Koan: “Muddy Road”

A Zen koan:

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself.

“We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”


“When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things: One part of me wants to take her home, be real nice and treat her right; the other part wonders what her head would look like on a stick.” — Serial killer Edmund Kemper

Pioneer Plaque


A message in a bottle: This plaque, intended to identify us to alien civilizations, just left the solar system aboard Pioneer 10. It’s now the most distant man-made object in the universe.

It’ll be eons before it’s found, and even then we’ll have to wait while the aliens try to figure it out. It took us centuries just to understand our own Egyptians’ hieroglyphics; the figure above baffled even some human scientists.

But maybe that’s a good thing, some say. Hungry aliens could see it as a map — and a menu.

Matisse Inverted

In 1961, Henri Matisse’s painting Le Bateau was accidentally hung upside down in New York’s Museum of Modern Art for 47 days. 116,000 visitors had passed through the gallery before the mistake was discovered.

Only Children

Only children:

  • Burt Bacharach
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • Dick Cavett
  • Van Cliburn
  • Robert De Niro
  • Clark Gable
  • John Kenneth Galbraith
  • William Randolph Hearst
  • Lillian Hellman
  • Elton John
  • Vivien Leigh
  • James Michener
  • Rex Reed
  • Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • Roger Staubach
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Paul Verlaine
  • Emile Zola

Hamlet in Klingon


Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy, in Klingon:

taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
pagh, Seng bIQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’? Hegh. Qong — Qong neH —
‘ej QongDI’, tIq ‘oy’, wa’SanID Daw”e’ je
cho’nISbogh porghDaj rInmoHlaH net Har.
yIn mevbogh mIwvam’e’ wIruchqangbej.
Hegh. Qong. QongDI’ chaq naj. toH, waQlaw’ ghu’vam!
HeghDaq maQongtaHvIS, tugh nuq wInajlaH,
volchaHmajvo’ jubbe’wI’ bep wIwoDDI’;
‘e’ wIqelDI’, maHeDnIS. Qugh DISIQnIS,
SIQmoHmo’ qechvam. Qugh yIn nI’moH ‘oH.

It either endures, or it does not endure. Now, I must consider this sentence.
Is it honorable, when one endures the torpedoes and phasers of agressive fate?
Or, when one obtains weapons to fight a seeming ocean of troubles,
And when, by fighting, one finishes them? One dies. One sleeps. One merely sleeps.
And when one sleeps, it is believed that one can finish the pain of the heart
And the thousand revolts which one’s body must succeed to.
We are certainly willing to initiate this way to finish life.
One dies. One sleeps. When one sleeps, perhaps one dreams. Well, this situation seems to be the obstacle!
What we can soon dream of, while sleeping in death,
Having thrown away from our shoulders the cargo of the mortal —
When we consider that, we must retreat. We must endure disasters,
Because this idea makes us endure them. It lengthens the life of the disasters.