Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘Palmetto State Park

Shelf fungus

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At Palmetto State Park on November 23rd I photographed several kinds of shelf fungi. Not till I processed this picture the next day did I notice a spider over on the left side—and a strange spider it was, with only six legs. What happened to the other two, I don’t know. You’re welcome to click the excerpt below for a closer look at the six-legged spider.

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I call your attention to the article “The Empowering of the American Mind: 10 Principles for Opposing Thought Reform in K-12,” in which Greg Lukianoff fleshes out each of these:

  • Principle 1: No compelled speech, thought, or belief.
  • Principle 2: Respect for individuality, dissent, and the sanctity of conscience.
  • Principle 3: Teachers & administrators must demonstrate epistemic humility.
  • Principle 4: Foster the broadest possible curiosity, critical thinking skills, and discomfort with certainty.
  • Principle 5: Foster independence, not moral dependency.
  • Principle 6: Do not teach children to think in cognitive distortions.
  • Principle 7: Do not teach the ‘Three Great Untruths.’
  • Principle 8: Take student mental health more seriously.
  • Principle 9: Resist the temptation to reduce complex students to limiting labels. 
  • Principle 10: If it’s broke, fix it. Be willing to form new institutions that empower students and educate them with principles of free, diverse, and pluralistic society.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Branched

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At Palmetto State Park in Gonzales County on November 23rd the Lady Eve called my attention to some small flowers of a type I’d never seen before. Floyd Waller later identified them (thanks) as Dicliptera brachiata, colloquially known by the quaintly descriptive name branched foldwing. Have any of you ever heard of this wildflower? Later I checked botanist Bill Carr’s Travis County plant list and learned that this species grows in my own county, so now I’ll be on the lookout for it closer to home.

You might also use the word branched to describe the shadows on a nearby swampy pond covered with duckweed and fallen dry tree leaves.

And speaking of fallen leaves, here’s an abstract view of some on a drying palmetto (Sabal minor):

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American school districts continue to racialize their curriculum and their teaching, even as they deny doing so. That New York Post article includes links to four related stories. Those stories contain links to even more articles.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2021 at 4:26 AM

Palmetto State Park revisited

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After this January’s little freeze but before February’s horrendous freeze and snow and ice, we drove 65 miles south to Palmetto State Park, as you saw in posts from early this year. On a sunny and mild November 23rd we revisited the park for the first time since then. The palmettos (Sabal minor) looked pretty good, don’t you think? Where the top picture sets the scene and provides context, the closer view below leans into abstraction and follows a more-is-more aesthetic.

Back to nature: apparently the great February freeze hadn’t seriously hurt the palmettos. It’s normal for there to be some tan and brown fronds as old leaves die and new ones emerge. Such is the great chain of being.

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What follows is a bit long. I hope you’ll read at least the second part.

Last week we heard that a new Covid-19 variant is spreading. All the variants of the virus so far have been named with consecutive letters of the Greek alphabet. The most serious and now dominant variant is Delta, which is the 4th letter in the Greek alphabet. The latest variant is Omicron, the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet. English speakers are not nearly as familiar with the letter omicron as with the letter delta, which our language has borrowed as the name for the area where a river widens out and deposits sediment as it flows into the sea. Americans also recognize Delta Airlines, named for the delta of the Mississippi River.

Because people are less familiar with omicron, they aren’t always sure how to pronounce it. If you’ve listened to the news for any length of time over the past week, you’ve probably heard some people pronounce the first syllable ah, while others say oh. English dictionaries accept both (but certainly not the omnicron that some people have mangled the word to). I’ve always pronounced the first syllable oh because omicron is the Greek letter that Latin and then English borrowed as our letter o.

Omicron is more than the name of a Greek letter, it’s a description of the sound the letter originally represented. Omicron is o micron, literally ‘little o’ (think about microscope and microprocessor). Greek has another letter that’s also pronounced o; it’s omega, meaning ‘big o’ (think of megaphone and megachurch). Those descriptions correspond to the fact that Greeks in ancient times held the o sound of omicron for a shorter time than the o sound of omega, which was what linguists call a long vowel. From what I’ve read, Greek lost the pronunciation distinction between little o and big o a long time ago.

Omega (written 𝛀 as a capital and 𝛚 in lower case) is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet (hence the alpha and omega, the first and last, of Christianity). How Covid-19 variants will get named after the 24th one, I don’t know. I’ve joked that maybe we’ll switch to Chinese ideograms, of which there are thousands.

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Yesterday American authorities announced the first detected case of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the United States. That caused something of a panic in certain quarters and has added one more consideration to ongoing discussions of pandemic travel restrictions. At a news conference yesterday, reporter Peter Doocy posed a couple of questions to White House Coronavirus Response Team member Dr. Anthony Fauci: “You advised the president about the possibility of new testing requirements for people coming into this country. Does that include everybody?” Dr. Fauci replied: “The answer is yes.” Peter Doocy followed up by asking: “What about people who don’t take a plane, and just these border crossers coming in in huge numbers?” Dr. Fauci’s response was “That’s a different issue.”

It shouldn’t be a different issue—at least not if you believe in science. In case you didn’t catch what an evasion Dr. Fauci’s answer was, and how illogical and hypocritical, I’ll be happy to explain. The Centers for Disease Control hosts a What You Need to Know page for international airplane travel:

  • If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status) before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.
    • Fully vaccinated: The viral test must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 3 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country if you show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
    • Not fully vaccinated: The viral test must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 1 day before the flight’s departure from a foreign country if you do not show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

At the same time, people illegally coming across the American border from Mexico do not have to show proof of full or even partial Covid-19 vaccination. Unless they’re exhibiting obvious respiratory distress, they don’t even need to be tested for the virus. The current administration has let hundreds of thousands of illegal border-crossers with unknown vaccine status and unknown infection status continue on into our country since January, and in many cases the administration has even paid for their bus and plane tickets into the interior of our country. In sum, unvaccinated and untested non-citizens coming into our country illegally during a pandemic don’t have to follow the health and safety requirements that the American government imposes on its own citizens. That’s lawless. That’s hypocritical. And of course with regard to controlling a pandemic, it’s anti-science.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 2, 2021 at 4:29 AM

Closer looks at Spanish moss

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You’ve seen how Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) festooned the trees at Palmetto State Park on January 29th. Now here are two closer looks. In the top one the Spanish moss was still hanging from a tree, while in the bottom picture some had fallen onto a dry palmetto leaf (Sabal minor).

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” — Leslie Poles Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953. (Wikipedia notes that the opening sentence “had first been used by Hartley’s friend Lord David Cecil in his inaugural lecture as Goldsmiths’ Professor in 1949.”)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 12, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Palmetto leaf arcs

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I wouldn’t do justice to Palmetto State Park, which we visited on January 29th, without showing you at least one close view of designs in the leaf of a palmetto, Sabal minor.

And here’s a quotation for today from Schiller’s 1801 play Die Jungfrau von Orleans, which is to say The Maiden from Orleans (meaning Joan of Arc):

Unsinn, du siegst und ich muß untergehn!
Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.

The original doesn’t rhyme but I ended up making a loose modern-day translation that happens to rhyme:

Madness, you’ve won the day and I’ve got to give in!
Against stupidity the gods themselves can’t win.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 10, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Lush Spanish moss

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The first thing that caught my attention at Palmetto State Park on January 29th wasn’t the palmettos but the lush Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) hanging from many of the trees. Extra points if you know that Spanish moss is an epiphyte and a vascular plant rather than a true moss. Even more points if you can say lush Spanish moss quickly five times without messing up.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 9, 2021 at 3:47 AM

Lichens on rocks

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At Palmetto State Park on January 29th I took pictures of colorful lichens on rocks.

And here’s a thought for today:
The sincerity of someone’s delusion doesn’t make it any less a delusion. — S.S.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 8, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Palmetto State Park

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Although this picture from January 29th may make you think we went to Florida’s Everglades or some other tropical place, we drove just 70 road miles south of home, to Palmetto State Park, which might as well be a different world. The park is named for a stand of palmettos, Sabal minor, one of only two palm species native to Texas (the other is full-sized and lives at the southern tip of the state). The Ottine Swamp supports the palmettos and also fosters copious amounts of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, which were especially conspicuous now that the trees were winter-bare.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2021 at 4:45 AM

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