Letter N

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News is what somebody, somewhere, wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.

Lord Northcliffe

I heard this quoted by Harold Evans on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs on 2nd April 2000.

Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers in a girl's brain. We're not talking about a small amount of pleasure. This is huge. It's a major dopamine and oxytocin rush, which is the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of an orgasm.

Louann Brizendine

From a review of Brizendine's book The Female Brain in the San Francisco Chronicle by Joe Garofoli (under the heading "Femme Mentale"!).

Erwin Schrödinger, who has the melancholy distinction of being the only Nobel Prizewinner less famous than his own, imaginary, pet, ... (The two outcomes, the purring puss and the cat cadaver, are not opposed but "superposed", a humpty-dumpty word that enables six impossible things before breakfast, and is every bit as scandalous as the Copenhagen interpretation, which might be summarized as: "Do I contradict myself? / Very well then, I contradict myself".)

Eric Korn

A wonderful opening to his TLS review of Neil Belton's book A game with sharpened knives about Schrödinger.

[I am too old to] "be influenced by newspaper argument. When I read them I form perhaps a new opinion of the newspaper but seldom a new opinion on the subject discussed."

George Santayana

In 1915 in a letter to his sister.
Found in a piece by Joseph Epstein called "Are newspapers doomed?". Mr Epstein wittily continues:
I do subscribe to the New York Times, which I read without a scintilla of glee. I feel I need it, chiefly to discover who in my cultural world has died, or been honored (probably unjustly), or has turned out some new piece of work that I ought to be aware of... I begin with the obituaries. Next, I check the op-ed page, mostly to see if anyone has hit upon a novel way of denigrating President Bush; the answer is invariably no, though they seem never to tire of trying. I glimpse the letters to the editor in hopes of finding someone after my own heart. I almost never read the editorials, following the advice of the journalist Jack Germond who once compared the writing of a newspaper editorial to wetting oneself in a dark-blue serge suit: "It gives you a nice warm feeling, but nobody notices."

The only thing a network is good for is to poll the system in the morning to see which computers were stolen.

John Dvorak

In "PC Magazine" sometime in late 1988.
John Dvorak still opines.

The national curriculum has come too late for some. Kenneth Baker, Tory chairman, writing in the Sunday Express: "... I would say that while we may be in a trough, I expect this trough soon to have peaked.".

The Guardian

Educashun, educashun, educashun...

A potato is a tuber, but the fact should be left in the decent obscurity of agricultural textbooks.

HW Fowler

From that ace grammarian.

To our dismay, this showed that the site did not comply with the safety distances specified by the health physicists. That was easily put right; with the assumption of a 99% containment the site was unsatisfactory, so we assumed, more realistically, a 99.9% containment, and by doing this we established the fact that the site [Dounreay] was perfect...

Christopher Hinton

From a lecture at Strathclyde University
Isn't it so very reassuring to know how these safety decisions are made?

It is becoming harder and harder to isolate nuclear facilities. In Britain, where the government has a policy of trying to site nuclear reactors away from population centres, a remote location is defined as one with fewer than 600,000 people living within ten miles.

Catherine Caufield

In "Multiple Exposures".
So I'm doomed, for starters.

Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they're called misfits.

Paul Graham

On his (largely software-oriented) web site in an amusing and insightful essay called "Why nerds are unpopular".