What Ric Ocasek Taught Us about Age Verification

Ric Ocasek, the longtime frontman for The Cars who passed away this week, has been credited with pushing the boundaries of musical creativity, helping to shape the cutting edge New Wave sound his band would become known for and in the process crafting an enigmatic rockstar aesthetic that would remain throughout his life.  As the New Yorker noted, Ocasek “both channelled powerful emotion and seemed to float above it, as mysteriously as the ever-present sunglasses that obscured the look in his eyes.”  It turned out that Ocasek mystery extended to more than just his looks – there were two different ages published in obituaries remembering the singer: some sources indicated he was 75 years old, while others reported he was only 70.  In this blog, we discuss how Ocasek’s age discrepancy came about and the sources that the New York Times used to determine his true age.

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Challenges to FOIA Transparency Call for Back-to-Basics Approach

Even under the best of circumstances, obtaining records from federal agencies through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests can be challenging, however the federal government has become even less responsive to FOIA requests under the Trump administration. In this environment of FOIA becoming increasingly difficult, it is helpful to remember the basics of FOIA requests and use these guidelines to map out a strategy.  In this blog, we discuss some of the foundational aspects of obtaining records via FOIA, which when utilized properly can increase the chances of getting a response to your request.

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Tips to Maximize Google Effectiveness

Google has become the de facto portal to the internet, however many people visit the site on a daily basis without utilizing its full functionality.   In this blog, we discuss several Google tricks that can help researchers locate specific records or archived material. Most of these options are available through the Google Advanced search function, which allows users to easily tailor searches to specific parameters.

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Ballot Designation Worksheets Helpful Resource on Candidates

As we get into the 2020 election, Ballot Designation Worksheets are important resources for researchers to keep in mind.  In this blog, we discuss how these worksheets are handled in California, including the information available on these worksheets and where to find them, as well as the process and timeline for filing.

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Recently Launched Political E-Mail Archive Worth a Look

The Archive of Political E-mails is emerging as an invaluable tool for opposition researchers by bringing transparency to political fundraising emails through their searchable archive of over 17,000 political fundraising e-mails (as of August 2019). The database allows users to search e-mail solicitations sent to supporters by political candidates, PACs and other political advocacy organizations.by several different indexes, including political party, country, locality or public office.  In addition, the site hosts a Stats & Leaderboards page which shows the top senders, e-mail providers (i.e., MailChimp), and other metrics, such as the number of times a particular swear word was used.

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Louis Armstrong Museum House Digitized Collection

Personal records maintained by high-profile cultural figures can offer captivating personal narratives . Louis Armstrong, also known as “Satchmo” and “Satch,” maintained a large trove of such records, which the public may view freely.

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Real-Time Database of Gun Crimes Maintained by Gun Violence Archive

Recent mass shootings have called attention to the work done by the Gun Violence Archive, which was formed “to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States.”  The organization maintains an up-to-date database of gun violence and gun crimes of all types, compiled from over 6,500 sources daily, including local and state police, media and government reports.  Our new blog highlights the important work done by the Gun Violence Archive.

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Detecting “Ghosts”

On rare occasions researchers can be called on to be “ghost” detectors - but you are not looking for traditional poltergeists or specters. Instead you are searching for “ghost” plaintiffs. In this blog, we discuss why a “ghost” plaintiff might be used and methods for detecting placeholder plaintiffs.

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Dive Deeper Into Lobbying Activity With California Lobby Search

Increased disclosure of lobbying activities around the country has shed light on corporate and special interest influence on politics, however the data can sometimes be difficult to navigate and understand. California State Lobbying Search is a simple-to-use Web site that makes this data easy to analyze.

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When is a lien not a lien?

Liens are usually considered adverse, but can be filed for many different reasons, not all of which are adverse. In this blog, we go over the various types of liens that can be filed against research subjects, including tax liens, mechanic’s liens and homeowner’s association liens and special tax or assessment liens, which are not considered adverse.

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