Created By: James Mosley
What Causes a Tattoo Allergy?
Tattoo ink contains several ingredients and chemicals, and you may be allergic to any one of them. Substances like iron oxide, mercury sulfide, ferric hydrate, aluminum, and manganese are only a few of the ingredients that may be included in the ink, depending on the color. An allergy to any of these substances can cause an allergic reaction once the ink gets into your skin. Red tattoo ink is the most common cause of tattoo allergic reactions, although any color can be to blame.
Types of Tattoo Allergic Reaction
A tattoo allergy can take a number of different forms:
- Acute inflammatory allergic reaction. Many people who get tattoos experience what's called an acute inflammatory reaction — the skin becomes red, slightly swollen, and irritated at the site of the tattoo. This occurs because of the irritation caused by the tattoo needle and the tattoo ink. It's not serious, and generally subsides within about two or three weeks.
- Photosensitivity. Tattoos that are exposed to the sun may result in an allergic reaction, particularly those that contain yellow tattoo ink. Yellow and some red pigments contain cadmium sulfide, which can cause an allergic reaction when exposed to the sun.
- Dermatitis. Some of the most common tattoo allergies include types of dermatitis — photoallergic and allergic contact dermatitis. Most often, these types of allergic reactions are caused by mercury sulfide, which is found in red tattoo ink.
- Lichenoid allergic reaction. This is rare, but is typically related to red tattoo ink, and characterized by small bumps that appear around the red ink areas.
- Pseudolymphomatous allergic reaction. Caused by sensitivity to a substance in the tattoo ink, this is a delayed reaction — it doesn't occur right after getting the tattoo. Red tattoo ink is usually to blame, but it can result from blue and green as well.
- Granulomas. These are small bumps that can appear as a result of an allergic reaction. Red tattoo ink is most often the culprit, but purple, green, or blue tattoo ink may also cause these bumps to form around the site of the tattoo.
Signs of an Allergic Reaction
The signs vary depending on the type of allergic reaction and the ingredient in the tattoo ink that's causing it. Common signs of an allergic reaction to a tattoo include:
- Rash or bumps
- Scaly appearance
- Purple or red nodules around the tattoo
What to Do If You Have an Allergic Reaction
If you spot the signs of an allergic reaction to tattoo ink, don't try to take care of the problem yourself or wait for it to go away. See your doctor or dermatologist and get a diagnosis. Your doctor will need to see how serious the reaction is, and determine the best course of treatment. For instance, if there is an infection, he'll need to prescribe an antibiotic.
In some cases, the tattoo may need to be removed to treat the allergic reaction. Never attempt to remove a tattoo yourself — tattoo removal requires medical intervention, usually with a skin laser.
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Created By: James Mosley
A tattoo gun is composed of a needle, tube for ink, and a motor. The motor is very basic. A tube is attached over the long needle for holding ink. Most have a foot pedal to control the motor as well. When the foot pedal is depressed, the motor starts. The motor makes the needle vibrate up and down.
There are needles used for shading and needles used for lining. Needles used for lining can be single needles up to seven. Shading needles are grouped in four to nine. Needles can be purchased with various tips on them. The type and amount of needles used is generally a matter of preference for the tattoo artist. However, some styles of needles are dictated by the type of tattoo being done.
A tattoo artist must have a steady hand to glide a tattoo gun over the skin. It is similar to sewing, but without a presser foot guiding you. The end of the tube is held just above the skin. The mechanism in the tattoo gun pushes the needles in and out of the skin 100 to 3,000 times per minute. When the needle moves upward into the tube, it picks up a bit of ink. Ink is injected into the second layer of skin--the dermis. This must be done because the top layer of skin--the epidermis--sloughs off constantly. Loading ink is done by putting the tip of the needle into an ink well and tapping the pedal. This causes the needles to dip into the ink a few times. Each time they come back into the tube, they allow ink to be stored there.
Read more: How Does a Tattoo Gun Work? | eHow http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4571257_tattoo-gun-work.html#ixzz2Ucdcb1cL
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Created By: James Mosley
Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment. Joann Fletcher, research fellow in the department of archaeology at the University of York in Britain, describes the history of tattoos and their cultural significance to people around the world, from the famous " Iceman," a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy, to today’s Maori.
What is the earliest evidence of tattoos?
In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old.
Can you describe the tattoos on the Iceman and their significance?
Following discussions with my colleague Professor Don Brothwell of the University of York, one of the specialists who examined him, the distribution of the tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints correspond to areas of strain-induced degeneration, with the suggestion that they may have been applied to alleviate joint pain and were therefore essentially therapeutic. This would also explain their somewhat 'random' distribution in areas of the body which would not have been that easy to display had they been applied as a form of status marker.
What is the evidence that ancient Egyptians had tattoos?
There's certainly evidence that women had tattoos on their bodies and limbs from figurines c. 4000-3500 B.C. to occasional female figures represented in tomb scenes c. 1200 B.C. and in figurine form c. 1300 B.C., all with tattoos on their thighs. Also small bronze implements identified as tattooing tools were discovered at the town site of Gurob in northern Egypt and dated to c. 1450 B.C. And then, of course, there are the mummies with tattoos, from the three women already mentioned and dated to c. 2000 B.C. to several later examples of female mummies with these forms of permanent marks found in Greco-Roman burials at Akhmim.
What function did these tattoos serve? Who got them and why?
Because this seemed to be an exclusively female practice in ancient Egypt, mummies found with tattoos were usually dismissed by the (male) excavators who seemed to assume the women were of "dubious status," described in some cases as "dancing girls." The female mummies had nevertheless been buried at Deir el-Bahari (opposite modern Luxor) in an area associated with royal and elite burials, and we know that at least one of the women described as "probably a royal concubine" was actually a high-status priestess named Amunet, as revealed by her funerary inscriptions.
And although it has long been assumed that such tattoos were the mark of prostitutes or were meant to protect the women against sexually transmitted diseases, I personally believe that the tattooing of ancient Egyptian women had a therapeutic role and functioned as a permanent form of amulet during the very difficult time of pregnancy and birth. This is supported by the pattern of distribution, largely around the abdomen, on top of the thighs and the breasts, and would also explain the specific types of designs, in particular the net-like distribution of dots applied over the abdomen. During pregnancy, this specific pattern would expand in a protective fashion in the same way bead nets were placed over wrapped mummies to protect them and "keep everything in." The placing of small figures of the household deity Bes at the tops of their thighs would again suggest the use of tattoos as a means of safeguarding the actual birth, since Bes was the protector of women in labor, and his position at the tops of the thighs a suitable location. This would ultimately explain tattoos as a purely female custom.
Who made the tattoos?
Although we have no explicit written evidence in the case of ancient Egypt, it may well be that the older women of a community would create the tattoos for the younger women, as happened in 19th-century Egypt and happens in some parts of the world today.
What instruments did they use?
It is possible that an implement best described as a sharp point set in a wooden handle, dated to c. 3000 B.C. and discovered by archaeologist W.M.F. Petrie at the site of Abydos may have been used to create tattoos. Petrie also found the aforementioned set of small bronze instruments c. 1450 B.C.—resembling wide, flattened needles—at the ancient town site of Gurob. If tied together in a bunch, they would provide repeated patterns of multiple dots.
These instruments are also remarkably similar to much later tattooing implements used in 19th-century Egypt. The English writer William Lane (1801-1876) observed, "the operation is performed with several needles (generally seven) tied together: with these the skin is pricked in a desired pattern: some smoke black (of wood or oil), mixed with milk from the breast of a woman, is then rubbed in.... It is generally performed at the age of about 5 or 6 years, and by gipsy-women.”
What did these tattoos look like?
Most examples on mummies are largely dotted patterns of lines and diamond patterns, while figurines sometimes feature more naturalistic images. The tattoos occasionally found in tomb scenes and on small female figurines which form part of cosmetic items also have small figures of the dwarf god Bes on the thigh area.
What were they made of? How many colors were used?
Usually a dark or black pigment such as soot was introduced into the pricked skin. It seems that brighter colors were largely used in other ancient cultures, such as the Inuit who are believed to have used a yellow color along with the more usual darker pigments.
What has surprised you the most about ancient Egyptian tattooing?
That it appears to have been restricted to women during the purely dynastic period, i.e. pre-332 B.C. Also the way in which some of the designs can be seen to be very well placed, once it is accepted they were used as a means of safeguarding women during pregnancy and birth.
Can you describe the tattoos used in other ancient cultures and how they differ?
Among the numerous ancient cultures who appear to have used tattooing as a permanent form of body adornment, the Nubians to the south of Egypt are known to have used tattoos. The mummified remains of women of the indigenous C-group culture found in cemeteries near Kubban c. 2000-15000 B.C. were found to have blue tattoos, which in at least one case featured the same arrangement of dots across the abdomen noted on the aforementioned female mummies from Deir el-Bahari. The ancient Egyptians also represented the male leaders of the Libyan neighbors c. 1300-1100 B.C. with clear, rather geometrical tattoo marks on their arms and legs and portrayed them in Egyptian tomb, temple and palace scenes.
The Scythian Pazyryk of the Altai Mountain region were another ancient culture which employed tattoos. In 1948, the 2,400 year old body of a Scythian male was discovered preserved in ice in Siberia, his limbs and torso covered in ornate tattoos of mythical animals. Then, in 1993, a woman with tattoos, again of mythical creatures on her shoulders, wrists and thumb and of similar date, was found in a tomb in Altai. The practice is also confirmed by the Greek writer Herodotus c. 450 B.C., who stated that amongst the Scythians and Thracians "tattoos were a mark of nobility, and not to have them was testimony of low birth.”
Accounts of the ancient Britons likewise suggest they too were tattooed as a mark of high status, and with "divers shapes of beasts" tattooed on their bodies, the Romans named one northern tribe "Picti," literally "the painted people."
Yet amongst the Greeks and Romans, the use of tattoos or "stigmata" as they were then called, seems to have been largely used as a means to mark someone as "belonging" either to a religious sect or to an owner in the case of slaves or even as a punitive measure to mark them as criminals. It is therefore quite intriguing that during Ptolemaic times when a dynasty of Macedonian Greek monarchs ruled Egypt, the pharaoh himself, Ptolemy IV (221-205 B.C.), was said to have been tattooed with ivy leaves to symbolize his devotion to Dionysus, Greek god of wine and the patron deity of the royal house at that time. The fashion was also adopted by Roman soldiers and spread across the Roman Empire until the emergence of Christianity, when tattoos were felt to "disfigure that made in God's image" and so were banned by the Emperor Constantine (A.D. 306-373).
We have also examined tattoos on mummified remains of some of the ancient pre-Columbian cultures of Peru and Chile, which often replicate the same highly ornate images of stylized animals and a wide variety of symbols found in their textile and pottery designs. One stunning female figurine of the Naszca culture has what appears to be a huge tattoo right around her lower torso, stretching across her abdomen and extending down to her genitalia and, presumably, once again alluding to the regions associated with birth. Then on the mummified remains which have survived, the tattoos were noted on torsos, limbs, hands, the fingers and thumbs, and sometimes facial tattooing was practiced.
With extensive facial and body tattooing used among Native Americans, such as the Cree, the mummified bodies of a group of six Greenland Inuit women c. A.D. 1475 also revealed evidence for facial tattooing. Infrared examination revealed that five of the women had been tattooed in a line extending over the eyebrows, along the cheeks and in some cases with a series of lines on the chin. Another tattooed female mummy, dated 1,000 years earlier, was also found on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, her tattoos of dots, lines and hearts confined to the arms and hands.
Evidence for tattooing is also found amongst some of the ancient mummies found in China's Taklamakan Desert c. 1200 B.C., although during the later Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220), it seems that only criminals were tattooed.
Japanese men began adorning their bodies with elaborate tattoos in the late A.D. 3rd century.
The elaborate tattoos of the Polynesian cultures are thought to have developed over millennia, featuring highly elaborate geometric designs, which in many cases can cover the whole body. Following James Cook's British expedition to Tahiti in 1769, the islanders' term "tatatau" or "tattau," meaning to hit or strike, gave the west our modern term "tattoo." The marks then became fashionable among Europeans, particularly so in the case of men such as sailors and coal-miners, with both professions which carried serious risks and presumably explaining the almost amulet-like use of anchors or miner's lamp tattoos on the men's forearms.
What about modern tattoos outside of the western world?
Modern Japanese tattoos are real works of art, with many modern practioners, while the highly skilled tattooists of Samoa continue to create their art as it was carried out in ancient times, prior to the invention of modern tattooing equipment. Various cultures throughout Africa also employ tattoos, including the fine dots on the faces of Berber women in Algeria, the elaborate facial tattoos of Wodabe men in Niger and the small crosses on the inner forearms which mark Egypt's Christian Copts.
What do Maori facial designs represent?
In the Maori culture of New Zealand, the head was considered the most important part of the body, with the face embellished by incredibly elaborate tattoos or ‘moko,’ which were regarded as marks of high status. Each tattoo design was unique to that individual and since it conveyed specific information about their status, rank, ancestry and abilities, it has accurately been described as a form of id card or passport, a kind of aesthetic bar code for the face. After sharp bone chisels were used to cut the designs into the skin, a soot-based pigment would be tapped into the open wounds, which then healed over to seal in the design. With the tattoos of warriors given at various stages in their lives as a kind of rite of passage, the decorations were regarded as enhancing their features and making them more attractive to the opposite sex.
Although Maori women were also tattooed on their faces, the markings tended to be concentrated around the nose and lips. Although Christian missionaries tried to stop the procedure, the women maintained that tattoos around their mouths and chins prevented the skin becoming wrinkled and kept them young; the practice was apparently continued as recently as the 1970s.
Why do you think so many cultures have marked the human body and did their practices influence one another?
In many cases, it seems to have sprung up independently as a permanent way to place protective or therapeutic symbols upon the body, then as a means of marking people out into appropriate social, political or religious groups, or simply as a form of self-expression or fashion statement.
Yet, as in so many other areas of adornment, there was of course cross-cultural influences, such as those which existed between the Egyptians and Nubians, the Thracians and Greeks and the many cultures encountered by Roman soldiers during the expansion of the Roman Empire in the final centuries B.C. and the first centuries A.D. And, certainly, Polynesian culture is thought to have influenced Maori tattoos.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/tattoo.html#ixzz2UcLpCBw1
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Created By: James Mosley
I'm glad to hear that you are interested in glucose detection and our work.
A couple of items before I answer your questions. First, I worked on this project while in Professor Michael Strano's lab at MIT. I have since moved on from his lab and am no longer working in this field. His lab is continuing to work on glucose detection but I am not involved in that work. Second, the glucose sensing tattoo was an idea for how our novel sensor technology could be employed but we have not yet created a working tattoo with our sensor technology.
Now to answer your questions:
1.) How is the sensor able to monitor glucose?
-- When light (we planned on on using something similar to a laser pointer) is shone on the tattoo ink the ink glows (it is not visible to human eyes though). How bright the ink glows depends on the amount of glucose that is in the body. So for the device to be useful as a glucose monitor, there are two components that are needed. The first component is the tattoo itself. The second component is a monitor that would shine light on the tattoo and measure how bright the tattoo was. We envisioned that this would be a watch-like device that could easily be positioned over the tattoo.
2.) How is the sensor more accurate?
-- Current continuous glucose monitors require that the patient uses a finger-prick test to calibrate the sensor or verify that the sensor signal (usually electrical signal) is equal to a specific amount of glucose in the body. For these monitors the signal "drifts" over time and patients must re-calibrate their monitor at least once per day for as long as they use the device (which can typically only be for 7 days). Because of how our sensor is designed there is no signal "drift", and this calibration step is not necessary. So our device is more accurate because the signal will not "drift" and change over the lifetime of the device. A specific signal will always indicate a specific amount of glucose.
Hope these answers help.
On Apr 12, 2013, at 7:55 PM, James Mosley wrote:
Dear Dr. Barone,
My name is James Mosley. I am a freshman at Santiago High School in Corona, California. I am currently working on a research paper on glucose monitoring tattoos. I read an article from MIT that said that you were working on a new glucose monitor that didn’t need finger pricks and was more accurate. I was wondering how it was able to monitor glucose through the skin, and how it was more accurate.
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Created By: James Mosley
Nothing symbolizes gang members' commitment to their gangs more forcefully thanthe gang tattoo. These symbols proclaim the individual's allegiance to the group in away that is both permanent and deeply personal-being written on the body itself. Butin recent years, thanks to a combination of social and technological changes, thesignificance and the permanence of gang tattoos are both being challenged. As aresult, it appears that the power of these signifiers has begun to erode.Tattoos are thought to have existed since the beginning of mankind. The oldest tattoo ever found was on a man frozen in a glacier near Austria who was believed to have died in approximately 4000 B.C. Although it's not known whether the frozenAustrian was a criminal, for most of recorded history tattoos have been associatedwith unlawful behavior and the underworld.The early Romans tattooed slaves and criminals as a means of identification.During the years 300-600 C.E. in Japan, criminals were sometimes tattooed aspunishment for their crimes. Criminals in the Mediterranean region in the thirdcentury C.E. were often tattooed or branded with symbols indicating the crimes theycommitted; sometimes the victim's name was even emblazoned on the criminal'sforehead.But while society has often imposed tattoos in order to identify the tattooed ascriminals, many people have also embraced these stigmatizing marks. Being anoutlaw can be a source of pride as well as shame. Gang members in particular takepride in branding themselves as outside of the boundaries of conventional society.Until recently, tattooing was restricted to stigmatized members of society, includinggang members, carnival workers and prisoners-categories that often overlapped. Itis significant, however, that tattoos were not imposed on these groups, but chosenby them as a means of self-identification and, often, a symbol of belonging.Tattoos have long been a means of identifying oneself with a group or culture. Gangswere one of the first groups to use tattoos as a means of denoting identity andaffinity, but groups as diverse as the military, sports teams, and even the popularcountry group The Dixie Chicks have used matching tattoos as a visible sign of themembers' bond with one another.For gang members, however, tattoos are a way of both asserting membership in thegang and flaunting their lack of membership in straight society. For this reason,street gang members will often get tattoos on their hands and faces so as topermanently bar them from being a part of normal society. The larger and moreprominent the tattoo, the harder it is to hide, the more impressive it is to other gangmembers. For this reason, two of the most widespread gang tattoos are often foundon the most visible parts of the body: the hands and the face. For example, 18thStreet gang member Sergio Ochoa tattooed the numbers "187" (the California PenalCode section which refers to murder) above his eye after being convicted of a 1990killing of a rival gang member. A common tattoo among Hispanic gang membersfrom many different gangs is the pachuco cross tattooed on the hand between the
thumb and index finger. Alternatively, the same area is often embellished with threedots in a pyramid shape, a symbol that stands for "mi vida loca," "my crazy life."Southeast Asian gangsters have adopted the same tattoo of the three dots, definingits meaning as "To O Can Gica," or "I care for nothing." In Cuban prisons the sametattoo declares that the wearer's criminal aptitude is in larceny.
Figure 1 The pachuco cross is the simplest gang tattoo, and one of the most pervasive. It consists of asmall cross with three lines or dots above it.
Figure 2 Three dots representing, "mi vida loca," or "my crazy life," and is commonly tattooed on thehands or face.
The social impact of such visible tattoos made many professional tattooists uneasyabout providing them. In his book, Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos: A Social History of the Tattoo With Gangs, Sailors, and Street-Corner Punks 1950-1965, tattoo artistSamuel M. Steward says, "Ethical tattoo artists did nor work on hands or faces,unless someone wanted a pachuco cross covered or had some other tattoo that hadto be concealed…. I wouldn't tattoo the hand but many unscrupulous jaggers up thestreet would. From the moment a person got a hand tattooed, his life wasenormously complicated. Such tattoos could not be removed from ordinary surgicalmethods as others can… "The most common tattoo among gangsters of all nationalities is one that denotes thegang that they are in. This is seen as the mark of lifelong membership. The gangethos of "blood in, blood out"-the idea that the prospective member must killsomeone as the price of admission to the gang and cannot leave except by dyinghimself-is embodied in the tattoo as a sign of permanent belonging to the gang.Indeed, in some gangs the gang tattoo must be earned by completing a seriousmission or hit for the gang.Often gang tattoos will simply say the name of the gang that the wearer is in, usuallyin Old English lettering or script. Often the gang name will be slightly disguised bygiving it an assigned number. For example, the Nortenos will often use 14, X4, XIV(all denoting the 14th letter of the alphabet, N) in their tattoos. Surenos affiliatedwith the Mexican Mafia (La eMe) use the number 13, X3, and XIII (for M, the 13thletter of the alphabet). The Vice Lords of Chicago are often recognizable by theirtattoos of the number 312, which is the Chicago area code. The 18th Street gang of
Los Angeles, not surprisingly, uses the number 18. (Incidentally, they will sometimesbeat their prospective members for 18 seconds as a way to "jump them in.")Gangs also find other ways to identify themselves without using their full gangnames. The Nortenos use the Spanish word for "fourteen," "catorce." The Surenos(Sureno means "southerner," for Southern California) sometimes use the Azteclanguage, Nahuatl, in their tattoos. "Kan," for example, means "South," and "Kanpol"means "Southerner." They will also use Aztec numerology to denote the number 13.
Figure 3 The Aztec number meaning "13" is sometimes used in tattoos by Surenos.
In addition to advertising gang membership, tattoos can tell other details about thebearer, including rank in the gang and number of "hits" or other services performedon the gang's behalf. Which side of the body the tattoo is on also carries significance.Tattoos can also tell more personal details about gang members' lives, such asmemorials to deceased loved ones, the names and birthdates of their children, whatcountry or region they are from, and how many of their loved ones have died whilethey were incarcerated. A common tattoo among gang members is a small teardropbelow the eye. Although some take this symbol to mean that the bearer has killedsomeone, others use it to show that someone close to the bearer has died, especiallyif this occurred while the tattooed individual was incarcerated.Tattoos are also used to express gang members' often fatalist philosophy of life. Onepopular tattoo among Hispanic gangsters is a depiction of the smiling and cryingcomedy and tragedy masks, meaning, "play now and pay later," or "my happy life,my sad life." Clock faces are also found within the intricate artwork that can make upa gangster's tattoos. If the clock has no hands, it symbolizes doing time in prison.The hands can be on specific numbers to signify the gang alliance; for example, aNorteno might be emblazoned with a clock face with one hand on the one, and theother on the four to signify "14." Tombstones are also common. Many gang memberswill get one tombstone tattooed for each year that they are incarcerated. Thetombstones are inscribed with the year of freedom that was lost. Tombstones with"R.I.P." and a date show the loss of a loved one. Often these tattoos are reserved forfellow gang members who were killed in gang related violence. A tattoo of a cellwindow through which one can see the sun or birds flying signify that the bearer iswaiting to get out of prison. A similar Russian prison gang tattoo depicts birds flyingin the sun rising over the ocean's horizon, meaning, "I was born free and shouldagain be free."For gangs, the use of tattoos as a means of group identification can be a life or deathmatter. Nowhere is that more true than in the case of gangs within penalinstitutions, a world in which tattoos can be particularly important.Upon being sent to prison, many people who were not previously members of gangsquickly find that their survival "on the inside" depends on their membership in aprison gang. "Certain tattoos inspire fear and respect and give the wearer an
abrasive edge," says Douglas Kent Hall in his book, Prison Tattoos. "In prison, thatedge becomes reason enough for acquiring them. Inmates take risks for security. Afew well-chosen motorcycle gang tattoos might make life in tough cellblocks a lotsafer and easier. On the other hand, a convict caught wearing gang tattoosfraudulently may suffer serious disgraces and even get himself killed." Because of the high percentage of prisoners who are in gangs, much of the tattoo work doneinside prisons should be considered gang tattoos.Street gangs often have factions inside of prisons, and in fact many street gangs,such as the Surenos, Nortenos, and Aryan Brotherhood, have their roots in prisongangs. But while street gangs allow for diversity, prison gangs tend to be race-based. Street gangs generally revolve around a specific neighborhood or turf, sotheir racial makeup reflects that of their neighborhood. Of course the neighborhoodsin which they are based are often segregated, leading to same-race gangs, but thefocus of the gang is not primarily racial. Gangs inside prisons, by contrast, aresharply divided along racial lines and are often race-based in nature, such as theMexican Mafia, Aryan Warriors, and Black Guerrilla Family.As a result, whereas street gangs' tattoos are commonly neighborhood- or turf-affiliated, gang tattoos made in prison are often as race-based as the gangs theyrepresent.For example, many of the black prison gangs, such as the Black Guerrilla Family andits spin-off, 415, also known as the Kumi African Nation, use symbols of Africa-including pictures of the continent itself-in their tattoos. For example, a populartattoo among members of the Kumi African Nation depicts a yero, or African Warrior,rising up out of an outline of the continent of Africa. In his left hand he holds amachine gun, and in his right he holds a flag bearing the numbers 415. Theseimages reflect the African orientation of both the Black Guerrilla Family and the KumiAfrican Nation, which both encourage their members to learn Mau Mau history andwords drawn from the Swahili language, which they use to communicate with eachother in ways that will not be accessible to outsiders.Two of the strongest Hispanic prison gangs-The Mexican Mafia (La eMe), and MRU-Mi Raza Unida (My United People)-use a symbol drawn from the Mexican flag, thesnake and eagle as their emblem, and will usually incorporate this into their tattoos.The founder of MRU, Ernest Mercado, was allegedly killed outside of prison by amember of the Mexican Mafia for adopting the same snake and eagle symbol thatthe Mexican Mafia used and believed they had exclusive rights to. Many Hispanicgangsters are also tattooed with Aztec imagery, such as the popular image of anAztec warrior carrying an unconscious maiden. This reflects their vision of theirheritage; by the same token, some members of the Mexican Mafia have actuallylearned the Aztec language, Nahuatl, as a means to communicate privately with oneanother.Within prisons, white gangs have a prominence that they do not enjoy on theoutside. Because of their minority status within the penal system, many whites whowould not otherwise consider gang membership or devote themselves to the "whiterace" feel compelled to join a gang for their own safety. Under those circumstances,visible identification as a member of the protecting gang in the form of a tattoobecomes an important way to guarantee personal safety.
The first white prison gangs emerged during the 1950s in the California prisonsystem, a development that eventually led to the formation of the AryanBrotherhood-one of the most famous and brutal prison gangs.
Figure 4 A common tattoo of the Aryan Brotherhood incorporates a shamrock, "666" (the "mark of the beast") and the letters "AB."
Many white gangs use Irish, Viking and German symbolism in their tattoos,regardless of the gang members' actual pedigree. The Aryan Brotherhood's commontattoos feature shamrocks, Nazi emblems such as swastikas and "SS" lightning bolts,Viking heads, and the slogan "Sinn Fein," which in Gaelic means, "we stand alone."The importance of gang tattoos in prisons can be gauged by the trouble prisoners arewilling to go to in order to get these signifiers permanently etched onto their skin, forgetting a tattoo in prison can be a long and arduous process. Because of the healthrisks associated with unsanitary tattooing (such as the spread of disease via sharedneedles and far-from-sanitary inks), most prisons have banned the practice and arevigilant in preventing inmates from getting new tattoos while incarcerated.Nevertheless, prison tattooists and their customers manage to find a way to floutthese regulations.Tattoos in prison are done one of two ways. First is the freehand method. Using Indiaink or ink derived from "soot created by burning plastic eating utensils mixed withPrell shampoo and water," the tattoo is applied using a needle or piece of sharp wirein small dots. These tattoos are noticeably crude and can often appear childish. Moreambitious prison practitioners are able to attain very professional-looking resultsusing tattoo machines made out of, for example, a Walkman motor, a hollowed outpen, a guitar string or wire from a lighter, and a battery. These bits of everyday junkcan be put together to create tattoos that are the equal of many high-qualitycommercial efforts.During the tattooing process, however, both the tattooist and the recipient are underconstant threat of being caught in the act by prison guards. If their activity isdiscovered while the tattoo is being created, or even if they are merely caught withtattooing tools, they face the likely prospect of being put in lockdown and losing alltheir privileges, and the tattooing paraphernalia will almost certainly be confiscated.The tremendous risk involved means that getting a detailed tattoo is a badge of pridefor inmates. So great is the prestige of prison tattoos that gang members outside of prison will often use the same methods that inmates use rather than go toprofessional tattoo parlors. These homemade tattoos can be just as detailed andintricate as professional ones, even though the tools are often improvised. If tattoosshow the street gang member's pride in his or her "outlaw" status, in prison a gangmember's tattoos offer proof that he or she has flouted the rules and gotten awaywith it.
Today the role of tattoos is now facing a different kind of challenge: the adoption of tattoos as a standard accessory by large portions of mainstream society. True, fewmiddle-class rebels have gone so far as to get facial tattoos, or tattoos on theirhands-practices long common amongst gang members. But although gang memberstry to use tattoos to separate themselves from mainstream society, the effect thatgang tattoos have had on the hipper strata of the middle class is undeniable.Teenagers who may have no idea of these symbols' original meaning are nowwearing tattoos that were originally worn by gang members as badges of honor.A case in point is the spider web tattooed on one's elbow. Among gang members,this tattoo was a code, readable by other gangsters in prison and on the outside,showing that the bearer had served serious time in the penitentiary. In some parts of the country the same tattoo meant that the wearer had killed a member of aminority group. In fact, James Burmeister was convicted in 1995 of killing a blackcouple, an act he committed solely because he wanted to wear the spider web tattoothat was popular among members of the Aryan Brotherhood. But while this tattooholds powerful and specific significance for gang members, to the middle class thathas co-opted the symbol it has no meaning beyond the idea that it is simply "cool."Thus Robert Van Winkle (formerly famous as the rapper Vanilla Ice) and LarsFrederiksen of the band Rancid both sport spiderweb tattoos. In a 1996 episode of Melrose Place, one of the characters gets drunk before going to tattoo parlor andwakes up the next day with a huge spider web tattooed on his elbow.The spider web may be the most common prison tattoo to be assimilated by themiddle class, but it is not the only one. People who have no affiliations to or interestin gangs have had themselves tattooed with Old English script on their chests, backsand arms, a style that used to be exclusive to gang members. These non-gang-member tattoo wearers believe they can imbibe the "gangsta" aura without having tolead a gangster life. Thus Dody Lira, a highly tattooed but law-abiding 25-year-oldfrom Dallas, Texas, is proud to have several tattoos that are in the same style asgang tattoos, including a large tattoo of his own last name on the outside of his leftcalf in Old English lettering. "They have influenced me, by planting a symbolic badgethat can be worn for everyone to see, for the rest of my life," he explained. "It allties in with symbolism-they all stand for something; it's universally known." But heacknowledges that there are some gang tattoos he would not adopt, saying, "Yousee a dude with 187 on his forearm, he's probably a killer." Still, he sees no conflictbetween staying within the bounds of polite society while sporting gang-style tattoos."Yuppies also drive Harleys," he explains. "That doesn't mean that they are beerdrinking, wife smacking bikers."Research has yet to be done on the effects of this middle-class enthusiasm for gang-style tattoo art, but it seems likely that tattoos may be losing their cachet assymbols of outlawry. It is even more probable that at least some gang membershave started shying away from getting obvious gang-related tattoos in recent yearsbecause of the increased attention that law enforcement agencies are paying totattoos as signs of gang membership.Public demand for police crackdowns against gangs has given law enforcement newpowers against suspected gang members and therefore drawn greater attention tosignifiers of gang membership, particularly tattoos. With the advent of specialsentencing provisions that provide harsher punishment for crimes that are gang-
related, law enforcement has a vested interest in being able to recognize and provegang membership.Thus police in some states, including California and Florida, have started keepingdetailed databases detailing particular gang tattoos as a means of identifying gangmembers. When suspected gang members are arrested or incarcerated, police willoften take photographic evidence of specific tattoos and include that in the prisoners'permanent record, tagging them as gangbangers for the duration of their prison timeand beyond.In California, one of the nation's most comprehensive and severe juvenile justicelaws was passed in March 2000 in the hopes of curbing juvenile crime. Proposition 21allows youths as young as 14 to be prosecuted as adults and serve felony prisonsentences for crimes deemed to be gang-related, even if they are otherwiserelatively minor crimes, such as graffiti. The proposition also allows juvenile recordsthat were previously confidential to be opened in the case of gang members, andallows gang-related nonviolent crimes to be eligible as "strikes" under California's"three strikes" law. As wish sex-offender laws, it requires gang members to registeras such in city and statewide databases. Most severely, it makes juveniles eligible toreceive the death sentence for certain gang-related offenses.Although the California law is the most punitive of this new breed of anti-gang juvenile justice laws, the Violent and Repeat Juvenile Offender Accountability andRehabilitation Act of 1999 passed by the U.S. Senate encourages other states topass similar laws. While these laws do not specify how a suspect's gang membershipis to be proved, local law enforcement personnel have come up with a variety of methods for accomplishing this-and gang-related tattoos are regarded by police as akey indicator.Some agencies use a point system, giving various weights to different criteria fordetermining gang membership. Whether a suspect uses gang hand signs, how he orshe dresses, whether he or she appears in group photos with known gang members,whether he or she engages in writing gang-related graffiti-these are typical of thecriteria used to evaluate whether someone is in a gang. Other than an open verbaldeclaration of gang membership, the indicator that is given the highest point value-that is regarded as the most damning evidence of being a member-is a gang tattoo.Thus the very things that make tattoos appealing as signifiers of gang membership-their visibility and permanence-are also the factors that make them appealing to lawenforcement as a way of identifying and punishing gang members.This in turn has begun to challenge the permanence of tattoos. The increasedinterest in tattooing among the middle class has also spurred development of newtechniques for removing tattoos. What was once permanent is now less so, althoughremoving a tattoo is still a major undertaking. This has affected gang members aswell as movie stars. There are now many popular community initiatives to providefree or low-cost tattoo removal to former gang members. Proponents of these planssay that youth in rehabilitation programs who have their gang tattoos removed aremore likely to stay out of the gangs and off drugs. It also allows adults who hadpreviously been barred the work force because of highly visible tattoos to supportthemselves and their families after removal of the stigmatizing gang insignia. Most of these plans ask that the recipients of the services pay for them by performing
community service of some sort, rather than paying for the procedure, which cancost as much as $7,000 otherwise.Dr. Tolbert Wilkinson, a Texas-based doctor, works with one of these programscontends that they are highly effective. He sites a survey conducted by the BanderaPolice Department, which found that 95 percent of former gang members who hadsubmitted to having their gang tattoos removed "are now drug-free and employed. "A 14-year-old who has his gang's name tattooed across his forehead is committinghimself to a lifetime of identification not only with a specific gang, but with theoutlaw life. "Sometimes it makes [other people] afraid if they see these things [gangtattoos], and they don't know what to make of them," says Jim Foley, a physicianwho works with another de-tattooing program, the Minnesota-based "Getting Out.""And the kids have changed. They want to get rid of the mark, the tattoo, that's thestigma of the past."Like many commitments, the commitment to a gang can fade. Now thanks to plasticsurgery techniques, so can a gang tattoo.
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Created By: James Mosley
Edison's electric pen was the first electric motor driven appliance produced and sold in the United States, developed as an offshoot of Edison's telegraphy research.
Edison and Batchelor noticed that as the stylus of their printing telegraph punctured the paper, the chemical solution left a mark underneath. This led them to conceive of using a perforated sheet of paper as a stencil for making multiple copies, and to develop the electric pen as a perforating device. US patent 180,857 for "autographic printing" was issued to Edison on 8 August 1876.
Electric pen outfit at Greenfield Village
The electric pen was sold as part of a complete duplicating outfit, which included the pen, a cast-iron holder with a wooden insert, a wet-cell battery on a cast-iron stand, and a cast-iron flatbed duplicating press with ink roller. All the cast-iron parts were black japanned, with gold striping or decoration. The hand-held electric pen was powered by the wet-cell battery, which was wired to an electric motor mounted on top of a pen-like shaft. The motor drove a reciprocating needle which, according to the manual, could make 50 punctures per second, or 3,000 per minute. The user was instructed to place the stencil on firm blotting paper on a flat surface, then use the pen to write or draw naturally to form words and designs as a series of minute perforations in the stencil.
Later duplicating processes used a wax stencil, but the instruction manuals for Edison's Electric(al) Pen and Duplicating Press variously call for a stencil of "common writing paper" (in Charles Batchelor's manual), and "Crane's Bank Folio" paper (in George Bliss' later manual). Once the stencil was prepared it was placed in the flatbed duplicating press with a blank sheet of paper below. An inked roller was passed over the stencil, leaving an impression of the image on the paper. Edison boasted that over 5,000 copies could be made from one stencil.
The electric pen proved ultimately unsuccessful, other simpler methods (and eventually the typewriter) succeeding it for cutting stencils. But Edison's duplicating technology was licensed to A.B. Dick, who sold it as "Edison's Mimeograph" with considerable success. The company is still in business today as an office products and equipment manufacturer.
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