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10 Historical Titans With Surprising Tattoos

Regretting that Taz-too on your ankle? Don’t! You’re walking in the footsteps of greatness.

1. THOMAS EDISON

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Tattoos would never have taken off if Edison’s patented “electric pen” hadn’t paved the way for the first tattoo gun. So it’s only fitting that he had a quincunx, a geometric pattern of five dots, inked on his forearm.

2. GEORGE ORWELL

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The 1984 author also saw spots. His were bright blue and tattooed on his knuckles. The dots were supposedly a bit of youthful rebellion from Orwell’s days as a policeman in colonial Burma.

3. JAMES K. POLK

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America’s 11th president annexed Texas, but he had another legacy that was just as lasting: starting the trend of Chinese-character tattoos. Polk’s ink translated as “eager,” or so he was told.

4. TEDDY ROOSEVELT

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Polk wasn’t the only tattooed commander in chief. Teddy Roosevelt had his family crest emblazoned across his chest.

5. ANDREW JACKSON

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The notoriously cranky Jackson was never one to bury the hatchet, but he did have a tomahawk inked on his inner thigh.

6. DOROTHY PARKER

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The sharp-tongued writer sported a small blue star near her elbow as a memento of a drunken night in the 1930s.

7. WINSTON CHURCHILL

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As of 2012, the U.K. holds the title of the world’s most tattooed nation, and the trend goes back ages. Even Churchill sported some body art: an anchor on his forearm.

8. BARRY GOLDWATER

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Longtime senator Barry “Mr. Conservative” Goldwater adorned his hand with a crescent moon and four dots, the trademark of the Smoki People, an Arizona organization dedicated to preserving Native American culture.

9. CZAR NICHOLAS II

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In 1891, Nicholas II of Russia visited Japan to improve Russo-Japanese relations. He survived an assassination attempt on his trip, but he also came home with a souvenir: a colorful dragon on his right arm.

10. KING HAROLD II

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Royal tattoos have been around longer than you’d think. After England’s Harold II emerged as the big loser at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, his allies identified his body using his ink, including his wife’s name, Edith, scrawled across his heart.

This article originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. You can get a free issue here.

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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