Lighter Fare… not so much. POLL!

It’s starting to feel like this, isn’t it?

Be honest, now.   Has it crossed your mind?  Even in a fleeting way?


Since stories about US Govt data mining broke, I looked at my computer and wondered if I am being scrutinized.

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in I'm just askin'..., Liberals, Lighter fare, Pò sì jiù, POLLS, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I took the “often” option, but would suggest “What do you mean since those stories broke? I’ve thought so for quite a while now!”

  2. APX says:

    Now that you mention it… I just got off the phone with PayPal Security Investigations Department. Somehow a suspicious US shipping address (I live in Canada) was entered into my account the exact same day I started using my account again to make mass purchases of very sound old Catholic books. *cue creepy x-files music*

  3. acardnal says:

    I cannot respond to this poll on this computer.

  4. APX says:


    They’re watching our every move. Those red light cameras? They’re stalking us…

  5. mamajen says:

    Not happy about it, but I’m also aware of the sheer volume of information they’re dealing with, so I don’t feel particularly paranoid. I also suspect the whistleblower exagerrated their capabilities a bit. I don’t trust him completely.

    Hey, Obama, can you delete my spam while you’re in there? Thx.

  6. Between politics in the world and the increasing sin, plus knowledge of this “great chastizement, perhaps we should all take a page out of Fr Z’s book and buy survival equipment. Prepare to go off grid True Catholics

    [Maybe we need a Catholic prepper network.]

  7. Konrad says:

    It has quite a bit of irony that the whistleblower had to flee the USA and now seeks asylum in China. USA, land of Freedom and home of Liberty, where hast Thou gone?

  8. StJude says:

    I have verizon (although I’m sure its all carriers).. and I am vocal about my dislike for Obama on the internet, I am pro life and member of the NRA.. I am probably on a list somewhere.

  9. Hans says:

    Really, why is anybody really surprised??

  10. Charles E Flynn says:

    Was Cheney Right About Obama?, by Patrick Radden Keefe, at the New Yorker.

  11. ghp95134 says:

    Wellllll …. since I work for a federal agency, I KNOW I’m being monitored. Every day when I log on, I’m reminded.

  12. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I remember hearing Professor John Finnis say he would never appear on any but a live broadcast, to prevent the dishonest, in the first instance, from editing his words into something he did not say.

    But, of course, once something live has been recorded, it becomes just as vulnerable.

    Any text committed to paper or another ‘medium’, any speech carried by or through any ‘medium’, must surely be presumed to have (potentially) an ‘independent’ and, so, abusable existence.

    Perhaps a particular practical, temporal instance of Our Lord’s words, “Quoniam quae in tenebris dixistis, in lumine dicentur: et quod in aurem locuti estis in cubiculis, praedicabitur in tecta” (Luke 12:3)?

  13. Quite honestly, I don’t have to wonder whether my computer is being scrutinized. It’s pretty obvious it’s scrutinized for purposes of targeted advertising.

  14. lelnet says:

    I never wonder. I simply assume I’m being scrutinized. (Seriously. What did all these shocked people imagine the NSA was _for_? They’re spies. Spying on people is what they _do_. And hoovering up all the communications they can get their hands on is what the NSA has been doing since the day they were founded. Read “The Puzzle Palace”.) It doesn’t bother me unduly.

    It’s not that I don’t have sins…but I’m pretty confident that if the state ever comes for me, it’ll be for something that’ll end up qualifying me as a martyr. The sins to which I fall victim aren’t really the ones that government is going to punish.

  15. majuscule says:

    I find it difficult to type these days because I feel the need to hold my thumb (or sometimes my little finger) over the camera lens on my iPad.

    Must remember to get some duct tape…

  16. Imrahil says:

    Dear @lelnet, lucky you! I have a feeling that the State, when once (which still is not yet out there) he would start prosecution… then he would dig and dig and dig for things that are, when the rubber hits the pavement, are, somehow, sins.

    Think of a person who confesses to the Church’s and the natural doctrine regarding homosexuality. As long as he can, the State will not say “I consider heteronormativity a heresy and put those who hold it to the stake”. For one thing, we won’t get the stake. We will, if anything, get the reeducation camp. And then, what I wanted to say: the State will raise and raise the penalties for incitement-of-hatred; which will certainly be the name, but, if the State is smart, also the thing. If the State is smart, he will wait for the one second where the Christian (it must be said) actually did go a quarter of an inch too far into popular ways of speeking (“populism” or, at will, “demagogy”). Christians being men like the rest of us, these one seconds will appear. And then… you know.

    Also I wonder which sort of sins are ones the government is not going to punish. I do not ask you to give a public confession, just as a general remark. There may be hope (at least I have this hope) that the State still cannot take care of all the little things happening in unimportant persons like me. But principally, all modern forces are moralist from the bottom. They only allow for the things whose ban has become a sign of Catholic morality – and perhaps for the things that are “grave choices” that certainly make no fun. Now I have a feeling that the Catholic if he does sin, principally sins for the fun of it. And about these things, both the real excess and the measured amount erroneously considered sinful by a Puritan mentality, they will have bad times. A law against smoking in pubs is already in force around here.

  17. Imrahil says:

    Now I have a feeling that the Catholic if he does sin, principally sins for the fun of it.

    or because he omits a duty that is hard (e. g. suppressing anger). Which might be fought against under the guise of “naturality”, though here, assigning penalties will be rather harder.

  18. majuscule says:

    And then there’s this with my Facebook picture right here in the sidebar on Father Z’s blog:
    “You and 1,727 others are following John Zuhlsdorf.”

    Can’t trust anyone any more.

    Grumble grumble

  19. iPadre says:

    It’s happened before we had all this technology, so why wouldn’t it now. Worldly people lust for power and anything to strength it. Yes, they are watching and have been for a while. They know who’s who in the Catholic world – preach against abortion, same-sex marriage, artificial birth control, religious liberty, … and who never says a word.

    Why do you think they are building this data base? Viva Christo Rey!

  20. ray from mn says:

    I am somewhat familiar with the workings of NSA, based on my Army service some 50 years ago. Do you really think that they “scrutinize” billions of messages a month, looking for spies, terrorists and other persons of interest?

    The system is set up to scan your email (or other forms of communication) to see if you have been in communication with known spies, terrorists and other persons of interest. If so, then you will be added to the LIST and regularly scrutinized. That’s probably .000000000001% of the messages sent each month.

    The addresses of the known spies, terrorists and other persons of interest are often discovered using James Bond tactics.

  21. Cantor says:

    And conveniently, the fingerprints of every Catholic leader, from priests and deacons to choir members and Catechism teachers, are already conveniently on file with the FBI.

  22. Maltese says:

    Just pay cash and get a “throw phone” (e.g. a Tracphone or the like). The bad guys use them, and so does the US Intelligence Community. You use it for a few weeks, and toss it. Still cheaper than Verizon.

    Very funny cartoon, btw.!

  23. CGPearson says:

    Yes, but this is nothing new. Obama is a monster, but remember that all of this invasion of privacy was just as rampant under Bush.

    Many are trying to make this into a partisan issue. It’s not.

  24. Maltese says:

    And there is no way in heck the USG is looking at your computer, unless you’ve done something bad. But the Chinese and google are. Have you ever really considered how Google makes its money? Data mining!

    The point about prepping is apropos. Not because of the NSA, but because of FEMA. If an event larger than Katrina were to happen somewhere, who is going to bail YOU out? Only YOU! Lol!

  25. Maltese says:

    Actually in all seriousness, the best way to prep is sustainability. If you’re in a big city, this is hard, but not impossible. If you are in the country, it might be easier, unless you don’t have a social network, and thus face marauders.

    I gave my last Glock to my best-friend, who is a defense attorney, because he wanted it, and couldn’t find one. But I still have an AR. ARs aren’t good unless you REALLY know how to use them. Joe Biden was right about one thing: get a shotgun. Get a 15 shell, semi-automatic shot gun. A) you can’t miss, and B) you can’t shoot through a wall and accidentally kill a family member.

    When a bad-guy comes into your house, you are going to be shaking like an Aspen tree!

  26. scribbly says:

    Sure, we shouldn’t be surprised, but that doesn’t stop it being shocking and sobering.

    I understand that the US Police depts are also amassing a huge amount of Car / GPS data via car plate scanning (, which gives them the ability to go back in time to plot your movements, and already has been used illegally by individuals.

    Obviously the disparate data is, or will be, mashed together: car locations / phone locations / calls / mobile locations… as Malte Spitz found: it maps his life ( and when it’s only used against bad guys it seems OK, but we aren’t the ones who put the good / bad guy labels on people.

  27. SKAY says:

    ray from mn–Doesn’t it depend on who or what group this administration labels as a terrorist?
    It is becoming clear they did not have a problem using the IRS to target those who do not agree with them.

    “WASHINGTON, D,C, July 5, 2012, ( – Two years after incensing pro-life conservatives and believers in limited government, the Department of Homeland Security has funded another report fingering anti-abortion groups, “fundamentalists,” and those “suspicious of centralized federal authority” as potential sources of terrorism.

    The report, which seeks to analyze the regions of the U.S. most susceptible to terrorist attack, attributes the greatest share of violence over the last 40 years to “single issue” organizations, mentioning “anti-abortion” groups as the first of only four examples: “anti-abortion, anti-Catholic, anti-nuclear, anti-Castro.”

    Brian Clowes, Director of Research for Human Life International was incensed with the report. “They are cherry picking,” he told LifeSiteNews. “They put in the anti-nukes as a sop when they’re really after the pro-lifers,” Clowes added. “What’s amazing is that unions are not mentioned at all in the report, when they’ve likely been responsible for more terrorist acts than all the listed single issue group examples combined.”

  28. Bea says:

    Gregg the Obscure
    I’ve thought that way too, for a long time.

    Me, too, this computer, this blog, this anywhere.
    Not that I have anything important to say, nevertheless I often think when is someone going to come knocking at my door. The gestapo is alive and well.
    I’ve noted for some time now, that certain of my friends don’t email anything important anymore.
    Are we being silenced by fear? What a tool for tyranny.
    Stop looking over my shoulder.
    I’m not Eric Holder.
    Nothing important to say,
    So please get on your way.
    Right to privacy for Roe vs Wade
    But loyal Americans just don’t make the grade.
    Land of the Free, we said in the past,
    But the way we are going just leaves me aghast.
    “Be not afraid” our Pope once said
    And if we be fearless, will we end up dead?
    I thought I was getting paranoid
    But these are thoughts that we now can’t avoid.
    Our country is now on a roller coaster ride
    We’ll be lucky if we can get out alive.
    Then general consensus:
    “We’ve lost leave of our senses”

  29. av8er says:

    Catholic prepper group not a bad idea. Where to go for the Eucharist if it all goes to pot? A priest should be essential, just like a tinker, medically trained person, mechanic, electrician etc.

  30. backtothefuture says:

    I’m sure all of us here are on some kind of list.

  31. Singing Mum says:

    I just don’t think what I do is important enough for govt goofs to care.
    They can’t get much right- who says they are collectively competent enough to be a problem?
    My bigger fears revolve around all the small c catholics who will be willing to point fingers in hopes of avoiding trouble. It takes a lot of energy to live big, live joyfully, and prepare for martyrdom. But I suppose that is the task of Catholics in any era.

  32. JabbaPapa says:

    Can’t really answer, none of the proposed answers fit.

    This news affects my attitude not a jot, but this is because I have been aware of the fact since late 1980s/early 1990s that all motherboards commercially built according to internationally agreed specifications anywhere in the world include a CIA design feature in order to make them easily and quickly accessible to government spies.

    Computers and phones do NOT even need to be switched on to work as listening devices.

    I’ve also been under the personal scrutiny and phone tapping of a Police force.

    The trick is really, to deal with this, if you are in a position whereby you are likely to be under Police or State/Federal/Military/Foreign surveillance is just to assume that you have these extra, silent participants in your conversation. You can even say some things directed towards them personally, if you’re feeling cheeky.

    The ONLY way to ensure confidentiality in any conversation of import is for that conversation to take place in a sound-proofed room, and for everyone to leave ALL of their telephones and computers outside of the room. Well, unless it’s a Papal Conclave or something, in which case some even more strenuous precautions such as electronic jamming devices may be required.

  33. jflare says:

    Oddly, I hadn’t actually thought all that much about being “watched” as a result of revelations about data mining in particular. For the most part, I’ve mostly taken such concerns as a given that somebody, somewhere, most likely IS watching what I’m doing. At least to some degree. If you assume that government or other interests are NOT, PUBLIC channels..I think you’re in for a nasty surprise.

    If you wish to avoid being a “target” for something, you must be careful enough to ensure to avoid attracting attention.
    ..That’s becoming more difficult these past few years as one or another government agency has decided that people of faith, pro-lifers, or other “dangerous” types pose some sort of threat to public security.

  34. Kerry says:

    The NSA scrutiny , actual or imagined, barely resembles the scrutiny at life’s end. (Would that Priests used this comparison in Sunday’s homilies.)

  35. Darren says:

    1. I subscribe to this blog, therefore I am on a list
    2. I have worked on projects for defense contractors, therefore I am on a list
    3. I have and will continue to work with hazardous chemicals, therefore I am a list
    4. I attended a high profile US Navy event in NYC in 2009, went through a thorough background check before my invitation was mailed to me, therefore I am on a list
    5. I am registered republican, largely conservative, and have expressed such things online over time, therefore I am on a list
    6. I voted against Obama, TWICE! therefore I am on a list
    7. I went to see the documentary: 2016 Obama’s America… therefore I am on a list
    8. I have visited the NRA’s website, Alex Jones’ website and numerous others like them at least one, therefore I am on a list
    9. I am Catholic and do not hide it, therefore I am on a list
    10. I have prayed outside an abortion mill, therefore I am on a list

    Then, as I recently went into the details of my Facebook, my Yahoo, etc… I found other log on instances still connected and asked if I wanted to close them… not any places I have ever been! Maybe it had something to do with my company laptop and when I was traveling (it always picks someplace in Michigan as my first location when I want to check weather etc… never been to Michigan nor is the company HQ any where near there). Strange…

    I am on a list!

  36. wmeyer says:

    Really, imagination is not needed to see where this can lead. Just watch For Greater Glory.
    Again. And again. Great film, and I’m sure most Americans, in particular, do not even realize that less than 100 years ago, Catholics were persecuted and shot, close to home. Much less, that our own government did not intercede to end the persecution.

  37. oldCatholigirl says:

    I am presumably farther down on lists than the people/organizations whose blogs I follow, and possibly than some of my conservative e-mail correspondents. Come to think of it, though, my deceased husband was a political activist (if you call disseminating truth about the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions activism–and the government did). I still bear his name. So….

    When attitudes that have become non-PC become actively targeted, I figure that it would be easy to bring up associated names, since I can bring up thousands of entries on any topic simply by googling a couple of words, and I guess computers take the work out of weeding out irrelevant data for those who know how to manipulate them. Makes one wonder how poor Hitler and Stalin managed in the good ol’ days. Please God, we’ll be given strength to bear incarceration, torture, active forms of martyrdom. It’s the spectre of re-education and mis-information that scares me.

  38. The poll choices aren’t accurate enough! “Often” isn’t it, the top choice should be ‘always and everywhere routinely’.

    C’mon guys, how could anyone possibly believe that only ‘persons of interest’ are monitored?
    – as noted above by Anita, advertisers get all kinds of information from every kind of source; why do you think your junk email, internet ads match your age and interests? or the junk in your paper mail? or the sales calls you get? this is not a new phenomena
    – credit card companies sell every piece of information about you that they have, even including what you say when you speak to the Customer Care rep
    – phone companies have been tracking customer information at least since the 70s, this is how tariffs and long-distance charges were structured for instance [based on distance, frequency, time-of-day, population counts, etc]
    – aren’t boxes on new cars being included that give every vehicle the ability to be tracked, just like the apps for finding a lost cell phone or tracking teenagers?

    And yes, this is a lot of information which may not be acted on at all times. However if you ever ‘come up’ as a candidate for more surveillance, the information is all there, stored, and accessible.

    This whole current blow-up over the NSA ‘whistle-blower’ is such baloney – he didn’t mention any compromising details. I consider this a case of fear-mongering to inhibit anybody tattling on the government. And note how they are picking on a guy who didn’t offer real, meaty details – oooh they would never publicize anybody who trumpeted the real stuff lest the public really catch on.

  39. Crucesignata says:

    Pro me it is not so much as wondering whether I am being watched. Frankly, (I know this sounds terrible, but), I don’t really care. Maybe it’s a bit extreme, but instead of worrying whether I am being watched or not, I rather pray that if I am taken to jail or martyred, that I might be strong and never betray Our Lord. If they want to watch me read super-Catholic sites, I have no problem with that. I just use the occasional “Am I being watched?” suspicion/feeling as a reminder to keep my soul clean and frequent the sacraments. After all, we are ALL being watched! (God and His Angels and Saints).

    *grins* “Go to Confession,” right, Father? :)

  40. Jaybirdnbham says:

    I voted “occasionally”, but only because there wasn’t an option that said “I’ve long-since believed that nothing we do on the internet is actually private.” For me, the recent revelations are just a confirmation of what I’ve believed to be going on all along, especially since 9/11.

  41. Xmenno says:

    I have reviewed in my mind the sites I visit, the books I buy, and the comments I make all over the web, and I realize that when the black helicopters come, there will be no denying who I am and what I believe. There will be plenty to convict me of being a Catholic, a Christian, a political conservative, and anti-genetically modified food. Since the evidence is already there, what use would it be to try to hide now?

  42. ReginaMarie says:

    av8er: That is why having a spot like a “priest hole” in your home might be a wise idea…

  43. cainech says:

    Anyone who was surprised by this revelation may want to start paying more attention. Recall the PATRIOT Act ( 363 pages ) was passed without being read by any one in the House. Ever since we were railroaded into that by the Bush administration ( sic ) I have been conducting my life under the assumption that everything I do is observed by someone, noted by someone, recorded or read by someone. And no, I am not paranoid; ask my doctor.
    This has not cramped my style since I never do anything illegal…anymore. I did and do find it dangerous that our representative government finds it needful to collect such data. It indicates a toxicity in the central government. I wish it were otherwise and I vote accordingly in every election.
    As a Catholic, a member of this site, a registered voter, a teacher of Catholic philosophy who has an anti-abortion/ Planned Parenthood sign on my front yard ( which has been defaced twice ) I am certain I am on someone’s list. However, as I sincerely make the effort to follow the VerbumCaro Who said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”, I work on maintaining a certain “contemptibus mundi” mind set. Being on a list at this point in my life is beyond my control and of little consequence. I pray for the grace of final perseverance and hope St. Joseph will be there to assist me, no matter what form my death might take. And anyway, martyrdom is a first class ticket home.

  44. rodin says:

    Long before this latest kerfuffle (since ’08) I have assumed scrutiny. The problem is not that NSA is tracking mail (that is why it exists and it has been doing it for almost sixty years) but that this particular administration is misusing information. Anyone who doubts that is invited to explain IRS.

  45. TLM says:

    Top Secret Cat. III clearance in US Navy as Cryptologic Tech (too late to hide anything). Although that was 30 years ago I figured then it wasn’t a good idea to hide anything. Too many letters and phone calls to Congress people, Senators, and presidents in subsequent years (too late to hide how I view what they’re doing, I make sure they can have no doubt as to where I stand on important issues, gulp).
    When I called Nancy Pelosi to voice my opposition to “Obamacare” Before the vote and told the aide this was Socialism he said, “so what”. Of course, that response got him a lecture on Socialism and American values (ooops, spilled the beans on that one).So be it.
    Recognizing edible plants is a good hobby.

  46. jflare says:

    “Maybe it’s a bit extreme, but instead of worrying whether I am being watched or not, I rather pray that if I am taken to jail or martyred, that I might be strong and never betray Our Lord.”

    Hear, hear!

  47. Supertradmum says:

    I have wanted to move to Iceland for some time now…best freedom of speech laws there. But, then one takes the good with the bad. It cannot be much colder than England or France this spring.

    I was on a list for my nasty Marxist activities in the late 60s. Wonder what the snoops think about conversion stories via their snooping? Hmmm…

  48. VexillaRegis says:

    STM: Never been in Iceland, but I believe the climate to be like that of Scotland or so. Lots of gejsirs (hot springs) too. Language easy if you are familiar with Latin grammar and old English. A piece of cake for you to learn ;-). The economy is rather bad, but they are getting on their feet again. No corruption to speak of. I think there is an American Air base on Iceland , if you get homesick and want to spaek English once in a while. There are 8000 Catholics in Iceland, so you would make a great contribution by moving there. Maybe a place for STS too?

  49. Supertradmum says:

    Vexilla..sts is the language expert but A & B need him…8000 indeed is a remnant

  50. VexillaRegis says:

    STS: buggers.
    May I ask how you are doing – have you found some where to stay in the US? Prayers for you and STS.

  51. VexillaRegis says:

    Sorry, my last post was intended for STM, of course!

  52. wmeyer says:

    I wonder how many who voted for O–Catholics and all–knew that this is the transparency he was speaking about. We can know nothing of his past, and can keep nothing private in our own lives.

Comments are closed.