Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

Dolphins join the Russian Navy, again


CNV00005_14In 2012 the US Navy it was reporters that it had decided to end its marine mammal warfare programme in which dolphins and sea lions were trained to detect mines and enemy divers (although the latest story about military dolphins suggest it might still be ongoing)..

The Russians had been training dolphinsatSevastapol in the Crimea since 1973 using them like the Americans, patrolling open waters but also carrying explosive devices. The Ukrainians were also in the game – although their dolphins went AWOL in the mating season!

Now it’s been announced that the Russian Ministry of Defence has ordered 5 dolphins raising speculation that it is reviving its soviet era programme. It’s prepared to pay 1.75m roubles (about£18,000) for two male and three female bottle-nose dolphins up to 2.7 metres long.

So it looks like the Russians want to pick up where they left off now they…

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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

Ukraine is a beautiful country being torn apart by Putin

You’ve all seen the news stories, heard the evidence of the “little green men” from the reconnaissance and sabotage units running around fomenting trouble. You’ll have seen pictures of rocket launchers, modern Russian tanks (as David Cameron said “you can’t buy those on e-bay“) and well-armed separatists flouting the ceasefire. Putin lies through his teeth, denies everything. Fools the EU. Has the US on the back foot. Sees himself as the new Tsar of a new Russian empire embracing all the “near abroad” countries.

You will also remember the scenes in the square in Kiev where Russian snipers were killing protestors indiscriminately. You may not believe it but that’s all been repaired and looks reasonably normal. I’ve been to Ukraine three times with friends and thoroughly enjoyed it each time. First before the “Orange Revolution” and then after it.

I came across this video promoting the European Cup in 2012. This is Ukraine’s point of view. Look at the wonderful buildings, the modern infrastructure. Kiev, or Kyiv, is a modern western-looking capital city. Something which is anathema to Putin’s Russia.

Hope you enjoy the views:

Ukrainians honour Welsh founder of Donetsk

welsh-dragon-wales-flag-8ft-x-5ft-375-pThis is straight out of a Victorian adventure story. A successful Welsh steel magnate was  invited by the Imperial Russian government to set up a steel mill in Ukraine in 1870 after they’d seen his designs for iron-clad battleships.

John Hughes was 54 when he set off with his wife and eight children and 100 steel workers and miners. After an arduous 2,000 mile journey they then had to endure frozen winters and scorching summers as well as cholera epidemics as they created a town in the wilderness.

He invested £24,000 of his own money to build a town based on those found in the Welsh valleys complete with teashop, pub, hospital and churches dedicated to St George and St David. The town was called Hughesovka.

After the Russian revolution it was renamed Stalino in 1921, removing the link to a foreign entrepreneur.

donetsk-city-flagIn 1961 it was give its present name Donetsk, home of Shaktar Donetsk football team, football having been introduced by the Brits who went to work in the steel plant. From humble beginnings the city is now the 5th biggest in Ukraine with a population of almost a million.

Now, to mark the 200th anniversary of Hughes’s birth in Merthyr Tydfil (he died on a business trip to St Petersburg and his sons ran the business until the communists forced them out) Ukraine is issuing a stamp and running a series of tributes.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Britain, Volodomyr Khandogiy, said “John Hughes exported to our country his skills and inspiration. He proved that the technology migrating through political frontiers can bring remarkable changes, modernisation and development”.

To close the circle the Welsh Assembly member for Pontypridd is Mick Antoniw whose father came to Britain from Ukraine.

Source: This is based on a report in The Times on 16 November 2013

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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Real-Life Barbie Gives Her Friends and Family a Makeover, Turns Them into Dolls

SoraNews24 -Japan News-

Real Life Barbie Family and Friends13

Valeria Lukyanova, better known as “real-life Barbie” shocked the world with her cosmetically enhanced plastic-like face which makes her look like a living, breathing Barbie doll. Even more shocking was when fellow Ukrainian, Anastasiya Shpagina, aka Animé Girl, teamed up with real-life Barbie, creating the world’s creepiest photo shoot.

Now her friends and family, including her grandparents, are getting in on the creepy action, covering their faces in gaudy makeup and striking rigor mortis-inspired poses. Try to hold back your gasps of horror when viewing these photos of real-life Barbie and her real-life friends and family made up to look like dolls.

When will the madness end?!

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