} The scene: A small classroom somewhere in Indiana.
} A older man, quite distinguished in appearance and rather well
} dressed, if I do say so myself, enters from a door on the left side
} of the room near the front. He walks over the podium in front of a
} large projection computer monitor.
} The Man: Good morning class.
} Class <together>: Good morning Oracle!
} Oracle: In today's lesson we continue the thread on dealing with
} repeat questions. Particularly questions in which the
} supplicant quite obviously expects a specific answer. Take
} the following example:
} <The Oracle reaches under the podium for a brand new radio controlled
} trackball. Hitting a few button, the projection screen comes to life.
} Centered on the screen is a single line of text.>
} > What is the answer to life, the universe and everything??
} Oracle: Now, who can tell me where this comes from? Yes, John?
} John: Douglas Adams _Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy_ trilogy?
} Oracle: Correct. I see you have done your required reading. Now, with
} such an obvious reference, what is the supplicants prupose in
} asking this question? Yes, Laura?
} Laura: The supplicant wants to see if we take the easy way out and
} just give him the stock answer from the book?
} Oracle: Maybe. Anyone else? John again?
} John: The supplicant obviously thinks he's being funny. He wants to
} get in on this Oracle thing but can't muster up the orginality
} to come up with a truly good question on his own. So he hopes
} to ride the coattails of popular comtemporary author by simply
} quoting form one of his most popular works.
} Oracle: Very good, John. That's possible, but I really don't think
} so. One more. Tim?
} Tim: Could it be that the supplicant really wants to know?
} Oracle: Doubtful. Most supplicants don't have the brain power to
} really be interested in that kind of thing. Look, class. This
} supplicant thinks he can outsmart me. He asks some obvious
} question, which is so overasked as to be lame and boring. In
} doing so, he hopes that he can get the better of me, hoping
} I'll just say "42" and be done with it.
} But we can't do that. That would mean he would win. So how do
} we handle this? How can we turn such a lame question into a
} truly insightful and humorous response?
} Laura: Zot the bastard! He didn't grovel!
} <Cheers from the whole room>
} Oracle: Very perceptive Luara. A "No grovel" can usually result in an
} off the cuff Zotting. However, doing so would also make him
} think he had gotten the better of me. That would be the
} same as saying that I couldn't think of anything better. You
} in the back, Heather.
} Heather: Give him a Top Ten list? Maybe we could do something like:
} "From the home office in Heaven..."
} <General booing from the whole room. Paper airplanes fly.>
} Oracle: Alright, alright, quiet down. Not too bad an idea. Needs a
} little polish though. In many cases, a top ten list can
} indeed get you out of a tough spot. But I don't think that
} really fits the bill here.
} John: So what do we do? If we can't Zot him, a top ten list isn't
} right, and there's no way we can just say: 42, you owe me a
} Oracle: In this case, the best approach is to pretend to actually
} consider the question as real and go from there.
} Laura: But how can we do that? The only way to find out the answer
} to life, the universe and everything is to actually die!
} Oracle: Precisely! So here's the response:
} The answer to this question cannot properly be written down. It
} requires one to be fully immersed in the experience of the
} answer. However, that requires one to actually be deceased.
} Don't worry, I'll take care of that little part, too.
} You owe the Oracle an original question. One that hasn't been asked
} 4,345,782 times.