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 9th December.

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 10, 2018 at 10:41 am

‘It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity, and not have one, than to have an opportunity, and not be prepared.’
Whitney Young

1. Thank goodness for shade. It made the day perfect. Ray turned up to save a few souls, as usual, and he stood near the kiosk behind the big Morton Bay fig tree. Mr B was on the other side of the tree and started his meeting with a talk about the Rothchilds. Unfortunately, he had confused them with the Rothmans cigarettes his mother had smoked. When he realised his mistake he cut short his talk.

Was he trying to be funny?

Anyway, he then suggested to his grasshoppers that it wasn’t just men who have been keeping women oppressed for the last seventy years, it was also women. Women usually made the decisions in the family, and they would reinforce the accepted norms by telling each other that a women’s place was in the home, etc.  He suggested that those women were more influential than men. His grasshoppers helped him out by fleshing out the topic. The status of being married was a big driver of their influence, they suggested. And that, ultimately, it was the institutions which had the real power, and they were run by men. That’s what made the difference.

2. Steve Maxwell turned up a little late, but then he got cracking. He gave five examples of when the Wrecking Ball of Australian History made an impact:
(1) 1788. (The arrival of the First Fleet from Britain.)
(2) World War One
(3) World War Two.
(4) The Whitlam dismissal. (A sad day for Australian cricket?)
(5) Foreign ownership 
3. On the Ladder of Knowledge was Mirko. He was there to talk about the diesel crisis in France. That was a welcome change from the diesel crisis he usually talks about: the one imminent in Australia. Thank you, Mirko.

4. Peter the Younger then got up to talk about feminist lies, and calmly informed us that he hadn’t prepared for that talk so he would talk about something else. Sigh. As it was, he held our interest with a talk about history, even though Killjoy Bashful had banned history weeks before. For that matter, he had banned Peter two years ago. And, he had banned dissent as well, about six months ago.

It seems Peter the Younger doesn’t respond well to bans.

Anyway, Peter spoke about how the far right governments of the 1940s (the Nazis and fascists) were in reality far left extremist socialist governments like the Soviets. He included Italy, Germany, Tonga and China. Maybe not Tonga.

5. Then Mark the Grinner appeared and had five points to make. Your ashamed scribe is forced to admit he was too engrossed in the talk to take notes, and can’t remember the points Mark made, so you’ll have to imagine Mark’s talk for yourself. If you imagine a talk that is provocative, insulting, insightful, and with a huge double-dollop of bullshit, you will be pretty close to the mark.  (No pun intended on the words ‘close to the mark’, because Mr B banned jokes based on word-play three weeks ago.)

Oh, one thing I do remember: Mark the Grinner doesn’t like ‘niceness’ and reckons girls/women should aim to be less nice and more honest.

“Nice girls have shotguns” 1974

6. “The plays of William Shakespeare are overrated.” So said Mr B as he drew upon the Scottish play for evidence. For example, he said it was a bit rich for Shakespeare to suggest that a forest walking up a hill is the same thing as a bunch of men carrying twigs in their pockets for camouflage. Shakespeare wouldn’t get away with that nonsense today, said the sage Mr B.

It would be fair to say that Uncle Pete was not in total agreement with Mr B.

Uncle Pete impressed us all with his intimate knowledge of the play and his passion for it. He kept quoting bits like he’d actually read the thing.

Despite Uncle Pete’s objections, Mr B did convince this conscientious scribe that Shakespeare is indeed past his use-by date. However, for some reason, the other grasshoppers were not keen to jump on board. (‘Jump on board‘ is probably a Shakesperianism, bless him.) They seemed to sidle with Uncle Pete.

Would Phyllis Diller have made a good Lady Macbeth?

7. At about 4.30pm Mr B began explaining the many ways men get a bad deal in life. And, he spoke about sexual consent. Pretty soon there was a vigorous debate and the crowd swelled. We didn’t stop until after 6pm. There were plenty of contributors and they made it an interesting discussion.

From the Postsecret website:

8. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you the atelopus frog, native to Costa Rica, Panama and Tonga. Maybe not Tonga. It shares its Facebook page with us.

 

 

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 2nd December

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

“. . . never did I learn things at school that I would consider truly important for being an adult: how to do a tax return, change a tyre, pay off a car, buy a house, nail a job interview, do CPR, start a self-managed super fund. . . . Education in Australia not only needs to be more practical, it needs to be more holistic. Valuing high marks and exam success over practical skills – and skills in entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation – is an antiquated model that turns out unenthusiastic, uncreative, outcome-focused students who lack the necessary qualities to be well-rounded members of the workforce, and of society.”
Student Alana Leadbeater, who earned a 99 ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).
https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/comment-i-got-a-99-atar-but-i-had-a-lousy-education/ar-BBQ4lOi?li=AAgfYrC&ocid=mailsignout

1. Another beautiful day, with the park’s enormous fig-trees providing shade to make the day perfect for Ray, Steve and Mr B. There were reasonable crowds because why wouldn’t you come to Speakers’ Corner on such a beautiful day?

Mind you, Mr B stretched our patience because he talked about the same subject for most of the day: the different theories for the origin of the universe.

A brief summary:

– He began by saying he would explore two puzzles:
(1) How did our universe come into being?
(2) Why does our universe allow intelligent life, given that fine-tuned laws of physics would be required?

–  He then did his best to describe what nothing is. Yep, honestly. He figured we should have a clear understanding of what preceded the universe before we tried to understand its origin.

– Theory One: God Made the Universe. Somehow he included an episode of Bewitched. We even had a witch in the audience to add to the verisimilitude.

– Theory Two: The Many Universe Theory.

– Theory Three: The Big Bang Theory.

– Theory Four: The Oscillating Model of the Universe.

– Theory Five: The Eternal Inflation Theory.

– Theory Six: The Universe Has Always Been Here Theory.

– Theory Seven: Quantum Mechanics Theory.

– Theory Eight: The Lava Lamp Theory (Mr B’s term) AKA, The fine-structure constant isn’t so constant after all.

– Theory Nine: Helmet’s theory. Unfortunately, Mr B felt the need to tear strips of Helmut’s theory and off Helmut himself. As you might expect, Helmut was “vocal” in his response. That was a torrid fifteen minutes!

– Theory Ten: A grasshopper provided The Matrix Theory (formally known as Gilbert Harman’s ‘Brain in a Vat’ thought experiment). Is our universe just a simulation created by an exceedingly advanced computer? Do the operators of that advanced computer live in a universe which is also just a simulation? It gets awkward, folks.


2. This week’s complaint about the justice system involved a twenty year-old Victorian man, Miraz Zuanovic. He was charged with contempt of court and sentenced to 30 days jail for blowing a bubble while chewing Hubba Bubba bubble gum in front of magistrate Rodney Crips. Miraz spent 12 hours in custody before a Supreme Coourt judge granted him bail following an appeal by his lawyers. His barrister pointed out that his client hadn’t even received a warning, and had been denied procedural fairness.

Mr B complained about the magistrate’s lack of wisdom, his sense of self-grandeur, and his gross misuse of power.

Mind you, Peter the Younger took the magistrate’s side and said he would have given the miscreant 60 days.


3. Other subjects discussed:
– the exemptions religious schools want to be able to impose on homosexual students and teachers.

– Mr B claimed that learning about history is no better than stamp collecting. In fact, it’s worse, because it distracts us from finding solutions to our current problems.
His grasshoppers insisted that we could learn from history, but although they tried, not one of them could provide a specific example. If you can think of a solid example, bring it to Speakers’ Corner with you one day.
(Examples such as a person’s personal medical history will not be accepted.)


4. Next week:
Steve, Ray and possibly Helmut will be doing their thing, and:
– Mark the Grinner will be speaking on two topics yet to be disclosed.

– Peter the Younger will be speaking on the ways feminists lie about sexual assaults and harrassment.

– Mr B will finally, hopefully, be explaining why Zen Buddhism is a sham, and the medical reasons it originated.


5. In this week’s Unusual Critter Series we have two Bush Dogs from Central and South America. They asked this scribe to place a photo of them on our Facebook Page.

Bush Dogs in Chester Zoo. Speothos venaticus.

 

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