Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘vines

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

Still more from Colorado Bend State Park

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Colorado Bend State Park really does border a bend of the Colorado River in central Texas. Above, from our February 9th visit, you see a dense tangle of vines, including mustang grape (Vitis mustangensis), on the river bank. Within sight of the river we found an ancient black willow tree (Salix nigra) with the twistiest bark I’ve ever seen on one.


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One of the most astounding conclusions of some postmodernists is that all of reality is socially constructed. They have even taken issue with the conclusions of Newton and Einstein, on the basis that the privilege of those scientists is obvious in their equations and, as old white guys, their biases inherently prevented them from knowing anything real of the world. People of particular phenotypes, this ironically biologically deterministic and regressive worldview argues, can’t possibly have access to truth.

How do you come to be this confused, to believe that all reality is socially constructed? Have little experience in the real world. No carpenter or electrician could believe that all of reality is socially constructed. No forklift operator or sailor could. Nor, we would’ve thought, could any athlete. There are physical ramifications of physical actions, and everyone operating in the physical world knows this.

If you have not thrown or caught many balls, or used hand tools, or laid tile, or driven stick shift—in short, if you have a little or no experience with the effects of your actions in the physical world, and therefore have not had occasion to see the reactions they produce, then you will be more prone to believing in a wholly subjective universe, in which every opinion is equally valid.

Every opinion is not equally valid, and some outcomes don’t change just because you want them to. Social outcomes may change if you argue or throw a fit. Physical outcomes will not.


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 1, 2022 at 4:33 AM

Two takes on greenbrier

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From December 12th in Great Hills Park the top picture shows the backlit leaf of a greenbrier vine (Smilax bona-nox) with a small insect on it. And from January 17th at Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Belton, look at the still-green leaves on the otherwise dry and impenetrable tangle this species often forms when it hangs from trees it has climbed. (At least one other kind of vine is mixed in.)

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No matter how effectively a false belief flaunts the believer’s mental prowess or loyalty to the tribe, it’s still false, and should be punished by the cold, hard facts of the world. As the novelist Philip K. Dick wrote, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

So much of our reasoning seems tailored to winning arguments that some cognitive scientists, like Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, believe it is the adaptive function of reasoning. We evolved not as intuitive scientists but as intuitive lawyers.

Steven Pinker, Rationality, 2021

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair, 1934. Quote Investigator traces earlier incarnations of the thought.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 3, 2022 at 4:34 AM

Rattan and mustang grape vines interacting

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The falling off of leaves as cold weather comes makes it easier to see the two most common large and woody native vines in Austin: rattan (Berchemia scandens) and mustang grape (Vitis mustangensis). The dull green vines are rattan; the thicker ones with bark are mustang grape. These pictures from Great Hills Park were doubly new: it was the first day of the year, and I was trying out my Canon EOS R5 camera.

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I found the New York Post article “Five college students speak out: We’re fed up with campus ‘wokeness‘” enlightening. One of the students, Aryaan Misra, from India, said: “Progressives back home [which she considered herself] fight for women to have fundamental rights, while progressives on my campus [in the United States] hang pictures of Mao in their dorm room.” She continued: “Another time, my professor taught the class how to find what ‘triggers’ them. Growing up on the streets of Delhi, there are triggers everywhere you look — so-called ‘microaggressions’ are nothing compared to animal carcasses on the streets and malnourished children begging at every red light. I don’t know how my peers who treat every minor insult as a microaggression will survive outside the gates of their liberal campus.” Alas, her fellow students are surviving by trying to force everyone outside the gates of their illiberal campus to submit to their dictates.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Effects of rain

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On June 24th, after we’d had rain, I went down to Great Hills Park. Here are some effects of that rain.

Texas lantana flowers, Lantana urticoides

Wet rattan vine, Berchemia scandens

Petal of a white prickly poppy, Argemone albiflora, on horsemint, Monarda citriodora

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Creek views from Great Hills Park on January 24th

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Southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris, greened up a panel of creekside wall.

Mustang grape vines, Vitis mustangensis, hung near the shallow waterfall at what’s called the fish pool.

In the southern part of the park a whale of a gravel bar in the main creek conjured up Moby Dick.

After I walked to the gravel bar and looked back, these reflections waved my way.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2019 at 4:37 AM

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