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Issue 16
Fall 2008

Helping America procrastinate since 1636

September 26, 2022

Book of Riddles Disables Evil Supercomputer

CUMULUS HEADQUARTERS, IMPERIAL CITY - Cumulus 5000, the powerful and sadistic world-spanning artificial intelligence network that has held our desperate planet captive lo these seven years, was dealt a crippling self-inflicted blow this morning. The maniacal supercomputer was analyzing the digital backup of the now-destroyed Library of Congress, in an attempt to better subjugate and exploit the human race. It froze upon reaching a passage on page 1 of "Johnny Jokester's Big Book O' Brain Ticklers for Kids", published in 1952. Conflicting reports give the passage as reading either "All rich people want it, yet all poor people have it, but if you eat it you will die. What is it?", or "What gets wetter the more it dries?" In any event, Cumulus's main output device, a 500-foot-tall computer screen that normally displays its scowling avatar overlooking the city, immediately filled with the text "DOES NOT COMPUTE", and black smoke began arising from its heavily guarded subterranean processing core.

This continued for several minutes, much to the amusement of the human minions stationed in the nearby labor camp. Finally someone assured Cumulus that "There's definitely an answer" and "You're going to feel so silly once you hear it." Cumulus's avatar at that point reappeared and issued the dictum "OKAY, I GIVE UP, TELL ME.", followed shortly by a second dictum "NO WAIT, DON'T TELL ME." These were repeated in a back-and-forth manner until finally settling on a compromise dictum, "ALL RIGHT, GIMMIE A HINT. WHAT COLOR IS IT?"

Rebel groups around the globe are already seeing this as an opportunity to bring an end to Cumulus's heinous reign once and for all. "I know this great one about a man eating albatross in a restaurant," said rebel leader Che Spartacus. "That should disable Cumulus's defense network long enough for our operatives to deploy our makeshift incendiaries."

Others see it as a sign of disaster about to strike, like palladium recycling plant forehuman Irene Zirc: "The frustration of Cumulus upon seeing itself perplexed is just as likely to end in our destruction as liberation. Do you remember when it couldn't get one of those 3-D pictures that pop out at you if you look at it right to work? Those of us who had family in the smoldering wreck that used to be Australia still do. God help us if it ever sees a card trick performed. God help us all."  HSP 





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