Jim Varagona

Category: georgebush

>Mr. Vonnegut’s Dead (RIP 1922-2007)

>

I just found out Kurt Vonnegut died. I have to admit that I never have read one of his novels. The movie version of his “Breakfast of Champions” which starred Bruce Willis was underrated in my mind, but it still didn’t push me to read him. I can’t explain why. I never got around to it. I did walk away from the movie with a nice quote however: “Until you’re dead, it’s all life.” As much as it is stating the obvious, it had meaning to me. I had endured the recent deaths of my brother and uncle, and actually watched them die before my eyes. It means enjoy it while you got it, as depressing as it gets at times.

Vonnegut knew the meaning of depression. His mother killed herself before he left for WWII. He attempted suicide in 1984, and (according to his AP obit) “later joked about how he botched the job.”

I later came upon interviews with Kurt and short pieces he had written reflecting on the current state of things. My state of mind certainly jives with his.

From “Kurt Vonnegut’s Stardust Memory” by Harvey Wasserman:

“Well,” says Vonnegut, “I just want to say that George W. Bush is the syphilis president.”

“The only difference between Bush and Hitler,” Vonnegut adds, “is that Hitler was elected.”

You gotta love it, well if you feel the same, or can simply appreciate an old man with a sense of humor.

That’s what is great about him. As depressing as things get or can be, he kept his keen sense of humor. You have to in order to survive. That’s been a philosophy of mine. There are so many funny moments in the sickest and saddest points of our lives. That’s how I got through them. It’s all about waiting to see what’s around the next corner, what other sick jokes are in store for us.

One that comes to mind is that as my brother was on his way out, into the abyss, there were folks with my family at the hospital. One was a religious fanatic co-worker of my father. She even brought a friend. They convinced the twenty or so of us to form a ring and join hands. They said their prayer, but then began speaking in tongues. Even though it was the lowest point in my life, I began laughing under my breath. Is that what Matt would have wanted? The speaking in tongues, not the laughing. I’m confident he was sharing a chuckle with me at that point, as he looked on from the hereafter. It’s things like that though that assist the treadmill of life. I knew that I should have stayed bawling knowing that Matt was gone, but I looked around at those that were bowing their heads sharing in our grief, thinking that it was ridiculous and that Matt would agree because for the most part, I knew him better than them.

Anyway, thanks for the lesson and the laughs Mr. Vonnegut. Maybe I’ll go buy one of your books now.

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>Diabeto’s End of the Year Extravaganza

>So yeah, it’s been about a month since last posting. We moved into our new digs and had to go on borrowed internet to check messages until a few days ago when it finished moving here. The move itself was rough considering the last day occurred during an ice storm. We went throughout the night moving into a place without power due to falling frozen tree limbs.

Now things are settled, so we hope. With the new year, change lies ahead for everyone. It really seems like there’s been a push to tie up loose ends before the end of the year though. It’s odd to hear that Saddam was executed and then see flags at half staff for the days following. The death of former President Ford threw the balance of the news off a bit, but it was nice to hear about a fine President instead of all of the crap that our current leader is doing or not doing.

Today, the last day of the year, we learn that another “milestone” has been hit in Iraq. Our 3000th soldier has been killed since the war began. I love the smell of freedom on the march. Meanwhile Bush weighs his options, since “staying the course” didn’t work for 3 years of death and destruction. What happened to the Iraq Study Group‘s recommendations anyway? I realize those folks weren’t military leaders and all of their suggestions may not have been feasible, but at least they were trying to find a solution. Their recommendations included diplomatic means which are foreign to our current administration. If all else fails, throw more boys into it and hope for the best, eh Georgie?

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Photographing babies is a fun job, but it’s downside is resembling that of previous positions. I’m driving way too much and being compensated too little for the work. I do get to go from trailers to $3 million mansions, but the entertainment value of that doesn’t help my finances. I do get a kick out of kids exploding green poo and rolling around in it during the naked baby shots however, but I still get no bonus from those occurrences.

My insurance from this job still won’t kick in for at least another two months. I attempted to get insurance on my own to fill in the blank period, but apparently I am uninsurable to every company because of my condition. Well, not exactly. I could pay $475 a month for coverage, but that’s about a third of my income.

I have already spent the past few months without coverage, but stocked up on insulin pump supplies beforehand. Two days ago they ran out. Now for the first time in over 5 years, I am back to taking injections. It’s weird to not have the pump connected to me at all times. I’m used to adjusting the position of it throughout the day, but now I feel naked.

If I stick with this job and get its insurance, it is not the most affordable. Do I stay for the needed medical insurance and let my income suffer, or once again jump ship to find greener pastures? It’s a pain in my ass and even more so since I began shooting insulin into it again.

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I’d like to wish everyone the best new year possible. I foresee more excitement and volatility in my life and in the world, so we shall see. Hasta luego.

>Now Taking Pictures of Cloned Babies from Election Day

>Forgive me father, it has been over a week since my last blog.

The thing is that I found new employment since ditching the automobile classified photography business. Now, instead of traveling around the area getting photos of cars, I have moved on to in-home photography of infants and toddlers. It still involves quite a bit of driving to get to customers’ homes, but photographing children is more challenging and enjoyable than snapping pictures of cars, trucks, boats, and RV’s.

I must say this is closer to my goal of actually having a job relating to my Bachelors Degree in Media Communications. That looked hopeless during my days in the Italian Retail Service.

In other news, I fulfilled my duties of guarding and troubleshooting the electronic voting machines on Election Day. I understand now why this country has so many issues with the validity of elections. I felt very competent in my role, which I aced every examination for during training. It was very disconcerting though to see that anyone that applies to help with the elections is pretty much accepted. I know we all have a duty to serve in whatever capacity we can to be true patriots, but this is ridiculous. The written exam which determines whether or not one could go on to be in charge of these machines at a location was around 60 written questions. To pass, you only needed 60% correct. I think this helps explain why some precincts have a hard time reporting on time.

Not only were the tech positions filled this way, which I feel is a very important role throughout the day, the other poll workers don’t seem to be scrutinized much. For the first hour and a half, during the biggest rush of our day at my site, one of the precincts had a woman with moderate Alzheimer’s handling the looking up of names in the register. I don’t blame her, because she was doing her best to help, but someone should have recognized her ability level sooner. After she was pulled from that post at 7:30 AM, she asked me what time it was. I told her and she was shocked that it was so late. She thought it was already 12 hours later, and that we were going to go home. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I later hung out with this woman as she stood by the large machine that accepts the optical scan ballots. She helped folks slip their ballots in the shredder looking machine and proceeded to clap and cheer for them. This is how we replaced the fact that our city wasn’t giving out “I Voted” stickers this year. A couple of people were really irked that she was standing right next to the machine, considering it an invasion of privacy. If they took it any further than mumbles under their breath, I planned to tell them that even if she wanted to see their votes, she wouldn’t remember it later. She was a sweet woman, about 90 years old. She told me the same story 10 times about her family and her current living situation. We also chatted about how girls in schools these days like to have their breasts hanging out of their shirts and that she thinks that is reason enough for uniforms. “Everything’s all about sex”, she explained to me, “that’s why they have so much AIDS in Africa.”

Listening to my new elderly female friend, I realized something. She made sense a lot of the time, but then she would get confused and repeat herself, sometimes completely. Sometimes she made no sense at all. It summed up my experience that day. This system means well, I’m almost sure. The thing is that if the workers at the polls continue to be an aging crowd, not many will know what is going on. They all mean well. More emphasis should be put on recruiting of these temporary workers, especially on college campuses to get younger people involved that have experience with the technology that helps us vote. We can all learn something from eachother, no matter what age, race, or belief system. This is another example.

After I got home from the day at the polls, I passed out to the news that Claire McCaskill was trailing Jim Talent by over 10 points here in Missouri and our Amendment 2 that Michael J. Fox helped promote was losing as well. It didn’t look good. Then a funny thing happened on the way to further Republican domination…

I woke up about 3 hours later to hear McCaskill giving her victory speech. Amendment 2 was leading by a slim margin with more votes to count. The Democrats had gained the upper hand in the House and were too close to call in the Senate, because of Montana and Virginia (which both later went blue to win the Senate). It was as if Santa had paid a visit during my slumber.

I know that this doesn’t mean the world is saved from our downward spiral, but now there’s a bit more hope. And it doesn’t hurt that silly Republicans think the Dems will now go on baby killing sprees, clone armies of mutant children, impeach the evil Emperor Bush, tax every penny they make, spend, or hoard, and let Michael Moore live.

MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

>”How Dare you, Mr. President…”

>As a follow up to my post from yesterday (9/11 To Me, and the American Crutch of Stupidity and Convenience), I am posting some materials that have come out in the past day that also reflect my feelings.

Last night, on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Keith addressed the administration with obvious emotion. I’m sure it will be labeled as part of the conspiracy of the liberal media, but if you’d like to label it that way, at least you have a Republican controlled government. Here is the video from last night (and transcript):

Howard Zinn, writer of A People’s History of the United States, offered this commentary about a week ago about current events:

War is not a solution for terrorism …By Howard
Zinn

THERE IS SOMETHING important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey’s novel, “The War Lover,” in which a macho
American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his
sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations — the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan — and were forced to withdraw.

Even the “victories” of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence — the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a “suspected terrorist” is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is “inevitable.”

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in “accidental” events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by “accident.” Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

I only hope that others feel this passionately during these times and challenge what we are fed as the truth.

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>Iraq War Blues

>The following is a song I wrote last year about the war in Iraq, which will never end. I just dug it up and thought I’d share it. It is obviously influenced by Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Johnny Cash.

The Iraq War Blues
A couple of years ago
and a few days before
someone got the idea to go to war
freedom for these men
by killin’ some of those men
who do we kill first?
women and children

All these bombs flyin’ through the air
some of ’em goin’ to we don’t know where
all because he hate me
who? I don’t know
why? I ain’t sure
shock and awe ’em
that’ll be the cure

We’ll send our boys over to here and there
to fight an enemy that’s everywhere
Iraqis, Afghanis,
Shi’ite..I don’t know
mission accomplished
let’s take it real slow
people are dyin’
but our way’s the way to go

Fahrenheit nine one one
everybody grab a gun
and some duct tape
and a can opener
code yellow
code orange
code red
get it through your head
a Dick and a Bush are callin’ the shots
We’re in good hands
like Allstate

We’ll they’re doin’ it now
and they’ll do it again
the fleecing of America
plucking from our mother hen
so send some more of our boys over
and send some bodybags back
just don’t take pictures of their coffins

I’m gettin’ tired now
I’m gonna not vote
I love my country

copyright 2005-2006 Jim Varagona


Additional Links

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>The Angry Rant of a Downsized Diabeto

>Since I am angry, there are things I must address. My analyst says it would be healthy and wise.

To my landlady:

The grass is 3 weeks grown again. Tiny little trees are sprouting that Bob Ross would be proud of–god rest his soul. I refuse to pick up my dog’s dung anymore until it is cut, especially considering the insects that now inhabit the wilderness that is the backyard I put rent money towards. They got a healthy lunch in the form of my shins and calves.

In other news, a month and a day after
my nuptials, the Don informs me that a week from yesterday will be my last with the company. The official word is that someone had to be downsized. The unofficial word is that, well, I guess my thoughts on that will wait until I separate from the company.

I did think though, as an observation, that downsizing usually skimmed from the bottom of the totem pole. Considering where I am on the ladder of seniority, that theory certainly wouldn’t work here. It makes one wonder who to believe and trust.

Since, being put it this lonely and awkward position by a company I put a good 9 months in for, I have no choice but to dissolve the Italian Retail Service, including the honorary Pinoy wing. This will take effect immediately.

Now what do I do during my lame duck week with the company? It feels strange putting forth effort for an organization that deemed me unfit, or too pooped to pop for them. Speaking of that, why is it that it is respectable for employees to give employers two weeks notice, but the employees are not given such respect? Rodney Dangerfield hit the nail on the head with a big ol’ Ludell sledgehammer.

Why must business be such a dirty thing? Why must drama and politics infiltrate every aspect of life? I know money has a lot to do with this, because profits are the bottom line. One guy goes, more money is saved. Riddle me this though…what happens to his money while the fat cats add more greenbacks to their bubbly money baths? I’m sure there are plenty more sob stories of those that were spared, but thinking of myself for a moment, I’m trying to start a new life here as a married man, and this is a hell of a fungus ridden foot to start it off on. To continue the analogy, whose gonna be my BOOM!–Tough Actin’ TINACTIN?

Save me John Madden.

This also makes me wonder, what do rich people dream about? Apparently our President has plenty of time to dream. It must be alot easier in positions of power, in which your decisions have no effect on your place in life, except maybe bringing you closer to all of those virgins in heaven. I only hope that if the virgins exist, that they are packs of angry nuns. And they’ll give them physicals too. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Like it was for Corky on Life Goes On,

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, Life Goes On, whoa, la-la-la-la, Life Goes On.

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