Please Attack Me

The Air Force doesn’t want service members logging into Foursquare or Facebook Places. Earlier this month it circulated a message saying that the use of geolocation services—which keep track where users are—”can have devastating operations security and privacy implications.” If service members check in to these sites like these with GPS-enabled phones, they could give enemy forces a way to track troop movements.


As Caroline McCarthy points out, the military has cautioned troops about the use of social media before. The Defense Department even considered banning the use of social networking sites entirely. That would be hard to do, since they are increasingly valuable communication tools. But while social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter typically require users to opt-in to geolocation services, they make also have started to put users under increasing pressure to provide their locations. The truth is that it would be easy for a someone to carelessly give away their location without intending to.

The issue is the same for military personnel as it is for civilians, although the stakes are higher. While it may seem harmless enough to tell people where we are, broadcasting that information makes it available to people who might want to exploit it. That point was made by the controversial website Please Rob Me, which reposted geolocation information from sites like Foursquare while letting users know they had just informed potential burglars they weren’t home. For military personnel, logging on to some social networking services is tantamount to saying, “Please attack me.”

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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