Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘flowers

Back to the Gulf

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The first time we made it back to the Gulf of Mexico since the pandemic was at the beginning of June, when we spent a few days in Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. The second time was on September 19th, when we drove-and-stopped our way southwest from downtown Galveston to the far end of the island. The next bunch of posts will document that day in nature.

While Corpus Christi had offered up plenty of purple beach morning glory flowers, Ipomoea pes-caprae, the plants in Galveston put on a greater show of spreading their runners across the beach sand, as you see above. Another great spread that we saw in many places was sunflowers, which formed good-sized colonies right on the beach and in “vacant” lots in town. Local informant Linda suggests we saw beach sunflowers, Helianthus debilis. Look how dense they were:

 

 

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On Wednesday Florida suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Ian. It took only two days for our vice president to racialize the suffering by announcing that the federal government would prioritize aid to hurricane victims based on their race:

It is our lowest income communities and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and impacted by issues that are not of their own making. And so we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity, understanding not everyone starts out at the same place, and if we want people to be in an equal place sometimes we have to take into account those disparities and do that work.

For the uninitiated, let me explain that “communities of color” is a euphemism for “everybody except white people.” “Equity” is code for “discrimination according to race, sex, or other personal attributes.” The word sounds like “equality” but means the opposite. “Do the work” is racialist jargon that means confessing that white people are the “root cause” of the country’s troubles and therefore it’s okay to discriminate against them. If that sounds blunt, it’s because race essentialism is blunt.

It’s also illegal: prioritizing aid to hurricane victims based on their race would violate the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and many other laws. If the government follows through and starts to distribute aid based on race, courts will strike that down as illegal, just as they struck down racially based programs the current administration tried to put into effect during the pandemic. No matter how many times citizens and the courts tell government officials they can’t discriminate based on race, they keep trying to do it. That’s not only illegal, it’s immoral.

You’re welcome to read more about this in a September 30th Washington Examiner story by Maria Leaf.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 1, 2022 at 4:25 AM

Two last wildflowers from Brazos Bend

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As the month ends, let me close with two last wildflowers from Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston on September 18th. The one above is Sida rhombifolia, whose vernacular names include rhombus-leaved sida (which is what the scientific name means) and Cuban jute. The wildflower below is called elephantsfoot or elephant’s foot. Several species exist in southeast Texas; this may be Elephantopus carolinianus.

 

  

 

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A common theme in my commentaries has been the attempt by activists to replace common words by others that suit their ideology. Mostly that involves race and sex, like insisting on “birthing person” for “mother.” Sometimes, though, the subterfuge involves other matters. At the time of the 2015 “deal” that the leaders of the United States and some other countries worked out with the theocratic dictators in Iran, I pointed out that calling a treaty a “deal” doesn’t make it any less a treaty. You’re welcome to read the definitions of treaty given in a slew of dictionaries to confirm that the Iran “deal” was indeed a treaty.

The reason that the administration in 2015 disingenuously called the treaty a deal is that the United States Constitution requires all treaties to get approved in the Senate by a two-thirds vote. Because the American administration in 2015 knew that the proposed treaty would come nowhere close to reaching that two-thirds threshold in the Senate, the administration declared the treaty not to be a treaty, thereby invalidating both semantics and the Constitution. Pure lawlessness.

The Iran deal is back in the news now because the current administration—essentially an extension of the one in 2015—is trying yet again to strike up a “deal” with Iran, one that’s even worse than the previous one. You can learn more in a September 29th “Common Sense” article by Reuel Marc Gerecht headlined “The Women Burning Their Hijabs Want the Iranian Regime to Fall. Does Joe Biden?” The subhead reads “The White House is still ardently seeking a nuclear deal that will enrich the men murdering women in the streets.”

 

You’re welcome to read the article.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Two whites from Brazos Bend

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At Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston on the sultry Sunday morning of September 18th I photographed two kinds of white wildflowers. At the top you see aquatic milkweed, Asclepias perennis. This species, which doesn’t grow in central Texas, looks similar to the Texas milkweed that does. Below is Carolina horsenettle, Solanum carolinensis. That nightshade is common in east Texas but rare in the center of the state, where other Solanum species like silverleaf nightshade and western horsenettle predominate.

 

 

 

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A time to react and a time to investigate

 

Sometimes it makes sense to act before investigating. If you’re walking down a street and you suddenly notice a nearby car speeding toward you, you don’t stop to wonder about the make of the car or who’s driving it or why the driver is going so fast. No: you immediately jump out of the way to keep from getting run down. (A well-known Buddhist parable makes the same point.)

Most things in life, though, do leave time to investigate before acting. What cell phone plan best meets my needs? Are there any cities I could move to that would likely make me happier than where I am now? What organizations could I join to meet interesting people?

Investigating is particularly important in reporting the news. That’s because incidents sometimes turn out to be different from the way they initially seem, especially when important relevant facts haven’t yet been ascertained.

With those things in mind, let’s look at a recent incident. On August 26th a women’s volleyball match took place at Brigham Young University, with players from Duke University as the visiting team and some 5500 spectators in attendance. Afterwards, Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson said that she and other black athletes “were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match.”

I later saw clips from various television news shows that aired soon afterwards, in all of which the announcers stated that that’s what happened. The announcers didn’t report that Rachel Richardson said that she and her teammates been racially targeted or claimed that she and her teammates had been racially targeted, but that she and her teammates had been racially targeted. How could people in the news media so quickly know the truth of the matter when authorities hadn’t had time to investigate?

Based on the initial claim of racial targeting, officials at Brigham Young University apologized to the Duke team and banned the fan who supposedly had done the racial targeting. It was an instance of Lewis Carroll’s satirical “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.”

You can probably guess where this is going. As NPR (National Public Radio) reported on September 14th:

Brigham Young University has apologized to a fan it banned for allegedly shouting racist slurs at Black volleyball players visiting from Duke University, saying the school’s investigation found no proof of racial heckling or slurs…

Announcing the findings of its inquiry, BYU Athletics said last week that it went to great lengths to find moments in which the fan in question or anyone else might have yelled slurs during the match. The effort included a review of numerous records, it said, including match video from the school’s broadcast outlet with the commentators’ audio track removed, and video footage from security cameras.

“We also reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event,” from fans and BYU personnel to Duke’s players and team staff, the department said.

“From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event,” BYU Athletics said, adding that it would not tolerate such conduct.

How could so many in the media have gotten the story wrong? The sad answer is that they wanted the racial targeting to have happened because it would have fit their ideology, and in too many cases they let ideology overrule the facts. This was only the latest in a series of similar allegations that turned out to be false. Probably the best-known previous one came in 2019, when actor Jussie Smollett claimed that in the wee hours one morning he went out to get a sandwich and two white supremacists put a rope around his neck in Chicago, that bastion of white supremacy. In that case, too, the media had been filled with stories about how horrible that racist incident was. And yet, as CNN reported in March of this year:

Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced Thursday to 30 months of felony probation, including 150 days in jail, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 and a $25,000 fine for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019.

You would think that such a prominent incident and subsequent trial would have taught everyone in the news media the lesson of not jumping to conclusions about a racially charged claim before a thorough investigation has taken place. You might think that, but you’d be wrong.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 28, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Two Eupatorium species

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Here’s a close view of Eupatorium serotinum, known as white boneset and late or late-flowering or late-blooming boneset or thoroughwort. The species grows in Austin but I took this picture in Houston’s Memorial Park on September 17th.

One of the most prominent plants in Memorial Park that day was one I’d not seen before, and its feathery growth habit immediately caught my attention:

 

  

From what I can gather, this is Eupatorium capillifolium, known as dogfennel. Many of these plants’ tips were drooping, either by nature or from the heat. That gave me a chance for a different sort of portrait:

 

 

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In 2021 I wrote nine commentaries on the theme of common sense. In particular, I showed that quite a few things people believe to be “common sense” are actually false. If you missed those articles or would like to see them again, I’ve included links at the end.

Two days ago I came across an article by Ronald Bailey in the October 2022 issue of Reason that begins:

In May, New Jersey became the first state to ban single-use bags made from plastic or paper in large grocery stores. The new ban lumps both types of totes together, but one is actually worse for the environment than the other. Which one?

 I think most of us would say plastic. It’s only common sense, right? The article continues:

A 2005 life-cycle analysis commissioned by the Scottish government found that manufacturing paper bags consumes 10 percent more energy than manufacturing conventional plastic bags, uses four times more water, emits more than three times the amount of greenhouse gases, generates 14 times more water pollution, and results in nearly three times more solid waste. A 2007 study commissioned by what is now the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance, an industry group, found that, compared to making plastic bags, making paper bags takes 3.4 times as much energy, produces five times as much solid waste, emits twice as much greenhouse gases, and uses 17 times more water.

Surprised? You’re welcome to find out more in the full article.

Older “common sense” articles involved:

Lengths of rivers

Popular psychology

Rising and falling prices

Taxes

Birthdays

Baseball batting averages

Direction of inference

Chemistry

Average driving speeds

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2022 at 4:33 AM

Take home a stance

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I’ll grant you the title of this post may seem a bit strange. That’s because “Take home a stance” is an approximate way to pronounce the scientific name of today’s subject, Tecoma stans. One of the shrub’s common names causes no trouble: yellow bells. The other common name causes no trouble, either, if you know that esperanza is Spanish for hope, and what color is more hopeful than yellow?

This member of the legume family produces pods whose walls are on the thin side and decay rather easily. When I went to photograph one in that condition I noticed a tiny snail on it that I estimate was about a quarter of an inch across (6mm).

 

  

I took both pictures alongside our house on September 10th.

 

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I recently learned about the website called Freespoke. It’s a search engine that has the motto “See Clearly. Search Clearly.” If you go to Freespoke’s home page, beneath the search box you’ll also see links to three treatments of many recent news items: one from a centrist organization, one from a leftist organization, and one from a rightist organization. In addition, there are some links to stories that the mainstream media generally haven’t covered. For example, when I checked Freespoke yesterday I found a link to a story about 77 newspapers in one chain canceling the popular 33-year-old comic strip “Dilbert” because its writer, Scott Adams, has begun to satirize “woke” culture in offices.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Flower tower power versus mottled

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From the bed of the North Fork of the San Gabriel River near Tejas Camp in Williamson County on September 12th come these contrasting views of clammyweed, Polanisia dodecandra. The looking-upward view popped the phrase “flower tower power” into my mind, while “mottled” seemed a good word to describe the looking-downward picture with its patches of light and shadow on the ground beneath the flowers.

 

 

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A main theme in my essays for the past year and a half has been that justice requires similar things to get treated in similar ways. If it’s known that person A and person B both committed a certain transgression but only person B gets called out or punished for it, that’s not justice; it’s a double standard. Thirteen months ago I wrote a detailed commentary along those lines regarding the extensive rioting that took place in the United States from mid-2020 through January 2021.

A much less consequential example came to light this week. Sunny Hostin, a co-host on the American television talk show “The View,” accused Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and former American ambassador to the United Nations, of playing down her ethnic Indian heritage by using the first name Nikki. Turns out, however, that Nikki was in fact one of the names on Nikki Haley’s birth certificate. It’s not unusual for a person with multiple given names to prefer one of them, even if it isn’t the first one on the person’s birth certificate or baptismal certificate. For example, the great classical music composer Franz Joseph Haydn went by Joseph, not Franz. The American naturalist and writer Henry David Thoreau had been given the birth name David Henry but he eventually changed the order of his two given names and went by Henry. Similarly, Mr. and Mrs. Randhawa named their daughter Nimrata Nikki, and as a girl she chose to go by Nikki.

And now for the pot-calling-the-kettle-black part of the story. Knowing almost nothing about Sunny Hostin, I looked up her biography and found that her mother, Rosa Beza, comes from Puerto Rico, and her father, William Cummings, is American. Mr. and Mrs. Cummings named their daughter Asunción. That’s Spanish for Assumption, a Catholic reference to the Assumption of Mary. It’s easy to see how the -sun- in the Spanish name Asunción could give rise to the English name Sunny. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about that. What is wrong and unusual is for a person who changed Asunción to Sunny to accuse someone else of trying to cover up a foreign background. We call that hypocrisy.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 22, 2022 at 4:36 AM

River primrose again

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The tallest of all our evening primrose species in central Texas is Oenothera jamesii, known as river primrose. I’d discovered a good colony of it in the bed of the North Fork of the San Gabriel River near Tejas Camp in Williamson County in mid-September of 2021, so on September 12th this year I went back there and wasn’t disappointed, as you see above. And here’s a much closer look at one of the low flowers:

 

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2022 at 4:29 AM

From the prairie to the “mountains”

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On September 12th in the town of Cedar Park I checked out a property where I used to take pictures. Part of the property has gotten built on, and the part that temporarily remains undeveloped is no longer as lush with native plants as it used to be. Even so, I still stopped to photograph the one remaining cluster of snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata. A look downward rather than upward reveals that some of the snow-on-the-mountain towered over a rich colony of silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, as well as a small stand of peppergrass, Lepidium sp.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Turnabout is fair play

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A few days ago you saw how at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 8th a vibrant colony of partridge peas (Chamaecrista fasciculata) claimed attention, with a stand of blazing stars (Liatris punctata var. mucronata) adding complementary colors in the background. Now the roles are reversed, and a Liatris flower spike is the center of attention. Just as I snapped this picture a bumblebee took off. While the 1/400 of a second that the camera’s shutter speed was set to wasn’t nearly fast enough to stop the action, and I normally want insects to come out sharp, the traces of wing movement ended up pleasing me. I know nothing about how to paint, but it occurred to me that an artist might paint a bumblebee with brush strokes that look like this to suggest rapid movement.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2022 at 4:33 AM

A bright September display

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From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 8th comes this vibrant display of partidge peas (Chamaecrista fasciculata) and blazing stars (Liatris punctata var. mucronata). Here’s a much closer view that reveals how much red lies at the heart of a partridge pea flower:

 

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School activists employ an array of new words and phrases to describe their beliefs and goals. If you hear many of these phrases and can’t figure out what they mean, that’s because it’s by design. This vocabulary is intended to mislead – to make harmful and extreme ideas sound admirable and to conceal meaning through ambiguity.

That’s the introduction to the article “Understanding Woke Jargon” on the website of Parents Defending Education. In addition to the text that follows that introduction, the article embeds a set of videos, each only about a minute long and each automatically proceeding to the next one, in which Peter Boghossian explains the actual meaning of various woke terms.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2022 at 4:30 AM

Posted in nature photography

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