Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘Chalk Ridge Falls Park

Three takes on bushy bluestem

with 20 comments

At Chalk Ridge Falls Park in the outskirts of Belton on January 17th I did several takes on the native grass known as bushy bluestem, Andropogon tenuispatheus. Above, you see a stand of it on the opposite bank from where we walked along the Lampasas River. Soon afterward I had a chance to get close to some on our side of the river.

Elsewhere I worked quickly to record a bushy bluestem plant while it was still backlit. A few minutes later
and the moving sun—actually of course the moving earth—would have deprived me of the chance.

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Last week I finished reading the 2015 book Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice. My personality normally sets me at odds with activists, many of whom I see increasingly pushing ideologies despite objective reality contradicting those ideologies. Yet this activist, Alice Dreger, is also a historian, and she upholds historians’ traditional ethics: do the research and document the truth, whether it matches your preconceptions or not.

Here are a few people’s recommendations for Galileo’s Middle Finger:

Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine
Galileo’s Middle Finger is a brilliant exposé of people that want to kill scientific messengers who challenge cherished beliefs. Dreger’s stunning research into the conflicts between activists and scholars, and her revelations about the consequences for their lives (including hers), is deeply profound and downright captivating. I couldn’t put this book down!”

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; author of The Blank SlateEnlightenment Now, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Rationality:
“In activism as in war, truth is the first casualty. Alice Dreger, herself a truthful activist, exposes some of the shameful campaigns of defamation and harassment that have been directed against scientists whose ideas have offended the sensibilities of politicized interest groups. But this book is more than an exposé. Though Dreger is passionate about ideas and principle, she writes with a light and witty touch, and she is a gifted explainer and storyteller.”

Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and The World until Yesterday: 
“Alice Dreger would win a prize for this year’s most gripping novel, except for one thing: her stories are true, and this isn’t a novel. Instead, it’s an exciting account of complicated good guys and bad guys, and the pursuit of justice.”

Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University (who died this past December 26th): 
“In this important work, Dreger reveals the shocking extent to which some disciplines have been infested by mountebanks, poseurs, and even worse, political activists who put ideology ahead of science.”


I’ll give more information about Galileo’s Middle Finger in a follow-up commentary.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Chalk Ridge Falls Park

with 19 comments

It’d been at least a decade since we visited Chalk Ridge Falls Park about an hour north of us near the town of Belton in matchingly* named Bell County, so on a sunny and mild January 17th we drove up there. The fact that the falls were partly shaded and partly sunlit made them hard to photograph, and I did what I could during processing to even out the brightnesses. More interesting esthetically, and easier to deal with thanks to mostly even lighting, were winter trees and other vegetation reflected in the Lampasas River.

* The WordPress editor red-underlined matchingly. Granted, some dictionaries don’t include matchingly; others do. That raises the question of why with adjectives ending in -ing that come from verbs we sometimes add an -ly to make an adverb but in other cases we resist. I probably wouldn’t say *runningly or *workingly. The other day in an interview I heard someone say ongoingly; would you say that? On the other hand, we’ve heard about people getting along swimmingly, even exceedingly swimmingly. I’ll bet there’s a graduate student in linguistics out there somewhere who’d willingly study why some verbal adjectives ending in -ing add an -ly more resistingly than others do.


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To work at the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] in the current climate is to embrace cognitive dissonance and to abandon journalistic integrity.

It is to sign on, enthusiastically, to a radical political agenda that originated on Ivy League campuses in the United States and spread through American social media platforms that monetize outrage and stoke societal divisions. It is to pretend that the “woke” worldview is near universal — even if it is far from popular with those you know, and speak to, and interview, and read.

To work at the CBC now is to accept the idea that race is the most significant thing about a person, and that some races are more relevant to the public conversation than others. It is, in my newsroom, to fill out racial profile forms for every guest you book; to actively book more people of some races and less of others.

To work at the CBC is to submit to job interviews that are not about qualifications or experience — but instead demand the parroting of orthodoxies, the demonstration of fealty to dogma.

That’s from a January 13th article by Canadian journalist Tara Henley, who has described herself as being on the political far left, explaining why she resigned from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. You’re welcome to read the rest of her revealing account.

And in her article “How Did We Get Here?” she analyzes the ascendancy of “wokeism.” Here’s a passage:

But whatever you choose to call it, the social justice movement that’s sprung out of all this is focused mainly on shifting language and speech norms, on symbolic victories like toppling statues, and on building a vast, identity-focused human-resources apparatus that provides university graduates with lucrative administrative jobs.

This is how we wound up during the pandemic, in Toronto, with a largely racialized working-class population stuck on packed public transit, working precarious warehouse jobs for very little pay and filling emergency rooms — while the conversation on the left was almost entirely focused elsewhere.

You can also watch a discussion between Tara Henley and Megyn Kelly beginning at 51:07 in this video.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2022 at 4:37 AM

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