Tuesday, May 21, 2013

tuesdays in turkmenistan: all the king's men

Well, the VPN technology is not perfect and the connection is not entirely reliable to begin with.

Continuing where we left off, there was some amusing fall-out after the President's misadventure with the horse. Unsurprisingly, there were some local attempts to halt dissemination of the President's rendition of something that was not Gangnam Style. It's not clear how many days this went on for, perhaps only one or two because the videos spread quickly, but there were attempts to stop dissemination of videos at the airport. We had a few employees who were flying out the next day and they affirmed that they were also searched at the airport, made to login to their computers, and then their recently accessed pictures and videos were reviewed. Of course, much like in the EurasiaNet article, the airport personnel did not do a very thorough job of checking. One colleague told me he simply logged in under the generic username available on all company laptops. Logging in like this only shows default files and no pictures or video other than whatever Windows7 comes preloaded with. Not the most tech savvy group of individuals.

Ever since I heard about the attempt to halt dissemination, I have made it a point to try and show the video to as many people as possible. First, it is a hilarious fall. How often do you get to watch the leader of a nation face plant into the ground? If this happened in the U.S., it would be making every single news and semi-news program. Second, the race is obviously staged. You can clearly see the second place rider gaining on him easily towards the end. He was no doubt holding back until nearly the end. Frankly, everything about the Presidency here is staged. It makes for great theater to outsiders and deep reluctance to discuss it with locals. Third, Streisand Effect, enough said. Fourth, the attempt to stop distribution was so ham-handed, it pretty much typifies all that is wrong here. Fifth, there is apparently a rumor going around that it was not actually the President riding the horse. Evidently, this is some sort of attempt to make it seem like he did not fall off the horse, though it would imply that he's pathologically obsessed with his image. Well, it doesn't imply that at all. It makes it very, very clear.

Anyway, please watch the video. Find it on YouTube, go to the links above, something. It is hilarious.