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Archive for September 4th, 2021

Tiny bee on a rain-lily

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On August 20th at the Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden in Lampasas
I found this tiny bee on a rain-lily, Zephyranthes chlorosolen.



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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is making like it’s the Centers for Language Control. Yup, that branch of the American government earns the George Orwell Newspeak Award for its latest pronouncements in the world of reality spinning or outright denial. Here are some lowlights.

You shouldn’t say “genetically male” or “genetically female” but rather “assigned” or “designated” “male/female at birth.” This supposedly scientific branch of the government is okay with canceling the science of genetics.

The CDC is big on converting a simple word into a string of words. “Smokers” should be “people who smoke.” Was anyone so in danger of assuming that smokers might include squirrels or vultures that we need to specify that smokers are actually people? Similarly “the uninsured” should be “people who are uninsured,” which thankfully rules out bumblebees, potatoes, and walruses. “Koreans” should be “Korean persons,” I guess so that we don’t mistakenly include any of the Koreans’ pets.

“The homeless” should be “people experiencing homelessness.” Though not in the list, “the clueless” should presumably be called “people experiencing cluelessness.” Actually it’s shorter to replace that with “the CDC.”

But brevity is clearly not the goal in the new suggestions. Anti-brevity is, and therefore the CDC has done at best a middling job. Think about all the missed opportunities for expansionism. “White” could have been “people characterized by having a low melanistic pigmentation and therefore capable of being noticed in dark rooms more easily than people belonging to certain other ethnoracial groups with greater melanistic pigmentation.”

Some of the CDC’s advice does get anti-brief. For example:

“People/communities of color” is a frequently used term, but should only be used if included groups are defined upon first use; be mindful to refer to a specific racial/ethnic group(s) instead of this collective term when the experience is different across groups. Some groups consider the term “people of color” as an unnecessary and binary option (people of color vs. White people), and some people do not identify with the term “people of color”.

“Although the term “LGBTQIA2” is recommended, no explanation is given for what all the letters and the one number mean. The CDC’s new guidelines also missed the chance to announce a contest to determine what the next change to that ever-lengthening alphanumeric string should be. Will the “2” gradually go up to “3” and “4” and so on, in the same way the leading digit on California license plates has done over the past several decades? Or should the string get longer, for instance “LGBTQIA2VM6YR7”? Maybe not, as people might confuse it with a car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Or, like online passwords, maybe at least one special character should be required, e.g. “LGB#TQIA2V%M6YR7.” No hacker’s ever gonna crack that.

A cynic might say that all the CDC’s changes and complexities will be used to justify hiring a cadre of language consultants to interpret the new terms and rules to hapless bureaucrats (forgive my redundancy). Those language consultants will swell the ranks in the army of diversity, equity, and inclusion consultants already on the dole, thereby revealing the true goal of an ever larger government whose minions regulate all aspects of our lives.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a person who engages in thinking—formerly known as a thinker.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2021 at 4:34 AM

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