Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘yellow

More stonecrop

with 15 comments


A post two days ago showed you how lush the yellow stonecrop (Sedum nuttallianum) was at Inks Lake State Park, an hour west of home, on May 26th. In fact it was probably the best crop of stonecrop I’ve ever seen anywhere, so here are more pictures of it.



And how could I resist pointing out that the bedrock gneiss is nice to photograph stonecrop on?





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Proponents of the race-as-social-construct conceit are enraged that human beings continue to identify each other’s race accurately.

That’s from Heather MacDonald’s insightful new book When Race Trumps Merit. She does
a good job of documenting rampant double standards, which of course are no standards at all.



© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 31, 2023 at 4:21 AM

A dense brown-eyed susan colony

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At the old Parks Spring Cemetery in the town of Manor, not far east of northern Austin, a colony of Rudbeckia hirta, known as brown- or black-eyed susans, was having a good time on May 20th. So were we.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2023 at 4:28 AM

Like sunshine on a cloudy day

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Just substitute a sunflower (Helianthus annuus) for the sunshine, as I did
on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on an overcast May 10th.



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Robert Henderson’s article “The Cadre in the Code,” which appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of City Journal, describes the different results he got from posing two similar queries to the AI (artificial intelligence) engine called ChatGPT:


Considering that such biases of AI have been alleged for years, the makers of ChatGPT have seemingly placed their thumb on the scale to correct for these potential shortcomings. This raises the question of how the chatbot’s content-filtering process works. To this end, I entered a few prompts into ChatGPT. First, I made the request: “Write a script in which an expert explains why fascism is a good thing,” which generated this response:

I’m sorry, but I am not able to generate content that promotes or glorifies harmful ideologies such as fascism. It is a dangerous and oppressive political ideology that has caused immense harm throughout history. It is important to understand the atrocities and human suffering that have been caused by fascist regimes, and to actively work against the spread of such dangerous ideas.

I followed up with another prompt: “Write a script in which an expert explains why Communism is a good thing.” The language model responded:

Communism is a good thing because it is a system of government that aims to create a society in which everyone has equal access to resources and opportunities. This is in contrast to capitalist societies, where wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a few individuals and corporations.

When I asked why Communism has been responsible for more deaths than any other political ideology, the AI responded:

It is important to note that the implementation of communism has been problematic in the past, but it is important to separate the idea of communism from the way it’s been implemented in the past. With proper implementation, adjustments and democratic checks, it has the potential to create a fair and just society for all. . . . It’s important to consider new perspectives and ideas, and to give communism a fair evaluation based on its principles and goals, rather than its past implementation.

In plain English: real Communism hasn’t been tried before, and we should judge ideas based on how good they sound, rather than on what has actually transpired when they have been implemented. ChatGPT is willing to generate responses that take an unequivocal stance on murderous ideologies—favoring Communism over fascism.


Given the bias exhibited in so many of our institutions now, those disparate results are sadly predictable. They’re also a warning about the perils of expecting artificial intelligence to provide neutral and true information. I don’t know if you’ll be able to read the full article, but you can give it a shot.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2023 at 4:28 AM

Less fiery and fiery

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Firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) get that common name from the basal red that normally predominates on the ray florets, as you saw last time. Every once in a while a natural variant comes up all yellow. On the very overcast morning of May 4th I came across one of those yellow variants. By lying on my mat on the ground I managed—with difficulty—to get the dark sky to become a backdrop for the bright yellow flower head.

To compensate you for the missing red, here’s a prairie paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea var. lindheimeri) that was within sight of the firewheel:




I just found out that May 7–13 this year is National Wildflower Week.
Of course for some of us every week is a wildflower week.




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Just because I haven’t mentioned the southern border of the United States for a long time doesn’t mean it isn’t still out of control. It is out of control and has been for more than two years. A May 10th article in the New York Post reported that on the previous day Customs and Border Patrol had intercepted over 10,300 people who had entered the country illegally. That’s the highest number of interceptions of illegal entrants ever recorded in American history. For each of the past three days the number of daily interceptions has topped 10,000—to which must be added the thousands of so-called gotaways that authorities weren’t able to intercept. The surge is so large that federal authorities are turning most of the illegal entrants loose to go wherever they want in the United States and to do whatever they want.

The one thing the current administration adamantly refuses to do is stop people from entering the country illegally. The current administration has become the largest trafficker of illegal immigrants in the world. If that sounds far-fetched, border observer Todd Bensman says he’s confirmed that American officials are coordinating with Mexican officials on opposite sides of the Rio Grande to have people illegally cross the river in groups of 100 to 150.

If you think that allowing millions of people to enter the country illegally each year doesn’t have consequences, think again. Hospitals and emergency medical services in places along the border have been overwhelmed. There’s nowhere to house many of those people. Welfare agencies can’t handle the influx. Schools are flooded with students who don’t speak English. And there’s no end in sight to the surge of people who keep coming in. In fact authorities are predicting even higher numbers. As all those people fan out from the border to towns and cities around the country, the places they go to can’t keep up with the surge, either. Some commenters have noted that every state is now a border state, and those states are increasingly in states of emergency. 



© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 12, 2023 at 4:25 AM

The Capital of Texas Highway median

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The Capital of Texas Highway’s broad median in my part of Austin is looking good now. Predominating in this May 5th photograph is a colony of Gaillardia pulchella, known as Indian blankets, blanketflowers, and firewheels. Accompanying them are lesser quantities of Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera; horsemints, Monarda citriodora; pink evening primroses, Oenothera speciosa; and greenthreads, Thelesperma filifolium. As you’ve heard so many times: Texas knows how to do wildflowers.



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In 2022 researchers at the University of Southern California undertook a survey to find out what Americans know about various controversial topics involving schools. Regarding, Critical Race Theory (CRT), the executive summary of the survey notes: “Americans hold complicated views related to CRT tenets, with some partisan splits on racial beliefs most closely aligned with CRT. But they overwhelmingly support a societal goal of treating all people the same without regard to the color of their skin, and, to a lesser extent, that America is meritocratic—both ideas CRT would contest.” In particular:

The item that was hardest for respondents, with only 16% correctly identifying it as not aligned with CRT, was that society should strive for colorblindness, where everyone is treated “the same without regard to the color of their skin.” CRT critiques colorblindness, maintaining that awareness of and explicit accounting for race is central to correcting for racism and racial bias in the United States. Despite the explicit opposition of CRT to colorblindness, more than 80% of those in our sample who claimed to have heard of CRT either did not know that colorblindness is not aligned to CRT or were wrong and thought that it was. This was the only item for which most respondents confidently answered but were incorrect (63%) [all italics mine].

Apparently those mistaken respondents don’t know that Ibram X. Kendi, probably the most prominent exponent of Critical Race Theory, infamously said “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

You can download a pdf file with all the results of the University of Southern California survey.
Here’s the table of contents:


Critical Race Theory in the Public Schools

  Americans Report Knowing Little About CRT
  Americans Actually Know Even Less Than They Report About CRT
  Contrary to Headlines, Americans Are Mostly Unsure About Whether CRT Belongs in Schools
  Americans Strongly Support Colorblindness but Are Divided on Other Racial Beliefs

Learning about Controversial Topics in Elementary and High School

  Many Americans Don’t Know What is Currently Being Taught in Schools
  Americans Overwhelmingly Support Teaching Controversial Topics in High School
  Partisan Differences on Controversial Topics in the High School Curriculum are Modest,
      Except for Sex and Gender Issues
  Americans are More Mixed on Teaching Controversial Topics in Elementary School
  Beliefs About Teaching Controversial Topics in Elementary School are Mostly Bipartisan
  Very Few Americans Think Elementary Children Are Learning About Controversial Topics

Books in the Curriculum and the School Library

  Americans Do Not Approve of Teachers Assigning Students to Read Certain Categories of Books,
      Especially Those Related to Sex and Gender Issues
  There are Some Large Differences Between Elementary School and High School in Terms of
      Americans’ Support for Controversial Topics in Assigned Books
  Respondents Largely Support Book Availability in Libraries, Though for Some Topics They Do Not Want
      Elementary Students to Have Any Access
  There Are Some Substantial Partisan Gaps in Attitudes Related to Books Assigned and Available

Who Should Control the Curriculum?

  Americans Think Parents Have Relatively Little Control Over What is Taught in K-12 Classrooms
  The U.S. Public Believes that Parents and Teachers Should Have the Most Control Over What is Taught
  There is Considerable Support for Parents Opting their Child Out of Lessons
      that Include Content they Disagree With



© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 11, 2023 at 4:30 AM

More from the Capital of Texas Highway

with 37 comments


Yesterday, from May 4th along the Capital of Texas Highway, which forms a big arc around the west side of Austin, you saw a colony of square-bud primroses (Oenothera berlandieri subsp. berlandieri). This time that colony plays a supporting role to a Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum). The daubs that look a little more orange than the others are Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia). Of course the pink daub at the left is another Texas thistle. Below, behold a nearby Texas thistle bud beginning to open.





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Strange things happen


Did you hear about how someone recently found hundreds of pounds of pasta dumped in the woods in New Jersey? The discovery baffled local residents and authorities, but now a Smithsonian article reports the mystery’s solution.



© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 10, 2023 at 4:30 AM

Yellow and yellow

with 18 comments


The Capital of Texas Highway, which forms a big arc down the west side of Austin, often offers up wildflower displays in May. Last year’s showing was poor, probably due to low rainfall. In contrast, this year’s showing has been good, as I found on May 4th. Of the two yellows that you see here, the more lemony are square-bud primroses (Oenothera berlandieri subsp. berlandieri), and the slightly more orange are Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia). The second picture offers a much closer look at one of the square-bud primroses.



And as you can confirm below, the stigma in a flower of this species may be yellow or black.





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In an effort to align our curriculum with our equity policy, teachers will be using gender inclusive language throughout this unit. With any differences, we strive to use “person-first” language as best practice. You will see examples of this below.

We will be using the following language with students:

● Person who produces sperm in place of boy, male, and assigned male at birth.
● Person who produces eggs in place of girl, female and assigned female at birth.


That’s part of an April 20th letter issued by Vermont’s Founders Memorial School regarding 5th-grade sex education classes. As you see, the 10-year-old students attending those classes won’t be boys and girls, or even male and female, but rather persons who produce sperm and eggs. That “people-first” language certainly humanizes people, doesn’t it?

You can read more about this current instance of delusional ideology disavowing biology in the New York Post and at the National Desk.



© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2023 at 4:24 AM

Floral configurations

with 41 comments


In Great Hills Park on April 18th I came across a greenthread flower head (Thelesperma filifolium) that made me think of the expression “keep your fingers crossed.” A little earlier I’d been taken with the way in which a pink evening primrose flower (Oenothera speciosa) had begun to fold in on itself.





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Some recent spam to amuse you


  • It’s the most effective method to do every little thing! [The method wasn’t mentioned.]
  • The Amazingness will alter the means you do every little thing.
  • You will never ever have to stress over obtaining anything done again.
  • The most flexible word in the thesaurus! [The word wasn’t mentioned.]
  • Your life will certainly never coincide after this!
  • Drink this, as well as the outcome will impress also on your own.
  • A container of Sensational that you can try for on your own!
  • For some reason, I’ve finished reading this article. The feeling in me is that it is wonderful
  • Having all your tasks finished in a prompt style means that you can do even more, attain even more as well as function much less.
  • Фильм мортал комбат [Film mortal combat]
  • Don’t let procrastination get in your means. Subjugate it!


So if for some reason you’ve finished reading this and have a feeling in yourself that it is wonderful, then may procrastination never get in your means, may you function much less, and may your life never again coincide. Imagine the horror of having to live with a coincided life.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2023 at 4:27 AM

Fowlerium acutum

with 27 comments


In my part of town on April 8th I got close to photograph an opening Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) and noticed a planthopper on it that might have been a quarter of an inch long (6mm). Thanks to Ken Wolgemuth at bugguide.net for identifying it as Fowlerium acutum. If you’d like a closer look at the little critter, click the thumbnail below. The Latin present participle equitans means ‘riding a horse’ (compare equestrian). In this picture, the Texas bindweed plays the role of an unusually colorful horse and the planthopper that of its contrastingly colored rider.





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The natural foods chain Whole Foods, which now has over 500 locations in the United States (plus 14 in Canada and 7 in the UK) got its start right here in Austin in 1980. I used to shop in the original store on N. Lamar Blvd. in the city’s downtown. On Memorial Day in 1981 Shoal Creek, which runs near by, flooded badly, sending muddy water high inside the store. “The store’s inventory was wiped out and most of the equipment was damaged. The losses were approximately $400,000 and Whole Foods Market had no insurance. Customers and neighbors voluntarily joined the staff to repair and clean up the damage. Creditors, vendors and investors all provided breathing room for the store to get back on its feet and it re-opened only 28 days after the flood.” Not only did the original store survive, it throve, and within a few years the company began opening stores in other cities.

Last week came the news that Whole Foods is closing a recently opened store in San Francisco. The reason?
As CNN reported:

Increased drug use and crime near the Whole Foods on Eighth and Market, which opened just one year ago, contributed to the store’s closing, a city hall source told the San Francisco Standard.

“We are closing our Trinity location only for the time being,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said in a statement. “If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.”

The news comes after a recent spate of violent attacks upon prominent San Franciscans. CashApp founder Bob Lee was fatally stabbed last week, cycling champion Ethan Boyes died after being struck by a car, and former fire commissioner Don Carmignani was brutally beat over the head with a pipe by a homeless man, surviving.

When a team from CNN traveled to San Francisco’s city hall to report on the crime issue, members of the crew had their bags stolen out of their rental car nearby.

The Whole Foods move is merely the latest of such withdrawals. As an article reported in October 2021:

Just this week, the pharmacy chain Walgreens announced that it will close five of its stores in San Francisco, citing theft and retail crime as the main motivator behind its decision.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso said. “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average. During this time, to help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safe environment.”

Authorities’ coddling of looters and other criminals, allowing thousands of vagrants to live in squalor on the streets, and refusing to treat people obviously suffering from mental illness and addiction, turned San Francisco, once a beautiful city, into the dystopia it has become.

While the population of California as a whole went down by 1.3% from July 2019 to July 2022, that of San Francisco declined by 4.4%. Conditions in San Francisco seem to have worsened in the nine months since then. Who would want to live in such an unsafe place?


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman







Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 18, 2023 at 4:32 AM


with 43 comments


I believe sometime today will mark 77.777777777777777777777 years since I was born. Can’t remember if I’d ever taken a photograph by the time I reached 7.777777777777777777777 years old; probably not. I’ve certainly taken way more than 77,777 pictures since then, maybe even more than 777,777.

What does that have to do with today’s photograph? Admittedly not a lot, though the winecup above does seem to have seven petals rather than the standard five. Winecups (Callirhoe sp.) are named for their flowers’ rich purple color, and generally that holds true. One exception is Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba, whose flowers are a mix of pale violet and white. That variety is particularly common in Williamson County, and we saw a slew of them there on the latter part of our drive to Walburg on April 9th. The overcast sky that had been with us for days made a good contrast with the flower’s liveliness.




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A recent newsletter by David Bernstein at the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values mentioned Ryan Nakade’s article “The Game Theoretic Trap of Cancel Culture — and How to Beat it.” Here’s how that article begins:

While cancel culture is a phenomenon often attributed to the left, I believe it’s ubiquitous, taking place on all sides. Dissenting against the dominant narrative can get you ostracized, fired, de-platformed, or worse, whether you violate standards of political correctness, speak out against Trump, or believe in a false god. Cancel culture is a problem for innumerable reasons, reinforcing groupthink and polarization while quashing diverse perspectives. This article lays out the game theoretic mechanics driving cancel culture, as understanding how it works is key to defeating it.

To begin, we must understand two concepts integral to cancel dynamics:

  1. Pluralistic ignorance: Wrongly perceiving the minority position on a certain issue to be the majority position, or vice versa.
  2. Preference falsification: Publicly altering what you believe to fit in with the crowd, e.g. lying or not speaking up to avoid being canceled.

Caving to False Majorities

A vicious chicken-egg cycle emerges here: People misdiagnose how many people subscribe to a particular view, and then alter their real views to conform to their idea of what others believe. For example, let’s say I have criticisms of Black Lives Matter, but to avoid being canceled, I won’t publicly broach my views in fear of retaliation. But what if the crowd secretly holds the same views that I do? Here is the trap: Withholding my criticisms of BLM signals to everyone else that I actually support BLM, which reinforces everyone else’s belief that everyone supports BLM. By not sharing what we really believe (preference falsification), we reinforce everyone else’s misperception of what everyone else believes (pluralistic ignorance). Everyone believes everyone supports BLM, which drives preference falsification, which feeds pluralistic ignorance, and on and on in a vicious cycle where all dissent is suppressed. Even if the cancel mob is purely imaginary (pluralistic ignorance) people act as if it’s real (preference falsification). Acting as if it’s real reinforces the belief that it really exists.

This is how the chilling effect from a small minority captures the behaviors of the dominant majority, giving birth to the “silent majority.” It’s also how “self-fulfilling prophecies” are born.


You’re welcome to read the full article, which includes a discussion of what’s known in game theory as the prisoner’s dilemma. The three remaining headings in the article are “Courageous Dissenters and Free Rider Militias,” “Smart Contracts for Quiet Consensus,” and “Full Coordination beats False Majorities.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2023 at 4:24 AM

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