Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 28 comments

On June 14th in northwest Austin I photographed this close-to-fully-open flower head of a blackfoot daisy, Melampodium leucanthum. Some would speak of its pristinity, others of its pristineness.


Anything but pristine is the increasing push to clamp down on free speech and the expression of ideas. If that worries you, as it does me, you may appreciate watching a BookTV program in which Nadine Strossen, former director of the American Civil Liberties Union, interviewed writer Jonathan Zimmerman and cartoonist Signe Wilkinson about their book Free Speech: And Why You Should Give a Damn.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2021 at 4:36 AM

28 Responses

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  1. Pristine beats prissy, every time. It’s nice to have both the lazy daisies and this one decorating the landscape. You’ve created an especially nice image. The curve of the stem is lovely.


    June 29, 2021 at 8:27 AM

    • I have to go the better part of an hour outside Austin for lazy daisies, but blackfoot daisies, like the poor, ye shall always have here, yea, even unto mine neighborhood. The curve of the stem was indeed a happy addition to the composition.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2021 at 8:38 AM

  2. Stunning portrait of the blackfoot daisy, Steve.

    Jet Eliot

    June 29, 2021 at 9:38 AM

  3. I’m amazed at the idea of schools monitoring the text messages their pupils send etc. There would be ructions here if that happened. (Mind you, I have no kids, so don’t really have any idea what goes on.) Free speech is taken for granted here but I’ve read that there are a lot more arrests for racial hate speech online. Hard to argue with those arrests!

    Ann Mackay

    June 29, 2021 at 11:04 AM

    • Free speech used to be taken for granted in the United States, too, but certain ideological groups are bent on suppressing it now and are succeeding. We’re in greater danger now than at any other time in my life, and that’s why I’ve begun speaking out here.

      One problem with “hate speech” is who gets to define what hate is. If I say I don’t believe in categorizing people by race, there are ideologues who will call what I said “hate speech.” The concept has become so broad that in practice “hate speech” often means no more than an opinion someone else doesn’t like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2021 at 2:06 PM

      • The US looks scary to outsiders at times!

        Ann Mackay

        June 30, 2021 at 6:49 AM

  4. A pristine portrait it is. I did manage to watch most of the Book TV programme. I found it interesting and well done. I was taken by Zimmerman’s assertion that America is a work in progress. Aren’t we all, particularly when it comes to free speech! Since free speech, and the defence and promotion thereof, is not particular to the US, you may be interested in this interview and research report which I listened to on Radio New Zealand this morning. https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018801931/living-in-the-age-of-infodemic-challenging-misinformation Do not be alarmed, as many non-NZers , that we have a Chief Censor in NZ.


    June 29, 2021 at 11:43 PM

    • The first sentence in the article you linked to categorized the notion that “climate change is not caused by human activity” as a false idea. As in any serious discussion, the way terms get defined is critical: if one person’s definition of a key term differs from another’s, the two people may well come to different conclusions. I’m currently reading a book by physicist Steven E. Koonin, Unsettled, whose subtitle is What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why it Matters. One point he makes is that some people, especially environmental activists, use “climate change” to mean only that portion of the change in climate attributable to human activity. That usage excludes the not-insignificant changes in climate attributable to natural causes such as volcanic eruptions, the wobble in the earth’s axis, and the varying intensity of the sun’s radiation reaching the earth. With that in mind, some portion of the people who say “climate change is not caused by human activity” probably mean “climate change is not caused by human activity alone,” which is a true statement.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2021 at 7:24 AM

      • Yes, I agree re the first sentence. It doesn’t seem well defined, but I found the interview very interesting.


        June 30, 2021 at 9:22 AM

    • As for misinformation and disinformation, the world has plenty of both. Censorship has unfortunately been a form of disinformation. When the media censor something that’s true or at least possibly true, they’re distorting reality for ideological purposes. A prominent recent example was the censoring by Facebook of stories about the possibility that Covid-19 resulted from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Some people in the media lied and claimed that that possibility had been “debunked,” when in fact it hadn’t been disproved and remains the most likely possibility.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2021 at 8:28 AM

      • Yes and yes. I have lived in countries where media was heavily censored by Governments. My main experience of it now is through the likes of Facebook.


        June 30, 2021 at 9:11 AM

        • That’s what’s so insidious. Facebook and other media are doing their censoring on behalf of the current American administration, just as they did to thwart the previous administration.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 30, 2021 at 9:19 AM

          • When I say my main experience of it is through Facebook, I should add that my experience is very limited. Perhaps not being an American is the reason for that. My Facebook feed both then and now was often full of stories from all sides of the American political spectrum to the extent that it was all too much at times. I took matters in to my own hands and just told Facebook to stop showing me certain things. Happily they obliged.


            June 30, 2021 at 9:38 AM

            • I’ve heard that many people now rely on Facebook as their main source of news, which I find a sorry state of affairs. At least you were able to get Facebook to stop showing you certain things.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 30, 2021 at 9:44 AM

          • LOL, if that last comment doesn’t make any sense it’s because it’s 2.45 am and I should be in bed. Off I go.


            June 30, 2021 at 9:43 AM

  5. Pristinity is reminiscent of Her Majesty, and pristineness of Her Royal Highness. In the case of this regal flower, I think both are fitting.


    June 30, 2021 at 4:31 PM

  6. I enjoyed your dark background composition. That is a lovely daisy.

    Lavinia Ross

    July 2, 2021 at 9:27 AM

  7. Hey Steve, that’s a top shot! I always relish your backgrounds ..


    July 4, 2021 at 2:24 PM

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