Tagged!

Konstantin has tagged me with this, so here goes.

Four jobs I’ve had:
– Farm labourer
– Product Adviser in Toys ‘R’ Us
– Window fitter on a tower block
– Rental car delivery man

Four movies I can watch over and over:
– O Brother, Where Art Thou?
– Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
– Erm, that’s it.

Four places I’ve lived:
– Pembroke, South West Wales
– Manchester, UK
– Salmiya, Kuwait
– Dubai, UAE

Four TV shows I like:
– The Shield
– The Phil Silvers Show
– Family Guy
– Malcolm in the Middle

Four places I’ve vacationed:
– Yalta
– St. Petersburg
– Singapore
– Rhodes

Four of my favorite dishes:
– A good steak, rare
– Burritos, enchilladas, or fajitas
– Varenikii s kartoshkoi, s smetanoi
– Creamy seafood dishes

Four sites I visit daily:
Tim Worstall
Samizdata
Tim Blair
The Daily Ablution

Four Books I’ve Read This Year (well, not this year):
We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, by John Lewis Gaddis
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka
Cancer Ward, by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
 

Four bloggers I’m going to tag with this:
Secret Dubai Diary
Keefieboy
Mark Holland
Andy Young 

Does Denmark have deserts?

Does Denmark have deserts? was one of the search engine queries which brought somebody to my site today.  I wonder who it was? 

Possibly a poorly educated jihadist who is wondering if his camel will be inconspicuous if parked in Copenhagen whilst he carries out a suicide bombing.  Maybe it was a bedouin herdsman who fancies trying his hand as a cartoonist, but is put off by the whole living in a house thing?  Or perhaps a young Arab who’s missing his Lurpak fix but really enjoys his weekend wadi-bashing? 

And did he find the answer he was hoping for?  Who knows?

Sex Survey

This via Emily:

Most surveys about sex find impossibly that men have had far more partners than women, typically two to four times as many.

Either there are a bunch of phantom females out there, or somebody is lying.

Not necessarily.  If you take 10 women and 1 man in a village, and the man sleeps with all 10 women, the statistics would show that the man has had 10 times more partners than the women.  There is no reason why this logic could not have produced the numbers returned by the surveys under scrutiny.

That said, he’d have to be an implausibly lucky chap.

Posted in Sex

My Photos

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I have put a new category on my sidebar called My Photos which, funnily enough, contains links to my photos of various places.

So far I’ve uploaded some of Moscow (x2), St. Petersburg, and Kazan.  I’m hoping to add my photos of the Crimea, Korea, and the Middle East shortly.

So click through, have a look, and let me know what you think.  Feedback is always appreciated, money even more so.

Mysteries under Moscow

For anyone interested in the City of Moscow, this is a must read: 

What is hidden under Moscow? This question has intrigued Vadim Mikhailov since he was a child in the early 1970s, when his father, who drove a train in the Moscow subway, first gave him a ride in the driver’s cabin and showed him the network of Metro tunnels beneath the Russian capital. By the time he was 12, Mikhailov and his friends had begun making increasingly ambitious journeys beneath the city.

Discoveries began with the first expeditions. Through manholes and building basements the boys wriggled into labyrinths under the Russian capital. First, they explored the bomb shelters under Leningradsky Prospekt, then they came across an Academy of Oceanology warehouse. “Imagine walking along endless corridors,” recalls Mikhailov, “something dripping from the ceiling, the uneven light of torches. And all of sudden you find yourself in a room full of tanks of formalin, containing various sea monsters.”

They soon went deeper underground. According to Mikhailov there are about six levels under Moscow, and in some places as many as 12, including old sewer systems, fountain foundations, and sloping drainage tunnels entangled in the depths.

Read the whole thing.  Fascinating stuff.

Caveat Emptor

Oh dear.  A letter to the editor of 7 Days (only temporarily online):

Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of Dubai Roads and Transportation Authority seems about as aloof as it is possible to be when he claims that the roads issue is “none of their business” (the residents that is),and that the matter is effectively closed, but how nice of him to agree to meet with the residents committee!? (Presumably he has nothing better on that evening?) For your information Sir, no the developer who owns the land did not inform the residents.

I am not just writing to whinge about this decision, bizarre and upsetting though I think it is. I am writing because I feel that this kind of modus operandum is seriously damaging the image of Dubai here, and more importantly, abroad.

Dubai is fast gaining a reputation of money grabbing land owners who can and do behave completely without restraint or integrity.

We are sold the dream of home ownwership in Dubai, and despite all the possible checks regarding plans for the area around your home, a six lane highway subsequently gets built outside your front door.

This, if I may put it politely, is not at all surprising.  Whilst my sympathies go out to those who have bought expensive “luxury” properties in Dubai, my sympathy is limited.  Only a fool would part with large sums of money for a property in a country where the laws are as clear as mud and the government can change them on a whim, and carry out any activity it likes, without any consultation with the public.  What’s that old saying?  Let the buyer beware.

Depressing and Encouraging

This story is both depressingly familiar and encouraging at the same time.   First the depressing bit:

The crash occurred on a beautiful morning Aug. 7 in the Altai region of Siberia. Shcherbinsky, 36, his wife and 12-year-old daughter, along with a neighbor and her son, were heading to a lake for a picnic. Gov. Mikhail Yevdokimov, 48, was on his way to the birthday celebration for a Soviet cosmonaut who hailed from a nearby village. His wife sat beside him in the back seat. Up front were his official driver and a bodyguard.

Both cars were traveling north on the road from Biisk to Barnaul, the regional capital. The road, which is generally straight but hilly, was quiet that morning. There was no oncoming traffic as Shcherbinsky started to make a left turn, according to court records.

The governor’s Mercedes was passing another car and had crossed over the center line when it crested a hill outside Biisk. Shcherbinsky, driving a Toyota, was about 300 yards farther down the two-lane road. He was slowing, turn signal on, and easing into the turn, according to court records and testimony.

Yevdokimov’s driver began to brake about 80 yards from the point of impact, but it was too late. The Mercedes hit the left side of the Toyota and became airborne, then slammed into a birch tree.

Yevdokimov, a former actor and comedian who was labeled the “Schwarzenegger of Siberia” after he became governor of the Altai region in 2004, was killed instantly, as were his driver and bodyguard. Yevdokimov’s wife was seriously injured. None of the five people in Shcherbinsky’s car was injured.

The crash occurred on a beautiful morning Aug. 7 in the Altai region of Siberia. Shcherbinsky, 36, his wife and 12-year-old daughter, along with a neighbor and her son, were heading to a lake for a picnic. Gov. Mikhail Yevdokimov, 48, was on his way to the birthday celebration for a Soviet cosmonaut who hailed from a nearby village. His wife sat beside him in the back seat. Up front were his official driver and a bodyguard.

Both cars were traveling north on the road from Biisk to Barnaul, the regional capital. The road, which is generally straight but hilly, was quiet that morning. There was no oncoming traffic as Shcherbinsky started to make a left turn, according to court records.

The governor’s Mercedes was passing another car and had crossed over the center line when it crested a hill outside Biisk. Shcherbinsky, driving a Toyota, was about 300 yards farther down the two-lane road. He was slowing, turn signal on, and easing into the turn, according to court records and testimony.

Yevdokimov’s driver began to brake about 80 yards from the point of impact, but it was too late. The Mercedes hit the left side of the Toyota and became airborne, then slammed into a birch tree.

Yevdokimov, a former actor and comedian who was labeled the “Schwarzenegger of Siberia” after he became governor of the Altai region in 2004, was killed instantly, as were his driver and bodyguard. Yevdokimov’s wife was seriously injured. None of the five people in Shcherbinsky’s car was injured.

Now the encouraging bit:

Russian authorities are bracing for a wave of protests this weekend as working class citizens intend to drive through cities in convoys to voice their feelings against the country’s chauffeur- driven elite.

Across Russia this weekend, thousands of people are planning to protest by driving in convoy through major cities with slogans including “Today it’s Shcherbinsky. Tomorrow it will be you!” draped on their cars. The case has brought to the boil simmering anger at a two-tier system that allows bureaucrats in chauffeur-driven black limousines to weave dangerously through traffic while other motorists are fined for the smallest misdemeanour.

Shcherbinsky’s supporters in his home city of Barnaul are planning a rally on Saturday. Protests are planned in cities from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast on Sunday. “Every person in Russia understands they could easily find themselves in Oleg Shcherbinsky’s shoes,” said Vladimir Ryzhkov, an opposition member of parliament who represents Barnaul. “People are upset that bureaucrats break the rules and an ordinary person … through no fault of his own, gets four years in prison. That is why there has been such an uproar.”

One bit I disagree with though:

Some say it is a metaphor for Russian society in general under President Vladimir Putin where a narrow class of bureaucrats enjoy increasing power while, critics say, ordinary peoples’ rights are undermined.

Although Putin’s policies have done nothing to help the situation, this is not something for which the blame can be laid at Putin’s door.  A two-tier society where the elite ride roughshod over ordinary people has been a trademark of Russia since time immemorial, particularly during the Soviet years.