Tags: the depths of human idiocy


The 'Not So Amazing' Koran

As you know, I get into arguments over faith which, being an atheist and a rationalist I find destructive. Of late there's been a lot more argument with those of the Islamic faith rather than the Christian one, which is something I welcome as variety is the spice of life and my beef is with faith itself rather than any singular version thereof.

Islam has its annoyances though, chief amongst them (once we discount the obvious of it being an unreformed, brutalistic, misogynistic desert religion that inspires violence and division) is the claim by many of its followers that it is somehow unique, special, scientifically rigorous or that - unlike other religions - it has evidence in support of it.

The irony of course is that these are claims made by many religions.

Recently I was sent this pamphlet in support of the claim that Islam was supported by evidence and I called it a 'string of lies from beginning to end'.

Before I get back to writing more fun things this blog post is, then, my case for that since it's too much to throw up onto Twitter.

Page 1/60
The Amazing Koran - The meaning of 'amazing' is defined as causing great surprise or wonder. The Koran is not, then, amazing. Just about any religion you care to mention has a similar book of bad poetry, homilies and instruction. The Torah, Bible, Rig Veda, Book of Mormon, Scientology Tapes, you name it you can find the rambling scrivenings of some madman that only his followers are convinced is in any way special. Contextually, even if the Koran were the most wonderful, poetic and fabulous screed of bullshit ever written, it still wouldn't be amazing. I guess 'The Wearingly Typical Koran' wasnt such a catchy title.

Doctor Gary Miller - Doctor Miller has a doctorate in mathematics which is completely irrelevant to much of what he claims and talks about within this pamphlet. The impressionable may see 'Doctor' and assume a level of authority and relevant learning which simply isn't present. He also fails to mention with any readiness that he's a former Christian missionary and was therefore already barking before he encountered Islam. Even if we're generous and call this misrepresentation, it's still a form of lying.

Page 3/60
Not What You'd Expect - This is anecdotal but I don't think I've met a single non-Muslim who has read the Koran who has been surprised. Generally speaking it's exactly what we expected. A rambling, incoherent and self-contradicting muddle of nonsense. Certainly the only surprise it gave me was that it was even less coherent than the Bible and as much, if not more, of a chore to read. Let's notch this one up as a half-truth.

Page 4/60
Merchant Marine - The story given here is apocryphal with no evidence in support of it. It's merely claimed without support that this man, whoever he was, converted because of the description of a storm. That would have to be one very simple-minded sailor to do so and it's either a shame or a blessing that he didn't read Moby Dick first or he might be bowing down to an idol of a white whale. Is it amazing or remarkable that there should be descriptions of storms or the sea in the Koran, a desert religion book? Not at all given that there's the Arabian Sea, the Caspian, the Black Sea, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden all around there. This is the region the Sinbad stories come from for the love of Pete. Given the origin of the written Koran as the half-remembered and pieced together fragments of Muhammed's surviving followers, compiled by Greeks and Jews under the orders of Islamic rulers decades after his death it's even less surprising there should be such descriptions in there.

Page 5/60
The Smallest Thing - The claim is that the Koran predicted things smaller than an atom. Two problems. One, what the Greeks etc called the atom is not what we call the atom today. We adopted the name but not the concept. Atom then meant 'smallest thing there can be' so a modern equivalent might be a superstring or the Planck length. Two, this is a post-hoc interpretation of poetic language in an extremely vague language, Arabic, in order to cast it in a scientific light. These interpretations have changed over the years as scientific knowledge has advanced, therefore advantage science.

Page 6-7/60
Honey - This is a page of apologetics excuses as to why no explicit scientific knowledge is included in the Koran, which contradicts statements made elsewhere. The excuse given is that it would make the Koran outdated but the obvious foil to this is that an omniscient and omnipotent deity could easily construct a book that contained genuine evidence and that wouldn't become outdated in such a way, being of limitless intellect and power and so the Koran (or any other holy book) should do that easily... oh wait. Also the Koran DOES contradict itself, and frequently. My favourite is the discrepency in the days of creation between Sura 7:54, 10:3, 11:7 and 25:59, and Sura 41:9-12. This is just one of many and similar lists of contradictions also exist for other so-called holy books. It's also claimed on page 7 that nothing could be taken away, added or changed in the Koran. Given that it's been through at least three incarnations, all of them piecemeal, this appears manifestly untrue.

Page 8-9/60
Mohammed and the Koran - Yes, it is claimed Mohammed was likely ill, temporal lobe epilepsy. This is based on descriptions of his 'visions' from various Hadith which are held up in other circumstanes. In other words, this claim is supported by evidence. It's also known that TLE has a higher incidence amongst the very religious, so this is by no means a stretch. It's pretty fruitless going through the Koran looking for evidence one way or another on this as, as previously mentioned, it's been through several incarnations and there are other reasons why it's a rambling and incoherent mess other than it being the work of a madman, though this still seems likely.

Page 10-12/60
SCIENCE! - The Koran doesn't have falsification tests built into it. Or rather, it makes claims that DO falsify it. It is not unique in this aspect. There are testable claims in other religious books which collapse as readily as those in the Koran do under examination. So while it's not necessarily a lie to say that there are falsification tests, it IS a lie to say Islam goes about this scientifically and in the claim that it has already been proven true. I don't have a religion but the claim that other religions lack such tests is a false one. Christians, for example, would say you just have to pray to Jesus and he will reveal himself to you. The bible also makes claims about faith, such as if it's the size of a mustard seed (a common metaphor for 'the smallest thing ever' you can move mountains and trees and do anything - you can't. Religions are scattered with grandiose and testable claims and they come up short. It's also claimed here that in 1400 years nobody has found a mistake or discrepency in the Koran. This is untrue

Page 13
Ask Those Who Have Knowledge - Attempts to associate the Koran with advancement in human knowledge when, in fact, the opposite is true. Why is it that the great flowering of Arabic science and technology was so long ago and now it's so behind? Oh yeah.

Page 14-15
Embryology - This is an old saw though I really don't know why Islam keeps banging this drum. Clots, clay, leeches, this takes us all the way back to my earlier criticism of post-hoc rationalisation of poetic language. Not to mention that the Greeks had an equal or greater amount of knowledge centuries beforehand and given miscarriages and the murder of pregnant women, this knowledge is unremarkable two ways as well as, if taken literally (as literally as you can take Arabic) being inaccurate and wrong.

I think that's sufficient to establish my point and I have better things to do than to go through the remaining 45 pages. I think I've established that at least 15 pages - one quarter - of the pamphle contain lies, half truths, mistruths and misrepresentations and I submit that this is disingenuous and unacceptable given the high and mighty tone and supposed goal of the pamphlet in 'revealing truth'.

One of these things is not like the other


A doesn't bother me at all. B does.

I have been trying to work out, since this morning, why it is that all this continual fuss about portrayals in fantasy bothers me so much, because it does bother me, quite a lot.

Portrayals in more everyday media do concern me. I'm fairly secure and confident in my own physique etc for the most part, largely because I consider my attraction to people to be my mind, but I do worry now and then when I 'pudge out' a bit who doesn't? Equally I don't want to devote myself to spending the sort of time needed to be Captain Six-Pack above and I'm OK with that, really. That's not to say the pressure isn't there so I do empathise with women who feel the social/media pressure to be the size zero model and who get complexes about that. I really do. Women aren't the only ones to suffer due to media portrayals, either in terms of looks or behaviour.

There's a massive disconnect for me, however, between making legitimate complaints about fashion portrayals and complaining about portrayals in comics, games, books etc. There's a huge difference for me between reality and fantasy. While I might feel a twinge not looking like Captain 6-Pack, he's a real person. Thor isn't. Of the two I'd much rather be Thor if it came down to it but at the same time I know Thor is entirely fictional and I can never be Thor. I don't feel even the slightest twinge of regret that I'm not Thor because he's fantastical, fictional. Fictional characters may inspire and entertain, you might aspire to some of their characteristics - a sense of justice perhaps, a level of honesty or confidence - but you surely don't aspire to BE them unless you're mentally ill in some way.
Demands to represent 'ordinary folk' in fantasy also strike me as odd. I don't really want to project MYSELF into a game because I am largely boring and ordinary and can't do anything cool. The only games I can think of that are exceptions are Silent Hill, Alan Wake, my Eclipse Phase character and the themes of a game I, myself, am working on. When I play a game I generally want to play something beyond myself, the superhero, the assassin, the secret agent, the starship ace. I want to play someone who is NOT like me. Why enter a fantasy world to just be yourself?

Heroes in fantasy and SF generally aren't normal people, they're archetypes. The word 'hero' is used for a reason. Go back to the folk stories, the Greek legends, the tales of gods and demigods and that's just what you find powerful archetypes, handsome, beautiful, strong, cruel. Sure, there's a place for the everyman hero now and then, either for comedic effect (Jack Burton), succeeding against the odds (Deeba) or for grounding the story in a more realistic way for empathy (Dagmar) but for escapist fantasy? Not so much.
In short, it jarrs, to have people want to de-hero the heroes, to remove the very thing that makes them noteworthy, larger than life, interesting, engaging characters that are fun to read about or to play. The vicarious greatness or capability that goes beyond the ordinary.
That's not it though, that's not the central nub of what bothers me about it.
Go back, mentally, in time. Think about the way horror comics were demonised and how they were defended. Think about BADD and the way D&D was treated as satanic and dangerous. Think about the campaigns against computer games. Think about the fuss over Elvis' hips or Iron Maiden's lyrics and album covers. How have we defended these hobbies in the past from the accusations made against them? How ridiculous do people's concerns about these things look now?
We've made great pains to point out that these are fantasies, that they are not real. That there are differences between reality and fantasy, that D&D doesn't involve worshipping strange gods or casting real magic. That you don't have to be a Satanist to like Heavy Metal. This has been backed up by psychological research, particular in gamers which shows that as a demographic we tend to have a heightened ability to tell reality from fantasy and treat them as separate things. I'm a big believer in this evidence and the point that reality and fantasy are distinct. Anyone who isn't a nutter can tell the difference between the two I reckon.
I think, having thought long and hard about it, that this is why people complaining about depictions in fantasy and SF (whatever the medium) bothers me so much. It's a betrayal of that defence made all the worse because it's the same nonsensical arguments but coming - this time - from within the hobbies. It's an 'admission' (and a false one) that there's no difference between reality and fantasy. It's agreeing with the Jack Chicks, Jack Thompsons, Pat Pullings and Andrea Dworkins of the world that fantasy cannot be  separated from reality and that it can corrupt and pervert people's viewpoints. It's saying a comic book can make you a murderer, that a computer game can make you a criminal, that a jazz mag can make you a rapist.
This is bullshit.
I do not accept that viewpoint and I object to the fantastical being hemmed in and neutered by people's RL hangups about this, that and the other. It's no longer escapism if you let yourself get tied down to reality. Bucking a genre conceit only works if there's a genre conceit there to buck. Cohen only works because of Conan. Nite Owl only works because of Batman. So it goes. Not everything has to be all things to all people and it's possible to innocently enjoy Twain's tales despite 'Nigger Jim' or Barsoom despite the fawning (if not entirely helpless) Martian princesses. It's possible to recreate what made the pulps great without being racist, to enjoy a pinup without being a misogynist. It bothers me to see otherwise intelligent people making the same mistakes as the aforementioned pompous arses and, even worse, to be taken seriously in so doing.

(no subject)

"The Quintessential Temptress is, of course, a slight exception being, as it is, after all, a bit of a piss-take. There is, however, a great deal of genuinely useful information contained within this book in spite of the humour and mirth, things that can be used practically. Some people lacking in the essential brain cells required to tell humour from seriousness, or who excuse their lack of understanding of the joke by accusing humour of perpetuating stereotype and persecution may find something within this book to offend them. Jolly good; enjoy being upset, you know you do. The rest of us will get on with having a jolly good – not to mention harmless – chuckle."

I wrote that back in 2004 but in spite of any number of disclaimers and to above, Cassanda-ish prediction, I'm still getting shit over it. As well as Nymphology: Blue Magic, Hentacle, etc etc.

This is all courtesy of the internet troll and drama-llama Kynn (Dazedsaveends on Twitter). Of course, since they're a transgender who chooses to call themselves a woman, you can't say anything against them without being simultaneously a misogynist and a transphobic. If only I were a member of a minority so I had something to insult people with they point out that I'm full of crap. Of course, I'd also have to be the kind of gutless fuckwit who can't support an argument and has to resort to ad hominem to plaster that gap too, but, you know, baby steps.
The irony, again, for those who missed it last time around, is this. The books that this person keeps banging on about are saying the opposite of what they think that they are.
Nymphology, Quintessential Temptress etc, these were taking the mick out of existing stereotypes of women in fantasy, games and RPGs. While also slipping some usable material in under the radar. As I recall the original pitch (when asked) was for something more serious but you do what you're paid to do and more comedy was asked for. You can call me a sell out if you like but it's hard enough to make it in this industry and scrape a living without handicapping yourself. I did what was asked, made fun of misogynistic attitudes in gaming and got some serious stuff in anyway.
Hentacle is, again, satirical, making fun of both hentai and western attitudes towards it.
I'm sorry if that's too complicated and nuanced for some people.
Here's a case in point, is this sexist, or making fun of sexists? You tell me...
And for the record, I am not homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic or whatever else you choose to accuse me of. I do, however, hate liars and twats and people who spread hate and misinformation. Indeed I'm usually the one that calls others on their 'isms'. 


If You Vote Against AV or Abstain, Then You're a bellend

A strong statement perhaps... but still, I stand by it. Why? Because it's true.

it's a fundamental conceit of any democracy that it represents the people. Our democracy does not. The First Past the Post system favours parties with a loyal minority and means that the majority of votes tend to be wasted. A party can win a seat with as little as 30% of the vote - or less - provided it has most of the votes in any given seat. This means we can have seats represented by MPs that most people didn't want or wouldn't even tolerate and if you carry this upward we get issues where the government in power isn't represented by the majority of the people. Incidentally, this is also what happened in the US due to the electoral college system when Bush was elected over Gore (who had the popular vote) and we all know how well that turned out, right kids?

Now, way back in the mists of time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and party was less of a big deal the local link between your MP and his constituency moderated this problem somewhat but with parties taking pre-eminence and party whips becoming more important the idea of a local link is really little more than a farce when it comes to national policy. Your MP will virtually always follow the party line rather than voting with his conscience or the wishes of his seat.

AV (alternative vote or instant run-off voting)  is a 'miserable little compromise' between FPTP and true proportional representation, but it IS a step forward. Now your votes won't be wasted and so long as you express a preference (which you don't even _have_ to do) your vote counts. Everyone's vote counts and we retain the unicorn (sorry, not unicorn, the link between MPs and constituencies).

So, why would anyone vote against this or not vote on this?

1. Votes don't matter!: You're a bellend. This is a referendum, EVERY vote matters on this vote and it means votes will matter more in later elections. If you believe votes don't matter this is a way of beginning to address this.

2. FPTP favours my party!: You're being a bellend. This is about the nature of democracy and its representativeness, not what suits your mob. Do you believe democracy is a good thing or not? If we willingly allow it to be distorted because it suits us, that means we're not really any better than non-democratic nations or sham democratic nations like Zimbabwe.

3. I want PR, I'm not voting for AV!: You're a bellend. By abstaining or voting against AV your stance is going to be taken as tacit support for the status quo and you know it. This is our once-in-a-lifetime chance to get some impetus going on reform, not just for voting and moving towards truly representative systems but also reform of the Lords, helping reduce corruption, making less seats 'safe' and a whole lot of other stuff. If you want reform of ANY kind you should back a move to AV.

4. It'll squeeze out the smaller parties: You're being a bellend. We can't know quite what's going to happen but since people can vote HOW THEY WANT and not waste their vote we're likely to see something of a shakeup of the political landscape. People will be able to put smaller parties as their primary vote without neutering their say. That'd probably mean more Greens and Libs (once they recover their reputation) and whether you like that or not, it IS more representative which is the point of democracy, yeah?

5. OH NOEZ COALITIONS!: You're being a bellend. We get those under FPTP as well and while the Libs have failed to be The Conservatives Jimminy Cricket effectively, coalitions do tend to moderate the ideological excesses of their participants. An end to adversarial politics isn't necessarily a bad thing. Making these goons work together is a good thing.

Don't be a bellend, vote yes to AV.

Female Genre Art Redux

So this came up, yet again...

The crux point for me where understanding failed - and I do TRY to understand - was in the comparison of these two images:

If you object to the one on the left I can't see why you wouldn't also object to the one on the right. Aesthetically perhaps, yes, you might like one or the other more on grounds of proportionality, pose, execution etc (Zel's good, but still) but on content? Both depict female characters of unconventional build (Amazonian/broad). Both are similarly covered up. The Trollette is dressed perhaps more pragmatically for her little hunting trip. The amazon on the right is wearing useless armour this is bulky, revealing and not much use as armour. She's also striking the impractical sexy pose and is passive.

The trollette is exposing a little more flesh (not much, that midrift is leather armour, not skin, and those are shorts, not a miniskirt). If it weren't for the right hand amazon's boots there wouldn't be much in it.

I regard these two images as being essentially the same. Indeed I'd favour the trollette as a more positive image of an unconventional female fantasy figure. More realistic figure/shape, active stance, accomplished etc.

Apparently not though, though that's the opinion of someone I respect.

I recall a trip to London once, going around an art gallery following an elderly American couple. The woman was at least consistent in what works of the great masters of art down the ages she didn't like, which amounted to anything with bare breasts, which she thought was disgusting.

Even the process of TRYING to understand and work out what's objectionable seems to cause more trouble than it's worth. I'm about ready to give up.
Global Frequency

Will humanity ever be united?

I would like to think so. There's more that unites us than divides us and the increasingly ubiquitous nature of telecommunications binds us together more, even if travel is becoming expensive again. Of course, that greater communication also means clashes. It's like Douglas Adams' Babel Fish 'Caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation' - OK, well not quite, that accolade goes to religion, but the point is that with greater communication people get to hear about each other and memes clash.

Twenty, even ten or perhaps even five years ago, a religious nut setting fire to a Koran in Florida would not even be heard about by a religious nut in a Muslim state who then feels he has to up the ante by killing someone. Greater communication brings these memes and their zombies into conflict and they fight to see who wins. Unfortunately that means that two of the very worst memes humanity has managed to come up with - Christianity and Islam - are now embroiled in a war for meat-based processing power across cyberspace as much as meatspace. I'd refer you to the hilarious 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' as a prime example of one of the battlegrounds.

Eventually somebody will win and call me biased but I do tend to think that will, eventually, by secular, liberal, leftist, Western values. They've proven themselves to be resilient and desirable (ultimately it was the desire to be western, combined with economic issues, that collapsed the USSR) and also - at least in that incarnation - have some fact and rationality behind them. Sure, we have our own problems with lunatic memes like the American Tea Party or the UK's various NIMBY organisations and Daily Mail readers but things have, generally, been steadily improving bit by bit since The Enlightenment.

I'm optimistic that fact will win out eventually and, honestly, we're all in this together, like it or not. The facts tend to win out over desires in the end. Just ask a breatharian. If you can.

Matters Matrimonial

The tip of my pinky finger is approximately one centimetre across.

This is subdivided into 10 millimetres. A millimetre is approximately the width of a grain of rice.

A micrometer is about the size of a pore on a surgical mask - viruses can still get through, though bacteria can't - to give you some idea.

A nanometre is approximately the same size as one end of a carbon nano-tube, those useful things that we're going to use building tiny machines. Calling them nano-machines is a bit of a misnomer as - obviously - they're going to have to be bigger than that.

A picometre is roughly the same size as the wavelength of a gamma ray.

A femtometre is roughly the same size as a proton, or thereabouts. Some theorise we could build machines at this scale, rather than nano scale, and this would be 'alchemy' in a sense.

An attometre? Well, we descent further into the subatomic here and that's the size of quarks.

The zeptometre is even smaller, now we're talking about preons, the building blocks OF quarks.

Now we're down to a yoctometre, that's about the size of neutrinos, they sleet through most matter without being detected.

Way down, much further than this, down several powers of ten we arrive at the planck scale. This is theoretically as small as anything in the physical universe can get. This is the realm of 'quantum foam' and 'superstrings'.

Some go further and posit that on some deeper level still the universe is 'information' and information can be expressed as ones and zeros, its presence and its absence.

That zero.

That absence.

THAT is how much of a fuck I give about the Royal wedding.

Oh, of course I give a fuck about the things surrounding it. I give a fuck that the country is grinding to a halt for the sake of a meaningless toff to get hitched and pump out more blueblood babies post-haste. I give a fuck that people are being given another day off (nice). I definitely give a fuck that I can't watch the news these days without seeing Nicholas - bloody - Witchall toadying up. I give a fuck that we seem to have stepped back 100 years in time in terms of deference to a bunch of stuck-up Germans with no more claim to real fame than Paris - fucking - Hilton.

Oh yes. I give a fuck about it that way, tangentially. Just not the thing itself.

Of course, we all know the real reason they're making a big deal of it and they're doing it now. It takes more than a single dose of commoner genes to correct the damage of centuries and William is losing his boyish good looks so fast it looks like he's melting. It seems Charles' 'lizard' DNA is rapidly asserting itself so we've had to sacrifice a princess to the dragon post-haste. Perhaps in another ten generations of them marrying relative commoners they'll produce some offspring that DOESN'T look like the progeny of a misguided attempt to breed dumbo and an angler fish, but I'm not holding out hope.

If you want me on wedding day I'll be drowning my screams in console games and work.
Global Frequency

Letter to my Prospective Tory Councilman

Hello there,

We had a brief, fleeting talk on my door before you ran away, doubtless scared off by my unkempt and hairy appearance (I'm a writer by trade which means I keep my own odd hours and don't have to be presentable much of the time).

I'm afraid there is absolutely no way I will ever vote Conservative, barring a complete change in all their policies or someone going back in time to assassinate Margaret Thatcher as she came to power and thus changing the course of the country in the past... but that would create a temporal paradox and those tend to be headache inducing - as well as being unlikely. I have lived through too much curtailment of civil liberties, too much corporate bottom-kissing and too much erosion of civic society.

That aside I wanted to talk to you about the Alternative Vote, I would have done so more on the doorstep (I'm the kind of person that even invites Jehovah's Witnesses in for a chat) but you seemed to be keen to be off.

I suppose the fundamental question that you have to ask yourself, as a citizen - and as a politician - is whether you think a government should concentrate on being effective, or upon being representative. An 'effective' government would be one that wouldn't be answerable to the people at all where it could just rule by decree. A representative government, taken to a similar extreme, would be Anarchism (capital 'A', not small 'a'). Ideologically I am an Anarchist, pragmatically a Socialist, but I recognise that neither of these extremes are viable (at least in the current state of the world when it comes to Anarchism). However, that doesn't mean that I'm willing to accept poor representation.

The FPTP system only works so long as the MPs truly represent their local constituencies and, since the advent of the party system and the whips this simply hasn't been the case. It's even less the case since lobbying and so on came to the fore and the traditional defence of FPTP that it protects the link between the MP and their constituency is so much balderdash and piffle given the state of modern politics. Eliminate parties and whips and you might have an argument, otherwise, I'm afraid not.

AV is not PR which is what most of us who are into the idea of an actually representative government want, but it seems there's no chance of pushing that (or democratising the Lords) until we overcome some of the inertia against change. AV isn't perfect, it is a crummy compromise, but it is a step forward, it does remove (somewhat) wasted votes and it does make our system much more representative.

Allow me to illustrate the problem with FPTP with a very, very simplified example.

Say there is a nation, Micronia let's call it, which has three constituences, each of which provides an elected person to their Triumverate government. Each constituency has 100 people in it and there are two parties. The Purples and the Greens. They have an election and the following results come in:

Constituency 1: Purple 51, Green 49
Constituency 2: Purple 51, Green 49
Constituency 3: Purple 0, Green 100

Under FPTP the Purple Party would have the balance of power with two seats, despite only having 102 votes. The Green party with 198, despite having almost double the number of votes, would not hold the power.

This is obviously an exaggeration, but we've had governments that have not been consented to or supported by the majority of the British people in a similar but lesser fashion quite often and a great many MPs are elected despite being unwanted by the majority of their local electorate.

This is absolutely not representative.

The no campaign likes to quote Churchill, here's another quote of his: "Democracy is the only form of government that gives the people what they deserve." A witty, pithy and biting quip but one that only applies if the people's choices are truly represented which, under our current system, they are not. Many of us, particularly in 'safe seats' like this one have our views utterly ignored and our votes wasted. AV at least does something to lessen that and makes our votes count a little more. It's unlikely to make much of a difference in a Tory stronghold like Hampshire but give people the freedom to actually vote with their conscience and you'll see LESS tactical voting, not more. People will be free to vote how they want and elections will, as a result, much more accurately reflect their views.

As to being too complicated, we already do it for European elections and the regional Parliaments use it as well. It's no more complicated than rating your favourite foods, choosing your desert island discs or rating your preferred fast food indulgences in descending order.

While it may not guarantee someone's first choice it does at least mean that whoever is elected has the greatest possible assent of the greatest number of people.

That's a small advance, but one worth grasping while we can before we - hopefully - move on to a genuinely representative PR system.

Thanks for reading,

One place or person you never want in your life again, and why.

It's not so much particular places that bother me - I'm not going to pick on people because that's just mean - so much as the process of getting from one place to another. Sure, there are places I don't like... Inverness, Catford, Salford, Texas, but I am a very stoic individual and when I know I'm in for a bad/boring/painful/embarrassing time I can brace myself. When it comes to hating such things though I'm very much of the 'It's not the destination, it's the journey' point of view.

I hate travel. I loathe it with an absolute passion. It's unpredictable, expensive, invasive, stressful, you're forced into the company of arseholes in close proximity and don't even get me started about flying. I find the whole nonsensical level of suspicion already stressful without being scanned or groped.

If I could take travel out of my life I would. I hate it. It's so far out of my comfort zone you can't get there on a travelcard. Roll on teleportation.