A boy and his cow #2

Now where did we leave off?  Ah yes …

Keigan leading Bella into the arena (20120818_02859)

As Keigan led Bella toward the arena and their first joint showing, I was reminded of something his mother Denise said: “Give a boy a truck, a job and cow, and he thinks he knows everything.”  Facing the daunting task of participating in a livestock competition for the first time with a calf who has as much an excessive personality as he does, Keigan nevertheless continued denying that he suffered anxiety, that he felt nervous about the show, that he was at all worried.

Oh but we knew better.

Denise, Keigan's mother, standing watch over Bella (20120818_02874)

With Bella secured inside the large structure and Keigan and his father Kurt wandering off to get a better sense of when they would enter the ring, I stood watching Denise as she kept an eye on the cow, the goings on around her, the crush of people and animals, and I realized I was the true third-party observer.  My friendship with them notwithstanding, perhaps it was I who had the least invested in the day’s activities, and therefore it was I who could see that Keigan and Bella weren’t the only two suffering from stress and concern.

Competitors and their animals waiting outside the show ring; Kurt, Keigan's father, is standing near the ring fence right of center (20120818_02910)

Before them surged and flowed a veritable flood, wave after wave of people and animals crashing through the cacophony of judges’ voices pouring from the speakers.  This they faced together as a family.  And within each of them I could see the worms of fear and doubt squirming.

Keigan preparing to brush Bella (20120818_02934)

When from the crowd Keigan came sauntering, his carefree gait belied the apprehension in his eyes, on his face.  Busying himself, he brushed Bella, soothed her frayed nerves, gave her comfort in the familiar despite the unfamiliar surrounding her.  And perchance it was not just the cow who took succor from the interaction, but likewise the boy suckled at the teat of the wonted, of the preferred and comfortable, taking strength from the sweet taste of the known with hope it would wash away the sour sting of the unknown.

But his class and category would not show for some time, hence minutiae could provide only temporary relief from the incessant worms, always wriggling and writhing, always busy unmaking whatever ease the boy and his cow built.  So brushing and bonding transformed into busywork.  And busywork occupies the hands but not the mind, oftentimes churning the fecund soil wherein fear and doubt grow, consequently Denise and Kurt suggested Keigan spend time observing the show, learning from it, taking from it whatever experience his eyes and ears could gain.  For he and Bella faced this together for the first time, something the boy had never experienced and something the cow had never experienced with the boy.

Keigan and Denise watching the competition (20120818_02994)

Yet Keigan was not the only one who needed to observe.  With him stood his parents, and in the guise of scrutiny the worms of fear and doubt grew, apparent in each face, in their eyes, in their collective study of what soon would come.  Livestock shows are as much style as they are substance, as much rigid rules and pedantic procedures as they are idiosyncratic impressions and fussy fancies.

A young girl putting her heifer into a show stance during competition (20120818_02997)

Before them the ring filled and emptied, filled and emptied, each iteration bringing with it a bombardment of new impressions that laid waste the assumptions carried.  Most disconcerting perhaps was this realization: the mechanics of showing and the animals shown represented but a part of what the judges considered, for assessed as closely were the human contestants, their dress, their mannerisms, how they treated their animals, how they carried themselves.  Yes, Keigan and his family learned quickly that nice clothes and a clean shave would not a winner make, though they would play a part.  And more to the point, they realized the worms of fear and doubt had to be faced, had to be subdued, otherwise they would serve only to draw attention to those very human flaws which must remain hidden, obscured by determination and skill and intent.

Competitors leading their animals around the show ring during competition (20120818_03025)

Each successive class and each successive judging brought home the truth of what they faced and how they must face it, both the family as one and the boy and his cow together.  What they gleaned from their collective observation must provide Keigan the wisdom to show well, the knowledge to lead Bella and help her show well, the ability to face observers, judges and contestants with perseverance and purpose, for to do otherwise would be to fail before entering the ring.  Entering the ring for the first time, that is, because to win a class means only to move on to the next showing—best of show for their breed.

Keigan, Kurt and Denise observing the ongoing competition (20120818_03038)

Keigan, Kurt and Denise watched, unaware that they too were watched even as they focused on what happened before them and what that meant for what lay before them.  Their attention keen and directed, for the first time I saw the unconscious struggle within them, the worms of fear and doubt fighting against determination and resolve.  And for the first time, I saw the promise of victory in each of them, a hint of potential to overcome the incessant battle raging inside.  Yes, for the first time I saw tangible hope: We can do this, it said.  We can face this and we can accomplish something.

Keigan closely watching the competition (20120818_03047)

Oh how they twisted and turned then, those worms of fear and doubt, since hope is their archenemy.  In Keigan’s unflagging inspection I could see uncertainty as easily as I could see fortitude.  The struggle continued, but soon the battle would reach its zenith: their first showing, their first judging.

And that time was approaching faster than they realized.

— — — — — — — — — —


  1. Keigan leading Bella into the arena
  2. Denise, Keigan’s mother, standing watch over Bella
  3. Competitors and their animals waiting outside the show ring; Kurt, Keigan’s father, is standing near the ring fence right of center
  4. Keigan preparing to brush Bella
  5. Keigan and Denise watching the competition
  6. A young girl putting her heifer into a show stance during competition
  7. Competitors leading their animals around the show ring during competition
  8. Keigan, Kurt and Denise observing the ongoing competition
  9. Keigan closely watching the competition

Pinterest equals copyright infringement

I’m tired of social networks.  It’s impossible to keep up with them, and I feel no compunction to stay abreast of the latest fad.  But in the case of Pinterest, I noticed it and ignored it—at least until I realized it represents wholesale theft of intellectual property.  Worse still, it’s my intellectual property that helped me realize this truth.  Here’s the proof.

On August 3, 2009, I posted this photo:


Then on January 4, 2011, I posted it again while announcing that the photo (along with others) had been licensed in July 2010 to the Lyonia Environmental Center in Florida.  That post included these photos showing how the image was used on interpretive signs:

So imagine my surprise when I discovered Pinterest had copied the photo in its entirety for display on their site (see this pin), clearly stolen in violation of my rights and the existing licensee.  That copyright infringement occurred in September 2012.

Now let’s be clear about this: Pinterest’s Terms of Service state its users “therefore agree not to post any User Content that violates any law or infringes the rights of any third party.”  But in order to make that work, they need to enforce those terms.  Which they don’t.  Obviously.

More insulting and even more criminal is this, also from their ToS:

You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products. Nothing in these Terms shall restrict other legal rights Pinterest may have to User Content, for example under other licenses.

Thus by promoting and participating in copyright infringement, Pinterest lays claim to the intellectual property of others such that they can make money with it if they so choose, all of which is based on assuming its users have the rights they are transferring to Pinterest when they post content.  That is, when they post someone else’s content, which represents the vast majority of the images shown on the site.

So by stealing my work—work already licensed to a third party, by the way—Pinterest claims for itself whatever rights it needs to monetize my property whilst infringing my copyright and violating my ownership rights and the license rights of the Lyonia Environmental Center.

But there’s more.  Also from their ToS:

Following termination or deactivation of your account, or if you remove any User Content from Pinterest, we may retain your User Content for a commercially reasonable period of time for backup, archival, or audit purposes. Furthermore, Pinterest and its users may retain and continue to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute any of your User Content that other users have stored or shared through Pinterest.

To wit, Pinterest not only copies third-party content to their servers without consent or license, but they lay claim to perpetual ownership following that process.  Even if the user deletes the original infringing image, Pinterest will keep a copy and do with it as they please.

All the while, they wash their hands of responsibility by laying the law on their users:

Pinterest respects the rights of third party creators and content owners, and expects you to do the same. You therefore agree not to post any User Content that violates any law or infringes the rights of any third party.

To add insult to injury, they then make the users scapegoats:


Pinterest takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any User Content that you or any other user or third party posts or transmits using our Products.

This means Pinterest unlawfully copies intellectual property from others, claims full rights to it so they can make money on it if they choose, refuses to delete it even when the user removes it, and all the while they use their users as human shields against any application of the law.  How repulsive!  And illegal!

After hours of research last night, I know many will immediately come to the company’s defense by claiming they fall under the Fair Use Doctrine of copyright.  To that I say this: Bullshit!

Fair Use has strict requirements which Pinterest fails to meet.

(1) They have already claimed commercial rights over the images posted.  Likewise, they do not enforce non-commercial use on their users since they do not enforce their Terms of Service on their users.  Therefore they are already competing with the intellectual property owner.

In addition, copying the photos and displaying them in their original size with no critical, parodic or other meaningful and substantive purpose means their use is not transformative.  A thumbnail linking back to the original would meet that definition, but they do not create thumbnails and photos lose their original source information the moment someone else re-pins it.  Similarly, Pinterest includes code to embed the image elsewhere on the internet, further diluting the original owner’s rights and control, and certainly further removing the work from its original source.

(2) The copyright work, at least in the case of photos, is creative rather than factual.  In addition—noted in this case specifically—the work is not only copyrighted, it’s already licensed by me to a third party, and that third party has already used the work accordingly.  Both their work and mine are protected by copyright, yet Pinterest has blatantly violated both.

(3) Since Pinterest copies images and displays them in their entirety and in a size that negates the need to “click through” to the original source, they cannot claim the same fair use right that Google and Yahoo and Bing have when displaying thumbnails in image searches.  Those small representations make clicking through necessary to see the original work.  Pinterest’s use does not.

(4) The effect of their use clearly dilutes the copyright owner’s original work.  Additionally in this case, it dilutes the use of the licensee who has legal rights to use the photo.  More disconcerting, those looking for such an image could easily be directed to Pinterest rather than to my site where the original exists (this is true because Pinterest gets more traffic and a popular photo on their platform would have higher visibility).

Obviously Pinterest fails the “Fair Use Doctrine” test.  No matter how one construes their use of images, they steal intellectual property and infringe on copyrights with no legal protection from creators like me.  (That is to say, they’re protected from their users by the ToS et al. on their site, but those documents are meaningless in my case since I have no account and have not agreed to those terms, not to mention I didn’t post my content to their service.)

Pinterest is the new Napster, the latest internet platform to promote and participate in and profit from wholesale copyright infringement.  Without massive changes, including vast enforcement of its own Terms of Service, Pinterest is a digital criminal.

Yes, Pinterest equals copyright infringement.  And apparently, despite what some say, crime pays, at least for them.  At least for now.

But the lawsuits are coming, of that I’m sure.  If they don’t quickly take action on my DMCA claim for the photo in this post, I’ll be the first to take them to court.

Hear that, Pinterest?  Consider this your only notice.

A rose by any other name

In mid April I watched a black swallowtail (a.k.a. eastern black swallowtail, American swallowtail or parsnip swallowtail; Papilio polyxenes) as it flitted through a clearing laden with white vervain (Verbena urticifolia).

A black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) feeding on white vervain (Verbena urticifolia) flowers (IMG_1382)

Not once did I get close to the butterfly, snapping photos for several minutes from some distance away, but even my remote view made clear the insect rather enjoyed the verbena flowers.

A black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) feeding on white vervain (Verbena urticifolia) flowers (IMG_1376)

By early May I noticed a similar plant flowering near the house, one easily viewed from the door, and all about this shorter plant—weather permitting of course—dozens of butterflies billowed and churned, dashing here and flying there, each vying for a position upon this rather ordinary looking plant, something most would consider a weed.

A variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) flowers (IMG_1929)

Variegated fritillaries (a.k.a. hortensia; Euptoieta claudia) abounded, as did a laundry list of butterflies both large and small, all drawn to Texas vervain (a.k.a. Texas verbena or slender verbena; Verbena halei).

A variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) flowers (IMG_1839)

From spring through summer right into autumn, the plant served as a lightning rod for butterflies, and this I pointed out to my family much to their profound enjoyment.

A dainty sulphur (Nathalis iole) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (IMG_2753)

So long as the weather didn’t turn inclement, it was easy to find dainty sulphurs (a.k.a. dwarf yellow; Nathalis iole), North America’s smallest sulphur.

A larval pinion (Lithophane sp.) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (20121103_04886)

And it was easy to find young and old alike, such as this larval pinion (Lithophane sp.), a butterfly in another form.

A Reakirt's blue (Echinargus isola) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (20121103_04952)

It wasn’t at all unusual to find startling beauty just a few steps away, like this Reakirt’s blue (Echinargus isola).

A eufala skipper (Lerodea eufala) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (20121103_04921)

Similarly, it wasn’t difficult to find subtle beauty like this eufala skipper (a.k.a. rice leaffolder; Lerodea eufala).

Fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (20121103_04890)

Fiery skippers (Hylephila phyleus) remained plentiful—remain plentiful, I should say, for that photo was taken just the other day—going into mid November!

A beet webworm moth (Spoladea recurvalis) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (20121103_04883)

The plant doesn’t just accumulate butterflies though, as indicated by this beet webworm moth (a.k.a. Hawaiian beet webworm moth or spinach moth; Spoladea recurvalis).

A sphecid wasp (Prionyx parkeri) feeding on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (20121103_04897)

Like the moth, this sphecid wasp (Prionyx parkeri) shows how varied the host’s visitors are, from a plethora of bees and wasps to a small variety of flies to a few grasshopper species to moths and beyond, each joining dozens of butterflies each day to visit and enjoy the sweet nectar these flowers offer.

Close-up of blooms on Texas vervain (Verbena halei) (IMG_3147)

Everyone asked me when pointing out this verbena plant if it was in fact a butterfly bush.  Though this vervain grows only a foot or two high—hardly a bush—and though it’s not closely related to true butterfly bushes (Buddleja sp. [or Buddleia sp.]), it needn’t be called a butterfly bush in order to serve the same purpose, perhaps even to a superior degree.

— — — — — — — — — —

Other butterflies seen on this plant but not photographed (or, at least, not photographed well):

  • Gulf fritillary (a.k.a. passion butterfly; Agraulis vanillae)
  • common buckeye (Junonia coenia)
  • cabbage white (a.k.a. small white, small cabbage white or white butterfly; Pieris rapae)
  • question mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
  • American snout (Libytheana carinenta)
  • sleepy orange (a.k.a. sleepy sulphur; Abaeis nicippe)
  • common checkered-skipper (Pyrgus communis)
  • clouded skipper (Lerema accius)
  • funereal duskywing (Erynnis funeralis)

Tropical haven

There is a place where spring calls forth all the magic of the tropics …

White ibises (Eudocimus albus) flying overhead (2009_05_17_019243)

A place where white ibises circle overhead …

A great egret (Ardea alba) collecting nesting material in the understory (2009_05_17_019056)

A place where great egrets lurk in the understory …

A little blue heron (Egretta caerulea) perched on a branch (2009_05_17_019428)

A place where little blue herons keep watch at eye level …

A black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) perched in a tree (2009_05_17_019912)

A place where black-crowned night-herons peer back from their ligneous perches …

A snowy egret (Egretta thula) perching on a limb (2009_05_17_019767)

A place where snowy egrets observe the observers …

Close-up of a tricolored heron (a.k.a. Louisiana heron; Egretta tricolor) perched in a tree (2009_07_12_026569_n)

A place where tricolored herons remain vigilant even at rest …

A cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) standing in a tree displaying its mating plumage (2009_05_17_019354)

A place where cattle egrets display their beauty …

It’s amazing that this tropical haven rests just a few miles north of downtown Dallas.

— — — — — — — — — —

Photos (taken at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center campus in Dallas’s hospital district):

  1. White ibises (Eudocimus albus)
  2. Great egret (Ardea alba)
  3. Little blue heron (Egretta caerulea)
  4. Black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  5. Snowy egret (Egretta thula)
  6. Tricolored heron (a.k.a. Louisiana heron; Egretta tricolor)
  7. Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)