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Archive for March 2008

Pixel Poverty

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<FONT style=”FONT-SIZE: 7px”>

Whoever accepts responsibility for composing the HTML version of Pfizer‘s 2007 annual statement should be stretched out on the rack for embedding tags such as the above within its table of pension plan asset allocation information. Even worse, to do so rather arbitrarily, mixing those tags up with numbskull HTML/CSS amalgams that read –

<FONT style=”FONT-SIZE: 7px” face=arial>

– and just in case you had any doubt as to whether they were drinking while putting this table together, sometimes choosing instead to mix things up with –

<FONT style=”FONT-SIZE: 7px” face=ARIAL>

In case you’ve been only reading properly designed documents and have not yet encountered 7-px content, this is what it looks like. Except worse – here, general context will tell you what letters too small to be legible actually are. In a table of numbers, the content quickly becomes meaningless. Also worse because here, I’m briefly indulging in 7-px font size only to make the point of how ridiculous it is for Pfizer to use this font size for its disclosure; whereas what possible purpose might Pfizer have, other than to avoid properly presenting the disclosure?

Did they actually code up their annual statement manually, directly typing in HTML tags directly into a text file? This hardly seems like what one would expect of any good WYSIWYG editor of the quality that a Fortune 500 firm ought to be able to afford for so critical a document. Have their writers not heard of CSS style sheets? And are there no SEC standards or other rules that would require information to be readable (which of course 7px-high letters ain’t)?

Pfizer’s use of an assortment of internal tags renders IE’s “View / Text Size” impotent. If you download Pfizer’s file to your local drive, it’s possible to tug and bite that file enough to squeeze the information from a modified file, but that ought not be necessary. In this annual statement user’s own personal opinion, this is nothing short of noncompliance with generally accepted accounting standards and regulatory disclosure rules: you’ve not made proper disclosure when you intentionally render the information unreadable without a microscope. What good does it do FASB to seek more rules-based accounting detail in this pension asset allocation information when sophisticated filers like Pfizer can merely turn all their numbers into microdots?

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Written by macheide

31 March 2008 at 5:24 pm

Posted in capslock

Strawpoll Simul

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strawpoll simul

Which half is more important in a PB&J sandwich: peanut butter (1) or jelly (2) ?


1 Because he said jelly. – susan

2 Because she said peanut butter. – adrien

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Written by macheide

31 March 2008 at 4:35 pm

Posted in PrtSc

making up sounds

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a marketing expert brought in a top young competitor from an x-game water sport, to demonstrate what he believed would be a compelling obsessive interest that young people would take in a new game he had invented based on making up sounds that would take their own form and have unique effects of their own once sent out

Bumper Sticker [] - oneirra

Written by macheide

31 March 2008 at 5:05 am

Posted in oneirra

Unpromising Fortune

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unpromising fortune

Of course if one always promises nothing, then one can quite easily fulfill every single promise. But what would that be worth?

bumper sticker [] - adrien

Written by macheide

30 March 2008 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Adrien

Tagged with

bottom of th cliff

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out in th burbs, popping a few towns further out th line so we could catch an express train into manhattan. we had to be in early for th second day of a two-day mathematics exam. i studied lightly, more to remind myself of th focus of th exam material than to learn anything i didn’t already know

when th next train arrived, i realized it was almost 10am already and that all of th other students had managed to catch earlier trains. i decided i must have dozed off, and i paused to wonder if i could have actually slept during what i knew to be a dream, trying to remember if i had dreamed anything during that missing period. it was starting to drizzle, and each train compartment was open like a convertible car, but th passengers already there shifted to make room for me and other boarding passengers. i was not at all anxious about how late th hour was, although i knew th examination session would have already re-started, since i knew that i knew th material well enough to do enough during th afternoon session to make a good score

when i arrived in town, i was led directly to th waiting area for a tv talk show instead of to th exam room. they’d already checked th morning results for th other students and had calculated that even if every student scored perfect scores during th 2nd day’s remaining afternoon session, and even if i were to somehow score zero on my entire second day’s work, i would still come through th entire exam with th best score of th group, therefore would win th prize of a special honorary seat in an upcoming chess tournament

as soon as th tv talk show host was told i had arrived, he invited me onstage and began interviewing me. he seemed very impressed at how i had done on th exam and spoke to me as though i had special secret knowledge about th game of chess and could be expected to sweep th upcoming tournament th same way i’d done with th math exam. after several interview questions made it clear to me how misdirected his awe was, i interrupted to explain that although there were certain parallels between math competence and chess ability, th connection was nowhere near tight enough to expect that i could overcome my inexperience with th game itself. when th tv talk show host looked confused at my explanation, i pointed out that this tournament would also have th current world chess champion and th reigning u.s. chess champion, observing that it was as though i were facing a 1000-mile-high cliff straight up with no handholds, and that my luck in scoring best on this math exam was no more than climbing up th first 100 feet of that cliff at most, compared to th u.s. chess champion being a hundred miles above me and th world champion being perched at th very top 1000 miles up

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Written by macheide

30 March 2008 at 7:07 am

Posted in oneirra

Doom & Groom

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groom & doom
OK, so that’s why I’ve been having worse headaches the past week or so and feeling nauseous and tired and all: Dylan’s not been groomed for a while, and lately he’s been shedding faster than we can vacuum it up. So as soon as Kelly returned the Bitty Burb to Susan early this afternoon, we drove Dylan down for a close trimming.

Now we’re headed back down to pick Dylan up, taking Tiny along for a quick nail clipping. Only Lady went without a car ride today, poor girl.

bumper sticker [] - monarda

Written by macheide

29 March 2008 at 5:19 pm

Posted in monarda

Tagged with

Pension Measurement Assumptions

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key pension measurement assumptions

For fiscal years 2000 through 2007, this graph shows key measurement assumptions used for pension plans maintained by S&P 500 companies.

The red line with diamonds shows the weighted average discount rate used to measure projected benefit obligations as of the end of each fiscal year. Of course, companies typically use that discount rate to measure various liability-related components for the subsequent year’s net periodic pension cost, notably the service cost and the interest cost. During the past two years, the discount rate has reversed the long decline during the earlier years of the decade, that reverse being a major factor in the improvement in pension plan funded status during the past two years. Of course, remember that discount rates have been declining again in recent months, making it highly unlikely that we’ll witness a third consecutive year of higher discount rates.

The blue line with squares shows the weighted average expected rate of return on pension plan assets during each fiscal year, a component of the net periodic pension cost. After major cuts in this assumption early in the decade, the rate has been relatively stable during the past 5 years, and is unlikely to be changed much for 2008.

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Written by macheide

29 March 2008 at 9:00 am

Posted in άctuary