Still spinning. Many people might be surprised that the sun managed to come up this morning and the world is still spinning after the midnight government shutdown. Despite the apocalyptic descriptions of the partial delay in some federal operations, life is actually proceeding much like normal outside of Washington, D.C. National parks and monuments are closed, which could actually have the biggest impact on day-to-day life in some parts of the country. While well-known sites like Yosemite and the Lincoln Memorial might not get as much traffic this time of year as they do during their summer peak season, fisherman, boaters, hikers, and picnicking families do use local sites operated by the National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Those will remain closed for as long as the congressional showdown lasts. But other vital federal functions, like air traffic control and the U.S. Postal Service will continue to operate as they did last week. Travelers can even still apply for passports, although they shouldn’t expect to get them quickly. The biggest loss to the country’s psyche could be the National Zoo’s baby panda cam. How can we live without all that cuteness?
Shutdown? Meh … Even the stock market seems to be shrugging off the shutdown. Despite losses yesterday, breathlessly reported by many in the mainstream media as the beginning of an economic crisis, the markets rebounded today. So far, all three major indices—the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500, and Nasdaq—are up. The Dow, which took a triple-digit loss yesterday, regained 61 points by noon.
Server error? Meanwhile, the Obamacare insurance exchanges opened for business today, sort of. Shortly after their 8 a.m. EDT launch, at least 25 of the 36 federally run websites served up error messages rather than health insurance information. The sites are supposed to give people shopping for individual insurance plans the ability to compare coverage, premiums, and companies. The technical glitches didn’t surprise anyone, even Obama administration officials. Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius compared the exchange rollout to Apple launching its new iOS 7 update. Not a bad analogy, except that Apples glitches affected few and didn’t last long. No one expects the government to fix the exchange problems any time soon.
Fighting back. A Gallaudet University administrator put on leave and dragged through the proverbial mud after she signed a petition to get a same-sex marriage law on the Maryland ballot last year, is suing the school. Angela McCaskill, the chief diversity officer for the college, claims school officials mistreated her after another professor questioned her petition signature. McCaskill has worked at Gallaudet, a private college in Washington, D.C., that serves the deaf community, for 20 years. The school president placed McCaskill on paid leave after she signed the petition. But when he invited her back to work, he demoted her, McCaskill claims. The lawsuit also accuses two of McCaskill’s colleagues of defamation. McCaskill has never said whether she supports or opposes gay marriage, only that she wanted Maryland voters to decide the state’s position.