About Me

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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Writer interview - Rick Pieters

Having just read and reviewed the mind-bending novel Dark Light by Rick Pieters, I sat down to pick his brain on all things life.

What is your favorite virtue? (Do I have to choose only one?) Compassion. Empathy. Kindness.

Your favorite qualities in a man. Intelligence, strength with gentleness, loyalty, a wicked sense of humor, open-mindedness.

Your favorite qualities in a woman. The same as in a man.

Your chief characteristic. Compassion (I hope)

What do you appreciate the most about your friends? That they appreciate me, that we share ideas, humor, outlooks, and that we stick by each other. Genuine caring over the long haul.

Your main fault. Procrastination. Impatience with stupidity. (If I can choose two)

Your favorite occupation. An author of entertaining and meaningful work.

Your idea of happiness. A warm home full of love, good food, good music, and my man.

Your idea of misery. Being without those things.

If not yourself, who would you be? Hugh Jackman

Your favorite heroes in fiction. Besides Atticus?

Your favorite heroes in real life. Gandhi, Malala

Your favorite food and drink. Excellent steak, good red wine, single malt Islay scotch, martini made with good gin and blue cheese stuffed olives, authentic Mexican, Northern New Mexican Carne Adovada

What is your present state of mind? Sleep deprived, happy, content.

Your personal motto. The one I could repeat? Hmm. Keep going and always be kind. Something like that.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Big Little change digest - November, 2015

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - learn to ask for and accept help.

You will ask – but isn't it a contradiction with one of the other challenges about being self-sufficient? Not really. It's the other side of the balance. Many of us struggle with this. Somehow, somewhere, someone pounded it into our heads that asking for help is a weakness, but forgot to explain the difference between constantly leaning on someone for assistance and knowing when to make do on your own and when to rely on others. As the result, we proceed to shoulder more and more, until we collapse – physically and mentally.

By all means – be independent, know your stuff, be tough, be brave. But also, know your limits, recognize it when you are starting to crack under pressure, and give people around you the benefit of the doubt. If you ask for help graciously, they will not laugh at you, they will not berate you for being weak or somehow deficient. There are tens of thousands of amazing stories out there about this very thing – people providing help, when and where it is needed, and everyone coming through a better person as the result.

So, this is your challenge – find that balance between self-sufficiency and ability to ask for help when needed, and accept it graciously when offered.

Week 2 - reduce, reuse, and so on...

I know, I know... Not all areas make it easy or fun to recycle. My favorite is New York state (where I went to college) – where you can take your cans and bottles to Wegmans and get paid for doing so. If you have that sort of thing – a recycling reimbursement program – going on in your area, do please use it. As with grocery bags, discipline yourself to throw a bag or a box of recyclables into your car every time you go to the grocery store.

The next best thing is when your trash pickup company helps you out. Some companies offer both the regular trash bins and the recycling bins, which makes recycling very easy. In some cases – as in my area – they don't offer recycling bins BUT they will pick up recyclables in the blue trash bags (you can find them at the grocery store, where they sell all the other trash bags – apparently it's a standard for recognizing a bag of recyclables). So, almost just as easy as a bin – just drag those bags to the curb on trash day.

The last but not the least is when you have to locate a recycling station in your area. Yes, it does require a separate trip. However, there is one huge advantage. I used to make a point to go to the recycling station on those days when I was in a really foul mood. Flinging bottles into the bins and hearing them crash worked better than any therapy ever could. So, think of that and go find your local recycling dropoff station.

Week 3 - whip your money into shape.

Now, now, don't groan at me. I am not going to bombard you with bank-speak or any of that. No. However, I do want to ask you a question…and request an honest answer: how do you keep track of your finances? Do you still balance an old-fashioned checkbook? Do you keep a spreadsheet? Or do you do the "oh, I just keep the tally in my head" thing and are constantly (and often unpleasantly) surprised at the end of the month by a bounced bill payment or rejected debit card transaction?

My husband and I lived on one salary – mine – for several years, until his business started taking off. The only reason we survived, with lights on, internet service and roof over our heads, is because I ruled the budget with an iron fist. And used the same discipline to this day to keep things in order.

All transactions are recorded. All accounts are balanced monthly against the statement. All the essential bills and savings are subtracted from the income at the beginning of the month – that way, there is no chance of accidentally spending them. I am not saying that it's easy, but it certainly has worked and continues working for us. After years of just barely keeping our heads above water, we are able to beef up our charity donations, aggressively pay down our debt and stash aside some serious cash for household projects. Oh, and we just replaced Gerry's almost-dead car with another one, for which we paid cash.

Money can't buy happiness, in the emotional sense. But there is a reason why the majority of arguments among couples center around money. We all need to eat. We all need to live somewhere. We all need clothes. We need companionship and information. Money buys all that. So, perhaps, now is the time to stop regarding money with hostility and start considering it a useful tool in what you want to achieve for yourself and your loved ones.

Week 4 - Slow is smooth, smooth is fast

I was first introduced to this concept when training in aikido. Many of us, martial arts students, were tempted to attack our techniques at full speed. However, the true skill and smoothness of movement came from slow, painstaking practice, until it finally became possible to go faster and still preserve good form and efficiency.

The same applies to our daily life, if you think about it. When are we at our clumsiest? When we are in a hurry. Suddenly, our furniture grows extra corners for us to bump into, every object we pick up becomes extra-heavy or extra-slippery – just waiting to be dropped, and our elbows and knees seem to add at least ten inches to their size because they seem to run into EVERYTHING.

Slow. Down. Take a breath. Even if you are running late – trying to do everything at a frantic pace will only make things worse. So, take a deep breath, and slow down. Go through your tasks at a more sedate pace. Before you know it, the furniture will shrink to its normal size, as will your elbows. The household objects and articles of clothing will stop trying to be juggling balls and flying out of your hands. By slowing down, you will be able to do what you need to do smoother, and the pace will pick up without you noticing. Even if you start behind schedule, going slower might actually help you get back on time. Pretty cool, no?

Big little stories

- A small way to make someone's life easier.

- Invention done right.

- What a way to turn something really shitty into something fantastic.

- Go Sausalito Marin City District!

- More stores need to do this.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Big Little Change digest - October, 2015

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - supplemental - don't be a jerk to people who can't solve your problem.

A short while ago, I had a fairly traumatic traveling experience. I was going to Colorado to my niece's wedding, and ended up not going anywhere because both my flights got cancelled due to the weather and other issues. This was the first time I was traveling anywhere by plane in almost a year, and, needless to say, the experience moved me closer to swearing off flying for good.

That said, my own inability to get to my destination was not half as depressing as displays of human rudeness I got to witness. One need not be an airline industry expert to understand the havoc a weather-related closing of a major airport can wreak. Everyone is tired, everyone's nerves are on edge - understandable. There were people among my fellow passengers who, while upset, did their best to let the desk agents know they understood it wasn't the desk agents' fault. They may have been a little loud, some even cried, but they weren't hostile. And the desk agents clearly didn't mind them and tried to be as helpful as comforting as was possible under the circumstances.

... And then there were others. Not necessarily loud. Not even particularly outwardly emotional. But poisonous. The kind that hissed at the agents and everyone else. The kind that got closer and closer into people's face. In one case, the agents had to summon a security guard, because the passenger's behavior we turning threatening (if they didn't, I was getting ready to interfere and hit that guy with my entire eight years of martial arts experience.)

When my flight was cancelled, and I was leaving the airport, I made a point to stop by the desk at my gate and tell the agents it wasn't their fault and I knew they did the best they could in a truly horrible situation. Do the same. Help them help you.

Week 2 - Small change challenge reruns - turn off the TV.

Some time ago, a friend expressed her frustration about her husband's excessive TV watching. We bounced a few ideas around, and she and her husband agreed on a compromise – he would give up two days of TV and she would give up two evenings of Facebook every week. Fair enough. While this proved to be somewhat challenging, like any change, they stuck with it and filled the free time with other things. More hiking, more taking walks together, just... more time when they could look at each other as opposed to at the screen.

As someone who works from home and is often alone five days out of every week, I can understand the value of internet and TV. But I still must ask – do you really, REALLY need the super-cable package? If you can find it in you to cut down the TV time, spend some of that time thinking, how much do you really watch and what you can give up.

Most popular shows can now be downloaded via iTunes or added to the queue on Netflix. You can get every bit of news from all over the world from the internet. If you are a sports fan, you can either adjust your cable or satellite package to include just your favorite sports channels, or watch the games with friends. Most people don't realize how much they structure their lives around their TV watching habits. Try going without – at least for a little bit – and you'll be amazed how much time you suddenly have to do other things. To finish projects waiting in line for years. To finally paint the guest room. To take your spouse out on a date. To read that stack of books on your nightstand. Lots of other things.

Week 3 - Small change challenge reruns - choose your exercise carefully.

Whenever the year end is upon us and people start making their New Year’s Resolutions lists, exercise is usually at the top of those lists – and is often the one abandoned the soonest.

First of all, trash the Resolutions. When you want to do something – go do it, and calendar be damned. Second, keep in mind that not all exercise was created equal. "No pain – no gain" only applies so far before it becomes an exercise in stupidity.

Studies show that our muscles comprise more than one type of tissue. Depending on how much of each muscle tissue we have (largely a result of genetics), we might be better suited for running, or dancing, or walking, or climbing, but not necessarily all of the above. So, if running makes you feel like crap, and it's not because you run out of breath but because your legs are complaining, it could be that your muscles are trying to tell you, "Hello, this is not what we are best suited to do!" This doesn't make you weak or lazy – please, please, please keep that in mind.

Learn to differentiate between the normal post-exercise soreness and the kind of pain that is a sign of possible injury. Try various types of exercise to zero in on the kind that works with your body – not against it. Pull together your own workout program that is not only effective, but also makes you feel good about yourself, and stick to it. Play some good music when you exercise. Have fun.

Week 4 - Small change challenge reruns - teach yourself to find things out.

There are many of us out there – a small army of reference kings and queens, who know the meaning of the most obscure words, conversions for some of the most obscure and antiquated units of measure, and can quote Jane Austen, Albert Einstein, and basic trigonometry within the span of five minutes. Such people are often tapped by their friends and acquaintances with various odd-ball questions about this and that. And the question I want to ask – does anyone think we were born with this knowledge? Of course not.

Nor do we carry that entire vastness of information in our heads all the time – there is simply not enough room up there for all that stuff. We look it up. At some point, we have taught ourselves how to search for information, where to find reliable sources, and now it's a matter of a couple of minutes, sometimes less. I encourage others to do the same. Instead of waiting for someone else to come up with an answer to some obscure question, look it up. You'd be amazed what you can find with Google and Wikipedia these days. Unit conversion tables, dictionaries, translators, recipes, physics, chemistry, algebra and geometry are all out there for the taking.

So, the next time you have a question and you are tempted to go ask someone, take a pause and see if you can tackle it yourself. Before you know it, the rest of the world will think you know everything, too.

Big Little stories

- What makes a difference between a boss and a leader.

- Some of the best, most important changes often begin with one person.

- There are many things we can learn from children.

- When people take the wellbeing of their own neighborhood into their hands.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Big Little Change digest - September, 2015

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Small change challenge reruns - what surrounds you?

I am ripping this off directly from Trinny and Susannah Take on America: what your clothes say about you. Because why try to improve on something that has already been said perfectly?

"Look around your home. Is it tired, cluttered, and just a little bit dirty? Take a day to go around your house to touch all of your possessions and choose to have them in your life. Then get rid of everything that is not chosen. Now you'll be living in a home where everything feels loved and in its place.

"The weight of clutter around you is doing more than taking up space in your house, it is weighing heavily on your peace of mind. ... Separate the things you truly love, the things you truly need, and all the things that you are holding onto through feelings of guilt or fear. If you can't find good homes for the latter, category, toss them. Put the things you need where you can easily find them, and display the things you love where they can be properly admired and shown off to others." – Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine

Week 2 - Small change challenge reruns - scale it down.

Some time ago, I heard someone say, "I have a wedding to go to in three weeks, and I just can't seem to lose enough weight – I am stuck." It was one of the most depressing things I've heard in a long time. First of all, why do you feel compelled to lose weight for someone's wedding? Did your friends invite you to the wedding on the condition that you will be thin? Why not get something fabulous that looks good on you NOW – and go, and have fun, and not give a damn about how much you weigh?

I have read bridezilla stories, when the bride did request all her bridesmaids and sometimes even her female guests to lose weight for the wedding "to look good in the pictures". If that is the case, it's time to end that particular relationship, because your friend is a selfish jerk. And once you have ended that so-called friendship, throw away the scale. There, I said it.

I am serious. The bathroom scale might not be the root of all evil, but it's close. It makes you its slave and messes with your head.

If your weight – be it low or high – is not keeping you from being healthy, then forget it. For me, this became a lot easier, when I stopped making my diet and exercise about the weight, and started making it about my health, happiness, and fitness. What a change in attitude that was! Only took thirty years, but hey, better late than never.

Love your body for the amazing thing it is – and love it the way it is now. Feed it, water it, take it out for massages, and dress it well. And the scale can eat its heart out.

Week 3 - Small change challenge reruns - know your buttons, hot and cold.

Isn't it amazing, how we can gracefully soldier through all manner of hardship, illness, breakup, and death, but sometimes a casually dropped comment by someone we don't even know very well can leave us feeling gutted? These days, with all the social media exposure, the latter can happen pretty much at any time. So, to save yourself some emotional energy, it helps to know what might set you off in the wrong direction.

There are, of course, the basics:

• Know how much abrasiveness you can take in people and what they say.

• Don't ask a question if you think you might not like the answer.

• If you choose to bring up a controversial topic, be prepared for some disagreements. Things like that happen. It's life.

In addition to knowing what stings you, it also helps to know what relaxes you and helps you feel better. Here is an example: like so many other people, I often go grocery shopping after work, which is always tough. There is an upscale consignment shop next to one of the grocery stores I go to. The store always has a beautiful window display, including gorgeous wedding gowns, pretty purses and hats, and vintage jewelry. I love beautiful things, and I know that looking at them always perks me up. So, when I pull out of the grocery store parking lot, I always make a point to drive by that consignment store and look at the window.

I also keep a wide selection of music in my car, and know exactly the effect each CD has on me. Opera Babes' Beyond Imagination is girl power. Garou's Gentleman Cabrioleur is sass. Elton John's Good Bye, Yellow Brick Road is a bit of rage and a bit of nostalgia. Knowing this allows me to either boost the mood I am in or change it, if necessary.

A positive trigger can truly be anything – a sight, a sound, a scent, even a touch, or a combination of some or all of the above. Identify your "good" buttons, and keep them handy.

Week 4 - Small change challenge reruns - don't wait to be asked.

This is a TOUGH one. I know many people who do this brilliantly. And I know many people who struggle with this. Heck, I would be struggling with this, had my parents not made it a habit for me since I was little. I continue cultivating it today, but treating my surroundings the way I treat hidden object games I love to play. It's that carefully nurtured ability to walk into a room and instantly see little messes (that often tend to grow into big messes if you don't watch out). By making a point of noticing things and taking care of them before they become disastrous or just profoundly annoying, I am doing the future me a huge favor. It is also a big hit with me when my husband takes care of something that is bothering me without my having to point it out and ask to fix it.

Even if you are not living with anyone else, this works for just your personal well-being. Small clean-ups and fixes, done regularly, eventually eliminate the need for the dreaded spring cleanings. There is a brilliant book by Peter Walsh called "It's all too much", in which he talks about this very thing – taking your house back from clutter in small, manageable portions. He really understands, how overwhelmed people get with this sort of things, and the book is a great positive boost.

Week 5 - Small change challenge reruns - paper or plastic? How about neither?

My husband and I didn't always bring our own bags, although he started making it a habit before I did, having bought some excellent knitted net bags like the ones he’d seen used in France (they call them ”filets”). The main challenge was to make sure that we remembered to bring them with us when going to the grocery store. Because we can both be epically absent-minded, the solution ended up being to accumulate enough bags to keep some both at the house and at the car. That way, even if we forgot to bring them into the store – it was just a quick run out to the car to grab a few before checking out. I also started carrying one of those "fold up REALLY tiny" bags in my purse – and got several, to keep in different purses, because I change them fairly frequently. We have now been paper-or-plastic free for ten years, with very few exceptions.

To combine a good habit with a good deed, make a $25 donation to the World Wildlife Fund, and they'll send you some excellent roomy bags (at least, that was their giveaway at this writing).

Big little stories

- Woven homes - a hope for many.

- A random act of kindness - we need more.

- Why we should fight tooth and nail to keep libraries open and thriving.

- Keep someone company.

Big little news

Having discovered in the course of my interactions with schools and colleges the extent of budget cuts to the arts, languages, and literatures programs, I am starting a capsule book donation program (because I am in-freaking-sane) to supply foreign language and literature departments with less-known works by foreign authors. The t-shirt campaign is an effort to somewhat offset book purchase and shipping costs. I will be adding more designs shortly. Presently, Down With the Language Barrier tees can be purchased here and here. Thank you in advance for participating!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Today... I need a soap box

Things in this post have been on my mind for a long time. I realize they will offend people, but I believe they need to be said. I shall attempt to be as civil and factual as possible. However, if anyone chooses to get up and walk out after reading this, I will not blame them.

On Hillary Clinton

Her using private server for business e-mails does not make her a "lying piece of shit" (something I actually read on one of the public forums). Many of us, especially those who work remotely, use home e-mail to send work file backups or save business contact information somewhere other than the work computer in case it crashes. Network connection problems are very common, and having backups of work on a home computer is a normal thing people do. How would you feel if you were called a lying piece of shit for copying your teammate's e-mail address into your home contact list? Give it a break. Had Mrs. Clinton not been a presidential candidate, no one would have blinked an eye at this.

On GMOs and organic foods

For crying out loud! Stop generalizing! Don't you understand that most of the fruits and vegetables today have been genetically modified? This has been done since the dawn of time, when humanity discovered farming as an alternative to gathering and started cultivating stronger strains of various plants. Learn to differentiate between things that have been genetically modified through cuttings and transplants and things modified by using scary chemicals. Not the same thing.

In addition, stop telling people what they can't eat and being snooty toward those who prefer brands you don't like. If you want to be helpful publish lists of brands that are better and places where they can be purchased at lower costs. It is a well-known fact that organic foods and heirloom vegetables are significantly more expensive than other comparable foods in most parts of the country. The difference can be as low as 10% for organic brown rice (manageable, especially if you buy in bulk) to the whooping 134% for organic beef (definitely not manageable). Average difference between organic and non-organic foods is 68%. (The data comes from a report published in a Colby College study in 2011. More recent information is available here and here.)So, unless you are prepared to foot the grocery bill of every person who has to get by on food stamps, shut the hell up. And if you threw out Amy's products when it was bought by General Mills? That was an idiotic thing to do. You are no better than Russian government burning foreign foods just to spite Europe and US.

On race and poverty(US only)

What is wrong with you - all of you? White people, if you don't think racial divide exists you are delusional. A simple example - look at the wage scale. It is a well-known fact that, given the same job and the same skill level, the highest salary goes to a white man. There is a toss-up between a white woman and a black man, depending on the location and the industry. Black and Hispanic women fall at the bottom of the scale, frequently earning 50 - 65 cents per every dollar earned by a white man. (Information on the wage gap is available here and here). This is out there. It exists. Deal with it. The same trend permeates other aspects of workplace and society in general. Probability of getting a job, all things being equal... Probability of getting good customer service... Probability of being treated well on the job and in social situations... Likelihood of getting arrested... Likelihood of being treated crappy by the police regardless of guilt... Everything is affected. Acknowledge it. Deal with it.

Black people, for goodness sake, stop treating everything so black and white (pun completely and utterly intended.) You can't force white people to treat you better, but you do have a choice as to whether or not you treat white people like shit when they live in predominantly black neighborhoods or work in predominantly black workplaces. I've done some of both - having lived and work in places including mostly minorities. I never offended anyone, I did my job, I was polite - I was treated like shit. When I was nice, I was accused of trying to weasel my way into the group where I didn't belong - I wasn't trying anything, I was just being nice. When I kept to myself because I got tired of such accusations, I was accused of being snooty. For no reason other than being white. That's racism too. And it too is out there. I quit saying "Some of my friends are black" because I know what I'll hear in response is "That's what you ALL say". Whatever. Some of my friends are Jews, whose ancestors died in the Holocaust, and they don't choose to treat German people like crap - but nobody gives a damn about that.

I don't care whether your ancestors were slaves (so were some of mine - there was such a thing as slavery in Russia, which you know nothing about), I don't care how horrible you may have been treated, it is your choice and your responsibility to decide how you want to treat others. Quit blaming history, quit blaming jerks in your life, think for yourself. And quit assuming that white poor have it any better than black poor - they don't. Their life is shit too - they don't lose the right to have problems and struggles just because they are white.

News item - neither American white poor nor American black poor have it the worst in the world, be it in terms of living conditions, income, racial, or religious persecution. You know who has it worse? It's a long list - are your ready? Women in certain Middle Eastern nations. Jews in Russia (well, actually, just about anyone who is not Russian these days). Jews in Palestine. Palestinians in Israel. Aborigines in Australia. Immigrants - legal and illegal - in America and Europe. Heck, Africans who were actually born in Africa. All these people right this second have it worse than you. So, be thankful for hitting the cosmic jackpot of being born in America, by all means acknowledge you have struggles, but handle them like a grownup, instead of waiting to win a lottery. Yes, we have tons of enormous holes in our welfare and social security systems. It's common knowledge. All you can do is work with them - one thing at a time. There is no formula, no panacea for overcoming extreme poverty, near-homelessness, near-deportation. I can only tell you it can be done - with no money and no connection. I know because I've done it.

On race, crime, and publicity

Having reviewed US Department of Justice prison mortality reports for 2012 and 2013, I discovered something fascinating and counter-intuitive. Unlike those overblown Facebook videos, this really will make you question a lot of things. The person likeliest to die in a US prison is not, in fact, a young black or Hispanic male from police brutality. It is a white male, aged 45-50, with no prior conviction, from an illness or a suicide. There are no protests or riots on the subject because, I suspect, most people don't know this and think they know something altogether different. So much for making assumptions solely on your own personal perception of the world.

Of course, our darling media does little to alleviate the ignorance on the subject and makes a concerted effort to frame racially- and gender-charged events in as inflammatory manner as possible. Here are what I think certain headlines should have read at the time these events happened:

- In Ferguson, Missouri, a policeman oversteps the use of force boundaries and kills an unarmed local petty thief while trying to arrest him.

- In Tulsa, Oklahoma a policeman bungles an arrest and shoots an unarmed suspect in a drug sting.

- In New York, a harmless man dies in police custody after being arrested on bogus charges and put in an illegal chokehold.

- In Salt Lake City, Utah, a policeman shoots an unarmed man at 7-Eleven after mistaking him for a suspect in a 911 call.

- Young woman dies in police custody under suspicious circumstances, having been arrested after a disagreement over a traffic violation.

- In Clairmont, South Dakota, a young woman dies in police custody after being arrested for a bond violation.

- In Seneca, South Carolina, undercover police officer shoots a teen trying to sell weed.

- In Lynn, Mass., a drug dealer dies in a hospital after being shot by a police officer.

Yes, there are crimes that are obviously and unequivocally racially, sexually, or religiously charged. The recent Charleston church shooting. The recent Louisiana shooting. Heck - 9/11! But not all of them are like that, and we must learn to differentiate on a case-by-case basis. If any riots ensued after headlines formulated as I described above, they may have taken place for the right reasons: like, yeah, petty thievery and bullying is bad, as is driving like a jerk or breaking bond, but they don't deserve a death sentence. As it was... some of these cases might not even come across as very familiar. They weren't publicized because those who died in them were not of the specific race. That should not be ok. Nor should it be ok, that I could not bring some of them up on par with the others without being called racist.

On crime and mental illness

There is one huge point that upsets non-white people in this country, and this one I totally agree with. I support them with arms and legs, because it's preposterous. Mental illness as a crime diagnosis. When a crime, particularly a mass shooting, is committed by a black or a Hispanic suspect, the media immediately says "thug", "gang member", etc. But when it's committed by a white suspect it's "aww, he's had a history of mental illness". Bullshit.

First of all, mental illness is not race-exclusive. So, why isn't it being looked at or publicized when the suspect is non-white? Second, there were plenty of mass murderers in the history of crime who were, for all intents and purposes normal. We could argue that someone cannot be normal if he or she is ok with killing a whole bunch of people. Great. Then we are back to point one - the investigation into the mental health history should not be race-exclusive. If that is going to be the first question asked in some mass shootings - it should become the first question asked in all mass shootings.

Race aside, it pisses me off as someone who has a legitimate, certified, confirmed by four doctors mental health diagnosis. And, because many mental patients reach out for support, I have many friends and acquaintances who also struggle with mental illness. None of them have gone out and killed people. Not one. So, why is this such a common conclusion. Instead of "suspect with a history of mental illness shoots ten people" I want to see "suspect shoots ten people because he is an asshole". Mental illness already carries plenty of stigma, thank you very much. We don't need to have the label of "potential mass murderer" added to the list. Most functioning mental patients are also responsible adults, who realize their mental illness is not society's responsibility, and work hard to operate within the boundaries defined by normal people. They do not use their mental illness as an excuse to commit crimes.

Rant over. Until next time.