Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2009 January 22

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January 22[edit]

Temperatures limiting work attendance[edit]

I was told that in Germany workers don't have to turn up when it's minus something degrees. Does -30C sound too weird? Am wondering if in Australia there's a limit when the temperature goes the other way – especially around 46C, but having trouble searching for it. Can someone point me in the right direction? thanks, Julia Rossi (talk) 02:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Hi Julia. These ([1] and [2]) are two excellent articles on that issue, but not specifically about Australia. --Omidinist (talk) 05:26, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Following EC: Can't confirm any such work regulation in Germany. What there are regulations for are temperatures at the workplace. In winter they ought to be 19 degr C for sitting postitions; 17 degr. C for mostly non-sitting work, 12 degr.C for physical labor; 20 degr. C in offices and 19 degr. on the sales floor. A worker's council can demand that work hours be reduced or workers be let off if temperatures are much different from this. For heat there are court rulings based on which "acceptable working conditions" should not exceed 27 - 29 degr. C for 6 hrs or 29 - 31 degr. C for 4 hrs at temperatures in excess of 31 degr. only essential emergency work may be done. Works councils can demand that companies make an effort to keep workplace temperatures at between 19 and 26 degr. C . There is no regulation for cold temperatures covering schools. It's rather left to the discretion of the headmaster to close their school if temperatures in the classroom can not be maintained at an acceptable level (e.g. broken heating system.) There is a regulation that schools are closed if the outside temperature in summer exceeds 28 degr. C (If this happens during the day, students are let off following the lesson in progress. If high temperatures are expected for the following day, students are often informed not to show up to keep their transport cost down.) The only record of low temperatures as you describe them is from 1956 when the lowest Temperature during a cold spell reached - 31 degr. C (-22.8 degr F). The German climate page lists the lowest temperature ever recorded at -45 degr. C, though. This is exceptional, so there is little likelihood that this would be covered in a workplace regulation. Usually - 15 degr. C is already considered darn cold there.[3] Sorry I didn't convert to F [4]. As for Australia, check if your local OSHA equivalent has to say about it. [5] No page?!? (talk) 05:52, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks so much guys, for your helpful answers with links and perspective. Julia Rossi (talk) 06:52, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm surprised that school gets cancelled at 28ºC in Germany. I've been to school many times on 35º+ days. (Then again, my school blasted the air conditioning so high that we were usually bundled up in hoodies on those scorching summer days.) We were also expected to show up if it was forty below, which also occurs fairly regularly. If school on the Canadian prairies got cancelled every time we had extreme temperatures, we'd never get an education! (To be fair, we did get kept inside at recess when it got below -20º or so.) Likewise, my dad is a mailman for Canada Post, and he says that only twice in his 33 years of experience has the weather ever been considered cold enough to keep the mailmen in. Apparently, we're expected to be a tough bunch up here. Cherry Red Toenails (talk) 22:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Coming from Malaysia, I would rarely have attended school if it gets cancalled at 28ºC. We didn't have air conditioning either although we do always have ceiling fans Nil Einne (talk) 10:21, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
I remember the rumour that we didn't have to go to school if it was over 40C in the shade (in Aus), but I don't know if there was an actual policy on that one. If the kids aren't there, the teachers won't be either. I don't know of any work policy in Australia. I do know that my office has no air conditioning. Steewi (talk) 23:09, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
To be clear - these regulations aren't talking about outside air temperatures - they are talking about the temperature INDOORS AT THE WORK PLACE. Sure, it gets cold outside in Canada and freakishly hot in Texas - but the OSHA organisation standards are merely requiring companies to heat/cool the workplace to levels that are considered tolerable to workers. SteveBaker (talk) 02:05, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
For workers, yes. But for German schools the outdoor temperature is actually relevant. Before global warming hot days used to be so rare that it was much more efficient to let students off for a day or two than to invest in airconditioning untis. German heating central systems use water radiators [6], so cooling would require an entirely new system. Schools are government financed, so the government has a direct interest in saving money. They have much fewer inhibitions asking businesses to spend to keep workers (=voters) happy. (talk) 17:53, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I've never heard of school/work being cancelled due to extreme temperatures, but school bus cancellations due to snow days (or "ice" days) are fairly common. I'd imagine that they should cancel classes/work if the temperature soared above summer I remember the temperature here in S. Ontario rise to 38C, and to 50C with the humidex, and that's not factoring in the sun...I stayed in the basement for the whole day, and luckily it was during summer holidays. Global warming is a different matter... ~AH1(TCU) 17:02, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Without giving legal advice, it seems that in each state workers are required by Workcover (or Worksafe in NT) legislation to be "safe" at work. This is usually taken to mean complying with "codes of practice". In the old days this was dealt with using actual temperatures see or other states for publications about this. Polypipe Wrangler (talk) 04:43, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Mummy Wikia[edit]

I was not sure of where to turn for the answer, so here is my query:

There is a Wikia page known as Rickipedia that I am a regular contributor (and sadly, almost the only contributor) of. Even though it is a small Wikia branch, I still feel that some other contributors are exactly what that Wikia needs. But I don't know how to get the word out to users on other Wikias (even this one) properly. So to sum up, how can I get the word out about this page properly?

Another question: how would I go about getting the logo prepared for that Wikia to show up at all times? What I mean is this: if anyone has ever seen Wookieepedia, the logo for Wookieepedia, as well as a border on top of the page appear (as shown here [7]. How might I go about doing that?

Third, there seems to be no administrator for that Wikia and although it might be an excessively bold move, I wish to nominate myself as administrator; I feel there's a lot of good that I can do for that page. I know that I'm supposed to be elected by everybody else there, but virtually no-one has shown up on that page since August 2008! What am I to do?

Finally, I thank the answerer for their time and wish them well.

--KnowledgeLord (talk) 06:42, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

This is Wikipedia, your questions would be better asked over on Wikia. Wikia is a completely separate site (except for some people being involved with both). --Tango (talk) 15:04, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
In terms of getting the word out, I'd suggest looking for places in which other fans of the Mummy can be found - perhaps a relevant online forum - and let people there know about the project. If you manage to create a lively and thriving resource, it will be easier to attract further contributors and possibly get coverage in fan magazines, etc.
In terms of general questions around Wikia, including those around logos, have a look at Improving your Wikia. This has lots of useful information, including a section on developing your community.
Thirdly, the administrator (and bureaucrat) for the Wikia is Kongisking, who edited less than a month ago, so I would suggest first contacting them and asking to become an administrator.
Finally, I agree with Tango: Wikia has a large community who are better placed to help with queries such as these than users here. Warofdreams talk 15:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Puffed rice[edit]

Does anyone know a way or have a link to how to make Puffed rice in a modern US kitchen. (Oven or microwave directions preferred.) (And no, I don't want to go buy it in a store, I'd like to make it at home). Can I use ordinary long grain rice or do I need a specific variety? (talk) 07:44, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

The link from the article explains the process a little. Heat up rice in water, heat up sand in a pot, pour rice 'at the right temperature' into the sand, swirl it for 30 seconds - by the sounds of it there's a skill to ensuring it doesn't burn (but that's true of popcorn too!!).

Alternatively try here: all found via a search on google for "making muri". (talk) 10:21, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

This one shows what to do with it once you have it (by buying from a store). Graeme Bartlett (talk) 02:01, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Sorry but my US kitchen neither includes an open fireplace nor a claypot and "cooking sand" is also not locally available. (Although we do have cooking rocks. I doubt they would work, though.) I found for a deep fryer, but would prefer an oven or microwave version. (talk) 07:59, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

A Car or Oil Commercial[edit]

I saw a commercial for a car, or for a brand of oil, I'm leaning towards oil, that I would really like to see again, or know what it was for. I saw it in a movie theater (that probably doesn't help) and it consisted of a cgi noir world with these demon things chasing sheep around buildings and roads. I remember it being black and white, but with a slight amount of color and reds. The demon things chased the sheep around the city, I believe it was only buildings and roads. I remember being disappointed that it was only for a car/oil, because I was hoping that it was a movie.

I know this amount of info really doesn't help in finding anything out, but it's worth asking for. Thanks! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:53, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

You're thinking of this Scion commercial. -- Captain Disdain (talk) 08:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Wow! What a great advert - and for such a crappy car! Anyway - VERY often, those very distinctive CGI adverts are done by people who previously did something very similar as a non-advert and got 'spotted' by the advertising agency as having a fresh & interesting 'look'. So I'd bet that if you could find the person who did it - that you could find a significantly better video in that exact style somewhere else on the web. SteveBaker (talk) 01:58, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

That is exactly it, thanks a lot, and I think I may have found the artist too. Thanks again! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:51, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Starting a Photography Business[edit]

I have enjoyed photography as a hobby for several years. I have a good deal of artistic and technical skill as well as experience and education in business. What I don't have is experience in professional photography or an educational background in photography. My question(s) are: Are there any good resources on the internet where someone just strating out can get assistance and advice for starting a photography business? Where can I look to see an analysis of the industry (SWOT analysis, demographic/geographic statistics). How much should I plan to invest in starting up a photography business assuming that I have a limited amount of professional gear? Thanks! Bikingshaun (talk) 14:48, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

What is the purpose of the business? Are you going to photograph 'events' such as weddings, or are you going to produce photographs that can be used in magazines/company literature/on the web? Who are you expected clients? Stock-photography websites such as getty-images and many others (iStockphoto) allow you to upload your photos and then when they are used you are paid for their use. They have criteria of what you can and cannot upload but it's worth looking at their sites first. I would personally recommend that you get a good SLR, but then the lens you get is dependent on your area of expertise. You might want a macro lens, you mgiht want a portrait lens, you might want a telephoto lens like you see for press-photographers at sporting events. Each of these are considerable investments (as are lighting, flashes etc.) and you should realistically get the ones that are most suitable to you first. As you progress you can add to your range but certainly buying a £2k lens now in the hope it might make you money in the future is not a wise move unless you are very confident you'll get more than value from its purchase than it cost to buy it. I would highly recommend Ken Rockwell's site ( - it has taught me lots and has a section on 'going pro'. Hopefully someone else will provide more links for you soon enough. (talk) 15:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I should have mentioned the business will be commercial photography. Weddings, portraits, kids, pets, corporate - that kind of thing. Thanks for the comments. Also, how do I indent my comments on wiki? Bikingshaun (talk) 15:44, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
A full colon (:) will indent things 1 line, and multiples of that will do it more (so ::: would be three). (talk) 16:00, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Hmm, Why did you mention that o anonymous one? Richard Avery (talk) 17:57, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Did you miss the bit where Bikingshaun asked the anon how to indent, thus leading the anon to explain? (talk) 20:46, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Well snubble my daggets, I clearly was not payin full attention. Thank you. Richard Avery (talk) 23:19, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
One issue you need to decide before anything else, is whether you will do film photography, digital photography, or both. Here's an idea for what you will need for each:
Film: You will need film cameras, film, a dark room, developing solution, etc. (assuming you would develop them yourself). You will also need storage facilities for film and negatives (preferable refrigerated).
Digital: You will need a digital camera, rechargeable batteries, a computer with digital editing software, a CD/DVD burner so you can make digital copies, USB ports for writing to pen drives, and a large hard drive (maybe a terabyte). You should also have a web site you can use to deliver pics electronically (e-mail doesn't tend to work for large numbers of hi-res pics).
Both: You may also want a scanner to convert film pics to digital.
In any case, you will need a studio with lights and backgrounds where people can pose for pics, and a business area with a cash register and appointment logbook. As time goes by (and digital resolution goes up), digital photography will be more popular than film. However, it may take decades for film photography to become entirely obsolete. Still, I'd be reluctant to invest my life savings in a technology that's on it's way out. StuRat (talk) 19:31, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
There are always second hand equipment auctions or a photography shop that might be closing, had an ideea the whole film processing/photograph printing could be done by one machine, and there's a "black-out" box for handling film that means you won't need a darkroom. Camera-wise the film ones are extremely cheap now that digital is taking over. And for finessing, there's always Photoshop. Drop in to your local Photographers association, and any that have galleries for photography, for people who are happy to advise. Depending where you are there are small business advisory centres around with a software that finds markets and niches in particular areas where you might want to operate. Julia Rossi (talk) 21:24, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Probably the best thing you can do is find a photographer in your area who does the sort of work you want to do, and see if he'll take you on as an assistant or "second shooter". There's far more to being a professional photographer than having the right equipment. --Carnildo (talk) 23:54, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm keen amateur photographer with what others have said is a good eye for composition, and I have considered trying to sell some of my photographs with a view to perhaps pursuing a career as a professional photographer. I asked a friend of a friend who is a professional photographer, and he is of the opinion that just about all clients (companies, advertising, weddings) expect him to work in digital. However, there may be a few niches where medium-format film is still used - eg. fine art work. Astronaut (talk) 00:39, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
On the "SWOT analysis, demographic/geographic stats" front, don't worry about it. Formal things like that are only necessary if you're raising outside capital (like a bank loan). When you start with your own money, you only have to convince yourself that it's a good idea! And it sounds like you have.
My suggestion would be to price out the least expensive possible collection of used gear (from ebay or local used buy and sell websites) then ask yourself: Is there anything about this setup that I would find restrictive? If so, price it out with that item upgraded. After you do a few, you'll probably get a good feeling for where the best "value" is in terms of gear. Remember, you can always resell used gear later!
Marketing will likely be your next biggest cost. So stick to the essentials. I have used for business cards. I suggest an order of full-sized double-sided cards for real sales leads and a set of cheap, monochrome white-paper cards for distribution at events.
Post ads in all of the free places: craigslist, used[yourcityname].com etc. If you have regular employment and want to ease into photography (evenings and weekends), take it slow and make sure you have plenty of cards around to build word-of-mouth at your first jobs. It probably makes sense to wait on getting a website until you have a portfolio, but once you do, work hard to give it a high google placement for the search term "photographer [city name]"
Most regions require local business licenses ("municipalities" in Canada or "counties" in the US). A little hint: since you'll be on the move mostly, you don't need to have a fixed address. If you have a family member or friend in an "outskirt of the city"-type area, business licenses are usually less expensive out there. Use that address/county.
[This part relates to Canada, since I only know Canadian tax law well. You may want to pay for a half hour of a local accountant's time to discuss how it works wherever you are. Don't let him charge you for a full hour, but keep him happy, because you might want to ask him to do your first year's tax return!] For tax purposes, you will be a "sole proprietorship." In this form of organization, you don't need a business name, but it doesn't hurt to have one. You don't need to register the business anywhere (this is just Canada though! ask someone!) if you use your own name. Make sure to record all of your revenue and expenses, because only the difference between the two gets added to your income for tax purposes. A separate bank account is useful, but not required (I would only get one if your bank offers a free one!) for reconciliation.
In terms of "admin" stuff, you'll want to download a free invoice template from the MS Word online template site for invoicing customers... This is all the stuff I can think of right now. I don't know what district or country you live in, but a google search for "starting a small business [state/province name] will usually get you to some fat-cat ministry or department whose overpaid denizens have created dozens of obtuse "how-to" guides, but can't seem to answer a phone or respond to an e-mail... NByz (talk) 08:44, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Since you're in the US, one of the easiest way to start would be as a franchise. [8], [9], [10], {], [11] [12]. (Also check local department stores. one of the companies running their portrait studios might have a vacancy.} You'll usually get some training and help with setting up the business. Some banks will also be more likely to give small business loans to franchises than owner start-ups. You'll either have to buy or rent the equipment from the company. The profit margins aren't anything to write home about, so be sure to have a financial planner look through the contract to make sure you don't end up in debt. Check with the better business bureau and your chamber of commerce whether they know the franchise giver as reputable and what the prospects for your area would be. You could also try to expand your hobby first by doing school yearbooks and offering to take photos for restaurants, real estate agents, owners selling their house, gardening clubs and similar associations. You wouldn't need a fully equipped studio to do that, a quality digital camera would suffice. You can use the print shop at an office store to get your prints done. That way you could find out whether being a professional photographer is for you and gain some experience in the process. (talk) 08:58, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

That Bungled Presidential Oath.[edit]

So - the confused Chief Justice (appointed by Bush - opposed unsuccessfully by then Senator Obama) asked President-elect Obama, "Are you prepared to take the oath Senator?", and then totally embarrassed himself and Barack by mistaking his timing and the words themselves - and then next day in the White House Map Room re-presided over Mr. Obama's second oath-taking. Is it known whether on that second occasion if the now-chastened Chief Justice asked "Are you ready to take the oath Mr. President", or did he not apply any title so as to avoid further possible challenge or confusion? (talk) 15:11, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

According to news sources he just said, "Are you ready to take the oath?" to which Obama replied, "I am. And we’re going to do it very slowly." ZING. [13] -- (talk) 16:18, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
And there was no challenge or confusion; the Constitution makes it clear that the President's term of office begins on January 20th at noon; the oath is required to actually execute his official duties. So "Mr President" would be correct; "Mr President who can sign a bill into law" perhaps less so. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 17:42, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Are we missing a "not" ? :-) StuRat (talk) 19:16, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
No, I don't think so, as he said that Mr. President who can sign a bill into law is not correct. Thanks, Genius101Guestbook 20:43, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
This came up before - it's clear that the new incumbent IS president from the stroke of noon - irrespective of oath taking. The constitution says he's got to take the oath before "executing" his office - which I presume means signing laws, making decrees and all the other stuff he does. Hence the Chief Justice most certainly should have addressed him as "President" on both the first and second occasions...even though Obama had the title - but not the powers.
This must be a great time to be a conspiracy theorist. They predict he'll take the oath on the Qur'an - but no - on the day of the inauguration he places his hand on a Bible...but NO! He doesn't actually take the oath, he messes up the words. Then - on the do-over - they keep cameras out of the room so nobody can SEE what he's swearing on - and it is subsequently reported that there was NO BIBLE - so what exactly did he actually swear the oath on? Eh? ha! Remember - you heard it here first!
SteveBaker (talk) 01:48, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I heard that the reason he bungled it was because he chose not to use index cards and tried to memorize it. Mistake. The Reader who Writes (talk) 03:35, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
By "he" - you mean the Chief Justice - right? Our Barack Obama 2009 presidential inauguration article makes it clear that Justice Roberts decided to wing it without notes - and he's supposed to lead the President through the oath. Initially, he screwed up - Obama stopped to give him a chance to sort himself out - which Roberts started to do when Obama evidently decided to follow Roberts' original words. Then they stumbled over each others words and somehow made it to the end without correcting the screwup. Anyway - Obama is not the first president to have to have 'do-over' later: Chester Arthur and Calvin Coolidge both messed up and had to redo the oath. Hoover got it wrong too (thanks to Chief Justice William Taft - who was also responsible for the Coolidge flub). But Hoover never did fix it - so there are probably a whole bunch of laws you could challenge if you were both insane and litigious! SteveBaker (talk) 04:57, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Chief Justice Roberts' version of the Presidential oath was somewhere between a nervous Ralph Kramden saying "Homina, homina, homina" when nervous, and Porky Pig saying "bi-dia, bi-dia, bi-dia, th-th-th-that's all folks!" By all means, when you are in the situation of having to utter certain words exactly correct, have them in front of you on a note card. The cost would be 1.7 cent or so. An alternative is writing it on the palm of the hand, if the notecard would be too costly. Practice is also useful, in developing the ability to issue required words with confidence. An older lady told me that she heard Franklin Roosevelt recite the oath without the usual prompting at one of his inaugurations. Accurate? Edison (talk) 05:49, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Steven Pinker has a good explanation of Roberts' flub: Roberts is something of a compulsive editor, adhering to the fallacy that split infinitives are against the rules in English. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 17:32, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
As the OP here - may I ask one last (semingly obvious question about the oath-taking), didn't the principals do a "dress-rehearsal"? - didn't Obama's advisors do a risk-assessment given his ethnicity, colour, middle-name, red-necked America resistance to his in-part Muslim background, and given that Justice Roberts is and was a Bush appointee who knew that Obama as Senator had tried to veto his appointment? Conspiracy theorist? Not me - but pragmatist? Certainly. (talk) 19:51, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
A good rule for life is to never ascribe to malice that which you can blame on incompetence. Roberts really had nothing to gain by messing it up - and his nervousness in the face of perhaps the largest live audience (and certainly one of the largest TV audiences) in history is only to be expected. If anyone came out of it looking bad - it was him. So, no - he screwed up - plain and simple. No harm done - and it lightened the moment a little - which is never a bad thing. SteveBaker (talk) 21:43, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Then let's hope and trust that as Chief of the US Supreme Court he doesn't rely in future tests of the US Constitution on his (faulty) memory when it comes to swearing in counsel - or don't they do that in the US? (talk) 00:08, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
Nope. One takes a written oath to be licensed to practice before the Supreme Court. I, .......... , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that as an attorney and as a counselor of this Court, I will conduct myself uprightly and according to law, and that I will support the Constitution of the United States. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 00:40, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Muslim ladies in Toronto during summer season[edit]

I notice that the Arab Muslim women, Somali Muslim women, Iranian Muslim women, Afghani Muslim women wear clothings according to the season, but they don't wear sandals or any open-toe shoes. On the other hand, the Muslim women of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh do wear sandals. Why the Arab, Somali, Iranian, Afghani Muslim ladies don't wear sandals in the summer? Is it because they are afraid of some men who will look their feet? I am sorry to the brothers and sisters of Islam if I have asked this horrible question? Please forgive me. Only Muslim ladies of Arab and Somali ancestry will answer, please and thank you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:20, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

If you only want answers from Muslim ladies of Arab and Somali ancestry, and only from them, you're asking in the wrong place. First of all, there may not be a lot of them hanging around the Ref Desk, and more importantly -- as I'm just now demonstrating, seeing as I'm not a Muslim, or a lady, or of Arab and Somali ancestry -- you can't dictate terms on who gets to answer your question. In fact, attempting to do so is probably going to annoy people a little bit. -- Captain Disdain (talk) 23:10, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Why do you consider this a horrible question? It's perfectly healthy to (discreetly) categorize people by their nationalities and sandal preferences, so long as you don't let it overwhelm your relationships with them as individual human beings. See paraphilia and foot fetish for more. --Sean 23:24, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I ain't no Muslim lady, but I can google! Read this sandal-based fatwa (religious ruling):[14]. It would appear that strict Muslim women should not wear open-toed sandals. So it's probably just the case that those women from the subcontinent are not quite as orthodox. Fribbler (talk) 17:19, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Freedom of information and wiretapping/surveillance[edit]

In the UK or America, would someone be able to use freedom of information laws to find out if the government was monitoring them? If not, when does information on these operations get released if it is never used in court? Sorry if this sounds like a legal advice question, but it's meant as a question about the legal system. Thanks (talk) 22:08, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Issue of national security are exempt, as they are with access under the Data Protection Act. This may well include most people under surveillance. Besides, there's a somewhat 'common sense' attitude here in the UK, since they stopped people demanding the number of Frerro Roché the government got through. - Jarry1250 (t, c) 22:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
In the US, no, you could not find out if you were the target of an on-going investigation with FOIA laws. That would follow under Exemption 7, at the very least. You could find out after the fact though—plenty of people have requested their FBI files from decades earlier (you can only request someone's FBI file if you are the subject of the file in question or the subject of the file is deceased; you attach an obituary to prove it in the latter case!). It would be interesting to see exactly what reply an agency would have to give if they were investigating you and you filed a FOIA on yourself... if their investigation of you was meant to be secret at that part, I imagine there's some way they could say "we've got no idea what you're talking about," but I don't know where they get the option to do that. If they said, "we can't tell you that because of Exemption 7", that might give away that they in fact were monitoring them. Probably they'd just say, "we can't confirm or deny or anything, but if we were monitoring you, exemption 7 would cover us now, but we'd say that to anyone who asked." But I don't know for sure. -- (talk) 23:31, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Exemption 7 seems clear enough. If you ask them whether they're investigating you, they could give you a stock answer and say that if there was an ongoing investigation, they wouldn't comment on it -- or they could even just lie. There's nothing illegal about American cops lying to people in the course of an investigation; it happens all the time. There are some exceptions to this, which mostly have to do with civil rights (for example, cops can't legally tell an arrested suspect that he doesn't have the right to counsel), but there's nothing to stop them from lying during an undercover operation ("no, of course I'm not a cop") or an interview ("well, look, I can tell you just got in over your head here and I know that asshole was asking for it, so tell you what: if you write down exactly what you did and apologize for it, maybe we can get the judge to go easy on you, huh?"), or in any number of other situations related to an investigation. I don't see how this is any different, really. -- Captain Disdain (talk) 01:11, 23 January 2009 (UTC)