“If your name really is R Soles I apologise for this inconvenience”

vexedmanPeople in Kent get plenty of mileage out of WhatDoTheyKnow.com. So much so, in fact, that Kent County Council smells a rat.

Let’s take user S Smith. At first glance, Smith looks like a regular, legitimate FoI requester. Thanks to their campaign to find out which Kentish councilors belong to Masonic lodges, we now know that three of Maidstone’s councilors are indeed trouser-rollers.

But in Kent County Councils eyes at least, Smith is just one of many WDTK users exploiting the service to ruin their day. In May 2009, when Smith asked KCC to provide details of the last time council members’ declarations of interest were audited, it replied thusly: Continue reading

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Broadcasters: “We’re not screwing with your heads. Very often.”

Subliminal messages: a great tool if you’re either an advertiser or Satan. All you have to do is insert an imperceptibly short message into a piece of media, saying something like “buy our tasty beans,” or “lick my cloven hoof,” and then just sit back and wait for hordes of brainwashed punters to stream through your doors in a frantic rush to give you their cash/worship your Satanic majesty.

A recent Freedom of Information request from one P Foomer sought to discover whether such nefarious messages have been pumped into our houses via our publicly funded broadcasters. Continue reading

Guardian: “MP paler than we might have led you to believe”

The Guardian hit on an ingenious way to speed things up when searching through the MPs expense documents released last week in response to FoI requests: get the readers to do it (or “crowdsourcing,” if we’re being polite).

“Investigate your MP’s expenses,” the paper suggested on it’s hastily launched subsite, which features a bunch of tools for highlighting discrepencies: Continue reading

Algae vs Al Gore

Algae, biofuel, climate changeFormer US vice-president Al Gore, U2 singer Bono, visionary actor Keanu Reeves – the man-made climate change lobby has all the big hitters. But just who exactly is presenting the sceptics’ case to the UK government?

That’s what a man called John Simpson wanted to know, and on 5th May 2009 he submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, asking how many “non-believers” the department had given audience.

Not many was the answer, perhaps unsurprisingly. But there was one. Continue reading