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December 14th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 3 Comments · Life

A slight return to the song title subject lines for this one – though there is another Black Sabbath song that I could have chosen instead.   This is old news (it appeared in the Crawley Observer on Dec 2nd) but I never got round to writing about it at the time, being more interested in Horsham matters at the moment.

It concerns one of our local councillors and his belief that he is being targetted by the Chinese government. The story starts by saying:

Eager blogger Duncan Crow was shocked when an article posted on his website appeared to infect his whole system.  And he even hinted that it could have been the work of the Chinese government.

Sounds like somebody has been a big fish in a small pond for a bit too long and has started to forget how small that pond is in the grand scheme of things.

On reading this I reached into Skuds’ toolbox and pulled out Occam’s Razor which suggested that the chances of the Chinese government finding one critical article about their relationship with Tibet out of the thousands that must exist, and then acting against it instead of the many that will be more influential, are a lot slimmer than the chances of one person, who would never claim to be any sort of expert, making a bit of a cock-up and screwing up his own site.

It is even less likely when you consider that, despite the story talking about “his system” and the Chinese “hacking into his computer”, Duncan’s blog is hosted by Blogspot and so is entirely based on Google’s servers.  To hack it you would need to hack Google and not a PC in Crawley.  Having said that, I suppose you could avoid hacking Google by getting into the PC to look for a stored password.

More hilarity ensues when Crow is quoted as saying ” this was too sophisticated to be the work of local political extremists who would be my usual suspects.”

But the punchline is at the end:

Fellow blogger Richard Symonds, who stood in the county council elections this year for Gossops Green and Ifield East, called Cllr Crow ‘paranoid’.

I think that when Richard Symonds starts calling you paranoid you should start worrying.

There are other possibilities.  I know a bit about Blogger, having been working on a Blogger-based site for a few months on behalf of Horsham Labour and I have seen posts on there that have screwed up the whole site until I fixed them.

The most common cause is pasting something from Word or some other source.  It may look like you are just pasting text but in fact you can pick up all sorts of junk from Word, including all sorts of spurious <div> and <span> tags.  In fact a well-placed, accidental </div> could make it look like the rest of the site has gone.

One way to fix this is to go into HTML mode and remove all the junk.  The sledgehammer approach is to delete the whole post.  To avoid this sort of thing,  if you paste anything do it in HTML mode.

I’m not saying that is what happened, but I’m guessing it was something like that.  If I’m going to rubbish one hypothesis it is only fiar to offer an alternative one that is more plausible.  The irony is that in all probability it was a local political extremist that caused all the problems after all – he just didn’t realise it.

The Observer, wisely, made no comment of their own about whether they believed any of this, but just stuck to reporting what was claimed.  The Crawley News, even more wisely, chose to refrain from printing anything at all.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Richard

    Definition of a “Skudderism” (RWS Dictionary of Definitions – Page 19) :

    “An expression with the illusion of clear meaning, but in reality highly ambiguous”

    Example : “I think that when Richard Symonds starts calling you paranoid you should start worrying”

  • Skuds

    Richard – just because they are all out to get you it doesn’t mean you’re not paranoid 😉

  • Danivon

    This was a very odd story. I check Duncan’s blog every now and then, because each new post is unintentionally funnier than the previous one, and for some time I saw no change.

    Then, one day, I saw the “Argh! They’re trying to silence me! With Internets!” post. I did send a comment suggesting that I’d seen nothing wrong with his blog, but suggesting that he may have a problem with his PC (and noting as you did, that the hosting is remote).

    Next time I looked that post had disappeared too – perhaps Duncan feeling a bit embarrassed (or maybe the might of the People’s Revolutionary Army – Blogger Division struck again over the night?) . When I saw that it had been picked up by the Obby, it did give me a chortle.

    But I have to agree with the point that Richard quoted. It’s like being called ‘smug’ by the Crow, or ‘vacuous’ by Dave Cameron…