1. The photo here is of a house guest we’ve enjoyed for the past two days. She seems to like the buffet there by the porch light. We’ve all been checking in on her every little bit because, well, praying mantises are cool. That lousy cell-phone pic doesn’t give a good sense of scale, but this one is huge — about six inches long.
It’s odd to realize that if there were a six-inch spider hanging out by our porch light, we wouldn’t be so much fascinated as creeped out. (Just typing the words “six-inch spider” there creeped me out a little bit.) What accounts for the difference? Is it because we know that praying mantises won’t bite and aren’t venomous? Or is it maybe because their little heads have little faces that somewhat recall our own?
2. Indiana Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman explains the government shutdown: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
Steve Benen, a la Walter Sobchak, describes this as “post-policy nihilism” (“No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there’s nothing to be afraid of”). Ed Kilgore disagrees: “They aren’t ‘nihilists;’ they are extremists.” This conversation, overheard on an inadvertently hot mic, seems to break the tie in favor of the Benen/Sobchak thesis. But contra Walter Sobchak, I do think there’s something to be afraid of. People whose main concern is not “to be disrespected” tend to be people who will always feel disrespected, no matter what.
3. “I did not think that Obamacare was going to be a good plan, I did not think that it was going to help me at all,” said Butch Matthews, 61, a Republican and retired small business owner from Arkansas. But he changed his mind when the ACA allowed him to save $13,000 a year on health insurance.
Matthews advice to his fellow Republicans: “Be more informed, get more information, take your time and study and not just go by just what you hear on one side or the other. Actually check the facts on it. I still am a very strong Republican, but this… I’m so happy that this came along.”4. Warren Throckmorton says, “Before David Barton, there was Parson Weems.”
5. “God is love,” the Bible says (1 John 4:8). And if you want to know how the Bible describes love, the go-to passage is the famous and beloved “love chapter” — 1 Corinthians 13. Here’s Richard Beck on part of what it means to read that chapter as a description of love, and therefore as a description of God:
I’ve always applied 1 Corinthians 13 to humans. It never occurred to me to see it as a window into the heart of God. But if God is love then 1 Corinthians 13 is extraordinarily relevant. And if that is so, this aspect of love — love keeps no record of wrongs — has huge soteriological significance.
How does our vision of divine grace and punishment in the afterlife change if God’s love keeps no record of wrongs?
6. Wonkette often features funny headlines, but sometimes it’s funniest when they play them relatively straight: “Attempt at Building White-Supremacist Enclave in North Dakota Bedeviled by Flag-Thieving Native American Grandmas, Poop Crisis.”
7. The Smithsonian on “How the Insurance Industry Is Dealing With Climate Change.” Even the most Inhofian conspiracy theorists who insist climate change is some kind of “hoax” will have a hard time explaining why insurers would be willing to participate in this global conspiracy. Insurance companies have money on the line — a lot of money. They have every incentive to cut through all the partisan opinionating and get to the facts, and they have no incentive at all to do otherwise. And insurers, unanimously, are freaking out over climate change. If you believe in free markets, it seems to me, then you have to take what property insurers say about climate change very seriously.