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Elizabeth Skene

24 Awesome Librarian Tattoos

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Elizabeth Skene

1. Card Catalog Sleeve

Elizabeth Skene has what might be the most awesomely complete librarian sleeve around, featuring a skull sitting on top of a book, with a graduation cap next to a card catalog with a banner reading “Peace and Knowledge.” There is also an open book with pages coming out and turning into birds. Let there be no doubt here: Elizabeth loves libraries. Tattoo by Frank William of the Chicago Tattoo Company.

2. Shhh

The folks behind 8 Bit Library, a librarian blog, wanted to encourage librarians to show their pride in their work, and thus they started Project Brand Yourself A Librarian. A lot of people joined in, including Lauren Comito, who got this lovely silhouette of a woman shushing noisy patrons.

While it seems like the icon merely represents the stereotypical librarian, it actually has far more meaning to Ms. Comito. After discovering that big budget cuts in her library system would mean she would be laid off, she created the image as a protest that library supporters won’t be silenced in the fight to keep their local branches open. She made hundreds of tees and organized a protest that resulted in most of the branch’s funding being restored. After that, it seemed only fitting to get the icon tattooed on her body. If you like the image, you can buy one of the shirts bearing the icon, which will also help support the fight to keep NYC public libraries open for years to come.

3. Super Librarian

Tattooed Librarians and Archivists reader Michelle is a high school librarian who wanted to get something to represent her career. She chose a superhero librarian and based the design on the old-school DC character Mary Marvel and had it inked by Chris Cockrill of Avalon II Tattoo. I think the world could use a few more super librarians, don’t you?

4. Library Icon

Flickr user infowidget also participated in Project Brand Yourself a Librarian by getting the classic library symbol tattooed on her inner wrist.

5. The Book Tree

Here’s another “Brand Yourself” participant, this time tattooed by Anne Marsh of Nemesis Tattoo. Flickr user bookishJulia got the library icon underneath the roots of a tree that has sprung from the pages of a book.

6. Dewey Decimal Number

Flickr user Cardamom is so proud of her role as a children’s librarian that she got the Dewey Decimal number for books on operating libraries for children. Of course, only those well-versed in the decimal system numbers will actually get that reference without having to look it up.

7. Harry Potter Dewey Decimal Number

Great White Snark reader Becca is a full-time librarian who loves Harry Potter. How much does she love the series? Enough to get its Dewey Decimal number tattooed across her back in the iconic font, colored Slytherin green.

8. Egyptian Goddess

Just looking at this piece you’ll recognize it as a librarian tattoo, but what makes LiveJournal user Oh Chris’ tattoo by Kristen at Artisanal Tattoo really great are how many details he has hidden inside the design. For example, the hieroglyphics are phonetic transliterations for the names of his family members and the two open books have images symbolizing his favorite childhood books – The BFG and Jabberwock.

9. Librarian Skull

Prefer your ink a little more hardcore than most of these librarian tattoos? Then, you’ll probably approve of Jason Puckett’s tattoo by Ron Hendon of Midnight Iguana Tattooing that features a bespectacled skull with “crossbooks” and a “librarian” banner.

10. Voodoo Reader

Jim McClusky is a librarian in Washington, so obviously he thinks reading is pretty darn important, even if you’re only a poor little voodoo doll. Artwork by Mary J. Hoffman, tattoo by Curtis James of Anchor Tattoo.

11. Tarot Card

Flickr user whatnot’s friend Diane got this great librarian tarot card featuring a bee-keeping skeleton. I don’t know what makes this skeleton a librarian, but I definitely love the artwork.

12. Where the Wild Children Are

Heather Warren of the Philadelphia Free Library has this amazing children’s literary sleeve featuring characters from famous titles such as Where the Wild Things Are, The Little Prince, Matilda, The Giving Tree, and more. Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing spotted her work, done by Bird of the Black Vulture Gallery, and was kind enough to share it with the net in general.

13 and 14. Beautiful Book Goodness

Reader Melissa Deemer shared her ink with other fans of our At the Libraries column.

As you can see, both her library shield and her open book pieces are absolutely stunning. She also has a delightful “Dewey Ale” design featuring a stein bearing the Dewey digits for “beverage technology.”

15. There’s Not Much More to Life Than Books

Anyone who reads profusely has had someone, at some point, tell them “there’s more to life than books”—but, as any fan of The Smiths can tell you, “not much more.” This wonderful Smiths-inspired design was sent to Tattooed Librarians and Archivists by a library technician and MLIS student who works at a Bay Area high school and got the piece as a 31st birthday present. The artwork was done by Dan Gilsdorf at Tattoo 13 in Oakland.

16. Shhhhhh

If there’s one thing everyone has heard from a librarian at one point or another in their childhoods, it’s “shhh.” And while some librarians try to discredit this stereotype, others embrace it—including this youth services supervisor who works in a New Jersey public library. This cute piece, submitted to Tattooed Librarians and Archivists, was done at Tattooville in Neptune, New Jersey.

17. The Dewey Cutter

Reader Kati Donaghy shared this great Dewey tattoo with us in the comments of our first librarian tattoos article, calling it her “spine label.” She pointed out that her choice of numbers even includes a Cutter number—a code that allows librarians to arrange books alphabetically by the author’s last name. That’s important because it means she was not only able to include a Dewey number for “Biography in the library's role in culture,” but she was also able to include her own Cutter number that means “DonK.”

18. A Naughty Librarian

A Tattooed Librarians and Archivists reader submitted this great pinup tattoo that she got to celebrate earning her Masters of Library and Information Science. It seems particularly fitting that the pinup librarian also has tattoos.

19. Public Library Pride

Tattooed Librarians and Archivists reader Amy is a librarian at a small library in the Florida Panhandle. As you can tell, she’s a big fan of public libraries—especially the one where she works.

20. Where the Reading Begins

One librarian submitted this great Shel Silverstein tattoo to the Tattoo Lit Tumblr, which is dedicated exclusively to literary tattoos (though most of the contributors are not librarians). The site is operated by the group who put together the book The Word Made Flesh, which I highly suggest checking out if you just can’t get enough great pics of literary tattoos.

21. Read or Die

Another submitter to the Tattoo Lit Tumblr shared this old school style tattoo depicting a skull atop a pile of books. The tattoo was a celebration of that person’s educational choice as he or she is a library science student specializing in rare books and manuscripts.

22. Much Ado About Books

A Master of Library Science with a concentration in Archives Management sent this Much Ado About Nothing quote tattoo into Tattooed Librarians and Archivists. She got the tattoo from Moose Tattoo and Piercings of Vermont and chose the line because she wrote her undergraduate thesis on the play.

23. Alphabetical Awesome

Reader Elizabeth Wisker writes, “I have a degree in library and information science. Here's my alphabet tattoo... pretty sure I’ll love it when I’m 95, and here's hoping I live that long.”

24. It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

How do you say goodbye when you leave your old job? Even if you have only positive memories of the position, chances are you probably still won’t get the logo of your old company tattooed on you, but for librarian Dan Lee, permanently inking the Broome Public Library’s logo into his skin was the perfect way to end that chapter of his life.

Special thanks to Tattooed Librarians and Archivists, which features all sorts of fantastic ink from librarians, archivists, curators and similarly employed individuals. While we try to focus on librarian tattoos based on the careers of a librarian, the site provides a great look into all types of tattoos people in the industry choose to get.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Health
200 Health Experts Call for Ban on Two Antibacterial Chemicals
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iStock

In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on antibacterial soap and body wash. But a large collective of scientists and medical professionals says the agency should have done more to stop the spread of harmful chemicals into our bodies and environment, most notably the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban. They published their recommendations in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The 2016 report from the FDA concluded that 19 of the most commonly used antimicrobial ingredients are no more effective than ordinary soap and water, and forbade their use in soap and body wash.

"Customers may think added antimicrobials are a way to reduce infections, but in most products there is no evidence that they do," Ted Schettler, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, said in a statement.

Studies have shown that these chemicals may actually do more harm than good. They don't keep us from getting sick, but they can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs. Triclosan and triclocarban can also damage our hormones and immune systems.

And while they may no longer be appearing on our bathroom sinks or shower shelves, they're still all around us. They've leached into the environment from years of use. They're also still being added to a staggering array of consumer products, as companies create "antibacterial" clothing, toys, yoga mats, paint, food storage containers, electronics, doorknobs, and countertops.

The authors of the new consensus statement say it's time for that to stop.

"We must develop better alternatives and prevent unneeded exposures to antimicrobial chemicals," Rolf Haden of the University of Arizona said in the statement. Haden researches where mass-produced chemicals wind up in the environment.

The statement notes that many manufacturers have simply replaced the banned chemicals with others. "I was happy that the FDA finally acted to remove these chemicals from soaps," said Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. "But I was dismayed to discover at my local drugstore that most products now contain substitutes that may be worse."

Blum, Haden, Schettler, and their colleagues "urge scientists, governments, chemical and product manufacturers, purchasing organizations, retailers, and consumers" to avoid antimicrobial chemicals outside of medical settings. "Where antimicrobials are necessary," they write, we should "use safer alternatives that are not persistent and pose no risk to humans or ecosystems."

They recommend that manufacturers label any products containing antimicrobial chemicals so that consumers can avoid them, and they call for further research into the impacts of these compounds on us and our planet.

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