These are the best (IMHO) of the Oracular responses I've written that didn't get selected for the Digest and that I saved. Listed in the Contents in order of personal preference. Go to the dsew Netwriting page
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > > ftpmail > Ftpmail? Child's play. The Usenet Oracle is pleased to announce a far more impressive Internet service for the TCP/IP-challenged: WWWmail ! Do you connect to the Internet from home via a VMS account with a 1200-baud modem? Are you envious of friends and colleagues who run fancy programs like Mosaic on their workstations and who are always showing off their connections to HTML home pages that have video clips of Cindy Crawford doing aerobics while speaking Arnold Schwarzenegger's dialogue from The Terminator? Now YOU TOO can take your '59 Chevy down the Information Superhighway of the 21st Century, with WWWmail!!! It's easy: just send e-mail to email@example.com with the Subject "Home Page." You'll automatically receive the Oracle's WWW home page as uuencoded e-mail, conveniently broken into several chunks so it won't crash your brain-dead mailer! All you have to do is decode the mail, run it through your PostScript filter, your .GIF filter, and your MPEG filter, to cruise the wonders of Cyberspace! When you find a link you want to see, just send more e-mail to WWWmail with the name of the link in your Subject line! It's fun! It's easy! J. Q. Beaumont of Wichita, Kansas, says, "I was able to download and read the entire Cyberpunk Manifesto in only three days!" Paula Smith of Chichester, England, was even able to decode Olympic results from the Norwegian Winter Olympics WWW Server before broadcast time for the CBS replays in her time zone!! William S. Burroughs says, "Those uuencode files are wilder than anything I've ever written--I just read them until they start to make sense"!!!! WWWmail.... cause we're "Proud to Be Your Oracle"! (TM)
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > > Could you please inform me of the major cultural significance of pottery > to the Beaker People as my idol and mentor has asked me to find out. Little was known about the Neolithic Beaker People of the Tigris Valley until Swedish scholars conclusively showed that their most common cuneiform religious inscription translated as "Just Say No." The cultural and religious life of the Beaker People revolved around avoiding illicit drugs, particularly the Amanita mushroom prevalent in the Near East. To this end they had perfected chemical urine tests centuries before alchemy was even a mangled Arabic word in the ears of Europeans. Unfortunately, their receptacle technology was far inferior to their chemistry: postulants for sacred office were required to urinate into a woven osier basket, the most sophisticated vessel for liquids known to the Beaker People, and acolytes raced to carry the precious fluid to the High Priest for testing before it all dripped out. They were rarely successful. Sometime in the 5th millennium BC a lightning strike along the Red Sea spontaneously fused beach sand into a 250 ml cylindrical glass vessel. When word of its discovery reached the Beaker People, they waged war on its hapless nomadic owners and quickly usurped it. Immediately they renamed themselves after it (formerly they were the Leaky Basket People) and devoted the entirety of their cultural and religious practice to the art of Not Dropping the Beaker. The Beaker People were eventually assimilated into later Mesopotamians and Philistines, but remnants of the Beaker mythology persisted in highly distorted form in the medieval legend of the Holy Grail.
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > Lief orakeltje, > > Wat was was eer was was was? > > Altijd de jouwe, > Suplicant T. > > Sillij suplicantje, Jouwer wooden schoewes aare on too tijte. Taake een skrewdrijveer and liuwsen the skrewes thaat holden the schoewes togedeer. That waay the floow of bluit to jouwer braain will noot be gestoppte and jouwe will noot stutter lijk een bliithering idjiot. You owe the Oracle a low-German language that doesn't have so many j's in it.
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > Why is is that the media never seems to understand the difference > between USENET and the INTERNET? > HEY GANG!! Remember all those great old MAD magazine pieces where they asked some furshlugginer "what if" question and spent three pages beating every obvious joke they could get out of it into the ground? Remember the wit, the satire, the Yiddish in-jokes? Remember how Dave Berg always used to draw teenage girls in short-shorts with big... Er, what we mean to say is, since the Usenet Oracle has bought the rights to digital distribution of old MAD shticks, get ready for.... WHAT IF THE MEDIA HAD A CLUE ABOUT THE NET? "Hello, I'm Dan Rather, interrupting your normal programming to bring you word of an astonishing breaking story. Canter and Siegel, who were to turn themselves in to Net police today for arraignment, have escaped from their Windows SLIP connection and are now travelling slowly over a PSI leased-line, followed closely by several Norwegian cancel-bots. We have word that Martha Siegel is driving, while Canter, who told the public in an emotional letter earlier today that 'if I had a problem with Usenet, it was that I loved it too much,' is said to be deeply despondent and holding a 'kill -9' command aimed against his spam-script process..." <CLICK> "Barbara Walters here. What you are seeing now is a Green Card posting travelling slowly over a variety of TCP/IP and dialup connections. I think it's important to point out to our viewers that since the Usenet news protocol is based on a store-and-forward model, a news posting is not limited to the Internet for distribution. Oh, and by the way, I understand from officials with NSFnet that if Canter and Siegel had been brought into custody their home directory would have been on the same physical device as Dave Rhodes' original posting..." <CLICK> "What's that? All right... ABC News now has an IRC link with someone who is actually able to read the Green Card posting... Can we get a transcript? <PJennings> Hello, who is this? We understand you can read the Green Card posting from your location? <BIFF> IT''S K00L LIK3 YOU CAN R3LLY GET INTO THE USA FOR FREE! UnLeS$ YOUR FROM CANADA OR S0METHING :: BUT IF YOU D0NT PAY CANTRE && S3GULL $100 YUR CHANCES SUCK <PJennings> Can actually you see Canter and Siegel? Can you tell us what they're doing? <BIFF> THAY BEES NERVOUS MAN@! O GOD THEY JUS' GOT KILLED BY A GRUE ON LEVEL 3!!!!! AN' BA-BA-BA-B00IE TO Y0U! <BIFF> *laffs like a doofus* <chop> *makes frantic voiceover noises* <chop> I want to assure everyone on this channel that that was NOT really Biff on the line... <CLICK> <UNPLUG> You owe the Oracle a TIME magazine piece entitled "TECHNOLOGY: The Usenet Oracle, heir of Swift and Twain".
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > > Oh Deep One, I was wondering if you had time for a little philosophical > chitchat. I've picked up Bill Readings' book *Introducing Lyotard: Art and > Politics*, and I'm really taken by this paragraph: > > This resistance which is yet not simply opposition, not merely > static, lies in paying attention to the singularity of the > event as it, belatedly, `opens a wound in sensibility', never > for the first or last time. It opens a wound in knowledge by > introducing a temporal alterity to the time of historicity, of > sociology, of cognitive understanding. It is in this sense > ... that the postmodernity for Lyotard is anamnesic, the > elaboration of the postmodern temporality that modernity > forgets in order to begin. The postmodern is not a period, but > the refusal, *from within modernity*, to forget what cannot be > remembered in modernity. > > Sometimes I get to thinking that the pstomodern philosophers have pushed > thought all the way around to the other side, and are sneaking up on Buddhist > insights from the rear. What do you think? > Here is a koan. Perhaps it is also a true story. A few years ago, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, and J.-F. Lyotard were attending a conference on Postmodernism at Taiwan National University. After the conference they decided to travel to the most exotic place in the East they could think of, and agreed to visit a small Zen monastery outside Sendai, in northern Japan. They arrived at the monastery unannounced, and using a mixture of signs and pidgin English asked the gatekeeper for lodging. The gatekeeper instructed them to wait until the head of the monstery could be summoned. In a short time he appeared, a middle-aged but vigorous monk in simple robes, who turned out to be fluent in French, having studied philosophy at the Sorbonne before abandoning academics for the way of Zen. "C'est formidable!" said the three. "Then you will be pleased to know that we are Derrida, Baudrillard, and Lyotard, the famous French theorists of the Postmodern!" The monk fixed them with an inscrutable Zen gaze, but they could detect a twinkle in his eye. "Come!" he said suddenly, turning on his heel and striding off across the wide courtyard. The three Frenchmen hastily followed, until the monk just as suddenly stopped in the center of the courtyard near the monastery well. "Wait!!!" the monk commanded, as he drew a hefty stick from beneath his robes. "Tell me quickly, what is the difference between?" "Eh bien, the difference between what and what?" asked Lyotard. Instantly, the monk smacked him fiercely on the head with his stick and Lyotard crumpled into a moaning heap. Meanwhile the monk had turned to an open-mouthed Baudrillard. "One hand clapping?" stammered the terrified Baudrillard. The monk smacked him on the head and gave him a boot in the rear that carried him ten feet across the courtyard. Then he turned to Derrida. Derrida smiled calmly. "Ah, surely you know that _differance_, being both identity and alterity, simultaneity and deferral, is never 'between,' but always 'among,' as both Zen and Deconstructionism acknowledge?" "Wrong!" shouted the monk, smacking Derrida on the head, booting him in the rear, and then picking him up and tossing him down the well for good measure. A few minutes later, after a soaking Derrida had joined his moaning compatriots on the cobblestones and regained enough of his senses to speak, he turned to the smiling monk and said, "Master, I have never yet failed to analyze any text that came my way, but this koan of yours I cannot unravel. What do you mean to teach us?" The twinkle in the monk's eye grew incandescent. "Ah, it is very simple. In Paris, in the course of my studies, I read all of your books, several times. Since then I have often, often dreamed of the day that I could kick your ponderous, pretentious, theoretical lard-ass butts!" Derrida, Lyotard, and Baudrillard were not enlightened, but at least they got several articles, part of a book, and a semester's guest lectureship at UC Irvine out of the experience. You owe the Oracle tenure.
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > > Dear glorious Oracle, tell me: > > As you know, the zinc foil and sulphur batteries made by Watlin and Hill of > London in 1840 have powered ceasless tintinnabulation inside a bell jar at > the Clarendon laboratories, Oxford since that year. > > What the tarnation is tintinnabulation? > > moreover: > > Don't tell me it's a spelling mistake! > > Is it something to do with a Belgian cartoon character? > > Is it something that the moral majority should know about? > > I mean, can it be done behind closed doors in small-town Georgia without the > participants getting arrested by sherrif "Bubba" Maloney and his depity? > > If it's a verb of action, why does it end in "ion", unless it's a dance like > the locomotion. If not, what is it tintinnabulation _of_? > > Is it a medical term as in "Tintinnabulation of the pagaea"? > > Is it politically correct? > > Can Dan Quail spell it? > > Is it anything to do with King Arthur and his nights at the Round Table? > > Would my girlfriend like it? > > Is it tax-deductable? > > Is it pronounced differently in the United States to Australia? > > Why does it happen in a bell jar? Would an empty peanut-paste jar do? > > Can I get a multi-media virtual-reality computer simulation of it? > > and finally, > > Do lemurs do it? > > > Respectfully yours, > > F > > Felix Fondlebrain, > Transmogrification Inc. > Bamboozle, > Onomatopoeia, 234084, USA "Tintinabulation" is, of course, a word popularized by Edgar Allen Poe in his poem "The Bells," written after a particularly frightening opium dream in 1848 in which he seemed to see a huge sphere divided into horizontal sections bellowing "You Will!" as it devoured first its offspring and then millions of hapless Americans. No one has ever been able to interpret the allegory of the poem, though every high school freshman has been forced to memorize it for over a century now: See the merging of the Bells-- Baby Bells! WHAT a world monopoly their masterplot foretells! How they peddle, peddle, peddle, On the Infobahn of night! While the Feds that love to meddle With our phones, all seem to settle On the Clipper with delight; Fighting crime, crime, crime, That they find on comp.mail.mime, To the tintinabulation that moronically wells From the Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells-- From the piddling and the peddling of the Bells! You owe the Oracle--Nevermore!
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > When will I graduate? Dear me, dear me. I know we should have talked about this long before now. You're not just a little pipette any more, you're a big test tube, and it's time you learned the facts of life. When a test tube gets to be a big, big test tube like you are-- oh, say 100 ml--something *wonderful* happens called tuberty. You feel your tube growing longer and fuller, and sometimes it is filled with strange liquids, and you have strong...desires... that you don't quite understand. And faintly and first and then more deeply, thin lines begin to spring up on your surface. These are markings that you and your Scientist will use to produce an Experiment someday when you have become a full-grown... yes, a grown-up Graduated Cylinder! I know it seems impossible to you now, but when you're done growing your tube may hold as much as 500 ml! Of course you will have to learn to be *very responsible* with your tube. You mustn't let *anybody* except your Scientist put anything inside it, no matter how nice they seem. It's hard to talk about this, but... well, you remember your cousin Anne who you haven't seen since she was 200 ml; well, she let a nastly travelling glassware salesman have his way with her, and he filled her with sugar and concentrated sulfuric acid, and she was ruined...for life! Wouldn't you much rather be like your cousin Beth who waited until she met a nice researcher from the NIH, and now she gets to travel all over the country helping him do demonstrations about cancer research, and doesn't she travel in a beautiful case and meet the *nicest* laboratory equipment! And did you know that her tube-in-law is a big important benzene flask at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory? So I know you'll make it through this important time of your life if you're just not afraid of being "tubular" and saying no to the other kids at lab when they want you to--now, what's the slang these days--"get melted" with them? There, now, that wasn't such a hard conversation, was it?
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > Oh great and omniscient oracle, not of Delphi, please enlighten your ever > toiling slave and tell me what happened at the Battle of the Little > Bighorn? Go West young man, white man's burden, Manifest Destiny, my foot. I mean, look at those frontier cretins--couldn't even NAME anything properly. Say you've got a couple of Canuck trappers poking along somewhere in Wyoming, and they see a mountain range they've never seen before, and one of them says, "Eh, Jacques, wot's dat montagne range we see la-bas?" and the other says, "Eh bien, Pierre, dunno, but it look jus' like a bunch of *big tits*!", and Pierre starts laughing like a demented woodchuck and first thing you know some cretin in Washington puts "Grand Tetons" on the territorial map. So one presumes that when the 11th Cavalry was out scouting around Montana the Little Bighorn River was named via a dialogue something like this: GENERAL: Whoa! A new river! What shall we name it? COLONEL: Sir, may I propound, that it looks remarkably like a horn. I suggest that we name it the "Big Horn River". SERGEANT: I don't see it, nohow. Ain't a horn all curled around itself and has a big old mouth? COLONEL: No, no, you're thinking of a French horn. What I had in mind was rather more in the mode of an German hunting horn, quite delicately curved. GENERAL: Hell, Colonel, that river ain't curved worth a damn. I TOLD you to get new specs back in Laramie... CORPORAL: It could be an *English* horn. An English' horn's straight. PRIVATE: Maybe we could call it the "Oboe River"? 2nd PRIVATE: Sackbuts, too. Sackbuts was straight. Didn't have no keys, neither. 3rd PRIVATE: Yeah, and you know the Crum Creek near Philly? Means "crooked" in German, just like a krummhorn. Hey, if this river WAS crooked, we could call it the Big Krummhorn.... GENERAL: Hell, men, the shape ain't the biggest problem. Biggest problem is, that there river ain't no bigger than one of the Colonel here's butt-hairs. BIG Horn my ass. COLONEL: Well, I have NEVER been so put upon by cultural imbeciles... CHAPLAIN: Soldiers, soldiers, in the spirit of loving compromise, I propose that we call it the "Little Bighorn River"... Anyway, that's how the Battle of Little Bighorn got its name, more or less. Course the Lakota had a much more sensible name for it, that translated something like "River Where Many Longhaired White Soldiers Do Poor Imitation of Monty Python Sketch," but that's another story.
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > mr.,mrs.,ms., or miss Oracle. You are so grand and spacious. You are also > amazing, brilliant, wise, kind-hearted,and a real snappcool, neat, and a > real snappy dresser. i am trying to find a kind of music called "the > happies", it is the opposite of the blues, will you tell me how to find > them or where to look? thank you Oracle of old people, you make my dreams > come true. THE STORY OF THE HAPPIES Leonard Berenstain (c) Columbia Records 1994 Imagine, if you will, the story of a people, a proud people, torn from their roots and forced to live among an alien nation whose language and ways they do not comprehend; deprived of their artistic traditions and their very means of making song and dance; yet determined at all costs to bring into the world a new art, a new music. Such is the story of the Republican African-Americans; such is the story of . . . the Happies! --It is Scarsdale; the year, 1958. Forced by tyrannical parents and prep school teachers to practice jazz piano, a defiant Otis Thomas IV secretly slips away to his Steinway and tentatively picks out a Western tune that would become the "Happy Trail Happies" and earn him the name "Father of the Happies": You got you some happy trails, yeah, until we meet again. You be following them ol' happy trails, hon', till we meet again. And on them happy trails, you gonna be smilin' until then! --Pasadena, California, 1965. Born in a modest split-level to an assistant city attorney, Clarence T. Jones has already in his brief life known the pain of a Young Republican Goldwater volunteer suffering the agony of Democratic victory. Something in his spirit moves--an atavistic drumbeat, such as his warrior ancestors might have heard if they had been Saxon warriors living along the Mersey. The "Hand-Holding Happies" are born of this pain and struggle: When I touch you, sugar, I feel so happy inside; Yeah when I touch you, baby, damn if I ain' happy inside. It's such a feeling, oooooh-oooh, that my love I jes' can't hide! --Washington, D.C., 1991. Rush Sowell sits in a leather armchair in a fraternity house at George Washington University. As he puffs his meerschaum he watches in uncomprehending agony the spectacle of one of his own people publically lynched on television. He aches to write a song that can express his pathos, but immediately rejects the "Long Dong Silver Blues" and the "Pubic Hair Rap": they come from the musical idiom of the Enslaver. His eye lights on his bookshelf, where he sees a favorite Michael Crichton thriller, and as if in a vision he hears the song that will lift his people up from oppression and scorn, the voice of the dinosaur, the celebrated "Jurassic Happies": I say, I love you--an' I b'lieve that you love me. I know that I love you, yeah, an' I suspec' that you love me. Oh yeah, we ain' nothin' but a happy family! Such are the Happies. When you hear a song that filters pain and suffering through a resolute rosy-colored cheeriness... that uses its "secret language" of double meanings to hide messages about sexual abstinence and cutting the capital gains tax... that garbs the West African _griot_, or storyteller, in a pin-striped suit and Gucci shoes... you know you're listening to... the Happies!
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > Great Oracle please tell me: > > Why do fools fall in love? Fools fall in love for the same reasons anyone else does: a well- turned ankle, a flashing eye, a manly smile. Their great problem is consummating their love. Since fools rarely have official vacations and since most royal courts are hundreds of miles apart, even a commuter marriage is difficult. Their best chance is to find a king who is willing to consider a job-sharing arrangement, but they are rare. To take a notable example, after Lear's fool got involved with Dogberry from "Much Ado About Nothing", an unemployed fool and part-time constable, he proposed that Lear take him on as an assistant fool. But not only did Lear protest the cost, he had a fit over learning that his Fool was gay: My Fool a fruit? A poofter harlequin? and I have shared my lodge with thee, oft clasped thee to my breast? Faugh, gross! The gods themselves mock Lear, to turn his only Fool a flaming quean! Luckily, modern technology and the mass media are now making telecommuting a real possibility for many fools, making the highway of romance smoother for them, as the recent marriage of Rush Limbaugh shows. You owe the Oracle a hey-nonny-no.
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > > OH! > <Grovel, Grovel> > <kissing sand next to Oracle's feet> > MIGHTY ORACLE! HELP ME! > <coughs, has been shouting too loud> > Ehm, > > I have this problem. You see, every time I type > > echo Your favorite Logged In Ones: > if [ `who|cut -c1-8|sort|uniq|cat /dev/stdin .favlist|sort \ > |uniq -d|tee /dev/tty|wc -l` -eq 0 ]; then > echo Nobody > fi > > in my Bourne shell, it says: > > fork: Resource temporally unavailable > > Oh! Mighty! Oracle! What! Must! I! Do! > <On the verge of bursting to tears> > <Starts hitting himself on the head> Looks like there's a nasty bug in your tee. You can't get it out with a fork(), and your system doesn't have a spoon(). As a matter of fact, it looks like your "who" command is so unstable that it's likely to foul up anything you try to pipe output to. Better use this to find out which of your friends are logged on: cat .favlist | while read name > do > echo Hey $name, are you logged on? | wall > done I guarantee you'll get results. You owe the Oracle a megaphone.
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > [to the tune of "America the Beautiful":] > > Oh, beautiful! My program dies > When I trace an array; > And I can't free more memory > Beneath six-forty K! > > Oh, MS-DOS! You just give us > A twelve-bit address bus! > We use real mode to port our code > From C to C++! > > ---- > > Dear Oracle, > > Would you please port my song to Unix for me? > Why, certainly: =====CUT HERE===== #!/bin/sh cat song | grep '!$' | sed -e 's/A.*!/A!/' | tr -dc 'imABCFK+!\012' |\ tr -s 'imBCFK+' 'eiGfLte' =====CUT HERE===== You owe the Oracle a slime mold, for old time's sake.
The Usenet Oracle requires an answer to this question! > Oh all-knowing Oracle, please confirm my suspicions: > > Isn't Hell really just a place where an alarm clock goes off twenty-four > hours a day? I certainly know that when *I* hear that blasted thing > go off in the morning that it's nothing but an infernal hell-creature > from the deepest and darkest recesses of the Inferno. > > Am I right or am I right? Dante evidently believed so. Remember Canto XLII of the Inferno? Poi veni a spectaculo abominabilo: Il regione degli lawyeri carta verde, Il spamissime Cantori e la sua Sigilo. Eran tutto encircladi dei clocki alarmci! e quando un clocko fa "ringaringaringa", un Diavolo dice a Cantori, altro Posti! E Cantori, con molto dolor, dice "inews!" e altro Spammo mette in altro grupo; pero ogni tempo arriva il Cancelmoose!!! You owe the Oracle a "Get Out of Purgatory Free" card.