Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

Congratulations Ukraine on 25 years of Independence

UnknownToday marks the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.

After a failed coup in Moscow Ukraine declared its independence from the USSR on this day in 1991. 90% of the population voted for it on December 1 1991.

Google has marked the occasion with a blue and yellow logo – the colours of the national flag – and sunflowers, the ubiquitous national flower.ukraine-independence-day-2016-6196143744614400-hp2xCNV00009_5

I have happy memories of my three visits to Ukraine, twice to Kiev and once to Ivano-Frankivsk for a 3-day wedding! I’ve also been there for the Independence Day celebrations in the square ending in a firework display then a mad dash for the mini-buses as the street cleaners moved in to start the clean-up.

Here are a few photographs from Kiev showing the beautiful cathedrals in particular.CNV00006

St Andrew overlooking the river in Kiev


With Ukrainian friends. Lots of good food and vodka

With Ukrainian friends. Lots of good food and vodka (or harilka as they call it)






And BBC staff – could you please stop referring to THE Ukraine. We don’t say THE England or THE France do we. Get it right. It’s as bad as Russia referring to it as Southern Russia.

Previous posts on Ukraine here and here


#SpeakOut for Freedom


From http://www.sodahead.com

Now dreams
Are not available
To the dreamers,
Nor songs
To the singers.
In some lands
ark night
And cold steel
But the dream
Will come back,
And the song
Its jail.

By Langston Hughes

Russia: “Speak out for Freedom” – show of solidarity against repression

Amnesty International has launched a Week of Action, from 6 to 12 October 2014, to show solidarity with independent voices in Russia who speak out against the pernicious creep of repression in the country.

To mark the start of the Week of Action Amnesty International is publishing a new briefing, Violation of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Russia, which focuses on the following areas of concern:

  • Independent media in Russia – journalists threatened, harassed, physically attacked and even murdered with impunity;
  • Non-governmental organizations smeared, fined and forced to close down for independent…

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Chernobyl & Pripyat: abandoned cities in photos

Still on the Ukrainian theme….

Continental Breakfast Travel

Tours to Chernobyl are becoming increasingly popular, and are a must-do for anyone wanting a completely unique experience. It is, however, crucial to understand the gravity of what happened at the Chernobyl Power Plant and the Soviet Union’s attempts to both clean up, and cover up, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

One often overlooked piece of information is that Chernobyl is still inhabited by a few people  – against the wishes of the authorities. The name of the completely abandoned, and since ran-sacked city is Pripyat. Though we were told on our visit that everything in Pripyat had been left as it was on the day of the evacuation, there was without a doubt some staging and a liberal use of creative licence around the most commonly visited buildings.

Read more on my day trip to Chernobyl and Pripyat here.

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Sex Machine Museum? Huh?


Hellooooo ladies and gents! Robert from moolta checking in again to show you some other crazy things I ran into on my trip. While this one won’t be a story like the “Amster-dam good dares” post, I promise you it’s just as crazy.  Today my friends, you will get the inside scoop on the Prague Sex Machine Museum… prepare yourself.

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Cyber men on the rise

thief_coming_from_monitor_1600_wht_10122Unit 61398 has been identified as the source of a series of cyber attacks on the USA.

This anonymous but slightly sinister-sounding name refers to a unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army stationed in a 12-storey tower block in Shanghai. They are believed to be spearheading cyberwarfare against the West. The Chinese government, as you would expect, has denied it.

It’s been called the “cool war“, an undeclared war in cyberspace, by David Rothkopf, Chief executive and editor of Foreign Policy magazine. A retired CIA Director, Michael Hayden, has compared it to a new Hiroshima.

The source was identified not by the CIA, NSA or other combination of 3 letters but by a private security firm Mandiant (which is headed by Kevin Mandia, a retired military cyber-crime investigator and which probably employs former members of aforesaid spook agencies).

Mandiant identified some of the hackers working from Shanghai such as a former PLA Rear-Admiral known as Ugly Gorilla, another who uses Harry Potter as the answer to a security question, and one called SuperHard.

America is doing it too and the attack on the Iranian nuclear programme using the Stuxnet virus to damage centrifuges was attributed to them and/or the Israelis.

But let’s not forget Russia and other former soviet countries. Redundant KGB computer experts have to be employed somewhere. Russia has been accused of disrupting the Estonian internet system – allegedly to show it’s “near abroad” neighbours it still has control. It’s one step up from stopping trains at the border for maintenance (the tracks are different widths so they have to use bogies) and buying up the port infrastructure there.

The scary thing is that these hackers don’t have to target military assets to disrupt a country’s economy. Crashing the banking system, as they did in Estonia, or energy companies could be equally disastrous. When I heard that Microsoft software was used on US naval vessels, well you can imagine.

So the hackers don’t just focus on the military but on Western businesses too. Recently the New York Times was hacked after it reported on the wealth of a Chinese politician and the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post report similar attacks.

State sponsored hacking is just one source; there are eco-terrorists, criminals, and jihadis who would all love to take advantage of our reliance on computers. 

Personally not doing on-line banking makes me feel just a tiny bit more secure.

Women in uniforms

CNV00014_3You might have seen the photos of the Ukrainian female border guards or passport control staff having makeovers ready to greet the football fans.

What you have to understand is that women in uniform over there always dress up to look their best.

Police women wear high heels on duty – as you can see from the photograph I took in Kyiv. I don’t know how good they are in a chase, maybe they just shoot you.

The female Polish border staff at Warsaw were the same. Big soviet style hats, tight short skirts, heels, guns and, the scary bit, rubber gloves.

Much the same in Italy I remember. Police women with big hats, big hair, big heels, shades, full war paint, and a gun of course.

Must confess though that my favourite photo is of these female Ukrainian soldiers (thank you Bohdan) and no, that’s not me with the camera!ukrainian_army