BEST OF THE REST

'Tis true: they're not all works of genius. Some of my Oracular responses fall slightly above or below the Best of the Best cutoff line, like the ones below. Others still, it is best to draw a discreet veil over, to spare the selecting priest's blushes. So we shall.

Digest/Score:    
1. Jerry Garcia's Afterlife Tour   #812-08 (3.6)    
2. The Secret Language of Women   #904-04 (3.6)    
3. Sages of the Ages III: Tanya's Paradox   #908-09 (3.8)    
4. A Brief History of the Policeman's Diet   #1061-07 (3.7)    
5. Women and Children First   #1071-03 (3.8)    
6. The Forgotten Password   #1071-05 (3.6)    
7. Kev, the God of Toilets on French Campsites   #1122-08 (3.7)    
8. Useful Comments in the Genome   #1132-08 (3.7)    
9. Planet of the Rodents   #1156-05 (3.6)    
10. The Most Comon Errors That Cats Commit   #1156-09 (3.8)    
11. The Telling of Things That Are Stoopid   #1158-09 (3.6)    
12. Moses Supposes   #1168-09 (3.7)    
13. Egyptian Book of the Dead (Revised Version)   #1199-01 (3.6)    
14. Cult Quote Overflow   #1238-10 (3.8)    
15. Pop Enculturation Inventory   #1239-08 (3.8)    

 


1.

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

> Oh fractured gruntbuggly Oracle, whose necturations are to me...
>
> ...can you tell me how Jerry Garcia is doing in the afterworld? A lot
> of folks down here miss the guy, and I just want to know how he's doing.
> Also, when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, I want tickets to one
> of his "afterworld tours."
>
> Where exactly will Jerry be playing, and how do I go about ensuring I
> have tickets when I go?
>
> Also, I would like to see Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix open for Garcia,
> maybe with Keith Moon on drums; or maybe John Bonham from Led Zep.
> Anyway, what's the afterworld music scene like?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

"Fractured gruntbuggly"... I like that! Who says the art of grovelling is dead?
I must confess, however, that I have not been keeping up with the venues for Jerry's gigs now that he's joined the choir invisible. But since you asked so nicely, I'll find out for you. Going up...
[ZOT]
Now here's the man to tell us. Archangel Gabriel, how's tricks?
"Hey! Orrie, my main man! How's it hanging, dude?"
Same as ever - slightly to the left, you know. Listen, I came to ask about the heavenly music scene. What's going down up above?
"You came to the right man, bro. I'm just now putting together tomorrow night's show. It's a screamer - it'll blow the top of your head clear off. Top of the bill are Deanna Durbin and Nelson Eddy."
That's a bit, um, what's a polite word for it... sedate, isn't it? Don't you have anything lined up with a funkier beat?
"Next year we're expecting Julie Andrews to croak. How's 'Climb Every Mountain' grab ya?"
By the throat, mainly. How about electronic music?
"Oh, you mean rock, soul, punk, rap, that kind of thing? Hey, that's the devil's music. The boss don't hold with that scene. Total sputum, I know, but that's how it is."
So no Jim Morrison, Keith Moon, Jerry Garcia? Ever? Throughout all eternity?
"You're hoaxing me, right? Drug overdoses and suicides? Here???"
I thought you might make a special case...
"Chill out, babe! And what about the audience? It's immoral and illegal to attend a 'Dead concert unstoned, you know that. And you know how the boss feels about drugs. El bummer grande, but that's how it is."
I guess so... So it's the other place I want if I'm looking for some real entertainment, eh?
"Hey, it ain't that bad. You wanna stick around here a while - things'll really be hotting up once the Osmonds start popping their clogs."
I can hardly wait. Unfortunately, urgent business calls me elsewhere. Going down...
[ZOT]
Whew! I'm always finding unexpected side-benefits to immortality. Right, unbearable heat, sulfurous fumes, screams of agony - this sounds more promising.
"Tickets, please."
Ah, Mephistopheles, just the person I need. Tickets, you say? Is there a concert about to start?
"You don't get in without a ticket, sonny."
That's okay - I just want to know who's playing.
"Oh, right. Well, Karl Maria von Weber is opening for Brandenburg Brain Death. You know them? It's a great lineup - Wolfie Mozart on lead, Fred Handel on bass, Joe Bach on keyboard and Louie 'Eh What's That You Say?' Van B on drums."
But they're all classical composers! Where's the real dead rockers? Where's Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain?
"Truth to tell, most of them didn't want to keep it up once they'd been here a while. Unremitting torment does that to people. Jimi now presses flowers. Janis Joplin takes aerobics classes. Keith Moon just sits in a corner and says 'Wibble' every once in a while."
And Jerry Garcia? Don't tell me he lost the rhythm.
"Jerry dead!?! When did it happen? Why wasn't I told?"
What! You mean he's not here?
"No way, man! I'd have known!"
Curiouser and curiouser. Going up...
[ZOT]
Well, supplicant - this is quite baffling, and not a little disturbing. You see, if Jerry's not in heaven and he's not in hell, there's only one other place he can be. Yes, it looks like Jerry Garcia's now one of the hateful undead.
You owe the Oracle absolution for his worst joke of the year so far.

 


2.

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

> Oh wise and wonderful Oracle, whose knowledge of the ways of the cosmos
> is even greater than the gullibility of readers of the National Enquirer,
> I pray that you bestow some small quotient of enlightenment upon this,
> your most unworthy supplicant, by vouchsafing your ponderings on this, my
> humble inquiry:
>
> Why do women say they mean one thing, like "Yes, I like the way you
> dress" or "Sure, I like the Three Stooges" but mean something totally
> different, like "Your whole wardrobe must go. We will shop for new
> clothes for you till you puke" or "How can you find the sight of one man
> gouging the eyes of another man funny, while still a third man does that
> stupid finger snap, fist clap sound while going 'Woo woo' "?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

I don't believe it! You mean there are still males out there who don't realise that women, like the Japanese, use words purely to make polite noises which bear no relation whatsoever to what they really mean to say?
*sigh*
Look, supplicant, I haven't got time now to give you a full induction into the secret language of the female Homo sapiens. Instead, here is Lisa's handy glossary of expressions used by women on dates and what they mean. The rest you'll have to figure out yourself.
Go out to dinner with you? I'd love to! But, given a choice, I'd rather stay home and rip my fingernails out one by one.
Where do you suggest we go? I suggest you go to Anchorage while I go to Tasmania.
No, I've never been there. I try to avoid food-poisoning, as a rule.
You'll pick me up at seven then? Oh my God! Haven't they confiscated your driving license yet? Valium, quick!
Wow! You certainly got us here quickly. But it would have been a different story if that policeman had managed to keep up with you.
You remind me of Brad Pitt. I've never met him and I wish I could say the same about you.
I never knew you could be so entertaining! The way you do that finger snap, fist clap sound while going 'Woo woo!'
I'm not very hungry. You're enough to put anyone off their food.
I'll just have a salad. And I'll also lean across and eat all your fries, just to annoy you.
Must watch my figure, you know. And if you don't stop watching my figure, I'm going to punch you in the eye any minute now.
Go back to your place? Swell! But first, let me start on my toenails.
So this is your home. I thought by 'home' you'd meant mental institution.
Yes, I will have a drink, thank you. Got any paraquat?
You say it's a matchstick model of Rodin's 'The Kiss'? It looks more like the USS Missouri. Or the Eiffel Tower. Or both.
And you made it yourself? How clever of you! You know, where I come from, we lower people like you slowly into a giant tank full of jellyfish.
I'm so sorry, I do find you attractive but I make it a rule never to kiss on a first date. I make it a rule never to kiss wildebeest on a first date.
We must do this again some time. Surely he's not feeble-minded enough to take that at face value?
Next Friday would be great. Oh my God, he is!!!
Goodbye, I've had a lovely evening. I'm now going home to perform a lobotomy on myself in a vain attempt to expunge it from my memory.
"Are you done yet, sugar-buns?"
Just about, Lisa my sweet.
"Oh, I think it's wonderful how you are always helping poor lost souls with your wise and witty advice."
By that, do you mean 'It's wonderful how I'm always helping poor lost souls with my wise and witty advice,' or do you really mean 'God, those little losers must be desperate to resort to a pompous, nobrained windbag like me?'
"Why, the former of course, apple blossom of my delight!"
I'm glad to hear it. Well, I'm knocking off now. What say we repair to the bed chamber?
"Hang on. I think a couple of my toenails have grown back."

 


3.

(Sages of the Ages parts I and II are on the Abject Failures page, which is reserved for miscellaneous Oracularities which I thought were funny but nobody else did. Don't say I didn't warn ya - Ed.)

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

> If you are Sanjay write me:-}
>
xxxxx@xxxx.xxxxx.ru.
> Tanya

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Aha! Trying to trap me in a paradox, eh? If I am not Sanjay, I should not reply. But I am the Oracle, so I must reply. But if I reply, then I am Sanjay and not the Oracle, so I need not have replied...
Tish-poo, foolish supplicant! You should know better than to try and test my omniscience. I can figure my way out of any conundrum. In this case, it's childishly easy. Your exact word were "If you are Sanjay write me:-}" so all I have to do is not write "me:-}" and I'm off the hook.
...Except I just have. Dammit! Why'd I have to show off?
Okay, what else can I do? I could pretend I was Sanjay. Nah, that's cheap. Anyway, I might have to prove it. Hmmm... time to call in a specialist in paradoxes, methinks. Where's that CD? Ah, here it is. Just put it in the drive, and...
SAGES OF THE AGES <tm>
Interactive Wisdom Simulation Game
Copyright: Encarta 1996, 1997
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You have selected Zeno of Elea. Please wait a moment while he is loaded . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Zeno: The Parmenidean doctrine of the one, indivisible reality is the only philosophically reasonable belief, since arguing in favor of the alternative, that is, of many distinguishable qualities and objects capable of relative motion, creates a host of impossible situations. Achilles, traveling at twice the speed of the tortoise, can never catch up because, each time that he has covered half the distance between them, the tortoise has moved ahead by half that distance. So long as time and distance are infinitely divisible, Achilles never draws level, because at this stage the distance between them would be zero, which is not half of anything.
Oracle: So if I were to punch you in the throat now, you'd be perfectly safe because my fist would never reach you? Shall we try it?
Zeno: I just make the postulates - I leave the empirical proof to others.
Oracle: Smart move.
Zeno: Hi, Orrie. What can I do you for?
Oracle: Resolve a paradox - right down your street. How do I respond to this supplicant without being Sanjay?
Zeno: Piece of cake. You reply "I'm not Sanjay and this message is typed not written, so there. Ner-ner-na-ner!"
Oracle: Bit of a cop-out, don't you think?
Zeno: Well, it was just off the top of my head, you know. What's the ":-}" bit anyway?
Oracle: It's a simpering smiley.
Zeno: Oh, I thought it looked like a Parthian bow. I mean, "ru" is Russia, isn't it? This Tanya could be one of those wild nomadic warrior women from the boundless steppes of Hyperborea, the realm that lies beyond the North Wind.
Oracle: Get your hormones under control. Things have changed in Russia since your day. Anyway, you're nothing but a simulation.
Zeno: Drat! I keep forgetting that.
Oracle: Keep your mind on the problem and off your gonads. What's the solution?
Zeno: Okay. First premise: there are no instructions as to what you are to do if you are not Sanjay, right?
Oracle: No, though presumably writing to her is out.
Zeno: Second premise, then: there is nothing that obliges you to either confirm or deny that you are Sanjay.
Oracle: You mean, I can reply to a paradox with another paradox?
Zeno: Why not?
Oracle: Brilliant, Zeno! That's it! I owe you one, mate.
Zeno: Well, how about a simulation of one of those wild nomadic warrior women from...
Oracle: Dream on. End program.
[click]
It's all so simple, really. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself.
Dear Tanya,
If I am Sanjay, do not read this:-b

 


4.

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

> True blue Oracle, he is always there for us ready to help in a flash,
> proud and brave and good. The Oracle stands between us and chaos.
>
> What did policemen eat before the invention of the donut?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

A profound and serious question for a change, worthy of in-depth research! Supplicant, you restore my faith in humanity!
Very well, let us turn the clock back 100 years and see what the policeman on stakeout duty was ingesting...
* * * * * * * * * * *
Holmes: My word, Inspector, but your fidgeting could try the patience of the proverbial saint.
Lestrade: Dash it all, Holmes! We have been sat here in the cramped confines of this Hansom cab for well nigh hours at a stretch. What makes you so confoundedly certain that the miscreants are even at this moment ensconced in the Georgian terraced habitation opposite?
Holmes: As I already have had occasion to explain to you, my excellent fellow, the five red-haired gentlemen and the Prussian Under-Secretary are most certainly still at their nefarious business indoors. Otherwise, the sound of the dog barking in the night would indubitably have reached our ears. This is surely an elementary deduction, even for London's Finest.
Cabbie: 'Ow much longer do I 'ave to sit 'ere? It's flippin' freezin', it is!
Lestrade: Silence, you working-class scalawag, lest I be obliged to take my riding-stock to your back!
Holmes: The long hours of waiting appear to have had a deleterious effect on your customary good humour as well as your ability to remain immobile, if I may say so.
Lestrade: I had scant opportunity to partake of any form of evening victuals before you saw fit to take it upon yourself to drag me out here. I am now beginning to fall prey to the pangs of unrequited hunger and, consequently, my temper is somewhat slightly out of sorts. Hark! What is that sound?
Holmes: The dog?
Lestrade: No, it is the cry of the itinerant jellied eel and dough-nut monger! I am saved! Would you care for some refreshment, Holmes?
Holmes: Not I. And surely, Inspector, the matter at hand is of sufficient gravity and national import to induce you to overlook the occasional rumblings of a discontented stomach and remain at your post.
Lestrade: Holmes, get knotted.
[Exit Lestrade]
* * * * * * * * * * *
Hmm, evidently we didn't go back far enough. Let's try a tad earlier...
* * * * * * * * * * *
Beringar: I hied me hither as soon as thy message reached me, Brother. What transpires?
Cadfael: 'Tis young Wulfhere, the inn-keeper's son. I have been apprized that he is at this very hour in yon chapel, purloining the relics of Saint Simeon the Sanctimonious.
Beringar: The young varlet! Let us thence forthwith to apprehend him!
Cadfael: Nay, Hugh, 'tis not his own doing that he is about this business, I trow. Certes he has been forced unto it by the lord of the demesne, Sir Gervase de Rottinger, who has threatened that, were he to do otherwise, Sir Gervase would exercise his droit-de-seigneur on Wulfhere's betrothed, the fair and innocent Ethelthryth.
Beringar: By all the Saints, Brother, cozen ye me not? I'faith, not in all my years as shire-reeve have I heard of such corsednesse withal. So what must our path be?
Cadfael: We await here, hidden in Much the Miller's cart, until Wulfhere hands the relics over to Sir Gervase, at which juncture you emerge and catch them in the act.
Much: Prithee, fine gentles, but I must have the use of my cart!
Cadfael: Gramercy, Miller, no other place avails where we can watch and not be watched.
Beringar: Much, stout yeoman, we will pay thee three groats for every hour that we require the use of thy most sturdy and becoming cart. And a rack of venison to recompense thee for thine upholding of the law. Mayhap this dost meet thy needs?
Much: Well, I wit not...
Beringar: Fie, miller! Hold thy tongue and begone to thy mill, there to grind some flour or whatever it is those that follow thy venal calling do. And whilst thou art about it, make me one of thine excellent dough-nuttes. Verily, I starve!
[Exit Much the Miller, grumbling]
Cadfael: Canst think of eating at such a time like this, Hugh?
Beringar: God's Truth, Brother, a shire-reeve's lot is not a happy one, yet it should not neither be a hungry one, methinks.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Rats, still not far enough. Okay, earlier still...
* * * * * * * * * * *
Thag: Hel-lo, Og. What Og do?
Og: Name not Og. Name Ser-geant Og, sun-shine. Ser-geant Og look cave. Bad man in cave. Bad man steal Og-wa furs. Ser-geant Og wait bad man come out cave. Ser-geant Og catch bad man red han-ded.
Thag: Why bad man red han-ded?
Og: Ser-geant Og cover all cave mammoth blood. Bad man come out cave. Bad man red han-ded, red foot-ed, red all over.
Thag: Ser-geant Og more smart av-er-age Australopithecine.
Og: Thag not whis-tle Dixie.
Thag: How long Ser-geant Og look cave?
Og: One, two, um, many hour. Og mur-der reindeer steak just now.
Thag: Thag go hunt. Ser-geant Og want come?
Og: Ser-geant Og want. Ser-geant Og come.
Thag: What if bad man come out cave? Ser-geant Og not here, not catch red han-ded
Og: Um...
Thag: Ser-geant Og in cleft stick.
Og: Ser-geant Og say what hell. Go hunt, go catch woolly rhi-no-cer... um, rhi-no... um, thing with horn. Give Og-wa fur. Og-wa have new fur, not cover in mammoth blood. Bad man have wet sticky fur. Og-wa happy, bad man wet sticky. Ser-geant Og say case close.
Thag: What mean case close?
Og: Ser-geant Og not know. Ser-geant Og say any-way. Sound good.
[Exeunt]
* * * * * * * * * * *
So there you have it, Supplicant. Before donuts, policemen ate woolly rhinoceroses. And remember, you heard it here first.

 


5.

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

> O wondrous Oracle, who understands even the incomprehensible,
>
> Is it true that men used to adhere to "women and children first" so that
> they themselves could at least enjoy a few moments of peace before
> they died?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

You have it in one, supplicant. Indeed, it was not unknown for men to engineer fatal disasters for this very purpose. For instance:
[SCENE: The first class lounge bar on the Titanic, shortly after encountering the iceberg. The floor is at an angle of 45 degrees to the horizontal, chairs and tables are piled up in the bottom corner, and black, freezing water is beginning to slosh in through the door. The band struggles to continue playing at the upper end of the room, whilst a lone waiter scrambles back and forth between the dozen or so remaining customers, all male. Aubrey fforbes-ffortescue and Pelham "Pongo" Grytpype-Thynne recline beneath the shattered remains of a grand piano]
Aubrey: Cigar, old chep?
Pongo: Don't mind if I do.
Aubrey: This is the life, what?
Pongo: Rahther. One was beginning to think the memsahibs would never leave.
Aubrey: Though one can't help wondering whether the old girls made it into a lifeboat in time.
Pongo: Who can tell? Out of sight, out of mind, that's the ticket. The fairer sex, God bless them and all that, but they can give a chep a headache with their incessant chattering, what what?
Aubrey: I should jolly well say so.
[With a rending crash, the stern separates from the rest of the ship. The floor tilts abruptly to near vertical, catapulting the members of the band, screaming, through the French windows into the dark, turbulent waters below. One or two of the men in the room look up before returning to their conversations]
Pongo: Reminds one of the time one was in India during the rebellion.
Aubrey: Dickens of a carry-on, that was.
Pongo: Bad show all round. Would you believe those demn darkies put us all in the same Black Hole of Calcutta, men, women and children together? Hardly playing the game! How was a fellow supposed to gather his thoughts?
Aubrey: The bounders! So typical of Johnny Foreigner, that. Simply no breeding. I say, is everything all right, Pongo?
Pongo: In what way?
Aubrey: Forgive my drawing attention to it, but you appeared to wince.
Pongo: Ah, that would be my gammy leg. It's somewhat slightly ecting up today.
Aubrey: My dear fellow! I had no idea you had a gammy leg.
Pongo: I didn't until this demn piano landed on us. Bit of a sticky wicket, what?
Aubrey: Well, bear up, old man. Stiff upper lip. Wouldn't do to blub in front of the servants, and all that.
Pongo: Oh, rahther. What say we have another brandy?
Aubrey: Freightfully decent of you. Could I trouble you for a Scotch instead?
Pongo: Boy! Two Scotch over here, there's a good fellow.
Waiter: At once, Sir. Would you like ice in that?
Pongo: No need - we'll help ourselves.
[The waiter swims off to fetch the order, only to be crushed under a falling chandelier. The icy water has reached our protagonists' chest level, and is already over the heads of most of the others in the room. A steward pops his head through the doorway and asks if everything is all right before being consumed by flames from a fire that started in the engine room and is now engulfing the upper decks. Screams of pain and terror fill the air outside]
Aubrey: Chin up, eh what?
Pongo: I'll wait for the water to reach my nostrils first, if it's all the same with you.
Aubrey: So, Pongo, what are your plens for the future?
Pongo: Well, what with one thing and another, one was thinking of lying underneath this piano in intense pain for a few more minutes and then drowning. Yourself?
Aubrey: Drowning sounds attractive. Or I might toddle out in a while for a spot of hypothermia.
Pongo: You old dog, you.
Aubrey: Shame to miss the test match, though.
Pongo: Deshed inconvenient, but it could be worse, old fruit. We were due to reach our destination tomorrow.
Aubrey: [bleakly] America.
Pongo: Indeed.
Aubrey: Quite right of you, getting the captain to steer us onto that iceberg. Demn colonials. Ebsolutely no idea how to behave in polite company.
Pongo: I hear some of them ectually have their children down to dinner.
Aubrey: What? Eating at the same table?
Pongo: So I am informed.
Aubrey: At the same time?
Pongo: Defies comprehension, what what?
Aubrey: Ghahstly! Demn, demn colonials. Blisters of the first water. Death is a kinder fate.
Pongo: As you say. Where's that boy with our drinks?

 


6.

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

> I forgot my password. Can you tell me what it is?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

I'm sorry, but the Oracle can't tell you what it is until you type in your password.
> I don't know it anymore, that's why I'm asking you!
I'm sorry, but before I can remind you what it is, you have to type in your password.
> Hang on, I know what this is. This is one of your crappy misreading
> the question answers, isn't it? Have you any idea how tiresome those
> are?
I'm sorry, but before the Oracle can tell you how tiresome those are, you have to...
> Okay, okay! Look, I don't want to know what "it" is, I want to know
> what my password is, got it?
Yes, I've got it, but before I can give it to...
> WHAT'S MY PASSWORD?
Your password is a string of characters, preferably of a memorable nature for you but not easily guessable by others, that you have to type in before you can receive a response from the Oracle.
> Yes, but what are the characters?
The characters are those generally associated with specific keys or key combinations on your keyboard.
> I'm gonna crack this if it kills me.
I'm sorry, but the Oracle can't tell you if it kills you until...
> Shut up! Now, listen carefully. My password, that is, the one used
> by me and not anybody else, to use in conjunction with the Internet
> Oracle Gold Service and not anything else, consists of a string of
> specific keyboard characters in a specific order, right?
Right.
> So tell me the characters!
The ones in your password?
> Yes.
Not anybody else's?
> No!
In the correct order?
> YES!
You didn't grovel, grouchy.
> I don't have to grovel! That's why I subscribe to the Gold Service. It
> releases me from any obligation to grovel or to pay your outrageous
> "you owe the Oracle" demands, and you can't Zot me even if I ask the
> dreaded w**dchuck question, all for $19.95 a month. Now tell me my
> sodding password before I burst a blood vessel!
In order to use the Gold Service, you must provide your password.
> I've forgotten my password!
Well, you'd better start grovelling then, hadn't you, sunshine?
> I can't believe this is happening.
I'm waitinnggg...
> Is there some other incarnation there I can talk to?
No, and I've just picked up my Staff of Zot [tm].
> Okay, okay! Oh Oracle most wise, I...
That's a feeble grovel! I've had better grovels than that from garden invertebrates. Hell, I've had better grovels than that from Juno mailers.
> It's a valid grovel, isn't it?
Oh, all right. Get on with your question, then.
> Oh Oracle most wise, I forgot my password. Can you tell me what it is?
Certainly! It is a pronoun. More specifically, a neuter pronoun of the third person singular. You can use it as a substitute for a neuter noun in a sentence or paragraph where said noun has already been used at least once previously.
You owe the Oracle the Kingdom of Belgium.

 


7.

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

> is there a god? (other than you, oh great one)

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Just a god? Any god? Like Kev the god of toilets on French campsites, would he do?
Of course not, because that's not really what you want to know, is it? I wish you mortals would learn to formulate your questions properly. What you meant to ask is: is the Big Guy up in the sky for real and, if so, why doesn't he just let us know instead of leaving us guessing like this, right? Well, why don't we ask him?
<peep> <peep> <poop> <poop> <peep> <poop>
Why, I haven't phoned old Jehovah in ages. I used to all the time back when I started in '89, but I was a lot less sure of myself in those days...
"Heavenly switchboard. Which number, please?"
Number one, thank you.
"It's ringing for you."
But then I got to thinking that most of you supplicants weren't after enlightenment anyway, you just wanted me to come up with a few jokes to momentarily brighten up your humdrum existence. So, what with one thing and another - Jehovah not being much of a gag merchant, as you would know if you've ever read the bible...
"Hello, Orrie. Long time no speak."
Oh, hi J. I would ask how things are with you but, being omniscient, I already know.
"Just as I know, being similarly endowed, how you are getting on with the delightful Lisa."
Right. Moving swiftly on...
"Specifically, your little mishap last night."
Yes, well, a lot of people wouldn't have called that premature. But let's not waste time with idle chit-chat. You know what I'm calling about, of course.
"Of course. Just as you know how I'm going to reply."
You reply, firstly, that you've no intention of doing a Hitch-Hiker's Guide type routine about proof denying faith and your being nothing without faith because without a babelfish you'd be stuck for a punchline, and secondly...
"And secondly, that it's a load of baloney anyway. I used to go around proving I existed all the time - global floods here, pillars of fire there - and where did it get me? The moment my back was turned, they'd all rush off to worship Ashtaroth. What's that bitch got that I haven't?"
A couple of prominent things spring to mind...
"Exactly! Once mortals have proof of the existence of one god, they naturally conclude there are more. And then they have a choice! They can worship whoever takes their fancy. Don't like god A's afterlife package? Then choose god B's: you only have to be good most of the time to get into the Elysian fields, which are almost as good as heaven. Or how about god C? Just do two good things your whole life and spend no more than 200 years in purgatory."
And for god D you can be a total scumbag but still reap the full benefits when your policy matures as long as you've kept up the human sacrifice payments.
"You can't leave the fate of people's eternal souls to be determined by competition and market forces. We're not in the 80s anymore."
So, by refusing to prove any of you exist, you gods keep the mortals in a state of continual uncertainty.
"The little beggars have got to be as good as they possibly can, in case the god that determines their fate turns out to be the one with the least tolerant views on human failings."
And while they're working themselves up into a lather worrying about whether what they're doing is pleasing in the sight of this god, the last thing they want to think about is whether there are further gods who have a say in the matter, who might disapprove of their efforts to appease the first one.
"Hence the predominance of monotheistic religion. Pretty slick, huh?"
As long as nobody breaks ranks and proves the existence of any of you.
"Correct, and... What are you saying? Orrie, you didn't!"
Er... I'm afraid I sort of unintentionally, well, that is to say...
"Who?"
I, um, I happened to, like, slightly mention Kev the god of toilets on French campsites before I called you.
"Kev the god of... You idiot! Couldn't you at least have spilled the beans on somebody with a bit of gravitas, like Thor or Kali?"
Well, Kev can be pretty important in his own way. I mean, if the supplicant ever went camping in France...
"Imbecile! Don't you see what you've done? Your benighted supplicant is going run off and become the first prophet of the new scatological religion of the almighty Kev. Soon pilgrims will be flocking to campsites in the Dordogne and the Loire valley to abase themselves before the sanitary facilities. Garlic-munching lavatory attendants will be the high priests of a new global theocracy as 2000 years of careful divine planning get flushed down the pan. And it's all your fault!"
This is worse than when I suggested to Judas how he could earn himself a few pieces of silver, isn't it?
"Yes!"
So a humble I'm sorry won't cover it?
"No!"
Human sacrifice?
"At least one."
Okay, I'll start with this here supplicant. Just let me warm up the old ZOT ray...

 


8.

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

> Non-bifocal wearing Oracle whose vision into the perplexities of human
> life can not be overlooked,
>
> Does the genetic code contain useful comments?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

It most certainly does! As you are no doubt aware, each DNA double helix contains 2 polynucleotide strands called the sense and antisense strands. Only the former is used as a template for creating proteins; the latter contains all the comments. Let's examine a random chunk of your DNA (straightened out so as not to overstrain my ascii art capabilities), remembering that each triplet of base pairs constitutes a codon:
SENSE
     1        2        3        4        5        6        7        8
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------
  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
  C  A  G  T  T  C  A  C  A  G  G  G  C  T  A  A  G  C  T  A  G  Z  O  T
  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
  G  T  C  A  A  G  T  G  T  C  C  C  G  A  T  T  C  G  A  T  C  Z  O  T
  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------
ANTISENSE
CODON 1 (Sense)
        Blue eyes (recessive).
CODON 1 (Antisense)
        REM  Since your Dad was homozygous for brown eye colour, he really
        REM  should have been watching the milkman more closely.
CODON 2 (Sense)
        Blood group Rhesus negative (dominant).
CODON 2 (Antisense)
        REM  Good news - you're not a monkey.
CODON 3 (Sense)
        Premature male pattern baldness (recessive).
CODON 3 (Antisense)
        REM  Better start investing in some Regaine now, slaphead, if you
        REM  don't want to end up looking like William Hague.
CODON 4 (Sense)
        Tourette's syndrome (recessive).
CODON 4 (Antisense)
    
    REM  Look, I just write the #~%%!*@ comments, okay? I'm not $%^##@+
        REM  responsible for the @#=*+%$"[email protected]# genome, so #*@~$$#% off!
CODON 5 (Sense)
        Wrinkled pea (dominant).
CODON 5 (Antisense)
        REM  Either humans are much more closely related to pea plants
        REM  than scientists heretofore suspected, or else there's a kink
        REM  in your urethra.
CODON 6 (Sense)
        Tendency not to pay the Oracle what you owe him (recessive).
CODON 6 (Antisense)
        REM  You swine!
CODON 7 (Sense)
    
    Stop codon - prevents remaining instructions on this strand from
        being carried out.
CODON 7 (Antisense)
        REM  But this gene is switched off if the codon immediately
        REM  preceding it is recessive, you miserly little ratbag.
        REM  Coincidence? Hardly - the old guy with the halo and the
        REM  long white beard owes me a few from way back.
CODON 8 (Sense)
    
    AutoZOT (dominant).
CODON 8 (Antisense)
    
    REM  Imagine life as you know it stopping instantaneously and
        REM  all the molecules in your body exploding at the speed of
        REM  light if you so much as think of displeasing the Internet
        REM  Oracle.
You owe the Oracle all of Margaret Thatcher's DNA. And a blender.

 


9.

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

> Oh Oracle most wise,
> what will the month of April bring?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

        The rats brought him in with the rest of the morning catch. Winifred was so struck by his cranial development and seemingly self-aware bearing that she asked for him to be set aside for examination by the scientifics. The rat captain, officious as ever, declared that this one was destined for target practice for the army, and we scientifics would just have to catch our own torture victims. Then, as they were rat-handling him into the paddy wagon, the subject of our discussion turned on one of them and shouted: "Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty rodent!"
        You can imagine the sensation this created. A talking human? Impossible! The rats staggered back, and were all for killing this monster, this freak of nature there and then. But with my help Winifred convinced them that this was a scientific specimen which had been surgically altered so as to be able to articulate some simple words, and that it had escaped last week. Hence it really belonged to us already. The rats took some convincing, but they are not good at dealing with anything out of the ordinary, and eventually allowed us to claim our prize.
        Winifred then insisted on taking her new pet to our home. I was against it, of course: the proper place for this peculiar, not to say repulsive, creature was the laboratory. And anyway, you can't house- train a human! But she got her way, as always.
        At first we could get nothing out of our talking man. He appeared to harbour deep resentment against all rodents and, for some reason, hated our kind more than the others. We could make nothing of it. But Winifred refused to give up on him and, through tireless coaxing and kindness, she gained his trust and eventually got him to respond to her questions. We learnt that he called himself Or-rie, that he had come from far away, and that he was looked on as something of a wise man by his own people.
        "That's no surprise," I laughed. "Your people are dumb, brutish and uncivilised. They haven't even got tails! You must be their greatest genius ever. I only wonder how you manage to communicate with them."
        "You don't understand, Walter," said Or-rie earnestly. "Where I come from, all humans can speak. It's the rodents that are dumb."
        "Rodents dumb?" exclaimed Winifred. "What an imagination! How fascinating!"
        "How heretical," I corrected her. "Please don't let anybody else hear you say such wild things, Or-rie. Others may be less broad-minded than we are. In fact, if you come up against the rats again, remember never to speak at all!"
        He looked surprised. "What the hell would I have to say to a rat?" he asked. Winifred chortled; she found it all a great joke. Why couldn't she see the danger we were in?
        The danger manifested itself all too soon. The rat patrol that had captured Or-rie reported the talking incident to the council and, though we tried to convince them that the captain had been at the fermented grape juice and was consequently too rat-arsed to know what he had seen and heard, the gerbils commanded us to bring Or-rie before a panel of inquiry.
        "For god's sake, Or-rie," I warned him before we entered the council chamber, "let me do the talking. Say nothing! If they find against you, they will dissect you, and they will kill you. In that order!"
        "I hate these cat-and-human games," Winifred protested. "Why can't we tell them what we have found here? Or-rie is the scientific marvel of the age!"
        "And you stay quiet as well," I insisted. "You've done enough damage. Now let me try and save all our hides."
        Well, I thought I built a pretty good case for the defence. I explained to the three members of the panel that this human specimen had unusually well developed vocalising abilities, and we had taught it to utter some simple sentences. The rest it had picked up by mimicry while living in our house.
        "You know the saying," I concluded, "human see, human do."
        "So there is absolutely no doubt in your mind, Doctor Walter," asked the chairgerbil, "that the creature has no actual understanding of speech?"
        I was about to agree heartily when Winifred interrupted.
        "Of course he understands!" she cried angrily. "What's the matter with you? Are you mice or men? We can learn so much from this human."
        "The only good human is a dead human!" squeaked one of the panel members; the others muttered agreement, covering their eyes and making like three blind mice. Things were not looking good, and Or-rie now proceeded to make them worse by opening his mouth.
        "Would it help," he asked, "if I pointed out that I am not actually human, but a divine, omniscient, immortal being?"
        All hell broke loose. The gerbils were in uproar, demanding that the animal be silenced before it could spout any more obscene blasphemies. The rat guard duly gagged him. I begged the panel to overlook Or-rie's words as he obviously couldn't comprehend their meaning, but all they did was recite the Sacred Scrolls at us over and over again: "Beware the beast Man. Let him not breed like rabbits, for he will makes a rat's nest of his world and yours."
        We were helpless to prevent the outcome. Or-rie was dragged out by the rat guards. He managed to work his gag loose and yelled suggestions at the panel about what they could do with themselves and some duct tape, which I don't care to repeat. Later we learnt that he had been lobotomised and set to work in the treadmills that generate the town's power supply. Winifred was beside herself with grief. I found her sitting in the back yard, a pile of wood next to her, chucking bits listlessly.
        "Please don't, my dear," I begged her. "It's not worth it. He was only human."
        "Don't pretend!" she snapped. "You loved him too. We both did, even though he was so damned ugly. And they treated him no better than a hamster!"
        She threw another piece of wood. I wondered idly how much wood she could chuck, left to her own devices. I guess I was about to find out.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

> Oh Oracle most wise,
> what will the month of April bring?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

I've just cast my mind into the future to find out what's in store in April and, let me tell you, it's not pleasant. First of all, there's been a nuclear holocaust and human civilisation has come to an end. Then... What? April 3955, of course. Which April did you have in mind? This coming April? That's not very ambitious, is it now?
Oh, all right. You're going on a long voyage and will meet a tall, dark stranger.
You owe the Oracle a half-buried national monument.

 


10.

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

> Oracle Most Wise,
>
> What are the most common errors that cats commit?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

THE TOP 10 MOST COMMON ERRORS THAT CATS COMMIT
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10) I before E except after C. The number of times I've seen cats write "seige" and "recieve" is no joke.
9) Leading from under the ace.
8) Kirk never said "Beam me up, Scotty", and Bogey never said "Play it again, Sam", but you try telling a cat that.
7) When programming in C, they invariably forget to allocate space for strings. It's us humans get stuck with having to sort out the resulting mess of dangling references and random changes in the value of variables.
6) Their blinkered, knee-jerk adherence to a policy of appeasement towards aggressors. It didn't work with Hitler, it doesn't work with next door's Rottweiller.
5) Over-reliance on the cross-court topspin drive from the backhand court.
4) When preparing their tax returns and taking the standard deduction, they either don't remember to check the appropriate box if they or their spouse are age 65 or over or blind, or if they do, they fail to enter the correct amount on line 21 of Form 1040A or line 36 of Form 1040.
3) Any human chemistry student will tell you to add water gently to a mixture of sodium peroxide and zinc powder, but cats, they just squirt it on with gay abandon. I don't think I'll ever get the smell of Bactine and scorched fur out of my nostrils.
2) They completely fail to understand the difference between the statements "It is neither true nor false that there will be fish for dinner tonight" and "It is true that there will or will not be fish for dinner tonight". Thus they affirm the law of excluded middle whilst at the same time denying the principle of bivalence in the case of future contingent propositions, a mistake no human logician would ever make.
... and finally, The Number One Most Common Error That Cats Commit:
1) Doing their business in my herbaceous borders. Yes, that's why Mister Tibbles never came home. You may pay your respects at the third rosebush from the ornamental pond.

 


11.

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

> hey oracle
>
> please write back to me and explain THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE
> STOOPID!
>
> i'm sick of it.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

        the oracle comes to my room the next day. he holds my note in his hand. i thought he was gone for many days at the faraway villages by the lake, telling the tales. i think he is angry with me. or else he always writes to me back. he says it is good for me to read and write always. this is the way i learn.
        "Rebellion in the ranks?" he asks in his strange way.
        "you said you will learn me tellings," i says. "many tales. all i learn is THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID! i'm sick of it. it's boring."
        the oracle thinks. "How to penetrate your vestigial intellect?" he asks. but he asks himself, not me, so i say nothing. "Very well, I shall set you a new task. Write down how you came to reside here with me. It will be a new telling: THE TALE OF KEVN, THE APPRENTICE ORACLE! This tale will explain THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID and, hopefully, much else."
        so i write THE TALE OF KEVN. it is good. it is a tale about me. maybe i'll tell it at many tellings when i'm oracle.
        i am kevn. i am from the village called stoneybridge, only the stoney bridge isn't there anymore. it fell down before i was born. now there is only a ferry run by josuf the ferryman and his son.
        the last winter is very hard. the food stores run out in early march, and three children die. when the young men come back from the far pastures, they say that many of the cows have died too, so the elders say we can't have a feast. the young men get drunk and have fights anyway. we are very sad and very hungry. but i am happy too, because i will be a man this year, not a boy anymore, and i will go with the young men to the far pastures in the fall.
        then april comes, and also the oracle, the teller of tales. he comes to our village for some days. he always comes in the spring, and it is a good time. all the people go after the last meal of the day to the big hall built by the sons of mari, and we all listen to the tellings. and the first telling is always THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID. i hate it, but the old people say it is very important.
        the oracle begins, "I speak to you of THE THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID! Remember them, so that you may not visit them upon your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. I speak to you of INCOME TAX, which takes away that which you have earned by the sweat of your brow!"
        and the people sing, "it is STOOPID!"
        "I speak to you of ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION, which is responsible for the unholy mess your world now finds itself in!"
        and the people sing, "it is STOOPID!"
        "I speak to you of FLARED PANTS, which make you look a complete jerk!"
        "they are STOOPID!"
        and so it goes on until bedtime. it is boring. i want a PROPER TALE.
        in the morning, before the sun goes up, i sneak out of bed and go to the hut where the oracle stays when he is at our village. i want to see if jenni is there. she says she only goes to take him food, but everybody knows she stays all night. i want to see what they're doing. i mean, i know what they do, but i haven't seen it.
        but jenni is not there. when i look in, the oracle sees me. "Something I can do for you, Boy?" he asks in his strange way.
        i think quick. "hey oracle, i come to ask," i says. "will you tell a PROPER TALE tonight?"
        "You are not, I take it," he says, "an avid fan of THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID. Care to elucidate?"
        "what?" says i.
        "Enumerate your objections. Why don't you like it?"
        "THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID is STOOPID!" says i clever like.
        "A not unassailable but clearly sincerely held viewpoint," says the oracle. "So you must be wondering why I kick off with it every year. Why, indeed? You realize, of course, that people did not always live the way you do now. Once they inhabited colossal cities, with houses reaching to the skies. Their ships ploughed the ocean wave, their majestic aircraft took hundreds of them at a time for a two-week vacation in Hawaii, their roads criss-crossed..."
        "i know all this," says i. "grandma told me."
        "Try not to interrupt me whist I'm in full flow, Boy," says the oracle. "It disturbs my equanimity. The point is, people had all these marvellous things, but they also had a bevy of eminently stupid ones like white supremacism, PCBs and daytime television. I have no doubt that your civilization will rise again one day, and your descendants will once again enjoy the benefits your ancestors did. I hope that, by means of THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID, I can help them avoid some of the idiocies that accompanied these benefits in the past. Do you understand?"
        "no. will you tell a PROPER TALE tonight?" says i.
        the oracle sighs. "Look here, Boy..." he starts, but i says, "i'm not a boy! i'm a man this fall. i will go with the herd to the far pastures."
        "What a ravishing prospect for you, to be sure. Very well, then. Tell me, my good man, what tale would you like to hear this evening? RUMPELSTILTSKIN? MACBETH? OLIVER TWIST?"
        "SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT!" says i.
        "So be it..."
        "and then PULP FICTION!"
        "I imagine that too can be arranged," says the oracle. "As a matter of idle curiosity, do you remember all my tales?"
        "i write them," says i proudly. "my grandma learned me." and, being honest, i add, "a bit."
        he looks at me strange then. "My, my, a scholar," he says. "Tell me, Boy - I mean - Man, have you considered alternate career options?"
        "what?" says i.
        "How would you like to become my apprentice, instead of just another brain-dead cowherd picking his zits in the far pastures half the year? The number of settlements in this catchment is increasing all the time; I could do with some help getting round them all."
        i'm real excited. "i will tell the tales?" i asks.
        "Eventually. You'd have to learn them first. Be warned, young fellow-me-lad, it'll be a hard slog. There are thousands."
        "thousands," i says. "is that many?"
        "Quite a few," he says. "Let's go and have a chat with your guardian."
        and so i come here, to the oracle's manse. i do the housework, i practice to read and to write, and i learn THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID. i already know THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID! i want to learn new tellings! the thousands of tales that the oracle promised me!
        when he reads THE TALE OF KEVN, the oracle says it is a "reasonable approximation". then he asks, "Now do you understand the significance of THE TELLING OF THINGS THAT ARE STOOPID? Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. You see?"
        "no," says i.
        he sighs. "Ah well, perhaps in time... Okay, Kevn, you've been working diligently, you deserve a treat. Tonight, you'll learn a new tale."
        i'm real excited. "what's it called?" i asks.
        "TERMINATOR TWO. It's right down your alley - buckets of gore."
        i can't wait for tonight.

 


12.

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

> Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously.
> Now, if Moses's toeses were actually roses, then how many rose toeses
> would that actually be?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

    EXO 2:1  And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
    EXO 2:2  And the woman conceived, and bare a son; and when she saw his toeses, which were all pink and wrinkly, she thought they were like unto small roses.
    EXO 2:3  Then she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch; and she put the child therein, and laid it in the flags by the river's brink.
    EXO 2:4  And it came to pass that the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river; and she saw the ark among the flags, and sent her handmaid to fetch it.
    EXO 2:5  And she opened the ark, and saw the child; and, behold, his toeses were more wrinkly still, because of having been in the water so long. And she was much amazed, and said, Surely these toeses are posies of roses.
    EXO 2:6  And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and take especial care of its toeses, because they are kind of cute. And the woman took the child, and nursed it, toeses and all.
    EXO 2:7  And the child grew, and he was brought unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses, and said, Because it rhymes.
    EXO 3:1  Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
    EXO 3:2  And the Lord God appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
    EXO 3:3  And Moses said unto himself, Were that bush a rose bush, and were the roses my toeses and yet they were not consumed, then how many would I have left?
    EXO 3:4  And God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses, you knowses your toeses aren't roses. Supposes what you like, but nobody's toeses are posies of roses.
    EXO 3:5  But Moses persisted, saying, Indeed, I knows a rose is a rose and a toese is a toese. But, leaving that aside for a moment: supposing they actually were roses, how many rose toeses would I actually have left?
    EXO 3:6  And God said unto him, As many as you started with. And he said, That's not a big help, Lord; ancient Middle Eastern education isn't too hot on numeracy.
    EXO 10:12  Then Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.
    EXO 10:13  And Moses said, But what about my toeses, Lord? Are they to be spared being consumed by the fire, only to be gobbled up by a bunch of locusts?
    EXO 10:14  And God said, I don't want to hear any more about your toeses, Moses.
    EXO 19:1  In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.
    EXO 19:2  And when they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mount.
    EXO 19:3  And Moses went up unto God, and Jehovah called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel...
    EXO 19:4  But Moses interrupted, saying, Yes, but about my rose-like toeses, Lord: how many would you say there actually are? Bearing in mind that none of them has actually been consumed by either fire or ravenous insects. It's been bothering me some time now.
    EXO 19:5  Then spake the Lord unto him, I told you I didn't want to hear any more about your stupid toeses. Now listen, I've thought up ten commandments for you to hand unto my people.
    EXO 19:6  And Moses said, Ten sounds a good number.
    EXO 20:1  And God spake all these words, saying,
    EXO 20:2  I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Let's get this show on the road:
    EXO 20:3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
    EXO 20:4  Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image.
    EXO 20:5  Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain.
    EXO 20:6  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    EXO 20:7  Honour thy father and thy mother.
    EXO 20:8  Thou shalt not kill.
    EXO 20:9  Thou shalt not commit adultery; at least, not more than absolutely necessary.
    EXO 20:10  Thou shalt not steal.
    EXO 20:11  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
    EXO 20:12  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his toeses--damnation!
    EXO 20:13  And Moses, who was carving the words onto tablets of stone as Jehovah dictated, said, I didn't quite catch that last bit, Lord.
    EXO 20:14  And God said unto Moses, You've got me doing it now. You and your effing toeses! I'll afflict them with black spot, see how you like that!
    EXO 20:15  Then Moses came down the mountain and said unto the people, Now you may be wondering why I'm walking like this.
    EXO 20:16  But the people stood afar off, and sprayed Moses with fungicide whenever he drew near, for black spot is a bugger to get rid of as any gardener will testify. And so it went on for many days...
If we might veer off at a tangent at this point, Supplicant, did you know that you can almost but not quite sing your question to the finale of Sibelius' 5th symphony?

 


13.

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

> Listen to me humans of Earth! The greatest of all your benefactors
> is the Wise Oracle! In requital of his glorious deeds, you have
> justly allotted by statute a share of your libations and drink-
> offerings in every temple and at every public service, whom, in
> hymns and in worship, you treat as the equals of gods of old and
> the demigods of your own feeble times!
>
> What is the Ancient Egyptian God Set up to now a days?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

He started up a law firm with his buddies Game and Match.
Yeah I know, I know, that was a real sucky answer. But - let's face it, supplicant - all the good answers have been done. There's no way anything one of these latter-day incarnations can come up with is going to get within waving distance of the all-time top 1000 digested responses, so what's the point of even trying? For your benefit? You're probably some pubescoid AOLer with all the charisma and lively intellect of two-week-old roadkill.
Don't start crying on me! God, I hate it when supplicants blub.
*sigh* All right, I'll try again. Just this once, mind - don't think I'm making a habit of it. Lemme see now...
He's not doing too well, actually. After the murder of his brother Osiris and attempted murder of his nephew Horus, Set wasn't any too popular with the rest of the Egyptian pantheon. So when he arrived in the underworld after his own mortal form was killed at the battle of Edfu, they weren't about to give him one of the plum jobs, as this excerpt from the Address to the Gods of the Tuat, Papyrus of Nu (British Museum No. 10477, Sheet 24) testifies:
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE WORDS WHICH THE HEART OF TRUTH THAT IS SINLESS SHALL SAY WHEN HE COMETH WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH INTO THE HALL OF MAATI; THEY SHALL BE SAID WHEN HE COMETH TO THE GODS WHO DWELL IN THE TUAT; AND THEY ARE THE WORDS WHICH ARE TO BE SAID AFTER HE COMETH FORTH FROM THE HALL OF MAATI.
Homage to you, O ye gods who dwell in your Hall of Maati! I know you, I know your names. Let me not fall under your knives of slaughter, and bring ye not forward my wickedness. Let not evil hap come upon me through you. Speak ye the truth concerning me in the presence of Neb-er-tcher, for I have done what is right and just in Ta-Mera.
Homage to you, O ye who dwell in your Hall of Maati, and deliver ye me from Beba, who feedeth upon the livers of the mighty on the Day of Great Judgement! Grant ye that I may come before you, for I have not committed sin, and I have heard that great word which the Sahu spake to the CAT, in the House of Hapt-ra. I have borne witness to Her-f-ha-f, and he hath given a decision concerning me. I have seen the things over which the Persea tree, which is in Rasta, spreadeth its branches. I have come, travelling a long road, to bear righteous testimony, and to set the Balance upon its supports within Aukert.
Then shall the two-and-forty gods say unto me, "Who art thou?" And they say unto me, "What is thy name?"
And I reply, "Sept-kheri-nehait-ammi-beq-f is my name."
And Anubis saith: "I will not announce thee unless thou tellest the name of the god who dwelleth in his hour. Speak it."
And I reply, "Au-taui, who is called Thoth."
"Speak up," saith Thoth, "for what purpose hast thou come?"
And I reply: "I have come, and have journeyed hither that my name may be announced to the gods."
Osiris saith: "In what condition art thou?"
And I reply, "I, even I, am purified from evil defects, and I am wholly free from the curses of those who live in their days, and I am not one of their number."
Set saith, "Hast thou anything to declare?"
And I, somewhat taken aback, reply, "Come again?"
And Set saith, "Hast thou duty free goods or alcohol? Hast thou more than the permitted four bottles of wine or two of spirits upon thy person? Hast thou firearms? Art thou bearing fruit?"
And I reply, "I think not."
Then Set saith, "Art thou carrying a package for anyone else? Hath anyone packed thy bags apart from thee thyself? Have thy bags been out of thy sight for any length of time?"
And I reply, "Look, is all this really necessary? I'm dead, for crying out loud!"
Set saith, "What is the purpose of thy visit to the afterlife - business or pleasure? Hast thou filled in thy immigration form? What is the expected duration of thy stay?"
Hmm... On reflection, I think I liked my first answer better.

 


14.

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

>
> . . . and as you can see gentlemen, and of course ladies, that the design
> for the type VI distribution machine is still perfectly functional,
> however improvements need to be made. This design initiative is
> particularly timely since the patents on the type VI are nearly expired .
> . . eXpirED!! . . . Expired . . . that parrot isn't sleeping; It's dead.
> It is an expired parrot . . . expIRed . . . ex . . . EX . . .
> Exterminate!!!, Exterminate, We must Exterminate all the Humans . . .
> Bwian! Welease, Bwian !!! . . . and Mark Wing-Davy as Zaphod Beeblebrox .
> . . I have a pain down all the diodes on my left side . . . It was the
> Salmon Mousse!
>
> Oracle, if there is anyone in the galaxy who can understand what happened
> to my boss at today's meeting it will be you, assuming that it was not
> the salmon mousse, please most gracious Oracle help me understand my
> boss's instructions for the redesign of the type VI sorter.
>

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Your boss suffered an attack of Cult Quote Overflow (CQO, pronounced "cuckoo"). This is quite a common disorder amongst frequent Usenet posters where, as you probably know, any direct or indirect reference to a cult phenomenon such as Monty Python or Douglas Adams requires everyone else to instantly post follow-up quotes to indicate that they, too, are familiar with the source material. About 65% of all Usenet traffic now consists of such posts.
Over time, Usenetters become sensitized, and anything that sounds like it might be an allusion is likely to set them off at inappropriate moments. Your boss's attack seems a fairly harmless one on the whole, though I am slightly concerned by the presence of Doctor Who material in there amongst the more familiar stuff. If his condition worsens, expect to hear such things as "These are not the droids you're looking for", "You talkin' to me?", "There can be only one!" and "My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die". The terminal stages are characterized by such outbursts as "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast", "Don't cross the beams!" and "Klaatu barada nikto". When you hear any of these, you should put him out of his misery as quickly and humanely as possible.
As to your outstanding problem, on no account use the Force, Luke - I mean, use any of this in the redesign of the type VI sorter. It's life, but not as we know it - I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave . . . Argh! I meant to say, I'm sorry, I meant to say it's as funny as an amusingly shaped vegetable. No, I didn't! Deep breaths, Orrie. In, out, in, out . . . I'm in control. I'm a doctor, not a . . . not a . . . I am not a doctor, I am the Oracle. That's right, and I am not a number, I am a free man! I am the gatekeeper - are you the keymaster? Well, you can't be, because I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. I'll have what she's having. I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle. I would have got away with it too, if it hadn't been for you pesky kids. I see a little silhouetto of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, won't you . . . Shut that bloody bouzouki up!
Okay, I'm better now. All I was trying to say is that priming a distribution unit with endless examples of other people's humor is not going to make the world a better place, is it now? God knows, there's little enough originality around as it is - let's not implant even more people with the Python-parroting meme.
You owe the Oracle a Royale with cheese, a good day to die and some of the violence inherent in the system. Make it so.

 


15.

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

> Oh, Oracle most wise and sagacious, I've just read your recent diagnosis from #1238:
>
> } Over time, Usenetters become sensitized, and anything that sounds like
> } it might be an allusion is likely to set them off at inappropriate
> } moments. Your boss's attack seems a fairly harmless one on the whole,
> } though I am slightly concerned by the presence of Doctor Who material
> } in there amongst the more familiar stuff. If his condition worsens,
> } expect to hear such things as "These are not the droids you're looking
> } for", "You talkin' to me?", "There can be only one!" and "My name is
> } Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die". The terminal
> } stages are characterized by such outbursts as "Smoke me a kipper, I'll
> } be back for breakfast", "Don't cross the beams!" and "Klaatu barada
> } nikto". When you hear any of these, you should put him out of his
> } misery as quickly and humanely as possible.
>
> I am shocked, shocked to realize that I recognize each and every one of these quotes. The
> only one I had a moment's hesitation on was the SMAKIBBFB, which I couldn't immediately
> place. I swear to God, I've only watched Red Dwarf one time, one fucking time, and it just
> happened to be that episode! I resigned from the Dr. Who fan club decades ago (literally!), and
> surely the Star Wars, Taxi Driver, Highlander, Princess Bride, Ghostbusters and The Day The
> Earth Stood Still quotes have become part of the larger popular culture, right? (Well, OK, I
> *did* buy the Princess Bride video when it came out 10 years ago, but it was a youthful
> indescretion. I only watch it now for nostalgia's sake.) (OK, OK, so I had Highlander out from
> the video store for four weeks running. It was only summer reruns on TV, and I didn't have
> cable at the time, OK?)
>
> Oh, wait, I just did a Google search on that catch phrase from Red Dwarf, and it looks like it
> was used a lot on that show. Recognizing SMAKIBBFB is roughly the equivalent of recognizing
> "Bang, zoom, to the moon, Alice!" after seeing one episode of "The Honeymooners" (a show
> which I've only seen two or three episodes of, and which seems really stupid).
>
> So, anyway, nevermind. I guess I'm not a mindless pop culture drone after all.
>
> However, since I'm already sending you an e.mail... which is better, satellite or cable?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Now wait, I say wait just a minute there, boy. You have merely established that you MAY not be a mindless pop culture drone. The only way to prove it one way or the other beyond a shadow of a doubt is for you to complete the following questionnaire.
THE INTERNET ORACLE'S (tm)
POP ENCULTURATION INVENTORY
------------------------------------------------------
1. Complete HAL's line: "This kind of problem has cropped up before, and it has always been due to..."
a. Gremlins.
b. My Intel Pentium processor.
c. Irritable bowel syndrome.
d. Human error.
2. Which of the following was not said by Yoda?
a. "Do or do not, there is no try."
b. "Size matters not."
c. "Like a box of chocolates life is."
d. "When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not."
3. What is the original British title of the book & film known to USAns as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"?
a. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
b. Harry Potter Gets Stoned.
c. When Harry Potter Met Sally.
d. Windows XP for Dummies.
4. "And it absolutely will not stop! Ever! Until you are dead!" What is being referred to?
a. The Terminator.
b. The Love Boat.
c. Columbo.
d. Income tax.
5. What was Gabrielle sitting on in the notorious bathing scene in "Xena: Warrior Princess"?
a. Xena's hand.
b. The soap.
c. The remains of her acting career.
d. Joxer the Mighty (or any other Carry On-style double entendre of your choice).
6. Who said: "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way"?
a. Beavis.
b. Hobbes.
c. Osama bin Laden.
d. Jessica Rabbit.
7. When did the Traveller come as a large and moving Torg?
a. During the Rectification of the Voldrani.
b. During the Third Reconciliation of the Last of the Mecentrig.
c. Last Tuesday.
d. Whenever it damn well pleases!
8. Sir Ian McKellen was unbelievably cool in:
a. Richard III.
b. Gods and Monsters.
c. X-Men.
d. All of the above.
 
(NB: For the purposes of this test, d. is the wrong answer.)
9. Who amongst the following has had Borg implants?
a. Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
b. Seven of Nine.
c. Britney Spears.
d. All of the above.
10. Which of the following was not said by Duke Nukem 3D?
a. "Blow it out your ass!"
b. "Let god sort 'em out."
c. "Like a box of chocolates life is."
d. "I haven't got time to play with myself."
11. Why do aliens from a distant part of the universe all speak with Australian accents?
a. Australians ARE from a distant part of the universe.
b. You've been watching too much "Farscape".
c. You didn't expect aliens from a distant part of the universe to actually speak English, did you?
d. Fair crack of the whip, mate, they don't know if it's Pitt Street or Christmas out there, and that's the good oil on it!
12. Of whom was it said he "experienced the sort of abysmal soul sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy's peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city reservoir, he turns to the cupboard, only to find the vodka bottle empty"?
a. Ace Ventura, pet detective.
b. Babe, the sheep-pig.
c. Fester Bestertester.
d. Freddie Threepwood.
Score one point for each correct answer from 1-11, and deduct three if you actually recognised the P G Wodehouse quote in 12. If your overall score is nine or higher, you are unquestionably a mindless pop culture drone, so stop trying to pretend otherwise.
And, in answer to your question, any megalomaniac bent on global conquest from Blofeld to Dr Evil will tell you that cable is a non-starter when it comes to deploying a giant continent-obliterating death ray. I'm surprised you even had to ask.
You owe this incarnation a rest from pop culture questions. I'm starting to develop a craving to watch "Blake's Seven".

 


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