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...But I'm sure they were popular

The "Verizon doesn't know the difference between dollars and cents" story is couched in a similar way as the AOL customer service call that made it all the way to mainstream news a few months ago.

I surprised myself by listening to the whole thing because it's so long I didn't think it would hold my interest.  For me the hook was that the customer and the Verizon reps actually agree, they're working together and trying, but the Verizon reps simply can't learn the math.  Before going further I should disclose that I have family that works for Verizon, but not in any way related to this story.  The story, in short, is that a guy was quoted a rate of .002 cents per kilobyte, but apparently the Verizon customer service people can't get past the idea that seeing a decimal means "cents" and .002 therefore means 2 cents.  UPDATE:  OK, people keep writing to me about this so let me clarify.  I know that .002 is not 2 cents.  I'm saying that as far as I can tell, the Verizon people see a decimal point and automatically think "cents" regardless of the number of zeroes.  It doesn't sound like they recognize a difference between $.02 (two cents) and .002 cents.

The result is maddening to listen to.  It's almost a "Who's on first" kind of exchange:  .002 cents? Yes. Yes! So cents. No, dollars.  Third base.

Part of why I don't think this is the same as the AOL story is that the Verizon folks should get some credit for working with the customer as closely and for as long as they did.  When you consider that the guy must sound like a loon to them, they really put a lot of effort into working with him.  And of course, as customer service people they're not accountants.  They were probably hired for their people skills, not their math skills.

But that's as soft as I'll get on them because "decimals" is like 5th grade math, if that advanced.  And holding onto your labels is just... language.

Like the AOL story, this one comes with a dedicated blog site and spin-off jokes.

But the Verizon story left me with a much more ominous feeling.  The math deficiencies of what appears to be the company's entire Canadian customer service office aren't a symptom of a dirty-tricks corporate policy (though there are accusations of false advertising on the blog).  These people didn't know basic math long before they got to Verizon.  What if we woke up one day and realized that no one had bothered to learn math?

So when I saw Steve Olson's essay, How the Public School System Crushes Souls, I read it straight through despite its length (and my attention span).

His focus is not so much on math skills as it is on the learning environment in public schools.  What appears to have set him off is an intercepted lunchroom note that made the rounds online recently.  As a stand-alone item I didn't think much of it, but Olson gives it plenty of context.

Speaking of social outcasts, the trailer for Nerdcore.  I wonder if the Internet has made adolescence better or worse.

And as long as we're speaking of education alternatives, I see the Carnival of Homeschooling is up to its 50 week.  Congrats on that and the approaching anniversary.

Hey, StumbleUpon has a video channel now.

The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science

Former CNN News Chief (and warblogger whipping boy) To Launch 'IraqSlogger' Site: "a one-stop-shopping clearinghouse for nonpartisan information, including material coming out of Iraq itself from natives of that country, not from foreign correspondents."

One of his first orders of business is to settle the Jamil Hussein matter by paying the way of some bloggers to go to Iraq and find him.  Curt of Flopping Aces suspects a trap.

In spite of the fact that Jordan doesn't seem to have been able to figure out which blog is "leading the charge" on the Hussein story, this IraqSlogger site looks like it holds a lot of promise.  I wonder why we haven't seen this already done through an established news service.  Too expensive to staff?  Not enough public interest (traffic) to justify it?

Speaking of having to be in Iraq to report on it, many warbloggers are criticized for supporting the war without having a personal stake in either the military or the war itself.  Looking at this tribute to Maj. Megan McClung, however, it's apparent that many active members of the military are also active members of the blog community.

On an Internet powered by video, page views are passe - "Because new page display technologies and the growth of multimedia have actually caused the number of pages needed per viewing session to decrease."

Speaking of click factories, The 15 Best Places to Waste Time on the Web - I'm giving you the printer version because the regular version is paginated to you have to "turn the page" after every few items.  Scrolling the page suits the user better, but forcing lots of extra clicks helps the site's bottom line.  Hopefully we'll see that change soon.

Speaking of things changing on the Internet, By Some Measures, Blogging May Be Peaking -"We might be at the point where every individual who wants to publish a blog actively may already have one."  Steve makes an effort to point out that blog influence does not appear to be running out of steam, but his central point is one that early blog evangelists never really acknowledged; that the number of people who want regularly record their lives and/or thoughts is finite.

Three days later the BBC says the same thing, but also use this quote: "Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it."

Speaking of the influence blogs have, On measuring influence in the Blogosphere - Brief, but presents the distinction of maven vs connector in describing types of bloggers.

Also, Online Influence Tied to Search, Social Media Use - "Not only is social networking's influence on marketing growing, but particularly vocal individuals are having more of an effect than ever."

Speaking of those vocal individuals, we've already seen the stories of active Digg members being paid to promote stories on that service, but an added twist is that Jason Calcanis is paying people for tips (pulling a Larry Flynt?) on exactly which Diggers are involved.
If the FTC has its way, it may not require that much effort.

Speaking of assigning value of online word-of-mouth, not long ago there was some consideration of the idea that blogs have value and therefore blogs that promote a political candidate are essentially making a campaign contribution and should be regulated accordingly.  John McCain has rekindled the issue by introducing legislation targeting online sexual predators, but using broad enough terms to encompass bloggers, blog commenters, social sites and ISPs.  If he makes a run in 2008, he could be putting himself at a disadvantage by getting on the wrong side of bloggers (assuming you believe in the influence of bloggers).

Japanese Mac/PC commercials are a little different in how the two are characterized.  There's translation below the video here.

Pauly Shore did not get knocked out by a heckler no matter how much you want it to be true.