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Monday, April 10, 2006

Now that's a phone bill!

A Malaysian man said he nearly fainted when he received a $218 trillion phone bill and was ordered to pay up within 10 days or face prosecution, a newspaper reported Monday.

Yahaya Wahab said he disconnected his late father's phone line in January after he died and settled the $23 bill, the New Straits Times reported.

But Telekom Malaysia later sent him a $218 trillion bill for recent telephone calls along with orders to settle within 10 days or face legal proceedings, the newspaper reported.

Now that's a big bill! Now, check out the hilarious next paragraph:

It wasn't clear whether the bill was a mistake, or if Yahaya's father's phone line was used illegally after his death.

The mainstream media is often criticized for not having a whole lot of expertise outside of journalism. For example, they can't tell the difference between an artillery shell and a missile, and they can't see the difference between a computer-generated document and a typed document.

If anyone at the Associated Press could do basic arithmetic, they would know the $218 trillion figure must be an error. Let's assume the phone was connected, 24/7, to an extremely expensive 900 number, at $100 a minute. 100 days, 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour, at $100 per hour, is $14.4 million.

If the phone were connected this entire time period, the reported phone bill would mean the charge per minute was over $1.5 billion!

If journalists don't have a concept for how big a billion or trillion dollars is, how can they be counted on to understand amounts on the level of the U.S. budget?

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