May 292012

In this piece, I suggested Christine Lagarde might be considered a hypocrite for berating the Greeks about their lack of taxpaying instincts at the same time as she was apparently being accused in the French courts of far worse crimes than that:

[…] I was trawling through the web just now and stumbled across a couple of stories from 2011.  This one for example,from the Australian in August of the same year, which describes how Ms Lagarde was going to be investigated for alleged misdeeds whilst a French minister.  I’ve also found this selfsame story, or at least its beginnings, reported earlier in the year in the Guardian and a couple of other papers.  But more recent news on this particular case seems to have dropped below the radar.

Anyone know if this investigation is still ongoing?  Because if it is, and Lagarde is able to convince herself she has the right to tell the Greeks it’s their own fault for defrauding the state, it’s a pretty disagreeable turn of affairs – and a quite nasty case of what some might care to call hypocrisy.

There is, of course, more in that post on related matters if you’re interested.

Far more to the point, however, is the following story from the Guardian this afternoon which reveals the following facts:

As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes.

So engendering my question: what gives a tax-free island-in-the-stream of a stratospheric elitist like Ms Lagarde the right to lecture anyone on non-payment of taxes?

May 292012

This morning it was reported to me that our four-year-old Philips DVD player produced a “No disc” error on inserting a DVD.  After doing a bit of shopping, I came back home and set about trying to work out if all was lost or not.

The first thing I did was go through the onscreen menus, trying to work out if it was a password or disc lock problem.  Interestingly, the disc lock option on the preferences tab was greyed out.

I then wondered if resetting the region would make a difference.  So it was that I enlisted the help of Google to track down the sequence of keys needed to do just that.  I set it from region 2 to all regions – but this had zero impact on the issue.

Another suggestion I came across was that the spindle motor was getting stuck by an accumulation of dust.  I tried to open the case – but of course it is designed to be very difficult to open intuitively; so it was that I retired from this option as soon as I was able to work out a way of putting it back together without snapping fragile plastic lugs.

Then I stumbled across a curious piece of information.  Someone suggested that if you put an audio CD in the drive, the disc lock option would become active.  I tried with a Joan Armatrading CD to absolutely no avail.  Then I alighted on a rather more recent “Men At Work” collection, and to my surprise the player started to whirr as it had always done.  I went to the setup menu, chose the disc lock option, ensured that unlock was selected – then removed the “Men At Work” disc and replaced it with my treasured copy of “Forbidden Planet”.

And lo and behold, there was light!


For an hour’s fiddling around with a piece of machinery I had no training in, and using our dearly beloved worldwide web as an adjunct, I managed to save myself the trauma of having to throw away a one-time birthday present which was actually in perfect working order.

Except for some curious firmware glitch which prevented it from doing the business.

Fixing sometimes has great virtues.  It’s an efficient, recyclable, environmentally friendly and empowering way of saving resources.  I’m good at fixing to be honest.  I’m a decent amateur systems analyst.

The problem in the modern world, for me at a personal level anyhow, is that no one wants to pay amateurs in order that they might save money by such Heath Robinson-like measures.

Meanwhile, Mark berates Labour for turning itself into a party of fixers.  I’m inclined to agree one hundred percent with him when he says:

The party’s fixing addiction is long standing and deep rooted, but unless it’s dealt with swiftly and forcefully, the rot will set in with a new generation of activists, and it’ll be a little deeper, and it’ll be left for another generation to return us to being what it says on the back of our membership cards – “a democratic socialist party.”

Because at the moment, some of the actions that go on in our supposedly democratic party would shame a low grade banana republic.

The only thing I might add, however, is that it is perhaps the wider activity of representative democracy as we currently experience it which he should really be criticising – instead of simply the British Labour Party on its lonesome.

Without forgetting that fixing as a process and procedure can sometimes make the trains run on time very nicely indeed!