June 27, 2016

My black lab Mischief and I were sitting in the house on a hot Sunday afternoon enjoying the air conditioning. She was sipping a glass of white wine, while I was drinking a bottle of Gaelic Ale.

After taking a long, slow, sip of her wine, Mischief looked at me with sad eyes and said, “I really miss Smut.” Smut was my son’s old black lab who died two years ago at the age of 15. Until now, we had not talked about Smut. Mischief grieved for several weeks after Smut died, but the two of us never got around to discussing his death.

“I miss him, too,” I replied. “You and Smut were together all your life, so I can imagine that you miss him quite a lot.”

“He was like a big brother to me,” she said quietly.

We were silent for a while, then she said, “Smut taught me quite a bit, you know. How to enjoy your good Scotch whiskey, all about particle physics, and how to manipulate humans. Not that I would try to do that with you, of course.”

“I certainly hope not. I had enough of that from Smut.”

“But I am interested in particle physics. I was quite surprised when researchers at CERN LHC facility announced that they may have discovered a new particle. As it…”

“What’s that?” I asked. “I missed that news.”

“As I was saying,” she continued, looking slightly annoyed at my interruption. “as it turned out, the researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland believe it was just a data anomaly. But it would have caused major rethinking in the particle physics world, since no such particle had been predicted by current models.”

I began to be a little suspicious where this conversation was leading. “Seems as if you did learn a bit from Smut.”

“Yes,” she smiled, sipping more wine and adopting a casual and relaxed position, with her front paws crossed, “and I think that since we both miss him, now would be a good time to honor his memory in some way.”

“Well, what is your suggestion?” I asked apprehensively, as an old feeling sweeping over me.

“We should go to CERN and visit the LHC,” she said resolutely.

“Now, look here, Smut–I mean, Mischief. We are not going to Switzerland. Get that out of your mind.”

“We don’t have to decide right now,” she stated calmly, but with a hint of foregone conclusion. “We can think about it a while. More ale?”



March 14, 2014

My old dog Smut, a full-blooded English Lab, died yesterday. He had a long life for a Labrador retriever, but he will be missed very much.

As one of God’s creations, dogs are a gift from God to us. Even though they have short lives relative to humans, in that short time they can give us a great deal of love and pleasure, and touch our hearts greatly. Their lives are extended by our memories of them. That is what I was thinking as I buried him in his favorite place, under the pine tree in my back yard.

It may come as a surprise that some of what I’ve written about Smut was made up. Even so, he was the smartest dog with whom I ever came in contact, even smarter than Mischief, my Lab-mix. She is missing Smut as much as the rest of the family.

I will continue to write about Smut and his remarkable life, because it pleases me to remember him.


Smut Wibbly Harris

Born June 10, 1999 in Oak City, NC; died March 13, 2014, in Pamlico County, NC


February 7, 2014

Take part in the effort to end government spying this Tuesday, February 11!


January 16, 2014

I was working in the yard, trying to put a new blade-drive belt on my lawnmower, when Mischief ran up to me and said, “There’s something wrong with Smut!” Mischief is my frenetic black Lab, and Smut is my calm old black Lab.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, alarmed. Smut is 14 years old and has been through two cancer surgeries. His hold on life is becoming tenuous.

Mischief was jumping up and down all around me, trying to convey urgency. “He’s acting very upset and disturbed,” she said. “He might be having a stroke!”

She turned and took off quickly the way she had come, and I followed, praying that Smut was not having a stroke. We found him at the edge of a field where he often went to read and think about particle physics. His smoking jacket was unbelted and hanging open, and his fez sat at an unstable angle. He was pacing back and forth quickly, clearly deeply concerned about something.

“What’s wrong, Smut?” I asked, hoping he could answer me rationally. But he seemed not to hear me, and he didn’t acknowledge my presence.

Mischief quickly barked at him, telling him to snap out of it and talk to us. Smut stopped his pacing, looked at us, and grumbled, “Nothing. Nothing. Just reading, that’s all.” But I could tell that it certainly wasn’t all.

“Are you sick, Smut?” I asked. “Do you not feel well? Do we need to go to the vet?”

Looking resigned to having to interact with Mischief and me, Smut settled back on his haunches, pulled his pipe out of his pocket along with a pouch containing tobacco—or something—and after filling the bowl, tamping it down, and lighting the pipe with a match he found in his other pocket, he took a slow drag on the pipe and said, “I’m just a little upset about something I read, that’s all.”

Relieved that Smut wasn’t suffering from a physical ailment, I asked with sarcasm, “Oh, is there another conundrum in the world of particle physics?” I expected a lengthy discourse on some inconsistency in the way quarks react to mesons, or something like that.

“No,” he replied, “I decided to take a break from particle physics and read a newspaper. It was a story in your latest edition of the Wall Street Journal that bothered me.”

“What was it in the Journal that upset you so much, Smut?”

Smut took another puff on his pipe, looked at Mischief, then at me, and began. “Well, you know how you like to share that really delicious Stilton cheese and fine port wine with Mischief and me?”

I don’t like to share it with them. It’s just that they’re always begging and trying to grab it from me, so I usually give in and let them have a taste. “I love the taste of that cheese, and it goes so well with the port I lap up. When you share that with us, I feel a special friendship for you,” Smut continued.

“Save the flattery and get on with it, Smut,” I told him, sensing that his fawning behavior was leading to something I wouldn’t like.

“The story in the Journal said that import prices are going up as high as fifteen percent in 2014,” he reported with sadness. “I’m afraid as a result you won’t buy as much Stilton and port as we, I mean, you like!”

“Oh, no!” Mischief interjected.

“You’re absolutely correct, Smut,” I said. “That stuff is high enough already. I don’t have the money to spend on that kind of luxury, especially now the prices are going up.”

After a furtive look at Mischief, Smut turned to me and asked, “Could you perhaps get a second job? I hear McDonald’s is hiring.”

I should not indulge those dogs.


January 11, 2013

Any government is the natural enemy of its people’s liberty and freedoms. The objective of those in government, even if they’re not aware of it, is to centralize government control and consolidate its power, depriving its citizens of rights and freedoms in the process. If a people have nothing to protect them from their government, they are nothing but slaves.

The writers of the American constitution knew that. They had just dealt with an oppressive government, so the constitution was to be a contract between the American government and its people that would itemize what the government could do, and specifically prohibit it from doing certain things.

In the debate over ratification of the constitution, some saw that the constitution as written was insufficient to protect Americans’ liberty, so they proposed a Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the constitution. It is probable that the constitution would not have been ratified without those first ten amendments. Those amendments embody our best chance to remain free from government tyranny.

The constitution afforded Americans not only protections against the government depriving its citizens of their freedoms, but protection against the will of a misguided majority acting in haste to take away the freedoms of the minority.

Because a majority can act unwisely in an emotionally charged situation, changing the constitution requires that a proposed amendment be ratified by three-fourths of the states to become law. In this way, during the time required for ratification, cooler heads can prevail and an unwise change be averted.

The greatest danger to Americans comes when the people react without careful reflection in a crisis or as the result of an emotionally charged event, and the government, seizing the opportunity to take away freedoms, quickly passes laws or executive actions that abrogate constitutional protections.

Now some government officials and private citizens are suggesting executive action and/or passing laws in contravention of one of the first ten amendments. If changing one of our basic protections to our liberty is a good idea, then it should be done by an amendment to the constitution, not by government fiat.

Americans will remain free only as long as they demand that the government hold fast to the terms of the contract that protects us: the Constitution.


November 7, 2012

It’s the day after the national election, and nothing’s changed. Obama’s still in the White House, the Republicans still control the House of Representatives and the Democrats still control the Senate. Oh, and the Cheshire Cat is still grinning in the tree.

The official presidential campaigns spent over $1 billion and nothing happened except that the TV networks got richer. We still will have gridlock for at least the next two years. (Things could change in 2014. The Democrats could regain control of the House, and in the event, if they retain control of the Senate, then it will be a replay of 2009 and 2010, in which period we got Obamacare.) God only knows what we would get if the Democrats regain control of Congress in 2014. But surely Americans are not so stupid as to do that again; in the election yesterday they kissed Obama’s ass big time, but still elected Republicans to control the House. All politics are local, it’s been said. Lest you think I’m pickin’ on the Democrats, I assure you I believe that were the Republicans in the same position, the fallout would be as bad, if slightly different.

But there is one thing looming that could cause big changes: A lame-duck Congress. It is the time when it could really rape us, as if we haven’t been fucked enough by Congress in the past 12 years (at least).

The lame-ducks will consider extending the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a law that employs secret and unaccountable FISA courts and bureaucrats that authorize the federal government to spy on Americans with warrantless searches and forces libraries and internet providers to give the government information they want about Americans. The House already passed the extension, so will the Senate save us from this abomination? Don’t bet on it.

Congress failed to pass what Campaign for Liberty calls “the crown jewel in the national security police state,” cyber-security laws that would require internet providers to allow the federal government to see behind everything on the net. But you can be sure that Congress will try to pass it in the lame-duck session.

Republicans always have been statists to a significant degree (Bush got that constitution-screwing Patriot Act passed with the help of his Republican congressional majority), but the Democrats that were anti-statists during Vietnam have become even more statist than Republicans! We still have the Patriot Act even after two years of a Democratic president who had a Democrat-controlled Congress! Curious, isn’t it, that those who once were anti-establishment now are the establishment.

My Democrat friends will say that in this post I am lying about the Democratic Party and impugning the newly reelected president-who-can-do-no-wrong. My Republican friends will say that I am lying about the Republican Party. They all will defend the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act, and the proposed cyber-security legislation as necessary for our security.

But how, then, will we be secure from our own government? If none of this happens in the lame-duck session, I will have fallen down the rabbit hole.


October 16, 2012

(Apologies to Jeff Foxworthy)

Do you think that it makes more sense to let a free market, in which competition among participants is the chief characteristic, offer everything from what we eat to the medical care we get, instead of government-mandated programs designed by anonymous bureaucrats that limit our choices based on the whims of politicians? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think the government should stop spending substantive amounts of money maintaining military bases in countries from Britain to Korea, and station all the troops at home, creating more money flow and jobs in the United States? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think the government should stop interfering in the affairs of other sovereign countries and instead offer to trade and deal equally with all nations? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think that the government should stop its expensive and unsuccessful war on drugs, legalize and regulate currently illegal drugs, and allow states to spend what would have been drug-war money on programs that help drug abusers? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think that it’s not the government’s business to define marriage and regulate who can marry, but that states should issue civil union permits to all who wish to enter legal partnerships, and that what constitutes marriage and who should marry is up to individuals and their religious institutions? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think that government should not decide who should be born and who should die? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you believe that the federal government engages in activities beyond constitutional limitations, and that therefore taxation to pay for those activities is illegal and unconstitutional? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you believe that the federal government’s continued borrowing and printing money to support programs that are both unconstitutional and beyond our means should be wound-down over time, and that Congress must make provision to eliminate the federal debt over time? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think that the preservation of individual rights and liberty for all Americans is more important than the threat of terrorist acts? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think that federal, state and local government pervasive surveillance programs are both intrusive and unconstitutional? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you believe that Americans have an obligation to provide assistance to those who really need it, but that providing a government-financed living to those who choose not to be productive is neither a legitimate role of government nor within our financial means? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you think that the rights and freedoms of Americans guaranteed in the Constitution cannot be maintained if the constitutional limits on government are ignored? Then you might be a libertarian.

Do you understand and disagree with the policies and actions of both Democrats and Republicans, and wish there were another choice? Then you might be a libertarian.

Learn more about libertarianism and decide for yourself if it’s a better choice for you and for America. And ask yourself if a Democrat or Republican would tell you to decide for yourself.