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1998 02

From: Richard Wilson (Richard.molerat.demon.co.uk)
Subject: Re: 978-10
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/01

inchaust.students.uiuc.edu "CDInchauste" writes:
> Am I the only 'merkin posting to this NG?

Yes. It's a humour group.

-Richard Wilson-*----*-----*---*-----*-richard.molerat.demon.co.uk-
--*---*----*---*-----*-hurriedly making up for his previous lapse--
--*----*---*----*----*--into being nice to transatlantic cousins---

From: (zymurge_ululating_antihistamine.mindspring.com)
Subject: Re: Internet Oracularities Digest #981
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/06

tph.rmi.net (Tom "Tom" Harrington) wrote:
><oracle-request.cs.indiana.edu> wrote:
>> } I shall not even mention the places my almighty index finger has been, such as pointing the way forward for the universe after the big bang, and engraving the Grand Canyon into the landscape of Colorado.
>b..bb..but... the Grand Canyon's not IN Colorado...
>Looks like the Oracle really doesn't know where his finger's been.

The Grand Canyon was originally located in Colorado, but had to move when Colorado imposed strict regulations to control land erosion.

From: Tom "Tom" Harrington (tph.rmi.net)
Subject: Re: The Oracle replies!
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/08

<tc36212.glaxowellcome.com> wrote:
> Ah for my copy of Edith Hamilton.

YOUR COPY of Edith Hamilton? When exactly did Glaxo Wellcome go into human cloning? And where can I get a copy of Edith Hamilton?

From: Dr.Rob (rhampson.bgsm.edu)
Subject: Re: What's a feinberg?
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/05

Greg Brouelette wrote:
> What's a feinberg?
> I could say something like Toronto's a pretty fine burg. but this question deserves better.
> *************
> > Oh Oracle most wise,
> > who works HIS way out of a corner by building and mounting a feinberg, please tell, what is the last brilliant moment of a conceptual framework before death and transfiguration?

I always thought that Feinbergs were the little props on Star Trek in the 60's. The story was that the prop master's name was Feinberg. They needed salt shakers for an episode and Feinberg went out and bought a whole bunch of futuristic-looking salt shakers, but then the staff couldn't tell what they were supposed to be. So, they used an ordinary salt shaker, and Feinberg's devices became McCoy's surgical instruments, and the thingie in Uhura's ear, etc. At one point someone asked what such-and-such a device was called and was told it was a "Feinberg."

Of course, I could be wrong. <g>

From: Malcolm (m.pack.NOSPAMPLEASEWEREBRITISHcableinet.co.uk)
Subject: Re: The Fish of a New Generation
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/01

Also Sprach Robyn Donnell:
> How does a litre compare to a gallon?

Very poorly IMO.

From: Richard Wilson (Richard.molerat.demon.co.uk)
Subject: Re: The Fish of a New Generation
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/02

inchaust.students.uiuc.edu "CDInchauste" writes:
> Robyn Donnell wrote:
> :Paul (zymurge_ululating_antihistamine.mindspring.com) wrote:
> :: There may be a bigger difference now. I'm paying $.849 per gallon for regular (87 octane) right now. And they say it's going lower.
> :Where do you live?????? It's around $1.099 per gallon her (in Maine) and that's considered REALLY cheap.
> I need to move to maine here (in Illinois) gas is $1.249... If you're lucky.

I am put in mind of the J. Irrep. Res. article of some years back, entitled "The TRUE cost of a gallon of gasoline" or something along those lines. The researcher went to various gas stations and demanded *exactly* one gallon of gas, but never once was he charged the correct amount ($0.849, $1.099 or whatever). Indeed, he discovered numerous hidden charges, mostly associated with the ensuing fracas - cost of a new windscreen after a brick had been heaved through it, cost of having a gas nozzle surgically removed from his left nostril, legal fees and damages when gas station burned down (that gallon cost $several00,000, I believe). Anyway, don't believe the prices they quote.

-Richard Wilson-*----*-----*---*-----*-richard.molerat.demon.co.uk-
--*---*----*--*--I'd love to know where he got his research grant--

From: tc36212.glaxowellcome.com (tc36212.glaxowellcome.com)
Subject: Re: Oracular Rhapsody
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/09

tc36212.glaxowellcome.com wrote:
> Wow! Great! Fantastic! Thank you.
> There is no justice if you are not digested.

Alas, there is no justice...

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Orrie, Just zotted a guy
> Put the staff against his side, pressed the button, now he's fried.
> Orrie, my tellme's just begun,
> But now I've gone and thrown it all away.
> Orrie, ooh, I never will again ask "Why?"
> If you don't give me a decent reply,
> I'll carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Too late, your time has come
} That zot staff should be mine
} It's been missing for some time
} Goodbye, you supplicant, you should have known
} That you'd have to pay for your cold-blooded crime
} Zadoc!
} (Supplicant's in trouble)
} Help me with this guy
} I sometimes wish you weren't in charge of my staff
} I see a priest who needs to be disciplined
} Zadoc's bad! Zadoc's bad! He let someone take the staff
} Zot staff on a rampage, adding years to Zadoc's age
} Zadoc's punished! Zadoc's punished! Zadoc's punished!
} Zadoc's punished! Zadoc's punishment's severe!
} It hurts and burns, oh, oh, oh, oh
} I'll keep my zot staff very close to me
} (He'll keep his zot staff, it will not be free
} Where he hides it, nobody else will see)
} Gather, priests, around me, will you learn from this?
} (Zadoc's hurt, no! We will not learn from this!)
} Learn from this!
} (Zadoc's hurt! We will not learn from this!)
} Learn from this!
} (Zadoc's hurt! We will not learn from this!)
} Learn from this!
} (Will not learn from this!)
} Learn from this!
} (Will not learn from this!)
} ...never, never learn from this!
} Oh, oh, oh, oh...
} (No, no, no, no, no, no, no!)
} Oh, will the priesthood, will the priesthood...
} (Will the priesthood ever learn?
} Chevalier lent the zot staff to some guy last week!
} Last week!
} Last week!)
} So you stood there and let me blame Zadoc for it?
} So you watched as Zadoc was repeatedly hit?
} Oh, priesthood
} You have brought shame to me, priesthood
} Just gotta get out
} Just gotta get right out of here
} Ooh, yeah, ooh, yeah
} Supplicant, my zot staff's
} In your face, you see
} You're going on a trip
} Say hi to Freddie Mer-cury
} (Supplicant's in trouble)

From: Ian Davis (davis.licre.ludwig.edu.au)
Subject: Re: WARNING: Do not open this article in a browser!!! [was Re: My friends and I are not Unix! (was Re: Juno's suckiness)]
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/11

CDInchauste wrote:
> Ian Davis wrote:
> : It's alright, I just consider myself lucky that your *cile program wasn't a test.
> Why is that?

[Patiently] Because then it would have been a testcile, and you would have misspelled it.

I'm going to have a lie down now.

From: Tom Harrington (tph.rmi.netx)
Subject: Re: Down with Juno Incarnations!
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/06

Carla Levy <clevy.hussle.harvard.edu> wrote:
: Emacs gnus. I love emacs gnus. <snip>
: emacs gnus. worship at the altar of emacs gnus. <snip>
: carla "guess what my favorite newsreader is?" levy

Duh! Obviously it's tin.

From: Leonard Blanks (ltb+usenet.haruspex.demon.co.uk)
Subject: Re: Down with Juno Incarnations!
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/08

Tom "Tom" Harrington <tph.rmi.net> writes:
> CDInchauste <inchaust.students.uiuc.edu> wrote:
>> Carla Levy wrote:
>> : > Project for the week: Learn "Emacs" without getting help.
>> :A noble goal.
>> Why is that?
> Learning Emacs is the surest way to save your immortal soul from eternal damnation, that's why.

You make it seem so mundane; Emacs is a bit more useful than this.

From: John Fouhy (jfouhy.atlantis.actrix.gen.nz)
A novice of the temple once approached the Chief Priest with a question.
"Master, does Emacs have the Buddha nature?" the novice asked.
The Chief Priest had been in the temple for many years and could be relied upon to know these things. He thought for several minutes before replying.
"I don't see why not. It's got bloody well everything else."
With that, the Chief Priest went to lunch. The novice suddenly achieved enlightenment, several years later.

From: Dave Hemming (surfbaud.waverider.co.uk.allyourclothes)
Subject: Re: Down with Juno Incarnations!
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/11

jerry.cs.ucsb.edu (Jeremiah W. James) scrawled:
> surfbaud.waverider.co.uk.allyourclothes (Dave Hemming) wrote:
[snip ROTFL in Mandarin]
> > I feel I should be writing these down. However, I only have you guys' word for what these things mean, and I could easily be saying, "Please invade my orifices with spiky things".
> You have a right to be suspicious. The phrase "Wo bu hui jiang zhongwen" is Mandarin for "I don't speak Chinese." [1] If my memory of the Mandarin I once knew weren't so fuzzy, I might be able to come up with a translation of ROTFL, but alas, wo chabuduo dou wangjile [2].

Wow... Looks like my attack of paranoia came just in time!

That could have been embarassing, particularly in the edgercated groups I hang around in when I'm not slumming it here.

Picture the sequence of events - a witty post, a mandarin followup, a puzzled request for clarification, a smugly superior explanation, a half-amused correction from a Great Old One, me fleeing Usenet in shame, my inexorable downward spiral into booze, drugs and loose women...

Actually that doesn't sound too bad.

From: Richard Wilson (Richard.molerat.demon.co.uk)
Subject: Re: Some dork just whipping off answers
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/12

dhiner.freenet.columbus.oh.us "David Hinerman" writes:
> Do all priests/priestesses review all the Oracularities for digestion? Or does only one priest get to look at any one Oracularity?

I once suggested that all priests vote on all oracularities and only the top-scoring ones be selected for the digests. I did this not because I thought it would improve the quality of the digests, but because I hadn't been selected for a while and was feeling really vengeful. At least one priest was not at all amused: some ideas just are too horrific to be voiced, even in jest.

From: Blade-Runner (black-dog.thecatgeocities.com)
Subject: Re: Fontasy
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/13

tph.rmi.net (Tom Harrington) wrote some of this :
: rahar8.student.monash.edu.au (Robin Harrison) wrote:
: > Randy Martens <ram42.ibm.net> wrote:
: > >Richard Wilson wrote:
: > >> jfouhy.atlantis.actrix.gen.nz "John Fouhy" writes:
>> >> > nb: the Oracle is the Font of All Wisdom.
>> >> Silly me - I thought it was Times Baskerville.
>> >No, no. It's Castellar Incised.
>> I thought it was Microsoft Courier.
>No. The font of all wisdom is Zapf Dingbats. I didn't know the Oracle even had a font.

If he did, he could do baptisms.

From: Joesph A. Verage (apple.pie.and.goodness.net)
Subject: This will NOT do!
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/15

Hey, I sent a question to the Oracle and I didn't get an answer I liked back! That sucks! I demand my money's worth! Those incarnations are going to lose their high paying jobs unless I get what I want and promptly too damn it!

I'll sue if I must! HOW DARE THEM! I got sent a reply that didn't show hours of work! It didn't mention woodchucks or Lisa or Og or Bill Gates or Zadoc or some literature I should've read in college or Babylon 5 or a 1950's noir detective setting or woodchucks or UNIX or some ancient gods AND it contained a typo! AND it was not still in HTML when I got it back! AND it was not in verse! Those lazy bums!

Any reply not contain all of the above should be filtered out and sent BACK to the incarnation UNTIL THEM GET IT RIGHT!

I'm going to take my keyboard and go home unless this gets straightened out *LIKE* NOW!


From: Richard Wilson (Richard.molerat.demon.co.uk)
HAH! You think this is EASY, Joesph or whatever you call yourself? You think we do this for FUN? We sweat BLOOD here, matey, and what thanks do we get? They just send us out the very next night! No leave, no psychiatric counseling, no nothing! It's HELL out there, son! Here, lemme show ya:

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> O esteemed Oracle, knower of all things, benefactor of humanity, and all-around cool dude,
> Why is there evil?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

[Scene: A briefing room at Internet Oracle HQ. On the podium stands a table with two chairs; an orderly with a notepad is sitting on one of them. A giant electronic map of Cyberspace covers the whole of the wall behind him, lights on its surface blinking on and off as concentrations of activity wax and wane. The rest of the room is filled with chairs, many of them occupied by tired and unshaven incarnations. One turns to his neighbor, who is unsuccessfully trying to roll a cigarette with shaking hands]

Tom: I hear the balloon's due to go up any minute.

Richard: Tell me about it.

[Carole Fungaroli strides purposefully into the room, a thick dossier under her arm. She is wearing full dress priest's habit with Arch-Hierophant insignia on her epaulettes]

Orderly: [leaping to his feet] Ten-HUT! Priest in the room!

[Everyone springs to attention; several chairs clatter to the floor. Carole seats herself at the table and slaps the dossier down before her]

Carole: At ease, guys. Let's get this show on the road - I've got the latest output from the question queue here.

[Groans from the audience, interspersed with mutterings of "Here we go again" and "Give us a break"]

Carole: Sorry, men, but orders are orders. I'm well aware that you've been out on sorties every night for the last three weeks, but they just keep coming back at us. The queue's full to overflowing, the askme count is down, so all leave is canceled until further notice.

[Louder groans. Someone at the back starts singing "I don't want to join the army", but is silenced by a stern glance from the priest]

Carole: Let's get this over with as quickly as possible. I'll read out the questions assigned to this squadron and nominate incarnations, unless someone wishes to volunteer.

Cheryl: We're all volunteers here!

[Some sardonic laughs]

Carole: Number one - "Why are some foods funnier than others?"

Tom: I'll take that.

Carole: Want any guidance?

Tom: Nah. It just needs a list of food-related gags ending up with a warning from the Surgeon General. Done that sort of thing dozens of times. Piece of cake, if you'll pardon the expression.

Carole: Excellent. Next - "Where is my happy ending? Where have all the cowgirls gone?" Carla?

Carla: Sure thing. I sense a song coming on.

Carole: Not here, if you don't mind. Here's a blank one. Feel ready for another Austen novel, Robert?

Robert: I'm onto Thackeray at the moment.

Carole: That's probably a bit obscure.

Robert: No problem - I'll give 'em Dickens.

Carole: Fine. Here's a fishy one. We'll hand that to Paul, shall we?

[An embarrassed silence descends on the room. Incarnations stare at the floor and shuffle their feet]

Carole: Was it something I said?

Orderly: Paul didn't return from his last sortie, Exaltedness.

Carole: Hell! What happened?

Orderly: He got caught in an illegal operation exiting Outlook and had to bail out somewhere over MSN. There's still no news.

Carole: One of our best incarnations, too - I never thought he'd cash in his microchips. Damn... But let's concentrate on the here and now - who else can handle fish?

Dan: I'll do it.

Carole: Okay. That leaves, let me see, a fairly obvious woodchuck acrostic. Cheryl? Good. Try and avoid ZOTting the supplicant, much as he deserves it... Oh hell, what do I care? Give the little slimeball the works! Let's commemorate Paul by turning the grovel-free zone into a scorched wasteland.

[Cries of "Hear, hear" from the audience]

Carole: What else have we got? "I need to know if we can trust the information on the internet and on the computer?" Perhaps some sarcasm masquerading as English charm from you, Dave? Then there's "The key cap of my keyboards 'f' key is missing. Who took it and where is it?" Jon? Fine. Here's a profound one: "Why do kamikaze pilots wear helmets?" How about it, philosopher?

Richard: No way! Leave me out of this!

Carole: Get a hold of yourself, man. We've all got to pull our weight here.

Richard: That's all very well for you to say, stuck in your cushy office with your cushy desk job! You don't know what it's like out there! The grammatical flame firefights! The spam barrages! The marauding cancelbots! The endless derogatory references to Bill Gates! And all the time, at the back of your mind, knowing that your next sortie could be your last!

Tom: Take it easy, old man...

Richard: I can't take any more questions! I can't take it, I tell you! Asking, they're always asking more! I've already told them all I know! Don't make me go out there again!

[He breaks down sobbing hysterically. Tom awkwardly tries to comfort him]

Carole: Look, er...

Tom: Don't be too hard on him, boss. He's had a rough time lately. Unselected for months.

Carole: I understand. How about if we give him an easy one?

Richard: Yes... yes... I think I could handle that...

Carole: How about this - "Why is there evil?" You feel up to that?

Tom: Course he does! It's a pushover! Just misconstrue the sentence. Like, "There is evil because he was seduced by the dark side of the Force", that sort of thing. You can do that in your sleep, can't you, Dick old son?

Richard: Yes, I think so. Or I could say "There isn't evil, he just came from a broken home".

Tom: See? You've still got it!

Richard: Yes, you're right... Sorry about just now, everybody. I, uh, I don't know what came over me...

Tom: Nobody noticed a thing. Come on, I'll help you if you want.

Richard: You're a real pal, Tom.

Tom: Call me "Tom".

Carole: Okay, that's the lot for tonight. To your consoles, men, and good hunting!

From: Gorgeous Redhead (gillian.richards.foxtafensw.edu.au)
Subject: Re: 985-08
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/19

Ian Davis <davis.licre.ludwig.edu.au> left this:
>} And the ghosts of the dead outnumber the living thirty to one.
>Metaphorically, of course, as I would never dare to contradict the Oracle. But due to near-exponential growth, I thought the current living population was approximately equal to the total dead that had gone before?

I heard about a year ago that the number of people now living EXCEEDED the number of dead.

Thus, there aren't even enough "previous lives" to go around, and anyone claiming to have had more than one is being just plain greedy.

From: zed (spam_munge.newsguy.com)
Subject: Re: A blah idea
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/19

MCHEVALIER.sallie.wellesley.edu (Kirsten Chevalier) said unto the masses:
<all but .sig snipped>
>(*)(*) Kirsten Chevalier (*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*) "Like the rest of the (*)(*)
>(*) mchevalier.wellesley.edu (*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*) human race, you are one of (*)
>http://gryphon.auspice.net/~binkley (*)(*)(*)(*) a kind."--Ani DiFranco (*)(*)
>(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*) Often in error, never in doubt (*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)

AAAAHHH! Run! It's an Asterisk Farm! Sure, they may start out small and cute, protected by the nice little helpful parentheses, but soon they devour their once-loved shell and turn their attention to the characters surrounding them. Then they start growing, suffocating all characters they don't kill with their poison-tipped spikes.

The triffids of ASCIILand... "... but soon, it became fashionable to keep triffids with their spikes pruned as decorations.." Just like the poor fools harboring the asterisks in their .sigs ... and they think it's HARMLESS!!!!

From: Narendra C. Tulpule (tulpule.cs.unc.edu)
Thanks dude. I got peace of mind only after I did
% rm *

From: Dr.Rob (rhampson.bgsm.edu)
Subject: Re: 978-10
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/03

Kevin D. Knerr, Sr. wrote:
> D. Sanderson wrote:
> > Dangermouse! Yeah! Kick-ass!
> > Nickelodeon (a merkin cable channel for kids) used to rerun Dangermouse in the mid-to-late '80s. Loved it.
> The main reason I started watching Nickelodeon was for DM (and Bananaman!!!)

My kindergarten-age son stayed home sick yesterday. Since my wife was starting a new management job in a department store, and I'm just a research scientist, I stayed home with the young'un.
He watched Nickelodeon from 10 AM to 6 PM. I never knew there was so much stuff on that channel. I remember that he saw Rugrats, Little Bear, Blue's Clues, Muppet Babies (twice), Tiny Toon Adventures (twice), Snoopy ... it all went on forever, culminating in some game show modeled after "What's my line?" or "To tell the truth" where apparently the major object is to get the panelists slimed. (Why couldn't they do that to Kitty Carlisle and Orson Bean?)

Fortunately I was upstairs writing on the computer most of the day. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

From: Blade-Runner (black-dog.thecatgeocities.com)
And the really cool part is, he'll be able to watch it all over again tomorrow!

From: CDInchauste inchaust.students.uiuc.edu
I thought that was the really scary part...

From: Blade-Runner (black-dog.thecatgeocities.com)
Sorry, I forgot the <sarcasm> tags. Children have a completely different attitude to repeats than adults. Perhaps they think there is an outside chance that the episode may turn out differently. (silly coyote fell down that same ravine again....)

From: Ian Davis (davis.licre.ludwig.edu.au)
Oh, great, thanks a lot. Please use spoiler warnings next time, it's simple courtesy!

From: Tom Harrington (tph.rmi.net)
Subject: Re: bad responses
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/24

Kirsten Chevalier <MCHEVALIER.sallie.wellesley.edu> wrote:
: If I did that to every incarnation who quoted the question, I wouldn't have time to do anything else and I'd probably lose the use of my hands within a few days. We priests usually reserve the feedback mechanism for really flagrant abuses of the Oracle

So what constitutes a "really flagrant abuse" of the Oracle? I'm guessing that slapping him around a bit and telling him that he's a good-for-nothing ugly loser are, while abusive, not "really flagrant abuse". So what's the threshold? Giving the Oracle a black eye? Beating him with a stick? Breaking his arm? Or do I have to go all the way and chain him in the basement for a few years, feeding him only moldy bread? How much can I abuse the Oracle before his priesthood starts sending me email?

From: cheryl (cgastald.haverford.edu)
Subject: Re: The Priests
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/25

(Robyn Donnell) wrote:
> Back in 980-09, I got digested. Not because I wrote that delightful top ten list, but because I asked the question. But I was just thinking, I honestly wonder, where DOES Orrie get his priests? I mean, how did you all get into the priesthood?

my (unvalidated) theory is that the priests are chosen after careful study of their oracular style. they are then kidnapped and taken to a remote land known as indiana where they meet the actual oracle himself and have lunch. the oracle explains the priestly duty to the chosen one who genreally bolts for the door. however, after sufficient use of the ZOT staff, the chosen one finally submits to the oracle and agrees to spend all of their free hours wading through piles of one-liners and juno-esque incarnations attempting to salvage a bit of humor which they then forward to the actual oracle who is kind enough to share the wealth and publish the oracalities somewhat regularly.

From: Kirsten Chevalier (MCHEVALIER.sallie.wellesley.edu)
OK, everyone...who told her, and more importantly, who's going to kill her?
still hiding the zot scars

From: Daniel E. Macks (dmacks.sas.upenn.edu)
Subject: Re: All right, I'm confused
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/26

Paul (zymurge_ululating_antihistamine.mindspring.com) said:
: Oh I don't know about that necessarily. I've dragged myself out of several bad moods by answering a few questions. You never know. A good solid case of PMS may land you right in the middle of the digest someday.

Uhhh...Paul, is there something you're not telling us about yourself?

dan, whose bright red Siamese fighting fishies have one gender each

From: Jeff Lee (shipbrk.gate.net)
Subject: Re: Not-answering a question question
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/20

hmSPAMBLOCK.custard.bnsc.rl.ac.uk (Huw Morris) wrote:
> That's fine as far as I'm concerned. I prefer to do askmes so I don't have to think up a good question.

The grey midwinter light slanted through the dirty windowpanes, unnoticed by the lone figure as he tapped diligently on the keyboard, awash in the phosphorescent glow of the computer screen.

Beads of sweat trickled down his furrowed brow as he searched for a question worthy of the Oracle's time. He had obviously disappointed the Font of Wisdom with his last question -- a request that the Oracle help with a report on the Iliad, by "Homer somebody-or-other", sent in hopes that the Oracle might respond with an allusion to the Simpsons, or American painters, or some other tangential cultural reference. Instead, the Oracle had chosen to fixate on one inconsequential phrase in the grovel, and ignore the question completely.

He had answered the question that he'd received in return, which was what he really enjoyed, but he dutifully thought up new questions each time -- for without questions there could be no answers.

He finished the new question and sent it in, followed by a frantic pressing and re-pressing of the "Check Mail" button in eager anticipation of answering a new question from some other supplicant.

After what seemed like an eternity, the digital boatswain's whistle played, signalling the arrival of the Oracle's return email. His face fell as he opened the message and read the two stark sentences:

The Oracle is pondering your question. Expect an answer in a day or two.

Disappointed, but undeterred, he set once again to the task of composing a question for the Oracle. Grinding dutifully through another grovel, he cast his eyes about the room for inspiration. His gaze flitted past a weighty tome of Shakespeare, then returned to it. An idea struck, and his fingers blazed across the keyboard like a prairie fire in August.

This time, the wait for a response was tinged with apprehension. Would he be able to try his hand at being witty? Or would his message disappear into the lair of some fiend who only answered questions, never asking them, thereby depriving others of the opportunity to become the Oracle incarnate?

Again, the boatswain's whistle blew; again, the disappointing words:

The Oracle is pondering your question. Expect an answer in a day or two.

The fading light crawled across the floor as the lone figure continued his attempts. Twilight conquered the room like the downfall of the gods, but the tapping of keys continued like the cacophony of Nibelung hammers, long into the dark night.

Some day he would get to answer another question. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. Soon.

From: Dr. Noe (drnoe.cts.com)
Subject: Re: Serious questions
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/25

Tom Harrington wrote:
> Dave Wagner <dgwagner.math.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
> : Brandon Ray <publius.avalon.net> wrote:
> : >An imperial gallon has five quarts. I am not making this up.
> : No, an imperial gallon has four quarts of 40 ounces each, making it 5/4-ths the size of US gallon of four 32-ounce quarts.
> Err.. so, in other words, an imperial gallon has five US quarts.

Next time you guys get confused, try asking someone omniscient...

British imperial liquid measure:
1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 32 gills = 160 fluidounces = 320 tablespoons = 960 teaspoons = 1280 fluidrams = 76800 minims = 4.546099 liter

U.S. liquid measure:
1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 32 gills = 128 fluidounces = 256 tablespoons = 768 teaspoons = 1024 fluidrams = 61440 minims = 3.785412 liter

Thus a British imperial gallon is equal to about 1.201 U.S. gallons, a British imperial quart is equal to about 1.201 U.S. quarts, and a British imperial pint is equal to about 1.201 U.S. pints. But a British imperial fluidounce is equal to about 0.961 U.S. fluidounces.

In other words, an imperial gallon has about six (U.S.) fifths.

Of course, here on Mount Olympus, the Oracle has his own units. The one we're most familiar with is the octomegaparsec-barn (ompcb). The Great One uses this to measure the volume of cosmic strings and the mind-control medication Lisa administers to us each morning. But Lisa's not very gifted with numbers, so she just counts out five teaspoons.

> But it's easier to just get the one advertised by "The Bud Girls", which accounts for market share.

Hey, if there's a chance it'll get me a pair of breasts like those on TV, I'll give it a shot. ;-)
Dr. Noe, under-endowed Priest of the Internet Oracle

From: Tom Harrington (tph.rmi.net)
Subject: Re: Serious questions
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/27

Mark Orton <marko26.hotmail.com> wrote:
: gordoll.pobox.com (Jeffrey Kaplan) wrote:
:> Bud? ugh. One step up from dog piss.
: Up?

Would either of you care to explain how it is that you know enough to compare the two? I mean, I'd *suspect* that the comparisons are valid, but you guys talk as though you *know*.

From: Daniel E. Macks (dmacks.sas.upenn.edu)
Subject: Re: OK, which bastard was this?
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/17

Huw Morris (hmSPAMBLOCK.custard.bnsc.rl.ac.uk) said:
: I'd just like to say to whoever submitted the following question:
: > Oh Oracle most wise!
: > That never was founden, as it telles,
: > bord ne man, ne nothing elles?
: May you rot in hell!

I can see it now...some guy sitting in the Inner Circle with a Seekrit Decoder Ring and a pencil rot13ing all of USENET by hand.

dan, whose bright red Siamese fighting fishies don't like to rot

From: Richard Wilson (Richard.molerat.demon.co.uk)
Subject: Re: OK, which bastard was this?
Newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle.d
Date: 1998/02/19

hmSPAMBLOCK.custard.bnsc.rl.ac.uk "Huw Morris" writes:
> A quick bit of research established that they are lines 73 and 74 from the Duchess's Tale by Chaucer[1]. That was the easy bit. Have you ever tried to *read* Chaucer!? Can't the man speak English?

I don't know, they could be very lucid in those days. My brother-in-common-law bought a mediaeval cookbook last year (why? because he does that sort of thing), with recipes both in the original language and modern translations. In one, for chopping up meat the modern instructions were "cut into 2 centimetre cubes"; the original said "smite to gobbets!" One year on, and I still can't get that expression out of my head.

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