Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Looking up at composite architecture

with 33 comments


On June 5th I stopped by Vaught Ranch Rd., thinking I might find some skeleton plants, Lygodesmia texana, flowering there again this year. I did. The architecture of these flower heads always appeals to me. My use of a ring flash in broad daylight allowed me to stop down to a small aperture. That combination caused the bright blue sky to come out looking darker than it really was—but hey, what’s reality, anyhow? In the upward-looking view of a nearby zexmenia flower head, Wedelia texana var. acapulcensis, the sky came out brighter than with the skeleton plant but still duller than it actually was. In both cases the uniform blue proved a good isolating element for the subject.


✷         ✷         ✷


The purpose of a military is to keep a country safe from physical attack and to wage war against an enemy. People in the military train to be physically fit and to use defensive and offensive weapons. People in the military study tactics, strategy, and military history. And now in the American military they study pronouns. Once again I have to make clear that that last sentence is not something from a satirical publication like the Babylon Bee or the Onion. No, as far as I’ve been able to determine, this is for real. The U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center has apparently prepared a video about the importance of pronouns for members of the military. In style and vocabulary the film is something you’d think was geared for children in elementary school. You can watch the four-minute video, which talks about creating a safe space rather than defeating an enemy. This is madness.

I have to think the leaders in China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and other countries can’t believe their great good fortune that the American military is busy weakening itself so they don’t have to worry about it as much anymore.

 UPDATE: An article in The Federalist goes into detail about how ill-equipped the U.S. Navy is becoming even as it’s wasting time and money on “wokeism.”

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2022 at 4:34 AM

33 Responses

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  1. They’re both beautiful and I like the sky in the second image as it looks like a more natural sky color, but I do like that shade of blue in the upper image with that shade of purple or pink. I think it’s Prussian Blue.


    June 23, 2022 at 6:05 AM

    • If it’s Prussian blue I should have included a German translation of the text.

      In the draft of this post I’d included a version of the top picture with a blue that was even darker. Before posting, I went back and lightened it some to make the background look a little more plausibly like a sky.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2022 at 7:32 AM

  2. Nice post



    June 23, 2022 at 8:11 AM

  3. The pictures hooked me and I’ve come to cherish your well backed up views on the dismal state of affairs barreling down the pike. I’m in Boulder, CO, twelve square miles surrounded by reality, and I forward many of your blogs to friends and family. I’m causing some consternation but maybe a bit of light is dawning. You’re a little rough on public education maybe but after 25+ years of teaching I’ve seen the worms 🐛 in that apple, too. Flowers, insects, birds, water – what more could we ask for? Thank you

    Bill H

    June 23, 2022 at 6:26 PM

    • I like the way you described Boulder as twelve square miles surrounded by reality. I’m gratified that you’ve forwarded many of my posts to friends and family, even if it’s caused some consternation. Let’s hope that does lead to some light, too.

      I taught in the Austin public schools a long time ago and had plenty of complaints about standards even back then, but from what I’ve read in recent years I have to conclude that things have continued getting worse. I’m sorry if that comes across as a bit rough.

      For 9+ years this was almost entirely a nature photography blog, but in the aftermath of 2020’s moral panic I felt I could no longer live with myself if I didn’t speak out for what I believe in. It has lost me some subscribers, but life is short and I have to say what I feel needs saying. Thanks for your appreciation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2022 at 8:31 PM

  4. Both images are lovely. Your words, ‘uniform blue, gave me a smile because it made me think of all the blue uniforms I see every day. It’s a popular colour for school uniforms here as well as lots of other uniforms. These are the modern versions of the blue uniforms I wore for 5 years. For winter we also had a blue hat and blue flannel shirts. For church on Sunday we wore blue serge suits. Fortunately for me I liked blue. https://rangiruru.school.nz/enrolment/uniform/


    June 23, 2022 at 9:24 PM

    • Uniform blue versus a blue uniform: the quirks of English (which a foreigner finds confusing). A sentence at the bottom of your link carried me from blue to green when I noticed: “Māori students may wear visible pounamu taonga as a mark of respect to their cultural identity.” I didn’t know what a pounamu taonga is, so I looked it up: “Pounamu (greenstone) is a taonga (treasure) in Māoridom.” That was also the first time I ever saw the abstract noun Māoridom. Something new in Stevedom.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2022 at 6:44 AM

  5. I had a delightful conversation with someone the other day in which personal pronouns were used interchangeably. It didn’t matter because I knew what the person was talking about from the context of our conversation. My comment is simply to highlight that much of the world would see our personal pronoun issues as perplexing from a linguistic point of view. Having said that I am happy to use and accept a person’s choice of personal pronoun. My classicist daughter, tongue-in-cheek, said her pronoun preference is ‘relative’. She has a soft spot for relative pronouns particularly in Latin. ( She also has a soft spot for all people so would respect a person’s choice of personal pronoun.)


    June 23, 2022 at 10:02 PM

    • I’m so fond of the interior of the skeleton flower that I’ve never attempted a view like that in your first photo. It’s gorgeous. That same dark sky would have complemented the zexmenia, too. I’m not as fond of that kind of washed-out blue, but it certainly does provide a good background, and helps the bright yellow bloom to stand out.

      As for those pronouns, Gallivanta hints at one problem associated with their idiosyncratic use: poor communication. Without the conversational context she mentions, things might not have been so clear.
      Beyond that, I’ve often laughed when remembering a story told by a friend with a fourteen-year-old grand-daughter: a girl who was being rather erratic with her pronouns. After going from various singulars to plurals in the space of only a few months, her parents had enough and told her, “If you want to be a ‘they’ with your friends, that’s fine, but in this house you’re a ‘she.'” The sort of peer pressure that so clearly affected that girl is pervading adult society; it’s distressing to see our military so closely resembling a fourteen-year-old.


      June 24, 2022 at 6:29 AM

      • I think I need to engage with some youngsters to see if I can follow their conversations. At primary school I was used to hearing pronouns being muddled. It wasn’t a problem but I don’t know how things would have been if ‘they’ had been thrown into the mix. Did the 14 year old girl do as she was told? The communication from her parents was clear.


        June 24, 2022 at 7:55 AM

        • I don’t know how or if the situation was resolved. I’ll make an inquiry and see what I can learn.


          June 24, 2022 at 9:40 AM

          • It would be interesting to know. My 14 year old self was mildly rebellious. I didn’t respond well to orders or ultimatums. Eventually I would have obeyed but without any good grace.


            June 24, 2022 at 4:59 PM

        • Another form of muddled communication is the increasing use of emojis. I’ve received some comments on my blog that were nothing but emojis. I didn’t have the slightest idea what the person was attempting to say, so I sent an email saying they were welcome to comment, but that they needed to use words, since I don’t ‘speak emoji.’


          June 24, 2022 at 9:42 AM

          • Maybe you can sign up for an emoji class at your local community college. But then I know you’d rather spend your free time out in nature.

            Steve Schwartzman

            June 24, 2022 at 11:30 AM

          • My emoji knowledge is slight, too. I use the basics but mostly on Messenger or Instagram. My sister and I will sometimes “communicate’ in emojis but we use them in our own special shorthand way in the same way that we have our own special words and expressions . An outsider would probably be bemused by our communications. Emojis have their place but that place is not everywhere!


            June 24, 2022 at 10:15 PM

    • Good for your classicist daughter to say that her pronoun preference is relative. I expect not many young people today would catch the play on words, given how little grammar is taught in schools now.

      For legalistic me, the issue is about forcing me to say things, especially things whose truth I question or outright reject. Suppose a patient in an institution believes that she’s the queen of England and expects everyone to refer to her as “Her Majesty.” Her delusion, however sincere, can’t compel me to refer to her as “Her Majesty.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2022 at 6:56 AM

      • I’d planned to have as my second picture a view showing two Acmaeodera beetles inside a skeleton plant flower (as we talked about not long ago) but then for greater variety (of species, not pose) I decided to go with a different kind of flower altogether for the second picture. In processing the zexmenia photograph I played with differing degrees of darkness and saturation in the background, including some that were closer to the background in the skeleton plant picture. Once again for variety I ended up going with a lighter background.

        You bring up the confusion that non-traditional pronouns often cause. That was one point of my sarcastic commentary on March 29th, when I wrote this sentence: “After Steve got out of hoozit’s car, her walked up to Fred, who heard I say in hoozit’s usual cheerful fashion that her was glad to be there. Fred thanked I for hoozit’s greeting.”

        I sympathize with your final sentence, except that 14 may be too high an age to match the level of the Navy’s pronoun video.

        Steve Schwartzman

        June 24, 2022 at 7:09 AM

      • I prefer not to be forced to say things but, me being me, I would probably find it interesting to call someone “Her Majesty”. The problem arises when one is not only forced to use a name but also punished for refusing to do so.


        June 24, 2022 at 7:50 AM

  6. You are obviously still quite spry to be getting all these views from below. At our ages it’s a challenge.

    Steve Gingold

    June 27, 2022 at 9:30 AM

    • I sure spend my share—or more than my share—of time lying on the ground for the sake of my pictures. Getting back up is sometimes cumbersome but that’s the price we pay.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2022 at 11:25 AM

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