Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘cave

Longhorn Cavern, part 4

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On January 26th we visited Longhorn Cavern State Park, which is about an hour’s drive west of home.
All the pictures here came from my iPhone 14 in raw mode at 48.8 megapixels per image.



Our tour guide surprised me by bringing up the word pareidolia and asking if any of us knew what it meant. It’s been a mainstay in my posts for several years, so naturally I piped up with a definition. The guide said I was only the third person he’d encountered in a tour group who knew it (and of course many of you would have known it, too). The reason he brought up pareidolia is that visitors tend to imagine they see something in several of the Longhorn Cavern formations.



The mass of rock above—found elsewhere in the cavern and moved to this pedestal—strikes many onlookers as a mammal of some sort. I leave the formation below to your imagination. Speak up if you’re so inclined.




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Here are still more quotations from Andrew Doyle‘s 2022 book The New Puritans.
(I’ve retained his British spelling and punctuation.)


This tendency to persist with false convictions even when evidence is produced to contradict them is known as ‘belief perseverance’, and is a recurring trait among ideologues. This applies as much to the student activist who has convinced himself that his university is a hothouse of white supremacy as it does to the soldier in the gulag committing acts of torture on those innocent prisoners who refused to recite the approved creed.

The greatest trick of authoritarians is to convince their subjects to rejoice in their own subjugation.

Claiming to be an ‘anti-fascist’ is rather like wearing a badge saying ‘I am not a paedophile’; it makes others wonder what you’re hiding.

Hysteria is no sound basis for political analysis….

When you ask someone to declare pronouns, you are doing one of two things. You are either saying that you are having trouble identifying this person’s sex, or you are saying that you believe in the notion of gender identity and expect others to do the same. As a species we are very well attuned to recognising the sex of other people, so, for the most part, to ask for pronouns is an expression of fealty to a fashionable ideology, and to set a test for others to do likewise. This is akin to a religious conviction, and we would be rightly appalled if employers were to demand that their staff proclaim their faith in Christ the Saviour or Baal the Canaanite god of fertility before each meeting.


UPDATE: You can read an article about belief perseverance.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 17, 2023 at 4:30 AM

Longhorn Cavern, part 3

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On January 26th we visited Longhorn Cavern State Park, which is only about an hour’s drive west of home.



All the pictures here came from my iPhone 14 in raw mode at 48.8 megapixels per image.



In many cases I went for abstractions of light and shadows.



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If you’ve read history books or watched documentaries about Nazi Germany in the 20th century, you probably know about the mass burnings of books that the Nazis deemed counter to their Fascist movement. You probably also think that the organized mass destruction of books is a thing of the thankfully distant past.

Not so, alas.

A book burning held by an Ontario francophone school board as an act of reconciliation with Indigenous people has received sharp condemnation from Canadian political leaders and the board itself now says it regrets its symbolic gesture.

The “flame purification” ceremony, first reported by Radio Canada, was held in 2019 by the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, which oversees elementary and secondary schools in southwestern Ontario. Some 30 books, the national broadcaster reported, were burned for “educational purposes” and then the ashes were used as fertilizer to plant a tree.

“We bury the ashes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes in the hope that we will grow up in an inclusive country where all can live in prosperity and security,” says a video prepared for students about the book burning, Radio Canada reported.

In total, more than 4,700 books were removed from library shelves at 30 schools across the school board, and they have since been destroyed or are in the process of being recycled, Radio Canada reported.


Note the Orwellian claim that books were burned “for educational purposes.” You can read more about this in a 2021 National Post article.

I learned about the Ontario situation from Andrew Doyle’s January 2023 article in Quillette titled “A Puritanical Assault on the English Language,” which I recommend. Here’s a paragraph that also deals with books:

I am aware of how ludicrous the concept of “woke librarians” might sound, but the evidence is compelling. Even the British Library has a “Decolonising Working Group,” which has successfully persuaded its management to review its collections, “powerfully reinterpret” statues of its founders, and put more than 300 authors on a watchlist if they have even the flimsiest of connections to the slave trade. One of the group’s more risible findings is that the library’s main building is a monument to imperialism because it resembles a battleship.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2023 at 4:32 AM

Longhorn Cavern, part 2

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On January 26th we visited Longhorn Cavern State Park, which is only about an hour’s drive west of home.



All the pictures here came from my iPhone 14 in raw mode at 48.8 megapixels per image.



In many cases I went for abstractions of light and shadows.




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From Andrew Doyle’s 2022 book The New Puritans I learned the word logomachy (in which the second syllable is stressed and the ch has the same k sound it does in other Greek-derived words like chemistry and psychology). The American Heritage Dictionary gives these two definitions of logomachy: 1) ‘A dispute about words.’ 2) ‘A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.’

Logomachy—usually not by that fancy name, which few people know—has become a fact of political and cultural life in recent years. That’s because for dogmatic purposes the priests and parishioners in the secular religion of wokeism are waging a war about words. A common tactic is to replace a familiar word with one or more others, as when a mother becomes a birthing person, or when equality, which connotes fair treatment, gives way to equity, which means forced equal outcomes for racial and sexual groups regardless of individual merit or effort.

Another main tactic is to insist that familiar words don’t mean what we know they mean. For all but the most ideological among us, racism means ‘the belief that people of a certain race are inferior and should be treated as such.’ Wokeists, however, redefine racism as ‘prejudice plus power,’ thereby conveniently denying the observable fact that some people in a historically discriminated-against group—think of Louis Farrakhan—are themselves racist.

Even more absurdly, wokeists push for a word to mean the opposite of what it has traditionally meant. A prime example is anti-racist, which actually means racist, as when the exorbitantly paid high priest Ibram Kendi preaches that “The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

Or take the group that calls itself antifa, supposedly meaning ‘anti-fascist.’ You know, the group that turns other people’s peaceful protests into riots, destroys property, and beats people up or even tries to kill them. That describes fascists, not anti-fascists. In fact antifa thugs even dress in black, just like the Blackshirts a century earlier in Mussolini’s National Fascist Party.

Or in the gender wars take the mantra “A trans woman is a woman.” Well, no: a trans woman is a man who believes he’s a woman and who wants to live as or is living as if he were a woman. But as if doesn’t mean is. And yet ideologues denounce the distinction. If a man can actually be a woman, then the two categories no longer mean what they’ve meant for tens of thousands of years in every society on earth since human beings developed language.

And of course the much-vaunted diversity means a uniformity of opinions, just as inclusion means the exclusion of people with heterodox opinions.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2023 at 4:27 AM

Longhorn Cavern

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I’ve lived in Austin since 1976 and the Lady Eve since 1988, yet not till three days ago did we finally visit Longhorn Cavern State Park, which is only about an hour’s drive west of home.



I’d called ahead to ask about the photography policy and was told pictures are fine as long as flash is turned off because it would disturb the bats that live in the cave. Figuring my regular camera wouldn’t have enough light without flash, I took only my iPhone 14 into the cavern with me.



Turns out the person I spoke with over the phone misinformed me. After we were inside the cavern, our tour guide made it clear that pictures with flash are generally fine, the only exception being in a spot where a bat is present. To tell the truth, I probably got better images with the iPhone 14 anyway. It’s good at taking pictures in low light, and it lets me go into raw mode to retain as much photographic information as possible (unlike the conversion to jpeg, which tosses out a lot of data). In addition, as long as I stick to the 1x camera, the pictures come out at a whopping 48.8 megapixels each. I stuck to the 1x camera.

All the lighting in these pictures came from the spotlights that the park service has installed here and there throughout the cavern. In many cases I went for abstractions of light and shadows.




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Surprising Facts


“If you think of the United States as a football field, all the garbage that we will generate in the next 1000 years would fit inside a tiny fraction of the one inch line.” For the uninitiated, let me add that a football field is 3600 inches long, so an inch is less than one-thirtieth of one percent of a football field’s length—and the quotation says we’re dealing with a tiny fraction of that already tiny amount. Would you have expected that?

You can learn more surprising facts about recycling in a seven-minute video by John Stossel.
One is that “Even Greenpeace says most plastic cannot be recycled.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 29, 2023 at 4:26 AM

The world below

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750 feet underground in Carlsbad Caverns National Park lie the caverns. When we visited a couple of decades ago we didn’t think that much of them. On June 14th of this year we took the 1.25-mile self-guided walk through what’s called the Big Room and found its formations quite impressive. The caverns haven’t changed in 20 years. It seems we have.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2017 at 4:51 AM

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