Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Here’s looking at you, kid

with 35 comments

Cicada, Tibicen superba; August 3 in Wells Branch.


❖         ❖         ❖


In a commentary yesterday I said I believe people should report things accurately, without exaggeration. Not long after writing that, I came to the section in Alex Epstein’s book Fossil Future called “The ‘Deliberate Overstatement’ Distortion.” He identifies “four forms of deliberate overstatement that dramatically and negatively distort our knowledge system’s assessment of the climate impacts of rising CO2 levels.”

  • Punishment of climate catastrophe skepticism.
  • Equation of consensus on some climate impact with consensus on massively negative climate impact (the 97 percent fallacy).
  • Deliberately overstated report summaries.
  • Deliberate overstatement by designated experts for effect.

Those things are similar to what ideologues do in fields other than climate science. For example, some doctors have urged caution about putting children on puberty blockers and opposite-sex hormones because those drugs produce serious effects that soon become irreversible. Nevertheless, activists attack those cautious doctors, label them “trans-phobes,” and work to get their articles suppressed and get them fired from their jobs.

Similarly, researchers who recognize that the climate is warming yet urge caution in concluding that a warming climate will necessarily be catastrophic or apocalyptic get labeled “climate deniers.” Activists work to cut off funding to those researchers, to get publications to refuse articles by thm, and to get those researchers fired from their positions.

So I say, as always: let everyone bring forth the facts they’ve found, and let’s do our best to draw conclusions by assessing the unadulterated, unexaggerated evidence. I don’t want to live in a world where we only get to hear one side of an argument, and yet that’s the kind of world I increasingly find myself in. I never thought I’d live to see that in the United States.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2022 at 4:33 AM

35 Responses

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  1. If we look at it from this close, we discover the beauty of insects.
    A world that is not known by many people….


    August 6, 2022 at 5:09 AM

    • How right you are about the things that a close look reveals. Some insects look scary that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2022 at 6:42 AM

  2. What an interesting perspective. Looking at it, I can’t help feeling as though the eyes ‘ought’ to be located on that central head-like ‘thingie’ between the two white antennae (?), but of course they aren’t. It’s a superb closeup of a well-named insect.


    August 6, 2022 at 8:36 AM

    • Interesting…because it does have another tiny set of 3 eyes called ‘ocelli’ there in the centre. (You can see the three red shiny dots above the central thingy.) I only know this because bees have these as well…think they’re just basic light receptors for bees but not sure. Fantastically detailed photograph!

      Ann Mackay

      August 6, 2022 at 9:47 AM

      • I recently learned that spiders have ocelli, too. If you look at my photo of the young Green Lynx spider on my Walden West post, you can see them there: a little raised set of ‘dots’ in the center of its head.


        August 6, 2022 at 11:56 AM

      • Over the last two decades I’ve used my macro lens more than my others combined because it provides such close, detailed looks at things. Like you, I’ve noticed the ocelli on bees’ heads. I hesitate when using the word to keep from writing uccelli, which is Italian for ‘birds’.

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 6, 2022 at 3:21 PM

    • I took pictures from the side, too, and was planning to show one of those here. In the end I went with this pose for being a lot less commonly shown (I think). I guess we’re conditioned by where our eyes are into thinking other animals’ eyes should be in about the same relative position.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2022 at 3:14 PM

  3. Superb frontal view!

    Peter Klopp

    August 6, 2022 at 9:11 AM

  4. Nice close up. I find insects beautiful in their physical complexity so all the details are most comely.

    Steve Gingold

    August 6, 2022 at 1:40 PM

  5. A superb and unusual photo. I am always so taken by the wings of the cicada that I forget about its other parts. I am glad there are people who continue to express differing views on all sorts of issues. Here’s my thought on this portion of your post, ” I don’t want to live in a world where we only get to hear one side of an argument, and yet that’s the kind of world I increasingly find myself in.” Have you wondered what it is like to live outside the US and to be constantly influenced (and sometimes controlled) by the US world view? For example when the people of the US voted in a government which withdrew support for worldwide family planning programmes if they provided abortion advice or support. That created problems for many family planning providers and women. Another example from NZ; when the US ostracised NZ because we refused to allow nuclear powered vessels into NZ ports. That is the power and influence that goes with being a super power but it’s not always easy for smaller countries to live the way they want to when the super power or super powers are vying for dominance. Take for example the recent deal between the Solomon Islands and China which caused such consternation for the US and its allies. The Solomon Islands was not ostracised for its decision ( thankfully) but the rush of queries about its decision gave the impression that ‘sensible’ powers thought the Solomon Islands leadership was irresponsible and naive. I rather like the response from the Solomon Islands to the bigger powers in the region :’ Beck also suggested the intense international attention that the deal had provoked was unwarranted.

    “No one is actually looking at other treaties that exist in the region. The question is why?” he said.“We have various alliances that exist within the Pacific, which talk about the Pacific but the Pacific is not in the room,” he said, listing the Quad grouping between the US, Australia, India and Japan, and the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the US and UK” ( of course, the US claims it is a Pacific nation). https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/14/we-needed-china-deal-to-protect-domestic-security-says-key-solomon-islands-official Anyway that’s my 2 cents’ worth. ( What’s the origin of that phrase I wonder.)


    August 6, 2022 at 7:11 PM

    • I appreciate your wordplay in “a superb photo.” I took several more-typical photographs, which is to say from the side, but I went with this one precisely because it’s unusual.

      Here’s one answer to your final question:

      I’ll work on a response to your main comment.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2022 at 9:47 PM

      • Thanks for the link. I have used “for what it’s worth” but also ‘that’s my tuppence worth”. Tuppence is a fun word to say. Mary Poppins says/ sings it very well here https://youtu.be/3p5EtFEk16Q


        August 6, 2022 at 10:02 PM

        • Yes, tuppence is a fun word. There’s also thruppence, in the same way that thrice follows twice. The song you linked to is familiar, and Julie Andrews does a great job with it. Not until I looked up the song just now was I aware of who wrote it:


          Steve Schwartzman

          August 6, 2022 at 10:26 PM

          • I didn’t know that about the Sherman Brothers and that Feed the Birds was Walt Disney’s favourite song.


            August 6, 2022 at 10:42 PM

    • I think the first time I became aware in a personal way of America’s influence on other parts of the world was when I lived in Honduras in 1968 and 1969. Quite a few of the songs that Honduran radio stations played were the original English-language versions of whatever was popular in the United States (and occasionally there were also Spanish-language versions of those songs). Similarly, movie theaters showed a lot of American pictures, and fortunately for us they were subtitled rather than dubbed, so we could hear the original English. Because a lot of movies were (and still are) junky, I remember thinking it was a shame that some of the worst parts of American culture were getting disseminated, to the exclusion of better parts. And of course there’s the history of American banana companies controlling sizable portions of northern Honduras, and thereby influencing Honduran regimes (which of course were corrupt).

      As for China, it’s in no way a benign country. It’s a dictatorship. It has suppressed the people of Tibet and Hong Kong and the Uyghurs, and soon it will take over Taiwan. Millions of people around the world are trying to get into the United States and Europe, but I think almost none of those same people would want to move to China.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2022 at 10:20 PM

      • Yes, if a choice has to be made most people would choose the US over China, including me. I think some of the best parts of US culture came via Peace Corps Volunteers in different parts of the world.


        August 7, 2022 at 4:53 AM

        • For me that was so long ago it sometimes hardly seems real. I’m reminded now of a poem by Rosalía de Castro. I’ve copied it below, along with an English translation by Muriel Kittel. And here’s information about Rosalía de Castro:

          Hora tras hora, día tras día,
          entre el cielo y la tierra que quedan
          eternos vigías,
          como torrente que se despeña
          pasa la vida.

          Devolvedle a la flor su perfume
          después de marchita;
          de las ondas que besan la playa
          y que una tras otra besándola expiran
          recoged los rumores, las quejas,
          y en planchas de bronce grabad su armonía.

          Tiempos que fueron, llantos y risas,
          negros tormentos, dulces mentiras,
          ¡ay!, ¿en dónde su rastro dejaron,
          en dónde, alma mía?

          Hour after hour, day after day,
          between the earth and sky that keep
          eternal watch,
          like a rushing headlong torrent
          life passes on.

          Restore fragrance to the flower
          after it withers;
          From the waves that caress the beach
          and one after the other die in that caress,
          gather the murmurs and the complaints
          and engrave on plates of bronze their harmony.

          Times now past, tears and laughter,
          dark afflictions, soothing falsehoods,
          Ah, where do they leave their mark,
          tell me where, my soul!

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 7, 2022 at 6:39 AM

          • Thanks for the link re Rosalía de Castro. What beautiful writing. The poem in your comment is perfect expression of the passing of our lives. When I think back on my life I too sometimes wonder if any of it was real.


            August 7, 2022 at 11:08 PM

            • Which calls to mind another famous line from Spanish-language literature, this time from a 1635 play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca:

              ¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
              una sombra, una ficción,
              y el mayor bien es pequeño:
              que toda la vida es sueño,
              y los sueños, sueños son.

              What is life? An illusion,
              a shadow, a fiction,
              and the greatest good is still small;
              because all life is but a dream,
              and dreams are themselves dreams.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 8, 2022 at 6:45 AM

  6. I like the uncommon perspective…

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 7, 2022 at 8:36 AM

    • So do I, and that’s why I went with a picture showing this pose rather than one of the other good pictures showing a more conventional pose.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2022 at 8:39 AM

  7. Sure is a great closeup …


    August 13, 2022 at 3:19 PM

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