The ex-Soviet Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan claimed to have joined the ranks of the world's space powers by sending a container into Earth's orbit carrying a spiritual guide written by the country's idiosyncratic leader, newspapers reported Friday."Idiosyncratic" is a polite way of saving "Stark Staring Bonkers".
"The book that conquered the hearts of millions on Earth is now conquering space," said the official daily Neitralnyi Turkmenistan.Can proclaiming his own Divinity be far behind? There's plenty of precedent, from Caligula to Idi Amin, not forgetting Kim Jong Il. This appears to be a common affliction of humankind. Give someone absolute power and they become a little... odd. Power tends to corrupt : Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely. And that's been true for so long it's boring and cliched. The process of descent into madness and chaos can be long and drawn out though. Once even Zimbabwe's President Mugabe was an evil little man, but not actually psychotic.
"The sacred text of Rukhnama was chosen because it contains all the wisdom of the Turkmen people, thanks to its creator, Turkmenbashi," the article said, using the name the country's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, has given himself, meaning "Guide of All Turkmens".
The container was launched on Wednesday aboard a Russian Dnepr rocket that blasted off from the Russian launch facility at Baikonur in Kazakhstan on a mission to place two Japanese research satellites into orbit.The Glorious Turkmenistan effort can be contrasted with the Japanese contribution, two satellites that actually do boring Science Stuff. But wait, it's worse.
In addition to the Turkmenbashi's book Rukhnama, or Spiritual Guide, a Turkmen flag and a presidential standard were also placed in the container, a new "artificial satellite" for the planet, Neitralnyi Turkmenistan reported.
The project "confirms that Turkmenistan has joined the club of space powers," it added.
Niyazov, the object of a personality cult, has also penned several collections of poetry.Typical Vogon. And need I mention:
The president also holds the posts of prime minister, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and leader of the Democratic Party, the only legal political party in the country.The Democratic Party. Oh Dear, Oh Dearry, Dearry Me.
The Triumph of appearance over substance. A bit like the Democratic Party in the US these days.