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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

House Plans: Three Compact Ranches

As I said in a previous post, I've reached my fill line on war news, so I've been trying to think of more pleasant things to blog about.  One of my longtime hobbies was drawing plans for my dream house, which I started doing when I was about 21.  Nearly half a century later, I still have never finished the plans, mainly because there is no perfect plan.  Try as you might, you can never get everything you want to come together just right in a single plan; all you can do is come close enough.

I suppose it's the same with all our dreams and fancies here in this mortal life - you can never get all you want the way you want it.  You have to settle for the possible, and be grateful that it's close enough.

(Just between us, I really don't believe the propaganda all these slick, shallow, "empowered" people spew out on TV night and day about their wonderful lives.  They may have lots of dough in their pockets, by hook or by crook - but they still put their pants on one leg at a time.  They are not exempt from the human condition.)

Along with drawing my own house plans, I've studied many printed plans.  For years I used to buy those house plan magazines they sell at the grocery store.  One company that I always thought had the best plans was Home Planners, Inc.  I'm not sure they are still in business, though you can still find many of their plans for sale on various internet sites.  I like to look back through their 1950s and 1960s ranch style plans, which were "new and modern" when I was growing up.  They still seem so to me.

And I still like them very much.  Usually, the basic footprint is a simple rectangle - easy and inexpensive to build.  (The more corners, the more building costs.)  Having lived in several such houses over the years, I can testify that they are very comfortable and convenient to live in, if the floor plan is sensible, as it usually is.  They might not appeal to everyone, but they suit me to a T:  a quarter-acre lot of St. Augustine grass, a red-brick ranch with white trim, and someone compatible to share it with were always my idea of earthly happiness.  But I'm old-fashioned.

So I'm going to post some favorite Home Planners designs for a while, and you can let me know if you like them, too.  First up are three compact plans from 1959 and 1963 - just right for a young family, or a couple of gay guys who prefer a peaceful home life to crawling the bars.  But that came later.

BTW, it goes without saying that the exteriors could be anything you want - brick, stucco, wood, shingles, etc.  And you could easily add a front or back porch, or reverse the plans to suit your building site.  Some people are snapping them up now and remodeling them out of all recognition; but I prefer the simplicity of the original designs in most cases.  

1.  Home Planners 1959 - Design G759 

3 bedrooms, 2 baths - 38' x 28' - 1075 sq. ft.

Click to enlarge.

This is plenty roomy for two quiet people, and perhaps a small child or two, even though at 1075 square feet it almost qualifies as a "tiny house" by today's standards.  The carport was quite a popular thing across the sunny South in the 1950s and 1960s.  Many houses very similar to this were built, and if you had one, you were doing well in life:  neither rich nor poor, but comfortably up to date.

I consider this a prime example of the simple, affordable ranch-style house, which came in many variations, larger and smaller.  Millions of people bought these houses on low-interest, low-down-payment FHA and VA loans.  Where I grew up, the price for this compact 3-bedroom, 2-bath house, depending on location, lot size, and options, probably would have been between $12,500 and $15,000 in 1960, or $110,000 to $130,000 today.  I vaguely recall that some smaller houses were sold for less than $10,000 in this period.

For comparison, you could get a Chevrolet sedan or a Buick station wagon for under $2500 then ($22,000 now).  And in the lower South and Texas, I recall that gas was around 22c a gallon (about $1,92 today).

Why do I say this is a good house design?  Let me point out some of the ingenious features of the layout.  
  • For one thing, it has two bathrooms - a rarity until the late 1950s.  Part of the reason is that until about 1956, FHA lending rules required every bathroom to have an outside window - when they started allowing interior bathrooms without windows, designers could more easily fit two into a small plan.  I used to own a house with a very similar floor plan, with a skylight over the hall bathroom.
  • The master bedroom is 13 x 11 - I can tell you from experience that this is the ideal size for a bedroom - big enough for a king-size bed and all the necessary bedroom furniture - but not so big that you feel you are sleeping in an airport terminal.  The second bedroom is big enough for twin beds; the third is small, but handy for use as a guest room or sewing room, or in today's world, a home office.
  • Notice also that the plumbing fixtures  (bathrooms, laundry closet, and kitchen) are all grouped at the back of the house - this saves a lot of money on piping in construction.  This arrangement of three bedrooms around two bathrooms is very clever and space-saving; I'll be showing more examples of this in future posts.  
  • Another brilliant feature is that each bedroom is insulated by closets from noise in other rooms - most important in a small house.  
  • The master bath opens into the "family room," which is a bit of advertising puffery - obviously, it's the logical place for a dining table, though it could be a play area for babies and toddlers under mother's watchful eye in the kitchen.  If you don't mind informality, a trendy breakfast bar could easily be built on the living room side of the kitchen wall, open to the kitchen. 
  • And finally, just look at that great big 7' x 8' storage room at the back of the carport, which could be anything you wanted it to be:  laundry room, workshop, garden shed, etc.  You could connect it to the house if you wanted, so you wouldn't have to step outside to use it.  I knew a couple of families where Dad turned this room into a hi-fi den, his private getaway.

2,  Home Planners 1963 - Design D1187
3BR, 2BA - 40' x 28' - 1120 sq. ft.

The same plan as the first, but reversed and two feet longer, with a garage instead of a carport.  
  • The living room is larger, and so is the "family room" - I believe the dimensions of the latter room are mislabeled here, or on G759, as this is obviously a slightly larger room.  
  • The Pullman kitchen in both plans is quite small, but efficiently laid out; I'd extend the back kitchen counter two more feet to the edge of the sliding-glass doors, and extend the other by adding a 2-foot pantry closet, if I had my druthers.  
  • I'd also dispense with the trendy wall oven to get more counter space, and I would not have the range and the refrigerator jam up against each other - what a strange thing to do.  They should be at opposite ends of that counter, or one should be on the other side of the kitchen.

3.  Home Planners, 1963 - Design D1191
3 BR, 2BA - 44' x 28' - 1232 sq. ft.

Again, the same design but four feet longer and with some added features.  
  • Now you're talking - it's almost luxurious.  You're coming up in the world, making good money, and feeling fine.  The wife has more room to display her pretty furniture, draperies, and china.  The kids have plenty of indoor play room on rainy days.  The good traffic flow from room to room means you can entertain friends and family on weekends and holidays without crowding.  
  • The missus parks the new Pontiac in the garage overnight, while your ugly-cute VW bug waits patiently in the driveway for your morning run to the office.  All your hard work is really paying off now, with central air conditioning, wall-to-wall carpet in the living room, a console color television, a Barcalounger, and a big barbecue pit off the back patio.  It's the good life.
  • This plan has the same 3-2 plan of bedrooms and bathrooms, but notice that the master bath now has its own tub (I'd prefer a shower stall) and the washer and dryer are located outside the hall bath, convenient to the dirty clothes hamper, so no effort is wasted carrying clothes back and forth.  I'd rather put the machines in the garage, to avoid potential water-leak disasters, and use the two spaces for linen and towel closets instead.
  • The so-called family room begins to live up to its name, being insulated from the living-dining room by closets, and the kitchen is a bit bigger.  The back terrace is what everybody I grew up with called simply a patio - a slab of bare concrete.  This could be roofed over and even screened in, to make a more pleasant indoor/outdoor spot for patio furniture and outdoor meals.
  • I don't like the doorway that cuts through the kitchen into the living room, eating up precious counter space.  But I see no way to eliminate that doorway in this plan without completely redesigning the kitchen and family room.
I suppose it's obvious that all three plans are single-story and without basements, which was standard practice in my day.  Judging by plan books dating back to the turn of the century, it seems that basements were practically a sine qua non of northern houses, and perhaps still are - but they were rare in the suburban Deep South, as were two-story homes.  

By the way, central air conditioning was not a standard feature in most Southern homes, old or new, until about 1970 or after.  Before then, you opened the windows and ran electric fans to keep cool in summer.  In some localities, attic fans or swamp coolers were very effective.  Those who could afford to buy window-unit air conditioners typically used them to cool certain rooms - like the dining room at dinner time, or bedrooms on hot nights - not the whole house.

These ranch homes were typically built with crawlspaces underneath (pier-and-beam construction) or on concrete pads.  Rooflines of these one-story ranch homes were usually simple gables extending across the whole house, or hipped roofs, which were fashionable for a time.  Variations and elaborations did exist, though, and I'll show you some of those in future posts.


Monday, March 28, 2022

Victor Borge: Dance of the Comedians

Because we all need some comedy relief just now.


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sunday Drive: A Ukrainian Prayer

Written and recorded in the past few weeks by renowned English composer John Rutter, and sung by the Cambridge Singers.  The English translation is Lord, protect Ukraine. Give us strength, faith, and hope, our Father. Amen.


Friday, March 25, 2022

Pride of Ukraine

A month of war in Ukraine, who knows when it will end?  I've not blogged much this week because I've about reached my emotional limit - one can only stand to watch so much horror before one has to look away.  I haven't stopped caring and praying for those poor people over there, but I'll leave the news reporting to the folks who are paid to do it.

Gay rights in Ukraine are far behind those in the West.  I recently came across this documentary about the Ukrainian gay pride movement in 2012-2014; as such, it's an unfinished story.  It's partly in English and partly in Ukrainian with English subtitles, and has some over-long interviews that I right-arrowed through, but it gives an interesting look into Ukrainian society at that time.  See what you think.


Some reports on the general situation in Ukraine at this point:



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Soldier and Son

Karl Friedrich Deckler, The Farewell of Hector to Andromaque and Astyanax
The Farewell of Hector to Andromaque and Astyanax
by Carl Friedrich Deckler, via Wikipedia.
Click to enlarge.
This video of a Ukrainian soldier bidding goodbye to his wife and baby son is a striking reminder of a scene in the Iliada poignant moment set during the Trojan War, 1200 years before Christ - a scene which no doubt has been repeated in real life times without number in all the centuries since.

Homer, like Shakespeare and all the other great writers of the past three millennia, had the divine gift of capturing the telling moment that reveals the humanity of his characters, in common with us all.  We moderns are not different creatures from our Bronze Age ancestors, whoever they were - fashions of dress, art, music, and speech may ebb and flow, but human nature does not change.

Hector, eldest son of King Priam, was the crown prince of Troy.  His wife was Andromache, and their little son was called Astyanax.  The scene opens with Hector suited up in his shiny bronze armor and helmet, ready to lead the Trojan army into battle against the Greeks, encamped before the city.  

Before departing, he goes to his house, within the walls of Troy, to say goodbye to his wife and son - an excerpt from Book 6 of the Iliad, in the lucid translation by Robert Fagles (1990):

A flash of his helmet

and off he strode and quickly reached his sturdy,

well-built house. But white-armed Andromache--

Hector could not find her in the halls.

She and the boy and a servant finely gowned

were standing watch on the tower, sobbing, grieving.

When Hector saw no sign of his loyal wife inside

he went to the doorway, stopped and asked the servants,

"Come, please, tell me the truth now, women.

Where's Andromache gone? To my sisters' house?

To my brothers' wives with their long flowing robes?

Or Athena's shrine where the noble Trojan women 

gather to win the great grim goddess over?"

A busy, willing servant answered quickly,

"Hector, seeing you want to know the truth,

she hasn't gone to your sisters, brothers' wives

or Athena's shrine where the noble Trojan women

gather to win the great grim goddess over.

Up to the huge gate-tower of Troy she's gone

because she heard our men are so hard-pressed,

the Achaean fighters coming on in so much force.

She sped to the wall in panic, like a madwoman –

the nurse went with her, carrying your child."

At that, Hector spun and rushed from his house,

back by the same way down the wide, well-paved streets

throughout the city until he reached the Scaean Gates,

the last point he would pass to gain the field of battle.

There his warm, generous wife came running up to meet him,

Andromache the daughter of gallant-hearted Eetion . . .

She joined him now, and following in her steps

a servant holding the boy against her breast,

in the first flush of life, only a baby,

Hector's son, the darling of his eyes

and radiant as a star . . . 

Hector would always call the boy Scamandrius,

townsmen called him Astyanax. Lord of the City,

since Hector was the lone defense of Troy.

The great man of war breaking into a broad smile,

his gaze fixed on his son, in silence. Andromache, 

pressing close beside him and weeping freely now,

clung to his hand, urged him, called him: "Reckless one,

my Hector - your own fiery courage will destroy you!

Have you no pity for him, our helpless son? Or me,

and the destiny that weighs me down, your widow,

now so soon?" 

And tall Hector nodded, his helmet flashing:

"All this weighs on my mind too, dear woman.

But I would die of shame to face the men of Trpy

and the Trojan women trailing their long robes

if I would shrink from battle now. a coward.

Nor does the spirit urge me on that way.

I've learned it all too well. To stand up bravely,

always to fight in the front ranks of Trojan soldiers."

In the same breath, shining Hector reached down

for his son - but the boy recoiled,

cringing against his nurse's full breast,

screaming out at the sight of his own father,

terrified by the flashing bronze, the horsehair crest, 

the great ridge of the helmet nodding, bristling terror

so it struck his eyes. And his loving father laughed,

his mother laughed as well, and glorious Hector,

quickly lifting the helmet from his head,

set it down on the ground, fiery in the sunlight,

and raising his son he kissed him, tossed him in his arms,

lifting a prayer to Zeus and the other deathless gods:

"Zeus, all you immortals! Grant this boy, my son,

may be like me, first in glory among the Trojans,

strong and brave like me, and rule all Troy in power 

and one day let them say, 'He is a better man than his father'.

So Hector prayed

and placed his son in the arms of his loving wife.

Andromache pressed the child to her scented breast,

smiling through her tears.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Jordaens Podhorce
The Good Samaritan by Jacob Jordaens, circa 1616.
Click to enlarge.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan has been on my mind lately.  I offer it here as a text for today, and this Compline prayer with special intention for the people of Ukraine:
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.


Saturday, March 19, 2022

War in Ukraine - Day 24

An apartment block in Mariuopol after a Russian airstrike, 
from Sky NewsClick to enlarge.

Newsbites from or about Ukraine today:

Full text of Zelensky's speech here.


Friday, March 18, 2022

War in Ukraine - Day 23

Map of recent Russian advances in Ukraine -
from the BBC, 17 March 2022, 2100 GMT.
Click to enlarge.

The cruel juggernaut lumbers on, the slow strangulation of a nation continues - George Floyd's death repeated over and over and over, with blood and bombs.

Sky News reports - "The life is being drained from Mariupol":


Sky News reports: Kiev residents say "Putin's trying to kill us":


Sky News reports: Rescuers dig frantically through steel and rubble to save one life:


CBS News reports: An American was shot to death in Ukraine while standing in a bread line to get food for his partner and other hospital patients:


President Zelensky warns that if Russia is not stopped now, it will embolden other aggressors to attack their neighbors:


Full text of Zelensky's speech here


Donations for Ukraine

Ukrainian refugees, from The Times (London).
Click to enlarge.

Your Head Trucker's finances are tight and getting tighter now that the price of food, energy, and just about everything is skyrocketing up.  I have determined, though, to send my pittance to help somebody in Ukraine or refugees therefrom - but how to get the money into the right hands, and not wasted or misdirected?  I have spent all week pondering this question - many organizations are canvassing for relief funds, but can you trust them to do the right thing with the money?

I've finally resolved the question for myself by consulting this link to top-rated Ukrainian relief charities over on Charity Navigator, a free rating service that has been around for many years.  They give a long list of charities to choose from, and by clicking on their names you can see how much of your contribution actually goes to helping those in need.

I've made my choice from the list and sent my donation off.  I make no recommendations, but post this link for any others who may find it helpful.

God save Ukraine is my frequent prayer these days.  God save us all.


Thursday, March 17, 2022

Putin vs. Schwarzenegger

Putin addressed his people yesterday in harsh, threatening terms:

Arnold Schwarzenegger released a very different message to the Russian people today:



Zelensky Addresses Congress

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the U. S. Congress by video link yesterday in a moving speech, the first part in Ukrainian with English translation, followed by images of the destruction and suffering in Ukraine, and the final part in English.  Senators and representatives gathered in an auditorium in the Capitol complex to watch and hear the speech, which they applauded with a standing ovation before and after.

Full text here.


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Whole World Is Watching

 For Ukraine


Chicago recorded this song in 1968, which includes a chant by protesters at the Democratic convention held there. Somehow, it seems to fit the events of 2022 as well. 

The slaughter of defenseless innocents, the murder of a nation, is horrible beyond the power of words to express. I was keeping up with the war news night and day for the first two weeks; then I had to take a break from it - a luxury no Ukrainian has, I am well aware. A few piddling projects here at home have occupied my time since then - between which, I weep for Ukraine, I rage at the rampant evil, I gnash my teeth at the nuclear standoff, the moral dilemma. Maybe you do, too. 

I have no power to change anything. All I can do is witness to the truth here on my little blog. It may do no one any good, but -- we are all witnesses to this enormous crime. That is our moral duty in this dark hour of human history, if we can do nothing else.

The whole world is watching.  

And we will not forget.


From Radio Free Europe - "Who Will Bring Back Our Children?":


Screen capture from CNN.  Click to enlarge.

The Guardian reports:  Mariupol: Russia accused of bombing theatre and swimming pool sheltering civilians.  Excerpt:

Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of further atrocities in the besieged city of Mariupol, including an airstrike on a theatre where hundreds of displaced people were believed to have been sheltering and a strike on a swimming pool where pregnant women and young children had gathered. Russian forces were also accused of shelling of a convoy of cars of civilians fleeing the city.

Mariupol has been facing a humanitarian catastrophe for days, and Russia continued to rain down fire on it and other Ukrainian cities on Wednesday, even as the two sides projected optimism over efforts at peace talks to negotiate an end to the fighting.

There was no immediate confirmation of numbers of deaths or injuries in what the Mariupol city council said was a “bomb on a building where hundreds of peaceful Mariupol residents were hiding.” “We don’t know if there are any survivors,” one witness said. “The bomb shelter is also covered with debris … there are both adults and children there.”

Later Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of Donetsk regional administration, claimed Russians had also targeted the Neptune swimming pool. “Now there are pregnant women and women with children under the rubble there,” he said in a post on Telegram. “It is impossible to establish the number of casualties from these strikes.”

A witness who posted a video of the aftermath of the attack said the pool had been destroyed and efforts were under way to rescue one pregnant woman trapped in the rubble. . . .

Ukraine’s ministry of defence has described Mariupol as the worst front of the war. Mass graves have been dug on the outskirts of the city and the bodies of men, women and children have been left on the streets. More than 400,000 of its inhabitants are either without or with dwindling access to running water, food and medical supplies.

Local officials have said more than 2,500 have been killed. But the reality is that, because of the shelling, the dead cannot be counted.

Ukrainian officials also accused Russian forces of shelling a convoy of cars of civilians fleeing the city, wounding at least five people, including a child.

Local officials shared photos and videos of the aftermath of the alleged attack. “Heavy artillery of the enemy forces fired on a convoy of civilians moving along the highway towards Zaporizhzhia,” the governor of the region, Oleksandr Starukh, said in an online post. . . .

Officials have told families to leave their dead outside in the streets because holding funerals is too dangerous.


From Radio Free Europe - Elderly couple shot to death by Russian tank:


Sunday, March 13, 2022

"In the Name of God, Stop This Massacre"

From the Guardian:

On Sunday the Pope issued his toughest condemnation yet of the war in Ukraine, saying the 'unacceptable armed aggression' must stop. Speaking to thousands of people in St Peter's Square for his Sunday blessing, Pope Francis said the bombing of hospitals and other civilian targets was barbaric and had no valid strategic reason.


Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov writes
I have long since run out of words to describe the horror brought by Putin to Ukrainian soil. Ukraine is the land of bread and wheat. Even in Egypt, bread and cakes are baked using Ukrainian flour. It’s the time of year to prepare the fields for sowing, but this work is not being done. The soil of the wheat fields is full of metal – fragments of shells, pieces of blown-up tanks and cars, the remains of downed planes and helicopters. And it’s all covered in blood. The blood of Russian soldiers who do not understand what they are fighting for, and the blood of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who know that if they do not fight, Ukraine will no longer exist. In its place there will be a cemetery with a caretaker’s hut and some kind of governor general sent from Russia will sit and guard it.

Bread was mixed with blood in Chernihiv as well when Russian bombers dropped “dumb” unguided bombs on a square next to a bread shop. People had lined up outside, waiting to buy some fresh, warm bread. Someone was just leaving the store with a bag of it. Many people died in this bombing raid. Amnesty International has documented this crime committed by the Russian army. Every day the list of crimes grows longer as more and more of Putin’s actions are added to it – the shooting of young volunteers who were carrying food to the dog shelter in Hostomel; the murder of postmen who were delivering pensions to elderly residents in Sumy region; the killing of five people in an attack on the Kyiv television tower. The list goes on and on. We certainly don’t yet know about all the crimes that have been committed, but we will definitely find out about them all, and the list will be presented at a new Nuremberg trial. It doesn’t matter where it takes place. The main thing is that we know who will be judged.

International lawyers have already begun to collect evidence of crimes. Ukrainians are looking forward to the verdict on the murderers and war criminals. But for now, they must survive under the shelling of the Russian army. They spend their nights in basements, in bomb shelters, in bathrooms – the latest advice circulating on the internet tells us that in case of a bombing raid, the safest places to be are inside your cast-iron bath or in interior corridors where there are no windows.

The people of Kyiv have grown suddenly much more attached to their metro, one of the most beautiful and deepest in the world. The metro is no longer a form of transport – it is a haven, like something from an apocalyptic movie. It is covered with signs of permanent presence of non-travelling “passengers” and there is living space everywhere. The station platforms are being turned into cinemas where films are shown for free – children’s films in the morning and films for a wider audience later in the day. Large screens have already been hung or are being hung right now at 14 Kyiv metro stations. There is a constant supply of tea, the internet is already there, but the connection is poor. There are not enough toilets, but people don’t complain about queuing for 40 minutes or more. Everyone waits patiently. They are waiting for the end of the war and the beginning of the trial – a trial that the whole world will have to follow, as the whole world followed at Nuremberg. . . .

Friday, March 11, 2022

Texas Court Blocks Gender Police - For Now

Note to readers:  

Your Head Trucker is a gay man, happy with his male body (though not particularly with the shape it's in at this late age); transgenderism is a very different thing, and I prefer to leave it to transgender people to speak for themselves out of their own experiences, rather than presuming to speak for them.  The same goes for lesbians and bisexuals, and all the other colors of the rainbow.  For that reason, I do not accept for myself the LGBTQI-XYZ-whatever label, which wrongly confuses several important but separate issues.  I'm just plain gay, and that's good, and that's all there is to it.  Your mileage may vary.

I will also note that according to the best research now available, transgender people are relatively few, only .3% to .6% of the adult American population - that's 3 to 6 people out of a thousand.  (Gays and lesbians are 3% of the population, or about 3 out of a hundred, which means they are about ten times more numerous than trans people.)  By a simple arithmetical operation, then, it would seem that 99.9% of the population are happy with their birth gender.  Or in other words, they are simply human beings - male and female, as it was in the beginning.  It's the exception that proves the rule.

Thus, the fashionable urge to divide the world into "cisgender" and "transgender", or even worse, to hold up "gender-neutral" as a benchmark for everyone, seems to me very much the tail wagging the dog - "cis" is an utterly needless label for me.  Others may disagree, of course.  And certainly transgender people - those who are not merely "me-too" attention-seeking wannabe-cool-kids - like the risible 20% in a recent poll, fake news if ever there was any - deserve to be true to themselves and free to be who they really are.  But not to rewrite the English language, or hold a kind of permanent veto over the 99.9%, which would only cause great resentment.  

The fabric of a liberal democracy can stretch to include many different kinds of people - but stretch it too far, and it will rip.  In some ways, it already has.

It has taken more than 50 years and much struggle for the enlightened part of society to come to terms with the concept of innate - not "chosen" - homosexuality, and it will take more time for us all to truly understand the trans experience.  Enlightenment rarely happens all at once; like a flower, it must grow and develop step by step.

However, this particular case is deeply disturbing to me, not only because it is in Texas, but also because it strikes at the heart of democratic principles and the American ideals of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" -- not to mention the "free and full development of personality" enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

The attack is not even based on a state law, but merely the governor's edict - his whim - a prime example of dictatorial persecution, completely unconstitutional.  The sooner the courts strike down this filthy fascist attack on Texas children and parents, the better.

When the gender police come for your kid:  read this chilling interview with the Briggle family highlighted in the above video.  
FYI, Denton is a city in North Central Texas, 

A Texas judge today blocked Texas child-abuse authorities from investigating parents of transgender children or removing those children from their homes pursuant to an order by Republican Governor Greg Abbott and a non-binding opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom I posted about earlier this week.  The judge set a trial date of July 11 to hear the case.  The Texas Tribune reports:

State District Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled Friday that providing gender-affirming care is not a reason for the state to investigate a family for child abuse, and halted all such investigations. 

The statewide injunction will remain in effect until “this court, and potentially the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Texas” hear the case, Meachum said.

Meachum said there is a “substantial likelihood” that lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal will prevail in getting Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive for such investigations permanently overturned, calling his actions “beyond the scope of his duty and unconstitutional.”

Vox interviewed a Houston dad earlier this week.  Excerpt:

“It’s just who they are, so we support them,” said Claudio, the father of a trans teen in Houston, who is being referred to by a pseudonym to protect his family’s privacy. “Getting tarred with the label of ‘child abuser’ for doing that is demoralizing and obviously pretty horrible.” . . .

"It’s been pretty scary. It’s been the cause of some internal family division. My wife and my kid are more defiant. 'We should fight this. This is where we live and this is the time to take a stand.' I’m a lot more of a scaredy-cat and just want to move to a different state where my children’s future is not in doubt.

My wife immediately caught on to the fact that this was a non-binding opinion from the AG that basically cascaded through the governor to child protective services. She thought at the beginning that nothing would actually happen and that it was political posturing more than anything that would have consequences, while I was pretty scared. There was a lot of anger and dispute about it. We had our differences there. 

I think to some extent we’ve both been validated. The ACLU and Lambda Legal strongly state that it is in fact a non-binding opinion and has no real weight and they’re contesting it in court. We’re watching the court cases hanging off the edge of our seat, of course. But at the same time, child protective services has started investigations, famously this one of their own employees, which has super ugly overtones. 

There is part of me that is just scared that the gender police is going to come knocking on my door. We’re scared, and we’re frustrated and we’re very sad that this is happening in our home. . . .

But I don’t know how much risk we’re going to be willing to take, so at some point, we might decide to cut our losses and pick up and leave [Texas]. We don’t want to, but my family left Europe after World War II, after they were [targeted] by the Nazis, and that’s a lesson that gets etched in your brain pretty strongly even through generations. Persecution scares you extra.


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Baby-Killer Putin Bombs Maternity Hospital

The Russian butcher strikes again.  At women in labor.  At newborn infants.  In beseiged Mariupol, in the middle of a cease-fire.  Too horrible for words.


The Guardian reports (emphasis mine):
As Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmitryo Kuleba, accused Russia of “holding 400,000 people hostage” in Mariupol, much of whose population has been without power, heat, water or phone signal for over a week, the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, denounced an atrocity.

“A children’s hospital, a maternity ward. How did they threaten the Russian Federation? What is this country, the Russian Federation, that is afraid of hospitals, maternity wards and is destroying them?” said Zelendskiy on Telegram.

“Hospitals and schools are destroyed. Churches and ordinary buildings are destroyed. People are killed. Children are killed. The aerial bombing of a children’s hospital is the ultimate evidence that genocide of Ukrainians is happening.”

Amid western warnings that Moscow’s invasion was about to become even more brutal as the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, seeks to regain stalled momentum, local authorities described the damage to the hospital – a combined 600-bed complex with children’s and maternity wards – as “colossal” and said at least 17 people had been wounded, including women in labour.

The deputy mayor, Sergei Orlov, said the city was being shelled continuously and 1,170 residents had died, 47 of whom were buried in a mass grave on Wednesday. “It’s medieval,” he said. “It’s pure genocide. The attack isn’t simply treacherous. It’s a war crime. They are attacking us with aviation, shells, multiple rocket launchers.” . . .

Zelenskiy said on Wednesday the threat level against the country was “at the maximum” and again called on the west to impose a no-fly zone, saying it risked a “humanitarian catastrophe” if it did not.

He called the Russians “Nazis” in an interview with Sky News, saying: “If you are united against the Nazis and this terror, you have to close. Don’t wait for me ask you several times, a million times. Close the sky.” He warned that otherwise “millions” of people could die.
I know the hearts of my truckbuddies, and of all decent people around the world, go out to these innocent victims of cold-blooded murder. 

In the face of such atrocities, President Zelensky says the West has a moral duty to help Ukraine, to stop the wholesale slaughter of innocents. 

We do. But how? Without incinerating billions more people in a nuclear holocaust? 

How, O Lord, how? Show us the way. Amen. 



Searching through news reports, I just happened to come across this chilling article from the Daily Beast, December 21, 2021:

Russian Citizens Are Now Being Prepped for Nuclear War

One day after Moscow submitted a draft of its Russia-U.S. security treaty, containing demands that NATO roll back its military deployments in Europe and deny membership to Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov threatened that Moscow would raise the stakes if the West didn’t treat its demands seriously. On Monday, he told Interfax that Russia needs answers “urgently, because the situation is very difficult.” , . .

Pro-Kremlin propagandists and state-media experts filled in the blanks with what kind of escalation should be expected. On Sunday’s edition of News of the Week, state-TV host Dmitry Kiselyov explained: “Russia… prepared and handed over to the Americans its written proposals on strategic stability, or, more simply, on the prevention of nuclear war, since we are already at a critical point, to be honest…
"It’s simple. The U.S. and NATO must roll back from our borders, otherwise we will, figuratively speaking, ‘roll up’ to their borders and create symmetrical, unacceptable risks… If you put a gun to our head, we will respond in kind… The whole point is that the development of the Ukrainian territory by the [Western] bloc is not only Ukraine’s business. This is a complete breakdown of the global balance, which poses an existential threat to Russia. In other words, for Russia it is a matter of life and death… We simply will not allow it, regardless of the cost to us, and regardless of the cost to those responsible for it.”
Kiselyov, notorious for his previous assertion that Russia is the only country that can reduce the U.S. to a pile of radioactive ash, revisited his beloved “argument” to explain why the United States will be willing to entertain Putin’s unreasonable proposition. He asserted that Russia is willing to suffer any consequences and go to any lengths to get what it wants: “Never before has anyone published the texts of the proposed treaties. But never before in the 21st century has the situation been so acute, and the risks so great. Non-standard situations require non-standard approaches. Secondly, we’re holding very strong cards in our hands. Our hypersonic weapons are guaranteed to produce a response that is so unpleasant for America to hear: being reduced to radioactive ash.”
This horrifies me.  I don't remember hearing about this blood-curdling threat, given in plain English - but then, back in December I wasn't listening for it.  Why wasn't this front-page news?

Did anybody in Washington hear this warning?  Did anyone take it seriously?  What did they do?  How did they respond? 

Washington was warned about Russia's intentions with Ukraine, but was anybody minding the store?  Is anyone?  

God have mercy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Zelensky Addresses British House of Commons

President Zelensky echoed Churchill's famously defiant oratory in an address by video link in the House of Commons today, receiving an unheard-of standing ovation from the honorable members.  Your Head Trucker was quite moved, too.

Full text of the English translation here.


Monday, March 7, 2022

"Putin Will Kill a Million People"

An interview with Lt. Gen. (ret.) H. R. McMaster, who was fired in 2018 from the National Security Council by Trump.  McMaster is the author of several highly acclaimed books on military strategy and foreign policy, a very smart man who is worth listening to.  


What I Say:   I admire McMaster, but he is not the first person to suggest that Ukraine could be made into an "Afghanistan" for Russia - i.e., a long, drawn-out war of attrition which would ultimately fail. Perhaps it could, given the fierce resistance of the Ukrainian people; but to my mind this is no solution at all. 

After 20 years of non-stop war, Afghanistan, so far as I understand from news reports, is now in ruins, physically and financially, ruled by murderous, fanatical theocrats, and in immediate danger of mass starvation. What the hell kind of life is left for the ordinary people there? How many millions of Afghans have died in 20 years? How many are maimed, crippled, widowed, or orphaned? To our abiding shame, the United States sat on that country for two decades and left it a living hell. 

Is that the best Ukrainians can hope for? I ask you.  We can't set all the world afire to save just one country from burning down - but can't somebody come up with a good plan to save both?

What would Captain Kirk do?

Today is the time for help, not tomorrow, or next week, next month, next year - but NOW, while there is still someone to save.  Not 20 years from now.


Sunday, March 6, 2022

Sunday Drive: Bless the Beasts and Children

For all the people of Ukraine, young and old.

What I Say:  I don't suppose in all my life before the past week that I ever spent a total of 15 minutes thinking about Ukraine.  But since Putin sicced his troops on Ukraine, I've watched at least 50 hours of war coverage, maybe more.  And I've spent many hours reading various op-eds and commentaries on the war, principally from U. S. and U. K. news sites.  It's getting to be a bit much, a psychic overload, but one can hardly look away from this wrenching, history-making drama playing on all our screens in real time.

I know my truckbuddies don't need me to narrate a daily account of the war news, and perhaps my opinions about it are not really necessary in the grand scheme of things, either.  I suppose mainly I'm just talking to myself, "thinking out loud," as it were, on this blog.  It helps my mind to get things off my chest this way.  M.P. from day one imposed a strict ban on talking about the war because it makes him too upset for words.  (We have spoken briefly about a few headlines, but not for long.)  So the Blue Truck is my outlet for things I just need to say to someone.

One thing I do want to say right now is that among the many commentaries I've read is a continuing strain of shifting the blame - this is all Biden's fault, or Johnson's fault, or the West's fault.  One European columnist went on at length about how it's all Angela Merkel's fault for trying to keep open a "dialogue" with Putin for many years, instead of somehow "confronting" him.

In other words, it's everybody's' fault except Putin's.

Make no mistake, my friends:  Putin is the sole and efficient cause of this war.  He and no one else gave the orders for his armies to invade Ukraine, an independent state he had already taken bites out of before.  He did not have to do it; nobody made him do it.  He wanted to do it, and did do it entirely of his own evil will.  This fact is so obvious as to need no explanation.  Do not let anyone tell you different.

Putin is Hitler's evil son, a bloody murderer whose name will be accursed for all time to come as one of the greatest enemies of the human race.  And don't call him crazy or mad - that's excusing him.  A crazy person does not know the difference between right and wrong, and hence cannot be found guilty of any crime, including murder.  Putin is not crazy; he is evil.  This war was his free choice.  He may well have numerous lackeys and lickspittles to use as tools to accomplish his schemes, but he is the autocrat ordering his troops into a peaceful nation's territory, he is the one responsible for around-the-clock shelling of homes and schools and hospitals and apartment buildings; he is the fiend-in-chief at the top, ultimately directing his soldiers to shoot women, children, and babies in cold blood, and then walk away, leaving the still-living wounded to die in agony.

Putin is a mass murderer, a remorseless bully on a colossal scale.  Only force will stop him.  But the West cannot use force against him without throwing all of Europe and North America into another world war.  Must we destroy the free world in order to save it?  Our hearts break for the brave, defiant Ukrainian people and their undaunted Zelensky, a champion of freedom for the ages - but we simply must not let our emotions run away with us.  To expand Putin's war to a wider battleground would kill many more people, and perhaps not even save Ukraine.  Cool heads and clear minds are needed now, no matter how our hearts ache.

I do not know how it will all end; but we must never forget who willed this horror into being.  It's no good for armchair generals to say now, "Oh so-and-so should have done this or that or the other thing."  No, nobody knew that Putin would do this horrible, unthinkable thing; not one of these pious, oh-so-smart pundits forecast the storm before it broke.   Remember that.

The record will show that the democracies before this war, as before Hitler's war, did all that they could to keep the peace by reasonable means, by dialogue, by compromise, by friendly engagement and encouragement in the direction of peaceful relations.  That was a good thing, the right thing to do.  As one of my college professors said, talking about international relations, "As long as people are talking to each other, they aren't shooting at each other."  

But there is no reasoning with the Devil.

Fake cover of Time magazine, by artist Patrick Mulder.
Click to enlarge.

Update, 3/6/22, 8 p.m.: President Zelensky in his nightly address to his people vehemently condemned the callous murders committed by the Russian invaders. Excerpt:
Today is Forgiveness Sunday. A day when we always apologized. To each other. To all people. To God. But today, it seems, many have not mentioned this day at all. Have not mentioned the obligatory words: "Forgive me." And the obligatory answer: "God forgives, and I forgive." These words seem to have lost their meaning today. At least in part.
But we will not forgive hundreds and hundreds of victims. Thousands and thousands of sufferings. And God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never. And instead of Forgiveness, there will be a Day of Judgment.
We will not forgive the destroyed houses. We will not forgive the missile that our air defence shot down over Okhmatdyt today. And more than five hundred other such missiles that hit our land. All over Ukraine, hit our people and children.
We will not forgive the shooting of unarmed people. Destruction of our infrastructure. We will not forgive. Hundreds and hundreds of victims. Thousands and thousands of sufferings. And God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never. And instead of Forgiveness, there will be a Day of Judgment. I’m sure of it.
We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war on our land. We will find every bastard who shot at our cities, our people, who bombed our land, who launched rockets. There will be no quiet place on this earth for you. Except for the grave.
Here is the speech, with English subtitles. His righteous anger is a powerful thing to hear.


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Being Gay in Ukraine

Pride march in Kyiv, June 2019.  Click to enlarge.

It just occurred to me to look into this subject.  Here are few videos, and I may add more as I find them.

1. From the Voice of America, posted February 12, 2021 - two weeks before Russia invaded:


 2. Yuri, a gay Ukrainian man, talks about life as a gay man in Ukraine - posted in July 2016:


3.  In January 2019, the BBC reported on this gay Ukrainian army veteran:

 4. Two Ukrainian young men got married in Denmark - posted in June 2019:


News articles:
  • The journal Foreign Policy reported on February 18, 2022, that U. S. intelligence has said that Russia has drawn up detailed target lists of Ukrainians to be arrested or killed, including journalists, religious and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQI+ people.
  • And for the record, your Head Trucker posted this photo of a vicious attack on the leader of Kiev Pride in 2012:


Friday, March 4, 2022


Today's cover of The Economist (U.K.) - 
click to enlarge.

A segment of the PBS NewsHour showing Russian devastation in Ukraine, and the response of Ukrainian patriots:



Thursday, March 3, 2022

Meet Dick and Prick

Welcome to Texas. Allow me to introduce two of the most prominent members of our state government:
Greg Abbott 2015
Governor DICK

Ken Paxton by Gage Skidmore
Attorney General PRICK
These cruel, arrogant bigots with a long history of anti-gay activity are now persecuting transgender kids and their parents in Texas, threatening them with jail and fines for "child abuse" for supporting their child's medically supervised gender reassignment.  Read all about it in this post over at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters:

A state district judge placed a temporary hold on the investigation of one family yesterday, which Prick is trying to get overturned.  Read more at the Texas Tribune, a non-profit investigative website:

Students at one state unversity held a protest of the anti-trans order today; I hope there will be more protests against this unconscionable and unconstitutional invasion of privacy statewide.  I can't believe any higher-level court, state or federal, will let it stand.  As I understand it, this persecution is not even based on a state law, just Prick's legal opinion, which is not legally binding.  I'd like to tell him where to stuff it.


Wednesday, March 2, 2022

"They Have Orders to Erase Us All"

Babi Yar-06-194
Soviet POWs covering a mass grave after the Babyn Yar massacre, October 1, 1941.
From Wikipedia - public domain.
After a Russian missile struck Babyn Yar in Kyiv, the site of a memorial and mass grave of more than 100,000 victims of Nazi massacres, Ukrainian President Zelensky made this statement today:


The General Assembly of the United Nations voted today on a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine:  141 nations voted for the resolution, 5 against, and 35 abstained.  The map shows how the vote went:

Click to enlarge.

This is a good time to review the founding principles expressed in the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations:

  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to regain faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
  • to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
  • to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
  • to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,


Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

By the way, have you ever read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?  A beautiful statement of fundamental principles all member states should try to live up to.  Read it here.


Invasion map of Ukraine, March 2, 2022, 1800 GMT.
Click to enlarge.


Tuesday, March 1, 2022

God Save Ukraine

President Zelensky made a moving address to the European Parliament by video link today:


Just a few thoughts at bedtime, after a day of listening to many fine speeches praising the courage of the Ukrainian people and their government:

A Russian convoy of heavily armed troops and tanks, 40 miles long, is just twenty miles from Kiev.  The brave Ukrainian people and their dauntless President Zelensky are fighting tooth and nail to defend their country, and begging the West for help - and plenty of aid is already on the way, meaning military equipment and humanitarian supplies - but not boots on the ground or or planes in the sky, without which, it seems to me, they can only delay, not prevent, their defeat.

I know and fully agree, mentally, with all the very good reasons why the West simply cannot send their troops or planes into Ukraine.  But it makes my blood boil to think of these beleaguered people, fighting against the odds for their freedom, their homes, and their families in a mortal struggle with the most evil man to darken the earth since Hitler.  And no one dares lift one finger to help them.

Where have we seen this scenario before in history?  

The odds against Ukraine are very great, indeed:  just look at this comparison chart, a screen capture tonight from DW television (Germany):

Click to enlarge.

Despite their bravery and bravado, the Ukrainians are clearly outmanned and outgunned.  Beyond that, supplies of food, fuel, and medicine are already running short.  What real hope does Ukraine have of defeating a ruthless invader all alone?  What comfort will it be to have the admiration of all the Western democracies when the last defender lies dead in a pool of blood?  Of what use will be our praise of the fighting Ukrainians then?

I wrote Sunday of this terrible moral dilemma - nothing can be done; but by all that is holy, something ought to be done to help them, and deliver them from the maw of the ravening Bear.

I have no answers.  I am just praying God to save Ukraine - someway, somehow.  And give peace to all the world.  Amen.

Update, 3/2/22, 6 p.m.:  Yesterday, neither Prime Minister Johnson nor President Biden made any reference at all to Putin's nuclear threat when they had opportunities to do so.  But for a military man's perspective, DW (a German TV network) presents this chilling interview with General Sir Richard Shirreff, retired Deputy Allied Supreme Commander of NATO, who tells plainly just how dangerous Putin is, and what could happen in Ukraine.  Very informative.

God save us all.

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