With 2013 coming to an end, we took our annual look back at quotes from news stories over the last 12 months. Here are a handful that stuck with us through the year:
What she said
”The concept of national security does not mean that ‘anything goes’: States do not enjoy an unlimited right of secret surveillance.”
— E.U. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, speaking after a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in which they discussed revelations of widespread data gathering by the U.S. National Security Agency.
”It’s hard for me to find a real harm with creepiness. I think a lot of my neighbors are creepy, but I don’t think they’re harmful.”
— Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University at a U.S. Senate hearing, noting that some Web users find targeted advertising “creepy.”
This is a problem
”The only thing the judges seem to agree on is that we need more clarity, but they can’t even figure out what that looks like. No one understands what the hell is or isn’t patentable, including the ... federal circuit.”
— Julie Samuels, an intellectual property lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that an abstract idea cannot be patented simply because it is linked to a computer system.
Paging Fred Flintstone
”I don’t know what was before the Stone Age, but that’s what they’re running.”
— NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson, announcing his company’s plans to update its cloud-based ERP (enterprise resource planning suite) for manufacturers, an industry area that is behind in cloud adoption and reliant on “ancient” systems.
Larry, part one
”I just figured two’s better than one. Seriously, it’s a large company. We have a separation of responsibilities.”
— Oracle CEO Larry Ellison answering a shareholder question about why the company has two presidents instead of one.
”The Chinese are like a tank through a corn field, they just keep mowing through it. Senators want sanctions against countries supporting cyberattacks.”
— Stewart Baker, a partner at law firm Steptoe & Johnson and a former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, speaking at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in May, about cyberattacks by China.
Way worse than the blue screen
”Dying is a bad user experience.”
— Victor Ng-Thow-Hing, principal scientist at the Honda Research Institute, explaining why augmented reality applications in vehicles need to be carefully designed.
Trust no one
”The fundamental fabric of the Internet has been destroyed. ... I assume that all big companies are now in cahoots with the NSA, cannot be trusted, are lying to us constantly. You cannot trust any company that makes any claims of the security of their products. Not one cloud provider, not one software provider, not one hardware manufacturer.”
— Cryptographer and security specialist Bruce Schneier regarding revelations that the NSA thwarted encryption of Internet communications.
The inmates have taken over the asylum
”I will not yield to this monkey court.”
— U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr., a New Jersey Democrat, in response to Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, who had asked Pallone if he would allow him to respond to Barton’s assertion that Republicans were trying to “scare people so they won’t apply” for insurance under Obamacare.
Larry, part two
”We love people to come to our annual meeting. We even have cookies.”
— Ellison, apologetically responding to a shareholder who said it took three phone calls to Oracle’s investor relations office to finally get an answer about the schedule for a shareholder meeting.
”Having finally crawled out from under the boxes, it appears to the undersigned that if anything was breached, it was this court’s protective order, and that sanctions against Samsung and its attorneys are warranted.”
— U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, in a written opinion after he and his judicial colleagues went through boxes of documents from Samsung to determine whether an attorney leaked confidential information.
Not gonna happen
”Paperless hospitals are as likely as paperless bathrooms.”
— John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, speaking at a panel discussion about the use of health-IT at hospitals.
Take it outside
”If you want to do a protest you can do it outside, and it’s better if you split it up that way so when that group gets arrested the other one can start.”
— Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, when an on-stage interview with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer at the Dreamforce conference was disrupted by people protesting Wal-Mart labor practices. Mayer is on the Wal-Mart board.