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jad vargas
Works at San Diego Center for Systems Biology UC San Diego
Attended University of California, San Diego / The Salk Institute
Lives in San Diego, CA
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jad vargas

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I don't often cry, I am rather stoic and distant usually, but sometimes things happen that I can not process or contain. Today is 30 days since the horrible tragedy in Newtown and I decided I had an obligation to know what happened, to read the details that are known. It took me over 2 hours. I could not read the accounts of what happened without stopping several times, the notes from the investigators and the coroner. No American, No Parent, No human can confront that story and in the unimaginable horror of it not cry out for action and change. 

If you are a parent, if you are a gun owner or a gun advocate you owe it to your children and to the nation to read through and process the details of that day and then decide how you feel about not just our laws and rights but about our culture and our duty and the way we raise our children, our sacred obligation to protect and watch over them, what we teach them, what we raise them to value in this world, and to think about how this could have ever happened. The details of that day should shake us and unsettle each and every American to their core.

The last detail I came across was a report on CNN of parents finding some solace in one small detail and moment of compassion on that horrible day. The Hockleys lost one of their sons that day, an autistic boy named Dylan...

"They haven't learned all the details of the massacre that happened on December 14. Until now, they haven't felt much like watching TV or interacting with the outside world.
But one detail has given the Hockleys comfort.
A few days after the tragedy, the Hockleys ran into Mike Murphy. His wife, Anne Marie Murphy, taught their son at Sandy Hook.
He revealed to her that -- in the terrible aftermath of the attack -- first responders found Dylan and his teacher together.
"He said that Anne Marie Murphy had been found with her arms wrapped around Dylan ... that is what we had hoped for -- in a very strange sort of way to hope for something."
"She loved him and he loved her and she would've looked after him no matter what," she says, fighting back tears. "To know that he was with her, and that he wasn't alone, that gives you a huge peace of mind ... to know that he was loved even in those last moments.""
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More US Troops died in 2012 from suicide than in battle. The nation has thrown money on the problem trying desperately to stem the tide that seems to be increasing every year now. Money and counseling avoid the more serious system problems with the military and the wars we are waging today. The US boasts an "all volunteer" fighting force in theory. But what options are there for those that volunteer? Increasing the fighting ranks are made up from our nations poor or poorly educated. With scant opportunities for worthwhile employment, career development, or meaningful education, is there really a viable option for the recent grad that does not want to work in fast food, retail, or the ever lucrative though unpredictable life of crime? The reality is not so many would choose the path, had they other promising choices, this is evidenced by proportion of wealthy or upper middle class enlisties, sure there are the few darlings from the political juggernaut families of the nation, but by and large, the children of the wealthy without political aspiration are virtually non-existent in our military. So truth be told our military is a volunteer force that people are conscripted into by virtue of socio-economic class. Combine that reality with the way we have waged these wars, with little national investment, pain, or interest; and a vague mission and decentralized enemy, unlike the wars of previous generations, and are troops are left on their own desperately trying to rationalize the conflict and to give the war purpose. We hear the bumper sticker talking point, "they are fighting for our freedom" which is the statement conjured when real purpose can not be easily defined. With a military more powerful and better funded than the next 10 strongest nations combined, and with an arsenal that could black out the sun should we choose, is our freedom really in jeopardy, has it ever been in our generation? These wars are more complex, fought for reasons that don't fit onto coffee mugs or bumper stickers, and there exists a great deal of internal conflict in our national psyche and government about the legitimacy and purpose of them. Couple that with a largely High School or GED educated force, without the historical context of our past battles firmly comprehended and without understanding of humanity, of human history and complex thinking, and it is easy to understand how impossible it would be to deal emotionally and psychologically with the awesome burden and responsibility our nation has heaved onto these young men and women. Supporting our troops should begin well before they are troops, so that those choosing to serve are not there as a last resort, and more importantly, are not their lacking the strong educational foundation and history to help them bring meaning to their service above what can be printed on a t-shrit. 
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The elementary school I went to consisted of 12 buildings with 35 entry doors sitting on a lot with 7 gates surrounded on 3 sides by a 3 foot fence. The middle school I went to consisted of 9 buildings with 67 doors and 3 large gates and 2 football fields surrounded by a 4 foot fence that was continuous with the classroom areas. My high school had over 30 buildings, over 10 trailers, spread over nearly 1.5 acres of land surrounded by a fence with over 10 entry points, again continuos with several large sports fields continuos with the open campus layout. My hometown has 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and a single high school. To fully secure the entry points to each of these schools would require more than 9 times the total number of police currently employed by the city. Not only is it ridiculous to think this is even feasible, it is based on the premise that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" that is completely false in the worst cases of mass shootings in the US. COLUMBINE, VIRGINIA TECH, NEWTOWN, they all took their own lives. They were not afraid to die and having an armed guard would not have scared them away, and sadly at Columbine it did not stop them. 
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Today the Supreme Court of the United States announced it will take up 2 cases pertaining to gay marriage. Section 3 of DOMA stating that the federal government will only recognize heterosexual marriages, and California's Prop 8. At the heart of these cases is not the constitutionality or merits of each case, as virtually ever single legal scholar that has given an unbiased opinion agrees that denying marriage rights violates the equal protection clause of the US Constitution, but rather what the prejudices are of the sitting justices. Four justices are staunchly conservative, but one, Chief Justice Roberts seems to have an appreciation of legacy and of being on the wrong side of history. Four justices are as staunchly liberal as the other are conservative. And so, as with nearly every case of the last decade the decision will hinge on a single mind, that of Justice Kennedy. In the past he has written the deciding opinion on cases in Colorado and in Texas dismissing anti-gay legislation as nothing more than bigotry. This came to the dismay of Justice Scalia who in his fiery dissent stated Kennedy's opinion eliminated morality and dismantled any constitutional argument against gay marriage. That was in 2003. Now, a decade later, the Court will visit that idea. Aside from the arguments of equal protection and equal rights, or equality in general, there is a more important aspect to this debate. When a government institution, be it local, state, or federal, states that it is ok to deny a group of people a service or benefit based on that groups identity, a very strong signal is sent throughout the land with reverberations that echo in our workplaces, and sadly, in the halls of our schools, where children learn to hate that which they are told is different. A few weeks ago that sad scenario played out, for what seems the thousandth time, once again. Josh Pacheco, a 17 year old High School student in Michigan climbed into this truck, closed the garage door and started the engine. Neighbors found his lifeless body along with a his last message to his parents and to the world

 "'I'm sorry I wasn't able to be strong enough." 

Decisions have consequences, who we elect impacts more than taxes. Let's hope the elections of the past have not produced a Supreme Court that will perpetuate these notions any longer. 
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Big Bird and all of PBS is less than 0.01% of the budget. How is not paying that going to fix anything? It's like saying "I'm going to pay off my home mortgage and to start, I will no longer walk by a penny I see laying on the sidewalk!"
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I remember watching the events of 9/11 unfold in the living room of my apartment. My roommate was up early cramming for a summer session final. I recall in the moments and days after that tragic event, the calls for anti-terrorism efforts. There were no political or media voices crying out that "now is not the time." Why is it so different with gun violence? Is the NRA really that powerful, that common sense can be dismissed so easily. The clever motto is "guns don't kill people, people do" is sadly disgusting in its acceptance. Guns make it a whole fucking lot easier to kill huge masses of people! The reason there is a right to arms in our constitution is to allow the people of a then novel nation to be able to rise up should the tyranny of monarchy rear its ugly head in the fledgling nation. Any American that thinks they could overthrow our government and the strongest military in the history of the world with any arsenal of guns they can buy at some roadside show should probably be in an insane asylum. The reality of the gun debate in this nation is this, NO ONE goes hunting with Glocks and semi-automatic rifles... unless you are hunting people!
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48 years ago the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Nearly 48 months ago, amidst the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, GOP Congressmen and Senators declared their No. 1 Priority was to make sure the nations first African American President would serve only one term. There was no congratulations or hope for reconciliation in the name of making America great, as had been done with the previous 43 Presidents. No statements of working with the new leader to fix the economy or create jobs. Moments after he was elected the de facto leaders of the GOP screamed "I hope he fails" knowing his failure would necessarily be America's failure. In the years that followed, the backroom hushed conversations on the night of his inauguration would come to light, and the pact made to obstruct and grind government to a halt, no matter the impact on the American people, would be reported and admitted to without consequence. In the midst of all this I can not help but ask how far have we really come? Why was it so important that THIS PRESIDENT above all others fail? What about his election was so decidedly unique to garner such a reaction? I think anyone honest with themselves knows the answer, and while I am deeply ashamed of how far we have not come as a nation, I do feel a deep since of pride in the way the First Family has handled this hatred. It is the silent dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat firmly in her seat on that bus, and the quite calm of young children being escorted into a school by soldiers through an angry mob. March on.
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40 years ago a soft spoken school teacher did what was at the time unheard of, but for her the most natural thing in the world; she was there for, and supported her son. She marched alone with her son in New York's Greenwich Village in what was a very early iteration of a Gay Pride parade. She carried a sign declaring her support for her son and a call to other parents to be there for their children. A year later she went on to found what would become perhaps the best known support group for gays and lesbians and their families and friends in America, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). The organization was a milestone in the struggle for dignity, respect, and equal rights for gays in America, and her single action that day in 1972 was an astounding demonstration of the power of a single objector to the status quo and what grass roots organization could bring to bear in the way of social change. Jeanne Manford died today at 92 and the gay and lesbian people of today, their friends and advocates, owe her a great deal for having the courage to stand up and make a statement and to support and love her son, not in spite of who he was, but simply for who he was.
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Unions are losing power for one reason, the wealthy. You see since the middle ages, nobility or the wealthy have learned that if the masses of people not so privileged are allowed to focus on the status quo for too long you get uprisings and revolts, the most famous of which involved many guillotines unburdening the rich of their heads. In order to avoid this, the wealthy must create infighting among the masses beneath them. In America this is achieved by creating a middle class, with a set of protections and benefits, that can be held out as an example to the working poor of excess and unfairness in the system. In this way the working poor resent the upward mobility of union workers, while union workers spend a great deal of their time and energy justifying their wages and benefits to the working poor, meanwhile the truly rich get richer and do not have to worry about revolt. The same "look over there" tactic was used for a century in this nation to keep slavery popular among rural and impoverished whites. For the wealthy it is classic divide and conquer, for 45% and 45% will never be as formidable as 99% acting together to attack the real root of inequality in our nation.
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Absolutely unconscionable! A mutt? Those officers should be fired and Bloomberg is just simply disgusting to allow this and condone it under his watch.
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9 | 11 : On this day let us all remember and devote ourselves to that memory. Let us never again stand by when any leader seeks to use religion to justify hate or violence. Be them Muslim, Mormon, Christian, Catholic or Jewish, no American should stand by when their priest, pastor, cleric, elder, imam, or rabi spews hatred, intolerance, or incites violence of any kind. Let us remember that the greatest atrocities our nation, and indeed the world, have ever seen, have always been justified by a madman to masses of followers by wrapping evil in the cloak of religious righteousness.
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Senseless violence happens every day all over the world, but on occasion it happens on a scale and in a manner that causes us as human beings to pause and take notice and to ask of ourselves or whatever gods we may pray to for reason in such madness. Trying to find reason in such things is madness in itself. We will never know why such things happens, even if the madman states why he has done something, can we take the words of a madman? No, we will never know why, all we can ever know of such things is the what and the how and to take from that an appreciation of the fleeting preciousness of life and the ones we love.
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Microscopy Director and Project Scientist
Employment
  • San Diego Center for Systems Biology UC San Diego
    Director, Light Microscopy Core & Assoc. Project Scientist, 2012 - present
    PhD educated scientist specializing in microscopy based assays to study the cell biology of the nucleus and cellular signaling in gene regulatory networks of the immune system.
  • UCI Learning & Academic Resource Center
    Mentor Tutor, 1999 - 2002
  • UCI California Alliance for Minority Participation
    Program Director, 2000 - 2003
  • UCI
    Advisor / Instructor, 2002 - 2005
  • The Salk Institute / UC San Diego
    PhD Candidate, 2007 - 2012
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San Diego, CA
Previously
California - Irvine, CA - Newport Beach, CA - Laguna Beach, CA - Aliso Viejo, CA - Carbondale, IL - La Jolla, CA
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Director of Light Microscopy, San Diego Center for Systems Biology
Introduction
Recent graduate from UC San Diego's / The Salk Institute's Doctoral Program in Biology. I am cell biologist by training with extensive expertise in confocal fixed and live-cell imaging of human cancer cells. Additionally, I am politically engaged and involved in numerous policy making organizations.
Bragging rights
BS Chemistry, BS Biology, MS Physiology, PhD Biology, = DEBT!
Education
  • University of California, San Diego / The Salk Institute
    PhD Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2007 - 2012
  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale
    MS Molecular, Cellular, and Systemic Physiology, 2005 - 2007
  • University of California, Irvine
    BS Chemistry, 1997 - 2002
  • University of California, Irvine
    BS Biological Sciences, 1997 - 2002
  • Barstow High School
    HS Diploma, 1992 - 1996
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Male
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Other names
Jesse Aiden Daniel Vargas