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Posts Tagged ‘Inks Lake State Park

Devil’s Waterhole

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On January 26th we spent some time at Inks Lake State Park, located about an hour west of Austin. The damming of the Colorado River has deepened and widened a portion of Valley Spring Creek to create what people call the Devil’s Waterhole, as you’re seeing above. Further upstream is the small waterfall shown below. Both views reveal how attractive the bedrock and boulders are in that part of central Texas.



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The University of Central Florida has adopted radical Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programming that segregates students by race, condemns the United States as “white-supremacist culture,” and encourages active discrimination against the “oppressor” class, characterized as “male, White, heterosexual, able-bodied, and Christian.”

Officially, UCF reports that it has 14 separate DEI programs, costing in the aggregate more than $4 million per year. But this dramatically understates the reality, which is that the ideology of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” has been entrenched everywhere. The university’s administration and academic departments have created a blizzard of programs, classes, trainings, reports, committees, certifications, events, documents, policies, clubs, groups, conferences, and statements pledging UCF to left-wing racialism.

So begins Christopher Rufo’s February 15th City Journal article “Racism in the Name of “Anti-Racism.” Of course segregating people and programs by race is blatantly illegal, but the attitude of “anti-racist” racists could be summed up as: the 14th Amendment and the 1964 Civil Rights Act and human decency be damned.

As the article explains, Rufo and some of his colleagues have proposed doing away with racialized bureaucracies and programs in Florida’s universities. You can read about that in the document titled “Abolish DEI Bureaucracies and Restore Colorblind Equality in Public Universities.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 21, 2023 at 4:23 AM

Lichens on boulders at Inks Lake State Park

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On January 26th we spent several hours at Inks Lake State Park.



Boulder-hugging lichens are a prominent feature there.
Naturally I couldn’t resist doing some abstract takes on them.



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 A Multiplicity of National Anthems


Since the moral panic of 2020 it’s become ever more common at sporting events in this country to hear not only the traditional national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but also what some are calling the black national anthem. So much for the “United” States.

Now, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander—and also for all the gander’s neighbors. Where the black share of the U.S. population is 13.8%, the Hispanic share is 19%, so surely a Hispanic national anthem should join the regular national anthem and the black national anthem at sporting events. In the spirit of inclusion, shouldn’t we also recognize the 6.2% of the U.S. population that’s Asian? Surely an Asian national anthem should join the regular national anthem and the black national anthem and the Hispanic national anthem at sporting events. And we can’t forget the 2.6% of the American population descended from aboriginal peoples, so an aboriginal national anthem should join the regular national anthem and the black national anthem and the Hispanic national anthem and the Asian national anthem at sporting events. And what about the 3.2% of the population that identifies as mixed-race? Surely a mixed-race national anthem should join the regular national anthem and the black national anthem and the Hispanic national anthem and the Asian national anthem and the aboriginal national anthem at sporting events. Oh, and we’ve got to include the largest racial group of all, the 75.8% of the population that is white. Therefore a white national anthem should join the regular national anthem and the black national anthem and the Hispanic national anthem and the Asian national anthem and the aboriginal national anthem and the mixed-race national anthem at sporting events.

But why stop with racial groups? Women make up 50.5% of the population, so a women’s national anthem should join the regular national anthem and the black national anthem and the Hispanic national anthem and the Asian national anthem and the aboriginal national anthem and the mixed-race national anthem and the white national anthem at sporting events. The same goes for the 49.5% of the population comprising men, therefore a men’s national anthem should join the regular national anthem and the black national anthem and the Hispanic national anthem and the Asian national anthem and the aboriginal national anthem and the mixed-race national anthem and the white national anthem and the women’s national anthem at sporting events.

Moving away from biological sex, we find that genderologists have identified dozens and dozens of genders and are hard at work discovering many more. As a result of that groundbreaking research, we’ll need a cisgender national anthem, a transgender national anthem, a cishet national anthem, a non-binary national anthem (or perhaps several), an intersex national anthem, a cloudgender national anthem, a genderqueer national anthem, a gender-fluid national anthem, an agender national anthem, a gender-void national anthem, an omnigender national anthem, a pangender national anthem, an androgyne national anthem, an aporagender national anthem, a demi-boy national anthem, a demi-girl national anthem, a neutrois national anthem, a mekangender national anthem, a maverique national anthem, a lunagender national anthem, a xenogender national anthem, and on and on and on.

To be fair to people with disabilities, we’ll also need an arthritis national anthem, a paraplegia national anthem, a quadriplegia national anthem, a wheelchair national anthem, a hypertension national anthem, an overweight national anthem, an obese national anthem, a pacemaker national anthem, an Alzheimer’s national anthem, a cancer national anthem, a stroke national anthem, an asthma national anthem, a blind national anthem (written down in Braille, of course), a short-sighted national anthem, a far-sighted national anthem, a deaf national anthem, an anemia national anthem, a gastritis national anthem, a cleft-palate national anthem, an emphysema national anthem, a stutterer’s national anthem, a bald national anthem, a schizophrenia national anthem, a bipolar national anthem, an autism national anthem, a dandruff national anthem, a halitosis national anthem, a little people’s national anthem, an anorexia national anthem, an eczema national anthem, and so forth. We also mustn’t forget a national anthem for dead people, as it’s not unusual for at least one person to die at a large sporting event, especially when fans riot.

I see no choice but for our government to create a new cabinet position, the Secretary of National Anthems, whose first job will be to commission the composing of an anthem for each of the thousands of groups into which the country’s population can be subdivided. To avoid categorical appropriation, naturally only a composer who is a member of a given group will be allowed to create the anthem for that group.

I see two ways of dealing with the fact that playing through all the national anthems at a sporting event will take days. One possibility is to cancel the sporting events themselves and turn the playing of all the anthems into very long concerts. If sports fans object to that minor inconvenience, another possibility is to play a modest selection of national anthems—say 20 to 30—at each sporting event. The Secretary of National Anthems would be charged with setting up an elaborately rotating schedule of selections which would ensure each national anthem gets played as many times a year as each other national anthem. The Secretary would also have to commission additional anthems and modify schedules as new categories of identity are discovered, which recent history guarantees they will be.

Why no one else has written about this before me, I have no idea (though it reminds me that we also need an intelligence national anthem). Once a country goes from one national anthem to two, it’s only logical to keep on going down that long and winding road to infinity.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 19, 2023 at 4:30 AM

Stripes and squiggles

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Here’s an abstraction of horizontal black and blue stripes with squiggly white penetrating them vertically.

If your
makes you
wonder what
was going
on here at
Inks Lake
State Park
on January
26th, click
the little
icon below.




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So you’re reading an article, and at one point the author refers to somebody as a troglodyte. Unfamiliar with the term, you turn to a nearby friend and ask what a troglodyte is. Your friend answers that a troglodyte is anyone who behaves like a troglodyte. Are you any better off with that answer? Of course not, because you still have no idea what a troglodyte is. Later you check an old-fashioned dictionary and find that a troglodyte was originally ‘a prehistoric person who lived in caves.’ By extension, a troglodyte is ‘a person who lives similarly to a cave dweller, as in seclusion or in a primitive or crude state; a hermit; a recluse.’ Now you understand the term.

A statement like “a troglodyte is anyone who behaves like a troglodyte” is what we call a circular definition. It isn’t a real definition because it “explains” a word by using the very same word we’re trying to learn the meaning of.

These days we needn’t resort to fancy vocabulary like troglodyte to baffle some people. Take the familiar word woman. Last year I reported on a March 23rd interchange as the United States Senate continued interviewing the latest nominee for the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown-Jackson. When it fell to Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn to ask questions, this dialogue ensued:

Blackburn: Can you provide a definition for the word “woman”?
Brown-Jackson: Can I provide a definition?”
Blackburn: Yeah.
Brown-Jackson: No. I can’t.
Blackburn: You can’t?
Brown-Jackson: Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.

I can tell you from over seven decades of being alive and speaking English that not until recently would asking someone what a woman is have been a question so baffling that we have to turn to a biologist for an answer.

Probably more common among gender ideologues than a refusal to answer the question is answering it with a circular definition: “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman.” If you follow that up with “Describe the characteristics of what the person is identifying as,” you’ll likely be met with a repetition of the circular statement that “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman,” or with a refusal to say anything further.

That’s the sorry state of affairs some people have devolved to in this third decade of the 21st century. They not only delude themselves into believing that “A trans man is a man” and “A trans woman is a woman,” but also that “A circular definition is a definition.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 11, 2023 at 4:33 AM

“Bloom” patterns at Inks Lake State Park

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On May 6th we drove the roughly one hour west to Inks Lake State Park, which by coincidence we’d visited exactly one year earlier. Because of the continuing drought, the place wasn’t the coreopsis-covered wonderland we’d found there in the spring of 2019. One thing that caught my attention last week that wasn’t there when we’d last visited, in November 2021, was bright green algae in several places along the lakeline, where the algae contrasted in color with the granite that underlies the region. Shape-wise I saw similarities to the many lichens on the selfsame granite in rocks and boulders.


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The Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Perhaps the best known of the 10 is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s become common these days to hear people say that the First Amendment came first because it states the most fundamental rights of American citizens. As conveniently symbolic as that justification sounds, it’s not true. An article on Thoughtco.com explains:

Drawing on the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, mainly written by George Mason, James Madison drafted 19 amendments, which he submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives on June 8, 1789. The House approved 17 of them and sent [them] to the U.S. Senate, which approved 12 of them on September 25. Ten were ratified by the states and became law on December 15, 1791.

When the Senate’s 12 amendments were submitted to the states for ratification, the first two of them failed, so the remaining 10 that got approved all moved up two slots. What was originally the third of the 12 amendments became our First Amendment. To learn more of the details, including information about the two amendments that failed in 1789—one of which finally got approved two centuries later—you can read the full article.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman







Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2022 at 4:30 AM

More red from Inks Lake

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At the same place in Inks Lake State Park on November 29th where Virginia creeper vines announced their presence by turning bright red, Eve noticed and drew my attention to a nest in a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) It provided a deep red via its tunas, which is what the fruits of this kind of cactus are called in Spanish and increasingly even in English (they’re the supposed “pears” in “prickly pears”). One tuna on a different pad was in fact a twin tuna. Here’s a view looking straight down at that pear pair:


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Linguistics professor John McWhorter‘s book Woke Racism was recently released. I encourage you to watch an excellent 18-minute summary of the book via a PBS interview of McWhorter by Walter Isaacson.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 21, 2021 at 4:30 AM

More red creepers

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At one point in our wanderings at Inks Lake State Park on November 29th some distant patches of bright red drew our attention. Once we got close enough we confirmed them to be clusters of Virginia creeper leaves (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). In the top picture, notice the pencil cactus (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis) at the lower left and the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) at the lower right. Below is a better view of one of those bright red leaf clusters.

 As recently as this past Thursday I still found a few
scarlet Virginia creeper leaflets in our Austin neighborhood:

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On August 9th and November 9th and December 4th I reported that the people in charge of many American elementary and secondary schools are increasingly racializing and radicalizing their curricula. Publicly those educationists deny doing so, and they put out sophistic statements meant to conceal the truth. In internal communications and workshops, however, they make no secret of what they’re actually doing. I recently came across Sugi Sorensen’s article “Ethnic Studies as a Trojan Horse for Critical Race Theory,” which offers a lot more documentation of the deceit.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2021 at 4:31 AM

Return to Inks Lake State Park

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On May 6th, during a spring visit to Inks Lake State Park, we explored a section of the park that we’d not been to before and that proved rewarding. When we returned on November 29th for our first visit since then, we adopted the same strategy and walked an additional two trails we’d never trodden before. Among the first things to catch my photographic attention on that clear and sunny day was a bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) whose feathery leaves had turned yellow, orange, and reddish brown. I positioned myself under the tree and aimed toward the sun to let backlighting transluce and saturate the foliage even as patches of blue provided a contrasting hue.

Not far away, a different reddish brown revealed itself on the trunk of a fallen oak tree.

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“Mass migration only flows in one direction: from countries that haven’t made the meritocratic transition to those that have.” “One of the most reliable rules in life is that second-rate people will always appoint third-rate people in order to protect themselves from being shown up.” “We are about to learn that the meritocratic idea can be just as powerful in the service of state-authoritarianism as, until now, it has been in the service of liberal democracy.” Those are three lines from Adrian Wooldridge’s good article “The War on Meritocracy,” which traces the history of the meritocratic ideal and discusses the ways in which dogmatists are assailing and increasingly defeating that ideal.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 14, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Blue lightning strikes again

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You may remember that at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area on April 12th I saw my first-ever common collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris. On May 6th at Inks Lake State Park I saw a second one, shown above. Then, not quite an hour later, I found yet another, which soon scurried into the crack between rocks that you see below.

And here’s a thought that’s as relevant today as when it was put forth in 1941: “In times of change and danger, when there is a quicksand of fear under one’s reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present.” — John Dos Passos.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Lindheimer’s morning glory

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Let’s welcome a new native wildflower to these pages: Lindheimer’s morning glory, Ipomoea lindheimeri. I found a bunch of these at Inks Lake State Park on May 6th. (In contrast, a different species, Ipomoea cordatotriloba, is common in Austin and has appeared here from time to time.)

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The other day you heard about some farmers who are suing the American government for violating their rights by refusing to let them apply for debt relief that farmers of any skin color other than white are eligible to apply for. Yesterday I learned about a similar case involving a federal program called the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is administered by the Small Business Association (SBA). “The SBA, which is deciding among applicants, announced that it would accept applications from all eligible applicants but only process those from a ‘priority group’ in the first 21 days.” The term “priority group” is a euphemism for ‘anyone but a white male.’ A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the plaintiffs are “experiencing race and sex discrimination at the hand of government officials” and has imposed a temporary restraining order on the SBA. The judge wrote that “[t]he evidence submitted by plaintiffs indicates that the entire $28.6 billion in the Restaurant Revitalization Fund may be depleted before plaintiffs’ application can be considered for relief under the program….”

It appalls me—and I hope you—that the American government would flout the law by treating people differently based on their race or ethnicity or sex. This is 2021, after all, not 1821.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 21, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Yucca high, yucca low

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Inks Lake State Park; May 6; Yucca sp. How about those lines and shadows?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2021 at 5:24 AM

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