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Internet Oracularities #1434

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Internet Oracularities #1434    (36 votes, 3.3 mean)
Compiled-By: Steve Kinzler <kinzler@cs.indiana.edu>
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 12:59:19 -0500 (EST)

To find out all about the Internet Oracle (TM), including how to
participate, send mail to oracle@cs.indiana.edu with the word "help"
in the subject line.  ("Internet Oracle" is a trademark of Stephen
B Kinzler.)

Let us know what you like!  Send your ratings of these 10 Oracularities
on an integer scale of 1 ("very bad") to 5 ("very good") with the
volume number to oracle-vote@cs.indiana.edu (probably just reply to
this message).  For example:
   1434
   2 1 3 4 3   5 3 3 4 1

1434  36 votes 146dc 05ib2 05ch2 109dd 17f94 09db3 157f8 66bb2 3eb44 6ac62
1434  3.3 mean  3.9   3.3   3.4   4.0   3.2   3.2   3.7   2.9   2.8   2.7


1434-01    (146dc dist, 3.9 mean)
Selected-By: "J. Avedon" <soteric2@msn.com>

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

> The Oracle reached out with his great arms and gave the supplicant
> a -=big=- hug. And those in the circle all clapped and smiled.
>
> Overhead doves flew by in the bright blue sky, the grass beneath
> their feet tickled, the breeze through the orchard cooled them with
> the soft scent of peach blossoms.
>
> The Oracle produced a garland of daisies and draped it around the
> supplicant's neck.
>
> Each of those in the circle stood and approached the supplicant.
> They each handed the supplicant a flower of their own, and with it
> a few kind words.
>
> "Welcome."
>
> "I'm so happy you have decided to join us."
>
> "If there's every anything I can do, please tellme."
>
> Until the last one had passed by...
>
> "Now," spoke the Oracle, "the time has for you to join us in temple."
>
> And with that they all approached the temple. A tall imposing
> castle structure that seemed a bit out of sorts in this fair land.
> The supplicant noticed as approached people on the towers and walls.
> The supplicant waved. The people on the wall did not wave back.
> As the supplicant drew nearer it became clear why, in one hand was
> a crude cross-bow hacked from some dark wood. Their other hand was
> manacled to the wall.
>
> "W..dch..ks," said the Oracle as he put his arm around the supplicants
> shoulder, "they are there to keep the w..dch..ks away. We have to
> chain those brave men to the wall to keep them from jumping down and
> fighting the horrid beasts hand to hand."
>
> A gaunt man slid up to the supplicant's side and added, "So great
> is their love for the Oracle that they yearn for chances to make the
> supreme sacrifice for him."
>
> As they crossed over the moat the supplicant saw it was not full of
> water, but full of bones and little rodents that seemed to be biting
> the tails of any one of them that tried to climb out of the trough
> and dragging them back in.
>
> Once inside the Temple gate itself the huge oak doors closed with a
> slow and final thump.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Once inside the magnificent, marble entrance hall, the Oracle put a
} hand on the supplicant's shoulder and pointed with the other one at
} a fountain surrounded by statues.
}
} "This is..."
}
} A bell rang, loud and terrible. Lights flashed. Shouts could be heard,
} both distant and near. Sudden commotion erupted, footsteps sounded
} above and below.  The Oracle and priesthood froze and looked at each
} other, a sudden dread in their faces.
}
} "... this is impossible!"
}
} "Um," the supplicant tapped the Oracle on the hand still resting on
} their shoulder, "this isn't the let's-welcome-the-new-priest-bell,
} is it?"
}
} The Oracle seemed not to have heard them. It hastened to a statue
} displaying a knight dipping his sword into the fountain and pulled
} its shield arm. Racks of odd devices sprang up from the floor, all
} of them as much alien in their shape as they were obviously weapons.
}
} "Everybody grab a zotrod! Quick!"
}
} The supplicant reached for one of the six foot long staves that made
} up the bulk of the available weaponry.
}
} "And now..."
}
} But again, the Oracle was interrupted, this time by shouts from
} the priests.
}
} "The roof! Woodchucks on the roof!"
}
} Things went too fast for the supplicant. Turning simultaneously
} with the priests, they raised the zotrod over their face, more in a
} desperate effort to bring something between a couple of organs they
} had grown rather fond of and the homicidal rodents that crashed through
} the glass dome of the temple than to perform any kind of attack.
}
} They closed their eyes. There were more shouts, there was the sound of
} shattered glass raining down on the floor. A brilliant light flashed
} through their eyelids several times, and something heavy brushed
} against their shins.
}
} When they dared to look again, a priest was laying at his feet in a
} puddle of blood. One of the priests knelt and held her head.
}
} "No! Not Clarissa!" His voice was pure panic. "They knew! They knew
} we're helpless without..."
}
} All eyes suddenly turned to the supplicant. Time seemed to stop for
} a heartbeat, and after what seemed like an eternity, the Oracle spoke:
}
} "You. New one. You're good with math, right? Numbers are your thing?
} Well, congratulations, you just got a promotion on your first day.
} We need you in the tower. Pete, take him and get the Zototron going!"
}
} "But, but..." the supplicant stammered as one of the priests grabbed
} his arm and pulled him towards a nearby stairway, but the Oracle was
} out of earshot before they could form a remotely coherent sentence.
} Turning to the priest that kept dragging them up the wound stairway,
} the supplicant asked "What is going on here?"
}
} "Much as I'd like to," the priest replied, "there's no time to tell you
} the entire story with the proper dramaturgy. So let's just say that
} you happened to choose the day our ancient and most feared nemesis
} attacks us for your initiation. And we," he added while kicking open
} a door at the top of the tower, "are the only ones who can stop it
} while the others buy us time."
}
} The room was littered with odd and antiquated computer equipment,
} the marble floor hardly visible for all the cables covering it like
} so many snakes. Pete threw himself into a chair in front of one of
} the many monitors and began hammering on the keyboard.
}
} "I need you to go to the window. What do you see? How many are there?"
}
} As told, the supplicant did step to the window. For a moment, they
} did not realize what they saw, for the sight was too strange, too
} bizarre to recognize or even accept. From the wall below him to the
} distant horizon, the earth was brown with woodchuck.
}
} "How many?"
}
} The supplicant counted, the supplicant estimated. The supplicant
} gulped. The supplicant told him.
}
} "Have they breached the wall yet?"
}
} "Some are climbing it, but they haven't breached it. They're trying,
} though - they have siege towers!"
}
} "Siege Towers! How many?"
}
} The supplicant counted, the supplicant told him.
}
} Pete looked at him. "Alright. Now, I need to figure this out. In order
} to get our very own doomsday device going, I must know exactly what
} subspecies of woodchuck it is. And that, " he took a deep breath,
} "I can determine if I know their speed. They can't have been here
} for longer than a day, or our scouts would have reported them.
} They probably used the entirety of your initiation for the preparation
} of the attack. Now, each siege tower takes twenty logs of wood. So tell
} me how many logs did each woodchuck provide per hour, and quickly."
}
} The supplicant calculated, the supplicant opened their mouth.
}
} The supplicant hesitated.
}
} The supplicant thought.
}
} "I can't tell you."
}
} "What? You said you're good at math. I need you to do this! You're our
} only hope!"
}
} "I mean, I could tell you. But I won't. You remember that oath I swore,
} like, twenty minutes ago? Apart from all the odd stuff about mangos,
} which I suspect is a joke, it also included that I will never ever
} answer the woodchuck question to anyone." He paused. "And so I will.
} Not even to you."
}
} Pete glared at the supplicant. "Are you insane? You are destroying
} the temple!"
}
} "It would be destroyed," the supplicant answered with a sad smile,
} "either way. This way, it may go down faster, but I will not have
} its... well, I will not have on my hands whatever temples have instead
} of blood."
}
} There was another flash of light, this time blinding the supplicant,
} and then there was - applause.
}
} Disoriented, the supplicant looked at the Oracle and the priesthood
} as they stood around them in the fully restored entrance hall.
} "Well done", the Oracle said, "you handled yourself pretty well.
} Although you could have thrown in a pun or two, you didn't really
} use the comedic opportunities."
}
} The supplicant sighed in relief.
}
} "So this was all a test. To see if I'm worthy, to see that I won't
} answer the forbidden question, even when under the greatest pressure."
}
} And the Oracle said: "No, don't be silly. There are no tests. We were
} just plain messing with you. Gives you a taste of what the supplicants
} will do to you - on a daily basis. Now, take the rest of the day off,
} and I see you tomorrow at five. And oh, keep that zotrod."
}
}
}
} To the Oracle, you owe your deepest psychological scar.


1434-02    (05ib2 dist, 3.3 mean)
Selected-By: "J. Avedon" <soteric2@msn.com>

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

> How do you condone yourself as an internet oracle to be of importance?
> Any person who has a basic understanding on how to use the internet
> can become an instant expert on any subject they have a question for,
> if they search hard enough. In addition, one with enough common sense
> would be able to dissect the factual information they find from the
> fiction, giving them an unprecedented amount of knowledge where they
> would have no use for an oracle to solve their problems.
>
> What makes you so special?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Pathetic and credulous supplicant, how can you be so deluded? Don't you
} know that the Internet is my home? It's where I live, and I'm as
} familiar with its data sources and sinks as you are with your bedroom.
}
} The WikiPedia? I wrote all that stuff, and I allow only the
} modifications I want.
}
} Google? Pah - I *own* their search engine, and it serves up exactly
} what I tell it to.
}
} YouTube? - All faked - I've been doing perfect CG animation for
} decades.
}
} FaceBook? How many of those people have you actually met? The rest
} are all me.
}
} Are you getting the picture? Within the Internet, reality is what I
} say it is.
}
} By the way, those original sources you found for your paper on
} "Economic Bases of Inflation Under the Ancien Regime" are either
} plagiarized or fabricated, and you'll be lucky to get away with just
} a semester suspension.


1434-03    (05ch2 dist, 3.4 mean)
Selected-By: Tim Chew <twchew@mindspring.com>

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

> Oh great and delicious Oracle, I recently asked out a waitress/barmaid
> at a restaurant I go to regularly, and she declined, saying they have a
> rule against dating the customers. What might the rationale for such a
> rule be?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} It provides the waitresses with a good way to say, "Not in your
} lifetime, buster," or "Drop dead, dork," while remaining professionally
} pleasant, safely alive, and in even in hope of receiving a 25% tip.


1434-04    (109dd dist, 4.0 mean)
Selected-By: Tim Chew <twchew@mindspring.com>

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

> Oh brilliant and quirky Oracle, smarter than the Professor, more
> commanding than the Skipper, and richer than the Howells, please settle
> once and for all the second most important question of all:
>
> Ginger or MaryAnn?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Or?


1434-05    (17f94 dist, 3.2 mean)
Selected-By: Mark Lawrence <lawrence.4@osu.edu>

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

> What exactly makes it "indescribable"?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} The...them, um...you know.
}
} You owe the Oracle something unexplainable.


1434-06    (09db3 dist, 3.2 mean)
Selected-By: Tim Chew <twchew@mindspring.com>

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

> You wanna piece of me, boy?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} No, I don't want a piece of you.  Why would I want a
} piece of you?  You probably taste terrible and are
} dried out and leathery.
}
} Beyond which, human beings, as a result of consumption
} of milk, generally have more strontium 90 in their
} tissues than is allowed in food products shipped in
} interstate commerce.  So it would not be legal for
} there to be a piece of you shipped to me.
}
} You owe the Oracle a peace of quiet.


1434-07    (157f8 dist, 3.7 mean)
Selected-By: Mark Lawrence <lawrence.4@osu.edu>

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

> I think the 140 IQ human brain can comfortably remember about 20,000
> different things from the same broad category without specifically
> trying to.
>
> For example, how many words does an average person know? 3000.
> How many words did Shakespeare know? 30,000. How many words exist?
> Over 600,000. (Imagine every word in the Bible being different)
> Shakespeare is probably the world record holder.
>
> How many items are in Runescape? 8,000+
>
> How many rooms are in the largest building ever made? About 10000.
>
> How many stocks does Jim Cramer have in his head? 3,000 (but knowing
> at the minimum means [buy sell or neutral] and which changes over time,
> so is worth more than 1 object)
>
> How many cities do I recognize? People's names? Does that include
> any detail I remember from any TV episode or my house or neighborhood?
>
> How many hours does it take to earn a degree? So, you are exposed a few
> dozen facts an hour. No, you don't remember them all. How many pages
> are in a very large textbook? How many facts a page? You'll probably
> forget at least 90% of it too. If you don't, recite page 462.
>
> So, why the 100 KB limit?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} The limit is exactly 100kb, because knowledge is, as a smug subset
} of all computer-scientists has always suggested, organized in binary
} values, the evolution of which went like this:
}
} At first, when men got his first dim awareness of his surroundings,
} there was basically a single category resulting in two sets of things:
}
} * Food
} * No food
}
} Generally, that came in really handy, because all the time spent
} chewing on rocks could now be used for other purposes. Pretty quickly,
} though, this turned out to be insufficient, as not only where there
} all kinds of hazards like fires or falling rocks, but it also turned
} out that the other inhabitants of this green earth had pretty much
} the same idea and people began falling under the "food" category for
} said other inhabitants. So another category was created:
}
} * Kills me
} * Does not kill me
}
} Since both of these values can be either true or false, this gets us
} four distinct sets of things:
}
} * Food, does not kill me (tasty fruit)
} * No food, does not kill me (rocks)
} * No food, does kill me (predator, falling rocks)
} * Food, does kill me (tasty predator hit by falling rocks)
}
} This went well for a while, but since the amount of sets of things grew
} exponentially (the n-th new category results in 2^n additional sets of
} things) the table of categories grew quite difficult to maintain. So a
} committee was set up to maintain it.
}
} And that's where things went awry.
}
} Soon, there were categories for things that belonged to village A
} even though village B claimed them, things that belonged to village
} B, even though village A was spreading infamous lies and abusing
} the category committee to steal them from village B, things that
} go well with cheese, things that go slightly less well with cheese,
} things that Mrs.  Frumbiddle considers a poor choice for a birthday
} present, things that you cannot find when you need them the most,
} little dongly things, and so on and so on and so on. Not only was the
} growth of the table of categories not halted, but within a matter of
} days, it had superseeded the capacity of the human brain.  A solution
} to this inflation was to be found, and quickly.
}
} So, in order to not be hit by rocks or eaten by a predator while
} sorting through all the facts of life, somebody, in what seemed
} a stroke of genius, proposed the "important" category. Simply
} distinguish things that are noteworthy from things that are not.
} Filter out all the riff-raff once and for all, and be set for eternity.
} No more confusion. No more disputes between villages A and B. Now more
} chewing on inappropriate birthday presents.
}
} And that's when the philosophers showed up.[*]
}
} "But", the philosophers said, "consider this: the category
} of importance contains all that is important. And everythings is
} important if, and only if, all of its components are important. But is
} the category of importance important? If we assume it is important
} and thus a member of itself, all of its members are important, and
} our assumption holds. If we assume it is not important, it is not a
} member of itself, and still all of its members are important, so our
} assumption holds, too. But both assumptions contradict each other.
} So we can never know if that which is important is really important."
}
} Some of the more alert members of the committee immediately threw
} rocks at the philosophers, and one of them even a predator, but it
} was too late.  Importance had become a matter of interpretation.
}
} And thus, the committee dissolved itself and the category of people who
} claimed never to have been involved in it anyway grew rapidly within a
} single day. Instead, it was decided that, no that they were stuck with
} the importance category, people should just decide for themselves how
} to get out of this mess and decide what is important and what is not.
}
} Most people agree on food. Many on love. Some on being a member of
} a committee, some on being a philosopher and some on throwing rocks
} at philosophers. And since the human actual category table is usually
} well below 100k, most people forget half of what they know or even
} deem important, so the things they do are often not the things they
} wanted to.  But, much to everybody's surprise, the entire process
} vastly increased the amount of distinguishable things that are fun.
}
} You owe the Oracle a birthday present Mrs. Frumbiddle will like.
}
} [*] Although at that time, they were known simply as "things that have
} four legs, no wings, large toenails and bug you on the marketplace
} of Athens".


1434-08    (66bb2 dist, 2.9 mean)
Selected-By: Mark Lawrence <lawrence.4@osu.edu>

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

> Oh Mighty Oracle, I want to know the answer for the question:
> What am I?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Apparently you are #QYJaWTk, son of #QYJaWTj, grandson of #QYJaWTi.
}
} You owe the Oracle a more interesting scheme for labeling


1434-09    (3eb44 dist, 2.8 mean)
Selected-By: Klone (aka Daniel V Klein) <dvk@lonewolf.com>

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

> Who is responsible for the glut of ugly calendars?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Well, of course, as is well known, it is the Calendar
} Cartel who are in the business of cornering the market
} on Calendars, and are using the cruel inexorability of
} Gresham's Law, which says "Bad Calendars drive Good
} Calendars out of circulation," in that when there are
} good calendars and ugly ones, the good ones get
} snapped up fast, leaving the ugly ones lonely and
} undated.  The only thing worse than a calendar that
} doesn't have a date, is a wall calendar that never
} finds a hook-up.
}
} There is nothing more depressing for a calendar than
} to be unloved, to not feel the loving touch of its
} owner as they rip off the pages every day (for a
} 365/366 page calendar), or turning the pages each
} month.  Calendars miss this, and this lack of
} calendaristic contact can make them turn mean AND
} ugly.
}
} You owe the Oracle some dates.  Pitted, preferrably.


1434-10    (6ac62 dist, 2.7 mean)
Selected-By: Klone (aka Daniel V Klein) <dvk@lonewolf.com>

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

> We are questioning you again about English usage. Should we say,
> "Foobar, Ltd. *is* releasing the new software in July," or "Foobar,
> Ltd. *are* releasing the new software in July." ?? Yes, I do realise
> that the correct phrase will probably have the month of February
> instead of July, but that's not the issue at hand. We have a major
> battle about this problem between the developers here in Glasgow and
> the developers in Berkeley (strangely pronounced by its inhabitants as
> "Burkely" instead of "Barkly").
>
> These language problems are taking up precious debugging time, and
> threaten to push the product out so late that July (albeit some other
> July than 2008) will actually be again correct. We would write software
> without bugs, but that doesn't happen either, as we are trying to use
> the "agile" model, which the managers have taken to pronouncing
> "fragile" or sometimes "Effin' R. Agile."
>
> Please be your utmostly authoritative in your answer. We want to END
> the discussion, not fire it up brighter.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} You are using the term "Ltd." in the sense of the type
} of organization which in the United Kingdom is a
} limited company, and in the United States is a
} corporation, and the statement would essentially apply
} in both cases.
}
} A corporation (or limited company) is what is called a
} legal fiction.  It is separate from its owners
} (stockholders, if any) and makes its decision on the
} basis of the board of directors, who do so in the name
} of the corporation.  A corporation has certain aspects
} including separate existence from its owners and its
} directors.
}
} The laws generally grant to corporations "personhood"
} meaning that it is considered to have the same
} standing as any other person before the law, including
} an individual.  Since a corporation is separate from
} its owners or managers and has personhood, per se, it
} is a single entity, and not a group.
}
} If it was an unincorporated association acting as a
} group, or if it was the board of directors of the
} corporation acting together rather than acting in the
} name of the corporation, then "are" would be
} acceptable, e.g. "The directors of Foobar, Ltd. *are*
} releasing the new software in July."
}
} But when they act in the name of the corporation, they
} are in effect acting on behalf of a single entity.
} Since it is a single entity, the correct usage would
} be "Foobar, Ltd. *is* releasing the new software in
} July,"
}
} I believe that "is" would also be correct for
} gramatical usage by a Limited Liability Company, and
} on the same terms as indicated above when issued in
} the name of a partnership (as opposed to an action of
} the partners as a group) as those are usually
} considered equivalent to a single entity.  A single
} entity *is* going to do something, whereas the
} combined members of a group *are* going to do
} something.
}
} Since this wasn't being humorous this time, The Oracle
} *is* not going to say you owe it anything.
}
} -
} Paul Robinson <paul@paul-robinson.us>.
} "The lessons of history teach us - if they teach us
} anything - that nobody learns the lessons that history
} teaches us."


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