Guardian Author Says Mysterious Godlike Entity Deleted Text for His Snowden Book as He Was Typing

The NSA ate my homework
Weird • Views: 26,597

Rarely do I laugh out loud while reading something on the Internet, but this latest piece from Guardian writer Luke Harding, author of the Guardian’s book on Edward Snowden, provoked a genuine lolwut out of me: Writing the Snowden Files: ‘The Paragraph Began to Self-Delete’.

I was writing a chapter on the NSA’s close, and largely hidden, relationship with Silicon Valley. I wrote that Snowden’s revelations had damaged US tech companies and their bottom line. Something odd happened. The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish. When I tried to close my OpenOffice file the keyboard began flashing and bleeping.

Over the next few weeks these incidents of remote deletion happened several times. There was no fixed pattern but it tended to occur when I wrote disparagingly of the NSA. All authors expect criticism. But criticism before publication by an anonymous, divine third party is something novel. I began to leave notes for my secret reader. I tried to be polite, but irritation crept in. Once I wrote: “Good morning. I don’t mind you reading my manuscript - you’re doing so already - but I’d be grateful if you don’t delete it. Thank you.” There was no reply.

A month later the mysterious reader - him, her, they? - abruptly disappeared. At a literary event in Berlin my Guardian colleague David Leigh told a journalist about my unusual computer experiences; he led with the anecdote in a piece for the leftwing daily Taz. After that, nothing. I finished The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man in December.

In idle moments I wonder who might have been my surreptitious editor. An aggrieved analyst at the NSA’s Fort Meade spy city? GCHQ? A Russian hacker? Someone else intent on mischief? Whoever you are, what did you think of my book? I’d genuinely like to know.

Yes, folks, let’s recap. Luke Harding claims that while he was writing his book with OpenOffice, he saw text being deleted right in front of his eyes, not once, but several times over the course of several weeks.

But he did nothing to find out what was going on, or to try to stop it? He didn’t turn off his network connection? He didn’t take out his iPhone and record a video of it happening? He didn’t call the Guardian’s IT department to check his computer for malware? He didn’t check to see if his Delete key was sticking? Didn’t ask his officemates if they were playing a prank on him?

He just watched it happen, over and over? And the only action he took was to write cute little notes to… a godlike entity who was reading every word he typed?

It’s difficult to finish this post because I keep breaking out in laughter, but where do I get one of those cool flashing beeping keyboards? Mine just sits there.

UPDATE at 2/20/14 3:04:03 pm

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
Prisma for AndroidPrisma for Android is great to have pic.twitter.com/UFgx1YFTXm— Daniel Ballard (@RW_Conspirator) July 26, 2016
Great White Snark
3 hours, 15 minutes ago
Views: 74 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Kansas City’s Emanuel Cleaver Talks Clinton Loyalty, 2016 DNC WASHINGTON When Hillary Clinton was trailing in delegates to Barack Obama in 2008, she called her old friend Emanuel Cleaver. Clinton told the Democratic congressman from Kansas City, Missouri, that she knew he’d been taking heat from the black ...
Thanos
4 hours, 39 minutes ago
Views: 85 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Primaries Offer Hope in Kansas for Good Changes Independents should show up on Aug. 2 and register as Republicans — hopefully casting their ballots for the candidates listed at the end of this column. After the election, they are free to disaffiliate or change affiliation on or ...
Thanos
16 hours, 52 minutes ago
Views: 186 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 3 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 1
(2015) Assange to Snowden: Don’t Go to Latin America, Go to Russia Despite ‘Bad PR’The Guardian: Julian Assange has said he advised the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden against seeking asylum in Latin America because he could have been kidnapped and possibly killed there. The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief said he told Snowden to ignore concerns about ...
Eric The Fruit Bat
1 day, 3 hours ago
Views: 237 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Likes: 1
Comments: 0
: 2
Sony Is the Only Remaining Hurdle to Cross-Platform Play, Developers Say Back in March, Microsoft announced that it would allow generic cross-platform play on its Xbox Live network. The move was essentially a public challenge for Sony to similarly open up the PlayStation Network, allowing for multiplayer matches involving more ...
Thanos
1 day, 4 hours ago
Views: 154 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Cable Lobby Set-Top Offer: No DVR Requirement, No More Compromises The NCTA said customers won't have to pay extra for using third-party apps and boxes but left the door open for other methods of jacking up customers' prices. The cable lobby proposal would require pay-TV companies with at least ...
Thanos
1 day, 4 hours ago
Views: 174 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Wildfire Forces Evacuations Near Carmel, Burns More Than 10,000 Acres Big Sur - The Soberanes Fire is burning out of control south of Carmel and Point Lobos, forcing evacuations in Carmel Highlands and the Palo Colorado Canyon area. The wildland fire had consumed more than 10,000 acres by Sunday ...
Thanos
1 day, 8 hours ago
Views: 142 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Analysis: Russia Stays, and Clean Athletes Scratch Heads If this turns out to be Thomas Bach's defining moment, here's what the leader of the International Olympic Committee will be remembered for: keeping Russia as part of the club, but losing the trust of thousands of athletes who ...
Thanos
1 day, 8 hours ago
Views: 146 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Suicide Squad Official Comic-Con Trailer (2016) - Margot Robbie Movie Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared LetoSuicide Squad Official Comic-Con Trailer (2016) - Margot Robbie Movie A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency. Subscribe to TRAILERS: bit.lySubscribe to ...
Thanos
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 169 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Justice League Official Comic-Con Trailer (2017) - Ben Affleck Movie Starring: Gal Gadot, Jared Leto, Henry CavillJustice League Official Comic-Con Trailer (2017) - Ben Affleck Movie Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana ...
Thanos
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 164 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0