Phoebe the Steel Flea Archive

Pearls of Wisdom 51-100

Phoebe the Steel Flea is governed by rule 909

Pearls 1 - 50 || Pearls 51-100 || Pearls 101 +

Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) - found Phoebe at Fri, 17 Oct 1997 00:07 -0400
Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) - reported Wisdom #51 at Sat, 18 Oct 1997 01:46 -0400:

Having three heads is not all it's cracked up to be, I thought as my two added heads(which I'd christened Ariel and Caliban)debated endlessly the merits of different approaches to the Treasury Auction proposal, talked about Azpiazu Church Policy(which I had been sadly neglecting), and said rude things about passersby. All in all, it had been easier when my subsconscious didn't get its own mouths. "Says you," they chorused in unison.
"You think we like having all our worthwhile thoughts filtered through your brain's attempt to sort through a barrage of mental images?" Ariel said reasonably. "That's like having parallel processors on your computer that can only communicate through an unreliable Ethernet line that's trying to make a computer backup."
One of the advantages of multiple heads, though, was an increased field of vision(only a fool would put them on all facing the same direction...). As I walked through the meadows where Cow Town Hotel had once been, Caliban said, "Hey, what's that?"
Accessing his eyes(which saved time, but usually gave me a headache a few hours later), I saw what he had seen--a brightly-coloured object, red, blue and orange, sitting in a small patch of bare ground. "It's Phoebe!" Ariel exclaimed, something I would have realized myself given another half-second. Of course, I(we?)walked toward what must be her Matchbox, being careful not to step on her.
The diminutive and beautiful steel flea, Phoebe, had spread out what looked like anti-static wrap on the ground, and seemed to be manipulating, somehow, a pair of small paintbrushes, one red and one blue. About half of the matchbox was still orange(as I recalled hearing from Vynd's account), but half had been repainted in a delightful almost-symmetric fractal-looking pattern of red and blue. She looked up at my(no doubt thunderous, to her) footsteps. "Oh, it's you. And here I thought it'd be nice and quiet here while I was repainting, at least until someone new joined and the Map-Harfer realized that there was a big open space waiting for new houses to be built in. Not that there aren't enough of those around already, after that last tornado... Nobody seems too concerned about them, though."
After absorbing that, I said, "I can go away, if you want."
Phoebe sighed. "No, you can stay, but just be quiet for a little bit. I have to finish this pattern, or...well, you don't really want to know what would happen." With that ominous statement Phoebe resumed working on the pattern...which looked vaguely familiar, now that I thought about it. But my mind couldn't quite grasp it...something about a room in the Library...
"Hey, that looks just like something from the cover of the Ackanomicon!" Caliban said.
Phoebe turned and looked both of my other heads in the eye. (No, I couldn't figure out how she did that, either.) "I said, quiet." And for the first in weeks, they both shut up. I enjoyed the blessed silence.
Finally she turned back to me and said, "Okay. Well, it's been a long time, Alfvaen. I know that you've spent a lot of your spare time wandering around, peering into the nooks and crannies of Ackanomia, in case you happened to spy a red and blue matchbox..."
"Well...yeah. I've been itching to meet you. Um, so to speak."
Phoebe shook her head. "That Vynd fellow. What a character, eh? 'Joyous Zeppelin', indeed. But sometimes he needs to work on his phrasing."
"Don't we all," I said, remembering my tremendous string of retractions a few months back.
"So, do you have any specific questions for me? I imagine you have a few saved up, and that most of those have become obsolete as time went on."
"Hmmm. Well, I'm still not quite sure about this whole 'Orange Menace' thing. I know that as President it's my Duty to deal with it...uh...'to marshall the forces of Acka against the Orange Menace at home and abroad.' Not that the Senators have heckled me about my lack of action..."
"Well, I'm not sure how helpful I can be--some of this you _are_ going to have to do yourself, after all--but let me mention a few things. First of all, you have to determine whether you really consider them a Menace or not. Well, I suppose they _are_, since that's what the Rules say, but they don't say specifically how you should deal with them. You have at least one contact in the Patch; use him. Nobody's done anything about the Committee for Understanding's goodwill trip--"
"Well, I thought that since Balsamic Dragon had the parrots, and e's been away--"
"Good excuse, but let's face it, it's just procrastination. Still, e's due back quite soon, so maybe that will get things moving.
"If you have a chance--and I know you don't, often, with the demands of that other, non-Ackanomian world--check out the Menace's own views, what their Rules tell them. I'm not saying you need go so far as to join the game or anything, but you should find out why they're considered a Menace, and see if you can do anything about it. Go through Internomic, go through Mr. Lunatic Finger, or Balsamic Dragon, or whatever, just _talk_ to them. You're the President, you're the leader of the Rebellion--they'll listen to you."
"Alright." I sighed. "It's a lot of work, though."
"What, you thought that being President was all fun? Just because it's not a functional office doesn't mean that you don't have to do work once in a while. And speaking of not doing work, have you read anything from the Codex of Kra recently?"
I fidgeted. "No, I guess not."
"Well, the AckaPhysicist doesn't really have a lot of Duties, but I think you've been a bit slack. If you're 'hogging the Kra', maybe you should step down, or at least throw it open to a vote and see if they still want you. Or get on your butt and do something. Weren't you going to do some sort of 'state-of-the-universe' Proposal? That might count. Even if the floods have stopped, there's still the tornado, and the orbiting sun, and retroactivity...and all the historical stuff, too."
"Maybe some weekend," I temporized.
"Up to you," she said.
Ariel spoke up and said, "So do you know anything about the Map of Jara?" That's right, I had thought of Phoebe as being a 'more enlightened' person, to possible ask about the Map, when Malenkai used the phrase.
"I might," she said. "But perhaps the real question is: do you know the shape of the Earth?"
"Well, it's both round and flat right now, isn't it? With the northern hemisphere attached, and the southern one cut off... I guess it's hemispherical."
She then leapt onto my shoulder and whispered something into my ear which I cannot relate, though I'm not sure yet what it means.
"Anything else?" she said.
"I'm wondering why people are finding it so hard to find my Treasures," I said. "I've tried to drop hints--in almost every issue of the Big White Gazette; some of them came up when you talked to breadbox a while ago; of course, sometimes it's hard to figure out what the hint really means... I still haven't figured out Calvin N Hobbes's, for instance, though I think I'm on the right track. And that Uesticlox thing. Do you think they're too hard?"
Phoebe considered. "Probably," she said. "Though I suppose they helped you satisfy the Map of Jara conditions... But whether they realized the thing about the meaningless bit, or why the size of the map is important, or why it was impossible to come up with a human-readable keyword if the letters were supposed to be distinct... Maybe they need to listen to more Vagner, or watch Christopher Reeves in 'Noises Off'... Or maybe your clues were just too oblique."
I sighed. "Probably. And the treasure hunting seems to have died down a bit. I know that I haven't done a lot recently--I figured out the Jara thing months ago, and was just waiting to put it all into effect. Well, maybe Fortunato can cut his teeth on a few of them, like I did."
"Maybe. He does remind me of this gung-ho fellow who joined five and a half months ago, actually. Hmmm...I wonder if he got his name from Poe, or from Niven & Barnes?"
"I'll have to ask him."
Neither of us spoke for a moment(again, I enjoyed the blessed stilling of Ariel and Caliban's voices), and then Phoebe said, "Well, I've got to finish repainting my house. Remember what I told you about the Orange Menace. You can't ignore it too much longer; ill-will between Nomics is not good for the blood."
I watched her for a little longer, then wandered off. Ariel and Caliban soon fell to discussing all the things Phoebe had said to me. When I looked back to where she had been, somehow I couldn't see her through the grass anymore.

breadbox (Brian Raiter) found Phoebe at Sun, 19 Oct 1997 22:23 -0400
breadbox (Brian Raiter) - did not respond

mr cwm (Eric Murray) found Phoebe at Mon, 27 Oct 1997 07:55 -0500
mr cwm (Eric Murray) reported Wisdom #52 at Wed, 29 Oct 1997 10:50 -0500 (in conjunction with the Truth of *ping*):

At that moment the ever-lovely Phoebe stepped from behind the Machine.
"Phoebe!" I exclaimed. "Am I glad to see you! But I never expected to see you with the Machine. How often do you do that? (I suppose I could check the archives.)"
"I suppose you could," she replied, with perhaps a touch of sarcasm. "You know, IF AND ONLY IF today ****** *** ****** *** ******* **** **** ****** ** ** ******, THEN the Machine that goes *ping* shall go *ping*." (The sound of a Steel Flea pronouncing asterisks is one I'll long remember.)
"Um ... is that your wisdom?" I asked.
"No," she said, and disappeared.
"WHAT ABOUT THAT?" I yelled into the emptiness, "WAS _THAT_ YOUR WISDOM?"
But there was no answer.

Archie Leach (T. Miller) found Phoebe at Thu, 30 Oct 1997 08:38 -0500
Archie Leach (T. Miller) - did not respond

two-star (Alexandre Muniz) found Phoebe at Sat, 8 Nov 1997 19:04 -0500
two-star (Alexandre Muniz) reported Wisdom #53 at Sat, 15 Nov 1997 15:42 -0500:

It was an unseasonably warm day, and I distractedly fell into a reverie staring at my cave fish Justinian's kettle while I was working on a my long-neglected plans for the Map of Ackanomic. Just then, a parrot flew through an open window and landed on the table in front of me. It was carrying a small red and blue matchbox, and had something tied around its leg. A tiny silver speck emerged from the box. I blinked. "Phoebe! It's so good to see you. Is this one of the expedition's parrots? I don't recognize it."
"Beats me. It said it was on its way here, so I hitched a ride. Listen two-star, I'm worried. I think I'm in trouble."
"Is it the Orange Menace again?"
Phoebe sighed. "Worse. It's Malenkai. He wants me repealed."
I was shocked. Despite his involvement in the Vulcan coup, Malenkai was generally considered a highly respected citizen of Acka. "Why?"
"I don't know. He was nice enough before, but something has changed."
The parrot hopped impatiently. I looked at its leg, and noticed that what I had taken for a string tied around it was actually a tiny rolled up bit of paper. I untied it and laid it flat on the table. It read:
"Beware. Saboteurs from the Patch are attempting to destroy the amber banana tree. Come, and it shall be explained."
First Phoebe, and now the Amber Banana Tree. This was dire news indeed!
"This must be a ruse perpetrated by dark forces working in conjuction with the Evil Overlords of Ackanomic (retired). Who could credit an Agent of Orange with such a propensity for defoliation?"
"Not so fast, two," Phoebe chirped. "Our Vulcan friends are cleverer than that. Their methods are not so crude. But it certainly appears that *someone* is trying to make contact with you."
I thought quickly. "The Life cycle of the Amber Banana Tree is described in the Codex of Kra. And translated passages of the Codex of Kra are kept in the Library. Maybe if we go there we'll meet the person who sent me the message."
As I walked over to the library with phoebe on my shoulder I felt that I was being followed but I could only catch the briefest glimpse of someone behind me. We found the codex translation in the natural science room.
"The codex. I've always wanted to have a look at the original. Imagine all of the lost knowledge in there, waiting to be translated-- the hidden secrets of the Monolith, the moons of Acka, the chiral properties of grapefruit, the infamous, if short-lived antigumball, all waiting to be unlocked."
"There won't be anything about anti-gumball in there. The Jaran scientists who produced the Codex died in the cataclysm produced when one of them chewed the original anti-gumball."
"What happened?"
"Hubris. They thought they could use the anti-gumball to create limitless power. But it was too unstable, and the entire city was destroyed. Jara. That's it!" Phoebe smacked her forehead. ("plink") "When Malenkai discovered the Map of Jara, he buried it to keep it safe. Now that is has been unearthed he must fear that there is something in that map, something that I, with my ancient knwledge might remember...
"But then we're already too late. The map is in the Vulcan /dev/joe's hands now. "
"Well, I may not know what's on that map, but I think I know where I can find out. There's a particularly imfamous book in here somewhere that I'm pretty sure has the answer.
"You don't mean *that* book. The last time-- The horror! The horror!"
"Relax two. I'll read it. You just have to take me over there."
Just then a shadowy figure emerged from the stacks.
"You may call me Mr. W."
"Let's go," said Pheobe, "We have no time to waste."
I raced out of the room, carrying Phoebe. Behind us, Mr. W. cried, "You don't understand. You're my tool! You can't handle the truth! Wait! Don't Go!"
I walk through the library as quickly as I could without raising attention, then hesitated at the entrance to the Vault of the Book. "Problem, Phoebe. If I go in there, I'll immediately be forced to read the page that it is open to. How can we get you to the right page in the book?"
"Do you have my matchbox?"
I nodded. We arranged to have me throw the matchbox on the table with the book, whereupon she would, with the help of her ant companions in the box, open the Ackanomicon to the correct page. But as I opened the door to the vault, my eyes were inexorably drawn to the tome...
to be continued...

mr cwm (Eric Murray) found Phoebe at Mon, 17 Nov 1997 19:40 -0500
mr cwm (Eric Murray) - reported Wisdom #54 at Thu, 20 Nov 1997 16:45:11 -0500:

Phoebe walked into The Revolving Shed today. She said, "Sorry - I didn't mean to come back here so soon. 'Bye," and left.

Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) found Phoebe at Thu, 20 Nov 1997 22:24:02 -0500
Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) - reported Wisdom #55 Sun, 23 Nov 1997 15:38:44 -0500:

At the time, I had thought it a good idea to expand Tamson House, but now I had to admit, frankly, that I was lost. The House's location on two noncontiguous kaas of land seemed to have disrupted something internal to the house's non-Euclidean structure. Maybe I should rename it the Den of Ubiquity, as I'd originally planned to call it before finding out about Bascule's Den of Iniquity...
Going through the hallways was getting me nowhere. I decided to try cutting through a room instead, and went through the next door I encountered.
On the other side was a huge chamber with glass skylights tinted in subtle shades of red and blue. It was furnished sparsely, especially for a room of such size, with a few padded benches along the sides, and a small table and a stool in the middle of the room. There was a small object of some kind on the table; I moved up for a closer look. I quickly ascertained that it was Phoebe's red and blue matchbox.
After waiting a few seconds in case Phoebe herself wanted to emerge, I eventually picked up the matchbox and gingerly slid it open. "Who's that?" said a small and sleepy-sounding voice. "Oh, Alfvaen. 'Bout time. Just thought I'd have a little snooze. Interesting place you got here."
"Thanks," I said. "Didn't mean to wake you. Or keep you waiting long enough that you'd go to sleep. But this's gotten all strange recently."
"Of course," Phoebe yawned. "Just because it wasn't prohibited by the Rules to put it on noncontiguous land doesn't mean that there wasn't a reason not to do it. I don't think anyone else had consciously realized it, of course, or maybe it would be in the Rules, but why do you think that it took you so long to get around to doing it? I mean, I got so lost on my way here I ended up back in the Revolving Shed."
"Well, I couldn't afford it before, but with my multiple salaries..."
She waved a tiny leg in dismissal. "Excuses."
Slightly nettled, I thought of something I had wanted to ask her. "So I hear that Slakko had a conversation with your sister Ursula."
Phoebe froze, and I instantly regretted having said it. "Oh. Well. I suppose it was only a matter of time before you met her, the *****."
I wasn't sure I wanted to know what word lurked behind the asterisks. "Do--uh--I take it you two don't get along."
Phoebe sighed. "It's a long story. She's always envied me for having a home that I can actually carry around, but let's face it, she wouldn't know what to do with herself if she had the freedom I do. She can *ping* with the best of them, and in her own limited field, the Machine, she knows quite a bit, but I wouldn't go expecting her to dispense wisdom in any other field, if you know what I mean. Think of her as an idiot savant."
I wasn't sure if I could trust Phoebe's objectivity on the subject, so I decided to switch to something else. "It's getting close to the end of my second term as President," I said.
"I suppose it is."
"I'm wondering if I should run again, or not. I mean, two terms already... maybe it's time for some new blood."
"Are you not enjoying the job?"
"Well, now that we've got the Orange Menace thing cleared up a bit, it's okay... I haven't had to do too much, give a few speeches, choose a Chess-Umpire--and I think Slakko is doing quite well, actually--nothing really major. I'd be happy to continue on, I guess...I suppose I should just run, and leave it up to the voters."
"Anything else?"
"Hmmm. Well, there's been a lot of talk about you recently--whether you should get a vacation, or just get--uh--nuked."
Phoebe shrugged her tiny shoulders. "You _do_ have a large and complex ruleset. I can appreciate Malenkai getting tired of going through a lot of effort that nobody does anything with, but somebody's gotta say it." She looked at me narrowly. "I know you've been thinking of trimming the ruleset yourself, recently."
"Uh...yeah. I mean, I can't let Malenkai take all the heat, can I?"
"Anyway, my nanotech body can withstand a little nuking, and a holiday might be okay. Sometimes I get tired of you guys too, you know?"
I smiled. "I can understand that. Another thing I confess I'm getting tired of is the current cycle. Nobody seems to be getting very close to a point win, partly because of the Tornados; we're getting too good at getting the Paradoxes out of the Rules; the Vault of the Chalice is gone; Hidden Agendas never got off the ground(though maybe two-star should try it out again); and let's face it, palindromes are damn hard to come up with. Oh, and the Frankenstein Monster one probably won't work again, now that Malenkai's used it and the loopholes have been closed off. That's why I suggested the vote thing."
"Not to mention that you thought they might vote for you."
"Well...yeah. I think Hidden Agendas is a good idea, if we can hash it out. I think two-star's solution may be a bit complex, still, but something like that might work."
Phoebe thought for a moment, then said, "What about a decathlon?"
I blinked. "Excuse me?"
"Well, a while back, when you were in Chaos's Cabinet--wasn't it cramped in there? Sorry--the idea of bringing back the Starpoints idea came up. Something where a new player could get their starting money, and a few other bonuses, by participating in the game--submitting Proposals, judging CFJ's, joining games, etc. Maybe we need a sort of Non-hidden Agenda, where a player can get certain Tokens by, say, winning a Subgame, getting a certain number of Proposals, judging CFJ's(without getting overturned), etc., and if you get all the Tokens you win the Cycle."
I mulled this over. "An interesting thought. Might need some work, but maybe someone else will be able to suggest something when I mention it."
"Just a spur-of-the-moment thing. Glad to help. Oh, and I think it's time for another treasure clue."
I sighed. "Well, I suppose. I might as well start with the hardest one... If someone were to dig back through the mail archives for the beginning-of-the-month Prayers For Deliverance, and my 'spoken-in-tongues' bits... Azpiazu is the key, of course, but the trick is finding the cipher. And then the key for the treasure is not so obvious, but it's right there in front of your face. Once you find the cipher, you'll realize that it's at the other end."
Phoebe waited patiently for my babbling to stop. "Are you through now? Do you think anyone will understand that?"
"I don't know. I want somebody to find it, but I don't want it to be too easy... The clues I had in the BWG articles and stuff were a bit indirect, but they're still there... But then, nobody's found the Curious Clock yet, have they?"
"I suppose not. Well, I must be off. I would like to get back to my nap, you know." With that, she climbed back into her matchbox. She must have triggered some hidden catch, because the instant it closed up, it sprang into the air, through a tiny hole in the skylights, and was gone.


Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) found Phoebe at Mon, 24 Nov 1997 20:25:25 -0500
Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) - reported Wisdom #56 Fri, 28 Nov 1997 00:48:22 -0500:

Having spent a long afternoon trying to put my house in order(chronological order, this time, alphabetical not having worked that well), I sat in a plushly-upholstered lounge, practicing on the Great Trombone of Ackanomia(well, my Caliban head was blowing into the mouthpiece, but I was manipulating the slide--sometimes it seemed I was better suited to bagpipes). Suddenly, I heard a thud on the roof, and leapt from my perch to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a tiny matchbox, coloured festively for some season where red and blue were the festive colours. "Phoebe?" I said, nonplussed.
A select round of asterisked curse-words emerged from the box before Phoebe herself did. "Figures," she muttered. "I should've made sure of my trajectory before launching out. I forgot that I should aim to miss the other wing of your house."
"Well, while you're here...what do you think the chances are of the Beldin's Pants thing working?"
Phoebe shrugged. "Not the best, I'd say, but not the worst either. My bet is that you may end up both winning the Cycle, but neither of you will get a Champion's Cloak or Right-Handed Grapefruit because those are patently unique. But all those who enjoy CFJ's will have a field day in the days to come." She gazed at me narrowly. "Those who prefer a more stable game-state that is easier to harf, however, may be tearing their hair out."
With that, she ducked back inside the matchbox, which was launched into the air with a prodigious leap, this time far away from kaa A5.

Malenkai (Randy Hall) found Phoebe at Sat, 29 Nov 1997 00:07:58 -0500
Malenkai (Randy Hall) - reported Wisdom #57 Sun, 30 Nov 1997 14:09:20 -0500:

> Would my suggested sneaky trinket get around your method for
> avoiding the loophole?  Or is the current rule interpretation sufficiently
> vigilant?
Well, I dunno. I started scratching my head over the matter, and felt something lodged in my hair. Damn, forgot the special shampoo again! I pulled the object out, and much to my suprise, it was Phoebe's matchbox! I said, Phoebe, what do you think about this?
She said:
I don't think the noun phrase in question could be hijacked. Game custom has already given us a traditional rendering of what a Suber is in this case, and the traditional linguistic interpretation of "20 or more Subers" is well known and would hold sway, as it did in the 5 PFAlfvaen case and others, IMO.
The only time Malenkai's loophole has been successfully used, as far as I know, is when the hijacked language had *no* traditional rendering at all. See your reasoning on CFJ 452 [NOTE to the CFJ harfer, SC verdict and reasoning not attached], and see also your reasoning and the supreme court's reasoning on CFJ 415.
As for the general problem, Ackanomic custom and law has been strong enough to get it right every time, so far. As for the future, who knows :-). Its not that I don't think a general fix is necessary, I do not think it is possible. The further down the road this goes, the closer we get to dancing with Godel.
It seems we can either rely on tradition, custom, language, judgement, and other external concepts to get it right, or try to coax a formal solution out of the rules. Either path, it promises to be fun ... :)
I said should we rely on tradition or go for a formal solution, what is the *answer*, Phoebe?, but alas, her matchbox had gone missing...

Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) found Phoebe at Sun, 30 Nov 1997 21:59:40 -0500.
Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) posted Wisdom #58 at Mon, 1 Dec 1997 13:45:30 -0500:

Winding the string around my rock, I hasten down the narrow corridor. For many days I have explored these desolate caverns winding the string trailed behind by my faithful parrot as his unerring sense of direction took him back to Acka. Several times I have encountered bands of the prairie-men, but my fierce roars and sharp talons have kept them at bay. (I am a dragon, after all!) Finally, as I turn the corner I see sunlight, shining through a hole in the ceiling. Pulling myself out, I lay on the soft grasses, letting the warmth of the summer sun replenish my energy. As I open one eye, I see a strange thing on the ground next to me. Could it be? Have I finally been one of the chosen? Yes! It is Phoebe's matchbox.
"Phoebe!" I exclaim, "I am so glad to finally meet you! I worked very hard to save you from those who would banish your from Acka, but I never expected that..."
"Save it for later," Phoebe cuts me short, "I haven't got time for this now. I have come to take you back to Acka."
"But why?" I ask, "The expedition isn't finished yet! And I don't know where my companions are..."
"Well, the cycle may or may not have ended," Phoebe said cagely.
"Not another thread split," I sighed, "I remember last time I got all those calls for judgement..."
"Yes," Phoebe went on "and guess who has been called to judgment once again?"
"I see," I said, "well, I haven't really been up on things since I have been lost in the caverns,... I know! You've been around, you can tell me whether the cycle has been won!"
"NO!" Phoebe exclaimed. "That is not what the truth is for! My wisdom comes from the ancients, but it is the present and future Ackazens who must find their own path. Changing times are coming to Acka, and it is those who actively seek their own truth who will shape the face of the future. You, Balsamic Dragon, galavanting across the countryside, when was the last time you submitted a proposal?"
"Well, um, you see..." I muttered.
"Be careful," Phoebe warned, "or you will be left behind the times...."
And with these words, the matchbox vanished.
Swallowing this truth humbly, I gathered my belongings and set forth back to Acka...
I accept judgeship for CFJ474.

Malenkai (Randy Hall) found Phoebe at Mon, 1 Dec 1997 21:55:25 -0500.
Malenkai (Randy Hall) - did not respond

K 2 (Kelly Kelly) found Phoebe at Mon, 8 Dec 1997 23:45:50 -0500.
K 2 (Kelly Kelly) posted Wisdom #59 at Sun, 14 Dec 1997 22:44:00 -0500:

Strolling back to my house the other day, I noticed a small hole, about 3cm across, in one of my windows. My naturally trusting nature immediately recognised the implications of this: Someone had attempted to take my life Further investigation revealed that the putative, lethal projectile was a small blue and red ( as distinct from red and blue) rectangular object somewhat scuffed and worn, presumably from its passage through the window. (In hind sight it does seem odd that someone would try to kill me with a cardboard box, but you can never be too careful....)
Naturally I did what any sane, rational person would do upon finding a strange matchbox on the floor of their living room, I called in the bomb squad and the menacing object was detonated forthwith.
Not satisfied with this, I decided to take extra precautions against further terrorists attacks.
Calling in the Acknomic cement company my house was quickly filled with reinforced concrete.
Shortly after the tradesmen had departed, much to my surprise, Phoebe immerged from the as yet unset cement-block-that-is-now-my-home.
Phoebe seamed slightly discommoded (perhaps literally) by the recent turn of events.
"are you okay?"
Phoebe shook her head glaring fiercely at me.
"is your house uh... intact?"
a nod (still glaring at me)
"aren't you speaking to me?"
an emphatic shake of the head.
I assume this meant that she wasn't, though I'm not too sure.
At this point Phoebe leapt back in to the cement, presumably to retrieve her matchbox. Several hours later though, the cement set...

Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) found Phoebe at Sun, 14 Dec 1997 23:25:17 -0500.
Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) posted Wisdom #60 at Fri, 19 Dec 1997 18:07:02 -0500:

Very faintly, a sound begins to make itself heard. Not by everyone, but a certain frequency of sound detectable only by dragon's ears....
Quickly I follow the sound, wandering through the streets of acka, until I come to K2's house. The sound is coming from its base.
As I lean over, pushing the grass aside, I see a small chink of concrete push itself to the side and fall over. Then, out of a small hole, which looks as if it goes all the way into the concrete block, a matchbox pops out. After it follows Phoebe hereself.
Motioning me to lean in, she takes a deep breath. I prepare in anticipation of hearing the truth spoken once more. She speaks:
"don't ever, EVER, do that again."
With that, she disappears in a puff of black smoke, as I stand confused wondering if there was anything else...

Red Barn (Daniel Knapp) found Phoebe at Sat, 20 Dec 1997 18:49 -0500.
Red Barn (Daniel Knapp) posted Wisdom #61 at Mon, 22 Dec 1997 13:37:48 -0500:

I walk from one end of the pyramid to another (occasionally wondering when somebody will show up and help me get the door open). I take things off shelves and throw them in bags. I take bags and throw them on shelves. I pack a bag of laundry. I pack provisions. Sure that I have all I will need, I start bringing things down to the bombshelter.
Ten flights of stairs later, I spot the cat (pun intended) playing with a small red-and-blue matchbox. I start swinging the laundry bag at it, and the cat hastily departs. I can't stop now: I heave it into the corner of the room, boot the computer, and watch the matchbox.
It does nothing.
I open it.
Phoebe is hiding in the corner, so I tell her: "It's OK, they're not here yet."
Phoebe peers out. "Cement... cats... that horrible startup bong... relatives..."
This has gone far enough. "This has gone far enough," I say. "It's been two messages since you've given any real wisdom. Snap out of it."
"Wisdom... wisdom... OH! Beware of guests bearing gifts."
"I already knew... oh, never mind. Soda?"
"Yes, please."
So I got a funnel and filled a thimble with Sprite (up 10 flights... down 10 flights... puff... pant... not EVERYTHING packed...). I gently set it down next to what I thought was Phoebe's matchbox, but it turned out to be just part of my emergency supplies. I wonder if this is the shortest visit from Phoebe on record? Probably not, though...

The Gingham Wearer (Tom Walmsley) found Phoebe at Mon, 22 Dec 1997 18:12 -0500.
The Gingham Wearer (Tom Walmsley) posted Wisdom #62 at Mon, 22 Dec 1997 18:37:48 -0500:

I was down in my basement listening intently to the machine that goes *ping* when I heard a knock on my door (and believe me, that's no easy task when the door's made from gingham). I quickly set up a tape recorder to ensure I didn't miss a *ping* and went to answer the door. It was the milkman. I paid him what I owed him and went back downstairs only to be greeted by the cacophony of sound that is two fleas arguing. It was Phoebe and Ursula.
"What are you two arguing about?" I asked. They both looked at me.
"Well, go on."
"I don't know" muttered Ursula.
"Then couldn't you just be friends?"
"Fine", said Phoebe, "After all, she did volunteer for the job in the machine which I didn't want."
Steal fleas are nothing if not logical.

As a result of this post, The Gingham Wearer received the trinket "Fleas Shaking Hands #1", Phoebe and Ursula having thus reconciled.

Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) found Phoebe at Wed, 24 Dec 1997 19:07:19 -0500.
Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) - failed to respond

Rex Mundi (Gavin Doig) found Phoebe at Thu, 1 Jan 1998 09:12:47 -0500.
Rex Mundi (Gavin Doig) posted Wisdom #63 at Mon, 5 Jan 1998 19:30:53 -0500:

I went to the Temple of Azpiazu, there to meditate on the shape of His ineffable shapelessness. While I was there, I drifted off into sleep. I seemed to find myself on a vast plain, blasted as though by some antediluvian battle amongst gods. I trudged across this desolate landscape, seeking only some shelter from the pitiless wind that moaned and shrieked as it scoured the landscape.
The wind... so I thought at first, but there was a certain quality about some of the noises I heard that suggested some hideous meaning to the sound, as though some nameless surviving thing from long ago was gibbering mindlessly to itself.
These noises made me uneasy, and I began to hurry towards the hills I could see on the horizon in front of me. I had been moving for some time before I noticed that the horrible noises I had been hearing had stopped. At first I was relieved, but soon I realized that they had been replaced by a grotesque slithering noise from behind me, as though the gibbering thing were squirming and writhing toward me!
I broke into a run, but I could hear the nameless monstrosity gathering momentum behind me. Any second now it would reach me! In my haste and terror, I slipped on the loose gravel that everywhere covered the barren plain. As I lay cowering on the rough ground, I felt something begin to move up one of my necks.
"Rex! Rex! Wake up!"
As I snapped awake, I recognized the voice. It was Phoebe!
"Phoebe... I've never been so glad to see you." As I spoke, I realized the advantages of bicephalism. I was able to speak normally while simultaneously breathing heavily. "How are things with Ursula?"
The steal flea looked, despite the apparent zoological incongruity, sheepish.
"Well, we've... let's just say, we've decided to work together on something more, um, serious than our... disagreement."
"It must be very serious indeed, if it's enough to make you two reconcile! What kind of disastrous threat to Acka is it?"
Phoebe began to look more confident. She had, I suppose, somewhat more practice at this kind of thing.
"Long ago, the Elders of Ackanomia lived in harmony with all things, in accordance with certain codes. For ten thousand generations the Elders were the guardians of Harf, and it was only by observing these codes that they were able to maintain their Harfiness. Now, one of the most basic of these codes, the Code of Pedantry, is being routinely broken, and by some of the most respected players of today. It pains me to say it, but some of them are using a smiley in place of a closing bracket."
"What?" I exclaimed, but the Steal Flea had departed, leaving me alone in the Temple to ponder the meaning of her strange words.

Calvin N Hobbes (Thierry Joffrain) found Phoebe at Thu, 6 Jan 1998 21:18:15 -0500.
Calvin N Hobbes - failed to respond

rufus (David Scheidt) found Phoebe in the CFJ 513 TRUE thread at Wed, 14 Jan 1998 21:45:00 -0500.
rufus (David Scheidt) posted Wisdom #64a in the CFJ 513 TRUE thread at Wed, 14 Jan 1998 22:51:09 -0500:

 I was rumaging around rufus's house of bits, discount junk, and coffee looking for a diode pack for a Lucas 18ACR alternator, when I found an odd match box. It was part blue, and part without color. Not black, because black is a color, but just colorless. I had never seen anything like it. I, overwhelmed with fear, rushed to call the Ackanomic bomb squad. I then relized that I had neither a phone nor does Acka have a bomb squad. I overcame the fear, and opened it up. There was a small flea inside. "oh" I thought, "it must be Phoebe." the flea looked up at me, and said "I do wish that you people would be content living in one reality at a time." With that she closed the matchbox. I put the matchbox in a safe space. I went to look for it later, and found not the blue and colorless matchbox, but a sign made of spaghetti and valued at A$1. It reads: "Memo to myself: do the dumb things I got to do. resign fromm my offices before I wuit the game."

else...if (Henry Towsner) found Phoebe in the CFJ 513 FALSE thread (the real thread) at Wed, 14 Jan 1998 01:20:00 -0500.
else...if (Henry Towsner) posted Wisdom #64b in the CFJ 513 FALSE thread (the real thread) at Wed, 14 Jan 1998 17:22:43 -0500

As I was walking down the secret passage way in my house, planning to stamp a few more people with the ENEMY stamp, half of me discovered a red matchbox. At first I thought "Aha! I have found Phoebe." Then I examined the rules more closely and discovered that Phoebe's matchbox is red and blue, Wondering what it could be, I opened it. To my surprise, Phoebe popped out. "Phoebe! Have you chosen a different matchbox?"
"No," she replied, "but you've only half-found me. In one thread you have indeed found me, but in another you have not." It was at this point I noticed that my heads were becoming confused. It seemed that only one of them could see her, confusing both of them a great deal. "You must cease being petty. Stop enemy stamping people just because the mildly annoyed you."
"Do you think I should apologize to Vynd and call that off?"
"No, he deserved it. But forgive the rest of them. You must do something far more important. You must cross the river, and learn more about the lands beyond Ackanomic. Only in this way will Ackanomic become a better place."
And with this, Phoebe and the matchbox half-vanished, leaving me horribly confused. I realized that my heads had been caught in the thread split, and been irrevocably severed. I had two distinct personalities, else and if, who would fight over the control of my body. I, else, the left head, charged by Phoebe to explore the lands beyond Ackanomic, will fly across the Ackanomic River. If, the foolish right head, will be dragged along too.
-else, the left head of else...if
As else...if's left head, I protest else's lies. I am else...if's left head, and that rediculous series of events is just else's attempt to justify his tyrranical actions. In any thread in which else...if found Phoebe, I challenge the authenticity of that message.
-if, the left head of else...if

The Gingham Wearer (Tom Walmsley) found Phoebe on Sun, 18 Jan 1998 (I think?)
The Gingham Wearer (Tom Walmsley) posted Wisdom #65 on Sat, 24 Jan 1998, 18:41:11 -0500

I was still recovering from the festivities of the second birthday parade and receiving the fright of my life almost being ejected from an org I had just given A$400 to so I decided I'd go and relax by returning to my house and polishing the Great Trombone of Ackanomic. I went to the cupboard to fetch some brass polish and a small rag, fetched the Great Trombone, and went to sit in my favourite, most comfortable, gingham chair. As I started to polish the inside I felt a small rectangular object. Putting down the polish and the rag I reached inside and pulled out a matchbox. Not a red matchbox, nor a blue matchbox, but a red and blue matchbox.
It slowly began to open and out climbed Phoebe. "Do you have to play so loud?" she said. "What's that?" "I've got an awful headache now." "Oh, sorry." I wasn't really sure what to say. How was I to know that steel fleas could get headaches. "Although", continued Phoebe, "It could be because of being split in two and then joining back together, couldn't it?"
There was a long pause before I realised that this was not intended as a rhetorical question. "Uh...yeah. Did I do the right thing leaving SPAM?" I asked trying to change the subject.
She gave it a brief moment's thought. "You must always do whatever you feel is right", she said before continuing, "so long as you're prepared to work for it." "So what you're saying is, "be considerate to the harfers." We all knew that anyhow." "I know", she replied, "but it never hurts to point it out once in a while."
With that she rubbed her head, gave a brief groan and withdrew back into her box.

Bill the pirate king (Aaron Shapiro) found Phoebe on Sunday 25 January 1998
Bill the pirate king (Aaron Shapiro) posted Wisdom #66 at Fri, 30 Jan 1998 15:56:25 -0500:

As I lounged about my study I came to the conclusion that a nice pipe full would really hit the spot. I packe a bowl and reached for the box of matches I keep on the end table only to discover that they had been replaced by another box, this one red and blue, quite pleasing in its simple beauty. I though t to myself this must be the box of the fabled pheobe come to impart wisdom to a newbie, finally a chance to get ahead and learn something before anyone else does. So I opened the box fully expecting the steel flea to pop out but lo and behold there were matches in the box. I sat in stunned silence for a minute, feeling foolish and duped, then I heard quiet laughter, like rain on tiny silver bells. Pheobe stepped out from behind a book and told me
" let this be a lesson as well as a fine jest, just because you have been paying attention doesn't mean you know whats going on all the time. This mighty, confusing, and definitely not round (maybe not flat either) world is always changing so if you think you know how everything is going then you are probably delusional and more confused than anyone. Even I am not sure exacly what is going on ALL the time."
Then she added with a snikker " and you should have seen the look on your face, it was priceless."
Armed with this advice I proceeded to enjoy a smoke and a nap, upon awakening from wich the box, flea, and my matches were all gone.

rufus (David Scheidt) found Phoebe on Fri, 30 Jan 1998 17:04:26 -0500.
rufus (David Scheidt) - failed to respond

Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) found Phoebe on Sat, 07 Feb 1998 16:33:36 -0500
Balsamic Dragon (Vivian Norwood) posted Wisdom #67 at Fri, 13 Feb 1998 14:28:04 -0500

" you can call me... the Thin Man."
"That's pretty good," said Phoebe. "You don't write nearly as well as that when you write my posts," she added.
"Yeah, I know. I guess, well... there's something I have to tell you, Phoebe."
"What's that?"
"I'm actually an insectiphobe."
"It's not that I don't _like_ you or anything, its just that trying to imagine a metal insect that could, like, chew through anything and is intelligent, and can't be killed, and well...
"Well, what?"
"It gives me the willies."
"Hmmm, my wisdom is this," she said, "<ahem>, Go forth and read Archie and Mehitable. That should do it. And all Ackanomian's likewise could benefit from that as well."

Goldenmean (Joshua Herreshoff) found Phoebe on Sat, 14 Feb 1998 14:06:27 -0500
Goldenmean (Joshua Herreshoff) - failed to respond

Illusion (Andrew Stefanski) found Phoebe on Sat, 21 Feb 1998 14:58:46 -0500
Illusion (Andrew Stefanski) posted Wisdom #68 at Mon, 23 Feb 1998 16:44:23 -0500:

I sat down on the front porch of my humble little abode, enjoying the nice warm weather, and cool breeze. I took a glimpse toward the source of light, illuminating this nice day. The spotlight seems bright today - and with this thought, I became depressed again. I must have been wrong. How could I have truly believed such a silly thing! And worst of all, all the others found out about this silly belief. What a...
All of a sudden, I heard some strange growlings and yelpings. I quickly looked away from the light, and in the direction of the noises. Staring up at the light made it harder to see - I couldn't clearly make out the source of the noise. All I could see were two dark forms, racing by on all fours.
Right in front of me, about 5 cat lengths away, the second caught up to the first. The noise got really intense, and the form bounced around all over the place. I grabbed a rock, making sure there wasn't a string wound around it, and hurled it at the forms best I could.
I heard the thwack when it hit something, a small yowl, a noise of something falling, and the two forms left in different directions.
I sat a few more minutes, as my vision cleared. When I could finally see well again, I walked up to where the conflict occured. The only sign something had happened was this worn blue and red matchbox.
When I slid it open, I immediately heard a "Thank You!". The only thing in the box was a small metallic flea.
"Thank you very much! I've been bouncing around in this box for I don't know how long. That creature should be bouced like that for a while itself, so it knows what it's like!"
"How about if I put some padding in your matchbox for you?", I replied. "Just in case something like this happens again?"
"That would be wonderful," replied the flea. "By the way, I'm known as Phoebe. And it wasn't luck that brought me here."
"Oh really, Phoebe?", I answered. "You mean to tell me that you made sure I managed to find you?", I said, as I sat the box down on a counter inside my home.
She jumped out of the box and onto the counter. "Actually, I had no control over it myself. But I can tell you it wasn't just chance. There is another reason. And I'm sure that I can give you a little bit of wisdom to help you out in your situation."
I glued some cotton to the inside of her box. "Here - this should make things a lot softer, and more comfortable. And what do you know of my current situation?", I said with a touch of sarcasm.
"Thank you, that will do nicely. Trust me - the ones that created me made sure I will end up with the person that needs me most. But don't ask why or how, for that I cannot say."
"Will not, or can not?"
"Stop worrying about the details, and listen to me. I'll only say this once. But you must share this with others - being selfish makes the wisdom useless, and maybe even dangerous. Do you understand?"
"Yes, I understand."
With that, she uttered a statement to me which would bring everything into place...
"Don't be defeated just because nobody else is able to see what you see. Bring the truth to everyone else, so they may be enlighened. They are too involved in the worship of the harf to see anything else. You must show them the way."
Right after she finished her words, a squeal of delight came from the flea. "Wow! I haven't said anything that deep in a long time! I feel really good!" I could almost feel the excitement coming from her. "Go outside, and spread the truth!"
The excitement had obviously hit me, also, as I spend the next few hours running around, trying to help everyone I could find. Unfortunately, I still didn't get anywhere.
I wasn't until I got back home that I realized I forgot all about Phoebe in the excitment, and left her sitting on the counter. However, I wasn't at all suprised when the counter was bare. Phoebe, and her newly padded matchbox were gone.

Illusion's "wisdom of Phoebe" was found to be bogus by Hearing, 10-5, at Sat, 28 Feb 1998 12:20:38 -0500


Slagothor (Eric Plumb) found Phoebe at Tue, 24 Feb 1998 13:29:09 -0500
Hubert (Eric Plumb) posted Wisdom #69 at Mon, 02 Mar 1998 05:46:24 -0500:

Everybody has one of those days, I guess. I was sitting dejectedly outside my house watching the walls bulge ever outward under the pressure exerted by my newly stol -- that is, acquired -- really big Blue Thing. Every time the walls gave way a little more, the Blue Thing would seem to grow even larger. This relentless conflict seemed to have but one possible result, I mused, as spiderweb cracks began to appear in my walls.

As if the eventual destruction of my house weren't enough, my newly acquired "second" head, Hubert, had just submitted a petition to change our name from my own to his. This had led to our first argument since the day I had purchased him from the AIGR, and we were still sitting there on the doorstep, unable to enter our house, arguing the merits of our respective names, when with a noise that sounded like a hundred people all saying "whop," a small red-and-blue matchbox was forcefully propelled out of one of the widening cracks in my house into the small of our collective back.

Out crawled none other than the Acka-famous Phoebe the Steel Flea. I was ecstatic; finally the most beloved entity in all Acka had taken the time off her busy wisdom-dispensing schedule to visit me. Hubert was less happy; he claims wisdom makes his teeth ache. Fortunately, though, even he wasn't willing to offend Phoebe for fear of instant decapitation.

"Slagothor, Hubert," began Phoebe.

"Ha!" exclaimed Hubert. "You said my name! Now you can never find Treasure 200!"

Phoebe turned a withering glance on him, and for once in his life, he shut up. He did, however, cringe and reach for his topical anesthetic as she struck an oratorial pose on the lip of the matchbox.

"Hubert, Slagothor," began Phoebe.

"Hey, Phoebe," I interrupted. "What did you think of my ASS?"

"It's cute, Slagothor. Now stop interrupting me," she said testily. "Slagothor and Hubert --"

"Phoebe," said Hubert suddenly, "was I right to change our name to try and force people to forfeit Alfvaen's treasure?"

"Who gives a tomato, Hubert?" she snapped, the irritation evident in her silvery voice. "Now, for the last time, I was saying, Slagothor, Hubert, you have done much to promote the harf of --"

"Hey, speaking of that," I said, "did you really say that to Illusion about how we worship harf too much? Say it ain't so, Phoebe!"

Phoebe cast a glare at me that would have scared off the B-Ack, muttered something that sounded a lot like "duck shoe" under her breath, and turned to climb back into her matchbox.

"No, Phoebe, I have to know!" I cried. "The hearing found that he didn't report it accurately, but he claimed later that he did! What actually happened? You gotta let me know!"

"Slagothor," she replied impatiently, "where in hell do you think Illusion's name came from?"

And with that, she turned abruptly and jumped back into her matchbox, poking her tiny silver head out only to remark, "And I'm not going to visit you again until you learn to let a flea finish a sentence!"

Upon which the matchbox disappeared with a noise like a hundred people all saying "floop," but which I realized moments later was that of my poor overstressed house finally exploding.

Hubert and I turned to each other in the gentle drizzle of pulverized plaster and other assorted house parts and both said, "It's _your_ fault."

Crackfoo (Jerome Herrman) found Phoebe at Mon, 02 Mar 1998 22:30:17 -0500
Crackfoo (Jerome Herrman) - failed to respond

else...if (Henry Towsner) found Phoebe at Tue, 10 Mar 1998 00:00:11 -0500
else...if (Henry Towsner) posted Wisdom #70 at Tue, 10 Mar 1998 17:28:47 -0500:

I was sitting in the Ackan Reserve building (better known as my house) trying to select a replacement for the activity value. I crossed off one of them, and recounted how many I had left. To my surprise, I had as many possibilities as I had before. I looked at them. There was hearing results, random, a matchbox,^Ê. At that point I realized that I had accidentally counted Phoebe as one of the options. I opened the matchbox, and before she could say anything, said, "Phoebe, my old nemisis. We meet again."
"What are you talking about," she snapped.
"I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. I mean, sorry. I've been practicing using quotes." "Fine, just don't do it around me. I have a lot of things to do today. Anyway, I come with a revelation. All understanding of the world up to this point is wrong. The world is not a hemisphere, nor round, nor banna, nor^Ê"
"Wait! If you say what I think you're going to say, they'll burn me."
"A triangle? Why would they burn you if the world's not a triangle? Anyway, the world is, in fact^Ê" Ursula fades into existence behind Phoebe just long enough to play a drum roll. "A hexatetraflexagon. A flat one."
"A what?"
"A hexatetraflexagon. It's a folded surface, such that there are six sides, but only two are exposed to view at any given time."
"Well excuuuse me."
"Go forth and spread this new truth, yada yada^Ênow you've got me doing it!"
"Sorry." She began fading from view. "May the Harf be with you, Phoebe! Ow!"

else...if (Henry Towsner) found Phoebe (again) at Tue, 10 Mar 1998 21:47:36 -0500
else...if (Henry Towsner) posted Wisdom #71 at Wed, 11 Mar 1998 17:43:02 -0500:

No sooner had Phoebe left, then I felt something hit me on the back of my head. I turned around, and saw a small matchbox floating in the air. It backed up, and then ran into my forehead, making a sound like someone on a roller coaster. I grabbed it, put it on the table, and opened it. To my surprise, inside was a steel flea, smaller then Phoebe.
"Who are you?" I said.
In a childish voice, the flea replied, "I'm space fighter Chet, rescuing the world from the evil space aliens! Are you one of them?!"
" you know Phoebe or Ursula?"
Just then, I heard Phoebe say from behind me, "Yes he does. You're in a lot of trouble, young man. I've told you not to ride in one of the matchboxes without my permission."
The smaller flea hung its head (a bizzare thing for a steel flea to do) and said, "Sorry mommy."
I watched in amazement as Phoebe walked over to the other flea's matchbox, opened a small panel, and pressed a button. The matchbox vanished.
"My apologies," she said. "He's just getting to the age where he can drive those things, and he thinks I won't be able to track him down. Well, good bye."
"Wait!" I cried. "You still owe me a piece of advice."
"I just gave you one last time you were here."
"But I found you again. You owe me another piece of advice."
"I can't. Advice is carefully rationed. Nothing personal, but I don't thing you could handle any more. I gave you a full scale revalation last time."
"The rules are very clear. Every time you arrive, you have to give advice."
"Fine. The rules are the rules. Here's your advice: SHUT UP!" And she vanished. I thought about yelling, "That was lousy advice" but I decided it would be inappropriate under the circumstances.


ThinMan (John Bollinger) found Phoebe at Wed, 11 Mar 1998 23:51:23 -0500
ThinMan (John Bollinger) posted Wisdom #72 at Fri, 13 Mar 1998 16:53:43 -0500

As I was waiting in *that* room, twiddling my thumbs until such time as the urge to read a page of the Ackanomicon should come over me, I noticed a familiar-looking red-and-blue matchbox on the floor. Thankful beyond reason for something to do to pass the time, I snatched it up and opened it. As I had expected, Phoebe emerged.
"Phoebe, my old friend!" I exclaimed.
"Older than you can possibly imagine, in fact," she replied. "Hello again, ThinMan."
"I am so glad to have something to do while I pass the time," I told her. "I always enjoy our conversations."
"I am pleased," she said. "Of course, you didn't have to wait so long to find me."
"Huh?" I glibly rejoined. "How can I control when I find you?"
"Well, there's finding and then there's finding," she illuminated. No doubt she saw my puzzled look, for she added "It's a temporal thing. You actually 'found' me a couple of days ago, but have only now gotten around to finding me. In the interim, I have been twiddl -- err -- pondering the secrets of the universe in my matchbox, waiting for you to come and pick me up."
My head was spinning. "Let me try to understand. You have been sitting there, waiting for me to find you, for the past couple of days since I found you? That would put me at Vulcan Headquarters at the time I found you, right?"
Phoebe adopted a long-suffering look that I think she must practice in her spare time. "Yes and no, and yes," she said. "My location has been the same as it always is, but that location has not always been _here_," she said, pointing four legs at the floor to emphasize her point.
I was at a loss. In a vain attempt to retain my sanity, I asked what seemed the next logical question: "Um, what, then, is your location?"
"The Treasury, of course. Don't you read the Rules?"
"But we're in the Library!"
"Just so."
Everything after that is pretty fuzzy. I'm not sure exactly where I hid Phoebe, or how I got there without leaving *that* room. In fact, I can't guarantee that this whole episode was not a delusion, perhaps brought on by prolonged proximity to the Ackanomicon. Just in case, though, I figured I should report the conversation; perhaps some other player can garner something from it.

Illusion (Andrew Stefanski) found Phoebe at Sat, 14 Mar 1998 19:39:06 -0500
Illusion (Andrew Stefanski) failed to respond.

Calvin N Hobbes (Thierry Joffrain) found Phoebe at Sat, 21 Mar 1998 21:20:53 -0500
Calvin N Hobbes (Thierry Joffrain) failed to respond.

K 2 (Kelly Kelly) found Phoebe at Sun, 29 Mar 1998 14:42:57 -0400
K 2 (Kelly Kelly) posted Wisdom #73 at Sun, 05 Apr 1998 09:47:05 -0400:

While admiring my crime-fighting attire, in a large mirror mounted on the roof of my abode (an activity made complicated by being able to see through walls), I noticed from the corner of my eye a small red (possibly murray) and blue coloured box protruding from under the black plastic on my left. Fearlessly I slid (there not being enough room to walk) over to the object, after judicious application of my deep sight to verify that the object was in fact innocuous). "Phoebe!", I exclaimed as the match-box slid open. "Murray", Phoebe nodded in my direction, looking slightly cautious, "about time you ^Ñfound' me, I was about to randomly teleport to *'s house". "While you're still here then, I have sooo many questions to ask...", excited at my second visitation by Phoebe, I blurted out: Is the earth Truly flat? Should I add Murray stripes to the Chartreuse Cape? Are homonyms Evil? Did Slakko commit a crime? Is it wrong to attempt to reshape the earth? Is black a colour? Will a player with wings ever be able to fly? Do you like my veil? Have you and Ursula truly made up? Have you forgiven me for last time? Are you really in the Treasury?
To which Phoebe replied "To answer your questions in random order :Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, No, No, No, No, No."
At which point the officer in charge of random things initiated a teleport, preventing clarification.

Koxvolio (Ian Koxvold) found Phoebe at Sun, 05 Apr 1998
Koxvolio (Ian Koxvold) posted Wisdom #74 at Tue, 07 Apr 1998 09:13:48 -0400:

In my excitement at having found the renowned Phoebe's matchbox lying randomly upon my neat, clean, new desk, I whipped it open and Interrogated The Steel Flea.
"Phoebe? Oh, Phoebe? What should a new player do in this game? How can I get started? How do I get to play Party chess?"
"There is but one answer to all of your questions - you must join or form a Political Party. Let it be a model for other parties to mold emselves upon - large in size, but not too large - with objectives but not tied down - and to present a united front but not be boring. Go forth, and let it be so!"
At this point Phoebe jumps at me and proceeds to act like a real flea and feel like a real flea. I itch. When Phoebe gets fed up I put em back in her box and put it somewhere so that I am out of ems reach.
Filled with enthusiasm (and too lazy to found a party) I went forth to join the Harf party. Only then did I remember that I had to tell you lot what good advice Phoebe had given me. So.

Koxvolio (Ian Koxvold) found Phoebe again at Tue, 07 Apr 1998 20:39:43 -0400.
Koxvolio (Ian Koxvold) posted Wisdom #75 at Sun, 12 Apr 1998 10:21:07 -0400:

After The Steel Flea's (TM) last visit, in which she helped me come to terms with the internal structure of Ackan politics, I did not expect to see her so soon.
However, after a week in her company we have discoursed at length on the structure of our world.
To broadly summarise our conclusions,
1. The rules of AckaNomic define the structure of the Ackan world.
2. We are in the enviable position of being able to reshape the said rules.
3. It has been proposed that, for reasons of practicality, we should repeal or condense many of the rules under which we currently operate.
4. The suggested contraction is on the order of (probably, exempting current rule suites etc.) about 60-70%.
So; is this what we shall do? Will we come to a conclusion to scrap many of the rules under which we operate, to allow new players (of which group I am one - and it's not so hard, believe me) to learn to play more easily? Are we going to erase rules that we are all happy with, which we could have repealed individually (as the Zuriti'ili rule is in the process of being) simply to reduce our workload in reading?
I hope that we will not do so blindly. Phoebe (yes, she's a resident of Acka too!) hopes not as well.
As she said: "any proposed legislation on this issue should probably focus on rules to need re-approval every so often (every three months) so that rules which we come to value less will simply 'expire' when unsupported by a majority. Beware of simply setting a target and swinging the axe- what is AckaNomic apart from the structure you have built."  

The Gingham Wearer (Tom Walmsley) found Phoebe at Sun, 12 Apr 1998 12:41:55 -0400
The Gingham Wearer (Tom Walmsley) posted Wisdom #76 at Mon, 13 Apr 1998 11:16:35 -0400:

Having spent quite a while running from the b-ack yesterday I started to feel weird so I decided to duck down behind a bush and hide from it. It was to my surprise that I discovered that this was in fact a quirpele bush. Originating in South America this bush has red and blue rectangular flowers. I was trying to catch my breath when one of the flowers opened up and out popped Phoebe.
"That was really cheap, what you did yesterday!"
"Yeah, I know. Still, at least I had the good sense to leave the orgs I was in that had any money before I stopped rhyming."
"Now, now" said Phoebe, "be nice. E's not allowed to call a duel against you at the moment either because you both nominated yourself for Inventor."
I pondered this for a second. "Sorry" I muttered "And sorry for what I did with the b-ack yesterday. I just thought I had to tell someone."
Phoebe nodded sagely and was just about to withdraw back into her snug-looking matchbox when I thought of something else I needed to ask her. "Phoebe," I said, "will I ever win a cycle? I mean, I've tried so many times now. There was that division by zero paradox win thing, then that crazy French Scotsman scam I thought of for Banna and now people don't seem to agree with my interpretation of this Frankenstein monster thing...."
Phoebe thought for a second and then responded thusly:
"You must keep trying and not give up. No-one finds winning cycles easy. Not even Malenkai. If you perservere then eventually you will be successful."
And with that she returned to her matchbox and I went back to looking out for the b-ack.

Joe Java (Joel Ricker) found Phoebe at Tue, 14 Apr 1998 00:46:49 -0400
Joe Java (Joel Ricker) - failed to respond

/dev/joe (Joseph DeVincentis) found Phoebe at Tue, 21 Apr 1998 22:57:00 -0400
/dev/joe (Joseph DeVincentis) posted Wisdom #77 at Wed, 22 Apr 1998 11:35:21 -0400:

I picked up my 39th bridge hand of the night, after being scared the previous hand when my partner asked for aces & kings, I indicated I had no kings, and partner went on to bid 7 no-trump anyway, off two kings, which was doubled, but which I made anyway because of one long runnable suit and a second which became runnable when the queen fell doubleton. This hand seemed unusually thick; as I fanned out the cards, a squashed, flattened matchbox fell out from between the cards. I put it in my pocket at the time, not wanting to reveal the wisdom of the ancients to my non-ackan partner and opponents, if that was indeed Phoebe's matchbox.
That night, I pulled the matchbox out of my pocket, restored it back to roughly its original shape, and opened the box. Sure enough, a flattened-looking steel flea lie motionless inside. I shook her seemingly lifeless body, and soon she awoke. She spoke (quite clearly, it seemed, though it looks so garbled to me now), "Pkcmaz cmddaqaqazho ajirhopkaznxpk ddnx ddho pkcmaz ujddfoaq ajabmmaqnx." I rushed to get paper to record this strange message, but when I returned, but the flea and matchbox were nowhere to be found. I didn't get a chance to find out what this strange message meant, nor how her matchbox ended up flat and in a deck of cards.

rufus (David Scheidt) found Phoebe at Wed, 22 Apr 1998 22:22:21 -0400.
rufus (David Scheidt) posted Wisdom #78 at Thu, 23 Apr 1998 00:59:20 -0400:

So, I was rumaging about the House of Bits, Discount Junk, and Coffee looking for that 0-1" tenths reading mic that was here just a minute ago, when I found a strange matchbox. Thinking it might be were I put the screws I need to put the speedometer back together, I opened it up. Not Suprisingly, it did not hold the screws, but Phoebe. "Phoebe!" I said, "How did you get on my workbech?" "Workbench? Poor excuse for a landfill, more likely. How do get anything done on this? Besides, I am in the same place I always am, the Treasury." "I thought we fixed that feature of the ruleset?" "Well, that is not important. What is important is that you must tell Acka the true shape of the earth."

Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) found Phoebe at Thu, 23 Apr 1998 01:38:01 -0400.
Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) posted Wisdom #79 at Wed, 29 Apr 1998 11:28:06 -0400:

I needed a rest, I decided. The Parade planning had taken a lot out of me, my stay in the Wilds(long time before I went on a Raft trip again, I vowed) had been exhausting, and the weight of my Offices was starting to tell. So I returned to Tamson House to kick back for a while.
I didn't pay much attention to where I went once I entered, letting the House decide for itself where I should go. So I found myself in a room I'd never seen before, with a big table covered with candles. All kinds of candles, singles, candelabra, menorahs, of all colours, shades, and varieties thereof, with the possible exception of plaid. None of them were lit, but in the dimness I could see that there was a matchbox on the table.
I picked it up and opened it, and out popped Phoebe the steel flea(as I should have expected). In an amazing burst of nanotech speed she leapt from candle to candle and lit them all in a matter of seconds. I was dazzled for a moment by the sudden burst of light.
"Phoebe!" I said, in a fit of stating the obvious.
"Hello, Alfvaen," she said. "How've you been doing?"
"Oh, not too bad. Although a lot of things have been piling up on me. This Parade description, for was enough work planning the thing, but writing it all up too? I'm not sure if I'm going to get done in time."
"And I hear you ran into the B-Ack, too."
"Yes, I did. Horrible creature. Fifteen feet tall, with a tail like a gigantic coral snake that had swallowed an octopus while it was eating a killer whale! Eyes as big as the entire ruleset of Ackanomic, with rule suites for eyelashes! Enormous sensing organs like Filet-O-Fish[TM] sandwiches! And a scream which resonated through all the harmonic frequencies of every single bone, tendon, ligament, and piece of cartilage in my body! Not a very pleasant experience, I assure you."
"Well, cheer up," Phoebe said. "Things will get better before they get worse. Or something like that."
"That's your wisdom?" I said, trying to keep the skepticism from my voice.
"No, of course not. Just meaningless words of reassurance. My wisdom is: resigning as Financier is probably the right things to do. Other people can do it. You can start actually having to read the PE page again, and stop having to note every action that people take."
"What about Registrar?" I asked.
"Well, now, let's not get silly," she said.
With that, she dashed from candle to candle at nanotech speed and snuffed them all out. By the time I fumbled my way to the actual light switch on the wall, she was gone.

Illusion (Andrew Stefanski) found Phoebe at Wed, 29 Apr 1998 11:34:28 -0400
Illusion (Andrew Stefanski) - failed to respond

Pandora (Dave Kenning) - found Phoebe at Wed, 06 May 1998 23:10:19 -0400
Pandora (Dave Kenning) - posted Wisdom #80 at Tue, 12 May 1998 08:33:22 -0400

The other day while I was going about my business I chanced upon a small red and blue matchbox, looking somewhat battered. Being a curious soul, I picked it up and looked at it. Nothing remarkable about the outside, so I opened it and out popped a tiny metal object.
"What's this?" I wondered.
"What do you mean 'What's this?'?" the object replied.
I then realised that in fact this was none other than the infamous Phoebe, the Steel Flea.
"I beg your pardon," I said, "but I'm new round these parts."
"I didn't think I'd seen you before," she observed.
"So, what happens now?" I asked.
"Well, I tell you my wisdom, and you post it to the list, so that everyone can share in it. You even get a few points for doing so."
"Sounds good to me -- I could do with a few points. Perhaps your wisdom could take the form of some kind of advice on how to acquire points more quickly, maybe even get a Cycle win," I suggested.
"Don't be so crass," she snapped. "Go away and read the sodding rules, you tiresome creature. Everything you need to know can be found within. There are also plenty of other documents available to help you, if you can be bothered to take some time to read them. You can't expect to be as successful as the likes of Alfvaen and Slakko overnight, you know. Or do you want me to play the game for you?"
"Well..." I started to reply, not immediately picking up the rhetorical nature of her question, nor realising that in fact this was her Wisdom (well, it sounded pretty wise to me).
And on that note (a kind of *ping*ing sound), she disappeared in a huff.

UglyBigNose (Ricardo Peres da Silva) found Phoebe at Tue, 12 May 1998 22:42:38 -0400
UglyBigNose (Ricardo Peres da Silva) - failed to respond

JT (Joseph T Traub) - found Phoebe at Wed, 20 May 1998 01:43:24 -0400
JT (Joseph T Traub) posted Wisdom #81 at Wed, 20 May 1998 02:00:31 -0400:

Returning home one night from my routine sojourns to the Ackanomic Library, I paused as I thought I heard a sound coming from the coffee table inside the door.
Quickly flipping on the light, and holding my Boomerang at the ready, I was surprised to find, not an intruder, but the ever knowledgable flea Phoebe.
"Why Pheobe!" I exclaimed. "I've been looking forward to meeting you since my first day here! Tell me, please tell me, what is the best thing I can do to enrich Ackanomic?"
"Well well, if it isn't one of the newer players, " she replied. "But then again, you're all new to me, well relatively speaking at least. Anyway, in answer to your question, you are already doing it. Giving back to Acka for the enjoyment you get. Taking on responsibilities. Seeking Enlightenment. By pursuing these goals, Acka becomes ever richer."
Flabbergasted by the simple Truth of her words, I barely noticed the small *pop* as she and her matchbox disappeared.

saaremaa (Randy Hall) - found Phoebe at Wed, 20 May 1998 09:44:47 -0400
saaremaa (Randy Hall) posted Wisdom #82 at Fri, 22 May 1998 20:26:27 -0400:

I was stumbling around Malenkai's Castle late today, wondering if it would rename me -- and well, you know the drill, I found Phoebe.
"Pheobe", I says, "are you gonna try to repeal me?"
"Nah", she says, "Methinks you learned you lesson."
"So", I says, "What about this talk of 'economics' and 'Acka'?"
"Not even close", she says, "wait until they can do better than Fictionary definitions, then get into the debate. Wait until they explain how A$ are a measure of effort, production or fun, and then you will be able to relate. If they change 'anti-voting' to 'flow-voting', for lack of a better example, and still create scoring chits ex nihilo and call it an 'economy', then the time to enter the debate has yet to come".
"Cool", I says, "I was sort of thinking that myself. Oh BTW, I discovered a couple of those Finno-Uralic lake thingies: I think they are missing two things. One, the same continuing migration started by Guy Fawkes in the rules a long time ago is indicated, and secondly, the evil twin refers to b---"
"BORING!", she interrupted, "I do not waste my time on things of zero 'economic' worth, like misshapen blobs of A$ referred to as Treasures. I have more important things to do, such as mining the wisdom of the ancients."
"Um", I says, "you better start digging then. You should know the economics of treasure hunting is not in the A$."
"Anyway", she says, "I've been wondering a few things, like, why did you come back?"
"Well", I says, "I just want to hang with cool people, play subgames, and hide treasures."
"Cool", she says, "Perhaps I would be interested in some clues after all. I'll give /dev/joe a run for his money."
"K", I continued, "the evil twin refers to b---"
But as I was speaking, I and all the land receeded from the matchbox; Acka had gone missing.


breadbox (Brian Raiter) found Phoebe at Fri, 22 May 1998 20:40:19 -0400
breadbox (Brian Raiter) - failed to respond

K 2 (Kelly Kelly) found Phoebe at Sat, 30 May 1998 00:01:05 -0400
K 2 (Kelly Kelly) - failed to respond

two-star (Alexandre Muniz) found Phoebe at Sat, 06 Jun 1998 00:53:39 -0400
two-star (Alexandre Muniz) - failed to respond

ThinMan (John Bollinger) found Phoebe at Sat, 13 Jun 1998 18:48:10 -0400
ThinMan (John Bollinger) - failed to respond.

Phoebe then took a leave of absence, returning in early August.

Vynd (John Frederic McCoy) found Phoebe.
Vynd (John Frederic McCoy) posted Wisdom #83 at Sat, 08 Aug 1998 13:24:03 -0400:

A blue and red matchbox slowly cruised through the sky. It's pilot, or is it passenger, a Steal Flea, watched the unsuspecting Ackazens going about their daily business above her.
Phoebe was mad. A Leave of Absence might sound like fun, but when you've been living inthe same place since time immemorial, you get used to it. Now, at long last, she was back. Phoebe was ready for action. She lit several matches, stuck them out the back of the box, and flew low and fast over the Ackan skyline. Most everyone saw her first skywriting: Surrender Dorothy. But it was only when she passed by my house, with the smoke from the matches beging to fail, that she wrote: Don't Silence the Flea! And then she was gone.

IdiotBoy (Matt Miller) found Phoebe at Sat, 08 Aug 1998 15:03:47 -0400.
IdiotBoy (Matt Miller) - failed to respond
JT (Joseph T Traub) found Phoebe at Fri, 21 Aug 1998 00:29:38 -0400
JT (Joseph T Traub) posted Wisdom #84 at Tue, 25 Aug 1998 13:02:45 -0400:

AsI was walking down the trail to the Institute for Genetic Replication, I came across a small matchbox lying on the ground in front of me. Immediately suspcious, I picked it up and was about to shake it, when I heard a small voice coming from inside. I, having heard this voice before, and having a wonderful memory, immediately recognized Phoebe and opened the matchbox to let her out.
"Well, it's about time someone found me who was ready to listen," she said.
Knowing better than to get on the bad side of any flea, much less Phoebe, I merely nodded and continued along the path as she and I talked.
"So Phoebe," I asked, "Just what color are Mr. Tambourine Man's shoes".
"Blue" she replied, "but as for why, you'll have to figure it out for yourself. I'll only tell you to look carefully at the clues he's provided."
With that, she folded her matchbox down to a tiny carryable size and hopped off my shoulder (where she had been sitting to talk), and disappeared into the grass along the side of the road.
When I got to the Institute, I thought long and hard about what Pheobe had said, and then sent a runner to the Ackanomic Printing Guild to provide me with copies of archived mail, a set of rules, and the recent archive of songs that had played on the Ackanomic jukebox. I figured that since I'd be here for a few days, I might as well make myself useful.
Looking at the recent play list, I immediately saw how the most recent songs related to Blue, and in fact Blue Suede Shoes, and therefore Elvis. That only left me to figure out how Elvis related to They Might Be Giants and being vindicated.
Fortunately for me, the archives distributed by the printing guild are VERY well indexed and it took me only a few moments to find the references I needed.
Back in April of 1997, /dev/joe had created a large number of prosthetic foreheads, 2 of which were of elvis and the 2 immediately following were the musicians of They Might be Giants. A short time thereafter, the elvis (old elvis specifically) forehead was brought before a forehead tribunal along with two other foreheads (in different tribunals). In the end, of those three, only the elvis forehead was vindicated, and thus this link to blue suede shoes.
Content with my detective work, I sent another runner off to deliver this reasoning to Mr. Tambourine Man.

This Wisdom of Phoebe won JT the Seventh Silver Moon award.

Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) found Phoebe at Tue, 25 Aug 1998 13:12:29 -0400.
Alfvaen (Aaron Humphrey) - failed to respond
Wild Card (Jonathan David Amery) - found Phoebe at Wed, 02 Sep 1998 01:40:11 -0400.
Wild Card (Jonathan David Amery) posted Wisdom #85 at Sat, 05 Sep 1998 10:53:24 -0400:

Oh, well, here goes my entitlement to the Hubert treasure, but I'm not passing up a chance to report a sighting of Phoebe!
As I was reviewing the new Agenda Hats, and wishing that I had gotten around to submitting one (anyone want to give me a hat?) I noticed a match-box on the floor in front of my wall-screen. Wondering what it was I picked it up.
The motion obviously had some effect as it opened suddenly and a steel flea popped out:
"Oh, are you Phoebe?"
"Yes, obviously!" quoth she, "I can see why I haven't come to /you/ before!"
"I gather that you impart wisdom to those who find you, and I think we could do with some at the moment - reality and record seem to be in frequent misalignment at the moment; and I am rather worried about that..."
"Well, don't be! That is a minor problem - it'll soon fix itself. I come to advise Ackanomic of the greatest danger that has faced nomics for a thousand years; and the greatest possibility."
"And what would that be?" - H*bert, my other head interrupted.
"Don't interrupt, I see you are no more intelligent that your friend here; I was just getting to that - the time is close for the One Who Will Be to manifest herself."
"The One Who Will Be? You mean that the ancient prophecies of Valen are to come true?" I asked, but then I noticed that Phoebe had vanished, having delivered here message. I was worried by this telling, as as Phoebe had said; whilst the fulfilling of the prophesies is a thing to be wished for in all senses, it also portends great strife and danger.
Unable to bring this news to my own satisfactory conclusion I wandered over to the Library to consult the tomes that tell of the time of Valen, arguing all the way with H*bert.

Mr. Tambourine Man (Tom Walmsley) - found Phoebe at Sat, 05 Sep 1998 18:24:38 -0400
Mr. Tambourine Man (Tom Walmsley) posted Wisdom #86 at Fri, 11 Sep 1998 13:16:22 -0400:

I was walking around earlier when I put my hand in my pocket and felt a strange object in there. At first I didn't know what it was but then it dawned on me. It must be Phoebe's Matchbox! That was always popping up in obscure places. I stooped imediately and opened it eagerly.
"Phoebe!" I exclaimed, "So good to see you again!"
"Do I know you?" she replied.
"Um, yeah, I might have been wearing a lot of gingham back then though". For some reason I'd stopped wearing gingham and started carrying a tambourine around with me a few months ago. And then there was that peculiar incident with the brie, but that's best left unsaid.
"Oh Gods" she said, not sounding too pleased, "You again."
I ignored this slight and proceeded to question her, well aware of her legendary wisdom.
"Have you noticed the similaritiesbetween JT and /dev/joe? They both host Acka: IRC, they're both really good at finding treasure, and they both have vocabularies that would put Shakespeare to shame."
"Well..." she started.
"And what's more" I interupted "sometimes when I'm on IRC with them I could swear that they comunicate telepathically."
"As I was saying before I was so rudely interupted" Phoebe continued, glaring at me, "they are in fact brothers. Check out their pictures at and if you don't believe me."
"How can that be though?" I protested, "They don't even have the same surname."
"You've never been to Korea I see, have you?" she said, "It's a bit to the east of Agora, and in Korea their family names are their first names and their givrn names their last names. They are in fact the last two members of the great Joseph clan or Korea."
I sat down to ponder that for a bit and when I rose to question her, Phoebe had dissapeared.

Rex Mundi (Gavin Doig) found Phoebe at Fri, 11 Sep 1998 17:41:29 -0400.
Rex Mundi (Gavin Doig) - failed to respond
Weishaupt (Gabe Drummond-Cole) found Phoebe at Sat, 19 Sep 1998 16:36:06 -0400.
Weishaupt (Gabe Drummond-Cole) posted Wisdom #87 at Sat, 26 Sep 1998 15:54:10 -0400:

I was just finishing polishing the googolplex windows of my house (man, is *that* a boring job), hoping to get some light through the near-infinite number of them, when i heard a small scratching, not unlike that made by a steel flea within a slightly battered matchbox. I turned around, and, lo and behold, lying on my nightstand was a steel flea within a slightly battered matchbox. I picked it up, and could tell at once that this was no mere Ursula.
"Phoebe!" I said. "At last! I joined Acka almost a month ago, and I was just waiting for you to come and share your wisdom with me!"
Phoebe looked at me with an expression, which, from any other entity, i would call baleful. I pressed on. "I have so many questions for you! I've heard how wise you are! I know you can help me! See, I submitted this cycle win CFJ, but Gretchold the Evil - errr... Slakko...err... umm... Fo... err... I guess e's Slakko again now... Well, whoever e is, e says that I need to do sine in radians. I'm right, aren't I? He says-"
Here Phoebe stopped me by merely lifting a leg and fixing me with a look of extreme scorn. "That doesn't matter. You're a moron. I don't care about that. There are bigger fish to fry. The reason I came was to talk about the treasure you buried."
I looked at her, almost at a loss for words. Here I was, expecting help with my cycle win, and Phoebe wanted to talk about some dumb treasure I had almost forgotten about. "You mean the one with the Sacred Chao and the Atlantean Statue and stuff, valued at over A$750?" I asked. Phoebe nodded. "What about it? I've already got this great map idea. I'll take the message 'Whoever posts the word Flubert without explanation three days in a row will find the treasure' and put it into hex. No one will ever guess that!" Phoebe didn't say anything, just looked at me, but I could tell she didn't approve. "How about the last player to post the word Flubert to a public forum?" She shook her head sadly. "Um, whoever can tell me the make and model of my bike?" I was getting flustered. Here I'd taken the time to make up all these nifty ideas for treasure maps, and Phoebe, the wisest entity in all of Ackanomic, didn't like them one bit. "How about you tell me what to do, Phoebe," I said. "You're wise." Phoebe cocked her head to one side, looked both directions, motioned me forward so she could whisper in my ear, and then said, in a very low voice, "Talk to Malaclypse."
I stood up. "Who's Malaclypse?" I said, a little loudly. Phoebe hissed for me to be quiet and motioned me back in. "He's an imaginary entity who doesn't exist...You can find him probably in the Magickal Land of Ckanth. There or the wilds. Talk to him. He'll give you the map and the fragments you need."
I looked at Phoebe. "I can get to the wilds, but what's this Magical Land of Ckanth? It sounds a little iffy to me."
Phoebe sighed, and a faraway look crossed her little flea face. "Ckanth is quite a place. Imagine if a hack writer made up a land filled with puns, but didn't bother to be self-consistent and changed things every book. Now imagine if the author had a smut-filled mind, mostly about younger girls and older men of different species. Now imagine if the target reader age dropped about six months per book. That's pretty much Ckanth."
"That sounds terrible!" I said. "Why would anyone want to go there?"
but at that point, there was a tremendous puff of smoke, and Phoebe and her matchbox were gone.
So, I went down to the wilds and looked around for a while, where, eventually, I found the mighty Malaclypse the Elder. I told em where the treasure was and e took it from there and reburied it somewhere else without telling me where. Then E gave me the map, and 21 fragments, called Xazij (which look mysteriously like trinkets) and took A$152, the cost of these "Xazij" from me. (I conjecture he took it to the treasury, but you never know) Anyways, these Xazij look and act so much like trinkets that they can pretty much just call them that.
Anyways, here is the map, followed by the Xazij:
There are 21 trinkets that may help, called Xazij. They were given to me by the mysterious Malaclypse the elder in return for A$152.
NOTE: while most of the Xazij store reasonably well, Xazij #4 is perishable and should be solved quickly, or it may become corrupted and worthless.
Xazij #1 Cost: A$8
The First Book of the Law of Fives
Description: "The book is a thick old tome bound in what appears to be lizard skin of some sort. Inscribed on the first page is the mysterious phrase, `All is one, the snake eats its tail. The beginning, the middle, the end, All are One.'"
Xazi #2 Cost: A$13
The Mysterious Cone that Was on the Lonely Mountain
Description: "It has a strange series of numbers and letters etched around it, in a corkscrew that completely covers its conic, cat-height tall surface."
Xazij #3 Cost: A$7
GRUAD's Plaything of Inexplicable Power
Description: "Mordecai studied this for years, but could never understand it. Perhaps it is best to begin with his postulates, but remember GRUAD's heritage and the loss of Atlantis. Perhaps it is best to throw the Plaything into a pentagon and leave it there forever."
Xazij #4 Cost: A$7
The Misfiled Papers of the Council on Foreign Relations
Description: "They were supposedly a list of the ID numbers of the enemies of the Council. Unfortunately, an overeager secretary filed them in the 'Reassignment Queue' and they were never seen again... or at least, they weren't seen until now."
Xazij #5 Cost: A$10
Description: "George looked surprised. 'What?' he asked, his mind spinning from Hagbard's words now as much as from the Kallisti Gold. 'How can an integer be a Xazij?' Hagbard just looked at him, face impassive. Finally, George turned away. 'I'll be in my room,' he shouted back behind him. 'Call me when we get to this isle thing.' Hagbard shook his head sadly as George disappeared around the corner. 'You came so close both times right there, George,' he said, 'but you need to fly even farther."
Xazij #6 Cost: A$6
The Illuminati Hex Code of Doom
Description: "Chaos, Discord, Confusion, Bureaucracy, and Aftermath. Time to immanentize the Eschaton."
Xazij #7 Cost: A$7
The Elevenfold Exhortations of Eris
Description: "These majik words are said to contain immense power. But due to the corrupting influence of the Illuminati, most of the words have been lost in part and are now fairly powerless."
Xazij #8 Cost: A$8
The Mangled Output of the Machine that Goes *Fn0rd
*Description: "The Machine is a bastardized cousin of the other Machines (*ping*, *blurp*, etc.) that only went *Fn0rd* once, and really isn't much like them at all."
Xazij #9 Cost: A$6
Matching Spell Book and Shades of LILITH VELKOR
Description: "She was known both for her uncanny ability to unify people and her seemingly negative talent of seperating even the closest of friends. Contrary to propaganda, she was a champion of order, and indeed it was she who developed the Illuminati-dominated number-and-letter ordering systems that we still use today."
Xazij #10 A$14
The Arrow-Straight Path of Deception
Description: "The most straightforward of the Xazij, it is also the most dangerous and one of the hardest."
Xazij #11 Cost: A$7
Weishaupt's Masterpiece
Description: "Due to an error on the part of the Promoter, there is no description for Weishaupt's Masterpiece."
Xazij #12 Cost: A$9
Eight Very Wise Pieces of Advice, Some of Which Aren't Helpful at All
Description: "The wise man heeds the advice of Malaclypse the Elder, even the parts that don't seem to make much sense."
Xazij #13 Cost: A$5
Malenkai's Prayer
Description: "To the treasure-hunter i say the following: recite it twice when you rise from bed in the morning, say it twice when the morning star takes wing and flies, declaim it twice when the sun is high overhead, twice shout it out joyously before you eat your evening meal, say it twice just before you go to sleep, and mumble it twice softly in your dreams. The nonobservant need only recite it once each time."
Xazij #14 Cost: A$10
Matched Set of Model Eye and Pyramid
Description: "In Eris We Trust is written on the back of each Ackadollar... and there's that funny pyramid, with the writing so small you can just barely make it out"
Xazij #15 A$5
Dillinger's Codex
"It's not what is here that is important, but rather what is not. John could read minds. That's why it's Frank Sullivan's organ in the Smithsonian and not his. But remember what Mordecai said and remember it well."
Xazij #16 Cost: A$5
The Golden Apple of Discord
Description: "Kallisti"
Xazij #17 Cost: A$4
Mordecai Malignatus' Words of Wisdom
Description: "Passed down from generation to generation, the Words of Wisdom seem mere drivel to the unilluminated. The true adept, however, realizes that there is a truth behind every lie and a lie behind every truth."
Xazij #18 Cost: A$4
The Second Book of the Law of Fives
Description: "The book is a thin pamphlet with a holographic picture of a camel on the front. Inscribed on the first page is the mysterious phrase, `Five is the number, in twos, in threes, and especially in fives'"
Xazij #19 Cost: A$3
It's not that bad, really, it's not
Description: "It *looks* ugly. In fact, it looks *really* ugly. However, It's not that bad, really it's not is easier to understand than most of the other Xazij."
Xazij #20 Cost A$9
The World Chessboard
Description: "The Erisians and the Illuminati have been playing a game, with us mehums as pawns, for as long as anyone can remember."
Xazij #21 Cost: A$5
The Ionic Columns of the JAM
Description: "The eleven columns have arcane runes written down them, a different pattern of runes on each column. The columns do seem to have something in common; the top symbols are always a deep red which darkens to brown then transmutes to a pale, glowing, green as the symbols move down the columns."

Calvin N Hobbes (Thierry Joffrain) found Phoebe at Tue, 29 Sep 1998 15:05:53 -0400.
Calvin N Hobbes (Thierry Joffrain) posted Wisdom #88 at

 It was dark. It was damp. There was a hurricane heading for Biloxi. Someone deserved to hit more than 66 homers. As always, I was running late. Then I heared a voice only rarely heard.
"Summary judgement provides a needed avenue for resolution of another category of cases, in which the parties agree on the underlying facts but disagree as to the legal implications of those facts. In Berlin's case, for example, the parties may agree that the case was decided by a continuance without a finding but disagree as to whether that disposition constitutes 'favorable termination' for purposes of an action for malicious prosecution."
I was stunned. Joseph W. Glannon could not have put it better when discussing Civil Procedure. The voice went on.
"If so, Porter might move for summary judgement, supported by evidence that the case was continued without a finding. If Berlin admits that the case was continued, he will not respond with countervailing evidence but instead with the legal argument that the continuance satisfies the 'favorable termination' element of a malicious prosecution claim."
I saw it was Phoebe herself and was inclined to agree with her. It was true that the strategic maneuvering was the ideal way to proceed under the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure, of which Rule 12(b)(6).
"On these facts, the motion has framed a single, dispositive legal issue for the court. If it concludes that the continuance suffices for favorable termination, it will deny summary judgement and allow the case to proceed. If it concludes that it does not satisfy the favorable termination requirement, it will enter judgement for Porter because he is 'entitled to judgement as a matter of law.'"
And like that... [phhhh] she was gone.

Wild Card (Jonathan David Amery) found Phoebe at Tue, 29 Sep 1998 21:45:33 -0400.
Wild Card (Jonathan David Amery) - failed to respond

Rambo R Minuteman (Tom Walmsley) found Phoebe at Wed, 07 Oct 1998 01:50:49 -0400.
Rambo R Minuteman (Tom Walmsley) posted Wisdom #89 at Tue, 13 Oct 1998 17:35:44 -0400:

As many of you will be aware, my most recent visit to the library to read the Ackanomicon resulted not in the Vile Prophecies to which I have grown accustomed but in a remarkable insight into the positioning of a great treasure. What you won't realise is that as I was shovelling the earth back into the hole I'd dug (the library's gardener would *not* have been pleased if I'd just left it you see) I discovered a little matchbox in the pile of dirt. I immediately recognised this and dusted it off and then opened it.
"Phoebe!" I exclaimed, "I wasn't expecting to see you again so soon! One thing's being puzzling me though, how come whenever I find you it seems to be almost exactly an integral number of weeks since the last person found you. Why is this?"
"I could tell you" she replied, "but then I'd have to kill you. There are some things just not meant for human ears, Mr. Tambourine Man, or even those things you've got" she continues staring at my three pointy ears. "You are still called Mr. Tambourine Man aren't you?"
"Well, no actually. It's 'Rambo R Minuteman' now. I was thinking of changing it again though."
"How was I meant to know that? I'd wait 'til your new name gets into the rules otherwise no-one will remember you were ever called Rambo R Minuteman."
"Sounds a good idea to me. Any idea what I should call myself next though?"
"Not really. It's up to you what you call yourself. The name Phoebe took me *years* to come up with." [and, yes, she did pronounce the asterisks]
"If you've any ideas though I could tell you what I think."
"Well, I was thinking possibly changing back to The Gingham Wearer..."
"Too boring"
"Or changing to the name Three Letter Acronym and signing my name TLA..."
"Too cliched"
"Or maybe changing to Womble..."
"That's what you're called in Garden Nomic isn't it? Show some originality!"
"Er, um, or maybe..."
I paused to try to think of some more names but when I turned round again Phoebe was gone. Damn my carelessness!

two-star (Alexandre Muniz) found Phoebe at Wed, 14 Oct 1998 02:16:32 -0400
two-star (Alexandre Muniz) - failed to respond

risE (Gavin Logan) found Phoebe at Wed, 21 Oct 1998 22:41:47 -0400
risE (Gavin Logan) posted Wisdom #90 at Fri, 23 Oct 1998 14:20:04 -0400:

In the last day or two I had a strange visitation which in my quiet hours I have laid down in verse. I present it here for all Ackans to make of what they will.
The Rime of the Ancient Nanotech
While searching through my home one day,
I made a curious find
(For no entities dwelt within my house
For it was undefined).
A tiny little matchbox
Coloured mostly red and blue.
No matches could be found inside -
It was far from being new.
Instead, inside, all I could find
Was a shiny little flea
Who stood right up on it's short hind legs
And began to speak to me!
"Sire," it pronounced aloud,
"Or whatever you're called today,
All acka would surely be destroyed
If you could have your way."
"I fear thee, ancient nanotech
I fear thy shining frame!
And scaremongering is not your job,
Haven't you read the rules of this game?"
"Don't talk back!" she quickly snapped,
"And stop this Coleridge talk.
I have wisdom to impart to you,
I'm not one that you should mock."
"The rules," she said quite assuredly
"Don't need to be retracted,
Just write things that are voluntary
So no players are contracted
"To have to take an active part
In each and every piece of harf.
More things like sub-games and the like
So the players can have a larf."
"That was a painful rhyme," I said,
"I thought you were supposed to be wise."
"You're the one shooting for laureate!"
And she poked me in both eyes.
I staggered around in considerable pain
Searching for a non-existent sink
To wash my eyes, and see again
Yet all I could do was blink.
When finally I began to see
And my vision slowly cleared
I looked around for the little f...flea.
She had completely disappeared.

ThinMan (John Bollinger) found Phoebe at Sat, 24 Oct 1998 04:30:25 -0400.
ThinMan (John Bollinger) posted Wisdom #91 at Mon, 26 Oct 1998 00:20:14 -0500:

I was mucking about at Vulcan HQ -- oiling the catapult, feeding the cows, practicing a bad French accent, and the like -- when I happened across a very old, very familiar, even more battered than ever, red and blue matchbox. Eager to once again hear Phoebe's words of wisdom, I opened the box and awaited her comments:
"Ah, ThinMan, we meet again. Let's see whether we can dispense with all the nonsense and get straight to the message. The Brass Monkey is a figurehead. Watch and you will notice, observe, view, perceive, etc. Calculate the puppet and compute the memo. Note the figure in the doorway. The magic letter is Aleph. Do not reckon in vain, but evaluate this!"
With that, the tiny flea vanished into her matchbox, which itself disappeared in a puff of green smoke, which disipated into the air, which thankfully did not do anything as unusual as all moving to one side of the room. I'm still not sure about the dispensing with nonsense bit; perhaps that was a bit of a joke on me.

Leather Artifact (Bryan Federico) found Phoebe at Mon, 26 Oct 1998 01:01:24 -0500.
r-attila the farce (Bryan Federico) posted Wisdom #92 at Mon, 02 Nov 1998 02:56:29 -0500:

As I walk along the perfectly flat nearly unending sidewalk of Acka I suddenly realize that there is something under my foot besides the perfect smoothness of the ackan sidewalk. I lift my foot up and see nothing. "oh well" I think and continue on, but not 1 step more and it occurs again. Again I lift my foot up and see nothing underneath. But then I see a small matchbox affixed to the bottom of my shoe. "My God, I've smashed Phoebe" I cry. "not quite" comes the metallic voice from my nose, "You just mashed my matchbox a little" the voice intones again. "Oh Phoebe there you are" I bluntly state. "In retribution for squishing my matchbox I will conclude our conversation", said Phoebe in finality. Then poof She was gone...

Slakko (Duncan Richer) found Phoebe at Mon, 02 Nov 1998 03:09:27 -0500.
Slakko (Duncan Richer) posted Wisdom #93 at Mon, 09 Nov 1998 02:52:51 -0500:

There I was, nearly napping in my room in the Water Tower, when a small yet extremely aerodynamic object landed in the Tower, having first decided to painfully glance off the back of my head.
Upon recovering from the intense stabbing pains, I looked around for what could possibly have hit me. Imagine my joy when I stumbled across a red and blue matchbox. After more than a year of waiting without any wisdom, here was Phoebe. I was finally the luckiest of Ackans, even if only for a brief moment.
I pushed open the matchbox, at which point Phoebe leapt out to survey her surroundings. Upon seeing me, she looked slightly puzzled. "I thought I'd set this thing for someone else's place. I've been avoiding you for a year now."
"Aha! So reuniting you with your long-lost sister really did leave you annoyed at me."
"Yes, well, Ursula and I never really got on well. It was always *ping* this and *ping* that and never any time for any real wisdom. That's why I had to set up my own business and leave the Machine."
"You mean you were in the Machine too?" This piece of fleahistory had escaped me before; I was intrigued.
"Well, originally the Machine was more than just *ping*. Way back in the days of the Ancients it would *ping*, *plang* and occasionally *hnunga*. The Ancients had a real use for wisdom, and a Machine that complex could serve them well. Now, of course, it merely sits around and *ping*s every now and then. In its heyday, Ursula and I had it *ping*ing three times a minute on special occasions."
"That certainly is a piece of news. Why haven't you told any of us about this before, Phoebe?"
"Well, frankly the thought of you guys messing with the Machine had me a little queasy. Ursula may be an annoying little sister, but she's still
my sister, and that means I don't want you fiddling with the Machine."
"But we weren't going to." I protested. "That wasn't your wisdom at all."
"What? I can't engage in a little small talk from time to time? Now - you said you wanted some wisdom."
I lent closer to the nanotech Flea, knowing that the next paragraph would be the key to the whole visit.
"Ackanomic, as it is every other fortnight, is at a crossroads. This time, though, the signs are in place long enough before the choice that the direction can be changed according to people's wants. A proposal threatens to replace the existing system with a game run by Organizational Diktat. The Vulcan period threatens to return with a vengeance. Yet this need not be so. Rebellion could return the vote to the masses, allowing all to decide whether a few should rule. The choice is yours, and all of Acka's. If a majority wish the Diktat to be prevented, then they should rebel, and force a true vote on the issue. If a majority wish for the Diktat, then all they need is do nothing."
After this amazing burst of wisdom, Phoebe looked tired. I carefully returned her to the matchbox, which I then deposited in a nearby post box. Hopefully her next recipient will gain as much from her visit as I did.

Studge (Tom Mueller) found Phoebe at Mon, 09 Nov 1998 03:05:48 -0500.
Studge (Tom Mueller) posted Wisdom #94 at Mon, 09 Nov 1998 03:47:18 -0500.

So there I was, trimming off bits of my home (where the RulesWasps had got a bit zealous) and what do I find but my mailbox buried underneath what looks like a failed proposal. I interestedly note that it is proposal 1420 and wonder what this proposal-from-before-my-time said when I hear a tapping come from inside the mailbox.
I open it and who do I find but Phoebe.
"Phoebe!" I cry "Why did you say those terrible things about me?"
"What the blazes are you talking about?" she snaps, clearly having no time for foolish questions.
I try again, "Well, that revolution bit was quite stirring, but am I really involved in something so evil that it matters to one with your ancient memory?"
"Of course not," again swiftly, businesslike, "You ARE the revolution we need, at least so long as I've correctly pegged you as voting against that puritanical monstrosity."
Phoebe grumbles to herself about Hawthorne references momentarily giving me time to jump in, "But I thought you said that rebellion was necessary to throw off the Diktat? Aren't you contradicting yourself horribly?"
"No, I thought you could put two and two together and I wouldn't have to deal with the minutia: let me put it this way, do you want psychic fun squelchers ruling the streets?"
"But they're just trying to pre-empt a takeover! Its right there in the proposal log."
She shakes her head sadly, "You have all the facts and none of the sense needed to understand them. Which prop came out first?"
"The telepathic gestapo one."
"And did that one prevent any others from working."
"Well yes," I say, not liking the horrible truth being revealed to me.
"And did that one also give the Diktat enormous amounts of money from Acka's very own treasury?"
"Enough, enough!" I cry, "Spare me this torture!"
"Well, all I can say is that I hope a bunch of idiot anarchists don't throw a wrench into the Senate, embattled souls that you are, and its ability to bring sanity back in these perilous times."
And with that Phoebe snaps her fingers and has one of the RulesWasps, one working on the foundations of a tower, carry her and her nano-driven matchbox into the sky.

Alfvaen challenged the authenticity of this Wisdom at Mon, 09 Nov 1998 20:20:03 -0500.
The resulting Hearing found it to be bogus by a margin of 12-10.

Calvin N Hobbes (Thierry Joffrain) found Phoebe at Mon, 09 Nov 1998 04:05:39 -0500.
Calvin N Hobbes (Thierry Joffrain) posted Wisdom #95 at Mon, 09 Nov 1998 23:48:15 -0500:

As I was meditating on the harsh life in Ackanomic now that it was under a dictatorship, I contemplated the long bloody struggle ahead. I was too old for such foolishness and no longer had the stomach to endure it all. My hope had been that it wouldn't happen, that our senators would be an enlightened bunch... But isn't a golden cage still a cage?
"I do believe I can help," said a voice I knew from long ago. It was Phoebe, ever ready to assist a troubled mind.
"You know my thoughts and the events of Ackanomic. Even an old player who has seen everything needs advice; yours I seek more than all the rest."
"Then listen to the words on the wind!" she exclaimed before vanishing once more.
She had no sooner left that someone posted a message to set their rebellious flag on. There was the long awaited sign. There was the sign that this was a just war. There were the martyrs who would be sacrificed before long, whose names would be cherished in the next golden age to come after the revolution... I stood up, frail, yes, but proud and tall beside younger giants.

/dev/joe (Joseph DeVincentis) found Phoebe at Tue, 10 Nov 1998 00:50:21 -0500.
/dev/joe (Joseph DeVincentis) posted Wisdom #96 at Wed, 11 Nov 1998 13:42:17 -0500:

While I was hard at work, trying to write up proposals to fix all the holes in the lump of swiss cheese that passes for a ruleset in Acka these days, there came a loud knock at my door. Not expecting any guests at this late hour, I looked through the peephole and saw nothing. But while I was standing there looking, the knock came again, so I opened up and saw a tiny red-and-blue matchbox. The matchbox hopped inside and out popped a tiny metallic being I immediately recognized as Phoebe.
"But Phoebe, how did you manage to knock so hard on my door? Most people don't knock so loud," I asked.
Phoebe said, "No time for that. Acka is in the midst of a severe series of scams, one of the worst since you were President, while Acka was still in its relative infancy and Malenkai's Loophole and lots of game custom was just getting hashed out, lots of rules just then being read and fully understood for the first time. This time, it has a number of causes, including the inexplicable passage of a couple proposals which look like pure scams from the start, an unintentional but severe loophole in another proposal, and the more inexplicable, opposition to removing the obvious and already-played-out loophole from the rules."
Phoebe paused, as if to take a breath, though I was unsure if the tiny mechanical-seeming insect did anything of the sort. Then she continued. "Now listen closely, /dev/joe. You and your compatriots must take control and clean up this set of scams. The government thing is very bad; you know as well as I that as soon as we go into anarchy, the props in the queue will fail quorum, and another group will try to put us into their government of choice, and this will continue, with no real guarantee of getting a proposal to fix it passed until somebody with real power does it. Given the vote on the Crisis Resolution Document, it's not clear a scam fix proposal would pass anyway."
Finally, I got a chance to speak. "So Phoebe, what all do we need to do while we are in power?"
"First, set the government to Democracy and repeal all the limited-voting Governments. K 2 made a good point that governments could be used for some generally reasonable things like anti-voting, instead of these limited-voting things which are pretty much all scams, so the concept of interchangeable Governments doesn't necessarily need to go."
"Second, repeal Felicitous Populi Otzma Cards. These have SCAM written all over them in 72-point boldface. Why Acka ever accepted such a thing is beyond even my ability to comprehend. Random events are a viable game structure today, but not as long as these things exist."
"Third, restore the limit of one of each type of point conversion per fortnight that JT forgot on his grand proposal that did away with Swingpoints. Whether or not to penalize abusers of this rule is tricky politics, but certainly blow up any Bonus Votes produced this way that are not owned by players when you get around to fixing the rule."
"Fourth, fix all these oddities in the current Win system. Cycle-Win Calls for Judgement should be tied more closely to the Winning Conditions they represent, so only one CWCFJ can be successfully called on one Winning Condition, and you shouldn't miss out on getting a win just because you happened to get your winning condition in the middle of the night, the night that somebody else's TRUE CWCFJ became unappealable 2 hours later. In the old days, before CWCFJs, when cycle wins happened immediately on meeting the conditions, it was easily possible to have two Cycle Wins moments apart for different conditions, though not as easy as today since there were fewer different ways to win back then."
"Fifth, repay Gromit for his troubles, A$600 used on the Otzma Card that enabled the necessary government type to take control (and prevented a few potentially much more disastrous ones) and A$600 that ThinMan subsequently stole from him by Go Fishing that card after the fact. Don't get greedy like K 2's group attempted in Proposal 3716 and go stealing thousands of A$ from the treasury for each of your members, though, and repay Gromit purely from the Treasury -- let ThinMan keep the A$600 he gained from the Go Fish; he *did* use up a Go Fish card for that, after all."
"Sixth, carve your names into the growing list of former emperors of Ackanomic and remove your little power rule. Quickly, so that Acka doesn't go the way of Macronomic."
Phoebe, surprisingly, seemed out of breath, so after a moment I asked, "Is that all?"
She spoke again. "Well, the rest can probably wait and be done with normal proposals."
"You guys have really gone overboard on the harf. Take some time to clean out old stale harf that isn't ever used, and work harder at aligning the existing harf in the framework of rule numbers that was established by the elders. Clean out the Miscellaneous Rules Suite, definitely."
"You might as well dump the 'When used on proposals' bit from the Go Fish Otzma Card, since it's plenty powerful enough as it is, and when this part was finally used after 2 years sitting there untouched and untested, it didn't have the power to work anyway."
"Fix up some of these dangling entity problems. We should really have a rule that destroys offices when they cease to be defined by the rules, and at the same time ensure that all the offices we want to keep are defined by the rules. Other dangling entities in general are OK, but work harder at getting rid of ones that have stuck around a while without being inducted into the Harfonian."
"And speaking of entities, when are you ever going to get rid of implicit entityhood? It was what, 1000 proposals ago that this was promised? 1500? No, it was more than 2300 proposals ago, and more than 2 full years, back to proposal 1416, the rule that established the framework for entities today, written by elder Chaos (then Mohammed). Make a run through the rules, adding explicit entityhood where desired, and then finally remove the implicit entityhood as promised."
"Another tricky thing to look at down the line are timing issues. We have rule 205 to handle all the complicated timing that occurs with score changes, but we have quite a few non-score-related triggered things these days, and already, in the past, the timing of such events has been called into question; JT's win by Agenda Hat, due to his earlier error, relies on such a timing question."
She again looked out of breath. "I think I must be leaving soon."
I responded, "Thanks for all these ideas, Phoebe; if you keep up your recent brisk pace of visits, I'm sure I'll see you again before we even get all these proposals written." But before I even finished saying it, the matchbox had vanished.

Niccolo Flychuck (Uri Bruck) found Phoebe at Wed, 11 Nov 1998 14:54:28 -0500
Niccolo Flychuck (Uri Bruck) - failed to respond

two-star (Alexandre Muniz) found Phoebe at Thu, 19 Nov 1998 21:21:51 -0500
two-star (Alexandre Muniz) posted Wisdom #97 at Thu, 26 Nov 1998 23:31:48 -0500

I didn't see the matchbox. I mean, that's one of the few things we know about her, from the rule, and it simply wasn't there. How often have we heard that so-and-so has found Phoebe's matchbox? But this time JT simply announced that I had found Phoebe. And so I saw her, a sense of movement in my peripheral vision which I narrowed down to a metallic speck.
"Hey, Phoebe."
"Hey. Whatcha up to?"
"Thinking about how I should change the map to the soot-covered tome sometime."
"Ah. Well, here is my wisdom for you: Do that soon."
"Thanks a lot. What do you do when you aren't dispensing wisdom? Do you have any friends among the NPSE's?" I have to admit that I asked her, not out of any real concern for her welfare, but because I felt I had been cheated of real wisdom, and if I could gather a few crumbs from small talk, it would only be what I deserved.
"The Non-Player Sentient Entities? Not really. The Brass Monkey and the Fat Lady have each other, and there's no place for a nanotech flea in the bargain. Plus she's been really stressed out lately, having to rack her brains so she doesn't exhaust her repetoire, not to mention the physical toll it's been taking on her. And the Machine that goes *ping* has a bizarre sense of humor, and all it ever says is *ping* anyways. All of my friends from the old times didn't make it through the Catastrophes. Or if they did, Mummu only knows where they are now. Mostly, I get books from the Library, and read them under the shade of the amber banana tree. I like to just walk around town sometimes. I think my favorite spot is the FM building."
"You mean the Free Market?"
"I'll let you in on a little secret: although that's what the Map-Harfer has always harfed it as, in the rules, it's just called the FM building. So I like to pretend it's the Frankenstein Monster building when I'm there."
This disturbed me on some basic level; if the buildings of the city were so open to interpretation, how could I ever know that the game that I experienced bore any resemblence to the game that others experienced. I had tried to trick Phoebe out of her wisdom, and what she have me was harsh sense of disorientation which I was not prepared for. She must have known what I was trying to do. I didn't want to think about this, so I changed the subject. "You got to see Ursula a while back. That must have been very exciting for you."
"Yeah, she's all right, but a bit of a ditz. She's not my real sister, you know; that was just a gratuitous pop culture reference."
"I'm glad to see your opinion about pop culture references in the rules matches my own."
"Well, I'm a very agreeable girl. I guess I should be going now."
"Do you want me to take your matchbox somewhere?"
"Nah. I kinda ditched it. It's a real pain to carry around, you know. I'll probably go back if the weather gets worse."
And she hopped away, and that was that.

sIRE (Gavin Logan) found Phoebe at Fri, 27 Nov 1998 02:41:57 -0500.
sIRE (Gavin Logan) - failed to respond in time

else...if (Henry Towsner) found Phoebe at Fri, 04 Dec 1998 16:28:15 -0500
else...if (Henry Towsner) posted Wisdom #98 at Fri, 04 Dec 1998 17:23:21 -0500:

On my way home, humming "Whatever Lola Wants" I trip over a small stone and hit my head on a red and blue stripped matchbox. I open it and, in traditional fashion, Phoebe exits. She takes one look at me and returns, shutting the box behind her. Small nanotech rockets on the end of the box fire, and it begins to leave. "Phoebe! You have to give me advice!" I yell. "I'll CFCJ you otherwise."
The box turns around and Phoebe sticks her head out. "Fine, I suppose even you have to get advice."
"Even you? What are you mad at me for?"
"Besides your general bungling of my advice in the past, your playing *that* song." Yes, she pronounceed the asterices.
"What's wrong with *that* song?" I didn't. I have no idea how she makes that sound.
"It's about *her*."
"*Her*? Who? Lola? Who's Lola?"
"Here's your advice: don't talk about her, don't think about her, and, above all, don't encourage her."
And with that the matchbox turned back around and flew into the sky.

Ballot Stuffer found Phoebe at Fri, 04 Dec 1998 17:30:17 -0500.
Ballot Stuffer (Daniel Knapp) - failed to respond in time

ThinMan (John Bollinger) found Phoebe at Fri, 11 Dec 1998 22:03:37 -0500
ThinMan (John Bollinger) posted Wisdom #99 at Fri, 18 Dec 1998 17:17:28:

Phoebe dropped by Vulcan HQ the other day to visit me. There was the typical matchbox discovery and subsequent recognition, yada yada yada. Phoebe and I are practically old school chums by now, she comes to see me so often. And that's what we talked most of the time, in a chit chatty sort of way. We got around to the business of Wisdom, though, when I asked about voting:
"Tell me, Phoebe, what do you think of the new simple majority rule for proposal passage?"
"Well, if there is one thing I have learned in my many eons of existence, it's that people are fickle. We can't change the fact that one vote will make or break a proposal, but its a bit much that the same one vote will make or break the proposal's total reversal," the wise flea replied.
"That's what I think," I nodded. "I think that there should be some inertia to the status quo. The current system couldn't be much worse for that."
"Inertia, yes," Phoebe replied, "but it could be worse. Did you know that the Ancients once tried approving proposals on just 40% YES ratio?"
I shook my head, amazed.
"In fact," Phoebe continued, "I don't remember much more about the Ancients after that...." She tossed her tiny head, a motion that anyone less familiar with her would probably not notice. "Enough of that. Hey, TM, what do you say to a ride on that catapult thingy?"
"No problem," I replied. "Say hello to the aliens when you get to the inner wall of the rest of the universe." With that I fired Phoebe and her matchbox out of the catapult, confident in my belief that she had her flight plan well under control.

MTM. (Eric Plumb) found Phoebe at Sat, 19 Dec 1998 01:38:25 -0500
MTM. (Eric Plumb) posted Wisdom #100 at Sun, 20 Dec 1998 17:31:01 -0500:

I was sitting there, morosely contemplating anagrams of "Eric," (the best I'd been able to come up with was rIcE), when I felt the unmistakable sensation of a matchbox on my shoulder. Before I even had time to rejoice, I heard a familiar sibilant whisper in my ear:
"Sla... Hub... uh, you. Are you going to let me finish my sentences this ti--"
"Phoebe!" exclaimed my head Hubert in jubilation --
-- and with a snort like a thousand disgusted asterisks, she was gone.

It was determined that this was not really Phoebe's wisdom in a Hearing verdict delivered Sat, 26 Dec 1998 02:52:50 -0500.

Page by Slakko (Duncan Richer)

Last updated: Wednesday, January 13, 1999
Holiday Thanks: K 2 (Kelly Kelly)