Dec 27, 2006

Answers I'm Mostly Ashamed Of

Wolftracker has tagged me with questions initiated by The Curt Jester at the Catholic blog Splendor of Truth. Even though I very rarely participate in such things, I believe there are several good reasons to respond. First, Wolftracker asked me. Second, my answers will show a few of my many weaknesses, which is very good to undermine my pride. Third, the questions address the positive actions we should engage in as Catholics, and provide an excellent incentive to develop New Year's resolutions.

(1) Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus: There's a small prayerbook that fits in your shirt pocket which was published in 1931 by Fr. F.X. Lasance, Let Us Go to Jesus, and it has been reprinted by The Angelus Press. The prayerbook contains The Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that I learned at Thursday evening novenas in the '40s and '50s. The prayer remains contemporary and asks Jesus to "Be the King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them all into the light and kingdom of God. " BTW, if you, the reader, want a free copy of the little prayerbook, send your name and mailing address to

(2) Favorite Marian devotion or prayer: The Memorare is probably my favorite. It is certainly the prayer I hope to say at the end of my life. I've even heard it prayed by an actress on a TV police/fire drama when someone had suffered a terrible accident or crime. [That's why it is good for Catholics to become script writers—especially for you, K and E!]

(3) Do you wear a scapular or medal? I wear a 4-way medal in the form of a cross, a cruciform medal. Many years ago, I tried wearing the brown and green scapulars, but they always seemed to get dirty or tangled or the string would tear off. Guess I'm not a very good advertisement for cloth scapulars.

(4) Do you have holy water in your home? Yes, my husband keeps it refilled. Most of the time I pass by without using it. First New Year's Resolution—I will cross myself with holy water at least once a day.

(5) Do you offer up your sufferings? For many years I complained much about the state of the Church and individual churchmen whose actions drove people out of the church and into hell. Then about a year or two ago, I began to place my sufferings in the hands of Mary to distribute, with a request that she especially remember the souls of poor priests in purgatory. Even though many priests I knew were guilty of many serious sins, they did forgive my sins many times during the past 60+ years, and I owe them more than I can repay.

(6) Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays? I go to Mass on most First Fridays and First Saturdays, but no longer try to make the required number of sequences. My Mother took us children to the Nine First Fridays and the Five First Saturdays when I was growing up.

(7) Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? Yes.

How frequently: Less than I should. Second New Year's Resolution—I will pray to Our Lord in the exposed Blessed Sacrament each and every week.

(8) Are you a Saturday night Mass person or Sunday morning? A small book on the AntiChrist was written by the priest, P. Huchede, in 1884. Even though I read the book many, many years ago (it was reprinted by Tan Books in the 1970s), I remember Fr. Huchede saying that the Fathers of the Church believed that one of the signs of the coming of the AntiChrist would be the Mass returning to the Sabbath. Nevertheless, I have weakened a few times in my life (although not recently) and did attend Saturday evening Novus Ordo Masses.

(9) Do you say prayers at mealtime? Yes, most of the time. I remembered to pray with the sign of the cross before eating a delicious new (for me) Spicy Chicken Salad at Taco Bell today. Highly recommended—both the salad bowl and praying before eating, but not in that order.

(10) Favorite saints: Did you just ask my name? Also St. Michael the Archangel and St. Mary Magdalene.

(11) Do you know the Apostles Creed by heart: Yes, my husband and I recite it every night.

(12) Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day? If you’re asking about indulgenced prayers, not very often, regretfully. I do pray extemporaneously during the day when I see a special need or when I want to give God thanks for favors that come so generously.

(13) When you pass an accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the persons involved? If it looks serious, I do. Otherwise, I’m a fool and simply say he/she shouldn’t have been driving so fast or so carelessly. Third New Year’s resolution: I promise to pray for all accident victims that I see and not make rash judgements.

(14) What public sin do you find most difficult to manage from day to day? Bragging about how good I am, especially doing it indirectly with a touch of snobbery--the worst kind of pride.

Whom do I tag: Nobody. But I do recommend the questions to others to help them make New Year's resolutions that will assist them in becoming better Catholics.

Dec 26, 2006

The Future: GOOGLE

Ever since reading the novel 1984 (about 25 years before 1984 actually came), I've been waiting for Big Brother to appear in history. It seems clear that Big Brother is coming closer with ever-expanding and powerful computer networks. As early as 2003 Google-Watch nominated Google for its "Big Brother" award, citing nine serious concerns--especially regarding privacy. Since then Google has advanced in age, talents, and power, as evidenced by reviewing Google's current services.

David A. Vise of The Washington Post is not the only one who wants to know "What Lurks in Its [Google's] Soul?"
Google is compiling a genetic and biological database using the vast power of its search engines; scanning millions of books without traditional regard for copyright laws; tracing online searches to individual Internet users and storing them indefinitely; demanding cell phone numbers in exchange for free e-mail accounts (known as Gmail) as it begins to build the first global cell phone directory; saving Gmails forever on its own servers, making them a tempting target for law enforcement abuse; inserting ads for the first time in e-mails; making hundreds of thousands of cheap personal computers to serve as cogs in powerful global networks.
Earlier this year, The Economist asked an important question and gave an answer:
If Google is a religion, what is its God? It would have to be The Algorithm. Faith in the possibility of an omniscient and omnipotent algorithm appears to be what Messrs Page and Brin have in common. It's 'in their DNA'...
So what is The Algorithm? The basic algorithm was discussed first by Alan Turing, called the "father of Computer Science." Turing was an English mathematician who studied artificial intelligence to determine if a machine could someday achieve consciousness. He developed the "Turing Test" in which a person alternately interrogates a computer and a real person (through teletype machines). If the interrogator cannot tell which is the real person, then it can be concluded the computer has achieved the intelligence and consciousness of a human being. Turing committed suicide in 1954.

The Economist further noted that Google is assembling a massive global computing grid. "'Eventually', says Mr. Saffo, 'they're trying to build the machine that will pass the Turing test'—in other words, an artificial intelligence that can pass as a human in written conversations. Wisely or not, Google wants to be a new sort of deus ex machina."

Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998. So who are Larry Page and Sergey Brin? What are their beliefs? Do they have a religion? Larry Page is known to have been influenced by Nikola Tesla, a brilliant Serbian inventor with hundreds of superior patents, yet who died poor in the 1940s. Wikipedia's article notes: "Many of his [Tesla's] achievements have been used, with some controversy, to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories, and New Age occultism."

Earlier this year Page and Brin founded a not-for-profit foundation,, and appointed Dr. Larry Brilliant as Executive Director to administer Google's philanthropic activities. The mission and strategic goals of seem somewhat similar to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which is also funded by multi-billionaire Warren Buffet).

Dr. Larry Brilliant will decide the mission objectives of the Google charitable foundation and how to spend a great deal of money provided by Page and Brin to change the world. Wikipedia says Dr. Brilliant lived in India for ten years, first at a Himalayan ashram studying with Neem Karoli Baba (a Hindu sage) from whom he received the name Subramanyum. Later at his guru's insistance he began working as a diplomat for the United Nations to conquer smallpox.

Dr. Brilliant's interview tells us a lot more, including:
I did things that I would never imagine that I could ever do, or would want to do, again. I was part of the American Civil Liberties Union when I was back in Detroit, and here I was in India breaking into people's homes in the middle of the night and forcibly vaccinating them, because they were spreading smallpox to the entire world and there were some places that had become such broadcasters of smallpox that thousands of people were dying because that community would not allow themselves to be vaccinated, even when the law said they had to be vaccinated or they had to go to jail, or they had to be forcibly vaccinated. So, there were a lot of ways that you had to use the whole nature of yourself in service to this amazing historic moment.
The entire interview should be read to see glimpses of how Google and its not-for-profit foundation will change the world. Google's corporate philosophy should also be reviewed, including "Google believes in instant gratification." Even though the motto of Google is "Do no evil," Lord Acton observed: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Dec 24, 2006

Computer Issues

This past week, the computer stopped working and smelled like burnt electronics. Three possibilities were considered--a failed power supply, a broken power-on switch, or a ruined motherboard. The power switch checked out okay, and the power supply seemed the next most likely cause of failure. A new power supply did not help, but I'm glad I replaced the small unit with a larger one. A new motherboard and processor have been ordered and I hope will resolve the problem. In the meantime, I'm trying to use a new notebook with only a touchpad. It works, and that's all I can say for it.