Excuse me while I kiss this guy
The Prognostication Cube was the latest in opinion-generation technology. In these frugal times, such measures – long considered inhumane by some and a myth by most – were being considered and acted on with far greater readiness then they had ever been before. That the process involved tearing an unwilling chunk of sky free from its moorings in the heavens, sealing it in a box with a minimum of two naked, terrified human beings and then rattling the entire arrangement until something of use came oozing out was unfortunate, but then again considerably worse had been done in the name of entertainment before, and this was for the use of the news agencies!
Opinion was, of course, the lifeblood of all modern news. Facts had long since become useless to them, and merely to think of them caused intense headaches and painful internal bleeding. This had initially been shrugged off as a passing problem, or a psychosomatic result of working in such a filthy industry; a physical manifestation of psychic pollution pooling in weak minds. However, this had proven not to be the case. Facts, it transpired, had been a finite resource, and the rampant abuse and misuse of them over the years had rendered them utterly useless. In desperation, they had turned to opinion – a renewable resource if ever there was one!
And things had gone well. The resident psychopaths kept on retainer to provide controversial and deeply offensive copy on command on whatever issue was asked of them proved up to the task at churning out nothing but the purest, unrefined opinion to fill the pages with. However, the sheer volume required soon them left them desiccated husks of use to no-one. More and shabbier psychopaths were brought in, some grown exclusively for the purpose, but it was never enough. There was simply not enough opinion in them to be wrung out to meet demand. The latest in juicing technology only got them so far, and the public grew restless and hungry. That gave them their next great idea: the public!
Much champagne was drunk in celebration of this wonderful idea, though how exactly it was supposed to be implemented was left to the last minute, as was custom. Initial efforts were crude but proved remarkably effective, or at least effective enough to suggest it was a goer. It was only when the whole infrastructure of the various outlets had been altered to better make use of plentiful, renewable public opinion that the problem was finally noticed. This opinion, of which there was so much, was next to useless. Abundant it was true, but often reedy and ill-informed. Where it was honest it was also limp-wristed and poorly-researched. Where it was bombastic and mad it lacked the coherence required to actually get its point across, leaving it so much bellowing noise. Diminishing returns set in with terrifying speed. Clearly something else had to be done.
Lacking options now, editors and proprietors alike turned to options long-since considered closed. Occult and forbidden techniques in boosting circulation. Ancient and slumbering beings of a time yet to exist were consulted and their terrible wisdom distilled to create lifestyle supplements and fill column inches. While technically viable, this proved too much of a burden on the fabric of reality itself, which eventually put the kibosh on the whole thing when it started to effect the editor’s office.
Human sacrifice, the charting of the flights of birds and other old methods were repurposed to produce workable opinion, all with varying levels of success. The first person to propose the Prognostication Cube was shot through the lungs without comment, but as the situation turned more and more dire they were dug up and questioned on the specifics. With a baleful light pouring from their eyes they gave a brief outline of the design of the cube and what would be required to operate it safely before their lingering lifeforce combusted. Arcane engineers from the darkest ends of the earth were brought in by the truckload to help construct the obtuse devices in offices throughout the nation, working their fingers to the marrow in the process and leaving their already flimsy sanity in tatters. Eventually, their efforts bore fruit, and the chambers – loaded up and ready to go – were put into use.
All of which was pointless, as at this point no-one bothered with old media anyway.