} Scene: a cold, damp, and cavernous examination hall somewhere
} in America. Twenty students, each surrounded with and almost
} hidden by textbooks, photocopies, lecture notes, scribble pads,
} and personal computers stare despairingly at the sheets of
} paper before them. The exam invigilator, reincarnation of a
} 14th century inquisitor, chuckles inwardly.
} Meanwhile, in a far more comfortable place, the Oracle snoozes.
} Back to the hall. Here, a student who has forgotten how to
} multiply gnaws at his fingers. There, a student who has forgotten
} to bring a pen tries to scratch out her answers on the table top
} with a door key. Our supplicant, showing the first faint signs
} of distress, starts to type:
} % mail email@example.com
} The invigilator, with an undergraduate degree in Distressing
} Architecture, paces between the desks.
} Meanwhile, on a balcony beneath a glorious summer sky, the Oracle
} and Lisa chat over breakfast. Neither pays any attention to the
} blinking indicator on the Oracular mail console.
} The hall grows colder and darker. A student who has forgotten how
} to read flips through the exam paper in the vain hope of finding
} a Sesame Street cartoon. Another, who has forgotten which subject
} he was doing, tries to find a connection between the exam and
} Pre-Columban Mexico. Our supplicant painfully taps out the sequence
} for the one remaining avenue of reassurance still open:
} % ping moose.cs.indiana.edu
} moose is alive
} The invigilator, fingers skilfully manipulating the theatre controls,
} does not notice the contorted smile of the supplicant at the reply.
} Meanwhile, the Oracle and Lisa return from a refreshing walk around
} the lake. The Oracle sits down and begins to answer mail.
} Objectively, only two hours have passed in the hall. Our supplicant
} squirms and writhes. The pressure is too much. When the invigilators
} back is turned certain items of clothing are loosened and natural
} bodily functions come into action. But wait, the mailbox icon on
} the screen has changed! The supplicant swings around and the liquid
} stream reaches an insufficiently shielded power supply...
} Meanwhile, the Oracle sits back and glows with the satisfaction of
} once more bringing happiness and enlightenment to someone.
} The exam ends. Worn and broken bodies straggle out. Those who have
} forgotten their reason for living are sent to the Pyschology
} Departments experimental section. Our supplicant is stretchered
} away by grieving friends. The invigilator, with a PhD in Subliminal
} Amnesia Infliction, relaxes after another job well done.
} You owe the Oracle a retrospective memory chip.