Friday, December 3, 2010

What Google Ad Preferences Taught Me About Myself

I am obviously not dedicated to the cause, seeing as I skipped last week, but here is me making up for my delinquency:

(Take Two!)


From my book shelf: Fr. James V. Schall's 'The Unseriousness of Human Affairs' (which is utterly fantastic):

"If we lack truth, especially if we deny truth is possible--the relativist position that dominates almost every university faculty today--nothing else that we lack will really matter much."

"It is a crime against humanity to make the materially poor also spiritually poor, to given them hope of only bread rather than every word that comes from God."

"The great source of public immorality is always private immorality, or to put it differently, there is no such thing as a sin that does not have public consequences, no such thing as a sin that does not require repentance and hence acknowledgment of the intrinsic disorder it puts into the world. Intellectual poverty is rooted in, and tends to, moral poverty, to an unwillingness to know the truth in action, to recognize the distinction of right and wrong and, more importantly, to live it."

"I consider utopians of every sort, therefore, to be intellectually poor, however sophisticated their systems. They are modern Pelagians who do not see any need of grace, who do not see any need of an independent truth by which they might correct their ideas about what the would should be like. And behind all these lofty theories is almost always a sinful, deviant heart bent on rejecting that conversion of soul from which all social reforms ultimately derives."



Last week and this week were major letter mailing weeks. I have been very bad about mailing letters these past few months to people whom I did not specifically promise one too, but the implied that I would, which is almost as bad. The Catholic guilt finally got to me and letters have been sent to places likes Happydale, Maryland, Santa Barbara, Clemson, Georgia and even to France, to my Little studying-abroad. It was fantastic!  Mail is like sending a little present, if one considers thought a gift.

This week I have also been working on Christmas cards. My mom sends out lots of Christmas cards to family and family friends every year and I decided I would send out Christmas cards this year too! I started looking around for local cards (to support the small businesses), but was generally dissatisfied with the selection out there. My oldest friend Bi started her own company called Prippie earlier this year and one day, while perusing her site, I saw she was doing stationary! Well, that settled it. She designed a card for me and I placed my order! I am crossing my fingers I can get them sent out by early next week... my hand keeps cramping up. I know; I can be a total pansy.

Me and Bi are like peas and carrots

Last week, Jill, a friend from college, posted a link for Gmail users and, upon clicking on it, I was vaguely amused by the list of general topics I am interested in according to Google analytics; topics like Law and Government, News, Campaigns and Elections, Humanities and Philosophy. All very interesting topics, yes? Then I read this: Demographics - Gender - Male.

Oh no, no, no. Google, you are mistaken. I am definitely a female.

A little indignant and wanting answers of why Google would say my gender is a male (my Gmail does start with "julie"- which is not an androgynous name), I clicked on the question mark, which told me, "Based on the websites you've visited, we think you're interested in topics that mostly interest men."

Not sure whether to be infuriated or laugh over the mishap of gender recognition, I gchatted another college friend, ZS, and told him what Google told me; I told him I was not sure how to take it. He replied "I don't imagine you google hollywood relationships enough." Always the insightful one, ZS.

Still not satisfied, I gchatted Jill herself, and she apparently had the same results. Then she said what I was thinking: "Kind of sexist, in a way."

The worse part is, however, that I am not even sure how to make Google Ad Preferences think I am a female. How many hours of internet searches would convince Google I am a girl? And what kind of searches? It begs the question that, even in the age of physical female liberation, are we still considered silly creatures mentally? Women want equal pay and reproductive rights, but they can't think seriously about life. And if a person can't think seriously, how could they be expected to act so? 

This makes me think of one of my favorite lines from Jane Austen, at the end of 'Pride and Prejudice,' when Mr. Bennett forbids Kitty from leaving the house unless she can prove she has spent 10 minutes in a rational manner! Always the pragmatist, Mr. Bennett.


A very happy Advent to all of you! I know, this should have been first in my list. OSV posted a wonderful list of "Ten Ways to Make Advent more Meaningful":

Reflect on Advent as a time of waiting. The idea of waiting is not popular in our culture of instant gratification, but it creates in us a new kind of self-discipline that helps us to appreciate the present moment and look to the future with peaceful anticipation.

Turn your breathing into a prayer. Take a few deep breaths throughout the day and imagine that God's love is flowing through you to every part of your body. As you exhale, let go of tension, worry and anything else that is not of God.

Long for the Lord. Make it a habit of silently praying, "Come, Lord Jesus."

Unite with Mary. Set aside time once a day to join Our Lady in praying the Canticle of Mary (see Lk 1:46-55).

Do something nice for someone every day. It might be an encouraging word, a phone call, a note of appreciation or a little act of kindness.

Get rid of grudges. Use Advent as an opportunity to let go of any anger or resentment that you might be holding onto.

Pray for patience. If you find yourself becoming anxious or upset, ask the Lord for the gift of patience. Then make a conscious effort to be a more patient person.

Offer up something painful or difficult in your life. The best way to transform trials and tensions is to turn them into a prayer.

Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Attend your parish penance service and take advantage of the opportunity to cleanse your soul in preparation for the coming of Jesus.

Think about the special gifts and talents God has given you. How are you using these gifts?


I saw Harry Potter 7 1/2 with my family last weekend. I liked most of it, except for one unnecessarily graphic scene and Dobby's death. No, I did not cry when he died. Apparently I am in the minority when I say it was overdone and I was unmoved. I did shed a tear when Hermione wiped her parents' memories; I was not expecting that scene in the first two minutes of the movie. I like how true the movie's script stayed to the book. I spent half the movie squeezing my sister's hand though because I was so scared. Yes, scared. Yes, I've read all the books.

Nevertheless, I am way more excited for the new Narnia movie: yay 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader'!


Not a huge fan of the title of this video ("The Advent Conspiracy" -- it is too hip for my lingo!), but the Advent message here is clear and meaningful to the spirit of the liturgical season. 


If you do not read The New Criterion, I suggest you pick up a copy. Even perusing through it will make your soul soar with its fine prose, wit and insight. Here is a Notes & Comments piece from the November issue, called "Speaking of multicultualism... On Chancellor Merkel's recent comments."

Do you suppose Angela Merkel, the trenchant German Chancellor, reads The New Criterion? We ask because she seems to share our antipathy toward “multiculturalism,” that spurious doctrine, born in the hothouse of Western universities, that proclaims the glories of “diversity” and egalitarianism but is really a blind for anti-Western, and especially anti-American, animus. “All cultures are equal,” chant the multiculturalists, like characters out of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “but some are more equal than others.” It is one of the great rhetorical ironies of the age that what travels under the name of “multiculturalism” is really a form of mono-cultural animus directed against the dominant culture—our culture, the culture of the West. In essence, as Samuel Huntington noted in his book Who Are We?, multiculturalism is “anti-European civilization. . . .

It is basically an anti-Western ideology.” Multiculturalists claim to be fostering a progressive cultural cosmopolitanism distinguished by superior sensitivity to the downtrodden and dispossessed. In fact, they encourage an orgy of self-flagellating liberal guilt as impotent as it is insatiable. The “sensitivity” of the multiculturalist is an index not of moral refinement but of moral vacuousness. As the French essayist Pascal Bruckner observed, “An overblown conscience is an empty conscience”:

Compassion ceases if there is nothing but compassion, and revulsion turns to insensitivity. Our “soft pity,” as Stefan Zweig calls it, is stimulated, because guilt is a convenient substitute for action where action is impossible. Without the power to do anything, sensitivity becomes our main aim. The aim is not so much to do anything, as to be judged. Salvation lies in the verdict that declares us to be wrong.
Multiculturalism is a moral intoxicant; its thrill centers around the emotion of superior virtue; its hangover subsists on a diet of ignorance and blighted “good intentions.”

Wherever the imperatives of multiculturalism have touched the curriculum, they have left broad swaths of anti-Western attitudinizing competing for attention with quite astonishing historical blindness. Courses on minorities, women’s issues, and the Third World proliferate; the teaching of mainstream history slides into oblivion. “The mood,” Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. wrote in The Disuniting of America, his excellent book on the depredations of multiculturalism, “is one of divesting Americans of the sinful European inheritance and seeking redemptive infusions from non-Western cultures.”

But multiculturalism is not only an academic phenomenon. The attitudes it fosters have profound social as well as intellectual consequences. One consequence has been a sharp rise in the phenomenon of immigration without—or with only partial—assimilation: a dangerous demographic trend that threatens the identity of host countries, in Europe as well as the United States, in the most basic way.

These various agents of dissolution are also elements in a wider culture war: the contest to define how we live and what counts as “the good” in the good life. Anti-Americanism and the charge of being “Eurocentric” occupy such prominent places on the agenda of the culture wars precisely because the traditional values of Western identity are deeply at odds with the radical, de-civilizing tenets of the multiculturalist enterprise. This is something that seems to have been vividly borne in upon Ms. Merkel. The attempts to build a “multicultural” society in Germany, she recently acknowledged, have “failed, utterly failed.” Immigrants, she said, in a speech that stunned the bien pensants, need to do more, much more, to integrate into German society, including learning German.

Kudos to Ms. Merkel for having the courage to articulate this home truth: that immigration is fine, but that there should be no immigration without assimilation. We suspect other European leaders are coming to the same realization, though whether they can muster Ms. Merkel’s forthrightness remains to be seen. Given the dour demographic realities in Europe, it may be a recognition that is too little too late. But it is nonetheless heartening to see this blunt political reality publicly acknowledged for what it is.

In other news, I've spent the week explaining to my dog that this is NOT Take Heidi to Work Week just because my sisters keeps telling her it is. Tonight, I have another Kappa sister's wedding and tomorrow a Happydale friend and his date will be attending a wedding here in my hometown and staying at my casa. That combined with summoning the endurance to keep writing should provide me with a fun and interesting weekend! I hope y'all have the same! Check out Conversion Diary for more and Happy Friday!

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