John Walker's Electronic House

Rum Doings Episode 56

by on Jan.20, 2011, under Rum Doings, The Rest

Heavens to Betsy, we’re back. After a very well earned and enjoyable break, Rum Doings returns with a fifty-sixth episode.

We discover the reasons behind little finger etiquette, recall Christmas, irritating anachronisms, and flu vaccines. John’s hatred of chickens is exposed, Nick proves he’s the same as Naomi Wolf, and Jesus sends John to hell. We introduce a new law, and then go on something of an extended rant about train-based digital displays. And Argos.

Tweet it, Facebook it, ask strangers on Formspring about it. And please really do. If we don’t get a million listeners in this episode, I’m going to kill Nick. And writing a review on iTunes brings us more attention.

If you want to email us, you can do that here. If you want to be a “fan” of ours on Facebook, which apparently people still do, 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!


35 Comments for this entry

  • Aaron

    It’s here. It’s finally here! Hurrah!

  • Arthur

    Good news guy, you made the big leagues! My company now blocks under the “entertainment” filter. Congrats.

  • Nick Mailer

    Why on earth would John’s little blog be blocked? So peculiar and arbitrary, as all such censorship is. Find out the reason for the blockage, if you can – I’m curious.

  • laddy_gaga

    It’s clearly too entertaining.

    I enjoyed your discussion of the earworming nature of banal public service announcements. The train one where they advise you to familiarize yourself with the safety notice is nice because its very British in its meaninglessness. They can be bothered to put up a notice and record audio tell you to read it, but not tell you what’s on it.

    There is also a good one at Edinburgh train station that says “Any unattended items may be destroyed or damaged by the security services” which conjures images of well-meaning but inexplicably clumsy security gentlemen to my mind.

    Another good one is Amsterdam Schipol, where I spent about 14 hours once (long story) and every 15 minutes an imperious tannoy woman announces that “There will be no smoking in THIS airport” implying that there was another airport nearby in which it was perfectly permissable.

    I’m beginning to think such announcements are more to provide ambient cues to remind people that they are in a public place and not to start mouthing obscenities or picking their noses and wiping it on the upholstery rather than convey actual information.

  • Xercies

    Yay! I was beginning to get Withdrawal symptoms. And its a nice reward after doing a large amount of work.

  • mister k

    Oh John, you make me sad. One of my bugbears as a vegetarian is that I suspect a lot of people simply haven’t examined the arguments. Some people do, and decide to eat meat, and I respect that, but unthinkingly buying not buying free range because you couldn’t afford it. Good grief, I’m not going to point out the flaws in that argument because they’re rather obvious. If you genuinely don’t care about chickens treated cruelly, but I suspect you do, and are able to just not think about it, because your brain doesn’t make a connect between buying products and needlessly hurting chickens.

    Still, an enjoyable podcast as always gentlemen!

  • Nick Mailer

    Mister K: You are quite correct that John is morally reprehensible for buying Auschwitz chicken.

    That said, there is a problem with your vegetarianism too, unless you make an exception in the case of baby cows and eat lots of veal; because if you don’t, you’re effectively deciding that lots of calves should die and be thrown away, which is surely worse!

  • Hidden_7

    Regarding train announcement bewilderment, I find it amusing that your described ideal system is exactly the one used by at least one of the lines in my city (I’ve never been on the other).

    It has scrolling displays that say “Terminus Station – Y. Next Station X.” The only announcements are reminding you what the terminus station is when leaving a stop, and informing you what the next stop is as it pulls in.

    I find this doubly amusing because this is a rather short and uncomplicated line, it has one fork near one end and is otherwise a straight line with I believe about 16 stations, and thus the clarity of information is maybe a tad overkill. That something as elaborate and complex as I assume the London Underground is from looking at a map has a more obfuscating information delivery system than the little metro line in my corner of the world strikes me as odd.

  • mister k

    Nick, you are of course correct. I should really be a vegan. However a lot of the reason I became a vegetarian is because of environmental reasons: by doing so I have reduced my carbon footprint.

    I can’t get too enraged by John because I suspect we all fail- my attempted boycott of coca cola did not last, although my nestle one. Still, it is ridiculously easy to just switch to free range…

  • mister k

    And by enraged I mean ha ha enraged, rather than real angry…

  • james benson

    Nice to have to back.

    I particularly enjoyed your admission about the defunct email address.

    It reminds me of one of those schmaltzy films where an abandoned child finds a box of lovingly written letters from his mother in the final scene.

  • Nick Mailer

    A serious question, though, Mister K: why not eat some British veal?
    You’re killing the calves anyway, so long as you drink milk. If you don’t eat them, then one of two things will happen:
    1) They’ll be burned – wasted and turned into atmospheric CO2.
    2) They’ll be exported – big CO2 cost – and treated cruelly.

    Surely eating them at home is the best option?

  • Nick Mailer

    I am glad you still boycott Nestle, though. It’s probably best not to eat the sweeties of those who still delight in killing millions of children every year.

  • mister k

    “A serious question, though, Mister K: why note eat some British veal?
    You’re killing the calves anyway, so long as you drink milk. If you don’t eat them, then one of two things will happen:
    1) They’ll be burned – wasted and turned into atmospheric CO2.
    2) They’ll be exported – big CO2 cost – and treated cruelly.

    Surely eating them at home is the best option?”

    Thats a fairly convincing argument, but what happens to calves currently? Are they mostly sold as meat, or mostly burnt? Because if I start eating veal that could potentially increase the market for non-dairy male calves to be raised specifically for that. Also I wonder if there is a massive difference between them being burnt and being cut up and packaged in terms of their co2 usage. Indeed, a lot of the energy cost of making meet comes from keeping them alive actually, so I’m not sure that flies.

    Honestly though, its easier to look externally consistent than to be fully internally consistent. For example, when someone can’t eat the rest of their meaty meal then I might as well finish it (unless doing so will encourage them to get into a pattern of this behaviour), but explaining it would take too long, so I can’t be bothered. I’m also a little paranoid I might make myself ill doing so, having not eaten meat for 6 years.

  • mister k

    Christ, ignorance really is bliss. According to one site many male calves are intensively farmed for low quality beef, leading to them dying fairly quickly in terrible circumstances. I’m not sure I can stomach moving to full blown vegan though. Bah, that’ll teach me for thinking about things….

  • Nick Mailer

    mister k: The problem is that veal is not at all popular in the UK – for obvious sentimental reasons. Ironically, this means that many calves are exported and treated badly – brought up in crates, basically given anaemia with flesh made white.

    If the British stopped being squeamish, then the calves would not have this fate. British veal, for example, is pink and not white. Waitrose is one of the few supermarkets that sells well-reared British veal. These animals are already doomed when one buys a pint, so I would prefer that they live as good a life as possible, and that is as being reared ethically and sold profitably for British pink veal. Believe me, buy buying British veal, you’re not increasing the market in calves. There’s a glut of them anyway. You’re just deciding how well they’re treated.

    So, again, I say all seriously: as an ethical vegetarian (as opposed to one for health/flavour), one should, ironically, eat British pink veal!

    I would agree that moving to a vegan diet would be problematic. At some stage, you have to acknowledge that you’ve done your bit but, frankly, the 2nd law of thermodynamics still prevails, the universe will die whatever action you take.

  • Alex B

    RE: British Veal.

    One of my vegetarian chums says that quite a lot of the veal we eat here is transported to a certain Scandinavian country (Denmark most probably), where animal treatment regulations don’t apply – They then force them to eat a diet that turns them anaemic, resulting in a whiter meat.

    Cruelty aside, this would certainly contribute to rising CO2 levels.

  • Nick Mailer

    Alex B: I specifically said British veal. You get it from Waitrose, for example, and unlike cruel imported veal, it is deep pink, not anaemic white.

  • Alex B

    I’m aware of that – What I was trying to say is that my friend says that veal is actually transported *From* England, to another country, and back again, as a way of bypassing the cruelty laws and still being able to call it ‘British’ veal.

    Of course, this is all based on a biased person’s report, so I’ll have to do some more research.

  • IcyBee

    Your gag about mocking bad accents on panel games becoming an offence – Was it ‘inspired’ by this sketch…?

  • Nick Mailer

    Alex B: Maybe from somewhere like LIDL or ASDA, but Waitrose is very clear about the ethical standards of its British veal. Read this:

  • Alex B

    That’s good to hear – Mr. K, eat that veal!

  • Arthur

    Aparently we lease the software and blacklists from a third-party vendor, so they can’t tell me why john’s site is specifically blocked. The “entertainment” category is for websites that stream audio or video, aparently to reduce our bandwidth use. So I’d guess it’s connected to the rum doings podcast, maybe they track the iTunes podcast listings or something.

    Oddly Engadget isn’t blocked even though they host video and have a podcast. Rock Paper Shotgun is also blocked, but under a “games” category. As to why they have to block games news over regular news, your guess is as good as mine.

  • Nick Mailer

    I wouldn’t work at a company that treated ME as a child like that. I’m serious.

  • John Walker

    @IcyBee – No, it was not. Neither of us have seen that before. But it’s very funny.

  • Nick Mailer

    I’ve not seen that sketch. For some reason, I had avoided the series, assuming it’d be rubbish. Perhaps I was wrong.

  • Xercies

    Well I watched the first season and it kind of was rubbish, and the only good sketch they did they did to much of.

    Anyway train announcements, yeah I just get annoyed by them treating me like a child. Also if the station is like 5 minutes away they do not have enough time to say what the next station is and do all that announcing the bloody bag thing. Its even worse in some areas I’ve found where they have even more announcements about children safety and the like.

    Oh and I don’t get why companies treat there employees like there school children now a days.

  • Coombs

    I’ve always found Armstrong and Miller to be pretty hit and miss for example I love their WWII RAF pilots sketches ( but that series of sketches last series where something dramatic would be happening and then someone would remember they forgot to put the bins out was pretty dire.
    Also Ben Miller was terrible on Horizon the other week; “Heat is a form of energy!” the man with a degree in physics from Cambridge exclaims in apparent surprise…

  • Nick Mailer

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics seemed to come as a surprise to the post-graduate physicist too.

  • Thants

    Somewhat related, I quite like David Mitchell’s take on train announcements and spelling:

  • Vagabond

    As someone who works in IT for a large company, the whole blocking thing happens something like this:

    1. Someone in the exec asks the senior manager of
    IT why the internet is so slow.

    2. IT Admins look into it and discover over 50% of internet traffic is youtube. Exec are annoyed that 6 figure internet bill is not being used for work purposes. IT are told to block youtube.

    3. Internet still slow. IT Admins look into it and discover that Facebook is now over 20% of the organisation’s total internet traffic, and the rest of the top ten is streaming radio stations, the local newspaper, and a real estate web site. Exec ask where in list first work related site appears. IT admins can’t find work related site in top 100, Exec furious.

    4. Senior Manager for a department “resigns” after being caught surfing the porno at work. HR request IT make it so no member of staff may look at anything offensive on the web ever again.

    5. IT Admins, sick of all this shit, implement third party filtering list to keep HR and the Exec happy.

    6. IT Admins grant themselves filter exemption for “testing purposes” and get on with their lives.

    I don’t know what the law is like in other countries but here in Oz we have the concept of Accessory Liability with regard to Sexual Harassment, which means that if an employer is made aware of sexual harassment and they take no steps to try and prevent it, they may also be found liable in any future cases. Because of that, the porn filter is a necessary step for most large companies. I think they bundle in the “no fun on the company’s internet dime” part, because, hey they’re doing something in that space anyway…

  • Nick Mailer

    Vagabond: my comment stands.

  • Bryan King

    Ha ha, John. As soon as you started it, I knew you were attempting to do Adam Carolla’s “Lightning Round”. You forgot to do “Slow and Go”.

  • Bod Notbod

    Blimey, I appear to have missed about 20 episodes but I enjoyed this one so will have to acquaint myself with the archives.

  • Bod Notbod

    Oh, by the way, you may feel a warm glow when I tell you that when I type “rum doings” into my Chrome browser address bar it autofills with “Rum Doings Podcast” so you appear to be the official use of the phrase ‘Rum Doings’ now, which is no small feat.