The Internet Oracle

I first heard about The Internet Oracle while I was at uni in the early 90’s and i’m sure it’s been around for a lot longer than that.

Here’s the blurb on what the Oracle is:

Do you endeavor with a difficult dilemma, or ponder a posed problem you cannot perspicaciously pursue? Angling anxiously for advice? The Internet Oracle can help! Like all famous oracles, the Internet Oracle is omniscient, and will provide some answer to your question. In return, the Oracle may require that you perform a small service …

Despite all the mythology surrounding it, essentially it’s just a mail server app that accepts questions then sends those questions on to other people who have asked questions, they reply with an answer and so on. So you send a question, and get a question, answer it and send it back, quite often the question/answer combos are gems of wit and humour, here’s a great one I found in the regular best of… (follow the link above) digest.

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

> Merry Oracle, who can have a holly, jolly Christmas without pricking
> himself on the pointy leaves, I've figured out your secret.
>                                     Santa      Internet
>                                     Claus       Oracle
> --------------------------------    -----      --------
>                         Immortal     Yes         Yes
>  Knows who's been naughty & nice     Yes         Yes
> Shakes like a bowl full of jelly     Yes     Undetermined
>                Long, white beard     Yes       Probably
>           Keeps exotic livestock   Reindeer    Unproven
>       Has many dedicated helpers    Elves      Priests
> So admit it.  You're really Santa, aren't you?  This Oracle business
> is just something you do to occupy yourself in the off-season, isn't
> it?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Before you get carried away, consider the following comparison
} chart:
}                                     Santa        Bill
}                                     Claus       Gates
} --------------------------------    -----      --------
}                         Immortal     Yes         Yes[1]
}  Knows who's been naughty & nice     Yes         Yes[2]
} Shakes like a bowl full of jelly     Yes       Cream pie
}                Long, white beard   False[3]       No
}           Keeps exotic livestock   Reindeer    Unproven
}       Has many dedicated helpers    Elves      Employees
}             Mail goes unanswered     Yes         Yes
}    Runs a worldwide organisation     Yes         Yes
} Gets user requests, but delivers
}        something else altogether     Yes         Yes
}    Distributes gifts to the poor     Yes         Yes[4]
}        Has an effective monopoly     Yes         Yes
}            Annual licensing fees   Cookies       Cash
} Notes:
} [1] Ever since that pact with.. oh, wait, I'm not allowed to
} talk about that. Sorry. Just take my word for it.
} [2] Everyone who runs Microsoft software and has an internet
} connection, anyway. "No personally identifying information",
} hah, there's a good one.
} [3] Sorry, but yes, Santa's beard is a false one. Didn't you
} know that the most common method for disguise for men is a
} beard? Did you really think that such a long beard would be
} natural? Off with the glasses, on with the contacts and the
} huge beard, and you look completely different.
} [4] Yes, really - the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in
} fact the world's largest charitable organisation, and among
} (many) other things currently funds 90% of the world's budget
} for the eradication of polio.
} And a final clue:
}   - Many houses these days no longer have chimneys for Santa
}     to come down.
}   - Therefore, he needs an alternate method of entry.
}   - The easiest entry points to most houses are the windows.
}   - Windows is well known for being insecure, allowing easy
}     access by outsiders.
} How much more proof do you need?