Duncan Richer

Imperial Nomic


The Infrequent Ackan

Past Issues:

 1 (28/11/1997)

 2 (3/12/1997)

 3 (10/12/1997)

 4a (18/12/1997)

 5 (6/1/1998)

 6 (10/1/1998)

 7 (17/1/1998)

 8 (31/1/1998)

 9 (7/2/1998)

 10 (14/2/1998)

 11 (21/2/1998)

 12 (28/2/1998)

 13 (7/3/1998)

 14 (12/3/1998)

 15 (20/3/1998)



Volume 1, Issue 16

March 28, 1998

This issue's slogan:
"More Bandwidth - More Wastage"

In this issue:

  1. Editorial
  2. Apologies and Retractions.
  3. Poll Question #4
  4. More Ackanomic News
  5. Special Report - Interview with a Veal Fan
  6. Meaningless Statistic of the Week
  7. Party Chess Report
  8. Sub-Game Summary
  9. Advertisement





Hopefully Acka this week is back to its usual voting self. Another batch of proposals runs out tonight, and we hope to get through it without the need for the Puppet Heads to once again come out of hiding. Fortunately, last week's outbreak was relatively contained, and caused few casualties. Apart from Goldenmean being rendered non-voting, the only real cost was the bandwidth used for the Puppet Head removal messages - a modest price for a guarantee of a week's quorum crisis at worst.

However, each crisis we get through appears to bring out the best in Ackans. Proposals are already in the works to enable such crises to be modified, especially when the voting consequences are partially the result of a universal temporary anomaly (i.e. a muppetlabs crash). We hope that reason will see these changes implemented up to the point where they remain useful without becoming loose. We wouldn't want to see a repeat of the Senate Resolution Incident, now, would we?

The other issue I wish to talk about this week is lunar. It has been well known for a significant period of time that Acka possesses a number of moons. These most notably include the moon of Kansas, but there may well be others out there. We know that no Ackan has ever been to these moons, although there may or may not be evidence in the Codex of Kra from the Ancients about trips to such moons.

We see these moons in the night sky, and wonder what they are like. Yet surely Acka possesses the technology and the wonder to reach these images! Ackans should unite to see these moons explored and the wonders they possess brought to further study on Acka itself. Why, there might be whole civilizations there, even other Nomics! We cannot pass up such a golden opportunity, and we should set ourselves the goal, before Proposal 3000 is out, of landing an Ackan on a moon and returning em safely to Acka.

Admittedly such a task will not be easy - creation of spaceships is a difficult art, and they are not made available easily. In fact, no one in Acka has yet possessed the sacred 2 Ruby Slipper spaceship rumoured to be capable of instantaneous transport between here and Kansas. No-one has ever seen the surface of Kansas - a wierd celluloid appears to infect our telescopes whenever we look there. Perhaps such instantaneous transport is the only way - or perhaps our intrepid Research Guild will come up with another way to beat the problem.

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.

Editor, The Infrequent Ackan 


Apologies and Retractions

The Ackan apologises for the errors in last issue. Most notably, the error that The Gingham Wearer was at the time Boy Wonder. The sub-editor responsible for checking accuracy against the rules was transferred to another newspaper (who we cannot name without permission for royalty reasons), where e proceeded to continue in eir bumbling job.

Fortunately, the new fact checker here at the Ackan is a better performer, having been bred especially at the Ackanomic Institute for Genetic Replication for this purpose. E's so confident of eir own ability to check the rules, e stakes es on life on it. Just as well, because I was going to stake es life on it instead.

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


Poll Question Results

Last Issue saw the release of Poll Question Number 4, viz:

4. Cheeses - are they too easy, too hard, or just plain cheesy?
(a) Too Easy
(b) Too Hard
(c) Plain Cheesy

In a surprising display of consistency, no Ackans claimed that the Cheeses were too easy. However, equally, only one player was concerned with the relative hardness of Cheese, and, even then, qualified the statement by saying that they were "only a little bit too hard".

The remainder of players simply thought that cheeses were cheesy. A tautological and simple, if understandable, response to such a strange question.

Anyway, there were four responses received in all, so Plain Cheesy won out by 3 votes to 1 over Too Hard, with Too Easy running well behind. In the Trinket competition, the winning respondant was *drum roll* else...if! Your Trinket will be sent to you in a separate emailing.

Another question will hopefully be set to tax your minds and inform Acka further next week. Remember, it costs very little of your time to enter, and you could win something. /dev/joe and else...if already have in the Great Ackan Poll Question Competition!



More Ackanomic News

Proposal Queue Stable, reports expert

Renowned Ackan legal expert Gunther Q. Friendsreference has laid down eir report on the state of the proposal queue. The Ackan has obtained exclusive access to the summary of this report, which claims that the last week has seen the queue return to a much more stable level.

The report says that "an increased awareness of the need for change has seen an increase of the distribution of proposers, naturally enabling a pro-mutability population to maximise mutation rates in the ruleset while evading the simplistic per capita approach of the rule frobbing technique". We'll have to trust Gunther on this one - e is the expert.

However, e also raised some concerns about the situation: "The continued frobbing raises tension amongst certain high-volume mutators in the population. When the queue is tweaked, unless careful effort is made such mutators may decide that a high burst of attempted mutations is desirable. However, such an attempt is likely to be counter-productive, leading only to a re-frob and a further increase in tensions". Gunther recommends restraint on the part of all those who would see the proposal queue unfrobbing as an excuse to over load the system - but sees nothing wrong in a steady plateau rate of proposals thereafter.


Financial Follies

A rather dull week in the Stock Market was reported by else...if's useful Ackan Financial Times. Not much can be added here at the Ackan, except to give the Stock Tip for the week: Buy now before the big expected rise hits sometime after this evening and before Tuesday evening. I predict the stock market could rise by up to 6 points - with more to follow later int he week. Remember, it ain't Black Monday unless the Ackan says so! (tm)

Dark Figure Stalks Ackan Streets

The election of a new Caped Crusader having been completed, the new Dark Knight stalks the back-streets of Acka. E looks for evildoers, and will no doubt attempt to root out any crime where it occurs. However, at this stage e is still performing this task on eir own, having yet to appoint a new Boy Wonder to replace The Gingham Wearer, a casualty of else...if's reign of tyranny as the not-so-effective Caped Crusader.

We here at the Ackan welcome a return to a Caped Crusader being tough on crime, and hope it is a real rebirth of the role. K 2 has our full support, and we're not just saying that because e is the Caped Crusader and could throw our boss in gaol relatively quickly. Oh no. Not by a long shot.

Oh yeah, Cambridge won the Boat Race today in a record time! Go Cambridge!



Special Report - Interview with a Veal Fan

The Ackan now provides its third in a (surprisingly) ongoing series of interviews with the names that have made Acka great and are still working to make it great. This issue The Infrequent Ackan is talking with Alfvaen, currently Scorekeeper and Financier among other roles. Thanks to Alfvaen for being willing to subject emself to the vicious interview team at the Ackan.

IA: Alfvaen, thanks for joining us.

A: My pleasure.

IA: You're still far and away Acka's most well-salaried individual. What led you to be holding so many Functional Offices, and why were there so many open for you to enter?

A: It was sort of a matter of being in the right place at the right time. /dev/joe held a number of Functional Offices when I first joined the game, including Web-Harfer, Scorekeeper, Undead-Harfer, and Bond-Harfer, and Mohammed was Tabulator, Promoter, and Financier, among others. I kept agitating for offices during my first couple of months, but I guess my big break came when /dev/joe announced that e would have to resign eir offices at the end of July because of a six-month internship which would leave em unable to maintain wilma.che.utexas.edu, not to mention with less time to do it. Things were complicated, though, by the slide into bankruptcy of Terranet, the Internet provider I worked for and got free web-space from, in mid-July, and Mohammed's increasing inactivity. And the fact that e(then known as Chaos)was also President at the time.

I managed to get appointed Acting Scorekeeper and Bond-Harfer during one of Chaos's periods of activity, but it wasn't until e resigned as President and I was elected to my first term that I could finally take real hold of the offices. The reason I ended up with so many was, quite frankly, the fact that there weren't many other people to hold them. I was the only nominee for many of them, so I ended up as Scorekeeper, Bond-Harfer, Financier, Map-Harfer, Undead-Harfer, Web-Harfer and even Promoter briefly. (And, as a result, Acting Speaker for a couple of days.) Finally, breadbox stepped forward to take Promoter and Tabulator, but I was still left with a raft of others. Still, being unemployed at the time, I had lots of free time...

IA: What is your opinion on the optimal distribution of Offices throughout Acka - your preferred balance between centralisation and distribution?

A: Having seen a heck of a lot of centralization, I don't mind things being a bit more distributed. There are certain Offices that go together, like Tabulator and Promoter, or Financier and Undead-harfer, but whereas in the past it was usually three people(Mohammed, /dev/joe, and Malenkai, and later me, breadbox, and Malenkai)holding almost all the Functional Offices, now with me, breadbox, Slakko, The Gingham Wearer, and rufus, loads seem to be a bit lighter.

The one problem with distribution is that it's more likely that, if one player stops having enough time to play Ackanomic, it will be an Officer who will leave Duties undone. But in centralization it's more serious when it happens, so it evens out.

IA: What Office have you found most fulfilling and why?

A: That's a tough question, my having held so many. I did kinda like being President, even if it did leave me stuck with all those Offices. I found Web-Harfing a bit too much work. I'm actually having fun with Praetor right now, too. I might get the hang of judging CFJ's yet. I think I like Scorekeeper the best, because I like to watch the scores progress. When I was just a civilian, I always checked the scores page a lot. Of course, it's more fun, and more work too, when the game's more active.

IA: Can you still see yourself in that Office this time next year?


A: If I'm still in Ackanomic, sure. It'll be the last Office I divest myself of, I think. And before anyone starts worrying, it's not that I'm _planning_ to leave Ackanomic. But I don't know what will be happening a year from now. I haven't even _been_ here a year yet. So I hesitate to prognosticate. But odds are high.

IA: You were the Web-Harfer for a good few months. How difficult did you find it to keep up with all the news going on in Acka - after all, for just a few people we make a hell of a lot of paperwork.

A: That's for sure. Mostly it wasn't too bad. The disk space problem was the biggest. The Phoebe archive just grows and grows, as does the *ping* archive(though more slowly). I'm deeply grateful to breadbox for doing the Proposal and CFJ archives, which are quite a handful even apart from the disk space considerations.

I'd just like to mention here that I did all my Web-Harfing except the PE and Score pages by hand. Oh, sure I cut and pasted, but the HTML was all by hand. I don't hold with those fancy HoTMeTal-type interfaces and stuff. And of course I don't care much of graphics either. Though I did find a few more for the PE page, and would welcome more.

IA: Being middle-aged in Ackan terms, you must have joined a game with an elaborate ruleset, but have seen it develop over many months. What is, in your opinion, the single largest change in the emphasis of the ruleset over this time period?

A: Oddly enough, it seems to have been cyclical. In my first few months, I witnessed the demise of Silly Vacation Hats, Sinister Aliens, the Narfalone family, and the Vault of the Chalice. And now we have the B-Ack, Bracket Pedantry Hearings, True Prophets(well, _next_ Tornado we will, anyway), Hidden Agendas... As Calvin N Hobbes put it, "The harf is back and I want a winter cap." So it's been the slow recession of harf, and now its resurgence. And really, the biggest change has been with the players, who brought fresh blood and new...I mean, new blood and fresh ideas into the game a few months ago.

I'm excited about the new Supreme Court thing, though, and hope that it takes off. If I weren't Praetor, I would've become half-owner of "Cortez's Courtly Cortege" already.

IA: Do you have any specific future directions you would like the game to be headed in, or areas where you can see some changes are going to be necessary or desirable?

A: Well, as I said, I saw the pendulum swing in the direction of less harf, and now it's swinging back. And as is the nature of pendulums, it won't stop at the equilibrium point(where the amount of harf balances the amount of work it puts on the harfers), but will keep swinging back to the point where the Officers start to complain. So it's more that I'd like to see that swing damped a little bit, so the game doesn't crash.

And to some extent clearing away some of the old harf will make it better for the new, if we don't have to keep track of it all at once. But then I've already stated my opinion on snowgod's disease and Witchhunts(and Bracket Pedantry Hearings, for that matter)...

IA: What do you think of the current Treasure situation?

A: Well, things have definitely slowed down a bit. I know I don't get as much time to look at the things as I used to. And the Treasure-Hunting League hasn't quite taken off yet. I've run out of original hint ideas to give for my Treasure clues, so I'll just point at the ones I've already given--the biggest ones are in the "Parade That Never Was" issue of the Big White Gazette, and that Automatic Sculpture description I did. And don't forget those "Codes & Ciphers" books I recommended a while back as well.

IA: Alfvaen, thank you for your time.

A: _My_ time? I thought it was yours! Oh, well. Too late now. Can I have a receipt, at least? Geez.



Meaningless Statistic of the Week

This week our meaningless statistic comes to you courtesy of the Gumball. Yes, that little bit of harf that likes to bring a good chew into everybody's day at least four times a month. The little fella seems to have been a bit neglected of late, but doesn't mind sharing eir affections around. Let's have a look at who has chewed the gumball the most.

First off the rank is the all time leader, Slakko. Despite having only been in Acka for a mere 5 months, e has chewed the Gumball more than anyone else in the game's history. In doing so, e has also introduced the Gumball's wrapper, which apparently changes each time it is chewed to provide an apt description of the current week.

Slakko has chewed the gumball legally on 6 occasions, compared to Alfvaen with 5 legal chewings. These two appear to have almost duopolised the Gumball, despite its completely egalitarian nature and inability to be Huberted.


No other player has chewed the Gumball more than twice. There are, in fact, 8 double-chewers in the history of Acka, including players both past and present. They are: Mr. Lunatic Fringe, this is not a name, breadbox, Guy Fawkes, /dev/joe, Mohammed, two-star and rufus. An illustrious collection of chewers if I do say so myself.

This only leaves the single chewers, of which there are a mere 5. These are: chess piece face, Dr McSpong, Calvin N Hobbes, 23 Skidoo and Attila the Pun. Just as interesting as the names on this list, however, are the names excluded. Neither Malenkai nor Niccolo Flychuck, two of the most proposal-heavy players in the history of Acka, chewed the Gumball even once. What did it have against them? Or what did they have against it? With Malenkai we may never know - and with Niccolo e may never tell us, or e may have just been waiting for the right moment to pick up that Gumball and just chew away.

This has been the first in an occasional series of Meaningless Statistics of the Week. We hope you enjoyed it - feel free to send feedback to dcr24@cam.ac.uk.





Party Chess Report

This last week in Party Chess has seen a severe case of weight gain infest the Swingers. Slakko has now earned the highest weight since the current scheme was first brought into place. His 103, partially assisted by a clever move (we hope) from Alfvaen saw em pass /dev/joe's previous high point of 102.5, set late last year. Despite this, Slakko was slightly morose at the news of reaching three figures for Weight. In a statement to the Ackan, he said that e was "hoping to stay under 100 for some time to come, but apparently this hope was in vain. I hope Alfvaen knows what he is doing, but then again, I already know e's plotting against me on the Chess Board."

Meanwhile, in shock Chess news this week Goldenmean was sacked as Swinger for the Razor Boomerangs political party. After three consecutive failures to respond to calls to attend the Party Board, e was unceremoniously dumped in absentia in a small ceremony in Party Hall during the week. Hubert has since taken Goldenmean's place as Swinger - we wish him a long and prosperous (and hopefully weighty) time in eir post.

More Swingpoints will be awarded this Monday, so the next couple of days could see some very crucial moves played. Keep your eyes peeled for some double dealing, with each Swingpoint worth a couple of crucial points, or one quarter of a very very useful Bonus Vote.

Sub Game Summary

We thought the "foods beginning with S" thread was getting a little boring. Don't you agree?.

Abstract Crescent

Abstract Crescent Game 1 is now well underway, and is evoking significant interest from all players involved, with the possible exception of rufus. The game has now finished 5 rounds, and an interesting pattern is developing in the strategies.

While the early rounds, especially round 3, saw a very low spread of numbers, with only one value over 20 picked in the first three rounds combined, this trend has stopped. The ludicrous nature of round 3, where 5 people attempted to win on their first round, most likely reinforced this. Now, by contrast, the winning plays are being well-spread, to the point where scores for winning rounds have dropped dramatically.

With scores of 11, 10 and 11 being awarded in the first 3 rounds, it looked like the game would be over quickly. Now, with the last two scores awarded being 9 and 2, the game looks much more like a long-term diversion. So if you're already in the game, keep playing well! If not, and you want to be, the current Umpire, Slakko, is still accepting submissions from people who want to play, and will be inserting them into the rolling congruences as soon as possible after e receives them. So come and play Abstract Crescent! You'll be pleasantly surprised.


Alfvaen's win in Game 2 of Fictionary was confirmed on a slightly sour note this week. else...if was due to provide the definitions e had received for the final round (a dead rubber in terms of determining first place) on Sunday. However, by Friday e had still failed in this duty, and so unfortunately the last round finished before it was even played properly. Acka is left not even knowing the meaning of ramet, a piece of knowledge which could well prove crucial in the coming months. Don't let Acka fall into this crucial knowledge hole again!

The lack of a last round also left a slightly sour taste in the mouths of those fighting for second place. With three players tied on 14 points going into the final round, it looked like second was going to be an interesting fight. Unfortunately, the fight had to be cancelled, leaving many unsatisfied.

On the brighter side, a new game of Fictionary is looming on the horizon, with a mix of old hands and new faces ready to take a spin around the dictionary one more time. We can only hope that this next game is a little less one-sided than Game 2 proved to be.

Grab a Donkey

Grab-a-Donkey Game 5 ended this week with more of a whimper than a bang. The Active List was six players in size when the game ended, with K 2 being the only player game to risk a lariat throw, and hence the only winner. Some said that K 2's courage was Lamb-induced, but nonetheless e is a worthy winner. Now, as the new Belt Holder and Wrangler, it is eir job to determine whether or not Grab-a-Donkey can be made even more fun for the following games.

Some would say that the game as it is is already perfect. Others would simply say that improvement is always possible. Either way, though, the Belt Holder will have a time convincing eir critics that eir proposal to change the rules of GAD (if indeed such a proposal is made before the next game) is the right and proper one. Whatever happens, stay tuned cowpokes! The game is sure to start again in the not-too-distant future.


The betting pool was concluded along with the GAD game this week. The Gingham Wearer was spot on the money with 13 rounds the expected duration, and as a result e received the special ornamental pool valued at A$15. TGW was unavailable for comment at the time the prize was awarded, but we here at the Gambling and Other Vices department of The Infrequent Ackan sure hope he enjoys his pool.

Don't forget - It could have been you, if you had entered! Remember that the Ackan runs the betting contests that you want to see in Acka - just let us here at the Ackan know if there is anything you wish to organise betting for, and we'll see what we can do about it.


The Viruses battle goes on, still without a clear favourite for the winner's post. TGW, still the Viruspoint leader, remains well out of the Viruscount lead, on 10 infected cells. Far too small a count at this stage, it seems, to have a significant effect for at least the next few rounds. Similarly, Slakko, once looking good to get back amongst the points, has collapsed to a mere 9 infected cells and 2 Viruspoints. His prospects look even dimmer than those of TGW.

In the middle of the Viruscounts are /dev/joe and two-star. /dev/joe looks good from the Viruspoints view, with a cool 6 points leaving em closest to victory of the current frontrunners. However, e is known as a Viruses specialist, and so team strategy may continue to count against em. two-star, by contrast, has but a single Virsupoint. However, eir cells are generally ringing the field, looking to be in prime spaces for expansion. Could we see a two-star resurgence in a few rounds time? Wait and see.

At the top we have else...if and breadbox, most recently tied on 28 infected cells apiece. They are both low on the Viruspoint ladder, though, so any win from either of these players could be seen well in advance, and possibly countered by an alliance of the remaining players. However the game progresses, there's still a lot of life in it yet, so keep watching.

Word Un-Association 

Hubert's good position in Word Un-Association has turned into an unassailable one. /dev/joe had one last attempt to sustain the game for another round, and took a good stab by trying to turn "quartz" into "smooth". However, Hubert came up with a smooth vein of quartz, linking for double points and reaching the goal of 15. Although the round has yet to end, the only way that Slakko or /dev/joe can catch Hubert is if e fails to submit a link word within the time limit. This would see em fall back to 12 points, making it a ding-dong battle in the last round. However, it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

Whatever happens in the final round, the playtest of Word Un-Association looks to have been a qualified success. Thanks to TGW for Umpiring the first game and getting the game concept underway. We can only hope that the next instance of this game receives a little more interest than the first did.


Finally a Bard has continued the story. The Gingham Wearer, fresh from a recent layoff in YORL, has come back with some great extensions to the story. Now we know that Romeo/Sam is looking for the sacred Talisman of banna. E is one third of the way through eir quest, but at this stage we cannot see where the rest of the path will lead. Whichever way it does, it must be a very twisty path. There are plenty of loose ends still to be cleared up, and plenty of ales to be served (and hopefully drunk).

Will anyone ever pick up the Lunatic Finger? It is a real shame that it wasn't on a card to be left as a loose end, as that might have been very interesting. There is still that single empty bench - so if you want in on the crazy goings on down at the Mir space station, and wherever else the Talisman of banna is getting parked, park your seat in a seat, drop A$20 in the pot and get ready to play Ye Olde Rusty Lantern.



The Ackan is still looking for more interviews. If you've already responded to our earlier queries but have not yet received your preliminary questions sheet, don't worry, we'll be getting in contact shortly to know how you're getting on.

On the other hand, if you have yet to respond to the Ackan call for interviews, 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.

And don't worry, we will only contact you shortly - we won't call you Shortly.








The Infrequent Ackan, first to you with Ackan news.

Copyright © Duncan Richer writing under the pseudonym of "Slakko", and Aaron V. Humphrey as "Alfvaen", 28th March 1998.

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