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Archive for February 2009

Pension Disclosure Peeves 2008

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A few personal annoyances gained from poring over pension disclosures in the annual financial statements filed (or not yet filed) for the 2008 fiscal year –

  • Although it will take more detailed research to confirm this one way or the other, why does it appear so likely that Bank of America used $1.4 billion of the taxpayers’ bailout cash not to directly work on easing credit, but rather to make a voluntary contribution to its pension plan, thereby slightly softening the $5.3 billion investment loss its pension fund suffered during the year?
  • Tell me, why is General Motors compelled to file a 10-NT every year, when it’s become so predictable they don’t care to meet the same deadline almost every other company finds it possible to meet? (Hell, even AIG filed their annual financial statement by Monday morning, March 2.) If we have no muscle to expect GM to hold to the same schedule everyone else keeps, why not just amend Sarbanes-Oxley to say GM has twice the time a responsible company is given?
  • If Sprint Nextel can fool KPMG (its accountant) and the SEC into believing a pension plan that has lost about two thirds of a billion dollars of funded status in a single year is too “immaterial” to have GAAP enforced, then I’m glad I’m not one of its customers, the vast majority of whom must be downright trivial by comparison.
    Ditto Chubb and its accountant Ernst & Young, with pension plan assets and liabilities about the same size as those of Sprint, with roughly the same pension disclosure detail as Sprint, except not bothering to attempt Sprint’s ridiculous claim of immateriality to justify failure to adhere to GAAP.
  • If Embarq plans to continue to ignore recommended disclosure format given in published GAAP, a format followed relatively closely by every other company, choosing instead to use a counter-intuitive, confusing disclosure format, could not its accountant – KPMG once again – at least impose upon the company to provide a complete disclosure, instead of the existing haphazard scattershot half-disclosure?
  • The SEC, FASB, and auditors should establish and enforce rules that stipulate that a company such as Caterpillar has failed to meet disclosure requirements when it submits a financial statement that includes formatting coding such as <FONT style=” . . . FONT-SIZE: 6pt . . .”> that renders the supposed disclosure completely unreadable, even if the user attempts to use the browser to increase font size.

This brief list will no doubt be extended as I continue exploring pension disclosures.

(Remember, as I’ve previously disclaimed, posts such as this represent efforts of my favorite pastime. My formal work does not involve any of this, and none of it represents any position or comment that should in any way be attributed to my employer. Likewise, as always, it represents general personal impressions and should not be treated or used as formal professional advice.)

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Written by macheide

28 February 2009 at 10:55 pm

Posted in άctuary

Tight Fists

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The greatest damage that Allstate suffered from Hurricane Ike has come not from all the claims it has underpaid, but from the massive unmasking of how poorly the company functions as anything beyond a premium collector. Except that they’ll be collecting fewer and fewer premiums from the suckers they’ve ripped off, and they can give up hoping to fool new victims. Up and down our street, through every neighborhood, throughout the Houston region, everybody here knows how dirty those “good hands” are. And the only thing Allstate can guarantee is that inevitably, eventually, everybody everywhere else will know the same truth that Houston had to learn the hard way: Allstate does not want your business unless they can be sure they will never have to pay up on a legitimate claim.

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Written by macheide

28 February 2009 at 9:47 pm

Posted in umop3pisdn

Old Rugged Tease

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But when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:5

But when Sagemont’s church leadership began talking only about its budgets and its personal speculations (for instance, the world ought have ended by now, if a scare-tactic “sermon” from several years back was to be believed), pointing only to their own opulence, then bye bye the humble witness of sincerely changed lives and hello to arrogant idols.

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Written by macheide

28 February 2009 at 3:14 pm

Posted in baptist

HTML Hijacked

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We’ve had what, well over a dozen years – several epochs in Internet time – to learn how to properly code web pages. That’s apparently not enough time for the likes of the Wall Street Journal’s web design team.

Back in the beginning, when most of us were still on 64k modem speed, surfers would frequently speed up delivery of web pages by turning off images. Hence the required inclusion of the “alt” attribute for the IMG tag, required in the sense that a page’s HTML coding would not pass a standard validation test if alt attributes were missing. For the benefit of surfers who chose to view images, just as necessary were the height and width attributes, so a web browser could map out a page, without forcing the browser itself to first load up a potentially huge image file before giving the surfer access to the page.

Even at the blistering pace our wireless and cable connections offer the Internet these days, bloated webpages overloaded with unnecessary extra features and subterranean tracking and nefarious commercialized crap make those early rules just as necessary, just as required for valid HTML.

Ever come across a web page that jumps around after it loads, like the illustration provided in the brief video viewed by clicking on the image given in this post (a WSJ page where I attempt to scroll down to the desired content, only to have the page leap back up to the top after remaining content finally loads)? That’s the result of atrociously bad web design, of not giving the height and width attributes on image files or of similarly failing to properly code other such elements of a page, of forcing the browser to load the entire huge bulk of the page before the surfer is allowed to actually use the page.

Sadly, the WSJ is not alone. As bad if not worse: WordPress.

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Written by macheide

28 February 2009 at 12:09 pm

Posted in HTML/CSS

New Roof Over Our Heads

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Only a fortnight shy of six months since Hurricane Ike,
we finally have a new roof on the house!!

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Written by macheide

26 February 2009 at 8:24 pm

Posted in homeowner

Best TV of the Year

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canon-090226-013A side benefit of getting a new roof put on the house: we finally get something on TV worth watching!

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Written by macheide

26 February 2009 at 6:06 pm

Posted in television

Out of Place

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This is not where the ear buds for my cell phone belong. I can’t even imagine what brain fart threw them here. (And since it’s been several days since I last used the buds, this picture says what my hair has looked like all week.)
But then, if I always put things back where they belong after use, I’d still have the bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone, so wouldn’t have wasted time out of the morning hunting for this equipment in preparation of the day’s conference call.

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Written by macheide

26 February 2009 at 7:18 am

Posted in macheide