7 Practical Uses for Tattoos

ThinkStock
ThinkStock

Ink! Not just for sailors and sideshow freaks anymore! Tattooing has become a legitimate art form. And, like art, something magical happens when design and function meet. Consider seven ways tattoos are more than they appear (and two where they’re just confusing!).

1. Corneal Tattoos

Heidi Lassiter

There is a small percent of body modification enthusiasts who seek to have their corneas tattooed to some fabulous, mesmerizing color. That sort of corneal tattoo (which is rapidly becoming illegal in many states) is done by a tattoo artist, who should in no way be confused with a surgeon specializing in ophthalmology operating in a sterile setting. Ophthalmologists do perform a similar surgery, except with more conservative goals. If you suffer discoloration or scarring of the iris due to trauma or disease, corneal tattooing can disguise the scar. It does nothing to improve vision, however, and it is recommended only for patients who are already blind or near blind in that eye.

2. Radiation alignment tattoos

Melanie Cook

It’s usually not much of a tattoo. Just a few dots, sometimes even just one. It may be put somewhere you don’t like, such as your breast or near your prostate. You won’t have much say in the matter, because whatever argument you have, cancer has a better one. These permanent dots are placed by radiologists to help them align lasers. This ensures that cancer-fighting radiation is delivered to the right spot, every time. And to many cancer survivors, the dots serve as a tiny reminder of the fight of their lives.

3. Medic Alert Tattoos

Lindsay Pullen

If you’re allergic to penicillin, you probably will continue to be for the rest of your life. And it’s the kind of thing people need to know about, especially if the car accident you were just in makes you unable to tell them. Medic alert bracelets and necklaces are the traditional sign that your body needs special consideration in an emergency. If that information is tattooed on your body, you can’t forget to put in on or accidently drop it in the toilet. But there is one caveat. Don’t get too creative. First responders are trained to look at particular places such as the wrist and throat for medic alerts. They won’t always find it on your bicep, your back, or printed in graceful flowing script down the side of your ribcage.

4. Reconstructive Disguise Tattoos

Along the same lines of corneal tattooing is disguise tattooing. It’s not reconstruction, but rather the illusion of reconstruction.In cases like thinning hair and breast cancer, sometimes the illusion a skilled artist can create is preferable to an awkward reconstruction. Of course, some breast cancer survivors choose something a little grander when it comes to post-mastectomy tattoos. 

5. Temporary Kid IDs

The ID Company

Kids are slippery. I make my small daughter wear my business card in her shoe when we go to crowded places. I have a friend who puts a bracelet on her kid with beads that show her cell number, and another who just Sharpies pertinent information on her child’s leg when needed. None of these ideas are super great; the first two are easily lost and the last one is just weird. Temporary ID tattoos are a much tidier solution, allowing you to tag your child efficiently before releasing them into the wild.

6. Rulers

Hacked Gadgets

If you’re a craftsman or artisan, an accurate measurement tattoo is a great way to combine your passion with practicality. There aren’t many things you’re sure to use for the rest of your life. Your arm and standard units of measurement are likely two of them.

7. Mummy Tattoos

British Museum 

Sometimes a tattoo can be of use to you even if it isn’t on your body. Especially if you’re an archeologist, anthropologist, or any number of a great many careers ending in “ologist.” Mummies found all over the world, in completely different eras and civilizations, bare tattoos that serve as snapshots of their culture. Famous iceman Otzi probably practiced some form of acupuncture. People in Egypt have been tattooing Christian angels on their body since at least 700 A.D. And 1600 years ago Peru might have been host to a rare female-dominated society

Bonus: Two Tattoos that Are NOT Useful

DNR Tattoos

via

It is fair to hope that the clear black letters “DNR” tattooed across your chest will be enough to communicate your desire to not be resuscitated by artificial means. Many people get this tattoo with that intention. The problem is medical staff and first responders are not allowed to take it as a legal designation.  Does it mean “Do Not Resuscitate” or is it the initials of your beloved father close to your heart? Has your health improved substantially since you got the tattoo? Have you changed your mind? At best it will motivate responders to search out if you have a legal DNR document filed under your name, but it will not stop them from charging up the defibrillator. 

Blood Type Tattoos

fifciaa

Blood is an incredibly prejudiced substance, and will kill a patient if transfused into other blood that doesn’t match or accept it. A soldier’s dog tags ID his blood type, ostensibly so that he can be treated quickly for trauma. So it sort of make sense that tattooing your own blood type on your body would expedite any trip to the emergency room that might lie in your future. But don’t bother: Modern doctors will never give a patient blood without doing their own type test first—not even a dog-tagged man in a battle zone. Besides, in emergency situations, most first responders only carry plasma, which is safely blood neutral.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

7 People Killed by Musical Instruments

On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
Pixabay, Pexels // Public Domain

We’re used to taking it figuratively. One “slays” on guitar, is a “killer” pianist, or wants to “die” listening to a miraculous piece of music. History, though, is surprisingly rich with examples of people actually killed by musical instruments. Some were bludgeoned and some crushed; others were snuffed out by the sheer effort of performing or while an instrument was devilishly played to cover up the crime. Below are seven people who met their end thanks to a musical instrument.

1. Elizabeth Jackson // Struck with a Flute

A German flute.The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments (1889), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

David Mills was practicing his flute the night of March 25, 1751, when he got into a heated argument with fellow servant Elizabeth Jackson. A woman “given to passion,” she threw a candlestick at Mills after he said something rude. He retaliated by striking her left temple with his flute before the porter and the footman pulled them apart. Jackson lived for another four hours, able to walk but not make sensible speech. Her fellow servants decided to bleed her, a sadly ineffective treatment for skull fractures. “Her s[k]ull was remarkably thin,” the surgeon testified at Mills’s trial.

2. Louis Vierne // Exhausted by an Organ Recital

Louis Vierne plays the organ of St.-Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, France.Source: gallica.bnf.fr, Bibliothèque nationale de France // Public Domain

Reputed to be the king of instruments, the organ requires a performer with an athletic endurance—more than 67-year-old Louis Vierne had to give during a recital at Notre Dame cathedral on June 2, 1937. He collapsed (likely of a heart attack) after playing the last chord of a piece. With a Gallic appreciation for tragedy, one concertgoer noted the piece “bears a title which, given the circumstance, seems like fate and takes on an oddly disturbing meaning: ‘Tombstone for a dead child’!” As Vierne’s lifeless feet fell upon the pedalboard “a low whimper was heard from the admirable instrument, which seemed to weep for its master,” the concertgoer wrote.

3. James “Jimmy the Beard” Ferrozzo // Crushed by a Piano

The exterior of the Condor Club in 1973.Michael Holley, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Getting crushed by a piano is usually the stuff of cartoons, but what happened to James Ferrozzo is somehow even stranger than a cartoon. “A nude, screaming dancer found trapped under a man’s crushed body on a trick piano pinned against a nightclub ceiling was too drunk to remember how she got there,” the AP reported the day after the 1983 incident. The dancer was a new employee at San Francisco’s Condor Club (said to be one of the first, if not the first, topless bar). The man was her boyfriend, the club’s bouncer. And the trick piano was part of topless-dancing pioneer Carol Doda’s act—a white baby grand that lowered her from the second floor. During Ferrozzo’s assignation with the dancer, the piano’s switch was somehow activated, lifting him partway to heaven before deadly contact with the ceiling sent him the rest of the way.

4. Linos // Killed with a Lyre

A student and his music teacher, holding a lyre—potentially Herakles and Linos.Petit Palais, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5

One of the greatest music teachers of mythic Ancient Greece, Linos took on Herakles as a pupil. According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, the demi-god “was unable to appreciate what was taught him because of his sluggishness of soul,” and so after a harsh reprimand he flew into a rage and beat Linos to death with his lyre. Herakles dubiously used a sort of ancient stand-your-ground law as a defense during trial and was exonerated. Poor Linos: an honest man beaten by a lyre.

5. Sophia Rasch // Suffocated While a Piano Muffled her Screams

Pixabay, Pexels

No one better proves George Bernard Shaw’s quip that “hell is full of musical amateurs” than Susannah Koczula. “I have seen Susannah trying to play the piano several times—she could not play,” 10-year-old Carl Rasch testified at Koczula’s 1894 trial. Susannah, the Rasch’s caregiver, distracted little Carl, sister Clara, and their neighborhood friend Woolf with an impromptu performance while a gruesome scene unfolded upstairs: Koczula’s husband tied and suffocated Carl and Clara’s mother, Sophia Rasch, before making off with her jewelry. “She banged the piano,” explained Woolf. “I heard no halloaing.”

6. Marianne Kirchgessner // A Nervous Disorder Acquired Playing the Glass Armonica

According to one doctor, Ben Franklin's instrument caused "a great degree of nervous weakness."Ji-Elle, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica, or armonica, in 1761, unleashing a deadly scourge upon the musical world. “It was forbidden in several countries by the police,” wrote music historian Karl Pohl in 1862, while Karl Leopold Röllig warned in 1787 that “It’s not just the gentle waves of air that fill the ear, but the charming vibrations and constant strain of the bowls upon the already delicate nerves of the fingers that combine to produce diseases which are terrible, maybe even fatal.” In 1808, when Marianne Kirchgessner, Europe’s premiere glass armonica virtuoso, died at the age of 39, many suspected nervousness brought on by playing the instrument.

7. Charles Ratherbee // Lung Disease Possibly Caused by Playing the Trumpet

A valve trumpet made by Elbridge G. Wright, circa 1845.Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest (2002), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

One summer day in 1845, Charles Ratherbee, a trumpeter, got into a fight with Joseph Harvey, who rented space in a garden from Ratherbee and was sowing seeds where the trumpeter had planned to plant potatoes. When confronted, Harvey became upset and knocked Ratherbee to the ground with his elbow. Two weeks and five days later, Ratherbee was dead.

Harvey was arrested for Ratherbee’s death, but a doctor pinpointed another killer: An undiagnosed lung disease made worse by his musical career. “The blowing of a trumpet would decidedly increase [the disease],” the surgeon testified at Harvey’s manslaughter trial. When asked if he was “in a fit state to blow a trumpet” the surgeon replied bluntly, “No.” Harvey was acquitted and given a suspended sentence for assault. The trumpet was never charged.