Sunday, October 30, 2005

"Intelligent" design?

Texas Pastor Electrocuted During Baptism

WACO, Texas (AP)- A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning after grabbing a microphone while partially submerged, a church employee said.

The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was standing in water up to his shoulder in a baptismal at University Baptist Church when he was electrocuted, said Jamie Dudley, a church business administrator and wife of another pastor there.

Doctors in the congregation performed chest compressions, she said. Lake was taken by ambulance to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, where nursing supervisor Pat Mahl said he was pronounced dead.

The woman Lake was baptizing was not injured, Dudley said.

Pastors at University Baptist Church routinely use a microphone during baptisms, Dudley said.

"He was grabbing the microphone so everyone could hear," Dudley said. "It's the only way you can be loud enough."

About 800 people attended the morning service, which was larger than normal because it was homecoming weekend at nearby Baylor University, Dudley said.

Lake, who had a wife and three children, had been at the church for nine years, the last seven as pastor, Dudley said.

[The Mandarin points out that no Republicans were knowingly made fun of in this post.]

Original photo caption: University Baptist Church pastors lead worship, (left to right), Kyle Lake, senior pastor; Ben Dudley, community pastor, and David Crowder, music and arts pastor. (Photo by Duane A. Laverty/Waco Tribune-Herald)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Still photo from Rocky VII?

Nothing the Mandarin could write would do this photo justice, as Patrick Fitzgerald shuffles his Iraqi Freedom-style 52-card deck of high-value targets and prepares the body blow to the Shrub inner circle. One can almost see the glove in the air, the spiral spray of sweat from the face, a millisecond after the punch lands.

Original photo caption: US President George W. Bush gestures as he addresses the Economic Club of Washingon, DC.(AFP/Jim Watson)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I think we could see a bit less of one of those letters ourselves

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - A Turkish court fined 20 people for using the letters Q and W on placards at a Kurdish new year celebration, under a law banning characters not used in the Turkish alphabet, rights campaigners said Tuesday.

The Mandarin has never had anything against the letter Q. In fact, when the Mandarin's sons were young and we watched Sesame Street, the shows brought to us by the letter Q were among our very favorites.

Friday, October 21, 2005

How do you say “Geisha” in Chinese?

The Mandarin was at the movies recently and saw a short trailer for the upcoming film, “Memoirs of a Geisha.” In one scene, three geisha are talking in a luxurious teahouse, and the Mandarin turned to Ms. Mandarin and whispered, “What geisha? That’s Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li!?” After living most of the 1980s and 90s in China, more or less, the Mandarin family recognizes three A-list Chinese actresses dressed up in Japanese drag when we see them.

Courtesy of the IMBD, the Mandarin tallied the presumed cultural groupings (based on their names) among the cast members playing Japanese parts, and came up with this breakdown:

39% Chinese
32% Japanese
17% Non-Asian
4% Korean
8% Other Asian

It turned out that many of the Asian faces in the preview were unambiguously Chinese, with a few Koreans thrown in for variety. Kind of a jarring note. Japanese actors are a minority in their own movie! I know this isn’t news. After all, Chuck Norris has always been partial to having Filipinos play the Viet Cong. But, in this big budget tent-pole picture, seeing more than half the incomparable geisha of Kyoto’s Gion district and their patrons played by Chinese, gaijin 外人 (non-Asians), and a few other miscellaneous Asians, is really going to take some of the magic out of it for the Mandarin and anyone else who likes Japanese characters to look and sound Japanese. Good thing they didn’t film any of it at the Yasukuni shrine!

Whose brilliant casting idea was this? Soon Teck Oh (Korean), where are you? At least the Japanese-American actor Mako, who sometimes plays Chinese characters (like Po-han in "The Sand Pebbles") is playing a Japanese, although his Mandarin is pretty good....

Oh, by the way, the Mandarin has to admit that the question in the title was a trick: geisha 芸者 (literally “artist”) actually is Chinese (the original characters are 藝者). The Japanese borrowed thousands of Chinese words a more than a millennium ago, and their present-day Japanese pronunciation is actually a relic of the Chinese pronunciation of that era, ngiai-chya, which became gei-sha in Japanese, ngai-jeh in Cantonese and now yi-zhe in, what else…Mandarin.

Photo from

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

First the 1928 Prayer Book, now this!?

The Mandarin was raised Episcopalian, but lapsed back in the 1970s, around the time they replaced the 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer with the "new liturgy," kind of a nice gender-free Methodist-style service to replace the majestic language of Thomas Cranmer's 1548 original. So the Mandarin hasn't been too close to the Church since then.

Imagine the Mandarin's surprise then, amid all the Religious Right hoo-hah about Harriet "You're doin' a great job" Miers being an acceptable pig-in-a-poke nominee because she's a dyed-in-the-wool Evangelical Christian, to read the caption from the photo to the left.

An Evangelical Episcopalian? The Mandarin's head is throbbing now. And Thomas Cranmer is spinning in his grave.

Original photo caption: Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers arrives for church services at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers looked close to home, or the office, in choosing the free legal cases to take on as a private lawyer. No sweeping constitutional matters for her, or even terribly contentious ones. 'She handled small matters,' said lawyer Jerry Clements, who has worked with Miers. 'Somebody needed a divorce, somebody needed an adoption.' (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Good old-fashioned scholarship

Juan Cole demonstrates here that some simple scholarship can expose a fake:

The Arabic text of the recently released letter alleged to be by Zawahiri (al-Qaeda's number two man) to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq raises questions for me as to its authenticity.

And the Mandarin means simple:

Adding to the salutation "the peace and blessings of God be upon him [Muhammad]" the phrase "and his family" would be an insult to Zarqawi and to the hardline Sunnis in Iraq.

If "our guys" faked it, are we really that ignorant of the differences between Sunnis and Shiites? Given what passes for knowledge of China and Tibet in our government circles these days, the Mandarin is not optimistic.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Shrub wants us to save gas by doing what?

Cutting down on unnecessary trips?

Is this trip really necessary? A press report yesterday said, "[Shrub]... on his eighth trip to the Gulf Coast since it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, was to meet the mayor for dinner in New Orleans on Monday."


The Mandarin drives a middle-aged Saab that gets about 30mpg on the highway. That means the Mandarin could do eight round trips to NOLA and back for about $3,000. Shrub's personal 747, "Shrub Force One," will fly about thirty minutes on $3,000 - just for jet fuel, forget overhead for pilots, flight attendants, Secret Service pensions, souvenir logo playing cards and cufflinks for privileged fly-along guests, etc.

Even assuming that Shrub Force One gets a straight-in approach and doesn't have to circle waiting for a gate, what are we talking about, thirty grand a trip? Times eight: say $250,000 just for jet fuel?

Imagine each time Shrub pops down to NOLA and back, instead of flying Shrub Force One, he drove it in a convoy of 70 or 80 Hummer H2s? Same fuel cost.

What is the Mandarin missing?

Friday, October 07, 2005

One, two, three, many Brownies....

The Mandarin was tempted to say that in this picture, Shrub is pointing at the masthead of this blog and saying to Harriet, "This guy is so dumb, he named his blog after an orange!" But that would have been untrue.

He's really saying, "Way to go! You're number one! And, by the way, Hattie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Yes, Harriet Miers holds place of honor, the number one spot in a list of the top fifteen hacks appointed by Shrub to positions of responsibility in his administration, according to an excellent article in the New Republic entitled "Welcome to the Hackocracy."

An excerpt:

In Federalist No. 76, Alexander Hamilton warned that, in presenting nominations to the Senate, a president "would be both ashamed and afraid" to nominate cronies--or, as Hamilton called them, "obsequious instruments of his pleasure." Maybe politics was different back in the 1780s, but we have watched Bush appoint many obsequious instruments of his pleasure. It may be his legacy: George W. Bush--he took the shame and fear out of cronyism.

It reminds the Mandarin of a legendary comment by crooked Chicago alderman Fred Roti. Supposedly, someone asked him if it was true that he had put dozens of political hacks, personal cronies, and even many of his relatives on the city payroll. He answered, "Yes, I did. And every one of them is doing a terrific job." A heck of a job, in fact.

Original photo caption from White House web site: President George W. Bush tours a canyon with White House Staff Secretary Harriet Miers at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Friday, Aug. 9, 2002.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

God? I can't quite hear ya. Are ya there? I did what you told me to do, but I things are gettin' bad, so need to know what to do now....

Original Photo Caption: U.S. President George W. Bush cups his ear as reporters in the distance shout to him as he leaves St. John's Episcopal Church in Washintgon, DC, in 2003. Bush allegedly said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, a new BBC documentary will reveal, according to details.(AFP/File/Paul J. Richards)

Cheney Channels Ralph Kramden

"One of these days, one of these days. Bang! Zoom! To the moon, Alice, to the moon! Do you want to go to the moon!? A trip to the moon, Alice! Would you like to go to the moon!?"

Original picture caption: US Vice President Dick Cheney. The White House said it was cooperating with a spy probe into a former US Marine who allegedly provided the Philippines with classified documents stolen from Vice President Dick Cheney's office(AFP/Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Shrub Channels Travis Bickle

"You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here. Who do the f**k do you think you're talking to? Oh, yeah? OK. [pulls gun out of sleeve]

Original photo caption: President Bush fields a question during a news conference in the Rose Garden Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005. White House photo by Paul Morse.

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Brownie Moment"

A right-wing, right-thinking blogger has coined a marvelous term: Brownie Moment. His definition:

A Brownie moment can be defined simply as the moment when a supporter of President Bush is smacked in the head by reality and loses any and all faith in the president from that moment forward. As you may have surmised the term comes from Bush’s recent comment regarding former FEMA head Michael Brown’s leadership in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

This was my Brownie moment. I understand that in the world of politics leaders often have to say things they don’t mean, or shake hands with dictators and scumbags, and do a lot of morally repugnant stuff. But when Bush said that I realized that after surveying the impotent, incompetent response of the federal government he truly, honestly believed that Brownie was doing a heck of a job. That sealed it for me. I’d been turning sour on Bush for a while, but I was still generally supportive of him. When I heard him make that remark, however, that was it. That was my Brownie moment.

I bring this up in light of the Miers nomination. There are a whole lot of head-scratching Republicans gazing at each other wondering what the hell just happened. Could Bush really have nominated this woman to the Supreme Court? Yes, my friends, he just did. I imagine there are a whole lot of conservatives out there today who have just had their very own Brownie moment.

This is not to say that having had a Brownie moment the lack of faith in Bush is irreversible. Far from it. If Bush were to straighten up, get his act together, and really make an effort at becoming the president he was in the first three years of his first term then I would in all likelihood get firmly behind him again. But in the wake of the deteriorating situation in Iraq, his political impotence at implementing his agenda, the profligate expansion of government under his watch, and his failure to veto a single bill during five years in office, the Brownie comment was just too much.

That was my Brownie moment. And there’s a whole country full of gobsmacked Republicans who just had theirs this morning.

The Mandarin says, "Join the club, boys and girls, join the club."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

This one is worth a thousand words

Shrub isn't just being overtaken by events, he is being left behind. Katrina, Browniegate, DeLaygate, Fristgate (here the Mandarin believes it is all smoke, no fire), the hits keep coming. And especially Plamegate - key advisors of both Shrub and Big Dick are implicated, and this morning, on ABC's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos lobbed this little shell over the White House fence:

Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it’s a manageable one for the White House, especially if we don’t know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments. But if he is able to show -- as a source close to this told me this week -- that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions....

As the Mandarin's mother likes to say, the thot plickens.

Original photo caption: US President George W. Bush delivers remarks on the anniversary of the 'No Child Left Behind Act' to teachers, parents, and students 05 January 2004. Bush's administration broke the law as it resorted to illegal 'covert propaganda' in trying to sell its key education initiative to the public, US congressional investigators have found. (AFP/File/Paul Richards)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Dear Captain Fishback

Capt. Ian Fishback, a young Army officer and West Point graduate who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is risking (and probably sacrificing) his career in an attempt to clarify from the military chain of command (which stops, like "the buck," on Shrub's desk) whether the US military in Iraq is required to treat prisoners and detainees in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. His whistle-blowing recently became public, and the Army is now interrogating him! Andrew Sullivan has established a direct line of communication to Capt. Fishback for people who wish to offer their support to him in this time of great stress for both him and for our country. Here is the link to Andrew's site and the special e-mail address.

This is a lightly edited version of what one supporter wrote to him yesterday:

Dear Captain Fishback:

I was an ROTC officer, commissioned 2LT Field Artillery in 1970. I volunteered, but had been politicized against the war by the time I entered active duty. I was scared, but I decided it was a point of honor to do what I had sworn an oath to do and go where I was sent. I ended up as an instructor at a service school instead of being sent to Vietnam. The irony was that I became a Stability Operations instructor teaching lessons the Army ignores daily in Iraq 35 years later. My commanding officer told me that if I didn't stop talking against the war, and if I didn't take the anti-war decals off my car, I would be reduced to private and sent to prison at Leavenworth. I caved and kept my mouth shut. I eventually got out early and never looked back.

I can't tell you how much I admire your fidelity to the ideals of the officer corps and the Constitution. Remember 2 Tim 4:7-8.

Bonum certamen certavi, cursum consummavi, fidem servavi. Quod superest, reposita est mihi justitiæ corona, quam reddet mihi Dominus in illa die justus judex....

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day...."

I hope you do not have to wait that long for the honor you have earned.