Thumbs up for BME Hard

Yesterday’s Guess What Game featured a modification that is not too common in the community, that being self-amputation.  A lot of comments were made, and questions asked, so as requested, here’s a look at one of Thumbamputee’s several amputations.  The images in the post below come from the BME Hard amputation gallery, and are only a small segment of the many images sent in recently.  To view all of them sign up for a BME Hard subscription today.

Due to the nature of the photos, they’re all hidden behind a break.  Just hit the read more button if you’re interested in seeing the amputation healing process.

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Ask an amputee

I came across some recent amputation pictures in the galleries and contacted the IAM member who had submitted them. He gave me the privilege of interviewing him and was extremely open about being a voluntary amputee, his life and his mods.

I feel I was pretty thorough in my questions and I definitely covered all of the basics. However, I know anytime  an interview of this sort goes down, the readers of modblog always have questions they wish were asked. Well, now  is your chance, if you have  ever had any questions you wanted to ask a voluntary amputee, leave them in the comments section and I will pass them on.

Remember, I already interviewed him so the basic how and why questions have been asked already. So, please,  make sure your questions are specific and original. Also, he had done a huge service for us by being so open about a subject rarely talked about, make sure the questions you ask  are respectful of him.


Interview with James Keen; a young, heavily modified, eunuch.

I first talked to James several years ago. At the time he was a minor seeking answers to questions about heavy mods. In all honesty, I didn’t take him too seriously. I foolishly lumped him in with several other young modders that seemed to be more into the fantasy of obtaining heavy mods than the reality of doing so. In fact, I distinctly remember some photo editing of mods onto a picture of his face at one point which made it truly seem as if it was all just fantasy for him.

However, as years passed, it became obvious he was totally serious with his desires and he began to get all the mods he had previously spoken with me about.

Several years ago, he interviewed me for the now defunct Now it is time for me to turn the tables and interview him. So without further ado, I give you a conversation with the now 26-year-old James Keen.


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Working-Class Cyborg

People are angry at Rob Spence. It’s April Fools’ Day, and his prank of choice was to make a morning post on Facebook that a battery exploded in his eye and that he was in the emergency room awaiting…well, whatever sort of treatment such an accident requires. But he’s quick to shift the blame.

“That was your idea,” he scolds Kosta Grammatis, the brilliant 23-year-old aviation electronics engineer who’s been living in his home office for the last two months. Kosta laughs him off and goes back to his dinner. We’re sitting in Harry’s (along with BME photographer Phil Barbosa), a bar near Rob’s home in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood. Less than an hour ago, we were in Kosta’s makeshift bedroom while he assembled a prosthetic eye for Rob—a clear, rounded silicone case housing a small red LED light—to give us an idea of the technology with which they’re experimenting. To be fair, his April Fools’ joke seems entirely plausible.

When Rob was 13, his right eye was damaged in a shooting accident on a family member’s farm. Six separate surgeries were performed over the years to repair the eye’s vision, but each time it regressed, and the eye grew larger, turned white, and became increasingly disfigured and painful. “I’ve had a doctor stick a needle straight into my eye about 10 times,” Rob says, “and I was thankful for it. Like, ‘Please stick the fucking needle in my eye.’” Several years ago, the ophthalmologist father of a friend of his told him he had to prepare to let go of his eye, and after a year and a half of deliberation and anxiety, he decided it was the right move. “It’s a hard thing to let go of a part of your body,” he admits, “but it was time for that garbage to go.” Three years ago, he finally had it removed. Now, Rob, 36, a filmmaker and videographer, wants to make good use of the vacant lot in his face: He’s trying to build a miniature video camera to wear as a prosthetic eye in the empty socket.

This is where Kosta came into the picture. He contacted Rob after hearing about his project and realizing, hey, he was more than qualified to run point on this. (Or, at least, he was no less qualified than Rob.) The two met in San Francisco while Rob was there visiting his father—Kosta, at the time, was squatting in a coop warehouse—and found they shared a similar vision. Kosta came to Canada and took up residence in the back room of Rob’s house, and the two have been teammates since, trying to devise a working prototype. The main difference between their operation and a proper lab, of course, is funding; that is, they have none.

Rob is broke, he says. His credit cards are maxed out. He borrowed $500 from his little sister earlier in the day. Plus, you know, he’s trying to build the world’s first miniature prosthetic eye camera, and now he’s pissed off a whole lot of people with this April Fools’ stunt. Now, thinking about the LED he was just wearing in his eye, he realizes the whole joke could have thoroughly backfired. “Imagine if the battery really had blown up in my eye tonight after I’d cried wolf on Facebook?” he says. He remembers, though, that his brother-in-law had a good point. “Do people think if I’d really blown my eye apart, and I was sitting in the emergency room, that I’d be talking about it on Facebook? It’s come to the point where people feel like sitting in the E.R. with my eye bleeding profusely is a perfectly reasonable time to update my Facebook status.”

Except, if anyone were to do such a thing, Rob would be a prime candidate. Ever since the initial accident, he’s developed a talent for drawing attention to himself. “When you’re a kid,” he says, “and you have a dramatic accident, it’s like the origin of a super hero. When I came home from the hospital, I’d turn to my little siblings and say, ‘My eye really hurts, can you get me a glass of lemonade?’ And they would actually fuckin’ get it for me.”

The Tiny Tim act only lasted so long, though, and, with his current project in mind, he realizes investors won’t be refilling his glass if all he has to offer is a sympathetic story. This is the part of the job Kosta calls “skepticism management.” According to Rob, the typical engineer mindset is that a person should build a prototype of an invention first, be modest about what he’s created, and then start showing it off to people. Not him. He’d rather create excitement for the project among the people working on it, the people expecting and, ideally, the people financing it.

“I’m all about the sizzle before steak,” he says, grinning, “because sizzle can buy you steak.”

Kosta perks up at this. “We shouldn’t even be building anything,” he says. “You don’t even need me.” Kosta is equal parts easy-going, sun-kissed southern Californian and genius scientist; it’s a disarming combination. And, to be sure, Rob does need him. The pair have two working prototypes for Rob’s camera-eye, success Rob attributes largely to Kosta, due to both his technical skills and his ability to seek out the right people to do the jobs they can’t. Thus far, they’ve built devices that create wireless NTSC signals—the sort of standard wireless signal a television uses—and are now working on getting this to work in sync with a miniature camera and a battery, all attached to a printed circuit board, all of which has to fit inside a prosthetic eye.

What about what we saw earlier in the evening, though? Rob sporting a glowing red light in his eye? Does that count for anything?

“Oh,” he says, taking a draw off his scotch, “that’s just bullshit for press like you.”

“Yeah,” Kosta adds, “that’s just for your entertainment.” Right. Sizzle before the steak and all that. And all of a sudden, they’ve just driven a truck through the fourth wall. It’s an admittedly respectable sort of transparency: Phil and I thought we’d captured something unique for our article (which we had), and Rob and Kosta thought they’d done due diligence in drumming up some more attention for themselves (which they had). They’re not approaching this project like seasoned veterans of the scientific community: They’re trying to make a breakthrough on a shoestring budget.

“Can you write, like, ‘Rob and Kosta looked emaciated, as if they hadn’t eaten for days’?” Kosta asks, laughing.

“Hey!” Rob says, pointing a finger at Kosta. “You look emaciated. I look fuckin’ fine.”

In the search for funding, they scared off National Geographic by requesting $75,000; apparently, the publication thought they could achieve their goal with closer to $10,000. This is a common experience, Rob says, and one that betrays a sort of myopia. He compares it to Alexander Graham Bell’s first success building a telephone: “How much more money do you think he needed to build a robust version that worked all the time?” Even as far as video devices go, he thinks he’s being reasonable. “People tell me I’m crazy if I want a hundred grand to build the eye,” he says, “but the standard high-definition camera they shoot with on T.V. is worth about $120,000 to buy. How much do you think it cost to develop?”

So in the meantime it’s bullshit red lights for guys like me, but even stunts like that can be beneficial—that’s the sort of sizzle that earns them credibility with the cyborg culture. This, it seems, is something of a concession for Rob. Support is welcome regardless of the source, he says, but this is a segment of society with a bit of an identity crisis. Lots of people have fake eyes, so what’s the difference between a cyborg and someone who just has a prosthetic?

“Someone with a wooden leg is not a cyborg,” he says, “they’re a pirate. Meanwhile, I have a fucking eye patch on…but if I take off my eye patch and you see a red light, then I tap into the cyborg culture that you know and love.” This, it seems, is the extent of the difference. “That’s really what a cyborg is. A fake eye with a red light in it is different from a fake eye.”

And therein lies the problem with the amorphous definition of “cyborg.” Clothing, he says, technically makes you a cyborg, because it enhances a human’s ability to live in the world as a naked animal; the same goes for glasses, pacemakers, breast implants and any other invention people use every day that’s been welcomed into the mainstream. “It’s adding shit to our bodies within the context of popular culture,” Rob says, that makes a person a cyborg.

“That’s why we went for the Terminator eye,” Kosta admits. “It’s quickly identifiable.” But the truth, he says, whether or not he’s just trying to sell me sizzle, is that once funding comes through, the possibilities for Rob’s eye are endless. He talks about an idea for installing a laser in the socket that he could bounce off mirrors and panes of glass, and with the right piece of technology, the reverberations off those surfaces could be translated to hear what people are saying in the rooms in which said glass could be found. “We could make you a bionic eye-ear! We could have a little transmitter that transmits audio into your ear.”

Rob belches in response. One of his dreams is to be able to screen movies from his eye. “What I want to do eventually,” he says, “is walk around always shooting Breakfast At Tiffany’s onto a wall, because chicks love it. And Dukes Of Hazzard, because guys love that. That’s why I’m mutilating myself and letting Kosta stick batteries in my face—because mostly, I want people to love me.”

He’s joking, but there’s a kernel of truth there. As much as Rob doesn’t deign to treat the loss of his eye with much seriousness, he admits to the difficulties in adjusting to life after the surgery. “You don’t feel quite right,” he says, “you don’t feel like you’re as attractive as you used to be, you feel like you’re not quite the man you were. It might sound stupid, it’s not like I lost a leg or something, but you don’t feel quite as confident as you used to.

“But,” he says, “if you start to feel like you can actually be cooler by replacing the shit you lost with something better than other people have access to, then that’s when you start to feel pretty good about yourself.”

“There are already scientists working on connecting [prosthetic eyes] to the optic nerve,” Kosta says, “so imagine if, all of a sudden, having a night-vision eye was possible and available to people who were missing an eye? Wouldn’t you be like, ‘Fuck, I want a night-vision eye’?”

And so is presented a modern predicament. For years, it seemed like the ostensible purpose of prosthetic limbs was to as closely resemble the original appendage as possible. Recently, however, this has been uprooted by a focus on mimicking the function of the missing part (and, in some cases, exceeding the original’s capabilities), with aesthetics becoming a secondary concern. Now, these two paths are converging; limbs and organs that look “normal,” but that carry possibilities far beyond what the human body can accomplish in its natural form.

Rob foresees a disturbing trend. “One day,” he says, “I might have a grandkid that will actually want to remove an eye voluntarily, and I would tell that kid not to do that. But, I know that kid would just say to me, ‘Well, grandpa, you did it!’” For him, there is a significant difference between him augmenting himself because he lost something, and a person purposely chopping off a limb with the intention of “upgrading” it. He worries that what he’s doing, playing the role of “Eyeborg” and whatnot, will make people think that he thinks it’s cool to remove parts of their bodies. “Which,” he says, “it’s not at all.

“But,” he admits, “I’m open to the idea that that’s where things are going.” He goes on: “I think the main point is, how can our kids shock us? My kid could be a gay punk rocker and I’d be like, so? I don’t give a fuck. Gay punk rocker—big deal! The way they’re going to shock us is, ‘Dad, I’m gonna get a new fuckin’ hand.’ And we’re going to say, ‘Well, I’m not sure you should be doing that.’ But we’ll be the worst offenders, because we’re all in the movement. We won’t like it. Even though we’re already buying into it, we won’t like it.” It’s the duality of the conscientious cyborg: How do you balance a desire to improve your own life—and find someone to give you hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so—with not wanting to set a precedent for future activities of which you already disapprove?

But maybe this is all just so much navel-gazing without grant money in hand. Until funding comes through to ensure Rob will be able to cement his legacy as Grandpa Hypocrite, there’s still the matter of living his life as a one-eyed man—which is not without certain high points.

“When he sees other people with eye patches, they give each other high-fives,” Kosta says, laughing. This reminds Rob of Steve Fonyo (“Terry Fox light,” as he calls him), a Canadian who lost a leg and, in the spirit of Terry Fox, ran across Canada; unlike Terry Fox, however, he made it the entire way.

“Except,” Rob says, “he was a drunk, and so was his father driving the van. They made it the whole way across and he never died, but he never gets any credit. And I did an interview with him, and I asked him, ‘So, Steve, did you get laid? When you were running across Canada with your one leg, did you get laid?’

“And he goes, ‘Oh yeah.’ And then, after a pause, ‘Big time.’”

Rob isn’t quite as shameless, but he’s got what seems like a go-to maneuver nonetheless. “When you’re at a party and you’re wearing an eye patch, girls are thinking, ‘Are you vulnerable? Or are you mysterious? Or are you a bad boy? Or are you all three of those things?’” he says, cracking up the table and breaking into a snort-laugh of his own. “They’re curious, so all I do is say, ‘Well, I’m curious about what your boobs look like. This is my raw fuckin’ naked eye here, it’s vulnerable for me and I don’t feel so great about it. So, maybe it would make me feel better if you showed me your breasts.’ And inevitably, it’s a fairly good deal.”

Kosta, the sidekick, is picking up life lessons. “You have to have some kind of emotional experience,” he theorizes, “because they’re going to have a unique emotional experience.”

“That’s the thing,” Rob says. “If you’ve got an eye out, and you show someone the flesh inside, it’s almost like you’ve got a pussy in your head. That’s what it feels like. They always want to see it. ‘Pull your patch aside and show me what’s in there.’ And when I do, it’s the same look as a 13-year-old boy who wants to see a pussy for the first time.”

All photos © Philip Barbosa / 2009. Video is coming soon!

Visit the Eyeborg project online at Rob can be found here, and Kosta can be found here.

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Please consider buying a membership to BME so we can continue bringing you articles like this one.

Full Coverage: Links From All Over (March 20, 2009)

[] So here’s some good old fashioned Finnish ingenuity! Jerry Jalava, a software programmer from Helsinki, lost half a finger in a motorcycle accident almost a year ago, and the doctor, when told what Jalava did for a living, was a bit of a wise-ass and told Jalava he should get a USB drive installed in place of his missing digit. Jalava briefly snapped out of his blissful morphine sleep to slap this chuckling goon in the face, but then it occurred to him that maybe this wasn’t the worst idea!

Using a traditional prosthetic finger Jerry has been able embed a ‘USB key’ – like the ones used in traditional flash drives – giving him the world’s only two gigabyte finger.

The finger is not permanently attached to his hand meaning it can be removed when plugged into a computer.

“It is not attached permanently in to my body, it is a removable prosthetic which has USB memorystick inside it,” said Jerry.

“When I’m using the USB, I just leave my finger inside the slot and pick it up after I’m ready.”

Jerry said he is already thinking about upgrading his faux finger to include more storage and wireless technology.

“I’m planning to use anther prosthetic as a shell for the next version, which will have removable fingertip and an RFID tag,” he added.

Not that losing a segment of a finger is the worst thing in the world, but it’s still nice nonetheless to see people finding creative ways to deal with inconveniences (if not disabilities) beyond their control. The real hero in this story, however, is me, for making it the entire way without making a single “thumb-drive” joke. Oh, damn it.


[Toronto Star] This story has been bubbling up for a little while now, and we’ve been meaning to get an “in the know” guest on the podcast to discuss it (hopefully that’ll happen in the next couple of days), but Moonshin Tattoo in Mississauge, Ontario, has come under fire for poor record-keeping of its sterilization practices over a four-year period. A mandatory alert was sent out to all clients of the shop who visited during the period in question, saying that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Now, a $20 million class-action lawsuit has been filed against both the owners of Moonshin and Peel Region itself, with the suit claiming the latter failed to inspect the shop over that period, thereby allowing Moonshin to go on with its irresponsible practices. As the article states, “(p)ublic health authorities are required to inspect at least once a year personal services shops, such as tattoo and piercing studios, barbershops and others where there is a risk of exposure to blood.”

Truth be told, the chances of anyone having contracted anything are slim, but this is a clusterfuck any way you look at it. There’s no excuse for not keeping sterilization paperwork in order at this point, and even though the government is supposed to be monitoring that activity, when it comes to public opinion, situations like these do nothing but reinforce shitty stereotypes about tattoo and piercing shops. Well done, Moonshin.

[First Amendment Center] Oh, great, here’s a situation with literally nary a sympathetic party! Martin Robles and his shit-demon accomplice were indicted for breaking into a home in 2002 and killing two men, crimes for which Robles was sentenced to death in Texas. He lost an appeal, then made a last-ditch effort to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming, among other things, that his First Amendment rights were violated during the trial. How so?

[He argued] that his religious-liberty rights were violated when the state placed into evidence his tattoo of a religious figure. As described in trial proceedings, the tattoo depicted “Jesus with a demon devouring his brains.”

Oh. That probably didn’t go over very well in Texas.

During the trial, the judge forced him to remove his jacket and show the tattoo, located on his shoulder, to jurors.


During the penalty phase of Robles’ trial, the prosecutor said:

“You have a demon eating the brains of Christ. … Now, I don’t know what that means, but to me it’s a bad thing. That to me is a philosophy. I don’t know if it’s satanic. I don’t know what in the Sam Hill it is, but if it tells you something about him as a person, that ought to tell you where his belief system is. His conduct shows you where his belief system is.”

Robles contended that the references to the religious nature of the tattoo and the “satanic” and “belief systems” comments by the prosecutor infringed on his First Amendment free-exercise-of-religion right.

Thank you, Texas judge, for forcing me to side with a double-murderer on something. I’m no lawyer (though I’m happy to dispense legal advice for a small fee), but offensive tattoos that don’t actually make direct political statements should probably be immaterial when deciding the fate of a man’s life, right? Unless the guy was killing priests—or worse, Jesus—I’m just not sure what role it should have played in the decision. There’s even a precedent set to that effect, which was consciously set in contrast in this case:

[U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack] distinguished Robles’ case from the 1992 case Dawson v. Delaware, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a defendant’s First Amendment associational rights were violated when prosecutors introduced into evidence his membership in a white supremacist group when such association had nothing to do with the underlying crime. [...] However, the Court in Dawson pointed out that “elements of racial hatred were … not involved in the killing.”

But in Texas, a demon eating Jesus’s brain is, I guess, worse than being a white supremacist.

Applying Dawson, Jack determined that the question was whether Robles’ tattoo was relevant evidence to his underlying crime and violent nature. She concluded that the “tattoo constitutes evidence relevant to a material issue, i.e., Robles’s violent nature and the likelihood that he would commit future acts of criminal violence.”

What we should be taking away from this, in the end, is that Mike Beer will never get out of jail when he’s arrested.

Full Coverage: Links From All Over (Dec. 5, 2008)

Photo source:

[Adam Riff] Jon over at Adam Riff, operating, as always, at full slaying power, has been following this “hot dog tattoo” trend for a little over a week now, with sexy delicious results:

A link to a tattoo of a hot dog in a leather jacket led to a tattoo of a hot dog squirting condiments on her breasts and free records for anyone who gets a tattoo of a hot dog and a comment from someone who claims to have seen a tattoo of the Black Flag logo with hot dogs in place of the bars.

So, um … anyone got some awesome hot dog tattoos to share? Or had one in mind for ages? Now’s the time, friends.

[ABC Local] Quick one here: Do you live in the Toledo, Ohio, area and have an old musical instrument kicking around? Well, bring it on by to Juki’s Tattoo and Body Piercing, who will be donating these instruments to the Imagine Madison Avenue School of Arts, and you’ll get yourself a free tattoo out of the deal. If you bring in a new, unwrapped toy, those will be donated to children in local homeless shelters, and you’ll receive half-off a new tattoo. Get to it, Toledo.

[Daily Camera] So, here’s something: Aimee Heckel over at the Daily Camera has long suffered from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks, but, a few months ago, got a cleavage surface piercing, and the anxiety ceased. She theorizes:

Several weeks later, I was at my acupuncturist. I told him about my piecing. I asked him if the rod through my chest could affect the flow of my energy, or “chi” in Eastern medicine. If sticking tiny acupuncture needles into your body can transform you, what about a more permanent puncture?

He looked at where I was pierced and smiled.

“You pieced two exact acupuncture points,” he said. “The anxiety points.”

Acupuncturists place needles there to reduce panic attacks, insomnia and anxiety. The increased blood flow and changed direction of the energy there often eliminates panic attacks, he said. I had never talked to him about my struggles with anxiety.

Which is when I realized I have not had an attack since I got the piercing.

Still haven’t.

It’s interesting, to say the very least — especially considering Heckel didn’t get the piercing with the intention of addressing her anxiety, and that that as just an after-effect that it took her a while to notice. Her article then goes on to discuss something called Ear Stapling, which is basically just a tragus piercing, I guess? But the woman who does it claims it does all sorts of magical things:

Ear stapling has been around for over 20 years and is fast becoming one of the most sought after innovative alternative methods to stop smoking, and to lose weight. A small surgical stainless steel device is strategically placed in the inner cartilage of the ear to target certain reflex points in the ear. The staples work by applying pressure to the ear reflex points, which send signals to the brain, causing endorphins to release, and communicate with your body.

[BBC] I’ve been forgetting to post this, but the BBC recently put together a documentary slideshow about tattoo culture within South African prisons, with some really stunning photography of many former inmates. This is absolutely worth your time.

[Removable Parts] Are you in Toronto? Do you like musicals? Having a lingering fascination with voluntary amputation? Well hot holy damn, Serendipity wants to give you a thundering high-five, because Removable Parts, a musical about voluntary amputation (seriously) is rolling into The Music Gallery in Toronto tomorrow night, with tickets on sale for $15. (More ticket info can be found on their Facebook page HERE.)

But what does a song about voluntary amputation sound like, you ask? Well, take a peek over at the Songs page and you can listen to .mp3s of “Fingers,” “Hands” and “Castration.” Some sample lyrics:

I understand your frustration
But for me castration
Well, it’s an evolutionary decision
I want to be more than just a breeder
I want to be a leader
And sometimes you just have to know when to quit

Why would I pass along these defective genes
They’ve caused me nothing but trouble
There comes a point when survival by any means
Is just not worth the struggle

You’ve always said that my erection
Could use a vivisection
But no one will castrate the rank and file
So I’ll have to become a pedophile
For the treatment I deserve

Sometimes, I feel like the human race will do just fine.

Wolfie’s Just Fine

I apologize in advance for posting such graphic and disturbing content this early in the morning, but this is an issue — a threat — that, if allowed to continue unabated, could have consequences most dire. (Remember that time the dolphins grew thumbs and then used them to plant poisonous snakes in bunches of delicious bananas, all over the world, just because they could, just to screw with us? It’ll be like that, yet somehow worse.) Untold thousands of miniature humans like the one pictured above are literally appearing every day, latching onto defenseless adults for sustenance and warmth and resources and such. What’s their agenda? Why won’t they speak? And why do these adults play along so willingly — is it a spell, or simply blackmail? I feel I’ve said too much as it is.

… Or it could be that this baby is twigboy‘s son, and that, in his words:

This was the first day my son Scott figured out he could grab onto my ear and use it as a handle. Now he just grabs my ear and falls backwards — seems he knows that as long as he holds on, he won’t fall.

I’ll admit, that is slightly cuter than the demon-baby apocalypse scenario.

See more in Ear Stretching (past 1/2″) (Ear Piercing)

Full Coverage: Links From All Over (Nov. 7, 2008)

[Daily Mail] God this is the worst article ever. Local idiot Liz Jones chimes in with over 1,000 miserable words about how every tattoo a woman wears is a “tramp stamp” (and not just those placed in the manner displayed on the comely young lass in the above photo), and how all these misguided starlets are just ripping each other off forever and ever, with regard to everything:

Yes, I am talking about tattoos, the most tasteless, tacky, tawdry, terrible plague to infect our nation since mad cow disease.

Ha ha oh right, this clown is from Britain, where everybody gets BSE all the time, probably because the cows are all tattoo sluts. Tattoos are definitely worse than bacteria prions that eat your goddamn brain.

It is nigh on impossible these days to find a young, famous, beautiful woman who has not got a tattoo.

A reasonable person may notice this trend and note that perhaps there has been a paradigm shift and that, hey, pretty girls like tattoos, so maybe they’re not this uglifying force that some have thought them to be. Alas.

Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen has 12, including the word ‘float’ on her throat, while English rose Lily Donaldson has just the one – words of nonsense about her family on the inside of her left wrist.

What we can take away from this is that Liz Jones does not have a family, because she buried them under her house, but if she did, she would surely not do something as stupid as get any “words of nonsense” about them tattooed on her body. She would not “feel” any “feelings” about them, or try to “remember” or “pay tribute” to them. Because she is nature’s most perfect, soulless killing machine.

Musicians have long adored tattoos: Janis Joplin had a floral tattoo bracelet, which has clearly inspired the tattoos sported by Joss Stone, who has garlands of flowers on her feet.

The words “clearly inspired” suggest a direct causal relationship. I’ve never listened to Joss Stone and probably could not pick her out of a line-up — is there any reason to believe that she got flower tattoos because Janis Joplin did first? Based on the nonsense that comprises the rest of this article, I’m going to guess no, and that in addition to being a sensationalist, Liz Jones is also a piss-poor logician.

What I hate most about all these celebrity tattoos is not just that they have spawned a rash of copycats the length and breadth of the nation, it is that tattoo wearers think that by writing on themselves, a la Angelina Jolie, they are somehow ‘alternative’, ‘deep’ and ‘profound’, that they have meaning in their lives.

Wow, she is still talking. I’ve skipped several hundred words already and this thing just keeps going. I feel like I’ve always been reading this.

I particularly detest the tattooing of names of loved ones, a la Johnny Depp and his ‘Winona Forever’, or David Beckham and his tattoo of his son Brooklyn’s name. It is as if the person is trying to say: ‘I love my son/boyfriend/wife more than you love yours.’

Someone’s projecting!

When I mentioned this saddest incarnation of the tat to Helen Mirren, who has the Indian Lakesh symbol, meaning ‘whole woman’, inscribed just below the thumb on her left hand, she rolled her eyes. (Helen Mirren is, by the way, the only woman in her 60s I can think of who doesn’t look ridiculous sporting a tattoo).

She got hers when she was drunk one night on a theatre tour in Minnesota. ‘It was years before tattoos became fashionable. I’m appalled they have become middle class,’ she said. ‘There is no respect for rebellion any more.’

For what it’s worth, Helen Mirren, in addition to being a pretty tremendous actor, also thinks that date-rape is a hilarious joke and that woman should just get over it, so perhaps she is not the most astute cultural observer of all time.

Jones then ends the article by telling a brief story about her friend’s grandmother, who is a holocaust survivor, and thus has a concentration camp number tattooed on her wrist. According to Liz Jones, this is the only sort of tattoo that it is acceptable for a person to have nowadays.

[] Here we’ve got an uncharacteristically positive story about Body Integrity Identity Disorder and amputation as a viable course of action for those suffering from it. The proponent, Christopher Ryan, is a psychiatrist at the University of Sydney, and, while he doesn’t propose just cold cutting off folks’s legs whenever they want, he does admit that, after the proper evaluations have been done, many can be effectively “cured,” and that such procedures should be “likened to plastic surgery.”

“I realise that the idea strikes almost everyone as lunatic when they first hear it. However, there are a small number of people who see themselves, and have always seen themselves, as amputees,” he said.

“They are often miserable their whole lives because of their ‘extra limb’, and we know that at least some of them feel much better if it is removed.”