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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Top 10 Inventors

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Here’s a short, fun video about 10 top inventors; some may be arguable, and I’m sure we could come up with several that should have made it onto the list.  It’s still incredible to think back and see the “Eureka” moments these gentlemen had; and to wonder what they would have thought of some of the modern versions  of their initial devices.  What would Bell think of the cell phone that’s rarely used as a phone (rather as an SMS device, or app- or camera device)?  What would the Wright Brothers think of the Concord, or the ISS?  Click on the photo below to see the video.

Lightbulb

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Lines of Desire

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Photo Credit:  Unknown

Photo Credit: Unknown

No, this isn’t about how to write romance novels – it’s about architectural landscaping.  The previous article on the topic of paper towns and trap streets reminded me of this term that I’d come across while researching for a novel (in draft currently, in the queue of manuscripts to complete!).

Also known as desire lines / paths, social trails, goat tracks, cow paths or bootleg trails, these unnamed ways are the path of least resistance and most direct distance between their origin and destination.  The wider the path and deeper the erosion, the more proven a path it is.  By some landscape architects they are seen as a failure in proper planning of physical space, but by others they are seen as simple proof that one cannot always impose an empirical will on human choice.  If you zoom in on any large park in Google Earth, such as Hyde Park in London, you’ll see desire paths criss-crossing their shortest-path way throughout the park.

There are all kinds of urban legends about retroactive paving; I leave the verification to those who have expertise in this area, but here are two examples:  New York’s Central Park’s networks of paths are said to be designed around these desire lines, pavement making them retroactively official; however, it actually seems like a poor example as the paths marked do not readily fit the criteria of straightest path or path of least resistance.  Also, Columbia University is said to have turned the desire lines into sidewalks under the guidance of its president Dwight Eisenhower (before he became the 34th president of the US).  Whether such stories are true or not, it would seem like a logical solution to the problem of worn grass patches, rather than needing to re-seed them each spring as people forge their own lines of desire through winter snow.  Why fight human nature?  Or animal instinct.  In Scotland one is wise to follow the sheep paths up in the bonnie highlands; they are proven, solid paths avoiding the hidden streamlets, gigantic holes of souterrain entrances, and the mire of a hidden bog (usually – though the latter seems to bother sheep less than it does me).

Do you know of any “desire lines” in your town?  Have you taken them yourself, or are you one to stick to official paths?

Creative mapping: paper towns, trap streets, cartographic treasure-hunts

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Creative mapping: paper towns, trap streets, cartographic treasure-hunts

Here’s an interesting bit of history (and current) trivia for all you aspiring cartographers out there. Maybe your town’s map has a trap street…

The visual squirrel

Q. Why was longitude boiling mad?

A. Because it was 360 degrees.

Cartographers are/were often seen as pretty dour characters. Not so long ago, maps were hand-drawn, and hanging over a a drawing table, the meticulous of drawing contours seems rather nerdy. But, as programmers put easter-eggs in code, cartographers do the same.

Map makers sometimes put phantom streets, parks, ponds and such in their maps, so as to trap others that copy their work. Copyright infringements will be unmasked by these fictional, deliberate trap streets, and this has been going on for hundreds of years.

The term paper street and trap street are often confused, but they can be interpreted as different things: Paper towns/street can be planned constructions that are never created, trap streets are included to trap other cartographers.

Agloe_OriginalOne of the more hilarious examples, are the creation of the town Agloe in New York state. “Agloe”…

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Pseudo-Retro Vintage Ads

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I wonder what people will believe in a few hundred years?  It’s unwise to believe everything you see and hear on the web, and even “reputed” sources such as newspapers have been duped more times than they’ll ever admit.  With Photoshop and similar programs at the fingertips of every bored teenager and adult in the western world, we have to take what we see and hear with a healthy pinch of salt and a huge dose of discernment.  Having said that, here are a few fun pseudo-retro ads … they remind me a bit of the old cartoon, “The Jetsons”.

Vintage Facebook Ad Vintage Skype Ad Vintage YouTube Ad

 

 

The Diva Mummy of China

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When we think of well-preserved mummies we tend to think of Egypt; but in fact, the best preserved mummy of all time comes from China.  Known as the “Diva Mummy”, the Lady of Dai died sometime between 178 and 145 BC; when she was found in the 1970s her skin was still elastic, and she was still intact, down to the nose hairs.  For the full story, click on the photo below.

Lady-of-Dai-mummy

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