Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posted on a post in a post

with 20 comments


As you see in today’s photograph from August 1st on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin, little land snails are common in the Austin area. Multiple posts over the years (for example this February and May 2020) have shown how those snails like to climb both plants and inanimate objects. The snail shell on/in today’s post was such a bright white that in comparison to it the sky and clouds look unnaturally dark, but I like the effect and also welcome the contrasty chiaroscuro drama of the shell and its shadow. The rusted metal adds interesting textures and earthy colors.



§        §        §



From time to time in the past year I’ve given examples of ideologues insisting that a word no longer means what it has long meant. Examples have included man, woman, mother, and recession [of a financial sort].

This week I became aware of two more. New York State is now banning the short word inmate, which it will replace with the cumbersome, five-syllables-longer phrase incarcerated person. What’s supposed to be gained isn’t clear, especially since inmate was already gender neutral. Possibly it’s to force more and more things to fit the mold X person, where X is a present or past participle. For example, enslaved person replaces slave and birthing person replaces mother.

The second recent attempt at definition denial stems from an incident on the morning of August 8th, when several dozen armed FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] agents, including a safecracker, showed up at the Florida home of former president Trump with a search warrant. The FBI team then spent a reported nine hours searching the premises and taking away some 15 boxes of materials.

I take no position on whether the FBI raid was justified. There’s no way for me to know. What I do take a position on is the unjustified denial by many in the media that the raid was a raid. It was funny to watch a montage of eight clips showing television commenters insisting that the raid wasn’t a raid.

Fortunately we have the Internet at our disposal, so I looked up raid in a bunch of online dictionaries. Because each dictionary gives several definitions of the word, I’ll quote just the relevant one:


Wordsmyth: ‘A surprise entry by police into private property, usu[ally] to make arrests or seize something.’

Merriam-Webster: ‘A sudden invasion by officers of the law.’

Lexico (Oxford): ‘A surprise visit by police to arrest suspected people or seize illicit goods.’

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s: ‘An occasion when the police enter a place suddenly in order to find someone or something.’

Longman: ‘A surprise visit made to a place by the police to search for something illegal.’

American Heritage: ‘A sudden forcible entry into a place by police.’

Vocabulary.com: ‘Search’ or ‘enter unexpectedly.’

Macmillan: ‘To use force to enter a place suddenly in order to arrest people or search for something such as illegal drugs.’

Infoplease: ‘a sudden assault or attack, as upon something to be seized or suppressed.’

Free Dictionary: ‘Search without warning.’

Webster’s (1913): ‘An attack or invasion for the purpose of making arrests, seizing property, or plundering.’


So yes, the raid that took place on August 8th was indeed a raid.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2022 at 4:28 AM

20 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This is the second post of a post I’ve seen this past week, the other being a dragonfly which seems more common. The contrast between the snail, post, and sky is enjoyable and well seen.

    Times change and words with it. That said, it was indeed a raid although I don’t remember whether that’s what I heard or not. Mostly that Mar a lago was searched and boxes removed. I don’t have a problem with alternate words being used when they fit but to deny the use of older words is crazy.

    Steve Gingold

    August 12, 2022 at 5:09 AM

    • I originally called the metal object a stake. Then I realized that by calling it a post I could play around with the different meanings of the word. This morning we both did a post showing a critter on a manmade object.

      The fact that a language changes—whether we want it to or not—is a given of linguistics. In English ween once meant ‘think, believe” and I wot used to mean ‘I learn, I know,’ but we no longer use those words. Sometimes for no obvious reason people swap out a word for another one that offers no advantage. For example, you and I grew up saying “by accident” but young people now tend to say “on accident.” Increasingly many people now use around in places where you and I would say about. After enough changes have accumulated, the older version of a language is no longer comprehensible. Try reading “Beowulf” in the original Old English and you’ll understand almost nothing.

      In contrast to “organic” language change, which is inevitable, the denial that a common word means what everyone knows it means comes across as artificial and ideologically motivated. We agree that it’s crazy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2022 at 7:43 AM

      • I am well aware of the difficulties understanding olde English. I enjoyed trying to figure out Beowulf before having the teacher’s help. Of course as with all interpretations there is more than one “correct” version. I tried to come up with a way to incorporate “twa corbies making a mane” into the post with two wasps but failed.

        Steve Gingold

        August 12, 2022 at 8:22 AM

        • I hope you’ll find two corbies to photograph and incorporate into a post. People who know French (corbeau) or Portuguese (corvo) have a head start in understanding what the word means.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 12, 2022 at 11:25 AM

  2. That’s a beautiful image. The colors are a subtle but pleasing background for the white shell. I rarely see snails with conical shells, but the round-shelled variety around my place exhibit the same behavior. Every morning after rain, I find them climbing the side of the house: sometimes to a height of six or eight feet or more. I’ve imagined a few explanations, but I’m sure none of them apply.


    August 12, 2022 at 7:38 AM

    • I was pleased with the way this image came out. No previous snail picture of mine was quite like it, so the novelty adds to my satisfaction. As you’ve seen in my posts over the years, small snails with conical shells are common in Austin, especially on the Blackland Prairie. They probably outnumber snails with rounded shells here.

      I’m also still at a loss to understand what the snails are after when they climb plants and inanimate objects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2022 at 7:49 AM

  3. The texture of the pole is interesting and you did a good job not blowing the highlights on the snail. Gender neutral words are easier to come by in English. In some other languages, impossible. Inmate or incarcerated person are all the same. Make up another word, still the same.

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 12, 2022 at 8:43 AM

    • The texture of the pole really intrigued me. In Adobe Camera Raw’s default setting the snail looked overexposed. Nevertheless, because I shoot in raw mode, in which exposure latitude increases as you go from dark to bright, all the details of the snail’s shell were retained and all I had to do was pull down the Highlights slider.

      There’s a cycle with some semantic categories. By the time I was child, a person who would once have been called stupid or a dummy was getting referred to as retarded. That’s a fancy word, and it was meant as a kind way of referring to such a person. After decades of uncontroversial use, activists “discovered” that “retarded” is actually an insult. Time for a new euphemism, like “mentally challenged.” Will there be an end to it? Fat chance—or make that a corporeally challenged chance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2022 at 11:37 AM

      • Retardado, idiota, burro, AE ( not sure what it stands for). 😅

        Alessandra Chaves

        August 12, 2022 at 12:20 PM

        • I searched for the significance of AE but didn’t find anything relevant.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 12, 2022 at 1:00 PM

          • My father used it to refer to a retarded person, and I am not sure it’s not something he invented. My father was certainly not politically correct.

            Alessandra Chaves

            August 12, 2022 at 1:11 PM

  4. I feel sorry for that little snail having to climb a rusty post. Perhaps it did it out of love for the great Texan photographer.

    Peter Klopp

    August 12, 2022 at 8:58 AM

    • If so, the snail was also psychic because it climbed up there long before I came onto the scene.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2022 at 11:38 AM

  5. I sometimes notice that a snail has climbed way up on the side of the house – making me wonder how long it took to get so high up and where it was trying to go… 🙂
    ‘Birthing person’ – ridiculous! Grr!

    Ann Mackay

    August 12, 2022 at 9:40 AM

    • An observer could record how long a snail takes to do its climbing. The reason for the climbing is not so easily observed.

      I appreciate your “Grr!”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2022 at 11:41 AM

  6. Excellent detail and directional light, and yes, the pole texture.


    August 13, 2022 at 2:20 PM

  7. What a beautiful image!!!!
    Photography is also a passion for me! It gives and immortalizes colors over time!
    Great picture!


    August 17, 2022 at 4:47 AM

    • Thanks for letting me know how much you appreciate it. I’m quite pleased with it, too. Every so often the elements in a photograph come together to raise it above the norm. I’m curious how you happened to find this post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2022 at 6:48 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: