John Walker's Electronic House

Rum Doings Episode 47

by on Oct.28, 2010, under Rum Doings, The Rest

In a forty-seventh episode of Rum Doings, we take our lead from your Twittered suggestions. But we don’t discuss the fluoride conspiracy.

We begin by reminiscing over the last two weeks of events in exquisite detail, before diving into your suggestions. Oh, and after killing a cat, live on air.

What do centaurs do with their arms? Do our listeners hate Israel? A peculiarly placed review of Medal Of Honour. Nicknames. Do our listeners still hate Israel? How do we prefer to insulate our parcels? Premarital sex? Baseball! Prime numbers! What are our favourite most hated films? Hollywood musicals, and midi orchestras. That’s more than enough.

Tweet it, Facebook it, as strangers on Formspring about it. Do whatever it is that makes the internet work. And writing a review on iTunes makes us happy in our tummies.

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

Or you can listen to it right here!


31 Comments for this entry

  • Xercies

    How can you think The Truman Show is terrible? That’s one of my favourite movies of all time! It manages to blend a very heartfelt quite modern concept in a really nice Jim Carrey comedy. In fact i think Jim Carrey is a bit reined in, in that movie.

  • Arthur

    Shit, I’d float you guys a few bucks if you needed it. I’ve donated to NPR on occasion, and I enjoy you two more than anything I’ve ever heard on Sound Opinions.

  • Gassalasca

    I too thought The Truman Show was awesome!
    I am saying this now because when I get to the bit in the podcast where you’re saying it’s rubbish I’ll probably be far from my computer and thus teh Internet, so I would just get upset that I can’t register my complaint straight away.

  • James

    So, is it racist to assume that because someone is Jewish they must therefore be a zionist?

    I’ll let you off the calling me a nazi, as it was funny. I know online forums better than to launch into a defence of my anti-racist credentials based on unprovable claims about who my best friends are or other politics I’ve been involved in, but I do find the suggestion quite offensive. Of course I am against racsim whereever it occurs. I only single out Isreal because I beleive my opinions are logically consistent and, as people I usually find I agree with, it’s much more interesting to test that by asking you about things you’ve shown we’re likely to disagree on.

    (I did also submit a question about the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, but John didn’t read it out.)

    You’ve prompted me to look at what the British pledge actually says. This is what I found on the UKBA web site. Does it match what you swore, Nick? “I (name) do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law. I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.”

    Assuming I’ve got the right bit, I don’t see anything in there that mentions either religion or ethnicity. I’m still against it as a requirement and, were I not born here, a reluctance to swear allegiance to the Queen would leave me very unlikely to become a British citizen. Nor can I become an American citizen, as I would view pledging allegiance to a flag as outright idolatrous. Given your previously discussed distaste for nationalism, I expected to find a measure of agreement on my question about Britain. The Israel one was an overt test of the logical consistency you seem to think I lack. It was never my intention to ask an unbiased question!

    As I understand it, Israel’s planned pledge doesn’t apply to jews seeking citizenship in Israel. I’m sure you’ll point me to another example, but I don’t know of any other nation that will grant citizenship based solely on the ethnicity of a single grandparent.

  • Alex Bakke

    Ooh, Drama.

  • Jambe

    A good chat this time. I liked your eventual stalemate in the Great To vs And Debate.

    About “God in America”:

    Yes, “God” being in the US pledge and on US money is unconstitutional. It constitutes the state “[making a] law respecting an establishment of religion”. Right-wingers contort the meaning of the word respecting from “concerning” to something less discrete like “tending towards” or “honoring”. Given that interpretation of respecting, the First Amendment would prohibit only the establishment of an official religion, or, in a more restrictive sense, only discrimination between establishments of religion. The simple fact of the matter, however, is that the word respecting had the same connotation in the 18th century as it does today: that of “concerning”.

    The First Amendment was extensively modified to be more restrictive than it was in earlier drafts which explicitly allowed non-preferential government aid of religious institutions (as was the norm in Europe at the time). Madison, Jefferson, Paine, et al. struggled to ensure that the American government wouldn’t promulgate such folly and suggested that government shouldn’t meddle with religion at all. Indeed, both Madison and Jefferson said words to the effect that religion was better off entirely without the influence of government. More on the history of “respecting” in the US Constitution and its influence on current jurisprudence can be seen here.

    About the British pledge and Zionism:

    Only Protestants can inherit the English Crown, right? In that admittedly removed sense, swearing allegiance to the Queen implies consent to the arbitrary influence of a religious force (namely the Anglican Communion). The English Crown is also an inherently Anglo-Norman institution by simple virtue of ancestry, so there’s an implied “recognize the home race” element to Crown-fealty as well.

    I don’t like veneration of monarchy, nor do I like theocracy, and I usually find nationalism creepy and offensive. I find Zionism — an explicitly nationalist and often-religious social movement — vaguely worrying at best and outright abhorrent at worst. I realize there are myriad historical events which lend weight to the argument that Jews deserve their own state, but I still have a strong distaste for the notion of “a select race’s state”. I’d rather we learned to celebrate (and better understand the nature of) our differences instead of fighting over them… but that probably won’t happen anytime soon.

    I rather like you, Nick, but it seemed… well, just plain mean when you equated James to Hitler and implied that belittling Zionism = antisemitism. I find Zionism scary because my study of history made me leery of overt nationalism and religiousness. I have nothing against Jews as an ethnic group. I do have something against Jews as a religious group, though, only because I believe religion itself is a terribly dangerous product of human incredulity and is best shed (and best clung to only with an eye for skepticism, criticality, and compassion, as exemplified by John and all “progressives”). Your “Britain and other nations do it too” argument is a bald logical fallacy; two wrongs do not make a right. Surely the ideal state citizenship requirements would be totally agnostic toward race and ethnicity.

    About the podcast in general again:

    Wow, wall of text from Jambe. :\

    Also, I refuse to tweet about the show again until you get a proper site set up for the podcast. I demand it!

    Okay, so I’ll tweet it, but it’d still be nice to see a dedicated website. It’d be nice to suggest people visit “Rum Doings Dot Com”. I’ve suggested it before, but all you really need is a tiny HTML redirect to point to the following address:


    You could also set up a Rum Doings twitter account and have your blog automatically tweet links to the podcast pages so we can simply click a link to retweet. There are many WordPress plugins for that sorta thing.

    I LOVE THIS SHOW. Thanks for making my evening more interesting.

  • devlocke

    I have more thoughts n’ stuff about things in the podcast I can’t remember at the moment, but I just wanted to mention that the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ is not like, a real thing. You don’t have to say it to become a citizen. Apparently some organizations “require” you to say it, but they always lose in court, and I don’t know of any Federal entity that requires one to do so. If one existed, someone would join the organization just to fight it in court, and would inevitably win.

    Quickly googling, the oath you have to take to become a citizen is and although it does mention god once, as the last word, it’s apparently optional.

    In my own experience: I was raised in a weird cult that didn’t allow the swearing of oaths, and attended public schools in rural Virginia where the pledge was required. My parents informed the school that their religious beliefs prohibited me from saying the pledge, and I was excused from saying it. Everyone else’s mileage may vary.

    For the record, as far as Israeli settlements are concerned, they’re certainly not presented as being ‘a handful of nutters’ here in the U.S. – it’s my understanding that they’re actual towns with hundreds/thousands of people in some cases, based on coverage here. Either way, they’re government-sanctioned, and kind of a dick move (again, as I understand it, based on media coverage on NPR and in the NYT).

    I feel like, if Texans just started randomly illegally crossing the border to Mexico and starting settlements, the U.S. would not condone it, and would would get as much if not more flak from the global community if it did. The situation’s not really a good parallel but it’s the closest thing I can come up with at the drop of a hat and I think it captures why most of the rest of the world thinks it’s kind of shitty. Tho I freely accept that as an unmotivated-to-look-more-deeply American whose knowledge comes from news I didn’t seek out and encountered by happenstance, I might just be making invalid assumptions based on incomplete/biased data – Nick?

    That was really long. Sorry. Any grammatical errors were colloquialisms or typos. Or indicative of the fact that I attended a sub-par university, but I’d like to think the form two were most likely.

  • devlocke

    FUCK. ‘Former two,’ for the record. Tho I should have just played ‘form’ off as a colloquial shortening of ‘former,’ I suppose.

  • James

    Er… Balls. It was not my intention to cause drama. Genuinely just interested in how it is that people can disagree with me! Maybe that makes me an arrogant tosser. Sorry.

    The Israeli Settlements are about half a million people (Wikipedia Fact). That includes the handful of nutters who throw rocks at Palestinian farmers in their fields and kids on their way to school, cut water pipes to Palestinian homes, and drive out to hilltops with a caravan and a gun to claim back historic Judea and Samaria for the Jewish nation. It also includes the massive towns of cheep housing mainly filled with recent immigrates who commute into the state of Israel to work. It includes large Orthodox religious communities. And it includes the ‘suburbs’ surrounding East Jerusalem that cut the Palestinian population there off from the rest of the West Bank. It’s a diverse group, all of whom receive the same protection from the IDF and the state of Israel. When the nutters throw rocks at children, it’s the nutters who get state protection. The hilltop outposts get wired to the Israeli power grid and connected to the network of roads criss-crossing the West Bank that Palestinians aren’t allowed to drive on.

    Maybe my opening question was unnecessarily provocative. I write from the position of having felt like I was racist for that reason. After returning from my first trip to Israel/Palestine, a couple of the guys I travelled with organised an event in Leeds to bring together people from the Muslim and Jewish communities in the city to talk about the issues. We’d met with all kinds of amazing people from both sides, working on peace projects in both Israel and the West Bank. At the event my friends organised, almost everyone who attended was Jewish, yet the range of opinion in the room was every bit as diverse as what we encountered across both countries when we were travelling, where the Jews we met had been zionist without exception. I realised I’d been pretty fucking moronic to expect otherwise.

  • Jambe

    Yeah, the Zionist “community” is anything but homogeneous in opinion. afaik the only uniting factor for Zionists is a desire for a Jewish homeland and Jewish self-determination therein. A Zionist could be a reformed secular Jew from the left of the spectrum or his/her fundamentalist Orthodox counterpart from the right, or anything in between.

    The idea that a people want a homeland is totally understandable, but I still find the notion of an ethnically and/or religiously-defined state very troublesome. An ideal state would be blind to both characteristics, wouldn’t it?

  • mister k

    I think the Isreal Palestine conflict is interesting in several ways, and I suspect most of them have nothing to do with Nick’s jewishness (which I for one have managed to either remain ignorant of or forget up to this podcast). Its a very new state, and one that exists thanks to funding from the US primarily, certainly for its early existence. Its also a democratic state, and to a certain sense feels a bit more “western” than other states. I don’t doubt that people abhor the actions of other governments, but its less easy to influence said states- as mentioned, the US does provide significant financial support. So yeah.

    Also, I suspect the reason why people tend to “side” with Palestine is that people tend to side with the people who have less power. Same with some US sympathy towards the IRA, I suspect (far away terrorists are much easier to support). I do believe that Isreal has far more power over the situation than Palestine, which thanks to external and internal factors, is hardly a cohesive nation at this point. Obviously solutions presented by many campaigners can be vapid, but yeah.

  • James

    @Jambe I was more thinking of how I shouldn’t have been surprised to meet Jews who were not only not Zionist, but some cases specifically anti-Zionist. But yes, what you say is correct. I have since found that a lot of the best critique of Israeli policy is (as one should probably have expected anyway) published by Jewish and Israeli groups, avoiding, as it usually does, the anti-semitism that runs rife in some Palestine Solidarity groups.

  • James

    I just came back to see if there’d been any further discussion and realised I’d somehow scrolled over the whole of your lengthy first post without reading it, Jambe! I see what you’re saying about crown-fealty, and I too find it abhorrent. But the connections you draw from that to anglicanism and the anglo-saxon race don’t equate to any benefit in law when applying for citizenship. Of course there is an institutional racism in the immigration system but, as you say, that should be something we seek to change, not the excuse for other wrongs around the world.

    Also, I totally didn’t think. “I got called a nazi on my favourite podcast” might actually be enough to provoke some of my friends to follow the link. I’ll tweet it now. :-)

  • Arthur

    Just real quick, I know I’m chiming in late but “Under God” and “In God We Trust” are not unconstitutional. Courts have identified it as a ceremonial act in support of the government, not a religious statement.

  • Nick Mailer

    How convenient, Arthur.

  • Duncan

    I’m sorry for forgetting an apostrophe. I wont do it again. (That’s funny, right?)

  • James Campbell

    No. (Just making sure I’ve commented this week so N & J stop winging (That’s funny, right?))

  • Jambe

    @Arthur: It is explicitly, prima facie unconstitutional. It was unconstitutional in the mid-1800’s when it was first allowed and it was unconstitutional when it was mandated by law in 1956.

    It is now a trifling issue, but an issue’s becoming inconsequential shouldn’t necessarily make it legal. In God We Trust is now “part of the national character”, a symbol of the majority population. Fitting, then, that said symbol is an appeal to an eternally-jealous, slavery-endorsing, genocidal cosmic maniac. Yeah, that makes me really proud to be an American.

    As I said, it’s a trifle at this point. Very few people care about the phrase in the motto or on money as it really doesn’t affect anybody. An ideal state, however, as I have said now several times, would be entirely agnostic. It just so happens that Americans were so scared of godless commies in the 50’s and 60’s that Congress was allowed to stamp the lord all over our coinage and bills. We showed them!

  • Arthur

    Well, Jambe, why don’t you go explain it to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined exactly what I described under a 3-0 decision. Or the US Supreme Court, which agreed with the decision and decided not to hear an appeal. I’m sure the problem was just that no one told them how the constitution works.

  • Geetoo

    Arthur, you’re working backwards there I fear:

    “The Court held that “under God” has nothing to do with God, ergo, it has nothing to do with God.”

    In my first year as a law student, I studied a module of legal philosophy entitled “law is magic.” The essence of it is that people seem very happy to accept anything so long as the magicians in the courts have waved their wands. I believe you may be falling into this trap.

  • Arthur

    This is a discussion of constitutionality, and the job of the federal courts is to assist in determining what is or is not constitutional. You’re statement isn’t especially useful because it’s essentially a statement that all law is magic. They didn’t hold “Under God” as having nothing to do with god. They held that the pledge of allegiance is not changed from a statement of patriotism to a statement of religious support just because it includes a word with religious connotations.

  • Nick Mailer

    Arthur: The Judges were wrong, as they often have been before and often will be hence. It is about as blatant a strike against the letter and spirit of the 1st Amendment as one might imagine. Jefferson would be rolling in his grave.

  • Arthur

    Jefferson has been spinning in his grave since the Federal Reserve was instituted. There is a secular use of God that exists, and there are established tests that the court use which “In God we Trust” and “Under God” both passed. How am I the one being unreasonable?

  • Nick Mailer

    You are begging the question that these “established tests” are reasonable and coherent. Here’s how:

    “These tests are reasonable. We know that because they’re established. And the reason they’re established is because they’re reasonable”.

    Next thing you’ll be telling me that because the judges wore impressive robes, it’s reasonable.

  • Arthur

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE LEMON TEST?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH EXAMINING THE PLEDGE AS AN ENTIRE STATEMENT RATHER THAN TWO WORDS?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH EXAMINING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT FOR DETERMINATION OF INTENT?! You’re saying I’m being simple because I am just using the court standards, but you’re using what exactly as a standard? A strong guess? You’re knowledge of culture based on 30 years of not living in the US?

  • Arthur

    I’m sorry about the last post. I’m just getting rude at this point. I’ve read the appeal decision, and it seems reasonable to me, is all. I can’t see why you feel they’re so wrong.

  • Nick Mailer

    I am happy to hear that you read the appeal decision and that it seems reasonable to you. But I am more interested in what logic, what argument led to this belief rather than that the decision was on a comfy sofa of tradition and precedence or not.

    I actually have quite a bit of contempt for precedence as jurisprudential mechanism.

    Frankly, having a motto and national pledge that directly invokes the deity seems almost designed not to be compatible with the First Amendment. I’m sure that the acrobatics they go through to justify it are deliciously entertaining; unlike you, I doubt I’ll be convinced. And this is not simply because it happens to tally with any personal beliefs I do or do not have. I think Roe v Wade gets itself into terrible knots trying to justify its conclusions. That’s what happens when you have Constitution Worship. You get into these games of teleological exegesis.

  • Geetoo

    I didn’t say you were being simple, I just said you were accepting something as fact merely because a court decreed it so. They can argue that God is used in a secular sense as much as they like – I simply don’t accept it. In the UK, if you have a non religious wedding ceremony for example, you are not allowed to play any music with theistic connotations – even if they merely mention the word “angel.” The word God is inherently connected to religion and it is a nonsense to say otherwise, no matter how the courts try to twist logic.

  • Nick Mailer

    The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”.

    Title 36, Subtitle I, Part A, Chapter 3, section 302 of Federal Law mandate “In God we Trust” as the official National Motto.

    If you cannot see how these are so basically incompatible, then you must be.. a sophist in the Supreme Court, I guess!

    This law specifically respects the establishment of religion! Indeed, it mandates the national motto specifically to encapsulate the supreme deity of a particular religion (God singular and capitalised refers implicitly to the monotheist, Abrahamic God). And then it sets up another law mandating that coinage must contain it.

    What tawdry nonsense.

    E pluribus unum is a much better motto, and should have remained such and not simply been relegated to the seal.

  • Nick Mailer

    In fact, if you look at the original U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, they got it right. Then there was a public outcry, and the Supreme Court were bullied into finding a loophole to keep all this nonsense. Far from impressed or convinced, my further investigations disgust more than I thought I would be, Arthur.

  • Jambe

    I arrived at Nick’s conclusion some years ago. Current precedent wrt the motto is certainly valid law, but it’s not correct. For all the yammering about it, it’s an extremely straightforward issue.

    fwiw, there are religious figures carved into the Supreme Court building itself (interestingly enough, Muhammad is one of them). But they’re represented as lawgivers, not as religious icons, as contrasted with “God” in the US national motto.