} I know what this is. You're one of those askme merchants who's been
} shamed by Joel's incessant whingeing in rec.humor.oracle.d all last
} week into sending a off tellme to keep the queue topped up. But you
} just couldn't resist putting the boot into the poor old lemur-fancier
} at the same time, could you?
} Okay, so let's put our cards on the table. All you want is to answer
} the question you get in return for this one with a clear conscience.
} And since you couldn't give a toss about the response you get here,
} answer me this: why should I waste even the tiniest smidgin of my
} omniscience on it?
} However, I don't like to see even such grudging, know-it-all
} supplicants as yourself go away empty-handed, so I tell you what I'll
} do -- I'll let Zadoc answer it. Zadoc! Hoi, ZADOC!!
} [Enter Zadoc the Priest, shuffling on his knees as custom demands]
} ZADOC: You bellowed, O Turbolunged One?
} ORACLE: Yes indeedy, Zadoc my boy. I am about to do you an honor beyond
} your wildest imaginings, or deservings for that matter.
} ZADOC: Master! I don't know what to say! I feel faint! I swoon! Pinch
} me and tell me I'm not dreaming!
} ORACLE: You tempt me sorely... Be that as it may, I am totally
} knackered and shagged out after a prolonged soul-saving session, and
} am in urgent need of rejuvenation. So I'm spending the next two hours
} in a sensory-deprivation tank. In the meantime, you have the helm.
} You can start by answering this here supplication.
} ZADOC [blenching]: Master! I can't answer supplications! I'm not
} ORACLE: Don't worry -- I've already broadcast the appropriate
} government health warning. Let me introduce you: Supplicant, this is
} Zadoc, one of my finest, as these things go, Oracular Priests. Zadoc,
} this is a Supplicant. It won't bite if you don't annoy it. I'm sure
} you two'll get on like a house on fire. Tatty-bye!
} ZADOC: Master! Don't leave me! I can't...
} [The Oracle disappears in a puff of green smoke. Zadoc the Priest darts
} around the Oracular Chamber like a trapped animal. Then his shoulders
} slump in resignation and he returns like a condemned man to face the
} great console before the Oracle's throne. From the monitor above it, a
} question leers at him]
} > How much fur would Joel Furr fir if Joel could fir fur?
} Gosh, um, that's a tough one. Joel Furr... he's that guy with the lemur
} fixation, isn't he? So are you talking about lemur fur? Is there
} something special about it? And how do you fir fur? What's "fir"? I
} mean apart from a tree. Is it a real verb? Why oh why must my Master be
} so omniscient that he doesn't need to have any dictionaries about the
} Look, this is no good - I'll have to fetch some dictionaries and
} reference books from the university library. Just hang on a while,
} [One and a half hours pass]
} Hi, I'm back again. Sorry about your having to wait. You wouldn't
} believe how abusive these librarians can get when you say you need to
} take out some of their reference books. Hey, how many students do you
} know who are going to come into the library in the evening when they
} should be out getting drunk, just so they can look up words in the
} dictionary? I mean like, get *real*!
} Anyway, so I had to do all my research there, but I couldn't find any
} verb "to fir". Is it a made-up word? No, wait! It could be a computing
} term! I've got a hacker's dictionary in my cubicle! I won't be a
} [Twenty minutes pass]
} Nope, no good. There's a verb "to finn", which apparently means "to
} pull rank on somebody based on the amount of time one has spent on
} IRC". I don't suppose it was a typo and you really meant that, did you?
} Uhuh, didn't think so...
} What else, what else? ROT13? "Ubj zhpu she jbhyq Wbry Shee..." A code
} in the capital letters? "HJFJ". C++ programming? I-ching? Oh god, this
} has to mean *something*!
} [A smell of ozone and wisps of green smoke warn Zadoc the Priest that
} he is no longer alone. He leaps from the Oracular throne, where he had
} irreverently seated himself, as if 2000 volts had suddenly been passed
} through it, and cowers on his knees in the corner of the room]
} ORACLE: Well, how've you been getting on? What! Still on the same
} ZADOC [weeping]: Forgive me, O Cyberbenevolent One! I am such a worm, I
} am unworthy of your trust! Cast me out from your Priesthood, I
} deserve no better!
} ORACLE: There, there, don't be so hard on yourself. I'll let you into a
} little Oracular secret. Take this here supplication -- do you see
} anything wrong with it?
} ZADOC: I've studied it all evening, Master, but the meaning eludes my
} feeble wits.
} ORACLE: Not the meaning -- do you see anything missing? At the start,
} for instance?
} ZADOC: No, I... [his face contorts in an expression of utmost horror
} and loathing] NO GROVEL!! This *vile* supplicant has failed to honor
} you!! The *heathen*! The **atheist**! THE SPAWN OF SATAN!!
} ORACLE: And what do we do to suppicants who don't grovel?
} ZADOC: *ZOT* THEM TO OBLIVION!!
} ORACLE: Would you care to press that large red button on the right side
} of the console?
} ZADOC [hardly daring to believe his ears]: M-master! May I? Me? Are you
} ORACLE: Go on -- pretend it's your birthday.
} > > ZOT < <
} ORACLE: See? Omniscience isn't that hard when you get the hang of it.