Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand

New Zealand: along the Cathedral Cove Walk

with 43 comments

Five years and a day ago we found ourselves on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, where I’d say Cathedral Cove was the scenic highlight. On our hour-long walk back up to the car park from the cove I got fascinated by what you see in the top picture: the graceful curves of leaves and korus, which is what the Māori call the fiddleheads on ferns. (Close individual koru portraits appeared here in 2015 and 2017.)

Also catching my attention along the Cathedral Cove Walk were the lichens and spiderwebs shown below. As for the brown insect, Kazuo Ishiguro might have called it the remains of the prey.

 This post ends the four-part mini-review of our 2017 New Zealand visit’s last days.

 

‡         ‡         ‡

  

It is a fine needle to thread, giving children enough space to make their own decisions and mistakes, and protecting them from real danger. Our societal pendulum has swung too far to one side—to protecting children against all risk and harm—such that many who come of age under this paradigm feel that everything is a threat, that they need safe spaces, that words are violence. By comparison, children with exposure to diverse experiences—physical, psychological, and intellectual—learn what is possible, and become more expansive. It is imperative that children experience discomfort in each of these realms: physical, psychological, and intellectual. Absent that, they end up full-grown but confused about what harm actually is. They end up children in the bodies of adults.

That’s another passage from Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein’s A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life. You can also watch many presentations by them on their Dark Horse podcasts.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2022 at 4:33 AM

New Zealand: Cathedral Cove

with 19 comments

Five years ago today we found ourselves on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, on whose eastern side we visited Cathedral Cove. The place hosted plenty of tourists, whom you don’t see, and many birds, which you do. In the top photograph you can barely make them out on the central rock and the one a little farther away at its right; you have no such trouble in the second view.

 Four years ago I showed two other portraits of gulls from the Cathedral Cove excursion.

 

௹         ௹         ௹

  

You may have heard that Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, heeded Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky’s urgent request to maintain communications with the outside world by enabling the Starlink satellite system for Ukraine and sending ground receiving units there.

You probably know that Elon Musk is in charge of Tesla, which makes more all-electric vehicles than any other company in the world. It’s clear Elon Musk is producing all those cars as a way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere, which in turn should slow global warming and its harmful effects on the world’s climate.

Depending on the news outlets you follow, however, you may not have heard what Elon Musk announced on March 5. As The Hill reported:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk urged the United States to increase its oil and gas production following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the negative impact on his company.

“Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil & gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures,” Musk tweeted on Friday.

“Obviously, this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports,” he added.

You’re welcome to read the full story, especially if this comes as news to you. [Update: yesterday Elon Musk also called for Europe to restart dormant nuclear power stations and increase power output of existing ones.] Musk’s stance on oil is in stark contrast to that of the current American administration, which wants to keep importing oil from Russia [update: that finally changed] and is negotiating to re-allow another dictatorship, Iran, to sell its oil on the open market—all while obstinately refusing to take any steps to increase oil production in the United States. You can find further details in a story by the Federalist. And news broke yesterday that the current administration is negotiating with yet another dictatorship, the one in Venezuela, to start buying oil again.

As I pointed out in a commentary on February 12, no matter where oil comes from, the burning of it and its derivatives sends the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere.* As a result, we should get as much oil as possible from our own country, or from a friendly nation like Canada. What we should not be doing is giving in to the current administration’s obsession—because that’s what it is—of getting oil from hostile and unfree countries like Russia and Iran and Venezuela. If reducing the warming power of carbon in the atmosphere is important, so is reducing the power of dictatorships to keep oppressing their own people, and in the case of Russia other people as well.

— — — —

* Actually I was wrong, but the correction makes for an even stronger argument to use our own oil. As The Federalist reported on March 5th: “According to the International Energy Agency’s global methane tracker, Russia was the world’s leading producer of methane emissions last year with its oil and gas operations producing 30 percent more per unit of production than the United States. Iranian producers emitted 85 percent more methane per unit of production when compared to U.S. operators.” The reason that’s so bad is that methane contributes to global warming at a much higher rate than an equal weight of carbon dioxide.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 7, 2022 at 4:31 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

New Zealand: observations along S.H. 25

with 18 comments

Five years ago today, near the end of our second New Zealand visit,
we found ourselves driving north from Thames along State Highway 25.

I stopped several times along the shore to record photogenic things.

Photogenic for me often means patterned or textured.

 

‡         ‡         ‡

 

And three years ago today—oh, look how calendrically attuned I am—Quillette ran Lyell Asher‘s article “How Ed Schools Became a Menace to Higher Education.”

 

… Education schools have long been notorious for two mutually reinforcing characteristics: ideological orthodoxy and low academic standards. As early as 1969, Theodore Sizer and Walter Powell hoped that “ruthless honesty” would do some good when they complained that at far too many ed schools, the prevailing climate was “hardly conducive to open inquiry.” “Study, reflection, debate, careful reading, even, yes, serious thinking, is often conspicuous by its absence,” they continued. “Un-intellectualism—not anti-intellectualism, as this assumes malice—is all too prevalent.” Sizer and Powell ought to have known: At the time they were dean and associate dean, respectively, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

More than three decades later, a comprehensive, four-year study of ed schools headed by a former president of Teachers College, Arthur Levine, found that the majority of educational-administration programs “range from inadequate to appalling, even at some of the country’s leading universities.” Though there were notable exceptions, programs for teaching were described as being, in the main, weak and mediocre. Education researchers seemed unable to achieve even “minimum agreement” about “acceptable research practice,” with the result that there are “no base standards and no quality floor.” Even among ed school faculty members and deans, the study found a broad and despairing recognition that ed school training was frequently “subjective, obscure, faddish, … inbred, and politically correct.”

That could be the damning educational equivalent of Thomas Hobbes characterizing the life of man in a natural state as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Here’s another of Lyell Asher’s observations:

There might be nothing wrong with training students in equity and social justice were it not for the inconvenient fact that a college campus is where these ideals and others like them are to be rigorously examined rather than piously assumed. It’s the difference between a curriculum and a catechism.

If you’re concerned about education, particularly the way it has rapidly been morphing into illiberal indoctrination, check out the full article.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2022 at 4:35 AM

New Zealand: Waimangu Volcanic Valley

with 20 comments

Five years ago today, on our second trip to New Zealand, we spent some hours in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley in the geothermally active area near Rotorua on the North Island. What you might take for low clouds in the top picture of Cathedral Rocks is steam.

The yellow in the second photograph, like the frequent odor we noticed in the air around Rotorua, comes from sulphur. I don’t know what made the green. The last picture shows what’s called Frying Pan Lake. While the water’s a pretty blue, the steam says a swim there would be your last anywhere.

 

‡         ‡         ‡

 ‡

Respect for reason has waxed and waned throughout history. Today, its tide is receding. University professors resign in frustration from what were once our bastions of rationality. Increasingly, the barbarians are not merely at the gates, but running the show in a vast swathe of humanities departments. After decades of decay in our academic training grounds, radical identitarianism and other irrationalities are spreading with accelerating speed, and we are woefully short of thinkers capable of fighting them.

That’s the beginning of a good article by John Hersey about reasoning entitled “Five Lessons from Julia Galef’s ‘The Scout Mindset.’” Check it out. Links in that article lead to other good ones.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 5, 2022 at 4:37 AM

New Zealand: More from Matakatia Bay

with 14 comments

Yesterday’s post showed photographs taken exactly seven years earlier, on the last full day of our initial visit to New Zealand. Those three views were landscapes seen from the Matakatia Bay side of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula a little north of Auckland.

The final pictures I took that afternoon—and the ones that most excited me aesthetically—were abstractions showing colors and forms on the shore at Little Manly Beach. Some of those photographs have shown up in posts since 2015. Now here are three more for your delectation.

 

✪        ✪        ✪

  

We [men and women] work side by side, and some of us imagine that because we are equal under the law, we are also the same. We are and should be equal under the law. But we are not the same—despite what some activists and politicians, journalists and academics would have us believe. There seems to be comfort, for some, in the idea of sameness, but it is a shallow comfort at best. What if the best surgeon in the world was a woman, but it was also true that, on average, most of the best surgeons were male? What if the top ten pediatricians were women? Neither scenario provides evidence of bias or sexism, although those are possible explanations for the observed patterns. In order to ensure that bias or sexism is not predictive of who does what work, we should remove as many barriers to success as possible. We should also not expect that men and women will make identical choices, or be driven to excel at identical things, or even, perhaps, be motivated by the same goals. To ignore our differences and demand uniformity is a different kind of sexism. Differences between the sexes are a reality, and while they can be cause for concern, they are also very often a strength, and we ignore them at our peril.

That’s much-needed sanity from A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life, by Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein. You can also watch many presentations by them on their Dark Horse podcasts.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 27, 2022 at 4:33 AM

New Zealand: Matakatia Bay

with 25 comments

Seven years ago today, on the last afternoon of our first fabulous trip to New Zealand,
I took pictures from the Matakatia Bay side of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula a little north of Auckland.

From that vantage point I photographed the coastal bluff shown in the top picture, the seastack
known as Kotanui or Frenchman’s Cap* shown in the middle picture, and Rangitoto Island.

* Due to persistent supply chain problems, New Zealand has had a chronic shortage of apostrophes in proper names. I’ve graciously supplied the apostrophe that was lacking.

 

✪        ✪        ✪

 

For some years now I’ve been calling for a United Nations 2.0. Reasons for jettisoning the old organization include those that I gave in my December 31 commentary: “Starting on January 1, 2022, a staggering 68.1% of the UN Human Rights Council will be dictators and other serial human rights abusers. Despite UN Watch’s detailed report on their gross abuses, Qatar, Cameroon, Eritrea, Kazakhstan and Somalia were all elected in October to the UN’s top human rights body, joining China, Cuba, Russia, Libya, Pakistan and Venezuela.” And “in an April 2021 secret ballot, the UN’s Economic and Social Council elected Iran’s gender apartheid regime to a 4-year term on its Commission on the Status of Women, the ‘principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.’” The article that detailed those abuses included seven others.

Now comes the Russian dictator’s invasion of Ukraine. The current United Nations was unable to do anything about it before or after—didn’t really even seem interested in trying. That ought to be impetus enough for the creation of a new United Nations that no despotic countries will be allowed to join.

At the same time, all civilized nations should expel every Russian diplomat and no longer allow any flights or ships from Russia to land in their countries.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2022 at 4:40 AM

New Zealand: Gannets at Muriwai

with 39 comments

Six years ago today I took many pictures of Australasian gannetsMorus serrator, at their colony in Muriwai on the west side of New Zealand’s North Island. While we don’t usually get to see birds in flight by looking down, this is one place where we do. The Māori name for these gannets is tākapu, and in English we call a breeding colony of them a gannetry. Rest assured that during courtship there’s gallantry in a gannetry.

And here’s a tip for those of you interested in science and history (presumably anyone who’s reading this): for just $20 you can get a whole year’s subscription to Curiosity Stream, which offers thousands of programs to watch on your computer, tablet, or phone; with appropriate cables or equipment (Apple TV in our case), you can stream from those devices to a full-size television. We spent a good chunk of yesterday learning about the ancient ruins at Mes Anyak in Afghanistan; genetic engineering’s promises and perils; finding and exploring ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea, along with evidence that only gradually did it change from a smaller fresh-water lake into its current larger saline state; the British artist and humanitarian Lilias Trotter, whom we’d never heard of.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2021 at 4:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

Pūkeko standing on one leg

with 22 comments

On February 4th I photographed this pūkeko,* Porphyrio melanotus. Okay, so it wasn’t the February 4th that we had two days ago, but the one in 2015 when I happily took my first-ever photographs in New Zealand. I found this pūkeko in Shakespear** Regional Park at the eastern tip of the Whangaparaoa*** Peninsula north of Auckland.

* A bar (technically called a macron) over a vowel indicates that the vowel is to be pronounced for a longer time than regular vowels. Many languages (but not English) make a distinction between long vowels and regular vowels, so that  would be a different word from pa and have a different meaning.

** That’s not a typo: there’s no e at the end of Shakespear. The name that’s now most commonly spelled Shakespeare was historically spelled in various ways.

*** In words of Māori origin, wh is pronounced f.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 6, 2021 at 4:32 AM

New Zealand: Cathedral Cove trees and textures

with 42 comments

Probably the most visited bit of nature on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula
is Cathedral Cove, where we spent several hours three years ago today.

Leaning out over the cliff in the first photograph are pōhutukawa treesMetrosideros excelsa.

Me being me, I was taken with all the appealing rock textures.

I took dozens of pictures, of which you’re seeing a few.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 7, 2020 at 4:51 AM

New Zealand: our best sunset

with 16 comments

I believe the best sunset on our 2017 New Zealand trip was the one we watched in Napier on March 4th.
The first view is one of the few pictures I’ve ever shown here that includes the moon.

The fiery follow-up came just a minute and a half later, so I assume I aimed in a different direction.

©2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 4, 2020 at 4:38 AM

%d bloggers like this: