Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘pink

A monumental mountain pink colony at Belton Lake

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On June 14th I got a tip from Rhonda Frick Smith in Morgan’s Point Resort about a huge colony of mountain pinks (Zeltnera beyrichii) close to the dam that sustains Belton Lake, so on June 16th I drove the hour north to check it out. I have to say it was the largest colony of these flowers I’ve ever come across, probably larger than all the others I’ve seen put together. What appears in the photograph above is merely one portion of the vaster colony. (An aerial photograph in the article I linked to shows the “barren” field that was home to this enormous mountain pink colony.)

 

Mountain pinks have a knack for growing in rocky and seemingly unpromising ground, as the middle photograph shows from a somewhat sparser portion of the colony. And speaking of rocky, here’s a closer look at all the fossilized tube worm casings in the slab of rock in the upper left of that second picture:

  

These are remnants from an era when what is now Texas lay beneath the sea.

 

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The developed world became wealthy through the pervasive use of fossil fuels, which still overwhelmingly power most of its economies. Solar and wind power aren’t reliable, simply because there are nights, clouds and still days. Improving battery storage won’t help much: There are enough batteries in the world today only to power global average electricity consumption for 75 seconds. Even though the supply is being scaled up rapidly, by 2030 the world’s batteries would still cover less than 11 minutes. Every German winter, when solar output is at its minimum, there is near-zero wind energy available for at least five days—or more than 7,000 minutes.

This is why solar panels and wind turbines can’t deliver most of the energy for industrializing poor countries. Factories can’t stop and start with the wind; steel and fertilizer production are dependent on coal and gas; and most solar and wind power simply can’t deliver the power necessary to run the water pumps, tractors, and machines that lift people out of poverty.

That’s why fossil fuels still provide more than three-fourths of wealthy countries’ energy, while solar and wind deliver less than 3%. An average person in the developed world uses more fossil-fuel-generated energy every day than all the energy used by 23 poor Africans.

 

I invite you to read Bjørn Lomborg‘s full commentary in the June 20th Wall Street Journal entitled “The Rich World’s Climate Hypocrisy.” The subtitle is “They beg for more oil and coal for themselves while telling developing lands to rely on solar and wind.”

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2022 at 4:25 AM

Pink and blue and a change of pace

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On June 3rd, after touring the exhibits inside Corpus Christi’s Art Museum of South Texas, I focused my attention—which is to say my camera—on the museum’s exterior. If you call these views colorfully and geometrically minimalist you’ll get no argument from me. And speaking of pink and blue, I guess this is a good time for my periodic reminder that before the middle of the 20th century blue was considered the color for baby girls and pink the color for baby boys.

 

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Here’s a passage from Luke Rosiak’s new book Race to the Bottom: Uncovering the Secret Forces Destroying American Public Education.

Beginning in 1985, a federal judge named Russell Clark tried to find out what would happen if money was no obstacle. He ordered a massive spending program that infused billions of extra dollars over twelve years into the decaying city schools of Kansas City, Missouri. This made Kansas City the highest-spending large school district in the country, adjusted for cost of living. It outspent similar districts around the country by two or three times. Clark said that he “allowed the district planners to dream.”

The district constructed laboratories, a planetarium, and an Olympic swimming pool, and it provided kids with computers, foreign language programs, and field trips to Senegal and Mexico. It added all-day kindergarten and aftercare, and every elementary school classroom had $25,000 of toys in it. It had a teacher-student ratio of one to twelve or thirteen and gave teachers 40 percent raises. Clark anticipated that Kansas City students’ achievement would match the national average within five years.

By 1995, the dropout rate had not decreased and test performance showed “no measurable improvement.” Over four years of high school, the average black student’s reading skills increased by only 1.1 grade equivalents. As Gary Orfield, head of the Harvard Project on School Desegregation, whose testimony helped spur the bonanza, later admitted, “They had as much money as any school district will ever get. It didn’t do very much.”

Most people would interpret the statements of politicians to mean that low-income students have less money spent on their education than their middle-class colleagues. This is because they do not understand the power of the word equity to distort reality. Only through such a word can people say that getting the most money for the worst results proves that they are oppressed…. But in reality, equity means writing bigger and bigger checks to the bureaucrats who run inner-city schools, until equal outcomes by students are achieved—even though there is little evidence that money will ever cause that to happen.

That’s because education is primarily about minds, not materials. As a Peace Corps volunteer in 1968 and 1969 I taught math for a year and a half at a school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where high school graduates pursued a three-year course to get certified as teachers. I was a brand-new teacher myself, only a few years older than my students, far from knowing as much and being as effective as I later became after years of studying and practice. My Spanish was adequate but not perfect. During my first half-year we didn’t even have a textbook. I made things up out of my head and used the school’s hand-cranked ditto machine to run off worksheets. The point is that even with those limited resources the students learned. It doesn’t take a lot of money. It does take a culture of knowledge, something American schools have been increasingly downplaying in favor of sociopolitical indoctrination and the excuse of eternal victimhood.

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2022 at 4:24 AM

Capital variation

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From the Latin noun caput, which meant ‘head,’ we get the adjective capital, which originally and literally meant ‘having to do with a head.’ Austin, where I live, is the capital—i.e. head—city of Texas. That’s one kind of metaphor. Another is calling the inflorescence of a plant in the composite botanical family (Asteraceae) a capitulum, or ‘little [flower] head.’ Even within a plant species one flower head can look rather different from another, both in shape and color, just as human heads can. You see that exemplified here with two Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum) flower heads from Northwest Williamson County Regional Park on May 13th.

  

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In yesterday’s commentary I brought up the terrible May 14th mass murder in Buffalo, New York, in which an 18-year-old white supremacist and anti-Semite killed a bunch of supermarket shoppers, most of whom were targeted because they were black. I pointed out that some people in the media immediately claimed that the shooter was inspired by Republicans and conservatives, as well as conservative television news channel Fox News and in particular one of its commenters, Tucker Carlson. I showed you that, unfortunately for the people making those claims, a long manifesto left by the killer made clear he hated conservatives, and especially a Jewish conservative like Ben Shapiro. Nowhere in the manifesto did the killer mention Tucker Carlson.

In case anyone wants to accuse me of “cherry picking” evidence, let me add now that the killer did believe something that Tucker Carlson believes: the declining birth rate among white Americans, coupled with the American government’s allowing—even encouraging—high illegal immigration into the United States from non-European countries, has resulted in a declining ratio of white Americans. A check of the numbers confirms it. According to a Wikipedia article: “As of the 2020 Census, 61.6%, or 204,277,273 people, were white alone. This represented a national white demographic decline from a 72.4% share of the US’s population (white alone) in 2010.” You may look on the decline favorably, unfavorably, or neutrally, but the decrease in the portion of Americans who are white is real.

Now let me make a point about logic, or the lack of it. Just because two people share a certain belief or preference doesn’t mean they share all beliefs and preferences. I shouldn’t need to point out something so basic, but I feel that I have to, given the way some commenters quickly turned to guilt by association. Yes, the Buffalo killer and Tucker Carlson share a belief about the undesirability of unchecked illegal immigration. That doesn’t make Tucker Carlson in any way responsible for the mass shooting in Buffalo—any more than Senator Bernie Sanders and leftist talk-show host Rachel Maddow were responsible for the 2017 incident in which a man who admired those two public figures fired 60 shots at Republican members of Congress—one of whom almost died—who were playing baseball as practice for a game to raise money for charity.

Similarly, just because the Buffalo killer who disapproves of illegal immigration was a white racist and an anti-Semite doesn’t mean that everyone, or even most people, or even more than a smattering of the people who disapprove of illegal immigration, are white supremacists and anti-Semites. Take me, for example. As I revealed in greater detail in a commentary a year ago, I happen to be Jewish, the son of someone who fled the Soviet Union with his family in the 1920s to escape communism and anti-Semitism. I also happen to be married to someone of a different race who’s an immigrant to the United States from the other side of the world. And yet by the “logic” of some people in the media, because I don’t condone illegal immigration I must be a xenophobic anti-Semitic white supremacist. Crazy, isn’t it?

 

To be continued tomorrow.

 

 

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2022 at 4:33 AM

More from a newly discovered nearby neighborhood park

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A post last week showed you how rain lily flowers (Zephyranthes drummondii) were changing from white to pink and purple as they approached the end of their ephemeral lives in Schroeter Neighborhood Park, which I’d just learned about. Plenty of other native plants were coming up there, like the zexmenia (Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida) in the top picture, and the white larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum) below.

  

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Some ancient theologians asserted the existence of nine kinds of angelic beings:

  • Seraphim
  • Cherubim
  • Thrones
  • Dominions (or Dominations)
  • Virtues
  • Powers
  • Principalities
  • Archangels
  • Angels

Not only can you find out more about each supposed kind of angelic being in the article “9 Types of Angels,” you can also read about the medieval debates that angelologists engaged in to determine how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

Not to be outdone by a paltry nine categories, present-day theologians assert the existence of “as many genders as we say there are.” Here are some of them:

  • Agender
  • Aliagender
  • Androgyne
  • Aporagender
  • Bigender
  • Boi
  • Butch
  • Cisgender
  • Demiboy
  • Demienby
  • Demigirl
  • Demitrans
  • Female
  • Feminine of center
  • Femme
  • Gender expansive
  • Gender fluid
  • Gender outlaw
  • Genderqueer
  • Gendervoid
  • Graygender
  • Intergender
  • Male
  • Masculine of center
  • Maverique
  • Neither
  • Neutrois
  • Nonbinary
  • Novigender
  • Omnigender
  • Pangender
  • Polygender
  • Soft butch
  • Stone butch
  • Third gender
  • Trans
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender
  • Transmasculine
  • Trigender
  • Two spirit

After I gleaned those from various sources, I came across a Dude Asks article with a list of 112 genders as of the year 2022, along with a brief explanation of each. Check them out for your great edification. It occurred to me as a math teacher that each of the 9 types of angelic being could come in each of those 112 genders, so in all there are 9 x 112 = 1008 angelicogendric combinations. In fact the number is really higher than 1008. One reason is that some of the genders in my first list aren’t included in the 112 of the second list and need to be added. Another reason is that most likely at least one new gender will have been gen(d)erated in the week since I prepared this post. Thanks to the advances that modern science has engendered, it’s as hard to keep up with the many recent changes in genders as with the many recent changes in botanical genera.

Despite my best efforts I haven’t yet found an article that tells how many angelicogendric beings can dance on the head of a pin, but I’ll remain agenda-fluid and keep searching for the answer.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

  

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2022 at 4:28 AM

Following up on rain lilies

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For the three days from April 28th through April 30th I photographed first buds and then flowers of the abundant rain lilies (Zephyranthum drummondii) I found in Dominion at Great Hills Park on the far side of my neighborhood. I intended to continue my documentation for a fourth straight day on May 1st, when the flowers would begin to shrivel and turn colors as they approached the end of their short lives. And so I did, but in a different place; the location wouldn’t matter because all the rain lilies in Austin were of the same brood and on average would be in the same stage of development. I went to Schroeter Neighborhood Park, which though a mere two miles from home I’d never heard of till a day earlier, when someone posted pictures showing lots of rain lilies there.

With a different place, a different approach, as today’s two pictures show. In each one I got close enough to a rain lily that everything in the photograph except a portion of the nearest flower would be out of focus, and mostly way out of focus. (I think the yellow-orange flower heads were greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium.)

 

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“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
— George Orwell.

That line was in the preface that Orwell wrote for Animal Farm, but when he finally found a willing publisher for his allegory and it appeared in 1945, the preface wasn’t included. An article in The Quote Investigator tells how the preface then got lost and wasn’t rediscovered until 1971. You can read the preface if you’d like to.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2022 at 3:20 AM

In the pink again

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Having already shown you a colony of pink evening primroses this spring, I’d be remiss in not adding a closeup. Today’s view of an Oenothera speciosa flower dates back to April 14th in southeast Austin. The light coming from in front of me cast shadows of the stigma, stamens, and pollen strands onto the petals. The multi-pointed green member at the lower right is the sheath that used to enclose the flower’s bud.

 United becomes its opposite, untied, if you flip it around.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2022 at 4:30 AM

Doubled

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In northwest Austin on April 16th the flower of a southern dewberry vine (Rubus trivialis) caught my attention for two reasons: it was conspicuously pinker than the white I’m used to seeing, and its petals appeared to be doubled. Dewberry is in the rose family, and I’ve heard of doubled roses, so maybe a doubled dewberry’s not as strange as I think. Or maybe it is.

 

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Mark Twain didn’t say “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.” Two hundred years before Twain’s death in 1910, Jonathan Swift did write that “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect.…” A 2018 article in Science corroborates those two similar thoughts:

Lies spread faster than the truth

There is worldwide concern over false news and the possibility that it can influence political, economic, and social well-being. To understand how false news spreads, Vosoughi et al. used a data set of rumor cascades on Twitter from 2006 to 2017. About 126,000 rumors were spread by ∼3 million people. False news reached more people than the truth; the top 1% of false news cascades diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people, whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people. Falsehood also diffused faster than the truth. The degree of novelty and the emotional reactions of recipients may be responsible for the differences observed.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Pink evening primroses predominate

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In contrast to the almost 500 miles we covered last Wednesday and Friday hunting for wildflowers (and finding plenty), on the morning of April 9th I drove less than two miles from home to the embankment of US 183 in my Great Hills neighborhood to photograph this colony of pink evening primroses (Oenothera speciosa) that I’d been eyeing as we set out on each of our long jaunts days earlier.

 

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As someone who’s long noticed fads in language, I empathize with this passage from David Mamet’s new book Recessional:

What’s in a name? Shaw wrote that any profession which communicates largely in jargon is make-believe. “Wellness” is a neologism, meaning “health.” What was wrong with “health”?

But fashions change. That is the sine qua non of fashions. Derelicts become vagrants, then the homeless. The people are the same, but the social problem has been inverted into a political solution: rename and worship them.

Employees are now referred to as human resources. The folks described are the same, but the difference is semantic, which is to say, in the way they are considered, and, so, treated. What does one do with employees? One pays them. What does one do with resources? One exploits them.

Coca-Cola is just brown bubbly sugar water. It is also the most famous brand in the world. The fool who decided to market “New Coke” is counterbalanced by the marketing genius who promoted a Marxist-anarchist America-hating group as “Black Lives Matter” (a sentiment with which no one would disagree) and used the title to immunize themselves against scrutiny of their operations….

“Wellness” is the New Coke of health, in that it clouds the issue. We realize, except when ill or frightened, that each is in charge of his own health, but “wellness” seems to enlarge the concern to a point where neither its object nor its attainment can be precisely stated. Thus attempts to merchandise “wellness” products and treatments can be infinitely expanded.

See also a concern for that phantasm called social justice, a concept, like “wellness,” of which one can never have enough and so may be sold any amount.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2022 at 4:27 PM

Pink and blue from me to you

with 48 comments

Behold the blossoms of a redbud tree (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) along Williamson County Rd. 110 in Round Rock on March 9th. By then the redbuds in and around Austin had finally begun to flower. Let’s hope that today’s early morning freeze hasn’t done the blossoms in—or if it has, that new ones will soon appear.

 

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Check out a clever video parody from the Babylon Bee called
Brave Great White Shark Allowed To Compete In Women’s 500 Freestyle.” 
 

There’s also this take on an actual occurrence:
Ron DeSantis Bullies Kids Into Doing Whatever They Want.”
 

 And an article in the Babylon Bee on March 7th bore the headline
Biden Sells Alaska Back To Russia So We Can Start Drilling For Oil There Again.”
The strangest thing about it is that USA Today went through the motions of fact-checking it.
The newspaper found that the article was indeed satire, yet still felt the need to add:
“There is no evidence Biden plans to sell Alaska.”
Sometimes reality writes the parodies for you.
 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

  

  

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 12, 2022 at 4:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

A new winecup

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You’ve seen several species of the wildflowers known as winecups here before. On December 8th in Balcones District Park we came across a tall winecup that looked different from the standing winecup I’m used to. Ryan McDaniel from the Texas Flora group identified it as Callirhoe leiocarpa. Today’s two photographs show what a difference the background can make in a portrait; likewise for whether the light transluces, as above, or reflects, as below; also whether you look at a flower from the back or from the front.

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Political correctness didn’t decline and fall. It went underground and then rose again. If anything, it’s stronger than ever today. Yet some influential figures on the left still downplay the problem, going so far as to pretend that the increase in even tenured professors being fired for off-limits speech is a sign of a healthy campus. And this unwillingness to recognize a serious problem in academia has helped embolden culture warriors on the right, who have launched their own attacks on free speech and viewpoint diversity in the American education system.

We’ve fully entered the Second Great Age of Political Correctness. If we are to find a way out, we must understand how we got here and admit the true depths of the problem.

That’s an excerpt from Greg Lukianoff’s new article in Reason magazine. The article’s title is “The Second Great Age of Political Correctness” and its blurb is “The P.C. culture of the ’80s and ’90s didn’t decline and fall. It just went underground. Now it’s back.” And look at these figures from the article:

…[V]iewpoint diversity among professors [has] plummeted. In 1996, the ratio of self-identified liberal faculty to self-identified conservative faculty was 2-to-1; by 2011, the ratio was 5-to-1, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

More recent statistics paint a starker picture. A 2019 study by the National Association of Scholars on the political registration of professors at the two highest-ranked public and private universities in each state found that registered Democrat faculty outnumbered registered Republican faculty about 9-to-1. In the Northeast, the ratio was about 15-to-1.

In the most evenly split discipline, economics, Democrats outnumber Republicans “only” 3-to-1. The second most even discipline, mathematics, has a ratio of about 6-to-1. Compare this to English and sociology, where the ratios are about 27-to-1. In anthropology, it’s a staggering 42-to-1.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2021 at 4:32 AM

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