39 thoughts on “News/Politics 8-7-17

  1. Judging by what I see, yes.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/?utm_source=atltw

    “I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

    Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

    At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

    What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.”
    ————

    “The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.”

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  2. The govt. run shake down, Al Sharpton style. All to fund anti-American groups and leftist causes.

    http://nypost.com/2017/08/05/sessions-investigating-slush-fund-used-by-left-wing-groups/

    “Former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch regularly arranged for major corporations to make large “donations” to left-leaning groups like UnidosUS — formerly the National Council of La Raza — and NeighborWorks America during settlement negotiations to end banking, environmental, civil-rights, and other federal lawsuits.

    The groups getting the money were not victims in the cases or parties to the lawsuits, and Republicans say they had no proper claim to the cash.

    That means that all punitive damages awarded in the cases should have gone directly into the US Treasury, say Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who probed the scheme in 2015.

    Instead, $3 billion of the multi-billion-dollar 2013 agreements with Citigroup and Bank of America to settle cases related to mortgage-backed securities went to community-organizing groups.

    The $17 billion Bank of America deal gave the bank “extra credit” if it donated $100 million or more to activist groups approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    The list included UnidosUS, which advocates for illegal immigrants; the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a left-leaning housing lobbyist group; Operation Hope, which pushes banks to lend to unqualified mortgage applicants in Los Angeles; and the Mutual Housing Association of New York, a spinoff of the controversial community-organizing group ACORN.

    Volkswagen was forced to spend $2 billion to promote and develop zero-emission vehicles as part of a 2016 settlement.”

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  3. The site Ricky linked to the other day makes a great argument for increased regulation of pharmaceuticals and hospitals (both private and non-profit). Hospitals are a big driver in the supersized cost of healthcare in the US. My only concern would be that regulation might force religious hospitals to provide services like abortion. But some years ago the courts (at least in CT) ruled that Catholic hospitals must provide the morning after pill (an abortifacient), which effectively forced the church to pull its support from the hospital it founded. That’s unfortunate because the Catholic church has done much to undergird our healthcare system.

    ….However, arbitrary pricing on chargemasters has created a situation where hospitals in the same area and even in the same city charge wildly different prices for the same procedure, service or drug.

    In 2013, the Obama administration released a huge database containing what 3,300 hospitals throughout the country bill Medicare for 100 different procedures through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The discrepancy in prices for the same procedure is astounding.

    For example, a joint replacement in a hospital in California ($223,000) costs Medicare 40 times as much as the same procedure in Oklahoma ($5,300). Within the D.C. area the cost for major joint replacement ranged from $68,726 at George Washington University Hospital to $29,757 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

    Even though some variation in cost is expected, such fluctuation lacks reason or justification.
    “The amounts are too huge to be explained by obvious differences among hospitals, such as a more expensive regional economy, older or sicker patients, or the extra costs of running a teaching hospital,” said Medicare deputy administrator Jonathan Blum to The Associated Press in May 2013, shortly after the data was released….

    ….While other factors, such as the perverse economics of non-profit (tax-free) hospitals that make much more than private ones, astronomically high salaries and bonuses for hospital administrators, an unregulated drug market where pharmaceutical companies make billions, unnecessary and excessive testing and procedures and insurance that covers nothing, chargemasters are a huge part of why health care costs in the U.S. are completely out of control.

    http://www.arbiternews.com/2014/03/23/hospital-chargemasters-how-to-charge-19-for-an-aspirin-and-get-away-with-it/

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  4. Debra, It would take 20 years (my son says 50) to move us to a market system like that of the Dutch or Swiss. To try to move to the Singapore model with our obesity and lack of savings is an impossibility. So we will slowly transition to a very expensive version of the British single payer model with its rationing. However, the rich will be allowed to private pay for better care. Otherwise, they really will move elsewhere.

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  5. Ricky, At this point I’m not even rooting for any particular healthcare model. I think Sen. Alexander has done the best thing that can be done politically, by establishing bipartisan hearings on the subject. There is not yet enough information and bipartisan debate.

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  6. Listen to those hearings closely. You should be able to tell who is afraid their goodies will be reduced and who wants more goodies. I can assure you that no one will be there to speak for our grandchildren who will be asked to pay for all the goodies.

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  7. I just started reading that Atlantic article about kids & smartphones this morning before I came here, & will probably share it on Facebook. Recently, I saw a headline about suicides among teen girls skyrocketing, & I wondered about the influence of social media, with its potential for bullying & ripping down reputations. That article makes the connection.

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  8. Ricky, I don’t think the outcome will be good if we continue the adversarial model we have been pursuing. Some people are too concerned that someone else will profit too much, or conversely, that someone will receive something they don’t deserve.

    Let’s put that idea to rest: everyone is receiving benefits they don’t deserve and didn’t earn. All of us. Some of your ancestors (and some of mine) killed other people to destroy this country that we now live in and enjoy the fruits of. And they did it to create another country that would allow them to free trade as they wish—-including continued unrestricted human trafficking. I think it’s clear that God did not favor that endeavor. We should work together with more goodwill than is being shown, so that we can avoid the complete loss of the blessings we have been given.

    As for being concerned that the wealthy will leave—I’m not especially moved by that argument. Wealth is a tide that ebbs and flows; it also provides a false sense of security which can be blinding. Furthermore, the spiritual revival we desperately need will most likely not originate in the wealthy. Revival almost always starts with the poor and the lowly, because they are more readily convinced that they are lacking—in all ways.

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  9. It’s way past time to end this. Obama’s gone, and so should his taxpayer dollar sucking cronies be as well.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/economy-budget/345338-can-we-wean-elon-musk-off-government-support-already

    “Musk is, to be sure, an ideas man. Private, commercial space travel? Check. Washington to New York in less than half an hour in what he calls a “hyperloop” train that will travel at 800 miles per hour? Check. A new kind of tunneling engineering? Check. Solar energy? Check. Electric cars? Check, check.

    As wide-ranging as these various entrepreneurial ventures may be, they all have one thing in common – not a single one of them would get funding in a competitive private capital market if it weren’t for massive (and I do mean massive) taxpayer-funded government subsidies.

    A study published two years ago by The Los Angeles Times revealed that just three of Musk’s ventures – SolarCity Corp. (which manufactured and installed solar energy systems before its 2016 merger with Tesla Motors Inc.), Tesla Motors Inc. (which manufactures electric vehicles), and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX (which builds rocket ships) – had received $4.9 billion in government subsidies to that point in time. By now, Musk’s various ventures have sucked well over $5 billion from government coffers.

    But granting literally billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to Musk’s firms isn’t the worst of it. No, that honorific is reserved for this little gem: In order to induce car buyers to spend their money on electric vehicles, the federal government offers a $7,500 rebate on the purchase price.

    Some states enhance that rebate with rebates of their own. In California, for instance, purchasers of electric vehicles get a state-funded rebate of $2,500 more.

    There’s a phrase for that – it’s called “crony capitalism.” And it stinks.”

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  10. I don’t think anyone linked this piece by Ross Douthat last week, but it’s worth a read. Although I’m not Catholic, I’m appreciative of the social supports and intellectual contributions of our Catholic brethren. This article is addressing the concern that Vatican policy may be moving away from its current attitude of tolerance toward Protestantism. This would be a serious loss in the US, as I think the two have worked together to benefit both our high level of public charity and political thinking particularly around abortion issues.

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  11. Too late, it already has. Quite awhile ago, in fact. It’s pretty much been nothing but a fishing expedition. They don’t care if there’s a conviction, as long as the leaks of anything embarrassing keep coming. That’s been the whole point of this.

    Reining in is in order.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/08/06/video-ag-office-reigning-mueller-fishing-expedition/

    “Earlier today, Allahpundit looked at the scenario where Mueller has been setting up a Grand Jury situation where he could engineer all manner of mischief since they are allowed to “report on their findings even absent an indictment.” More than a few observers have been wondering if this entire Grand Jury excursion is turning into something of a fishing expedition and whether or not it might wind up being a huge bag of feed for the media circus even if nothing of substance comes of it.

    That seems to be on the minds of the folks at the Attorney General’s office. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein seemed to be throwing some cold water on those expectations today. In an interview with Chris Wallace he pretty much laid down the law and said that if Mueller was heading off into uncharted waters outside the realm of the Russia, Russia, Russia tales he was asked to investigate, he’d need to come back to the Justice Department and check in with them first. (Washington Examiner)
    ———————

    It’s also why they grand jury shopped.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/08/06/dershowitz-mueller-chose-d-c-grand-jury-knowing-jurors-likely-anti-trump/

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  12. Refuse to accept the lies.

    Sometimes honesty is brutal, but it’s still necessary.

    https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2017/08/07/refuse-to-accept-the-lies–before-it-is-too-late-n2365296

    “A woman gave birth the other day, and the liberal media squeed in delight, which is weird – usually the media only cares about babies in the context of waxing them in the womb. Plus, don’t the sacraments of the Weird Weather Religion deem babies bad for Mother Earth, just like pets? Yeah, you can take Bitey when you pry her leash out of my cold, dead hands. Better pry my guns out first.

    But this particular birth was celebrated because the mother was pretending to be a man, and her delusion was so intense that she apparently partook of surgical mutilation and chemical intervention to (not really) conform her body to her delusion. I guess we’re supposed to marvel at her physical transformation, but that would be a lie too. She looks like a woman with some surgery and a scraggly goatee. It’s not beautiful. It’s sad. But we’re not supposed to tell that obvious truth. We’re supposed to join in the lie and praise the Emperor’s New Secondary Sex Characteristics.

    Of course, the media is delighting in debasing and humiliating itself by proudly and ostentatiously announcing that “A Father Has Given Birth.” Those broken by Orwell’s villains used to exclaim, with tear-streaked faces, how they now loved Big Brother. Today, they writhe in thunderous prog-gasms, ecstatic in their submission, shrieking that they love Beard Mother.

    I don’t care what you do to yourself; you don’t get to make me lie.

    See, this is where we’re supposed to nod and mouth the word “father” too, where we are supposed to become complicit in what we all know to be a ridiculous falsehood. And by doing so, we are expected to cede our dignity and our sovereignty by giving them the power to make us lie. To enforce it, you get fascists like Lena Dunham waddling about, eavesdropping for heresy, pausing occasionally to remove the bran muffins from her stupid mouth to point and shout “THOUGHTCRIME!”

    It’s an old totalitarian trick – you break the will and the spirit of your enemies by forcing them to say, over and over again, what they and everyone knows to be false. After all, truth-telling is the province of the free and the proud, not the enslaved and the humiliated.

    That woman is not a man. She is not a father, and she never will be no matter how much she wants to be and no matter how much you threaten us in order to make us lie and say so.

    See, that was easy. The truth just rolls off your tongue if you let it.”

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  13. Several thoughts on tattoos.

    Why do most people I see have tattoos on places they can’t see well–like the back of their legs, shoulder blades, base of spine (whale tails, I believe they’re called)?

    Why would a beautiful young woman tattoo a naked beautiful woman on the outside of her upper thigh? Maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that . . . (I looked away immediately, with not enough time to decide if the tattoo was her).

    Do women who get tattoos have to sign informed consent that placement of those tattoos might be a problem with medical care in the future? (I’ve been told women with those whale tail tattoos cannot have epidurals in childbirth, for example, and that eyeliner tattoos do not allow them to have MRIs.)?

    Doesn’t anyone ever see the old folks whose tattoos have not, fare well, shall we say? on wrinkled skin?

    I did compliment a woman at the gym today who had a very clever Siamese cat tattooed on her ankle. It’s the nicest one I’ve seen. 🙂

    Oh, and I did write about tattoos once: http://www.michelleule.com/2013/07/02/tattooing-your-soul-reprise/

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  14. I think I first understood what a problem tattoos were the day at my own Nashville dog park when I saw a woman with tattoos. On her arm she had a tattoo of a naked woman (um, why would a woman want that?) and her top plunged enough to see a good percentage of the large rose tattoo she had between and across her breasts (um, really, any man would rather look at tattoos than at a woman’s body?

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  15. Michelle,

    Whale tale is when the waist band and top of the thong are showing above the waistband of the pants. Not a good look.

    What you’re thinking of is called, sadly, a tramp stamp.

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  16. Michelle, I see we have both seen the naked-woman tattoos on a woman.

    Just this morning it occurred to me to wonder how much tattoos will interfere with skin cancer screening and other medical issues where one might need to actually see the skin. And what happens to a tattoo when a surgical cut goes through it? It’s ugly, it’s pervasive, it’s boring, it’s a fad that will pass but whose followers must keep their choices even as they change style or beliefs.

    And when I read recently (somehow I hadn’t known this, and I imagine most tattooed people don’t know it either) that tattoo parlors are spreading diseases such as TB, it was really an “eek! do people know this?”

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  17. Smart phone use;

    I’m old enough to realize that anytime a new device/method/lifestyle etc enters the main stream, causation will be assigned to it. And the causation is usually not kind; rock’n roll leads to satanism, music videos lead to school shootings, etc. Smartphones undoubtedly are influencing behaviour both good and bad but to assign direct causation is difficult.

    When discussing anxiety and panic attacks with one distraught adolescent girl and watch her sneak peeks at her cell phone while tears stream down her face; its obvious the smartphone (along with instagram and snapchat) is part of the problem. However, I more inclined to blame her parents marijuana use during pregnancy, subsequent bad parenting, and later divorce (in which both parents went on to form new families) leaving her as a reminder of bad teen decision making. The causation lies in bad decisions, bad genetics, and bad environment — not the the technology that may enable it.

    Interestingly, its Gen X which is far more addicted to their phones — esp if you include work. If I text or email a work colleague off-hours I’m almost sure to get an instant response. I’m an outlier in that my phone is permanently set to vibrate only during the school year and thus I often won’t respond for hours.

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  18. heath care;

    Debra’s link demonstrates the problem of cost containment in an oligopoly or monopoly. In an industry or service which supplies a necessary product — electricity, water, health etc, — the temptation is to increase prices and profits. Hence some intervention is needed. Sometimes this can be benign as straight forward pricing and transparent information. Even if you choose to have a private health care system, force the providers to display pricing structures that make sense. People should be able to shop for maternity care, non-emergency care, and elective medical procedures without being confused. The current over pricing in the US results in comparison shopping overseas in which one can get a hip replacement in Spain and spend a year there recovering for less than the cost of just the operation in the US. Not to mention its far cheaper to give birth across the river from both Buffalo and Detroit.

    Sometime intervention needs to be more forceful — limits on charges can be set. Private insurance companies already do this. I have private dental insurance through work — each year the Ontario Dental Assoc, insurance companies, and the provincial gov’t (who purchases dental care for low income children) set prices for each procedure code. Insurance companies then offer plans based on these prices (mine is one year behind) and dentist are free to surcharge (my dentist usually charges slightly more for some items). Cost containment can be done in all facets of the health industry in the same manner. The US gov’t in their pharma plan explicitly banned themselves from using their bulk buying power to lower prices. Similar to insurance companies, the gov’t needs to use their bulk buying to lower prices.

    Some intervention can appear slight but also have long range implications. Shorten the patents given to pharmaceuticals and allow generics to be offered earlier. Drug companies will complain they won’t be able to recoup r&d cost but most r&d is already subsidized. And frequently patents are extended for minor and non-medical changes as phramabro demonstrated.

    These are practical cost containment strategies which don’t require a commitment to any form of health care ideology or strategy. Just pragmatism. The ACA is built on the Swiss model which is probably the best direction for the US to go towards and thus instead of sabotaging the ACA, the current gov’t should improve it. If they neglect the ACA, the US will drift towards a dual track system similar to the UK in which the NHS (Medicare/aid) covers the masses and the elite have private care. And with the record income inequity in the US, the latter is very probably. In either case, the gov’t will still need to engage in cost containment. Hence the current gov’t may want to forgo ideological and methodological debates and simple look at practical ways of containing cost.

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  19. The cover-up is coming apart.

    And further proof that Comey lied and deserved to be fired.

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2017/08/loretta-lynch-used-alias-elizabeth-carlisle-to-email-about-bill-clinton-tarmac-meeting/

    “Chuck Ross at The Daily Caller does an excellent job sorting out the emails and demonstrating how Lynch used an alias to communicate about the tarmac meeting and its fallout, Here Is The Alias Email Account Loretta Lynch Used As Attorney General:

    Like her predecessor, Eric Holder, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch used an email alias to conduct government business, The Daily Caller has confirmed.

    Several of Lynch’s emails were included in 413 pages of DOJ documents provided to the conservative groups Judicial Watch and the American Center for Law and Justice. Both groups had filed lawsuits for records regarding Lynch’s controversial meeting with President Bill Clinton at the Phoenix airport last June 27.

    Using the pseudonym “Elizabeth Carlisle,” Lynch corresponded with DOJ press officials to hammer out talking points in response to media requests about the meeting. The tarmac encounter drew criticism from conservatives because Lynch was overseeing the federal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information on her private email system.

    The meeting was revealed not by Lynch, Clinton or the Justice Department, but by a reporter in Phoenix working based on a tip.

    On June 28, a reporter with Phoenix’s ABC News affiliate contacted the Justice Department to inquire about the meeting. Internal DOJ emails show that the request touched off a mad-dash to develop talking points and statements to respond to the developing story.

    Lynch, using the Elizabeth Carlisle account, which was hosted on the Justice Department’s system, was also involved in those discussions.

    Lynch’s attorney, Robert Raben, confirmed to TheDC on Monday that Lynch emailed under that pseudonym. He pointed to an article published in The Hill last February in which the Justice Department acknowledged that Lynch was using an email handle that was not her given name.

    “That address was and is known to the individuals who process [Freedom of Information Act] requests; the practice, similar to using initials or numbers in an email, helps guard against security risks and prevent inundation of mailboxes,” Raben said.

    This is just another indication that there has been a coverup about the tarmac meeting. The explanations at the time never made sense, and didn’t pass the smell test for anyone who has observed how the Clintons and their cronies operate.

    The Trump administration would be in its rights in getting all the information out into the public, without DOJ blacking out key passages in emails. There is no reason for the Justice Department to assist in keeping communications secret. Jeff Sessions should order the release of all information and emails.
    There is a 2016 collusion scandal, but it’s not about Russia.”

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  20. Reading the discussing of tattoos reminded me of a book called “the Rebel Sell”. The basic thesis was rebellion can and will be coopted by capitalism. As people seek ways to revolt, rebel or at the very least stand out as individuals against a social and economic system, their individual rebellion cab be packaged and sold. Tattoos can be seen in that light — a mass of people attempting to assert their individuality through the purchases of similar goods, similar to college students purchasing a poster of Che. There are better ways of being individuals.

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  21. HRW – That reminds me of the parents who complain that having to wear school uniforms stifles a student’s individualism. It actually protects the kids from having to keep up with the “individualism” that is currently popular & mandatory among their peers.

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  22. I knew a lady who had a cartoon devil tattooed above her ankle. Not long after, she became a Christian, & several years later was a pastor’s wife. Yup, a pastor’s wife with a devil tattoo on her leg. 🙂

    A former Facebook friend posted a photo that I found a bit jarring. Her fiance had presented her with a beautiful diamond bracelet. It was the juxtaposition of the elegant bracelet on the tattooed arm “sleeve” that just didn’t look right. I hate to admit it, but the verse that came to mind was the proverb that begins, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout. . .”

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  23. Tattoos: I do not see the appeal of tattoos. But if you just MUST, then do yourself a favor and use henna.

    Michelle, I read your article. The testimony of the Coptic Christians using a tattoo to reinforce their faith in the face of persecution is moving and sobering.

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  24. Appropriate use of paintings of naked women: In Salida, Colorado, we saw a Mexican with a pickup with a very expensive paint job. On the tailgate was a painting of: a. A beautiful naked woman sitting on the tailgate of that very same truck and b. The Mexican himself standing by the driver’s door of the truck. We saw that truck all over town and howled every time we saw it.

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  25. Henna is not really the same as a tattoo. It isn’t intended to be a permanent part of one’s identity. The cultures, ranging from West Africa to Central Asia, which use henna, use it as part of dressing up for special events, particularly weddings (the bride’s henna has special significance) and it is expected to wear off once the celebrations are over. I watched the process of applying henna when I was in West Africa, and it is quite complicated taking up much of a day, while it lasts for a few weeks. There were rules about where to apply it – married women had their feet done, while unmarried girls had their hands done. Permanent body markings such tattoos and deliberate scars had a different function within the culture, particularly among the Fula – most of the Fula women I knew had one or two scars of small cuts made just under the outer corner of each eye, looking like tear drops, while some women had tattoos on their chin. The permanent markings were known to be part of certain rituals, but just what those rituals were and how they were done was information not shared with outsiders. The members of the team I worked with had no problem wearing henna at the request of their village friends for a party, but none had ever seen any of the scarring or tattoo ceremonies.

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  26. Anyone who has had children attend a school, which mandates uniforms, can tell you that every child still finds ways to be an individual. They also find ways to one up one another. Human nature can find a way.

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  27. That’s interesting, Roscuro. I have never had a tattoo or henna painting, but I have read that some people can have an allergic reaction–particularly to the black henna. I do not know if that ever happens with traditional ink tattoos. To me, the non-permanent nature of henna would be the primary benefit in using it. :–)

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  28. K, on uniforms not stopping children one upping each other, I was thinking of that in regards to hemlines on those plaid skirts issued to girls for school uniforms that tended to creep ever higher, which might be flattering to the slimmer girls, but not the heavier ones.

    Debra, the henna is set using a compound that is acidic – I remember one team member had to have the compound removed early because it was burning. Her henna markings didn’t last as long. The henna designs can be quite pretty, and vary according to culture. The West African techniques produced geometric shapes in patterns that resembled animal skins (giraffe spots, zebra stripes, etc.), while I’ve noticed that Indian henna styles have more flowerlike patterns. Since the designs fade fairly quickly, they do not become misshapen with weight loss or gain the way tattoos do.

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  29. Debra, I just saw your 1:00 post. I don’t believe the Vatican is distancing itself from Protestants, not from anything I have heard (and my husband has talked to people from at least one other country about this specific issue). If anything they are trying to “woo” Protestants “back” to Catholicism.

    And for that reason I actually don’t think it’s a good thing at all for Catholics to reach out to Protestants more, simply because the clear doctrinal lines are blurred for many American Protestants. Let there be a distinct difference.

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