The Annihilation of Angkor Apeiron

In February of 1975, I read The Annihilation of Angkor Apeiron by Fred Saberhagen in Galaxy magazine. This not-so-recent news story reminded me of it.

Perhaps I need to explain. The resolution of AoAA hinges upon a point of intellectual property protection, i.e. how would a publisher of dictionaries or encyclopedias protect themselves against profiteers making unauthorized copies? In the future, imagines Saberhagen, it would be possible to take a reference work, fiddle with the verbiage with a computer, and produce a derivative work that wasn’t exactly a copy. How would the original authors unmask such villains?

The solution, of course, is to introduce “bugs” on purpose — imaginary words in dictionaries, or places in encyclopedias. As a reference work, it’s OK, since nobody would have a reason to look up such imaginary words or places. Nobody reads through such a work. But any derivative work that would happen to contain the identical “bugs” would clearly be derivative.

Back to the present. Affinity Engines sues Google over Orkut. It is a derivative work, they claim, because it has the same bugs.

In addition to nearly identical text found in similar features in and Affinity Engine’s social-networking products, the suit cited several identical software problems in each company’s service.

How long before all software products design in bugs for bizarre use cases, designed specifically to track plagiarism? Or does this help explain the so-called “bugginess” of so many software products?


It's gaining in popularity….

Recently, I found myself in the San Francisco airport. As I always do, while waiting for the flight, I started juggling. A few minutes later, this guy walks into the waiting room. “Is this the juggling area?” he asks. “Yup”, sez I. And he proceeds to grab five balls out of his carry-on, and starts juggling.


“Where did you learn to juggle?” he asks.

“From friends and family” I explain. “My wife teaches the circus arts.”


“SUNY Purchase.” [Note: This year at Circus Arts Camp]

“Really!” he says. “I taught the circus arts last summer at SUNY Purchase.”

Small world.

Even smaller if you juggle in public places.