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Scott Underwood
East Bay, CA
Recent Activity
On the off chance you are subscribed to this blog, it is moving to I'm consolidating my blog into my main site, which uses Wordpress. All the posts are already there, but I'll leave this up for a week or so. Nothing against Typepad or MT, but it's time to go. Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2013 at Scottunder
Scott Underwood is now following The Typepad Team
Feb 2, 2013
Somewhere in the late 1940s, Woody Guthrie gave his mimeographed 25 Cent Songbook to Charlie Weiner, my late father-in-law. Typewritten and decorated with Woody's cartoons, the songbook contains ten songs, including "This Land Is Your Land," "Grand Coolee Dam," and others. It's pretty fragile, so I made a quick scan of the whole thing here. (This German site has kindly typed it up already.) Charlie knew Woody well enough to report riding trains with him, though they were 19 years apart. When Woody printed this in 1945, Charlie was 13 or 14. He left home a few years later, so... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2012 at Scottunder
A handy way to have some front yard science to see the transit of Venus: tripod, binoculars, white cardboard (one fitted around the eyepieces of the binoculars to provide shade on the other, the projection screen), and a chair. Oh, and a sock over one eyepiece. Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2012 at Scottunder
This is a remarkable six minutes, thre final round of a British game show, "Golden Balls." Please watch before reading my comments below: So, I found this on Boing Boing, which led to a blog post with some astute comments by Bruce Schneier and his followers, but I'll just sum up my own quick take on this usurping of the classic Prisoner's Dilemma. 1. Nick's confidence helps "sell" his choice to Ibrahim. Nick is not swayed by Ibrahim's appeal to reason or honor, or to his complete confusion and despair. Nick says what he will do and leaves no doubt... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2012 at Scottunder
Tom Munnecke is a photographer (among other pursuits) who went to Joshua Tree National Monument to photograph the Lyrid meteor shower. He captured this great image with a woman who wandered by at 2:00 AM. Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2012 at Scottunder
I had earlier posted a video about the remarkable work of David Smith, an ornamental glass artist whose intricate creations are both aesthetic wonders and masterpieces of an obscure craft. Today, I noticed a lot of people visiting from a discussion website for the guitarist John Mayer: turns out, David Smith has designed Mayer's latest album cover, and a jaw-dropping accomplishment it is. I found the best copy on Mayer's Tumblr page: Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2012 at Scottunder
Thanks all for writing your remembrances of Charlie. They mean a lot to his family -- encourage others!
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2012 on Charles Irwin Weiner, 1931-2012 at Scottunder
1 reply
Thank you, Mark.
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2012 on Charles Irwin Weiner, 1931-2012 at Scottunder
1 reply
My father-in-law Charlie Weiner died on Saturday. He was 80, and having an extended stay in the village of Eyeries, Ireland with his wife, JoAnn Hughes. Charlie was a remarkable guy, and I'm deeply sad that I won't get to spend more time with him. We only met in 2007, a few months after I met his daughter, Susan Weiner. I liked him immediately – he was funny, and engaging, and a great person to have a conversation with, because he loved to hear and share stories. Here are some stories I heard him tell about himself and believe I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2012 at Scottunder
Just love this: 14 J.S. Bach canons of increasing complexity built around the first eight fundamenta notes of the Goldberg Variations, lovingly displayed in an animation that both translates Bach's original manuscript page into English and readable notation and explains how Bach mirrored, inverted, repeated, and otherwise made his melody lines sit up and do tricks. Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2012 at Scottunder
Having read all the magazines I brought along to New Orleans, I was forced to purchase something for the trip home, Fortunately, I found The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt, which won the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction. Though Greenblatt tells his story in a much more engaging manner, I'll put this in a chronological order I can understand: Building on the work of Democritus, who died a century before, Epicurus (d. 270 BC) founded a school of philosophy (Epicureanism) that is based on atomism, the idea that the universe is built from fundamental and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2012 at Scottunder
Overnight I read, in two sittings, Joyce Farmer's Special Exits. This is a graphic novel (or memoir, though the names are changed) about Farmer's father and stepmother who grow old together, deteriorate, and die. Sounds good? Okay, maybe it doesn't. But it really is, and not in a heartwarming, sage-elders-teach-philosophy manner. It's honest, and revealing, and unromantic. It's messy. And it is unrelentingly real: this is how it is, or, at least, this is how it was for Joyce Farmer and even if the specifics vary, there is much here to help prepare all of us for the inevitable. Joyce... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2011 at Scottunder
Courtesy of the Astronomy Photo of the Day site, here's a full rotation of Jupiter, with a good view of the Great Red Spot, a storm larger than our planet that has raged for over a hundred years. I put it on full screen and set it to loop -- very calming. Full rotation of Jupiter from Jean-Luc Dauvergne on Vimeo. Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2011 at Scottunder
I enjoy projects in which art emerges from a simple idea. In this case, Ken Murphy, a "musician, programmer, artist, and tinkerer living in San Francisco," created a system on the roof of the Exploratorium to capture the sky every day with a time-lapse camera. He then combines the result into a whole that reveals something new and mesmerizing. Looking at the time stamp in the lower right corner of the video below, you can guess at the approximate time of year of each square -- I had expected January to begin in the upper left, but this doesn't seem... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2011 at Scottunder
I just read a quote earlier today, seemingly from a Dutch author, Leo Blokhuis: "Originality is just undiscovered plagiarism." I prefer to think he means undiscovered by ourselves. "Your head is a melting pot" is better, though.
Toggle Commented Oct 31, 2011 on Your head is a melting pot at metacool
On Thursday, I visited the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University's excellent (and free!) museum. Among its many charms (a great African art collection, and the current "Rodin & America" exhibit is worth seeing), they have on loan a 67'-long, 42'-wide, 13'-high, 200-ton sculpture by Richard Serra called "Sequence." I really love Serra's massive steel works, which manage to have a grace and lightness despite their almost overwhelming scale. (The sculpture will stay put until 2016, and then it will move to SFMOMA.) I took a walk through the piece and have 1:47 of shaky-cam video to share from the experience.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2011 at Scottunder
I went to Hong Kong for a week, and one day drove three hours over the border into the PRC to spend the night in Guangzhou. I took pictures from the hotel room in both cities. Today's quiz is: guess which picture comes from which city? Here are some more, taken from the Star Ferry while crossing Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong's Central district, and from the top of Victoria Peak. And one more from Guangzhou, just to seal the deal. Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2011 at Scottunder
Just saw this earlier today, and meant to post it:
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2011 on How Auroras Work at Scottunder
1 reply
Courtesy of Brain Pickings, here's a 4:49 video that clearly explains how auroras (both borealis and australis) occur. I knew vaguely what was happening, but this is a clear and concise animation of the forces involved. I really hope to see this phenomenon one day. Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2011 at Scottunder
Twenty years ago or more, I saw Akira Kurosawa's 1975 film Dersu Uzala. Filmed on an epic scale, it's the story of V.K. Arseniev, a Russian captain in charge of surveying the extreme eastern territory of Siberia, and Dersu Uzala, a native Goldi who is at one with the taigá, the Siberian forest. He reads the tracks of animals and man and predicts the weather. Through death-defying adventures with tigers, frozen lakes, and more, Dersu and Arseniev become great friends, even when Arseniev's expeditions are separated by several years. Dersu saves Arseniev's life more than once, and Arseniev takes him... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2011 at Scottunder
I didn't make these. The artist, Alan Wolfson, is named in the post. I have no connection with him beyond admiration.
1 reply
I've just finished as exciting a book as I've ever read, all the more remarkable because it's nonfiction: The Tiger by John Vaillant. Subtitled A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, it tells the story of a poacher killed in 1997 by a tiger near a remote village in extreme eastern Siberia, and of the tracker who must take action. Written with the careful unfolding of a detective story, it is filled with elements of an adventure yarn, a travel guide, and a history book. We learn about a wild region, the Primorye, and its people: some (like the Nanai)... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Scottunder
Through a nice bit of serendipity a few weeks ago, I got to see an hour-long documentary, "World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements." It tells the story of John Hunter and the eight-week scenario experience he created, The World Peace Game. I was also able to meet John and work with him briefly a couple weeks later. John has been teaching this game for over 35 years. His class is primarily a "gifted and talented" program for fourth-graders, but he has played it with other groups as well, up to high school grades. The World Peace Game is something like... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2011 at Scottunder
Thanks for the comment! I have not even received another summons. (Of course, saying that will make one appear.)
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2011 on My first jury at Scottunder
1 reply