Crisis? 26 FDNY firehouses out of service over vaccine mandate staff shortage

The shutdown came amid a pitched battle between City Hall, which on Monday will start enforcing a mandate that all city workers have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and jab-resisting firefighters, many reportedly saying they were already sick with the coronavirus and therefore have “natural immunity.”

Nicole Malliotakis (R-SI, Brooklyn) said 26 companies shuttered — five in her district — and laid the blame on  Mayor de Blasio.

“If someone dies due to a slower emergency response, it’s on Bill de Blasio and his overreaching mandates. I hope this fool fixes it ASAP!” she tweeted. Some residents rallied outside of the Ladder Company 149 in Dyker Heights to support the firefighters.

Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said the department “has not closed any firehouses.

Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow Firefighters,” Nigro said. “They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions.”

No borough or neighborhood was spared, with the shuttered companies ranging from Engine Co. 55 in lower Manhattan, to Engine Co. 234 in Crown Heights, to Engine Co. 231 in Brownsville. Others included Ladder Co. 128 in Long Island City and Engine Co. 158 and Ladder Co. 78 on Staten Island, according to information provided by Malliotakis and Councilman Joe Borelli (R-SI), who cited the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Borelli said the list of 26 came from a FDNY alert dispatched to members.

The FDNY has shut down 26 firehouses across the city due to staff shortages caused by the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The FDNY has shut down 26 firehouses across the city due to staff shortages caused by the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Daniel William McKnight

FDNY spokesman Jim Long said the closings are not permanent, describing the companies as “temporarily out of service” and the situation as “fluid” since it was shifting firefighters to units where they were needed.

As of late Saturday afternoon, the FDNY could not provide an exact number of closings that the pols said were in effect as of 7:30 am Saturday.

“The situation remains fluid. We hire manpower to get the company back in service or relocate other units to the area for coverage,” Long said.

In anticipation of a shortage of firefighters, NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit has requested the help of volunteer firefighters from Long Island and upstate to back fill the lost positions, according to an email obtained by The Post.

That was little solace to retired electrician Vinny Agro, 63, who lives across the street from now-offline Engine Co. 284 in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

The FDNY's vaccination rate was at 72 percent at the deadline for the vaccine mandate on Friday.
The FDNY’s vaccination rate was at 72 percent at the deadline for the vaccine mandate on Friday.
REUTERS/Lloyd Mitchell

“We’re f- -ked. We are going to toast like marshmallows,” he said. “It’s another sad day for New York City.”

A man who lives next door to the firehouse said that he had not seen firefighters for about 24 hours and that they were desperately needed in the neighborhood.

“Most of the houses here are semi-attached frame houses. You throw a match on it, and it goes up real quick,” he said. “You need a quick response . . . it’s scary.”

Fire officials said last week that they were prepared to close as much as 20 percent of the companies citywide.

Saturday’s temporary closures represented 7.6 percent of the city’s 341 engine and ladder companies. But it was still an “unconscionable” number, said Borelli, who chairs the council’s committee on fire and emergency management.

“The firefighters who are unable to work have all been tested within the week and are not COVID positive, and I doubt New Yorkers care about the vaccine status of the person applying defibrillators to their chest,” he said.

Donald Watson, 57, a Downtown Brooklyn resident, said the firefighters were just “looking out for themselves.”

“It’s sad we have to go through this because of COVID,” Watson said. “A lot of them don’t want to take the shot. C’mon. It’s nothing but a shot.”

The FDNY’s vaccination rate stood at 72 percent for firefighters — and 77 percent agencywide — at the end of Friday, the city’s deadline for workers to get at least one dose of the vaccine, according to data from City Hall. Nearly 4,000 FDNY employees remained unvaccinated.

The mandate is expected to be enforced beginning Monday, and 26,600 city workers across all city agencies were still unvaccinated as of Friday night, according to City Hall. Those who don’t have at least one jab will be suspended without pay.

The NYPD stood at 84 percent of personnel vaccinated, and the Sanitation Department was at 77 percent.

The 77th Precinct in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was slow to respond to calls Friday night as four officers on the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift called in sick, sources said. Call logs showed response times of more than two hours in some cases.

The FDNY has blamed the shortage on people calling out sick to protest the mandate.
The FDNY has blamed the shortage on people calling out sick to protest the mandate.
NHLI via Getty Images

“We have contingency plans in place if necessary, and there will not be any shortages in any commands. There will be no reduction in police services,” an NYPD spokeswoman said.

The FDNY — as its top boss did Saturday — has blamed the staffing shortage on firefighters calling out sick, with one insider saying “hundreds” of members have been taking medical leave to protest the mandate.

“It’s definitely a sick-out. It’s a job action,” the insider said. “If they call in sick they have to go to the medical office. The medical office is overwhelmed.”

More than two dozen FDNY members were seen leaving the department’s medical office at the MetroTech center in Downtown Brooklyn Saturday.

A memo sent to members of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association on Friday said it was “still in negotiations” with the Office of Labor Relations “for an extension to the deadline as well as alternate methods of implementation.”

The memo, seen by The Post, advised all members, vaccinated or not, to report for duty when scheduled and make notations in the fire company’s journal about why they were asked to leave.

De Blasio has held firm, saying on Thursday that the city would not extend the jab deadline.

Vaccinations surged statewide this week, with 103,348 doses administered from Friday to Saturday, Gov. Hochul said on Saturday. On Monday, 45,217 doses had been given out in the previous 24 hours.

As In America So Is Australia?

“Stop Medical Apartheid!” — Police Passive As Huge Crowd Protests Australia’s Draconian Pandemic Powers Bill

Thousands of protesters gathered in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to resign as they rallied against the Victorian government’s new pandemic legislation.

Chants erupting from the crowd included: “End the mandates,” “Stop medical apartheid,” and “We need Bill of Rights!”

“Kill the bill,” protesters chanted.

 

The declaration will give the health minister “broad powers to make pandemic orders” on the chief health officer’s advice and will replace the current state of emergency, which expires on December 15.

A similar process is in place in NSW and New Zealand, where the health minister is directly accountable to parliament.

As 7News reports, the laws also introduce safeguards around protecting contact tracing and QR code information, while an aggravated offence will be created to “deter … the most egregious pandemic-related behaviors”.

 

Mr Andrews has also warned unvaccinated Victorians will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions “well into 2022”.

People found guilty of “intentionally and recklessly” breaching public health orders would also face two years in jail or a $90,500 fine and businesses could be fined up to $452,500.

While Melbourne was placed under lockdown on six separate occasions beginning in March 2020, spending nearly nine months under stay-at-home orders cumulatively, the city’s restrictions were again eased on Friday, with travel bans and outdoor mask mandates lifted, among other things. Victoria as a whole, however, remains under some Covid-19 measures, including 75% capacity rules at indoor entertainment venues and limits on outdoor gatherings to just 30 people.

Authorised workers must be fully vaccinated by November 26.

The vaccine mandate has since been extended to social settings in Victoria, with harsh restrictions stopping the unvaccinated from entering restaurants, bars and events.

“This is critically important to keep case numbers down,” Mr Andrews said.

“This is not about stopping people going to work, it’s about making sure we can open up.

“It’s about making sure people can go to work, that they can be safe, and that we can defend and deliver our road map for opening.”

Protesters were met with a heavy police presence “to ensure the safety of the community and no breaches of the peace,” but interestingly – for now – in contrast to previous protests in the city, despite breach the law limiting outdoor gatherings to just 30 people, police did not appear to have a forceful presence and it is unclear if any arrests were made.

12 Tips to Optimize Your WordPress RSS Feed

 (Quick & Easy)

by
Free WordPress Video Tutorials on YouTube by WPBeginner
12 Tips to Optimize Your WordPress RSS Feed (Quick & Easy)

Do you want to optimize your RSS feed in WordPress?

Every WordPress site has an RSS feed by default. You can optimize this feed to protect your content, send more traffic to your site, and more.

In this article, we’ll show you how to optimize and customize your RSS feeds the right way.

12 tips to optimize your WordPress RSS feed

Why Optimize Your WordPress RSS Feeds?

RSS feeds offer a way for your readers to subscribe and read your blog posts in their favorite feed reader apps like Feedly.

Even though feed readers aren’t as popular as they once were, there are still many readers who prefer to read WordPress blog content this way.

By optimizing your RSS feed you can also prevent content scraping, get more backlinks, send traffic to your site, and more.

With that said, let’s get into our expert tips for optimizing your RSS feed.

1. Create an RSS Feed Sitemap

An RSS sitemap is different from an XML sitemap. RSS sitemaps only contain your most recent content, which helps Google to keep your content fresher in search results.

If you publish content frequently, then this can lead to a boost in your search engine rankings.

All in One SEO allows you to add an RSS sitemap to your website easily, without having to code.

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the All in One SEO plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you’ll be prompted to set up the plugin. You can follow the guided steps in the setup wizard, or see our guide on how to set up All in One SEO for WordPress.

AIOSEO enables RSS sitemaps automatically, so there’s nothing else you need to do.

If you’d like to double check, simply go to All in One SEO » Sitemap and then click on the ‘RSS Sitemap’ tab.

You can see that the ‘Enable Sitemap’ toggle in the ‘RSS Sitemap’ box is already enabled.

Enable RSS sitemap

You can also set the number of posts and the post types you want to include in the ‘Sitemap Settings’ box.

We’ll leave the default settings, but you can include more posts or only include certain post types.

Edit RSS sitemap settings

Before you leave the screen, make sure to click the ‘Save Changes’ button.

Now you’ve enabled your RSS sitemap for your website.

To submit your new RSS sitemap to Google, you can see our guide on how to add your WordPress site to Google Search Console. It’s the same process as submitting an XML sitemap.

2. Edit Your RSS Feed Before and After Content

By default, WordPress RSS feeds will show your recent post content, and there’s no built-in option to customize that content for your readers.

Luckily you can use the All in One SEO plugin to easily customize your RSS feed before and after content.

Simply follow the same steps as above to install, activate, and set up the plugin.

After that, navigate to All in One SEO » General Settings and then click the ‘RSS Content’ menu option.

Edit RSS content

On this screen, you can add any content you want to display before and after each post in your RSS feed.

You can add HTML, smart tags for links, and other metadata to each section.

Edit header and footer RSS content

Once you’re satisfied with your changes, make sure to click the ‘Save Changes’ button to save your RSS feed.

3. Protect Your RSS Feed From Content Scrapers

Content scraping is when content is taken your site, usually via your RSS feed, and republished on someone else’s site as their own.

It can be very frustrating to see someone stealing your content, monetizing it, and even outranking your website in the search results.

Luckily, you can customize your RSS feed to actually benefit your site if someone steals your content via your RSS feed.

For more details, see our beginner’s guide to preventing blog content scraping in WordPress.

4. Show Excerpt Instead of Full Article in RSS Feed

Showing your full article in the RSS feed lets your users read the entire article in their feed reader. This can negatively affect your page views, advertising revenue, and conversion rates.

By showing the article summary instead of the full article in your RSS feed, you require readers to come to your WordPress website to read the full post.

WordPress comes with a built-in solution. Simply go to Settings » Reading in your WordPress admin dashboard.

Then, scroll down to the section titled ‘For each post in a feed, include’ and select the ‘Excerpt’ radio button.

Show article excerpt in RSS feed

You can also control the number of posts that display in your RSS feed as well.

In the ‘Syndication feeds show the most recent’ box, simply enter a number into the box.

Before you leave this screen, make sure to click the ‘Save Changes’ button to update your RSS feed settings.

5. Add a Featured Image to Posts in RSS Feed

By default, WordPress doesn’t add your post featured images to your RSS feed. When your users read your post in a feed reader, it’ll often pull the first image in your post.

You can change this by adding code to your WordPress files. If you haven’t done this before, then see our beginner’s guide to pasting snippets from the web into WordPress.

All you need to do is add the following code to your functions.php file, in a site specific plugin, or by using a code snippets plugin.

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function wpb_rsstutorial_featuredimage($content) {
global $post;
if(has_post_thumbnail($post->ID)) {
$content = '<p>' . get_the_post_thumbnail($post->ID) .
'</p>' . get_the_content();
}
return $content;
}
add_filter('the_excerpt_rss', 'wpb_rsstutorial_featuredimage');
add_filter('the_content_feed', 'wpb_rsstutorial_featuredimage');

This code simply adds your featured image inside a paragraph just before the post content.

6. Add Custom Post Types to Your RSS Feed

Many WordPress sites use custom post types to create separate sections from regular blog articles.

For example, here at WPBeginner, we created separate custom post types for our Deals and Glossary sections.

If you publish a lot of content using different custom post types, then you’ll want to add these to your main feed.

To do this, you’ll need to add the following code to your functions.php file, in a site specific plugin, or by using a code snippets plugin.

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function myfeed_request($qv) {
    if (isset($qv['feed']) && !isset($qv['post_type']))
        $qv['post_type'] = array('post', 'books', 'movies');
    return $qv;
}
add_filter('request', 'myfeed_request');

This code adds two custom post types, ‘books’ and ‘movies’, to the main RSS feed. Make sure you replace these with your own custom post types.

7. Add Additional Text to Post Titles in RSS

Adding additional text to your post titles in RSS can be helpful if you create multiple kinds of post content.

For example, this can help your readers distinguish between guest posts, regular blog content, and sponsored content.

Here’s a code snippet you can use to display the post category in the title:

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function wpb_rsstutorial_titlecat($content) {
$postcat = "";
foreach((get_the_category()) as $cat) {
$postcat .= ' ('.$cat->cat_name . ')';
}
$content = $content.$postcat;
return $content;
}
add_filter('the_title_rss', 'wpb_rsstutorial_titlecat');

For more details and examples, see our guide on how to completely customize your WordPress RSS feeds.

8. Allow Users to Subscribe to RSS Feed via Email

Not all your users want to use a feed reader to subscribe to your posts. A lot of people will prefer to subscribe by email instead. That’s one reason why having an email newsletter is important.

To send RSS emails automatically, we recommend using Sendinblue. It’s a popular email marketing service provider that has a forever free plan to send up to 300 emails a day.

Enlarging Our Tents With Love Of Neighbour

derick-mckinney-W8kl19hCryA-unsplash.jpg

(Unsplash/Derick McKinney)

(Unsplash/Derick McKinney)

We human beings are complex creatures, and we live in a complex global world. Empires and nation-states compete with one another as diverse economies, cultures, races, genders, ethnicities, identities, religious beliefs, traditions, and practices, political views and parties, forms of governments, classes, ages, social locations, and orientations among many other expressions create and shape the rich fabric of human life.

Amid such extraordinary diversity existing since the beginning of time, four questions emerge from this Sunday’s readings: Who or what is the divine? What is love? Who is our neighbor? How are we to understand “priesthood” apart from its association with holy orders and ordination within the institutional Roman Catholic Church? These timeless questions invite ongoing responses in the context of our complex world.

Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Psalm 18
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 12:28b-34

The first reading from Deuteronomy contains two passages that are central to the Jewish liturgy, namely the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) and the V’ahavta (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 7-9). The double address-command “hear” (the Shema) calls the Israelites to remember God’s essence and their relationship with the one God. Translations of the phrase “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!” varies.

One possibility appearing in several Bibles is: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This translation reflects the principle of monotheism (“one”) which became the backbone of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Early Israelite monotheism seems to have begun as a localized tribal religion in which each tribe worshiped its own patron deity. When the state of Israel became centralized under David and Solomon, certain advocates who wanted “one God” supposedly emerged, and they elevated Israel’s God as the supreme god above all other deities which included El, Asherah and Baal. The intersection of a national religion with politics and the push for power and greater centralization provided the monarchic state with the means to exert ever greater authority over the people, more so than what the ruling monarchy could do alone. Hence, the intersection of religion and politics becomes a force for colonizing people into submission and compliance in biblical times and even today in an increasingly fundamentalist world.

A second possible translation is what appears in today’s reading. This translation also appears in the Jewish Women’s Bible Commentary. This version makes a claim about God’s unique relationship to Israel and does not deny the existence of other divine beings. This understanding is what many scholars have concluded is a pre-monotheistic Israelite belief called monolatry. Monolatry advocates allegiance to one god while recognizing the existence of other deities. When we understand the pre-monotheistic Israelite belief, then the door opens today for understanding the divine in the context of other religions and their expressions of the sacred presence.

“Who or what is God” is the central question for this 21st century world. How we understand the divine goes hand in hand with how we live our lives together as a human community amid burgeoning diversity. The decolonization of monotheism can pave the way for a deeper understanding of the divine in the context of interreligious dialogue which includes indigenous and secular perspectives. The divine cannot be defined, but the divine can be encountered in limitless and diverse ways that can allow us to fall in love with all that exists.

The section that begins “you shall love” (the V’ahavta) describes how people are to embody and live out the teachings of Torah and pass them on to future generations. Keeping Torah entails establishing right relationship with the divine and with all that exists. Keeping Torah always has a communal dimension; it is never about personal piety or personal perfection.

The Gospel reading focuses on love: love of God, love of self and love of neighbor. But what is love? And who is our neighbor? Love is more than feelings and good deeds. Love involves justice, ethical praxis and practice, willing the good for the other, and taking concrete steps to put words into actions. Love calls us to work toward self-knowledge, self-reflection, healing and wholeness in our lives for the sake of holistic, nonviolent and respectful engagement with life.

Love calls us to work toward self-knowledge, self-reflection, healing and wholeness in our lives for the sake of holistic, nonviolent and respectful engagement with life.

Today, “neighbor” can no longer be understood only anthropocentrically. Neighbor includes nonhuman communities, especially the Earth itself, wherein resides the presence of the divine waiting to be encountered. Finally, the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the priesthood of Jesus. The reference is not to the priestly tribe of Levi nor to an ordained clerical priesthood. For some Christian denominations, Jesus, priesthood and ordination have become inseparable. The priesthood of Christ implies being anointed for ministry by the Spirit of God.

Now just think about all creation being anointed into the priesthood of Christ. Not only are humans capable of ministering but also the rest of creation is as well. The challenge for humans is to re-envision ministry so as to be open to being ministered to by our nonhuman neighbors, for in them, too, the Spirit of the divine resides.

France: Can this Journalist Become President and Save France?

Zemmour… tells the leaders of The Republicans that his proposals are exactly those included in their party’s program from 1990… close the borders, suspend immigration, provide social benefits only for the French, and fight the increasing Islamization

Source: France: Can this Journalist Become President and Save France?

How to Become an Expert in Something New

There’s a “special sauce” that can help you get there. But expertise can also come with a curse.

So you want to become an expert in something new. Good for you! But how will you get started? And what can you expect along your journey?

Whether you’re keen to become the next great artist, chef, programmer, or sommelier, read on. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite research into what it takes to become an expert, and what happens when you get there.

1. Learn from Others

Conventional wisdom says it can be useful to look over someone’s shoulder when you’re learning something new. So a newbie jogger might turn to more experienced runners for tips, while a novice programmer might observe how more experienced programmers handled similar code.

But is learning by viewing really better than learning by doing? Or is your best bet to just dive in: to just run that 5K or labor over that chunk of code yourself?

Observing others can be a benefit, according to research from Jan Van Mieghem and Itai Gurvich, both operations professors at Kellogg. But there’s a catch: it’s only better to learn by observation when the person you’re observing is a true veteran.

The team scoured data on the behavior of thousands of eBay analysts and found that those who observed code from veteran coders had the advantage—but analysts who viewed the work of less experienced coders, even those with excellent reputations, struggled more than analysts who simply went it alone.

“Our work seems to indicate that there is huge value for the experienced people to showcase and share their work,” says Van Mieghem.

2. Find a Mentor

If you want to become a superstar in your new field, having a mentor—a veteran—is key. But all mentors are not created equal. So what does good mentorship look like?

According to research from Kellogg’s Brian Uzzi, it looks like expertise … and then a little something extra.

Uzzi and his colleagues looked at over 37,000 scientists, mentees, and the more than 1 million papers that they produced between 1960 and 2017. From this massive trove of data, they found that students who studied under a prizewinning scientist—even before that scientist won a prize—were almost six times more likely to become superstars in their field than equally talented students of non-prizewinners. In other words, these prizewinning mentors were able to pass along what Uzzi calls the “special sauce” to their students.

Most surprising of all: the most successful students were those who ultimately went on to work in a different subject area than their prizewinning mentor. This suggests that the “special sauce” isn’t just about sharing skills. If that were the case, students who continued to study the same subject area would have the edge. Instead, Uzzi believes these mentors are passing along tacit knowledge: how to think through research questions, brainstorm, collaborate, and so on.

3. Expect to Put In Some Grunt Work

Of course, good mentorship doesn’t come cheap. Or rather, it shouldn’t. After all, expertise is worth a lot, says Luis Rayo, a professor of strategy at Kellogg. So what’s a trainee to do?

An apprentice sushi chef could, for instance, attempt to buy an expert’s time. But given the hours required to develop true expertise, that could get quite expensive. “You can, in principle, tell the master, ‘Drop everything, stop cooking for others, close your restaurant, just train me,’” Rayo explains. “And then this famous chef will say, ‘Okay, but you’re going to have to pay me five million dollars.’”

Or perhaps the trainee could offer to pay the top chef back later in her career, once she’s established a successful restaurant. But at that point, she already has all of the skills: What’s to prevent her from turning her back on her one-time mentor?

Instead, novices and experts have landed on an apprenticeship system, where novices are able to glean years’ worth of experience from experts, and in return, experts benefit from their inexpensive labor—and, in particular, the menial tasks that don’t require a lot of expertise out of the gate.

Rayo built a mathematical model to better understand the dynamics of these systems. He found that, in “professions where there’s a considerable amount of knowledge to transfer, the model predicts that you’ll tend to observe large amounts of menial work early in the relationship.”

4. Explore and Exploit

Congrats! You landed a mentor, have put in your time, and are well on your way to success. But what will it take to reach the top of your game?

Kellogg professors Dashun Wang, Jillian Chown, and Nima Dehmamy, as well as Lu Liu, a recently graduated PhD student at Kellogg, analyzed millions of works by thousands of artists, directors, and scientists. They found that experts reach their hottest streaks of career success after a period in which they first explore a range of creative options and then exploit a single option, improving over time.

For example, director Peter Jackson made films that fell into horror, comedy, drama, and other genres (reflecting a period of exploration) before hitting it much bigger with the Lord of the Rings fantasy franchise. Analysis of painter Jackson Pollock’s work, similarly, showed exploration of a wide range of styles before the focused “drip period” (1946–1950) that elevated him to global fame.

“It has to be the combination of exploration followed by exploitation: experimenting in different areas, learning different domains and approaches, then really hunkering down and developing that body of high-impact work,” says Chown.

5. But Expertise Has Its Downsides, Too

Once you’re an expert, it’s hard to go back. For the most point, this is great.

But it’s not all roses. For instance, once you become really good at something, you lose the ability to view it from the perspective of a nonexpert. Steve Franconeri, a professor of psychology at Northwestern with a courtesy appointment at Kellogg, calls this the “curse of expertise.”

The curse of expertise is why an expert viewing a complex dashboard or infographic, for instance, may be able to read it instantly—and fail to realize that it is absolute gibberish to everyone else. So rather than trusting your own expert judgment on whether something you’ve produced is sensible to the masses, you’ll need to rely on other novices.

Here’s another downside to keep in mind: becoming an expert could dim your passion for the things that made you want to become an expert in the first place.

Kellogg professors Loran Nordgren and Derek Rucker have found that novice movie buffs, beer lovers, and wine aficionados tend to use more emotionality in their reviews than those who have had more formal training.

Why? Expertise provides a cognitive structure and an architecture to analyze information. This structure can be helpful, for example, by giving us similar criteria to use in evaluations and thus producing consistent evaluations that aren’t laden with emotion. However, as people apply this cognitive structure, it changes the nature of their experience. For example, a sumptuous wine is no longer just a wine to enjoy, but one to be dissected, analyzed, and compared with others on its quality.

So become an expert, by all means. But just don’t forget: hobbies are fun too.

This Day in History: October 31

The EU’s Dangerous Policy Towards Iran’s Mullahs

The EU also made many concessions to Iran, such as agreeing to include in the nuclear deal sunset clauses enabling the mullahs soon to have as many nuclear weapons as they like. Meanwhile, the EU, which never stops moralizing to other countries about how

Source: The EU’s Dangerous Policy Towards Iran’s Mullahs

Social media constrict the public square

By Phil Lawler ( catholicculture.org ) | Oct 28, 2021

Some people fret that the polar ice cap is shrinking. Personally, I spend more time worrying about the more dramatic shriveling of the public square.

By the “public square” I mean the ordinary discussion of ideas and institutions, policies and personalities, that takes place in any society among neighbors and casual acquaintances. The conversations that take place in the public square are different from the more intimate exchanges between close friends and family members. But they are also different from political debates, in that they do not necessarily involve controversy.

Or rather, perhaps I should say that political debates are one type of conversation that takes place in the public square. Yet a vigorous political debate presumes the existence of the public square; we can speak freely about controversial issues because we have learned to engage in an open, civil conversation.

The size of the public square, taken in this sense, is limited only by the bounds of civility. In any society there are topics which, by common agreement, are simply “not discussed” in polite company. People who persistently violate those boundaries are shunned; they are not welcomed into discussions; they are, in effect, escorted out of the public square.

If political debates are one subset in the realm of public discussion, it is also true that the boundaries of the public square also frame most political debates. Politicians who fail to respect the standards of civility, as set in that public square, usually face rejection. (Donald Trump encountered widespread hostility as a political candidate because he ignored the conventions of polite public discourse, and his rise to power revealed that many American voters were also ready to jettison those conventions.)

In a healthy democracy, the public square is a lively place, with a wide range of discussion. Everyone has an opportunity to speak about the issues that are important to him; new ideas are welcome. In theory the internet, by making it possible for anyone to find a worldwide audience for his thoughts, should have expanded the dimensions of the public square. But in practice, because the most powerful instruments of online communication have fallen under monopolistic control, our public conversation has become severely stunted.

The limits of civility

Again, every society places some limits on polite discourse. Libel and “fighting words” are unacceptable, as is shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. We know, almost instinctively—or learn more painfully, through snubs and rebukes and punishments—that there are some things we should not say. It is not easy to define the sort of offenses that make someone unpopular, but—as Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography—“I know it when I see it.”

But those common standards have been shifting rapidly—as in fact the prevalence of pornography demonstrates. Not that long ago Justice Stewart could confidently assume that most Americans shared at least a general sense of what constituted a violation of civil standards; now the crudest sorts of pornographic material are just a few mouse-clicks away, and celebrities chat unapologetically about their preferences in porn. As Irving Kristol remarked, “A liberal is one who says that it’s all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as she gets paid the minimum wage.”

Notice, now, that in Kristol’s wry illustration of the problem, there still are acknowledged offenses against civility. The porn is acceptable by liberal standards; the substandard wage is not. The shift in public standards does not mean that we have a broader, freer range of public expression; it only means that the boundaries have been redrawn, and different types of expression are now beyond the pale.

In fact, whereas an early generation shunned those who talked about sex, today it is deemed an offense against liberal standards to suggest any restraint on sexual expression. Drag queens are more likely to find acceptance in public spaces than proponents of traditional Judeo-Christian morality. The latter, in fact, may be charged with “hate speech” for criticizing the former. And this is a one-way street; the drag queens will not be indicted for condemning Christianity.

When truth is unwelcome

Against this background, consider the plight of Congressman Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, whose Twitter account was suspended when he identified Rachel Levine, the transgender assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, as a man. A Washington Post headline gasped that Banks had “intentionally misgendered” Levine. Twitter informed him that his account would be unlocked only when he deleted the offending comment, because: “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people…” on the Twitter platform.

What had Banks actually said? When Levine was given the rank of a four-star admiral, as the new head of the US Public Health Service Commission Corps, the congressman observed: “The title of first female four-star gets taken by a man.”

Here Banks was stating a fact. Rachel Levine is a biological male, and it is a measure of our society’s confusion that a leading public-health official is unable to accept the undeniable evidence of his own chromosomes. Congressman Banks did not “promote violence against, threaten, or harass” Levine; he merely refused to accept as fact the fiction that Levine can, by an act of will, alter biological reality.

But the facts do not matter. Banks has been banished from the public square—or at least from that considerable portion of the public conversation that takes place on Twitter. Other social-media platforms will quickly follow suit, as will the mainstream print and broadcast media outlets that take their cues from the same arbiters of liberal standards.

Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali Discusses His Decision to Convert to Catholicism

He will be ordained a priest Oct. 30 for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Then-Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali holds a communion service at a conference of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans at Westminster Central Hall on July 6, 2009, in London.
Then-Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali holds a communion service at a conference of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans at Westminster Central Hall on July 6, 2009, in London. (photo: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty)

LONDON — “Because it is the only Church where decisions that affect everyone are made so that they ‘stick’; where there is a body of doctrinal and moral teaching that can guide the faithful; and where there is a magisterium that can teach effectively. There is also a lively sacramental and devotional tradition which appeals.”

These plainly stated words were the reasons why Michael Nazir-Ali, a prominent former Anglican bishop, decided to become Catholic. Nazir-Ali spoke via email to the Register on Oct. 25.

A week or so before, on Oct. 14, the British political magazine The Spectator had reported that the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, England, had joined the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. This personal ordinariate, directly subject to the Holy See, was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their patrimony.

On Sept. 29, the feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels, Nazir-Ali was received into communion with the Church by the group’s ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton.