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July 18, 2007

"Litvinenko would be happy…

Writing about web page http://izvestia.ru/politic/article3106272/

The escalating tension between London and Moscow on the murder case of Mr. Litvinenko is, as expected, among the headlines in Russian press. I thought it would be interesting to see what the reports in Moscow say. And here’s one of them:

“Litvinenko would be happy…”

If he knew that the new British Prime Minister is trying to influence Russia using old methods
By Igor Yavlinskyi

The diplomatic war between London and Moscow has halted in an uncomfortable tension. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his cabinet now needs to decide how to resolve this complicated mess of a situation – a product of their own making – without losing face.

Brown declared that he “makes no apology for the decision to expel the Russian diplomats from the United Kingdom”. But – on paradox! – the PM, according to his own words, keeps counting on Russia’s cooperation in all major international deals. His optimism encourages hope, however, it is hard to envision the coexistence of these two diagonally different approaches.

The Russian Ambassador in Britain Yuri Fedotov was summoned by the Foreign Ministry before David Miliband made his official speech to the Parliament. The Minister himself evaded questions, delegating the unpleasant task to one of his aides. Our Ambassador was presented with a list of our diplomats that were to be expelled on the demands of the British. Their names remain unknown. They are reportedly officials of the “intermediate level”.

Curiously, they were granted not 24 or 48 hours for departure, as it usually happens, but 10 days.

[text omitted]

The British press are looking for the answer to the main question: has Premier Brown miscalculated the consequences that a “diplomatic war” could potentially lead to? And this is when “there was no suggestion that any of the Russian diplomats expelled now were involved in the Litvinenko case (or in spying)” (The Independent) [the Russian version of the quote does not include or in spying. Quote retracted from http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2776147.ece]

Another relevant theme: can a freshly baked British diplomat such as David Miliband suggest that Russia changes its Constitution in order to achieve that extradition of Lugovoi? “But they say that considering the fact of murder of Mr Litvinenko, Moscow could have worked out a judicial mechanism that would allow it to satisfy the request for extradition” – The Financial Times [source not found].

One person is indisputably happy with the conflict: Litvinenko’s widow, Marina. She has already declared that she fully supports Brown’s actions.

Evidence against Andrey Lugovoi?
The full list of evidence gathered by Scotland Yard against Lugovoi is kept secret. The Russian prosecution is also in the dark.

— We requested the Lugovoi case in full from the British prosecution so that we can come to our own conclusions, but they did not fulfil it – Izvestia were told by an information source in the Office of Public Prosecutor, which is running an independent investigation into the death of Litvinenko. – They’ve only presented 20-odd pages of their own conclusions.

We’ve sent dozens of questions on 104 pages to London. They only answered a part of them. One of the half-empty responses explained that the lack of information is caused by the case being reviewed in the Royal Procurator. In another one they argue that they deem it unnecessary to answer our questions because they find it expedient. It is therefore assumed that they have only worked on their own version. We have our own ideas, but the British side didn’t provide us with the necessary information and didn’t give us the opportunity to further investigate the case. And finally, we’ve requested the British prosecution to question a number of witnesses, but they were not questioned because there was thought to be no ground for questioning. We asked the British to forensically examine Berezovski’s office and Patarkatshvili’s office. The peculiar thing is, everybody around Berezovski has been exposed to polonium, but he himself is unaffected.

The British press says that the prosecution relies on the fact that traces of polonium were, according to the British “Sherlock Holmes”, found everywhere Lugovoi set foot. In the hotel room, in the bar, on the plane, on the receipts and banknotes. An additional supporting evidence the British use claims that “polonium-210 is primarily produced in Russia”.

[text continues with quotes from other sources]


June 21, 2007

100 0000

II.

猪:
前不久去我去中国城买电话卡的时候无意听到几个打工的中国人的对话。别的我没去仔细听,但是有一句话让我回头了。一个三十多岁的拉货的男的冲着他的伙伴们喊了一句:“……干十年也干不出一百万来!”
我顿时停了下来。“他们来到这儿都是有目的的。目的就是100万。挣钱,挣他个一百万就达到目标了,就可以喘口气了,就可以回家了,也有交代了。他们靠的不是别的,就是自己这一双手,两条腿和一个死心肠。他们的要求并不多,就一百万。挣到手就踏实了。可是就这么简单的,好比白纸上的一条线那么明确的理想却就是那么难实现。”


If you like to be an observer, too…

I.

如果你喜欢当一个旁观者,坐在一个不会被人发现的角落里悄悄偷看他人的一举一动,那么欢迎来到我的世界!让我来分享一下我的最新发现吧:长途火车。
它从不会让你失望的。大大小小的人提着,拉着,背着,顶着,抱着五颜六色的包裹,推推创创挤上车:打一个词。热闹。乘车是一个临时的状况,但舒适还是很重要的。每个人都会精心布置自己仅有的五十平方厘米的私人空间。有人会枕着自己的外衣,也有人会蹬着自己的箱子。但最令我关心的总是他们从包裹里掏出来的东西。这种不健康的兴趣并非起源于‘贼心’。只是坐惯了火车便也熟悉坐车人的习惯了,知道每个人都会从他们的包裹里掏出一件东西来帮助他们打发时间,同时躲避对面坐着的人和时不时出现的乞丐。


March 07, 2007

The Death of the Clerk

The Death of the Clerk

One fine evening, a no less fine executor*, Ivan Dmitrich Chervyakov**, was sitting in the second row of a fine theatre, looking though his binoculars at The Chimes of Normandy. He looked and felt like a king. Out of nowhere… we often see this turn of phrase, this ‘out of nowhere’ in tales. The authors are right: life is so full of suddenness! Suddenly, his face cringed, eyes rolled toward the skies, breath held still… he moved his binoculars away from his eyes, keeled over and…apchew!!! Sneezed, as you can see. Sneezing is not frowned upon by anyone anywhere. Everyone sneezes – men in the field, policemen and sometimes even secret advisers sneeze. Chervyakov was not at all embarrassed by the act; he pulled out a hankie, wiped himself clean and like any well-bread person looked around himself to check if his feat had disturbed anyone. And suddenly the duly embarrassment dawned on him: right under his nose, in the front row, a bald old man was tirelessly wiping his shiny baldness with his gloves muttering something to himself. To his horror, Chervyakov recognized in the old bald man the civil general Brizjalov, serving at the ministry of communications.

“I sprayed him with my mucus and spittle!” – Chervyakov thought to himself – He may not be my boss, but it’s still awkward. I should apologize”.

Chervyakov cleared his throat, tipped his body forward and whispered in the general’s ear:
- My humble apologies, I didn’t mean to… to sneeze on you…
- It’s fine, it’s okay
- In the name of the lord almighty, please accept my apologies. I… I really didn’t intend for it…
- Oh for the love of god, sit down please! I’m trying to watch the operetta!

Chervyakov felt he was covered in shame; he let out a silly smile and started staring at the stage. He was watching alright, but he no longer felt like a king. In the interim break he walked up to Brizjalov, made a couple of circles around him, and fighting his fears, murmured:

- I sprayed on you, your high—ness. Please forgive me… I… I didn’t do it to…
- Oh enough already… I’d already forgotten about it and you are still on about it! – said the general, his lower lip quivering in annoyance.

“Forgotten says he… but I could see that spark of acidity in his eyes, – Chervyakov thought to himself. – he doesn’t even want to speak to me. I should explain to him I did not mean for this to happen… that it’s the nature’s call. What if he decides I wanted to spit on him. He may not think it this way now, but what if he rethinks it afterwards!...”

When he came back home, Chervyakov decided to tell his wife about this unfortunate incident. His wife, as Chervyakov saw it, took it too carelessly. She got scared at first, but when she found out Brizjalov was not Chervyakov’s boss she calmed down.

- Still, you should go and apologize to him, – she said. – He may decide you can’t behave like a civilized human being in public!
- That’s the problem! I apologized, but he was kind of weird… Didn’t say anything. Well, we didn’t really have the time to talk properly.

The next day Chervyakov put on his brand new uniform, had his haircut and went to see Brizjalov to explain things… At the reception he noticed a lot of people had come to submit their requests and the general was standing among them already open for applications. After he’d dealt with a number of visitors, the general proceeded on to Chervyakov.

- Yesterday in the “Arcade”, if you will to remember, your high-ness, – the executor started explaining, – I sneezed and… and accidentally sprayed you… my apolo…
- What utter trifle… God knows what! What it is you wish? – the general said referring to the next visitor.

“He doesn’t want to talk! – Chervyakov thought to himself and grew pale. – Means he’s angry. No, I can’t leave it like that… I’ll explain it to him…”

When the general finished his round with the last visitor and was heading towards his office Chervyakov caught up with him and started murmuring:

- Your high-ness! If I may… I only dare bother you because of my deep and sincere remorse… You should know I never intended for this to happen!
The General made a whining face and waved his hand.
- You have got to be kidding, sir! – said he, disappearing behind the door.

“What jokes? – thought Chervyakov. – Nothing like that! He’s a general and yet he can’t seem to understand! Well, if so, I’ll stop apologizing to this braggart! The hell with him! I’ll just write him a letter, I’ll stop apologizing in person, god knows I will!”

Those were the thoughts running though Chervyakov’s head as he was walking home. But he didn’t write that letter to the general. He thought hard, really hard about how to write that letter, but came up with nothing. So, he had to go back to the General again the next day, to explain himself.

- I was here yesterday, your high-ness, – the murmur had resumed once again when the general’s enquiring gaze met with Chervyakov’s guilty eyes. – I was here not to make jokes, as you’ve implied. I was here to apologize for spraying you when I accidentally sneezed; not for a laugh, I’d never make such jokes. Dare I laugh? If we all were to laugh, then there would be no respect for the authorities… no respect…
- Get the hell out of here!!! – suddenly crowed the general shaking and turning blue.
- W-what? – whispered Chervyakov growing pale with horror.
- Get the hell out of here!!! – the general repeated himself stamping his feet.

Chervyakov felt like something had torn off in his stomach. He couldn’t see anything, he couldn’t hear anything; he backed out of the door, on to the street and shuffled back home. When his feet brought him back home he laid down on the sofa with his uniform still on and… passed away.

===========================================

First published in the literary magazine “Oskolki” (broken glass) in 1883, issue No. 30 under the category “Incidents”

  • Executors were usually officials in charge of the maintenance issues in an institution
  • * The surname Chervyakov derives from the noun for ‘worm’ – chervyak

Story by A. P. Chekhov. The original text is available at http://public-library.narod.ru/Chekhov.Anton/smert.html


April 05, 2006

The Sex Life of the Ladybirds: Perversities

Perversities
Yep, even ladybirds have perversities. On the Petri dishes on display in the labs one can often witness scenes of necrophilia, whereby the male individuals copulate with dead females (sometimes even dead males). Male individuals approach such copulation with grave seriousness, spending as much time on it as they would with a living partner.

Cases of sodomy can also be found, although relatively rarely, among ladybirds living in the wild. The males of one breed attempt to copulate with females of another breed. In some cases, due to the mismatch of reproductive organs, the partners have a hard time detaching from each other, consequently suffering extensive injuries from the intercourse. Crossbreed copulation is believed to be counter-productive as it does not produce offspring and is thus pointless.

Ladybirds, the seemingly cute and innocent creatures with a pretty name, have a propensity to cannibalism. The most violent cannibals are the larvae. However the adults can also indulge in devouring the eggs of the same kind. Pressed by the lack of food the female ladybirds can be found eating the eggs they’ve laid themselves. Such behaviour can be justified: if the environment holds no resources for the female, then it will hardly be able to supply the necessary food for her offspring. By eating the eggs, the females keep themselves alive and boost their ability to lay eggs for when the better times come. Thus, maternal cannibalism has more biological reason than the male’s disposition to sodomy and necrophilia.

STDs
Sexual promiscuity, it turns out, is punishable not only for humans, but for ladybirds as well. Adalias have been found to carry an extremely rare STD for the invertebrate animals. Half of the Adalis monitored during their autumn migration were found to have been infected with ticks. There can be up to 20 mature ticks parasites residing on one ladybird. Such parasites were previously found in tropical breeds of ladybirds and named coccipolipus.

Studies at Cambridge have come across two important facts about the relationship of the ticks with the ladybirds. Firstly, the ticks living under the wings of the ladybirds spread during long hours of their copulation. Secondly, although the ticks do not affect the ladybirds themselves significantly, they can radically change the physiology of the female ladybirds, causing them to produce eggs that are incapable of growing into baby ladybirds. These facts suffice for us to label the ticks as an STD.

Some readers may find the private life of the ladybirds resembling human sex life. This has a fairly simple explanation. Sexual reproduction, typical for animals, seeks the same goal and takes similar forms of collaborative work of functionally different partners.

– - – END - – -


March 27, 2006

The Sex Life of the Ladybirds: Pick it, Choose it

Follow-up to The Sex Life of The Ladybirds: Meeting, Courting, Mating from Reverie

Pick it, Choose it
Adalias are polymorphic. This means that different breeds of ladybirds can inhabit one the same area, living in perfect peace and harmony with each other. One could say they are true diversifiers: they choose partners paying little attention to the colour of the partner. However, the choice is always conscious and based on a number of principles.

Studies have revealed that the ‘ethnic minorities’ among the ladybirds are most popular sex partners. The red-winged female ladybirds are inclined to choose black-winged males as their sex partners. And such preference grows stronger with generations. Scientists interpret such behaviour as caused by laws of natural selection.

How many boys do we need?
If one male individual can impregnate dozens of females, then the question begs: how many males a populace needs? With beetles, like with humans, the sex of the offspring is defined by the X and Y chromosomes; this ensures the 1:1 proportion of males and females produced. If the populace of Adalias is inhabiting a resourceful area with ample amounts of food for everyone, the plentiful of male individuals won’t compete with the females for food and thus won’t threaten the survival of the populace. However when conditions of living aren’t so great, the males present a major hindrance to females’ existence on every stage of life. It is the number and productivity of the females that essentially defines the number of offspring of the next generation. Taking into account the high sexual verve of the males, in times of hardship, the number of males necessary to retain a populace of ladybirds can be reduced to as little as 10% of the total Adalia population. Yet, in practice such proportions can be harmful: due to the deficit in male the incest rate is likely to go up considerably and result in potentially defective ladybird-babies born.

Hence, the optimal proportion of male individuals in a populace is defined by the availability of resources, their sexual zest and the destructiveness of incest. The proportion of males in a populace of ladybirds can serve as an indicator of the overall environmental condition of the area: in France the ratio of male and female ladybirds is 50%:50%, in St. Petersburg (Russia) 30%:70%, in Stockholm – 18%:82%.

Some female ladybirds have acquired an ability to produce mono-sexual offspring: even copulating with normal males they only give birth to female offspring. This is the way the sex ratio is regulated in a populace. This miraculous yet discriminative ability still remains largely unexplained, although it has been discovered that there is a certain bacteria inhabiting the cytoplasm of the Adalia, which is harmless to the females, yet lethal to the males.


March 25, 2006

The Sex Life of The Ladybirds: Meeting, Courting, Mating

Follow-up to The Sex Life of the Ladybirds: Introduction from Reverie

Certain breeds of ladybirds bear clear gender distinctions (e.g. with a Siberian, the individuals with black head are male and the ones with a white head with a black spot are female). However, ladybirds inhabiting European lands are somewhat uniform and bear little sexual characteristic features, thus it can be impossible to tell the sex of an individual ladybird. For a human to satisfy his/her curiosity, one has to execute the ladybird and perform an autopsy, or wait till the mating process begins to witness the male ladybird adopt a certain specific position, climbing on top of the female one, to be able to say “it’s a boy! It’s a boy!”

If one isolates the male from the female for a couple of days and then puts them back together on a Petri dish, the mating process may commence in a couple of seconds. The process of identification of the partner happens momentarily. If the female is an experienced one and not a timid virgin, then the courting won’t take long either. When a mature male and a fresh virgin female ladybird are brought together, one can witness some genuinely soulful scenes of seduction, pursuit, struggle and finally deflower-ment of the virgin ladybird.

Below we shall describe the process in greater details using the example of the most common European breed of ladybirds – the Adalia bipunctata with two spots on their backs.

When a male Adalia meets another representative of the same species he inevitably makes a full-hearted attempt to climb on top of the other one. If he later discovers that he has mounted another male he will retreat immediately. But if he was lucky to have met a female he will make an effort to copulate with her.

During the process of mating the female does not actively engage in food hunting, although if offered food, she wouldn’t refuse either. The male Adalia usually remains still during copulation. However with bigger breeds of ladybirds, for example the septi-spotted (seven spots on the back) ladybirds, the male is capable of showing some exceptional temper and passion, rocking bluntly from side to side from time to time. Such scenes of passion are not recommended for small children to observe.

Adalias are perhaps the only species on earth whose male individuals are capable of ejaculating on average 2–3 times per copulation. Adalias like to take their time when it comes to love making. Like other breeds of ladybirds, Adalias can engage in a love-making session for one to up to 8 or 9 hours. In favourable circumstances Adalias can copulate every day and possibly even for a multitude of times during the same day.

One may ask about the point of such prolonged copulation sessions. It seems apparent that extensive copulation, during which the male don’t eat, both individuals don’t move much and are open for attacks are obviously destructive for the breed. Then how come evolution has helped extend their mating sessions for so long? There’s only one answer available at the moment: it is beneficial for the male. While fornicating a female the male individual naturally obstructs other males from engaging in the same business and thus boosts the possibility of passing own his own genes to the offspring. Mammals are known to keep to the tactic of active protection and prevention – they fight off any competitor claiming the same female. Ladybirds are much more of gentlemen – they choose the passive tactic by simply sitting on the females for hours without withdrawing the contact with the female, naturally depriving other males of the bare possibility to copulate with the same female.

The sperm produced with each copulation is enough to fertilize about 550 eggs. On average a female lays 15–20 (maximum of 40) eggs, preserving the rest of semen for about a month. With multiple partners a female is capable of laying up to 1000 eggs per season. If one partner’s sperm can do the job of fertilizing a great number of eggs, then what is the point of repeated copulation with different partners? Again, the benefit for the male is obvious: he gets to materialize his desire to produce as many offspring as possible carrying his genes. The female interest in this business is rather obscure, but can also be explained with the desire to spread one’s genes in a greater multitude of combinations.


March 23, 2006

The Sex Life of the Ladybirds: Introduction

Writing about web page http://www.ntv.ru/gordon/archive/9930/

Translated from Russian. See link above for original text

The widespread informal name for the ladybirds, recurrent in different variations in a number of European languages and even in Sanskrit, refers to these colourful cute creatures as “god’s calves”*. However the name presents one large misconception: despite the unquestionable cuteness and a nearly divine name, these creatures are such sexual deviants that their bare survival as a species is threatened by nothing else but the spread of STDs among the ladybirds.

In reality the sex life of the ladybirds is enviously rich. Michael Margerus** – a researcher who has just completed his 16 years long work on these insects – claims that the ladybirds can make love for 9 hours straight, experiencing several orgasms, each lasting up to 30 minutes. They also go through an average of 30 different sex partners per annum.

But such joy don’t come free. The ladybirds are suffering an STD epidemic caused by a parasite, Cocipoliphus hippodamiae, that lives under the little wings of the naughty creatures. Once they catch the STD they become sterile, which leads them straight to a demographic crisis. The ladybirds aren’t used to abstinence. The epidemic is spreading with enormous speed stretching into new areas. It has become a total disaster in Eastern Europe.

For the idle observers such facts may be of minor interest. For the biologists the problem of sexual reproduction is not just a subject of curiosity, but a lens thru which to understand and reopen the theory of evolution. Every organism is mortal; however their biological life form is potentially immortal. The purpose of life for each organism (avoiding the discussion of the meaning of life for human beings) is essentially to pass on one’s genes to the next generations. In order to perform this task with greater success, it then follows, one needs to produce as many offspring as possible, provide them with the minimum resources for their survival and finally conjoin one’s genes with genes of the most suitable partner (due to the fact that most sophisticated animals are sexual). Each biological species has a unique approach to performing those tasks. The inappropriate, ineffective approaches are abandoned during the course of natural evolution. However the staggering variety of sexual relations between individuals of different species, while successfully retaining the gene-pool of the species, remains largely unexplained for the scientists. The mating habits of the ladybirds have been studied quite profusely. At large, they resemble those of other insects, however some forms of behaviour remain unique to this breed. Below follows the description of mating behaviour reserved for the ladybirds.

*The name derives from an old belief: people used to see the red wings flapping in the air as a divine animal that belongs to God and is returning to God.

**Back translation from Майкл Марджерус. Back translation works rather poorly when it comes to transcribing people's names, so there can be a significant error in that name.


November 07, 2005

外地人和我

‘外地人’在我眼中就是‘没文化’,‘素质低’,‘肮脏’,‘不值得信赖’,甚至没有权利生存在这个世界上的‘杂货’。在我一次又一次地在公共场合接触他们,我的观念没有改变,反而更深刻。有问题不一定有解决,但肯定会找出人来指责,不管责任是否真的是他/她/它的。我从没有深度地去了解过这个移动人口的问题,没有读过相关的书和资料,所以我就直接把这个社会毛病赖在‘主’(也称‘上帝’)的身上了。今天我不小心问了一下上帝,为什么要塑造如此让人恶心的人?为什么不能把他们分开,夺取他们相等的权利,让他们改邪归正,学会做人?其实有的问题就怕问。因为一问,就会去思考。一想,就会得到答案。但是答案却往往不是我们所希望听到的事实。所以我们就不去问,因为下意识地知道自己指责的人可能并没有错。我也得到了一个答案,那就是我或许比那些随地吐痰,大声喧闹,指指点点的人要差一万倍。因为我是个大学生,思考问题却还那么简单不负责任。我读了不少的书却从没学到宽容,谅解,仁义。或许上帝让这些外地人来烦我的目的就是让我看到自己的无知,天真,傲慢和简单的傻。

November 06, 2005

舅舅

舅舅就是唐老鸭。因为舅舅总大夸自己长有一双完美的脚丫。舅舅的正式昵称是‘嘎嘎’。我在舅舅眼中是‘麻团’,因为我长得满脸疙瘩。舅舅曾经在自己黄金时代上山下乡。这上上下下用了他八年的青春。下了山,上了乡舅舅早已是成家年龄的帅小伙了。全家就舅舅正气,是个男孩。姥姥重男轻女,总把我这个长着一双完美脚丫的舅舅当成掌中之宝。所以,当舅舅到了造福人类,繁殖小鸭的时候,全家人都激动起来,帮忙找佩得上的对象。当时我妈在什锦花园小学工作,二姨在大连一所大学进修,大姨在部队;姥姥和姥爷也分别在找。舅舅的魅力是个鼎鼎有名的招牌货,全国的美女都动心了。妈妈找来了个老师,二姨找了个医生,大姨介绍了个苗条挺拔的女军人。个个都羞答答地答应了见舅舅一面。却全被他拒了。舅妈并不知是舅舅的哪个知心人介绍的。为什么说知心呢,就因为正在全家人忙着给舅舅找知识分子做唐老鸭太太的时候,没有人真正意识到舅舅早已被文化大革命的思想给屈服了。知识和文化早已不让舅舅欢心了。舅舅要的是最普通的,最简单的人生幸福:性感女鸭——舅妈。舅舅的幸福让家人难以理解。可是我却替嘎嘎高兴。舅舅所追求的舅舅得到了,还管啥呢?

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