Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for February 13th, 2023

First tree blossoms for 2023

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Yesterday we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to see if any flowers had come up already. We found just a few, and I took some pictures. After we’d walked back to our car in the parking lot I noticed the most blossomy thing by far: a Mexican plum tree, Prunus mexicana, which despite its name is native in central Texas. In the top picture the gray-white sky had me going for a minimalist approach.

The plum blossoms’ strong fragrance drew many insects, including the two shown below: a red admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, and a cucumber beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata. Given the blossoming tree and the many insects, an onlooker would hardly suspect we’d had a devastating ice storm just 11 days earlier.




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The First Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids the government from suppressing people’s right to speak freely. Jurisprudence has developed a few limited exceptions, such as revealing government secrets, defaming a person, committing fraud, and inciting a crowd to riot. Outside those few exceptions, people are legally (though not necessarily ethically) entitled to say what they want, even if the things they say are mistaken, unsupported, misleading or intentionally false. That goes for everyone from obscure people to the highest elected officials in the government.

For example, according to the Brookings Institute, the previous American president falsely “claimed that he had his picture on the cover of Time Magazine more than any other person; that he signed more bills than any other president in his first six months in office; that the crowd at his inauguration was larger than Obama’s; that he had the largest number of electoral votes since Reagan.” You can go online and find many more of the previous president’s untruths.

Now skip ahead to last week’s State of the Union address, in which Alfredo Ortiz of The Hill caught the current president saying a bunch of untrue things. Here are what he considers the seven biggest lies in the speech:

1: “Take-home pay has gone up.” 2. “We have created a record 12 million new jobs.” 3: “[I have presided over] the largest deficit reduction in American history.” 4: “Two years ago, our economy was reeling.” 5: Oil companies have “invested too little of th[eir] profit to increase domestic production and keep gas prices down.” 6: “Now, thanks to all we’ve done, we’re exporting American products.” 7: The wealthy don’t “pay their fair share.” For explanations of why all those things are false, you can read Ortiz’s February 9th article.

News flash: politicians have always lied and will always lie. Welcome to planet earth and the human race.

In addition to lying, government officials look for ways to circumvent our laws. With respect to free speech, some government officials try to get private companies to do the censoring that the First Amendment prevents the government from doing itself. I invite you to read an article about that by Jacob Sullum in Reason last year.

You can also read a related article in Reason from January 19th of this year. Written by Robby Soave, it’s titled “Inside the Facebook Files: Emails Reveal the CDC’s Role in Silencing COVID-19 Dissent.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 13, 2023 at 4:27 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

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