Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Saying Nothing

I admit that there are some things which unduly amuse me in my daily life. One of those things is coming across quotes in newspaper articles that say, well, nothing: quotes cited by a journalist that fill up space but contribute absolutely nothing to the substance of the article.

I came across just such a quote this morning in a New York Times article by Katie Hafner "After Subpoenas, Internet Searches Give Some Pause." Hafner is addressing concerns about the U.S. government serving subpoenas to Yahoo, MSN, America Online, and Google to submit the records of millions of users search queries in an effort to route out pornography and terrorism.

Hafner includes the following quote from her interview with one of her internet-guys-on-the-street. The quote is so meaningless and vague, it may as well come straight out of The Onion:
Jim Kowats, 34, a television producer who lives in Washington, has been growing increasingly concerned about the government's data collection efforts. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I just feel like it's one step away from ... what's the next step?" Mr. Kowats said. "The government's going to start looking into all this other stuff."
Wha?!!! My partner, an editor and likewise amused by nonsensical sentences, said this: "The question is whether the ellipses omits even more vague, nothing sentences, or whether it simply is capturing a drift into confused silence by the speaker." (Now that's a quote.)

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