Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Washington County

A good time for Nueces coreopsis

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After we visited both parts of Lake Somerville State Park on April 6th, we continued clockwise around the lake. On LBJ Dr. across from Overlook Park Rd. in Washington County we found this happy colony of Nueces coreopsis, Coreopsis nuecensis. (Click to enlarge.) The erect white-topped plants in the background were old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus. Below is a closer view of one in Round Rock on April 2nd.


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There’s been a lot of hoopla since U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled on April 18 that a public mask mandate in mass transit (planes, trains, etc.) is unlawful.

Some critics of the ruling complained that a single judge had overturned all the medical science established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact the judge did no such thing. Nowhere in her 60-page decision did she rule “on the merits” of the issue. She did not decide—and never claimed to have the requisite expertise to decide—whether wearing masks in public transit vehicles is an effective way to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but that’s not what the ruling dealt with.

What the judge did rule on was the legality of the CDC issuing its mass transit mandate. “Judge Mizelle said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had exceeded its authority with the mandate, had not sought public comment and did not adequately explain its decisions.”

Another illogical reaction to the decision came from people who interpreted the end of a requirement to wear masks in mass transit as meaning that nobody would be allowed to wear masks in public transit. The judge’s ruling, of course, did not prevent anyone wanting to wear a mask from doing so—or even wearing double or triple masks, goggles, a face shield, and earphones if they want to.

Yet another unfounded accusation was of the ad hominem*—or in this case ad mulierem*—type. Some people complained that Judge Mizelle is only 35 years old. Age has nothing to do with the validity of a legal argument. Some people complained that Judge Mizelle had never tried a single case in court. True, but then neither had Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, whom the critics of Judge Mizelle presumably support and whom they no doubt did not criticize on those grounds. In any case, that’s irrelevant to the facts and legal principles adduced in the current decision.

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* The Latin phrase ad hominem means ‘against the man.’ We use that phrase when a person criticizes some personal trait of an opponent rather than dealing with the opponent’s arguments. The Latin word homo, of which hominem is one grammatical form, meant not only ‘man’ in a biological sense but also generically ‘human being.’ For anyone who objects to the use of a male form as a generic, I’ve turned to the Latin word mulier, ‘woman,’ to create the indisputably female phrase ad mulierem.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2022 at 4:32 PM

Philadelphia flees to Brenham

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Eleven days ago you saw a great field filled with mixed colonies of Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) and butterweed (Packera tampicana) in Brenham. From that same April 8th session, here’s a Philadelphia fleabane plant (Erigeron philadelphicus) that was as happy as I was to be in such good company.


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If you’re like me, you’ve heard of Atlantis, a land described by the ancient Greeks that supposedly sank beneath the ocean. It became the stuff of legend down through the ages, with some people positing its location in the similarly named Atlantic Ocean, while others favor a location in the eastern Mediterranean.

If you’re like me—or at least like me until last week—you’ve never heard of Doggerland, a region that likewise sank beneath the ocean. The difference is that Doggerland, despite its seemingly outlandish name, was real. It existed during and after the last ice age in a large area that eventually sank beneath the North Sea but used to connect what is now Britain with what are now France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.

Over the past century, more and more Doggerland artifacts have been pulled from beneath the North Sea, so archaeologists are slowly learning about the Mesolithic civilization(s) that existed there. You can find out a lot more in Jason Urbanus’s article “Letter from Doggerland.”

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2022 at 3:40 PM

Motley colors

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On April 6th south of Somerville in Washington County we found this great mix of Nueces coreopsis (Coreopsis nuecensis), Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa), bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), and phlox (Phlox sp.). As you’ve heard me say many times: Texas knows how to do wildflowers.

© 202 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 12, 2022 at 4:11 PM

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