John Walker's Electronic House

Rum Doings Episode 27

by on May.20, 2010, under Rum Doings, The Rest

As we begin Rum Doings episode 27 we choose not to talk about Nick Clegg’s Big Decision, but instead begin our Rum Doings Campaign: Save Our Fountains.

We reveal our surprise liquor for the episode: a purple elixir named Parfait d’Amour. That’s lemon flavoured. And makes the best glugging noise ever.

Arguments break out about crucial matters, like tree roots, which Ford made cars, and a conversation about cross-dressing. John outlines his altruistic plan to let people know what they look like from behind, find out how to alert smelly people, and then Nick starts sniffing John. No, he does.

We really do talk more about dead fountains. And then just as we were about to discover that Jesus invented the skateboard, Nick’s phone rings. And then we break your ears. Sorry about that. You’ll want to turn it down at this point.

We discuss Mr Jobs’s iPads device, and why it’s a very silly thing. This lasts a while. Then we move on to a particularly splendid moment on Radio 4’s You & Yours, and our fondness for the station’s blind presenter, Peter Blind. We hate the blind. And all disabled people. And everyone else. And ourselves. We should warn you at this point, the story we go on to tell is of a harrowing nature that will cause the hair to fall out of your children. As Nick says, “revelations of skulduggery.”

Inform everyone you know. At all costs, promote us. And writing a review on iTunes helps us a great deal. Cool people do it. You want to be in the cool gang.

If you want to email us, you can do that here. If you want to be a “fan” of ours on Facebook, for some dreadful reason, you can do that here.

To get this episode directly, right click and save here. To subscribe to Rum Doings click here, or you can find it in iTunes here.


31 Comments for this entry

  • Ashish

    Guys, your discussion of trasvestites and transgendered people was really offensive. Nick was confusing people who cross dress with transgendered people and making uninformed comments about both. Transpeople identify as another gender and therefore should be treated as such. They aren’t pretending and they aren’t ‘expressing their feminine side’. And they are entirely different from people who get a sexual kick out of cross dressing. And John, you can’t phrase this as a issue of unfashionability. The issue of whether or not a trans person passes as the gender they identify as,is the source of hate and violence towards trans people across the world. Can you imagine people questioning your gender identity on a daily basis? The jokes would get old pretty fast. I don’t think that you two are transphobes, but your comments on the podcast displayed real ignorance.

  • Vague

    Hmm, did you guys misname this one Episode 28? WMP is telling me it is…

  • Nick Mailer

    Ashish: listen carefully to what we said. And, actually, you need to be careful about assuming that all transgenedered people really want to be transgendered. For example, in Iran, having a sex-change operation is the only way a man born as a man is allowed to have a sexual relationship with another man without being killed for his trouble.

    As it happens, you are correct: I am not a transphobe. I have no irrational fear of transgendered people or the decisions they make for themselves. If someone believes that they become another sex by having an operation on their genitals and taking hormones, that is their concern and no business of mine. But that freedom comes with a reciprocal freedom which I demand: the freedom to think it a delusion and hubris. People express their psychological delusions in many ways: buying expensive sports cars as compensation for sexual inadequacy, taking sugar tablets with magical homoeopathic powers, going into coalition with a Conservative government, lopping off your cock and putting on a frock to make you a lady and pretending that Victoria Wood is funny. All of these are delusions, and I get to call them so. That’s not to say they do not bring happiness and value to many who believe in them. And I wouldn’t ban them or ask that hate be poured on them. Well, except for the homoeopathy one.

  • Nick Mailer

    Ashish: I also do know the difference between cross-dressers and the trans-gendered. As for taking offence, I wonder whether you have studied radical feminist theory which opposes transvestites (and, some, trans-gendered people) for making a mockery of what it is actually to be a woman.

    I think such po-facedness is just as hubristic (we’re all just stinking apes in my opinion, and I find it laughable when people try to pretend otherwise), but it does show you that one can allow oneself to take offence from any angle.

  • John Walker

    But everything we said about blind people was just fine!

  • Vague

    Your brief mention of insulting the old reminded me of the old joke, “To ease the burden on healthcare, all old people should be killed at birth”.

  • Nick Mailer

    I love the way people choose what to be offended about: like choosing their own special little gift.

  • Dan Milburn

    Stop being so bloody patronising and credit your listeners with the ability to tell the difference between offensiveness employed ironically for humorous or satirical effect, and what sounded very much like genuine ill-informed bigotry.

    Yes, Nick, you do get to dismiss transgendered people as delusional if you really want to. What you don’t get to do is pretend to be surprised that people might find the expression of such views offensive.

    Now I’m not offended, but I do have very little interest in listening to this rubbish, and I am somewhat disappointed that John, whose writing on RPS and elsewhere I’m a big fan of, can’t see that there might be a problem here.

  • Nick Mailer

    Dan: you paid a POUND!

  • John Walker

    You seem to be very offended for someone who isn’t offended.

    I’m surprised that people who think we are ignorant choose to yell indistinct insults, rather than attempt to educate us. It’s an odd approach. Especially when we both express that we don’t have an issue with it.

  • John Walker

    I’m reposting a response I’ve given to a very silly question on Formspring, in which someone demands to know why Nick and I “hate” transgendered people:

    Obviously I do not hate transgendered people, nor have ever suggested otherwise. And neither does Nick.

    I’d prefer people listen to what we said, which was that we neither have moral nor practical objections to anyone dressing or changing themselves as they wish. We want for people to be happy. We say so. We also say that when someone looks silly, we should be allowed to think so.

    And we mean exactly that. There are many people who cross dress, or augment themselves (and let’s not forget they are not one and the same thing, nor does one necessarily lead to the other), and look amazing. There are those who you think, “There’s something… is that person… I wonder if they’re…” And there are people, like the man on the tube, who are wearing a bad wig with stubble.

    Clearly everyone deserves to be treated with equal respect and tolerance. It was certainly imperfect of me to giggle about the man I saw on the train. But it was an honest reaction. A reaction that perhaps I shouldn’t have, and I can see an argument that suggests that someone hearing my reaction on the podcast might make them feel more insecure about themselves and what people may think behind their backs. I can see a reason why someone might tell me that I shouldn’t behave that way. But there’s nothing to suggest we “hate” anyone.

    I think it’s true that we make the mistake on the podcast of seeming to conflate TV with TG. We are aware they’d separate things. But when recording, going back and forth, sometimes things are unclear or said in error.

  • Dan Milburn

    The difficulty is that, for example, I never thought for a moment that Nick fails to understand that there is a difference between cross-dressing and trans-genderism, but in the podcast he goes straight from ‘bloke in a dress’ to ‘lop off your cock’ (at 10:25 if you’re interested), which would seem to suggest that actually on some level he doesn’t appreciate the difference at all. This is what the original poster found offensive.

    On Nick’s belief that trans-genderism is a delusion, given that in the UK it is recognised medically and legally I tend to think that the onus is on him to explain why thinks that.

    I’m not accusing anyone of being ignorant, I am saying that that particular section of the podcast sounded ignorant, and that you have so far failed to engage honestly with the person who first pointed that out.

  • Nick Mailer

    Dan, I understand the difference between transvestitism and transexualism. Whilst the former doesn’t necessarily lead to the latter, most studies have shown that very few transgendered people do not first cross-dress. It is usually the first step. I am not sure whether the person John saw on the tube was a transgendered person or a transvestite.

    As for your argument that “it is recognised medically and legally”. This is a fallacy, called “argument from authority”. I’ll remind you that until a few decades ago, homosexuality was “recognised medically” as a disease and “legally” as .. not.

    My argument is by analogy: if someone said “I wish to be blind. Remove my eyes”, you would have them sectioned, and eventually they would be given substantial CBT and eventually even radical treatments like ECT. Indeed, there are people who do this, and people who demand that perfectly healthy limbs be amputated because of some delusion about this limb’s status. There’s quite a bit of literature about this. Such people are to be treated sensitively and, if all other treatments fail, and the alternative is someone miserable and suicidal, then you may give in and remove their leg or pluck out their eyes. But this doesn’t mean that the person was “ontologically” correct and that they were a blind-man in a sighted-man’s body, or a one-legged man in a two-legged man’s body. It means they suffered from some crippling delusions, and that eventually, giving in to the delusion was their only hope for happiness.

    If this DID make them happy, then I would have no further objection to their choice. On the other hand, if they woke up after their operation and realised that they were still upset and suicidal, then that would be a tragedy. I believe the data with regard to the efficacy of transgendered operations in this regard is ambiguous, but tends towards an outcome which makes the person less likely to be suicidal, when all other factors are removed.

    In other words, I see sex-change operations as an often-effective placebo. As you know, placebos are powerful, and have real and measurable effects on the sufferer if the sufferer believes in them. But I nevertheless continue to claim that a placebo, by definition, is a willing acceptance of a delusory act.

  • MrsTrellis

    Parfait means perfect. Blue Curaco is orange liqueur, which is blue in colour.

    Neither Nick nor John is a transphobe. I think their mistake was to assume that all their listeners could appreciate the difference between being phobic, and making amused criticism about something. Part of the price of being accepted in a modern society is accepting that others might find your life choices amusing. Amusing, that is, not morally wrong, repugnant or requiring the application of a cream tea.

    Amusing. Just as a transgendered person might find my choice of footwear hilarious. Perhaps a lesbian might consider the notion of having sex with a man to be amusing to the point of farce. And she would be perfectly justified in doing so.

  • James Campbell

    Been a bit slow listening recently but here are my thoughts.

    I didn’t find what you guys said offensive at all, you were clearly been rather “knowing” throughout.

    However my non-offendedness should probably be tempered by the fact that I agreed with a lot of what Nick has said in his post above. To the extent that I genuinely question whether change of gender (is it gender or sex? I’m never entirely sure) operation should be provided on the NHS at all. I’m all for free will but that does not mean the state should pander to every person’s misguided desires.

    Also not all blind people are evil as Gary O’Donoghue is pretty cool.

  • Nick Mailer

    Hi James,

    The operation should properly be called gender-change (gender is the social construct); truly to change biological sex would require nanobots to alter every chromosome in every cell of your body! But it’s still called a sex-change operation. I think this is silly, though – if I have a tail surgically added to my tail bone, this doesn’t equate to a species-change operation.

    As for whether this operation should be available on the NHS: if it is proven to cure this particular brand of depression (and that’s what I’m sure it is), then I am happy for this effective cure to be paid for by the NHS. That said, I wish they’d fall for some cheaper placebo. Like homoeopathy.

  • Gassalasca

    I think that this podcast, and even more so the comments on this page, I am sad to say, changed my opinion of Nick. Sure, he was an arrogant bastard of a wanker from the beginning, but in a way I could love and respect. Now I am… slightly disappointed. :|

  • devlocke

    I just started watching the most recent ep of Community on Hulu, and the last joke before the first break was oddly relevant to this podcast.

  • Nick Mailer

    Gassalasca: what statements, in particular, have upset you? And also, what have I said that Mr Walker hasn’t?

    It’s easy to make fun of right-wingers who take offence at naughty words and “The Life of Brian”, but it’s interesting that it swings both ways. Certain topics are “off limits” for those whose minds are already pre-programmed to hold received opinions sacred.

    So again, I ask you to open your mind and to tell me with what, in particular, you disagree. It’s easy to call someone names. But I expect more of our discerning listeners :-)

  • James Campbell


    I’ve gone the other way and now wish I could keep Nick locked in my cellar (or attic) and occasionally we’d have a nice little chat without worrying about upsetting or offending anyone.

    Isn’t it nice that we all like and think different things?

  • Gassalasca

    I think ‘upset’ is a strong word, I don’t get upset easily. :)
    It’s just that I was taken aback by your putting transgendered people in the same delusional category with people who ‘buy expensive sports cars as compensation for sexual inadequacy, taking sugar tablets with magical homoeopathic powers…’ etc.
    To me it’s like saying gay people are delusional.

    Now, I accept that some of the people who claim to be transgendered suffer from a type of delusion, but I also believe that some of them are genuinely ony physically not women (if we’re speaking of transgendered men, naturally), i.e. only a successful hormone therapy + cock lopping off away from being full-fledged, as female as they come, women.
    I remember seeing a TV programme about transgendered people once. I tuned in halfway through, and had no idea what the programme was about. They were interviewing this young man and his mother and I was completely astonished to realize that he was born a girl. Facial features, voice, body language, absolutely nothing suggested that he was not a man, as much as you, John, or the next man in the street.

    Though I wanted to say, when it comes to looks, and one’s right to say someone looks completely ridiculous, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I was at least once accused of homophobia purely on the account of pointing out how utterly silly one man’s hair looked.

  • John Walker

    Are you confusing those born with XXY or XXXY chromosomes? That’s something else entirely.

  • Nick Mailer

    Gassalasca: “To me it’s like saying gay people are delusional”.

    Not at all. Gay people are people who find sexual attraction primarily in their own sex. There’s nothing delusional about this. By definition, there can’t be. It would be like calling my distaste for marzipan “delusional” or my allergy to grass pollen “delusional”.

    However, I think it is at least fair to postulate, without being burned at the stake, that someone who thinks that surgery to turn themselves into an *approximation* of a woman actually allows them to attain the biological ontology of womanhood (with her chromosomes, in particular) is delusional.

    Now, as I was at pains to point out: this is not to say the delusion is harmful. It may help many people to accept themselves in ways they otherwise cannot accept themselves. In other words, it acts as a placebo proxy for some psychological repair.

    However, there are genuine cases where people *DO* say that they were meant to be born with a left leg, or born blind. They are not happy until someone decapitates or blinds them. Such people are usually sectioned and are treated as suffering from a mental illness.

    If you are prepared to consider a sex-change operation a “cure”, then why is not blinding someone who desires it? In actuality, I think it could be – again, so long as the delusion is *satisfied* by the action, then there is a utilitarian argument for it.

    But is it really verboten to consider the biological and philosophical problems in agreeing that someone has “become” a woman merely because he/she has decided that he/she has become one, and has had an operation to *approximate* the externalities thereof?

    Has the person in the link below *become* a tiger? If not, why not? His psychological drives and beliefs are just as valid (or invalid) as a chromosomally male transexual:

    Surely something about this demeans the actuality of tigerhood? And might it not be argued that getting an operation and putting on a dress might be considered to demean the actuality of womanhood (that’s not my argument, by the way, but a radical left strand of feminism!)

  • James Campbell

    Don’t think they’d be very happy about that…
    Surely you mean “amputates their leg”?

    I corrected Nick Mailer!
    Do I get a badge or a t-shirt or something?

  • Nick Mailer

    Yes. Amputates. Decapitation would be a 100% effective cure to depression, though, you must admit ;-)

  • Gassalasca

    Hm, yes. I see what you’re saying. I don’t think I am knowledgeable enough about the subject, so I think it would not be sensible trying to persuade you that I am right and you’re wrong.
    I would be interested, however, in your elaborating on your views regarding this, as you put it, biological and philosophical problem, what makes a woman a woman, or a man a man?

  • Nick Mailer

    Gassalasca: I believe there is a difference between gender and sex. I believe that gender is a set of fashioned, customs and memes which society losely attempts to associate with biological sex. But these are shifting and illusive. For example, in one generation, it might be manly to wear ruffs and bright colours (like a peacock, indeed) and in another, it is considered manly to wear staid suits. One can argue that certain aspects of gender have some biological basis (that aggression is generally manly because men have more testosterone which is known to promote aggression). HOWEVER, gender is like a garment. You can choose to wear or ignore it, and society’s rules (girls wear pink, boys wear blue) are usually little more than faintly ridiculous.

    Sex, however, is easy to define – at least with humans: females have only two X chromosomes, and males have X and Y chromosomes. VERY rarely, people who are apparently male can be shown to have XX chromosomes, but they are usually infertile, have small testes etc. This is caused by a replication error, if you will, in the womb, some way through development.

    But there is a philosophical problem. If someone says “I am now a woman”, what do they mean? That they wear a frock? That they’ve found a magical way to get rid of their Y chromosomes? That they speak in a higher pitch voice? That they still have a penis, but it’s been hollowed out to look a bit like a vagina? That they are “sensitive” and can’t read maps?

    It is, I suppose, how you define the word “woman”. Every definition you seek will have its exceptions to disprove the rule. Every categorical definition you think you’ve found will be challenged. In the end, it doesn’t matter. But I admit this. But a transexual begs the question when she says “I’ve become a woman now” how she defines woman. And that everyone should be forced to share the same definition is ludicrous and, paradoxically, would mean that the transexual herself is robbed of *her* permission to definition. Either we can all define what we mean, and disgree or agree at will based on that definition, or none of us may. We can’t say that the transsexual gets to decide *exactly* what a woman is, but a horrible bigot may not. Do you see what I mean? The bigot picks and chooses his definitions just as deludedly as the transexual. They have to agree to each other’s blinkered world-view to allow their comfortable categorisations to work. And that’s a lovely irony with which to end this ramble.

  • devlocke

    To throw random anecdotal non-wisdom at this on-going discussion, I have a few transgendered friends, most of whom are not planning on surgery, but two are pre-op, on hormones, and firmly committed to the ‘lop of the cock.’

    None of them believe they will ‘become women’ in the biological sense, if they have the surgery. The two pre-op women I know are living AS women, and the surgery is more an affirmation of their lifestyle choice (i.e. to live as a woman in society-at-large), and also a desire to be sexually functional as a woman would be, I think. They don’t believe they’ll be fertile and functional females when it’s all said and done. But they will look like women, act like women, speak like women, and be able to TAKE the cock as a woman would (hey, YOU guys STARTED tossing the word cock around), and that’s close enough as far as they’re concerned. For anyone who’s not having sex with them, they are already women. People introduced to them now don’t suspect they weren’t born with vaginas.

    Basically, I think you’re misrepresenting all transgendered people as delusional misguided pathetic cases who believe that all they need is a concave where they have a convex to become a fully functional female. I’m sure that those people exist – there are crazy people of all sorts – but I don’t think the vast majority of trans-anythings fit that description.

    I suspect that mostly, they just believe that their temperament, personality, and psychological makeup in general is better suited to filling what they perceive as the role of a person of the opposite gender, in the society in which they live. And to make that choice more palatable to the rest of society (as well as, I suspect, their own prejudices as far as gender are concerned), they’d like to do it in the garb and guise of someone of that gender, not their own. If you accept their self-assessment as better suited to that role, it’s not delusional for them to act on it. And I’d argue that you don’t have the right to judge what makes them happy and what doesn’t; they know what they’d like to be better than you are.

    Not that I think it matters, anyway. I doubt my friends would have found the podcast offensive, and they’d almost certainly find the response here in the comments to be a bit silly. Totally didn’t mean to type that much, but I just started typing. Go ahead and call me an idiot, Nick! I’ll still enjoy the podcast! (Airing episode three on 97.3 FM, WRIR-LP, at 2:15 AM EST on 5/31!)

  • devlocke

    And typos! The last word in the next-to-last paragraph should be ‘do’ not ‘are.’

  • Nick Mailer

    devlocke: “And I’d argue that you don’t have the right to judge what makes them happy and what doesn’t; they know what they’d like to be better than you are”.

    I’ve said that right from the beginning. But I have the right to muse what sort of society we’re in where gender roles have become so rigid that people feel the need to have painful surgery to transfer from one to another. Indeed, this is a bigger problem in Iran, where a gay man will be executed, but if he has a sex-change operation, he won’t. Guess what – Iran has a massive number of sex-change operations compared with other countries. And that’s sad.

  • MrsTrellis

    On a slight tangent, gender politics has led to all sorts of language twisting:

    Although Nick may be blunt, one cannot really argue that he does not respect a transgendered person’s wish to be considered as a member of their preferred gender.

    However, to prat about and claim that someone who lives and identifies as their *sex* is the disordered one is perhaps a hallmark of someone with little else to do with their time.

    I have friends of friends who are transgendered. Some of them appear to consider gender to be an accessory, and play about with it. They don’t necessarily fit in with Nick’s broad brush approach and I don’t know them well enough to say if they’d be offended or not. Probably not.

    Julie Bindell on the other hand… now that’s someone whose views on transgendered people are genuinely offensive and repellent.