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The Birth of a Conspiracy -- I love this and hate this at the same time

By Andrew Pollack on 06/04/2008 at 11:27 PM EDT

Get out your tin foil hats, people. You're witnessing the birth of a new conspiracy. According to a few people who mostly go nameless, rather than a fire and explosion at the Houston data center, the whole thing has been some kind of bit theatrical exercise to cover up it comes.....a government raid.

Now I'm all in favor of some creative writing, but c'mon people lets get this right if we're going to do it. Depending on your favorite brand of government evildoers, this was either way to big or way too small. Those who favor the grand massive screen would expect a very small team of server-snatchers while distracting us with a massive fireball and lots of terrific looking flames. Those who's tastes run to the X-files type cover-ups would expect some kind of black pajama wearing ninja-seals to sneak in and copy the entire contents of the building onto a USB thumb drive while a graphical image shows the copy happening on screen as a scrolling progress bar.

If you're going to have a secret government raid covered up with a small fire and days of outages, there has to be a good reason. In the interest of at least making this an INTERESTING conspiracy, I invite you to join me in brainstorming some theories. Who knows, someone may link to this site as a reference for their own madness.

First, there's the obvious:

Child Pornography on the Servers, Spam, and of course Terrorism

Then comes my personal favorite, if only for the fun factor in watching the falling on slashdot:

The RIAA is behind the raid, to shut down file sharing servers -- which it will turn out were only sharing copies of a 1974 Neil Diamond album.

Perhaps the most easily sold to the media:

The Cisco Routers were actually counterfeits and had compromised Chinese firmware that was allowing state secrets to be sent back to China.

Then there's the pure fun:

The Duke Nukem Forever beta was on one of those servers

What's your poison? You tell me. I'd love to see at least 10 good reasons

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: The Birth of a Conspiracy -- I love this and hate this at the same timeBy Dwight Wilbanks on 06/05/2008 at 12:16 AM EDT
I think finding the truth is a simple matter of logic.

Think about the size of that thumb drive for downloading the contents of 9,000
server. Clearly its at least a petabyte of data.

And who would be looking at Child Pornography? Yes, you've figured it out, a
pedophile! I think its too much of a coincidence that the words pedophile and
petabyte are so close.

BTW, I did bounce this off the FSM and he
re: The Birth of a Conspiracy -- I love this and hate this at the same timeBy Karl-Henry Martinsson on 06/05/2008 at 07:50 AM EDT
I thought the comment from the "anti-spammer" was cute. :-) The Planet is well
known in anti-spam groups as very accepting of spammers. It's even sometimes
reffered to as "The Planet built on spam".
So I would imagine that some are happy about the incident, that should at least
knock some spam-advertised websites off the net for a few days.
They currently only have 5 listings at, perhaps they are cleaning
things up?
They still have a bad reputation, though.
That's mindless bunk.By Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2008 at 08:50 AM EDT
The Planet, along with ServerBeach and a few others is no more likely to allow
spammers to operate than anyone else. They're just very very large.

This datacenter, for example, is one of several with nearly 10,000 servers.
Many of those servers are leased by people who then lease virtual space on
them. The end person controlling the content is often not the direct customer
of The Planet.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of sites being hosted out of just
that one data center. Most are legitimate.

This kind of address blocking is just foolish and doesn't do anyone any good at

In fact, as you point out, of the massive number of IP ranges managed by The
Planet, only 5 are listed on Spamhouse right now.
re: That's mindless bunk.By Karl-Henry Martinsson on 06/05/2008 at 10:37 AM EDT
The consensus is, however, that when they get complaints about hosting
spammers, they don't take them down, or allwos them to stay up for a long time.
I have myself been sending complaints about them hosting spammers, and weeks
later they were still up on the same servers... No response from their abuse

But they seem to be somewhat pro-active now. Most listings are very recent,
from the last week or two, except for one brasilian spam haven that been listed
since November last year.

The thing is that they were not good in the past, and they have been put in a
bunch of local "drop-and-forget" blocklists. It will take a long time for them
to gain some credibility back.
I guess you can see it like in a marriage... If your wife cheat on you, it will
take years before you trust her again, if ever.
doesn't excuse the stupidityBy Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2008 at 10:40 AM EDT
If you manage a million addresses, .001% is a thousand spammers. Since a
thousand would be pointing at The Planet, they get stuck with a spam hosting
tag. Its stupid, and these guys the mass block it are only people who don't
have a significant user base complaining that they're not getting mail. No
corporate IT department would get away with it.
re: The Birth of a Conspiracy -- I love this and hate this at the same timeBy Paul Gagnon on 06/05/2008 at 09:58 AM EDT
Lots of mentions about calling various fire departments and none confirming or
all denying that it happened.

2 thoughts:

a. Got any FD colleagues in the Houston area that could confirm or deny?

b. A very large datacenter like "theplanet" will have a large volume of
policies and procedures that they have worked out with their local fire
departments, one of which would be around protecting their customers, their
location, thier identity, from being general public knowledge due to the nature
of that business. Not surprised that it is hard to get some answers that only
insiders would know, they can't have loose lips.

If there was a government raid, and I ran "theplanet", I'd probably be putting
out the "explosion/fire" spin as well, if we are to believe thats what it was.

Now where did I put my ... oh yes, theres my roll of tin foil, Ima make a nice
new hat with it!
yes, I do haveBy Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2008 at 10:06 AM EDT
I'm sure that building is pre-planned. Yes, I do have some contacts in the
Houston area and could ask them but I don't see the need. If its a cover up, it
won't last long. I doubt that it is, however.

The FD wouldn't remain on scene long once the danger is dealt with. If the
fire is out and power is remove from the building -- probably all within
minutes -- there's nothing to do for most of them. The Fire Marshal would have
to allow them to re-occupy the place and the electrical inspection would have
to happen once the repairs were done enough to get power into the building, but
no fire trucks are required for that.

Frankly, since it turned out to be a single problem without a big fire I'm sure
it barely made a blip on local fire departments other than as "came in as a big
deal but got ratcheted down quickly" -- which is as common as dirt.
The Department of Defense Bombed itBy Dwight Wilbanks on 06/05/2008 at 12:10 PM EDT
ok, heres the real truth. What they are covering up is that the Department of
Defense bombed the building themseleves, then covered it up by comming up with
this Cocamamie story about the transformer explosion.
re: The Birth of a Conspiracy -- I love this and hate this at the same timeBy Danny Lawrence on 06/06/2008 at 03:14 PM EDT
Come on Houston is Bush country, it is clear that the servers were being used
by those left-wing, liberal, hippie, commies to further their un-American
assault on the presidency.

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