Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Time-tested technology

with 23 comments


Black vulture (Coragyps atratus) at Palmetto State Park on December 15, 2022.
The “time-tested technology” refers to a water tower.





Some of my commentaries have dealt with “the language police”—who apparently now would have me call them something like “people policing language.” It’s another example of the “people first” approach running rampant among ideologues. One organization pushing such things is the Associated Press (AP), which has long issued style guidelines for the wording of news stories. Those guidelines used to be sane, but now, as The Hill reported on January 27th:

The AP Stylebook’s Twitter account on Thursday posted recommendations to avoid the use of “the” before certain descriptors “such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, [and] the college-educated” because that phrasing can be “dehumanizing.” The post went viral with many Twitter users responding and making jokes about the inclusion of “the French.”

The French Embassy in the United States was one of the accounts that responded to the post, posting a screenshot of it changing its name from “French Embassy U.S.” to “Embassy of Frenchness in the U.S.” 

“I guess this is us now…” it commented. 


The last sentence in the article notes that according to the AP, “writers should be specific when possible, giving ‘people with incomes below the poverty line’ as an example.”

That makes me think we’ll have to update Emma Lazarus‘s poem “The New Colossus,” which appears on a bronze plaque beneath the Statue of Liberty. The best-known part will now need to be:

“Give me your people afflicted with tiredness, your people with incomes below the poverty line…”

Kinda messes up the meter, don’t you think?

On a less discordant note, you may or may not know that one of the most creative and successful immigrants ever to come to America, Irving Berlin, set the final part of Emma Lazarus’s poem to music for his 1949 show “Miss Liberty.” We’re fortunate to have a recording of Irving Berlin himself singing the song. You’re also welcome to listen to a version sung by a chorus.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2023 at 4:31 AM

23 Responses

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  1. What a handsome bird!

    China Dream

    January 31, 2023 at 5:02 AM

  2. Wow! That’s a bird I’ve never seen. It’s neat!


    January 31, 2023 at 5:06 AM

  3. “Vultures. Time-tested technology for recycling formerly-breathing creatures who are now below the threshold to be considered actively participating in life activities, formerly known as carcasses.”

    Robert Parker

    January 31, 2023 at 5:15 AM

  4. Great shot, Steve! Animals sitting on top of signs often make an excellent target for photographers.

    Peter Klopp

    January 31, 2023 at 9:09 AM

    • I also got acceptable pictures of a black vulture on a tree branch but decided to show this one for the whimsy of the sign the bird was perched on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2023 at 9:23 AM

  5. Hi Steve. Things are going the same way with language here. Here is one of the latest – in the UK and Germany we can no longer use the word ‘mummies’ in the Egyptian Museums, as the word originates from colonial times, but must call them ‘mummified persons’. 😜


    January 31, 2023 at 4:10 PM

    • I heard about that one just the other day. It goes further than “people who are temporarily unhoused,” in which case the people are at least still alive. How you might hurt the feelings of someone who’s been dead for thousands of years is beyond me. I just checked and found that the word mummy is ultimately of Arabic origin and came into Medieval Latin in the form mumia, so it was in use in Europe well before the colonial period. This seems to be yet another instance in which “people afflicted with wokeness” didn’t bother to check the history of a word or phrase and therefore end up objecting to it on false historical grounds. Along those lines, I recently discussed “rule of thumb” and “hip hip hooray”:

      More fall color from individual leaves and leaflets

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2023 at 4:41 PM

  6. When that AP stylebook advice got posted on Twitter, the ridicule was so long and loud that it eventually was revised and reposted without a mention of ‘the French,’ who weren’t at all pleased to be lumped in with the poor, the disabled, and the mentally ill. That wasn’t the extent of the ridicule, though. As someone pointed out, it won’t be long until writing and conversation will be impossible, since every word will be unacceptable. I have no patience for these linguistic ideologues.

    I have a whole lot of patience and admiration for your vulture, though. That’s a great photo: as you say, the whimsical nature of its perch is delightful. I caught a gull standing atop a sign at Brazoria that suggests looking for wading birds; it brought a smile, too.


    February 1, 2023 at 7:20 AM

    • We should all take French leave of those ideologues!

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2023 at 12:50 PM

    • When we went touring with you a few years ago I seem to remember photographing a bird on a sign in that sort of way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2023 at 12:53 PM

      • Exactly! It was a Cormorant. That’s the bird that stayed put for you while you got out of the car and kept getting closer and closer — what a great shot .


        February 2, 2023 at 7:26 PM

  7. I enjoyed listening to Irving Berlin.

    That black vulture is a beautiful, majestic bird. Nice catch! The bird himself is time tested technology of a sort, well designed and adapted to life as he knows it.

    Lavinia Ross

    February 1, 2023 at 10:50 PM

  8. That’s too funny… I suppose the Black Vulture could be “time-tested technology”. At least he has the look of “challenge” going on in case anyone would argue! I love the black vultures. We see them around here all year long, in a smaller flock than the Turkey vultures.


    February 3, 2023 at 12:54 PM

    • Black vultures are here all year around, too. I couldn’t resist playing with that sign and the vulture. In this case, it wasn’t a challenge for me at all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 3, 2023 at 6:01 PM

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