Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red-eared slider in Mills Pond

with 26 comments

Red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans.

Mills Pond; August 3rd.



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The National Association of Scholars publishes the quarterly journal Academic Questions, whose Summer 2022 issue has just appeared. A section called Academic Levity includes an article that it describes this way: “Math teacher Steven Schwartzman explains that the equity activists have set their sights on mathematics, condemning the marginalization of whole numbers labelled ‘odd.’” I invite you to read “Equity in Mathematics,” which is a slightly altered version of a parody that I tried out here a year ago.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman







Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2022 at 4:31 AM

26 Responses

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  1. Beautiful photo, Steve. And I agree!…. “give it a few months.”

    • I’d walked out onto an observation/fishing platform that juts into the pond and I was therefore able to aim down at the turtles below. I noticed that they approached whenever someone stood at the platform railing. Apparently the turtles have gotten used to people feeding them from there.

      “Give it a few months” was my sarcastic comment about how quickly things have been devolving in our country.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2022 at 8:39 AM

  2. I was glad that in the end you said “Okay, so all those things didn’t really happen—at least not yet. Give it a few months.” But I had a good laugh. Interesting turtle with red mark.

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 10, 2022 at 8:39 AM

    • Long live satire! Glad you had a laugh over it.

      Red-eared sliders are common here. In reading about them I learned that they’re the most common pet turtle in the United States.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2022 at 8:47 AM

  3. That’s cool! I really like how the ripples mirror its shell markings.


    August 10, 2022 at 9:33 AM

  4. Red-eared slider… agree with the comment about the ripples reflecting the shell by @circadionreflections. But – assuming this was taken in the Greater Austin Metropolitan Area, wouldn’t Red-eared Slacker be a more appropriate appellation?
    Enjoyed your satire on mathematics curricula. As recently noted, I needed a refresher on the difference between prime numbers and Fibonacci series, although the end result was “close enough for government work,” apparently.
    Instead of all numbers being declared whole numbers, would all numbers being designated as prime numbers work as well? I defer to your greater depth in the field.
    On the other hand, you have a to go a little bit further out on the limb to match Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” But you made your (decimal) point.


    August 10, 2022 at 9:57 AM

    • With “Red-eared Slacker” and “defer to your greater depth of field” and “you made your (decimal) point” you’re on a roll—just like butter.

      There’s no real connection between prime numbers and Fibonacci numbers. Some Fibonacci numbers—for example 2, 3, 5, 13, and 89—happen to be prime, but that’s no more significant than the fact that some tall people happen to be Americans.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2022 at 12:34 PM

      • Aren’t the prime numbers 1, 3 , 5, 7, 11 etc. (indivisible by any other whole number?) and the Fibonacci sequence 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc? (the sum of the most recent number and the preceding # in the sequence). Or were you just checking to see if I had actually looked up the difference and now know (for how long, that is the question) the difference? Or, most likely, that you made a small proprioceptive error and hit the 2 instead of the 1?


        August 10, 2022 at 10:32 PM

        • 2 is a prime number. It’s the only even prime, because higher even numbers are by definition divisible by 2 and therefore not prime.

          Mathematicians have defined prime numbers in a way that excludes 1. A big motivator in the current definition is to maintain unique factorization. With unique factorization, the only factors of 5 are a single factor of 1 and a single factor of 5. If you didn’t care about preserving unique factorization, there’d be infinitely many ways to factor 5 using prime factors:

          1 x 5
          1 x 1 x 5
          1 x 1 x 1 x 5

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 11, 2022 at 4:36 AM

          • Again, I bow down to your greater depth of knowledge in the field of mathematics. I was unaware of the change in definition of 2 as a prime number, although the logic behind it seems reasonable. (I recall being taught that the primes were 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc.). I suppose there was a great amount of discussion and debate among the mathematics community, and that the old school definition of prime #s didn’t roll over as quickly and as easily as the mathematical community in your satire. Which tangentially calls to mind another notion – patterns in nature, such as the flower and seed heads in the Asteraceae, (notably Sunflowers) and the different types of leaf arrangements and inflorescences. You could probably piece together a book or glossary illustrating all that stuff just from your posts in this blog. And it would provide an educational experience, for those who don’t mind learning something new, or finding out that what they thought was the case no longer isn’t. I’d buy (beg, or steal) a copy. Thanks again for “learnin'” me something I didn’t know before.


            August 11, 2022 at 11:22 AM

            • You’re welcome. Actually 2 has always been a prime; nothing has changed in that regard. As for 1, some mathematicians once considered it prime. For the reason I gave, 1 hasn’t been considered a prime for a long time. Here’s another couple of takes on that:



              Steve Schwartzman

              August 11, 2022 at 12:07 PM

              • Thanks for the references, however late I am in getting around to reading your comment and responding to it … I enjoy learning new stuff, though sometimes I forget it almost as quickly as I learn it. And yet, I got a 30 out of 40 points on my Parkinson’s cognitive test recently. so I am still able to retain stuff in the short term: dog – face – church – velvet – red. and 100 – 93 – 86- 79-72-68-61 counting down from 100 by 7s… If I only had a brain…I coulda been a mathematician – or the Unabomber


                September 6, 2022 at 11:04 AM

                • Math doesn’t have an expiration date, so what’s a three-week delay?

                  Here’s a good way to count down by 7’s: instead of subtracting 7, add 3 and subtract 10.

                  I’m glad to hear you did well on your Parkinson’s cognitive test. Let the winning streak continue.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 6, 2022 at 11:39 AM

  5. Absolute genius!! Had to share with my grandson who also loved it!!


    August 10, 2022 at 10:31 AM

  6. When I was younger and playing little league baseball I slid into 2nd base head first, the shortstop put the tag on the side of my head, and I got a very red ear. It looks better on your turtle than it did on me.

    Steve Gingold

    August 10, 2022 at 3:10 PM

  7. That’s a great parody, and the mention of DDT at the end was perfect. The photo of the turtle’s pleasing, too, although the water in Mills Pond looks more like Galveston Bay than what I imagine as central Texas pond water. Maybe he was stirring up the mud, or drought has reduced the clarity of the water. In any event, the water he was cruising complements him very nicely, and it really allows that red stripe to shine.


    August 10, 2022 at 8:03 PM

    • Thanks. While many young people probably don’t even know what DDT is, older me couldn’t resist the chance for a great initialism. I learned about the National Association of Scholars decades ago from my father, who was a member; I’m sorry he couldn’t get to see this article published in the organization’s journal.

      Two months without rain here has lowered water levels and turned ponds murkier. A bunch or turtles paddling around in this one made its water even more turbid than it would have been. As you said, that turbidity makes a good contrast with the bright red stripe on the side of the turtle’s head.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2022 at 8:15 PM

  8. I would have loved maths tests where any answer would be correct! That turtle has an amazing head, with the stripes as well as the red marking – quite a contrast to the rest of him.

    Ann Mackay

    August 11, 2022 at 4:38 AM

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