now i'm confused. you are saying that the Penrose-Terrell effect means that length-contracted rods do not appear length-contracted??No, you've got it backwards, it wouldn't appear to contract because light takes time to reach an observer, even though it "really" would have contracted in your frame. Like I said, if its rest length was 2 ft, then if it's moving at 0.6c in your frame, then its "real" length in your frame would be 1.6 ft because of Lorentz contraction, but visually it would still appear to be 2 ft long because of the Penrose-Terrell effect.
i thought the whole point of length contraction in SR is that a rod moving in the same direction as its orientation (along the long dimension of the rod) at relativistic speeds relative to some observer appears shorter to that observer than it would to an observer who was moving along with the rod (to whom the rod appears stationary).