C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Monday, February 28, 2022

"Mama, this is so hard" - A Soldier's Last Words

In an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly today, Ukraine's ambassador reads texts from a Russian soldier to his mother shortly before he was killed - dying for a monstrous lie.

My heart aches for the Russian parents who are already losing their children in this vicious and appalling war, just as it aches for the civilians and the people of Ukraine. But when it comes to the Russian leadership that chose this path of violence, and I stress chose, this path of violence and aggression, there can be no possible excuse.

Never in all my study, my memory, of politics and international affairs have I seen so clear a distinction between right and wrong, between good and evil, between light and dark. And that is the real reason why Ukraine is our neighbour today.

And by the way, I say to all the countries around the world who may only just be waking up to the horror of what is going on – I say to everybody around the world, that is why Ukraine should be your neighbour, too.

--British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in an address at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London yesterday. 

Cf. the Parable of the Good Samaritan.


Sunday, February 27, 2022

Sunday Drive: There but for Fortune

 Cher, 1967.  The lyrics are particularly poignant just now.

What I Say:  The Ukrainian situation poses a terrible moral dilemma.  It tugs at the heartstrings to see the defiant Ukranian people erecting barricades of used tires and empty crates, making Molotov cocktails out of empty liquor bottles, or manning their defenses with handguns, knives, and hammers, whatever they can lay hands on.  And this in the face of overwhelming odds against a wicked and implacable foe.  

The miracle of modern communications, showing us the happenings in real time, makes it all quite vivid and deeply moving.  One wishes of course to send them every help - including what they most need, friendly troops with the firepower to vanquish the enemy decisively and send him scurrying from Ukrainian soil.  That would be an immensely good deed in the checkered annals of humanity.

But wisdom requires us to look beyond the current moment, and to recollect that there is more to the world than just Ukraine.  It is necessary to balance the fate of 40 million Ukranians against that of the other 7 billion people on this planet.  It might well be that a concerted strike by NATO forces could rid Ukraine of the invader in a week's time or less - but then what?  We now know for certain that Putin will stop at nothing to get what he wants.  

Is saving Ukraine worth turning New York, or London, or Paris, or Berlin into a parking lot?  And much more besides just those cities?  We might save a million lives in Ukraine - but what about the 100 million lives, or more, that would be lost in a nuclear war?  Which way does the moral compass point?

It is a long established rule in the common law that one is not under obligation to go to another's aid if it requires endangering one's own life.  If someone is drowning, you do not have to jump in the lake with him.  We have no treaty obligations to Ukraine that compel us to act in her defense; and to do so on the scale needed would almost certainly open the nuclear door and unleash who knows what horrors upon the rest of mankind all around the globe,  If it came to that, the heartbreaking scenes in Ukraine we see today would be repeated endlessly and with even greater anguish in many other countries.

And yet, one feels greatly ashamed of not jumping into the lake to save that drowning man.  Must we sacrifice the many to save the few?  A horrible dilemma of the heart and the conscience - glib phrases and quick answers are not helpful when such weighty questions must be weighed in the balances.  Students of history will remember that this is not the first time humanity has confronted such a dreadful choice.  

And all because of one bitter, frustrated old man, without conscience or remorse.  Would that he had never been born!  The news at noon reports that he has now put Russia's nuclear forces on alert.  Does anyone in Russia have the courage to say No for once?  Must one evil man's hunger for domination consume the whole world?  Will no one rid us of this ruthless monster, this loathsome blot upon the earth?  

Must all mankind suffer to make the world safe for Putin?

Suddenly, the world has turned a corner and entered a frightening new era.  This is the most dangerous hour in our lifetime; it is a good time to put one's affairs in order.  If Putin were to lob just one nuke against any NATO country, there would be hell to pay.  It may be that there is some happy way forward not apparent to me at the present time.  If so, I pray that the leaders of the world will find it, and soon.  

May God bless the brave, beleaguered Ukrainian people, and deliver them and us from every evil.


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Russia Invades Ukraine

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
From Wikipedia:  Map of the first day's attacks on Ukraine - click for larger map.

What Biden has prophesied for weeks - and Putin has steadily denied - came to pass last night when Putin launched the Russian military on a multi-pronged attack against Ukraine.  This blow came while the United Nations Security Council was formulating an urgent plea for Putin not to make war on his neighbor - which goes to show Putin's contempt for the United Nations and all democracies.

There is no longer any doubt about it:  Putin is the new Hitler.  And sadly, Ukraine is shaping up to be the new Czechoslovakia, though its people and president have shown plenty of balls, defiantly insisting that they are not afraid and will defeat the overwhelming Russian forces bearing down upon them.

I hope they will - but I believe they hope in vain if they think any Western nations are going to put boots on the ground in Ukraine.  For one thing, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and thus not entitled to that kind of aid.  For another, to put American troops on the front line against Russians would probably mean the start of World War III.  Putin threatened as much, in a veiled way, in his broadcast overnight.

God forbid.

And I very much doubt that economic sanctions will have any effect on Putin's plans, any more than they had on Hitler's.  The Bear is hungry, and will gobble up all he wants, regardless of consequences.  His recent statements suggest he will not be satisfied with devouring Ukraine only.  And he is sitting on some nasty weapons of his own - at least Hitler didn't have nukes or ICBM's.  But President Biden has said we will defend "every inch" of NATO territory, no matter what.  The what might come at any time.

So if careful steps are not taken, we could soon be facing the nightmare that has haunted the world for seventy years.  Nobody has said this out loud yet on TV, but I'm saying it.  As many commentators have noted.

I see no easy way out of this crisis.  As a truckbuddy said to me, after many subtle moves here and there, the scheming grandmaster Putin has put us in check, if not checkmate.  He has been playing to win, while we have been playing with ourselves, it seems like.  We should all be praying for our president and for all those working for the common good, that they may see clearly and act wisely.

I won't rehash here all the details of the Ukrainian struggle, but for whatever help it may be to my truckbuddies, here are some useful links to related information that you might want to bookmark.

News sources:

American TV network news websites are clogged with stupid advertisements that make it hard to get to the videos of what you want to see.   Here are three European broadcasters with 24/7 live coverage in English always available on YouTube - sometimes they provide a perspective on issues different from what is provided on American news shows.

Sky News (United Kingdom)

France24 (France)

DW News (Germany)

And the Guardian, which favors the views of the Labour Party, is one of the few British newspapers not hidden behind a paywall; in times of crisis, the website usually carries a live blog of events and commentary.


Wikipedia is to a large extent a leisure site for lonely, nerdy guys to write on, and get into bitch fights over political correctness, so what you read there should always be taken with a grain of salt unless supported by other, more reliable sources.  Nevertheless, it is usually a good source for quick facts about countries and notable people.  Here are a few topics you might want to refresh your memory of.

NATO and the European Union - they are not the same thing.

Ukraine - did you know it's nearly as big as Texas?

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine - yes, there's already a wikiarticle on it.

Russia - nearly twice as big as the United States, but less than half the population.

Other reading:

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration - "Eight Sobering Realities about Putin's Invasion of Ukraine," 2/24/22

Editorial in The Guardian (U.K.) - "Putin's War in Ukraine:  A Bleak New Beginning." 2/24/22

The past is never dead - it's not even past.

--William Faulkner


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Rumors of War

Map of Ukraine.
Click to enlarge.

Yesterday, Putin sent troops into the breakaway territories of eastern Ukraine and proclaimed them independent states.   The Secretary-General of the United Nations says Putin has violated international law.  President Biden and other Western leaders have announced stiff financial sanctions against Russian money and elites.  And suddenly, this faraway pot on the back burner of the world seems to be boiling over, and may set the whole place on fire.

The parallels with the Nazi threat to the peace of Europe in 1938-39 are striking, though not exact.  If you care to read up on the period, I recommend Churchill's The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his World War II memoirs, as an excellent, incisive introduction.

Your Head Trucker is not a pacifist per se, but neither is he a warmonger.  To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose . . . .  But what time is it now?  And whose turn is it to die?  The obvious answer is not always the best answer.  I offer these few newsbites as food for thought, and leave you to draw your own conclusions.

1.  A voice from the grave:  the late Senator John McCain interviewed in 2014, after Russia annexed parts of Ukraine.


2. Ukrainian foreign minister Kuleba, quoted on the BBC News website today: 

Click to enlarge.

 3. Political analyst Fareed Zakaria on the Russian-Chinese bruderbund:


4. Guess who thinks Putin is the greatest?


 5. President Biden announces sanctions against Russia:


Give us peace in our time, O Lord.


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Sunday Drive: Be Still, My Soul

 The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

Trust in the Lord and do good.--Psalm 37

David Archuleta, all grown up now, sings an inspiring rendition of the beloved hymn:



Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sunday Drive: Thine Arm, O Lord, in Days of Old

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.



Sunday, February 6, 2022

Accession Day, 2022

Seventy years have passed since Her Majesty the Queen ascended the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952.  The Queen has issued this touching statement to mark the day, signing it "Your Servant, Elizabeth R":

Click to enlarge

A four-day celebration of her Platinum Jubilee will be held in London from June 2 to June 5 this year.  


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Winter Storm Coming to Texas

Winter weather warnings extend from Texas to New York.
Click to enlarge.

Here we go again.  The memory of last year's Deep Freeze is still quite vivid and painful.  Now we are expecting 3 inches of snow and temps down to 15, starting Wednesday night, and it won't get much above freezing again until Sunday.  The Governor and his energy team say don't worry, we have everything under control, and plenty of energy to around.

Which is just what they said before last year's storm which crippled the state and left millions, including M.P. and me, sitting in the dark and cold for days.  So I am indeed worried.

People are already swarming the grocery stores here - M.P. and I will make a run this afternoon to stock up on our necessities, and hope we can ride it out till next week without having to leave the house.  I know a lot of folks up in the Northeast are still recovering from that awful blizzard last weekend - I hope we don't get hit that hard here.  I'll let you know, and maybe will have some snow pics to share later in the week.  Wish us luck!

If you have nothing else whatsoever to do with your time - What's wrong with you, son? - here's a few boring news stories about preparations in Texas to look at.

Our local forecast for the next ten days - click to enlarge:

Update:  We survived.  It was mighty cold, but not as cold as last year's storm, and thank goodness the lights and heat stayed on the whole time.  So we bundled up for a few days, but by Sunday most of the snow was gone except in a few shady places.  For the record, here are a couple of rather undramatic pics taken Thursday morning:

Looking through the kitchen window at the height of the snow storm.

The driveway was carpeted with snow about 3 inches deep.


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