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

The NSA ate my homework
Weird • Views: 26,781

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 Tweet

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
Pentagon Buries Study Exposing $125 Billion in Wasteful Spending Author: Craig Whitlock, Bob Woodward, The Washington Post The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the ...
Cheechako
35 minutes ago
Views: 30 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Warning About Plot to Blow Up Universal City Station Prompts Heightened Security Across L.A. Screw these guys. I ride every day and I'm riding tomorrow, from that station. An overseas tip about an imminent bombing of the Metro Red Line’s Universal City station has forced federal and local law enforcement in Los Angeles ...
Unshaken Defiance
4 hours, 52 minutes ago
Views: 82 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients 185 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups) 2 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon) 115 grams butter (4 ounces/1 stick) 100 grams sugar (1/2 cup) 80 grams light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed) 2 grams salt (1/4 teaspoon) 1 ...
The Vicious Babushka
7 hours, 16 minutes ago
Views: 103 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Chocolate-Mint Thins With Candy Cane Crunch Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients For the cookies: 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/230 grams granulated sugar 12 tablespoons/170 grams/1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature ½ teaspoon/3 grams kosher salt 1 egg 1 teaspoon peppermint extract 1 ½ cups/187 grams all-purpose ...
The Vicious Babushka
7 hours, 19 minutes ago
Views: 88 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Frozen Maple Mousse Pie With Chocolate-Maple Sauce Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients 1 ½ cups fine chocolate cookie crumbs 1 cup maple sugar Pinch of salt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 3 large egg whites, at room temperature 1 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B 2 cups heavy cream ...
The Vicious Babushka
11 hours, 37 minutes ago
Views: 135 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Emerson, Lake & Palmer I Believe in Father Christmas They said they'll be snow at christmasThey said they'll be peace on earthBut instead it just kept on rainingA veil of tears for the virgin's birthI remember one Christmas morningA winters light and a distant choirAnd the peal of ...
Thanos
12 hours, 58 minutes ago
Views: 109 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 3
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Goo Goo Dolls - Better Days [Official Music Video] The new album Boxes featuring the single "So Alive" is available for pre-order now. Get it on iTunes here: smarturl.it Subscribe to Goo Goo Dolls on YouTube: bit.ly Connect:Website: googoodolls.comFacebook: facebook.comTwitter: Tweets by googoodolls YouTube: youtube.com "Better Days" Lyrics: ...
Thanos
12 hours, 59 minutes ago
Views: 92 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
UK Supreme Court Hearing Government Appeal Over Brexit Powers The Supreme Court has begun a landmark legal hearing into whether Parliament's consent is required before official Brexit negotiations can begin. Its 11 justices will hear a government appeal against last month's High Court ruling that only Parliament has ...
Thanos
19 hours, 47 minutes ago
Views: 293 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 12 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
Trump to Nominate Carson to Lead U.S. Housing, Urban Policy President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an unconventional choice that underscores Trump’s willingness to forgo traditional policy expertise in some Cabinet positions to surround himself with ...
Thanos
19 hours, 49 minutes ago
Views: 311 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 6 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
Austria Far-Right Candidate Norbert Hofer Defeated in Presidential Poll Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer has lost Austria's presidential election. On Facebook, he described himself as "infinitely sad" and congratulated Alexander Van der Bellen, former head of the Greens, on his victory. The elections had been seen as a sign ...
Thanos
1 day, 14 hours ago
Views: 413 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 3
Tweets: 19 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 2
Comments: 0
: 2