There you have it folks, the stub from my most recent bi-annual royalty check from New World Library. Check out those numbers! That's $1, 615.58. There is no misprint. I received one thousand six hundred and fifteen dollars and fifty-eight cents. This represents six months worth of royalties for three books. That's half a year's pay. So all you people who write me emails about "how you make a buck" or assume I am getting filthy rich off my book sales take a good long look. This will probably be the largest royalty check I receive in 2011.
There's a handy donation button to your left if you want to help supplement that (or click on the words "handy donation button").
Needless to say I am now in the process of looking for a "real job." This means that I most likely will not be touring in 2012. I've still got a bunch of live gigs left this year, so see 'em while you can.
People keep asking me what I think of the recent death of Osama bin Laden. The fact is I don't think about it a whole lot. One guy said:
“I woke up this morning and read the news headline about Osama Bin Laden finally being killed. My first reaction was, ‘It's about Goddamn time -- thank you!’ Does this viewpoint/emotion have a place in Zen?”
I don't even understand the question. Whatever viewpoints/emotions you have are just your viewpoints and emotions. It's not as if the Zen Committee is out there somewhere deciding which viewpoints are acceptable and which are not.
Another email I got went like this:
“Just wanted to ask your opinion about Osama Bin Laden's death. Many here in Europe, including me, are sad that people are actually celebrating Osama's death. I can understand 9/11 issue and all, but celebrating Osama's death like some baseball game? A human being is a human being, even he is a mass-murderer. I understand killing Osama but I don't understand celebrating it. Celebrating someone's death is just barbaric. There are no excuses for it. Although I'm a peace activist and Buddhist, as a human being, killing someone or someone's death is not a happy thing. Never, ever.”
The same person sent me a photo that shows Palestinians celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. 2001 next to photos of Americans celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden and asks, "What's the difference?"
I have to say that there is a monumental difference. Those Palestinians were rejoicing in the deaths of thousands of people whose only crime was showing up for work on a Tuesday morning. The Americans were celebrating the death of a man responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center and several other mass murders, a man who would have gone on to murder as many more people as he possibly could had he not been killed.
(And yes, lots of the Palestinians in those photos from ten years ago were little kids who didn't have any real idea what they were cheering about. I do not consider those photos to be in any way representative of most Palestinians, and certainly not of the Palestinians I met and befriended last year in Jerusalem or of Arabic people in general.)
There seem to be two permissible responses to the death of bin Laden. One is to hoot and holler like it's some kind of game your team just won. The other is to sit around and write thoughtful essays about how the celebrations speak to the violent nature of blah-blah-blah....
I don't find either response particularly useful. I didn't like bin Laden and I'm glad he's dead. He was a truly awful human being and it was right to kill him before he inspired more mass murders. Yeah, I know, maybe he'll be seen as a martyr now. So what? And yes, terrorism and the conflicts between the West and the Arab world will not end with his death. I don't think even those revelers in Times Square with their big-ass flags imagine it will. And yes, violence is not good. But sometimes there really is not any other way to deal with certain problems. And this was one of those times.
I think some of the revelry is stupid. But it's to be expected.
And that's how I feel about that.
I am now officially fed up with Mother's Day. This is just my personal feeling since my mom is dead. I'm tired of getting emails telling me the things I ought to buy for her.
Anyone want to hip me about how a person goes about getting into grad school? Do they make a "Grad School For Dummies" book?
How do you like the new look for the page? It blows, huh? I'm workin' on it...