Volume 1, Issue 14

March 12, 1998

This week's slogan:
"Acka's biggest newspaper - and still growing!"

In this issue:

  1. Editorial
  2. Apologies and Retractions.
  3. Poll Question #3
  4. More Ackanomic News
  5. Special Report - Interview with a Breadbox
  6. Sub-Game Soup
  7. Advertisement



The Supreme Court reform is now out in the open, ready for voting. Discussions have modified the proposal slightly, but it appears that very little has been done to affect the gist of it. The allowance for supermajority verdicts if one week produces a deadlock in the Full Court of the Supreme Court appears to be a useful change, as does the extension of the Senate's Justice rejection policy to one week. Neither of these detracts from the main advantages of the proposal - spreading appeals around while ensuring that verdicts remain consistent, and are returned more quickly. In fact, the first of the two amendments to be included would appear to be advantageous from this point of view.

Public opinion in the past has been that the Supreme Court was fine, and no changes were necessary. Just last month an Infrequent Ackan-commissioned poll revealed that 100% of the voting populace thought that the Supreme Court situation should remain as is. However, since then discussion has revealed a large shift in voting opinions. The extreme delay in some Supreme Court cases has become an issue for some players. It is still not known whether or not Malenkai won a Cycle with eir attempted Swingpoints scam, even though e has since managed to leave this life as an Ackan and become an Undead once again. The one month anniversary on the Supreme Court's appointment to this matter was six days ago, a symbol of the extreme level of hard work that the SC is forced to go through. Reform can only alleviate this pain. Let's fix the system now.

In a similar vein, concepts for modification of the proposal structure are in the development phase. The current method for scoring from proposals relies on the interaction of a large number of different rules, to the extent that there are rules whose main purpose is to determine the order in which such scoring changes are applied and affect one another. The new proposed system should be able to alleviate all that, although at this stage the final form of the structure is not yet known. All that is known about the new system is that it replaces the existing multiple appellations (more than one of which can be simultaneously applicable, such as Harfy, Grandiose and Foolish) into a single series of Categories. Reform in this area would no doubt make the system easier to handle, and would probably shrink the size of the ruleset in the area considerably (or if not, at least make it easier to decipher on a casual reading). Give reform in this area a chance.

A reminder from the Editor: Letters to the Ackan are always welcome. We will publish contributors within reason, because our aim is to provide Ackans with a comprehensive news and opinions service. This includes opinions contradicting the paper, so feel free to criticise editorial comments. If you want your opinions heard, or letters published, please send them to dcr24@cam.ac.uk. Send a stamped self-addressed email to the address listed above, marked "Acka: Ackan" and we'll do our best to get back to you.

Have another good Ackan week - banna willing we'll be back next week.

Slakko - Editor, The Infrequent Ackan


Apologies and Retractions

The Ackan apologises for the error in last issue's advertisement for sub-editors. It should, of course, have read "Bullet-proof vest and own firearms not recommended." The sub-editor responsible for the error has been ... transferred to another department.

And then shot.

As a result of the huge impact of the interview with breadbox this week, we have had to hold over the Party Chess Report until next week. That and the fact that very little has changed since last week, with the exception of the election of Guy Fawkes to the NAP Swinger's role.

The Ackan heartily apologises for any damage or difficulties caused by these errors and/or omissions.


Poll Question

Last week's Poll Question was:

3. How do you feel about the suggested proposal scoring system modifications (category 1,2,3 etc.):
(a) It works fine now, and I'm sure the Scorekeeper can keep track of it, thank you very much.
(b) I don't mind as long as the effect on scores doesn't change too drastically.
(c) Introduce the Tiny Proposals, but don't bother with the rest of the revamp.
(d) Don't bother with the Tiny Proposals, just the rest of the revamp.
(e) Change Now! Before we're all crushed like ants! :-)

The Ackan received an outstanding response, with 5 people bothering to return the survey form. That's an astounding 400% increase on the last poll. If this trend continues, then all of Acka will be sending in results within the month. While we cannot expect such exponential increases to continue, there is always hope.

The results of the survey were:

(a): 1/2 a vote
(b): 1/2 a vote
(d): 2 votes
(e): 2 votes.

So Acka has voted for change, but cannot appear to agree on exactly how far that change should go. It appears that the Tiny Proposals are far more controversial than the rest of the reform. This is an interesting case, because it was the concept of the Tiny Proposals which triggered the avalanche of reform concepts in the first place.

The winner of the A$5 trinket this week is /dev/joe (again!) - the randomness has picked him out of the mess (honest). A representative from the Ackan will announce the exact nature of the prize shortly. For those who claim it is a fix, enough letters will see me award a consolation A$5 prize to someone other than /dev/joe - enough being 6 or more distinct players all sending me email containing the phrase "We wuz robbed."

Next issue will see another question to tear Acka apart (hopefully), and the announcement of another competition (possibly with two prizes, depending upon your responses). Remember, it costs very little of your time to enter, and you could win something. /dev/joe already has (thrice!) in the Great Ackan Poll Question Competition!


More Ackanomic News

Scam Scare

A temporary scam scare saw panic for all of 20 minutes in Ackanomic yesterday. A CFJ was quickly filed, and as quickly falsified, yet there has been no question of the result. It appears the scamsters, all members of the church of banna, attempted to manipulate Iconoclasm in order to demand an unbelievably large sum of money from their newest follower, a poor young deluded Wild Card who had been tricked into joining while e was under Bracket/Pedantry questioning. Unfortunately, while faith can move mountains, it could not move the rules in this case, and the scam collapsed under its own involuntariness.

Calls have been made for the arrest of the villains involved, but in a chat with the Chief of Ackan Police the Infrequent Ackan discovered that these were generally being ignored. "They haven't committed an offence," said Officer Beedamup, "so there's nothing we can legally arrest them for, not even Iconoclasm. Freedom of religion here in Acka means that, as long as it goes on in the temples, there isn't anything we can do unless we're called in specifically to say that Church Law is being violated. Even then, we can really only deal with people if they accept the authority of the church - once they leave there isn't even that right."

Election Week

As Election Week turns into election fortnight, more offices are being gradually filled. Today saw the announcement of results for Illuminatus, the post recently voluntarily vacated by two-star, e of the round tuit. Meanwhile Guy Fawkes and Hubert are settling into their offices as Non-Aligned Swinger and DeeJay. We here at the Ackan wish them every success in eir endeavours in these offices (up to a point - don't touch my Rook Guy or you'll be in trouble :-))

No News on Proposal Front

The frobbing agent on the Proposal queue is doing its job - is it doing it too well? Currently there are less than 12 proposals up for voting after being distributed by the Tabulator. Is this a sign of the decay Acka could be facing, or simply a symptom of the apathy of some players, and the lack of opportunity that others, frobbed out, are having to deal with? Whatever the answer, we hope the proposal bot is up and running soon - the sooner the better from the Ackan's point of view.


Special Report - Interview with a Breadbox

Filling in for the Party Chess Report this week, the Ackan provides its first in a hopefully ongoing series of interviews with the names that have made Acka great. This week we are interviewing (primarily in eir position as Poet Laureate) one of Acka's most tireless workers - breadbox. All the staff here at the Ackan (including the Editor) wish to express their personal thanks to breadbox for taking the time out of eir busy schedule to join us for this interview.

IA: This week the Infrequent Ackan is talking with breadbox, current Promoter, Tabulator, Spelling Exchequer and Poet Laureate. breadbox, thanks for joining us.

b: Hey, don't forget Justice, Historian, and Rule-Harfer. But you're welcome.

IA: You've been Poet Laureate for a good few months now. How busy have you been writing poetry for the masses?

b: Uh, not at all. Maybe I should advertise more? But actually, commissions are simply few and far between. Always have been. The demand for poetry is rarely high, and when it is, most people prefer to write it themselves. And there's nothing wrong with that. Poetry should not be treated as an art that only a select few are permitted to pursue. Of course, I would be happier if there were more commissions, but I am equally happy to see others creating their own poetry.

IA: Have there been any Presidental requests of particular interest?

b: There have been two since I took up the post. The second one I have just now completed, before doing this interview, namely President Slakko's request for a birthday poem. This was a hard poem to write, at first. You see, at the time of the celebration I had wanted to write just such a poem. fnord, the previous Poet Laureate, had done one for the first anniversary. His was uncommissioned - a gift, if you will - and was very short and to the point. I had thought that it would be nice to do the same: a short poem that re-used one or two of his lines in order to link them. Unfortunately, I had writer's block, and was terribly busy with other duties that day, so it never got done. So when Slakko requested just such a poem later on, after his election, I found myself with the same writer's block as before. I finally decided not to follow the same form as fnord's poem, and work with something longer - which also seemed appropriate for a commissioned work. I guess that was the right choice, because after that I had no trouble writing it. And I did manage to re-use a couple of his lines, so the two poems are still linked. All in all, I'm happy with it. But it *was* delivered terribly late.

IA: Do the commissions from private individuals pay at all well?

b: Well, I myself have never received a private commission, so I really don't know what I'd charge for one. That's actually a question that I've often wondered - what do you charge for a poem? It's a little tricky to try to measure the worth of your own art, especially when the price has to be agreed upon before you start writing. I imagine that I would charge more or less what fnord did - probably less. I always thought his prices were a bit high. Anyway, I suppose the answer to your question is definitely not. But then again, I'm not in it for the money. It's not meant to be a lucrative office.

IA: What would you like to see happen to the post of Poet Laureate in the future? Can you see yourself remaining Poet Laureate for the next year or so?

b: That's hard to say. Interest in poetry may perhaps have declined a bit, recently - most of the poetry required by the rules has been repealed. For those of you who may be too new to remember, every Priest was at one time required to post a poetic prayer once a month, in order to prevent flooding. Guy Fawkes created some charming poetry in that capacity, and /dev/joe authored at least one that made me laugh out loud. And, going back even farther, Party Hall used to have a monthly party, and if any Swinger failed to show up for it, the Gaoler was required to write an "awfully written" 8-line poem. Brinjal, who was Gaoler at the time that rule was enacted, really knew how to rise to the occasion: his first poem won the first Silver Moon - hands down, if I recall. snowgod was also Gaoler while that rule still existed, and some of his contributions are a hoot. His stuff could go both ways: he could create a real gem, or something that was so awful it would leave you reeling. Anyway, all those rules are gone now. But then again, we now have the BWG Laser, so our poetic tradition hasn't been forgotten entirely. I think poeple are a little less interested in commissioned poetry, though, because it seems like something you pay for ought to be serious, even stuffy. And who wants to pay money for stuffy poetry? Maybe this interview will make people think about it again. I have this formal-sounding title, but that doesn't mean my only interests are solemn. So, I suppose the answer to your first question is that I'd like to see people commissioning poetry again, especially poetry that contributes to Ackanomic's harf. As to your second question - I honestly have no idea. As I've said, everyone can write poetry. The only difference between me and everyone else is that I have to write it on demand. I've found that I am one of those people who do their best work when under pressure from deadlines, so I find the job suits me well. But who knows what the future may hold?

IA: Finally, any special stories you would wish to tell us about your time as Poet Laureate so far?

b: Well, my first Presidential commission was a bit unusual. That was from Alfvaen, near the end of his first term - he commissioned a poem from me to honor himself. My first reaction was that this request was a tad bit narcissistic, and not exactly what the Presidential Power had been created for. But since no one else seemed to think it odd, I I decided I was probably overreacting. And indeed, Alfvaen had, for various reasons, been involved in a number of interesting events during his time, so I had enough subject matter to work with. I decided the ballade was an appropriate poetic form to use for the occasion, and its rather strict rhyming requirements made it an interesting assignment. I completed the poem, though a few hours over the deadline, and submitted it - and then, almost immediately afterwards, Malenkai announced that Alfvaen had found Treasure 106, the fabled Map of Jara. Seems that one of its conditions was to have had a poem written in your honor. Quite a surprise for me, I must say. In the first stanza of the poem, I had made reference to Alfvaen's Treasure-hunting skills. If I had known that what I was writing was a furtherance of that, I probably would have added an allusion to the poem's true purpose in the final quatrain. It would have been the perfect way to end the poem! Ah well. It's still a good effort.

IA: breadbox, thank you for your time.

b: It's been a pleasure. 


Sub Game Soup

As always, "a delectable collection of subgame treats to delight the gourmand".

Coming Attractions

News is spreading throughout Acka of a whole new game to debut this coming week. The tales of "Abstract Crescent" have gone far and wide, with players coming from all over Acka, eager to try the new game out. It promises to be an interesting diversion, and vacancies are still open, so get those requests in now as play will start shortly. "From the people who brought you the Ongar Denial, the Drone Keeper and the Power Equals Knowledge time loop comes the leanest, meanest version of MC you have ever seen."


Alfvaen is still mathematically capable of losing Fictionary. However, to do so e would have to fail to submit a definition, and have breadbox win each round by guessing the correct definition and having everyone else vote for breadbox. /dev/joe's last round didn't help matters any, with the points well spread. Only /dev/joe and else...if missed out on points, with, as in the previous round, the only player to fail to submit a definition being the one who guessed the correct definition. The battle for second, in contrast, is hotting up, with a number of players within a couple of points. The runner-up's mantle could well be decided in the final round, so stay tuned for that.

Grab a Donkey

Grab-a-Donkey results for round 9 saw the list cut to a final eight. The best of the grabbers, The Gingham Wearer, had a narrow escape as inability to agree on separate targets saw Guy Fawkes and Slakko tangle their lariats. Meanwhile, the round's only casualty, Hubert, made a severe miscalculation and saw eir donkey grabbed away too quickly. With TGW on 4 donkeys grabbed to breadbox's 2, how will players react as the game enters its final phase?

On a side note, will betting have any effect on this game, with one remaining player still in with a chance at the pool? The Gingham Wearer put in money, but can e make the result come out the way e wants? Alfvaen and /dev/joe have both bitten the dust too early to have a significant impact - or have they? Keep watching as the tension mounts for players and punters.


The battle for dominance in Viruses seems to get more complex every week. /dev/joe clawed his way back to the Viruscount lead after a one-round surrender to else...if broke the run of Viruspoints. Given The Gingham Wearer's continued inability to catch up, it appears that /dev/joe is in the best position at this stage. However, with the virus counts so tight at the top right now (/dev/joe, breadbox and else...if within 3 cells) there is still plenty of life in the game yet.

At the bottom of the counts, The Gingham Wearer lies low for now - will e make a determined comeback from a mere 8 cells? Will Slakko fare any better, looking to improve on 15 and challenge the leaders again? This appears the most interesting game at the moment - so keep your eyes peeled.

Word Un-Association 

Some stumbles from Hubert have seen this game turn into a much closer affair. Into the third round of links and /dev/joe and Hubert are tied with 7 points. Meanwhile, Slakko is only one point behind, but with a turn in hand as e has already provided eir uh? word for the round. Will this be an advantage? Does anybody give a damn? The answers are sure to follow, as are the proposals that would fix this game.


Sam on the moon, caught in a trap. The giants have appeared again (despite having been burned as the loose end was first cleared up). Will Sam be any good at the fight, now that e has had a decent albeit cheese-oriented meal? And, more importantly, when is the Lunatic Finger going to turn up again? We sent it out but it hasn't come back yet. There is also still a bench empty - so if you want in on the crazy goings on down at the moon, park your seat in a seat, drop A$20 in the pot and get ready to play Ye Olde Rusty Lantern.



On the heels of the hopefully wildly successful breadbox interview, the Ackan is looking for more interviews. If you're aged between 12 and 112, and have held a public office in Acka for at least one month continuously at any stage in Acka's history, then the staff of the Infrequent Ackan would like to hear from you. Just email us at dcr24@cam.ac.uk with the keywords "Acka: Ackan" and say you would like to do an interview. That's all. If you are accepted (which, let's face it, is still pretty likely at this stage) then someone from the Ackan will be around to contact you shortly.

The Infrequent Ackan, first to you with Ackan news.

Copyright © Duncan Richer writing under the pseudonym of "Slakko", and Brian Raiter as "breadbox", 12/3/98.

Check us out on the web, at http://dcr24.quns.cam.ac.uk/Nomic/Acka/infrequent.html