Soapbox Speakers

What is Speakers’ Corner?

In Speakers and hecklers. on March 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” 
Gerry Spence.

Every Sunday, from 2pm until 5pm, people gather in Sydney’s beautiful Domain park to discuss matters. The ones standing on ladders are ‘the speakers’, and they believe it’s their job to educate  their ‘grasshoppers’ or ‘groundlings’.  The ones sitting in chairs believe it’s their job to point out why the speaker is wrong, and to heckle. Both parties are kept busy.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

Click here to see their 2015 highlights.
Click here to see their 2014 highlights.
Click here to see their 2013 highlights.

Find past posts  on our Archives site.

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The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell, legend.

In various personas, but always engaging, Steve talks about religion, Australian history and politics. Click here for highlights. To see more videos of Steve, go to the archives site. From his book, ‘Soapbox Oratory‘ Steve writes: ‘In a modern city, there must be a place where strangers can meet and discuss the issues of the day without fear of persecution; where the right to retain one’s individuality is allowed.

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist.

Helmut 4

Helmut used to be a professional wrestler going by the name of Helmut Rommel. He took on the likes of Killer Karl Kox, Mario Milano and Spiros Orion. And, he once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest.
More importantly, Helmut knows a lot about metaphysics (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger and Killer Karl Kox combined), and he is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus.
His battles with hecklers are fun. He calls his listeners his ‘groundlings’. Here are some highlights.
For more videos of Helmut, go to the archives site and to his own site, Is Science the New Religion?’.

Mirko Terzic, 21st Century inventor.

Mirko

Mirko has created a phonetic alphabet to be used world-wide, and it’s better than Esperento. He has solved the problem of perpetual motion and has diagrams explaining how to get free unlimited energy from hydropower. Mirko knows how to think outside the square. Here are a few highlights of Mirko. For more videos of Mirko go to the archives site.

Ray, Christian.

Ray is concerned about your soul.

 Ray is passionate about spreading the word of God. He takes the task seriously but isn’t confronting. He is a gentle man willing to answer your questions. Here are a few highlights. For more videos of Ray, go to the archives site.

Mark the Grinner.

As a heckler, Mark regularly gets a hearty laugh from the crowd with his meticulously crafted questions. As a speaker his humour is still there, but his talks have substance. He comments on human behaviour and attitudes, and he doesn’t hold back.

Click here to hear why Mark comes to Speakers’ Corner.

His companion, Sue, is less vocal, but she has no trouble speaking her mind when she has something to say.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Epiphany specialist Mr Bashful tells us he is the spiritual advisor to the Dalai Lama, though that’s yet to be verified. He calls his listeners his ‘grasshoppers’ and his foes ‘garden gnomes’.
  Mr Bashful takes an evolutionary approach to happiness and resilience, but has many other topics.   He has presented an Ockham’s Razor talk on the ABC’s Radio National and believes we should burn the Mona Lisa. He also created the dogquiz.org site that helps people learn how to look after a dog.

One thing he isn’t, is bashful.

To learn more about him and see videos of him in action, click here.

He now has a Facebook page.

John August (Occasional speaker)

John speaks earnestly on a wide range of subjects, and if you’re in Sydney you can listen to his radio program on Radio Skid Row, 88.9 FM every Tuesday, from noon until 2pm.

John is an active member of the Pirate Party, which is a serious political party devoted to making Australia more democratic. He and other pirates speak at the Domain now and then about their policies and other topical matters. (That’s ‘topical’, not ‘tropical’.)

To see videos of John performing at Speakers’ Corner go to his Youtube channel.
John also has a website in which he comments upon current affairs, both here and abroad.
He is a busy lad.

THE HECKLERS

Uncle Pete (heckler and occasional speaker)

Peter - best

During the week Uncle Pete teaches students, and if he teaches them with the same verve he has for the Sunday passers-by, they are lucky students indeed. Click here for a few highlights. For more videos of Uncle Pete, go to the archives site.

Tony, atheist.

Tony
New-Zealand born Tony used to be a speaker but now he heckles the other speakers. He is a fervent atheist scathing of the Catholic Church, and when he is not berating Christianity he is either sinking the boot into other religions, or supporting Palestine. In this video  Tony expresses a few of his well considered opinions. For more videos of Tony click here.

Max (Quiet listener)
Max

Max is one of the gentler regular visitors. Says little, but when he does speak, it’s sensible. Click here to discover why he visits Speakers’ Corner.

Jack (Quiet observer)

Jack

“The old grey owl sat on an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?”

Click here to hear a few words from Jack.

Peter the Younger

Pete

The well-read Peter knows an awful lot about many subjects, and in particular: geo-politics and U.S. shenanigans.  Click here to hear why Pete comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Howard
howard

Howard is always polite and reasonable, yet despite that he fits in well at Speakers’ Corner. His contributions are appreciated by all. Click here to hear why he comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Ben the Whisperer

Although Ben is softly spoken, when he does speak, people listen. Click here to hear why he likes Speakers’ Corner.

Philip Feinstein

Philip occasionally speaks and is the founder of Music For Refugees. He also runs the Smokenders program, to help people give up smoking.

Kieron

Click here to hear why Kieron likes Speakers’ Corner.

Jean

Jean 2

Jean tries so hard to be feisty, but she’s just a big softie. Click here to hear why she comes to Speakers’ Corner.
Her husband Albert is below. Both of them are excellent value at Speakers’ Corner.

Albert

Albert 3

Albert may be 93, but he is as alert as anyone, and fit. When he helps Mr B unload the chairs he carries six at a time.
Albert wrote an absorbing book titled, ‘Civilisation Hijacked’. It explains how good men are persuaded to do bad things.

Book
If  you would like to buy a copy ($20) email Albert:  al.morris@optusnet.com.au
Albert is the husband of Jean.

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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 11th November.

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 12, 2018 at 11:24 am

“A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.” 
― Machiavelli Niccolo, The Prince

1. Today was Remembrance Day and Steve Maxwell understandably talked about World War I and how it began. His Great Uncle was in the 48th Battalion in Bullecourt, at the Western Front. That made it even more special for Steve and his listeners.

2. Uncle Pete had a serious question. He asked Mr B for his thoughts on having ‘Waltzing Matilda’ replace ‘Advance Australia Fair’ as Australia’s national anthem. Mr B was not in favour of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ but his preferred choice, “We are one; we are many . . .” prompted a few people to gag on pretend vomit. Then Helmut insisted Mr B’s real choice was ‘God Save The Queen‘ before Tony reminded us all, for no apparent reason, that the Spanish anthem has no words.

Mr B then remembered his favourite anthem, and promised to share it with this scribe. (Should we adopt it for our own?) Here it is:

3. Speaking of Mr B, he has asked me to pass on an apology to one poor woman. He called her a ‘blabbermouth’ because she packed a whole heap of information into a handful of long sentences. He wanted to examine each claim but there were too many of them, one after the other, he explained. He should have handled the situation better, he says.

“How?” I asked him.

“I could have focused on one claim and examined that,” he said.

I told him “it’s a bit late now” and asked him, “Why, after so many years speaking at the Domain, are you still making basic mistakes like that?”

That’s when he slunk off.

For the woman.

4. Relief at last!  Peter the Younger often prefaces his questions or comments with an unnecessary aside, and Mr B has tediously (and some would say unfairly) criticised him for it. Today, as though in commemoration of the conclusion of the Great War 100 years ago, the two men came to an agreement. After a generous concession by Peter the Younger, Mr B will never again ‘roar him up’ for unnecessarily prefacing a comment. Hallelujah.

A completely unrelated photograph.

5. There are righteous nations and wicked nations, explained Mr B (stealing from Walter Murdoch). The righteous nations never start wars; wars are forced upon them. The righteous nations want justice; the wicked nations want injustice. The righteous nations keep their promises; the wicked nations break agreements. Some nations are willing to fight on your side, and these also are righteous nations.

The trouble is, as Walter and Mr B pointed out: every nation believes it’s a righteous nation.

“If the world were really like a chessboard, if human beings could be as sharply divided into good and bad as chessmen are divided into black and white, history would be easily understood, and the international situation could at any given moment be explained to a kindergarten.”
Walter Murdoch.

6. There are countless examples of our ‘disposable’ mentality. We buy an item and discard the packaging, and then soon discard the item itself. Cars are owned for three years instead of thirty. And so on. We are now tending to think of the Earth in the same way, warns Mr B. Christians have said to Mr B that it doesn’t matter that we’re destroying the Earth because when God returns we will have a paradise again. Other people have said that one day we will terraform Mars and live there. Mr B railed against that foolish disposable mentality from Christians and wanna-be Martians, saying we desperately need to look after the Earth we have now.

7. Mr B made a momentous change to the Australian way of life. He banned history.

Yes, that’s right, folks, he didn’t just express his displeasure of history, he outright banned it. The possible ramifications for our society make this hardy scribe shudder. In a few months let’s examine the influence this ban will have had upon us.

A rare photo of the battle of Hastings. Who doesn’t know it was in 1066? Who needs to know that?

8. Mr B pretended to begin to give us a history of flight (even though he had banned history). The talk turned out to be a criticism of current day capitalism. (Alex Nobel calls it ‘Crony Capitalism’ and you can read Mr Noble’s brief but absorbing article here.

The Wright brothers, about to create history.

9.  When fighting in the Crusades, gallant knight Sir Thrust-a-lot used his sword to solve many of his problems. So, when he returned from the Crusades he kept using his sword to solve problems, even though using a sword wasn’t appropriate. In the same way, some people have become reliant on one particular emotion to solve all their problems.

To read the story of Sir Thrust-a-lot, click here.

10. Other subjects discussed:
– Does a woman have a right to NOT be traumatised?

– A Scottish woman took umbrage with Mr B’s claim that there is no such thing as a Scot. Well, to be more accurate: a woman who thought she was a Scot took umbrage with his claim.

Tartan is a delicacy in Scotland.

11. Mr B butchered this joke:

A little girl tells her father she’s marrying little Billy next door.  The father finds this amusing and asks her “What are you going to do for money?”  The little girl says:  “Well, Billy has saved up $4 and I’ve saved up $5.20.” 
   The father loves this answer and is prompted to ask her “Where are you going to live?” The little girl says “Billy can live here sometimes, and sometimes I’ll live at Billy’s place.”  The father thinks that’s a fine answer.  So he asks her “And what happens if little ones come along?”  She says, “Well, we’ve been lucky so far.”

12. In our Unusual Creature Series
we have a Durrell’s Vontsira, a Madagascan mammal. You will find the same photo on our Facebook page.

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 4th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 5, 2018 at 11:25 am

“We are such poor judges of the worth of others that our ultimate duty remains to be kind, good, curious and imaginative about pretty much everyone who ever crosses our path – and that includes ourselves.”
Alain de Botton

1. It was another beautiful day and this time there was no sign of the Illuminati. However, they are only pausing to take a breath because next week they’ll be hindering us again. There will be no road access, which means we won’t have chairs.

Curse them.

And yes, Peter the Younger, let’s be wary of the Rothchilds as well.

But at least we know we have the Illuminati worried. We must not give up.

This is their symbol. Mirko has been warning us about them for some time. If only we had listened to you earlier, Mirko.

2. A few weeks ago there was an uproar in the media when a nine year-old schoolgirl refused to stand for the National Anthem in School Assembly. A few of Mr B’s grasshoppers had suggested that she should have stood for the anthem, and that her reasons for not doing so were poor. Yet, today when Mr B asked everyone to stand because he was about to sing the National Anthem, no one moved! It was as though their backsides had been glued to the chairs.

He began singing, and your discerning scribe was surprised to find that Mr B has a beautiful singing voice. Who would have thought? But despite that, and despite the fact that it was indeed our National Anthem he was singing, still no one stood!

The hypocrisy was almost palpable.

 

3. Speaking of hypocrisy, Mr B wondered if the people who are cheating the Opal Transport System are the same people who complain when their bank rips them off.

4. Should children leave school unable to understand percentages? Should they leave school without critical thinking skills? Without knowing how to change the washer on a tap? Without knowing how to cook? Is it really impossible to teach children what a mortgage is? Would a school really need thirty cars to teach children how to change a flat tyre? These and other questions were discussed in a most unpleasant, nasty half-hour. If you weren’t there, you were lucky.

Here is one advanced school teaching their students to lose their fear of heights.

5. Yet again the monkey on the typewriter was introduced and the question was asked: “Can any finite task be completed in infinite time?” However, to make it easier for his grasshoppers, this time Mr B replaced that maladroit monkey and the choking chimp (both had caused conjecture) with another primate: a human being who can’t speak or write English. Would that help Mr B’s befuddled grasshoppers solve the conundrum?

You guessed it: no. Not even close.

Mirko regularly says the best way to write infinity is to lay the number ‘eight’ on its side. That insight would make Mirko the person closest to correctly answering the question, which shows you just how far  the other grasshoppers were from even providing an answer.

Mirko wasn’t here today to claim victory. We hope you’re well, Mirko.

Mirko’s symbol for infinity.

6. Other subjects discussed:
– Organised crime. Who does it and what do they do? Are you supporting them by the things you do?

– Should the RSLs and sports clubs (making hundreds of millions of dollars profit with their poker machines)  become service hubs for government  bodies such as TAFE? Should they get into child care and aged care?

– Mr B explained why he thinks the actor Geoffrey Rush is hard done by.

– Given that most people born in the 18th century and beyond would not have experienced a tenth of what we have experienced, in comparison has each and every one of us achieved a great deal in life?

– Mr B explained why he is now in favour of the Invictus Games and fully supportive of them. And, the question was asked: “Should past enemy nations (ergo, the soldiers) be invited?” Opinion was divided.

 

7. In our Unusual Creature Series we have the world’s biggest rodent, the amiable capybara of South America. It has seen our Facebook page and is a big fan.

 

 

 

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