Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

July 17th, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • Probably because I don’t work that much in the realm of historic images, I did not know that scanned or photographic copies of public-domain images are also in the public domain, at least in the US. I’ve been gathering scans of pre-1923 artwork for possible use on book covers for several years now, but the uncertain origin (and thus the copyright status) of most of the copies themselves has given me pause. I guess it’s time to end the pause and hit Play.
  • We’re currently in peak season for noctilucent clouds, which are high-altitude ice-crystal plumes of mysterious origin. Because they’re so high, they reflect sunlight long after the land beneath them is in night-time darkness. NLCs are appearing farther south recently for reasons not understood; predictably, it’s been ascribed to global warming, but some research indicates that southward excursions of NLCs are a proxy for low solar activity, which we’ve certainly been seeing the last couple of years. (Spaceweather has been covering NLCs a lot in recently weeks, with good photos.)
  • Here’s an R2D2-shaped toilet paper cozy. Hey, why is this any weirder than the crocheted teal-yarn poodle-nose cozies that my Aunt Josephine used to keep her toilet paper in?
  • I have a strong affection for Nebraska, and here’s an interesting article about abandoned farmsteads and structures in the western Great Plains portion of the state. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • A chap named Julian Beever may be the real master of 3-D sidewalk art. (Thanks to Roy Harvey for putting me on to him.)
  • We’ve now had cheap desktop CD-R burners for at least ten years, and the lifetime of the media is supposedly about that. Here’s a reasonable article on optical disc longevity that isn’t from an industry source. Has anybody noticed any burned (not stamped) data discs from the 90s going bad yet?
  • When we lived in Arizona, I used to climb an elderly neighbor’s thirty-foot-tall grapefruit tree to help her get the high-hanging fruit. I was in my early forties and that was the last time I ever climbed trees on a systematic basis. If I had to do it again, I would probably stay on the ground and build something like this.
  • Has Bucky Fuller’s Cloud 9 cities concept ever been used in SF? There’s not much to be found online about them, but in brief, he was talking about geodesic spheres as much as several miles in diameter, each containing whole cities that could float via thermal lift by virtue of as little as a degree or two of temperature delta between inside and outside. I’ve been imagining Cloud 9 spheres made of drumlin parts (with possibly a Hilbert drive ring around the sphere’s equator) and I’m a little surprised that I haven’t already seen the idea used in fiction, given that Bucky wrote about it in 1960.