Jim Varagona

Category: Uncategorized

Ferguson and the Festering Wounds of Structural Inequality: A Quest for Awareness and Understanding

Wonderfully thoughtful piece by former classmate of mine, Dr. Adam Butz, on what has led to where we are now in Ferguson.

Adam M. Butz, Ph.D.

On Saturday, August 9, unarmed African American teenager, Mike Brown, was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, MO, a suburb of North St. Louis.   The details regarding the initial altercation remain fuzzy but the tragedy appears to have been set in motion by overly aggressive policing (“get the fu*k on the sidewalk”).  The grotesque nature of the execution included multiple deadly shots in the back as the suspect fled the scene… Unarmed… Brown’s untimely death has sparked outrage and non-violent protests among bewildered residents looking for answers, accountability and justice.

Unfortunately, some episodic looting among opportunistic neer-do-wells has also broken out (seemingly unrelated to the legitimate protests).  Nothing excuses the unlawful looting in Ferguson but the underlying grievance of Mike Brown’s family and frustrations of the local community are justified.  Many whites – and sadly many of my own family and friends – will focus myopically on riot…

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>STAR (Email SPAM Poetry)

>I received the following in my inbox today, which slipped through my bulk email folder. Some of these are so thought provoking.

STAR

Started, star catcher, style insider train wrecks wacky, weird.
Four gawker gabsmash gallery absurd gilded moose give.
Whore tall glass milk towleroad tvgasm squad, twangville vip.
Arriving at, disney sound bytes, surreal life, getsreal jeff.
Format annoyingly perky today will go head?
Question, absolute punk antimusic, art.
Bennetts ordinary lovethe, hills, are.
Rees, love hewitts pooch prozac bennetts.
Excellent picks another promotes, forgets her, brainmiss.
Started, star catcher, style insider train wrecks wacky, weird.

I love how it opens and closes with the same thought. What is a “tvgasm” though?

>”Death, Taxes, and MySpace?”

>I have to admit that I check on my MySpace daily. MySpace is that site all over the news for being a playground for sexual predators because stupid kids put every detail of their life on these personal web pages, including addresses and cell phone numbers. I may be a scary guy, but I am not one of those scary guys.

It is an addicting thing that seems to be growing daily in our society. Apparently its membership grows by tens of thousands each day. I must say the numbers are padded by pages for role players, like many of my MySpace friends, who say they are “Viagra” or “Andy Warhol“. It’s weird though, to consider how many people’s lives it is a part of. I recently discovered MyDeathSpace.com, which really puts it all in perspective. The site lists people who are on MySpace that have died, whether it be by falling off a cliff or falling off of a skateboard while trying to ride it holding on to a car. Not only that, but it lists how they died and gives corresponding news articles. Regular people that became murderers are even listed. With each listing is a link to that person’s MySpace profile, frozen in time, but still collecting comments from friends. It’s bizzare and yet fascinating. This is definitely a sign of the times.

>Record Suicides In the Army and Otherwise

>It comes as no surprise to me to read in the news that “The number of U.S. Army soldiers who took their own lives increased last year to the highest total since 1993, despite a growing effort by the Army to detect and prevent suicides.”

The situation over there looks pretty bleak and hopeless. I only hope the Iraqis are enjoying their new found freedom and liberty that ol’ Georgie was told by the Lord to give them.

The article that reported this fact went on to state:

The Army rate is higher than the civilian suicide rate for 2003, which was 10.8 per 100,000, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the Army number tracked closely with the rate for civilians aged 18-34, which was 12.19 per 100,000 in 2003.

I must say that last fact is a shame, but makes a bit of sense. People in that age group are entering “the real world” and are still trying to figure themselves and life in general out.

I know a guy that was headed for Iraq; I can only assume that is where he is now. He was a friend of my brother’s growing up. I saw him around Thanksgiving, right before he was to head out. I was not going to preach to him about my views against this war. He has probably heard it enough from others. Who knows which side of the fence he’s on anyway? A lot of the boys in the military, I feel, are simply lost and a guaranteed paycheck from the government doesn’t sound half bad.

He told me the money was good for him and that the experience would help him get a job in law enforcement when he got out. Before he left, he was married. Who knows how long it will be before his wife sees him again?

One thing he told me stood out. As he said it, I saw the fear and uneasiness. He said to me, “They train you to be ready to die. I don’t want to die, but I’m ready.”

…Just for money and a future.

I can only imagine thousands of other lost boys like him. The fear must always be in them. Is this worth it? Why can’t we take care of out issues here before interfering in other countries’ affairs, which we fabricated in the first place as a threat to us?

I don’t understand this at all.

At least the boys overseas don’t have many nail guns. A 33 year-old Oregon man went into a hospital complaining of a headache. It turns out he got high on meth and shot 12 nails into his head with a nail gun trying to kill himself. Somehow his head wasn’t permanently damaged much…from the nails.

How Not to Attempt Suicide–by Nailgun (photo from MSNBC-TV)

The article matter-of-factly states that “No one before is known to have survived after intentionally firing so many foreign objects into the head”. We need to clone this guy and send those boys into the Middle East. Our new Army of meth crazed super freaks. That way we don’t have to worry about the fragile mental state that we are putting them in.

>Fun with Ceiling Fans

>My fiance and I live in a quirky place. I have blogged about our adventures with rodents, but haven’t really touched on much else. The legal ramifications may be too risky at this point. I cannot, however, avoid this rant.

We live in a two family flat. When our landlady decorated the joint, she added pretty spiffy ceiling fans, two upstairs and two downstairs in fact. They even have their own remote controls for the ultimate in laziness. The problem lies in the technology and the thought process.

The fans have no code or anything that distinguishes one from the next, so using the remote can get tricky. Say I turn on the light on the fan in the living area, but my fiance is sleeping in the other room. If the switch to the fan in the other room is on, the light will go on along with the intended one. This goes for the fan itself as well. Like I said, great idea on paper, but already a little silly.

Up until last night, it has only happened a few times that the gal upstairs didn’t like her fan or light being on, and therefore turned one or both of ours off along with hers. It was humorous. I even spent a few hours at one time, going back and forth with them. Or is that what is going on?

I will say that we were warned of this when we moved in, but she didn’t make a big deal of it. Now is it truly the gal upstairs fighting with us electronically, or is it some kind of bad signal or interfering signal? Could it even be a ghost? Could this be the ghost of my late brother messing with my head? And what does the neighbor lady think if the same occurences are happening upstairs? Does she think we are complete assholes for playing tug-o-war with ceiling fan remote signals? My head hurts.

So last night was a warm night. We have had unusually warm temperatures in this area recently. Our mice even expressed to us that they can leave now because the cold weather has left. We had the A/C on plus various fans. When you have a fan above you, you must take advantage of it, unless you are horribly allergic to the crap flying through the air. Our bedroom fan was on full blast…for about 10 seconds. What followed was like Shock and Awe with ceiling fans. Throughout the night, we went back and forth.

Lights and fan on.

Then off.

Then fan on.

Then off.

Lights on, then off.

It was complete and utter nonsense that we have to attempt to sleep through such torture. We were dripping in sweat as much as we tried to avoid it. The fans wouldn’t stay on for more than 10 or 15 seconds. Just as we would get our hopes up, the insurgents would add their signal to the fray. It was maddening, especially for my lady. The enemy was psyching us out.

We sincerely thought of this as war. How could someone punish us like this? If you don’t like the fan, flip the switch. Don’t make us suffer by using the convenient little remote to turn it off. Or were we at war with a new type of enemy–one of the supernatural kind or the super-technological kind? I have a sneaky suspicion that Republicans are behind this mess.

>Criminal Act to Say Bush Should Be Castrated–Who’s Crazy?

>Out of East St. Louis today, a hop, skip, and a jump over the river from me, the AP reports a mental patient now faces federal charges because he told two workers at his mental health center that he wanted to castrate our President. The workers told Secret Service, and upon interview, the man, Arafat Nijmeh, told the agents that his threat “is not too harsh, considering what he has done to my country. If not that than maybe something else, you know?”

He now faces two felony charges for “knowingly and willfully” threatening to harm Dubya.

What is our country coming to? I’m sure some left wing pundits or comics have said something similar in the past, considering our President’s controversial reign. He didn’t say he would kill the man, or that he had an elaborate plan to do this. I’m sure many people unhappy with Bush and our country at this point has said something similar at some point. Watch your back. Big Brother’s out there.

Bush and his cronies’ differing accounts of how much to cut off.

On a side note, Nijmeh was staying at the Alton Mental Health Center, north of East St. Louis. I have worked in those parts. Alton is home to Robert Wadlow, who measured at 8 feet 11 inches as the tallest man on this planet. The city honors him with a statue at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine and a municipal golf course named after him. Why dental medicine? I suppose the dentists appreciate the fine bone growth. Golfing might have been quite entertaining involving such a sasquatch though.

Wadlow…more like Weirdo.

Maybe the people of Alton are crazy. Maybe they should be criticized for worshiping a golden cow. I am only fooling, but why can’t we simply have the freedom of criticizing somebody by saying they should have their penis removed. John Wayne Bobbit most likely deserved it. No one is calling for anyone’s head…well, you know what I mean. In fact in my MySpace profile, I say I’d most like to meet the President , “so that I may bite his nose off.” It isn’t meant to be taken as that, but as a fun way of saying “I don’t like him”, and what is wrong with that if 64% of the country disapproves of the way he is running this country (a new all time low for Bush and his elephant friends)? Have we no freedom and liberty here?

>Let the Folks In Jesusland Know: Jesus Walked On Ice, Not Water

>I have spoken of my journey into Jesusland, where folks believe in drinking blood to get drunk and eating flesh as a tribute to their faith. But seriously, the crew at Disinfo.com find some great stuff. Today they link to a LiveScience article that suggests Jesus may have actually walked on crystal clear ice patches and not water as previously assumed. I knew this would eventually happen. The whole Jesus thing is unraveling now, just like Santa Claus did when I was a kid. Next thing we’ll find out is that George W. Bush is the antichrist that Nostradamus predicted in the Black Scrolls.

…Or maybe he is.

Some more questions before I go…

  • If Adam and Eve were real, does that mean we are all inbred? If they weren’t real, what’s the true story behind it all?
  • Why do men leave boogers behind above urinals? Is this the freedom that God intended to give us?
  • If God gave America democracy, what made us so special? Was it Jerry Lewis? He won the French over.
  • Why don’t parents enact their free will when their little boys tug at themselves? If I had a son that did that, I’d tie his hands up. It would be embarassing to me, yet I see it a lot, and the parents let it happen. Don’t they know that’s how serial rapists are born.

Adieu. Adieu. To you and you and you. (I used to watch that movie backwards.)

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>In Response to the Mice Lovers…

>I got a decent response from my posting about the mice.

Jeremy Stamp, whose site I referred to for its chronicles of his mouse problems, sarcastically thanked me for the extra hits it got him. He also suggested that I bag the dead mice for the land people. Believe it or not, we are thinking on the same wavelength. I have bagged 4 out of the 11 mice. At one point, the landlady knocked on the door saying, “I see you have been bagging and labeling mice.” It was priceless.

We were still told that we must maintain a cleaner place, which was BS, considering the collective OCD between my fiance and myself. I think it has more to do with people avoiding admission of the faults of themselves and their facilities.

As for those that responded by stating that I should use more humane ways of catching mice, I understand your concern, but it is not always realistic. Because I caught a squealing mouse in a glue trap and eased its suffering with a dose of insulin shouldn’t garner someone calling me an “ass” and wishing that I never get laid. I am engaged, so the latter is hardly possible. As for catching and releasing, this isn’t fishing. We had 9 mice caught in a 48 hour period. Those Victor snap traps worked well for that barrage of rodents. I think I would get more of a bad response from people if I caught 9 live mice in my apartment and then went to my local park to set them free. We don’t want the kids in the community playing on a swingset and having to deal with diseased mice.

And as an update to this mess, since number 11 was caught a week ago, things have calmed down. We heard a lot of activity in the day that followed, even in our bedroom, which is creepy and affects how you sleep…trust me. I did pick up some of those Black and Decker plug in pest repellers that emit ultrasonic sound waves that mess with the nervous system of rodents and bugs, therefore driving them out of your roost. It surprisingly has seemed to work. We haven’t heard a peep or a chew. I was actually expecting all of them to climb out from the ceiling and walls screeching because I was ruining their insides with this device, but sadly enough they just shut up.

If they do return, I have two glue traps left. I plan on using everything I paid for, especially since they have worked. The four catch and release traps I bought haven’t worked at all. I will say that if any portion of my deposit is withheld, that I have bags of mice that can persuade otherwise along with the Filipino Mafia that has been known to have a similar effect, not to mention quite a few receipts for these killing devices. I can’t let the critters or the Land People get the best of me. Never!

>We Make Your Clothes Smell Ganja Fresh!

>

The above is a sign that I spotted in the window of a dry cleaning business in Ballwin, MO. I wonder if the Tuesday Special involves free Cheetos.

>Give Me Mice or Give Me Mice Testicles!

>

The mouse situation has calmed down a bit at my apartment. Since my Feb. 21 blog telling of number 9 (number 9, number 9), we have only captured two more. Number 10 was a milestone, but otherwise uneventful. Number 11, however, is another story.

Mouse #10

I heard mouse chirps faintly coming from drawers where we keep our towels. I called my fiance over to listen. The rhythm of the sound reminded us both of a pornographic mouse, not that we know what that necessarily sounds like, but imagine Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally” except played by a live mouse. I emptied out the drawers carefully, expecting to find copulating mice. I found nothing. Then I remembered a glue trap we set underneath the chest of drawers. Sure enough, there was the victim in obvious pain. I had to relieve it, so I gave it a fatal dose of my insulin. It wasn’t fatal enough apparently, so we gave it one more. I can hear “Taps” playing as we speak (or I type…or you read).

Mouse #11, Death by Insulin?

After a MySpace friend saw the photo that accompanied DiabetoBlog #100, he messaged me back with a page from his site which chronicles his problems with mice and the photos of the dead. The rest of his site is fun too.

Also in the world of mice, an AP report from today reports that their testicles may be the key to ending the stem cell debate. German scientists have discovered that the testicular cells in mice behave like embryonic stem cells in humans. Silly Germans. Apparently they will try getting the same type of cells from human testicles to see if they have the same effects. Any volunteers?

The article on MSNBC.com attributes the following to Dr. Hassenfuss, who is leading the research:

If such cells are found in men, “then we have resolved the ethical problem with human embryonic stem cells,” he said in a telephone interview.

That would also open the door to removing testicular cells from a male patient, growing some tissue the patient needs, and transplanting that tissue into the same man without fear of biological rejection, he noted.

The mouse cells were found to give rise to a variety of specialized cells in the lab, including heart
cells that contracted and nerve cells that produced dopamine, the chemical messenger that Parkinson’s patients lack, he said.

Cells typical of the liver, skin, pancreas and blood vessels were produced as well, he said.

I suppose I should be nicer to my rodents if I ever want my Diabetes cured. But then again, the War on Mice is about the bigger picture, not my selfish reasons. It is about freedom and liberty.

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