST
Tue Jan. 24, 2012 10:52 AM EST
Mon Jan. 23, 2012 4:14 PM EST
Sat Jan. 21, 2012 11:30 PM EST
Sat Jan. 21, 2012 11:17 AM EST
Thu Jan. 19, 2012 9:58 PM EST
Thu Jan. 19, 2012 5:09 PM EST
Wed Jan. 18, 2012 5:17 PM EST
Wed Jan. 18, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Tue Jan. 17, 2012 12:22 AM EST