Friday, September 25, 2009

FOIA!

Every now and then something work-related leads to something humorous and shareable with non-work colleagues and friends...

One of my job duties is to serve as Privacy Officer. You might think that means keeping the company's secrets secret, but in fact it means safe-guarding sensitive and protected information about individuals that comes into the company's possession. Though that might sound glamorous, it's really not and amounts to little more than "reviewing voluminous documents" (a favorite catchphrase among lawyers regardless of specialization or practice) and redacting, where necessary. I recently had to do some research on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and, on a lark, I "wikipediaed" FOIA.

It's a fairly long, fairly dry entry about this otherwise important legislation. But if you scroll down to the subsection on Barbara Schwarz, you're in for a real treat.

Apparently, Ms. Schwarz maintains the dubious distinction of having filed more FOIA requests than any other person on this Earth. Why? Ms. Schwarz claims that, instead of being born in Germany in 1966, she was actually born in 1956 in a "secret government submarine" base under the Great Salt Lake. If you didn't think the story could get any weirder, it does, as Ms. Schwarz also claims she is the daughter of L. Ron Hubbard.

Ms. Schwarz has managed to tie up the docket of a U.S. District Court or Court of Appeals since 1993 with her requests for information, and much to no avail. I could go on and recount every single fact mentioned in the wiki article, but that would make for lazy writing. (And let's just ignore the fact that's all I've really done here.)

10 comments:

seana said...

I do wonder what is going on in the mind of someone who has convinced themselves that they have been born in a submarine base under the Great Salt Lake.

I have to say that having that enormous salt lake so far inland does kind of blow your mind. It's actually a sign of our impermanence here, if you think about it. We think that things will remain the same, but geologic and climatic change beg to differ.

adrian mckinty said...

Brian

Great blog post. I've got to admit I love that stuff. The world is so full of crazies that it'll never get old. About a year and a half ago in Denver a man on the street asked me "why I kept sending my robot cat to spy on him". Normally I ignore all such comments like that but on that particular day I said "Because we know what you've been up to." in a voice dripping with cold authority.

seana said...

I did something similar to an old crazed yet prophetic guy who I was walking toward who asked me if I was saved. I was in a really shall we say frustrated mood and I answered in a way that was calculatedly unkind. This is quite some time ago and yet I still feel badly about it. In the moment I felt justified, but as it turns out, I wasn't. Not at all.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

You're right, the Great Salt Lake is mind-boggling. Forgive my impertinence, but I have to ask: are you, in fact, saved?

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian,

Thanks, man. I took some inspiration from your Gaddafi post.

It's funny you said that to the strange man in Denver, because I was on the receiving end of a similar comment this very weekend. On Saturday, I was buying some paint and after we checked out, the man who'd waited on us said to me, "I know what you're doing." We'd already made it clear we were going to paint the wean's room, so I didn't know what the hell he could be referring to. I was so baffled by his comment I didn't have the wherewithal to ask him what he meant. I can only hope he wasn't referring to that time illegal moonshine operation I run out of my basement...

seana said...

Brian, I think it is probably quite obvious that I am not, and probably past all hope of it.

It's bad though when the crazies are actually running the cash registers.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing what some people will delude themselves into thinking. submarine base at the great salt lake? everyone knows that the only submarine base that is landlocked is under area 51 in New Mexico. I know this because I was born there and the gov't is stonewalling me just like they are doing to Ms. schwartz

seana said...

Anonymous seems like a good way to go with that one, Anonymous.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

That's alright, though. I think being saved is overrated.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Anon -

In order to submit a proper FOIA request, I'm pretty sure you have to give the Federal Government your name. Perhaps that's the hold-up?