Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Quoting clichés


There’s an interesting article in the NY Times on hackers’ use of remotely controlled devices like thermostats and vending machines to penetrate otherwise well-secured corporate networks. The subject matter is interesting, but I was also interested in the way experts were quoted. In particular, one network security expert

 compared the process of finding the source of a breach to “finding a needle in a haystack.”

I’m sure she really did use those words, but it seems peculiar to be putting a standard phrase like that in quotation marks, which are usually reserved for individual turns of phrase, or for emphasising the particular choice of words. In particular, it’s strange that only the cliché was quoted. It’s as though a national security reporter wrote “An administration source said the decision would have to be made by “the president”. Another source agreed that the decision would be made by “Barack Obama”.” Or “the engineer in charge of developing the product reduced the size of the design team, arguing that “too many cooks spoil the broth”.”

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