Let me tell a little tale that I cooked up. So sit right back and enjoy.
Obviously someone failed to get the memo for we are no longer on Earth but on the Discworld. How else to explain the TelePrompter Overlord we now have versus the Uber-Brain 9999 made by MicroRonco that everyone expected?
Seriously, how else can we explain it? Those bright chaps at the Unseen University knew they were bright, scary bright in some cases. Doubt me? Just ask them and they will tell you how smart they are. Heck when they realized how hard a 40-hour work week was, they cut back to a more manageable 20 hours. Those unpaid teaching assistants who were slacking off made the difference on that let me tell you. So these scary brainy boffins wanted a more predictable concept of a Chancellor, they set about creating one. Not in a mad scientist way of robbing graves and such gunk, remember these are the people who like to stay clean and look smart.
They subcontracted the inner-workings of their automata Chancellor to the gnomes, only the finest metals, after competitive bidding, were used and no expense was spared in labor as illegal gnomes sweated on the project. Alas the AI R&D department at Unseen spent far too much time at O’Malley’s Pub&Crawl, so no progress was accomplished in regards to giving the robo-Chancellor a perfectly serviceable mechanical parrot brain. They could not use a real parrot brain since the Animal Husbandry department was very adamant in their opposition, the whole matter got dropped when one of the supporters of a real parrot brain vanished for a short bit and came back squawking ‘Polly wanna cracker!’
So after several months and quite a few research grants, they had reached a very vexing impasse. Their Chancellor looked all fine and regal, what with just the right bit of gray in the hair and a few strategic laugh lines in the face to make him seem kind. But they had no brain to put in that distinguished head. But as I said they are bright boffins and nothing was going to stop them from completing this project. They wanted to protect their tenures and the 20-hour work week. Talk about motivation.
After a few more tankards at O’Malley’s, the AI team finally hit upon a brainstorm that might save them. After blearily looking at the barkeep tabulating with an abacus, they had an epiphany, a programmable abacus in that empty noggin might save all their tenures. But then they got glum on how to program that gizmo. There was no way they could get away with cracking open that fine noggin just before a speech or a commencement, that would ruin their whole plan. So instead they watched the dwarves get blitzed and play toss the gnome.
Which was when that strange and fickle lady Discworld calls Luck intervened. The dwarves were so drunk they missed with their gnome toss, so the poor gnomish lad in red pointy hat went smashing into a magical TelePrompter. Thereby setting off the electro-sprites who lived in that TelePrompter who were getting smashed in their own right atop the bar. As the sparks flew over the dazed gnome who was already seeing enough bright lights as his now bent hat sat rakishly on his head, so did a light turn on over the collectively very drunk AI brain-trust.
Almost in unison they shouted, with nary a slur since they are bright drunks who are proud of their pronunciation, “Eureka!!” Which in this case meant, “We have a solution!” and not “Oh my gawd who let Simmons play in the chemistry lab again.” They turned to each other and smiled, then they raised their tankards, took a deep swallow, and threw their steins at the broken TelePrompter in recognition of it saving their cush little jobs.
The next day the few survivors of the AI team assembled in the lab. While they manfully ignored their throbbing heads and parched tongues as they bent to their task, they could not forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice the previous night as the electro-sprites used the beer itself to conduct their fury upon those who had desecrated their TelePrompter.
For the next three days, no one at O’Malley’s saw the AI team and the owner started to fret as his bottom line started to turn red. They were for once hard at work, they had fire in the belly, and it was a worthy cause in memory of their comrades who died of beer eletrocution. And on the seventh day, when O’Malley’s was looking at being foreclosed there did the hearty band from the AI team showed upon his doorstep. Instantly the frown turned to a smile. The team was victorious and their Chancellor would now be perfect.
And they completed the task not a moment too soon for this semester’s commencement was right around the corner. Though the electro-sprites almost caused the whole plan to come unglued. You see the electro-sprites were union through and through and so were the dwarven speechwriters who programmed their TelePrompters. There was almost an honest to goodness picket-like strike of these cutesy little glowing blue sprites calling Unseen University Scab-versity on their not so small protest signs. Luckily St. Bill of NAFTA happened to be cruising through Ankh Moorpark on the well-paying speech circuit when he heard of this little disagreement. Being a neighborly sort, he intervened by calling everyone over to the Kosovar Building for negotiations. After a little sax and feeling everyone’s mutual pain it was kumbayah time as the boffins and the union shook hands and inked a good deal.
Soon no one could think of Unseen University being in better hands than their distinguished new Chancellor who seemed to always say the right things at the right time while pursuing policies everyone on tenure loved. But as they say, the only constant is Change and even that capricious lady paid a visit to marvel at the newly installed Chancellor. And where Change goes, Chaos soon follows just to join the festivities.
The chaos in this case was when the current batch of speechwriting dwarves decided to have a party aboard a boat on the lake to celebrate their latest union mandated pay-raise. And once again that stalwart gnomish lad, being a good sport, went with them to celebrate. No one is sure what happened next save the usual massive quantities of dark ale, ale so stout it would make Guinness seem a light beer, were consumed by one and all aboard. Some think the dwarves got into a spat over the next speech they would program into the TelePrompter for the Chancellor to parrot. This speech was supposed to be really good for the professors, giving them a pay-raise and options on further cutting back their work week hours. What is known is when the boat was recovered there were multiple holes in the boat just about the same size as moveable type. No dwarves were left to tell the tale and the gnome had a concussion when found floating in the beer cooler.
Which lead one wag to comment that “Indeed, words can kill.” He was found the next day smooshed under the non-circulating library which accidentally toppled onto him. Chaos was not giving interviews by this time.
O’Malley’s Pub&Crawl was adorned in black in mourning for a whole week. The bottom line became even blacker as the electro-sprites and the AI team tried to drown their sorrows. Off at one corner of the bar, sat the gnome in the red hat all sad as he missed being tossed by the dwarves. Meanwhile, the Political Science Department staged a hostile take over of the Journalism Department. And everyone shrugged it off, it was academic war as usual they thought. Chaos and Change merely smiled at each other when it happened.
“I tell you it’s this new batch of dwarven speechwriters that is causing the problems! Look at this newest speech by our perfect Chancellor, he is now running to become the leader of the whole flat expanse of a world we live on.” Naturally we are back at O’Malley’s as our brainy heroes realize they might have a problem that even O’Malley’s heavy brew can not cure even as they try to make sense of it all.
And the AI team leader was right, though he truly did not understand it since he dealt in the hard science of ones and zeroes. For you see those crafty little collectivists over at Poli Sci Dept had no hand in crafting the new Chancellor, but when they saw him in action all kinds of red images floated through their pointy noggins. So they leveraged the Journalism Department the moment the original dwarven speechwriters turned up dead and slipped in their own dwarves. Yes ring dwarves to bind them all.
The creators of the perfect Chancellor stood in shock and awe as their cherished Chancellor was hijacked from under them. With every speech, every smile, and especially with every stroke of a pen they found their own domains and perks shrunken while those of the new Political Journalism Department expanded tremendously. They also found themselves saddled with ghastly 30-hour work weeks and no more teaching assistants, which left them with precious little free time to think of protesting. As if protesting would do any good since the dwarves and electro-sprites were union and virtually immune to a job firing. Not even St. Bill of NAFTA dared to cross this union.
With their erstwhile enemies cowed back into their ivory towers of hard science, the mandarins of the Political Journalism Department got real busy. The Chancellor started to take whistle stop tours of the far corners of the Discworld promising a chicken in every pot if he became their leader. He promised them no worries from work. No worries from getting fat. He would take care of them all. And before the usual power oligarchies knew what hit them, they found themselves out on the street shivering in the cold as their subjects voted with their feet and flocked to the Chancellor’s alluring call.
All was happy in the Discworld, even Death took another holiday as the Chancellor was so convincing on how wonderful everything would be with him in charge. Why some even thought they would see unicorns farting rainbows after one speech. Then as the mandarins seemingly reached the apex of their power over the whole Discworld, those darlings Change and Chaos came back from vacation.
They thought they were delighted in the Chancellor when he merely ran Unseen University. Now that he was the ruler of the whole Discworld, why they rubbed their hands in fearful glee. Luck just looked on as she kept rolling snake-eyes. O’Malley’s Pub&Crawl filed for bankruptcy soon after the AI team’s tenure was creatively terminated under the Gnome Affirmation Hiring Project[GAHP, where the p is silent].
Thus the stage was set for Change and Chaos’s greatest performance to date, a production that would prove so monumentally mind-boggling it would in later years be turned into a comedy by Smell Hooks called The Prompt Chancellor. It began most quietly since Change liked to be subtle sometimes and Chaos was gob-smacked at how brilliant it was.
Now the bright boffins, if they were still around could have prevented this from occurring. But they were languishing in the ever expanding unemployment lines while their creation babbled on. By small means the whole machine of control started to topple. The mandarins merely thought their pet ring dwarves were more radical than they were but let it slide since the people did not notice. But the goofs started to get bigger and so did the stumbling speech of the Chancellor get more noticeable. Soon those who had fawned over the Chancellor and believed in unicorns started to drift away.
Finally Luck rolled a seven while Change and Chaos laughed themselves into a tizzy and could no longer manage a creative crash. The Chancellor’s popularity started to plummet while the ring dwarves tore their braided hair out as he veered off the prepared scripts, sometimes even thanking himself while the reporters wrote everything down. And then it happened, in mid-word the Chancellor froze.
Thirty reporters from all over the Discworld put their pens down and stared at the Chancellor. The mandarins backstage swooned like schoolgirls with the vapors as their perfect tool failed them. The electro-sprites and dwarves had no clue what to do so one of the dwarves decided to open up the Chancellor. In front of all the reporters in the media gallery. Now the mandarins seem afflicted with St. Vitus dance as their sham is exposed. So, as a dwarf cracked open that noble noggin, the whole game came unglued when he exclaimed triumphantly “By golly he slipped an abacus disk!”
Thus was left standing Ozymandius the Chancellor, forever frozen behind his favorite magical TelePrompter as the reporters stampeded out the room to get the greatest news story ever to their subscribers. While up in the lights, Change and Chaos kept laughing maniacally.